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Unopposed for many reasons

Published in Upside

Not that she had it all figured out when she first filed for candidacy minus experience and a campaign plan 12 years ago or prior. 


"I wasn't really an achiever in school, remember," she nudged a former classmate from what was then named Maryknoll (now Miriam), a liberal college founded by progressive American nuns.


College ended abruptly after sophomore year when Joanne del Rosario eloped with the boyfriend who could not get her parents' approval. They were married for 13 years that brought her greatest joy with the birth of her son, giving hope her domestic issues would pass.  


Returning to New York, the youngest daughter of privilege got certified as an executive assistant, took two jobs, kept house, and mothered her child.  She took duty to heart, aching to make hers an ideal home by being perfect at everything.


She knows better now.


Her life started over with her move to Colma.  By then she had left her first marriage and found love in Rene Malimban, in whom she felt safe, respected, and encouraged to grow.


A reunion with a former classmate organizing a domestic violence event in 2007 sparked an epiphany.  She had never told anyone of her experience that she learned only then could help others find their voices and their freedom:  She was ready to share.  


Long before #metoo and Time's Up, del Rosario stood before strangers to remind them that anyone can end up in an abusive relationship if they get involved with someone who is abusive.  No education, wealth or power immunizes anyone who does not recognize signs for abusive behavior from walking into conflict.  


“Survivors keep their situation secret for fear of being blamed for their partners’ behavior.  They start believing the perpetrator’s constant criticism and accusations.  Their self-esteem is crushed,” del Rosario took a page from her own story.


In 2010, the Kumares & Kumpares or members of the all-volunteer nonprofit ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment  elected her president.  She drew from her influential network to engage Seton Medical Center, Lucky Chances and Moonstar to sponsor the nonprofit's twice yearly events to promote healthy interaction.  Her advocacy has resulted in the first Intimate Partner Violence Workshop commissioned by a town when Colma invited ALLICE clinical director and then- Equity & Diversity program director for the San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Dr. Jei Africa to facilitate.


"Joanne has raised the bar for commitment to our mission the same way she elevates public service," said ALLICE founding president Bettina Santos Yap.


Once again, Colma collaborated with ALLICE to stage the team's 14th annual Free From Violence Presentation and Resource Fair 5-7:30 pm, Friday, Oct. 12, at the Colma Community Center in collaboration with the Philippine Consulate General and AARS Healthright 360.


Philippine News, Philippines Today, Positively Filipino,, Holy Child & St. Martin Episcopal Church, Lucky Chances, Moonstar, Cafe Savini, Noah's Bagels, Hapag Filipino, Kuya's Asian Cuisine, Guy Guerrero, Philippine Association of University Women, Francis Espiritu, Kumare Elsa Agasid, Baby & Boy   Pastries, Kumare Ofie Albrecht, Bernard Simon Jr., Becca Schatz, Joaquin & Matias Moreno donated resources to stage the event free and open to the public.


"Knowing where to get help is key," said del Rosario, a recipient of District 5 Supervisor David Canepa's 2018 Outstanding Citizens for her efforts to prevent intimate partnership violence.  "That is why ALLICE invites resource providers to our events.  We collaborate with every sector of the community to support one another.  That's the heart of our mission."   



Columnist Cherie Querol Moreno is founder-executive director of ALLICE.  For information visit

Gov't adjusts GDP, inflation targets

Published in Business

MANILA – The Philippine government's economic managers have announced the revision of some economic targets after factoring-in the impact of mostly external factors.


 This the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) released a report last week stating that inflation for the third quarter reached 6.2 percent.


In a briefing last week, Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the gross domestic product (GDP) target for 2018 was cut to 6.5-6.9 percent from the original 7 to 8 percent, which is also the target until 2022.


In the first half this year, growth, as measured by GDP, it grew by 6.3 percent, with the first quarter figure at 6.6 percent and the second quarter at 6 percent.


The slowdown was traced partly to the government’s policy decisions like the six-month closure of Boracay Island, which decelerated the growth of the services sector; the imposition of excise tax on non-metallic and metallic minerals; and the stricter enforcement of aquaculture regulations in Laguna de Bay.


