Sunday, June 30, 2013

Philippines Central Bank: Liquidity widens 16.3% to ₱5.3Trillion in May 2013

Liquidity or money circulating in the financial system expanded by 16.3 percent to 5.3 trillion in May from 4.6 trillion, fueled largely by domestic lending activities by banks, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported Friday.

"This growth was faster relative to the 13.3-percent expansion recorded in the previous month," the central bank noted. Money supply reached $5.188 trillion in April from $4.6 trillion year-on-year.

"The continued expansion in domestic liquidity during the month indicates sufficient liquidity to sustain the economy's growth momentum," Bangko Sentral said.

Net domestic assets increased by 28.2 percent in May from 19.4 percent in April, largely on credits to the private sector that reflected the robust lending activity of commercial banks.

Claims on the public sector grew by 8.3 percent in May after rising by 12 percent in April, reflecting an increase in credits to the national government.

Net domestic assets refers to a country's commercial bank and central bank lending to private or government borrowers.

Net foreign assets, however, slowed down to 0.9 percent in May from 2.9 percent in April. Bangko Sentral's position on this account rose by 4.4 percent in the same comparable period, helped overseas Filipinos' remittances and business process outsourcing receipts.

According to Bangko Sentral, net foreign assets of banks declined with a corresponding increase in foreign liabilities that reflect deposits by foreign banks with other banks while their foreign assets continued to decrease as their loan receivables from and deposits with foreign banks declined.

Bangko Sentral said it is monitoring monetary conditions to ensure that liquidity levels support economic activity without stoking too much of inflation.  

Yahoo News / GMA News

Fil-Am Judge Schofield had no Filipino consciousness, “I am not Filipino, I was an American baby”

Lorna Gail Schofield, the first Filipino-American in the history of the United States to serve as an Article III federal judge. "I am not Filipino, I was an American baby". Photo: Filipino Reporter

Fil-Am judge Lorna Schofield: 'I had no Filipino consciousness growing up'

"I was an American baby."

Thus began the unambiguous narrative of Lorna Gail Tiangco Schofield, 57, recently confirmed judge of the Southern District of New York and first Filipino American federal judge in U.S. history.

Born in Indiana, Schofield traced her roots to New Haven's blue collar community. Her father left the family when she was 3. Her mother, Priscilla Tiangco, a pharmacist from Batangas who graduated from UP, raised her as a single parent.

"There were no other Filipino families in New Haven," she said when interviewed by The FilAm at her office at the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse on Foley Square in downtown Manhattan. She recalled two Filipino families in nearby Fort Wayne, but interaction with them was largely limited to holidays.

In her classroom, she had only one African American and two Hispanic classmates. She was the only Asian.

"I didn't have much of an Asian identity," she said. "The people of Indiana overlooked the fact that I was different…that my mother spoke with an accent."

What she remembers, and this story made her laugh as she drew from the well of her past, was being cast in the annual Christmas pageant as the one of the three Marys.

"I was always the Asian Mary and I would be with the White Mary and the Black Mary holding a baby," she recalled while motioning a cradling gesture with both arms.

Schofield conceded being raised an all-American girl. No speaking Tagalog at home, and eating potatoes while her mother ate rice. Hence, she acknowledged no real Filipino consciousness developed as she was growing up. She did not feel like a minority.

"I have a theory," she said on why her mother raised her the way she did. "She was in college during the war. I read her transcript, and one of her years in college was interrupted. When the Americans came, she saw them as liberators and heroes. Since then, she wanted to become American, marry an American and have American children." Her mother died when Schofield was 20.

Schofield was previously married, and has a daughter who is now 25. "There she is," she pointed to a framed portrait of a young woman dressed as if she was going to a prom, sitting on her bookshelf. Schofield is her father's name, not her ex-husband's.

The judge declined the use of a tape recorder for our interview, but relented on being photographed. She was dressed in a business suit of lime green stripes with ruffled hem, and made a remark about hoping to "not look frivolous." The photo op was held at the courthouse lobby where our camera was being held by the building's security.

"Top floors are overrated," she said by way of a joke, as we were coming down the stairs from her second-floor chambers. True, the views are worth living in a Manhattan high-rise, but she said she's quite pleased with her lower-level office and preferred the convenience of easy exit in case of an emergency.

