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Category Archives: NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!

Who’s telling a lie in the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge project?

“It is not good to cross the bridge before you get to it.”
–Judi Dench

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — It’s a white lie.
I have serious misgivings on reports that Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar had “confirmed” to Mayor Eugene Reyes of Buenavista, Guimaras that the construction of the much-ballyhooed Panay-Guimaras-Negros or Western Visayas bridge “will start under the Duterte administration.”
If Villar did say this, then he is phony.
Politician Villar only probably wanted to take fellow politician Reyes for a ride.
Without a latest feasibility study, how can a project begin?
Can a cart move ahead of the horse?
To add confusion, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-6) Regional Director Ro-Ann Bacal reportedly said that the construction of the inter-island bridge “is among the priority projects of the DPWH.”
The proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge is not among the priority projects of the DPWH this year, madame director.
Therefore, there can be no construction in the radar this year and in 2018.
It’s actually back to dreamland.

BUDGET

When Villar lobbied for DPWH’s P458.61-billion budget for 2017 before the House Committee on Appropriations in August 2016, the Western Visayas bridge was not among those listed in the country’s “most ambitious infrastructure program” Villar enumerated that would benefit from the expanded budget (the amount is P61 billion higher than last year’s P397.108 budget.).
DPWH’s priority projects are the following: Taal Lake Circumferential Road, San Nicolas-Sta Teresita, Alitagtag, Batangas; Gurel-Bukod-Kabayan-Buguias Road (leading to Mt Pulag, Bulalacao Lakes, Kabayan Mummies), Bokod, Kabayan and Buguias, Benguet; Cagaray Circumferential Road, Bacacay, Albay leading to Misibis Resort and white beaches in Albay; Tatay-El Nido Road, Palawan; Jct (Tagbilaran East Road, TER) Guindulman-Anda-Badiang Cogtong -Road leading to beaches and resorts, Anda, Bohol; Borongan, Llorente Closed Canopy Forest Area, Maydolong, Eastern Samar; and Island Garden City of Samal Circumferential Road, Davao del Norte.
NAIA Expressway; Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway; NLEX Harbor Link, Segment 10; Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3; Plaridel By-Pass Road, Phase II; NLEX Harbor Link, Segment 8.2; Central Luzon Link Expressway – PHase I (Tarlac-Cabanatuan); Cavite-Laguna Expressway; SLEX TR4, Sto Tomas-Lucena; C6 – Phase I, Southeast Metro Manila Expressway; and NLEX-SLEX Connector Road.
Candon City By-Pass Road, Ilocos Sur; Laoag City By-Pass Road, Ilocos Norte; Plaridel By-Pass Road, Phase II; Carcar By-Pass Road, Carcar City, Cebu; Palo West By-Pass Road, Palo, Leyte; Tacloban City By-Pass Road, Leyte; Cotabato City East Diversion Road; Alae By-Pass Road; and Davao City By-Pass Construction Project, Mindanao.
There’s no Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge project on the list, which would have eaten up an estimated 30 percent of the DPWH national budget.
Villar did mention, however, that his department was “studying the feasibility of proposed P21.67 billion Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridge Project.”

LOBBY

The inter-island bridge project, conceptualized way back during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos, doesn’t have a detailed budget yet despite the spirited lobbying of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and almost all congressmen and women.
There’s also a misconception that China, which maintains a shaky relationship with the Philippines owing to its repeated intrusion in the Panatag Shoal, will fund the project that could cost up to an estimated P65 billion.
What Chinese Vice Minister Fu Ziying of the Ministry of Commerce and Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez had agreed, and which was covered by a memorandum of agreement (MOA) in their March 18, 2017 meeting, was for the Chinese government to help fund the feasibility studies of at least two of the nine Philippine projects China had pledged to support.
A feasibility study does not commence the construction of any project.
Last year during the Aquino administration, the government had also sought the help of South Korea to fund the project’s feasibility study, as revealed by Senator Franklin Drilon, to no avail.

