Wake Up, Philippines!

John 3:14-21 – Sunday Gospel Reflection

Posted in Gospel of John by Erineus on March 21, 2009

John 3:14-21 – Nicodemus
Fourth Sunday of Lent

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.

When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle, while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door  A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.

He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety, when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly.  He often talked about you, and your love for art.” The young man held out this package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home, he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel… “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son…who will bid for this picture?”

There was silence.

Then, a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings…skip this one.”

But the auctioneer persisted,”Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding..$100, $200?”

Another voice angrily shouted, “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts…get on with the real bids!”

But still the auctioneer continued: “The son! The son…who’ll bid on  the son?”

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.”  Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

“We have $10, who will bid $20?”

“Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.”

“$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?”

The crowd was becoming angry and  did not want the picture of the son.

They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice… SOLD for $10!”

A man sitting on the second row shouted, “Now let’s get on with the  auction and the other art in the collection!”

The auctioneer laid down his gavel and stated, “I’m sorry, but the auction is over.”

“What about the paintings?”

“When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time and the son was sold.  Only the painting of the son would be auctioned and whoever bought that painting would inherit the man’s entire estate, including the paintings!

The man who bought the son gets everything!”

God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on the cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: “The son, the son, who’ll take the son?”

Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.


Picture:  http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/99.html

BIR hunting season officially open!

Posted in BIR, Governance, Graft and Corruption by Erineus on March 21, 2009

CTALK By Cito Beltran Updated March 13, 2009 12:00 AM

I don’t know how the United States does it, but in the Philippines, it seems that the BIR has already declared their hunting season open! In fact things are so bad that some businessmen are now more afraid of certain BIR personnel than kidnappers.

Participants in a recent tax forum expressed shock when a top official of the BIR casually said that as far as they are concerned, they are willing to turn a blind eye to whatever means BIR agents use as long as the agency meets their revenue targets or collection quotas. In response to the pressure and the desperation to hit targets, the BIR has foregone restraint and accountability among the good and the bad within its ranks.

Is this a confirmation that the Arroyo government is desperate for money and desperate times require desperate measures? If this is the mindset of the BIR commissioners, then they are welcome to use the tag line: “QUOTA AT ANY COST”.

Filipinos traditionally lament during March and April because it’s time to pay income tax, but this year there has been a marked increase in the number of harassed taxpayers who have decided to go to tax lawyers and the media to complain about letters and inquiries from the BIR that have escalated to downright shakedowns.

But more than just complaining, people have started to record letters, meetings and conversations with BIR officers and representatives. It would be interesting to find out whose faces will show up on security tapes in various restaurants, spas, country clubs as well as offices if the Senate investigates the situation.

Unlike in the past where “victims” keep quiet and simply pay the tax and bribe the taxman, the victims are now openly talking about the shakedowns and the price of compromise.

The corrupt are now asking for an average of P350,000 not to do their job and after a couple of weeks, the reported average rate of accepted bribe is P200,000. There are no distinctions made between feast and famine and if the “agent” gets transferred, the thieves have a referral system.

In short, corrupt agents trick the sinner or the ignorant into believing that their problems are solved once they pay. What they did not realize was they simply enrolled themselves as perpetual hostage to corruption.

Clearly, there is a national phobia of the BIR for the longest time they have promoted and enlarged the myth that “You don’t mess with the BIR”. Because of the G-men characterization, it becomes all the more easier to make delinquent taxpayers cower to corrupt arrangements.

In a recent tax seminar conducted by an ex-taxman now working for SGV accountants, the speaker warned his audience: “Whatever you do, don’t antagonize the people from the BIR, because even if you are compliant they will always find some way to get at you”. Can you believe that statement?

Considering the fact that the Filipino taxpayer is the principal partner of the BIR in meeting their revenue targets, shouldn’t we promote an image and a relationship between taxpayer and tax collector that is cooperative and supportive instead of threatening and combative?!

The Filipino taxpayer is entitled to Respect, Compassion and Understanding.

Respect the fact that we all work hard for the money the BIR needs, wants and demands. Be compassionate about the taxpayers’ reluctance to part with money that could spell the difference for a better education, a better house to live in or an opportunity to enlarge their business. Understand that we are not knowledgeable about the tax system and it is the BIR’s obligation to extend the assistance and the courtesy to people as their share in working for the money.

