Roxas on rice & oil situation: "We are looking at a perfect storm"

Senator Mar Roxas warned that the country may be in for a “perfect storm” without a concrete survival plan, as he expressed concern over rising oil and rice prices, a recession in the United States, a global food shortage and its effects on the people’s purchasing power.

Roxas, the Liberal Party President, noted that aside from the looming food crisis, Filipinos are also confronted with high oil prices aggravated by a possible slowdown in dollar remittances from Filipinos in the United States.

“No one among us would like to see such ominous clouds forming, but the reality is that we are in for rough times and we must face these threats truthfully and courageously as a nation,” the Chairman of the Senate Trade and Commerce Committee said.

“The US is faced with two quarters of negative growth which would have a direct impact on dollar remittances from that country. This in turn could reduce consumption in the Philippines which is one of the key drivers of our economy. We have before us a perfect storm of high oil prices, a rice crisis, and a slowdown in dollars and investments from the US,” Roxas pointed out.

The Senator said that instead of pointing fingers at each other, the President can convene the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) so that remedial measures can be agreed on by both the executive and legislative branches of government.

“Bakit di natin pag-usapan ang mga panukala sa House at Senado ukol sa pansamantalang pagtanggal ng 12% EVAT sa mga produktong petrolyo,” he said, but noted that while oil prices worldwide were due to external circumstances, this was not the case for rice.

Roxas said the government must not lay the blame on external factors in dealing with the high prices and more expensive imports for rice, since this problem, and its solution, could be found within the country.

“Ang ugat ng problema ay nandito sa atin, hindi sa labas. Tayo po ay nagtatanim ng ating sariling palay. Ang lupain natin ang siyang ginagamit sa pagsasaka nitong palay,” Roxas, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce, stressed.

“Kung kulang ang supply, kailangan na ang Department of Agriculture, National Food Authority, National Irrigation Administration at iba pang ahensiya ng gobyerno, ay magbigay ng lunas o solusyon sa kakulangang ito,” he said.

“Kung sinasabi nila na ang problema ay nasa labas, inaamin na ba ng gobyerno na hindi na natin kayang tugunan ang ating pangangailangan sa bigas? Inaamin na ba ng gobyerno na ang policy nila ay gawing mas mahal ang bigas?” he said.

“Ini-import natin ng 100% ang langis, kase wala talaga tayong langis dito. Pero ang bigas, ang palay, ay dito mismo tinatanim. Ngunit palaki ng palaki ang ating ini-import. Sa laki ng ginagastos natin sa agriculture, sa irrigation at sa iba pa, bakit pababa ng pababa ang ating self-sufficiency sa kanin?” Roxas said.

Roxas has already urged the following: to release local government units’ (LGU) calamity funds to be used for assisting farmers in planting and harvesting rice crops to increase domestic supply; to direct LGUs to establish a food security early warning system; to reactivate the peace process in conflict areas so as to ensure unimpeded cultivation, planting, tending and harvesting of crops; and to create special investigative and prosecutorial teams to go after rice hoarders and those diverting NFA rice for commercial purposes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , | 1 comments [ More ]

Sen. Roxas' statement on the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Arturo Brion

“The appointment of Secretary Arturo Brion to the Supreme Court is well-deserved. He has a clean record of public service and is well-respected in legal circles.”

“Given Justice Brion's unblemished record of public service, I am hopeful that he will fulfill his new mandate competently, fairly and with absolute fidelity to the Constitution.

“He should be given the opportunity to prove himself true to his oath.”

Roxas: Focus on solution to high oil prices, impending food crisis

Senator Mar Roxas said the executive must immediately take stock of the situation of continued oil price hikes to record levels and an impending food crisis.

He warned against any sense of complacency in the situation, as the price of oil is not seen to decrease after recently reaching $111 per barrel in the world market. This has led local fuel companies to hike pump prices by a total of P1.50 in just three weeks, and to warn of a hike of P2 to P3 more this summer.

On top of this, we’re looking at shortages and increased prices of rice, corn, flour and even pork and chicken due to increased demand worldwide,” Roxas, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce,

The pressure is on the administration to act swiftly. The stability of prices of basic goods is needed for both our economic and political stability. Kailangan ngayon ng agad na ginhawa sa bulsa ng mga mamimili,” he added.
The Liberal Party President said now is the time to suspend the 12% value-added tax (VAT) on oil and fuel products and to exempt all minimum wage earners from paying individual income taxes. He noted that the government has rejected the former, while it had promised the latter, but has yet to deliver on the same.

As an immediate solution to help the ailing purchasing power of consumers, the executive could again consider his proposal to suspend the VAT on oil, to lessen the pressure on the transport and food sectors who already have inflation to deal with.

We need concrete actions to deal with the situation of high oil prices, and all the government has done so far was to lower oil tariffs, na inakyat pa ulit. Patuloy pa rin tumaas ang presyo ng gasolina at wala pa ring ginhawa ang ating mga taumbayan,” Roxas lamented.

Ang pagbawas ng taripa sa bigas at mais ay isang magandang simula, pero kulang ito, dahil nakikita natin na talagang masikip na ang suplay ng bigas at mais sa mundo. Hindi natin sigurado kung may mabibili pa tayo sa labas ngayon,” he added.

There is another summit to tackle the food crisis, but we already know the diagnosis: shortage of goods, and non-implementation of measures to address this. Oras na para ipatupad ang mga kongkretong solusyon,” he added.
The proposed suspension of VAT on oil has been filed as Senate Bill No. 1962 and is now awaiting House action before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means can put the bill out in plenary. In the House, Liberal Party Secretary-General and Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya has filed his counterpart bill, House Bill No. 3390.

Photos of Sen. Mar Roxas during his latest Cebu visit

Senator Mar Roxas serves some soup to a fellow marketgoer during breakfast at the Pinamungajan Public Market, where he recently held one of his regular palengke visits in which he gets to inspect prices of basic goods as well as equipment and facilities in the area, and mingle with the townsfolk in the wet market.

