Archive for January, 2009

Bad BPO’s put Outsource industry and the country at risk

In the past week or so there has seen a increase in the number of reports on the back office or BPO side of the outsource sector shifting towards the country. There is good news here – and –  what goes always with that, a need for caution and precaution to ensure sustained growth.

The news of increased demand in the BPO sector, has seen a surge in investments in both the local and globally listed firms on stock markets here and overseas.

There is much a lot of interest in back office providers in the BPO sector in the country. It is a good sign overall the move towards more back office functions such as secretarial accounting, and, legal service shows a increased maturity in the growth for a broader and diversified market. (more…)

January 25, 2009 at 1:06 pm Leave a comment

Obama reveses Mexico City Policy- US to fund abortion clinics in third world

While on the one hand, many have hailed new executive orders issued by the Obama administration as ‘the right move towards respect for human rights’ and ‘ending a policy that endorsed some forms of torture’ – another executive order has been condemned by the US Catholic Bishops Council.

The executive order reverses not just former President Bush – Bu congress as well by refusing to provide funds for it during the Clinton years reversing the Mexico City  and clearing the way for US government funds and aid to be used to fund abortion clinics in developing countries.

A move that the Catholic church in America and here in the Philippines as well as the Vatican says is support for what Church believes is the murder of innocents.

In a Press Statement released by the National right to life council of America the US Bishops feel the move is wrong and goes against the very human rights principals that Obama was elected for – if after all – one ends a human life that cannot fight for itself or speak up for ones self then what was respect for human rights as platform used for but to fund the continued genocide versus the unborn – a sin in view of nearly all forms of organized religion.

Here is the statement in part from Cardinal Rigali’s press release:

President Obama issued the executive order restoring U.S. funding to organizations that perform and promote abortion in developing nations. Cardinal Rigali’s statement follows.

“It is very disappointing that President Obama has reversed the Mexico City Policy, which prevents U.S. funding of organizations that perform and promote abortion as a family planning method in developing nations. An Administration that wants to reduce abortions should not divert U.S. funds to groups that promote abortions.

“Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to President-elect Obama last week urging him to retain this policy. As Cardinal George said in his letter:

“‘The Mexico City Policy, first established in 1984, has wrongly been attacked as a restriction on foreign aid for family planning. In fact, it has not reduced such aid at all, but has ensured that family planning funds are not diverted to organizations dedicated to performing and promoting abortions instead of reducing them. Once the clear line between family planning and abortion is erased, the idea of using family planning to reduce abortions becomes meaningless, and abortion tends to replace contraception as the means for reducing family size. A shift toward promoting abortion in developing nations would also increase distrust of the United States in these nations, whose values and culture often reject abortion, at a time when we need their trust and respect.'”
SOURCE U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

There are fears that now US funds will be released here in Asia as well to fund programs towards a global legalization of abortion. Some pro-Abortion groups have lobbied to tie in US Aid to legalization of abortion in the developing world.

A move that greatly concerns members of the CBCP in the country who have called on Philippine-Americans of all faiths to signify their voices against the new executive order as well as for a campaign by them to elected members of the house and senate to be emailed and called by Catholics all over to world to ensure that the “pro-death and pro-abortion” stance of the extreme left of American politics is not pushing to impose abortion supportive or legalization policies to the rest of the world.

A California congress-member meanwhile has spoken out defending the President, Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the
House Foreign Affairs Committee, says President Obama’s executive
order repealing the Mexico City Policy, ” Is an important step in
protecting women’s rights and in improving health care worldwide.”

Ignoring faith based and right to life groups concerns saying the Presidents actions were needed in his point of view. “The President’s action rights a wrong-headed policy that for eight years has hindered people in developing countries from having access to the contraceptives necessary to prevent unintended pregnancies, abortions, and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS,” Berman said.

His press release goes on to say, ” Known popularly as the Global Gag Rule, the Mexico City Policy prohibited federal funding for non-governmental organizations that discuss, counsel on, or provide abortions in developing countries. ”
Berman’s statement – he is on the foreign relations commitee of the US congress – observed that “this policy – which would violate the
constitutional right to freedom of speech if placed on U.S.-based
non-governmental organizations – applied even if abortion-related
services were funded only with non-U.S. funds, and even if abortion was
legal in the country in which services were provided.”

“Repeal of these restrictions was long overdue,” Berman noted, “and the
action President Obama has taken is a clear signal that he intends to
change how America works with the international community in solving
global problems.”

But Berman seems to forget the gag order was in place and untouched except during President Clintons term in office starting in 1993.

Berman whose district has high number of Catholic and Hispanic voters may feel the heat as a US catholic groups and the right to life movement continues its battle to keep federal funding out the hands of those who want to see aboritions performed as they are in the USA.