Those who persist in creating the monster and the negative myth to promote their illegal agenda should start realizing that the once untouchable, corrupt civil servants and officials are now targets of exposés, lawsuits, cases with the ombudsman, pursued and arrested in foreign countries and in extreme cases judged and executed right in front of their families.

On the other hand, those who would rather pay ransom have no right to complain unless they are willing to come clean and correct their situation. It is also high time we go after accountants and auditors who sign off the statements as correct and then sell out their clients when they don’t get the rates they want! Imagine telling your client to cheat and then feel offended when you are cheated!

The problem is that the Department of Finance has not put up a “sanctuary system” where the penitent and negligent taxpayer can enroll under the supervision and protection of the DOF as well as the DOJ or the NBI who can then pursue an investigation and the filing of cases against extortionists. Those who have tried to play straight had to deal with threats and harassment! Right now an amnesty program will insure that the government gets the money but we still have to get the crooks out of government.

Today we clearly have a developing situation where the BIR is under the gun to produce money by any means available to the agency but at the expense of the citizens, both the innocent as well as the guilty. Instead of pushing the people too far or against the wall, Secretary Gary Teves and the BIR should ask the people for better solutions.

Apparently the Arroyo administration has started to believe their own propaganda and refuses to accept the closure of many businesses and ignores the reality of several years of bad business as well as the world wide economic crisis.

Ultimately, “Quota at any cost” may cost this government much more than they bargained for.

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Filipino workers in peril

Posted in Global Financial Crisis, OFWs by Erineus on March 21, 2009

BABE’S EYE VIEW By Babe Romualdez Updated March 15, 2009 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON, DC — The mood in Washington, DC as confirmed to me by our Philippine Ambassador to Washington Willy Gaa, is that the US Congress now more than ever is inclined to listen to the general clamor to create “jobs for Americans” especially now that the number of jobless has reached 12.5 million. From the way things are going, it looks like Filipino workers in America are in peril because of the rising unemployment rate all over the United States with the exception of Louisiana. Because of the crisis, people have been leaving their hometowns looking for jobs elsewhere.

In fact when I was in New York the other day, the limousine driver of one of our associates told us that a couple of months ago, New York — one of the busiest cities in the world — felt like a ghost town. Everything was so bleak, jobs were lost almost every day. Rooms that were at a high of $450 went down to as low as $99 for a while.

Despite the crisis, the US continues to import foreign workers at an average of 138,000 a month — feeding the resentment of jobless Americans who feel that foreigners are stealing the work meant for them. An entry in a popular blog site by a group advocating immigration limits even said: “How can [it] make any sense for the American people’s own government to be recruiting more competitors for a dwindling number of jobs? Month after month as hundreds of thousands of Americans lose their jobs, the feds keep pumping another 140,000 new foreign workers into the labor force.”

Barack Obama had promised “American jobs for Americans” during the campaign, pushing for more incentives to companies that would keep their operations within the US — which in turn sent nervous jitters down the spine of call center/Business Process Outsourcing industry practitioners in countries like the Philippines and India.

A few days ago, international news organizations bannered Obama’s remarks during a healthcare summit where he said, “The notion that we would have to import nurses makes absolutely no sense,” in response to an observation by California Congresswoman Lois Capps that the US faces a huge shortage of nurses.

The US has been relying on medical personnel from the Philippines, China and India to fill the shortage. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a shortage of one million registered nurses by 2010. Last year, US hospitals had vacancies for 116,000 nurses, with an estimated need for 2.8 million new nurses by 2010. A few weeks ago, the US introduced the Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act of 2009 to address the shortage by lifting visa caps for nurses, pegging the yearly limit at 50,000. The World Health Organization estimates that 250,000 Filipino nurses have already relocated to the US, the UK and other western countries.

Despite the “Sentosa” controversy involving Filipino nurses (recruited by the Sentosa Recruitment Agency) who left their jobs due to poor working conditions and were in turn slapped with a $50-million civil suit, hospitals and nursing homes still prefer Filipino nurses because they are hardworking, patient, agree to lesser pay (despite federal laws requiring immigrant nurses to get the same pay to prevent undercutting of American workers’ salaries) and do not overly complain about rendering unscheduled overtime and doing the work of nursing aides at times. On the other hand, Americans are more particular in everything — from the number of work hours to overtime to the specific work they have to render.