CAUTION

Experts, meanwhile, have cautioned the Philippine government of the scale of risks in the provisions of megaprojects like the 23.19-kilometer-long Western Visayas bridge.
Nicanor R. Roxas, Jr., who drafted the Cost Overruns and the Proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-Island Bridge Project, confirmed that the Western Visayas bridge project has been studied by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and DPWH with varying projected costs and designs.
The costs reportedly range from P53 billion in 1999, P28.5 billion in 2010, and P54 billion in 2011.
“This just reflects the uncertainties in cost estimation for this kind of project. Different designs and alignments have different associated costs, but even if everything has been finalized, there is still no guarantee that costs will not change. Unforeseen problems will be encountered along the way, and together with these problems are unpredicted cost adjustments that pile up resulting in large cost overruns,” Roxas warned.

EXPERIENCE

He added: “The Philippines does not have any experience in constructing a project of such magnitude. Thus, we have no formula for success, just like most of the other failed projects completed in the past.”

Roxas explained that “it is easier to enumerate projects that failed than projects which have succeeded. Therefore, it does not look promising and all the more the need to look into the experience of others in megaproject construction. It is clear that the effects of megaproject provision are extensive. If the megaproject construction fails, which is highly probable, other sectors are getting adversely affected.”
Roxas, a master of engineering specializing in Transportation Engineering from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand and member of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP) and the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), further warned that “it does not look promising and all the more the need to look into the experience of others in megaproject construction.”

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!

 

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Ilonggo solons not (yet) rubber stamps

“Enjoy your time in public service. It may well be one of the most interesting and challenging times of your life.”
–Donald Rumsfeld

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Even members of the Iloilo City Council are getting annoyed and embarrassed that Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog has become the most favorite punching bag of President Rodrigo Duterte each time the president unleashed his irascible wrath against some Liberal Party (LP) bigwigs.
So alarmed and disturbed were the city aldermen and women that they are now willing to help Mabilog collate the city government’s programs and/or accomplishments against illegal drugs and make a common stand.
They, too, must be hurting while seeing Mabilog reeling from absurd allegations that the city mayor, ranked No. 5 in the World Mayor two years ago, is a protector of merchants of prohibited substance.
Guided by an impermeable moral compass, the city councilors, led by Vice Mayor Jose III Espinosa, must have felt they could no longer afford to sit down and act like kibitzers while Mabilog was being pounded from pillar to post by a heavy bone-crusher.

-o0o-

We still have faith with our representatives from Western Visayas in the Philippines even if their independence was recently subjected into a microscopic sleuthing by some of impatient constituents who thought their unanimous yes votes for death penalty was a tell tale sign of their implied subservience to the Duterte administration.
As if their acid test was not enough, our congressmen and women will again be tested in at least two major issues that will soon be tackled in congress: the impeachment cases versus President Rodrigo Duterte (already filed) and Vice President Leni Robredo (still being floated).
If they reject both impeachment cases (granting that an impeachment case will be officially filed against Robredo), their constituents will never badger them. Life must go on.
Ilonggos are known to always decry any attempt to destabilize the incumbent administration. If any of the two–Duterte and Robredo–will be removed from office, a power vacuum can’t guarantee a sustained or immediate political and economic instability.

NORMAL

If government is on wobbly legs, life for Filipinos will not be normal.
Nobody would want to have this kind of environment especially if our priority is to provide our children with three square meals a day and send them to school.
If our solons will reject one impeachment and support another, their constituents will suspect that they are playing political favorites and are not taking their mandates seriously.
The Ilonggo constituents will be watching you, Reps. Sharon Garin (Ang Asosasyon Sang Manguguma Nga Bisaya-OWA Mangunguma Inc.); Atty. Jerry Trenas (Iloilo City); Richard Garin (Iloilo, 1st District); Arcadio Gorriceta (Iloilo, 2nd District); Atty. Arthur Defensor Jr. (Iloilo, 3rd District); Dr. Ferjenel Biron (Iloilo, 4th District); Raul Tupas (Iloilo, 5th District); and Maria Lucille Nava (Guimaras).

 
 

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Jeepney operators acting like spoiled brats

“People want to see big, escapist fare. They don’t want to be challenged to think.”
–Harvey Weinstein

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY –– Because of rapid developments in the countryside, international conclaves like the ASEAN Summit and APEC Ministerial Meet could now be jointly held in thriving Visayas and Mindanao cities like Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Palawan, Cagayan De Oro, and Davao.
Imperial Manila could no longer claim exclusive domain to host some of the gigantic international events now that infrastructure, traffic and tourism have improved by leaps and bounds outside Luzon.
Some of the world’s top hotel conglomerates have also expanded in the countryside, generating employment opportunities for local folks, and helping spruce up the local economy.
In as far as investment and toursim are concerned, this is some sort of renaissance for the hitherto “promdi” territories, which have been perpetually neglected and underestimated by past administrations after the EDSA Revolution.

