Daily Archives: June 6, 2008

Tan Company Asks Court to Reconsider Bid to Operate NAIA 3

by Joel Roja/AJPress

MANILA – Lucio Tan’s Asias’ Emerging Dragon Corporation (AEDC) has asked the Supreme Court to reverse its April 18, 2007 ruling denying its bid to operate the controversial Ninoy Aquino International Airport – International Passenger Terminal III (IPT III) after the contract of the government with Philippine International Air Terminals Co., Inc. (PIATCO) had been nullified.

In a 73-page motion for reconsideration, AEDC through its lawyer Eduardo Ceniza., insisted that as the original project proponent, AEDC has the right under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law, which must be respected and recognized.

In a 73-page motion for reconsideration, AEDC through its lawyer Eduardo Ceniza., insisted that as the original project proponent, AEDC has the right under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law, which must be respected and recognized.

Based on the said provision, AEDC argued that there are two instances wherein unsolicited project may be awarded to the original proponent on a negotiated basis — when there is no comparative proposals were submitted within the required period under the law and when there are other proposals and the original proponent exercised its right to match the lower or the lowest price proposal.

The petitioner added that the “other proposal” contemplated under Section 4-A of the BOT law and its IRR pertains exclusively to a valid proposal.

“Thus, when the ‘other proposal’, that of Piatco in this case, was declared null and void by the Supreme Court, then the first instance contemplated under Section 4-A of the BOT law should operate. It should therefore be deemed as if no other proposal was submitted within the required period…This should then operate to justify a negotiated contract with AEDC, the unchallenged original proponent…” the petitioner said.

Since the SC has declared Piatco’s contract null and void, AEDC stressed that the NAIA 3 project should be covered by a Section 10.11, Rule 10 of the IRR of the BOT law, wherein invitations for comparative proposals shall again be made and the right of AEDC as the original proponent to match the best offer should be reinstated.

It also dismissed the Court’s findings that AEDC is not financially qualified to operate NAIA 3 since the issue was not raised by any of the parties in the case.

The AEDC further said the decision unfairly faults the firm for not matching the bid or challenge placed by Naia-3 builder Philippine International Air Terminals Co., implying that the AEDC would have been able to operate the Naia-3 project.

In its decision, the SC en banc branded as “substantially and procedurally flawed” AEDC’s assertion that being the original proponent of the NAIA-IPT III, it has the right to the award of the project.

“The rights or privileges of an original proponent of an unsolicited proposal for an infrastructure project are never meant to be absolute. Otherwise, the original proponent can hold the government hostage and secure the award of the infrastructure project based solely on the fact that it was the first to submit a proposal,” the SC said.


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DOJ Secretary Slams Snap Elections Call

By Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA- Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez on Monday dismissed the claim of some solons that the only solution to the country’s current leadership and economic problems is a change in leadership through a snap election.

In an interview, Gonzalez branded as “illogical” the move of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reform to endorse a bill calling for a snap presidential election considering that the next presidential election is just two years away.

Gonzalez stressed that a change in leadership does not translate to a lower prices of fuel and a stable political situation.

“I don’t think that will cure the problem of fuel because the president of this country has no control over fuel costs. We are at the end of the rope of the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). So the only way we can lower the cost of fuel will be to subsidize. That will be sacrificing other essential services. I don’t think that a snap election, assuming that it would result in a change of leadership, would solve the problem. It would be a great mistake to spend billions in a snap election when in two years time you will have another election,” Gonzalez said in response to the decision of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reform to endorse a bill calling for a snap presidential election.

“If we can be assured that if we will have a snap election and we will have a new president, OPEC will lower the prices of fuel in the world market, that will be worth looking into. But what will be our assurance that if we will have a new president, OPEC will lower its costs? Not even President George Bush was able to convince the OPEC to lower the cost of oil. I don’t think that is a solution at all,” Gonzalez further said.

Gonzalez further noted that a snap election is only possible if there is a law removing the line of succession which is defined under the Constitution.