Senator Mar Roxas lends a hand at Tsuneishi Heavy Industries & Shipyard in the municipality of Balamban, Cebu, during a recent visit. He held a dialogue with the workers wherein he was able to discuss and explain his own advocacies, such as the Quality Affordable Medicines bill which is now at the bicameral level, and a proposal to suspend the value-added tax on oil products to cushion the impact of high oil prices worldwide.

Why Mar Roxas for President in 2010?

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Sunday, March 16, 2008 | posted in , , , | 3 comments [ More ]

Roxas: Concrete action from gov't on oil price hikes needed now

Senator Mar Roxas said that the executive must get its act together and ensure concrete measures to protect the consuming public in light of further spikes in local pump prices as oil prices worldwide continue to escalate, eventually affecting the prices of key commodities in the end.
The hardships our people were facing six months ago have not changed. They are even more pressured now to make ends meet,” he said.

Sa panahon ngayon, higit na kailangan ng mga tao ang pera nila, kaysa pangangailangan ng gobyerno sa buwis. Ang panawagan natin sa pamahalaan: suportahan na ang pag-suspinde sa VAT sa langis para sa kagyat na ginhawa ang ating mga mamimili,” he said.
In today’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce, it was revealed that pump prices may still go up by P2 to P3 per liter, to factor in the latest world crude oil price spikes: Dubai crude at $96.92 per barrel and New York crude at almost $109 per barrel. Local oil companies have already hiked prices by P1 in the past two weeks.

Roxas, chairman of the Trade Committee, also said that prices of other key food products continue to increase, as world supply tightens up.
The outlook is not very good. Fuel and rice are going to remain expensive. Chicken and pork prices are okay now, but eventually, their prices will be affected by the world supply dynamic of corn, grains and other feeds,” he said.

Yung mga dati-rating nag-e-export ay hindi na nag-e-export ngayon, dahilan sa kinain na ng Tsina ang surplus nila, o kinakailangan na nila itong mga produktong ito. Itong sitwasyon na mataas ang presyo ng mga produktong ito ay, palagay ko, mananatili,” he noted.

Kailangan na ngayon ng kongkretong kilos mula sa pamahalaan para sa kapakanan ng mga mamimili, tulad ng pag-suspinde ng VAT sa langis.” he said.
Roxas, author of Senate Bill No. 1962 calling for a six-month suspension on the 12% value-added tax (VAT) on oil products, noted that he is open to other proposals—to scrap VAT on oil altogether or to reduce it to 6%, as what Senator Juan Ponce Enrile proposed in today’s hearing.

The Senate has already deliberated on Senate Bill No. 1962, and a committee report has already been drafted, only awaiting action from the House of Representatives. Pursuant to the Constitution, tax measures must originate and be passed in the House before being taken up in the Senate plenary. Liberal Party Secretary-General and Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya has filed his counterpart bill which is now pending in committee.

Thursday, March 13, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Transcript of interview with Senator Mar Roxas during NBN hearing lunch break

On Leo San Miguel’s testimony:

MAR: I’d like to know what he has to say about the allegations of Madriaga. Basically Mr. San Miguel was invited here because Mr. Madriaga mentioned him 20, 30 times in the course of his testimony. According to Mr. Madriaga, Leo San Miguel this, Leo San Miguel that, so we deemed it proper to invite Leo San Miguel to find out exactly what his role was. Now it appears Mr. San Miguel is refuting what Mr. Madriaga said, so it would be a ‘he-said she-said,’ and we’ll try to find out now what Mr. Madriaga has to say, does he have proof or not, and then we take things as they are. Para sa akin, may sinabi si Mr. San Miguel na mukhang okey, pero marami rin siyang sinabi na hindi kapani-paniwala. Halimbawa, sinabi niya na anim, walong beses sila nagkita ni Chairman Abalos na wala namang pinag-usapan, parang hindi kapani-paniwala iyan. Sinabi niya na nasa teknikal lang siya, wala siyang alam, pero sa lahat ng mga biyahe sa China, kasama naman siya.

Q: Mr. San Miguel claims it isn’t his signature in documents presented by Madriaga.

MAR: That’s why it will be a ‘he-said she-said.’ There is forensic technology to find out if a signature was lifted by photocopy and transferred to another document, or whether in fact it was part of the original document. So I’m sure that for all of these things, the Senate will pursue to their logical conclusions.

Q: From Mr. San Miguel’s testimony, it appears that ZTE was trying to keep this transaction off books.

MAR: Well it is quite unusual. Mr. San Miguel said he was working as a consultant for ZTE. It’s a publicly listed corporation, it’s unusual for corporations such as this to be transacting in cash, particularly for a project as large and as important as the ZTE contract, $330 million. Second, Mr. San Miguel said that he would be receiving a success percentage if the transaction went through, but this is normally embodied in some sort of agreement, which Mr. San Miguel said does not exist, there is no such agreement. So parang nagiging free agent-entrepreneur si Mr. San Miguel, Mr. Madriaga, lahat nakapaligid dito sa kontratang ito, at either through balato, commission or ‘tong-pats’ ay makakabahagi sila kung maisakatuparan nga itong kontratang ito. It’s very unusual to have success fees, fees that are paid out on a regular basis without any kind of documentation.

Q: What would make a company want to keep this off-book?

MAR: Maybe it’s because they have not figured out what to do, these are all speculative. Maybe this will not fare well if their auditors looked into this, we must remember that ZTE is a publicly-listed company, and today, if you were a shareholder of ZTE, you can actually file an inquiry in Hong Kong with the anti-graft body there, which is quite strong, to say, ‘look at this company, it’s publicly listed here in the Hong Kong exchange, and they seem to have off-books cash transactions with entities that are not registered, have not paid any tax, have not paid any kind of documentation from government agencies and the like, and that would already be a cause for complaint in Hong Kong.

Q: Share prices of ZTE don’t seem to be particularly affected by the controversy. Are you saying this is because of no similar inquiry in Hong Kong?

