New7Wonders launches New7Wonders Cities

New7Wonders announces the launch of New7Wonders Cities, its third global voting campaign, following the man-made New 7 Wonders of the World and the New7Wonders of Nature. 
Bernard Weber, Founder and President of New7Wonders, commented: “The world is currently experiencing a mass urbanization. For the first time in history, a majority of the global population now lives in cities. From the great historical cities of Jerusalem, Venice and Kyoto, to the alpha world cities of London, Paris, New York, Mumbai and Shanghai, urban living has enriched human society. Meanwhile, many newer metropolitan areas, from Dubai to Seoul to Cape Town to Sao Paulo, have become magnets for millions of people looking to make their fortunes, and megacities that most of the world is not even aware of are sprouting across Asia and Africa.
Given these dramatic developments, New7Wonders Cities will become a catalyst for discussing everything from urban planning to metropolitan governance, from tourism to architecture. This campaign is going to be very much in touch with the Zeitgeist and I am very excited about its potential to generate energy and ideas.”
Visit New7Wonders Cities now. 

Phase One of New7Wonders Cities! New7Wonders Cities is the third campaign organized by New7Wonders, following the man-made New7Wonders of the World and the New7Wonders of Nature. This is where you get to choose the cities that will qualify for the next phase.
Choose your 7 cities from the alphabetical list on their site.

The Corona Impeachment Trial: SALN 101 (The How’s & Why’s of Accountability)

Click this to visit the main page.
You don’t need to be a genius to understand the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of a government official. The formula is simple: Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth.

What these terms include are clearly stated in Republic Act 6713, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. The implementing rules of RA 6713 break down “Assets” into the following categories:

(a) real property, its improvements, acquisition costs, assessed value, and current fair market value;
(b) personal property and acquisition costs;
(c) all other assets such as investments, cash on hand or in banks, stocks, bonds, and the like
“Liabilities” is more general, simply stating:
(d) All financial liabilities, both current and long-term.
Assets and liabilities — what SALN should contain
Real property includes land, the house or houses that stand on it, condominium units or any building (or a portion thereof) one owns.

Assessed value is usually pegged by local government units, according to the zone where one’s property is located. Fair market value is what a given property or asset would fetch in the marketplace.

Ideally, there should be very little difference between the assessed value and the fair market value. This would allow governments to collect the proper amount of property taxes.

But assessed values often lag way behind fair market values. It takes a while for  LGUs to catch up with rising property values.

It is also not surprising to see sellers and buyers of real property under-declare the selling/buying price. They put a figure closer to the assessed value to minimize their capital gains tax (the difference between your acquisition cost and the price you place on the property for sale). That form of corruption is a private sector specialty.

Note that the SALN form under RA 6713 – which has been around for decades –includes the acquisition cost and the cost of any improvements on one’s property. Many government employees have been privileged to purchase original homes in state-owned housing projects. Many subdivisions may have featured modest structures in their original state, but they now display multi-million structures. (You can also go through any number of low-cost housing subdivisions and discover the sometimes amazing transformation on the houses of hard-working overseas Filipino workers.)

Personal property would include:
  • Jewelry (Have you seen the bling-blings on some cops or on certain employees of the Bureau of Customs?)
  • Expensive electronic gadgets (Yes, your Ipad and any of those power Macs – depending on the model, their cost could be triple a government employee’s monthly income!)
  • Vehicles (The four-wheel drives at the port area would put any plush village to shame)
Other assets, I suppose, would also include time-shares and the like.

Liability, whether personal or business-related, refers to debts or obligations you incur from services hired and transacted, the purchase of new property, or special investment plans. This includes loans, accounts payable, mortgages. Property taxes owned to an LGU could be considered a liability.

Other things that could be considered liabilities are payments owed for, say, your child’s education plan, your family burial plots; a retirement plan over and above the state-covered programs. These things, however, should also be declared as assets, with the proper value and cost of acquisition.

In business spreadsheets, liabilities are lumped as “current” (debts payable within one year) or “long-term.”  The form that comes with the implementing rules of RA 6713, however, doesn’t go into these distinctions.

