Boo Chanco- DEMAND AND SUPPLY: Can UP sustain itself?
Rey Gamboa- BIZLINKS: MVP's insatiable passion
Valentino Sy- PHILEQUITY: Bargain sale
Jarius Bondoc- GOTCHA: Tour guide relives war horrors daily
Ana Marie Pamintuan- SKETCHES: Come out of hiding
Jose C. Sison- A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away): Family affair
Marichu A. Villanueva- COMMONSENSE: Looking for Ping
Sara Soliven De Guzman- AS A MATTER OF FACT: P-noy must choose principled men to get this country moving
Cito Beltran- CTALK: A flock of cops
Noy to meet Jalandoni only after peace talks are over
By Delon Porcalla
MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will only meet National Democratic Front (NDF) chairman Luis Jalandoni at the right moment when the peace talks with the communist rebels have been finalized, Malacañang said yesterday.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Jalandoni should be content with the two-week safe conduct pass and enjoy the holidays with his family in the country.
“The President had said that it would be more appropriate if they would meet when the peace agreement would be signed,” Valte said.
“I have not heard of any further moves from Mr. Jalandoni to meet the President,” she said.
The government has assured Jalandoni and his wife Ma. Consuelo Ledesma, along with the rebel negotiators and their staff, of safe passage under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) in an effort to “improve the atmosphere” before the peace talks.
“He (Jalandoni) is here for a two-week vacation. As a result of the informal talks, the government gave him safe conduct pass. This is a sign of good faith of our government in negotiating with the NDF,” Valte said.
Valte though would not elaborate on the details of the peace talks with the communist rebels. The NDF is representing the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in the peace talks with the Philippine government in Oslo, Norway.
Valte said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles and government chief peace negotiator Alexander Padilla would provide the details and information on the progress of the peace talks.
Padilla on Friday announced the agreement with Jalandoni to hold informal talks on the mechanisms for the formal resumption of the peace talks tentatively set in Norway.
Both panels agreed to implement the ceasefire from Dec. 16 to Jan. 3, 2011, during which the two sides will meet to discuss the parameters of the formal peace talks in February.
Jalandoni, who has been in exile along with CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison in the Netherlands, arrived home for the holidays on Saturday, a day after the ceasefire agreement was announced.
Former President Fidel Ramos said he was hoping that the NDF and the government would be able to find a middle ground for a final peace agreement that would end the decades-old armed conflict.
Ramos said the move to allow Jalandoni to come home could augur well for the peace negotiations ahead of the founding anniversary of the CPP on Dec. 26.
“It is a very important offer for the other side to respect also,” he said.
Ramos said the developments are “a good sign to restart the peace process.”
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, for his part, lashed at the NDF for imposing pre-conditions to the government for the peace talks to continue.
Enrile referred particularly to the demand of Jalandoni that the Philippines should not cling to the agreement with the United States on the Visiting Forcers Agreement (VFA).
“We will have to choose between (Jose Ma.) Sison and our national security,” Enrile said.
“If they are serious in pursuing the peace talks then they should not make any pre-conditions. They (should) listen to our Philippine negotiator and we will listen to them,” he said.
Enrile said the communist rebels cannot adopt a Marxist point of view, which the CPP has been espousing.
He said countries such as Vietnam and China had chosen to open up by accepting the US as their trading partners.
If the NDF will insist that the Philippines turn its back on the United States as an ally, Enrile said he would just ask the NDF to “go to hell.”
Enrile said the NDF can set conditions to free political prisoners, which can be part of a goodwill gesture from the government.
“That’s fine. But the questions are: Are they willing to give up their firearms? Are they willing to dismantle their New People’s Army? Peacefully?” he asked.
Malacañang said they are expecting the communist rebels to negotiate peace in good faith without using the ceasefire period as an opportunity to strengthen their forces.
Apart from agreeing to a ceasefire, officials said the government had shown good faith also by lifting the hold departure order and arrest against Jalandoni to allow him to negotiate freely in behalf of the CPP-NPA.
Valte said the ceasefire agreement is a good development, which must not be exploited to allow the formal peace talks to finally resume.
Following the announcement of the truce, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) declared the suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) against the NPA during the ceasefire period.
The AFP though clarified the SOMO will not preclude the troops from acting in self-defense and protecting communities in the countryside from armed threats.
AFP chief Gen. Ricardo David said the SOMO is a gesture of good faith on the part of the military to allow the peace talks to continue and to finally end the decades-old insurgency.