From lawyer to judge

She showed us a PowerPoint album of her family – her mother as a young bride; her mother together with her father dressed in his Air Force uniform; herself when she was 5 photographed with her mouth slightly open as if she was caught in the middle of a conversation. It was her fifth birthday party in the Philippines, and she was photographed with all her first cousins.

When Senator Charles Schumer recommended her, and later President Obama nominated her, to the position of Article III Judge of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, Schofield reached out to the Filipino community for support. Diversity was important to the process; it was to Senator Schumer and to President Obama, she said.

She didn't know any Filipino organizations, but the community, such as lawyers groups, also reached out to her and welcomed her warmly. In the past year and a half, she has become visible, speaking at clubs and marching in the June 2 Philippine Independence Day Parade on Madison Avenue.

"After my mother died I had no contact with Filipinos," she said, her contact limited to her mother's sister in Manila, until she too died a few years later.

On December 14, 2012, her historic confirmation as the first Filipino American federal judge in American history was announced. In congratulating her, the Asian American Bar Association of New York described Schofield as "a highly qualified jurist" whose life story is the "epitome of the American Dream."

Schofield is now discovering, perhaps for the first time, her Filipino identity. After receiving the support of Filipino organizations in the confirmation process, she pledged to try to give back to the Filipino community whenever asked, of course within the considerable ethical constraints placed on federal judges.

Fil-Am judge will address PH forum

Judge Lorna Gail Schofield will address the Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund (FALDEF) on March 1 in her maiden public appearance after being named the first Filipino-American in the history of the United States to serve as an Article III federal judge, the Filipino Reporter has learned.

Schofield, who turned 57 on Jan. 27, was a distinguished attorney with the prestigious Manhattan firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP since 1988 specializing on complex civil litigation and white collar criminal defense.

She was nominated by President Barack Obama in April 2012 to succeed Judge Shira Sheindlin (ret.) on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Her nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a 91-0 vote on Dec. 13 and was welcomed with pride by the entire Asian-American community.

Article III judges are nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate and appointed to lifetime tenure.

The FALDEF fund-raiser will be held at the official residence of Philippine Consul General in New York Mario de Leon, Jr. on 66th Street in Manhattan.

Details of the program and list of other guests of honor are still being finalized, according to organizers.

FALDEF is also reportedly eyeing as a guest of honor Filipino Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who came out in 2011 as an undocumented immigrant and helped bring to the political forefront the immigration reform issue.

FALDEF is a national organization that provides pro bono legal services to members of the Filipino-American community who are suffering legal injustices by reason of their immigrant origins and status and unable to engage legal aid and assistance on account of poverty.

It was helped and established by the late civil rights advocate John A. Payton, head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense and Education Fund.

'Mixed marriage' child

As an only child born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and grew up in New Haven, Indiana, Schofield is a second-generation Fil-Am and the product of what used to be called a "mixed marriage" — her late mother, Priscilla Tiangco Schofield, was a Filipina war bride from Batangas City, Philippines, who married an American serviceman.

"My father left us when I was 3," Schofield disclosed in past interview with The College Magazine of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University (IU).

"My mother came to the United States because of her idealism about the country that had saved her during World War II, and remained here, I believe, because of the stigma and shame she would have suffered had she returned to the Philippines as a divorced woman. She was a pharmacist and stressed achievement, independence and self-sufficiency as essential values."

Prior to joining the Manhattan law firm, she served for four years as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, where her significant cases involved prosecuting domestic terrorism, arms smuggling, and tax fraud.

Schofield is "a top-flight lawyer who would be excellent as a federal judge," New York Sen. Charles Schumer said in a statement shortly after recommending her nomination to the President.

"She would make a uniquely experienced and talented judge on the Southern District Bench."

As the first Asian-American to be elected chair of the 70,000-member litigation section of the American Bar Association, she has been named a Super Lawyer for five years in a row by Super Lawyers magazine.

In 2008, she was named one of the nation's 50 most influential minority lawyers by the National Law Journal.

Magna cum laude

Schofield, double-majored in English and German on full scholarship and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude in three years from Indiana University, and earned her J.D. from New York University (NYU) Law School, where she served as editor of the NYU Law Review and a Pomeroy scholar.

She went to work at the law firm of Clearly, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, and later became an assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, where she worked as a prosecutor on cases involving domestic terrorism, arms smuggling and tax fraud.

