Archive for Alan Peter Cayetano

Show Me The Money – Where Will The Money For Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) and Parma (Pepeng) Victims Go?

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2009 by JJ Duque

Typhoons Ketsana (Ondoy here in the Philippines) and Parma (Pepeng here in the Philippines) have caused so much devastation through so much flooding that hundreds of lives were lost, half a million people were rendered homeless, and all sorts of homes, property, agricultural lands and infrastructure were damaged.

There is no doubt that a whole lot of money will be spent on providing rescue and relief for the typhoon victims, and also for the rebuilding and reconstruction following the damage caused by the floods brought by Ketsana (Ondoy) and the other damage brought by Parma (Pepeng). The disaster has certainly brought about much concern from all over the world, which resulted in an outpouring of assistance in order to provide aid to these typhoon victims.

In the Philippines alone, there was a multitude of support to get the wheels of assistance turning. Several foundations, non-government organizations (NGOs) and those in the private sector gathered donations in cash and in kind to provide aid for those who were victimized by the floods and were forced to be displaced from their homes.

Medicines and basic necessities, such as food, water, clothing and toiletries were gathered and distributed at evacuation centers. Of course, a lot of money was also raised through donations both from the Philippines and from the international community.

Now I don’t know what the exact figures are, and I don’t really know who’s diligently keeping a tab on it, but there was definitely a lot of money raised. The combined effort of  television networks in the Philippines  raised approximately some  Php200 million so far. The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) has also collected donations via text and also through Paypal apart from direct cash donations.

The international relief effort has also raised a lot of funds through the likes of Australia, Japan, Germany, European Union, Spain, Great Britain, the United States, Canada and still others. With an average of $1 million being given by each country, the total funds raised could easily reach $10 million.

International organizations have also raised funds for the Ketsana typhoon victims, with the likes of UNICEF, AmeriCares, the Asian Development Bank and more contributing  a combined effort of a few million dollars.

The United Nations has also made an appeal to raise $74 million, and has already allocated $7 million from the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund due to the devastation caused by Typhoon Ketsana and Super Typhoon Parma.

Lots of Funds Raised To Help The Victims, But Where Will It Really Go?

Lots of Funds Raised To Help The Victims, But Where Will It Really Go?

Now – I don’t know the exact sum of how much money was raised to directly help in the relief and rebuilding efforts caused by Ketsana and Parma, but that is definitely a lot of money, and to where does it exactly go?

When funds are donated from the local and international community,to whom is the check addressed to? Where are these funds kept and who is in charge of the disbursement of these funds? Of course, NGOs like the PNRC appropriate their funds for rescue and relief operations, which include the distribution of basic necessities and medical supplies, but then what about the other funds that are outside the reach of the PNRC?

Apparently, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) through DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. (Jun Ebdane) has  claimed that their agency lacked funds in construction projects that could’ve helped flood prevention.

“Our system of mega-dikes, dams and other flood mitigation projects in Metro Manila just couldn’t hold the high volume of water that Ondoy (Ketsana) brought to us. Although we have made plans for more flood mitigation projects ahead of time, funding problems have stalled their immediate implementaton,” explained Ebdane.

Jun Ebdane also suggested that squatters, or informal dwellers, who put up their shanty homes along riverbanks was one of the major causes to blame for the flooding. He cited a recent study conducted by Japan International Cooperation Agency, which said:

“Flooding is becoming a more serious problem in Metro Manila and other flood-prone areas because of the rapid urban expansion, inadequate river channel capacities, and insufficient equipment for maintenance for existing drainage facilities, which have been continiously clogged by squatting and garbage dumping.”

In line with this, the DPWH is now asking for a bigger budget from the international financial aid in order for them to carry out their task in cleaning the drainage systems and the garbage left by Ketsan and Parma.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is also going to need funds for their projects in asissting the half a million (or more) that were made homeless by the storm. DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral said that the DSWD continues to provide assistance to the more than 122,00 families affected by typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy). The DSWD has released P22 million from its calamity fund for the purchase of relief goods, composed mostly of food, according to DSWD Public Affairs and Advocacy Division chief Precy Villa.

I’m not very good at math, but P22 million pesos is not even half a million US dollars (at an exchange rate of P48 to $1), and certainly there is supposedly a couple million dollars of funds that can be used to provide more goods, or even better facilities for evacuation centers.

Now – I don’t know where the money is going or how it will be spent, but someone better be a diligent accountant and take note of what is coming in and where it is going out.

The Philippine Senate has already expressed a strong opposition for President Gloria Macapgal-Arroyo‘s decision to declare the entire Philippines under a state of calamity and even extending it to a year. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., and Senators Noynoy Aquino III, Manny Villar Jr., Mar Roxas II, Chiz Escudero,  Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Alan Peter Cayetano warned against the relaxed rules in the disbursement of funds during a state of calamity, which might lead to abuses on the part of the executive branch, specifically with Malacañang, the various government departments, and the local government units.

According to the Senators the entire nation need not be placed under a state of calamity since not all areas were affected by Ketsana (Ondoy) and Parma (Pepeng), such as Mindanao.

