Thursday, July 25, 2013

WYD 2013: KLM Airlines denies 2 days “Hold-up” discrimination and boasts Philippine tribe stranded in Malaysian Airport arrived Brazil

World Youth Day 2013: Indigenous Filipino Youth Delegate Earlier Denied Boarding by KLM Airlines Due to Alleged Discrimination Finally Arrives in Brazil

Indigenous Philippine Youth Delegate Denied Boarding by KLM Airlines Finally Arrives in Brazil


Arjean Marie Belco, the indigenous Philippine woman who was earlier denied by KLM Airlines to board her flight from Malaysia to Brazil, has finally landed in Rio de Janeiro. Goodxorg, the nonprofit group that organized and sponsored Ms Belco's trip in time for the World Youth Day 2013 festivities, believed its scholar was denied her "right to travel" all because she did not fit KLM's idea of a traveler, thus essentially "a case of discrimination."


Despite encountering several difficulties in the beginning of her trip, not to mention getting delayed by two days, the Talaandig lass from Bukidnon, Mindanao Island has finally arrived in Pope Francis' home continent.


On Saturday, 18-year-old Ms. Arjean Belco left Manila to Kuala Lumpur for the first leg of her first ever international travel. From there, she was to board a connecting flight to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, via Amsterdam. At the KLM check-in counter, she was refused boarding.


Ms. Belco called Goodxorg, with offices in Manila, long distance to advise her fate at the Kuala Lumpur airport.


According to Ms Belco, based from an assessment made by a certain Mr. Shawa, a KLM employee in Malaysia, she was denied entry because she appeared "not ready to travel." It is not clear if the supposed assessment was part of the airline's regular and mandated routine checks over a paid traveler.


Even if the BS Education student handed him her folder full of documentation, proving the authenticity of her person and her travel, Mr. Shawa continued to barrage her with questions - "Why is your passport so new?" "Your ticket is too cheap" "Your ticket was just purchased yesterday" "Why flying through Malaysia if there are flights from the Philippines?" and "How much money you have?"


Mr. Shawa allegedly continued on to say "that he was doubtful" about her trip, according to Ms Belco.


Goodxorg explained in its Facebook page that along with its partner Cartwheel, they pooled donations from all over the world just to be able to send Ms Belco to attend the Catholic event in Brazil in July.


And "for the record, before purchasing the ticket we called KLM reservations and reconfirmed that Philippine National don't need a transit visa in the Netherlands (waiting at the boarding area for 5 hours for her next flight) and that Philippine Citizens need no visa for Brazil for up to 90 days," Goodxorg further said.


According to the Netherlands Web site, airport transit visas are required under the following conditions:


Nationals of the following countries need an airport transit visa to change aircraft at an airport in a Schengen country:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Eritrea, Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka

Countries whose citizens are required by the Netherlands to possess an airport transit visa when they are in the international transit area of airports in Dutch territory:

  • Angola
  • Gambia
  • Guinea
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Nepal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • South Sudan


"Arjean was denied her right to travel. This could also be perceived as a possible case of discrimination based on appearance, gender, ethnicity, nationality, age or social status," Goodxorg said in its post.


It is not clear if Goodxorg will pursue formal and legal charges against KLM and Mr. Shawa.


KLM denies discriminating vs. World Youth Day delegate from Talaandig tribe


The European airline whose staff  barred an 18-year old indigenous Philippine ethnic member from taking a connecting flight to Brazil to attend the World Youth Day (WYD) said it does not discriminate passengers—even if one of its employees reportedly assessed the delegate as being "not ready for travel" despite having all the necessary documents.


On its Twitter account, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines said it "does not discriminate and accepts passengers with valid travel documents."


The company has been repeatedly posting the statement since Wednesday in response to Twitter users if it is part of the company's policy to discriminate against Philippine passengers.


KLM has been the subject of criticism on social networking sites after news broke that its staff in Kuala Lumpur International Airport prevented Arjean Marie Belco from boarding her connecting flight to Rio de Janeiro on July 20.