-o0o-

JEEPNEY operators in Iloilo City should stop acting like spoiled brats and consider the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) recommendation of a P.50 jeepney fare hike.
The increase is for the first five kilometers in Western Visayas and Negros Occidental. Another P1.50 will be included for every succeeding kilometer.
The current fare of P6.50 will become P7 if the 50-centavo increase is approved by the LTFRB central office.
But the Iloilo City Loop Alliance of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (ICLAJODA) and Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON-Panay chapter) are not satisfied.
They want another 50 centavos or P1.
They expressed their stand during the public hearing March 13 at the LTFRB-6 office in Barangay Tabuc Suba, Jaro district.

INSPIRE

They were probably inspired by LTFRB’s recent decision to approve a P1 increase on minimum fares in Metro Manila and in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
They must be slabbering for a “uniform” increase.
But Iloilo City is not Metro Manila. It is neither Central Luzon nor Southerm Tagalog.
The LTFRB, after probably studying the increase’s impact on local economy and the capacity of commuters, dangled only a P.50 hike.
Jeepney operators should remember that most of them are also parents.
They are aware that LTFRB’s 50-centavo fare increase will result only in P7 fare for regular passengers of public utility jeepneys (PUJs) and P5.50 for students, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens.
Their demand, on the other hand, would mean regular commuters will have to fork out a minimum fare of P7.50 and P6.50 for students, PWDs and elderly citizens.
A 50-centavo difference is still 50 centavos.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!

 

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Duterte appoints new Iloilo, Negros judges

“I love judges, and I love courts. They are my ideals, that typify on earth what we shall meet hereafter in heaven under a just God.”
–William Howard Taft

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — If I were House Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, I would refrain from further humiliating detained Senator Leila De Lima.
In his most recent media conference, the former cabinet official of then President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo lambasted De Lima calling her as the “No. 1 drug lord in the Philippines.”
True or not, in our culture we don’t kick somebody who is already down. Especially a woman.
We never heard the same level of vitriol and angry words from past speakers like Nicanor Yñiguez, Ramon Mitra Jr., Jose De Venecia, Arnulfo Fuentebella, and Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

.-o0o-

President Duterte has appointed the following judges for the islands of Panay and Negros:
-Daniel Antonio Gerardo S. Amular (RTC Branch 35, Iloilo City);
-Oscar Leo S. Billena (RTC Branch 70 Barotac Viejo, Iloilo);
-Jose E. Mauricio E. Gomez (RTC Branch 71 Barotac Viejo, Iloilo);
-Nelita Jesusa Arboleda-Bacaling (RTC Branch 72 Guimbal, Iloilo);
-Gemalyn Faunillo-Tarol (RTC Branch 76, Janiuay, Iloilo);
-Ernesto L. Abijay, Jr. (RTC Branch 10 San Jose, Antique);
-Josefina Fulo-Muego (RTC Branch 13 Culasi, Antique);
-Phoebe A. Gargantiel-Balbin (RTC Branch 45 Bacolod City, Negros Occidental);
-Edwin B. Gomez (RTC Branch 77 Sipalay City, Negros Occidental);
-Gwendolyn I. Jimenea-Tiu (RTC Branch 60 Cadiz City, Negros Occidental);
-Reginald M. Fuentebella (RTC Branch 73 Sagay City, Negros Occidental);
-Mila D. Yap-Camiso (RTC Branch 74 La Carlota City, Negros Occidental);
-Gertrude Belgica Jiro (MTC Dumangas, Iloilo);
-Kathryn Rose A. Hitalia-Baliatan (MTC Miag-ao, Iloilo);
-Meliza Joan Berano Robite (MTCC Branch 2 Iloilo City);
-Larnie Fleur B. Palma-Kim (MTCC Branch 6, Iloilo City);
-Mark Anthony D.R. Polonan (MTCC Branch 8, Iloilo City);
-Rysty Ann C. Espinosa-Borja (MTCC Branch 9, Iloilo City);
-Joan Marie B. Bargas-Betita (3rd MCTC Malinao-Lezo-Numancia, Aklan);
-Maria Fe Macabales-Taal (3rd MCTC Patnongon-Bugasong-Valderrama, Antique);
-Joevy Paclibar Velnzuela (5th MCTC Sigma-Sapian-Jamindan, Capiz);
-Kathleen Gigante Delantar (MTCC Branch 2 Roxas City, Capiz);
-Jeeli Panaguiton Espinosa (2nd MCTC Buenavista-San Lorenzo, Guimaras);
-Bienvenido B. Llanes Jr. (MTC Pontevedra, Negros Occidental);
-Jose Meno C. Ruiz (MTCC Escalante City, Negros Occidental);
-Jose Manuel A. Lopez (MTCC Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental); and
-Maria Concepcion Elumba Rivera (MTCC, La Carlota City, Negros Occidental).