Obama thinks it preposterous to employ foreign nurses, yet there are not enough Americans to fill the gap. Even the plan to train more Americans to do nursing jobs will take a long time, especially because only a few want to become nursing faculty because the pay is low. Experts agree that any healthcare reform plan will not be possible without addressing the nurses’ shortfall — which puts Obama in a Catch-22 situation since hospitals are trying to reduce costs by retrenching staff while addressing problems brought about by the increasing number of patients who need medical care but are unable to pay their bills because of the crisis.

In fact, even giant pharmaceutical firms like Merck and Schering Plough will be cutting 16,000 jobs despite plans for a merger. The same goes with Pfizer’s plan to buy Wyeth which will result in 8,000 job cuts. Meantime, there are reports that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America want the Philippines to be penalized for passing the Cheaper Medicines Law authored by Mar Roxas which allows the parallel importation of patented medicines at cheaper prices. Congressman Ed Gullas however downplays the report, saying that even the US is contemplating the importation of cheaper medicines from other countries like Canada.

Now more than ever, the Philippines will have to stop its dependence on overseas Filipino workers. While OFWs are our number one export, we have to remember they won’t be around forever. Government has to come up with creative solutions to address the problem of joblessness in the country. Filipinos must envision the future five or 10 years down the road because of the changing mood in America and perhaps all over the world — which could put Filipino workers in peril.

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I received an e-mail from publicist Joan Orendain about Time correspondent Nelly Sindayen who is now in a coma at the San Juan de Dios Hospital. It was shocking to hear of the condition of Nelly, a good friend of ours who had been actively participating in MOPC forums. We pray she would recover soon. Any of her media colleagues who want to help may get in touch with Joan or the MOPC secretariat.

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E-mail: babeseyeview@yahoo.com
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The Filipino Dream

Posted in Filipinos/Filipinas, OFWs by Erineus on March 21, 2009

SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan Updated January 12, 2009 12:00 AM

Mary (not her real name) left for Qatar last week.

At 27, she had never flown on a plane and had never seen the inside of the NAIA. But she was traveling with two other Filipino women who had worked for four years in Bahrain, so she thought she would be fine on her first flight.

When she was 15 Mary had dropped out of first year high school in her province that is frequently visited by typhoons and had gone to work as a maid in Manila. The eldest of a big brood, her earnings helped pay for the miscellaneous expenses of sending her younger siblings to school, and the other expenses of day-to-day survival in the hardscrabble rural areas of the country.

About five years later her employer, seeing potential in the spunky teenager, sent Mary to a nearby public high school, tagged as the best of its kind in Metro Manila. She was the eldest high school freshman, and perhaps that helped her graduate with honors four years later.

They were four difficult years, with class sizes sometimes approaching 80, with no textbooks, and with computers only for the use of teachers. Mary struggled with both English and Filipino. But the school was still better than what was available in her hometown.

Upon graduation she decided, with her employer’s blessings (and money) to enroll in a course as a nursing assistant. Over a year ago she graduated, but she entered the Philippine job market as it was becoming saturated with health professionals.

Mary applied for a job in a call center but was turned away because of her limited proficiency in English.

She was luckier in her application for a job overseas. Mary has a two-year contract to work in a hotel in Doha for a monthly salary of 900 riyals (nearly P12,000), with free housing and meals. With help from some relatives, which allowed her to forgo the services of a recruitment agency, she spent a total of about P35,000 for her travel and work documents.

Last week Mary savored what might be her last taste of pork in two years and bade her relatives, including a newborn nephew, and friends goodbye. She left behind crosses, rosaries and prayer books, skimpy clothing, plus a boyfriend she has promised not to replace with a foreigner.

Parting is normally an occasion for sadness. But in this case, Mary left Manila with the hopes for a better life of her family on her shoulders.

The pay in Qatar is not exceptionally attractive, and there have been enough cautionary tales of abused overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). But her first trip overseas trip is an adventure for Mary, and the job is a stepping stone for better opportunities.

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Think of how much better Mary’s opportunities could have been if from childhood she had received quality education in her hometown. Free public education is supposed to help level the playing field, improving the chances of the poor to rise from poverty, and raising national productivity.

