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Friday, May 25, 2018

‘Sari-sari mentality’ By Jun Ledesma

Letters from Davao: ‘Sari-sari mentality’ By Jun Ledesma

THE SUDDEN INCREASE of oil price has become the fodder of the opposition to launch an attack on the Duterte administration. One leading newspaper came out with a screaming headline ‘TRAIN IS LEADING TO JOBLESSNESS’. Populist politicians in the mold of Neri Colmenares joins street parliamentarians in denouncing the government Tax Reform and Inclusive Law and demanded its suspension.

Colmenares and his cabal pander themselves to the poor mouthing simplistic solution like stopping the TRAIN law. They have not graduated from being rubble rousers. Colmenares for one knew that he only needs less than 300 thousand votes to get back to congress and he has brain enough to muster that number from among those who would believe him. There are still over a million nitwits who would believe his fairy tales.

What if we give in to the folly of Colmenares and his counterpart in the Senate, Bum Aquino? Are the middle income wage earners prepared to pay P50,000.00 in income tax which under the TRAIN law exempt them from paying? They comprise about 83 percent of the total taxpayers of the country whose bonuses will also be tax free. Small businesses like your next door sari sari store with P3-million sales are also vat free. But yes Coke and other soft drinks are now sold at a higher price but it’s good for your health.

What the critics are keeping from the public are the reasons behind the sudden increase of prime commodities and cost of services. Television networks listen to the sound bites of political opposition and look for explanations from jeepney and tricycle drivers why prices increased.

The hoi pollois of course are in limbo that in the opposite corner of the world Venezuela stopped pumping oil an Iran is tightening the spigots of its oil well in retaliation to the US sanctions. Price of oil spiked to $77 dollars per barrel and now is threatening to breach the $80/b. The US would not mind this as they have sufficient supply of fuel coming from their shale oil. It is a cruel and crazy geopolitics the effect of which hits the Philippines in the solar plexus. Dollar interest is on the rise, so hot money that roost in the Philippines for some time finds its path back to the US. Inflation sets in and we suffer. Add to that the scenario conjured by the doomsayers in the opposition and we get a headline TRAIN IS LEADING TO JOBLESSNESS. More than 10-million OFW families on the other hand are celebrating they have more pesos in their hands for every dollar they received.

However as we have experienced in the past, this oil-fueled economic down-trend would not last long. While oil producing countries see bonanza as non-producing nations are scrambling for limited supply, the conditions in Venezuela and Iran will not be forever. In the meantime the OPEC production quota becomes a free for all so expect oil fields in Saudi Arabia and even our neighbor Indonesia to rev their pumps to churn more oil. Meantime, President Duterte recently opened the gate valve in the oil wells in Cebu. If we opt for joint venture with China we can expect substantial volume of gas and oil in our contested territory. Joint venture is a better option than the saber rattling and war which some critics propose.

We had always clamored for adequate infrastructures not only to move products but also lure investors to the Philippines. The challenge is daunting and given the Herculean task to achieve these is Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez. Under his watch, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs underwent purgation and the two revenue generating agencies had been hitting its collection quota. The DOF had crafted the tax reform law aimed at collecting more taxes from those who had been dodging and creatively evading paying tax. The Duterte government has identified at least 41 major infrastructure projects that include railways, air and sea ports, irrigations, roads and bridges and parallel to these the improvement of the Information and Telecommunications facilities.

While Secretary Dominguez does his homework, President Duterte’s own foreign affairs strategy gained tremendous impact on the shift of regional political alliances and trade. Dominguez and his team secured concessional loans with unprecedented terms that would give Philippines enough time to accomplish the projects first and attain commercial viability before we start paying those cheap loans from Japan and China. TRAIN will carry that load. On the flipside, employment opportunities needed for these projects and for new businesses expected to emerge given the infrastructure systems that shall have been in place. This will lead to the recruitment of fresh graduates and experienced experts to run the new and varied enterprises.

Joblessness? Only a simpleton who has a sari-sari store mentality like Colmenares would say that. We do not need these characters whose myopic view of economy is as skimp as their brains. (Jun Ledesma)
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Isabela city civil registrar shot dead


BASILAN – An unidentified gunman shot dead the civil registrar officer of Isabela City in a daring broad daylight attack Thursday in the troubled province of Basilan in southern Philippines.

