Philippine Daily Inquirer
9:59 pm | Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon is resigning his high-profile office by day‘s end tomorrow. It is a good
decision; if he had not tendered his ―irrevocable resignation‖ in a meeting with President Aquino on Monday, he would
have been forced out of the Bureau of Customs by both internal political pressure and public opinion.

Indeed, if he had not resigned after seeking that well-publicized meeting, or if the President had told him to stay, both
of them would have been roundly criticized—for raising and then dashing expectations. That meeting in Malacañang
was a threshold, and the public knew it.

The President‘s official statement, three paragraphs short, highlighted what he must have thought was the essential
matter he discussed with Biazon: ―He explained that it would be best to provide the Secretary of Finance the widest
leverage and flexibility to steer the future of the Bureau of Customs, in light of the controversy brought about by
Commissioner Biazon‘s inclusion‖ in the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation in the Office of the

That controversy, of course, refers to the roiling P10-billion pork barrel scam, allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-
Napoles. Biazon was included in the second set of charges the NBI filed in the case, for reportedly earning illegal
commissions amounting to P1.95 million, by channeling Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations worth P2.7
million to one of Napoles‘ bogus nongovernment organizations in 2007, when he was the representative of

Biazon is the first close ally of the President implicated in the pork barrel scam. (Another former representative,
Zenaida Cruz-Ducut, currently chair of the Energy Regulatory Commission, was also charged. But she was appointed
to that office by President Gloria Arroyo in 2008. It is misleading to count her among Mr. Aquino‘s political allies.)
Whistle-blowers‘ testimony suggests there are three other allies of Mr. Aquino similarly implicated, at least for the
years 2007 to 2009. The public will be waiting for the NBI‘s third batch of filings, and for the next Commission on
Audit special report, this time covering PDAF disbursements since 2010, to determine whether the Aquino
administration‘s exercise of political will truly extends even to its own, or whether Biazon is only the one sacrificial

The first part of Biazon‘s three-page resignation statement makes for intriguing reading. There are seven paragraphs
that challenge the idea of resignation, each beginning with ―Why will I resign?‖ For instance, ―Why will I resign if some
quarters will only interpret it as an admission of guilt?‖ Or, ―Why will I resign if the allegations do not have anything to
do with my present duty as Commissioner of Customs?‖

No doubt, the decision must have been difficult to make. The reforms he undertook in Customs have not had a real
chance to take root; the reorganization he started only a few months ago has not borne fruit. And there is no second-
guessing the high priority Biazon placed on protecting his family, especially his children, ―from the exposure to the
hostile environment of a public controversy involving their father.‖ But in truth, after the filing of the charges, his
position was untenable.

Just last July, after the President reserved choice words for the BOC in his State of the Nation Address, Biazon
already faced pressure to resign. He received Mr. Aquino‘s support; it was too much, politically, to expect the
President to come to Biazon‘s defense again, now that criminal charges have been filed against him.
It is not exactly true, as Biazon argued in another ―Why will I resign‖ paragraph, that ―at this point, there is only an
allegation that has yet to even pass the scrutiny of the Ombudsman to determine if it has basis to undergo preliminary
investigation.‖ Yes, the Office of the Ombudsman has its own procedures to follow, but the complaint the NBI filed
against him (and 33 others, including six other former members of the House of Representatives) was not a
haphazard thing.

Much work went into the investigation. Almost three months elapsed between the first filing of charges (against
Napoles, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla, as well as many others) and the second;
that wasn‘t an accident. To save his reputation, the former candidate for the Senate must assume that the
investigators have the goods on him, and prepare accordingly.
Use scrapped PDAF for disaster
aid – solons