 Missing figures

Corona’s SALNs since 2002 are full of holes.

I am not going to rehash reports of his alleged properties that are missing from the SALNs  (see image on the left) or Raissa Robles’ superb sleuthing that discovered payment of debts to a company that had ceased to exist.

Let me just go over several “sins” of omission:

In his 2002 SALN, Corona listed only three properties: donated land and constructed house dating from the 1970s and land purchased in 1992, a total value of more than P10 million.

Just a cursory read of that year’s SALN gives you an idea why folks with disposable income prefer to land bank or invest in real property. (It also makes you wonder how much the QC government lost through the years by not updating their land valuation.)

The 70’s land gift had jumped in value from just a little more than P50,000 (granted, a big amount in the 70s) to P5 million.

Land has become an even more lucrative investment lately.  In just ten years, the value of a plot of land purchased in 1992 grew from P30,000 to P3 million.
Corona’s SALNs have a curious way of suddenly displaying properties purchased earlier than the declared year. His 2003 SALN shows a property purchased in 2002 by installment; the 1992 land, previously declared as purchase,  sprouted “installment” under mode of acquisition.

Corona’s 2010 SALN has a 2004 condominium purchase absent from all other previous SALNs.
None of these properties are indicated in the liability section. The only liability Corona lists in 2oo3 is an P11 million loan acquired from his wife family’s company. By 2010, he had paid back his debt to the missus’ firm and was back at zero liabilities.

How to fill up the SALN

We asked accountants, government auditors and tax lawyers to show how property bought by installment should appear on the SALN.

The answer, across the board, is that the property should be listed under Assets (with the right value) and then, minus downpayment, the balance (factoring in the value of whatever interest you’ve agreed to pay) should be listed on the Liability section.

For example, if you purchase a P2-million house but have only paid P200,000 on it, here’s what it represents:
  • House (installment) P2-million under assets
  • P1.8 million (house loan or mortgage) under Liabilities
So, let’s do an exercise.  Imagine scaRRedcat as a government employee filing a 2008 SALN. She has the following properties:
Real property:
  •             House and lot in Sta. Rosa, purchased 2005, for P2.5 million, installment – paid a P500,000 down and pay annually P150,000.
  •             Condo in Makati purchased in 2000 for P1.2 million, installment – paid a P200,000 down and pay annually P30,000
Other property:
  •            Multi-media editing equipment, purchased 2007 for P800,000, installment – paid a P200,000 down and need to pay P60,000 annually
  •             Car for P400,000 in 2003, installment — downpayment of P75,000 with annual payment of P40,000
scaRRedcat needs to list the Sta Rosa house under Assets and –  subtracting the P500,000 downpayment in 2005 and the annual payments for three years or P450,000 — place its mortgage under liabilities at P1,550,000.  The same formula goes for the other properties.
Here’s what scaRRedcat’s SALN should look like:
Strictly for excercise purpose. So similarity to any existing SALN.

Strictly for exercise purposes. No similarity to any particular SALN implied.
Checks and balance
What would scaRRedcat’s SALN tell government auditors?

Since 1994, SALNs needed to include an official’s income and business interests, including those of spouses and unmarried children below 18 yrs old.

Suppose in 2008, scaRRedcat was earning P40,000 – executive pay by government standards.  She doesn’t detail the monthly installments on the various mortgages in her name. But auditors can always compare the 2008 SALN with those from previous years and learn how much in mortgage she pays annually/monthly.

So, can a civil servant who earns P40,000 a month afford P280,000 worth of annual mortgage payments? scaRRedcat is  earning at least P520,000 a year (including 13th month pay, excluding other bonuses).

If scaRRedcat is single, she can probably afford the mortgage payments (barely). She could, of course, be a trust fund baby (like, say, former senator Jamby Madrigal).

What if she’s married with three kids, two in college and one in high school?

That’s why the income and business interest statements are important. If scaRRedcat happens to be married to a senior executive of a multinational corporation, or an overseas contract worker in one of the more lucrative markets, those mortgage payments are a reasonable expense.

If, however, her husband is out of work, or barely earns a minimum wage – or, if she is a single parent with no other extra source of income, then auditors are going to look closer.

