There is nothing to fear with globalization.

This is what British Ambassador Asif Ahmad has said commenting on the shift of attitude towards global interdependence, linking the shift to the fear of losing livelihoods and employment in a world where physical borders now appear inadequate to provide protection.

“The attitude towards interdependency seems to have changed in the last decade, following the global financial crisis in 2007. People feel the direct impact of globalization in their lives as their livelihood and employment can be affected by the decision of an individual from another country,” he said.

Speaking at the recently conducted Pandesal Forum, the Ambassador emphasized the importance of interdependency in creating mutual prosperity among nations, like in the case of United Kingdom (UK) and the Philippines.

“Instead of looking at globalization as a threat, governments should balance its impact and make it work for their people. Prosperity created through the help of interdependence should be inclusive. Governments can invest in infrastructure and social welfare to empower the marginalized. Women can be given more opportunities to participate in economic activities,” the Ambassador explained.

Ahmad also noted that shifting to an isolationist and protectionist stance is a “poor and dangerous” response to globalization, adding that interdependency has improved food security, consumer choice and health care.

 

Brexit

The UK’s decision to step out of the EU, he said, allows UK to further deepen its ties with the rest of the world, especially Asia. The exit gives their country the opportunity to be more outward-facing and more energetic on the global stage.

“We are working together with the Philippine government in further pushing the boundaries of free trade,” said Ambassador Ahmad. 

“Being the Philippines’ number one investor from the European Union, we not only bring British goods and services to the market but we also help generate employment and tax revenue.”

UK-Philippine trade relations remain upbeat as total British exports of goods and services to the Philippines last year reached P38.76 billion (£628 million), a 28 percent increase from 2014. In particular, UK exports were up by 38 percent in 2015, making the Philippines among the UK’s fastest growing exports markets.

For the first half of this year, goods exports to the Philippines have been valued at P16.16 billion (£262 million), led by machines and transport, food and beverage, and retail. (With reports from The Manila Times)

 

HEADQUARTERED just outside Washington DC, the International Registries Inc and its affiliate, a private company regulator on behalf of the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) in the central Pacific Ocean, has been equipping Filipino sailors with proper documentation in accessible QR code form and training them in view of tightening immigration laws globally. 

Documenting Filipino seafarers and training them for higher skills are among the pre-requisites imposed by the European Maritime Safety Administration (EMSA) in previous years, which almost led to the blacklisting of the country’s 80,000 seamen in 2013. 

But IRI does not cater directly to EMSA although it makes sure to comply with all its safety standards and regulations.

Capt. Robert A. Fay, IRI Senior Vice President for maritime operations, said the Philippine IRI office was set up last year to expedite the documentation of Filipino seafarers—which could have been more costly if they had to keep shuttling their papers to principals abroad for documentation in their host countries. 

It also registers all kinds of seagoing vessels around the world to prevent sea disasters, environmental degradation and maritime piracy.

From just four (including the country manager) staff in its first year, the IRI office in the country has grown to 12 in just a year because of the huge Filipino seamen market that keeps growing by leaps and bounds because Filipino seafarers are most preferred by shippers and shipping companies around the world.

At its first anniversary press conference, IRI—the private company operating as the regulating arm of the government of RMI—said it sees the Philippine office as one of the fastest growing among its over 27 offices located in shipping and financial centers of the world and this is because the Filipino seafarer base is also expanding very fast.

They are only properly documented in their seafarer books which are kept in ship’s vaults but do not get shipping IDs so they can move around in any part of the world, where the ships dock, whereas IRI IDs are recognized in a growing number of countries.

But Leo Bolivar, IRI country manager, said they do not accept documents of individual seafarers but only through accredited crewing agencies and liaison of shipping principals and in batches, which when completed are also picked up by these applicant liaison officers and crewing agents.

Bolivar said his office works closely with agencies like Maritime Industry Authority, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency to verify the veracity of every documentation application. It also abides by regulations of the International Maritime Organization.

“We want to make sure that our documentation and registration are free from any problems and inconvenience, both to us and to the applicant- company or manning agency,” said Fay.

 

Savings

Bolivar said that of the 80,000 seafarers in its international data base and 60,000 and growing have been listed with IRI Philippines in a year. 

Seagoing trade accounts for 80 percent of all goods traded around the world. A third of our seafarer clients are from the Philippines, Fay said.

“We have been processing 600 to 700 documents in the Manila office. Since our procedures are more thorough and our documentation more air-tight, shippers and maritime operators prefer us over our rivals (IRI is the third international register in the world) and we use modern technologies for our systems and final products (IDs with QR codes that can be accessed through smartphones for verification by foreign governments),” said Fay.

Bolivar said the savings of having seafarers registered with IRI amount to $40 per shipment per batch (they only accept in batches) and at 700 documents per week this would reach for the entire industry a saving of $4,000 a week.

