• APEC 2015: Another demonstration of Aquino’s incompetence

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    This time the world will witness President Aquino’s ineptitude as the Philippines hosts the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila this week. In contrast to the brand new surroundings that greeted them in past summits, even in 1996 at Subic Bay, the APEC world leaders and delegates will be treated to decades-old facilities.

    The Aquino Administration isn’t just being stingy with its funds, nor is it faced with a severe budget deficit problem – the World Bank itself had pointed out that it was too slow in releasing infrastructure funds that this had pulled down our GDP growth.

     One of the venues for the 179 meetings set under the APEC 2015 event in the Philippines: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan.

    One of the venues for the 179 meetings set under the APEC 2015 event in the Philippines: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan, owned by a businessman close to Ochoa and Aquino.

    Aquino just had not put priority on the APEC events. Or he was too dense to understand its importance for the country’s prestige. Or he was too busy taking out Chief Justice Renato Corona and other opposition figures in those early years when planning for APEC was crucial. Or he simply forgot to ask his Administration to work on it early enough. Have you ever heard Aquino or his officials talk about APEC before this year?

    There wasn’t even a single meeting with departments and the private sector to discuss how the historic APEC summit – the second in the country after 19 years – would be undertaken.

    By the time he and his officials realized that APEC was approaching, there wasn’t time to do what other host countries, recently Russia and Indonesia, had done: Use the APEC as an opportunity to build new infrastructure to stimulate particular growth areas and make their citizens proud that their countries could host such an important event with brand new equipment and facilities.

    That raises an important question the Senate should, I’m convinced, investigate: If no new infrastructure and facilities were built for APEC, how could its budget – P10 billion – have been used? Even with first-class accommodations for the APEC visitors, along with five-star wine-and-dine expenses, it is hard to conceive how the cost of hosting this event could require a P10 billion budget.

    With elections really close, could some of these have been siphoned off to boost the campaign funds of the Administration?

    The delegates will arrive through Manila’s airport terminals, the newest of which (NAIA 3) was constructed starting in 1997, and which has swiftly become dilapidated. This incompetent Administration hasn’t really done anything to renovate or expand the terminals for APEC, even as the government keeps saying there will be 10,000 people arriving in and leaving the country for the event.

    The world leaders will pass through the Kalayaan Terminal. I bet you wouldn’t know where that is: That’s the small concrete building in Villamor Airbase President Arroyo ordered built as the airport terminal for VIPs, for their security and privacy and so as not to disrupt the operations at the crowded international terminals.

    The summit will be held in the Philippine International Convention Center, built four decades ago for the 1976 first and last IMF-World Bank meeting of their board of governors in the Philippines. I wonder if Aquino would admit to a curious foreign leader who might care to ask, that it was built by Marcos.

    Subic Bay

    What the heck has happened to our country?

    Nearly 20 years ago, President Fidel Ramos hosted the APEC summit in Subic Bay.
    The world leaders and most of the delegates arrived at the brand-new Subic Bay International Airport, its runway built from the old short US fighter-plane tarmac by Hanjin Heavy Industries starting in 1993, and its terminal by Summa Kumagai.

    A brand-new building was built for the APEC summit, which is now the Subic Bay Convention Center, still the biggest in Luzon. While criticized at that time, Ramos had seaside villas to house the world leaders, which after the summit were leased to business tycoons.

    Ramos used his persuasive powers to convince magnates to build new hotels there for the summit. Expensive these facilities were, they made Filipinos feel that after the brownout and chaotic years of his predecessor, the country was starting to move.

    The event put Subic on the world map as a site for investors, maybe even to the Americans’ chagrin that their brown friends in Asia had managed to make something out of its naval base. Imagine if the delegates had arrived in Subic through the old US military terminal, or were housed in those “officers’ hotels.”

    Contrast Aquino’s build-nothing “pwede-na-yan” attitude to that of former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who designated Bali as the site for the 2013 APEC summit, using it as opportunity to improve the infrastructure of its prime tourist site.

