9 years hiding ends

Policemen detailed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) reported yesterday the arrest of Chinese national Wang Xiaobao, said to be wanted in his country for large-scale smuggling. Wang has been hiding since 2009 from Chinese authorities, according to Noel Abadilla, head of the Airport Police Intelligence Unit. Abadilla reported to Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal that Wang was arrested Tuesday as he was waiting for family members from China. Wang now faces deportation to China to face charges there. The information about the arrival of Wang’s family was relayed by Chinese authorities to their Philippine counterparts. Tuesday afternoon one of Abadilla men saw Wangat the parking area of NAIA terminal 1 waiting family members to disembark from their flight. The Chinese tried to escape aboard his car but he was intercepted by alert airport policemen. Now under the custody of the Bureau of Immigration, Wang will be deported unless he has to face criminal charges in the Philippines.

‘Duterte builds, Filipinos benefit’

Napindan Bridge’s 2 extra lanes opened Another Build, Build, Build (BBB) project off the drawing board and now ready to ease the lives of Filipinos as promised by President Rodrigo Duterte. Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade led yesterday the inauguration of two additional lanes of the Napindan Bridge II along the Laguna Lake Highway in Taguig City. The pre-stressed concrete girder-type bridge connects the cities of Taguig and Pasig and the town of Taytay in the province of Rizal. With Villar and Tugade in the event blessing were Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president and chief executive officer Vince Dizon and Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano. The bridge’s additional two lanes transformed the Laguna Lake Highway into a homogenous four-lane thoroughfare that will ease traffic congestion in the area, said Villar. “In the past, a four-kilometer project took four and a half years to finish with toll to be paid. Today, we have a 10-kilometer road finished in two years without toll,” said Villar. “That’s the difference of the Duterte administration,” added Villar. Mayor Cayetano thanked the BBB team for swiftly completing a project which Taguig City has long been waiting for. “We’ve waited for this project for six years and half, but the Duterte administration finished it in over a year. This is an example of speed without sacrificing quality,” Cayetano said. Secretary Tugade expressed belief that the current administration is able to implement projects efficiently due to the unity, and good coordination among members of the cabinet. “When you have a leader like President Duterte, like Sec. Villar and you have the support of local governments like that provided by Mayor Lani Cayetano. When there’s unity like that of the BBB team, we can finish projects fast,” said Tugade. Tugade said while the government is building projects, there must discipline among Filipinos in using them so they will last. Earlier in the week, Villar and officials from the Japanese Embassy in Manila inspected several improvement projects being funded by the Japanese government along the Pasig River. The site inspection was led by Ambassador Koji Haneda and DPWH Secretary Mark Villar aboard a river boat. They checked the Guadalupe and Lambingan bridges set for seismic improvement in 2019, as well as the ongoing Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project. The river channel improvement project already completed major works such as the construction of revetment with river wall, and the dredging and construction of dike along the river through the use of Japan’s disaster prevention technology. The project is expected to contribute in flood damage mitigation and sustainable urban economic development in the National Capital Region. The seismic improvement project for the bridges is expected to improve the structures’ earthquake resistance and to contribute for its early recovery in case of a disaster.

Explain P2 charge, Hype told

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has ordered ride-hailing firm Hype Transport Systems Inc. to justify its P2 per minute charge to its customers. The order followed LTFRB’s slapping of a P10-million fine on industry leader Grab Philippines over a similar P2/minute charge which the regulatory body deemed illegal. In its show-cause order, the LTFRB asked Hype to explain within five days why its permit to operate as a transport network service should not be suspended or revoked. Hype purportedly charges P2 per minute on top of its flagdown rate of P40.00 and its charge of P14 per kilometer. The agency ordered Hype officials to a meeting on July 24. In response to the P10-million fine, Grab insisted that its P2-per-minute fare charge is legal as it cited a 2015 Department of Transportation order. The order (DO 2015-011) allows transport network companies to change fares on their own, claimed Grab, which has dominated the market after buying off heretofore chief rival Uber. Aside from the fine, the LTFRB ordered Grab to reimburse its riders by giving rebates, an order that may also be forthcoming insofar as Hype is concerned. Under a December 2016 order, ride-hailing companies were limited to a flagdown rate of P40 and an additional P10 to P14 per kilometer.