As one of the top lawyers in the U.S., she's best known for successfully defending talk show host Rosie O'Donnell at trial in a multi-million lawsuit brought by the publishers of the defunct Rosie magazine.

In an interview with the IU magazine, Schofield said representing O'Donnell in 2003 was her most memorable — and most fun — case.

O'Donnell's publishers sued her for $300 million over her decision to terminate her interest in Rosie magazine after the company attempted to seize editorial control from her.

By the end of the contentious litigation, the presiding judge, not content with merely stopping the case, admonished lawyers for the publishing group, saying their case was "ill-conceived."

'Larger than life'

"She's a genius in a completely different way from the lawyers I work with, and she's earnest and funny and larger than life," O'Donnell described Schofield.

Since 2006, Schofield has been a director of Rosie's for All Kids Foundation, which provides non-profit organizations funding for at-risk children, parents, care-givers and teachers.

Schofield's law practice reads like best-selling legal novel, according to the IU magazine.

She took the Zenith Electronics Corporation private on behalf of its largest shareholder and creditor, a Korean multinational company, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court; obtained a $10 million award on behalf of an individually owned business for breach of a finder's agreement; secured a multi-million-dollar damages judgment in a business fraud case on behalf of a foreign bank; and secured criminal convictions in multiple jury trials as a prosecutor.

"One interesting case was early in my career as a prosecutor, against a group of African-American radicals, defendants who were charged with plotting to blow up armored cars and break political radicals out of prison," she recalled.

"The verdict was split — an acquittal on the conspiracy charges, and convictions on the weapons possession charges," she said.

"I guess it was hard to argue with the sawed off shotguns, Uzis and ammo found in their homes. I remember their supporters taunting me outside the courtroom and saying 'Go back to your country. You don't belong here. You have yellow skin.' I was young and stunned that people who themselves had endured racism could be so racist."

She continued: "I did not feel like a minority student at IU. The atmosphere at IU was fun. It was so big it had something for everyone — culture (high brow and low brow), sports (basketball and swimming), and all the craziness of thousands of kids living away from home for the first time and trying to figure out who they were."

With sources from GMA News and Filipino Reporter

Philippines Slams China's Threatening of War as "Uncivilized Provocative Language" instead of PEACE

New recruits of the Chinese Navy march with their guns during the parade marking the end of their first training session in Qingdao, Shandong province. Reuters/Stringer

PH slams China for retaliation threat

Philippines scored China's "provocative" threat of retaliation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) on Saturday, urging Beijing to defer instead to peaceful means of resolving maritime disputes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs reminded China of its obligation under international law to settle disputes without the use of threat or force.

"China has an obligation under international law, especially the UN Charter, to pursue a peaceful resolution of disputes, meaning without the use of force, the threat to use force such as this recent provocative statement of a counterstrike," said DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez.

"There is no place in the relations of civilized nations to use such provocative language," he added.

Hernandez made the statement in response to the Chinese People's Daily's scathing commentary on the Philippines on Saturday, which warned of a "counterstrike" as it accused Manila of "seven sins" in the disputed West Philippine Sea, which is how the Philippine government calls part of the South China Sea that is within in exclusive economic zone.

Among other things, the paper, a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, accused the Philippines of "illegal occupation" of the Spratly Islands, part of which Manila contends to be within its exclusive economic zone.

The commentary also blasted the Philippines for advocating the "internationalization" of the waters, a critical international sea lane that has been under the close watch of Philippine allies, the United States in particular.

Navy trainees show their capability during a log-handling exercise in Sangley Point in Cavite City on Tuesday. Danny Pata - Manila Standard Today

China issued its criticism amid war games between the Philippines and the US Navy off the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, a territory in the West Philippine Sea that saw a tense standoff between Philippine and Chinese ships last year. At least three Chinese patrol vessels are known to still be in the area.

The commentary also came out as leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met in Brunei in hopes of drafting a legally binding Code of Conduct that is aimed at ensuring peace in the disputed waters.

Despite Beijing's sharp statements, the DFA called for sobriety and invoked peace in hopes of averting further escalation of tensions.

"We call on China to be a responsible member in the community of nations. The way towards a peaceful resolution of disputes is through the dispute resolution mechanism under the UN Charter, which is rules-based, transparent, binding and non-provocative," said Hernandez.

"A peaceful and rules-based resolution to the disputes in the West Philippine Sea is durable and beneficial to all and will ensure peace and stability in the region," he added.

