Does this work pass the smell test?: #CRinFlorida Day 1 Reflection


These next few days I’ll be sharing my personal reflection on a climate leadership conference I’m part of. I do this to capture the raw emotion in my daily reflection in order to help me with my later writing. If these posts benefit you, too, in any small way, please let me know via a comment. Thank you.

The strategic investment angle on climate action can hollow out the developmental. The danger of a strictly Western frame and American gaze on climate action is to reduce an opportunity for sociocultural transformation into dollars and cents. There is a dimension of climate action that could genuinely redefine what is “sustainable” in sustainable development — the chance to promote local control of community-defined sustainable development. What good is green/clean infrastructure if it doesn’t change the behavioral and sociological causes of environmental degradation from overconsumption and exploitive development?


Is it right to devise a campaign to reduce carbon emissions or adopt clean energy alternatives that would resonate equally in all regions if we know these regions’ priorities to be effective governance, survival from extreme weather, and ending extreme poverty, first and foremost?

The truth is:

(1) Powerful interests must be held accountable; aligning ourselves and our communities with their investment pet projects without asserting the primacy of local control and community-defined development doesn’t do that.

(2) Development could be made more inclusive and responsive to local priorities; prescribing a narrow set of climate actions without active consultation with vulnerable communities doesn’t do that.

(3) Transformational leadership is about widening meaningful community engagement; massaging our messaging to better market a narrow set of solutions doesn’t do that.

Is it right to devise a campaign to reduce carbon emissions or adopt clean energy alternatives that would resonate equally in all regions if we know these regions’ priorities to be effective governance, survival from extreme weather, and ending extreme poverty, first and foremost?

View updates on our climate resilience advocacy on Facebook: Search Goodbranch Vergara


FeudArt is one way for Goodbranch Vergara to reach its audience. Goodbranch Vergara promotes climate change adaptation within the context of community resilience, its belief that health policy is climate policy, and vice versa. Support our work by getting involved.  Follow us

To promote community and human development as methods for climate change adaptation in vulnerable regions.
Company Overview
Goodbranch Vergara is an LLC based in California. Goodbranch Vergara is focused on linking climate change adaptation with rural and human development. Our projects currently promote community education on the link between health disparity elimination and climate change adaptation. One of our core programs, Conscious Youth Promoting Health & Environmental Readiness (CYPHER), is focused on youth engagement in the U.S., and strategic countries in Africa and Southeast Asia where communities most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change and health disparity reside.Help support our work by volunteering or spreading the word.Visit for your formal Barong Tagalog and informal guayabera needs. They support our efforts.
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For more info, email or skype at r.bong.vergara

PH Inquirer: “Philippine economy a rare bright spot”

S&P says PH economy a ‘rare bright spot’

ASEAN reaffirms plan on economic integration


11:40 pm | Friday, June 1st, 2012
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“The economic forecast for many countries these days ranges from shaky to dismal, especially among industrialized countries. Yet, the Philippines and Indonesia stand out as rare examples of emerging Asian economies with positive rating outlooks.

According to a report titled “Two Emerging Asian Economies Stand Out With Positive Outlooks Amid Sobering Economic News Elsewhere,” just published on RatingsDirect, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said that these two countries were among only 10 in the world that have positive rating outlooks, and none were industrialized economies.

Generally, the bond markets are treating the Philippines and Indonesia pretty well. And the cost to insure the two countries’ debt using credit default swaps also illustrates the favorable treatment the credit markets are giving the two countries.

Meantime, Southeast Asian countries have reaffirmed plans to integrate their economies by 2015, carrying hopes the move will make the region a key growth leader for the global economy.

At the end of the three-day World Economic Forum for East Asia held in Bangkok Friday, member-countries of the Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) committed to pursue the Asean integration plan as scheduled by 2015.

Under the economic integration plan, their financial systems and capital markets will be interconnected, trade will be easier through the elimination of many tariffs, and freer movement of labor across borders will be allowed.

In a statement released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Southeast Asian leaders cited the benefits of an integrated region. “Leaders of four Asean countries reaffirmed the 10-member grouping’s commitment to form the Asean Economic Community as scheduled in 2015,” WEF said in the statement.

WEF said Asean members also raised hopes the group would be joined by other Asian countries in the future.

The economic integration by 2015 is expected to transform Southeast Asia into a major growth force in Asia and the world, together with China and India.

The Philippines is supportive of the region’s integration, saying doing so would help accelerate growth of member-economies. The country’s economic officials believe the integration will help member-countries pursue the goal of “inclusive” growth.

Economists said that while the Philippines and other emerging Asian countries were cited for their respectable growth rates despite problems hounding advanced Western economies, they continued to suffer from growth that was not inclusive.

Inclusive growth is one that actually translates to poverty reduction and does not benefit only the rich. In the Philippines, poverty incidence remains high even as the economy has consistently grown over the years.”

With a report from Reuters

SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer Online,

Ancient pre-Hispanic boat unearthed

‘Centuries-old fourth Balanghai boat excavated in Butuan City

Text and photos by Erwin Mascarinas, · Thursday, May 31, 2012 · 3:32 pm

A museum technician of the National Museum cleans parts of the wooden plank of the boat to remove mud during the archeological excavation of the fourth Balanghai Boat in Barangay Libertad in Butuan City. Photo by Erwin Mascarinas,

“BUTUAN CITY—Two decades after the first three centuries-old Balanghai boats, or ancient wooden watercraft, were dug out, six archaeologists from the Philippine National Museum in Manila together with personnel from the Regional Museum here have excavated the fourth Balanghai boat where the previous three boats were dug back in the 1980′s at the Ambangan site in Barangay Libertad.

Wilfredo Ronquillo, Chief Archaeologist of Philippine National Museum expressed how impressed he and his team are of the rich historic cultural heritage of Butuan.

Ronquillo said, “The people who have been studying these kinds of technology saw that there are slight differences in how it was constructed compared to the previous boats dug here. They are not identical, although the general scheme is almost the same. The artistic ways of each boat maker, the skill of our early predecessors are what we see here. When they made this, there was no blue print, no plans. It’s amazing.”

Workers continue to dig on the excavation site of the fourth Balanghai boat. Photo by Erwin Mascarinas,

The chief archaeologist added that they hope to open the site, expose the boat, study, measure, and extract all data that can be generated from it and in comparison with the other boats of South-East Asia.

Ligaya Lacsina, Museum Researcher 1 of the Archaeology Division of the National Museum explained, “It is interesting because compared to excavated Indonesian and Malaysian boats, they have points that show similar boat construction techniques. They use the same shell-first boat building, with the planks connected edge to edge using the wooden dowels. And they are lashed with the dugs to flexible rids. They just lashed it with fibers, nails are not used.”

Lacsima who is currently studying for her doctorate degree on archaeology in Australia is doing research studies on traditional boat-building especially on South East Asian boat-building traditions.

She pointed out that compared to those discovered on the oldest site found in Malaysia, which dates around third or fourth century AD, there is only a slight difference between the two regarding their construction because there are indications that the fourth Balanghai’s creators also used the sewing technology.  One major difference she observed is that they use edge-pegging of the planks together with sewing.

Alfredo Orogo, National Museum Researcher suggested that the work being done at the moment is just an initial digging and it might take two to three months, depending on the budget.

Orogo added, “Maybe this coming June, there will be another team of researcher who will come and continue the research and excavation. The plan for the Balangay 4 is to let it remain after exposing.  This will be made into a site museum and become one of Butuan City’s tourist destinations.”

The flotilla of the Balanghai Boats was accidentally discovered by treasure hunters back in 1976 after which archaeologists from the National Museum took over the site and recorded nine boats buried in the ground.