Belco, a WYD delegate from Bukidnon's Talaandig tribe, was supposedly told by KLM employees that she was "not ready to travel" even if she passed through Malaysian immigration smoothly and had a folder with full documentation proving her trip to Brazil.


Arjean was stranded in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for 2 days before GoodXorg, a non-profit group, was able to rebook her flight to Brazil.


In a statement on Thursday, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed that Belco arrived in Brazil on Tuesday on board KLM Flight No. KL 705.


The DFA said that Arjean was met by Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Eva Betita and other members of the Philippine consulate in Brazil upon her arrival at the Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janeiro.


With the help of WYD organizers, the Philippine Embassy in Brazil has set up a secretariat in Rio de Janeiro to provide assistance to Pinoy pilgrims attending WYD 2013. Delegates from São Paulo and nearby cities can also seek consular assistance from the embassy for the duration of the program, DFA said.


with reports from International Business Times,  &  GMA News

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

With 90% of Spratly Islands is within the 200 NME Economic Zones claimed by China; Philippines so daring to used paper to blind the dragon

TED ALJIBE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES -  US and Philippine navy personnel prepare to launch an unmanned aerial vehicle from a boat off the naval base in Sangley point, west of Manila. The six-day exercises were held last month, close to Scarborough Shoal, which China insists it owns.


  • The Philippines has a military budget 1 / 40th the size of Beijing
  • China's military might? It's not scary! The Philippines doesn't view China exclusively as a threat, officials said
  • China's most daring adversary in Southeast Asia that uses papers to fight china's military might
  • A risky mission to do what no nation in the region has managed to do: thwart China in its drive to control the vast waters around it.
  • Notably by holding off on plans to drill in what could be the nation's richest oil and gas field in Reed Bank off Palawan mainland
  • Philippines has suspended or canceled several development deals that depended on China's aid
  • Del Rosario called on the Philippines to "take a position of patriotism that what is ours is ours." "It is possible that we may be tested," he said, "and if we are tested, it is possible that everyone would need to make a sacrifice."
  • President Aquino called every Philippine Nationals to die to defend the land if needed


Philippines pushes back against China


China's most daring adversary in Southeast Asia is, by many measurements, ill-suited for a fight. The Philippines has a military budget 1 / 40th the size of Beijing's, and its navy cruises through contested waters with 1970s hand-me-downs from the South Vietnamese.


From that shorthanded position, the Philippines has set off on a risky mission to do what no nation in the region has managed to do: thwart China in its drive to control the vast waters around it.


Analysts say the Philippines's strategy, in standing up to Asia's powerhouse, is just as likely to backfire as succeed. But it provides a crucial test case as smaller countries debate whether to deal with China as a much-needed economic partner, a dangerous maritime aggressor, or both.


The Philippines doesn't view China exclusively as a threat, officials here say, noting that trade between the countries is growing. The Philippines has also used caution at times, most notably by holding off on provocative plans to drill in what could be the nation's richest oil and gas field. But analysts point to a series of steps taken in recent months that suggest Manila is increasingly willing to confront Beijing. They also note that the Philippines has suspended or canceled several development deals that depended on generous Chinese aid.


Earlier this year, the Philippines filed a case with the United Nations contesting China's maritime claims. More recently, the Philippines has increased its manpower on disputed islands, approved upgrades to decrepit military equipment and discussed plans that would give the United States expanded access to its air and naval bases. Speaking to his armed forces in May, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said the nation needed to protect its maritime territory from "bullies."


Battles over territory in Asia go back centuries, but China has made an increasingly aggressive play in recent years to recover land that it says fell wrongly into foreign hands. China is locked in a fierce battle with Japan over an uninhabited island chain in the East China Sea. China also has made a case for ownership of nearly the entire South China Sea, marking its territory with a nine-dash line it submitted to the United Nations in 2009.


At least four other countries — Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam — are skirmishing over the tiny islands and the waters within that boundary. They covet sovereignty not just as a matter of national pride but also to claim rich fisheries and underwater oil and gas resources.