The military will also monitor the national threat board by stepping up its intelligence gathering on the rebels.
“We have to enhance intelligence monitoring to preempt any violation of the truce... intelligence (operations) should be proactive,” Army spokesman Col. Antonio Parlade Jr. said.
Parlade said they will continue to be vigilant even if they are optimistic that the insurgents would respect the 19-day ceasefire.
“That is part of the SOP (standard operating procedure). We should maintain our guard. Our vigilance will continue. Security measures are in place,” he said.
Parlade, however, expressed belief that the CPP-NPA would comply with the ceasefire agreement.
“I think they (rebels) will (comply with the truce). I think they have the intention of attaining peace. Many of them want to be with their families,” he said. – With Alexis Romero, Rudy Santos and Christina Mendez
Editorial: In pursuit of peace
Every new administration takes office with a promise, among other things, to pursue peace. And so President Aquino, like his mother when she rose to power, is exploring peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines. The government and the CPP’s political arm, the National Democratic Front, have agreed on a long holiday ceasefire of nearly three weeks, to allow discussions for the resumption of formal peace negotiations early next year.
Such periods of peace have always been tenuous. Not even Corazon Aquino’s sincerity, integrity and commitment to democracy could end the rebellion that gained strength amid the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship. The Philippine communist insurgency, now the longest running of its kind in the world, is not so much about ideology than about social injustice and bad governance. Those problems were not eradicated after the restoration of democracy in 1986. Unless the second Aquino administration addresses those problems decisively, even a formal peace agreement will not guarantee an end to the armed struggle.
In the meantime, both sides will have to implement or at least make a convincing show of intent to lay the foundations for long-term peace. The communist leadership must show that unlike the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the CPP-NDF can control its militants in the New People’s Army. The NPA must stop its extortion activities in the guise of collecting “revolutionary taxes” and blowing up telecommunications towers and buses of those who refuse to pay up.
For its part, the government headed by the only son of two democracy icons should show a healthy respect for human rights. Unexplained killings and disappearances in the name of counterinsurgency must stop, and there must be a genuine effort to solve at least some of the many such cases that occurred after the 1986 people power revolt. The poorest of the poor must believe the law in this country is applied equally and justice is for all.
The best way of ending insurgencies of all types is by weeding out the causes all the way down to the roots. Bringing economic development to impoverished and neglected areas, and guaranteeing social justice and effective governance, can make rebel movements irrelevant.
DEMAND AND SUPPLY
Can UP sustain itself?
By Boo Chanco
A retired ADB executive is the new President of the University of the Philippines. Alfredo E. Pascual, a current Regent representing the alumni, was elected on the first ballot. I know Fred from the time we were undergrad students in UP. Fred Pascual is probably just what UP needs at a time when there is a serious problem with the budget.
Fred has had a good career at the ADB and it is laudable that he chose to serve the University after his retirement. Among the dozen or so aspirants for the presidency, Fred provides a fresh view of how to run the university as if reality matters.
It is time to fix things up and stop the downward spiral of our country’s premier educational institution. UP must fix its finances simply because the dependence on the national budget is no longer sustainable in this era of fiscal deficits.
There had been noisy rallies in recent weeks protesting supposed cuts in the budgets of state universities and colleges including UP. But the noisy mob refuses to understand there are now more urgent needs that the government must finance, no matter how laudable the idea of supporting tertiary education.
There is nothing wrong with the priorities set by the Aquino administration to concentrate resources on primary and secondary education. The deterioration in the quality of teachers and the education they provide in our public schools is a major drag to our future economic growth. In this era of limited resources, it makes sense to pour money into preparing students for the challenge of college rather than fund state colleges and universities whose potential students are not ready for college.
I understand that the biggest hindrance to a more democratized UP student population is the inadequate preparation of public school graduates to meet the academic demands of a UP education. I understand many are even made to undergo remedial courses so they are better able to survive UP.
On the total budget for SUCs, I am told that 45 percent goes to UP. But of that 45-percent UP budget, I read somewhere that 80 percent goes to the PGH CHARITY WARD. So in fairness to UP, it is spending most of its money to provide health care to indigents. The Department of Health or the DSWD should help by covering most of the costs of PGH.
All those factors aside, I chanced upon an interesting blog that advocates a zero budget for UP. The blog, written by Kalayaan Magno, the son of my Philippine Star colleague Alex Magno, boldly declares that “UP, in the first place, does not need a budget.” The younger Magno, a UP product from kindergarten to the time he earned his engineering degree, worked in UP until he said, he gave up in utter frustration.
