Consumer fair

We opened the Consumer Fair yesterday at the Gaisano Mall Of Davao to usher in our consumer welfare and protection month celebration.

With the theme “on the healthy and safe side of living,” the exhibitors are categorized into the “healthy” and “safe” products and services.

Activities for the next three days at the Atrium of the Mall include the annual poster-making contest, lectures on consumer rights and responsibilities and organic farming, cooking demos, seminars on utilization of kitchen waste, and healthy exercises.

The activities are spearheaded by the DTI and the Consumer Net, composed of government and non-government consumer groups.

At the ribbon-cutting yesterday, I got the commitment from fellow city councilor Pilar Braga to help fund this annual consumer fair after my term ends in 2010. I have been assisting the DTI mount this activity with P100,000 contribution from my Annual Development Fund.

Councilor Braga, who once served as executive director of Konsumo Dabaw, promised to continue the funding assistance starting 2011.

5:48 a.m.

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Now he is an expert on Mindanao!

Ha ha ha! This is interesting.

Former President Joseph Estrada revealed last Friday that Rodolfo Lozada Jr., the Senate’s star witness in the cancelled national broadband network (NBN) deal with ZTE Corp. of China, has sought his help as his relationship with the civil society group Black and White Movement (BWM) has turned sour.

Estrada, who visited The STAR office, said Lozada showed him a PowerPoint presentation of the controversial memorandum of agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain which the Supreme Court stopped from being signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front early this month.

“The Americans have a hand on the MOA on ancestral domain according to Lozada. He visited me with the sisters (nuns) last week,” Estrada said. – Estrada says Lozada sought his assistance (Philippine Star, August 31, 2008)

Ha ha ha! Akbayan Mindanao must be praising high heavens that its “hero” is now also – ha ha ha – an expert on the Mindanao peace process.

Ha ha ha! I say let’s nominate this guy to the London Olympics. We can enter him in at least two events – Finals of scene stealing and Finals of biting the hands that feed him (please see my post on New Olympic events for GRP). He can handily win the gold in the latter event with his vast track record.

To name a few: First, he enjoyed all the pomp and perks while he was in the corridors of power but made an instant u-turn when about to get caught. Second, he turned snitch on his co-conspirators in “moderating their greed” to save his own skin. To him the tongpats is ok kung hindi bubukol until the scandal became too hot to  handle. And now, he is severing ties with the civil society that paraded him before altars and campuses and made him a “hero.”

Ha ha ha!

After squandering public funds, taking advantage of “sanctuary funds,” and enjoying Senate “security funds,” now this guy is turning to the man thrown out of office for gambling “slush funds!”

Ha ha ha!

This guy is not only after fortune and fame. He wants to dip his fingers in Mindanao too! And goes to the president who waged a “total war” in Mindanao.

Ha ha ha! So, this is the “hero” of Akbayan Mindanao!

Incidentally, did I mention that I resigned from Akbayan last April due to this “fake hero?” Aw, but that’s another story.

Let me just state that I simply cannot stay a minute longer in an organization that prefers fake heroes and attacks persons like me for standing up for our overseas workers whom I described as our “genuine national heroes.”

Ha ha ha!

Let me please enjoy my last laugh. Ha ha ha!

6:41 a.m.

Halal food ecozone

I sent this letter to the Sultan of Brunei last year:

February 22, 2007
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah,
the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
Warmest Greetings of Peace!
Re attached News Item on Brunei’s plan for a Halal Food Processing Plant:
Allow us to offer Davao City as the site for this investment.
Davao City is the largest city in southern Philippines and acts as the de facto center of the BIMP-EAGA. The Asia Institute of Management (AIM) has named it as the most competitive metropolitan city in the country.
It has excellent supply for halal meat products. The city has a Halal Food Council. The city is free from hoof-and-mouth disease and free from bird flu virus.
It has excellent labor force in the food processing industry manifested by the presence of big food processors with ISO standards.
It has air and sea links with its neighbors in the BIMP-EAGA region.
Moreover, the city government offers fiscal and non-fiscal incentives on top of the tax holidays provided by the national government through the Board of Investments. Part of our non-fiscal incentives is to help potential investors look for suitable sites, local suppliers, local managerial and labor force, process various government regulatory permits, among others.
Should you wish to come to see what our city can offer, feel free to contact us. We shall be most happy to assist you.
Thank you very much.
Councilor Peter Tiu Lavina
Chair, City Council Committee on Trade, Commerce & Industry
Room 3, SP Bldg., Davao City

I cced Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.

I am glad that his office is pursuing the plan for the halal food processing center here in Davao.

5:56 a.m.

Cyberally

The last protest rally I attended was against child labor two months ago.

Today, I just joined another. But this one is in cyberspace – a virtual rally against the VAT or value added tax. Let your voice be heard.

Makibaka! Join the “cyberally” here!

5:19 a.m.

Unity; change

Unity

The latest Pulse Asia survey on the 2010 presidential derby once again highlighted the need for the opposition to unite and field a common candidate.

Of ten presidentiables included in the survey, 7 are identified with the opposition. Their combined preference rating is an overwhelming 71 percent. The 3 pro-administration bets have a combined rating of only 23.2 percent, although the whole pack was led by frontrunner VP Noli de Castro.

I share the optimism of former president Erap Estrada that the administration would “eat the dust” of the opposition in 2010. However, I also worry that next year’s gargantuan P1.4 Trillion budget would be used by the administration to ensure a victory, deserving or not, for GMA’s successor.

