ROMAN Floresca, former business editor of The Philippine Star, was re-elected as president of the Philippine Agricultural Journalists, Inc. (PAJ), during its 2016 general assembly and elections, September 17, 2016, at the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) in Quezon City.

“Once again, I am honored to lead the PAJ, as we observe our 40th founding anniversary, and continue to help promote modern, globally-competitive and sustainable Philippine agriculture and fishery sector through balanced reportage and promotion of breakthroughs, and triumphs of players in the food supply chain, and related agribusiness, food and processing industries,” said Floresca, as he acknowledged the fresh mandate given him by about 50 PAJ members from Metro Manila, Nueva Ecija, Calabarzon and Cagayan Velley.

“We thank our strong partners and benefactors who supported us through four decades and counting, which include SMC, MVP group of companies, Department of Agriculture, SL Agritech, Bayer Philippines and CDO, among other sponsors,” said Floresca, who is serving his seventh term as PAJ president.

Other PAJ executive officers elected were: Noel Reyes, former information director at the Department of Agriculture and now with Oceana Philippines and OpinYon weekly magazine, as vice president for internal affairs; Imelda Abaño (Phil Enviro News and Thomson Reuters), VP for external affairs; Ruby Lumongsod (Quendancor), secretary; Charisma Love Gado (PhilRice), assistant secretary; Inez Magbual (Best Media Source Corp.), treasurer; Thelma Tolentino (Farm Book & Woman Today), auditor; Michael Alunan (BusinessMirror), PRO for print; and Gani Oro (DZRJ & Abante Tonite), PRO for broadcast and social media.

Also elected as PAJ directors were Rolly Gonzalo (UNTV & DWIZ), Dr. Rex Navarro (IRRI, CGIAR CCAFS-SEA), Melba Wee (DA Region 9), Cora Abio (NFA), Johnny Goloyugo (AIJ), and Fermin Diaz (LaMB magazine).

During the assembly, Floresca reported the major projects of the PAJ from 2014 to 2016, which included the conduct of the annual PAJ-SMC Binhi Awards for agricultural journalism, sponsored by San Miguel Corporation, and four regional climate change workshops sponsored by the MVP group of companies, Department of Agriculture and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Southeast Asia (CCAFS-SEA).

The PAJ officers and members were welcomed by lawyer Marlon Terrado, on behalf of PCA officer-in-charge Glenn Santos, who also chaired the elections.

Formed in September 1976, the PAJ has to date established four regional chapters in: PAJ Calabarzon, led by Johnny Goloyugo; PAJ Bicol, led by Juan Escandor, Jr., of Bicol Mail andPhilippine Daily Inquirer; PAJ Eastern Visayas, led by Ray Junia, publisher-editor of OpinYon; and PAJ Cagayan Valley, led by Domingo Fugaban of DZYT. Goloyugo, Junia and Fugaban attended the assembly and elections. (OpinYon)


DOST Sec. Fortunato De La Peña and Calauan Mayor Buenafrido Berris. Photo by Kenneth Valladolid

Internet has been a valuable tool used by students in researching materials related to science and technology for their assignments and activities in school but sadly for Philippines, internet connection is still unreliable especially in far-flung areas in the country.

To solve this dilemma, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through its agency Science and Technology Information Institute (STII), launched last 2011 the Science and Technology Academic and Research-Based Openly Operated Kiosk Station or simply STARBOOKS.

It is the first digital science library-in-a-box that contains rich materials in science and technology and even livelihood. What makes it different is that it can be used offline or without access to internet.

Since then, STARBOOKS has been widely requested and installed nationwide in different public and private schools, municipal libraries, government offices and other institutions for free, provided that computers and kiosks will be arranged by the partner-proponents.


Super STARBOOKS, 1000th site

The success of the project is once again highlighted when the STARBOOKS reached its 1000th site in Brgy. Dayap, Calauan, Laguna. It is made more special as the school recipient, Dayap National High School, received four kiosks with an upgraded version of STARBOOKS, dubbed as the Super STARBOOKS.