January 24, 2009 at 10:43 pm 5 comments

WW2 UXB’s found inside US Embassy compound in Manila

A Investigation is underway in the Philippines after a shocking discovery of over fifty bombs and artillery shells each capable of destroying a small building, If accidentally detonated, together the cache of explosives would have been capable of widespread mayhem in central Manila’s tourist district.

The location is supposed to be one of the most secure compounds in Asia. The bombs UXB’s (Unexploded Bombs) from WW2 – were buried in a parking lot inside the US embassy compound decades ago, were uncovered friday, during construction.

This after millions of dollars in security upgrades in the last decade – many – prior to 9-11,2001 and all in name of securing a compound that is considered to one of the best guarded sites in Asia.

A statement issued by a state department spokeswoman from the embassy reads as follows:

“*During construction excavation work on Friday on the Chancery compound, some unexploded ordnance, dating back to the WWII era, was discovered.

*To esure the safety of all of Embassy staff, workers on the site, visitors, and local pedestrians, the Embassy evacuated the staff and workers from the area adjacent to the dig and called on the EOD team to investigate, remove, and dispose of the ordnance.

*As of Saturday at 11:15 AM, the EOD team had completed its work and left the compound. Normal operations at the chancery are resuming.

*We greatly appreciate the support and cooperation of the PNP, the EOD team, and the other responders whose swift action and highly professional work ensured the safe removal and disposal of the ordnance.”

The US embassy in Manila has had state of the art security upgrades and over a hundred million dollars spent rebuilding facilities in the past decade. Also intensive training  and assistance given to Philippine authorities to prevent any explosive device from ever penetrating the secure 10 acres or so of US soil in one of America’s most historic Embassy compounds in Asia. The find, brings serious questions into what else could be buried there and in other areas close by. Much of the land is reclaimed from Manila Bay in part from rubble of the battle of Manila six decades ago – over the years bombs, artillery shells, tanks, guns, and even human remains have periodically been uncovered in Manila’s Ermita district.

Yet, here concern has been raised as even after hundreds of Millions of dollars in US taxpayer funds spent on security including upgrades for high tech electronic sweepers – both at the embassy and around its grounds yet none failed to detect high explosives buried litterally right under the US government’s own noses – explosives which include RDX and C2 all buried inside the compound.

The FBI, US State Department Security, Department of Homeland Security and US Marines are sources say sweeping the sprawling grounds near the chancery building and parking lot area.

The US Embassy is under tight security, local law prevents even tourists from posing for photographs outside its grounds and Philippine Police units assigned to guard the perimiter are under strict orders to enforce rules on no photographs allowed of the area.

But, after a backhoe operator digging the foundation for a new drainage cannal leading from a new annex being built inside the seaside compound – made the discovery. Local Police have been privately joking that the Americans didn’t bother to check ‘under the rug’ while seeking strict rules outside embassy walls.

In total  the over 50 bombs buried inside the secure embassy compound recovered were by State Department Security and US Marines and turned over to Philippine Police for disposal. Eltie Police specail forces units from the Specail Action Force of the PNP and bomb sniffing dogs as well as top secret security and survailance gear is deployed around the embassy.

Ground X-ray machines are also planed to be used to check on other possible buried objects. Expect rumors of finding Yamashita’s treasure to surface in the coming weeks! In fairness after WW2 in many parts of Manila and all over the world hundreds of bombs, grenades and landmines as well as other devices are still uncovered daily.

Unexploded bombs from WW2 are not rare in Manila, periodically over Sixty years, much was buried hastily and left behind in the cleanup of Manila after WW2 when much of the city was devestated by the Battle of Manila in which over 100,000 people were killed.

The embassy find, according to reports by the Manila Police district dates back to the Liberation – of the Philippines and most likely was burried by US forces. Who were cleaning out the embassy compound which fomerly was the seat of executive government under the US Commonwealth of the Philippine Islands.

The Manila US Embassy was the US High Comisionners residence, when the Philippine was part of the USA as a commonwealth (similar to Puerto Rico for those readers unfamiliar with that period) the bombs were most likely defused before they were buried but still are considered dangerous..

Manila Police took no chances noting that initial inspection, showed traces of RDX and explosive powder was still present inside the bombs. Described initally on local radio was large aircrat type bombs – Police are now downplaying this saying further examination shows they were mearly Mortar  and artillery shells.

Police say the bombs will be detonated at safe location outside of the capitol area.

Local media reports says “The 50 World War II vintage bombs were recovered from the United States Embassy premises in Manila Friday afternoon,” according to local radio reports say, that “The embassy called the Manila Police District Explosives and Ordnance Division at 2 p.m. (2 a.m.EST) after construction workers discovered the bombs.” Manila’s radio station DzBB reported.

