CONGRESS, DAVAO CITY COUNCIL PROBE EYED IN OVERPRICING IN P17 BILLION SASA WHARF MODERNIZATION PROJECT

BY ROGER M. BALANZA

The ‘stink’ in the alleged overpricing in the modernization project of the Sasa Wharf in Davao City will most likely be investigated by Congress, according to Peter lavina, a former member of the Davao City Council.

The P17 billion project funded by the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and to be implemented by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has drawn flak for its alleged gargantuan cost.

From the original study of P4 billion the new price tag for the Sasa Wharf expansion is now P17 billion, according to Lavina.

The overprice will most likely reach Congress for investigation, said Lavina who suspects the project is a ‘midnight deal.‘

lavinaThe Davao City Council may also conduct its own investigation after a ranking member of the local legislative body said the ‘overpriced’ project will have a negative impact on the local economy.

City councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, chairman of the City Council comittee on ways and means and finance,  warned that the  high contract price could undermine the local economy as it would translate to higher transport and cargo costs.

Media reports on the alleged anomaly apparently is behind an emergency meeting called by DOTC and PPA with aim to clear up the controversy.

In a Facebook post (May5), Lavina wrote: “I just received word that officials from the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) are arriving today in Davao and will hold a meeting at Park Inn Hotel at SM Lanang.” “I hope they issue a statement to clarify the overprice of the Sasa Port PPP project. There is now a growing opposition to the project that it will likely reach Congress for investigation,” Lavina said. Lavina said the high cost of the project has raised suspicion in the ports building industry, including the International Container Services Inc. (ICTSI). Known worldwide, the Filipino company builds container ports and runs operation of port facilities in several countries.  

“No less than ICTSI of Enrique Razon, the country’s largest port operator, questioned the huge project cost,” Lavina wrote.

Suspicion of alleged irregularities in the project cost has also caught the eye of Dayanghirang who put to task the DOTC and PPA for the high cost.

“The DoTC had undercut, ignored, and totally undermined the study done by its own agency, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), to favor a much costlier proposal by a foreign consultancy group under the World Bank,” Dayanghirang said in a report inBusinessWorld.

 Suspicion on alleged  overpricing can be seen in the comparative cost of other ports development projects in the Davao Guif, according to Lavina, the first to write about the   apparent anomaly in the Sasa port project.

“(The Sasa Port Modernization Project) is more than four times the project cost based on the PPA study and three times the cost of the redevelopment of the Hijo Port in Tagum, Davao del Norte, which is pegged at P5.7 billion,” Lavina said also in the BusinessWorld report, further saying that the Davao International Container Terminal (DICT) of San Vicente Terminal and Brokerage Services, Inc. in Panabo City, also in Davao del Norte province, only cost P2.65 billion.

PHOTO: Sasa Wharf by CARMENCITA CARILLO

DUTERTE’S SURVEY RATING ZOOMING UP

zooming ratingDAVAO CITY Mayor Rody Duterte’s support rating has climbed steadily from practically nothing last year to 16.2% in the latest polling by the Magdalo partylist group (April 14-16)

Duterte sprung a surprise with a 12% rating in the first survey this year by Pulse Asia (March 1-7). This high rating of support for someone new on the national stage was validated by the SWS survey (March 20-23) at 15%.

From this survey, the trend is very clear that the more Mayor Duterte goes around the country for his Listening Tour, the more people are attracted to the chief executive of the one of the most progressive and peaceful cities in the country and his advocacy for Federalism.

In the 4-month period, it appears Duterte is gaining at least 4% support on average. That is equivalent to 2 million a month if there are 50 million voters in the country.

What is even more amazing is the grassroots nature of his spectacular rise backed by countless volunteers here and abroad with practically nothing but the hope that the country could be better ran by someone with a vision for a federal-parliamentary shift of government, and someone with passion to carry this dream come true.

NEWS SOURCE:RODY DUTERTE 2016

PDP-Laban to regroup for Duterte presidency

pimentel 2

BY ROGER M. BALANZA

Even as it was rattled by a leadership crisis in 2010, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) is still a force to reckon with and will regroup to rally behind the presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 election.

          PDP-laban has already said it would support Duterte, a former party stalwart, if he throws his hat in the presidential race and would pick him as its standard bearer.

However, in a recent report, PDP-Laban founder former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said financial constraint forces the party into not fielding a presidential candidate for the 2016 elections.

But the party could still marshal its powerhouse into a victorious Duterte run by coalescing with a party that would have Duterte as its standard bearer.