In advocating a zero budget for UP, young Magno starts from the premise that “if UP indeed is the best school in the country, it should have enough talent and skill to create and sustain its own wealth.” He says that if UP cannot do this, “it’s an ivory tower made from the tusks of a white elephant. From this perspective, might as well just abolish it or privatize it.”
Based from his own experience, Magno feels that UP should “streamline its operations such that it functions efficiently, no unnecessary offices that don’t do anything… no redundant employees… no departments/ offices that have no value.” In other words, UP administration must cut the fat in its structure that has grown through the years.
Magno continues: “I was informed that UP’s cost per student is a lot bigger than Ateneo’s. This brings up a big question on UP’s efficiency. I experienced working in the UP bureaucracy and after a year I still did not understand how things worked within its administrative web of slow, old people who barely know how to use the computer, excess messengers, entire offices that do not serve a purpose, redundant employees, redundant bosses, drivers who don’t have cars… the list goes on.
“Because UP is just being fed money yearly, it doesn’t even police how each of its departments spends this money (whether it creates value or not). Although, it has an intricate approval process for each step that you need to take. A step that would otherwise take a day could take weeks, bringing up the cost of that simple step.”
The irony, Magno points out, is that “we have the best Operations Research (BS IE) course in the country. We also have the best MS Finance, BS Econ, BS Business Econ courses in the country. And we can’t solve the problem in our own backyard. How hard is it to direct students to research on the profitability of the university’s idle assets? and implement it? you got zero cost consultants already? Well, I’m not surprised. I come from an electronics engineering school where nothing is automated in the building despite all the researches on automation.”
This is not how it is supposed to be. The original intention in 1908 when UP was founded was to see it as an independent and self sufficient university. “UP is a land grant university. It was given the land so it had assets from which it will earn money from. It’s the only university that was founded in this setup in the country. It means, it is an independent institution not controlled by the government. To this day, it acts like an independent institution except for its finance. It’s still dependent on the government.”
But a lawyer familiar with the UP charter commented in our e-group that it is not as easy as the young Magno puts it. “Speaking as a lawyer, I can assure you that there’s enough imprecise language in the charter that a court can use to justify blocking any meaningful commercial exploitation of UP’s land resources.
“The glacial pace of judicial proceedings ensures a delay of at least five years (10 or more if you go all the way to the Supreme Court, which, to be fair, has always been protective of UP’s land grant). Add sustained rallies within the campuses and political rhetoric from the UP staff and faculty and you can be sure many commercially significant ventures will never be undertaken even within Diliman’s valuable real estate. Instead, UP’s Diliman campus will remain as it is — the largest public park in Metro Manila.”
The lawyer continues: “the land can’t be sold by UP (or for that matter leased out for long periods of time). The land can’t be used for any other purpose than that intended (presumably academic)… UP can enter into joint ventures for the land but there’s a strange restriction that UP’s participation can extend no further than its share from the JV income. In other words, UP is legally prohibited from investing its own money to earn a greater share of the profits generated by the JV.”
Even the Ayala technohub is problematic. “You will see that at least three or four buildings are completely empty. Why? Because of contractual restrictions that prevent leases by call centers and other so-called “low value” activities. These restrictions were written in to defend against claims of commercialism. If the commercial area were made any bigger, Ayala would probably turn a profit. As it is, I don’t think the project as a whole is making any money.”
I share the lawyer’s conclusion: “This is not sustainable. If UP continues down this path, it will be eclipsed by Ateneo and DLSU. UP can only ride the wave of its past glory for so long.”
It is clear that the new UP President has a challenging, if not an impossible job ahead of him. He will need to revive all the instincts we developed as students at UP to survive the toxic atmosphere in our premier state university. As a UP alumnus, I hope and pray that Fred will make significant headway… I am not even saying success because that may be asking too much. I think UP is even more ungovernable than the Philippines.
Noted this classic joke at http://www.pinoyexchange.com
UP grad: A number of past Philippine presidents graduated from UP. Presidents Roxas, Quirino, Laurel, Garcia and Marcos, to name just a few!
ATENEO grad: Hah! That’s nothing, a number of Ateneo graduates became national heroes like Jose Rizal, Gen. Gregorio del Pilar, Gen. Antonio Luna, Evelio Javier and many others.
UP grad: That just goes to show you, UP graduates become presidents and lead countries while Ateneans end up getting shot!
LA SALLE: Wala ‘yan. Talo kayo sa mga gradweyt namin!
