BY ROGER M. BALANZA
This was reportedly the advice of President Aquino to Vice President Jejomar Binay during a private meeting where the embattled Binay asked the President to stop a Senate investigation into alleged corruption Binay committed as Makati City Mayor.
Aquino, earlier accused by the Binay camp as having instigated his allies in the Senate to probe Binay, confirmed the meeting in Malacanang on Tuesday night.
Aquino said during the meeting Binay asked him if he (Aquino) could talk to his allies in the Senate about the ongoing blue ribbon committee investigation.
Aquino said he told Binay to himself talk to the Senators.
The President said he assured Binay that he will be afforded his right to due process in facing the corruption accusations.
“What I told him was this: We will not countenance anybody manufacturing evidence against you. We will try to keep all the processes on a very professional level,” Aquino said.
TO CASE TO PEOPLE
Vice President Jejomar Binay is unfazed by the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey that wanted him to face the Senate to answer allegations of corruption he allegedly committed as mayor of Makati City.
The SWS survey on Sept. 26-29 had 79 percent of 1,200 Filipinos polled agreeing that Binay should appear in the Senate inquiry.
Binay’s camp said the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee probe is a “farce” and the Vice President will not dance with the sentiment of the people sounded off in the SWS survey.
The Vice President would rather go directly to the people to air his side, said Binay’s camp following release of the SWS survey.
Binay would not attend the “farcical proceedings” of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee because its inquiry was “not in aid of legislation but in furtherance of political persecution, said Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s spokesman
“It would be futile for the Vice President to dignify such farcical proceedings and subject himself and his family to ridicule,” Remulla said in a press statement.
Former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado is at the core of providing evidence to the Senate probe on the alleged corruption by Binay, his wife former Mayor Elenita Binay and his son, incumbent Mayor Junjun Binay.
Mercado, now under the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice, has told the Senate probers that the Binays fleeced 13% commission from Makati City projects. He also said the Binay family owned the 350-hectare Binay Hacienda in Batangas.
Remulla said Binay had already been prejudged by the Senate subcommittee and pointed to the way its members—Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV—had been unfairly conducting the inquiry.
DON’T BE AFRAID
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Vice President Jejomar Binay should not be afraid of attending a Senate probe into his wealth and his transactions as a mayor of Makati City years ago.
Binay, according to Belmonte, will have defenders if he enters the lions’ den to face his inquisitors,
He would be surrounded by his allies, including his daughter Senator Nancy Binay, he said.
“For me, the Vice President has many adherents in the Senate, there are many who are for him there,” said Belmonte. He however did not name Binay’s supporters in the Senate, other than Senator Binay.
“My advice is for him to go ahead and appear in the Senate. That’s the best way to respond because a great number of people are not happy about his decision not to appear,” said Belmonte.
About 79 percent of Filipinos think Vice President Jejomar C. Binay should face the Senate and answer allegations of corruption thrown against him and his family, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results revealed.
The nationwide survey conducted last September 26-29 among 1,200 respondents found that eight in 10 Filipinos or 79 percent agree that the embattled Vice President should answer corruption allegations before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearing.
The composite special task force implementing the Davao City Anti-speeding Law has arrested nearly 12,000 violators this year.
The Anti-Speeding Law has set 30kph, 40kph and 60kph in specified city roads under Executive Order No. 29 issued by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
The EO created the special task force composed of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO), Traffic Management Group (TMC), Land Transportation Office (LTO), and the Land Transportation Franchising Board (LTFRB).
Duterte issued EO 39 as part of campaign against abusive drivers.
LTO-Davao Operations Division chief Eleanor S. Calderon said intensified operations against speedsters are ongoing.
City Hall has bought a number of speed guns used by traffic enforcers to monitor violations.
Penalties for violation of the Anti-Speeding Law could go as high as P5,000 and revocation of driver’s license of repeat offenders.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a total ban against passenger pedicabs and motorcycle taxis (habal-habal) plying national highways after the fiery death of two people in a vehicular accident in Sirawan, Toril.
Pedicabs and habal-habal are already banned by law on highways but are popular forms of transport in Toril. In delivering passengers to hinterland villages, the vehicles must also traverse the national highway.
Dozens of people have already died in accidents in the highways even as authorities keep a tight watch on violators of the ban.
In the latest accident captured by Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) of the Public Safety Command Center (PSCC) installed in the area, a pedicab rammed head-on into an approaching bus and burned in flames killing its driver and passenger.
Duterte said he wants hard-headed pedicab and habal-habal drivers shot to death by authorities if they violate the ban and violently challenge their authority to impose the law.
Duterte said traffic officers may shoot down violators who resist and put lives of the enforcers at risk.
