Pacquiao declares all-out support for Villar

WORLD boxing champion and Time magazine cover Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao declared his all-out support for Nacionalista Party (NP) president and standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar.

Villar swore in Pacquiao, who is running for congressman of Saranggani, along with his People’s Champ Movement local party slate, in the boxing icon’s mansion in General Santos following his 31st birthday celebration at the KCC Events and Convention Center attended by over 2,000 guests including Villar.

“Manny Pacquiao, who has thrown his best punches to hoist our country’s pride and honor, is a deeply valued partner in our campaign to help keep our people from being knocked out by extreme hardships,” the NP standard-bearer who was born to poverty in Tondo said.

Villar likewise emphasized, “Our affinity is anchored on our common backgrounds in poverty where we harnessed the Filipino values of hard work and determination which have seen us through our struggles.”
Pacquiao said, “Talagang nanggaling siya (Villar) sa hirap, at kung tutuusin, galing din ako sa hirap gaya niya. Siya ang karapat-dapat suportahan dahil alam niya ang damdamin ng mga mahihirap. Ito ay pabor sa atin, ang damdamin ng mahihirap, alam niya ‘yan.”
Taking oath as Nacionalistas with Pacquaio were his gubernatorial running mate Juan Domino and vice-gubernatorial bet newly retired provincial administrator Fred Basino, along with two board members and seven mayors of Saranggani. Pacquiao’s lawyer Franklin Gacal, congressional candidate for South Cotabato’s first district, also took oath before the NP standard-bearer. NP senatorial bet Ilocos Norte Rep. Bongbong Marcos attended the event.

At his birthday bash, Pacquiao introduced Villar as “the upcoming president” of the Philippines, and asked the NP standard-bearer to draw the winner of a brand-new car which the world’s no. 1 pound-for-pound boxer raffled off.
The well-loved Pacman is the first fighter in boxing history to win seven world titles in seven different weight divisions, following his victory over Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas on Nov. 14 via technical knockout in the 12th round. It was the most watched boxing event of the year where Pacman gained the WBO World Welterweight title.
As cover of the prestigious Time Magazine, Pacquiao earlier said, “It is a great honor for me to be the face of my people and let everyone know we are a small but mighty country." He joined the ranks of international sports superstars Michael Phelps, Serena and Venus Williams, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods as covers.

He arose from a niche sports star to a mainstream figure worldwide, with Time Magazine citing him anew as among its list of “people who mattered.” Pacquiao is also the first athlete the Philippine Postal Corp. has honored with his own stamp. The crime rate in the country dips during Pacquiao’s bouts, which are heavily viewed and cheered.

Taiwanese exec vows to donate 20 initial wheelchairs

A high-ranking government official from Taiwan, People’s Republic of China has pledged to donate an initial 20 units of wheelchair intended for the persons with disabilities in Cagayan de Oro City.

This was bared recently by City Mayor Constantino “Tinnex” Jaraula after Representative Donald C.T. Lee of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) assured the wheelchair donation when he visited the city last week.

The Taiwanese Ambassador came over to formally turnover to the city officials the five (5) units of firetruck which were donated by the City Government of Tainan in Taiwan, the sister city of Cagayan de Oro.

In the wake of this development, Mayor Jaraula thanked the Taiwanese official for the wheelchair donation, saying that the units will greatly help disabled persons who can’t afford to buy their own wheelchairs.

It can be recalled that Mayor Jaraula invited the Taiwanese Ambassador to visit the city in an effort to strengthen the ties between the two (2) cities on areas along trade and diplomatic relations, cultural exchange and economic cooperation.

During his two-day visit in Cagayan de Oro City, Mayor Jaraula and city officials toured Ambassador Lee and TECO political division executive assistant Vincent Chen to the MacArthur Memorial Marker and the Malasag Eco-Tourism Village, aside from hosting a special dinner and cultural night in honor of the Taiwanese dignitaries.

The firetruck donation is considered as a major gain emanated from the sisterhood agreement entered into by and between the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Tainan, Taiwan sometime in 2005 when then Mayor and now Vice Mayor Vicente Y. Emano led a trade mission to Tainan.

