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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Call centers will post 8.6% of GDP growth by 2016


PHILIPPINE call centers will contribute 8.6 percent tothe GDP by 2016, Science Secretary Mario G. Montejo said yesterday.

"This is our estimate of the value of services that are done in the Philippines then exported by theinformation technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry," said Gigi Virata, senior executive director of the Business Processing Association Philippines (BPAP). "Then we compared it with total GDP and came up with the 8.6 percent figure."

"That is big," she told Malaya Business Insight, "as big as the current contribution of Filipinos working overseas."

The World Bank estimates that the Philippines received in 2011 about $23 billion from 10 million Filipinos working abroad.

According to BPAP figures, export revenues from theIT-BPO industry is expected to grow from $10.9 billion in 2011, or 5.4 percent of GDP, to $25 billion, or 8.6 percent of GDP, by 2016 when the national economy is expected to be worth $277 billion.

It also translates to 4.5 million jobs by then, up from 2.2 million jobs in 2011, Montejo said in a press briefing.

The industry posted a 22 percent growth rate in 2011, said Alejandro P. Melchor III, deputy executive director of the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), which is part of theDepartment of Science and Technology.


In 2011, the BPO industry contributed approximately $11 billion in export revenues, about 640,000 direct jobs and around 1.5 million indirect jobs like construction and services, he said.

"US anti-outsourcing legislation is unlikely to pass," Melchor said, adding the move is related to US presidential elections this year to appease American voters worried over domestic unemployment. "It is unlikely to stop outsourcing on the slim chance thebill passes," he added.

The Philippines intends to become the IT-BPO market leader in the United Kingdom and Australia, Melchor said, adding it will expand its footprint in Europe and Japan as well.

The Philippines surpassed India in 2010 and is nowthe world leader in voice call centers.

The IT-BPO industry is recession-proof and resistant to the global economic slowdown, Melchor said.

"We remain optimistic with the annual double-digit growth in the past 10 years regardless of the global economic situation," said Louis Casambre, executive director of ICTO.

"We intend to attain world leadership in four more fast-growing services," Melchor said, pointing to health care information management, finance and accounting, human resources and animation and game development.

The country also intends to double its IT market share, engineering service and multilingual outsourcing, he said.


IT outsourcing services range from analysis and design to network operations, softwate development to gaming. Business process services include contact centers, banking and insurance, telecoms, health care, oil and gas, animation and legal process and patent research.

Engineering services cover product concept, simulation and design, computer-aided design and manufacturing, embedded software, architecture design and building management models, among many other services.

"We aim to augment to triple the size of the IT talent pool by 2016, improve employability by 200 percent and develop the core skills required by the industry," Melchor said, pointing out the size and employability of the talent pool is a key constraint to growth.

"The Philippines have matches up very well with some of fastest growing segments of the global IT-BPOindustry," Melchor said. "The demand is tremendous, and the Philippines has risen as a top contender for the demand."

Montejo said the industry is now focusing on the countryside, in the so-called "new wave" hubs of Cordillera-Ilocos in San Fernanco, La Union, Dagupan and Baguio; Central Luzon (Angeles/Clark, Cabanatuan, Olongapo/Subic and Tarlac); Western Visayas (Bacolod and Cebu); Central Visayas (Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Dumaguete and Tagbilaran); Davao-General Santos; and Metro Manila.

Roxas perks things up at Naia 1 in 90-minute visit


IT took a visit from Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas to perk things up at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 (Naia 1). And do some adjustments to make more comfortable the hundreds who throng the airport every day to welcome or see off loved ones.

He talked with Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado and was able to convince him to provide a “misting” equipment so that welcoming groups would be spared from the oppressive head of the noonday sun.

Roxas noticed the predicament of the welcomers after a brief chat with a family from Nueva Ecija that was there to greet a loved one coming from the Middle East.

Elpidio Peralta told the secretary the arrival extension area where hundreds of families greet arriving overseas Filipino workers was oppressively hot.

This prompted Roxas to urge Honrado to install misting equipment in the area to cool down visitors with fine-water spray.

Dante Basanta, Naia 1 manager, promised to install the fine-water sprayer within a month.

Honrado then told Roxas that the ongoing P1.16-billion renovation was proceeding well. He said it would include a walkalator leading from the arrival area, all the way down to the passenger arrival extension area.

Many passengers have complained that the steep slant often made it difficult for passengers, especially those loaded with boxes, to negotiate the slippery slope.