UP & ATENEO: Bakit sino ba ang mga graduates ninyo?
LA SALLE: Aba! Marami kaming sikat na gradweyts; si Gary Valenciano, Dingdong Avanzado, Ogie Alcasid, Monsieur del Rosario....
Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
MVP's insatiable passion
By Rey Gamboa
A respected corporate genius, Manuel V. Pangilinan, or MVP, is as passionate with sports and sports development as in business. His professional manner in running and managing his enterprises should set an example from which national sports associations (NSA) could draw inspiration from.
In one interview, MVP pointed out that NSAs must first and foremost be run with credibility and professional expertise, as well as being adept at fund raising and fund management. He also welcomed the opportunity to help NSAs formulate plans and strategies including on how to source, manage, and use funds effectively.
Aside from encouraging the populace to take up a more active and healthier lifestyle, MVP is bent on boosting sports development as it is also a way to promote competitiveness in people. And for some, sports could even offer a ticket out of poverty.
Currently, MVP through Smart Sports has backed taekwondo, weightlifting, tennis, boxing and cycling, and professional, collegiate and the national basketball teams/leagues, including the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) with the hope that others in the corporate community would follow suit, support Philippine sports, and reap benefits for the country.
MVP believes that long-term commitment, program continuity and corporate support will make for a successful basketball program fitted for international competitions like the Asiad or Olympics.
Hard court fumble
The MVP-backed Smart Gilas Team Pilipinas basketball squad in Guangzhou clearly had ample corporate support, but having been in existence for only a year, needs to be tested by time.
Sponsored by Smart Communications, Smart Gilas is composed of collegiate and amateur standouts whose supposed ultimate goal is to reach the 2012 London Olympics. The Philippine men’s national basketball team, formed in early 2009, is operating under a long term program, one of these being its participation in the recent Asiad.
Relegated to a medal-less sixth place finish, Smart Gilas clearly has to tweak its program if it is serious about reaching its 2012 goal. There were clearly some areas that could be improved on. For example, last minute changes should be avoided.
When one player was loaned by his mother team from the professional league too late, the team might have acquired an offensive and defensive gem to address its height problem, but it could not make up for the team’s lack of cohesiveness and chemistry.
Individual and team commitment
Smart Gilas actually had three other players loaned by PBA teams: 6’9” Asi Taulava of Meralco, Kelly Williams of Talk N’ Text and Rain or Shine’s Solomon Mercado. They had to play with alongside long-time members of the national team.
But when four key amateur members of the team quit and opted to try their luck in the professional ranks, plus the delay in the naturalization papers to 6’10” American reinforcement Marcus Douthit, the Smart Gilas team suffered irreparable damages.
Latest word is that even the team’s 6’9” prized Fil-Am find from Cebu is set to leave and join the UAAP, further affecting the team’s long-term plan, which is preparing for tournaments where slots to the London Olympiad is at stake.
When erstwhile basketball godfather Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco formed his RP-Northern Cement National Team, the core of the team, led by Samboy Lim, Allan Caidic, Hector Calma, Yves Dignadice, Elmer Reyes and naturalized reinforcement Chip Engelland and Jeff Moore, the team was kept intact for the country’s sake for some time until major championships were captured.
Considering his management savvy, I’m sure MVP and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas can effectively address such issues, form a tight-knit, highly motivated and committed squad and reward millions of brown skinned, rice eating, basketball crazy Filipinos with a globally competitive national basketball team fit not just for Asian but Olympic action.
Passion for basketball
Like any successful business executive, MVP wants results. But more so, he would like to see best efforts being exerted to achieve results.
Sometimes, however, best of efforts result into failures or fall short of expectations. But it seems MVP can live with that provided he is convinced that best efforts were exerted.
MVP’s patience was put to test when the Smart-Gilas team achieved its worst finish in the recently concluded Asian Games. Despite this setback, which surely disappointed not only MVP but also millions of Filipino basketball fans, Pangilinan reiterated his high hopes for Philippine basketball and promised to continue his support to achieve the goal of qualifying in the Olympics.
MVP’s involvement in basketball is deep and broad ranging. Apart from being the president of SBP, he is known to be actively providing morale and financial support to least two teams in the collegiate basketball and two teams in the professional league.
PLDT and SMART, companies which he heads, are the main sponsors for the annual search of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) for the national collegiate champion. These companies provide the substantial sponsorship support needed to conduct this nationwide multi-level year-end competition to determine the true national champion among the best collegiate teams in the country.