CA sides with PAL on retirement age dispute

The validity of the compulsory retirement age for flight attendants of Philippine Airlines (PAL) has been affirmed by the Court of Appeals (CA). In a 20-page decision released to media yesterday, the CA’s 7th Division reversed a 2015 decision of the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC). The lower court’s order nullified for being discriminatory Section 144 of the 2000-2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between PAL and the members of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP). Female PAL flight attendants retire at the age of 55 while their male counterparts retire at age 60 under an agreement forged by PAL and the workers’ group. The petition of PAL was upheld by the CA, declaring the said provision valid and binding. The CA said the early retirement age for female flight attendants is part of PAL’s obligation to observe due diligence in ensuring the safety of the passengers. “Moreover, well-enshrined is the rule that employers have the prerogative to impose productivity and quality standards at work. Even more so for PAL, from which exacting standards are demanded, by virtue of its being a common carrier,” it said. The CA pointed out the biological difference between males and females and how it would affect the performance of their duties to guarantee the safety of passengers. The appellate court explained that the task of a cabin crew is not limited to serving meals or attending to the whims and caprices of the passengers. The major task of a flight attendant, according to the CA, is to look after the safety of passengers and the evacuation of the aircraft during emergencies. “Passenger safety goes to the core of the job of a cabin attendant. Truly, airlines need cabin attendants who have the necessary strength to open m emergency doors, the agility to attend to passengers in cramped working conditions, and the stamina to withstand grueling flight schedules,” the appellate court stressed. The CA said imposing an early retirement for female flight attendants does not place them at great disadvantage compared to their male counterparts. Instead, the appellate court said, an early retirement would give them “a great window of opportunity to make positive lifestyle changes and restore a well-balanced life.” Aside from safety issues, the CA said the said provision was in accordance with the provisions of the Labor Code which allow employers and employees to fix the applicable retirement age at 60 years or below, “provided that the employees’ retirement benefits under any CBA and other agreements shall not be less than those provided therein.” The CA did not give credence to the claim of petitioners which are composed of the female flight attendants of FASAP that the said provision was discriminatory in the context of gender and equal work opportunities. Records showed the questioned provision providing a different compulsory retirement age for male and female flight attendants is not new. Likewise, the CA said that in 1972-1975, 1976-1978, and 1979-198 CBA, the compulsory retirement age was mutually agreed upon to 35 years for female flight attendants and 45 years for male attendants. In 1982-1985 CBA, the compulsory retirement age was increased to 45 for female flight attendants and 55 for male flight attendants, it said. Then, in 1986-1988 and 199-1995 CBA, the compulsory retirement age was increased to 55 years for female flight attendants and 60 for their male counterparts, the CA noted.

DoJ dismisses hazing review

The Department of Justice (DoJ) yesterday dismissed a petition for review that sought to include UST Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina among the accused in the Horacio “Atio” Castillo III hazing case. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirmed to reporters the dismissal of the petition of the parents of Castillo who allegedly died from hazing last September. The petition was filed by spouses Horacio Jr. and Carminia last April 19 – too late according to Guevarra. “It was dismissed for late filing,” Guevarra said. The petition tried to assail but to no avail the DoJ’s March 6 ruling which cleared Divina and 23 other officers and members of the Aegis Juris fraternity of involvement in the Atio case. Prosecutors dismissed the attempt to implead the law dean due to lack of probable cause and for insufficiency of evidence. While 24 were cleared, criminal charges were filed against 10 members of Aegis Juris. Responding to the development, Dean Divina said: “I am happy to be once again vindicated, this time by the Office of the Secretary of the DoJ, considering there is really no legal or factual basis to include me in the charges.” “I also continue to pray for peace and discernment for all parties concerned in this unfortunate incident,” he added. The DoJ also dismissed the petitions for review filed by Ralph Trangia, one of the 10 fratment facing hazing charges at the Manila Regional Trial Court. “The petitions for review are dismissed for procedural lapses,” Guevarra noted of the July 5 resolution in which the DoJ noted the “appeal was clearly out of time.” “Settled is the rule that the right to appeal may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the law or pertinent rules of procedure,” read the resolution signed by then Justice Undersecretary Antonio Kho. “The party who seeks to avail of the same must comply with the requirements of the law or rules. Failing to do so, his appeal will be dismissed. Accordingly, the instant Petition should be denied due course for failure to comply with the requirements on appeal,” Kho said. The 10 Aegis Juris members were indicted for violating Republic Act 8049, otherwise known as the Anti-Hazing Law. Trangia’s fellow accused are Aegis Juris president Arvin Balag, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Mhin Wei Chan, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Axel Munro Hipe, Marelino Bagtang, Jose Miguel Salamat and Robin Ramos. The 10 are presently detained at the Manila City Jail. Their arraignment had been set the RTC of Manila on July 24. Meanwhile, the DoJ charged Aegis Juris member John Paul Solano with perjury.