MAR: Not necessarily. All I’m saying is that ZTE, with respect to the Philippines, whether going through with it or not, may not have been factored into the stock price of ZTE in Hong Kong. What would be important is if we were really serious in anti-graft and anti-corruption, we could, through the Hong Kong anti-corruption body, be able to file an inquiry. Why is ZTE in fact engaging in these practices here in our country? Did Mr. San Miguel pay VAT on this P150,000 per month? Did he file any kind of income tax return, or any kind of government papers relative to this? What about the 2 ½ percent that he was talking about as a success fee? Is this something that ZTE acknowledges on its side or not? So all of these questions are what makes his testimony contradictory. Parang hindi kapani-paniwala dahilan sa, on one hand, may mga sinasabi siyang kasama siya sa transaksyon, pero on the other hand, wala siyang kinalaman. So it does not smell good. Binasa na, kung in fact na kasama ba siya, kasabwat ba siya o hinde. You can not have it both ways.

Q: But would this actually affect ZTE’s stock prices?

MAR: I don’t know. I don’t know the size of ZTE’s business, what its total revenues were. $330 million might look like a lot, but in the larger context of things, it might not actually be too much. Maybe the market has already discounted or already factored in the fact that the contract was discontinued or canceled, so there would not be much impact on earnings and so therefore on prices.

Q: Would the Senate have the personality to file suit in Hong Kong?

MAR: This really goes to the heart of the issue, which is, how serious is the executive branch in getting to the bottom of this. On one hand the executive says they want the truth, they want disclosure relative to this, they have nothing to hide, and then on the other hand, they’re withholding information, not allowing witnesses to show up, or not actively engaging in ferreting out the truth, doing things to obstruct, impede or otherwise not allow the truth to come out. So what is it really? And this is at the heart of the issue – the credibility or the lack of credibility problem of the current administration.

On Neri not appearing in today’s Senate hearing:

MAR: For the record, naniniwala ako na dapat tinanggap namin ang proposal ng Supreme Court. Ang sinasabi ko ngayon ay hindi nag-iiba doon sa last week. Noong gabi sa Supreme Court oral arguments, hanggang sa Senate caucus, hanggang after the caucus, nanindigan ako, at malinaw... Imbes na itong circus na ito, si Neri na dapat ang tinatanungan natin. Bakit, tatlo lang ba yung maitatanong natin? Ako, isanlibo ang pwede kong itanong e. At lahat ng ini-invoke niyang executive privilege ay pwede isama sa pagdedesisyunan ng Supreme Court.

China affirms respect for RP domestic laws in commercial deals

A top official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) today affirmed that it is the policy of Premier Wen Jiabao and the CPC that all Chinese firms must strictly abide by the domestic laws in the countries where they operate.

According to Senator Mar Roxas, CPC International Department Vice Minister Liu Hongcai made the affirmation this morning in the context of their frank and cordial discussions on the ZTE-NBN deal and the Spratlys controversy.

Vice Minister Liu’s statement is fair and timely, katulad ng pagrespeto ng ating mga kumpanya sa kanilang mga batas kapag pumasok sila sa Tsina,” he said.
Senior Liberal Party leaders led by Roxas and the visiting CPC delegation headed by Liu met for breakfast at the Hotel Sofitel this morning.

They understand very well our LP position that we must hold our own government officials accountable for anomalies or incompetence attendant to the ZTE-NBN and Spratlys controversies,” he said.

Naiintindihan nila na mahalaga para sa atin na malaman ang katotohanan sa likod ng ZTE-NBN deal. Sa kanila ang ZTE ay isang komersyal na transaksyon lamang, na hindi dapat makasira sa relasyon ng Pilipinas at Tsina,” he added.
During the meeting, Roxas said it was “unfortunate” that despite the goodwill and assistance extended by China to the Philippines and the rest of the countries in the region, China has been put in a “difficult situation” due to graft and corruption committed by certain Filipino officials.

We in the Philippines appreciate the help and goodwill of China, but we must make sure that our own domestic procedures are done properly. We cannot allow our officials to act to the detriment of our people and in the process erode the positive views and warm sentiments of Filipinos towards China,” he said.

Roxas also noted efforts in China to fight corruption in all aspects of government, which their President Hu Jintao has said is one of the biggest threats to the legitimacy and survival of the CPC. On the matter of the territorial dispute on the Spratlys group of islands, Roxas said the LP supports the principle that the South China Sea must be a “zone of prosperity and harmony”.

As there are other claimants in the area, our interest is to live together like good neighbors, coexist peacefully and find mutually beneficial solutions to our problems,” he said.

- more -

At the same time, the LP’s interest is also to make sure that in all negotiations affecting the Spratlys issue, our government officials act in the best interest of Filipinos,” he added.

We in the LP will look at the Spratlys issue dispassionately and not use it for partisan political advantage,” he stressed.
During the meeting, both Roxas and Liu agreed to help promote closer ties between the LP and the CPC and to help strengthen economic, cultural and political relations between the Philippines and China. Liu has invited Roxas, as LP President, to visit China in the near future, for which Roxas expressed his warm appreciation.

Also present in the meeting for the LP were LP Secretary-General Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya, LP Director-General Camilo Miguel Montesa, National Institute for Policy Studies President Mario Taguiwalo and former 1987 Constitutional Commissioner Florangel Braid.

The CPC delegation also included Asian Bureau of the International Department Director-General Ail Ping and directors Zhang Xuyi and Rao Huihua, among others.

Liberal Party (LP) President Senator Mar Roxas discussed with Communist Party of China International Department Vice Minister Liu Hongcai how important it is to the Filipino people to hold Philippine officials accountable for the botched National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with ZTE Corp., in a meeting on Tuesday of officials of the LP and the CPC.According to Roxas, Vice Minister Liu has conveyed to him that it is their government's policy that all foreign corporations of China must abide by the rule of law in the countries where these operate; and that the ZTE issue is only a commercial transaction that should not bear down on the good standing relations of the Philippines and China. The two parties met upon the request of the CPC, to discuss ways to strengthen party-to-party relations.

Roxas, LP leaders to meet with Chinese Communist Party leaders

Amid the raging controversy over the National Broadband Network deal and the joint seismic exploration of the Spratlys, Senator Mar Roxas and several leaders from the Liberal Party will meet with a delegation from the Communist Party of China (CPC), upon request of the latter tomorrow, Tuesday in Manila.
China is bound to be the biggest economy in the world and is a historic friend of the Filipinos. The LP intends to explore with the CPC how to strengthen RP-China ties on the basis of mutual respect, and move forward along shared principles of good governance, fair economic cooperation and our respective people's interests,” he said.