He said he would provide legal help to the traffic enforcers if needed.
Duterte said he is imposing the harsh policy because the drivers place people’s lives at risk by illegally operating in the national highways.
BY SILVER C. BALANZA.
Establishment owners who refuse to turn over to police authorities video footages that captured crime in their area through Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras could be accused of suppression of evidence.
At worse, they could also be charged as accessory to the crime, said Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
A Davao City ordinance mandates that business with capital of at least P3 million should install CCTVs in their establishments.
Duterte said businesses which refuse to cooperate with police in the solution of the crime by turning over the video footage could face harsh sanctions from City Hall.
We will revoke your business permit, he said, addressing business owners who refuse to cooperate with police.
Duterte gave the warning after reports of some business owners refusing to turn over video footage to police investigating a crime in their establishment.
I am talking as a lawyer not a mayor. There is a law requiring business establishments to have CCTV camera to help prevent or minimize crime, Duterte said.
Because of your refusal to turn over the footage, you become an accessory to the crime. And because you are an accessory to the crime, you are also a criminal, so I will have to close down your business, Duterte said.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the 2nd BIMP-Eaga & IMT-GT Trade Fair and Business Leaders’ Conference was expected to “effectively promote investments and generate trade” in Mindanao, and has given full support by declaring a Celebration Week for the event to be held from October 22 to October 26 at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City.
“The City of Davao welcomes this event as an opportunity, not only for Davaoeños, but also for residents and entrepreneurs in other cities and municipalities in Mindanao, to effectively promote investments and generate trade in their respective jurisdiction,” Duterte said in Proclamation No. 3, signed on April 8, 2014.
Historically, Davao City played crucial role in the birth and growth of the BIMP/Eaga.
BIMP/Eaga, an ambitious move initiated by former President Fidel Ramos to place the East Asean sub-regional economic group composed of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines in the map of investors, was launched in Davao City in the early 90s.
During its infancy, Mayor Duterte and Davao City played host to numerous ministerial meetings and planning sessions of the BIMP/Eaga, which has Mindanao as its Philippine hub.
The East Asean sub-regional group has lain low after Ramos left the presidency, but has seen a revival through the efforts of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) under the administration of President Benigno Aquino.
Aquino and Ramos have been invited to attend the BIMP/Eaga event in Davao City. ROGER M. BALANZA
600 business leaders in Davao conference
About 600 business leaders from the East Asean region are expected to attend the 2nd Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) and Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand-Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Business Leaders Conference on October 23 at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City.
To beef up the number would be participants and delegates from China, Japan and Taiwan, said Undersecretary Janet Lopoz, who is also Executive Director of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), one of the organizers of the event.
The Business Leaders’ Conference, along with the Trade Fair and the Business to Business Matching Sessions, are the highlights the event from October 22 to October 26.
With “Realizing the Opportunities on Asean Integration” as its theme, the Business Leaders’ Conference will tackle a broad range of economic topics to include “Asean Economic Community 2015: Transforming Asean Economies,” “Connectivity: Expanding Growth Beyond Borders,” “Harnessing the full Potentials of Agribusiness in the Sub-regions,” and “The Future of Tourism in BIMP-Eaga and IMT-GT.”
The conference will promote an understanding and appreciation among stakeholders of the role and importance of sub-regional groupings in ensuring that the goals of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) are achieved in 2015, Romeo Montenegro, Minda director for investment promotions and public affairs, said in a report in SunStar Davao.
2,000 security force for BIMP/Eaga conference
About 2,000 policemen and soldiers would be deployed during the BIMP-EAGA & IMT-GT Trade Fair and Business Leaders’ Conference in Davao City on October 22-26, according to Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Director Vicente D. Danao Jr.
The security personnel would come from DCPO, Davao Police Regional Office, Task Force Davao, Davao City Public Safety Command Center and Traffic Management Center, said Danao.
President Aquino to address gab
President Benigno Aquino has been invited to address the 2nd Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia – East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) and Indonesia Malaysia Thailand-Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Trade Fair in Davao City.
Other personalities invited to attend the event are former President Fidel V. Ramos, Halal Standard Institute of Thailand director Dr. Pakorn Priyakorn, and Deputy Secretary General of Asean for the Asean Economic Community Dr. Lim Hong Hin.
$64M sales in Trade Fair
About P2.7 billion ($64 million) in sales are expected in the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia – East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) and Indonesia Malaysia Thailand-Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Trade Fair in Davao City.
Two hundred and fifty booths would be set up at the SMX Convention Center for the Trade Fair, one of the main events of the 2nd BIMP-Eaga and IMT-GT Business Leaders’ Conference and Trade Fair from October 22 to October 26, according to Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) executive director Janet M. Lopoz.