The logical step after looking at the income and business interest statements is checking the employee’s ITR.

But, unless ordered by a court (or an impeachment court, in the case of Corona), there’s no way to get hold of a full income tax picture. At the most, what government auditors will have is an ITR based on withholding taxes – only for her government job. Any taxes paid on income from business, from trust funds will need to be volunteered.

News reporters have discovered a number of properties not included in Corona’s SALN, or properties whose Transfer Certificate of Titles show acquisition cost much higher than either the declared assessed value or fair market price.  Corona’s SALNs are also opaque precisely because he doesn’t state his income. He doesn’t even list his wife as among relatives in government.

The Chief Justice has already said he and his wife come from clans with more than ordinary means – in other words, well-to-do families. His lawyers also tell us the Chief Justice can very much afford his properties because he has other sources of income.

Had Corona’s SALN contained all his sources of income and acquisition costs, he would probably have an easier time today explaining his acquisition of properties. (Actually, a Chief Justice should divest of active business interests and keep the money in a blind trust.)

After all, the law states that you do not just file on time. Its implementing rules clearly mandate what your SALN should include. Even an admirer of the Chief Justice has only to scan his SALNs and acknowledge that deficient is the least you can call these documents.

by Inday Espina-Varona 

7 Wonders of Nature for 7 Billion People

The Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan, Philippines is composed of a long mountain landscape and a beautiful, breathtaking subterranean river that winds through a cave that has been carved into shape by the giant hand of nature. So it comes as no surprise that the Puerto Princesa Underground River has made it as one of the 28 finalists in the global search for the New 7 Wonders of Nature after topping the first round of voting, 261 second round to represent the Philippines, on July 28.

This article will bring you to Puerto Princesa Underground River.
7 Wonders of Nature for 7 Billion People
Unauthorized use, editing, reproduction, publication, duplication and distribution of the digital photos and articles without explicit permission is punishable by law. Subject to Philippine and International Copyright Conventions on Intellectual Property Rights. CBAA Biznews 2012 | All Rights Reserved
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The World of Seven Billion People

“How did we become so many? How large a number can our Earth sustain?”

On 31 October, world population reaches 7 billion. Is that numerical milestone a cause for celebration or concern?

Here is the special report of Paul Michael Jaramillo on CBAA Biznews
The World of Seven Billion People
Unauthorized use, editing, reproduction, publication, duplication and distribution of the digital photos and articles without explicit permission is punishable by law. Subject to Philippine and International Copyright Conventions on Intellectual Property Rights. CBAA Biznews 2012 | All Rights Reserved

All Rights Reserved.

Bourne Again: Bourne Legacy Ilocano Version

The cast of Battle: Twigs & Stones

Mga Kwento ni Mark Logan segment of TV Patrol featured a viral video on the net, 'Bourne Again'. With the Bourne Legacy currently filming in the streets of Manila, Philippines, the Ilocano folks from the North of the country had already released their version in the middle of last year. The short film was entitled "Battle: Twigs and Stones" where the heroes and the villains are using twigs and stones as their weapons.

The Corona Impeachment Trial: Ako Ang Unang Tagapagtanggol Ng Hustisya

Here is the transcript of his speech

Ako Ang Unang Tagapagtanggol Ng Hustisya

Isang mainit at mapagpalayang hapon po sa ating lahat!

Tunay na hustisya, kadakilaan ng Kataas-taasang Hukuman, at kalayaan ng hudikatura, tatlo pong prinsipyo na nagbibigay sa akin – sa ating lahat – ng lakas at tapang na harapin ang hamon at pagsubok na bunga ng masamang pulitika.


Sa isang iglap, nasampahan po ako ng isang impeachment complaint ng mababang kapulungan na kontrolado ng Liberal Party ni Ginoong Aquino at ng kanyang mga kaalyado. Sa sobrang bilis, parang wala po yatang naka-intindi o nakabasa man lang ng halos animnapung pahinang reklamo o habla. Isang daan, walumpu’t walong kinatawan ang basta na lamang lumagda rito para isulong ang aking impeachment. Kinikilala natin ang proseso ng Saligang Batas para sa mga reklamo laban sa mga miyembro ng Korte Suprema. Ngunit ang hindi natin kinikilala ay ang pag-abuso ng kapangyarihan at proseso para samantalahin ang lahat ng paraan, makapagtalaga lamang sila ng sarili nilang mga mahistrado sa Korte Suprema.