The first generation STARBOOKS that started in 2011 contained only local  and foreign S&T resource materials in text, video and audio formats, journals, technology materials and livelihood videos, covering a diverse range of topics, from food and nutrition, health and medicine and energy to environment and climate change, livelihood projects and many others, but along with the original content, the Super STARBOOKS also has about 15,000 or more materials that include the Tamang DOSTKarte Livelihood series ideal for students, professionals and housewives with entrepreneurial spirit. 

There are also 363 full-length livelihood “how-to” videos on income-generating projects like longganisa and chicharon making and candle making, among other.

The ceremonial unveiling of marker for the 1000th site of STARBOOKS was led by DOST Sec. Fortunato  T. De La Peña last September 23.

Sec. De la Peña, in his speech, underscored the importance of education with regards to growth of the regions.

He shared that as of now, there are already 16 campuses of Philippine Science High School System, an attached agency of the DOST, with the newest campus at Batangas City to cater students from the Region IV-A. 

In the middle of his speech, he called for 10 Dayap NHS students in the audience, asked what they want to be when they finished school and enlisted their names to be part of the DOST scholarship program. 

He also said that the present administration is pushing for educational reforms with regards to science and technology to encourage competitive growth, not only in the prime regions, but in every region in the country.



The Commission on Audit (COA), in its final report of 2014, has lauded the Department of Science and Technology’s STARBOOKS, saying that it is one innovation that merits praise because it provides opportunities to deprived but deserving students in the countryside and gives them access to information on S&T for free.

It was also awarded the American Library Association Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects last June 29, 2015 at the International Librarians Reception at the San Francisco, California.

Calauan Mayor Buenafrido T. Berris, for his part, announced that he will be giving additional 20 units of computer that can be connected to the 4 STARBOOK kiosks via local area network (LAN).

Dayap NHS OIC and DepEd Supervisor Dr. Florentina C. Rancap then thanked the DOST for its generosity and ensured that they will be taking good care of the kiosks and will maximize the use of the resources for the school to perform better in the National Achievement Test.

The ceremony was attended by DOST Assistant Secretary for Countryside Development Dr. Urduja A. Tejada, DOST Region IV-A Director Dr. Alexander R. Madrigal, DOST-STII Director Richard Burgos, Communications Resources and Production Division (CRPD) Chief Dr. Aristotle P. Carandang, DepEd Superintendent Dr. Joselyn S. Solana and Provincial S&T Center-Laguna Director Engr. Samuel L. Caperiña.

Present also are the students and teachers of Dayap NHS, local government officials of Calauan and officials and employees and other officials from DOST Main and Region IV-A offices.

The DOST is also calling for interested companies to be part of the program by donating computer units which can be turned into kiosk stations.

Email all inquiries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call telephone numbers (632) 837-2071 local 2135, (632) 837-2191 to 95 local 105/106, (632) 8372071 local 2130. (With Kenneth Valladolid)


THE United States will never withdraw support for Asia, particularly the Philippines, its strategic partner in the region, where its military bases once flourished and removed in 1992, but are now making a comeback.

Not even the acerbic comments from President Rodrigo Duterte would send the US packing up because both nations mutually benefit from each other. And no doubt, the US will remain steadfast in this shaky marriage because of the long-term benefits it offers for them.

After all, the barbs were not directed at US President Barrack Obama but at the columnists who Duterte termed as “lap dogs” of America in quickly assuming that Obama would talk to Duterte about extrajudicial killings (EJKs) like a father scolding his son. And this is what piqued Duterte as he declared “We are not a vassal state. I am only answerable to the Filipino people.”

For one, Obama was among the first callers of Duterte when he won the presidential race last May, personally dialing the number and talking to the president-elect. A few weeks later, Duterte got pissed with Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg, whom he called a gay. Still the friendship persisted.

Favorite place

To this day, the United States remains a favorite place among Filipinos to live or work. In 2002, 90% said they look favorably on America and 91% on the Americans and this remained at this high level prompting Obama in 2014 to declare that the Philippines is the most pro-American country in the world.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington reported that the relationship between the Philippines and the United States Congress are steeped in history. From 1907, during the American occupation, the Philippines had been represented in the United States Congress by Philippine resident commissioners until the U.S. granted Philippine independence in 1946. The commissioners were chosen by the Philippine Legislature and the National Assembly, and they represented the Philippines as one congressional district.

