Sec. Gina Lopez and the mining industry

 

DENR Secretary Gina Lopez

We all know that President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Ms. Gina Lopez as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the strength of her intensely passionate and unwavering advocacy for green or eco-friendly environment.

No one can ever question her resolve in protecting the environment and in so doing making it clean and friendly to the people. We have seen her zeal and devotion when she served as chairperson of Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and her involvement in Bantay Kalikasan (Nature Watch) which was launched as a response to the worsening state of the environment, especially in Metro Manila.

While many appreciate the idealism of Lopez for the environment, the same morals or philosophy, if you may, when applied to the mining companies in the country should have been tempered with greater understanding and rationality.

I am saying this because Lopez is now at the receiving end of the wrath expressed by some mining officials whose company was targeted for closure and/or suspension of operation for the reason that it has been causing havoc to the environment.

That Lopez has been the subject of displeasure and indignation by the mining companies, which is even affecting her confirmation as DENR secretary, is only fair and par for the course because its mining operation should have been vetted first on the context on whether or not they are International Standards Organization (ISO) compliant.

This should have been the due process extended to the mining companies instead of shutting them down unceremoniously.

There is no doubt Lopez knows about the ISO certification because she herself stated the following upon assuming the position from former DENR Secretary Ramon Paje: “ISO 14001 is one way of saying responsible mining.”

The ISO 14001 standard is the most important within the ISO 14000 series. ISO 14001 specifies the requirements of an environmental management system (EMS) for small to large organizations. An EMS is a systemic approach to handling environmental issues within an organization.

Lopez further added that the assessment will determine if mining operations are “… good to the people or are they killing the rivers, streams? Are they creating suffering to our farmers and fishermen? We have to evaluate it, but my stand on the common good is non-negotiable.”

The “non-negotiable” stand of Lopez can be likened to the shit hitting the fan!

This hardline policy/posturing of Lopez just won’t work especially if the mining industries earn billions of pesos for the country, creates job for the people in the community and contribute to the infrastructure needs of the community.

Personal or subjective opinion should never play a rule in this kind of controversial problems especially if it has to do with the economy, jobs, lives of employed workers, and yes, the environment. The benefits gained should not be held hostage just because the whim and caprice of a popular DENR Secretary is not accommodated.

To compromise is the way to go so it will not create a negative impact on all factors considered for a win-win situation could only be attained if a review of the ISO standards is done regularly by DENR so that anomalies can be corrected to help minimize the potential present and long term damage to the environment from mining activities.

 

Ballpoint in pens now made in China

 

ballpoint-penChina has been dumping its multifarious manufactured goods, from the mundane to the complex items, all over the world that you would think there is nothing that the world’s industrial and economic giant cannot produce. Right?

Wrong!

Apparently, the world’s largest manufacturer of ballpoint pens never succeeded in producing its own ballpoint, a vital component in a pen, until now. And to think that China manufactures 80% of the world’s ballpoint pens!

So, where, then, was China’s ballpoint pen makers getting the delicate tips for the variety of pens it was making and exporting to the countries of the world?

Admittedly, the delicate balls used were imported from Switzerland.

But, not anymore according to state-owned steel firm Taiyuan Iron & Steel which has announced its Eureka moment!

So why did a country renowned for ingeniously replicating technology struggle to create an everyday item for so long?

According to the firm, it did not have machines with the precision needed to cut a tiny ball-bearing accurately.

Also, it explained that despite being the world’s largest steel producer, China was unable to produce the high quality steel to case the ink-dispensing ball, resulting in the steel being imported from Germany or Japan.

The problem of the imperfect balls was brought to fore when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang complained on national TV that the country’s pens were “rough” in comparison with their Japanese, German and Swiss counterparts.

His comments led the Hong Kong Economic Journal to declare: “The day China can produce a 100% homemade ball pen will be the day it truly qualifies as a first-class industrial power.”

Well, it sure has been, but more so now and China is hoping to phase out pen tip imports completely within the next two years.

Duterte pressures BSP and AMLC

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

What President Rodrigo Duterte is doing in censuring and pressuring the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to cooperate with government is nothing again but an exercise of fearless political will very much lacking in past leaders of the country.

Acting as sole protectors of what is all secret in depository agencies, the officials of AMLC have been playing hard-nosed, as their role demands perhaps, even when the interest of the nation, and more so of the truth, is at stake.

