Corruption—A Social & Moral Cancer (2)



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Corruption–A Social & Moral Cancer (1)

IBON ON JPEPA RATIFICATION: GOV’T HAS CLEARLY NOT LEARNED ITS LESSON

It is not surprising but still disappointing that the government has clearly not learned its lesson. The current global turmoil and its impact on the Philippines underscore the vulnerability of our economy. The country is extremely vulnerable because of nearly three decades of reckless “free market” policies of globalization.

Progressive groups warned in 1994 about the damage that a World Trade Organization (WTO) deal would cause. Yet the government insisted on ratifying the deal and even implemented policies opening up the economy beyond what the WTO agreement required. The so-called safety nets were ineffectual and local industry and agriculture has been devastated causing unprecedented joblessness.

The economy’s fundamentals are very weak and will be weakened further by JPEPA and other such deals to come. The country’s historic jobs crisis will worsen, more Filipinos will be forced to try and find work abroad, millions more will suffer poverty and deprivation.

We condemn the surrender of the country’s sovereignty and patrimony by the government through JPEPA. The country’s negotiators have absurdly given up nationalist and protectionist policy measures that Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand for instance held on to in their respective trade deals with Japan.

The only acceptable deal for the Philippines is one based on the principles of solidarity, mutual benefit and development for those who have long suffered poverty and backwardness. The JPEPA however is a treasonous deal that must be completely rejected.



Gov’t to sell remaining Petron stake

MANILA, Philippines — The government has decided to sell its 40-percent stake in Petron Corp., the country’s biggest oil refiner, and is looking to get about P25 billion ($530 million), the finance secretary said.

London-based Ashmore Group, which owns slightly over 50 percent of the company, has right of first refusal, Margarito Teves told reporters late Tuesday.

“The Privatization Council approved the sale on Tuesday,” he said. “Hopefully, we can book the proceeds by December. Hopefully we can get P25 billion.”

SEA Refinery Holdings BV, owned by Ashmore Investment Management Limited, agreed to buy a 40-percent stake in Petron from Saudi Aramco for $550 million earlier this year.

In June, it offered to buy the remaining 60-percent stake, or 5.63 billion shares, in Petron at P6.531 per share.

Under Philippine corporate laws, an entity buying a 30-percent stake in any company must make a tender offer for the rest of the company.

At the end of the tender offer in July, SEA Refinery received tenders for a total of 990.98 million common shares, or a total of P6.5 billion, from minority shareholders, the company said in a statement to the stock exchange.

At the time, the government did not participate in the tender, saying it was hoping for a better price. Ashmore’s holding in Petron is now at 50.57 percent.

($1 = P47.26)MANILA, Philippines — The government has decided to sell its 40-percent stake in Petron Corp., the country’s biggest oil refiner, and is looking to get about P25 billion ($530 million), the finance secretary said.

London-based Ashmore Group, which owns slightly over 50 percent of the company, has right of first refusal, Margarito Teves told reporters late Tuesday.

“The Privatization Council approved the sale on Tuesday,” he said. “Hopefully, we can book the proceeds by December. Hopefully we can get P25 billion.”

SEA Refinery Holdings BV, owned by Ashmore Investment Management Limited, agreed to buy a 40-percent stake in Petron from Saudi Aramco for $550 million earlier this year.

In June, it offered to buy the remaining 60-percent stake, or 5.63 billion shares, in Petron at P6.531 per share.

Under Philippine corporate laws, an entity buying a 30-percent stake in any company must make a tender offer for the rest of the company.

At the end of the tender offer in July, SEA Refinery received tenders for a total of 990.98 million common shares, or a total of P6.5 billion, from minority shareholders, the company said in a statement to the stock exchange.

At the time, the government did not participate in the tender, saying it was hoping for a better price. Ashmore’s holding in Petron is now at 50.57 percent.

($1 = P47.26)

Catholic laities back Panlilio

philippinesBy Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Visayas Bureau
First Posted 18:47:00 10/01/2008

 

ILOILO CITY, Philippines—The national organization of the Catholic laity has thrown its support behind beleaguered Pampanga Governor Eddie “Ed” Panlilio, who is facing a recall campaign to oust him from office.

In a statement issued Wednesday at the culmination of a three-day national convention of the Council of the Laity of the Philippines held here, the national organization of Catholic lay people declared their support for Panlilio’s campaign to “promote integrity and honesty in government.”

The statement was issued as Catholic Church leaders called on the laity to be at the forefront of the fight against graft and corruption and for good governance barely two years before the next national elections in 2010.

“We are backing (Panlilio) in his fight for good governance and his battle against the proposed recall, which will bring to naught his noble and difficult work against graft and corruption,” the group said in a statement.

The resolution was approved by around 500 delegates representing the dioceses of the country.

Panlilio, who is on leave from his duties as priest, was one of the speakers during the opening of the convention last Monday. He was no longer around when the resolution was passed on Wednesday, according to convention secretariat member Joseph Jesalva.