'NO PATRONAGE.' Senate President Franklin Drilon says the Supreme Court decision will "dismantle the system of
political patronage." He opts for a supplemental budget to fund disaster rehabilitation. Photo by Joseph Vidal/Senate
MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers plan to pass a supplemental budget for 2013 to help disaster
victims after the Supreme Court struck down their pork barrel.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said he will discuss the proposal with House Speaker Feliciano
Belmonte Jr following the High Court ruling declaring the Priority Development Assistance Fund
(PDAF) unconstitutional.
Legislators had mixed reactions to the ruling – with some welcoming it as a boost for transparency,
others as vindication of their crusade, and the rest as a “sad day” for their constituents.
For Drilon, the P14.5 billion in unused PDAF for 2013 might as well go to relief and rehabilitation
efforts for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and typhoons Santi (Nari) and Labuyo (Utor),
the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in the Visayas, and the Zamboanga siege.
“We are now eyeing the passage of a supplemental budget for 2013 – and we will thereafter urge
the President to certify it as urgent,” Drilon said in a statement on Tuesday, November 19.
Drilon explained that the House of Representatives must first pass the supplemental budget. He
suggested that the Senate then suspend the deliberation of the 2014 national budget to tackle the
supplemental budget.
“I would urge the immediate passage of the supplemental budget before the year ends because the
General Appropriations Act for 2013 would expire by December 31. The supplemental budget must
be passed before the year ends,” the Senate President told reporters.
In a unanimous decision, the Court declared the PDAF unconstitutional, particularly laws that allow
lawmakers to “intervene, assume, or participate in any of the various post-enactment stages of the
budget execution.”
Drilon and Belmonte said instead of appealing the decision, Congress will just respect the ruling.
Before the Supreme Court decision, lawmakers intended to realign the PDAF to help calamity
Yet Drilon said that this can no longer be done under the High Court ruling.
“It goes back to the national treasury and we won’t be able to use it for storm victims. We cannot
even realign PDAF because the SC erased it from the 2013 budget.”
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano supported the use of the remaining funds for the
disaster victims.
“Let me also…call on the Executive and Congress to make sure that the unspent portion of this
year’s PDAF goes straight to the people as fast as possible, especially to the victims of the recent
calamities,” Cayetano said in a statement.
Before the ruling, senators were allocated P200 million in PDAF each year while congressmen got
P70 million. The PDAF was meant to be used for priority projects of lawmakers’ districts like roads,
medical assistance and school buildings. Yet it was often used as a political tool and the system
became prone to corruption.
The Supreme Court decision reversed its past rulings upholding the legality of the PDAF. It comes
after national outrage over the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam, where lawmakers allegedly
channeled their PDAF to fake non-governmental organizations of supposed mastermind Janet Lim-
Napoles in exchange for kickbacks.
Miriam: There’s a God after all
Some lawmakers hailed the Supreme Court decision as a step toward transparency. Drilon said it
will “dismantle the system of political patronage.”
Yet for Senator JV Ejercito, the Court must not stop with the PDAF and include the administration’s
Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
“If the PDAF was declared as unconstitutional, then all forms of pork barrel should likewise be
declared unconstitutional so it will be consistent.”
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares agreed. "I also hope that the same decision would be
issued for the DAP because any president must not be allowed to realign funds at whim as this will
lead to corruption and misuse of funds.”
The High Court handed down its PDAF ruling on the same day it began oral arguments on the DAP,
which critics said was a “budget within a budget” and another form of pork barrel. The government
said though that it was meant to boost spending when the economy’s growth slowed down.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago also hailed the Supreme Court ruling. She quipped, “There’s a
God after all.”
Santiago said the ruling was consistent with her criticism of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce
Enrile’sselective distribution of additional Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) in
December 2012 because the SC struck down “all informal practices of similar import and effect [as
the PDAF] which the court deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or
excess of discretion.”
“Enrile’s arrogance has now been declared as bluff and bluster by the Supreme Court. At the very
least, he should offer to commit hara-kiri because this dishonor belongs to him,” Santiago said.
“Getting sick over the pork barrel scandal was well worth it, now that the Supreme Court has
validated my position. This is a vindication not only for me but also for the entire Filipino electorate,”
she added.
Santiago’s rival, former Senator Panfilo Lacson, also saw the decision as a vindication. Lacson and
former Senator Joker Arroyo were the only ones who refused to use their PDAF allocations.
“Ten years ago, I called for the pork barrel abolition…. Nobody listened. Instead, I was looked down
upon as one stupid legislator with no political sense. At last, I feel vindicated that I proved myself
right. I couldn’t be happier for myself and for our people,” Lacson said in a statement.
‘Scholars innocent victims of Napoles scam’
Other lawmakers criticized the Supreme Court decision.
"It is a big blow to our efforts to raise funds for the rehabilitation and reconstruction [after disasters].
While all sectors of society in the national and international community are in a frenzied mood to look
for resources to support the typhoon victims, the SC appears to be insensitive to our situation," said
Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone.
Senator Sonny Angara and Marikina Representative Miro Quimbo said the government must now
look for ways to fund scholars and indigent patients affected by the ruling.
“They are unfortunately the innocent victims of the Napoles scam,” Quimbo said.
“It is high time too that congress now begins to craft a specific line item budgeting process that will
ensure the needs of the indigent constituents in the different districts that have been the main
beneficiaries of the PDAF, at least in my district,” Quimbo added.
Despite lawmakers’ statements expressing concern about students and patients, the budget that the
House passed showed a different priority. The congressmen chose to realign their PDAF to 6 line
agencies, with the least amount given to the education and health departments.
What do you think of the SC decision and the lawmakers’ reactions? Let us know in the comments
section below. –

