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BSP raises policy rate, inflation outlook

Published in Business

MANILA — Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. announced that the Monetary Board (MB) has raised policy interest rates by 25 basis points -- the first upward adjustment of key rates since September 2014.


 Espenilla said the rate hike sets overnight reverse repurchase (RRP) facility interest rate at 3.25 percent while overnight lending and deposit facilities at 2.75 percent, “basically moving the corridor”.


This move of the MB was reportedly expected, even anticipated by the market amid increasing inflation due to a confluence of factors. “In deciding to raise the policy interest rate, the Monetary Board noted that latest forecasts have further shifted higher, indicating inflation pressures could become more broad-based over the policy horizon,” the central bank chief stated.


“Our own expectation is that by acting right now, in our view, a timely manner, we will avoid the necessity of further stronger action down the road,” he said, adding that this adjustment is expected to get inflation back on the target range of 2 to 4 percent.


Likewise, the central bank raised inflation forecast from 3.9 percent to 4.6 percent in 2018 and from 3 percent to 3.4 percent in 2019, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said.


Guinigundo cited that increasing oil prices, upward adjustment of minimum wage, and excise tax on tobacco products are the Monetary Board’s reasons to raise inflation projection for 2018. “Crude oil has gone up versus the 2017 levels. And we expect that in June 2018, we will continue to see elevated readings of oil prices at about US$70 per barrel,” he said.


He also mentioned that there have been five regions where petitions for higher minimum wage have been filed, which include the National Capital Region as well as Regions 4-A, 6, 7, and 11. Just last month, a PHP16 minimum wage increase was approved in Region 4-A.


A P2.50-per-pack excise tax on tobacco products is expected beginning July this year.


Meantime, inflation is expected to ease by next year as the Monetary Board sees tempering in crude oil price from US$67.84 to P64.81 per barrel. “Looking ahead, the BSP stands ready to undertake further policy action as necessary to ensure the achievement of its price and financial stability objectives,” Espenilla said.


As founder of Mobile Signing Services, I'm amazed how clients from Hawaii and California continue to share creative ideas on how to save money, time and less worry in the notarization and authentication of Special Power of Attorney (SPA), Affidavits and other documents at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, California


One Thursday morning last month, Medeline (a client for more than three years from Hawaii) sent a text to me requesting my help for the notarization and authentication of Special Power of Attorney (SPA) for the sale of real estate property they inherited in the Philippines. The SPA must be signed by her, her husband Ellis, her sister Fe residing in East Palo Alto, California and her brother-in-law Christopher residing in Manteca, California. Six sets of SPA will be notarized and authenticated at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, California


Through creative way, Medeline informed me that we can meet in our home in San Francisco the upcoming Monday morning by 11:00 am. Medeline and her husband Ellis will take the early flight Monday morning from Honolulu, Hawaii to San Francisco (SFO). Her sister Fe and her brother-in-law Christopher will drive to our home in San Francisco, California to arrive by 11:00 am Monday.


As creatively arranged and planned, they (Medeline, her husband Ellis, sister Fe and brother-in-law Christopher) arrived on time in my home-office that Monday morning. Medeline presented the six sets of SPA to be notarized. I had them signed the six sets of SPA. Then, I had them signed my Journal of Notarial Acts (total of 24 signatures) and affixed their right thumb marks. I requested copies of their I.D. (Hawaii Driver's License and California Driver's License) and made corresponding number of copies. I requested two of our renters witnessed the signed SPA.


After completion of the notarization, I made duplicate copies of the six sets of SPA and enclosures ready for submission to the Philippine Consulate Office in San Francisco, California. Fe and Christopher returned to their office and workplace immediately after the completion of notarization of the six sets of SPA. Medeline and her husband proceeded to the Philippine Consulate Office in San Francisco and submitted the notarized six sets of SPA for authentication.


Through the creative way arranged and planned by Medeline, they got the following savings and benefits:1.$120 savings for volume discount on the 24 signatures; 2. $180 savings on gas and mileage fees; 3.Because the six sets of SPA were notarized by accredited Notary Public with Mobile Signing Services, Fe and Christopher don't need to be personally present at the Philippine Consulate Office and were able to return to work in the afternoon; 4.Got peace of mind; 5. Avoided unexpected inconveniences.