Today, Philippine relations with the United States Congress continue to be actively promoted in view of the sustained and enduring close linkages between the two countries as well as the presence of some 3.5 million Americans of Filipino descent in the United States. Filipino Americans represent the second biggest Asian minority, and a good number of them have an active presence in practically all states and congressional districts.

Foreign Trade

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that from January to July 2016, exports reached $4,457.5 million against imports of $5,716.4 or a balance in favor of the US of $1,258.9 million.

In 2015, whole year exports stood at $7,907.9 million against imports of %10,233.7 million or a gap of $2,435.8 million in favor of the United States. In 2014, exports stood at $8,507.3 million versus imports of $10,189.9 million, or a gap of $1, 682.5 million.

Defense assistance

Even if most of the military hardware being given to the Philippines are hand me downs, their amounts are staggering. In 2012, the US allocated $158.8 million in defense and development assistance for the Philippines. The package includes: $30 million for foreign military financing; $81.05 million in development assistance (through USAID); $33.8 million in global health programs; $1.8 million in international military education and training; $2.45 million in international narcotics control and law enforcement and $9.52 million in non-proliferation, anti-terrorism, demining and related programs.

Ironically, a report of the AlterNet on March 8, 2014 listed the Philippines as among the 35 countries where the US supported fascists, drug lords and terrorists. Alphabetically arranged, the Philippines placed 31 where it said the following:

Since the U.S. launched its so-called war on terror in 2001, a task force of 500 US JSOC forces has conducted covert operations in the southern Philippines. Now, under Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” U.S. military aid to the Philippines is increasing, from $12 million in 2011 to $50 million this year. But Filipino human rights activists report that the increased aid coincides with increased military death squad operations against civilians. The past three years have seen at least 158 people killed by death squads.

US Investments

Just last February 2016, Ambassador Goldberg declared in Baguio that American companies prefer to invest in the Philippines because of its educated workforce. “I expect more American investors to put up their manufacturing and export-based businesses here,” he said during the awarding of Texas Instrument Philippines as finalist of 2015 Secretary of Estate’s Award for Corporate Excellence.


By Juan Miguel Plaridel

BESIDES focusing mainly on anti-drug and criminality campaign in his first 100 days where he is earning full support from majority of the citizenry despite the controversies it generates, there is also a need for President Rodrigo Duterte to exert extra efforts to earn the nods of the white collar segment of the population.

And one of the best ways for Duterte to leave his imprint in the minds of the people and gain approval especially from the so-called upper classes of our society is for him to engage in some so-called legacy projects.

The reports therefore that he is set to name a young executive as Secretary for Philippine Flagship Projects could not have come at a better time.

If I heard it right, this would-be appointee should give him additional pogi ( approval) points because he has no political affiliations and is only driven to help the government of Digong to succeed, nothing more, nothing less.

I was told he is a practicing investment banker with a scheduled and confirmed appointment with P-DU30, which if true could signal for genuine initiatives that would move the administration to far greater heights and towards national reconciliation.

Should he appoint this Young Executive as part of his inner circle then it can be said that PRRD is ready to lead not only the minority but also the majority.  

If this is accurate, then I am sure getting this person will be good for the image of President DU30. Let us hope the effort materializes because we need good people to work inside the government.

While his first 100 days was marred with controversies amid allegations of state sponsored judicial killings, the appointment of a flagship projects head would cement Duterte’s commitment to improving the lives of the people.

As the title implies, this appointee will spearhead in coming up with legacy projects which are geared towards improving the lives of people from all walks of life with special emphasis on the poor and the powerless.

As it is, we must give P-DU30 a chance. Here are the reasons:

1. This is the best time to improve the Criminal Justice System and he can only do that with the help of Congress for them to pass laws that would help in his reform agenda.

The recodification of Criminal statutes is long overdue. The Revised Penal Code along with other Special Laws must be consolidated and a Special Criminal Code Commission or special subcommittee composed of academicians, lawyers, jurists, prosecutors can contribute.