The senators also argued that rules during a state of calamity has regarding the disbursement and utilization of funds become more relaxed because of the urgency for their use.

“When you declare that is going to be for a year, there might be calls for augmentation as far as those funds depleted are concerned. (The question is) will all the funds really address the calamity or will be used for something else because the rules have been relaxed?” Senator Noynoy Aquino said.

“I do not want a prolonged state of calamity, because in the same way that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely, calamity tends to corrupt.  The longer the declaration of a state of calamity, the longer the corruption,” Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said.

Apart from the corruption, Senators also warned that a year-long state of calamity throughout the entire nation could drive out potential foreign investors, and could create more problems for the country such as job losses and supply shortage.

The Makati Business Club, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines and the Federation of Philippine Industries among other business groups were also keen to express that eventually Malacañang might eventually declare a state of emergency and the exercise of police powers.  Yes, something like Martial Law.

Maybe the Makati Business Club et al are getting ahead of themselves with conspiracy theories, but the bottom line is that 122,000 families and over half a million people will need financial aid to help them survive and remain healthy enough for them to get back on their feet again. Definitely, critical operations must be done to also curb the problem of garbage that clogs the drainage systems of major cities in our country, especially in the very congested areas of  the National Capital Region.  Funds must also be appropriated to the restoration of farm lands. Somewhere along the way – I just sincerely hope that the funds (that will amount to millions of dollars) will not be lost in the selfish pockets of those who will be responsible for them.

Philippine Politics: Will Manny Villar Become The Next President?

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by JJ Duque

Former Senate President Manny Villar is currently leading the Pulse Asia survey on whom the Filipino people would want to become the next Philippine President to succeed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

If the survey holds up come election day on 2010, then indeed we could certainly see Manny Villar become the next President of the Philippines.  Will he really become the next Philippine President? I think – yes.

Why? Well, while all the other Philippine presidentiables were still in the process of deciding whether they would run or not, Manny Villar already stated his intention to run a long time ago. Of course, it’s easy to just simply make a press release in the papers to say that you would run for the Presidency, but in Manny Villar‘s case – he actually committed vast resources and efforts in preparation for his campaign.

And we’re not just talking about campaign materials. We’re talking about the vast resources of talented people who would help him run his campaign throughout the country.

As early as now – Manny Villar has ads on television. These ads have been on the drawing board a long time, and have been carefully plotted out. The earlier versions of this ad were carefully screened, critiqued, re-edited, and really went through a thorough process. What is being shown today in television is the result of a well-planned and well-executed ad that certainly makes its mark on its audiences. Its proper time-slot placement and frequency of air-play is just as impressive.

More than the ads – Manny Villar has aligned himself with several key people who will be certainly instrumental in his campaign. Just recently, Philstar.com published an article on “The Honor Guards” of Manny Villar. And just who are these “Honor Guards?”

Manny Villar and His 'Honor Guards'

Manny Villar and His 'Honor Guards'

First, there’s the young Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, an Ateneo Law Grad who helps out the Tropang Villar as the one in-charge of “national interest matters.” Then, there’s Laguna Representative Justin Marc “Timmy” Chipeco, who is a Law graduate from the San Beda College and Arellano Law School, and is in charge of  “local governance.” Former Pampanga Representative and Upsilonian Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc, who earned his masters degree in Public Administration form Harvard University takes charge of  “finance and economics.” Adel Tamano is the current president of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) and the first Filipino Muslim to have graduated fromt he Harvard Law School with a masters degree in Law, and is in charge of “education, legal and Mindanao issues.” Former Cavite Representative, news anchor and Upsilonian Gilbert Remulla, who earned his MA in International Affairs from Columbia University in New York, is in charge of “political affairs.” Lastly, Bukidnon Representative Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, an Ateneo Law/Economics graduate, is in charge of “budget and Mindanao issues.”

These 6 honor guards of Manny Villar are all members of Villar’s Nacionalista Party(NP) and are the spokesmen for the NP, on the varous issues stated above. Obviously, the NP is a political party that has some sleek brains and a very ready attitude to tackle the work needed for a Presidential campaign (or even for a possible run at Senator as in the case of Adel Tamano).

Their combined teamwork and resources set them apart from the rest of the other political parties who still cannot decide on who will be their bet for President. The other political parties will squabble and hold countless meetings and politicking before coming to a decision. By that time – the political machinery of Manny Villar will be ten steps ahead of any competition, equipped with a solid political platform that will provide answers to our country’s problems.

The next leader will certainly have several problems to face in order to uplift the Philippines from its current state. If we are to move forward as a nation, we have to be able to back up the leadership with a solid  political will that is ready to address the many concerns of its people. One definitely has to be prepared. This preparedness of the Nacionalista Party is what sets them apart from the other presidentiables. And if this is the kind of attitude Manny Villar will bring with him to Malacanang, then rest assured that the country will be in good hands. Because, at least, Manny Villar has shown that he is prepared to lead at a time when others can’t even decide which route to run.