From the nine original boats discovered in Barangay Libertad, Balanghais 1, 2, and 5 were dug up. Balanghai 1 is dated back to 320 AD, Boat 2 to 1250 AD, and Boat 5 to around 900 AD. Balanghai Boats 1,2 and 5 were declared back in March 9, 1986 as National Cultural Treasures under Proclamation 86 by the late President Cory Aquino. Boat 2 is now on display at the Maritime Hall of the National Museum in Manila. While Boat 5, which has the most intact structure, is displayed at the National Museum site in Barangay Libertad in Butuan City.

An archeologist from the National Museum inspects a broken pottery found beside the wooden remains of the boat—proof of a thriving civilization long before the Spanish colonizers arrived in the Philippines. Photo by Erwin Mascarinas,

The discovery of the boats sealed the claim that Butuan City was once a seafaring community trading with Srivijayan Empire in Southeast Asia and China as early as 10th century AD. So far, shards of pottery also found in the fourth Balanghai boat site further indicate the thriving civilization in Butuan, and the Philippines in general, long before the arrival of Spanish colonizers. The Balanghai Boats are also referred to as Butuan boats.”


Industrialization urged as one anti-poverty solution

ADB urges Philippines to push industrialization in cutting poverty


MANILA, Philippines—The Asian Development Bank has urged the Philippines to aim for high level of industrialization—indicated by an ability to produce and export more goods—to squarely address the long-standing problem of poverty.

In a comprehensive study on the Philippines titled “Taking the Right Road to Inclusive Growth,” ADB said poverty incidence in the country has remained high, even if the economy has been growing year after year, because of weak industrialization.

ADB said that the services sector, led by businessprocess outsourcing (BPO) firms such as call centers, has indeed helped keep the economy growing but the sector’s success has not had a significant effect toward poverty reduction. The country could lift more people out of poverty by boosting the industry sector, including manufacturing, the ADB said.

The industry sector, unlike the service sector, is capital-intensive and provides jobs even to individuals with low educational attainment, according to the ADB.

Latest official poverty statistics showed that Filipinos living below the poverty line accounted for 26.5 percent of the country’s population as of 2009, the highest among emerging Asian economies. The figure marked an increase from the 26.4 percent in 2006 and the 24.4 percent in 2003, even as the economy actually grew during the period.

“Despite high and sustained growth over the 2000s, the Philippines has failed to generate inclusive growth that is broad-based across the sectors and benefits the entire population. The country’s standing problems of unemployment, poverty and low investments remain,” the ADB said in the report.

To achieve the level of industrialization that the country needs to trim poverty incidence, the Philippines must come up with a road map that identifies measures that will increase private-sector investments in the production of more goods, besides intermediate electronics goods that account for the bulk of the country’s export revenues, according to the ADB.

One policy recommendation is for the country to identify more products that it can competitively sell offshore so that export revenues will rise and more domestic jobs will be created. ADB pointed to a wide range of products – from machinery, food and jewelry to musical instruments and fabrics – that the Philippines couldinvest in to become a more competitive exporting country.

Once the products are identified, the government should implement measures that will address problems that prevent the private sector from investing in the manufacture of these products, according to the ADB.

ADB suggested the creation of councils that would be in charge of conducting dialogues between the government and the private sector on the needs of the latter to invest and generate decent profits.

“This problem (of inviting private firms to invest in target products) could be alleviated by setting up an institution to interact with the private sector in identifying firms’ obstacles in exporting new goods, and determining the most appropriate interventions,” ADB said.

ADB said that other emerging Asian economies, unlike the Philippines, were able to significantly trim their poverty rates over the past decade because of stronger efforts toward industrialization.

“This is not to suggest that the growing services sector, in particular the BPO industry, should not be the centerpiece of the long-term development strategy… [However], without dynamic industrial development, the country will continue to suffer from the long-standing problems of high unemployment, slow poverty reduction, and low investment,” the ADB said.

SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer Online,

California’s cap-and-trade law: A win-win legislative template for greening and raising government income in the 21st century

Could this be a learning opportunity for other legislatures, including that of the Philippines? Legislators and policymakers truly committed to mitigating the impact of a changing climate has a real-life economic and social policy experiment to observe in California. I hope many will watch, learn, and follow suit.

**** From Silicon Valley Mercury News ****

Windfall of cash could hit state treasury from global warming program

By Paul Rogers

Posted:   04/07/2012 03:03:39 PM PDT
Updated:   04/08/2012 04:26:39 AM PDT

For the past 10 years, California has struggled with huge budget deficits and wrenching cuts. Suddenly, however, the state is poised to raise billions from an unusual new source: the proceeds from its landmark global warming law.

The windfall could come as soon as this fall, when state officials are set to begin auctioning off pollution credits to oil refineries, power plants and other major polluters as part of a new “cap-and-trade” system.

The amounts are potentially enormous: from $1 billion to $3 billion a year in 2012 and 2013, jumping to as high as $14 billion a year by 2015, according to the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office. By comparison, the state’s current budget deficit is $9 billion.

But like thirsty castaways on an island surrounded by ocean water they can’t drink, Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators face strict constraints on how they can spend the money. More than 30 years of court rulings and ballot measures — dating to Proposition 13 in 1978 — limit its use, probably only to projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To add another hurdle, major business groups are preparing lawsuits, arguing that the state cannot collect the money at all.

Still, Brown and others in the Capitol are cautiously making plans. On Monday, the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority slipped into a news release that the money would be used as “a backstop” that could save the struggling bullet-train project.

And in a follow-up interview with this newspaper, Dan Richard, chairman of the rail authority, asserted that a large portion of the money could go to fund high-speed rail.

Everyone from environmentalists to utility companies are jostling for ways to spend the money. The wish lists include renewable energy projects, bus systems and forest restoration.

“This is a moment of significant historic importance,” said V. John White, director of the nonprofit Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology in Sacramento. “But we need to be careful about how we spend it until we know for sure that it is going to be there.”

Business and taxpayer groups contend that the state has no right to auction off the permits. They argue that AB 32, the state’s global-warming law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, does not specifically authorize auctions and that permits to pollute must be handed out free. They say if the state wants to charge money for the permits, it will need a two-thirds vote of the Legislature — a political impossibility because Republicans oppose the law and raising any new fees or taxes.

“This wasn’t intended. It wasn’t discussed,” said Dorothy Rothrock, vice president of the California

Manufacturers and Technology Association. “It’s outrageous and probably illegal.”

However, some legal experts say the state stands a good chance of winning in court. They note that AB 32 requires the California Air Resources Board to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming by using “market mechanisms” — and that auctions are a common market tool used in places such as Europe and the Northeast with cap-and-trade programs.

“I think the most fair reading of AB 32 is that it did allow the Air Resources Board to create market mechanisms that do include an auction,” said attorney Cara Horowitz with UCLA’s School of Law. “The Legislature gave the Air Resources Board very broad authority.”

Even if the state wins a lawsuit, expected to be filed this summer, it almost certainly cannot spend the new billions on schools, roads, health care or other needs.

That’s because of a 15-year-old state Supreme Court ruling involving paint. In 1991, Gov. Pete Wilson signed a law placing a fee on companies that made lead paint. The money was used to fund programs reducing lead poisoning in children.

Sinclair Paint sued, arguing that Proposition 13 required a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to approve such fees. But the state’s high court ruled that California can charge industries with fees as long as the money is used to offset the health or environmental effects of the industry’s behavior.

The Brown administration argues that spending the global-warming money on bullet trains complies with the ruling because the trains would cut pollution by reducing car and airplane trips.

“These funds are being raised for reducing greenhouse gases and cannot be spent outside of that purpose,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Finance Department. “It’s like the way you can’t spend money from school bonds to build highways.”

A similar program in 10 Northeastern states raised $912 million from industry auctions from 2008 to 2011. The most common way the states used the proceeds was to fund programs to help provide insulation, new windows, efficient appliances and lighting to homes and businesses.