It can be recalled that Tainan City Mayor Hsu Tain-Tsiar and then Ambassador Hsin-Hsing Wu led an 11-man delegation when they made a reciprocal visit to Cagayan de Oro City in April 2008.

After a successful two-day visit which they were feted with a special dinner and warmly received by the city officials, the Tainan city top officials pledged the five-unit firetruck donation as a show of their mutual cooperation on the sisterhood ties between the two cities.

The five (5) firetrucks are now assigned in barangays Balulang, Bulua, Macasandig, Bugo and to the Cagayan de Oro City Fire Station Headquarters. (City Information Office)

Safety nets for OFWs should be in place all year round

Nacionalista President Senator Manny Villar says the government, through the labor and employment authorities should put in place a permanent and proactive contingency measures involving so-called safety nets for returning overseas Filipino workers or OFWs.

“I notice that we only act when there is a problem or crisis already. We should be proactive not reactive. At any given time, there are OFWs that need assistance, thus our efforts should be non-stop. Our support should also be speedy and should not get caught up in red tape,” said Villar.

According to Villar, many parts of the world are experiencing economic slowdown and some form of financial crisis, from the Middle East to the United States. Thus, OFW’s jobs are not secure anywhere in the world.

“We should always be prepared with alternative employment for OFWs. They have been instrumental in propping up our economy year in year out through their remittances. It is but fair to extend support to them when need it,” said Villar.

Villar has been pushing for an efficient reintegration plan for repatriated or returning OFWs. He earlier filed the Overseas Filipino Investment Bill or Senate Bill 635, which seeks to promote the reintegration of OFWs in the Philippine society by helping them save, invest and engage in business ventures that would translate their hard-earned money into economic gains of the country and to create a new generation of overseas Filipino investors or OFIs.

Villar's bill proposes the issuance of short and long-term OFI bonds by government banks; provision of government financial institutions (GFIs) of credit facilities for OFIs; the allocation of 10% of the total equity of governments existing businesses or enterprises for OFIs and their families; among other benefits and incentives such as income tax exemptions.

According to Villar, job creation remains crucial not only in addressing the requirement of returning OFWs but to meet long-term goals of lasting economic growth and development. “Many of our countrymen are still reeling from the devastation of recent typhoons. They haven’t even rebuilt their homes and sources of livelihood. Thus, we need to make create jobs in a much faster pace given the urgency of the situation,” said Villar.

Villar said local governments should conduct as many job fairs and forums as possible to bring together the private sector and job applicants in communities. Livelihood trainings, according to him, provide instant help as well. Villar’s office has been conducting on-the-spot livelihood courses to interested people. Through Sagip-OFW, Villar has also helped hundreds of OFWs in trouble.

“It is also important to support the growth of small businesses and entrepreneurs. I have always maintained that entrepreneurship generates job. For every small business established, at least three people are provided with jobs. We need to free up capital and funds. Tax incentives are also a good come-on for entrepreneurs,” cited Villar.

Subic media condemn 'monsters of Maguindanao massacre'

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT -- Members of the Olongapo City-Subic Bay chapter of the Union of Journalists of the Philippines (UJP-OS) yesterday set lighted candles adrift on Subic Bay as a symbolic petition for justice for media colleagues slain in the infamous Maguindanao massacre last month.

Calling for an end to impunity and demanding immediate justice for the massacre victims, the UJP-OS said that media killings is a “direct assault on our democracy and way of life as peace-loving and law-abiding citizens.”
“As journalists fall prey to the dangers inherent in our profession, the freedoms that the public enjoy also became diminished and undermined,” said UJP-OS chairman Jun Dumaguing.

“The death of our colleagues in the media should now signal our call to arms against the reign of violence and impunity perpetrated by those who wield power without regard for the sanctity of human life,” Dumaguing stressed.
The UJP-OS, in a statement, also expressed its outrage at the “monsters who perpetrated the Maguindanao massacre”, adding that the culprits must be brought to justice.