 

Ship registry

With ships and crew calling from port to port, it is difficult to identify the nationality of the ship and its staff unless they are properly documented by recognized international registries. Their registries also identify their rights and obligations to their staff and to the port of call and the governing laws in these states.

RMI—located between Hawaii and the Philippines—is comprised of 1,200 islands and islets of nearly 2 million square kilometers of sea area. Its government was established in 1979 with the signing of its constitution.

IRI (the world’s oldest and most experienced privately maritime regulator) is the third largest register surpassing 138 million gross tons in October 2016. It offers one of the world’s premier registry that is recognized as a modern and efficient flag-state administration, noted for its commitment to maritime safety, security, social responsibility and environmental protection.

IRI registers tank ships, LNG gas carriers, bulk carriers, container ships, offshore drilling, production and service units, passenger vessels (which also has been growing as an industry) and yachts.

It offers regulatory and technical support during the process of documentation and upon registration of the vessels and crew. 

Its registry offices are in three regions: Asia as Region 1; Europe, the Middle East and India in Region2 and the Americas in Region 3. This allows for issues to be resolved and recorded from office to office around the world. 

IRI adheres to its commitments to Coast Guards of Europe, US and Asia under their respective memoranda of understanding (MOUs) as well as to EMSA regulations. IRI has registration offices for vessels in Hongkong, Japan and Korea to register any Philippine vessels since there are not too many shipowners that look for registration right here in the country, Bolivar said.

IRI has agreements under the STCW Convention (or the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers-- an evolving set of standards that affect nearly  (STCW) is an evolving set of standards that affects nearly every aspects of a mariner’s life at sea – with 72 countries.

It will be recalled that in 2013, EMSA almost disqualified the Filipino seafarers which it deemed least qualified for maritime duties because of the inadequate training provided by maritime schools under the supervision of the Commission on Higher Education and the regulatory disarray of the industry between MARINA and Professional Regulations Commission, owing to lack of legislative infrastructure over the industry. 

MILITANT labor groups again slammed the so-called ‘win-win solution’ proposed by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez to end labor contractualization , describing the same as ruse that would only legitimize the workers’ exploitation by capitalists and employers.

The groups Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) ang MASO-Pilipinas made the allegation as they ‘gate-crashed’ the 6th annual forum of PALSCON or the Philippine Association of Legitimate Service Contractors,  which was set to tackle their position on the proposal of the trade and labor departments.

This developed as they challenged President Duterte’s sincerity in fulfilling his campaign promise to end temporary employment by ordering his economic managers to stop espousing anti-labor proposals.

They also called on President Duterte to issue an Executive Order to declare DO18-A void and the revision of the BMBE law.

They also want him to certify as urgent congressional bills nullifying Articles 106 to 109 and the prohibition of contracting of ‘usually necessary or desirable’ work, pursuant to Article 280 of the Labor Code. 

The criminalization of labor-only contracting and deputize labor union leaders as labor inspectors to check and report violation of labor standards.

“It will simply take President Duterte an issuance of an Executive Order to scrap contractualization for good. To ordain such would lift millions of families from the yoke of dearth and misery,” Leody de Guzman, president of BMP said.

Under Lopez’s proposed set-up, workers will be hired by the service providers and manpower agencies as regular employees, receiving various benefits such as leave credits, 13th month pay as well as retirement, social security and health insurance plans, among others.

The militants called the proposal “baseless and dismissive” of Article 280 of the Labor Code, which states that regular employees are those who perform “usually necessary or desirable” in the normal operations of a business. 

“For more than two decades now, workers have been severely burdened by the wanton denial of our rights, forcibly shoving us further below poverty line. No amount sugar-coating from capitalist agents, will dupe us into taking their bait,” said Leody de Guzman, president of the socialist BMP. 

The groups insisted the proposal would only mean that Articles 106 to 109 of the Labor Code and Department Order 18-A, “legal instruments used to circumvent constitutionally-guaranteed rights” shall remain intact.  

De Guzman explained that Articles 106 to 109 provided the loophole for capitalists in these trilateral agreements to use contractors and subcontractors that provide cheaper workers to carry out work that should be performed by their regular employees. 

These provisions, he claimed, “were only meant to obfuscate employee-employer relationships. More so, it reinforces the capitalist blackmail of ‘work or starve’, under constant threat of unemployment by simply terminating their employment contracts”.

 

HEALTH Secretary Dr. Paulyn Rossel-Ubial has announced that the Department of Health is granted its highest share of the 2017 national budget with the whooping amount of P146 billion of the proposed P3.35-trillion national budget for next year.

The amount is the highest the agency has received since its inception in 1947 and is the third highest after the Department of Education (P567 billion) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (P454 billion). 