Itong impeachment ay dala ng kasakiman na magkaroon ng isang Korte Suprema na kayang diktahan, na nakukuha sa tingin, at magkakandarapang ipatupad ang kanilang bawat hiling.

Tila yata’y napipikon at hindi sila makapagtalaga ng kanilang punong mahistrado kung susundin ang ating umiiral na Saligang Batas. Kaya pati ang inyong lingkod, hadlang daw sa kaunlaran ng bayan at pagpapatupad ng mga ipinangako sa kampanya!

Pasadahan po natin ang mga walang katuturang paratang ng ating mga magigiting na mambabatas. Walo (8) po ang hinain na paratang laban sa akin. Kaagad, makikitang dalawang uri ang bintang na nilalaman nito: sa isang banda, ‘yung mga reklamong tumutukoy sa mga personal kong kilos, at sa kabilang banda naman, ang mga reklamo na tumutukoy sa mga opisyal na pagkilos o hatol ng Korte Suprema.

Mariin kong itinatanggi ang mga bintang na may katiwalian sa mga pansarili kong kilos. Hindi po totoo ang sinasabing ayaw ko raw ilabas ang aking Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. Ito’y isang dokumentong sinusumite ko taun-taon ng walang patid. Malaking kasinungalingan ang paratang na ito.

Ako raw po ay isang midnight appointee. Dapat raw po, hindi ko tinanggap ang paghirang sa akin. Bakit po ba, para si Ginoong Aquino ang makapagtalaga ng kaniyang sariling chief justice na hawak niya sa leeg? Mapapa-iling ka talaga. Ang pagtatalaga sa inyong lingkod ay dumaan sa isang masusing proseso na ayon sa ating Saligang Batas. Kasama po dito ang proseso ng Judicial and Bar Council na noon ay pinangungunahan ng dating Punong Mahistrado Reynato Puno. Matagal na po itong pinagpasyahan ng Korte Suprema. Matagal nang tapos ito. Kung may reklamo man sila sa hatol ng Korte Suprema, sana ay noon pa, ipinaglaban na nila.

Binubuhay ito para painitin ang damdamin ng ating mga kababayan at mawalaan tayo ng tiwala sa Korte Suprema at hudikatura. Di po ba’t may kasabihan na “ang isang kasinungalingan, kapag inulit ng inulit, pagtagal, ay siyang tinatanggap bilang katotohanan?” Paano po naman naging kasalanan ang pagtanggap ng isang dakilang karangalan tulad nito? Ito ay isa lamang pong paninira ng aking katapatan sa katungkulan, kasama na po ang puri at dangal ng Kataas taasang Hukuman.

Nguni’t ang kasukdulan ng pambabastos, sa aking pananaw, ay ang pagdawit ng aking may-bahay sa reklamong ito. Baka akala nila na sa ganitong paraan ako po’y madaling susuko. Mapalad po ako na mayroon akong isang mabait at matatag na kasama sa buhay, na siya ring pinagkukunan ko ng lakas at inspirasyon. Mahal na mahal kita, Tina.

Walang katotohan ang kanilang mga paratang – puro kasinungalingan. At patutunayan namin na ito ay isang pag-blackmail lamang. Lingid po yata sa kanilang kaalaman na si Ginang Corona ay una pang naitalaga bago ako naging mahistrado. Bakit, hindi po ba dito sa kasalukuyang administrasyon, mayroong isang mag-asawa, kasama ang kanilang mga anak, na may matataas na puwesto?