Pacquiao: It's earned money,
WHY ME? Professional boxer and Sarangani Rep Manny Pacquiao cries foul over a Court of Tax Appeal order to
freeze his bank accounts. File photo by Rappler
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Fresh from his victory against American boxer Brandon Rios in
Macau, professional boxer and Sarangani Rep Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao now faces a different
opponent – the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
Pacquiao said the tax bureau ordered his bank accounts frozen due to an alleged P2.2-billion tax
liability, leaving him financially paralyzed.
"This is harassment," the former eight-division world champion said in a television interview.
The disclosure came just two days after Pacquiao, 34, resurrected his boxing career with a
unanimous points decision over Rios in Macau.
He dedicated his victory to victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which claimed thousands of
lives in Visayas region this month. (READ: Haiyan survivors to Pacquiao: Help us)
Pacquiao arrived in the Philippines Tuesday, November 26 and immediately addressed the tax issue
in a statement released to the media.
In his statement, he hit back calling BIR's accusations "baseless."
"The BIR claims I earned more than what I actually did, without any evidence to back it up. They
ignored information given by Top Rank and HBO and insisted I earned more," he said. "My lawyers
have given them all the info that they want and they still refuse to believe. I really don't know why I
am being singled out."
Pacquiao asked the Court of Tax Appeals to lift the bank freeze, but the court has yet to rule on the
petition, according to court papers.
'Not DAP or PDAF'
Pacquiao, who is on his second term as Sarangani representative, compared his situation with the
legal scrutiny being faced by public funds.
"Hindi ako makapag-withdraw ni isang singkong sentimo sa sarili ko pong pera. Hindi ko magamit
para man lang makatulong. Ang pera kong ginarnish ng BIR ay hindi po nakaw at hindi po PDAF
(Priority Development Assistance Fund) o DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program). Ito po ay
galing sa lahat ng suntok, bugbog, pawis at dugo na tiniis ko sa boxing," he added.
(I cannot withdraw even one cent of my own money. I can't even use it to help. My money that was
garnished by the BIR was not stolen, it's not PDAF or DAP. It came from all the punches, sweat and
blood that I endured in boxing.)
The Supreme Court earlier declared lawmakers' PDAF, the subject of a multibillion scam, as
unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the court is presently hearing oral arguments for DAP, the executive's
economic booster scheme.
'Only P1M was frozen'
BIR chief Kim Henares confirmed that bank accounts of Pacquiao and his wife were frozen.
However, she denied any harassment, saying only two bank accounts containing a total of P1.1
million were held.
She said she issued a warrant of distraint and levy after Pacquiao failed to pay his liabilities. "We
wrote banks and told them if you see his money, tell us how much and garnish that amount," she
said in a radio interview.
She said out of 22 banks they wrote, only two reported holding accounts owned by the boxing
"Our presumption is there's no other money that's been garnished except for that P1.1 million. The
banks should have reported it to us if they are in fact holding money in custody for the government."
The amount is measly considering the huge winnings Pacquiao takes home from his boxing
Asked where he could be keeping the rest of his money, Henares replied: "Ay hindi ko alam sa
kanila. Posibleng na-withdraw na bago na-garnish. O kaya ang pera n'ya ay wala dito, nasa America
or nasa ibang bansa." (We don't know with them. It's possible he already withdrew his money before
we ordered it garnished. Or maybe his money's not here, it's in the US or some other country.)
Tax case
The freeze order stemmed from an assessment made by the tax bureau, alleging Pacquiao has P2.2
billion in unpaid taxes, including interest and surcharges.
BIR claimed Pacquiao failed to declare his winnings from his 2008 and 2009 boxing matches in his
income tax returns for said years.
But the boxing icon said he already paid taxes on those earnings in the US, which has a treaty with
the Philippines that allows citizens of both countries to avoid double taxation.
He said the tax bureau rejected the documents he provided to prove he had already paid the US
Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
"I am not a criminal or a thief. I am not hiding anything. I will face my problems as they come,"
Pacquiao said.
"I have already paid my taxes in America. Had I not paid the correct taxes they (US authorities)
would have come after me and I would not have been able to travel there."
Henares said that taxes paid in the US are creditable here, but she stressed a proper process of
filing must be followed.
"Kailangan i-report lahat ng kita mo, tapos ko-kompyutin ang tax sa Pilipinas. Tapos no'n pwede
mong ibawas ang binayad mong buwis sa America pero dapat may evidence na nagbayad ka sa
IRS." (All earnings must be reported in the Philippines and your taxes will be based on that. After
that, taxes you paid in the US will be deducted provided you have evidence that you indeed paid the
Henares said Pacquiao failed to submit the proper documents.
She said the bureau gave him two years to respond to their assessment but all he submitted was a
letter from his US promoter Top Rank saying he had paid his taxes in the US, according to Henares.
"Anyone can write that. That's not official document," she noted.
President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Herminio Coloma brushed off suggestions Pacquiao was
being singled out for political harassment.
"We are a government of laws, not of men," Coloma told reporters.
The government has been running a campaign against high-profile tax evaders, targeting movie
stars as well as businessmen who flaunt their wealth through flashy sports cars.
Donations for Yolanda victims
Pacquiao said most of his cash was kept in his Philippine bank accounts. He did not say how much
was garnished.
He said the freeze order left him without money to pay his staff, and forced him to borrow "not less
than one million pesos" to fulfill pledges to help victims of Typhoon Yolanda.
Pacquiao is now eyeing more lucrative fights in the US as he continues to pursue a political career.
At his peak, he was regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, becoming the only
man to win world titles in eight weight divisions.
The former street kid who ran away from home to pursue a boxing career became one of the globe's
wealthiest athletes.
But his career nosedived after suffering two losses last year, the second in a humiliating knockout to
Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez that prompted questions over whether the ageing warrior should
But even last year, Forbes magazine listed him as the 14th highest-paid athlete globally with an
estimated $34 million in earnings. – with reports from Angela Casauay/ and Agence

Fake SARO traced to DBM insider
known as ‘Supremo’
December 3, 2013 8:14pm

A fake Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) was traced to a Department of Budget and
Management (DBM) insider identified only as ―Supremo,‖ a report on GMA News' ―24 Oras‖ said

The fake SARO for a P161-million farm-to-market road in Cagayan was brought to the office of the
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which is investigating the issue, last Friday by a staff member
of Cagayan Rep. Baby Alfonso Vargas.

The Commission on Audit defines a SARO as a ―specific authority issued to one or more identified
agencies to incur obligations not exceeding a given amount during a specified period for the purpose

Based on an investigation conducted by the Office of House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, the fake
SARO was given to Vargas' chief of staff Bong Pelonio.