BoC seizes 80-seater Skyjet plane

The Bureau of Customs (BoC)–Port of NAIA ordered on Monday the forfeiture of an 80-seater aircraft of Skyjet Airline after its owners failed to pay the customs duties and taxes from the time of its importation. The plane was also being used for commercial flights, also without paying taxes. In an emailed statement, the BoC said it took custody of the plane last March 29 after its owner was unable to show proof of payment of duties and taxes and other documents on the acquisition of the aircraft and its operations. The Bureau added that based on reports, aircraft owner and operator Magnum Air Inc. had already been delisted from the Subic Bay Freeport List Locators and had ceased operations since 2014. According to the Bureau, the Skyjet aircraft worth P583.6 million was flagged by the District Collector of Subic Port when authorities could not find any record of import entry filed by the owner. The inspection was conducted by the Philippine Aerospace Development Corp. (PADC) Hangar III at the Domestic Airport in Pasay City. The forfeited aircraft was found operating in a hangar of the NAIA General Aviation Area as SkyJet Airlines when inspection was conducted by Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena together with NAIA District Collector Carmelita Talusan on Monday. “Presently, the aircraft is forfeited in favor of the government after finding that its importation was attended with fraud and for being used in commercial flights since its importation without payment of customs duties and taxes,” said Commissioner Lapena. Collector Talusan had reportedly forewarned the aircraft on March 29, 2017 and even requested for a Letter of Authority to demand proof of payment of duties and taxes as no record of any import entry or warehousing entry had been filed by the owners. However, the aircraft ended up being forfeited for multiple violation of Sections 224 (Power to Inspect and Visit), 400 (Goods to be Imported through Customs Office), 401 (Importation Subject to Goods Declaration) and 405 (Liability of Importer for Duties and Taxes) in relation to Section 1113 (Property Subject to Seizure and Forfeiture) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. Magnum Air Inc. has been given 15 days to present the ownership and operation documents of the aircraft and directed the company to pay around P90,000 for customs duties and taxes on top penalties and charges. The company is also said to have already filed an appeal against the forfeiture order of the Port of NAIA which is now pending hearing at the Legal Services. BoC said that if the company fails to comply with the requirements, it would result in the issuance of a Warrant of Seizure and Detention against the Skyjet aircraft, which will then undergo a public auction. With a report from Raymart Lolo

Bring to court, not media – Bello

By Michael Pingol Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Tuesday lambasted the advocacy group that accused him of corruption and challenged them to lodge a formal complaint if the group can back the allegations against him. Bello, in a radio interview, hit back at Samahang Pagbabago National Movement for Change Secretary General Alie Dizon, saying that instead of making noise through media, they can just file a case to the Department of Justice (DoJ) or the Office of the Ombudsman. “If I were her lawyer, I’d tell her, ‘If you have evidence against Sec. Bello, don’t go to the media. Go to the Department of Justice or the Ombudsman, file a complaint,” said Bello. The Labor secretary said that the corruption claims against him may be aimed at derailing his application as head of the Office of the Ombudsman or may have been manufactured by those aspiring for his post as Labor chief. “If a single agency can say that I received or asked for money, I will immediately leave. I won’t have the right to stay here,” he reiterated. Earlier, Dizon had cited an affidavit by Azizzah Salim, owner of an employment agency, who had supposedly accused Bello and Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say of extorting some P6.8 million. Dizon also alleged that Bello did not help the cause of OFWs particularly with the case of “Mercy,” who was separated from her 9-month-old baby in Saudi Arabia. Bello denied the allegations and said Azzizah, in a recent meeting with Malacañang officials, said she did not prepare the affidavit cited by Dizon and was only made to sign it. Mercy’s case, meanwhile, falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Foreign Affairs. DNA tests are also needed to prove that the OFW is the baby’s mother, he added.