“We condemn with equal fury the government that has condoned the culture of guns, goons and gold in various areas of the country for political reasons,” it added.
The UJP-OS said the Maguindanao killings “could well be the biggest single massacre of journalists in the world, unparalleled in its brutality and ruthlessness, and unequalled in its brazen disregard for life and liberty.”

But while the local media “cringe in shame” for this episode, “make no mistake that the media will be cowed by wanton brutality and insane violence,” the UJP-OS warned.
“Our colleagues who have fallen in the massacre are now martyrs in the eyes of the Philippine press, and of the world. And this has only made us stronger,” the mediamen added. .

The UJP-OS conducted its candle-lighting rites here at the Subic Boardwalk Park in time for the “International Day of Global Action” that was called by the International Federation of Journalists, the mother organization of the UJP.
Prior to the ceremony, a healing mass conducted at the same venue by Fr. Jerry Orbos also prayed for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre.

Villar Calls for Justice, Indemnity for Human Rights Violation Victims

Nacionalista President Senator Manny Villar reiterated his stand of condemning any form of human rights violation past, present, and future. He joins the cause of human rights advocates and activists nationwide who are tirelessly fighting for their rights and principles.

Villar vows to work with various human rights groups to help them, once and for all, attain what they are clamoring for and what rightfully belong to them—justice and indemnification.

“We have to learn from the past in order to go on with the future. We have to give justice and indemnity to the victims of human rights violation during the Martial Law years up to the present. We will work for recovery of all ill-gotten wealth in accordance with the rule of law,” said Villar on the commemoration of Human Rights Day

Upholding of Filipinos’ human rights is among the key priorities of the Villar-led Nacionalista Party. Yesterday, NP announced that it is severing its ties with the Marcos-led Kilusan Bagong Lipunan (KBL). Rep. Bongbong Marcos Jr., however, remains as an official senatorial candidate of NP.

Villar slams continued attempts in curtailing human rights and freedom in various parts of the country. In particular, he cited as an example Maguindanao, where people continue to live in fear. He considers the declaration of Martial Law in Maguindanao as “unnecessary” and calls for the dismantling of private armies to quell lawlessness.

“We support all efforts for the swift delivery of justice for the murdered victims of Maguindanao massacre. We need a justice that is without fear and favor. Aside from bringing the perpetrators behind bars, the government must dismantle private armies with dispatch and that can be done without declaring Martial Law," he said in an earlier statement.

“In today’s civilized world and in a democratic country such as the Philippines, there should be no room for violation and abuse of human rights. Nobody, particularly those in power, has any right to trample on the innate rights of people as human beings,” said Villar.

NP no longer allied with KBL

The alliance between the Nacionalista Party (NP) and the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) has been set aside due to issues internal to the KBL.

“In as much as the Nacionalista Party-KBL alliance has been questioned, it is now replaced by the adoption of Rep. Bongbong Marcos as a Nacionalista Party official senatorial candidate,” NP spokesman and senatorial bet former Rep. Gilbert Remulla said.

Representative Marcos, who remains a member of the KBL, underscored his full commitment to NP’s crusade against poverty in empowering the majority of Filipinos who are in dire straits.

On Nov. 20, NP and KBL announced an alliance at the Laurel House in Mandaluyong City where Villar declared the inclusion of Marcos in the NP senatorial lineup.

At the age of 23, Marcos began his political career as Ilocos Norte vice-governor in 1980. In 1992, he was elected representative of the province's second district. Then he became Ilocos Norte governor in 1998, serving for three consecutive terms. In 2007, he was elected back to the House of Representatives, where he now serves as its Deputy Minority Leader. During this term, one of the important pieces of legislation he authored was the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law or Republic Act 9522.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts Major in Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics degree from Oxford University; and Masters degree in Business Administration from the Wharton School of Business.

Chiz to palace: disarm armed groups to prevent bloodshed

OPPOSITION Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday called on the military and police to take immediate steps at disarming private armies of all known warlords, specifically in provinces deemed hot spots by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), to reduce the possibility of political vendettas and electoral violence.