Web of personalities

Pelonio claimed that he got the SARO from one Jose Badong, a staffer of the House committee on

Badong in turn said he got the SARO from Emmanuel Raza, a member of Zamboanga City Rep.
Lilia Macrohon-Nuño's staff.

The report quoted Nuño's chief of staff as saying Raza admitted being the source of the fake SARO
and that he has an accomplice in the DBM. He did not identify the DBM insider, saying he is known
only as ―Supremo.‖

Nuño, meanwhile, said she was unaware of Raza's actions.

―I'm shocked considering that I am very strict, honestly,‖ Nuño said in the report. ―I do not know that.‖

GMA News went to the office of Vargas, but the lawmaker was not available for interview. Badong,
meanwhile, was not in his office.

The report said Raza informed his office that he will be taking a one-month leave of absence.

Belmonte, meantime, said that Vargas had denied knowledge of the fake SARO.

Extortion syndicates

Budget Secretary Butch Abad, meanwhile, believes extortion syndicates were behind the circulation
of fake SAROs as a part of a large-scale fixing racket.

―Nilalako nila ang fake SARO sa mga mayor na desperate na magka-project. Tapos sinasabi nila na
mapapabilis nila ang proseso ng release kung bibigyan sila ng pera. Parang fixer,‖ said Abad in a
separate ―24 Oras‖ report.

The report said original copies of SAROs released by the DBM have to be handed to agencies or
local government units (LGUs) implementing the project. After a memorandum of agreement is
created, contractors are asked to bid on the project.

The results of the bidding are posted on both the DBM and the Philippine Government Electronic
Procurment System's (PhilGEPS) websites.

Every document resulting from this process, including the original SARO, needs to be submitted to
the DBM before a notice of cash availability is released.

It is only in this point that LGUs or implementing agencies can take the needed funds from the
Landbank, though these funds are released on an installment basis.

Abad speculated that this lengthy process may prompted several government officials to take up
unscrupulous offers by syndicates to furnish them with signed papers.

Despite fake SAROs passing through the DBM's hands, Abad insisted they have never released
money for the projects listed in them. — Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Fake SARO probe widens
by Ben R. Rosario and Ellson A. Quismorio
December 4, 2013
Manila, Philippines – Another congressional staff is in hot water for alleged involved in the distribution of ―fake and
unregistered Special Allotment Release Order (SARO).‖
House Speaker Feliciano ―Sonny‖ Belmonte Jr. confirmed to reporters yesterday that an individual in the employ of
Aklan lone district Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr. is being probed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in
connection with the fake SARO scam.
While Belmonte did not name the individual, a press statement from Haresco said said Mary Ann Castillo, employed
as his consultant, received the SARO from ―an individual‖ who visited their office.
―One of the projects that was indicated in the listing attached to the SARO is a farm to market
improvement/rehabilitation project in Balete, Aklan in the amount of P10 million,‖ said Haresco.
The lawmaker then asked his staff to check if there was indeed a provision in the 2013 General Appropriations Act for
such project and ―we noted that there is indeed funding earmarked for farm to market projects in Region VI.‖
Castillo becomes the fourth congressional staff being investigated by the NBI in connection with the proliferation of
fake SAROs, reportedly valued at a total P829 million.
Belmonte clarified that the NBI is not investigating congressmen linked to the fake SARO.
―Let‘s make it very clear. The NBI is checking the employee; not the congressman or the office. They are not
investigating a single congressman. They are trying to request for the statement of some employees,‖ Belmonte said.
―As for the congressmen, they may appear to be, I‘m very certain, perhaps potential victims themselves,‖ he said.
Haresco also made the same distinction.
―Let me state for the record we are the victims here. We are not the perpetrators,‖ said Haresco.
Haresco said Castillo was immediately advised to have herself available for NBI investigation.
Earlier, Belmonte relieved a congressional staff being sought by the NBI in connection with the bogus SAROs.
Belmonte told reporters that he has re-assigned Jose Badong Jr. to the Office of the Secretary General, adding that
the directive in effect places him in a ―floating‖ status.
Badong is a regular staff member of the Committee on Appropriations, apparently transferred there during the term of
former panel chairman and Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay.
―I am re-assigning Mr. Jose Badong Jr. to the Office of the Secretary General, meaning floating in effect ang status,‖
said Belmonte.
―I am not prejudging anybody but I am just doing a precautionary thing. This guy is indirectly under me because ako
nga ang Speaker nito,‖ he said.
Correcting himself on information he fed media the other day, Belmonte said Badong‘s involvement in the reported
fake SARO issue was merely to provide Emmanuel Raza, a staff member of Zamboanga City Rep. Lilia Nuño,
information as to who among the Region II congressmen‘s staff members is his acquaintance.
Badong reportedly pointed to Bong Pelonio, chief of staff of Cagayan Rep. Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso and apparently
acted as the go-between of Raza and Pelonio.
―The Committee on Appropriations has no knowledge or hand in the issuance of said fake SARO. The Appropriations
Committee does not issue or receive any SARO. SARO‘s are sent directly by DBM to the implementing agencies,‖
said Belmonte.
―Everything we are doing now is seeing to it na nako-contain natin ito while in the meantime that we are giving full
support to the NBI,‖ he said.
Zamboanga City Rep. Lilia Nuño said she now conducting background checks on her staff, acknowledging that there
may be ―other people involved‖ in the issuance of SAROs. (With a report from Charissa M. Luci)
Source of fake SARO? House
has 2 versions of the story