Honrado said the walkalators would be able to accommodate luggage trolleys for arriving passengers.

From the so-called greeters area, Roxas visited some of the toilets and found them clean enough to merit his praise.

He kidded a female attendant, saying she probably knew he was coming and that was why the toilet was spotlessly clean.

But unidentified janitress told him: “Talaga pong malinis ang kubeta dito sa arrival araw-araw”; he seemed to agree.

Roxas then went to view the dismantling of the escalators; they are being removed to provide wider access to arriving passengers.

From there, he went to the immigration area, where he was shown a plan to increase the number of booths from the present 15 to 30, to reduce congestion during peak arrival hours.

“We have to see what is actually going on. It’s difficult if you see it only on paper,” Roxas said during a brief interview following the one-and-a-half-hour visit.

He said that he found the plan to be satisfactory and asked the public to be patient since the renovation was going on, despite the continued operation of the airport.

“You can see it’s a working facility, you don’t just close the area because this is being used every day.”

He added that from what he saw at the ground level where the welcoming groups are located, Honrado has agreed to expand the area not only to accommodate more people, but make their stay comfortable.

“The construction started in January and would not stop until it is finished,” he said. The contractors are working on the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire system of the 30-year-old terminal to make it useful and functional.

He said the idea of the upgrade was to strengthen the pillars and post, stop the leaks and seeping waters, remodel the ceiling and provide clean toilets.

In Photo: Secretary Mar Roxas (third from left) demonstrates the difficulty of handling a trolley loaded with pieces of luggage, while going down the steep incline leading to the arrival extension area. These areas will be provided with walkalators, according to plans. With Roxas are (from left) unidentified Roxas aide, Miaa Manager Honrado, Miaa Engineer Carlos Lozada and Naia 1 Terminal Manager Dante Basanta. --Recto Mercene

Worrisome hunger stats making government act


RESULTS of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey revealed on Monday that 22.5 percent of Filipino families experienced hunger in the fourth quarter of 2011. By all accounts, these people—who make up more than one-fifth of our nation’s families and are so poor that they went hungry—did not have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

It was a non-commissioned survey, meaning it was not ordered by a group that may have had a particular use for the results.

The SWS survey question on hunger, translated into English, was: “In the last three months, did it happen even once that your family experienced hunger and not have anything to eat? (YES, NO)”

The respondents who said that they experienced hunger were also asked: “Did it happen ONLY ONCE, A FEW TIMES, OFTEN, or ALWAYS?”

Those who said that they experienced hunger “only once” or “a few times” were classified as people with “Moderate Hunger.” Those who experience hunger “often” or “always” were grouped under “Severe Hunger.”

It is good to hear that there was a 0.3-point decline in families that only experienced “moderate hunger” in the October-November-December quarter survey (3.57 million families). But there was a 1.2-point increase in families that experienced “severe hunger” (955,000 families).

These figures take the shine out of an SWS report last week—based on the same fourth-quarter 2011 poll—that said that there were less poor people. In the July-August-September quarter of 2011, 52 percent of Filipino families were found to be poor or at least described themselves as so. In the succeeding last quarter of 2011, only 47 percent of families said that they were poor.

The conclusion to be drawn from these statistics is that while the number of poor people fell a little, the number of hungry people among the poor increased.

In previous editorials, we warned the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd about these statistics. It may be a comforting thought to the President and the Cabinet’s economic team that despite more than half of the population claiming themselves to be poor and hungry (at least some of the time), most of them still trust President Aquino and believe that he is doing a very good job as their leader. Otherwise, how could surveys—both of the SWS and Pulse Asia—show that 70 percent of our people have confidence in the President and rated his performance as good or very good, even excellent?

Hunger statistics concern Aquino officials
The good news is that officials of the Aquino administration are concerned that the number of Filipinos going hungry continues to rise.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman and her fellow executives and social workers at her department have cancelled the names of thousands of Conditional Cash Transfer beneficiaries, whom investigations have found are not really poor people but somehow found their way into the roster of recipients. The department is also accelerating its food aid programs throughout the country.

National Economic Development Authority chiefCayetano Paderanga has been quoted as saying that all the government agencies are helping solve poverty- and hunger-related problems and fine-tuning their programs.

But the most cheerful news comes from the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is still optimistic that the Philippines will become self-sufficient in rice and achieve food security by next year.

He is pushing for “simple and little ways” to improve the rice yield of our farms. Why not adopt upland rice farming so that we don’t only depend on rice fields in the lowland? He is working to multiply the irrigated land areas. His target is to increase our country’s irrigated land areas from 1.3 million hectares to 2 million.