But they have reason to tread cautiously. China is Malaysia's largest trading partner. Brunei depends on China as a market for its fossil fuel exports. Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou, has fostered a major improvement in relations with Beijing.


Comparatively, Vietnam has been more willing to anger China. The two nations have a legacy of centuries of animosity, including a brief border war in 1979 and more recent clashes at sea. But the two are also Communist partners, capable of patching up frayed ties.


Some Filipinos say their country is more suited than others in the region to play tough with China. The Philippines has deep ties to Washington, stemming from a U.S. colonial period that ended in 1946. China and the Philippines took opposite sides in the wars in Korea and Vietnam, as well as in the Cold War.


Political experts here say the Philippines's strategy on China is being mapped out by its foreign affairs secretary, Albert del Rosario, who attended New York University and served as ambassador in Washington. Aquino is said to be fully on board with the policy.


Del Rosario last year called on the Philippines to "take a position of patriotism that what is ours is ours."


 "It is possible that we may be tested," he said, "and if we are tested, it is possible that everyone would need to make a sacrifice."


Collapse of goodwill


Just a few years ago, China tried to make friends with the Philippines — and nearly succeeded. The reason it fell short indicates the limits of soft power — namely, aid and investment deals — at a time when the nation has made a priority of expanding its foreign influence.


Under the Philippines's previous president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Beijing showered Manila with more than $2 billion in loans. Some of the money was meant for railroad projects. An additional $330 million was designed to fund a broadband network that would connect 25,000 municipal offices. As the money was flowing, the Philippines signed off on what Arroyo called a "diplomatic breakthrough" — a tripartite deal that allowed China and Vietnam to survey contested maritime territory near Philippine shores, with the hope of joint oil and gas development.


The goodwill collapsed in short order. The broadband deal was laced with corruption and kickbacks for Philippine officials, as a congressional investigation revealed. The joint surveying deal came under even fiercer attack, as opposition politicians and many prominent Filipinos said Arroyo had violated the constitution — by essentially giving away territory. Although the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) was never described by Arroyo as a quid pro quo for economic cooperation, it was signed in 2005, when relations with Beijing were at their best.


 "In my opinion, it was a sellout," said Rommel Banlaoi, chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research. "The terms of the JMSU were so biased. Only areas of the Philippines were allowed for exploration."


Arroyo, under domestic pressure, allowed the initial three-year JMSU contract to lapse in 2008. But the collapse of that deal reopened a decades-long debate between the Philippines and China over the rights to seabed hydrocarbons. The Philippines worked out unilateral deals to prospect for oil and gas. And China, in turn, increased its surveillance of the waters, badgering Philippine vessels in places where they had previously gone unbothered.


JMSU found out that the "Reed Bank" few kilometers off Palawan main Island hold the vast and mother deposit of oil and natural gas in the area, later then China intensify its claim in Spratly and escalate to the Reed bank which is not part of the contested Spratly islands endangering the country' biggest Malampaya Gas field.


None of the standoffs have turned violent, but in March 2011, Manila accused two Chinese coast guard boats of harassing a Philippines-commissioned oil exploration vessel near Reed Bank, a promising drilling site about 80 nautical miles off the coast of Palawan, the Philippines' westernmost major island. The Philippines has since put the project on hold, citing political tensions.


That holdup has proven the most costly repercussion of the row with China. The Philippines had been exploring the Reed Bank for nearly four decades and considered it crucial to the energy security of a nation that imports most of its fossil fuels from the Middle East. Philippine officials said the Reed Bank exploration site, an area just smaller than Connecticut, could become the country's largest source of natural gas. A service contract, awarded to a Philippine-British oil consortium, was recently extended by two years, to 2015, with the hope that exploration can resume by then without conflict.


 "This site could be earning $1 billion per year for the Philippines," said Ismael Ocampo, assistant director at the Energy Department in Manila. "So, yes, this holdup is costly."


A vocal minority in the Philippines says that Aquino should re-embrace China and again pursue joint development. "Right now, nobody's getting rich," said Jose de Venecia, speaker of the House under Arroyo, who helped broker deals with China. "Here, we are getting zero resources. And not only that, but also a lot of stress and problems."