The Philippines haled China to arbitral proceedings in the United Nations in January in a bid to peacefully settle the maritime dispute. The move has gained the support of the United States, the European Parliament and Japan, which also has a dispute  with China in the East China Sea.

Now pending before a five-member arbitral tribunal, the legal action seeks to prevent further Chinese incursions into established Philippine maritime boundaries in the West Philippine Sea and to invalidate Beijing's "excessive" nine-dash line claim encompassing almost all of the South China Sea.

China has rejected the proceedings, asserting "indisputable sovereignty" over the West Philippine Sea. It has been calling for a bilateral solution to its territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan. The Philippines has meanwhile been pushing for a multilateral approach.

With report from Inquirer

Thursday, June 27, 2013

After invading Panatag and Panganiban reef; China ask the Philippines to trust them for peace

Why Should Philippines trust China?

China asked the Philippines to have access for Panganiban reef as their fishermen's shelter in Palawan province during stormy days. Since China and the Philippines maintain mutual trusts, the Philippine government allowed them to fish in the Philippine waters and used the Panganiban reef (Mischief Reef) then later china ban the Philippines from entering Panganiban reef and converted the place into china's military garrison in Palawan. This incident triggered a question if the Philippines should continue trusting china or not.

The previous years, Philippines start banning Chinese fishermen after the incident in Palawan province where the guns of china in Panganiban reef are now aiming towards Palawan inside the Philippine territory. The mutual trusts of the Philippines to china ended into invasion.

Last year, the Philippine Coast Guard while continue patrolling the country's Exclusive Economic Zone, a group of Chinese ships found harvesting endangered marine species in Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) which Philippine Coast Guard supposed to board the illegal fishermen's ship but china government blocked the Philippine government ended into standoff.

Both the Philippines and China agreed to leave the shoal for peace but later then china returned back to Panatag Shoal and blocked the access of the Philippines in its territory then controlled the shoal shoooeing away Filipino fishermen.

China is so determined in invading and bullying the Philippines that even claimed that the Philippines is part of china as said in their Government Television.

With the series of incidents of china's aggression, should the Philippines maintained mutual trusts with china?

Push for peace, China tells Philippines

China on Thursday urged the Philippines to work for regional peace after Manila revived plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base that American forces could use to counter China's creeping presence in the disputed South China Sea.

The bases would allow the Philippines to station warships and fighter jets just 124 nautical miles from Scarborough Shoal, a contentious area of the South China Sea now controlled by China after a tense standoff last year.

"China urges the Philippines and regional countries to meet one another halfway, make joint efforts to maintain mutual trust between countries, make positive efforts towards regional peace and security and play a constructive role," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news conference in Beijing.

The Philippine navy, whose resources and battle capabilities are no match for China's growing naval might, has yet to formally present its 10-billion-peso (230 million U.S. dollars) base development plan to President Benigno Aquino.

But senior officials say they believe it has a strong chance of winning approval as Aquino seeks to upgrade the country's decrepit forces.

There is no plan to allow the United States to rebuild its old bases, a sensitive issue in the Philippines where a nationalist backlash against the U.S. military helped lead to the 1992 closure of Subic and Clark Air Base.

New Philippine air and naval bases, however, would give visiting U.S. warships more security to launch operations in the South China Sea and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. A Visiting Forces Agreement, ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999, allows U.S. forces full access to Philippine bases.

With report from ABS-CBN News 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Armed Forces of the Philippines plans to build 30 Hectare Air, Naval bases ASAP in Subic for American Forces

An aerial view of Cubi Point, and in the background, Naval Station Subic Bay. Photo: Wikipedia

Manila plans air, naval bases at Subic with access for U.S., officials say

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippine military has revived plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base that American forces could use to counter China's creeping presence in the disputed South China Sea, senior navy officials said.

The proposed bases in the Philippines, a close U.S. ally, coincides with a resurgence of U.S. warships, planes and personnel in the region as Washington turns its attention to a newly assertive China and shifts its foreign, economic and security policy towards Asia.

The bases would allow the Philippines to station warships and fighter jets just 124 nautical miles from Scarborough Shoal, a contentious area of the South China Sea now controlled by China after a tense standoff last year.

The Philippine navy, whose resources and battle capabilities are no match for China's growing naval might, has yet to formally present its 10-billion-peso ($230 million) base development plan to President Benigno Aquino III.

