Monday, December 31, 2012

Manila Government will award ₱10-Billion Mactan, Cebu International airport project in Sept 2013

The Aquino administration is set to award the 10-billion contract for the Mactan-Cebu International Airport project in September to cope with the growing number of tourists using the gateway to enter the country.

The Department of Transportation and Communications and Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority has invited prospective bidders to apply to pre-qualify and bid for the construction of a new passenger terminal; rehabilitation and expansion of the existing terminal; operation, maintenance and management of the terminals.

The project involves the construction of the new passenger terminal, apron for the new passenger terminal, rehabilitation and expansion of the existing terminal, installation of all the required equipment and other associated facilities, installation of the required information technology and other equipment commensurate with the operations as well as operation and maintenance of both the new and existing passenger terminals.

The pre-qualification, bids, and awards committee (PBAC) is set to hold a pre-qualification conference on Jan. 28 and prospective bidders are required to submit their qualification documents on or before Feb. 28.

The PBAC would then require pre-qualified bidders to submit both technical and financial proposals, a bid security, as well as other supporting documents on Aug. 2 that would be evaluated by the committee.

The PBAC would first review the bidders' technical proposals after which the committee would then evaluate the financial proposals of bidders whose technical proposals were rated passed.

The committee would then issue the notice of award to the winning bidder in Sept. 17 and the winner would have to comply with all the requirements within 20 days from official receipt of the notice.

Based on a PPP Center briefing paper, the Mactan-Cebu airport project involves the construction of a world-class passenger terminal building with a capacity of eight million passengers a year as well as the operation and maintenance of the old and new facilities.

The Mactan-Cebu international airport is situated in a 797-hectare property and has a single 3,300 meter runway that is complemented by a full-length taxiway.

The terminal building has a capacity of handling 4.5 million passengers annually on two wings, the domestic wing and the international wing. It is a major trade center in the south for both domestic and international traffic.

The passenger traffic for year 2011 was around 6.2 million passengers.  The deterioration in the level of convenience and lack of ability to handle more passengers may hinder further development  and growth of international airport.

To solve the problem, DOTC is set to bid a contract for the construction of a new world-class passenger terminal building with a capacity of about eight million passengers per year; and the operation of the old and new facilities.

The construction of a new world-class passenger terminal, including all related facilities, is proposed to separately cater to domestic and international operations with an initial investment of 10.3 billion and a future expansion of 12 billion.

Several companies including diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp., the tandem of Ayala Corp. and Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. as well as Metro Pacific Investments Corp. have expressed interest in the airport project. (http://is.gd/RtTSaA)

philSTAR

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Now it's the Philippines vs taiwan's INVASION in Kalayaan for Oils

Kalayaan, Province of Palawan, Philippines. Taiwan want's to start exploring oil inside Kalayaan Municipality of the Palawan Province.

Chinese in Taiwan are originally from mainland China who were defeated by the China's Communist group so they retreated down south and take over the Formosan Government in Taiwan as a base island for their dream to controll back the communist Mainland China under the Republic of China government.

As the Mainland China is controlled by the Communist group, Taiwan the Republic of China claimed back the Mainland China as their territory which now both Mainland China and Taiwan are claiming each other.

Chinese in Taiwan are of the same ideology as all other Chinese in the world with the chinese in the mainland China.

With the continuous mounting of conflicts in the West Philippines Sea as a result of china's continuous expansionism affecting the Kalayaan Municipality of the Palawan Province in the Southwestern Philippines, taiwan jumps in of the same purpose as china to invade the Philippine territory.

The Kalayaan Municipality in the Kalayaaan Group of Islands is adjacent to the mainland Palawan Island and is part of the Province of Palawan which is within the 370 kilometers or 200 Nautical Miles Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines as granted by the United Nations' UNCLOS.

The now such called Kalayaan Group of Islands was once part of the old Sultanate of Sulu, a kingdom that exist and controlled the territory we back 12th to 15th Century. The old Sultanate of Sulu governed the Palawan Province, the now called Kalayaan Group of Islands or Spratly Islands in the West Philippines Sea together with several provinces in Mindanao Island such as the Province of Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, and North Borneo (now called Sabah); before the invasion of Spain to the Philippines.

The Only country which has the rights and authority over the Spratly Islands or Kalayaan Group of Islands is the Philippines as the original territorial owner which was the old Sultanate of Sulu through Sultan Kiram has turned over his rights to the Philippine Government.

While the Philippines bracing from the China's invasion in the territory, there's another conflict is brewing in the West Philippine Sea, this time between the Philippines and Taiwan over oil and gas exploration around Ligao Island, the largest islet in the Spratlys group as reported by the INQUIRER Global Nation 30th December 2012.

The Philippine government on Saturday asserted its sovereign right to "explore and exploit" resources in the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as Taiwan announced plans to begin looking for oil and gas in  disputed areas of the Spratlys islands chain.

Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson, said Saturday that only the Philippines could explore in those parts of the Spratlys that lies within the country's 200-nautical mile continental shelf.

Reports from Taiwan said island nation's Bureau of Mines and state-run oil supplier CPC Corp. were keen on starting exploration for oil and gas in waters around Ligao Island, the largest Spratlys island that the Taiwanese call Taiping.

China, Vietnam and the Philippines have claims to Ligao Island.

The Philippines earlier this year offered oil exploration contracts in its claimed part of the Spratlys, a move that drew criticism from counter-claimants, especially China.

Without directly criticizing Taiwan for the move, Hernandez said foreign exploration within the Philippines' EEZ must be signed off by Manila in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

"The Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights to explore and exploit all types of resources in its continental shelf within the 200 nautical miles measured from the baselines in the western side of the Philippine archipelago," Hernandez said.

"No country can conduct oil exploration in the PH continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea without the permission of the government, as provided for under Unclos," he said.

Known to be dependent on oil imports, Taiwan is initiating the oil exploration to build up its oil resources, the reports said.

Taiwan's announcement came amid renewed tensions between China and the Philippines over reports of Chinese ships patrolling in the West Philippine Sea and plans to fortify Sansha City, an administrative domain established to govern all of the Spratlys.

The Philippines called both developments violations of international law and disrespectful of the Philippines' sovereign right to its EEZ.

China this week deployed an oceangoing ship in the disputed waters, the first time for a Chinese vessel to patrol beyond its coastal waters.  The patrol started ahead of the implementation of a new policing law allowing Hainan province's authorities to board and inspect foreign ships that will pass by the South China Sea, a critical international trading route.

Sources: INQUIRER Global Nation & the Spokesman of Sultan Kiram of the old Sultanate of Sulu

Friday, December 28, 2012

Philippine Navy sends first patrol ship to West Philippine Sea anew -beg China to respect its sovereign territory

China asked United States of America to respect its national interest in Asia; the Philippines asked China to respect its sovereign territory and it's 370 Kilometers from its coast or 200 Nautical Miles (NM) Exclusive Economic Zone as grants from UNCLOS: US will respect china's interest.

As published in the Business World Online Thursday, The Philippine Government once again calls for China to respect the "territorial sovereignty" and the exclusive economic zone after the former sent its first patrol ship to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement on Friday.

"The Philippines strongly objects to the Chinese patrol of Philippine maritime domain in the WPS [West Philippine Sea]," DFA Assistant Secretary and Spokesman Raul S. Hernandez said in a text message to reporters.

"Such patrol will not validate the 9-dash lines [China's claim] and is contrary to China's obligation under international law including UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea]," Mr. Hernandez added.

The government reacted to the reports that a patrol ship was sent from China in the disputed areas in the West Philippines Sea.

The dispute between the Philippines and China escalated after the Scarborough Shoal issue. Other countries such as Malaysia and Taiwan claim ownership of parts of the disputed seas. (read further in the Business World Online)

Philippines objections to new Chinese gunboat in the Spratly

MSN News also published that the  Philippines on Friday said it "strongly objects" to China's deployment of a new patrol vessel in the South China Sea, where the two countries have a seething maritime territorial dispute.

Such patrols will not boost China's claim to the disputed territory where the two countries have had a standoff since April, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a statement.

"The Philippines strongly objects to the Chinese patrol of Philippine maritime domain in the West Philippine Sea," the statement said, using the local name for the South China Sea.

It called on China to respect the country's "territorial sovereignty and EEZ", referring to the Philippines' 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

China's official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday an ocean-going patrol vessel equipped with a helipad would be deployed to the South China Sea, the first of its kind in the area.

In late November, China said it had granted its border patrol police the right to board and turn away foreign ships entering the disputed waters, raising fears of a confrontation.

Both the Philippines and China have overlapping claims over parts of the South China Sea, a major shipping route that is also believed to hold vast mineral resources.

Tensions between China and the Philippines have risen in the area since April after ships from both countries had a standoff over a rock outcropping known as the Scarborough Shoal.

While the Philippines has withdrawn its ships, it says China reneged on an agreement to pull out its own vessels.

China claims the shoal as well as nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighbouring countries. The Philippines says the shoal is well within its EEZ. (read further in MSN News)

Philippines claims South China Sea islands, How Filipinos Discovered the Paradise in the Kalayaan Group of Islands?

Filipinos have settled on Thitu Island as a means to strengthen the country's claim on the Spratlys.

hitu Island is at the centre of one of the biggest territorial disputes in the world.

It is part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which are believed to be sitting on billions of dollars' worth of oil and gas reserves.

Six countries claim ownership of the tiny archipelago, including the Philippines, which has people living on Thitu Island as a means to strengthen its claim on the Spratlys.

Article published in Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan reports from the Spratlys in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Watch the Video of the Pagasa Island (Thitu Island) of the Paradise Kalayaan Group of Islands, Spratlys, Province of Palawan, (Old Sultanate of Sulu) Philippines.