This cavalier attitude did not and do not sit well with Duterte. The latter feels that those in charge have been obstructing instead of assisting him in his fight against money laundering, especially in the light of the scourge brought about by illegal drug business which prompting him to describe the officials as “hard to deal with”.

But while it may be true that the AMLC is mandated to protect and preserve the integrity and confidentiality of bank accounts, it is also, however, decreed to ensure that the country shall not be used as a money laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity.

That is how categorical and essential the mandate is.

Thus, it is only reasonable for Duterte to get upset and express his displeasure over the monetary official’s disdainful attitude.

The AMLC is composed of the Governor of the (BSP) as Chairman and the Commissioner of the Insurance Commission (IC) and the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as members. It acts unanimously in the discharge of its functions.

Duterte emphasized it was imperative that “we cooperate in this government as a Republic to protect and preserve our people.”

“Do not make it hard for us otherwise I will make it hard for you. Simply I said, you failed miserably,” the president remarked in his scathing assessment.

I could not agree more with Duterte, especially when he cited his own experience when Sen. Antonio Trillanes accused him of having P200 million in bank deposits which he allegedly failed to declare in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, but which AMLC did not do anything about it, much less deny it.

No doubt AMLC was the source of Trillanes’ allegations, yet the same agency is not cooperating where and when it matters most.

Duterte’s scorching remarks to BSP and AMLC should prod them to get their acts together and not be humiliated over their zealous but scandalous participation in case fraudulent activities involving their people are found out to exist.

 

Good Samaritans uplifts old popsicle vendor’s life

fidencio

Anybody who sees this still photo of an elderly man struggling to push his paleta cart (popsicle cart) will surely be moved with pity and compassion.

Apparently the vendor, 89-year-old Fidencio Sanchez, went on retirement a couple of months ago but had to get back to work when he and his wife, Eladia, lost their only daughter who left behind two sons to be taken care of.

Eladia also used to sell paletas but now sells Mexican candies because pushing the heavy cart became too physically demanding and hurt her arm, according to the Sanchez’ granddaughter, Dulce Perez. Fidencio Sanchez has been pushing his cart in the area about 23 years, Perez said.

The kind soul of Joel Cervantes Macias posted Sanchez’s photo on FB. This in turn got the attention of Joe Loera who started an online GoFundMe campaign which resulted to more good Samaritans donating that Sanchez need not have to work anymore.

To complete the story I am also posting a video of this inspiring man that went viral.

Duterte’s war on drugs paving way for bullish economy

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte only recently got appraised on his 50th day in office and while his bloody campaign against illegal drugs became the fodder for media nobody can deny, however, that we may be seeing the turn-around of the country for the better.

It looks like trust and confidence in Duterte’s leadership among Filipinos has even grown stronger because he is doing exactly what he promised to do if elected, which was to waged war against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.

Not only has Duterte consolidated his political power in congress but he seem to be getting also the support of practically all sectors of Philippine society, even some ranking officials of the Catholic church, because they have all seen the seriousness and determination of his resolve to put an end to the ills that have been plaguing the country all these years so it could start moving forward towards economic growth and development.

While the Duterte administration is busy conducting a violent and highly controversial anti-drugs campaign, the president has not lost sight of the fact that peace and stability are important factors for a country’s sustained growth and development, thus, his initiative to be in harmony with the communists and the Muslim rebels in Mindanao.

This gesture of promoting friendship, reconciliation, unity and smoking the peace pipe is very much welcomed by the business community which is now foreseeing a surge in new investments by local and foreign nationals.

Other factors that are giving the business sector a positive outlook for the future is the government’s plan to start immediately prioritizing infrastructure spending and cutting of red tapes.

That Duterte has asked congress for an emergency power to address the horrendous traffic problem in Manila is an added boost to the morale of the businessmen.

In May, Duterte told the country’s main telecom providers to speed up the internet, or he would junk laws that prohibit foreign competition.

Duterte’s economic plan also includes lowering corporate and income taxes.

While the outside world may be critical of the killings following Duterte’s war against illegal drugs, it has in no way affected the economic performance of the country.

Only recently the government announced that the Philippine economy grew at 7 per cent in the second quarter from a year earlier, its highest level in three years. It makes the Philippines the fastest growing among all countries that have reported so far for the second quarter.