“If only one group or clan is disarmed and not their political opponents, you might see another massacre with the other clan being the next victims,” the 40-year-old lawmaker said.

Referring to the recent Maguindanao massacre, Escudero added that “it might just be a case of transferring the ‘warlord’s crown’ from the Ampatuans to the Mangundadatus.”

He said it was time that the law was implemented to the fullest in all parts of Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

“All of this can be done without the declaration of martial law, since it is a peace and order problem. President Arroyo could have just called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines to suppress ‘lawless violence’.”
Among the provinces tagged political hot spots by the authorities based on their respective political histories as well as a current simmering feuds among identified political clans there are Abra, Basilan, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Masbate, Nueva Ecija, Samar and Sulu.

“Unlicensed firearms have proliferated in these places and it has allowed private armies to rule with impunity through intimidation, resulting in the breakdown of law and order even during non-election years,” Escudero noted.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, he said the murder of at least 60 people, including journalists, in Maguindanao last month is an indication of the failure of a firearms control program initiated by the Philippine National Police.

“Both the military and police should take on these private armies as well as criminal gangs to prevent a repetition of the Maguindanao massacre.”

Martial law declaration defective – Chiz

OPPOSITION Sen. Francis Escudero on Saturday said the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao is legally defective and expressed concern that it could be a prelude to dictatorial rule.

“I hope this is not the case of Maguindanao today, the Philippines tomorrow,” he said.

The opposition senator pointed out that Section 18, Article 7 explicitly states that only in case of invasion or rebellion, and when the public safety requires it, can the commander-in-chief exercise the extreme option of declaring martial law.
“These are not obviously present in Maguindanao,” he said. “The current state of emergency would have sufficed to address the clamor for justice for the massacre victims and restore the rule of law in the province.”

Escudero added that he does not remember any time in his life when a military commander was asked to take over a civilian elective position.
He also pointed out that former President Estrada did not have to impose martial law when he launched an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2000.

“The theater of war then included Maguindanao and even parts of Lanao del Sur, del Norte, and North Cotabato. But he did not declare martial law,” said Escudero.

“For the longest time, this government has tolerated and promoted warlordism in Mindanao. Now, it seeks to be a warlord to undo what it has done,” Escudero noted.
“On its face, the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao is legally defective. The President’s decision as well to suspend the writ of habeas corpus even during martial law is highly irregular. I am sure that Congress will act on this matter without delay.”

The senator urges all military and police commanders to make sure that human rights are respected during the 60-day period decreed by the constitution if Congress does not revoke the martial law proclamation. The President is required to submit a report to Congress within 48 hours from the declaration of martial law or the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

“I will oppose any attempt to use this tragic and reprehensible incident to prevent the truth about these arms caches and documents that may related to electoral fraud from coming out through the imposition of martial law. I call on the people to be vigilant and to resist moves by those who seek to rule beyond 2010.”

Martial law declaration in Maguindanao unnecessary, says Villar

SEN. Manny Villar today said the declaration of Martial Law in Maguindanao was unnecessary and only hints of weak leadership and the inability of government to quell lawlessness in this part of the country.

“It is unfortunate that the declaration of Martial law has been resorted to after the government appeared reluctant to go all-out against those responsible for the Maguindanao massacre. The state of emergency should have already been enough to dismantle the private armies operating in the province. We don’t even need to declare martial law in Maguindanao; we only have to enforce existing laws,” Villar said, even as he expressed confidence on the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to restore law and order in the area.

The standard-bearer of the Nacionalista Party also said the government might have overreacted when it imposed Martial Law in the province.
“We support all efforts for the swift delivery of justice for the murdered victims of Maguindanao massacre, we need a justice that is without fear and favor. Aside from bringing the perpetrators behind bars, the government must dismantle private armies with dispatch and that can be done without declaring Martial Law,” he said.

Villar, former Speaker of the House and Senate president, also called for a review of the Martial law declaration during Monday’s resumption of session to check whether or not there was constitutional basis for it.

Section 18 Article VII of the Constitution states that, “The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.”