Brown’s budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 includes $1 billion from cap-and-trade auction revenues, but doesn’t specify exactly how they would be used.

The first phase of the bullet-train project, from Merced to Los Angeles, is estimated to cost $32 billion. But the state now has just $12 billion from state bonds and federal grants. Richard, the rail authority’s chairman, said the global-warming funds could potentially make up $10 billion or more. “If it’s an insurance policy, it needs to be able to insure the whole thing, and I think it does,” he said.

The project’s critics are fuming that it might be saved by AB 32. “It’s the perfect melding between two boondoggles,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Critics also argue that the global-warming fees will be passed on to consumers, raising gasoline prices and utility bills. But AB 32 supporters note that the law has broad public support: Voters defeated a ballot attempt in 2010 by oil companies to block it.

Environmentalists also point out that cap-and-trade was originally a Republican idea, originated by business interests and first put into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, when it was used to offer incentives to industry to reduce emissions that cause acid rain.

Since then, those emissions have been cut by 65 percent.

“Our goal for the new revenue is to speed and encourage California’s transition to cleaner sources of energy,” said Alex Jackson, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “There’s a lot of things that could fit that mold.”

SOURCE: Silicon Valley Mercury News Online,, April 8, 2012.

Let tanks be beaten into tractors

About three years ago, I posted this because it struck a cord as the first African American U.S. President was inaugurated. I reprise it for three reasons:

(1) as the 2012 U.S. Presidential election nears, let us not be manipulated to forgive the backwardness of the modern Republican party,

(2) as we can only watch from afar the unrest in the Middle East, may those readers of mine in the region be reminded that they inspire us all by their activism and selflessness, and

(3) with positive news of Philippine economic growth dominating the broad sheets at home, may Filipinos at home and abroad optimize this moment to beat tanks into tractors, indeed, both by defeating the forces of political obstructionism and righting the backward thinking of old oligarchs.


***** Originally posted January 23, 2009 *****

“Let tanks be beaten into tractors” — paraphrased words of Rev. Joseph Lowery as he closed, with a light-hearted prayer, the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.

These are words, which, despite their simplicity, articulate a profound message that is applicable to many places across the modern world, including the Philippines: Choose collaboration over acrimony, honest pragmatism over worn-out dogma, development over discord. In a period of deep turmoil and worsening finances, this message is not hollow; and it is neither lofty, nor naive. It is healing. It is necessary. It is transformative.

‘Do-nothing’ politics destroys. ‘Do-nothing’ politics is the useless tank in Philippine society. It is what is childish and irresponsible; it is neglectful, and it is what has driven the once ‘Pearl of the Orient’ into a country whose citizens dream to flee.  It is time to dispose of the Filipino ‘trapos’ that are responsible; and we can’t delay for these ‘trapos’ number many.

Big man politics? Out. Low expectations? Out. Lack of personal accountability? Out. Now is the season for major social and political Spring cleaning, of sorts. Out with the old, in with the new and more useful.

This period in history demands better things, higher expectations. Why shouldn’t Filipinos expect a home-grown leader from the same mold as Barack Obama? Why shouldn’t we strive to be better versions of ourselves?

As Obama said about those who are cynical of the potential of this moment in history, the ground has, indeed, shifted beneath them. Also in the words of Obama, this is the time to shed “the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long” and to ask “not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage … a retirement that is dignified.” This is the time to dispose of the foes of real community and national progress: ‘do-nothing’ politics and its dispensable ‘trapos.’


HELP GOODBRANCH VERGARA REACH 100 SCHOOLS (high schools, colleges, universities) in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines by September 26, 2010 with its flood preparedness message below.

STEP 1: Send the info below to your contacts in these countries. Help prevent unnecessary loss of life from flooding and extreme storms during the 2010 storm season.

STEP 2: Please share your efforts on to let us know how you helped.

STEP 3: Have fun informing friends and family to be safe. Salamat po!

If a flood is likely in your area, you should:
• Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.
• Be aware that flash flooding can occur. Move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
• Listen to the radio or television for information.

If you must evacuate, you should:
• Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
• Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

If you have to evacuate, remember these tips:
• Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
• Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.

Driving Flood Facts: Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling. A foot of water will float many vehicles. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.

Emergency supplies that may assist in a flood, include: Disaster kit (first aid kit; backpack with food, water and prescription medications for 72 hours, extra clothing, blankets, and flashlights, 12-ft rope); Radio with extra batteries; Car kits (emergency flares, shovels, and fluorescent distress flags).

After a Flood:
1. Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink. Avoid floodwaters. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. Water may also be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage.
2. Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
3. Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
4. Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe. Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
5. Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.
6. Repair damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.

“Why Are Filipinos So Poor?”

Why Are Filipinos So Poor?
By F. Sionil José

What did South Korea look like after the Korean War in 1953? Battered, poor – but look at Korea now. In the Fifties, the traffic in Taipei was composed of bicycles and army trucks, the streets flanked by tile-roofed low buildings. Jakarta was a giant village and Kuala Lumpur a small village surrounded by jungle and rubber plantations. Bangkok was criss-crossed with canals, the tallest structure was the Wat Arun, the Temple of the Sun, and it dominated the city’s skyline. Rice fields all the way from Don Muang airport – then a huddle of galvanized iron-roofed bodegas, to the Victory monument. Visit these cities today and weep – for they are more beautiful, cleaner and prosperous than Manila. In the Fifties and Sixties we were the most envied country in Southeast Asia. Remember further that when Indonesia got its independence in 1949, it had only 114 university graduates compared with the hundreds of Ph.D.’s that were already in our universities. Why then were we left behind? The economic explanation is simple. We did not produce cheaper and better products.

The basic question really is why we did not modernize fast enough and thereby doomed our people to poverty. This is the harsh truth about us today. Just consider these: some 15 years ago a survey showed that half of all grade school pupils dropped out after grade 5 because they had no money to continue schooling. Thousands of young adults today are therefore unable to find jobs. Our natural resources have been ravaged and they are not renewable. Our tremendous population increase eats up all of our economic gains. There is hunger in this country now; our poorest eat only once a day. But this physical poverty is really not as serious as the greater poverty that afflicts us and this is the poverty of the spirit.

Why then are we poor? More than ten years ago, James Fallows, editor of the Atlantic Monthly, came to the Philippines and wrote about our damaged culture which, he asserted, impeded our development. Many disagreed with him but I do find a great deal of truth in his analysis.This is not to say that I blame our social and moral malaise on colonialism alone. But we did inherit from Spain a social system and an elite that, on purpose, exploited the masses. Then, too, in the Iberian peninsula, to work with one’s hands is frowned upon and we inherited that vice as well. Colonialism by foreigners may no longer be what it was, but we are now a colony of our own elite.

We are poor because we are poor – this is not a tautology. The culture of poverty is self-perpetuating. We are poor because our people are lazy. I pass by a slum area every morning – dozens of adults do nothing but idle, gossip and drink. We do not save. Look at the Japanese and how they save in spite of the fact that the interest given them by their banks is so little. They work very hard too.

We are great show-offs. Look at our women, how overdressed, over-coiffed they are, and Imelda epitomizes that extravagance. Look at our men, their manicured nails, their personal jewelry, their diamond rings. Yabang – that is what we are, and all that money expended on status symbols, on yabang. How much better if it were channeled into production.

We are poor because our nationalism is inward looking. Under its guise we protect inefficient industries and monopolies. We did not pursue agrarian reform like Japan and Taiwan. It is not so much the development of the rural sector, making it productive and a good market as well. Agrarian reform releases the energies of the landlords who, before the reform, merely waited for the harvest. They become entrepreneurs, the harbingers of change.

Our nationalist icons like Claro M. Recto and Lorenzo Tanada opposed agrarian reform, the single most important factor that would have altered the rural areas and lifted the peasant from poverty. Both of them were merely anti-American.

