STRAIGHT TALK

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BY ED LIBRANDA

THE RESIGNATION OF ATTY VIC RODRIGUEZ  IS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Oftentimes, the position of the Executive Secretary to the President is dubbed the "Little President" and is almost akin to the position of Chief of Staff, a position that the presidential legal counsel and former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile had given his advice to President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos when Atty Vic Rodriguez handed his resignation as executive secretary to the President. The chief of presidential legal counsel said he "smells fishy" with the draft of the position of chief of staff.


With his resignation, Atty Rodriguez also handed a draft to PBMM, describing the duties and responsibilities of a chief of staff, a position Atty Rodriguez would occupy should PBMM accept his resignation as Executive Secretary.


The Marcos administration is only in its infancy, barely three months since July 1, 2022, and we have seen a brouhaha in the failed sugar import by the department, which PBMM has decided to occupy temporarily amidst the smuggling issues emanating from the Department of Agriculture.


It all started when Atty Rodriguez handed a memorandum to newly appointed Dr. Leocardio Sebastian, Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture, adding more duties and responsibilities to his current position, one of which was to sign

 

"Sugar Order No. 4 on behalf of the President.
On August 10, 2022, the day SO-4 was released, Atty Trixie Angeles, in her capacity as Press Secretary and as a lawyer, characterized Sugar Order no. 4 as "illegal."


Undersecretary Sebastian took an extra step when he signed the SO-4 on behalf of the President, who sits as chairman of the Sugar Regulatory Board of the Sugar Regulatory Administration.

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PERSPECTIVE

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RIGOBERTO TIGLAO

Why TV5 threw out ABS-CBN

By Rigoberto Tiglao,Republished from TMT

Sept. 6,  2022

BROADCAST giant TV5 abruptly terminated its talks for a partnership with the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN after its executives learned that the congressional committee scrutinizing the proposal would be zeroing in on exposing the multi-media conglomerate’s allegedly blatant violation of the constitutional ban on foreign investments in media.

While previous administrations looked the other way when confronted with this colossal anomaly, officials of PLDT — which owns TV5 through its multi-media arm, MediaQuest Holdings — were reportedly wary that the congressional hearings would train a strong spotlight on it, drawing the attention the new President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s whose stand on it cannot as yet be determined.

Indeed, it’s a demonstration of a foreign conglomerate’s vast control of a people’s consciousness and government regulatory bodies that TV5 as well as its sister companies in media — BusinessWorld, Philippine Star, and partly, the Philippine Daily Inquirer — have been operating even if these are owned through corporate layers by PLDT Inc. This telecom giant is owned 25.6 percent by the Indonesian-controlled First Pacific Co. (according to its 2021 annual report) and 10.6 percent by the Japanese NTT Docomo (according to the PLDT’s general information sheet submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission last month).

First Pacific and NTT Docomo were recently able to legalize their investments in PLDT because of the passage of a law in March this year that in effect excludes telecoms from the list of industries in which the Constitution allows only 40 percent of capital to be owned by foreigners. This was done through the preposterous maneuver of redefining telecoms not as “public utilities” — as the Constitution referred to restricted industries — but as “public services.”


The corporate layers of a foreign-controlled media empire.

However, the constitutional requirement for 100 percent Filipino ownership of mass media remains, and only through the tedious process of amending or rewriting the Constitution can the ban be lifted.

Rappler

The Securities and Exchange Commission ruled in the Rappler case that the ban on foreign ownership and control is absolute, that a foreign entity can make not a single peso nor the slightest control in a media firm. The SEC even emphasized that Presidential Decree 1018 had also declared that “the ownership and management of mass media be limited to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations wholly owned and managed by such citizens.

TV5 and its sister media firms are 100 percent owned by a firm called MediaQuest which was funded with P14.5 billion in 2012 by PLDT Inc.’s pension fund Beneficial Trust Fund (BTF). The fund is controlled by a five-man board of trustees, three of whom are PLDT executives, and all five are appointed by its board of directors.

 

Out of PLDT’s 13-man board, nine are designated by the foreign First Pacific Co. and NTT Docomo. Control by these two foreign firms is transmitted first through the Beneficial Trust Fund to MediaQuest and then to the media firms, a clear violation of the Constitution if the corporate veil is pierced.

For instance, Ray Espinosa, chairman of Philippine Star, is certainly Filipino. But he doesn’t represent himself since he has only token shares in Philstar, as required for him to be on the board. He is on Philippine Star’s board because he ultimately represents First Pacific, where he is an associate director.