Disputed islands


Aside from standoffs between vessels at sea, China and the Philippines have only the most furtive maritime contact, as each monitors the activities of the other around the South China Sea/ West Philippine Sea's tiny islands, reefs and sandbars.


China and the Philippines, along with Vietnam, have spent recent years establishing settlements on these islands on a first-come basis. The Philippines inhabits just nine of the 53 such rocks or islands that it considers its own, citing a U.N. maritime treaty. The Vietnamese have claimed 22, though without eliciting quite the same scorn from the Philippines as China. Meanwhile, China has placed an estimated 1,000 troops on its seven islands. It has turned one tiny reef into a concrete fortress with a windmill and a basketball court.


Philippine officials see little chance that the Chinese will withdraw.


 "It's like they have already invaded us," said Eugenio Bito-Onon, mayor of the Philippine-claimed islands, which are an official municipality.


Carmela Cruz contributed to this report.


With Report from Washington Post 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Air France KLM Airlines discriminate, denied boarding of a Philippine girl member Bukidnon’s Talaandig tribe for her poor and innocent looks

An Air France-KLM plane on an airport tarmac. The airline reportedly prevented an 18-year-old indigenous Philippine woman, who was en route to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for World Youth Day from boarding on her onward flight on July 20 at the Kuala Lumpur airport because she appeared "not ready to travel" even if she had a folder with full documentation supporting her trip to Brazil. PHOTO FROM WIKIMEDIA

Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V. (Royal Aviation Company), known by its initials KLM, is the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands. KLM's headquarters is in Amstelveen near its hub at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. KLM operates worldwide scheduled passenger and cargo services to more than 90 destinations. It is the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name.


The merger of KLM with Air France in May 2004 created Air France-KLM, which is incorporated under French law with headquarters at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. Both Air France and KLM continue to fly under their distinct brand names. Air France-KLM is part of the SkyTeam alliance.


The discriminated Tribal member of Bukidnon were asks of several insulting questions-

Why is your passport so new?"

"Your ticket is too cheap and purchased yesterday."

 "Why (are you) flying through Malaysia if there are flights from the Philippines?"

and "How much money (do) you have?"

In spite of the complete documents, sponsorships, bank account and other legal travel documents, a Bukidnon's Talaandig tribe member were denied to board the Air France KLM Airline.


KLM Airlines' denial of Filipino WYD delegate's flight hit


Philippines—An 18-year-old indigenous Philippine woman who was en route to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for World Youth Day was denied boarding on her onward flight on July 20 at the Kuala Lumpur airport, because personnel of KLM Airlines said she appeared "not ready to travel" even if she had a folder with full documentation supporting her trip to Brazil.


The incident involving Arjean Marie Belco of Bukidnon's Talaandig tribe was posted on the social networking site Facebook in a letter of complaint from Goodxorg, the sponsor of her Brazil trip.


According to the Facebook post, Belco went through immigration in Malaysia without incident but was not allowed to board her connecting flight to Rio de Janeiro by a KLM employee identified as Mr. Shawa who said that Belco appeared "not ready to travel" and "that he was doubtful" about her trip, "even if she had a folder full of documentation."


"Arjean was denied her right to travel. This could also be perceived as a possible case of discrimination based on appearance, gender, ethnicity, nationality, age or social status," Goodxorg said in its post.


Belco's Brazil trip was shouldered by Goodxorg and its partner Cartwheel, which pooled donations from all over the world to send the BS Education student to the Catholic event.


The airline employee allegedly barraged Belco with questions casting doubts on the legitimacy of her trip. She was asked, "Why is your passport so new?" "Your ticket is too cheap and purchased yesterday." "Why (are you) flying through Malaysia if there are flights from the Philippines?" and "How much money (do) you have?"


The Brazil trip is Belco's first outside the country, according to her sponsors, which explains her new passport. They also explained that the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Rio de Janeiro was approximately $1,000 cheaper than KLM's Manila to Rio flight.