Like Medeline, Ellis, Fe and Christopher, you can have options and creative ways to save money and time on the notarization and authentication of Special Power of Attorney (SPA), Affidavits, DEED OF ABSOLUTE SELL, Deed of Donation, Deed of Extra Judicial Partition, Contract to Sell, Parental Travel Permit of Children, Deed of Judicial Partition with Waiver of Rights, General Durable Power of Attorney, Revocation of Special Power of Attorney, Living Trust, Deed of Quitclaim, Authorization, Declaration of Trust and other legal papers and documents needed in the Philippines and in California.


For immediate help and assistance just write or contact: Mobile Signing Services, 730 Madrid Street, San Francisco, CA 94112 Tel (650) 438-3531 or (415) 584-7095 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


(ART GABOT MADLAING is a commissioned Notary Public and licensed Real Estate Broker (BRE #00635976) in California since 1981. He is accredited Notary Public by the Philippine Consul General in San Francisco. Art is the founder of FITNESS FOR HUMANITY (aka FITNESS FOR CHRIST) and ACAPINOY. He is active Evangelist with the GOLDEN GATE CHURCH OF CHRIST in San Francisco, California.)


SC fails test of integrity

Published in On Distant Shore

“God bless our beloved country.”


Thus said Senate President Koko Pimentel, the head of the ruling party and son of the illustrious democratic icon former Senate President Nene Pimentel, as he called on the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno based on a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.


Pimentel, a staunch ally of President Duterte, stressed that the Chief Justice is an impeachable official who can be removed only after impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate.


With the Supreme Court gone berserk and ignoring the constitution it is tasked and sworn to uphold and protect, the country is now one giant step closer to authoritarian rule with the balance of power tilted heavily in favor of the Chief Executive. The SC decision confirmed fears that the high tribunal has become subservient to President Duterte, and with Congress firmly under the control of the Chief Executive, the balance of power inherent in a strong democracy no longer exists in the country.


The Supreme Court has upheld many questionable actions of this administration, among them the decision to give President Ferdinand Marcos a hero’s burial, the decision to allow the case against Sen Leila de Lima to proceed despite the fact that the testimonies were from convicted drug felons, and the decision to uphold martial law in Mindanao.


These decisions have tainted the independence of the Supreme Court, and the shady decision to oust Sereno has put into serious question the integrity and stability of the high tribunal.


In their dissenting opinions, four of the six justices who voted against the quo warranto petition said the tribunal should have dismissed outright the petition filed by Calida against Sereno.


 “This petition should have been dismissed outright and not given due course. It does not deserve space in judicial deliberation within our constitutional democratic space,” said Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who also wrote a scathing dissenting opinion against the martial law ruling. He said the decision was a “legal abomination” and created a bad precedent that put at risk those who dissent against the “privileged and the powerful.”


Associate Justice Alfred Benjamin Caguioa, on the other hand, said that granting the quo warranto petition was at the expense and to the “extreme prejudice of the independence of the entire judiciary,” the independence of the justices and the freedom of discourse in the High Court.


Caguioa, who also wrote dissenting opinions in the Marcos burial and Mindanao martial law cases, said that with its decision to oust one of its members, the Supreme Court “committed suicide without honor.”


Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who should have been the most hurt when President Noynoy Aquino appointed the most junior justice being the most senior among those nominated by the Judicial and Bar Council, said Sereno is “liable for culpable violations of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust” but agreed with Sereno that the Chief Justice can only be removed by Congress through impeachment.


Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, calling the move to oust Sereno via a quo warranto petition “constitutional adventurism,” wrote in his dissenting opinion, “With the SolGen wielding a quo warranto sword of Damocles over the heads of these officers (the justices of the Supreme Court), the Filipino people cannot be assured that they will discharge their constitutional mandate and functions without fear or favor.”