Even when the lack of opportunities at home forces people to seek employment overseas, quality education also means better human resources, which means higher earning capacity and bigger remittances.

India’s diaspora, for example, increasingly consists of highly skilled professionals: computer programmers, engineers, doctors, financial managers.

Health professionals now also account for a big percentage of our OFWs. But most of our workers overseas are still employed in blue- collar jobs, as construction workers, electricians and, yes, still as household helpers, chambermaids and sanitary personnel.

Such jobs are vulnerable to economic slowdowns. By the middle of the month, Dubai is sending home thousands of foreign workers as its construction boom grinds to a near-halt. Sailors and workers in the oil industry are also losing their jobs as global energy demand slumps.

The growing army of Philippine cooks, and a still growing army of health professionals, could make up for some of the job losses. While organizations such as the World Bank have warned that this year will be dire for migrant workers, the International Monetary Fund is actually projecting modest growth in OFW deployment in this year of recession.

Mary was among the first to leave. Stories similar to hers unfold in hundreds of thousands of households across the country every year.

Many of the partings are bittersweet, and the diaspora has broken up a number of marriages. Children grow up without one or both parents, and the absence leaves an indelible imprint. Social workers have noted a growing number of problem children whose parents are working overseas.

There are OFWs who have returned to the Philippines, vowing never to venture overseas again for work, after finding certain cultures oppressive and deciding that they could not stand being second-class citizens in other lands.

And yet the exodus continues. As many OFW destinations grapple with recession, the fear is that the job market would tighten and a big percentage of OFWs would be sent home.

An American who traces his roots to Ireland told me that a diaspora is not such a bad thing, especially during tough economic times. Those who leave help keep the economy back home afloat, he said, citing the exodus from Ireland. Those who return often bring back positive aspects of their adopted countries.

I have often said that no nation became great by sending its people overseas. But at the start of a year of recession, it is better to look on the bright side.

Someone like Mary who manages to land a job while others are being sent home is considered by many Filipinos to be truly blessed.

As Mary bade her cousins goodbye on the eve of her departure, the look on the faces of those left behind was of gladness, with a tinge of envy.

For many of the cousins in her extended family, Mary is living the Filipino Dream.

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RP leads world in number of women execs

Posted in Angat Pinoy, Gender Issues, Women by Erineus on March 21, 2009

By Abigail L. Ho
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:01:00 03/15/2009

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino women are showing the world that what men can do, they can do also.

According to research by Grant Thornton International, women hold 47 percent of senior management positions in the Philippines, leading the world average by as much as 23 percentage points.

“Women in the Philippines have really broken the proverbial glass ceiling, not only in the corporate world but also in the government,” said Lily Linsangan, Punongbayan & Araullo audit partner and business risk services group head.

“As an auditor of more than 25 years, I have not encountered an all-male management team. In our own firm, eight of the 18 partners and five of the seven members of the management committee are women,” Linsangan said.

Data from the Department of Labor and Employment show that women have steadily outnumbered men in executive positions in the past several years.

In 2002, the ratio was 1.86 million females to 1.4 million males in supervisory and executive positions, the DOLE said. The trend became even more pronounced in 2006, with the ratio of female managers to male managers becoming 2.257 million to 1.629 million.

By 2007, this ratio had become 2.281 million female managers to 1.677 million male managers.

Russia etc.

Joining the Philippines in the list of countries ranking high in women empowerment in the workplace are Russia with 42 percent of senior management positions held by women, Thailand with 38 percent, Poland with 32 percent, and China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Mexico with 31 percent.

The biggest leaps were made by Turkey and Mexico, whose percentages of senior management positions held by women jumped from 17 percent in 2007 to 29 percent in 2009, and from 20 percent in 2007 to 31 percent this year, respectively.

“Mexico is a country that is standing up firmly and constantly for women’s rights and equality. It is known that women need an elevated education level to compete with men in employment, so the Mexican female sector is preparing itself more and more, and the results can be seen with the rise of 10 percentage points in this survey,” said Veronica Galindo, audit partner of Salles Sainz Grant Thornton.

“However, there is still much to do regarding equal salaries compared with men, but I am certain that sooner rather than later, the salary differences will decrease,” she said.

But globally…

Globally, however, women continue to have a difficult time climbing up the corporate ladder, with only an average of 24 percent of senior management positions held by female executives.