Philippine peso ends 2012 at ₱41.05 vs. US Dollars, up 6.5%

STRONG PESO. The chart pertains to the average peso-dollar exchange rates for every month of 2012. The chart was based on data obtained from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and PDEX

The Philippine peso, the best-performing Southeast Asian currency in 2012, settled at P41.05 against the dollar on the last day of trading in 2012.

This made the currency 6.53% stronger than the 43.919 it started trading at on January 2. This also brought the average exchange rate to around 42.228 for the entire year and posted the biggest annual gain since a 19% appreciation in 2007.

The strongest close of the peso for the year was on December 8 at 40.862 while the weakest was on January 2 and January 17 at 43.919.

While little changed from a week ago, the local currency had a boost from the Philippines' phenomenal growth of 7.1% in the 3rd quarter -- the fastest in Southeast Asia -- as well as expectations that the Philippines is on track to winning its first investment-grade rating.

However, the stronger peso has been a bane to the following sectors:

Overseas Filipino workers (OFW)

With the strong peso, the purchasing power of the funds that OFW send to their loved ones in the Philippines are diminished. This is because the dollars they send home is equivalent to less in terms of pesos.

In January 2 this year, if an OFW sent $100 to his or her family in the Philippines, this is equivalent to 4,391.90. Using the exchange rate for the last trading day of the year, the $100 will only be worth P4,105.

This means less pesos to spend for various needs such as education, basic needs like food and utilities, and other expenses. There is also less room for savings and investments.

Total dollar value of remittances, however, has been resilient, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed. OFW remittances fuel consumer spending, which is a backbone of the Philippine economy.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firms

An appreciating strong peso strikes at the heart of the industry's -- and the Philippines' -- cost competitiveness as an investment destination. Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) president and CEO Benedict Hernandez said the appreciation of the peso has made handicapped them as they combat challenges from top rival India.

Hernandez had said they would have still remained competitive if the exchange rate stayed at 42:$1, but not beyond that since it widens the cost difference between putting up a BPO firm in the Philippines and India.

"The combination of an appreciating peso and a depreciating Indian rupee has provided India with a meaningful cost advantage," the BPAP had said. The Philippines has already dislodged India as the call center capital of the world.

At stake are about 638,00 direct jobs from the voice-based (call centers) and non-voice-based BPOs. Before the exchange rate issue, the industry players were hoping to double this to 1.3 million direct jobs and hit revenues worth $25 billion by 2016.

Exporters

Manufacturers and retailers of products sold abroad are face with Philippine-made products becoming more expensive when the peso appreciates. They either increase the prices of their goods abroad at risk of reducing demand for these items and products, or maintain their dollar prices and suffer losses as their peso-based production costs soar.

While exports are one of the country's highest dollar earners, along with remittances, they are also a key generator of jobs that are put at risk when the business costs become unsustainable. Export groups said this has caused half of the country's small exporters to close shop.

University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) economist Victor Abola said the government should allow the peso to depreciate by around 20 centavos every month. "I believe that the peso is 20 to 30% overvalued. The peso should be around P50 to the dollar to make the country competitive as India, whose exchange rate is at 55 to a $1," Abola explained.

Local firms

A strong peso also encourages cheaper imports, which in turn would threaten local producers, according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

"We have to be worried by the appreciation of the peso because it affects the lives of ordinary people. It affects employment," Balisacan said, stressing that a strong peso will threaten to erode the country's overall competitiveness.

On the other hand, Balisacan noted that a strong peso also encourages the flow of hot money or investments in stocks and bonds, which help develop the local capital markets. (Read more on Rappler http://is.gd/F07hb8)

Rappler 

Philippine Peso Set for Best Year Since 2007 on Upgrade Prospect

₱ 100.00 Bill (One hundred Peso Bill)

In the Bloomberg report 27th December 2012,  the Philippine peso is set for its best annual advance since 2007, spurred by the fastest economic growth in Southeast Asia and speculation that the nation is on track to win its first investment-grade rating.

Standard & Poor's raised its outlook on the country's BB+ debt rating to positive from stable last week and said an upgrade is possible in 2013 as public finances improve. The peso reached its strongest level since March 2008 last month after official data showed the $225 billion economy grew 7.1 percent last quarter, the fastest pace in two years. Its rally in 2012, Asia's best exchange-rate performance after South Korea's won, prompted the central bank to impose limits this week on banks' non-deliverable currency forwards positions.

"The Philippines turned into the darling of investors in 2012 as growth exceeded expectations and further upgrades look imminent," said Dalmacio Martin, senior vice president at BDO Unibank Inc. (BDO), the nation's largest lender. "Benign inflation allowed the central bank to cut policy rates four times this year, while a narrowing budget deficit enhanced our allure."