He won the gubernatorial race in a landmark victory against powerful political figures, defeating former provincial board member Lilia Pineda and then incumbent Governor Mark Lapid in the 2007 elections. He rode on a platform calling for reforms, good governance and an end to traditional politics of money, patronage, influence-peddling.

But he is facing a recall bid initiated by a non-government organization led by a former election campaigner of Pineda.

Citing loss of confidence in the governor’s leadership, the group aims to gather the signature of at least 100,000 registered voters in the province. The number is more than 10 percent of the 977,000 registered voters of Pampanga, a requirement in a recall election.

Church leaders have called on lay people to be more active in fighting graft and corruption.

Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), who spoke during the convention, said graft and corruption has been among the most pressing problems of the country.

“The convention is very practical because this is a good preparation for the forthcoming national elections,” Lagdameo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.

“The Church encourages the vigorous participation of the laity in governance not only in the Church but also of society. The laity must be at the forefront in solving our social problems,” the prelate said.

Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes, chair of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on the Laity, said lay people could help minimize if not eradicate corruption.

“Bishops and priests can only exhort them to do it and to provide spiritual formation, but they should be at the forefront,” Reyes said in a separate interview.

He said that based on reports and accounts of lay people, graft and corruption in government has been worsening.

“The challenge to all government officials in all levels of governance is to live the faith,” said Reyes.

In his homily during a Mass, Reyes acknowledged that corruption in government has been institutionalized in the country.

“It must be hard to be good, to be a Christian politician in the Philippines,” he said.

Reyes said he could see corruption even in the Church.

“There is corruption in the Church because we are human. But not as much as in government,” he said, drawing laughter and applause from the audience.

When interviewed later, Reyes said the practice of giving the “SOP,” or kickbacks to government officials as “standard operating procedure” in state-funded projects, purchases or transactions, should be stopped.

Reyes lamented the accepting attitude of most people to corruption.

“There must be a change in mindset. It is not acceptable. It is wrong,” said Reyes.

CONSTITUTIONAL’ JPEPA A HOLLOW VICTORY

The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) will still be against the best interests of Filipinos and the economy even if Japan accepts the Senate’s proposed “side deal” or any similar legal maneuver to make the JPEPA formally constitutional.

The changes to JPEPA proposed by the Senate still do not transform the deal into a genuine economic partnership agreement that recognizes the vast inequalities between the two countries and takes genuine measures to develop the Philippines.

The “side deal” merely aims to align the JPEPA with the nationalist economic provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. It does notsignify a real shift in the country’s economic strategies and merely asserts what is already formally contained in the charter. Unfortunately these potentially important provisions have in practice not been able to hinder the unprecedented implementation of “free market” policies of so-called “globalization” in the country and, indeed, have been observed more in the breach.

The “side deal” falls far short of transforming JPEPA into a truly developmental deal for the Philippines. Such a deal would begin from recognizing the vast inequality between advanced Japan and backward Philippines. It would also acknowledge that Japan has become highly developed in part from decades of taking advantage of cheap Filipino laborand natural resources as well as from access to the domestic market.

On these premises, a genuine partnership deal would have Japan in solidarity with the Philippines and giving real support for its development. Among others this means the Philippines having open access to Japan while still retaining its trade and investment protections, the Philippines maintaining its control over and capacity to regulate the domestic economy, and Japan providing untied financial aid and technical assistance that the Philippines can freely use according to its development priorities.

Introducing reservations/exceptions for future/existing investment measures and introducing the possibility of changing tariff schedule commitments, as the Senate proposed for “conditional concurrence” previously, are only part of this.

The JPEPA signed by the government on the contrary is unequal, defeatist and destructive and will remain so even with the “side deal”. The only acceptable deal for the Philippines is one based on the principles of
solidarity, mutual benefit and development.

FALLING PARTICIPATION RATES HIGHLIGHT NEED FOR MORE SOCIAL SERVICES SPENDING


One more child out of every 10 school-age children was not able to go to school, highlighting the need for higher government spending in social services, said research group IBON Foundation.

Figures from the Department of Education (DepEd) show that participation rate at the elementary level, or the percentage of children aged 7-12 who are enrolled in public and private elementary schools, has fallen from 96.95% in SY 1999-2000 to 83.22% in SY 2006-2007. At the secondary level, only 58.59% of children aged 13-16 were enrolled in high schools in SY 2006-2007 from 65.43% in SY 1999-2000.

These figures highlight the need for government to allocate more resources for social were ditional penditure) espectively7.s, 17 out of e of rising cost of livingh is way below int quality stdsservices spending. The 2008 national budget allocated just over P2,000 per Filipino for education, 14% less in real terms than what was allocated in 1998. For health services, another important social service, only P253 was allocated per Filipino, which was 28% less in real terms than what was allocated in 1997.

Such services should be prioritized over the paltry subsidies the Arroyo administration has been using recently to win popular support from the poor. It recently allocated some P2 billion to provide four million poor families a one-time P500 electricity subsidy, and promised other subsidies such as loans for poor students. However, its education spending is only 12% of public expenditure and 2.1% of the gross domestic product. These are way below the international quality standards of 22% (for public expenditure) and 6% (for GDP).