Ang mga natitirang paratang ay ukol naman sa mga pasiya at iba pang matagal nang patakaran ng Korte Suprema. Alalahanin po natin na ayon sa ating Saligang Batas, ang Korte Suprema ay binubuo ng isang punong mahistrado at labing-apat na katulong na mahistrado. Mayroon po lamang kaming tig-iisang boto, at ito po ay pantay-pantay. Ang aking boto ay kapareho lamang ng boto ng pinakahuling naitalagang mahistrado. Ang pwersa at bisa ng aking pananaw ay kapantay lamang ng pwersa at bisa ng pananaw ng kahit sino mang mahistrado. Pantay-pantay po kaming lahat dito.

At sa mga isyu na sinasabi nilang kaugnay sa dating pangulo, wala po kaming kinakatigan dito sa hukumang ito. Ang aming pasiya ay pasiya ng buong Korte Suprema at resulta ng mga indibidwal na opinyon. Ang opinyon ng isang mahistrado ay hindi desisyon ng Korte Suprema. Kahit sinumang abogado ay magsasabi sa inyo na hindi po pwedeng yapak-yapakan ang karapatan ng sinuman sa ilalim ng Saligang Batas, habang hindi mo pa napapatunayan na siya ay nagkasala. May mandato ang korte na ipagtanggol higit sa lahat ang karapatang pang-tao ng indibidwal kontra sa labis-labis na kapangyarihan ng pamahalaan, lalong-lalo pa kung wala pang naisasampang kaso. Matagal na itong prinsipio at hindi na kailangang idebate. Ito ang tinatawag na PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE and RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS.

Isampa ang tamang kaso sa loob ng wastong oras, na may tamang ebidensya, para walang magawa ang korte kung di hatulan at ipakulong ang nagkasala sa lipunan. Panagutin natin ang dapat managot, pero idaan natin sa wasto at tamang proseso sa ilalim ng Saligang Batas. Ano po ba ang napakahirap intindihin sa bagay na ito?

Ibang-iba po ang palakad sa gabinete, sapagkat doon, lahat ng miyembro ay mga alalay, alagad at utusan ng pangulo. Sa loob ng gabinete, ang utos ng hari, hindi nababali. Dito po sa Korte Suprema, ang pananaw ng punong mahistrado ay isa lamang. Gaya nga ng sinabi ko, kami ay patas at pare-pareho lamang na nagbibigay halaga at respeto sa opinyon ng bawat isa. Wala po kaming tungkulin at balak na maging sunod-sunuran sa isa’t-isa.

Ngayon, ipagpalagay na natin na malimit kasama ko ang mayorya sa botohan, maari ba namang magmistulang pagkampi ito, samantalang nakararami kaming sumasang-ayon sa isang pananaw? Kasalanan po ba na ako’y kasapi ng mayorya ng Korte sa iilang mga kaso? Marami din naman pong kaso na nasa menorya ako sapagka’t natalo sa botohan ang aming pananaw. Ito ang magpapatunay na walang nagdidikta ng boto dito sa Korte Suprema.

Kaya nga po dito natin makikita ang likas na talino at sadyang makatarungan na sistema ng hustisya sa ating saligang batas: labing-lima po kami sa Korte Suprema, upang masiguro na mangibabaw ang pananaw ng mas nakakarami. Hindi maaring magtagumpay ang pananaw ng nag-iisang mahistrado.
Samakatuwid, itong mga paratang ng pagkiling laban sa akin ay bunga lamang ng malisya at kathang-isip. Malamang, umaasa ang mga kalaban ng Korte, na ako at ang ibang miyembro na di nila kayang diktahan, ay mag-bibitiw sa tungkulin.

At kung sakaling magtagumpay ang impeachment na ito laban sa akin, ano sa palagay ninyo ang mangyayari? Simple lang po mga mahal kong mga kababayan --- kay Ginoong Aquino na ang gabinete, kontrolado na niya ang kongreso, at hawak na niya ang Korte Suprema. Paulit-ulit nalang nilang isinisigaw ang checks and balances ng three co-equal branches of government, ngunit ang kanilang mga pagkilos ay patungo sa pagsakop sa buong sistema at kapangyarihan ng pamahalaan. Itong mga itinatanim niyang gawain ay siguradong mamumunga lamang ng isang diktadura; isang diktadura na nagmula sa paglilinlang at paglalason sa pag-iisip ng ating mga kababayan.

