PGMA: AUS-Aid funded Bukidnon road project example of international cooperation for development

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo says “The importance of international engagement in the country’s development.” Arroyo said this while attending the startup of a new road project that is expected to benefit millions of people in central and northern Mindanao. ”This is one of the fruits of international engagement,” the President said when she led the groundbreaking of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) -funded road project here that stand to benefit some four million Filipinos.

“This road project will benefit not only the people of Impasugong or Bukidnon but also the neighboring areas,” she explained. The President, assisted by Bukidnon Governor Ma. Jose Zubiri Jr., Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Rep. Candido Pancrudo, lowered the time capsule containing the project’s plan. Governor Zubiri informed the President that the AusAID project will cover some 160 kilometers of all-weather roads.

“This is something new for Bukidnon and this was made possible through the efforts of the President and our good relations with the Australian government,” he said. Australian Charge d’Affaires Steve Scott said the Philippines is an “important partner of Australia,” adding that the funds were made available to the Philippines because of “good governance and good execution of AusAID projects.” The road project is under the Southern Philippines Provincial Road Maintenance Program (SPPRMP) that covers 10 provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao and is funded with some 100 million Australian dollars or around P3.5 billion by the Australian government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

The program has a Provincial Road Maintenance Facility (PRMF) that provides P50 million each year to every beneficiary province for construction and repair of provincial roads over a five-year period. It has been noted that provincial roads are the key links of rural communities to the national highway and eventually to the centers of trade and commerce, political administration, and health and educational services, among others.

By improving transport, the welfare of rural folks will significantly improve.

Apart from improving the road network, the program also seeks to strengthen each province’s institutional capacity and governance system related to the provision and maintenance of provincial roads. Depending on the performance of each beneficiary province in carrying out the program, these could be eligible for another round of assistance. The beneficiary provinces of the SPPRMP are Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental and Surigao del Norte, in Mindanao; and Bohol and Guimaras in the Visayas.

Three more beneficiary provinces are still to be identified.

Within five years, the SPPRMP is principally expected to have rehabilitated at least 1,000 kilometers of provincial roads in the 10 provinces; improved access for over four million people to schools and health centers; and reduced transport costs.

The PRMF is said to be Australia’s single largest grant project in the Philippines to date; the bilateral agreement covering this was signed last March. Australia is the country’s second largest bilateral grant aid donor after Japan. Its aid program has grown significantly in the last three years. For the fiscal year 2008-2009, its assistance portfolio is estimated at Aus 109 million dollars.

July 22, 2009 at 2:14 pm Leave a comment

PGMA & Admin fully behind 2010 polls Automation

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo strongly supports the full automation of next year’s elections.

In a press briefing in Bukidnon the press secretary Cerge Reymonde that, “Malacanang is consistent with its desire to attain poll automation and that President Arroyo has earlier reiterated that there will be elections next year.” He added that the Arroyo administration, “Trusts the Supreme Court in handling controversial cases.”
Remonde was referring to a case motin filed before the SC by the “Concerned Citizens Movement” which is seeking the Supreme Court to among other thins “Stop the Commission on Elections from releasing payments for the automation project.”

Remonde stressed that, “We believe that Supreme Court knows what is best, and they know how to handle the particular issues,” The Press secretary also pointed out that. “The direction of President Arroyo’s administration is clear and that it supports the full automation of the 2010 polls. ”

Meanwhile, “The CCM has asked the High Court to nullify the Comelec deal with Smartmatic and Total Information Management” the Palace press release went on to say.

It had earlier questioned the legality of the contract and requested the court to issue a temporary restraining order on the signing of the deal on July 10. Although the court did not stop the signing, it set a hearing on July 29.

July 22, 2009 at 2:12 pm Leave a comment

Jakarta bombing investigation

Jakarta Sucide Bomber: “Nurhasbi” alleged alumni of Abu Bakar Bashirs Ngruki school

The link between JI spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir and the latest attack on the 17th in Jakarta of jemaah islamiyah has been established according to local media reports in Jakarta.
One of the bodies recovered from the scene of the blast has been identified as a former student of his Madrassa in central Indonesia.

NEWS REPORTS:

Jakarta Bomb Probe Turns to Malaysia as Terrorist Leader Sought

BloombergEd JohnsonManirajan Ramasamy‎‎
Jemaah Islamiyah is also blamed for the 2003 bombing at the same Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people, a 2004 blast outside the Australian
Associates grilled Straits Times

Kiwi Jakarta bombing victim remembered

Stuff.co.nzMichael Fox
The family of the New Zealander killed in last Friday’s twin bombings in Indonesia has released a statement recalling a

Issues of the day: ‘Jakarta hotel blasts’

Jakarta Post‎Post-explosion: Antiterrorist officers check the site of a powerful bomb explosion at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Jakarta. Bomb explosions at two of Jakarta’s

Market ignores terrorist bombs

Jakarta Post‎3 hours ago‎
The Indonesian financial market has apparently ignored the terrorist bombing attacks that rocked the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in Jakarta on

Indonesia Tracks Bombers’ Identities

Voice of America‎By VOA News Indonesian investigators are working to identify the two suicide bombers and victims killed in last week’s Jakarta hotel bombings.

Indonesian tv identifies another bomber

XinhuaMu Xuequan
JAKARTA, July 21 (Xinhua) — An Indonesian television on Tuesday evening unveiled identity of another suicide bomber at Ritz Carlton Hotel as Ibrahim,

Tape of mass murderer checking in at Marriott

The AustralianStephen Fitzpatrick
THIS is the moment death cast its shadow over the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, two days ahead of last Friday’s bomb blast. The man thought to have been the

New CCTV of Jakarta bomb attacks

BBC News‎‎
CCTV footage showing the inside of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Jakarta as two bombs explode has been aired on Indonesian television. The blasts hit two luxury

Two Of Dead In Jakarta Hotel Blasts Identified As Dutch Couple

BernamaMohd Nasir‎‎
JAKARTA, July 21 (Bernama) — Indonesian police Tuesday confirmed that two of the nine people killed in the bomb blasts at two hotels

Video footage released of Jakarta bombers

Times OnlineJenny Booth‎‎
Police in Indonesia released CCTV footage today of two suicide bombers checking into the luxury Jakarta hotels that they blew up last Friday.

Marriott bomber suspected to be Noordin devotee

Brisbane TimesTom Allard‎Getting in … security camera footage shows a guest arriving at the Marriott hotel with a bag that bypasses security. Photo: Metro TV NUR HASBI,

July 22, 2009 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

Palawan NEDA says Puerto Princesa Airport upgrade in the works…

NEDA: Puerto Princesa Airport gets $71 million – 4.4 Billion peso loan

Puerto Princesa International Airport will be upgraded to a high capacity global tourism standard facility by 2013 under a new loan announcement by National Development and Economic Authority Today news reports quoting NEDA press release report, “$71.61 million, or 78 percent, of the project cost is proposed to be sourced from Korean Exim Bank,

April 20, 2009 at 4:46 pm Leave a comment

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

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