    A $270 million 12.5-kilometer toll road from the airport was built to decongest traffic on the way to the Bali resort enclaves, along with a $10-million underpass at a busy intersection. Whether given tax incentives or not, the international Sofitel Hotel and Westin Resorts owners were persuaded to build new hotels for the delegates, together with the convention halls for the APEC meetings. The Bali airport was also renovated and expanded at a cost of $95 million.

    Russia, on the other hand, used the APEC summit it hosted in 2012 as the coming-out party for Vladivostok, which had been closed to the world during the Soviet era since it was the base for its secretive Pacific Fleet.

    Russky Island

    Russia even focused on the development of Russky island off the city, where the actual summit was held, as a tourist area. The Vladivostok International Airport was renovated to world-standards and two giant cable-stayed bridges were built from the city to the island. Government gave incentives and loans to the private sector to build inaugurated resorts and entertainment facilities on the island.

    The Russians were clever enough to build as the site for the APEC meetings a facility, designed to be the new campus for its Far Eastern Federal University. What it spent for APEC, which gave Russia international prestige, also had made Russky Island a booming university and tourist town.

    So much has been lacking in the Philippines’ preparations for APEC and so vacuous the government attitude toward it, thanks to this dimwit of a president. Russia started planning for its APEC hosting in 2006 six years before the event, and launched the massive infrastructure projects in Vladivostok the following year. Russian President Vladimir Putin made it his priority, and supervised the preparations himself.

    In our case, Aquino issued an administrative order to organize the so-called National Organizing Committee for APEC 2015 (NOC) only in December 2012. With Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa as its chairman, the committee consisted mostly of Cabinet members.

    I was told, though, that the NOC had never met, and had not completed the so-called master plan for the APEC summit that it was tasked to accomplish under the order.

    Nothing had moved in the APEC planning until San Francisco Consul General Marciano Paynor was appointed executive director in October 2013. (He became ambassador only in April 2014). Paynor managed to bring together government officials to discuss what should be done for APEC, though they consisted only of those at the assistant-secretary level and below, and the meeting was just a workshop, held in December of that year.

    (Even as late as November 2013, Paynor was still in the US as consul general: a foreign affairs department press release reported that he was guest speaker at a Boeing factory in Seattle.)

    How the foreign press has reported APEC in Manila

    How the foreign press has reported APEC in Manila.

    It isn’t clear how the group reached a decision to hold the summit in Manila. A source said that by the time the NOC’s secretariat got down to work, which was in early 2014, everyone assumed that Aquino had ordered it held in Manila. There was no proposal at all for any new infrastructure or facility to be built.

    Instead, Paynor’s group had to focus on rather banal problems as how to manage traffic (declare the APEC days as holidays, and close designated roads); keeping the homeless out of the city (by giving them P4,000 to disappear) and dealing with anti-globalization activists.

    Why on earth was Manila, a congested city that has become ugly, chosen as the site of the APEC summit, when other countries wisely designated not their metropolises but other less-congested areas? Even the US had Honolulu as the site of the 2011 APEC and Japan, Yokohama in 2010.

    APEC events are really uneventful for journalists. They will, instead, be looking for sexier stories in Manila, which would most probably be on how the government got its unsightly citizens – the homeless – out of the city for the duration of the APEC.

    179 meetings

    What is strange about this APEC event is that, even as Paynor has had to rely almost entirely on his Foreign Affairs personnel since he didn’t have the stature to ask other departments for help, so many meetings had to be held around the country for APEC committees, sub-committees and even “steering groups.” In past APEC events elsewhere, the number of meetings held in the host country averaged only about 50, so that the host could focus its attention and resources on the leaders’ summit itself.

    In this summit though, 179 such meetings were arranged to be held all over the country, stretching very thinly the NOC’s resources. Liberal Party stalwart Franklin Drilon was clever enough to get the NOC conduct 10 meetings in his hometown, Iloilo City, which justified the building of his pet project – the Iloilo Convention Center. Was it a scheme to spread around the P10-billion budget so it would be easier to conceal it as campaign funds for 2016?