Ang Tsina ngayon ay kinikilala bilang higante sa mundo pagdating sa ekonomiya at geo-politics. Nasa interes ng Pilipinas na patibayin ang relasyon nito sa Tsina, nang hindi isinasantabi ang pambansang interes,” he said.
Roxas said he will stress the importance of greater transparency in bilateral agreements not only with China but also with other allies. “Diplomacy and transparency in government should not be in conflict with each other,” he stressed.
This strengthening of diplomatic and economic relations must always be founded on the national interest and the welfare of Filipinos. We will explore with them how to ensure accountability and transparency in all our joint undertakings,” he said.
Roxas said he will also discuss serious concerns on the NBN deal, and discuss ways to cooperate on running after those involved and on ensuring transparency in future deals. “The prime interest of the LP is truth and accountability,” he stressed.
Lilinawin ko sa kanila na ang LP ay para sa pagbunyag ng katotohanan sa likod ng kontratang ZTE-NBN, at tatalakayin sa kanila ang posibilidad ng kooperasyon para habulin ang mga may pananagutan,” he said.

As a long-term cooperative effort, we will dialogue on how to ensure transparency and accountability in all foreign loans and agreements that both countries will undertake in the future. This is in line with our party’s agenda to reform the procurement system,” he said.
Meanwhile, on the Spratlys territorial conflict, Roxas said that dialogue and consultations between and among the claimants should be done in the tradition of friendship and cooperation, while at the same time, heeding the people’s calls for greater transparency. “I believe this matter will be resolved in the spirit of mutual respect and fair principles,” he said.

Joining Roxas as part of the LP delegation are LP Secretary-General Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya, LP Director-General Camilo Miguel Montesa, National Institute for Policy Studies President Mario Taguiwalo and former 1987 Constitutional Commissioner Florangel Braid.

The CPC delegation will be led by Vice Minister Liu Hongcai of the International Department, Central Committee; Asian Bureau of the International Department Director-General Ail Ping and directors Zhang Xuyi, Rao Huihua; among others.

Monday, March 10, 2008 | posted in , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas: Admin has become numb to people's plight

Senator Mar Roxas said the administration has become numb to the people's plight and clamor for relief in the face of the steep climb of world oil prices, which, at $106 a barrel, has cascaded down to domestic pump prices and jacked up the cost of other key commodities.
Manhid na ang Palasyo sa patuloy na hinaing ng taumbayan para sa ginhawa sa kabila ng pataas na pataas na presyo ng langis at ng iba pang mga bilihin; Tigilan na nila ang pagbibingi-bingihan sa mga panawagan para suspindihin ang 12% value-added tax sa langis,” he said.

Masyado na silang abala sa pag-‘manage’ ng krisis sa pulitika. Gumagastos sila—gamit ang pera ng bayan—para sa mga full-page ads sa diyaryo,” he added.

Makakain ba ang mga full page ads na ito? Tumaas na ang presyo ng pan de sal, ng manok at ng baboy sa palengke, at ang ginawa ng pamahalaan ay maglabas ng full page ads?” he lamented.

The government has done nothing else to follow up its ‘token’ actions, such as reducing oil tariffs and holding an Energy Summit that has failed to effectively stem the heavy impact of oil prices, he said, adding that transport groups are set out to hold a strike this week, which the government should heed as a warning of the rising disenchantment of the public,” he added.
Roxas, President of the Liberal Party, lamented that the administration has not only become numb to the people’s plight: it has also been preoccupied with “managing” the current political crisis and with stonewalling the truth behind bad deals.
It looks like the government is more intent on covering up for official mistakes or anomalies rather than helping out a jeepney driver on his daily trips, a fisherman using a motorboat, or a farmer operating a tractor save P4 per liter of diesel – which will be the immediate, concrete result of the lifting of the EVAT on oil,” he said.
Even as Congress is still deliberating on the proposed suspension of the 12% VAT on oil, the Palace has already rejected it, citing a potential revenue loss of P15 billion.
Hindi ordinaryo ang kasalukuyang panahon. Higit na kailangan ng mga mamimili ang pera nila kaysa gobyerno, lalo na kung napupunta lang ang buwis na ibinabayad nila sa katiwalian at kontrata tulad ng ZTE-NBN,” he said.
Both Roxas’ Senate Bill 1962 and its counterpart House Bill No. 3390 by LP Secretary-General and Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya are now pending at their respective Ways and Means Committees.

Sunday, March 9, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , | 3 comments [ More ]

An E-mail to me from Mr. Jimmy Mercado

I have to share to all of you this e-mail to me from one of Mar Roxas for President in 2010 supporters who is Mr. Jimmy Mercado. I am very delighted to know that in my own small way, which is by blogging, I am able to contribute a lot in this great endeavor. Here's Mr. Mercado's e-mail:
Dear Kevin,

I am so glad of your being very active at your age in the choice of our new president in 2010. I've read all the updates or events that were sent to me through the ' MAR ROXAS for PRESIDENT in 2010', as we need these informations during our gatherings and interaction with other people. You didn't go wrong picking up on ' MAR ROXAS ', for he's the perfect choice.

His untainted image as a 'person' has put him on top, over all other presidential wannabees. Filipinos are already sicked and tired of dirty, controversial, and opportunistic people in government.

Barring all unforeseen situations in 2010, Villar is not only a possible opponent of our candidate, MAR ROXAS. Definitely he will be one of them, for he has to hang on his name as senate president, though by many, he was labeled as a 'non-performing asset' of the upper house.

Keep up the good job, Kevin. We need more energetic young people like you. I have e-mailed Senator Mar Roxas about the sending of his activities in my e-mail through the ' MAR ROXAS for PRESIDENT in 2010', and we look forward to establishing more support groups in his behalf, in this very critical 2010 battle.

It's nice to know you and more to our E-mail communications. GOD bless.................

Saturday, March 8, 2008 | posted in , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

My 1st and 2nd Vlogs

Wow! I am very excited to share my 1st and 2nd video blogs to all of you.