The construction crew, “Was working on a new complex inside the compound meant to expand the current embassy working areas – a worker was using a backhoe at the time, uncovered the bombs at a construction site in a part of the embassy, Police report that visitors were evacuated by embassy security personnel while the US marine guards helped Philippine police EOD teams retrieve the bombs.” the reports went on to say in the local dialect on radio.

A new more secure embassy building inside the seaside compound is being built in the ten acre site on Roxas Blvd. where Manila Bay’s famed sunset has been the backdrop for over a hundred and ten years of American presence – from a governor generals to a high commisioner and now as one of the USA’s most historic and largest staffed diplomatic presence in Asia.

The US Embassy in the Philippines is one of the state departments largest facilities. It serves as regional clearing house for other smaller missions in the South East Asia reegion.

Also its chancery building is the historic site of the Manila War crimes trials as well as a scene of firece fighting during WW II. During Japanese occupation it served as the residence for Japanese Military officails and as headquarters of its gestapo like military police unit the Kempetai.

For my American readers, The Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam were purchased by USA from Spain in 1899 after the Spanish American War. the US granted the Philippines Commonwealth Status in 1930’s and recognized full independance in 1946.

The Philippines remains home to the largest expatriate American community in Asia numbering hundreds of thousands many of mixed American and Philippine background.

January 24, 2009 at 1:11 pm Leave a comment

Suspected ASG members nab Red Cross team outside Sulu Jail

Gunmen abducted three Red Cross workers from Italy, Switzerland and the Philippines on Jolo island. The Philippine National Red Cross chairman, Senator Richard Gordon, said the three were in a car on their way to Jolo airport.

The group of red cross workers were visiting a jail they were intercepted by a group on motorcycles, Gordon identified the three red cross members, as a group from, “the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba.”

The ICRC team had been at the Sulu provincial jail, Gordon said they had been workiing on a water and sanitation project to improve the conditions of detainees. The ICRC team traveling with Philippine National Red Cross Sulu Chapter personel when they were abducted not far from the gate of the jail. “They had been carrying out a water and sanitation project to improve the condition of detainees,” Gordon said.

Senator Gordon said that local red cross workers’ a driver and two others were released and reported the incident, “I Pam appealing to the Abu Sayyaf to free those people, because they are neutral in any conflict,” Gordon said. “They do not realize this but these people help them if they get wounded and get them out of the conflict areas,” he said. Prison visits have been done previously on a regular basis by ICRC in various detention facilities in Sulu provincial jail.

January 16, 2009 at 2:10 am Leave a comment

Masbate: IED Attack on Governors convoy 2 hurt

While this is not the first time a IED has been used in violent assasination attempts in the Philippines – but the roadside bomb attack is mostly confined to Mindanao and may indicate a new level of threat as other groups adopt tactics that ussaully have been the handwork of insurgents in other parts of the country.The was the highly visable attack on congress a while back – does first come to mind as one of the most recent attempts outside of areas of conflict in Mindanao where bombs have been used. But this attack does raise concerns of safety and securty as well as a new threat form in use.

Masbate does have a history of politcal violence – clan warfare there has stunted development as well as a active insurgent presence that has detered investors.i But reports about the attack on the governor this relatively remote Philippine province in which Governor Elisa Kho and a security aide hurt in the attack where  two Improvised explosive devices went off on a road as their convoy passed, does have Police looking at many possible threat sources.

Governor Elisa Kho was in Gahit village, Cataingan town Police Provincial Director Senior Superintendant Reuben Theodore Sindac, in a report to Manila said “Two bombs went off on the left side of the road as Governor Kho’s cars drove through the area,”

“The governor was slightly wounded on her eyebrow’ due to glass particles from the shattered windshield,” Sen. Supt. Sindac said. both Kho and her escourt were given first aid and have been isolated in a secure location to keep them ‘ safe from harm’ at a beach resort. Police EOD and Investigation officersare at the scene of the blast investigators hope to “track down the perpetrators, as investigators look into a motive for the attack on Gov. Kho.” Sen. Supt.Kho said in a radio interview in Manila.

Police note further that “possible motives are political rivals, as well as that communist rebels are involved,” Communist guerrillas of the New Peoples Army have been fighting in Masbate for over three decades they Police say are group with the technical knowhow to carry out a IED attack. NPA rebels have used IED’s in other parts of the central Philippines as well as landmines in recent attacks on Government forces.

Earlier a rebel command had issued directives for increased attacks in the central Philippines after plans were announced of a joint US-Philippine military excercise in the nearby Bicol region.

