By Edwin Cosau

FORMER Makati Acting Mayor Kid Peña’s stint at the city hall might be over but his problems are just starting after Mayor Abigail Binay ordered an investigation on his alleged questionable appointments for regularization and promotion of some city government personnel during his term.

City Personnel Officer Vissia Marie Aldon said they discovered that many of the questioned appointments could have violated civil service and election laws as they were issued during the election ban imposed by Comelec from March 25-May 8.

“We found several appointments deviated from established Rules, Memorandum Circulars and Guidelines prescribed by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), as well as the Omnibus Election Code that imposes a ban on civil service appointments during the election period,” Aldon pointed put.

She also revealed that many of the appointed personnel did not meet the minimum requirements under the CSC qualification standards. She cited as an example the appointment of a non-medical doctor to Assistant Medical Officer, a position that can only be held by a licensed doctor.

She also raised the issue of improper or lack of Personnel Selection Board proceedings for issued appointments as required by the CSC.

Aldon said her office has forwarded its initial findings to the CSC for appropriate action.

“We hope that the CSC will immediately look into patent irregularities in appointments issued by the previous administration, so that we can make the necessary adjustments and address whatever problems these may have caused,” Aldon said.

Earlier, Binay has directed the HRDO and other concerned offices of the city government to review the city government’s current organizational structure and institute necessary reforms to “promote a higher level of professionalism and competence in the workforce.”

“The end-goal is to make the city government more responsive, more efficient and more effective in providing public service,” Binay said.

Comelec Resolution 10030 issued last December promulgates the prohibition against appointment or hiring of new employees; creation or filling up of positions; giving salary increases; transfer or detail of civil service employees; and suspension of elective local officials in connection with the May 9, 2016 national and local elections.

Under the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, the said prohibition takes effect 45 days before a regular election and 30 days before a special election, except upon prior authority of the CSC.

 

Tagum City Mayor Joseph Penas

By Nilo P. Mercado/OpinYon Mindanao

Digos City - Mayor Joseph Peñas strongly supports the national drive of President-elect Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to rid the country of illegal drugs, illegal gambling and corruption.

During the meeting of the City Peace and Order Council, he asked the members to “unite, be one in saying yes to this program of the president (President-elect Rodrigo Duterte) by doing our part.”

Meanwhile, suspected drug pushers were arrested over the weekend as Digos City police operatives intensified their anti-illegal drug operations. Police Superintendent April Mark Young warned drug traffickers to get out of Digos City. “Stop or get out of Digos. You will suffer the full consequences of the law!” Police Superintendent April Mark Young issued this stern warning. “We know who you are and where you get your supplies.

“I appeal to the people, especially parents, we should not wait for the police, we should not wait for agencies of the government tasked to apprehend, we should rise as one against illegal activities, against illegal drugs,” Mayor Peñas said.

By Bernard Badilla-Toledo, Reporter

MEASLY GOVT SHARES

AS a result, former Comelec Chairman and mining industry analyst Christian Monsod stressed that the country gets “very little by way of taxes, fees and royalties, and practically none at all during the tax holiday period, very little by way of job generation, probably little net foreign exchange inflows, very little contribution to GDP, very little industrialization linkages.

Aside from the very little impact, Monsod argued the mining industry has not actually “alleviated” the country from poverty.

A FAILURE IN ADDRESSING POVERTY

Former National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) chief Cielito Habito at one time described mining sector as having the highest poverty incidence of any sector in the country with 48.7 percentage level.

This means that only the owners, executives and the principals of huge mining firms are laughing their ways to the bank while the poor and ordinary mine works and their families continue to languish in poverty.

In his study, Habito pointed out that mining was the only sector where poverty incidence instead of decreasing has even increased between the years 1988 to 2009.

Government data itself disclosed that the high poverty incidence in many mining areas such as in Palawan with 53% poverty incidence, CARAGA region with 47.5%, Zamboanga Peninsula has 42.75%, Bicol region got 44.92%, and the national level has an average of 26%.

Economic boom was expected on areas where mining business of large-scale mining firms were operating, but that was belied wholly by the government data.

The poverty incidence could not be hidden due to high percentage level.

SCRAP THE MINING LAW

ATM, Ibon Foundation, PCJM, Karapatan, Philippine Alliance for Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), and the Kalikasan People’s Network for Environment have different political inclinations, but they are one in calling the Philippine Congress to scrap the R.A. 7942 and other related programs since they only served to enrich the mining firms and not the country’s economy.

They argued that the MGB data and the 39 persons killed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and para-military units due to their opposition to mining were sufficient pieces of evidence that the members of Philippine Congress should decide to scrap the 20 year-old mining law.

The groups wanted a new mining law that will really help improve the economy, improve the lives of the residents in the mining areas, not destroy the environment, and respect and protect the rights of the people.

A quarrying site in Rodriguez, Rizal. Photo by Kenneth Valladolid

RESIDENTS of Didipio and other nearby villages in Kasibu town in Nueva Viscaya have expressed hope that large scale mining in their areas that has been going on for the longest time will finally be stopped as they called on President Rody Duterte to make good on his campaign promise to stop destructive mining activities.

In an interview, Councilor Celia Bahag said she along with her fellow residents travelled all the way from their mountain village to join the gathering at Mendiola last June 30 for Duterte’s inauguration and to reiterate their call on im to stop destructive mining.

Battle against OGPI

They are particularly decrying the mining activities being conducted in their village by Oceana Gold Philippines Inc. (OGPI) that operates the Didipio Gold –Copper Mining Project is operated by Oceana Gold Philippines that is expected to run up to December 2018.

Records indicated that the previous Aqino administration had granted the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) to OGPI that originally covers 370 square kilometers that was reduced to 158 square kilometers after several years of exploration relinquishments.