But senior officials say they believe it has a strong chance of winning approval as Aquino seeks to upgrade the country's decrepit forces.

The Philippine Congress last year approved $1.8 billion for military modernization, with the bulk going to acquisition of ships, aircraft and equipment such as radar. The military had raised the plan in the past, but is now pushing it with more urgency following a series of naval stand-offs with China.

"The chances of this plan taking off under President Aquino are high because his administration has been very supportive in terms of equipment upgrade," said a senior military officer who asked not to be identified.

"The people around him understood our needs and more importantly, what our country is facing at this time."

Subic, a deep-water port sheltered by jungle-clad mountains 80 km (50 miles) north of Manila, has been a special economic zone since U.S. forces were evicted in 1992, ending 94 years of American military presence in the Philippines and shutting the largest U.S. military installation in Southeast Asia.

Since then, American warships and planes have been allowed to visit the Philippines for maintenance and refueling.

U.S. military "rotations" through the Philippines have become more frequent as Beijing grows more assertive in the South China Sea, a vast expanse of mineral-rich waters and vital sea lanes claimed entirely by China, Taiwan and Vietnam and in part by Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines - one of Asia's biggest security flashpoints.

A 30-hectare (74-acre) area has been identified for the bases, which would station fighter jets and the Philippines' biggest warships that patrol the disputed sea, including two Hamilton-class cutter ships it acquired for free from the United States.

The plan has taken on added urgency since a tense two-month standoff last year between Chinese and Philippine ships at the Scarborough Shoal, which is only about 124 nautical miles off the Philippine coast. Chinese ships now control the shoal, often chasing away Filipino fishermen.

U.S. and Philippine navy ships begin war games near the shoal on Thursday.

The South China Sea dispute will again loom large over regional diplomacy next week when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry joins his counterparts from Southeast Asian nations and China among other countries for an annual meeting in Brunei.

The Philippines plans to raise the issue of Chinese ships' "encroachment" near another disputed coral reef where Manila recently beefed up its small military presence, diplomatic sources told Reuters. China in turn has accused the Philippines of "illegal occupation" of the reef, which is a strategic gateway to an area believed to be rich in oil and natural gas.

RISE IN U.S. NAVY VISITS

There is no plan to allow the United States to rebuild its old bases, a sensitive issue in the Philippines where a nationalist backlash against the U.S. military helped lead to the 1992 closure of Subic and Clark Air Base.

New Philippine air and naval bases, however, would give visiting U.S. warships more security to launch operations in the South China Sea and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. A Visiting Forces Agreement, ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999, allows U.S. forces full access to Philippine bases.

With report from the Virginia Gazette 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

United Nations Sea Tribunal picks new judge for Philippines-China Sea disputes after Sri-Lanka resigned

UN picks new judge for Philippines-China dispute

The International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea has named a judge from Ghana to replace the recently resigned Sri Lankan member of a United Nations five-man arbitral tribunal set up to hear the Philippines' complaint over China's territorial claims in the South China Sea, a Philippine official said Tuesday.

Raul Hernandez, spokesman for the Philippine Foreign Affairs Department, said Ghanaian judge Thomas Mensah has been named to replace Sri Lankan Judge Chris Pinto.

Pinto removed himself from the tribunal on May 6 to avoid potential accusations of conflict of interest because he is married to a Filipino woman.

The five members of the tribunal under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea were appointed in April with Pinto serving as president.

Mensah will serve as president of the arbitral tribunal, which will determine whether it can acquire jurisdiction over the Philippine complaint and proceed to look into Manila's case.

The other four judges are Rudiger Wolfrum of Germany, Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, Jean-Pierre Cot of France and Alfred Soons of the Netherlands.

"The five-member arbitral tribunal will now organize itself and establish its own rules and regulations," Hernandez said.

The Philippines filed its Notification and Statement of Claims against China last Jan. 22 in a bid to resolve the two countries' territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

China has rejected the Philippine move which Beijing sees as a "political provocation under the disguise of legal procedures."

At the ASEAN senior officials meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei earlier this month, a diplomat said China had asked the Philippines to drop the case.

Manila has ignored Beijing's plea, saying compulsory arbitration is imperative to counter China's expansive "9-dash line" claim in the South China Sea.