The attack on the governor however security experts point out is more likely to have been politcal in nature since Masbate politics has a history of violent past attacks on public figures and political leaders. Elections are scheduled in the Philippine in May of 2010.
Political violence is often a tactic used in provinces where political private armed security forces often are better equipted than those of the local police, military, or rebel groups.

January 11, 2009 at 6:37 pm Leave a comment

It started out as a young woman’s personal Blog; of Bambee Dela Paz, it has became a chain email that has reached tens of millions of people all over the world. Such is now the power and reach of citizen journalism.

From The BBC, Fox News, SkyNews in London to most of the worlds major news papers – all quoting a gripping account – albeit – her view of the alleged beating incident now a world famous account that has in a eyes of some become a battle versus David and Goliaths.

I believe that this story will now go to another level. After the filing a libel suit versus the blog writer – which – as expected is shortly also to be major internaltional news story all over agian.

[] … Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman Sr. on Friday said his son, Nasser Jr., has already filed a libel case against the daughter of Delfin de la Paz over her blog entry about the golf course brawl in Antipolo City last December 26…. []

The law suit; is the  legal right of person who seeks a redress of a grievence – in real political terms in small towns and cities a move that a local political figure must do to prove to his or her constituents in far flung areas that they are fighting back versus the alleged article or thought that hurt thier name or image. It is not the first Blog ever sued in the Philippines – but – this case is certainly the in my view going to be one of closest watched.

It is the Mayors legal right to do so – while it may not be the best action in terms of public opinion management tactic- in local terms for him and others in public office it is course of action that in their eyes their way to right a wrong

See the Mayor like most public figures believes Libel is way to balance out what was done to him or her. Most libel cases in the Philippines are dismissed for a lack of a key element of ‘malice’, Lawyers will tell you truth is actually not a legal defence – but malice a intent to malign or destroy the ‘the good name’ of a public figure.

A elected official normally does not stand a good chance to in libel as since they often are criticized over actions or policy while in public office. Hence, most judges are fair in viewing critics. But that is in media terms for newspapers and broadcasters who aside from what they learned in college in journalism 101 are taught the first day on the job the rights of people in stories they write.

Fairness, is often the rule in media followed being biased or slanted in ones views often results in legal issues that can create conditions for libel cases. Libel is also something every journalist worth his or her salt faces at least once in the career they do  — it is legal forum to ensure that media personalities follow the law and if you wrote or reported fairly in most cases you hae nothing to fear.

What makes this different in this case it is a blog – personal diary one shares with the world. Also there are jurisdictional issues since the blog is published on a website owned by Google who owns Blogger the venue issue exists. Yes the individual can be sued but also the publication or means used to disseminate the alleged libellous act must also fall under the venue of the court. Internet Libel cases are not new – published stories can face lawsuits all over the globe technically. But it is difficult and long process as shown by other past cases many of which are on appeal.

Take for example if a blogger on public domain like well – blogger registered his or her blog from a URL internet address outside of the country where they encoded the article where then does the issue of venue fall on the case. The servers of blogger are all over the globe. The article is not really printed. Also the use of a blog creates an entirely new forum that indeed must be addressed by law. Since the powerful tool can also be used to abuse people with the cloak of anonymity. Hence while this is not the case here in point – nor am I discussing a mater before the courts but rather the general principal of this – law suits verus new media are a interesting development and one that is complicated.

I am sure in the next 24 to 48 hours those who speak out on behalf of free speech will take up the case of the University of Cincinnati golf team member, Bambee, who is described as a ‘promising’ young golfer in the USA and her  ‘first person account’ will  now facing tough battle for writing the blog item about her version of the encounter between her family from her point of view and that of a member of the Philippine Presidents cabinet and his son a Mayor of a small town in Mindanao.

[] The world has gone crazy. So, I just had the worst day of my life.
At around 1:30 PM today, at Valley Golf and Country Club, Antipolo City, …[] Vicissitude

But in light of this I did not see Bambee’s blog searching the web – it was sent to me in an email – cut and paste from her blog the words were moved onto emails and zoomed all over the world about the chilling albeit still alleged encounter on a golf course that is now in the court.

“This is a golf course. I have been a golfer all my life, and I have never seen anything like this. NOTHING. This is hard to comprehend. And it happened to my own father and my own brother too. Right in front of my eyes….” were  among words she used to describe the events from her perspective. This became the subject of major news reports that then went on all major websites in the country in hours, picked up by the international news agencies the story has now put two groups of golfer next whose next round is in the courts.

We will monitor this story and the developments from time to time – as indeed whose-ever view you chose to believe it is a story that has interesting implications for all sides.

January 10, 2009 at 12:21 am Leave a comment

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