If removal of the President is the only objective, the DOJ chief said it should be done through impeachment proceedings or by forcing her to resign.

Earlier, the House committee on electoral reform chaired by Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr., voted to report out the bill so the entire House of Representatives could debate in plenary session on the need to hold a presidential election before President Arroyo’s term ends on June 30, 2010.

The President’s allies have described Joson’s proposal as unconstitutional, saying Congress cannot call for a snap presidential election because the presidency is not vacant.

However, even if such a law were to be crafted by Congress, Gonzalez said President Arroyo will most likely veto it as she had earlier vowed to finish her term until 2010.

“But this snap election is almost second to impossible. Because will the President sign that bill? I don’t think the President will sign. The President said she will not resign. It will have a very slim chance of getting a law. There are many avenues for having a change in leadership. The moment you call for a snap election, there will be campaigning and bureaucracy will be on a standstill,” the DOJ chief added.

Gonzalez also said the Filipino people are “mature enough” to realize that a mere change of presidents will not solve the country’s problems. He also advised Congress to just wait for the elections in 2010.


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FilAms for Obama Begin Campaign

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – With their candidate practically secur­ing the Democratic Presi­dential nomination, FilAm supporters of Barack Obama are gearing up for their next task – the White House.

“This [Presidential] race isn’t over,” said Daniel Lamila, a member of the Filipino-Americans for Barack Obama organization. “[Senator John] McCain is a very formidable candidate. We are not going to take him for granted.”

The Filipino-Americans for Barack Obama organization is a dedicated group of about 100 FilAms in the Greater Los Angeles County area all supporting Obama as the next President of the United States, according to Lamila.

The core group meets once or twice a week at a local member’s home to organize and think of creative ways to get more FilAms to turnout and vote for the Illinois senator. Lamila campaigned for Obama during the California primary. He said when he distributed flyers to FilAms, their reaction was mostly positive.

“Let’s not forget he grew up in Hawaii among the Filipino community,” said Lamila. “He played basketball with Filipinos before he left for Indonesia. He was surrounded by the Filipino customs and our tradition when he was living in Hawaii, not many people realized that. He could only help us and our cause.”

American Coalition of Filipino Veterans Executive Director Eric Lachica said that Obama’s victory adds fuel to the Filipino WWII Veterans Equity Act.

“It adds a lot to the Equity fire,” said Lachica, a non-partisan. “Obama’s victory bodes well for FilAms. He’s supported the bill from day 1 and helped co-sponsor S. 1315 in the Senate.”

But the FilAms for Obama organization campaigning for the FilAm vote is not entirely their focus. They want everybody who can vote for their man.

“It’s not a question of what a Barack Obama country can do for you,” said Lamila referring to John F. Kennedy’s most famous quote. “The question is what you can do for your country.

Lamila cites Obama’s leadership qualities and stances on the economy, healthcare, war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and senior citizen issues as the main reasons they are backing the Illinois Senator.

He added that Obama’s historical nomination changes the political landscape. Something he said is much needed after the George Bush’s reign.

“[His nomination] is also a good sign for the younger generation,” he said. “If you are a minority in this country you can be President.”

“There are so many people turned off by the George Bush presidency,” added Lamila. “I think Obama can regain that trust and confidence in the government again.”

The group is going to start grassroots campaigning within the next few days, he said. House to house, door-to-door visits, phone banking and distributing flyers in certain targeted areas are among some of the activities the group will partake in the next few months.

“We’re going to try and do our best to convince people that he’s the best candidate for the job,” he added. “He has all the skills and qualifications.”

Historic Win

Last Tuesday, Obama announced that he became the first African-American Democratic Presidential nominee after racking up the required number of delegates. Meanwhile, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was rumored to be campaigning to be his running mate.

In front of a rowdy crowd in St. Paul, Minnesota, Obama made his first speech after winning the grueling, long-standing Democratic primary over Clinton.

“Thousands of miles have been traveled,” he said.

“Millions of voices have been heard. And because of what you said – because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another – a journey that will bring a new and better day to America.”

“Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.”

The 46-year-old Obama has been leading over Clinton for the past several months and with more Democratic political backers jumping off Clinton’s ship to favor Obama. It was only a matter of time before he clinched the party’s nomination. He needed 2,118 delegates but barely surpassed that total to secure the victory last night.

According to the Associated Press, Obama called Clinton Tuesday night to congratulate her on the South Dakota win and got her voicemail. Rumors are that Clinton will concede and bow out of the race by Saturday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Clinton was on a conference call with New York legislators, when she was asked whether she was open to the idea of running as Vice-President.

“I am open to it,” Clinton replied, if it would help the party’s prospects in November, said the participant, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the call was a private matter.

The Clinton campaign website confirmed the conversation. In a press release later in the day it said Clinton “would do whatever she could to ensure that Democrats take the White House back and defeat John McCain.”

As for whether Lamila and other Obama supporters would like to see Clinton as Obama’s running mate, Lamila said, “Our purpose is to win. If that is one way to win the election, let’s do it. If she could be of help I’m all for it. The key is winning the presidency.”


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Beefing Up Police Presence

By Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES –LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed June 4 the adopted city budget that keeps the City’s commitment to putting 1,000 new cops on the streets by 2010.

The $7.1 billion budget also expands street repair and maintenance, organizes and increases funding for gang prevention and intervention programs, and maintains the City’s investment in police and fire services.

“The budget I signed today reflects my values as mayor and the values of the City Council, because this budget keeps the promises we made to the residents of Los Angeles,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “We have kept our promise by focusing on our priorities and making fiscally responsible decisions in a tough economic environment.”

Unlike in the past 9 years, the Mayor’s budget does not call for the transfer funds out of the City’s reserve fund to balance the City’s books.

Placing public safety at the top of the agenda, the 2008-09 budget allocates funds to hire new police officers, increases funding for the Fire Department, and invests more than $24 million in gang prevention, intervention and reentry programs.

“Our central values and central responsibility is to protect public safety,” Mayor

Villaraigosa said. “We made a promise to put 1,000 new officers on the street, and this budget keeps this promise.”

The new budget will also expand street resurfacing and maintenance to 735 miles, and keep the City on-track toward filling one million potholes.

In an effort to improve mobility and reduce traffic congestion throughout LA, the 2008-09 budget will synchronize 348 traffic signals and install 147 new left-turn signals.

Of the $3.78 billion in unrestricted revenue in this year’s budget, approximately 70 percent is directed toward LAPD and LAFD to continue the police buildup and preserve the City’s emergency response system.

On top of the funds dedicated to securing LA’s neighborhood and protecting public safety, the Public Works, Transportation and Planning agencies receive close to 10 percent of the funds; the departments of Recreation and Parks and Cultural Affairs get just under seven percent; LA’s public libraries receive three percent; and the remainder of the money will go to a host of additional City programs.


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Shake Out: Largest earthquake drill in US history

By Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – To help prepare Angelenos for a major earthquake likely to occur within the next 30 years, the Great Southern California ShakeOut campaign was launched a few days ago. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined local safety officials, community and business leaders, and emergency managers to announce the launch of the largest earthquake drill in American history. ShakeOut will take place in November in eight southern California counties – in preparation of a major earthquake likely to occur within the next 30 years.

“This is our reality. A major earthquake will come, and it is our responsibility to be prepared for the economic and social aftershocks,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “An early investment in preparedness can have a priceless return after a disaster.”

The Great Southern California ShakeOut is a region-wide campaign geared to encourage residents, schools, businesses and organizations to get ready for big earthquakes, and to help residents prevent disasters from becoming catastrophes. The campaign calls on everyone to participate in the country’s largest earthquake drill that will take place at 10:00 am on November 13, 2008.

For more than a year, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has led a collaboration of experts and professionals to understand how a magnitude 7.8 earthquake along the Southern San Andreas Fault – an event larger than a dozen Northridge earthquakes occurring simultaneously across the region – would affect Southern California, from seconds to decades after the event.