Jordan Juaini was killed in the village called Eastside just several meters away from a police checkpoint. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the murder and the motive to the killing remains unknown.

Gun attacks and extrajudicial killings are not uncommon in Isabela or Basilan, one of 5 provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region. There was no immediate statement from the local mayor or provincial governor over the spate of killings.

The murder occurred while the whole of southern Philippines is under an extended state of martial rule due to terrorism, rebellion and criminality. (Mindanao Examiner)

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A year after Marawi siege, evacuees hope to rebuild life, homes


MARAWI CITY – An emotional call to prayer by a 49-year old Imam, Haji Muhaimin, brought back painful reminders of last year’s war in the Muslim city of Marawi that devastated not only him, but residents who lost their loved ones and homes from five months of deadly and brutal fighting between ISIS militants and security forces.

Calling the prayer in time for the breaking of fast, the Imam or prayer leader at Sagonsongan resettlement site's mosque, thanked the Almighty for sparing his life. “Marami ang namatay sa amin. Nagpapasalamat ako sa Allah na nabigyan ako ng isa pang buhay. Naging parang panata ko na ang maging bilal,” Muhaimin said.

Reminiscing the past, he said many of his relatives died in crossfires.

And for couple Gulam and Wanisa Dia, the siege robbed them of a lifetime's worth of memories. “Masakit sa amin na nawala lahat ng kinalakihan namin,” Gulam said, but at the same time praising Governor Mujiv Hataman, of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, for giving them a glimmer of hope and to return to where they built their lives.

Manisa said Hataman recently visited the area and promised to help us rebuild our lives. “Sa pagbisita niya dito, nasabi namin ang hangarin namin na makabalik kami sa Marawi at makikipagtulungan daw siya sa amin,” Wanisa said.

A 23-year old villager, Najma Radia, also remains hopeful that they will still find their parents who had been missing since the war broke out. Radia is only one of those many who have never seen their family members who went missing in Marawi.

Najma, Gulam and Wanisa, and Muhaimin are among the thousands of individuals displaced by the siege.

Hataman reiterated the importance of unity in rebuilding what is left of Marawi and start a new life again. “In our efforts towards healing, we must go back to the core of our faith as Muslims and, and as we fast together this Holy Month, we must remember that with every hardship comes relief,” he said. “As we fulfil our duties as Muslims, we must also remember to continue the work that lies ahead of us together, as we worship Allah and dedicate all our efforts for his glory.” (Bureau of Public Information)

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ARMM commemorates siege of Marawi City


COTABATO CITY – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has provided Wednesday various assistance to some 2,190 internally displaced persons or victims of last year’s deadly ISIS siege of Marawi City who remain in 18 evacuation centers there and in the neighboring town of Saguiaran in Lanao del Sur province.
Militants had occupied Marawi on May 23 and sparking house-to-house fighting with security forces that lasted over 5 months and left the city in total ruins.
Rise Marawi
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said they continue to strive hard to rebuild the foundations of local leadership and re-establish safe spaces for the most vulnerable groups in the communities. “Marawi will rise again, and it will rise with the renewed strength and courage of our people,” Gov. Hataman said.
In his commemoration speech, Gov. Hataman said: “It has been a year since Marawi City, known as the lone Islamic City of the Philippines, had been ravaged by fear and terror. Parts of a city that was once a melting pot of different histories, cultures, and beliefs have been reduced to rubble. That terrorism had its grip upon a city in the heart of our region reminds us that there is so much more to be done. In our long struggle for peace, our people have survived numerous conflicts, and this most recent war finds its place among the worst in our history.”
 