Belco showed airline personnel a bank statement from Cartwheel Foundation showing sufficient funds. She had $100 and P3,370 on her for emergencies and meals before her connecting flights to Brazil. She was also carrying clippings of media stories published in the Philippines about her trip.


But Goodxorg lamented that the papers and calls from the group were not enough for KLM.


The airline employee, Mr. Shawa, told the staff of Goodxorg over the phone that there was nothing he could do and that another ticket had to be bought. The group was required to get in touch with the Dutch Embassy in Malaysia, the Facebook post said.


"He was even laughing while listening to our side. We believe this is unacceptable," the group said.


The nonprofit group Goodxorg (Good X or Good Exchanges) is led by Luis Petzhold, a Brazilian filmmaker and youth advocate, and Risa Halaguena, a Filipina lawyer and writer. Sending Belco to Brazil to attend World Youth Day, an international Catholic event to be held from July 23 to 28, is a pilot project of the group.


According to its Facebook page, Good X is "all about experiential learning. We believe that travel, culture and creativity should be appreciated and nurtured at a young age."


In its letter posted on Facebook, Goodxorg said Belco showed the KLM staff the address and contact info of her host family in Brazil, and that she requested the airline staff to contact her sponsors in the Philippines to verify the information she gave. But the KLM staff denied the request.


The student also showed her folder of documents, which included her proof of enrollment in Pamulaan College and the University of South Eastern Philippines, and certification that she is a Cartwheel Foundation scholar being sponsored by Goodxorg and Cartwheel for the trip.


The Facebook post also said that Goodxorg contacted KLM reservations for pertinent information on the trip to Brazil before purchasing the ticket.


With report from Inquirer 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Chinese invaded Zambales, blow up mountains, Killing farmers and seize Nickel into hi-tech weapons to sabotage the Philippine military and economy


Heavy destruction of the invasion of 3 illegal Chinese Giants in Sta Cruz, Zambales

It's not only Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag/Scarborough Shoal) that the Chinese have occupied. They also have grabbed a slice of mainland Zambales, 108 kilometers east. There Chinese miners rule, stealing nickel ore the same way they poach fish in the shoal. Bribed local officials abet them like modern-day Makapili collaborators.


In the West Philippine Sea-side Sta. Cruz municipality, Zambales, operate three Chinese conglomerates:

  • Jiangxi Rare Earth & Metals Tungsten Group,
  • Wei-Wei Group, and
  • Nihao Mineral Resources Inc.


Through Filipino dummies they have set up five supposed "minahang bayan (small-scale mines)." The five load ore and unload equipment in one common pier, betraying the fact that they actually are one.


Republic Act 6082: "Section 1. There is hereby created in the Department of Justice a board which shall be designated and known as the Anti-Dummy Board and which shall be vested with and shall exercise the powers and duties hereinafter.


Anti dummy law protects the Philippines from unlawful use and exploitation having in its name or under its control, a right, franchise, privilege, property or business, the exercise or enjoyment of which is expressly reserved by the Constitution or the laws to citizens of the Philippines for at least at least 60% of the capital of which is owned by such citizens and maximum of 40% for a foreign investors but the Chinese mining firm paid the local people as dummy to virtually own the 60% while controlling 100% full real ownership.  Section 3. - Any corporation or association violating any of the provisions of this Act shall, upon proper court proceedings, be dissolved and offering rewards 25%  to the informer in Section 3-A. If dummy will come out they would have a chance to own 25% of these whole Chinese illegal investment and 75% would be turnover to the government.


The five machinate under cover of the People's Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991. Such wee mines are for subsistence quarrymen who use only brawn, mini-crushers, hand picks, and shovels. Anything but puny, the five Chinese fronts use sophisticated excavators, drills, crushers, and explosives. With the heavy ordnance, they level mountains for tens of thousands of tons of nickel ore a day. (A small-scale mine is limited to only 50,000 tons in its lifetime.)