Pimentel said his party will regroup to support a presidential candidate.

We will coalesce with the party that would carry Duterte, said a PDP-Laban stalwart in Davao City, who begged he remain anonymous.

But definitely that party would not be the opposition party, said the PDP-Laban party man, referring to the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) headed by former President now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. PDP-Laban is headed by Senator Koko Pimentel, son of the former Senator.

Estrada has said UNA is fielding Vice President Jejomar Binay as standard bearer in 2016.

Binay is ‘persona non grata’ to the PDP-Laban for supporting an ‘arch enemy’ of the Pimentels in the senatorial race in 2013.

Duterte, who has barged into the TOP 3 in surveys for presidential preference by Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia, is looming as a potential candidate of the administration Liberal Party (LP) of President Benigno Aquino.

Duterte, now an LP party man but has not shed political ties with the PDP-Laban, landed at No. 3 in the surveys behind LP-aligned Senator Grace Poe and front-runner Binay.

Poe has said she was not ready for the presidency and could leave the LP with two choices for standard bearer: Duterte and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas who has been faring badly in the surveys.

It would be a sort of a “sweet revenge” for PDP-Laban if Duterte, running for president under the LP in a coalition with PDP-Laban, beats Binay in the 2016 election.

The vice president has a debt to pay to the Pimentels.

Binay won the vice presidency in 2010 under UNA, a coalition between the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of Estrada and the Pimentel party PDP-Laban then chaired by Binay.

In that election, Bukidnon’s Migz Zubiri (LP)  landed at the at the last winning slot; followed by then first-time senatorial bet Koko Pimentel, the elder Pimentel’s son, who filed an electoral protest against Zubiri, who was dislodged midway through his term.

It was a nerve-wracking two-year battle for the Pimentels before Koko was installed as Senator.

In the 2013 mid-term election, Binay sparked a leadership crisis in PDP-Laban when he picked  Zubiri to join the UNA senatorial line-up.

The Binay ‘treachery’ stirred a crisis in PDP-Laban leading to his ouster from the party. He would be replaced as party head by Senator Koko Pimentel who coalesced the PDP-Laban with the LP. Zubiri lost in the election.

“The party doesn’t have the funds necessary to establish viable chapters all over the nation,” Duterte said in a report. “What the party has regional groupings but I’m not too sure if it is existent in very province or city.”

The PDP-Laban stalwart in Davao City said its chapters nationwide may be hibernating but will come out alive if the party decides to support Duterte.

The party man is well entrenched in the PDP-Laban leadership: His group filled the void when Binay was ousted from the party along with then party secretary general Wendel Avisado of Davao City. Avisado, former city administrator of Duterte, resigned as Davao City councilor few months after Binay won the vice presidency in 2010. Currently Avisado is the deputy chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) which is chaired by Binay and corporate secretary of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) whose president is Binay. Avisado has been visible of late, representing Binay in investigations by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee over alleged anomalies in the Pag-ibig, a housing agency under HUDCC, and BSP.

DUTERTE SAYS U.S., WORLD POWERS MUST GET INVOLVED IN CHINA ISSUE

federalism 10By Manny Piñol

Davao City Mayor and Presidential prospect Rody Duterte visits the island of Mindoro Wednesday, April 22, where he is expected to renew his call for the involvement of world powers, especially the United States of America, in resolving the Philippines dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.

“China should not be allowed to use its military and economic might to bully smaller countries like the Philippines,” Duterte declared in previous statements on the issue.

He said that now is the right time for the United States to show to its partners in South East Asia, especially the Philippines with which it has a Mutual Defense Treaty, that it could provide them protection against a military giant like China.

Duterte’s trip to the island located a few hundred kilometres away from the Spratlys islets and atolls which are now occupied by China, is part of his nation-wide “Listening Tour” during which he advocates for a shift from the Presidential to a Parliamentary form of government.

His visit to Mindoro, however, comes at a time when the Philippines’ dispute with China is at its tipping point.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines released Monday new photos of the reclamation projects being done by Beijing in islets and atolls which are already well within the country’s 200-kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The reclamation, according to the AFP, has destroyed coral reefs with total damages placed at $100-M.

Vessels belonging to the Chinese Coast Guard were also involved in a water-hosing incident with small Filipino fishing boats which sailed in the country’s traditional fishing waters.

China is apparently turning coral reefs in the area into airstrips and small ports capable of handling military aircraft and ship, a move which has created tension among other claimant countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and even Malaysia.