It has been reported that the mainstays of the economy – remittances and the outsourcing sector – are flourishing and boosting domestic consumption.

What this means simply is that Duterte is leading this country in the right direction, regardless of how many are killed in his war against drugs or whether he has called the US ambassador gay or he has ruffled the feathers of the UN by calling some members stupid.

That is the long and short of it.

SC should heed Ombudsman request to reverse acquittal decision of Arroyo

 

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

In light of President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent daring exposé describing the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) as the most corrupt agency of government and the milking cow of some sectors, should it not only be fair and just that the Supreme Court (SC) heeds Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ request for reversal of its decision to acquit former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?

In his revelation Duterte even went to the extent saying that he is still looking for somebody who has the guts to kill “corrupt” people to head the PCSO.

Duterte was talking about exterminating gambling lords who have managed to incorporate the Small Town Lottery (STL) of the PCSO.

It must be remembered that the STL was intended to eradicate the illegal numbers games called ‘jueteng’ ‘masiao’ etc., but unfortunately it has failed in its objective and because the STL operations are not reporting its actual sales it has been reported that the government stands to lose at least P50 billion a year in revenues.

Duterte also added that these unscrupulous operators of the agency also co-opt bingo and lotto operations.

Duterte even added that whoever he would appoint PCSO chairman would have his blessing to kill anyone who would commit corruption in the PCSO.

This is how badly and disreputably PCSO is managed until now, which means to say that it could have been even worse during the time of ex-president Arroyo.

A testament to this unpleasant observation at PCSO is the statement issued by the Office of the Ombudsman saying that the former president was complicit in the whole scheme to raid the PCSO coffers. Proof of this is her dealing directly with PCSO and her supervision of the agency herself.

It is perhaps because of this anomalous dealing that Ombudsman Morales filed a motion for reconsideration with the SC asking for reversal of its decision to acquit Arroyo and strongly arguing that the plunder charges have strong legal and factual basis. The motion for reconsideration said “the prosecution was able to prove that P365,997,915.00 was repeatedly pilfered by the accused, in conspiracy with each other, from the Confidential and Intelligence Fund (CIF) of the PCSO from 2008 to 2010.”

The Office of the Ombudsman also said that documents presented by prosecutors were able to show that “the CIF was heavily increased by infusions under the written directive of Arroyo; and the amount of P365,997,915.00 withdrawn was actually received by ex-PCSO officials Rosario Uriarte and Sergio Valencia.”

Knowing how Arroyo run the presidency during her time and knowing now how corrupt-laden PCSO is according to Duterte, would it not be, again, justifiable that the SC re-visits Arroyo’s plunder case once more so we will know the real score?

Filipinos included in the Panama Papers

 

mossack fonsecaBut what else is new?

Surprised? Of course not!

The Panama Papers, as it is known worldwide now, is about the more than eleven million documents from a secretive law firm in Panama called Mossack Fonseca that were hacked and eventually leaked to the public showing how it helped the rich, the powerful and the notorious to launder money and save them from paying taxes in their home country by opening for them off-shore accounts and /or establishing a shell company. The latter is actually an inactive company used as a vehicle for various financial maneuvers or kept dormant for future use in some other capacity.

Those looking to hide assets establish accounts in countries like Panama, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, where the banking laws are designed to vigorously protect account owners’ identities.

What made the news a bombshell was not only the hugeness of the documents leaked, but, likewise, the personalities involved that included current and former head of states, politicians, athletes, celebrities and business moguls.

That more than 500 Filipinos are said to be included in the Panama Papers is no surprise at all.

The fact that this has been the practice of the rich, the famous and the notorious, and known by the citizens of their respective countries, there must be some legality to it.

The illegality depend on who the person is, what he does and above all his intentions for seeking countries like Panama, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda where their wealth could be transferred and hid.

What makes it interesting for Filipinos to know who is who among the more than 500 compatriots mentioned is because corruption is so rampant in this country that one can call it an endemic malady the country suffers from the hands of modern politicians.

If for some reason the country hasn’t progress at all, blame it to the unscrupulous Filipinos who call themselves servants of the people and who have been robbing us blind and going to countries that could offer them tax havens to hide their wealth.

Whoever the Filipinos are, they must be having the shits now, in case their names are exposed.

Good for you, you SOBs!