Aside from the GDP target, the average inflation assumption for 2018 was changed to 4.8-5.2 percent from 4 to 4.5. For 2019, the assumption is 3 to 4 percent.


The inflation target for 2018-20 is a range between 2 to 4 percent.


A Bank of Philippine Islands official and economist, meanwhile, said the country’s inflation is expected to fall below the 4-percent level by the second half of 2019 due to the expected normalization of oil prices after peaking this quarter.


Emilio Neri Jr., Vice President and lead economist at the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), said oil prices are projected to fall from today’s US$70 a barrel to US$60 to US$65.


Neri said the country recorded an inflation rate he dubbed “temporary faster” this year, triggered by the 44-percent increase of average oil prices for the first nine months of the year.


“Practically, we had an oil price shock this year that happens only every 10 years,” he said on the sidelines of Euromoney Philippines Investment Forum.


“Last time we saw it (oil price shock) was in 2008 and the same thing happened, even a higher inflation. So we are quite confident that next year it’s not gonna be here anymore,” he added.


The country’s inflation rate hit a nine-year high to 6.7 percent in September 2018 from 6.4 percent in the previous month, due mainly to higher food prices caused by supply disruptions following the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong.


Neri said inflation will increase probably close to 7 percent in October as oil prices went up through the month.


Economic managers of the Duterte administration revised their inflation forecast for 2018 to 4.8 to 5.2 percent from 4 to 4.5 percent, taking into account the impact of mostly external factors. For 2019, the assumption is 3 to 4 percent. 


Average assumption for Dubai crude oil price was changed to US$70-80 per barrel for this year, US$75-85 per barrel for 2019, US$70-80 per barrel for 2020, and US$65-75 per barrel for 2021-22.


During the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) meeting last July, the average assumption for Dubai crude is US$55-70 per barrel for 2018 and US$50-65 per barrel for 2019-22.


The peso-US dollar rate is seen to average this year at P52.5-53 from P50-53 previously. For 2019-22, the foreign exchange assumption is between P52-55.


Export growth target for this year was cut from 9 percent to 2 percent and the 2019’s from 9 percent to 6 percent.


This, as growth of exports, remains moderate amid the big jumps in imports as account for higher requirement by the domestic economy.


Diokno, who is also the chair of the DBCC, said the change in the exports assumption was due to base effects in 2017.


Also changed are the assumptions for the 364-day Treasury bill (T-bill) this year to 4.4-4.6 and the 2019-22 to 4.5-5.5 percent. These were previously at 3 to 4.5 percent.


Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, during the same briefing, said these changes were made to reflect current situation such as the impact of trade war, which was not seen a few months back.


“We are confident that the Philippine economy will weather these storms abroad but we are not complacent. We are taking very deliberate actions to address the issues that we are facing,” he said.


In a statement, economic managers said measures to address the issue on the demand-side include increasing household consumption with rice tariffication, social mitigating measures, and policy interventions in the education and labor sectors.


Other measures include encouraging the entry of additional investments by accelerating the infrastructure programs and boosting exports through the full implementation of the Export Development Plan.


Supply side-focused measures include improvement of the agriculture sector by cultivating high-value crops, investments in the capacity and technology of manufacturing, and innovation in and timely implementation of construction projects.


Dominguez said the economic slowdown in the second quarter of this year was partly due to the smaller contribution by the agriculture sector, thus, the identification of measures to boost the sector.


“Again, we are facing new realities. Everybody in the world is facing new realities and we are fortunate that our economy is strong enough and resilient enough to overcome these difficulties,” he said.


Dominguez said the country's banking sector continues to be strong, and this is among the reasons why the economy remains resilient.


“We have a very high foreign exchange reserves. They are almost seven months of imports and we have an administration that is closely coordinating their fiscal policy with monetary policy so these issues will be addressed,” he added. 


Two weeks agao, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said the pace of increase in prices of goods and services month-on-month has already slowed down.


Although year-on-year inflation for September rose to 6.7 percent this 2018 from 3 percent in 2017, inflation last month grew by 0.3 percentage points from 6.4 percent in August of this year.