Duterte had earlier pointed out that China’s imaginary 9-dash line which stretches from its territorial waters deep into the West Philippine and the international waters violates the territorial rights of smaller countries.

“This is no longer just about the small atolls owned by the Philippines which are now being occupied by China. This is already an international issue because China’s 9-dash territorial sea claim in the vast South China Sea will restrict the movement of international shipping and trade and commerce,” Duterte earlier said.

He said the 9-dash Line that China has drawn in the South China Sea will effectively close the international sea lanes to other countries.

In a similar visit to Palawan, two months ago, Duterte said that the problem with China should be approached using three strategies.

The first would be to continue the Philippines appeal for arbitration with the United Nations, he said.

The Philippines could also engage China in bilateral negotiations, Duterte suggested.

However, if everything else fails to resolve the issue, the next President of the Philippines should take a more assertive action to defend the country’s sovereignty, Duterte stressed.

“If I were to become President of the Philippines, I will ask the United States to build a military base in Western part of Palawan so they will be able to confront China in the West Philippine Sea,” he said during his visit to Palawan.

He said other regional powers like Australia should also be asked to help stabilise the region in the face of the aggressive actions of China.

In Mindoro tomorrow, Duterte is expected to issue another statement on the West Philippine Sea row which could well be interpreted as part of the foreign policy of the Duterte Presidency.

Duterte to go abroad to bring Federalism to OFWs

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is planning an overseas trip next month that is expected to fuel more speculation about his attempt to seek the presidency in 2016.

This will mark the first time that he will meet Filipinos abroad since the popular Davao City mayor started a nationwide swing to discuss what ails the country and to push for his advocacy to shift to a federal-parliamentary system of government.

The specific country, however, has not been officially announced, although members of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in Hong Kong speculated about Duterte’s visit to the former British colony in China. Quiboloy, whose ministry is based in Davao City, is a close friend of the mayor.

Hong Kong has the biggest number of OFW registered voters at 127,949 as of March 11, this year. Riyadh in Saudi Arabia is second with 112,954 absentee voters.

According to Commission on Election Spokesman James Jimenez, there are now over 1.167 million overseas Filipino voters. They are mostly in the Middle East & Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Americas, Europe and seafarers on board foreign ships.

Alternative

In Valencia City, Bukidnon last Wednesday and in Batangas City, and Tanauan, Batangas on Friday, Duterte again called on the country to prepare Federalism as an alternative in the event the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) fails in Congress, the Supreme Court or in the people’s plebiscite. He warned that war is not an option.

He asserted that if government will give the BBL to the autonomous Muslim regions in Mindanao, it is bound to grant the same to the clamor of the Cordilleras and the other regions of the country on the principle of equality before the laws. “What we give to Pedro, we must give to Juan or Maria,” Duterte, a lawyer, pointed out.

Duterte traces the origins of the country’s key problems of conflict, corruption and underdevelopment to colonization and the unitary system imposed by Spain and America for control of the Philippine islands dating back almost six centuries ago.

In his first planned speaking engagement abroad, Duterte, who remains coy about his presidential plans, is expected to echo the same views and also consult OFWs on their working and living conditions away from their homeland.

In 1994, at the height of the execution of Filipina OFW Flor Contemplacion in Singapore, the feisty mayor became the poster boy of protest in the country. He led an indignation rally in front of Davao City Hall with the burning of a replica of the Singaporean flag. The event caused a stir with Singapore lodging a formal diplomatic protest.

Dark horse

The Davao mayor continues to attract popular support recently registering a surprising 12% in the March 1-7 Pulse Asia survey among potential presidential candidates for 2016. This was affirmed with the release on Thursday of the Social Weather Station (SWS) survey on March 20-23 showing him garnering 15%.

In many countries abroad, various support groups for Federalism and Duterte have sprung up among OFWs, creating their own presence in social media and awaiting any visit by the Davao mayor.

Many political analysts consider Duterte as a serious contender in spite of his insistence that he is not interested in the presidency. University of the Philippines (UP) Professor J Prospero de Vera III, commenting at Businessworld on the SWS survey, described him as a “viable alternative.” University of Santo Tomas (UST) Professor Edmund Tayao, dissecting the result of the surveys on dzMM Saturday morning, described him as “the dark horse.”

DAVAO CITY MINDANAO NEWS BUSINESS TRAVEL LEISURE GUIDE AND DIRECTORY

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