NO PROBE YET. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr says Cagayan Rep Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso called him on
Friday, November 29, 2013 to explain her alleged involvement in the fake SARO case. Photo by Rappler
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – It’s the subject of a probe by the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI), a possible inside job at the Department of Budget and Management, according
to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
But how did one of the fake special allotment release orders (SAROs) for agricultural funds got in the
hands of Cagayan Representative Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso’s chief of staff?
In an interview with reporters on Monday afternoon, December 2, Speaker Feliciano "Sonny"
Belmonte Jr said Alfonso told her in a phone conversation that the fake SARO came from a staff of
the appropriations committee.
Hours later, the Speaker issued a statement to clarify that the dubious document was not from the
appropriations committee but from the chief of staff of Zamboanga City Representative Lilia Nuño.
Belmonte said earlier: "Apparently the guy from the [appropriations committee] is a good friend of
her chief of staff." Belmonte had talked to Alfonso on the phone.
"Her chief of staff is one of those who has been working here for many years and has been the COS
of Cong X, etcetera, and not somebody she brought along. And that fellow is apparently the good
friend of an official here, who has moved from one congressman to the appropriations committee.
They know each other and they talked to each other," Belmonte said.
A Philippine Daily Inquirer report on November 25 revealed an ongoing investigation into a case of
fake special allotment release orders (SAROs) amid a supposed news blackout imposed by Budget
Secretary Florencio Abad on the matter.
The fake SAROs were reportedly released to mayors for P879 million worth of farm-to-market roads
in Region II (Cagayan Valley).
Not the appropriations committee
Hours later, Belmonte issued a statement to the media, clarifying what he told reporters in an
interview earlier.
His statement read:
Upon further inquiry, we have found out that the photocopy of the fake Special Allotment Release
Order (SARO) came from the staff of Congresswoman Lilia Nuño of Zamboanga City, Emmanuel
Raza, who requested Appropriations Committee staff Jose Badong if he knew someone from the
Office of Congresswoman Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso, because he (Raza) has a copy of the SARO
for Region 2. Badong, who knew Bong Pelonio, Vargas-Alfonso’s Chief of Staff, gave the alleged
SARO to Mr. Pelonio.
The Committee on Appropriations has no knowledge or hand in the issuance of said fake SARO.
The Appropriations Committee does not issue or receive any SARO. SARO’s are sent directly by
DBM to the implementing agencies.
The Office of the Speaker supports the investigation being undertaken by the NBI.
Belmonte's statement did not explain how the photocopy of the fake SARO ended up with Nuño's
The powerful appropriations committee, chaired by Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab, is in
charge of preparing the annual national budget.
Inside job at DBM too
Earlier, Justice Secretary De Lima said the Department of Agriculture (DA) was alerted of the bogus
SARO after the staff of a then unidentified congressman from Region II presented the document to a
DA regional field unit.
Alfonso's aide, Enrico Arao, has admitted to "hand-carrying" the fake SARO himself but claimed he
was unaware it was fake.
Alfonso has also maintained that she had "no notion" of what's going on and was unaware of
operations involving the fake SAROs, Belmonte said.
"When it was mentioned to her, she just assumed that it was a regular thing going on. When it was
found out that it's fake, she herself took the initiative to talk to her chief of staff and say, 'Go to the
NBI and give your explanation,'" Belmonte said.
The Speaker said the appropriations committee staff, and Alfonso's current chief of staff worked with
other representatives before. The Cagayan congresswoman is on her second term.
The NBI has opened an investigaton into the case. On Tuesday, November 26, De Lima said it is
"hard to believe" a DBM staff is not involved.
No House probe
Despite his revelations, Belmonte said the House won't conduct an internal probe on the matter yet.
"I prefer, first of all, for the NBI to get at the bottom of it because apparently it involves other
regions," Belmonte said. "So, I certainly don't like to pre-empt them and to appear like I'm protecting
anybody and I would like to urge any congressman to see to it that if their employees would be
mentioned, to go and give their statement to the NBI."
The House leader would rather wait for the NBI to establish that the scheme is not an isolated
"One of these days, I will call the NBI director to give a briefing on what's going on. If it's an isolated
thing, let us just let them investigate it. Definitely, we will be giving our full cooperation," Belmonte
De Lima earlier revealed the NBI is also looking into reports that fake SAROs were also issued in
other regions, including Region IV-A (Calabarzon), Region VI (Western Visayas), and Region XII
(Soccsksargen). Probers have yet to come up with an estimate of how much are involved in these
regions. –
China Imposes Restrictions on Air Space Over
Senkaku Islands
By establishing the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, China is
trying to create new facts in the air.
In a move certain to escalate tensions with Japan, China’s Ministry of Defense on Saturday issued what
amounts to a heavily regulated air zone over much of the East China Sea, including the disputed
Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.
In a statement today China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced the
creation of an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, which went into effect 10
AM Saturday Morning local time. A second statementby the MND laid out the Aircraft
Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.
The latter statement outlines six rules aircraft flying in the zone must follow, starting