This was the same percentage registered in 2007, which was just a few notches up from the 19-percent figure posted in 2004.

More than a third, or 34 percent, of privately held businesses worldwide did not have any women in senior management.

Countries and territories that remained unreceptive to the concept of women in senior management positions included Japan with only 7 percent, Belgium with 12 percent, Denmark with 13 percent, and India and the Netherlands with 15 percent.

Drops in the percentage of senior management positions held by women were registered by Brazil, from 42 percent in 2007 to 29 percent in 2009, and Hong Kong, from 35 percent in 2007 to 28 percent in 2009.


Another Rotary milestone

Posted in Angat Pinoy by Erineus on March 21, 2009

A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away) By Jose C. Sison Updated March 13, 2009 12:00 AM

Amidst all the depressing bad news about corruption and scams pervading business and government in our country today is this piece of good news about an organization that continues to have a vision undistracted by politics and carries out its mission with positive outlook and buoyant spirit. This is the well known and highly reputed international civic club founded more than 100 years ago, universally recognized under the now famous name of “Rotary”.

Rotary has acquired a reputation as the largest worldwide service organization because their members actually practice and live the Rotary ideal of “service above self”. Rotarians of any race, color, or creed indeed perform their tasks not by artificial allegiance to this principle but by taking concrete actions in its fulfillment.

And one of the basic sources of strength that enables the organization and its members to carry out this mission of serving others locally and globally is the fellowship and close personal relationship developed among them that inspire mutual confidence. Amazingly this fellowship is not confined within the Rotary clubs, districts and regions but has spread globally resulting in the promotion of world peace, friendship and understanding.

The fellowship in Rotary is usually founded on the common likes and dislikes of the members that are related to their business or profession or even their pastimes and hobbies that have universal appeal. This is what Jesus ‘Jun’ Avecilla Jr., the incoming president of the Rotary Club (RC) of Cubao West found out when he attended the Rotary International (RI) Convention in Chicago on its 100th anniversary and was attracted into a booth promoting International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians (IYFR).

Jun Avecilla immediately got interested because he has a passion for sailing and simply loves the sea and its exhilarating breeze as well as the exciting sounds of its roaring waves. To be sure, Jun is an avid yachtsman who loves the adrenalin rush of competition, having participated and won international yachting events and regattas in his maiden try, like the Singapore Straits Regatta in 2006 and the Manila to Boracay Races in 2006 and 2008. In these competitions he piloted his own 36 footer yacht “Selma Star” named after his shipping company, Selma Shipping Ltd. Aptly emblazoned on each side of the yacht are the words “purpose driven”, obviously inspired by Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”, a clear sign of his deep Christian faith. To complement the sluggishness of his yacht, Jun also acquired a speed boat for the more thrilling rides on the seas.

At first he hesitated to introduce IYFR because he thought it would not click in the Philippines, much less in his club where nobody owns a yacht like him. But he changed his mind upon learning that IYFR is not so much about owning a yacht than about having a passion for sailing and love for activities on water; nor is it so much about knowing which is the starboard or port side of a boat than about having common vision and passion for humanitarian and community service with emphasis on the sea and its environs. Thus when he broached the idea to his club in June 2008, 18 members immediately and readily expressed enthusiasm and willingness to form and join a yachting fellowship. And as they say, the rest is history. Two years after the Chicago Convention or on September 15, 2008, the IYFR, Philippine Fleet was born, spearheaded by RC Cubao West.

The formation of Philippine fleet of IYFR is a “nautical” milestone in the history of Rotary District 3780 under district governor (DG) Alex Cureg who actively supported the project. It will be the only existing IYFR fleet in the Philippines. Its core group of 18 members of the Rotary Club of Cubao West has now grown to 30 members with 7 more Rotarians from RC Cubao West and 5 more from other Rotary Clubs joining, particularly the following; Rotary Mariner (RM) from Mactan, past president (PP) Sven Olof Tengelin who owns a 60-footer dive boat “MB Goteborg”, Rotary Mariner from Makati Central, past district governor (PDG) and Pagcor COO and president Butch Francisco who owns the 48-footer yacht “Selina”, Rotary Mariner from Cubao, PP Mar Cancio and Rotary Mariner from Paranaque South, president-elect Chito Avecilla. PDG Butch Francisco even commits the support not only of Pagcor but his own NGO, the Francisco Study Center, to all the projects of the fellowship.