In the 1st vlog, I will be talking about my first video blog (vlog) and introducing myself as the blogger of Mar Roxas for President in 2010 while in the 2nd vlog, I will be talking about the possibility of having an election battle between Mar Roxas of LP and Manny Villar of NP in the upcoming 2010 Philippine Presidential elections. Enjoy the video! BTW, the 2nd vlog has audio problems.

Friday, March 7, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , | 1 comments [ More ]

Roxas bewails rising poverty incidence in the face of supposed economic gains

Senator Mar Roxas bewailed the rising incidence of poverty from 2003 to 2006 as reported by the National Statistical Cordination Board (NSCB), which said that the continued imposition of high taxes and rise in oil prices had worsened the problem.
Ipinapakita lang nito na ang pamahalaan ngayon ay bising-bisi sa pag-cover up ng mga kontrobersiya, samantalang hindi naman nito naaatupag ang pagbibigay ng agarang ginhawa sa taumbayan sa kabila ng nagtataasang presyo ng langis at ng iba pang bilihin,” he said.

I urge the government to look at these statistics seriously and not brush off the issue by harping on the rising stock market and rising peso, which has also been hurting our exporters and dollar earning OFWs,” Roxas said.
The reported 2.5% rise in poverty incidence from 2003 to 2006 from 24.4% to 26.9%, he said, clearly showed a disconnect between the financial markets and the grass roots economy, and a widening gap between rich and poor. From 4 million poor families in 2003, this went up to 4.7 million in 2006.

He said his Senate Bill No. 1962, seeking a suspension on the value-added tax (VAT) on oil products, could provide relief to the people by reducing costs in the consumption of oil products, which are a necessity in the daily life of Filipinos. The measure would remove P4 of VAT per liter of diesel and P65 of each LPG tank.
Maantig na sana ang pamahalaan sa araw-araw na hinaing ng taumbayan na dulot ng pagtaas ng presyo ng langis, at makita nilang hindi sapat ang ginagawa nito ngayon, na nauuwi lang sa “token-ism,” he said.

Let’s push for real and relevant solutions to aid Filipinos and boost their weakened spending power,” Roxas said.
He noted that world crude reached a record $103 per barrel last week, and local companies have raised their prices by P0.50 per liter, with the government also raising oil tariffs from 1% to 2%.
It was only last month that the government committed to finding ways to cope with the problems of high oil prices. They apparently have resorted to tokenisms such as tariff reductions that have had little impact on alleviating the plight of our people,” he said.
Roxas’ bill is being deliberated at the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, and a counterpart bill has been filed at the House of Representatives by fellow Liberal Party stalwart and Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya.

Thursday, March 6, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Senator Mar Roxas' statement on Senate's rejection of SC compromise formula

“I ask my colleagues to reassess their decision. Is it more important to assert the Senate's power of arrest than working out with the Supreme Court the intricate issues surrounding Executive Privilege?

“I also have strong feelings about the need to uphold the Senate's institutional independence and autonomy, especially at this time when it remains as one of the last bastions of accountability. But these are extraordinary times requiring extraordinary solutions that may demand flexibility and inter-branch consensus.

“It is rare for the Supreme Court to propose such a compromise to help both itself and the Senate to resolve a dilemma, sharpen the issues and lead the people to a proper understanding of the legal and political landscape. Unlike the executive branch, it is apparent that the SC acted on good faith in offering this compromise.

“We must work together with the Supreme Court to remove all obstacles to arrive at the truth soonest and enforce public accountability with an administration that is already reeling from high levels of mistrust from our citizenry.

“Let us not summarily reject a legitimate compromise with the High Court that would ultimately cast light on the intricate issue of Executive Privilege, especially as it impinges upon the commission of a crime, covering up a crime, or the imperatives of national security and high diplomacy.

“Our most immediate objective is to have former NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri testify in the Senate and strengthen the thread of stories already credibly told by Jun Lozada.This is logically the next chapter in the Senate probe and should not be delayed at the risk of more public disillusionment.

“Yes, we are not assured that Neri, this time around, will tell the whole truth. However, we leave it to his conscience to block the truth through executive privilege. Justices of the SC have clearly stated that this presidential privilege cannot be used to cover-up a crime.

“The ZTE-NBN debacle has opened a learning process for Philippine democracy and let us grasp every opportunity to make the system work. Because if we do not, the result is a nation in a state of paralysis, with three branches of government preoccupied with the multi-million dollar ZTE scandal.”

Roxas: Search for truth steadily moves forward

Senator Mar Roxas said the search for truth behind the National Broadband Network (NBN) controversy is “steadily moving forward,” with the Supreme Court offering a solution to the gridlock between the legislative and the executive due to former NEDA chair Secretary Romulo Neri’s invocation of executive privilege in Senate hearings.

Roxas, co-chair of the Joint Senate Committees probing the NBN deal, said he believes the high court offered a “reasonable and practical way forward” by offering a compromise: to let the former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Neri appear before the Senate, but the “three questions” where Neri previously raised executive privilege would be “deemed asked.”

I find this a reasonable, practical way forward. This is an assertion of the Senate’s right to call on resource persons in the conduct of its hearings. It also prescribes a sound process for the Court to look at how the Office of the President uses executive privilege,” Roxas said, adding that this spares everyone the need to keep coming back to the Supreme Court for guidance every time executive privilege is invoked.

I appreciate the desire of the Supreme Court to prescribe a fair and transparent process in anticipation of further questions that Secretary Neri will likely refuse to answer. Dahil malinaw ang proseso, lalong titibay at lalalim ang resulta ng hearings ng Senado,” he said.
Roxas, Liberal Party President, hopes that this compromise will reveal more facts that have yet to be uncovered due to Secretary Neri’s non-appearance in subsequent hearings. Neri had testified that he discussed with the President the alleged attempt of former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos to bribe him with P200 million to facilitate the NBN project.

We hope that Secretary Neri will supply more missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzle. It is now his turn to show he is worthy of the considerations given to him and not botch this opportunity to come clean,” he said.