with rule number one, which reads “aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense
Identification Zone must abide by these rules.”
The second rule contains four ways aircraft must identify themselves and keep in
communication with Chinese authorities while flying over the zone. These include
clearly marking the nationality of the aircraft and maintaining two way communications
with China’s Foreign Ministry and Civil Aviation Administrative.
The third rule states that “aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification
Zone should follow the instructions of the administrative organ of the East China Sea
Air Defense Identification Zone.” The next rule identifies China’s Ministry of National
Defense as the administrative organ. The statement also empowers the MND to explain
the rules.
Many of the identification procedures are similar to the ones used by Canada and the
U.S. in the North American ADIZ that they jointly administer. The rules for that
ADIZ appear to be a lot more precise, however.
Notably, rule number three in the new East China Sea ADIZ warns “China’s armed
forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not
cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.”
While the language is vague, it appears to be consistent with how other countries handle
potential violations to their ADIZ. For instance, in two separate incidents over the
summer, Russian strategic bombers entered into America’s 200 km ADIZs around the
Pacific and Alaska. They were met by U.S. interceptor jets though the Pentagon refused
to specify which type of aircraft the U.S. had used.
The first statement announcing the East China Sea ADIZ’s creation laid out the precise
coordinates of the zone, and was accompanied by a hard to see map outlining it.
The creation of the ADIZ is in line with a growing aerial trend in the East China Sea
dispute between China and Japan. In a piece on The Diplomat earlier this month,
Flashpoints contributor Mira-Rapp Hooper noted, “In recent weeks, the standoff over
the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands has taken to the air.” She further warned that there are a
number of reasons to think that “these aerial activities… may present new challenges in
the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute.”
The possibility of China setting up an ADIZ in the East China Sea first leaked earlier this
month when the Japanese new service Kyodo obtained an internal People’s Liberation
Army document discussing the ADIZ.Kyodo noted at the time that China’s ADIZ would
almost certainly overlap with Japan’s own ADIZ in the East China Sea. It also stated,
“Such zones are set up by countries based on domestic law. There are no international
rules concerning their establishment.” And therein lies the danger of the new ADIZ.
After announcing the ADIZ’s creation, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National
Defense fielded questions about what it entailed. According to a transcript released
by Chinese state media, the spokesperson explained that an “Air Defense Identification
Zone is an area of air space established by a coastal state beyond its territorial airspace
to timely identify, monitor, control and react to aircraft entering this zone with potential
air threats.” The U.S. Department of Defense defines ADIZs as “Airspace of defined
dimensions within which the ready identification, location, and control of airborne
vehicles are required.”
The spokesperson also stated that the East China Sea ADIZ had been set up, “with the
aim of safeguarding state sovereignty, territorial land and air security, and maintaining
flight order. This is a necessary measure taken by China in exercising its self-defense
right. It is not directed against any specific country or target. It does not affect the
freedom of over-flight in the related airspace.”
The MND spokesperson went on to defend the ANIZ’s creation as consistent with
China’s sovereignty, international law, and precedent. In particularly, he noted that 20
nations, including some of China’s neighbors, have set up such ANIZs over the years.
When asked why the ANIZ stretched “only” 130 km from China’s territory, the
spokesperson responded, “Some country established Air Defense Identification Zone as
early as in 1969. The shortest distance from their zone to the Chinese mainland is also
130 km.” That was almost certainly a reference of Japan, which took control of its ANIZ
from the U.S. military in 1969.
Later the same spokesperson clarified that China will continue to respect over-flight
rights in accordance with international law.
“The establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone does not
change the legal nature of related airspace,” the MND spokesperson said. “Normal
flights by international air liners in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone
will not be affected in any way.”
He concluded the press conference by saying that China would create additional ADIZs
“at the right moment after necessary preparations are completed.”
The Ministry of National Defense in Taiwan, which also claims the Diaoyu/Senkaku
Islands, issued a statementexpressing regret at China’s move. It also vowed to protect
Taiwan’s national security and sovereignty. Notably, the ADIZ’s boundaries did not
include Taiwan proper. At the time of this writing, Japan does not appear to have issued
an official response yet.
In practical terms, the creation of the ADIZ is in line with China’s goal of challenging
Japan’s administration of the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Just over a month after
Japan nationalized some of the Senkaku Islands in September 2012, M Taylor
Fravel explained China’s strategy towards its disputes with Japan in the East China Sea
and Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea.
“The most striking feature of China’s behavior in its maritime disputes this year has
been efforts to redefine the status quo,” Fravel wrote at the time. “In its disputes with
the Philippines and Japan, China has used the presence of its civilian maritime law
enforcement agencies to create new facts on the water to strengthen China’s sovereignty
Now China is trying to create new facts in the air.
PHL air carriers to decide if they will
comply with China's new air rule