The open pit mine is expected to produce 200,000 ounces of gold and 70,000 tonnes of copper concentrate per year.

Bahag said that they have been opposing the continued operations of the mining firm because of their destructive effects to their communities not to mention the fact that they were not even consulted before a permit was granted to the company.

These prompted various people’s organizations among them Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Mamamayan at Magsasaka Inc. (Sapakmmi) and Didipio Earth Savers Multi-purpose Association (Desama) to conduct protest activities against the mining operations.

Sapakmmi chairman Erenio Bobola for his part said Oceana Gold’s mining had polluted their river and water sources.

“We are against Oceana Gold, because we don’t want to have these problems carry on for the coming generation,” Bobola said. “We hope that under Duterte, destructive mining operations will stop because we have felt the bad effects of mining.”

He said that their groundwater has been disturbed and dried up by Oceana Gold’s tunneling activities.

The rivers and creeks that used to be their sources of food are now polluted, while water supply for farm irrigation has dried up.

Worse, the company even dumps waste water from its kitchen and facilities into the river.

“They do it late at night, at around 10 p.m. to 12 midnight. Residents can smell when waste had been dumped,” he said.

To dramatize their opposition to the project, they set up a barricade to bar the entry of drilling equipment, fuel and its accessories.

The Didipio residents gained support from no less than re-elected Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos Padilla, who visited them and pledged to oppose large-scale mining operations in the province.

After three days of barricade, the mining company withdrew its drilling equipment.

The Didipio peasants and indigenous peoples hope that under the new government, Oceana Gold’s mining operations will completely stop.

Destruction

Meanwhile, the company’s promise to construct a hospital and school buildings, provide chairs and computers are yet to be delivered, Bobola said.

In 2014, environmentalists and people’s scientists found heavy copper contamination in the now murky Dinaoyan River, where OceanaGold’s mine tailings spill off.

Oceana Gold was the first mining company that was issued a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) under the Mining Act of 1995, or Republic Act 7942.

Its FTAA covers 15,000 hectares in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces where it has been conducting exploration since 1994. This year, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) extended its exploration permit for copper and gold up to 2021.

Another mining company, FCF Minerals, is in the construction phase in the adjacent municipality of Quezon, for its Runruno Gold-Molybdenum project.

Under the Mining Act, companies are allowed to export 100 percent of its profit for seven years.

“They also have auxiliary rights to water, timber, and the right to demolish houses in the scope of their operations,” Fernando Mangili of Amianan Salakniban, the network for the environment and human rights in North Luzon, said.

Suspend mining operations

The reason why environmentalists group, along with the Didipio residents have long called for the suspension of mining operations is because of the adverse impact in the area, such as how Dinkidi Hill was leveled by OceanaGold’s open-pit mining.

At present, surrounding forests and hills are also threatened by the company’s expansion.

Health workers in Didipio have also reported increased cases of respiratory diseases.

Aside from its environmental destruction, in 2011, the Commission on Human Rights charged OceanaGold of human rights violations for its attacks on resisting residents in 2009.

Bahag and Bobola believed that the new government must work to have the Mining Act repealed. They also support the enactment of the People’s Mining Bill.

“If that law is scrapped, then mining in our place will stop,” Bahag said. (With reports from Bulatlat.com / OpinYon, Rosemarie Señora)

Ambassador Rosario Manalo

EARNING recognition for her active work in the promotion of women’s rights, Philippine Ambassador Rosario G. Manalo won a seat in the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in elections held last June 22 at the United Nations Headquarters.

Ambassador Manalo, one of the Philippines’ most accomplished diplomats, was among 25 candidates who vied for 11 seats in CEDAW for the term 2017-2020.

The other 10 candidates who also won a seat in CEDAW were from Bahamas, China, France, Ghana, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mauritania, Nepal, Nigeria, and Norway.

CEDAW is a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

It was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bastion that promotes rights for women. It defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for action to end such discrimination.

The Philippines’ victory is a testament to the country’s active advocacy and leadership on women’s rights.

“The human condition and the human spirit of the women in this lovely corner of the world will have to cross, sooner than later, to achieve a better life for the people of Southeast Asia. Let us in the Philippines start this journey and lead ASEAN to greater heights in peace, in equality, in prosperity and in the exercise of social justice,” Manalo said.

Manalo is not new to the committee as she has served as Chairperson of CEDAW in 2005-2006 and the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in 1984-1986, which became the Preparatory Committee for the 1985 Nairobi Third World Conference on Women.

After her previous stint in CEDAW, she brought the Convention’s concepts to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Manalo has been serving the Department of Foreign Affairs for 57 years in various capacities in multilateral fora and bilateral relations.

She graduated from the University of the Philippines with a degree of Bachelor of Laws and Master of Arts in Public Administration.

She also studied at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York, where she earned her Master of Arts in International Relations and Diplomacy, and is the first Filipina to pass the Philippines’ career foreign service officers examinations.

Her first diplomatic posting was as Ambassador to the European Economic Community in Brussels from 1979 to1987.

She later served as concurrent Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (1985-1987); adviser to the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris (1988-1990), where she is also Ambassador and Permanent Delegate; Philippine Ambassador to the French Republic (1990-1994) with concurrent accreditation to Portugal and Ambassador to Sweden and the Nordic States, and the Baltic States from 1994-1997.

Ambassador Manalo was Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs from 1997 to 2002, in charge of International Economic Relations. She was concurrently Secretary-General of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines.

She currently teaches at the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde, Miriam College, Philippine Women’s University, University of Asia and the Pacific, National Defense College of the Philippines, the Foreign Service Institute, and the University of the Philippines. (Rosemarie Señora)

 

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