And finally, we are poor because we have lost our ethical moorings. We condone cronyism and corruption and we don’t ostracize or punish the crooks in our midst. Both cronyism and corruption are wasteful but we allow their practice because our loyalty is to family or friend, not to the larger good.

We can tackle our poverty in two very distinct ways. The first choice: a nationalist revolution, a continuation of the revolution in 1896. But even before we can use violence to change inequities in our society, we must first have a profound change in our way of thinking, in our culture. My regret about EDSA is that change would have been possible then with a minimum of bloodshed. In fact, a revolution may not be bloody at all if something like EDSA would present itself again. Or a dictator unlike Marcos.

The second is through education, perhaps a longer and more complex process. The only problem is that it may take so long and by the time conditions have changed, we may be back where we were, caught up with this tremendous population explosion which the Catholic Church exacerbates in its conformity with doctrinal purity. We are faced with a growing compulsion to violence, but even if the communists won, they will rule as badly because they will be hostage to the same obstructions in our culture, the barkada, the vaulting egos that sundered the revolution in 1896, the Huk revolt in 1949-53.

To repeat, neither education nor revolution can succeed if we do not internalize new attitudes, new ways of thinking. Let us go back to basics and remember those American slogans: A Ford in every garage. A chicken in every pot. Money is like fertilizer: to do any good it must be spread around. Some Filipinos, taunted wherever they are, are shamed to admit they are Filipinos. I have, myself, been embarrassed to explain, for instance, why Imelda, her children and the Marcos cronies are back, and in positions of power. Are there redeeming features in our country that we can be proud of? Of course, lots of them. When people say, for instance, that our corruption will never be banished, just remember that Arsenio Lacson as mayor of Manila and Ramon Magsaysay as president brought a clean government. We do not have the classical arts that brought Hinduism and Buddhism to continental and archipelagic Southeast Asia, but our artists have now ranged the world, showing what we have done with Western art forms, enriched with our own ethnic traditions. Our professionals, not just our domestics, are all over, showing how accomplished a people we are!

Look at our history. We are the first in Asia to rise against Western colonialism, the first to establish a republic. Recall the Battle of Tirad Pass and glory in the heroism of Gregorio del Pilar and the 48 Filipinos who died but stopped the Texas Rangers from capturing the president of that First Republic. Its equivalent in ancient history is the Battle of Thermopylae where the Spartans and their king Leonidas, died to a man, defending the pass against the invading Persians. Rizal – what nation on earth has produced a man like him? At 35, he was a novelist, a poet, an anthropologist, a sculptor, a medical doctor, a teacher and martyr. We are now 80 million and in another two decades we will pass the 100 million mark.

Eighty million – that is a mass market in any language, a mass market that should absorb our increased production in goods and services – a mass market which any entrepreneur can hope to exploit, like the proverbial oil for the lamps of China.

Japan was only 70 million when it had confidence enough and the wherewithal to challenge the United States and almost won. It is the same confidence that enabled Japan to flourish from the rubble of defeat in World War II.

I am not looking for a foreign power for us to challenge. But we have a real and insidious enemy that we must vanquish, and this enemy is worse than the intransigence of any foreign power. We are our own enemy. And we must have the courage, the will, to change ourselves.

Typhoon Mirinae, 4th typhoon to hit Northern Luzon

4th storm threatens central and northern Luzon | 10/28/2009 9:49 AM


MANILA – Another potential powerful typhoon is heading towards northern and central Luzon area, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Wednesday.

Nathaniel Cruz, PAGASA’s weather bureau chief, said the storm with an international name Mirinae may enter the Philippine area of responsibility by late Wednesday night or early morning Thursday.

PAGASA’s website said the storm was still over the Pacific Ocean, 1,640 kilometers east of northern Luzon packed with maximum sustained winds of 85 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 100 kph. It was moving west northwest at 28 kph.

“We expect the storm to enter the Philippine area of responsibility late tonight or tomorrow morning, if there will be no change in its present course,” Cruz told ANC television.

He said the storm, which has the makings of a strong typhoon, as strong as tropical cyclones Ramil and Pepeng, may make landfall in the Aurora-Isabela area.

Cruz said the two provinces and other areas in northern and central Luzon may feel the effects of Marinae in two days.

Mirinae, which will be named Santi as soon as it enters Philippine territory, is the 4th tropical cyclone to enter the country since tropical storm Ondoy.

Ondoy brought a months-worth of rain, flooding a large part of Metro Manila.

The government’s disaster response agency has counted at least 900 people killed by storms Ondoy and Ramil. Billions worth of property and agriculture products were also damaged by the storms.

SOURCE: ABS-CBN NEWS Online, 4th-storm-threatens-central-and-northern-luzon

11-3-1 Supreme Court decision allows full nationwide automation of Philippine elections

(UPDATE) It’s official: SC OKs poll automation

by Purple Romero, | 09/10/2009 4:38 PM

MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) officially announced Thursday it has junked the petition seeking to stop the automation of the May 2010 polls.

SC spokesman Midas Marquez confirmed that the High Tribunal voted 11-3-1 to junk the petition filed by Concerned Citizens Movement led by UP law professor Harry Roque that asked the court to stop the full nationwide automation of the elections.

He said the majority of justices concurred with the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) argument that the pilot-test requirement, as stated in the poll automation law, does not apply for the May 2010 polls.

Roque had argued that the law specifically compels Comelec to pilot-test the automation system first before its nationwide implementation.

But the Solicitor-General and the Comelec argued that the requirement for the pilot-test was not mandatory. They said the elections referred to in the law for the pilot-test was the mid-term elections in 2007.

Marquez confirmed earlier reports by that Justices Antonio Carpio, Conchita Carpio-Morales and Arturo Brion dissented, while Justice Leonardo Quisumbing did not participate since he is on official leave.

The ruling was penned by Justice Presbitero Velasco.

“Barred forever”

Roque’s petition sought to have the P7.3-billion automation contract between Comelec and Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Consortium nullified based on the following grounds:

  • Comelec did not conduct a pilot-testing of Smartmatic-TIM’s precinct count optical scan machines (PCOS), in violation of Republic Act 8346 or the poll automation law
  • Smartmatic-TIM did not enter into a joint venture agreement (JVA) during the bidding for the contract
  • The PCOS machines do not meet the minimum system capabilities outlined in RA 8346
  • The Comelec does have not control over the automated election system (AES)

The petitioners argued that Comelec overlooked Sec. 6 of RA 8346, which stated that the AES should be utilized in regular elections immediately after the law was enacted in 2007. Given this condition, the AES should have been used in the May 2007 elections – the “pilot test” for the full automation in 2010.

The Comelec failed to deploy the AES in the said elections, however, because of funding problems.

But the SC pointed out that if the non-implementation of AES in the 2007 elections would prevent the Comelec from venturing into full automation in succeeding polls, the country would be stuck perpetually with manual elections.

“To argue that pilot testing is a condition precedent to a full automation in 2010 would doubtless undermine the purpose of RA 9369…If there was no political exercise in May 2007, the country would be theoretically be barred forever from having full automation,” the SC said.


The SC also said that nowhere in the Comelec’s rules is the incorporation of the consortium required during the bidding.

They added that the petitioners also erred in saying that the Smartmatic-TIM joint venture agreement—just like the case of Mega Pacific consortium—is dubious. Mega Pacific bagged the P1.2- billion automation contract in 2003, but it was later revealed that it did not form a joint venture.

The Court said that the Smartmatic-TIM JVA clearly conveyed to Comelec the structure of joint venture and the 60-40 financing arrangement, in favor of TIM.

The SC also noted that Comelec will not be devoid of any control over the AES even if only Smartmatic will have the access to the public and private keys of the PCOS machines.