The vote was eight in favor of the quo warranto petition and six against. Among those who voted for the ouster of Sereno were the six justices who testified angrily against Sereno during the impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives, and were therefore clearly prejudiced against Sereno and should have recused themselves as demanded by Sereno.


By ignoring the constitutional mandate that the Chief Justice can only be removed by impeachment to unseat a Chief Justice they did not like, the Supreme Court has eroded its credibility as an impartial and independent body.  It is easy to believe that the eight justices voted to grant the quo warranto petition because of personal reasons and loyalties instead of their sense of justice.


Will they be able to set aside their personal prejudices and loyalties in their future decisions? How can the people now trust them as a court of last resort to obtain justice when it has become apparent that they turned a blind eye to the constitution and the rule of law to oust Sereno because they didn’t like the way they were bypassed and the way Sereno ran the tribunal?


For example, just recently, the justices, sitting as members of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, decided to allow only ballots with at least 50% shading to be counted despite the Commission on Elections’ ruling during the 2016 presidential elections that the machines would count ballots that were shaded at least 25%. This PET ruling, according to the supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo, could favor former Senator Bongbong Marcos in his electoral protest against Robredo.


Some people are now asking: Is this part of a trade-off with the Duterte administration with the justices getting a shot at becoming Chief Justice (most of them will never become Chief Justice for as long as Sereno is there because most of them shall have retired before Sereno becomes retireable) and for other favors (like being named as Ombudsman) in exchange for ousting two of the harshest critics of the present regime?


As Justice Caguioa said: “By ousting the Chief Justice through the expediency of holding that the Chief Justice failed this ‘test’ of integrity, it is actually the Court that fails.”


With the integrity of the court of last resort in doubt, where else can the people turn to for justice and redress of their grievances? And with the Executive branch apparently holding sway over its co-equal Legislative and Judicial branches, where is democracy headed in our country? What will now stop our country from sliding further down the slippery slope of tyranny?


Amid these recent developments, we must now all join Senate President Koko Pimentel in praying, “God bless our beloved country.” 

(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Sandiganbayan acquits ex-PCSO exec of plunder

Published in Latest News


QUEZON CITY — The Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) general manager Rosario Uriarte of plunder in connection with the alleged misuse of the intelligence funds of the state lottery agency, amounting to P366 million.


“Here considering that 10 persons have been accused of amassing, accumulating and/or acquiring ill-gotten wealth, it would be improbable that the crime charged was plunder if none of them was alleged to be the main plunderer. As such, each of the 10 accused would account for the aliquot amount of only P36,599,791.50, or exactly 1/10 of the alleged aggregate ill-gotten wealth, which is far below the threshold value of ill-gotten wealth required for plunder," the anti-graft court's First Division said in an 11-page decision dated May 11, 2018.


“It is notable that the COA, although frowning upon PCSO's co-mingling of funds, did not rule such co-mingling as illegal. As such, sourcing the requested additional CIF's from one account was far from illegal,” the court added.


The Supreme Court earlier acquitted Uriarte’s co-accused Manuel Morato, Jose Taruc V, Raymundo Roquero, and Reynaldo Villar on demurrer to evidence on April 6, 2015.


The High Court upheld the acquittal of former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyyo and Benigno Aguas on Apr. 18, 2017. It became final and executory on May 30, 2017.


Uriarte surrendered to the operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation on Nov. 16, 2016. She was later arraigned on Nov. 22, 2016, and entered a “not guilty” to the charge against her.


She was allowed to post bail for her temporary liberty on June 22, 2017.


“In fine, the prosecution's failure to properly allege the main plunderer should be fatal to the cause of the State against the petitioners for violating the rights of each accused to be informed of the charges against each of them,” the Sandiganbayan said.


“The prosecution has not adduced any new or compelling evidence to warrant a finding different from what has already been rendered by the Supreme Court. Thus, as the High Tribunal categorically cleared Uriarte of culpability from the instant charge of plunder, it behooves this Court to acquit her,” the anti-graft court said, in clearing the former PCSO official of the charge.


With her acquittal, the Sandiganbayan also ordered the lifting of the hold departure order against Uriarte and her bond released.


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