The peso strengthened 6.7 percent this year to 41.075 per dollar at 10:37 a.m. in Manila, data from Tullett Prebon Plc show. That's the biggest gain since a 19 percent appreciation in 2007. The currency climbed 0.1 percent today and was little changed from a week ago. Philippine financial markets will be closed Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

One-month implied volatility in the peso, a gauge of expected exchange-rate swings used to price options, fell to 4.4 percent from 7.75 percent a year ago.

Tobacco Tax

S&P's decision to bolster the nation's credit outlook on Dec. 20 came a few hours after President Benigno Aquino signed into law higher tobacco and liquor taxes, which are estimated to boost revenue by 184.3 billion pesos ($4.5 billion) in the first four years of implementation. The credit assessor last raised the rating by a notch in July to the highest sub-investment grade, followed by a similar move by Moody's Investors Service in October.

The country's inflation rate fell to a five-month low of 2.8 percent in November, according to the most recent data. The central bank reduced its benchmark overnight borrowing rate by a total one percentage point in 2012 to an all-time low of 3.5 percent. The government's 11-month budget deficit of  127.3 billion pesos was less than half the 2012 ceiling, according to a report yesterday.

The Philippines will likely reach investment grade in 2013 and managing the currency would become "more challenging" by then, central bank Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said Dec. 21, 2012.

Curbing Forwards

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas imposed a ceiling for non- deliverable forwards for local lenders at 20 percent of capital, and 100 percent for foreign entities, Governor Amando Tetangco said in a Dec. 26 briefing. Banks have two months to comply with the regulation, which will be reviewed after six months, Tetangco said.

Earlier this year, Bangko Sentral ordered lenders to provide more funds to cover risks on forward transactions and banned overseas investors from its special-deposit accounts. Capital controls won't be necessary at this stage, Tetangco said this month.

"Excess liquidity and lingering positive sentiment will remain as drivers, but it is difficult to replicate the same results next year as we have become relatively expensive," Martin said. "Regulatory prudential measures will also limit returns." read more in Bloomberg

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Leading American Health Insurers to transfer jobs to the Philippines KPO & BPO

Philippines seen to get jobs from US health insurers

UNDER pressure to slash costs, a greater number of American health insurers will likely transfer thousands of clinical support service and other back office jobs to the Philippines in the months ahead, House Deputy Majority Leader Roman Romulo said yesterday.

American health insurers such as Bloomfield, Connecticut-based Cigna Corp.; Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana Inc.; and Woodland Hills, California-based Health Net Inc. are bound to follow their rivals who have invested aggressively to build new back offices in Manila, according to Romulo, a congressional backer of Manila's business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana-based WellPoint Inc. and Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna Inc. have already put up back offices in the Philippines either on their own or via independent BPO providers.

"These top six American health insurers cover more than 130 million Americans. One could just imagine the claims they process every day as well as the clinical support services they require," Romulo said.

"Substantially lower cost is the biggest factor driving US health insurers to transfer jobs to Manila. Studies suggest they stand to generate around 30 percent in potential cost-savings once they convey the jobs here," he said.

"The huge cost-savings are impossible to ignore, especially since we are talking here of New York Stock Exchange-listed American health insurers under constant pressure to report ever-increasing profits to their public shareholders," he said.

That the Philippines has tens of thousands of college-educated, fluent English-speaking professionals, including nurses and other health practitioners, ready to staff the back offices is another advantage, according to Romulo.

He also said the Philippines' new Data Privacy Protection Law is helping to encourage outsourcing to Manila.

"The back offices of American health insurers handle and process a great deal of highly sensitive personal information of patients. Our new law assures them of adequate safeguards," he said.

Authored by Romulo, Republic Act 10173 compels all entities, including BPO firms, to protect the confidentiality of personal information collected from clients and stored in information technology (IT) systems, in compliance with strict international

privacy standards.

The back offices of US health insurers perform multifaceted support functions such as clinical quality analysis and management, medical billing coordination, medical data coding, claims processing, premium and benefit administration, agency management, account reconciliation, policy research, underwriting support, new business processing, and policy servicing, among others.

Romulo said another factor driving US insurers to relegate jobs to Manila is Obamacare, or the US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which mandates reforms to simplify and cut down the cost of health care in America (http://is.gd/kHEWa9)

Sun Star

Philippines to acquire helicopters, trucks in bid to modernize military

The Philippine's defense chief says the government has signed separate contracts worth 163 billion pesos (about $39 million) with Italian and South Korean companies to supply helicopters and trucks as part of efforts to modernize its poorly equipped military.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Thursday the Philippines will purchase three multi-purpose AW 109 helicopters for its navy from AugustaWestland SPA of Italy amounting to 1.33 billion pesos ($32 million).

He says Kia Motors Corp. will supply 60 field ambulances and 12 trucks all worth 300.78 million ($7.33 million) pesos.

Gazmin says the purchases show the country's "louder and clearer" intent to modernize its military.

The Philippine military is fighting a decades-long communist insurgency and battling Islamic militants while facing increasing tension over territorial disputes with China in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea).