Manila insisted that arbitration is "a peaceful and durable form of dispute settlement pursuant to international law."

"We have everything to gain in this legal exercise, we have nothing to lose," a Philippine diplomat told Kyodo News, adding the Philippines' filing of the arbitration case is consistent with its rules-based approach to the South China Sea dispute.

"Arbitration is not an unfriendly act but a peaceful way of resolving disputes," the diplomat said.

The islets, reefs, shoals and cays in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea are claimed entirely by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, and in part by Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Source: Kyodo News / ABS-CBN News

Monday, June 24, 2013

$1.4 Billion USD (₱60 Billion PHP) LRT 1 Extension Push through in spite of China-Railway linked protest

Ecorail Transport Services Inc. - businessman Reghis Romero II tied up with China Railway Construction Corporation disqualified the bidding for late submission filed a case in the Supreme Court to stop the bidding.

DOTC to proceed with LRT 1 Ext bidding

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is set to push through with the bidding of the proposed 60 billion project extending the Light Rail Transit line 1 (LRT 1) all the way to Bacoor in Cavite from Baclaran in Pasay City despite a law suit filed by a disqualified bidder.

DOTC Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla said in a text message that the agency would pursue the largest infrastructure project under the Aquino administration despite the case filed by Ecorail Transport Services Inc. of businessman Reghis Romero II before the Supreme Court seeking to stop the bidding process.

"The DOTC stands by its decision to bid out the project and believes that there is no legal basis for the suit," Lotilla stressed.

Ecorail, which was disqualified by the DOTC during the pre-qualification process, filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus, with application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and writ of preliminary injunction against the DOTC and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) before the High Tribunal to stop the bidding process.

Ecorail specifically named Rene Limcaoco, who is the DOTC undersecretary for planning and vice-chairman of the Special Bids and Awards Committee, as a respondent in the suit.

In a five-page urgent motion for the issuance of a TRO, Ecorail asked the Supreme Court to enjoin the DOTC and LRTA from proceeding with the bidding process of the LRT Line 1 South Extension Project.

Ecorail has tied up with China Railway Construction Corp. in submitting a proposal to the DOTC to undertake the entire 60 billion project, including the 30 billion acquisition of trains as well as the 30 billion civil works, claiming it has enough funds to undertake the entire project.

Under its proposed joint venture, Ecorail said the participation of the government would be to provide the land for the project. In return, the government would get a share in fare revenues.

The company claimed in its petition that the DOTC issued a General Bid Bulletin calling interested parties to submit their bid proposals for the project while negotiations between Ecorail and the DOTC were on-going.

For his part, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya lamented Ecorail's move to file a case before the Supreme Court after failing to prequalify for the project because of late submission.

"It is quite unfortunate that Ecorail had to go up to the Supreme Court. They actually participated in the bid but did not prequalify," Abaya said in a text message.

Last November, the DOTC's special bids and awards committee cleared the participation of the Light Rail Manila Consortium, MTD-Samsung Group, San Miguel Infrastructure Resources Inc., and DMCI Holdings Inc. after beating the Oct. 22 deadline.

The Light Rail Manila consortium is led by First Pacific's Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) with 33 percent, followed by diversified conglomerate Ayala Corp., while the MTD-Samsung group is composed of MTD Capital Bhd. and Samsung C&T Corp.

Diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp., through San Miguel Infra Resources Inc., lead the group composed of GS Engineering and Construction Corp. and POSCO Engineering and Construction Co Ltd, while DMCI has tied up with Marubeni Corp. and Sistema Tranporte Collectivo Metrorey.

Of the total project cost, the government is spending P30 billion for the acquisition of 39 new light rail vehicles (LRVs) for the project through an official development assistance (ODA) loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

With report from philSTAR

Government will spend ₱2 Billion for new Philippine Airforce runway in Cagayan de oro

The government will set aside about ₱1 billion to redevelop Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro City into an air force base.

Gov't sets aside 2B for dev't of airports

The government has earmarked about 2 billion over the next two years to redevelop and redesignate airports in Cavite and Cagayan de Oro to decongest the country's main gateway, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in Metro Manila.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said the plan would be implemented in two stages, starting with the relocation of an air force base in Sangley Point, Cavite to Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro.

With Sangley Point freed up, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) may redevelop the area into a general aviation services hub for Metro Manila.