“And yet, as we have done in response to every threat our people have faced, we must stand united with our brothers and sisters. The price of peace, as we have learned throughout our history, is constant vigilance. We cannot afford to let this happen again, and this requires collective effort towards securing our homes, our cities, and our region. The safety of our people lies not only in ensuring security against crimes and conflict but in ensuring education for all – an education that is affirmed not only by our schools but by our communities. Peace and security is achieved not only through law enforcement and state offensives, but through constant dialogue that seeks to engage each and every Bangsamoro.
He further said: “As we struggle and work towards rebuilding the city of Marawi, we must also strive to rebuild the foundations of local leadership and re-establish safe spaces for the most vulnerable in our communities. In our efforts towards healing, we must go back to the core of our faith as Muslims and, as we fast together as we honor the Holy Month, we must remember that with every hardship comes relief. As we fulfil our duties as Muslims, we must also remember to continue the work that lies ahead of us together, as we worship Allah and dedicate all our efforts for his glory. Marawi will rise again, and it will rise with the renewed strength and courage of our people.”
ARMM Assistance
Exactly a year after fighting and destruction started, the ARMM government remains busy helping the people of Marawi to rebuild and return to their home. The ARMM government has earmarked P150 million for the city’s rehabilitation program. The regional government already provides a series of medical and psycho-social services, relief distribution, livelihood training and assistance, peace advocacy, dialogue, and consultation, among others.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in ARMM is also offering skills training and the Department of Social Welfare and Development is implementing its sustainable livelihood program, and while the Cooperative Development Authority is supporting the local cooperatives.

The ARMM government also granted assistance to IDPs who are most affected by the siege. They are currently staying in Cotabato City for a month to take part in this year's Ramadan Fair with P45, 000 financial support for each qualified beneficiary.

One of the beneficiaries, Casana Darangina, whose family left Marawi with only P800. After paying for a place to stay in this city, only P300 remained in her pocket. Casana and her husband used what was left of their money to start a small business, which eventually sustained their family's needs until today.

“Sobrang pasalamat na gumanda ang bahay namin dahil sa tulong na binigay sa amin ng regional government. So after dito, ida-dagdag namin ang kita sa paninda namin sa Iligan para tuluy-tuloy na makapag aral ang mga anak namin,” she said. 
Tadman di ripatan
ARMM’s Chief of Staff Norkhalila Mambuay-Campong said departments and line agencies in the region have each “adopted” an evacuation center for the community iftar (meal to break the fast). And to mark the commemoration of the siege, the ARMM held free medical check-up, Oplan Balik Eskwela, and launched a book that compiles Marawi City stories. “This is part of the constant efforts of the regional government to accommodate the needs of the people of Marawi,” Campong said. 
The ARMM’s Office of the Bangsamoro Youth Affairs led the launching of the book entitled ‘Tadman di ripatan.’

Tadman di ripatan features narrative essays, poems and photos reflecting the memories of Marawi residents and Mindanao State University students during and after the Marawi siege. The book’s title is derived from the Maranao phrase meaning ‘Remember, do not forget.’

The book hopes to create a space for those affected by the siege to share their experiences and remind others the importance of its impact. It also seeks to expand the discussions on the aftermath of the siege.

The event, organized by OBYA-ARMM and the Communication and Media Studies Department of Mindanao State University (MSU)-Marawi, was held at the Mamitua Saber Research Hall in the MSU-Marawi Campus.
A photo exhibit entitled “Memories of Marawi Siege” was also opened to the public and attended by ARMM officials, students and members of school-based organizations at MSU, faculty of the Communication Studies Department-MSU, and the book’s writers and contributors. (Bureau of Public Information)


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10,000 people to benefit from Bangsa Sug Iftar Caravan in Zamboanga City


ZAMBOANGA CITY – Some 10,000 people, mostly victims of rebel siege in Zamboanga city in 2013, are expected to benefit from the benevolent Bangsa Sug Iftar Caravan in transitory sites here.

The caravan is an initiative by the Bangsa Sug Consensus of the Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate thru its Special Envoy and spokesman Dr. Sakur Tan, also known as Datu ShahBandar.







 Volunteers of the BangsaSug Iftar for the Youth, the Displaced and the Marginalized during the distribution of Buka-Puasa food packs in transitory sites in Zamboanga City. (Photos courtesy of Nahdin Jubaira.)


The 11-day caravan, dubbed as “The BangsaSug Iftar for the Youth, the Displaced and the Marginalized”, began on May 21 with Serhan Cuevas Daris leading volunteers in the distribution of Buka-Puasa food packs.