Posted in Washington Post, Copyright 2012 The Associated Press (http://is.gd/fY9RJY)

635 Foreigners; 390 Taiwanese, 137 Chinese, 32 Skoreans, 25 Americans Deported from the Philippines

As reported by Focus Taiwan News channel , 390 Taiwanese suspects deported from Philippines in 2012.

A total of 635 foreigners -- including 390 Taiwanese -- who were suspected of criminal acts were deported from the Philippines this year, according to a year-end report released by the Philippine Bureau of Immigration Wednesday.

The deportees were more than four times the number recorded in 2011, the report said.

Apart from Taiwanese, the deported criminal suspects include 137 Chinese nationals, 32 South Koreans and 25 Americans, the report said.

Immigration bureau chief Ricardo David said the deported foreigners were suspected of breaking the law, such as residing without effective permits, entering the Philippines without visas, forging IDs, involvement in illegal gambling, conducting scams or selling drugs.

The Taiwanese and Chinese deportees were mostly arrested on charges of conducting telecommunication scams, David Said (http://is.gd/JPHWNV)

 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

To Honor the prophet “Jose Rizal” Rizalians; over china’s “Confucians”

Welcome to the Rizalian's Archipelago!.

If Chinese ethical and philosophical system china's Confucians remain strong in the East Asia particularly in the communist China which spread to nearby Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam; Rizalian is also strong and vocal over the former Austronesia's– the Philippines, and the Southeast Asia.

Confucianism is a developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (孔夫子 Kǒng Fūzǐ, or K'ung-fu-tzu, lit. "Master Kong", 551–479 BC), which became the official state ideology of China. Though Confucianism is also for good intention, it is the Communist Ideology to reverse the teaching of Confucius for its bad intentions quoting "According to Confucius" Everything under the sun is owned by china that is why we owned the Philippines and everything we want as what we want. Communist China also believe in the ideology "What is mine is mine; what is yours IS MINE TOO".

Unlike Confucius who has a lot of theories; Jose Rizal is just a Filipino who reformed and ousted the most powerful abusing Spanish government in the "Rizalian Archipelgo". With Jose Rizal's famous  phrases, the mostly followed phrase by the young makabayan is "Youth is the hope of our Motherland".

With Jose Rizal's teachings and geniuses, he created series of magic shows to the people of Dapitan in Zambaoanga del Norte during his exile which for the eye of the poor Dapitanons the trick is not just a magic shows to entertain them but a mystical power, His ability turned him into a "prophet" , a "God" for Dapitanons, where the birth of the Religious Organization "the Rizalians" born.

Jose Rizal is so admirable, so genius, a man who could speak 22 languages, an ophthalmologist, sculptor, painter, educator, farmer, historian, playwright and journalist. Besides poetry and creative writing, he dabbled, with varying degrees of expertise, in architecture, cartography, economics, ethnology, anthropology, sociology, dramatics, martial arts, fencing and pistol shooting.

We would like to feature today the Article written by Bernard Karganilla, published in Malaya Business Insights (http://is.gd/hu3yaW) titled "Rizal and the broken dawn.

"Rizal and the broken dawn"

By: Bernard Karganilla

'How will the Philippines, now more than 100 years into Rizal's predicted future, endure? Hopefully, the fundamentals are sound.'

FROM the speech of the optimistic Sandoval on the future of the Philippines:

"Spain is now breaking the eastern sky for her beloved Philippines, and the times are changing, as I positively know, faster than we imagine. This government, which, according to you, is vacillating and weak, should be strengthened by our confidence, that we may make it see that it is the custodian of our hopes. Let us remind it by our conduct (should it ever forget itself, which I do not believe can happen) that we have faith in its good intentions and that it should be guided by no other standard than justice and the welfare of all the governed."

Such breath-taking naiveté negated by another declamation, this time from Simoun to Basilio:

"What will you be in the future? A people without character, a nation without liberty – everything you have will be borrowed, even your very defects! You beg for Hispanization, and do not pale with shame when they deny it you! And even if they should grant it to you, what then – what have you gained? At best, a country of pronunciamentos, a land of civil wars, a republic of the greedy and the malcontents…"

All characters and their missives are from Jose Rizal and his second published novel, "The Reign of Greed" (El Filibusterismo). Pessimists, realists, optimists and the apathetic – all found in Rizal's political fiction as well as in 21st century Philippines. Who will prevail?

Then there's the superstitious. "The meal ended, and while the tea and coffee were being served, both old and young scattered about in different groups. Some took the chessmen, others the cards, while the girls, curious about the future, chose to put questions to a Wheel of Fortune."

And the sublime. "But you must think of other and greater things; the future lies open before you, while for me it is already passing behind; your love is just awakening, while mine is dying; fire burns in your blood, while the chill is creeping into mine. Yet you weep and cannot sacrifice the present for the future, useful as it may be alike to yourself and to your country."