Residents of Sta. Cruz cry that the Chinese mines have denuded the forest watersheds, and poisoned farmlands, rivers, sea, and air. Townsfolk of adjacent Masinloc, Zambales, and Infanta, Pangasinan, also suffer. Muddied coastal waters drive small fishermen farther out to sea. But in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc, Chinese warships shell them back to shore.


The Philippines is now China's main source of nickel. The five Chinese mines in Sta. Cruz contribute a sizeable portion. Although no exact figures can be obtained – small-scale mines operate under local government licenses, beyond the scope of the Mines & Geosciences Bureau – locals observe at the common wharf the departure of four ore-laden Chinese bulk carriers per week. China processes the nickel into hi-tech weapons and surveillance systems – to sabotage the Philippine military and economy into submission.


The Sta. Cruz-Masinloc-Infanta highway is called the "dump truck capital of the Philippines." Thousands of trucks' tailpipe emissions and ore-load dust pollute the air to alarming levels. Field monitors of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported on Nov. 15, 16, and 27, 2012, suspended particulates of 208, 727, and 824 micrograms per cubic meter, respectively, on the highway. Maximum tolerable is 90.


So in the barrios of Sta. Cruz, residents suffer acute respiratory infections – their top cause of morbidity. From 2001 to 2011, rural health workers noted an increasing incidence of 4,500 to 8,500 new cases per 100,000-population per year. Yet the Chinese mines have not improved local household incomes. (The entire mining industry has the highest poverty incidence.)


Health and environment ruin are accompanied by economic and political decay. By disguising as small-scale mines, the five Chinese thieves are able to skirt the stringent rules on the big ones. Provincial business permits can be obtained within days for as low as 10,000, and environmental clearances for 15,000, unlike the years-long wait for biggies to be scrutinized. Because virtually unregulated, the five Chinese mines pay no taxes, duties, fees, or royalties – for at least the sickened townsfolk's medical expenses. Provincial officials justify their localized exactions by pointing out that local governments do not get shares of central government revenues from big miners. (In 2011 the DENR reported that three million tons of Philippine mineral ores that were processed in China were unaccounted for by trade and Customs authorities.)


The mayors of Sta. Cruz, Masinloc, and Infanta profess to oppose the Chinese mines. That the latter continue to operate raises suspicion that the provincial capitols of Zambales and Pangasinan go over the mayors' heads and deal directly with pliant barangay officials. Either that or somebody's lying. The mayor of Infanta was murdered last December.


Bribery stories taint the Chinese mines. How they get away with their destructive ways is a mystery. The Wei-Wei Group entered Botolan, Zambales, in 2005 via a rushed approval during the Arroyo tenure. It came right after then-President Gloria Arroyo allowed China illegally to explore Philippine waters, under a secret, treasonous Joint Seismic Marine Understanding. Wei-Wei later barged into Sta. Cruz-Masinloc-Infanta.


The Jiangxi Group joined in partnership with a Nihao Minerals subsidiary. Officers of Nihao and affiliate Geograce Resources Inc. were involved in the illegal grant to ZTE International Corp. in 2005 of mining rights in the gold rush area of Mount Diwalwal, Compostela Valley in Mindanao Island.


With report Jarius Bondoc Opinion published from philSTAR

Saturday, July 20, 2013

No Visa required for Both; Israel Seeks Direct Flights to the Philippines


The Israel governments seeking to establish direct flights to Manila in an effort to increase exchanges between the two countries particularly in trade and tourism.


According to Israeli diplomats, aviation officials from both countries are at an advanced stage of negotiations in their efforts to make revisions to an outdated sixty year old air services agreement. The plan is to establish direct flights between the two countries.


Israeli Ambassador Menashe Bar-On said that once all of the small details have been ironed out, the delegations from each country will meet to a sign a new up-to-date air services agreement. "We are updating the current agreement which is 60 years old," said Bar-On. "We're updating the requirements for aviation and international regulations. Once it is finished, it will pave the way for airlines to make new business."