With 40 assigned booths, Mindanao products would be at the forefront of the trade fair. said Lopoz.
Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei Darussalam have 50 booths each and Thailand with 10, according to Lopoz who adds that about 200,000 people were expected to visit the booths during the three-day Trade Fair.
The bulk of the sales are expected from booked transactions during the Business-to-business Meetings and Buyer-Seller Matching Sessions, Lopoz said.
FOR STRONGER PARTNERSHIPS
2nd BIMP-EAGA & IMT-GT Trade Fair and Business Leaders’ Conference
Moving along the direction of ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, two dynamic sub-regional groupings have once again converged to strengthen cross-border trade and promote links for tourism, trade and investments.
The Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and the Indonesia Malaysia Thailand – Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) bring together another feat in sub-regional cooperation by staging the BIMP-EAGA & IMT-GT Trade Fair and Business Leaders’ Conference 2014.
First slated in Melaka, Malaysia in 2012, this year’s sub-regional convergence seeks to broaden the platform for showcase of unique products and services while seizing the possibilities of exploring and tapping new market links within and outside ASEAN.
Hosted by the Philippines, the BIMP-EAGA and IMT-GT Trade Fair and Conference 2014 provides the strategic venue for exhibitors, business leaders, as well as key public and private sector representatives from the two sub-regions and its development partners to forge greater partnerships, and realize the opportunities of ASEAN integration.
BY JOANNA C. BALANZA
A South Korean company has started its study on a Light Rail Transit (LRT), pushing nearer to reality hopes that Davao City, Mindanao’s premier city, would be the second metropolis to have a modern transport system after the National Capital Region (NCR).
But Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the Davao LRT would be smaller and not at the level of sophistication of the Manila LRT.
It would be a simple commuter train, said Duterte in the October 19 edition of his Gikan sa Masa para sa Masa television program on ABS/CBN.
Duterte said the City Hall planning office would assess the study after its completion in six months.
He said the LRT would be at no cost to the local government with the facility to be constructed under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme. The scheme would have the contractor build the LRT at its own expense, operate the facility for a number of years and then turn it over to the local government after it earns returns and recoup its investments.
On June 16 this year, the South Korean company, Korea Engineering and Construction (KEC), started the wheels rolling for the multi-million dollar project by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with City Hall on the conduct of the feasibility study to start in September and completed early next year.
During the signing ceremony, Duterte said the city’s traffic woes would further worsen with the city’s economic boom and fast-rising population.
Based on data, KEC overseas manager Dae Kwon Jung showed that Davao City has an annual population growth of 2.7%, while the vehicle volume growth rate in the Davao Region is pegged at 7.1%.
If no cure is found for its traffic woes, the outdated transport system and road network of Davao City, as the center of commerce and trade of the Davao Region, was expected to absorb the brunt of the rise in vehicle population of the region, Jung said.
Racing to the future with a grim scenario, Jung said that without a sound transport system, year 2040 would be a nightmare for city residents when the population would have reached 40 million.
In his Power Point presentation, Jung placed premium on a 13.6km LRT system from Roxas Avenue starting at the Ateneo de Davao University, passing Abreeza Mall in Bajada, SM Mall in Lanang then Mamay Road and the Davao International Airport in Buhangin.
From 5,000 to 20,000 thousand passengers could be transported every hour by the monorail-type LRT running at 70kms per hour, said Jung.
JAPAN OFFERS FUND FOR SUBWAY SYSTEM
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) — the Japanese government’s lending arm — has offered to fund under a long-term soft loan agreement construction of a public transit tunnel.
JICA was to send to Davao City a technical team from JICA will to discuss the offer, Duterte told local media early this year.
The proposal from JICA on the public transport tunnel came as the local government searches for options to resolve its worsening traffic woes.
The JICA offer came ahead of a feasibility study by the South Korean company Korea Engineering and Construction (KEC) on a proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT), which started this month to last up to March next year.
Despite the JICA offer, Duterte then said he is not losing hope of seeing his dream project: a light railway transit system, even if of a smaller scale.
As Southern Mindanao’s center of trade and commerce and regional business capital, Davao City’s roads and highways have become pitiful scenes of traffic jams due to the large volume of vehicular traffic.
The city’s main mode of public transport is the Public Utility Jeepney (PUJ), which sits at the most only 20 people.
Duterte said the JICA transit tunnel would run parallel to the South Diversion Road ( C. P. Garcia Highway), which snakes through part of the city’s southern district that has become a fast developing zone for industries and housing.
He said rapid urbanization has overtaken the six-lane highway needing another transport system.
“It’s a great plan and I hope it would materialize. It would help Davao tremendously,” Duterte said of the JICA offer.