SalimFirst Pacific is tightly controlled by the Indonesian tycoon Anthoni Salim, who owns 45 percent of its shares, with the rest widely distributed in the Hong Kong stock market. Manuel V. Pangilinan is Salim’s prime executive. PR thought has successfully portrayed him as the First Pacific’s Philippine conglomerate’s principal stockholder, with the media calling it the MVP Group. Pangilinan owns only 1.6 percent of the holding firm and roughly the same tiny percentages in its companies. Pangilinan has a mere 0.13 percent shares of PLDT.

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SPECIAL REPORT

Philippine peso sinks to new record low at 58 vs dollar

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By Tiziana Celine Piatos, TMT, September 22, 2022


The Philippine peso closed to a new record low of P58 against the United States dollar at spot trading on Wednesday.

The peso opened lower at P57.70 compared to Tuesday's record close of P57.40, traded between P57.70 and P57.91, and closed near its lowest intraday rate.

Wednesday's volume also hit $1.0515 billion, higher than the previous session's $967 million.

Exchange rate pressures have worsened since higher rates favored the US dollar.

 

Since the end-2021 closed at P50.99, the peso has lost P7 or has devalued by 13.74 percent.

 

Spot market volatilities come from the market's expectation that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will further tighten the benchmark rate in the last three Monetary Board policy meetings this year.


Depreciation pressures also come from the hawkish US Federal Reserve (Fed) favoring a strong US dollar.
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Dual Nationality

Section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states that “the term ‘national of the United States’ means (A) a citizen of the United States, or (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.”

 

Therefore, U.S. citizens are also U.S. nationals. Non-citizen nationality status refers only to individuals who were born either in American Samoa or on Swains Island to parents who are not citizens of the United States.

 

The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a national of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own nationality laws based on its own policy.

 

Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. national parents may be both a U.S. national and a national of the country of birth. Or, an individual having one nationality at birth may naturalize at a later date in another country and become a dual national. 

U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one nationality or another. A U.S. citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship. However, persons who acquire a foreign nationality after age 18 by applying for it may relinquish their U.S. nationality if they wish to do so. In order to relinquish U.S. nationality by virtue of naturalization as a citizen of a foreign state, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign nationality voluntarily and with the intention to relinquish U.S. nationality. Intent may be shown by the person’s statements and conduct.

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BUSINESS

First PH tourism job fair offers 8K vacancies: DOT

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By Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star , September 12, 2022 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There is a possibility that the Philippines could make use of nuclear energy during the term of President Marcos, according to Senate committee on energy vice chairman Sherwin Gatchalian.

In an interview with reporters, Gatchalian said that if pursued, the use of small modular reactors (SMR), which are faster to deploy, can be used within the term of the current administration.

“Looking at the legislative process, that will take two years, and from then on we can build power plants.

 

If you look at the timeframe, the modular I see will come in by 2026, or 2028, but these are the small ones so they are quick to deploy. I can see it being deployed in one or two years,” he said.

“So within his (Marcos) term, if we use the small modular, it is possible. But not the big ones, which are 1,000-plus megawatts, because that will take 10 years to build,” Gatchalian said.

Compared to conventional nuclear plants, which have a capacity of 1,000 MW on average, SMRs have a capacity of between 50 MW and 300 MW, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

With plans to introduce nuclear energy into the country’s system, the DOE is also construct.

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DOT positions New Clark City as premier tourism investment hub

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New Clark City (Photo courtesy of DOT)


   

MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) is rooting the development of the Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ) and the New Clark City in order to further boost the recovery of the country’s tourism industry.

 

During the first Central Luzon Tourism Investment Summit and Business Exchange (CLTISBEX) Hybrid Edition held recently at Hilton Clark Sun Valley Resort, the DOT, in collaboration with the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) and the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development (SCAD), showcased how CFZ and the New Clark City may be positioned as premier tourism hubs -- Clark as a modern sustainable metropolis and a preferred MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibits) destination and the New Clark City as an ideal destination for sports tourism in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Hong Kong replaced by Singapore as Asia's top finance center

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IAgence France-Presse, Posted at Sep 23 2022 12:18 PM |

Updated as of Sep 23 2022 02:37 PM

HONG KONG — Hong Kong has lost its crown as Asia's premier finance center to Singapore in a global ranking list where New York and London maintained their number 1 and 2 spots.

Singapore jumped 3 places to third in the twice-a-year Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) which assesses 119 cities worldwide and was published late Thursday.