-o0o-

WE can’t blame Mayor Alex Centena of Calinog, Iloilo if his presence has been sorely missed in important gatherings like the League of Municipalities.
Ever since President Duterte mentioned Centena’s name as among those allegedly included in narco-politics, the dashing former chair of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) during the Marcos years has reportedly refused to join in various social and political events in Iloilo.
“He has become security conscious,” noticed a former broadcaster from Cabatuan, Iloilo, who is familiar with Centena’s activities during the halcyon years.
“The mayor stays in his safe house most of the time and his whereabouts can’t be ascertained even by some of his municipal staff in regular days and during weekend.”

WEIGHT

He became reclusive and lost weight, the former broadcaster added.
Centena have reportedly cancelled all his out-of-town commitments and refused interviews with reporters who come to Calinog.
Duterte has threatened to kill those involved in trafficking and manufacturing of illegal drugs, including some local government executives.
More than 7,000 have been killed nationwide since the Duterte administration launched the “Oplan Tokhang” against known drug pushers and users.
Centena has repeatedly denied links to any drug lord, but admitted slain Iloilo City-based drug lord Melvin “Boyet” Odicta Sr. once visited his house where he maintains a mini-zoo.

 
 

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Card reading system will eliminate overcharging

“When a company owns one precise thought in the consumer’s mind, it sets the context for everything and there should be no distinction between brand, product, service and experience.”
–Maurice Saatchi

17308760_10208546082432426_545010316886925874_nBy Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Back in May 1993 when the Panay Electric Company (PECO) was applying for a 25-year extension of franchise in the Iloilo City Council, among the demands of the committee on public services, environmental protection and committee on ecology, transportation, energy and public utilities from the power utility’s top echelons during the public hearings was to put up a meter reading system.
Among the central issues raised against PECO was the “astronomical” distribution and generations fees, and, of course, the “lack of proper meter reading system” that irked so many consumers, including then prominent businessman William Bayani, who filed a case against PECO.
For several weeks, PECO underwent intense grilling from Councilors German Gonzalez, Achilles Plagata, Rolando Dabao, Eduardo Laczi, and Perla Zulueta.
It was agreed that the meter reading system was necessary in order to provide the correct and accurate reading of the power consumed by the consumers and avoid overcharging.

APPROVE

The City Council approved PECO’s application for extension of franchise. Under the law, it must get Congress’ imprimatur after sailing through the local legislature.
Before PECO got endorsement from the City Council, it was bombarded with multitudes of complaints from various consumers groups in a series of public hearings.
A proposal to turn it into a people’s cooperative had been torpedoed.
After 24 years, Councilor Joshua Alim, through a formal resolution, asked PECO to establish a “meter reading card system.”
Alim wanted to avoid confusion and complaints over the consumers’ power consumption.
Alim wants PECO to post a meter reading card system to each consumer’s house where the monthly consumption is reflected and recorded.

CONSUMPTION
The system will help consumers to easily appraise his monthly consumption, make a comparison, and even file the necessary complaint if there are discrepancies before the issuance of a billing receipt.
Alim’s ordinance has been referred to the city council’s committee on public utilities chaired by Councilor R Leonie Gerochi after hurdling the first reading, it was reported.
While the issue was being tackled in the City Council, PECO reportedly disclosed that it was actually trying to improve its metering system using the modern Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI).
“All readings are programmed to go directly to the computers of PECO without any actual meter readers needed on the field. This eliminates the human factor in meter reading and customers can fully rely on the accuracy of the billing,” said Mikel C. Afzelius, PECO’s corporate communications officer.
The first 1,000 “smart meters” will be installed this April 2017.
PECO is expected to again seek another extension of its franchise in 2017 and might again knock on the door of the City Council.