The trivial co-exists with the solemn, thus, Ibarra's father contrasts the inanities of the present with the sacrifices of the past in order to permit the abundance of the future, castigating the protagonist in the process. This time the citations are from Rizal's first published full-length fiction of 19th century society, "The Social Cancer" (Noli Me Tangere).

Rizal's prognostications are more direct and pointed in his non-fiction works, particularly the landmark essays carried in La Solidaridad magazine. "The native is, moreover, very fond of peace and prefers a humble present to a brilliant future. Let the various Filipinos still holding office speak in this matter; they are the most unshaken conservatives."

This is an excerpt from "The Philippines A Century Hence" wherein Rizal famously expressed that a people's destiny can be foretold by opening the book of its past. After establishing the impermanence of alien brutalization of the Malay race, the essayist predicted the independence of the Pearl of the Orient plus the sustainability of that independence against post-Hispanic invaders.

Rizal proved true. After Spain, the United States of America colonized the novelist's homeland, and later still, the Empire of Japan killed one million souls in the Philippines during World War Two.

The coming of the Americans and the Japanese were occasioned by factors endemic to these expansionist societies' imperialist evolution. But the choice of the Philippines as a colony was also governed by the Rizalian Archipelago's strategic features. More so with the shifting balance of power among the rival imperialisms. This was palpable at the times of confrontations and recorded by the participants. Pedro Alejandro Paterno in his May 31, 1898 open letter to his "Beloved Brethren" (the Filipinos) offered a choice: "Under Spain our future is clear, and with all certainty we shall be free and rule. Under the Americans our future is cloudy; we shall certainly be sold and lose our unity; some provinces will become English, others German, others French, others Russian or Chinese."

A similar assessment was made by a non-Filipino 14 years later: "At present, the Philippines are a potential apple of discord thrown into the Balance of Power in the Pacific. The present policy of indefinite retention by us, with undeclared intention, leaves everybody guessing, including ourselves. Now is the accepted time, while the horizon of the future is absolutely cloudless, to ask Japan to sign a treaty agreeing not to annex the Philippine Islands after we give them their independence. By her answer she will show her hand." [James H. Blount. The American Occupation of the Philippines, 1898-1912. NY: The Knickerbocker Press, 1912]

This precarious weighing of the scales continues to bedevil the Philippines, and not to forget, Rizal identified half a dozen potential invaders of his native land. The US retains its status as the world's only superpower, while Japan is still Earth's third-largest economy. And now, the risen East Asian hegemon, which was on Rizal's watch-list, is the second-largest economy.

The apocalypse purportedly heralded in the Mayan Long Count is a bust, but Armageddon is embedded in the Biblical Book of Revelations. Palestine is an unending chain of historical explosives, the Arab-Israeli conflict is the mother of all flashpoints, but the Indo-Pakistani Partition, the East Asian territorial rows and the game of Chinese checkers in the East Seas are all tinderboxes. How will the Philippines, now more than 100 years into Rizal's predicted future, endure?

Hopefully, the fundamentals are sound. "The Filipino has many excellent qualities which go far to make amends for his shortcomings. He is patient and forbearing in the extreme, remarkably sober, plodding, anxious only about providing for his immediate wants, and seldom feels 'the canker of ambitious thoughts.' In his person and his dwelling he may serve as a pattern of cleanliness to all other races in the tropical East. He has little thought beyond the morrow, and therefore never racks his brains about events of the far future in the political world, the world to come, or any other sphere…" [John Foreman. The Philippine Islands: A Political, Geographical, Ethnographical, Social and Commercial History of the Philippine Archipelago. London: T. Fisher Unwin, MCMVI]

Otherwise: penyakit itu tiada akan semboh, siapa akan tahu? {If that disease is not to be cured, then who can tell?}

Philippines Finland - 17th most generous country in the world

It would appear that Filipinos have taken to heart the words of that classic Christmas carol that goes, "at magmula ngayon, kahit hindi Pasko ay magbigayan."

According to the World Giving Index 2012 by British organization Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), the Philippines is the 17th most generous country out of 146 countries included in the study, with a world giving index score of 45 percent.

The World Giving Index ranked countries based on three "giving behaviors:" donating money to a charity, volunteering time for an organization, and helping strangers.

Top 20 countries in the World Giving Index, with score and participation in giving behaviours

  1. Australia
  2. Ireland
  3. Canada
  4. New Zealand
  5. United States of America
  6. Netherlands
  7. Indonesia
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Paraguay
  10. Denmark
  11. Liberia
  12. Iran
  13. Turkmenistan
  14. Qatar
  15. Sri Lanka
  16. Trinidad and Tobago
  17. Finland & The Philippines
  18. Hong Kong
  19. Oman

The Philippines shared the ranking with Finland, who also had a score of 45 percent.,

Meanwhile Australia was ranked the most generous country with a score of 60 percent. Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and the United States rounded out the top five most generous, all ranking high in terms of donating money.