He must professionalize the police and the military by providing them necessary logistics along with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) with the support of new Bureau of Criminal Forensic Science & Laboratory.

He must improve the Philippine penal system probably by transferring the present NBP Building to an isolated island to implement security concerns. 

A jury system is also worth looking to address heinous crimes like plunder, malversation, graft and corruption, kidnapping with rape, murder and the likes.

We must give him a chance to modernize communications system especially those that are relevant to our national security.

On the business side, there are huge opportunities to generate income from waste collection that we intend to use in our energy program, or we could enter into deals with foreign investors who will develop the so-called Ocean Wave Generation Plant.

The P-DU30 Speed Rail System interconnecting the entire Philippines with Long Term 30 Year Development Plan Called - DU30 Development Bond.

As it is, there is no substitute to solidarity and all leaders enjoy that spirit of solidarity as they rise to power.  

When trust ratings plunges, when business confidence are deteriorating there is a need to review political strategy. 

Survival is the goal of every combatant, and political survival requires positive aura of good governance, rule of law, and rebooted international and diplomatic relationships.

We need Congress to check on the Executive and we need Congress to balance the actions of the Executive.  We need the Supreme Court to guide both Congress and the Executive.  

Absent of that factor P-DU30 cannot provide all the solutions and he cannot be like Superman.

"The success or failure of the solution will depend on the paradigm of those who implemented the solution and those who are considered target beneficiary of the solution and the observations of independent third party. " ---as one Political Analyst would place it. If I am not mistaken it was a statement of the late newspaper editor Louie Beltran who wrote it in a column Straight From The Shoulder.


By Darwin T. Rasul III, OpinYon Mindanao

THE WAR in the Southern Philippines is one of the longest in Southeast Asia. With deep historical roots and fought under two competing banners i.e. the assertion of the rights of self-determination of the Moro people on one hand.

The other is the affirmation by the Philippines of its inherent right to territorial integrity as a sovereign state.

The war has taken thousands of lives, destroyed millions worth of properties, and displaced a magnitude of people who sought refuge in North Borneo and in other regions of the country.

However, beneath these crucial issues that remain unanswered both by the contending forces --- problems where internecine violence and conflict emanate from --- the territorial question has been disputed more in the battlefields than over a negotiating table.

The underlying issue behind the struggle for self-determination is fundamentally a question of territorial rights.

In the case of the Philippines, the concern for government's recognition of the right of the Moro people over their ancestral homeland as an acknowledgement of Moro territory. To be sure, the linkage between Moro identity and territory is intricately intertwined.

Nicos Poulantzas, emphasizing the importance of territory to the notion of group self-identity in his work Foundations of National Identity, refers to the “historicity of a territory and territorialization of a history,” as a territorial tradition concretized in a homeland.

The right of self-determination accrues to a given people on a given territory with which they have a legitimate “link” and upon which their future political expectations can be realized.

Therefore, some legitimate criteria for the determination of those who constitute this group called “people” and their relationship to the territory must be established. The test proposed is the existence of a “link” or “rational nexus” between the people and the territory, and this can be ascertained by a criterion of nationality.

Any one or a combination of the commonly binding factors namely, religion, race, culture, language and political ideology invariably constitutes nationality.

But nations seldom consist of a cohesive group linked by identical factors.

“Peoplehood” must be seen as contingent on two separate elements: the objective element which requires that there has to exist an ethnic group linked by common history.

In fact, as was indicated by Ernest Renan, cited in Qu’est-ce qu’une Nation, “peoplehood” is cemented by shared memories of common sufferings. The subjective element is that it is not enough to have an ethnic link in the sense of past genealogy and history; it is also essential to have a present ethos or state of mind. The people are entitled and required to identify themselves as such.

The concept of territory by itself is therefore a human construct which provides as the material basis in defining and re-defining human, group, ethnic, and social relations.

The permanence of culture and endurance of collective memory of peoples are assured, thereby ensuring the tenacity of one's identity and survival as a people. This is the case of the Moro people with their right to aspire for self-determination and determine their own destiny as a group with a distinctive politico-territorial identity.