Consensus

Muslim leaders and various stakeholders in Mindanao are pushing for the separation of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and include the provinces in Zamboanga Peninsula to form a federated state should Congress approve the proposed federalism government which President Rodrigo Duterte is strongly advocating.

The three neighboring provinces were originally part of Region 9 in Western Mindanao which comprised of Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte, and now the addition of Zamboanga Sibugay.

In a consensus held on May 10, stakeholders from Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Maguindanao trooped to Zamboanga City to read their manifesto as a show of strong support to the proposal for the creation of ‘Federal State of ZamBaSulTa’.

Among the valid justifications for the proposed Federal State of ZamBaSulTa are Economic Viability and to ensure this is to group together Zamboanga Peninsula with Zamboanga City as the center, and Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi; Historical Reality as the shared history of the area and proposed federal state is a strong argument for its unity as one federal state. This history stems from the once dominant force exerted by the Sulu Sultanate over these areas, including Southern Palawan and the islands of Sulu and South China Seas, but the consensus also maintained that this is not to say the Sultanate of Sulu will again lay claim to these areas, instead, the region is now witness to different operative local government units that wield the real power and that cannot be changed.

It also cited other justification for the union such as Geographical Proximity because the provinces and Zamboanga City is contiguous to each other by land, and Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are situated next to each other like a chain of island south of the Zamboanga Peninsula. And Demographic and Cultural Identity because of similarity in culture and peoples – Muslim and Christian relationship, education and interfaith engagements have strengthened this identity in the region.

At least 5 influential Sulu sultans, Ibrahim Bahjin, Muizuddin Jainal Bahjin, Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram, Mohammad Venizar Julkarnain Jainal Abirin and Phugdalun Kiram who are part of the Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate, also attended the event dubbed - “The Bangsa Sug Consensus – ZamBaSulTa. A People of Significance.” - and threw their all-out support for the proposal along with Muslim religious leaders led by the Grand Mufti, His Eminence Abdulbaqi Abubakar.

Zamboanga City Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde, who represented Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar, read a message in front of some 1,500 people. Christian and Muslim political leaders, among them Tan, who is a strong ally of Duterte, – and his son, Totoh Tan, the current governor of Sulu, spoke in the event.

The Tan patriarch, in a position paper he read before the huge crowd, enumerated several concerns and reaction of Muslims to the proposed Bangsamoro Bill and federalism. He said the main objections of the people of Sulu through its Sultanate to the proposed Bangsamoro law center on the provisions on Territory that would change the historical name of the Sulu Sea to “Bangsamoro Waters.” He said Sulu Sea should retain its name.

Tan said the constituents in the provinces under the ARMM (including Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao) should be given the option to vote against inclusion in the new Bangsamoro entity. “The position is anchored on the principle of democratic consultation which is an essential element of plebiscites and a basic concept in Islam, as embodied by the principle of Shura (or consultation) in the Holy Qur’an.”

“The method of plebiscite and the counting of votes should be based on real democratic consultation and should not be hampered by what may be considered as the tyranny of the majority,” the elder Tan said.

He said the present version of the bill provides that the establishment of the Bangsamoro and the determination of the Bangsamoro territory shall take effect upon ratification of the Basic Law by majority votes cast in plebiscite. The present bill, Tan said, takes for granted that all five constituent provinces favor inclusion in the new Bangsamoro entity.

“This should never be presumed because presumption destroys the democratic essence of plebiscites. Precisely for the reason that the Bangsamoro entity is new, and is not just an amended version of the ARMM, the consent and option of the ARMM constituent provinces should be respected,” he said.
Tan said when the constituent provinces voted for inclusion to the ARMM in past plebiscites, they consented to be included in the ARMM, and not in the Bangsamoro which is completely new legal entity. “Ratification therefore should be on the basis of the majority votes of each constituent province and not of the entire geographical area of the present ARMM,” he said.