Filipinos, meanwhile, got a relatively low score of only 32 percent when it came to money donations, but ranked fifth overall in terms of volunteering, with a score of 44 percent. This score is the highest of any other country in Southeast Asia. As for helping strangers, Filipinos got a score of 58 percent.

The CAF report said that the country's world giving score has exceeded its five-year average. However, it also said that there was a general decline in charitable acts in recent years, noting a decrease in participation in all three giving behaviors all over the world.

"According to our report, hundreds of millions fewer people have helped others than was the case last year," said CAF Chief Executive John Low in the report's foreword.,

"This has inevitably resulted in a dramatic reduction in charitable support for millions of vulnerable people the world over," he added.

The World Giving Index 2012 was compiled using data collected throughout 2011 and surveyed over 155,000 people. Countries featured in the World Giving Index in previous years that were not surveyed in 2011 do not feature in the 2012 Index.

Fieldwork was conducted by the market research firm, Gallup.

This is the third edition of the World Giving Index (http://is.gd/qWkuxU)

GMA News

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sad Christmas: How Muslims Murdered & Behead family -Christian Elders in Mindanao

Muslim Rebels killing Christian Elders and family in Mindanao and beheading some, a process of ousting Christian Settlers in Mindanao for the "Bangsamoro Semi-autonomous Region" . Reported December 24, 2012

How Filipino Rebels Murdered Church Elder's Family

It's disheartening to note how Filipino Christians in Muslim rebels dominated area of the island Mindanao of the Philippines are being persecuted daily, with the recent murder of a church elder's family and burning of homes.

This indication is contained in a news report by the Release International (www.releaseinternational.org) a United Kingdom based Christian charity adding that one bishop related how he had evacuated his village when news came of an imminent raid by rebels.

Quoting Manila Standard Today, it noted that villagers hid behind rocks by the coast as they watched 300 rebels invade by boat from other islands. On their return to the village, however, they found that a family of five, that of a church elder, had not managed to escape and had been brutally murdered, including their baby. Homes and other property had been burned.

"This is happening against a backdrop of political negotiations between the Filipino Government and rebels about the creation of a new semi-autonomous region "the Bangsamoro". A preliminary peace accord was signed in October to agree the formation of the Bangsamoro region in 2016 – and Filipino media report that a final accord could be signed by the end of the year," the report added.

It continued: "Christians fear this will only cause persecution to intensify. Rebels are operating as if Islamic law is already in force. Christians fear they will be driven out of the area altogether."

According to the report, attacks on their property are common and several churches have been stoned or burned down and that there have even been reports of Christians being beheaded. ( read more here http://is.gd/ElJmvP)

Ground Report 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

CPP-NPA Rebels Call for Peace & Unity with Philippine Government - for a Cabinet post

Philippine rebels call for Aquino 'alliance'

Communist rebels said Thursday they have called for an "alliance" with Philippine President Benigno Aquino to undertake programmes aimed at ending a long insurgency that has killed tens of thousands.

There was no immediate official reaction to the reported offer, which chief rebel negotiator Luis Jalandoni said was made during "special track" talks in the Dutch city of The Hague on Monday and Tuesday.

"The 'special track' means the offer of alliance and truce offered by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to the government of the Philippines," the exiled rebel told reporters in a statement.

Both sides would form a "Committee of National Unity, Peace and Development" to implement agrarian reform, rural development and national industrialization, he added.

"On the basis of the above-mentioned points, a truce would be declared and implemented," Jalandoni said.

The National Democratic Front is a communist-led rebel coalition.

Teresita Deles, who advises Aquino on peace talks, told AFP she could not immediately comment on the supposed offer. Chief government negotiator Alexander Padilla was unavailable for comment.

Padilla had told AFP last year that the Philippine government had rejected the rebels' offer in 2005 of a "coalition" government.

Last year Manila also denied local press reports it was considering offering cabinet posts to rebel leaders including their exiled founder, Jose Maria Sison.

Jalandoni and Sison met Padilla in The Hague this week and agreed to a 26-day nationwide truce from December 21 and another meeting early next year, said a statement by Norway, which mediated the meeting.

Both the military and the communist party's guerrilla arm, the New People's Army, have declared a separate shorter ceasefire over Christmas.

The communists have been waging a rebellion since 1969 and more than 30,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the government. (http://is.gd/jqz6rD)

MSN News

Friday, December 21, 2012

Philippines Running Out of Options in China's Invasion to the territory

The Manila Government running out of Diplomatic options for series of invasion of China in its waters. The Invasion of China in Mischief Reef 75 Miles off Puerto Princesa City, and Scarborough, Panatag Shoal in Zambales province

Philippines Running Out of Options in West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) Disputes

Earlier this year, the Philippines and China teetered on the brink of direct military confrontation over the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, precipitating a series of high-stakes diplomatic exchanges that prevented open conflict but left the underlying dispute unresolved.