Opinion On Philippine Politics: Senator Manny Villar Starts Presidential Campaign For 2010 With A Crash

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine News, Philippine Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2008 by JJ Duque
Senators Manny Villar and Pia Cayetano as Wedding Sponsors ("borrowed" from vherpaulino2's Flickr account)

Senators Manny Villar and Pia Cayetano as Sponsors for Inah Revilla and Vince del Rosario Wedding ("borrowed" from vherpaulino2's Flickr account)

The 2010 Philippine Presidential campaign of Senator Manny Villar started barely a week ago, and it unofficially began with the resignation of Senator Manny Villar from his post as Senate President. Actually, Senator Manny Villar was about to be asked to step down when the majority of the Senate gathered enough signatures to petition for his ouster as Senate President. However, Senator Manny Villar jumped the gun and announced his resignation even before the move could be made to ask him to step down as Senate President.

When Senator Manny Villar was asked if his resignation had something to do with his campaign for the Philippine Presidency in 2010, Manny Villar eloquently repsonded, “Yup” before the elevator doors closed down, and he went off to the Senate floor to announce his resignation.

Taking Manny Villar‘s place as Senate President is Juan Ponce Enrile, who at age 84 is the perfect interim Senate President leading up to the Presidential elections. Why? Well, because Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has no real plans of a presidential campaign, and his seniority (in age and experience) among the other Senators keeps him the most qualified Senator to sit as Senate President. Of course, Juan Ponce Enrile is also easier for the majority opposition to control. For one thing – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile doesn’t have a hidden agenda for 2010, and his concerns for the nation are much more objective than say 20 years ago when he was still an under-the-table mover and traditional politician – Yes, TRAPO!. But then, maybe a TRAPO is what is needed now with a whole bunch of Senators expected to campaign for the Philippine President in 2010. Basically, Juan Ponce Enrile might not have the energy for dirty back room politics anymore, and his seniority will make sure also that none of the younger Senators step out of line in respect to his seniority. Whatever.

The Senators who moved against Manny Villar and voted for Juan Ponce Enrile include Edgardo Angara, Rodolfo Biazon, Jose Estrada, Francis Escudero, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Ana Consuelo Madrigal, Ramon Revilla, Manuel Roxas II and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Five Senators who abstained from the vote include: Francis Pangilinan, Joker Arroyo, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Benigno Aquino III and Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

Absent were Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Antonio Trillanes IV.

Manny Villar said, “The tenure of the Senate president, as everyone knows, depends on the number of members that supports him or her. I’ve been informed this afternoon that I no longer have the support of the majority members. I now, therefore tender my resignation.” (albeit not so tenderly)

“I congratulate the new Senate president, Honorable Senator Juan Ponce Enrile,” Manny Villar said. “You, Mr. Senate President, have my support.”

Manny Villar has admitted that while his work load in the Senate will be less since he no longer holds the post of Senate President, he will still be active in the chambers of the Senate in support of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and that just because he resigned doesn’t mean he will keep quiet in the halls of the Senate. Of course, Manny Villar has also admitted that he will have more time to spend with his family and prepare for his campaign for the Philippine Presidential elections in 2010.

And while it may seem that Manny Villar resigned to prepare for his 2010 presidential campaign, the move by a majority of the Senators to oust Manny Villar as Senate President also has to do with the discrepancies involving Manny Villar with regards to the national budget. Apparently, Manny Villar made a double-entry on the budget for the expansion of the C5 highway, and there are also incidents that suggest Manny Villar pushed for budgets on public work projects that directly benefit his real esate interests.

Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada was rumored to be part of the Senate coup, but the majority of the Senators insisted that Joseph Estrada had no hand in the coup. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also said that Malacanang Palace did not have anything to do with the move against ousting Manny Villar. I don’t really see why they would want to have a hand in that anyway since it looks like Manny Villar went on self-destruct mode.

If Joseph Estrada were to have any involvement, it might have been as lending an ear as a caring father to his son Senate President Pro-Tempore Jose Estrada when the latter bitched about work during dinner and drinks. Former President Joseph Estrada may have also given his son Jose Estrada a double shot of Johnnie Walker Blue to aid in impairing the judgment of Senate President Pro-Tempore Jose Estrada. However, there is no real evidence to say that Jose Estrada was intoxicated or under the influence of Johnnie Walker Blue when he nominated Juan Ponce Enrile as Senate President.

In any case, Manny Villar has claimed – “I’m free!” Taken with a grain of salt and MSG, Manny Villar‘s exasperated sigh of relief might send the wrong kind of message to start of his campaign. What are you free from, Manny? Free from responsibility? How do you expect to make a good President for the Philippines when you are relieved when made free from any national responsibility?

Better yet – how do you intend to become a good Philippine President when at this early stage of the ball game, you don’t have the support of the Senate majority? Well, good luck in building your slate for 2010. It looks like you might lack a few slots in the Senator category, but if you really need one more – I’m here for you! 30 million pesos lang, kaya ko na panalunin iyan! Kahit 3 gives.