Perhaps more than any other recent Agriculture secretary, Alcala has revived faith in and high expectations from agricultural extension workers. He often spoke of them being the key to the success of the food security program. He sounds like the Agriculture secretaries of the 1950s and 1960s, when we were not dependent of rice imports and were looked up to as models in agricultural production.

Alcala has also pinned his hopes on the Food Staples Sufficient Program (FSSP), on which P61.7 billion will be spent to ensure food security by 2013.

The program aims to attain for the country sufficiency not just in rice, but also in white corn, cassava (kamoteng kahoy), sweet potato (kamote), and other staples.

The FSSP budget will be used on agricultural infrastructures—irrigation, farm-to-market roads (FMRs), post-harvesting facilities, and the like. For irrigation, the Agriculture department will work with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to construct new irrigation systems—not giant dams, we hope—but local water-impounding modules that seem to be more effective.

NIA is also expected to rehabilitate and upgrade irrigation infrastructures that need repair.

Under the Agriculture department is the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM). The bureau has secured a P500-million fund for the construction of 4,584 small-scale irrigation projects. These include some 1,200 shallow tube wells, 75 small water reservoirs, 56 small-water impounding projects, and 3,130 spring developments.

The old problem that rice farmers have—where to dry, store and process their harvest—will be solved, with the Agriculture department spending P11.28 billion for post-harvest infrastructure facilities.

For rice development and the upgrading of seeds, the Agriculture department has a budget of P6.2 billion.

Corn production will have a P951-million fund. P11.35 billion will be spent for commodity crops and an additional P1.3 billion for high-value crops.

The livestock and fishing subsectors of the agricultural economy will have a budget of at least P2.9 billion. It is not enough to make us a global champion in fish and sea-animal production, which is estimated to be the sunshine industry in the coming decades, but it’s better than nothing, so it’s a good start.

The Agriculture department will have P5 billion to build some 1,284 kilometers of farm-to-market roads equivalent to 1,284 kilometers.

not all gays*

*to Juni, who lent me dvds of gayness, after he talked about his clothing designs and love affairs, the first time I met him one evening in Quezon Ave.

Issues of gender are difficult to evade because along with social class, education, religion, nationality (among others), gender is part of one’s subject position-or the totality of a person that defines human relations in a society.

Even in the simple pastime of watching films, it is doubly difficult to ignore the most complicated questions on gender especially if those movies have pronounced claims on homo/heterosexuality.

In My Life, for instance,problematizes power relations among Filipino gay couples. Now that both phallus are together, who will man the ship? All gays are not created equal.

In this film, John Lloyd’s character is stereotypically feminine. He talks a lot, cries a lot, feels a lot, while Luis Manzano has I can’t talk to you right now because I have work to do kind of character.

Gender theorists may not like the perpetuation of the binaries male-female, weak-strong, rational-emotional, but this only goes to show that many relationships are founded exactly on these oppressive dichotomies. And they like it that way. (Just like in Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet which is also set in America and which also touches on issues of getting a green card, on “coming out” to parents whose expectations are as high the Empire Building).

That the film’s setting is in New York is a telling sign that there is a desire to flee the poor country full ofstraight values (which they carried abroad as evident in their “kissing scene” which has no kissing at all), to head to the Big Apple known for its cultural diversity. Or is it another macho symbol?

Isn’t America the proudest phallic symbol of the world?

Compare this to the celebrated 90s American gay film set in New York: Trick is a happy story about two gays meeting in a subway, they fall for each other quickly (New York time!) and went to look for a place for the night, but every corner they go, disturbance. But it ends happily.

Back in the Philippines, many gays are repressed and oppressed, and this might explain why our gay films rarely have a happy ending.

When I watched Lihim ni Antonio I was horrified.
And that’s not because it’s a gay film.
There were scenes honest enough to zoom in to a close up and extreme close up of boys’ masturbation and coming of age identity crisis, of m2m sex from behind and the sick consequences of Filipino diaspora.