The main hub for general aviation services—which include flying schools and corporate flights—is currently located at the Naia complex, which borders the cities of Pasay and Parañaque.

Abaya estimated that it would cost the government 1 billion to have the Philippine Air Force replicate its facilities in Lumbia, which used to be the gateway to Cagayan de Oro before Laguindingan Airport was opened earlier this month.

"We will give them [Philippine Air Force] a year to relocate," Abaya said, referring to the 15th Strike Wing housed at the Danilo Atienza Air Base in Sangley Point.

"Once they have transferred we can take possession of Sangley and develop it for a year for another 1 billion," Abaya said, describing a general aviation hub that may serve all the needs of Metro Manila.

Sangley has also been considered as a possible site for a new international airport. The plan is being pursued by a Filipino consortium and a Malaysian group.

Abaya confirmed that one of the contenders is William Tieng of the Solar Group.

"In Sangley, there are two proponents. They are finishing their feasibility studies," Abaya said.

The DOTC has been looking into options to increase runway efficiency and decongest flights at Naia. Part of the plan is to develop provincial airports into international air facilities.

"It is very important for tourists to land very close to the beach or their hotel rooms. So when tourists fly directly to a provincial international airport, that may further decongest Naia," Abaya said.

With report from Inquirer and CDODev.com

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Chinese Ship entered and anchored Cebu Malapascua for more than 1 month undetected by the Philippine Authorities

Chinese cargo ship seized in Cebu

Authorities took custody yesterday of 24 Chinese crewmen after their cargo ship was seized while anchored near a marine sanctuary in Cebu for the past 33 days, allegedly without informing the government of their arrival in the country.

Commodore William Melad, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Central Visayas district commander, said that the 19,998-gross ton M/V Ming Yuan, a Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier built in 2007, has been staying in the country since May 19 but failed to notify the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Melad admitted that it took some time before the Chinese crew cooperated with authorities because it did not immediately allow the PCG personnel, accompanied by officers from the BI, BOC and the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), to board their ship yesterday morning.

"They would not allow us to board. Normally, they would lower the accommodation ladder. But we insisted, so finally they allowed us to board the ship. We properly identified ourselves on radio that we are from the Philippine Coast Guard and we have the BOC and BI with us. Maybe there was just a miscommunication at the beginning of the discussion," Melad added.

It took them about two hours to convince the foreigners to allow them to enter the vessel and another two hours of ship inspection before they were told to transfer to another site where they would be better monitored by the PCG.

He explained that the Ming Yuan was a commercial vessel and normally when they enter the country they should have a notice of arrival to the corresponding agencies such as the BOC, BI and the PPA.

The problem is there was no notice of arrival and the ship has been here since May 19, he said.

The Chinese were in the area between Malapascua Island and Carnasa Island.

The ship was anchored in the area, a famous beach area and dive spot located near a marine sanctuary.

Melad admitted that this was the second time that they boarded the ship.

Last week, they entered the ship's premises but it was for port state control purposes where they only checked the seaworthiness of the vessel. The ship passed the inspection.

But at past 4 a.m. yesterday, the officers from the four different government agencies again approached the vessel anchored some 5.3 nautical miles off Malapascua Island.

"So (at 6 a.m.), we found out that they had no notice of arrival so definitely there is a violation here. The Bureau of Immigration confiscated their passports and seaman's book because they did not ask permission to enter (the country)," the PCG official said.

The Chinese nationals are not allowed to leave their ship.

Melad also believed that the ship should not be staying near Malapascua so the PCG escorted them to another anchorage area for foreign vessels specified by the PPA, which is located in the northern part of Cebu where there is a PCG detachment that could guard the Chinese ship.

The PCG also learned that the Chinese ship plans to go to Leyte where the vessel owner was reportedly looking for clients and cargo to transport.

When they checked the ship, it appeared that they had not yet found any client since the cargo hold was empty.

He also wondered why the vessel was anchored in Cebu, which was in Region 7, when their intended client was in Region 8.

The latest seizure of the Chinese ship came at a time when the Philippines and China are embroiled in a territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

Last April, 12 Chinese crewmembers were ordered arrested and detained after their vessel ran aground at the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea.

PCG Cebu commander Weniel Azcuna said on the first week of June, local fishermen and officials of Malapascua reported to the PCG the arrival of the foreign cargo vessel.