Kataka-taka na kahit ang mismong abogado ni Secretary Neri ay hindi pa nakikita ang kontrata ng ZTE deal at hindi alam ang proseso na pinagdaanan nito,” he said.
He said the Liberal Party, whose members were present in Tuesday’s oral arguments, will continue to be vigilant and will continue to call on the President to “save the Republic” by allowing the truth to come out.

The compromise deal, which was discussed in a closed-door session late Tuesday night among the Supreme Court justices, the senators and their counsels, and the counsels of Neri, will be taken up with all senators today to come up with a common stand.

Neri would also be allowed to once more invoke executive privilege in refusing to ask questions, but the Senate will be free to cite him in contempt. The Senate will also be allowed to contest all of Neri’s other claims of executive privilege, for these to be decided once and for all by the Supreme Court.

Transcript of Senator Mar Roxas’ interview on ‘Mornings at ANC’

On the compromise between Senators and Secretary Romulo Neri after oral arguments at the Supreme Court on Tuesday:

Q: What is your reaction to Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s proposal for Neri to attend a hearing on Friday, without being asked three questions pertaining to his conversations with the President on the NBN deal?

MAR: I was there when it was proposed last night, and at about 10:00, we asked to be taken in to the justices’ chamber in order to clarify this. Senators Cayetano, Pangilinan and myself, together with Senators Pia Cayetano and Noynoy Aquino, clarified exactly what the contents of the proposal were, and to a layman, this is basically what it is: The three questions are already before the Supreme Court, Neri having invoked executive privilege. So the Supreme Court is saying: If there are other questions, we will ask these and allow Neri to answer them or not answer them, invoking the right against self-incrimination or executive privilege or whatever, and then if we disagree with those invocations,we take them back to the Supreme Court, for them to decide all these questions including the original three all at the same time. That in essence is the compromise.

In other words, the Supreme Court is saying, “Look, if you’re going to wait for us to rule on these three questions, it might take us a week, two weeks, three weeks, one month, we don’t know.” Meanwhile, no other questions are being asked.” So they said, “Why don’t you already ask all your other questions. Anyway, these three questions are already before us, you have already objected to them, they’re now before the Supreme Court, and we will rule on these three questions. Why don’t you ask all your other questions so that when we rule on these three, we will not only be ruling on these three but on all other invocations of executive privilege that Secretary Neri may do in the course of answering other questions.

We tried to contact our colleagues last night to get a consensus on the proposal, but we were unable to contact many of them because it was already 10:30 at night, so we will present it to the Senate this afternoon.

Q: But aren’t your other questions premised on the first three questions?

MAR: That is possible, but there are also a whole host of other questions that we can ask that are not related thereto or that are leading up to those three questions and the rest. We are not precluded from asking the follow-up questions once the Supreme Court rules on the three questions.

When I went home midnight last night, I sat down and reflected on it, and I thought, what are some of the questions that I will ask? Before I fell asleep at around 1:30 or 2 a.m. this morning, I was able to come up with 30 questions different from the three. So in fact, through your program, let’s ask the citizenry to ask all the questions that you want asked of Neri other than those three, and we will see how many times he invokes executive privilege, how many times he hides behind that cover, so will see whether in fact the invocation is part of a coverup or really a sincere effort to protect private conversations. I myself have 30 questions, I’m sure those listening now might come up with five, ten, 15, 20 questions.Send them all in, you can send them to me, and we will ask them.

Q: Does this mean you’re inclined to accept the compromise?

MAR: The counsel for Neri gave assurances without committing that Neri is agreeable. We in the Senate will present it to the senators this afternoon. From my point of view, as you can imagine, I find this to be a reasonable, practical way of moving forward. We will just present it to the Senate, it’s very easy, yes or no. On the face of it, I think there is basis to be confident that we will agree.

Q: Would you really need to furnish the Supreme Court all these questions? Won’t it prolong the process?

MAR: It really doesn’t. Let’s say we don’t agree to the compromise. Basically the Supreme Court takes one month, so it’s also prolonged for another month. If they rule on the three questions a month from now, when Secretary Neri once more appears, and we ask him a fourth question, he will invoke executive privilege and we will go back to the Supreme Court.

In generality the Supreme Court is saying you can not use executive privilege to cover up a crime, but they were also quite firm in saying the invocation of executive privilege is on a case-to-case basis, question to question or specific conversation to conversation basis. It can not be just “What did you talk about?” open-ended. That’s why rather than risk every question going up to the Supreme Court, on whether this is covered by proper executive privilege or not, the Supreme Court is saying “Ask all your other questions, not just the three questions but 20, 50 questions upon which Secretary Neri invoked.”

Q: How will the Senate decide this afternoon?

MAR: We will be consensus-building, but I understand we will be going into a caucus shortly after session starts. By the way, last night, we already had 12 [senators], but it was a very soft 12, because it’s very hard to convey on telephone what the parameters of the compromise were, so we decided that rather than agree based on a soft 12, let’s present it to everyone, make sure everyone agrees so that we have a firmer agreement that we can bring to the Supreme Court. Assuming that this is accepted this afternoon, and there is agreement with Secretary Neri, Friday is the scheduled appearance [of Neri].

Sen. Mar Roxas in Supreme Court for oral arguments on Neri's petition

Senator Mar Roxas and the Senate's counsels march to the Supreme Court to defend the people's right to know the truth behind the anomalous National Broadband Network (NBN) deal. Roxas co-chairman of the Joint Senate Committees investigating the ZTE-NBN anomalies, said he believes that the Supreme Court will not side with attempts to conceal a crime committed against the people.

With him are Attorneys Jose Anselmo Cadiz and Carlos Medina, counsels of the Senate during the oral arguments on Tuesday on the executive privilege claim of former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri over his conversations with the President regarding bribery attempts in relation to the ZTE-NBN deal.

Liberal Party stalwarts attended Tuesday's oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the executive privilege claim of former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri over his conversations with the President on bribery attempts in relation to the National Broadband Network (NBN) deal.

Aside from Senators Mar Roxas and Rodolfo Biazon—who chair the Joint Senate Panel investigating the NBN with Senator Alan Peter Cayetano—also in attendance are: Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, (second row) Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupaz, Jr., Oriental Mindoro Rep. Alfonso Umali and former Bukidnon Rep. Nereus Acosta. Liberal Party Chairman and Former Senate President Franklin Drilon, who is not in the picture, also attended the oral arguments.