In “Lihim” Marikina’s river, old houses, parks, and computer shops serve as the setting for the development of a plot that peacefully starts with Tom (antonio) realizing that he’s gay.
The everyday life (la vie quotidienne in cultural studies) powerfully exposes gender ideologies: coming to the city is a move of Tom’s uncle to so-called progress (while the mother tearfully returns to the province); a side glance of a boy to a man and vice versa in a dining table with the entire family is suggestive of crushing social norms and redefining gender roles; female masturbation is freaky, male–spectacular.
Tom’s secrets started to spill when he finally had the guts to touch his uncle who shares bed with him. Like a redundant phrase, his macho-shit Tito Johnbert had a well sculpted bod as his capital for hooking up with men in dingy bars (another secret in the film).After being teased into the world of sexual fantasy in a room lit by Christmas lights, Tom rides his bike mile after extra mile with his buddy Mike to explore the nature of homosexuality in a most innocent, yet heart-to-heart, guy talk.
Then came revelations. Lying and self-deception, lust and lost love, and a most heart-wrenching betrayal of trust all clashed into a single rape scene of a 15-year-old homo.
I was holding my other friend’s hand while Tom screams to death “Tito John! Wag po! Masaket! Masakit dyan! Tito Jooohn!” up to the scenes when Tom’s depressed mother enters and stabs the rapist multiple times.
We left the cinema with a heavy heart. Unlike when I watched Love of Siam.

This is a Thai love story between two teenagers, childhood friends Mew and Tong, who struggle against loneliness in their fragmented families and homophobic society.

While Mew lost his grandmother (his only family) who makes up for the absence of his parents, Tong lost his ate who is very much close to him to his family’s pathetic despair.

Separation is one subject of the film, and its theme is somewhere around the thought that in the face of death (of people, of romantic relationships, of family values) one finds herself alone in a universe of lonely people who can only get the strongest affirmation from the self. but hey, this is a positive note on the freedom of the self to go against the current of socially repressive values

Such joys of solitude of finding peace in spite of surrounding chaos can be felt in Mew’s music whenever he composes songs for his highschool group, the August Band. This is the time when viewers, gay or straight, fall in love. It reminds you for instance of your crushes and first loves, of cute infatuation and kilig im-gonna-see-him-again moments, of me-against-the-world romance and we-against-ourselves goodbye.

Love of Siam draws its emotionality from fragmentation. When Tong reveals his disturbed thoughts on his confused identity, he cries. He believes people around him are disturbed as well. Characters, when shattered into pieces by inevitable evils in the society, get lost. And in the process of hurting, they bleed.

But music heals the soul.

Later on, the characters, one by one, collect the pieces of their broken selves.

But not all coming out happens when the gay is young. Some take a while. A long while.

There's The Rub

By Conrado de Quiros

One, it’s true, as the local saying goes, that the hardest person to wake up is the one pretending to be asleep.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines says the prosecution has not proven Renato Corona is corrupt with his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. His tax returns show he earned less than a million bucks a year throughout Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s time, his wife earned nothing at all until 2006 (she did not file any taxes except for one year as a one-time earner), and their children were dependents. Yet, individually and collectively, they were able to buy houses and condo units which are eye-popping even in their undervalued form.

“The documents that Sen. Ralph Recto was able to draw out from Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares,” the IBP says, “are still deficient to prove that Corona is prima facie guilty of graft and corruption… The prosecution needs to show not only Corona’s salary, but also the fact that he does not have any ‘other lawful income’ and ‘income from legitimately acquired property’ before it can claim that it has prima facie proven that he is guilty of graft and corruption.”

Why? Why in God’s good name does the prosecution have to do that? Have these guys ever heard of tax laws? Have these guys ever heard that citizens are obliged to declare all their sources of income so that they may be levied the appropriate taxes? The burden of showing them does not lie with the prosecution, it lies with Corona. If he hasn’t declared them, then they do not exist. If they exist and he hasn’t declared them, then he has been evading taxes. Either he is corrupt or he is a tax evader, choose your poison.

While at this, I go back to my earlier proposition that substantive proof is all you need to convict Corona. In cases involving the tenure of public officials, the amount of proof you need to boot them out should be inversely proportional to the office they hold: the higher the office, the less the amount of proof. That comes from the premise that public office is a public trust. A public official deserves to be a public official only to the extent that he can prove himself fit for his office, not until the citizens can prove him beyond a shadow of doubt to be a crook, a rapist or a murderer. The higher the office, the more so.

What is the IBP saying? Unless the prosecution canprove he did not win in the lotto or was not left a fortune by a long lost uncle, he has every claim to his wealth? Unless we ourselves are able to prove that the Chief Justice is not God and can acquire property in mysterious ways, he continues to have a claim on his position?