A direct link would enhance the level of exchange between the two countries particularly in the area of tourism as citizens of Israel and the Philippines are able to enter each country without a visa. According to Chaim Choshen, the top Israeli diplomat for Southeast Asia, the potential for exchange between the two countries is huge. "I think there is huge potential because Israel is the Holy Land, and most of the population of the Philippines are Christians and Catholics," said Choshen. "I think the Holy Land means something to most Filipinos. I think almost every Filipino has a dream to visit the Holy Land."


However, Filipinos aren't the only citizens expected to book flights. The Philippines could prove to be an attractive destination for Israeli tourists. Thailand has seen much success receiving nearly 200,000 Israeli tourists annually aboard twice-daily direct flights between the two countries. But Israeli tourists wishing to head to the Philippines must currently connect in Hong Kong or Bangkok.


"I think the Philippines can be very attractive to young Israelis. A lot of Israelis are touring Asia and are looking for cheaper destinations," said Choshen. "It's a beautiful country with beaches. You have a lot to offer and Manila has many restaurants."


If young Israeli's are indeed looking for cheaper destinations, then Cebu Pacific would be an ideal carrier to launch the route. But Israel is interested in inviting Philippine Airlines to fly directly to its cities following the European Union's decision to permit the airline once again into European air space. "I think these are very meaningful developments that we recognize are very promising," Choshen said.


Current statistics indicate that more Filipinos are travelling to Israel than Israelis coming to the Philippines. Last year, 13,450 Filipinos visited the Holy Land while only 5,895 Israelis came to the Philippines. But improved flight connections and increased tourism promotion in the Israeli market could be lucrative as the Philippines seeks to steal the 200,000 Israeli tourists currently headed to Thailand.


"The direct route will also help boost trade ties between the two countries, currently at a level that lags behind other Asian countries," said Choshen. Trade between the two countries currently sits at around $200 million. That is compared to $1.1 billion with Vietnam and $5 billion with India. Israel currently exports information technology, electrical and medical products to the Philippines.


Philippine Flight Network

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Czech Inekon Railway Blacklisted by DOTC ex chief MAR ROXAS – for refusing to pay $30 Million USD (₱1.3 Billion Pesos) Red-tape

Manuel "Mar" Araneta Roxas II (MAR ROXAS), a Former Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Chief; whom during his term, DOTC Execs ask $30 Million USD from a Czech Railway firm  to win a supply contract for the DOTC's MRT3 expansion project 

DOTC execs tagged in $30 Million US Dollars (1.3 Billion Peso) shakedown with the European Czechs'   Inekon fuming scandal for under the table (Red-tape) that involves former DOTC chief (MAR ROXAS) Manuel Roxas II.


DOTC Executives involve in the Czechs'   Inekon  - Philippine DOTC $30 Million Scandal remained in their DOTC position and even promoted, the following:

  1.  Jose Perpetuo "Juju" Lotilla,
  2. Rene "Timmy" Limcaoco,
  3. Catherine Gonzales
  4. Jaime "Jim" Feliciano.


All of them are still at the DOTC.  Catherine Gonzales, who came in as an assistant secretary, has since been promoted to undersecretary.


Inekon, a Czech company a top 100 corporations in the Czech Republic and is involved in railway projects in several European countries and the United States speak-up for former DOTC Chief MAR ROXAS's involvement for demanding $30 Million US Dollars (1.3 Billion Peso) to win a supply contract for the DOTC's MRT3 expansion project.


One of their companies, Inekon, has been blacklisted by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), barred from bidding to supply trains for the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3).


The blacklist followed a meeting at the DOTC in July last 2012, during which, one of those present alleged, department officials asked the Inekon Group executives for $30 million US Dollars if they wanted the supply contract.


Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar, who accompanied the Inekon delegation to the DOTC, reportedly advised his compatriots not to engage in corruption.


The amount was allegedly whittled down to $2.5 million. When the Czechs still didn't give in, their project proposal, first endorsed to the DOTC three years ago by the Czech government, was scuttled and the company blacklisted.