Azcuna said that the captain of the Ming Yuan informed the PCG that the vessel came from Taipei, Taiwan before the ship stopped in Malapascua en route to Isabel, Leyte.

Azcuna said the ship captain claimed that the Ming Yuan was supposed to pick up cargo in Leyte but since it was not yet ready, the crew chose to temporarily stay in Malapascua.

Azcuna said that the owner of the vessel would have to pay fines to the BI and customs bureau for not notifying the agency of their presence.

He clarified that the PCG deals more with ship safety.

"It's a newly built ship, so when we conducted the inspection, there was no violation detainable to the coast guard," said Azcuna.

The PCG vessel 3502 escorted the Ming Yuan yesterday to the port in Hagnaya, Cebu.

Meanwhile, in a separate inspection by local executives, Logon barangay chairman Rex Novabos, Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) president, said he has sent the Bantay Dagat Team as well as policemen to the area to check on the activities of the Chinese ship.

Novabos said they checked if the ship has a hose used to extract sand after some residents reported that the vessel could be extracting sand from coastal areas.

"This is mostly the activity of most stranded ships in our island, which is to get white sand and transport it to another beach. But due to language barrier, we were not able to talk to the crew," he said.

Novabos said the team reported that there was no hose and they did not find any sand on board while crewmembers were painting the vessel floor. –

With Jaime Laude, Marigold Lebumfacil/Freeman

With report from philSTAR

Friday, June 21, 2013

Shell to build 2nd Philippines' LNG facility in 2 to 3 years, then BG Group and Korea Western Power

Royal Dutch Shell aims to build the Philippines' first liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in the next two to three years, as Asia's fastest-growing economy seeks to diversify its energy sources to meet robust demand.

The terminal will be a floating facility near Shell's Tabangao refinery in Batangas province, one of only two refineries in the Philippines.

"We could make a final investment decision within the next 12 months," Mr. Roger Bounds, Vice President Global LNG at Shell, said at a media briefing. He declined to give any figures for the investment or other details of the project.

Shell's new terminal would add the Philippines to a growing number of Southeast Asian nations, including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, who have come to the market in recent years, and will have to compete for supplies with larger, established LNG buyers like Japan.

Southeast Asia's LNG demand is expected to more than double to 20 million tonnes by the end of the decade from around 9 million tonnes in 2015, according to PFC Energy analysts.

A final decision for Shell to invest in the Philippines project would depend on regulatory approvals and off-take agreements that the company can sign.

Global trade in LNG will grow by nearly a third by 2018, with supplies from the United States and Australia reversing a shortage expected over the next two years, according to the International Energy Agency.

The Philippines, whose economy grew 7.8 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, imports almost all of its fuel requirements. Several other companies, including BG Group and Korea Western Power, have also proposed LNG receiving terminals in the Philippines, but have yet to finalize development plans.

REUTERS / Today Online

Thursday, June 20, 2013

President Aquino wants clogged drainage systems by “street-vendors” probed

President Aquino wants to get to the bottom of the recent massive flooding in Metro Manila.

The President has ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the PNP to look into allegations that vandals deliberately clog Metro Manila's drainage systems to make money out of stranded commuters and motorists.

It is common in Metro Manila during rainy seasons that the "tulak boys" and their linked street vendors will provide long bench and chairs as bridges for stranded commuters to cross the streets with a service charge of not less than 5.00 peso per person.

Caught on the act

One of the "team members" of the Rebuilding for the Better Philippines witnessed the act of actual clogging of the waterway passage to the drainage using plastics and mixed of garbage by the "street vendors" in Pedro Gil LRT Station.

Other street vendors were also asked if such activity which was witnessed by one of our team is common in Pedro Gil Station and some of them admitted that the boys make used to it before the rain will fall to make money out of stranded commuters.

"Wala namang magagawa ang mga pasaherong gustong tumawid pag mataas ang tubig kundi tumulay d'yan sa ginagawa nila, lalo na yung galing Robinson ay dito rin dadaan at tatawid kaya nakakatulong na rin yung pinagdugtong-dugtong na upuan para maka tawid sila" an old woman street vendor said.

Aquino also asked the justice department to find out how some establishments were able to secure titles for properties built along waterways.

He also wants a comprehensive report on Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson's revelation that some local officials postponed the relocation of informal settlers during the elections to get more votes.

On ANC, Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian admitted this is a political reality.

With report from RFTBP & ABS-CBN News

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