He said the territorial lines of federalization should not be dictated by religious dogma for this would be limiting, counter-productive and contrary to the spirit of nationhood. “The federal territorial divide is not a divide of peoples and religions; it is a realistic and practical divide of administration and governance, so that the people get the best and most viable governance that befits their needs and circumstances,” Tan said, adding, a copy of the consensus would be submitted to the House of Representatives and Senate, and the Palace. (Mindanao Examiner)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Poundit Tips for Buying an iPad


FOR MANY of us Pinoys, gadgets are a big investment. That’s why we research diligently and consult our friends and other reliable sources like tech blogs before making a decision. We all want to get the most bang for our buck after all. And when it comes to tablets, there’s arguably nothing more “sulit” than the Apple iPad, especially when it comes to performance and the variety of useful apps.

However, even if you’ve already decided that you want to buy an iPad, it may still not be as easy to choose. Do you go with the 32GB model or go full throttle with 128GB of storage? Is it better to get the smallest one or is the iPad Pro the better choice?

Here’s a quick list of tips from Poundit, the Philippines’ premier online shopping platform for gadgets and electronics, for buying an iPad.

Evaluate Your Usage

The first thing you have to determine is the kind of user you are. If you are going to be using your iPad for browsing social media, basic communications like emailing and messaging through apps, and maybe a little gaming on the side, then you’re better off choosing the iPad Mini. It has a decent enough processor and actually has the best pixel density among the other iPad models considering its size, so you can still watch videos and play games with crystal clarity.

If you’re trying to be a bit more productive on the go, you might want to choose the base model iPad with a 9.7-inch display. The extra real estate is better for typing and editing documents and spreadsheets, without putting too much strain on your eyes and your fingers. If you’re more comfortable working with an external keyboard and mouse, it’s also easier to find such accessories for the base model iPad.

Finally, if you’re a power user and are looking for a more compact laptop alternative (or a secondary screen for your Mac), the iPad Pro is the way to go. If you like to multi-task, the bigger screen and the much better processing power of the iPad Pro are heaven-sent. Simply put, the iPad Pro has the best of everything, including the camera: a 12-megapixel shooter with optical image stabilization and a quad-LED True Tone flash. The iPad Pro’s camera can also shoot 4K video.

Evaluate Your Storage Needs

Are you going to store a lot of photos, videos, and other large files in your iPad? It’s best get the 128GB model. Otherwise, the 32GB or 64GB models will be more than enough, especially since there are a lot of free cloud storage services you can use nowadays. All new users also get free 5GB of storage from iCloud -- it’s not very much but every single gig helps, especially if you’re just a moderate user who don’t have much use for HD photos and files, anyway.

Evaluate Your Budget

It’s easier to lock down your budget requirements when you already know what kind of iPad you need based on the two factors mentioned above. The iPad Mini is obviously the cheapest of the lot and the iPad Pro the most expensive. The price also goes up with the internal storage capacity -- for example, the 9.7-inch iPad WiFi costs P18,615 for the 32GB model and P24,245 for the 128GB one. If you’re willing to shell out more for the extra gigs of space, then by all means go for it!

One last tip is to always buy from a trusted seller. With Poundit, you’re guaranteed to receive authorized, authentic, and brand new iPads with full manufacturers warranty. This is especially important for brands like Apple, which have stricter rules when it comes to replacements and repairs.
Are you ready to finally buy an iPad? Visit poundit.com for a wide range of Apple products and other gadgets and accessories. (Mindanao Examiner)

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Grenade explodes in Basilan house


BASILAN – A grenade attack late Monday has damaged a house in the restive province of Basilan in southern Philippines, but police said no one was killed or injured in the blast.

Police said the grenade exploded in the house of the 60-year widow Nasra Dansalan in the village of Aguada in Isabela City. Dansalan was watching television with her relatives when the explosion occurred, according to Chief Inspector Helen Galvez, a regional police spokeswoman.

“The occupant of the house together with her relatives was watching TV when they heard a loud explosion at their balcony. After verification, it turn out the ceiling of the house was damaged from the explosion,” she said.

Policemen, who responded to the blast, have recovered the safety lever of an MK2 fragmentation grenade. The motive of the attack is still unknown and no individual or group claimed responsibility for the explosion. (Mindanao Examiner)

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