Big Ticket projects
Ambitious dream projects aiming to further enhance the economic atmosphere are among 22 projects in the ‘wish list’ of Davao City’s Private-Public Partnership (PPP) program.
Among the big ticket projects are the underground railway or subway system, coastal road from Lanang to Toril and an Export Processing Zone (EPZ).
Davao City Investment Promotions Center (DCIPC) head Ivan Cortes said the projects were identified during a ‘brainstorming’ session attended by stakeholders.
The wish list covered a wide range of projects involving among others, the economy, infrastructure and transportation, public buildings, health, sanitation and housing.
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
A controversial real estate developer linked to the scandalous bribe-laden PEA-Amari deal, a scuttled reclamation project on Manila Bay during the administration of President Fidel Ramos tagged by critics as the “grandmother of all scams,” has offered to undertake a multi-billion peso reclamation project in Davao City’s coastal area from Sta. Ana wharf to the mouth of the Davao River.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the project proposed by Reghis Romero II would cost about P33 billion in reclaiming 746 hectares.
Romero heads R-II Builders, Inc., one of the country’s biggest land developers. Under the project, the Davao City government gets a percentage of raw lands reclaimed or revenue derived from sale of the reclaimed lands.
In the Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa television program on ABS/CBN-Davao on Sunday, October 19, Duterte said he already had a preliminary discussion with Romero on the project planned to start construction in 2016.
Duterte, aware of Romero’s involvement in the Manila reclamation scandal, said he had warned Romero that the Davao City project should not follow in the footstep of the PEA-Amari deal.
Duterte said the project needs Malacanang approval in conversion of the coastal area from its classification as human habitat into commercial area.
A presidential proclamation issued by then President Joseph Estrada declared a large part of the city’s coastal area as human settlement area. The reclamation project also has to consider the existing Slum Improvement and Rehabilitation (SIR) project, the World Bank-funded resettlement project consisting of thousands of urban poor housing in Quezon Boulevard from the Sta. Ana area halfway to the mouth of the Davao River.
In the television show, Duterte said he had warned Romero not to soil the deal with corruption as his company seeks approval from local government bodies.
I will throw the deal to the garbage bin if I smell bribery, he said.
Romero’s R-II Builders was the developer of the controversial Philippine Estate Administration (PEA)-Amari deal during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos. The PEA-Amari deal, that would reclaim 158 hectares of Manila Bay, was called by critics as the “grandmother of all scams” for alleged bribery involving government officials including Ramos.
The PEA-Amari deal, a scandal that rocked the Ramos presidency, sparked a Senate investigation and a case that reached the Supreme Court, which declared the deal as null and void.
The proposed Davao City reclamation project of Romero first surfaced in 2012, when Duterte was the sitting vice mayor, as a big ticket project under the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project.
While the Davao City Council took initial steps on the Romero application, reports surfaced that some city councilors initiated a bribery deal with the developer for easy approval of the application.
In wake of the report, an irate Duterte then overhauled the city council committees and dislodged a chairman of a committee who was reported to have led the under-the-table deal bridged through a now sitting senator.
The multi-billion peso R-II Builders project would convert Davao City’s coastal area into a veritable goldmine of commercial establishments standing on premium lands recovered from sea.
With spaces for buildings becoming scarce in the downtown business districts, the reclamation project could provide more elbow rooms for new business.
Duterte earlier said he has tasked Davao City Third District Rep. Isidro Ungab to discuss reclamation projects (there were other offers from foreign investors aside from R-II Builders) with President Benigno Aquino, in relation to conversion of the areas from human settlement to commercial zone.
Ungab has the ears of the President, said Duterte. Ungab is the chair of the powerful House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations.
A Malaysian investor also had offered to develop Isla Verde into a commercial area, earlier said Davao City Investment and Promotion Center (DCIPC) officer Ivan Cortez.
Cortez said the proposal would be studied along with two other similar projects that zeroed in on the 9-hectare portion of the coastal village of Isla Verde, where a massive fire gutted down more than 2,000 houses early this year.
In an earlier edition of his weekly television program Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa, Duterte also revealed that a Malaysian investor wanted to develop Isla Verde into a commercial venture.
Duterte raising to Malacanang the issue of the reclamation project and conversion of Isla Verde into a commercial area, is a reversal of an earlier position.
Duterte earlier said he is taking the side of the homeless against an offer by the Malaysian investor to develop the coastal village razed to the ground by the massive fire in April.
Duterte has ordered victims of the fire that displaced more than 2,000 families to build their new homes on the spot where their houses stood before the fire that swept through three coastal barangays in Quezon Boulevard.
On the Romero proposal, Duterte said the developer could either relocate the coastal residents or let them stay and reclaim and develop only portions of the coast areas that are not occupied.