At ngayon, sasabihin ko po sa kanilang lahat: ako’y tumututol sa walang-tigil na pang-aalipusta, pangduduro at pananakot. Ako’y tumututol sa dahan-dahang binubuong diktadura ni Pangulong Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

Kahapon lamang, iginigiit ng palasyo na hindi raw ang Korte Suprema o hudikatura, at ako lang daw, ang tinitira dito sa impeachment. Ito po’y malaking kasinungalingan, dahil hindi ako naniniwala na si Renato Corona lang ang tumututol sa diktadura. Walang katotohanan na si Renato Corona lamang ang gusto nilang tanggalin sa Korte Suprema. Naniniwala po ako na tayong lahat ang kinakalaban, pati na ang mga walang-malay nilang tagahanga. Sapagkat ang tunay na layunin ay wasakin ang hudikatura, wasakin ang ating demokrasya, at pairalin ang utos ng mahal na hari. Ito ang patutunguhan ng baluktot na “Daang Matuwid.”

Matagal na po akong nagtitimpi. Hindi ko po maintindihan kung bakit nanggigigil ng husto sa akin ang mahal nating pangulo, magmula pa po sa kanyang pagkaluklok sa pwesto.

Tuwing kami’y nagkikita, lubos kong pinararamdam na kami’y dapat mag-ugnayan, magsama at magtulungan para sa bayan. Marami po tayong problema. Nandiyan po ang mabagal na takbo ng ekonomiya, kawalan ng trabaho, kahirapan at kagutuman. Mukhang hindi po niya naintindihan.

Kamakailan lamang, tinuya na naman po tayo ng harap-harapan. Tulad ng tunay na Kristianong Batangueño, tayo po ay nagpigil, at ito po ay ating pinalampas.

Wala po akong kasalanan sa inyo, Ginoong Pangulo. Wala po akong kasalanan sa taong-bayan.

Sabi nila, sarili ko lang daw po ang nakataya dito. Ang pinaglalaban po natin dito ay ang kalayaan ng Korte Suprema, kalayaan ng hudikatura, at ang pagtanggol ng demokrasya sa ilalim ng Saligang Batas. Hindi po ako papayag na sumuko sa matinding pagtatangka na mapasailalim ng ibang sangay ng pamahalaan ang Korte Suprema. Una akong tututol. Una akong lalaban.

Ginoong Pangulo, ako po ang primus inter pares dito sa Korte Suprema. Ang ibig sabihin po nito, kung kailangan ipaglaban ang Korte Suprema, ako ang uuna.

Huwag na po nating isubo ang Korte Suprema sa ano pang pagsubok o batikos ng mga mapagsamantala. Yaman din lang na ang ipinaglalaban dito ay ang Korte Suprema at ang demokrasya, karangalan at katungkulan ko po na labanan itong impeachment para sa ating lahat. Haharapin ko nang buong tapang at talino ang mga walang basehang paratang na ito, punto por punto, sa Senado. Handang-handa akong humarap sa paglilitis.

Mga kasama, matapat kong sinasabi sa inyo, mahimbing ang tulog ko at tahimik ang aking konsyensya dahil sa pagpapatupad ng lahat ng aking mga tungkulin. Ako’y nanatiling matapat sa Panginoon, sa aking sarili, sa batas, at sa sinumang tao.

Para sa mga ngayon pa lang nakakarinig ng aking panawagan, inaanyayahan ko kayong makiisa sa amin. Ngayon pa lamang ay taos-puso na ang aking pasasalamat sa inyo sa inyong pagtaguyod, pakikiisa at pagpapalakas ng aming loob.

Mga minamahal kong kababayan, sa aking pagharap sa isang mapanganib na katunggali, ang aking tanging sandigan ay ang inyong pakiki-akibat, at ang paninindigan para sa Lumikha at sa ating bayan. Buong pagkukumbaba kong hinihiling ang inyong pang-unawa, subalit higit sa lahat, hinihiling kong samahan ninyo ako sa aking laban at mission.

Muli, isang maganda at maalab na hapon po sa inyong lahat. Sana’y pagpalain po tayong lahat ng Maykapal.


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