It was the Spaniards who applied the appellation “Moro” to refer to Muslim inhabitants in the Philippines, mindful of the Muslim Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula and the northern coast of the African continent in 711 A.D.

When the Spaniards reached the Philippines via the Pacific Ocean in the 16th century, they encountered ferocious resistance from Muslims of the Sultanates in the southern part of the country and, finding them “hostile” like the Moors, they called them “Moros.”

J. L. Phelan, in his work, The Hispanization of the Philippines, stated that the Muslim secessionists prefer to be called Moros rather than Filipinos, believing that they have never been part of the Philippine body politic.

The war they are waging is just a continuation of their ancestors’ long struggle for independence against the colonial “Filipino-run Philippine state” which “illegitimately annexed” the Bangsamoro.

The state, on the other hand, contends that the separatist movements have to acknowledge current realities, viewing the Moros’ armed resistance as an act of secession against a legitimate state.

Needless to attempt here a historical analysis of the status of the Muslims in the Philippines but suffice it to say that “in both historical and constitutional thoughts, treatises as well as conventions have been a fact recognized and thus obviously need no support from any source of authority.

The Moro people’s existence and identity as a distinct historic nation antedated by centuries the Filipino Nation which developed only after the 1896 Philippine revolution.

Since the Spanish (1621-1898) and American (1899-1946) colonial periods, the Moro people have suffered national, class, and religious oppression.

A critique of neoliberal ideology that apologizes for the wars in the Moro homeland deserves a place in contemporary debates on the Moro quest for self-determination.

The Sulu and Mindanao Sultanates, which predate the Spanish colonization of the Philippines by almost 400 years until the arrival of General Legazpi in 1565, were indeed sovereign and as such had entered into several treaties and agreements with other nation-states such as France, Great Britain, and China.

The Spanish monarchy could not claim sovereignty over the territories of the Moros. In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O. D. Corpuz stated that while the Spaniards succeeded over the Indio conscripts (from the word “india” which means “native”), not so with the Muslims who were, in contrast, religious in character and undertones.

But Moro opposition to Spanish rule failed to transcend the ethno-linguistic identities of Muslims to a national Moro identity comparable to the transformation of the hispanized, subjugated, and Catholicized Indios into a Filipino national identity years before the spark of the 1896 revolution.

Some scholars suggest that the aggressive Christianization campaign by the Spaniards precipitated a heightened Islamic consciousness and identity of the Muslims.

Beginning in early 1920s, Muslim leaders of Sulu and Mindanao began a peaceful movement to “recreate” their own nation-state and establish a civil government of their own.

With the then emerging Philippine Republic, Moro leaders filed a petition before the US Congress to declare them a separate sovereign state from the would-be Republic of the Philippines.

The denial of their petition and the declaration of Philippine independence ---- after a U.S. sponsored 10-year transition period under a Commonwealth Republic ---- led Muslim leaders to reconfigure their Moro identity vis-a-vis the emergent Philippine nation-state.

The inability of the Moros to associate their destiny with that of the “single” Filipino nation stimulated their aspiration for a status that would provide them equal opportunity to advance their separate interest.

Above all other concerns, ethnic identity is territorial identity, the Moro homeland as the crux of the Moro struggle for self-determination.

The Philippine government perceives the question of ancestral domain within the bounds of the 1987 Constitution which hinges on the concept of stewardship and sustains the Regalian Doctrine, a legal fiction which affirms the state’s inherent power of eminent domain.

H. Adam II, in his speech “Democracy and Self-Determination” at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, stated that people should have the right to choose their states and citizenship freely --- in self-determination.

To build a nation, the state, in implementing development strategies through a constitutional framework, ought to allow the empowerment of diverse ethnic people whose right to nurture their own development should be defined by their own history, culture and multi-ethnic sentiments.

(Darwin T. Rasul III, book author and political analyst, is Assistant Regional Secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and concurrently Editor-in-Chief of ARMM Magazine, the regional government’s official publication. He has served as consultant in the Senate of the Philippines, and is the president of Minority Rights Forum Inc.)

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Tuesday, 21 January 2020
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