“The speculative nature of petitioners’ position as to who would have possession and control of the keys became apparent,” the SC stated in reference to Roque’s admission during the oral arguments that they have not clarified, in any way, this issue with Comelec.

The High Tribunal added that the poll automation contract does not show any hint of the alleged “abdication” of Comelec’s mandate. It noted that the petitioners have a weak grasp of the contract’s content and substance.

“The petitioners, to stress, are strangers to the automation contract. Not one participated in the bidding conference or the bidding proper or even perhaps examined the bidding documents,” they said.

Stringent criteria

As to the petitioners’ allegations that the PCOS machines failed to meet the 99.9% accuracy requirement in counting votes because, according to one website, it has a margin of error from 2% to 10%, the SC suggested that they first check Smartmatic’s own website where the accuracy rating is posted at 99.9 percent.

Also, the SC said that they were “satisfied” with the 26-item criteria set by the Comelec for the PCOS machines. The criteria included the capability of the equipment to detect fake ballots, recognize partial shade marks and produce reports.

The machines passed the criteria during the trial conducted in the Comelec building. The SC noted, however, that the credibility of the PCOS machines could be ascertained some more after they undergo the tests listed in Comelec’s terms of reference for the automation.

The tests include laboratory tests and mock elections.

SOURCE: ABS-CBN News, its-official-sc-oks-poll-automation

2010 Philipine Presidential election to be based on issues: Fact or fiction?

Citizens present 2010 reform agenda

by Maria Althea Teves, | 09/06/2009 5:02 AM

MANILA – Is it possible for the Philippines to have issue-based elections in 2010, rather then the usual popularity contest?

“Yes, it is possible,” said Dr. Antonio La Viña, dean of the Ateneo School of Government (ASoG).

Klaus Preschle, Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) country representative, said that his first impression of Philippine politics when he first arrived in the country in 2003 was that “it does not have an agenda, it is based on personalities.”

KAS is a non-profit German political foundation guided by the principles of the Christian Democratic Movement.

Preschle said the ASoG’s move to organize more than 100 civil society groups to discuss which issues should be addressed in the 2010 elections is a sign that Philippine politics is changing.

The civil society groups consolidated themselves under the Citizens Reform Agenda 2010 (CReforms 2010).

“I never thought issue-based politics would be possible in the Philippines,” said Preschle. “But I would love to be proven wrong.”

La Viña said previous efforts toward issue-based politics were a not successful effort as they were too late coming together.

“When we presented our issues, it was already too late. It was already voting time,” La Viña said.

CReforms 2010 has been meeting and conducting focus group discussions (FGDs) since mid-2008 to discuss the issues candidates in the 2010 elections should tackle.

La Viña hopes that the early start of a group such as CReforms 2010 this time around would lead to a thorough discussion of key issues. These topics should also be addressed in upcoming debates with future candidates.

The 2010 issues and agenda

After a series of meetings, CReforms 2010’s key issues were presented at the “Elections 2010: A Presentation of Citizen Reform Agenda,” at the Edsa Shangri-la Hotel last Wednesday.

Prior to the public presentation of the key issues, CReforms 2010 drafted a Covenant for Reforms. Included in the covenant are the issues to be discussed and a promise to make the 2010 elections issue-based.

CReforms 2010 shall engage the candidates and political parties in the 2010 elections by having them commit to the covenant they prepared, and respond to the key agenda and issues in the CReforms 2010 papers, said Joy Aceron, CReforms coordinator.

These key issues which must be addressed by 2010 candidates are: 1) corruption, 2) political and electoral reform, 3) environment and sustainable development, 4) local government reforms, and 5) human development.


“The first issue that needs to be addressed is corruption,” said Vicent Lazatin, co- convener of CReforms 2010 and executive director of Transparency and Accountability Network.

To address corruption, the CReforms 2010 agenda paper suggests that citizens should have more access to information. There should also be reforms in the justice system that would help reduce corruption.

Efforts to strengthen institutions and to professionalize the bureaucratic system are also needed to increase efficiency. Lazatin said local government autonomy is also a must.

Citing the Human Development Report of the Philippines 2009, he said corruption in government results in disservice to the public.

The highly politicized “incentive system” benefits those who are loyal to the administration, not those who are efficient workers, Lazatin said.

An Asian Development Bank (ADB) report published in December 2007, “Philippines: Critical Development Constraints,” concluded that the worsening perception of corruption outside the country partly explains the low level of investments in the Philippines, he said.

In the executive summary of the agenda it presented, CReforms 2010 wrote: “Corruption has never been this worse. We must end it. It is time to repair the damaged institutions.”

Political and electoral reforms

CReforms 2010 is also pushing for a political process that is inclusive, empowering, and pro-poor.

“Institutional reform is an imperative [now] more than ever,” Lazatin said.

He said CReforms 2010 feels that the current government is not answering the needs of the poor.

He added that a more accountable political party system should be practiced. People should take note of what candidates say during the election campaign period, and they should hold them accountable once they are elected.

Accountability must also be be applied to party-list groups who are supposed to represent and fight for the rights of the marginalized, Lazatin said.

The constitutional provision on political dynasties should also be implemented, he said. This is an almost impossible undertaking in the lower House since most of them represent political dynasties.

Lazatin also dwelt on the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK).

The SK should not be a breeding ground for corrupt, traditional politicians who use their SK position as a stepping stone to higher public offices.

The SK must “be a vehicle for participation in electoral and democratic governance,” he said.

Environment and sustainable development

“The present leadership’s lack of an environmental agenda continues to pose a serious threat to the country’s dwindling natural resources,” CReforms 2010 said.

Lazatin said the present situation is aggravated by economic policies, like fiscal and tax regimes which are largely biased towards extractive industries.

“This leaves government coffers shortchanged and ecosystems downgraded,” he said.

He said that people should also ask whether the candidate is willing to support the enabling policies in Philippine Agenda 21 (PA 21).

PA 21 is the nation’s blueprint for sustainable development. Its vision is for families, households and communities to actively care for the ecosystem, and to empower social groups to manage the economy and participate in good governance.

In January 1999, Memorandum Order No. 47 was issued by the Office of the President to strengthen the operations of PA 21 and monitor its implementation.

Lazatin said the government should revisit PA 21 and use it as a framework for sustainable development.

People should also ask whether their candidate is willing to support the enabling policies for PA 21’s implementation, Lazatin said.

There should be additional funding for environmental protection as well as its prudent use, CReforms 2010 said.

CReforms also wants clear and separate definition of protection and utilization functions of different Department of Environment and Natural Resources personnel.

Local government units (LGUs) should also be more active stewards of the environment, Lazatin said.

Local government reforms

Since the local government is the closest agency to the people, it should be more empowered.

Power to LGUs must include being able to formulate and implement policies that best cater to their people, Lazatin said.

CReforms is calling for a review of the Local Government Code of 1991 and amendments that would strengthen decentralization and autonomy.

It also wants a more equitable system of local finance management that effectively equips LGUs with the resources they need for their quick service delivery and administrative needs, said Lazatin.

He said “inadequate local finance compromises social services delivery.”

CReforms 2010 also supports constitutional reform that would explore federalism as a viable political framework.

“The decentralization (of power) is possible through federalism,” Lazatin said.

Each LGU should also establish a check and balance system applicable to their community that would minimize corruption.

The system should take into consideration the circumstances in the local community since corruption problems are unique to every local government, Lazatin said.

Human development

CReforms 2010’s agenda is centered on human development.

“Employment, education, health and housing development should be addressed,” Lazatin said.

The number of quality jobs should increase. There should be more favorable working conditions in the country to discourage skilled Filipinos from leaving, he said.

In addition, strengthened labor rights should be enforced to secure Filipino employees from mass layoffs and unemployment in times of crisis.

Lower school fees and expenses are needed. At the same time, there should be an increase in salaries of teachers, Lazatin said.