The DOTC was headed at the time by (MAR ROXAS) Manuel Roxas II, and the department officials who met with the Czechs were his recruits. They included Jose Perpetuo "Juju" Lotilla, Rene "Timmy" Limcaoco, Catherine Gonzales and Jaime "Jim" Feliciano. All of them are still at the DOTC. Gonzales, who came in as an assistant secretary, has since been promoted to undersecretary.


When Jesse Robredo died in a plane crash and Roxas left the DOTC to take over the Department of the Interior and Local Government, his recruits were left behind, and Inekon remained barred from the MRT-3 project.


Last April, Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar met with new DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and related details of the July meeting. There was no action from the DOTC.


Late last month, news reports emerged, citing unnamed sources, that President Aquino's eldest sister Ballsy, her husband Eldon Cruz, former DOTC head Pete Prado and Steve Psinakis, a son-in-law of the late Eugenio Lopez Sr. and consultant and adviser of First Philippine Holdings Corp. and Benpres Holdings Corp., had asked Inekon for $30 million to facilitate the contract.


Czech's Rychtar criticized Aquino's Straight Path for "Slow Action" But vowed to prove that President Aquino's eldest sister Ballsy, her husband Eldon Cruz are innocent


An exasperated Rychtar then sent a letter to President Aquino, dated June 29, 2013 and received by Malacañang nearly two weeks ago, clearing the Cruz couple and Prado, and raising the same issues he had discussed with Abaya.


Rychtar followed this up with another meeting last Wednesday with Abaya.


I am so mad," Rychtar told The STAR the other night. "In other countries, an investigation would have been conducted at once."


He wondered why an administration that purports to focus on the fight against corruption and on taking the straight path or daang matuwid has been slow to act on the issue.


Worse, Rychtar said, "the innocent are the ones getting hurt" – referring in particular to Ballsy and Eldon Cruz.


The ambassador knows the Cruz couple personally and said the stories against them are "completely false."


Rychtar said he was ready to talk and face probers if needed.


No commissions


In his letter to the President, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, Rychtar wrote: "The Czech proposal for the MRT3 capacity expansion and modernization is a government-to-government deal which cannot contain any provisions for commissions."


Over the past three years, according to the letter, the Czech Ministry of Trade and Foreign Affairs had transmitted more than 10 official letters to the Philippine government and submitted to the DOTC "booklets of extensive technical plans and financial proposals in order to comply with Philippine Procurement Procedures."


"We continue to wait patiently for a response from the DOTC," the letter stated.


The one-page letter opened with a clarification to Aquino about the "inaccurate and nasty press reports pertaining to the MRT3 capacity expansion."


"I wish to state that the allegations that members of your family were involved with discussions with Inekon on any projects in the Philippines are simply untrue and malicious," Rychtar wrote the President. "Neither Secretary Prado nor any member of your family has offered their assistance in any of the projects that my country is pursuing in the Philippines. Your family is well known not to involve themselves on governmental affairs, most especially in the area of procurement."


Rychtar wrote that he held Eldon and Ballsy Cruz as well as Prado "in the highest esteem."


The ambassador said he was writing the letter "on both a personal and official capacity" and was prepared to issue a public statement clearing Ballsy and Eldon Cruz, and to declare the Czech government's "continued interest" in participating in the DOTC program.


"In early April 2013, I was able to secure a meeting with Secretary Emilio Abaya to report an incident between some officials of his department and myself, together with the top management of Inekon," Rychtar wrote. "While I still have yet to discern who are behind these terrible press releases, I had hoped that Secretary Abaya would have dealt with this issue in a swift and judicious manner before it reached this embarrassing and untenable state of affairs."


Inekon is one of the top 100 corporations in the Czech Republic and is involved in railway projects in several European countries and the United States.


MRT3 has a fleet of 73 Czech-made modern and air-conditioned rail cars, which were built by another Czech company – CKD Doprovni System of Prague. The rail vehicles are articulated, eight-axle , three-section cars, designed for single-ended operations.


Each train can seat 80 passengers and can carry, under crush loading conditions, 394 commuters at any one time. The MRT3 trains carry 23,000 passengers per hour per direction daily.


With report from ABS-CBN News


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