Senator Mar Roxas and Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Rodolfo Biazon, co-chairmen in the Joint Senate Committees investigating the anomalous National Broadband Network (NBN) deal, are preparing for oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Tuesday on the executive privilege claim of former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri over his conversations with the President on bribery attempts in relation to the ZTE-NBN deal.

Roxas said he believes the Supreme Court will not side with attempts to conceal a crime against the people. Also in attendance during the oral arguments are Liberal Stalwarts Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, former Senate President Franklin Drilon, Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupaz, Jr. and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Alfonso Umali.

Transcript of Senator Mar Roxas’ interview in ANC’s Dateline Philippines

Q: What are your expectations in this afternoon’s oral arguments?

MAR: We are petitioners here in this case to define really when Executive Privilege can be properly used. As it is right now, we believe that Executive Privilege is being used to cover up information or to keep information from coming out to the public relative to the anomalies of ZTE-NBN.

Q: Sir, while Senators are coming in full force, we receive word from the lawyer of Secretary Neri that he will not be attending this afternoon’s proceedings, your reactions to that, sir?

MAR: Well, it’s up to him. We are here to fight for our right, our right to know the truth, our right that Executive Privilege not be abused in order to cover up anomalies, our right to ensure that the public interest prevails over personal or individual interests.

Q: Why is it significant Senator Roxas for the Supreme Court to be able to decide on this matter as soon as possible, would you asked SC to decide on this case within the day?

MAR: Well, we don’t expect that they’ll decide this within the day but we would expect and we would hope that they will decide this at the soonest time, in order to avoid precisely the stalemate or the deadlock as between the executive branch and the legislative branch. We have the beginnings of a Constitutional crisis here and this is all burn out because the executive will not release information that properly belongs to the public domain. This information, for example, is the NEDA transcripts on how they were able to decide to go ahead with this NBN-ZTE deal even if it is the complete opposite of what the President herself said was the policy of the government, as recently as October before the approval of this. At that time when the President said that it must be BOT, there must be no government loan, there must be no government guarantee, and the government must not be the principal customer of this project. And then, four or five months later, Abrakadabra bumaliktad na ito. Naging government project ito, nagging government utang ito, nagging may government guarantee ito, at government ang siyang pinakamalaking customer nito. Ano ang nangyari? Anong mirakulo ang nangyari na napaligtad itong government policy na ang Pangulo ang mismong nagsasabi, dumedepensa noong Oktubre at noong pagdating noong Pebrero at Marso ay nabaligtad na?

Q: The discussion on the policy of the government in terms of the ZTE-Broadband deal is actually what Sec. Neri is saying as included in the privilege communications between him and the President which is apparently the Senate is contesting.

MAR: We are contesting that because what possible military, diplomatic or national interest can be protected here? This is a conversation as between Sec. Neri and the President when Sec. Neri informed the President that a bribe was offered into him. So there is no diplomatic, or military, or national interest here. He reported a crime under our Penal Code, the attempted bribery is already a crime. He reported the crime and we wanted to know what’s the President’s response and what was the President’s reaction relative to that report of the crime, that’s the first. Second, what were the deliberations in NEDA? What was the recommendation? What were the considerations that were made that a government policy was overturned in a matter of months in order to accommodate a contract that we are now seen as imbued with anomaly.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas: Supreme Court can act to pull country out of statis

As the people’s call for truth and accountability rings all over the country, Senator Mar Roxas said that it is now up to the Supreme Court to pull the government and the country out of the political stalemate ensuing out of the National Broadband Network (NBN) deal.
The government—the most potent force to bring change to the lives of people—is locked in a stasis. The three branches of government are now caught in the mess that is the ZTE broadband deal,” he said.

Sinimulan ito ng ehekutibo, na ngayo’y itinatago ang dumi sa ilalim ng kama. Ang lehislatura, sa pamamagitan ng Senado, inuungkat ang katotohanan. Ngayon, ang Korte Suprema ay kinakailangang magdesisyon para ituwid ang sitwasyon at ibalik sa ayos ang pamahalaan at ang bansa,” he stressed.
He continues to be optimistic that the Supreme Court will decide in favor of the truth and accountability. Roxas, with his co-chairmen in the Senate’s investigation into the NBN, has sought the court to nullify the erroneous invocation of executive privilege by former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri.
After hearing all the oral arguments, we hope that the Supreme Court will lift the status quo ante order, which will then lead to Secretary Neri’s appearance before the Senate. Kung ano ang sabihin ng Korte Suprema, iyon ay batas,” he said.

Secretary Neri can always bank on the Senate’s assistance for his security once he is compelled to testify,” he added.
The co-chairman of the Joint Senate Committees investigating the NBN scandal, said that the administration’s preoccupation to stonewall the truth has also put the economy and the general welfare at risk.
The Cabinet is also too preoccupied with managing the Palace stonewall that they have then failed to look after the people’s needs. They have also led economic activity to lean on the side of caution,” he said, noting that bankers are now demanding higher interest rates for treasury bills.

Ang presyo ng langis, patuloy pang tumataas, pero walang nagagawa ang pamahalaan para pigilan ito. Itinaas pa ang taripa sa krudo! Gayun din ang presyo ng mga bilihin, tulad ng pan de sal, na inanunsyo nang tataas ang presyo,” he added.
Roxas renewed his call to the President to “save the Republic” by telling the truth; revoking Executive Order 464 and ordering all her officials to attend the Senate hearings and submit all documents on the ZTE-NBN deal; and replacing the Ombudsman with a person of credibility and independence.

Roxas optimistic that SC will rule in favor of truth, accountability

Senator Mar Roxas expressed optimism that the Supreme Court, which is set to hear tomorrow oral arguments on the executive privilege claim of former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri, will decide in favor of truth and accountability.

This, as the co-chairman of the Senate panel investigating the botched National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with China’s ZTE Corp. continues to call on to the President to “save the Republic,” to “come clean” and stop stonewalling the truth behind alleged anomalies in the ZTE-NBN deal.