Limit ex-deals, GSIS told

CoA said the media services were deemed as ‘unnecesssary expenditure.’ The Commission on Audit (CoA) called on the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) not to depend too much on “ex-deals” or an exchange deal arrangement in the airing of its infomercials on the state-run broadcast network. The CoA urged the GSIS management to limit the airing of infomercials through ex-deals as state auditors found out that the P50.155-million agreement with state-run network People’s Television Nework (PTV) “did not add value to GSIS members, non-responsive to the exigencies of the GSIS mandate and can be dispensed with without loss or damage to the System, hence, considered unnecessary.” In its 2017 audit report, the CoA said GSIS entered into several memoranda of agreement (MoA) with PTV to cover the network’s unremitted premium and loan payments deducted from the salaries of the network’s employees. The state auditors added that in the review of the MoA dated 10 December 2015, it revealed that PTV had an outstanding balance of P47 million with GSIS, which the CoA said will be settled through the airing of five- and 30-second infomercials, production costs and coverage of GSIS special events. The state-run network had already exhausted all its balance with GSIS when it rendered media services worth P30.78 million and P19.37 million in 2016 and 2017, respectively, according to the CoA report. The government’s auditing agency also said that the media services were deemed an “unnecessary expenditure” under CoA Circular 2012-003 dated Oct. 29, 2012 since the exchange deal arrangement does not support the objectives and mission of the GSIS. “The additional exposures covered by the latest MoA were unnecessary since the GSIS required no introduction since it has been in existence years ago and membership to the GSIS is compulsory for all government employees receiving compensation,” the report said. “We further noted that the said informercials and television ad placements are merely stating that the program is sponsored by GSIS, hence, it did not add value to GSIS members,” it added. The CoA said the show “GSIS Members’ Hour” is more than enough to disseminate information about GSIS updates. The commission, however, said PTV is an unpopular choice given its poor signal reception for viewers in the provinces and for non-cable subscribers in urban areas. The CoA recommended for GSIS to limit infomercials that only add value to GSIS members and, if warranted, enter agreements with television networks that have better signal reception. The CoA also urged the management to require PTV to pay the premiums and loan amortizations of its employees equivalent to the P50.155-million arrangement. The PTV management agreed to adhere to the recommendations of the audit report, according to CoA.

Thousands gather for INC outreach

INC takes an active role in combating poverty. The Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) continues to draw thousands to its Lingap sa Mamamayan, this time with 160,000 trooping to the Quirino Grandstand for the latest edition of the homegrown Church’s worldwide outreach program. According to INC General Auditor Glicerio Santos Jr., the success of the Lingap sa Mamamayan was a testament to the vision of Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo, who had directed the Church to take an active role in combating poverty here and abroad. “The Church has always been guided by its desire to use its resources in a way that benefits our communities,” said Santos. “We believe it is the right thing to do, because no matter where we are from and what we believe in, we should remember that we are our brother’s keeper,” added the INC official. Participants of the Lingap were provided food parcels and free medical and dental services and free laboratory tests such as complete blood count, random blood sugar testing, blood typing, urinalysis and pregnancy testing. Also provided free of charge were specialized medical services dealing with internal medicine, pediatrics and OB-gynecology. Diagnostic equipment such as mobile x-rays, 2D echo, ultrasound and electrocardiogram (ECG) machines were made available to those in the Quirino Grandstand. Two mini-hospitals, each equipped with an operating room, were also set up for minor surgical procedures such as warts and cysts removal, as well as circumcision. Reading glasses were also distributed for free, as well as medicines for hypertension, diabetes, coughs and colds, fever and antibiotics. In addition to this, wheelchairs and quad canes were given to those present. A Bible exposition rounded out the event. Lingap sa Mamamayan activities have been organized and staged not just in the Philippines, but in the United States, Canada, Northern and Southern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and key areas in the Middle East including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The INC recently finished a series of Lingap sa Mamamayan activities in Africa, distributed food parcels in Kibera and Kawangware in Nairobi, Kenya last month. It also held similar projects in Blantyre and Samama Village Mangochi in Malawi in the same period. Church officials revealed that an estimated 33,000 people received assistance.
Scroll to top