Curriculum revision is also needed to cater to the jobs-skills mismatch that results in unemployment, he added.

Health care services, with emphasis on reproductive health, should be accessible to everyone, Lazatin said.

This, and the improvement of the local medical industry, are needed to reduce mortality rates and to control population increase, he said.

Candidates should also take a stand against violence in the demolition of houses of illegal settlers, Lazatin said. “This should not be tolerated,” he said.

He added that house relocation sites should be accessible to transportation as well as employment opportunities.

The housing structures should be built for long term use, and should not require costly maintenance for relocated families, Lazatin said.

SOURCE: ABS-CBN News, citizens-present-2010-reform-agenda

Philippine tribal groups assert role and rights in climate change adaptation

Will tribes gain from climate change talks?

by Purple S. Romero, | 09/06/2009 3:17 AM


MANILA – Indigenous peoples (IPs) have gained ground in their fight to have their rights recognized in a new mechanism against climate change, as backed strongly by the Philippine delegation in the ongoing climate change negotiations.

Experts said, however, that it will be a huge test whether the Philippine government can translate its pledges in the international arena to effective actions in local communities.

Antonio La Viña, chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told that there are already references to IP rights in the negotiating text of the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD).

REDD emerged as a viable instrument for limiting carbon discharge in the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia.

Under this scheme, developing countries would be paid by first-tier nations to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that around 15-20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation.

Tribal communities have been lobbying to be recognized as stakeholders in REDD because forests essentially form part of their ancestral domain. With REDD entering the picture, however, their claims could be challenged.

Since incentives are a central point in the REDD, questions on whether the national government can distribute such rewards to the local IP groups have arisen.

A step closer

Inserting IP rights in the text has been an upscale battle for IP groups.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues told that US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand had the references removed in 2008, much to their dismay.

It was only in June 2009, during the meeting in Bonn, Germany, when the references were included, although placed in “brackets,” which means these still need to be finalized.

Corpuz said what changed the tone of the negotiations was the support provided by the Norwegian government.

“The Norwegian government is giving a lot of resources to REDD, and it strongly supported our request for IP rights,” she said in a phone interview.

Aside from Norway, Bolivia also pushed for the inclusion of the references, she said.

When negotiations resume in Bangkok on September 28, the debate would be the scope of the provision on IP rights, and on “how strong will the language be,” La Viña said.

He explained that the US and Canada have opposed any references to the United Nations Declaration on Right of Indigenous Peoples, a position they made clear in 2008. Corpuz said that the two countries are also against the recognition of free and prior informed consent.

A telling past

While the Philippine delegation played a key role in adding IP rights in the text on REDD, Corpuz said having the Philippine government observe this to the letter is a different thing altogether, given its conflict-ridden history with local IP groups.

The controversy over ancestral domain, in particular, has been a ticklish point, as the government revitalizes the mining industry and identifies protected areas.

In Caraga, Mindanao, for example, the Manobo-Mamanwa Joint Tribal Council Conference Association has sought a congressional inquiry on the alleged failure of the mining firm S.R. Metals Inc. to pay the tribes royalty fees. S.R. Metals is a nickel mining company operating in Tubay, Agusan del Norte.

Under the Mining Act of 1995, indigenous people are entitled to royalty fees of at least one percent of the mining company’s gross revenues.

NIPAS difficulties

Indigenous people have also had problems regarding the government’s implementation of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS).

NIPAS was enacted in 1992 with the end goal of determining and preserving the protected areas in the Philippines. NIPAS was supposed to have set in place the participation of indigenous people in the administration of these areas by having them represented in the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).

Maurizio Farhan Ferrari, biodiversity policy advisor for the UK-based Forest Peoples Programme, and Dave de Vera, executive director of the Philippine Association for Inter-Cultural Development reported in 2004 (“A Choice for Indigenous Communities of the Philippines”) on the loopholes in the implementation of NIPAS.

For instance, they cited how the Calamian Tagbanwa tribe in Palawan opted out of NIPAS because of the intimidating environment in the board caused by having local government officials as PAMB chair. Ferrari and De Vera also said most indigenous communities are not considered legitimate local government units.

Likewise, Delia Magaña wrote in “The Agta Foragers in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park: Ancestral Domains in Theory and Practice” that the Agta communities in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (NSMP) encountered “inconsistencies” in the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC) awarded to them.

The areas in the CADC do not match the actual scope of the Agtas’ ancestral domain, and some of the CADC holders are not really members of the tribe.

Threats to IPs

If REDD would be implemented in the country, “there is always that danger” that these scenarios could happen, said Dr. Rex Cruz, dean of the Forestry and Natural Resources College of UP Los Baños.

He explained that the areas in the country where the potential for REDD could be explored are situated in the very same lush, forested areas – Northern Sierra Madre, Caraga and Palawan.

He added that to resolve similar issues arising from the adoption of REDD, “the government should learn to address the apparent lack of coordination between the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.”

Jean Marie Ferraris of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, said the government should clarify what REDD’s legal implications would be on NIPAS, the Mining Act, and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.

International obligation

The head of the Philippine delegation, Heherson Alvarez, is all too familiar with NIPAS and the mining industry. He concurrently sits as a member of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Mining Development Corporation. He authored NIPAS when he was still a senator.

He disagreed that tension with local IP groups would surface when the Philippine government implements REDD.  “It could be done,” he said, as the government would be obliged to distribute the benefits to the IPs.

On the other hand, Marlo Mendoza, director of the Forest Management Bureau, said the REDD would be a “country-wide” program. Hence, the government would have a clear-cut strategy to implement it. The foremost priority would be “to have the incentives ploughed back to them.”

La Viña also pointed out that unlike mining, where the land is used by corporations, only the tribal communities would be managing their soil and resources.

Corpuz said that if the results show otherwise, the “international community, indigenous people should put more pressure on them (governments).”

She added that it would be inevitable for the Philippine government to recognize indigenous peoples as vital stakeholders in implementing REDD, since “the last forests in the country are already being protected by no one else but IP communities.”

SOURCE: ABS-CBN News, ip-rights-climate-change-talks

Health risks of global warming in Philippines

WHO: Funding lack, climate change grave threats to public health

by DAVID DIZON, | 09/23/2008 2:20 PM

The outgoing head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Western Pacific Region identified health care financing and climate change as the two gravest threats facing countries in the Asia Pacific region.

In his final address to the Regional Committee Tuesday, Dr. Shigeru Omi said more work needs to be done to strengthen regional health systems including financing and human resources development. “We have not been as successful in this area as with communicable diseases. More work needs to be done,” he said at the WHO regional headquarters on United Nations Avenue in Manila.

Dr. Omi said WHO has tackled the health worker crisis in a variety of ways including providing Internet-based training for health professionals in remote areas. He said the drafting of a WHO Strategic Plan for Strengthening Health Systems in the Western Pacific Region would provide solid foundation for progress in this area.

He said climate change would also affect global health security by increasing health risks in various parts of the region.

He said global warming would lead to an increase in malaria and dengue-carrying mosquitoes in areas other than their natural Southeast Asia habitat. He said climate change could also lead to a rise in sea level, which would threaten low-lying island states and areas in the Pacific.

“A warmer planet has contributed to some diseases, such as dengue, now occurring in areas where it was never seen before. Heat waves and drought are among the many factors contributing to the current food crisis,” he said.

Dr. Omi said global health security, particularly in the area of communicable diseases, became more significant after the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002. He said the prevalence of the disease led WHO to declare a series of travel advisories against a number of countries and areas at the height of the SARS threat in 2003.

“SARS awakened the global public health community from a kind of slumber. Before the outbreak, interest in communicable diseases had been slipping. Then suddenly public health had entered a new era demanding constant vigilance against threats from emerging and re-emerging diseases,” he said.