The 0.3-percentage point month-on-month increase in inflation in September was lower than the 0.7-percentage point hike from July and August, the 0.5-percentage point increment from June to July, and the 0.6-percentage point rise in inflation from May to June, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).


“How we should look at this is this way: We all know that the inflation this year is higher than last year because of one common factor -- because of that high price of oil,” Lopez told reporters.


“What we should watch out for is the month-on-month. Is it improving or worsening? This month we are seeing is a 0.3 [percentage points] change,” he added.


Price index on transport, which is directly affected by rising oil prices, accelerated to 8 percent in September, PSA data showed.


Lopez noted that the insufficient supply of agricultural products also pumped the price pressures last month, particularly on food and non-alcoholic beverages index.


This was aggravated by Typhoon Ompong that brought about damage to agriculture, including facilities and infrastructure, to Php 26.8 billion.


The DTI chief, however, pointed out that the government does not turn a blind eye to the rising inflation.

Deadly drug trade with China

Published in Perry Scope

With the renewed relationship that’s growing between President Rodrigo Duterte and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, there is a lot of goodwill that has been going on between the two countries.  And with the forthcoming state visit of Xi to the Philippines, a lot of bilateral activities are happening to ensure that the first state visit of a Chinese leader since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) would be successful.


In Duterte’s letter to Xi extending his greetings on China’s 69th founding anniversary, he told Xi that their recent interactions have “borne much fruit.”  “I look forward to welcoming you in Manila soon and to discuss the path forward our countries and peoples to sustain our bonds and make it more meaningful,” Duterte said.


But all is not as rosy as the two leaders appear to be in their exchanges.  Underneath the serene diplomatic discourse, there are undercurrents that both sides tried so much to evade so as not to cause friction between the two countries.  There are two major issues that could disrupt their relationship:  territorial dispute on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and illegal drugs. 


The WPS dispute has led to a diplomatic standoff, which for now has avoided an outbreak of hostility that could lead to open conflict between the two countries.  With that in mind, neither country would bring their territorial dispute out in the open.  To do so could have dire geopolitical consequences that would draw the superpowers into the fray.


Pandemic drug situation


The problem of illegal drugs is a different animal.  Duterte made a promise during the presidential campaign in 2016 to get rid of corruption, drugs, and criminality in the country within three to six months.   Two years later, the corruption, drugs, and criminality are still the major problems in the country.


In a recent speech in Malacañang, Duterte said, “I told you that I will go after drugs and I warned everybody because… what used to be millions of transactions worth, it’s now billions.” Evidently, Duterte’s “War on Drugs” – by his own admission -- is a total failure.


Who are the players?


The illegal drug operation involves various players, to wit:  Foreign drug manufacturers, smugglers, corrupt government officials, shabu laboratories, drug lords, corrupt Customs officials, corrupt PDEA officials, corrupt police officers, drug pushers, and drug users. It’s a hierarchy where all the players play a part in the distribution network that has turned the Philippines into a country of drug-induced zombies.  It’s destroying the country!


It’s no wonder then that Duterte had given up.  But how did it get to a point that within two years, the illegal drug trade has taken a quantum leap in spite of Duterte’s crusade against illegal drug?  Definitely, something is wrong with the picture.


With the government’s emphasis on eliminating the drug users – more than 4,000 have been killed to date – it is a mathematical impossibility to stop the illegal drug trade.  Duterte, after three months into his presidency, was shocked when he realized that there were more than four million illegal drug pushers and users! Simply put, it’s virtually impossible to stop the illegal drug trade without exercising extreme measures.   


Distribution hub


In my humble opinion, I believe that you cannot eradicate the drug problem by killing the victims – the drug users.  The drug problem started at the top of the food chain – the foreign drug manufacturers that are based in China.  The Philippines has become the major distribution hub because of the corruption in every level of the government structure.  Corrupt government and local officials protect the smugglers, shabu laboratories, and drug lords, who in turn bribe the corrupt Customs, PDEA, and police officers.   