Sa Senado man, sa Korte Suprema o sa anumang larangan, patuloy tayong mananawagan sa administrasyon na tigilan na ang pagiging balakid sa katotohanan,” he said, while stressing that the people would not settle for anything less than a more truthful and transparent government.

Clearly, the administration could have saved the Supreme Court this undue burden to decide on this case had it simply allowed the truth to come out in the open. But it instead decided to stonewall the people’s righteous demand for the truth,” he stressed.

Nananawagan ako sa Pangulo: kagyat nang kanselahin ang E.O. 464. Kung wala namang kinatatakutan ang pamahalaan at handa naman itong harapin ang panawagan ng taumbayan para sa katotohanan, bakit kinailangan pang magtatag ng isang komite para ito’y pag-aralan?” he said.

Roxas—together with Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Rodolfo Biazon, his co-chairmen in the ZTE probe—has filed comments to the petition filed by Neri, and is preparing for oral arguments tomorrow. In their comments, they prayed to the court to nullify Neri’s claim of executive privilege and compel him to testify before the Senate.

We believe that Secretary Neri erroneously invoked executive privilege, and by doing so, has compromised the independence and powers of the Senate in line with its duty to the people to craft laws to ensure that none of these anomalies will ever take place again,” he said.

Roxas said that the administration has, in many instances already, tested the extent and limits of its powers instead of exercising prudence, compromising the people’s rights in the end. These include the application of Calibrated Preemptive Response to mass protests and the issuance of Presidential Proclamation 1017, which limited the people’s right to expression and the freedom of the press.

Roxas slams planned NEDA policy vs. free information

Senator Mar Roxas condemned the reported plan of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to draft guidelines limiting access to information amid the people’s search for truth behind the National Broadband Network (NBN) debacle.

The Liberal Party President said the NEDA’s move to craft such policy, as reported by BusinessMirror newspaper Friday, runs counter to the people’s outcry for the government to come clean and reveal the truth on the botched ZTE Corp. contract.
Such moves are against the principles of sound market system where the free and transparent flow of information on the economy and the Government’s development programs, is indispensable to business confidence and decision-making,” he said.

Moreover, this also runs against the quest of truth and justice, at a time that the people are deeply indignant about the ZTE-NBN deal, here comes NEDA rubbing salt on the wound,” he said.

Talaga bang manhid na ang administrasyon sa nag-uumapaw nang galit ng sambayanan?” he stressed.

Are they so numb with power and arrogance already that they continue to stonewall the truth and ignore the people’s outrage?"
Roxas said NEDA should not complicate the situation by issuing such guidelines, especially as the Supreme Court is set to hear the issues on executive privilege on March 4. He said Malacañang should immediately reject the said guidelines once NEDA submits these for approval.
Ang panawagan ko sa Pangulo: huwag aprubahan ang mga guidelines na ito ng NEDA. Lalo lamang gugulo ang magulo na nating sitwasyon,” he said.
Roxas and fellow Liberal Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, have filed a case before the High Court to compel NEDA to submit all documents on the NBN of the NEDA-Investments Coordinating Council; and with his NBN probe co-chairmen, a counter-case before the Supreme Court to order Socioeconomic Planning Sec. Romulo Neri to appear before the Senate. Both question the government’s application of executive privilege.

He has also made a call to the President to “save the Republic” by taking concrete steps to uphold the truth: revoke Executive Order 464 and order all her officials to appear before the Senate and submit all relevant documents, under pain of suspension.

Sunday, March 2, 2008 | posted in , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas pushes for Comprehensive Database on Agrarian Reform

Senator Mar Roxas today pushed for the creation of a comprehensive database on agrarian reform as a parallel effort to extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which expires this year.

Speaking before a Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) caucus on agrarian reform on Wednesday, Roxas stressed that proponents of CARP's extension must show a way forward that would result to better incomes and poductivity in the countryside.
There must be an established and agreed upon database that would contain all the pertinent data on agrarian reform. How many lands have been and yet to be covered, how many agrarian reform beneficiaries are there and how their lives have changed due to CARP, how many families have yet to benefit, how much funding is available, among other intricate details,” he said.

This way, we will be able to determine what are the real needs of our farmers, if there’s a need to spend more money on CARP, and how to spend it to have meaningful impact to the lives of families in the countryside,” he said.
Roxas said the process of extending CARP is much more complex than just passing one consolidated bill extending the same CARP law. Other factors, such as access to financing and farm inputs, government support programs to build competencies in support of land and farm inputs distribution, among others, have to be thought-out carefully as well.
Through CARP extension together with reforms, there can be a convergence of resources, full support services and packages on top of land distribution. Our goal is not simply to extend carp but to ensure that this program will result to better incomes and better lives for farmer-beneficiaries,” he said.

We should not extend CARP only for the sake of extending it. There must also be genuine reforms, else, it will be just more of the same, we will just be repeating the mistakes of the past,” he stressed.

Photo Release of Senator Mar Roxas in Bulacan

Senator Mar Roxas gives a keynote speech at the 1st Bulacan Business Conference, organized by the Bulacan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and also attended by local officials, in the Hiyas ng Bulakan Convention Center in Malolos City, Bulacan. Roxas, in his speech, encouraged the Bulacan businessmen to pool resources and work with their local governments in order to better compete at a global level.

Senator Mar Roxas, in a speech before the four Rotary Clubs of Malolos City, Bulacan, said the present political turmoil as a result of the National Broadband Network controversy can be eased if the President would testify on what she knows and order administration officials to cooperate in the Senate's investigation on the matter. "We deserve better," he told the audience in the BarCIE International Center, University of Regina Carmeli Compound in Malolos City, Bulacan.

Senator Mar Roxas lifts a sack of Jasponica rice being sold at the Bulacan Chamber of Commerce and Industry's trade fair, held as part of the group's 1st Bulacan Business Conference, in the Hiyas ng Bulakan Convention Center in Malolos City, Bulacan. Roxas, in his speech, encouraged the Bulacan businessmen to pool resources and work with their local governments in order to better compete at a global level. With him in the picture are Bulacan Gov. Joselito Mendoza (left) and former National Food Authority administrator Jess Tanchanco (right).

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