Hong Kong has adhered to a version of China's strict zero-COVID rules throughout the pandemic, battering the economy and deepening a brain drain as rival business hubs reopen.


The city still mandates 3 days of hotel quarantine for all international arrivals while READ MORE

   SEPT.  26 - OCT. 3, 2022

Out of 48 requests, Marcos was the only world leader to meet Biden on the UNGA sidelines – Palace

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President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. holds a bilateral meeting with US President Joseph Biden in New York City on September 22, 2022. (AFP)

By  Argyll Cyrus Geducos, Published September 23, 2022, 3:46 AM - MB

NEW YORK, USA — Malacañang revealed that out of 48 requests, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was the only head of state to talk to US President Joseph Biden on the sidelines of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

This development came as the two leaders held bilateral talks on Thursday morning, September 22 (New York time).

In a press briefing here, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the meeting between Marcos and Biden was significant because the former was the only world leader that the US President had granted a bilateral meeting.

“I understand a lot of requests had been made to the US President — that it is significant that he spoke only with President Marcos on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly,” she said.

According to Angeles, the meeting materialized because of the negotiations “made back and forth.”

“It’s always in the interest of both parties. So I think it might not be really relevant who makes the request,” she said.
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‘Best time to do business in PH is now’ — Marcos

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President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. speaks at the Philippine Economic Briefing in New York City on September 22, 2022 (New York time). (Photo from House Speaker Martin Romualdez

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos, Published September 23, 2022, 2:06 PM - MB

NEW YORK, USA — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. told American investors that the Philippines is a wise investment choice and that now is the best time to do business with the country.


Marcos said this as he graced the Philippine Economic Briefing in New York City on Thursday morning, September 22 (New York time).

In his speech, the President invited strategic investors in the United States to invest in the Philippines, citing the country’s “economic resurgence” following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We invite strategic investors from the United States to take part in this Philippines economic resurgence,” he said.

“Key structural reforms have been set to allow for wider participation in our industries,” he added.

According to the President, economic liberalization measures like the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act expanded “the space for foreign investments in previously protected sectors,” especially those that employ advanced technologies and research and development activities.

 

Marcos also touted the country’s “grand opportunities, the timing, the window of opportunities” for investment, especially in capital-intensive investments in the Philippines.

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What’s in a name? A lookback on petitions filed
to rename NAIA

An undated picture of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1. (Photo from Philippine News Agency)

By Catalina Ricci S. Madarang - July 6, 2022 - 1:41 PM INTERAKSYON


MANILA, Philippines — Suggestions to revert Ninoy Aquino International Airport to its former name “Manila International Airport” were made again online following a move to rename it.

Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. (Negros Oriental) filed a bill to rename NAIA to Ferdinand E. Marcos International Airport (FEMIA) because he claimed the airport was built during the late dictator’s term.

“It is more appropriate to rename it to the person who has contributed to the idea and execution of the said noble project. This project was done during the time of the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.,” Teves said in the bill.

According to the Manila International Airport Authority *, however, the country’s first international airport was fully completed and operational in 1961.

This infrastructure was then known as the Manila International Airport.

 

“The first thirteen years of the airport were marked by the building of infrastructure dedicated to international flights. The international runway and associated taxiway were built in 1953, and 1961 saw the completion of a control tower and a terminal building for the exclusive use of international passengers at the southwest intersection of the runways,” the history of MIA reads as indicated on MIAA’s website.
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PH Army supports PBBM's call for mandatory ROTC

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By Priam Nepomuceno, July 26, 2022, 5:25 pmShare, PNA

MANILA – The Philippine Army (PA) said Tuesday it strongly supports President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s call for legislators to prioritize the passage of a law calling for a mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program for senior high school students.

"The PA supports the national defense strategy of our Commander in Chief, which includes the revival of the mandatory ROTC program for our youth. Moreover, the organization trusts the wisdom of our legislators for the program’s revival," Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said in a statement.

Trinidad said the ROTC program is anchored on the Constitutional provision on the defense of the State.

He noted that the ROTC is a crucial part of the military’s long-term reserve force development plan that instills discipline, patriotism, and nationalistic values in the youth who are considered the nation's future.

"The Philippine Army, as part of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) reaches out to the youth by providing them with another perspective on nation-building. The proposed revival of mandatory ROTC program will be instrumental in developing a capable, committed, and well-trained reserve force that will serve as an expansion base for the regular force in times of war, rebellion, or other national emergencies," Trinidad said.

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 Makati Business Club to policymakers: Come up with people-oriented transportation systems

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Handout photo shows President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. speaking at a media conference in his Mandaluyong City headquarters in June 2022.
 