He said regional vigilance against communicable diseases was accelerated by the emergence of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus less than six months after the transmission of SARS had been halted. Recognizing that the root cause of the problem was coming from animals, he said WHO partnered with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health to combat the health threat.

War against tobacco, TB deaths

Dr. Omi also outlined several areas where the WHO Regional Office had made significant progress including reducing prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) in Western Pacific countries. He said at least 1,000 people were dying daily from TB in 1999.

“As a result of our intense battle against TB, we are saving 400 lives every day with the number of daily TB deaths in our region having dropped from nearly 1,000 to less than 600 over that period,” he said.

In the field of tobacco control, Dr. Omi said all countries in the Western Pacific have signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which calls for a war on smoking through such measures as high taxes on cigarettes, a ban on tobacco advertising and more effective education campaigns.

He said WHO has made significant strides in providing universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care to those people living with HIV/AIDS and to groups at risk of infection.

He said WHO’s regional office has launched an Internet-based reporting system for tracking the movement of fake drugs. “This regional rapid alert system developed in our region has now been replicated around the world,” he said.

He said the region is also on track to achieve elimination of measles by 2012, with a 97 percent fall in cases recorded between 2000 and 2007.

Finally, he said that child health and maternal mortality is back on the public health agenda with the development of the joint Regional Child Survival Strategy with UNICEF.

SOURCE: ABS-CBN News, who-funding-lack-climate-change-grave-threats-public-health

NASA scientist to study effects of climate change in Philippines

Climate change could devastate RP: NASA scientist

Agence France-Presse | 09/12/2008 6:53 PM

MANILA – Climate change could have a devastating impact on the Philippines, leading to widespread destruction of the country’s flora and fauna and flooding the capital Manila, a NASA scientist warned here Friday.

The continued melting of Arctic ice caps, brought on by climate change, could cause sea levels to rise by seven metres (23 feet), said National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) physicist Josefino Comiso.

He said the country’s fish stocks would be depleted and many species of plant and animal life would die because of the change in ocean temperatures caused by climate change.

“The Philippines is a country that is among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” Comiso said.

A senior research scientist at a NASA centre that monitors the effects of global warming, he made the warning after attending a conference of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration.

Comiso said he was working on a project, to be funded by the Manila government weather station, to monitor the effects of global warming in the Philippines.

The project, which will be based in a state university outside Manila, will coordinate its research efforts with NASA.

Comiso was part of the United States Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change which shared with former US vice president Al Gore the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

SOURCE: ABS-CBN News, climate-change-could-devastate-rp-nasa-scientist

Manila ranked #7 in Southeast Asia as most vulnerable to climate change

Study: Metro Manila 7th ‘most vulnerable’ to climate change

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MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila was ranked seventh “most vulnerable” to climate change among provinces and districts in Southeast Asia.

This is based on a study made by an organization that supports training and research in environmental and resource economics.

Dr. Herminia Francisco, director of the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA), and Dr. Arief Yusuf Anshory conducted the study.

“To assess the level of vulnerability of an area or a province, we compared each province or area to the others through a composite index,” Francisco said.

“We determined their ability to be resilient to climate change adaptation. We based our study on their exposure to climate hazards using information from historical records based on the assumption that past exposure is the best available proxy for future climatic risks.”

The study aims to help policy-makers and external donors in resource-allocation decisions on climate change initiatives in the region.

“We also based the study on their adaptive capacity, which include existing infrastructures, poverty situation, people’s income, literacy, inequality, life expectancy, as well as available technology,” Francisco said.

During the Philippine launch of the New Regional Climate Change Vulnerability Map for Southeast Asia in Makati yesterday, Francisco identified 13 other provinces in the Philippines as “climate hot spots.”

“This may not be a perfect map but we hope this would bring people together to come up with effective adaptation programs to climate change,” Francisco said.

“Climate change is here, it’s been happening. We just have to perhaps correct some adaptation behavior and teach communities on what must be done, as well as help policy-makers and donors in determining the direction of programs and funding efforts.”

The study covered 530 sub-national areas in seven countries.

It specifically covered 341 districts in Indonesia, 19 provinces in Cambodia, 17 provinces in Laos, 14 areas in Malaysia, 14 provinces in the Philippines, 72 provinces in Thailand, and 53 provinces in Vietnam.

A majority of provinces or areas in the study’s 10 most vulnerable to climate change are found in Indonesia, with Central Jakarta ranked as 1st; North Jakarta, 2nd; West Jakarta, 3rd; East Jakarta, 5th; South Jakarta, 8th; Kota Bandung, 9th; and Kota Surabaya, 10th.

Mondol Kiri and Rotanokiri in Cambodia were ranked 4th and 6th, respectively; while Metro Manila in the Philippines was ranked 7th.

The 13 other “climate hot spots” in the Philippines are the Cordillera Administrative Region, ranked 27th; Central Luzon, 30th; Cagayan Valley, 34th; Bicol, 36th; Ilocos, 40th; Southern Tagalog, 44th; Eastern Visayas, 60th; Northern Mindanao, 74th; Central Visayas, 86th; Western Mindanao, 87th; Western Visayas, 96th; Southern Mindanao, 103rd; and Central Mindanao, 105th.

The study, which includes a map showing all climate hot spots in Southeast Asia, was funded by the International Development Research Center (IRDC) of Canada.

14 areas ‘overfished’

At least 14 areas in nine regions nationwide are “overfished,” resulting in economic losses of about P6.25 billion a year, a recent government study revealed.

The National Stock Assessment of Marine Fisheries Resources was done by experts from the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) and Fisheries Improved for Sustainable Harvest (FISH) between 1998 and 2008.

The 10-year study showed that the most overfished areas were the Lingayen Gulf in the Ilocos Region, Davao Gulf, and Lagonoy Gulf in the Bicol Region.

Overfishing occurs when the ability of fish stocks to replenish is impaired because of massive commercial and local fishing.

“The marine fisheries of the Philippines are in a critical state because of overfishing,” the study said.

A fishing area is measured by experts through a ratio of fish caught and the number of fish killed due to natural causes.

The ideal values of such ratio are between 0.3 to 0.5, said Geronimo Silvestre of the FISH Project.

“A ratio that is higher than 0.5 indicates overfishing,” he said.

The study was conducted in partnership with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Department of Agriculture.

“Unless regulatory measures such as fishing gear restriction and fish size limit, closed seasons and law enforcement are effectively carried out, the country’s marine fisheries could be depleted,” the study said.

Results of the study were provided to The STAR by the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology.

The total catch of commercial and municipal fishers was estimated at l.74 million metric tons and valued at more than P65 billion, according to the study.

The NFRDI, an agency under the DA, was created under Republic Act 8550.

On the other hand, FISH is a project of the government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

It aims to support the efforts of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and local government units to conserve biological biodiversity in the target areas.

The primary purpose of FISH is to conserve biological diversity in at least four biologically and economically important marine ecosystems in the Philippines, namely: the Calamianes Islands in Palawan, Danajon Reef in Bohol, and Tawi-Tawi and Surigao del Sur in Mindanao. – With Helen Flores

SOURCE: ABS-CBN News, study-metro-manila-7th-most-vulnerable-climate-change

Climate change impact on Philippine economy serious: ADB warns

RP, 3 other Asian countries face costly climate change risks

By Purple S. Romero, | 04/29/2009 12:52 AM

The Philippines is one of 4 Southeast Asian countries likely to experience wider economic contraction of 6 percent by 2100 because of environmental risks, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Tuesday.

Without these risks, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam would just experience an economic decline of 2.2 percent, the ADB said in its report, “The Economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia: A Regional Review.”

The multilateral lender said the 4 Asian countries are most vulnerable to the “catastrophic risks” brought by climate change that the 6 percent projected decline exceeds the global mean’s decrease of 2.6 percent.