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said it will be up to the airlines to respond to
the notice to airmen the People's Republic of China issued about the airspace over the East China

―We never issue a directive for a Notam (notice to airmen) of another country. We are just
disseminating information… The government does not observe the Notam but it is not for us to make
the decision,‖ CAAP deputy director general Capt. John Andrews was quoted as saying on GMA
News' ―24 Oras‖ newscast on Tuesday.

CAAP has received a Notam from China saying that local airlines should notify Chinese authorities if
they intend to fly over China's recently declared air defense identification zone over the East China
Sea, parts of which are being disputed by China and Japan.

China has warned of unspecific consequences if airlines do not follow. The US has spoken of the
risk of a deadly "miscalculation" and has advised US carriers to comply with China's order without
explicitly recognizing China's unilateral move.

CAAP forwarded the Notam to Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Airlines. Cebu Air Inc., operator
of Cebu Pacific, said the Notam from China does not concern them.

―The announcement of PROC‘s aircraft identification rules does not impact CEB‘s operations at the
moment. None of CEB‘s current routes require us to fly over the PRC‘s East China Sea air defense
identification zone,‖ said Jorenz Tañada, CEB‘s vice president for corporate affairs, via text message
to GMA News.

PAL has yet to issue a statement.

According to CAAP's Andrews, airlines that do not follow any country‘s ADIZ could be fined, but
downplayed the risk of conflict over the issue.

―There is no way they are going to shoot it down. That is just short of a declaration of war,‖ he noted.

Last week, the Philippines joined the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia‘s protest against China‘s
new air defense zone.

―China‘s East Asia Sea ADIZ transforms the entire airzone into its domestic airspace, infringes on
the freedom of flight in international airspace and compromises the safety of civil aviation and
national security of affected states,‖ Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez had said. —

Japanese experts to help rebuild 'disaster
resilient' Leyte
Posted at 11/26/2013 4:21 PM | Updated as of 11/26/2013 4:21 PM
MANILA, Philippines - The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is sending experts to provide technical
assistance on the recovery and reconstruction of areas wiped out by super typhoon "Yolanda."
Instead of rebuilding communities as they were before, JICA experts will introduce the concept of "Build Back Better"
in reconstruction efforts to ensure the communities will become disaster resilient.
The concept, which integrates disaster risk reduction (DRR) investments in infrastructure, was applied in rebuilding
efforts in areas hit by disasters such as the great East Japan earthquake (2011), earthquake in Haiti (2010), and the
flood in Thailand (2011).
"Appropriate and careful reconstruction and land use planning must be done to ensure that the same damage
brought by Typhoon Yolanda will not be repeated. Japan, which is now considered to have built a resilient society
against disasters, has proven that DRR investment is essential to reduce mortality due to disasters,‖ said Kimio
Takeya, JICA Expert for Reconstruction Planning.
"Japan‘s resiliency to disasters is a hundred years of work. Now is the right time for Philippines to start building
disaster resilient societies," Takeya added.
JICA will assess the damage and needs for recovery and reconstruction, and propose to the Philippine government
appropriate reconstruction plans for Leyte province.
JICA has also been providing technical assistance for the recovery and rebuilding of damaged infrastructure in Bohol,
after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the province.
In the past, JICA has actively supported disaster prone areas like building evacuation shelters for Albay, and held
capacity building activities for the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration
(PAGASA), Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), and Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).
Philippines' typhoon rebuilding may cost
more, last longer than Aceh
View gallery
MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines' post-typhoon reconstruction could take as long as 10
years, with the leadership of President Benigno Aquino put to a test amid complex problems
such as property rights, missing title deeds and land zoning, experts said on Wednesday.
The task will likely take longer and cost more than the rebuilding of Indonesia's Aceh
province after the 2004 tsunami, they said.
Super typhoon Haiyan wiped out or damaged practically everything in its path as it swept
ashore on November 8, with seven-meter storm surges destroying around 90 percent of the
city of Tacloban in Leyte province alone.
Haiyan killed at least 5,500 people, left more than 1,700 missing, displaced as many as four
million and destroyed around $563 million worth of crops and infrastructure.
"The enormity of this disaster is unprecedented at least in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of
the geography," said Sanny Jegillos, coordinator for crisis prevention and recovery at the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). "It's much, much larger than the tsunami
in Aceh.
"The rehabilitation cost will be more expensive for Haiyan, because a unit of a school will be
more expensive than a school built in Aceh because of the design parameters."
The government's initial estimates point to a reconstruction cost of as much as 250 billion
pesos ($5.7 billion). Aceh's rebuilding over eight years required nearly $7 billion, funded by
the Indonesian government and international donors.
Manila has said new structures in the typhoon-prone areas must be able to withstand winds
of 300 kph (186 mph), close to Haiyan's maximum winds when it slammed into Eastern
Samar province before crossing the central Philippines.
Sonny Rosal, head of the United Architects of the Philippines which is helping the National
Housing Authority (NHA) design stronger houses, said there were challenges related to
government buy-outs of landowners in risky areas, reestablishing title and revising the
national building code which now specifies that public structures must withstand winds of
only up to 250 kph.
"What is being discussed now in the NHA is that it may take us 10 years to be able to
rebuild. It's not that easy. A lot is involved here," Rosal said. "It's like building a new
On Wednesday, a government task force assigned to draw up a recovery and rehabilitation
plan submitted its immediate, medium-term and long-term goals to Aquino, who demanded
more specific details before giving final approval. The task force will report back to Aquino
on Friday with more refinements.
That plan will likely identify only immediate needs and plans of action, since a longer-term
rebuilding strategy will take weeks if not months to complete, officials said.
In Japan's case, it completed its long-term reconstruction plan six months after the March
2011 earthquake and tsunami.
"This case (Haiyan) is much more complex than the Japanese experience. The Japanese
experienced only a tsunami," said Kimio Takeya, an engineer and expert for reconstruction
planning at the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
"In this area, there was a storm surge and strong wind combination."
Pasay builds ‘tent city’ for ‘Yolanda’ victims
by Jean Fernando
November 19, 2013