By: Daniza Fernandez - Reporter / @DFernandezINQINQUIRER.net / 10:05 AM September 23, 20

MANILA, Philippines — Policymakers have been urged to look at the benefits and hurdles hounding public transportation, pedestrians, and cyclists to craft “people-oriented” systems.

The Makati Business Club (MBC), a private non-stock and non-profit association, called managers and policymakers on Thursday amid the celebration of World Car-Free Day.


“On the occasion of World Car-Free Day, MBC encourages managers and policymakers to ask about or even experience the challenges and benefits of public transport and active mobility (walking and cycling),” the group said in a statement.

 

“This would be a critical factor in promoting and enacting people-oriented transportation systems that serve the great majority of Filipino commuters,” the group added.

 

The MBC expressed its support for increased investment in “well- and holistically-studied” public transportation and “safe and inclusive” pedestrian sidewalks and bike lanes.

 

Citing the “fast-growing role” of motorcycles, the group likewise backed discussions on the use of the vehicle.
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Fil-Am killed in suspected road-rage incident in California

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Rienheart Asuncion, the Filipino who was killed in a road-rage accident in San Lorenzo California, was married barely four months after he was killed. (Photo via Getty Images)


By  Jaleen Ramos, Published September 20, 2022, 2:00 PM, MB

A Filipino American was killed in a suspected road-rage incident in San Lorenzo, California on Monday, Sept. 19.

According to a report from KTVU news, the incident happened at the intersection of Hesperian Boulevard and Lewelling Boulevard at around 4:27 p.m. on Monday.

The victim was identified as Reinheart Asuncion.
 

According to Asuncion’s wife, Love, they were chatting around the time of the incident, and she was listening live when her husband got involved in a dispute with several people in another car.

The argument then led to a chase that ended with Asuncion confronting the suspect which resulted in the shooting.

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Japan set to resume visa-free tourist travel in October

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A view of the domestic departure lobby of Tokyo’s Haneda airport on July 25, 2020. AFP FILE PHOTO


The Straits Times/Asia News Network / 04:30 PM September 15, 2022


TOKYO – Japan is expected to lift a ban on individual tourist visa requirements and remove a limit on daily arrivals in October, as it aims to benefit from a rebound in global tourism, Nikkei reported Thursday.

Following the change, Japan will not require visas for short-term travelers from the United States and certain other countries, and will scrap the daily entry cap of 50,000 people, the media outlet said.


ST understands that Singapore will be one of the countries where tourists will not be required to have a visa to enter Japan.

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Taiwan to resume visa-free entry for Filipinos

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Philstar.com, September 23, 2022 | 11:21am

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos can travel again to Taiwan without the need for a visa as the self-governing island is set to lift its suspension on visa-free travel for Philippine nationals on September 29.

Taiwan’s Bureau of Consular Affairs announced Thursday that nationals from the Philippines, along with nationals from 10 other countries, would again enjoy visa-free privileges as part of the island’s moves to reopen borders which it shuttered at the onset of the pandemic, state-run CNA reported.

While Filipinos may start entering Taiwan for 14 days without a visa, they and other travelers to the island are still expected to follow its quarantine scheme, which involves quarantining for three days and self-monitoring for four days.

Beginning September 29, travelers arriving in Taiwan can quarantine in a residence occupied by other people as long as they have a room of their own with its own bathroom.
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PhilHealth will still last only until 2027 even if Pagcor, PCSO give funding – exec

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By: Dexter Cabalza - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 05:38 AM September 18, 2022


MANILA, Philippines — With funding from the two government agencies, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s (PhilHealth) actuarial life wouldn’t extend beyond 2027.

PhilHealth officer-in-charge Eli Dino Santos issued the warning on Monday before the House committee on appropriations hearing on the proposed 2023 budget of the Department of Health (DOH).


According to Santos, the continued existence of PhilHealth beyond 2027 would require funding subsidies from other contributors other than the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Santos told committee vice chairperson and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo and Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Ray Florence Reyes that “if PhilHealth receives the government subsidy for indirect contributors as well as the Pagcor and PCSO, we estimate that we will survive beyond 2027.”

“We have another scenario, Madam chairperson if we only receive Pagcor and PCSO pork for 2023, per DBM-recommended (Department of Budget and Management) NEP (National Expenditure Program), the subsequent years, we will have until 2027, Madam chairperson.”

Reyes then asked Santos what PhilHealth could do to ensure that its fund life would last longer. The PhilHealth official said income 

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