March 18, 2009, Wednesday is the historical chartering of the Philippine fleet, a first in Philippine Rotary. The fleet will thus become part of oldest and largest Rotary Fellowship that has about 100 active Rotary fleets with 2,600 members in 21 countries all over the world. The Fleet Chartering Ceremony will be held at the Manila Yacht Club (MYC), Roxas Blvd. starting at 6 p.m., Area 3 (Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific) Commodore and International Vice Commodore Terry and First Mate Meryl Stretton will fly in from Auckland to lead the affair and officiate the chartering of the new fleet with DG Alex Cureg as the Chartering and Induction Guest of Honor and Speaker.

To be inducted as fleet officers, or the “fleet bridge” are Jun Avecilla, Fleet Commodore, Max Tan, Fleet Vice Commodore, Joe Ragos, Fleet Rear Commodore, Obet Del Rosario, Fleet secretary, Alex Bernales, Fleet treasurer, Mel Velasco Fleet PRO, Ping Sison, Fleet legal officer and Joel Sarmiento, Fleet Captain. Fleet Commodore Jun Avecilla in turn will induct the fleet members composed mostly of RC Cubao West Rotarians notably PDG Bobby Viray, incumbent president Norman Verzosa, past presidents Dr. Rommel Carino, Ayie Gonzales, Manoucher Khaledi, Freddie Reyes, Dr. Santi Rodriguez, Adonis Samson, Tito Yuquimpo and Rotarian Nestor Atienza the incumbent Prime Minister of the Jaycee Senate.

As proof that IYFR is not purely for yachting and sailing, the chartering will be commemorated with a community service initiated by Rotary Mariner and PDG Butch Francisco consisting of Anti-Flu, Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccination of the MYC’s yard workers, boat boys, employees and their immediate families at the dockyard immediately before the chartering. The vaccines will be supplied by Global Vaccine Express of Giovanni Alingog, PP of Pasay North Rotary Club, District 3810. Indeed the long range plan of the IYFR Philippine fleet according to Fleet Commodore Jun Avecilla involves the advocacy, education and implementation of a moral code against marine pollution by making people aware of its magnitude, impact and horrible effects on marine life and all life; and by a campaign to clean up our bays, rivers and seas especially of littered non-biodegradable plastics and other garbage by cleaning first where they come from — the creeks and esteros.

With these men of vision and dedication, the IYFR, Philippine Fleet seems to be on its way to greater heights of success in its mission.

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E-mail at: jcson@pldtdsl.net
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Palace says UN is final arbiter on feud over RP baselines law

Posted in Laws, Territorial Integrity by Erineus on March 21, 2009
March 15, 2009, 12:00am

Unfazed by international protests over the country’s new baselines law, Malacañang said on Sunday the United Nations (UN) will be the final arbiter of the dispute over the islands in the South China Sea.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the United Nations could determine if the Philippines violated any law on its measurement of territorial baselines amid the conflicting claims by five other Asian neighbors.

Remonde said the Philippine government had expected the protests from China and Vietnam on the newly signed Philippines Baselines Act, but asserted the legislation was a legal basis for the protection of the country’s interests in the disputed islands.

He said Republic Act No. 9522 or the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law was crafted in accordance with United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations code of conduct over the South China Sea.

“We passed the baselines bill into law as part of our obligation under the Constitution to uphold and protect the sovereignty of our country,” he said over government-run Radyo ng Bayan.

“Second, this law is in consonance with UNCLOS which gave us a deadline to pass a baselines bill. It should be the UN that should be the final arbiter of this issue,” he said.

Remonde said there was nothing to worry about the protests lodged by China and Vietnam against the country’s passage of the baselines law. He said Manila would make a similar protest if China and Vietnam, or other claimant country also passed a similar baselines law.

“We should not worry. This is normal, natural part of international diplomacy,” he said. He noted that the President even had a cordial meeting with the new Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines.

Last Tuesday, President Arroyo signed into law RA 9522 that reaffirms the country’s claim over the more than 7,100 islands in its archipelago, including outlying territories in the disputed Spratlys.

The law states that Kalayaan Group of Island and Scarborough Shoal are “regime of islands” under the “Republic of the Philippines.”