Migrant workers day

Today is International Migrant Workers Day. We salute the vital contribution of our Overseas Filipino Workers particularly the all important remittances that keep our economy afloat.

Yet more must be done to protect and promote migrant workers rights. Governments, employers and civil society groups must join hands to advance the many recommendations adopted during the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development held in Manila last October.

This Sunday and Monday, I will be in Cebu to meet OFW leaders to promote savings mobilization for alternative investments.

Here are the new officers of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. for next year:

Chair – Atty. Domingo T. Duerme

President – Simeon P. Marfori II

Executive VP – Nelia C. Tumarao

VP for Trade & Commerce – Alberto M. Soriano

VP for Agribusiness – Evelyn G. Lavina

VP for Professional & Service Ventures – Corazon Mae M. Baylon

VP for Industry – Napoleon M. Liloc

Corporate Secretary – Dr. Ma. Lourdes G. Monteverde

Corporate Treasurer – Patrick John D. Castro

Trustees – Atty. Bienvenido D. Cariaga, Atty. Enrique M. Diola, John Y. Gaisano, Jr., Sofronio M. Jucutan, Vicente T. Lao and Myrna P. Valdez

Thanks for more Christmas cheers from James Lee, Councilor Pilar Braga, Simeon Gonzales of Lakpue Group of Companies, Knights of Columbus brother Manny Malin, and Bishop George Rimando.

Continuing trend

After the successful construction of two mid-rise condominium units near SM Davao by the Consunji Group and the groundbreaking of Filinvest’s similar project in the area at Ecoland, the trend of mid-rise condo projects in Davao is growing.

Consunji is constructing several mid-rise units at its property just at the back of City Hall in downtown Davao.

The other day, the Davao City Investment Incentive Board, where I sit, approved the application of Linmarr Towers for its six-storey Building A condo in Bo. Obrero. The P167 million project of the Bangayan Group involves the construction of 110 units of studios and two and three bedroom units. Two other buildings are also planned at its 1.1 hectare property along Porras St.

At the Ayala Center project at the Floriendo property at Bajada, mid-rise condos are also in the planning board.

Because of its vast lands, Davaoenos like to live in sprawling bungalow or two-storey type houses where they maintain front and backyard gardens. Now, there is increasing interests in condo living where occupants prefer to be near their offices, shopping areas, medical facilitities or schools for their kids.

The market of these condo units are split three ways – locals, overseas Filipino workers, and foreigners.

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.

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.

Madrid 2011

I am elated that the World Youth Day festivities ended successfully in Sydney yesterday. I now pray for the safe return of Pope Benedict XVI to the Vatican and young participants to their respective countries.

I brought this matter up because in the Toronto edition of this Catholic youth conclave in 2002, many Filipino youth did not return home. I personally know of some Davao delegates who stayed in Canada and others who slipped into the US and stayed there as TNT (tago ng tago) or illegally.

I know this because it become quite a scandal here four years ago. In fact, cases have been filed in court against the Davao youth leader who tried to make a fast buck by offering jobs in Canada and the US for those joining the trip.

Of course, many did not make it past the Davao airport. Unluckily for them, they paid sums to organizers hoping they can get a free ticket to the “land of the free and the home of the brave” via the WYD gathering.

One night during the election campaign in 2004, I received a phone call from one youth participant who made it to Texas. I was totally surprised by the call. She inquired how the election was going and wished me luck. I expressed my concern to her that life as an illegal immigrant was a difficult one. She did not seem to bother.

The next WYD celebrations in 2011 will be in Madrid, Spain, another magnet for illegal immigrants. I hope none of this would happen again.

6:35 a.m.

Model OFW Family

Ron Lionel Bartolome, Regional Director of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) wrote to me to announce the 2008 Search for Model OFW Family of the Year Awards.

Now on its fourth year, the search aims to draw inspiration from the experiences of model families in keeping family cohesion, attaining financial stability and successfully utilizing migrant savings for the benefit of families and communities.

Deadline for nominees is on August 8. Email him for more details at owwa@rwo11.bayandsl.com

6:46 a.m.

Back online 4

I’m up early this morning to prepare for another busy day.

I will speak at the Davao Christian Leadership Breakfast Forum at 7 a.m. at the Grand Men Seng Hotel. This would be my sixth appearance at this fellowship attended by priests, pastors, laypeople and their guests.

I will discuss current issues confronting our consumers from food shortages, high prices, product standards and consumer rights.

After this forum, I will be off to Felis Beach Resort for the Mindanao Island Consultation for the upcoming Global Forum on Migration and Development which will be held in Manila in October. This regional consultation will be attended by civil society groups, while the global forum would be attended by UN member countries.

I would be wearing two hats in this meeting. First, to represent Mayor Rody Duterte during the opening rites, and Second, to participate as the official representative of Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation where I currently sit as Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Results of this island-wide consultation will be presented during the Manila global forum.

Yesterday, the City Council held a special session to discuss the monetization of part of the city’s Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) in 2001 and 2003. Due to the reenacted budgets of the national government during these two years, the city has a differential amounting to P142 million.

I presided the debates of the City Council on how best to get this sum. The national government is offering us two ways:

Option 1 is to get this money by seven installments starting May 2009 to May 2015; or

Option 2 is to get the P142 million now at a discounted rate of just 70 percent.

But during the discussion, we looked at another option – borrow money from Land Bank against this unreleased IRA share. That way, we get the whole amount and pay the interests from our regular IRA.

For lack of time, we decided in postponing the decision until the July 1 Regular Session. But, offhand, many of our colleagues are favoring the third option.

What do you think?

3:43 a.m.

Update – I added an online poll on my right sidebar – A P142 Million Question. Please vote!

5:49 a.m.

More awards

After our executive director at Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation – Mayan Villalba – was named as the Philippines Social Entrepreneur of the Year last month, we reaped two more awards recently.

Association of Young Linamon Producers (ALYP) of Linamon, Lanao del Norte which produces Virgin Coconut Oil for the 2008 Hatag Kalinaw Project of the British Council; and

New Lives for Old – Peace, Growth and Governance Through Social Enterprise for the Panibagong Paraan 2008. This project helps former Moro rebels undertake community livelihood programs.

Keep up the good work Mayan!


I delivered a privilege speech at the City Council yesterday which created quite a stir. I got mixed reactions. I would elaborate on Saturday when I appear as guest at ABS-CBN’s noontime radio show.

I described Joey de Venecia and Jun Lozada as fake heroes and called on the nation to focus on more important issues other than the telenovela that is the NBN-ZTE scandal.

OFWs to me remain as our genuine heroes. Unfortunately, we neglect their fights and plights.

(6:26 a.m.)

$8,000 bond suspended

Here’s good news to Engr. Caloy Carreon, OFW in Singapore, who expressed his concern to me via an SMS over the new POEA requirement for foreign companies to post $8,000 bonds for direct hiring of Pinoy workers.

The new policy was suspended yesterday pending its review.

Already suffering from a strong Peso, Carreon and many OFWs fear that the cost of the bonds would eventually be slapped on them.

I suggest POEA altogether scrap this policy which was widely opposed by OFWs, recruiters and foreign employers.

(4:58 a.m.)