What is more significant is that it is also higher than the P130 billion of appropriations to the Department of National Defense (DND).

Ubial also said that the Senate had proposed that the DOH add inclusions to the General Appropriations Bill, which could increase the proposed DOH budget to about P152 billion “if we are to add all the suggestions of the senators, so an increase of more or less six billion from the proposal from the Lower House.”

A substantial amount from the proposed budget will be used for the DOH’s family planning and reproductive-health programs, according to the Health Secretary.

"We hope that with our collective efforts, we can really convince the judiciary that the Reproductive Health program is a health intervention and it is for population development, and that it will help the Filipino nation as a whole, and individual families in particular" Ubial stressed. (J. Veloso)

 

THESE are interesting times.

That nothing is perfect in our world is better understood now by what is happening in the US of A especially when we think about Donald Trump’s triumph in the last presidential elections.

The most powerful nation on earth is now hurting for electing a president that lost the popular votes but won in the votes of electors in Electoral College. 

Under the US election system, the Electoral College is the body that elects the President and Vice President of the United States every four years. 

Citizens of the United States do not directly elect the president or the vice president; instead they choose "electors", who usually pledge to vote for particular candidates. 

The number of electors in each state is equal to the number of members of Congress to which the state is entitled.

There are currently 538 electors, corresponding to the 435 Representatives and 100 Senators, plus the three additional electors from the District of Columbia. 

All states, except for Maine and Nebraska, have chosen electors on a "winner-take-all" basis since the 1880s.

Under winner-take-all, a state has all of its electors pledged to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes in that state. 

The candidate who receives an absolute majority of electoral votes for President or Vice President is then elected to that office. 

On five occasions, most recently in the just concluded 2016 presidential elections, the Electoral College system has resulted in the selection of electors with a majority pledged to a candidate who did not receive the most popular votes in the election. 

Trump sold hate and racism to anchor his call for America for Americans. 

The protest marches and near-riots in streets in the USA, denouncing his victory, are like fruits of seeds of hate he has planted now he is reaping. 

There are whispers saying that Trump can still be overturned by the process of Electoral College itself where cussing Trump won. 

On December 19, the electors in this scheme will validate the elections. 

The electors can still overturn the results of the previous count. 

It’s an interesting system of check and balance in the U.S. of A.

*****

The immediate, knee jerk reaction of the market was panic and stock prices dived down to record percentages.  Fearing for an anxiety driven slump in the market, speculators rushed and panicked.

This happened in all exchanges including the Philippines. 

While most shares took a dive, interestingly shares of Megaworld, developers of Trump Towers in Metro Manila, surged on the back of its partnership with Donald Trump, who is a world leader in real estate development aside from winning the US presidency. 

On the profit and loss statement side, though, Megaworld Corp. posted another double-digit earnings for nine months. 

Ending this September, it grew its net income by 11% to post income of P9.17-Billion from P8.35 billion for the same period last year. 

*****

Another gainer is Manila Water Company, Inc., concessionaire in the supply of water to half of Metro Manila and urban centers. This water distributor increased its net income by 6% to P4.87 billion in the nine months ending September.  

Increases in revenues came from surges in profits in its Metro Manila East Zone concession that grew by 4%, Laguna Water went up to 12%, and Clark Water up by 13%. 

What’s interesting in this report is, these billions of pesos should have been earned by the government and distributed to the consumers in lower service cost. This is a very clear picture of unfair results of privatization. The Ayalas make billions at the expense of millions of its consumers who are supposed to be the true beneficiaries of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects. 

*****

The war for the coveted blessings by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte on who shall build the global gateway that will replace Ninoy Aquino International Airport, has just been upped with media easily now the battle grounds.

It appears the Ramon S. Ang group is leading the media wars with columnists in his stable taking pot shots at proponents to develop Sangley Point for the next global gateway, as the JICA study strongly suggested. 

RSA, the front man of Danding Cojuangco of the Marcos Martial Law syndicate, appears to have let loose his attack dogs.

Aside from the mainstream traditional media, the social media is also being used where an analysis was posted on the brewing war of Filipino billionaires over Sangley Point. 

The post said Henry Sy group has allied with the Tieng Family and China Communications Construction Company, on the project for the proposed Sangley Point international airport.

The post was obviously promoting and supporting RSA proposal to build the international airport in Bulacan, citing cost as reason. By the way, both Sangley Point and Bulacan sites for international airport will require thousands of hectares of reclamation. 

Will RSA win this one even when technical studies and common sense dictate that the best alternative to NAIA is Sangley Point?

With RSA anything can happen, take note, the airport skyways was won by RSA group by committing and paying upfront money of over P8 billion for the right to build the skyway against MVP group offer of several hundreds of millions. Those figures are what are publicly announced. Nobody is asking how much winners in these privatization schemes offer in corruption money to officials of DOTr.

 

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