The law also empowers Congress to revoke the declaration by a vote of majority of all its members.

Survey showing most Filipinos clueless about automation alarming – Chiz

OPPOSITION Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday expressed alarm about the latest Pulse Asia survey showing that 6 of 10 Filipinos are clueless about the automated election system for the 2010 polls.

“If the Comelec can’t even conduct an effective information campaign on the system, what more a full automation of the elections?” asked Escudero, who is the co-chair of the congressional oversight committee on poll automation.

He said the Comelec should now give a full update on the progress of the implementation of full automation of the 2010 polls.

“Except for the occasional press release and sound bite, we have not heard the Comelec provide a complete picture of where we are now insofar as this historic undertaking is concerned,” the 40-year old lawmaker said.

Conducted between Oct. 22 and 30, the Pulse Asia survey shows that only 13 percent of the 1,800 respondents said they know a lot about the automated election system while another 26 percent said they know enough of it.

Most of those who expressed knowledge about the system were from Metro Manila and among higher income classes, the pollster said.

“With barely five months to go before the elections, more than half of our people don’t know how the system will work. If the survey did not come out, the Comelec would not have bothered to tell us about their plan to launch a massive information drive,” Escudero said.

Villar leads gift-giving in Bataan

SEN. Manny Villar was in Bataan today to lead the gift-giving activities in his mother’s hometown in Orani. It has been the tradition of Villar, and his wife Rep. Cynthia Villar, to visit Bataan every December to share gifts to their friends and neighbours in their ancestral home in Rizal St., Bgy. Pacar.

“It always feels good to visit Bataan and be reminded of how my Nanay Curing, the original Ms. Sipag at Tiyaga, lived as a young woman,” Villar, the standard-bearer of the Nacionalista Party, said.

Villar’s mother, Curita Bamba Villar, was a native of Orani. She was daughter of a fisherman and a housemade. To help her family, she would collect empty tin cans and sell these to bagoong dealers. It is also in Bataan where Nanay Curing started selling fish.

Villar said he inherited his mother’s business mindedness, which guided him to succeed in business.

“She taught me the value of sipag at tiyaga, which has become my mantra in both my private and public life,” he added.

The traditional gift-giving is Villar’s way of thanking his fellow Bataoenos for their unfailing support for him as an “Anak ng Bataan.” The people of bataan warmly received Villar, Who erupted in cheers at the sight of him.

Villar gave out toys, toiletries and grocery items in water lily baskets to the neighbours. He also took the opportunity to touch-base with local leaders of Orani, led by Mayor Benjie Serrano and Vice Mayor Tonton Bernales, and listen how he could further help his hometown.

DND Secretary reiterates directive on “zero casualty” during calamities

THE Dept. of National Defense (DND) has reiterated the implementation of National Disaster Coordinating Council (DCC) Directive No. 24, series of 2003, entitled “Zero Casualty” during calamities.

The reiteration order was issued by Secretary Norberto Gonzales during his recent visit to Northern Mindanao, particularly, Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro City, to assess the damage of Typhoon Urduja that brought an enormous volume of rain causing flashfloods and landslides to occur in some parts of the region.

Gonzales who just assumed the post of DND Secretary called on Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Constantino Jaraula and Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar Moreno accompanied by NDCC Administrator Glenn Rabonza, Regional DCC Executive Officer Carmelito A. Lupo of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), region10, 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army Commander, Brig. Gen. Mario F. Chan and P/Chief Supt. Danilo T. Empedrad, Regional Director of the Philippine National Police (PNP), region 10.

Directive No. 24 of the NDCC is aimed at reminding all concerned DCC’s to implement response preparedness measures in their areas of responsibility (AOR) and prepare their constituents for the next typhoon.

These measures include, among others, the prepositioning of response assets, stock piling of food and non-food items, identification of evacuation centers and the implementation of pre-emptive evacuation.

The directive also calls for the PNP nationwide to support the local chief executives (LCE) and the DCC‘s to ensure that response preparedness measures are proactively implemented at all levels. (Rutchie Cabahug-Aguhob, Philippine Information Agency, Region 10)