At the June 4 meeting at Caltech, earthquake scientists outlined the possible effects of a large earthquake and discussed preparations for the drill in November. Geological forecast studies have shown that an earthquake of a magnitude 7.8 is likely to occur in the next 30 years and would affect the majority of the City of Los Angeles. The ShakeOut scenario estimates that a potential earthquake of this magnitude would be a large-scale national disaster causing 2,000 deaths; 50,000 injuries; $200 billion in damage; and severe, long-lasting disruption.

Mayor Villaraigosa has worked to ensure that Los Angeles is prepared in the event of an emergency, appointing Los Angeles Fire Chief Douglas Barry and Emergency Management Department General Manager James Featherstone to oversee key agencies and update and improve the City’s preparedness plans.

The Mayor called on all area business and residents to sign up to participate in the ShakeOut. The Mayor also emphasized the need for personal preparedness and encouraged all Angelenos to have emergency plans and kits in their homes, cars and offices.

“While we can’t predict, we can prepare. Preparedness is a shared responsibility. We’re going to need water. We’re going to need food. We’re going to need each other,” said Mayor Villaraigosa.

ShakeOut is organized by the Earthquake Country Alliance, a public-private partnership of leading earthquake professionals, emergency managers, government officials, business and community leaders, and others, led by Dr.

Lucy Jones (United States Geological Survey), Jim Featherstone (City of Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Department) and Prof. Tom Jordan (Southern California Earthquake Center, USC). Partners include the Southern California Association of Governments, the County of Los Angeles, California Geological Survey, Caltech, UCLA, FEMA, California Office of Emergency Services, California Earthquake Authority, and the American Red Cross.


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City Attorney Sues Time Warner Cable

by Rene Villaroman/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo filed a civil law enforcement action against Time Warner Cable Inc. alleging that following the company’s 2006 take-over of almost all cable services in the Los Angeles area, it engaged in deceptive business practices and false advertising. This made LA customers suffer months of cable television and Internet outages, substandard technical and customer service and improper price increases. This was announced on Thursday, June 5, by Cindy J. Shin, Communications Deputy of the Office of L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.

“We’re bringing this civil law enforcement action against Time Warner Cable because the company has broken multiple laws, and harmed countless Los Angeles consumers,” said Delgadillo. “Time Warner Cable must be held accountable for illegally deceiving and ripping off its subscribers.”

The complaint also alleges that Time Warner Cable engaged in fraudulent acts and business practices resulting in customers paying more for cable television services than they were led to believe; experiencing successive service outages; spending hours on the telephone before reaching a customer service representative or sometimes never being able to reach a customer service representative at all; having their livelihoods affected by Internet outages and poor Internet service; and being billed for substandard service or services they had cancelled all together.

The complaint was filed by the City Attorney’s Special Litigation Branch, outlines false and misleading misrepresentations made by Time Warner Cable beginning in and around the time of the acquisition of Adelphia Communications and an asset-swapping deal with Comcast Cable in Southern California in August 2006. They include guaranteeing customers prices would not go up, when in fact, the company shifted certain channels previously offered as part of a basic television subscriptions that required an additional monthly payment. Time Warner also guaranteed no interruption in service, yet experienced tremendous outages, as evidenced by an almost 75 per cent increase in calls by customers complaining about cable television outages.

The complaint also details how Time Warner Cable customer service routinely failed to comply with the City of L.A. Subscriber Service Standards which regulate customer service for cable television corporations, including maximum 30-second wait time for cable television customer service representatives over the phone. Following the acquisition, Time Warner Cable customers were also subjected to lengthy wait times to speak with customer service representatives, encountered unknowledgeable and rude representatives and were often unable to report poor cable television or Internet service or outages, according to complaints received by the City.

The City’s Subscriber Service Standards also require cable companies to make repairs within 24 hours of notification. In fact, according to customer complaints, Time Warner technicians also consistently arrived late or failed to show up to fix outages and other problems with cable and Internet service.


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