 
 

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Did the Ilonggo solons vote yes by heart?

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”
–Tony Robbins

17155982_10208501843566482_1194099128936945_nBy Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — It’s a landslide.
All congressmen and woman from Iloilo and Guimaras voted yes for the restoration of death penalty.
No one wanted to be an island.
No one was willing to be a lonely voice in the wilderness.
There were no Benjamins, Dracoses, and Lycurguses.
Roman poet Juvenal onced asked: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” or “Who will guard the guards?”
The Ilonggo solons are: Atty. Jerry Trenas (Iloilo City); Richard Garin (Iloilo, 1st District); Arcadio Gorriceta (Iloilo, 2nd District); Atty. Arthur Defensor Jr. (Iloilo, 3rd District); Dr. Ferjenel Biron (Iloilo, 4th District); Raul Tupas (Iloilo, 5th District); and Maria Lucille Nava (Guimaras).

DECIDE

We hope that when they decided to vote yes, they did so because that was what their respective constituents wanted them to vote; and the affirmative vote came from the innermost chamber of their hearts.
We hope they could sustain their yes votes in Plaza Miranda, and explain to their children and grandchildren why some criminals must die after being convicted.
If they voted yes because of “peer pressure” (let’s call it Speaker Alvarez’s Sword of Damocles) or because they succumbed to Malacanang’s alleged “carrot and stick” tactics, history would be unkind to them.
We doubt, however, if anyone of them held a consultation meeting with their constituents before they cast their votes.
If they did, we believe many of these Iloilo and Guimaras solons would be hard-pressed to carry out the yes vote because many Ilonggos are totally against the death penalty.

TANGO

Because everything is now water under the bridge in as far as the Lower House is concerned, we will wait for the Upper Chamber or the Senate whether it will complete the tango or split the legislative stand on the measure being passionately pushed and pursued by President Duterte.
A total of 217 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill Number 4727, while 54 voted against it and one abstained.
A total of 257 out of 293 congressmen were present in the voting during the final reading on March 7, 2017.
The bill seeks to allow judges to punish perpetrators of certain drug-related crimes with either life imprisonment or death. The bill allows the execution to be done either through hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection.

 
 

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After inheriting House post, Judy Syjuco faces jail term

“We inherit nothing truly, but what our actions make us worthy of.”

–George Chapman

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Was it a case of “ako ang bahala, ikaw ang kawawa?” (I’ll be in charge, you face the consequences).
If she did not “inherit” the congressional post from her husband, former Iloilo second district Rep. Judy Syjuco would have been enjoying her life as a private citizen today.
Syjuco is a wealthy woman. She looks more of a socialite than a public servant.
She was supportive of her politician husband, but was never a politician herself in her entire life until she became a congresswoman in 2004.
In fact, she did not need to run for any public office to steal and enrich herself. She could donate her salary for three years and her net worth wouldn’t suffer a dent.
Her income as a politician would be peanuts vis-a-vis her family’s income from their business empire.

RICHEST

In fact, Rep. Judy Syjuco was among the richest solons during her time.
Her trouble started when husband, Augusto a.k.a. “Boboy”, did not want the position to be grabbed by their political rivals, thus he convinced Judy to succeed him.
It was Augusto’s obsession for political power that drove Judy to enter the dirty world of politics, which was probably far from her dream when she married Augusto, a successful industrialist before he became a Constitutional Convention delegate in 1971.
Now Judy is in trouble and there is a chance she would end up in jail if she can’t wiggle out from a graft case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman.

EVIDENCE

The Sandiganbayan has ruled that the evidence submitted by the Office of the Ombudsman is enough to proceed to trial for the alleged payment of P5.9 million to West Island Beverages Distributor (West Island) for the purchase of 1,582 units of Nokia 1100 cell phones using Syjuco’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Payment was made despite the non-delivery of the cell phones to the intended beneficiaries–the municipal tele-centers in Western Visayas, according to the Office of the Ombudsman.
Since West Island is not an accredited supplier, it should have been disqualified from the bidding, added the Office of the Ombudsman.
“What cell phones? I never saw cell phones nor any single centavo,” Syjuco said in a statement after the Sandiganbayan Third Division denied her motion to dismiss the graft and malversation cases filed against her and 10 other individuals including former officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

 
 

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