The question is: How could Duterte stop or prevent the Chinese drug manufacturers from distributing their illegal products from entering the Philippines?   With the way Duterte’s “War on Drugs” is being waged, the government is losing.  But here’s the rub: Since Duterte doesn’t have the power to stop the drug trade from China, he should then focus in going after the smugglers who are the primary conduit between the Chinese manufacturers and the distribution chain.  If he stops drug smuggling, then the war on drugs is half won.  The other half is how can he influence and convince China’s leadership to stop the flow of the illegal drugs into the Philippines?  And this is where Duterte could use his friendship with Xi. But can Xi do it?  Or, would he do it? 


This author believes that Xi can’t and wouldn’t do it.  First, he can’t do it because the main ingredients – precursor chemicals -- to produce methamphetamine or shabu are legally manufactured in China.  China is a major source of precursor chemicals necessary for the production of cocaine, heroin, crystal methamphetamine, which are used by many Southeast Asian and Pacific Rim nations. China produces over 100,000 metric tons of acetic anhydride each year. [Source: Wikipedia]


Secondly, Xi wouldn’t do it because it’s a major legal drug manufacturing industry in China, which is controlled by the powerful Chinese Communist officials and the influential CEO’s of China’s drug manufacturing industry.   


There are two ways to manufacture shabu: One is to smuggle ready-to-use shabu and the second is to smuggle precursor chemicals in lesser quantity that can then be “cooked” with other locally and legally available chemicals – e.g., hydrochloric acid, battery acid -- in secret shabu laboratories, protected by corrupt government, local, police officials.  But it is hard to find the locations of these secret labs because the operators have the ability to relocate them easily or build new labs if they’re exposed.  Besides, corrupt local officials are easily bribed to keep their mouths shut.


Chinese connection


It is interesting to note that a recent news report has linked Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua to business tycoon Michael Yang, who is suspected of being a drug dealer.  The report became an international cause célèbre.  Imagine, a top Chinese diplomat involved in the drug trade? 


It all began when Duterte had “declassified” a PDEA dossier linking a group of former policemen and government officials to a Davao-based businessman allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.  Could that be Michael Yang?


But in a recent speech, Duterte cleared Yang, saying that Yang, who is the owner of the Davao City Los Amigos (DCLA) stores in Mindanao, cannot be involved in the illegal drug trade, citing his ties to Zhao. “They said Michael Yang is a drug addict. The Chinese ambassador sleeps in his house, he’s even part of the entourage of the Chinese Premier,” Duterte reportedly said. But what that proves is that Yang is connected to high Chinese officials, which makes one wonder: Would his Chinese connection extend all the way to the Philippines’ officialdom?  Is Yang untouchable?


With the influence that Zhao had with China’s powers-that-be, perhaps he can convince them to crack down on the importation of shabu or precursor chemicals to the Philippines. With Xi scheduled to visit the Philippines in the coming months, it would be nice if he’d bring with him a commitment to shackle the shabu manufacturers.  It would certainly curb the deadly drug trade with China. 


At the end of the day, one has to remember that the deadly drug with China follows the rule of supply and demand: Decrease the supply and the demand would eventually decrease, too.  Conversely, increase the supply and you create more demand.   


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Panglao int'l airport inaugurated next month

Published in Travel

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol – The Panglao International Airport on Panglao Island in Bohol will be inaugurated by November.


This was announced by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade who said the inauguration could have been made earlier except that more testings and details were taken up by authorities


Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) spokesperson Eric Apolonio said the P7.8-billion project, also known as the New Bohol International Airport, features green and sustainable structures, solar panels, and motion sensor lighting, among others.


"This is the Philippines' first eco-airport," he said. 

Apolonio said the construction of the Panglao International Airport started on June 22, 2015 and the government plans to inaugurate it on Nov. 22, 2018.

"(The project) took some time to materialize, but the Duterte administration made sure to expedite this," Apolonio said.

Once completed, the Panglao International Airport will replace the Tagbilaran Airport, which has limited capacity for expansion and also due to operational safety concerns. 

The Panglao Airport also aims to cater to the growing number of tourists in Bohol, he added.

 Apolonio said the Tagbilaran Airport will no longer operate commercially once the Panglao International Airport becomes operational.

"(Currently), I have no idea if the airport will be used instead for general or military operations," the executive said.

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