Although the episode jolted the Filipino leadership into recognizing the perils of armed brinkmanship with China, Manila's subsequent diplomatic approach to the conflict has achieved little. After almost seven months of intensive diplomatic engagement with China and the states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), regional maritime tensions are still on the rise. Now, facing a potentially more assertive China under a new leadership, and in the absence of an effective regional approach to the ongoing territorial disputes, the Philippines seems to be running out of diplomatic options.

The Philippines finds itself heavily outmatched in asserting its territorial claims against China over a number of disputed islands, outcroppings and other features in the South China Sea. Facing a rapidly advancing Chinese navy and lacking an independent minimum defense capability, Manila has sought greater commitments from Washington to both the principle of freedom of navigation in the western Pacific and U.S. obligations under mutual defense treaties with allied nations in the region, including the Philippines, especially in the event of a direct confrontation with China over the disputed South China Sea territories.

At the same time, the Philippines has also stepped up its diplomatic efforts to peacefully resolve the maritime disputes and appease a resurgent Beijing. Manila is committed to maintaining its expansive economic and investment relations with China. To avoid a direct bilateral confrontation with his country's giant neighbor, President Benigno Aquino's government has attempted to build support for a multilateral legal approach to settling disputes, principally under the auspices of ASEAN.

The current standoff began in April, when Chinese paramilitary forces, backed by the implied threat of naval involvement, overwhelmed Filipino naval forces that were initially deployed to intercept Chinese boats engaged in illegal fishing in the Scarborough Shoal -- an area well within the Philippines' 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Subsequently, despite an agreement for both sides to withdraw vessels to de-escalate the situation, China instead consolidated its physical control over the shoal, effectively shutting off all access to Filipino ships. 

Outgunned and outmaneuvered, the Aquino administration had little choice but to respond with diplomatic measures. Its first resort was to moral suasion, pleading with the international community to pressure Beijing to respect the Philippines' EEZ under the provisions of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. Manila also prepared its legal case for possible future arbitration, unilaterally changed the name of the South China Sea to the "West Philippine Sea" and hosted the first region-wide ASEAN Maritime Forum to rally support against Chinese assertiveness.

A major thrust of its diplomatic push focused on reconciling differences with China, while attempting to convince ASEAN -- currently chaired by China's top regional ally, Cambodia -- to adopt a common front aimed at de-escalating tensions and peacefully resolving disputes in the South China Sea.

In June, the Aquino administration went so far as to effectively circumvent its own Department of Foreign Affairs when it sanctioned backchannel diplomatic efforts, led by a neophyte Filipino legislator with the support of Filipino-Chinese business leaders, to reach out to China. When the effort backfired and Chinese President Hu Jintao refused to meet Aquino on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in September, another special envoy, Secretary of the Interior Mar Roxas, was sent to meet China's leader-in-waiting, Xi Jinping.

Meanwhile, in July, Cambodia blocked the inclusion of South China Sea disputes in the final communiqué of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, provoking an ugly episode of Filipino-Cambodian diplomatic squabbling. In September, Aquino personally reached out to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, meeting him on the sidelines of a royal wedding in Brunei.

By October, the Aquino administration, conscious of the need to build a constructive atmosphere ahead of China's sensitive leadership transition in November, pushed for high-level bilateral talks with Chinese representatives, under the so-called Foreign Ministry Consultations, to bridge outstanding differences.

However, the true test of these efforts came in mid-November at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia, held alongside the pan-regional ASEAN+3 and East Asia Summits, where Aquino was eager to arrive at some agreement with Cambodia and China over the fate of the territorial disputes -- to no avail.

Cambodia blocked even the discussion of the disputes from the summits' agendas, extinguishing any efforts at developing a legally binding regional code of conduct to peacefully resolve maritime disputes in the South China Sea. In response, Aquino launched a formal protest, while prodding the major Pacific powers, particularly the U.S., India and Japan, to play a more decisive role in the disputes. He ominously warned summit participants, especially Cambodia and China, "The ASEAN route is not the only route for us."

Subsequently, Beijing stepped up its maritime claims through a series of provocative measures, including issuing new maritime regulations in Hainan province on the movement of foreign vessels and unveiling a new passport design watermarked with a map representing the full extent of China's territorial claims across Asia.

As a result of its failed diplomacy, an anxious Manila is being gradually forced to adopt a more hawkish posture, including a further revitalization of military-strategic ties with the U.S. and other sympathetic Pacific powers. However, the Aquino administration faces major obstacles to closer defense ties with the U.S., including constitutional restrictions on the establishment of any permanent U.S. military presence, fierce domestic political opposition to such a move. The strategic and economic importance of China to both the Philippines and the U.S. further constrains the two allies' freedom of maneuver. So while diplomacy has yet to achieve major breakthroughs, it still might be Manila's best option.

Richard Javad Heydarian is a Manila-based foreign affairs analyst specializing on Asia-Pacific and Middle East affairs. He has been a regular contributor to the Asia Times, Huffington Post, the Diplomat, IPS News and Russia Today. ( http://is.gd/1Rjl5b)

World Politcs Review

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