I heard former president Fidel Ramos assuring the nation after the SONA last Monday that GMA would end her term – as well as “her immunity” – in 2010. That is pregnant with meaning. Was Ramos’ delivering a veiled message to the current Palace occupant to ensure a friendly successor in 2010 or was he giving the opposition counsel to run after GMA once she loses her immunity when she steps out of Malacanang?

I am certain that GMA, by hook or by crook, would ensure the administration’s victory in 2010 to save her own skin. Hence, the need for the opposition to galvanize under a single flag to thwart the expected massive vote-buying and cheating in 2010. They may be able to fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but they certainly cannot fool all the people all the time. It would be foolish for the administration to rig a 70-23 percent margin if the opposition is united.

Change

Already the second-longest resident of the Palace by the Pasig after the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, GMA is not about to leave just yet. She would want to ensure that her rule would continue beyond 2010 either via a puppet in Malacanang or herself pa rin via charter change. Yup, we should all watch out for the administration moves to revive term extension via amendments to the Constitution. Malacanang is exploiting the peace process in Mindanao as its key to unlock charter change.

Of course, this is not the change that we need. What we need in this country is character change.

Barack Obama’s highly popular “Change. Yes we can!” campaign has reached the Philippine shores. The Ateneo School of Government appears to have borrowed from it in launching its Kaya Natin! Movement. It is an attempt for reforms through exemplary models of ethical leadership and good governance in four local government officials, namely, Ramos Magsaysay awardees Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga and Governor Grace Padaca of Isabela; Governor Ed Panlilio of Pampanga, and Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija.

The movement is targeting the youth, just like Obama, is this crusade to create “Islands of hope.” It has launched a campus tour for the four outstanding local officials. I look forward to their visit to Davao to lend my support.

8:05 a.m.

Troubles

The trouble with exposing graft and corruption in this country is that the whistle blower gets into trouble.

There is a long list of journalists and activists who are now six feet under, for instance, because of exposing and opposing graft and corruption.

For the lucky ones who are still living, tables are turned against them. The Court of Appeals justice who exposed a P10 million bribe over the Meralco-GSIS court battle is now the reverse target of finger-pointing. He is now being accused of actually demanding P50 million! Tsk tsk!

I believe this is a ploy to destroy his credibility as the Supreme Court steps into the matter. This anomaly is a big blow to the judiciary.

This is truly not a good week for wheeler dealers.

At the Senate hearing on the swine scam, a huge “arranger’s fee” was exposed in the loan by the Land Bank to Quedan Corp to fund the government’s swine program. The two incidentally are both government owned so why was there a need for a “loan arranger?”

Senator Jamby Madrigal named Davaoeno Jose Nograles, brother of the Speaker, as the alleged wheeler dealer. Jose Nograles was a senior VP at the bank before his appointment recently as president of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The Speaker has denied any wrongdoing by his brother. But just the same this is major headache for the government.

Another trouble in my list today is Cebu Pacific flying into turbulent skies.

Last June the low-cost carrier announced plans for direct Davao-Hong Kong and Davao-Singapore flights. It was featured in newspapers and its website. In gratitude for this service, the City Council passed a Resolution, which I authored, commending the airline.

Last Wednesday, I learned from Baby Montemayor, who runs a travel agency and chairs the Southern Philippines Tourism Council, that Cebu Pacific has canceled these direct flights. I told her I did not read any notice in the papers or in the airlines’ website.

I believe Cebu Pacific invited trouble in not informing its passengers about these cancellations.

Last night, I received one such complaint via email from a Davaoeno who booked a flight for 18 persons for a group vacation to Singapore. To their dismay, their Davao-Singapore flight was re-routed to Davao-Manila-Singapore and then later to Davao-Cebu-Singapore without officially notifying them.

My advise to those aggrieved is to consult their lawyers. We can bring this matter too to the attention of the Department of Trade & Industry, the agency implementing the Consumers Act, and the Civil Aviation Board, which supervises the airline industry.

A simple public notice of the flight suspension would have forewarned the public. Now, Cebu Pacific is in trouble. Not only to those who have canceled flights but to many of us who were mis-informed.

I pray I will not get into trouble for writing this. Amen.

5:42 a.m.

Davao-Bangkok airlink

The timing is bad given the dim prospects of the travel industry due to rising cost of fuel.

However, I believe local tourism industry players should strike the iron while it is hot.

The recent air agreements signed by the country has finally included Davao as a new gateway. I have been batting for this during the past five years and finally the Civil Aviation Board has acceded.

Short of our desired “open skies” policy for Davao, these new air agreements gave flight entitlements for the city from Thailand, Netherlands and Hong Kong.

My particular interest is Bangkok. As one of Asia’s main regional hubs, I have been proposing for air links between Davao and the Thai capital since 2003. Bangkok receives more than 1 million tourists a month. If we can lure even just 1 percent of that throng, Davao could easily double its foreign tourist arrivals annually! And that is not counting Thai tourists yet just to show how huge this market is.

Amsterdam is too far to make any plans for now. While flights to Hong Kong are now available.

So, local tourism industry players should not let this opportunity pass by. They should immediately work with either local air carriers or Thai airlines to mount direct air links between the city and Bangkok. This would give Davao a foothold in the booming Mekong Delta region that includes rising tourist destinations such as Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

I am confident we can develop a good market for the Davao-Bangkok sector not only for tourism but for trade and the overseas Filipino market as well.

See related posts at our Open Skies category at the left sidebar.

5:09 a.m.