What in God’s good name has happened to the IBP? No wonder Dick the Butcher proposed, “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

Two, what is the prosecution thinking proposing to trot out 100 witnesses to make their case? If they mean to intimidate by it, they can forget it. It doesn’t make them look confident, it makes them look insecure. It doesn’t make them look thorough, it makes them look ridiculous.

Two things are wrong with it.

The first is that the prosecution itself subverts the right way to look at a public official, not to speak of a chief justice. They propose that nothing less than absolute, iron clad, proof is needed to boot out a public official, not to speak of a chief justice. When all it takes is to show, as they have already done, that Corona is either a tax evader or the possessor of ill-gotten wealth. Additionally, they propose that you have to prove all the articles of impeachment against Corona to impeach him. Why? Why in God’s good name do you need to show that Corona is corrupt, betrayed the public trust, voted for Gloria all the way, etc. to get rid of him? One charge should do.

The problem in any case, as the IBP shows, is that it is impossible to prove anything to the disbelieving. Any evidence you show will always be “deficient.” That was so during Erap’s impeachment, that is so during Corona’s impeachment. Arroyo’s—and by extension Corona’s—allies in the Senate will never be convinced by their arguments. Who was it who said that the hardest people to convince (like the oil companies about global warming) are those whose self-interest prevents them from being convinced?

The second is that the prosecution itself means the trial to take forever. Do they seriously expect Serafin Cuevas to not raise all sorts of objections to what each of those witnesses will say? That doesn’t include the 15 witnesses the defense proposes to put up in turn. We will still be at it past Christmas.

Of course during Erap’s trial, I kept saying I wouldn’t mind if the trial lasted forever. It wasn’t a waste of time at all. For the first time in their lives, most of the senators were earning their keep. And it was a tremendous education for the public: for the first time in their lives, most of the citizens were seeing democracy at work. They had begun talking like lawyers, the kids dreamed again of becoming lawyers. Suddenly, law meant something lofty again.

I wouldn’t mind that if the person being tried was Arroyo. Whatever valuable lessons this impeachment imparts—chief of them being that it puts on trial the kind of law we’ve always had, the one that has nothing to do with justice—it is also a monumental distraction, if not inconvenience. The longer it takes, the happier Arroyo gets. Or the longer it takes, the farther justice gets. Arroyo’s trial is the one that offers far more monumental lessons. The least among them, something we have already forgotten, if at all we ever learned it, is that where there is crime, there should be punishment. And the most vital one among them is that a vow is sacred, and when we vow “Never again!” to tyranny, we shouldn’t be making vows like Gloria.

A hundred witnesses? My reaction is the same as that of Juan Ponce Enrile: OMG!

Delicadeza dictates Cuevas to stop lawyering for CJ Corona

Editor-in-chief, Dyaryo Magdalo

Lawyers always have "palusot" as a tradition.

Yes, Republic Act 910 explicitly states only about CIVIL, CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS where a Supreme Court justice who retired cannot stand as the counsel against the interest of the government.

The same law also states a prohibition for a retired justice to appear in administrative proceedings. But the prohibition is limited only to the prohibition to receive a fee or payment for appearing as a lawyer of the person accused in administrative proceedings. To be clear, a retired justice can appear as the lawyer of public official accused in an administrative case.

For the layman to understand, an administrative case is one where the purpose is to know whether the person so accused should be punished by suspension or removal from employment or censure or reprimand. Meaning, the issues here involved only violations or accusations of violations with respect to the duties and responsibilities covered by the job or employment.


Another sad fact is that this law (RA 910) does not provide any sanction or punishment for any violation.

But if you would ask me whether this law applies to prohibit Cuevas, I would answer: “YES, HE IS PROHIBITED TO APPEAR IN THE IMPEACHMENT CASE OF CHIEF JUSTICE CORONA.”

My justification rests on the fact that all the prohibitions are based on the theory that a retired justice like him cannot be a lawyer against the government so that this covers also cases where the government is the adverse party.

By standing for CJ Corona there is no question that Cuevas stands as a lawyer going against the government. This is so because the government is just an agent of the people. Now, it is the House of Representatives that stands as the accuser of Corona. But that act of standing as the accuser was an act in compliance with the command of the People of the Philippines in the Constitution for the House of Representatives to file an impeachment complaint whenever any impeachable officer commits acts of betrayal of public trust.

Hence, it necessarily follows that Cuevas is lawyering against the government.

With that established and even if there is an allowance for him to appear as a lawyer in an administrative case, delicadeza dictates Cuevas not to stand as a counsel of Corona.