SETTING UP ‗TENT CITY‘ – Workers set up tents on the grounds of the Villamor Air Base Elementary School in
Pasay City yesterday. The facility will serve as a temporary shelter for the victims of super-typhoon ―Yolanda‖ who
have been evacuated from Leyte and Samar provinces. (Jacqueline Hernandez)
Manila, Philippines – The Pasay City government has established a ―tent city‖ for victims of super-typhoon ―Yolanda‖
at the Villamor Air Base Elementary School. It can accommodate up to 100 families evacuated by the Philippine Air
Force from typhoon-ravaged Leyte and Samar provinces.
Mayor Antonino Calixto said the tent city will serve as temporary shelter for the typhoon victims who have yet to
contact their relatives in Metro Manila, or are undergoing processing by housing agencies, or have otherwise
nowhere else to go at this time.
―The city government will do all that it can to care for our kababayans who are now virtual refugees in their own
country. We are trying to provide a solution in a difficult transition period. We ask the public to help the City
Government care for our kababayans who will be accommodated in the tent city,‖ Calixto said.
City Administrator Dennis Acorda said Calixto‘s program for the ―Yolanda‖ victims are three-pronged: First is the Tent
City at the Villamor Air Base Elementary School (VABES); second is the Reception Committee at the tent city
managed by the City Health Office (CHO); and third is the special ―Yolanda Ward‖ at the Pasay City General Hospital
(PCGH) to accommodate patients in need of medical attention from the affected provinces.
Acorda said under normal circumstances, the city‘s facilities are reserved for Pasay residents. ―But these are not
normal times,‖ he said.
―This is a national calamity, hence, we have opened our services and our schools and hospitals to our countrymen in
need of our help,‖ Acorda said.
The city government has set up at least 50 tents in VABES which could accommodate at least 200 beds. Teams from
the city‘s Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO) and Health Departments are also on site to
provide relief and assistance.
The city administrator said the ―Yolanda Ward‖ at the PCGH is already operational.
Dr. Jaime Sy, Medical Director of the PCGH, reported that a resident from San Jose, Bauan, Tacloban City, Leyte
identified as Noverlyn Ronda, 34, has given birth to a baby boy at the hospital.
Acorda said five other patients from Leyte have been brought to the PCGH for treatment.
The city‘s spokesman Jonathan Malaya said two DRRMO teams have been deployed to the city‘s ―Operation Tulong
Express‖ at the Villamor Air Base.
Malaya said the two teams have at their disposal two ambulances and two utility vans. Ten nurses, one doctor and
two nutritionists from the CHO, headed by Dr. Cesar Encinares, are providing the necessary medical assistance
together with the other volunteer groups deployed in the area.
Lacson accepts job as ‘Yolanda’ rehab czar
Former Sen. Panfilo ―Ping‖ Lacson has accepted President Benigno Aquino‘s offer for him to be the rehabilitation
czar who will oversee reconstruction in the regions that Supertyphoon ―Yolanda‖ devastated last month.

Lacson said Sunday night that Mr. Aquino had acknowledged his acceptance of the offer to oversee the rehabilitation
efforts of the government that would cost more than P40 billion.

In a text message to the Inquirer, Lacson said he accepted ―the job offer after getting a series of briefings over the
weekend from experts of the field of reconstruction and rehabilitation of disaster-stricken areas.‖

As the rehabilitation czar, Lacson will manage not only funding from the government but also foreign assistance
running into tens of millions of dollars meant for towns and cities in central Philippines.

He said Mr. Aquino offered the position to him at a meeting in Malacañang last week. But he said he asked the
President that he be given three days to ―mull it over‖ and to ―conduct consultations with experts in connection with
the rebuilding of towns and cities decimated by the supertyphoon.‖

―When the President asked me if I could be in charge of rehabilitation efforts, I did not immediately say, ‗Yes,‘ and
asked for time to think about it because I know it‘s a daunting task and it‘s also not my area of expertise,‖ he said.
Had the President offered something in the line of law enforcement, Lacson said he would have immediately said

He was earlier reported to be the choice of the administration to head an anticorruption commission.
Lacson, a former Philippine National Police chief, said he was reluctant to immediately accept the offer to become the
rehabilitation czar because he did not want to do a haphazard job.

―I want to do the job with flying colors. I want to do the best for the job,‖ he said.

Lacson was known to have not touched his pork barrel during his 12-year stint in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano earlier pushed for Lacson to investigate the pork barrel scam ―because
of his impeccable record against corruption and his unwavering stand against the pork barrel.‖

It has been three weeks since Yolanda decimated the provinces of Samar and Leyte, destroying houses and
infrastructure and displacing millions of people.

Mr. Aquino has increased the proposed funding for communities devastated by Yolanda from P38.8 billion to P40.9
billion. The money was expected to go to housing, infrastructure, livelihood and employment opportunities, local
facilities and social services.

The entire P40.9 billion could be fully funded in the 2013 General Appropriations Act. Last week, the Senate passed a
P14.5-billion supplemental budget.

Yolanda devastated 171 municipalities, covering 4,971 villages in an area of 25,000 square kilometers and affecting
6.6 million people.

As of Sunday, the death toll stood at 5,632, with 26,136 people injured and 1,759 missing.