The ADB also monetized the annual losses of the entire Southeast Asian region due to climate change. It said this environmental phenomenon would shave off $230 billion from, or 6.7 percent of, the region’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The economic backslide of climate change is worse for the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam because they have dense population in coastal areas, are agriculture-driven, and have a frail adaptation backbone, the lender stressed.

The 4 countries are expected to suffer from a decline in rice yield by 50 percent due to climate change. By 2020, the Philippines is forecasted to receive the biggest blow with a 75 percent plunge. Indonesia would dip 34 percent.

Flooding would also increase due to sea level rise. The monthly flow of the Mekong River in Vietnam would climb to 41 percent in the basin and by 19 percent in the delta.

Currently, however, the Philippines is the most vulnerable country among the four when it comes to floods and storms. From 2000-2008, the Philippines was hit by over 100 storms, affecting 35 million people. The situation is expected to get worse as climate change looms due to increased precipitation.

What to do?

ADB vice president Ursula Scahefer-Preuss said in a statement that Asian countries could hit two birds with one stone by implementing stimulus budgets with environment-friendly investments in them.

She cited investments on efficient energy, and low-carbon technology and infrastructure. She said governments could transform these climate change triggers into revenue boosters.

“Southeast Asian nations should address the dual threats of the financial crisis and climate change by introducing effective green stimulus programs – as part of larger financial stimulus packages – that can simultaneously shore up their economies, create jobs, reduce poverty, lower carbon emissions and make them more prepared for the worse effects of climate change,” she said.

The Philippines could take the lead of the region’s main economic partners – China and the United States. Their governments have already put in place “green” stimulus plans.

Out of its $584 billion-economic recovery package, China reportedly allotted around $200 billion to the development of waterways infrastructure, energy efficient buildings and low carbon vehicles.

The United States, on the other hand, allocated $78 billion, nine percent of its $787 billion-stimulus package to greening public buildings, transportation and buttressing research and development for renewable energy.

In the Philippines, the P330 billion stimulus package called Economic Resiliency Plan provides for over 100,000 “green” jobs. These include 50,000 upland farmers for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) reforestation and agroforestry program, and 59,111 forest guards earning P3,000 a month also from the DENR.

What is being done?

The ADB noted that countries have already implemented different adaptation measures for particular sectors to survive the impact of climate change. But it noted that these measures are “mostly reactive rather than proactive.”

The report added that “their implementation is scattered rather than systematic, isolated rather than integrated, and measures often offer short-term benefits, rather than long-term solutions.”

The Philippines had 2 adaptation projects that were criticized as reactive:
• Metering and pricing of water use under the water resources sector
• Use of silvicultural practices in the forestry sector

On the other hand, 5 were deemed proactive:
• construction of multi-purpose reservoirs, dams and water-impounding systems under the water resources sector
• development of early warning systems or network for the agriculture and forestry sectors
• increasing awareness on forest fire prevention in local communities under the forestry sector
• preparation of hazard and vulnerability maps under the coastal and marine resources sector
• raising information on programs under the coastal and marine resources sector

To improve their adaptive capacity in the agriculture and coastal zones, the ADB said the 4 countries should be willing to spend $5 billion annually by 2020 to build sea walls and cultivate drought and heat-resistant crops.

Dr. Juzhong Zhuang, chief economist of the ADB said that the benefits would “outweigh” the costs in the long run.

He estimated that while these costs would eat 0.2 percent of the GDP, the benefits would add 1.9 percent in the economic output of the four countries by 2100.

Mitigate, too

While adaptation measures are important, ADB also called on the Asian countries to reduce their carbon discharges. These discharges are now popularly measured as the carbon footprint, or the estimate of how much carbon dioxide and other toxic greenhouse gases are produced to support the population’s lifestyle.

Indonesia was recorded to have produced 59 percent of—the highest in—the entire region’s greenhouse gas emission (GHG). Thailand followed with 6 percent, the Philippines with 4, and Vietnam with 2.

In 2000, Southeast Asia contributed 12 percent to the world’s total GHG emission

Land use change and forestry sector was the main culprit for the region’s GHG emission, supplying 75 percent of the region’s total carbon discharge. The energy and agriculture sectors came in second and third, with 15 percent and 8 percent GHG emissions, respectively.

The ADB said that mitigation is feasible in the region, following its huge potential for carbon trading. For a carbon price of $20 per ton of carbon dioxide, Southeast Asia is foreseen to lessen carbon emission by 300 million tons.

Efficient transport systems could also help cut carbon discharges. This would reduce Philippines’ carbon discharge by 40 metric tones by 2020, and Thailand by 30 metric tons. Vietnam’s use of natural gas by 2010 could diminish GHG emission by four metric tons.

The four countries were pushed to also switch from coal to renewable energy for power generation.

However, Datu Zamzamin Ampatuan, undersecretary of the Philippines energy department, said that the closure of local coal power plants particularly located in Visayas could presently do more harm than good.

“Coal powerplants are something we really have to contend with, but there are areas that have very little sources for renewable energy, such as in Visayas,” he explained.

SOURCE: ABS-CBN News, rp-3-other-asian-countries-face-costly-climate-change-risks

Do you want to know the Philippine govt’s 2010 budget?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Palace submits 2010 budget

Malacañang has submitted to the House of Representatives on Wednesday the P1.54-trillion budget for 2010, proposing heavy spending for the President Gloria Arroyo’s priority programs—social services, health, infrastructure and education.


Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya handed the 2010 budget proposal to House Speaker Prospero Nograles, reiterating his statement last week that the government would normalize spending next year and rein in ballooning deficit number.

“It’s easy on our part to increase deficit and it would be up to the next administration to handle but we will not do that. We want to have a trajectory that will lead us to the 2012 or in the future so presidential candidates must think of it now on how to fill the fiscal space,” he said.

Andaya also said the government’s stimulus spending will continue during the course of the year, which includes spending on education, infrastructure (roads, bridges, ports) but in a reduced rate, so that when private sector comes in and the economy recovers these would be ready.

There will be a significant amount to conclude the President’s State of the Nation Address projects and, admittedly, he said, these are investments for growth especially for the priority projects of the President.

The committee on appropriations of the lower house said the budget hearing would start next week.
— Angelo S. Samonte

Traits to look for in the next Philippines president

If Presidential candidates undergo a job interview before they get hired, what questions should voters ask? PMAP President Grace Zata tells us.

For the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), a human resource management group, it’s all about educating voters on how to pick worthy presidential candidates in the 2010 polls, just like company managers would – by careful evaluation.

The PMAP narrowed down 5 essential qualities that each Philippine president must have, including political and people skills.

These criteria, based on job competency frameworks used in the corporate sector, were identified based on extensive research and interviews by the PMAP and a member-company, SGV-Development Dimensions International.

The organization spoke with past presidents, chief justices, executive secretaries, and media about what it takes for the president to lead a country.

President’s roles

Grace Abella-Zata, PMAP President, said in a press conference on Wednesday that any would-be president must perform each of the following roles in order to succeed:

1. Navigator.
– Able to steer the country towards a just and humane society, and knows how to get the country there.
– Has specific plans of action in solving problems like poverty, education, or corruption.
– Is decisive when faced with complex issues and hence, must be intelligent.

2. Mobilizer
– Must be good at building alliances to achieve consensus
– Must work well with Congress and Senate

3. Servant leader
– Must serve the people with a caring heart
– Must put the public interest first before vested interests
– Works hard and well to achieve the goals of government

4. Inspirational leader
– Must know how to work well with the press
– Can inspire unity, trust, and optimism among the people by being a good and moral leader

5. Guardian of national wealth and resources
– Allocates and uses the country’s resources properly
– Demonstrates strong political will, and is able to make right decisions for the common good, even if the decision is unpopular.

Source: top-5-things-look-president