    Two meetings were held in June – the Workshop on Fiscal Management Through Transparency and Reforms and the Senior Finance Officials’ Meeting – in a town I bet you’ve never heard of: Bagac in Bataan, a third-class municipality: Why on earth would APEC officials meet there?

    They held the meetings at the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (Philippine Houses of Acuzar), a huge 400-hectare complex dubbed a ‘heritage resort’ for the Spanish-era style of its accommodations facilities’ architecture.

    It is owned by Jerry Acuzar, father-in-law of Executive Secretary (and NOC Chairman) Ochoa, believed to be very close to Aquino. I hope he gave the government a hefty discount.

    APEC in MANILA under Aquino’s Administration is not going to be an international event our country will be proud of. I just hope it won’t be as embarrassing as the tanim-bala episode.

    tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com

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    29 Comments

    1. Sa ibang bansa ba responsibilidad din kaya ng presidente ang mag events manager?

      Hindi po ata tama na lahat ng pwedeng mangyari ay sa presidente nalang lahat ituturo. May feeling kase ako na kahit sino ilagay namim jan sa upuan na yan… Irereklamo mo pa rin. Wag namam ganun sir.

      For once tumingin naman tayo from the ground up.

      Suggestion ko po ay magsulat kayo ng limang libong pages na reklamo sa mga lower offices. Every time kase na nrereklamo nyo ang mga nasa taas… Nakakalibre ang mga corrupt na tao sa baba.

      Ireklamo nyo ung kabobohang traffic system sa area ng divisoria na ang dahilan ay hindi si pinoy kundi yung mga ground police mismo na nagiisip na tama pa rin ang ginagawa nila kahit obvious na katangahan.

      Ireklamo nyo yung mga puv drivers at ltfrb na walang control sa system nila. Sir, andaming nagaatempt magreklamo sa mga ugali ng mga puv drivers kaso ang hirap ng processo ng ltfrb mismo. Biinastos ka na sa daan… Ihahasel ka pa ng ltfrb.

      Ireklamo ninyo ang LTO na nakabili na nga kayo ng Insurance sa isang opisina, ayaw tanggapin ng kabila.

      Ireklamo ninyo ang mga taong kontento nalang sa pakikiusap habang unti unting inaankin ng China ang dagat natin.

      Sa lahat ng yun sir, ground people ang may problema. Ang tao ang problema. Yun po ang mga ireklamo ninyo.

    2. Allyssa Mae Jutba on

      The trouble is, there are so many intelligent people in this country who always criticize whoever sits in Malacanang. They always see the one in Malacanang to be always wrong and would want their wants to be done by the leader. The trouble is, they are not the one in power? Why not run for office and do want they want? For sure they won’t win. Our intelligence should supposedly be used intelligently by providing excellent suggestions for the good of everyone and not always giving destructive criticisms to make our leader look very “bobo”. Pulling him down is also pulling our country down. This is the main reason why we can’t move forward for good because all of us are pulling each other down. It seems that we are happy when the one in power fails! We’re actually using our intelligence the other way. Kaya instead of improving because majority of the Filipinos are intelligent, we are moving in the opposite direction dahil ang lahat na utak natin na may talino sana ay naging bobong-bobo.

      • lou g. salvdor on

        unti unti ng nawawala ang corruption Lalo na kayong mga journalist mahilig sa suhol kaya pilit nyong binabaluktot ang tuwid na daan.

    3. Mag-isip nga kayo! Unahin nyo muna sarili nyo, bago kayo mag-comment ng kung anu-anong walang kwenta! Mga walang magawa sa buhay.

    4. Thank you Mr. Tiglao for your patience in pointing out the incompetence of this present administration. are we not having yellow fatigue?

      i think it was Gloria’s economic savvy that floated us through these 6 years, because there was no follow-through, our economy declined as the yellows are leaving–hopefully for good. I think Mr Aquino should thank Gloria for her legacy to the Aquino admin.

      can we challenge COA to audit the 10B expense?

      thank you.

    5. If i have the call, Tacloban City will be the best place for APEC where we can show off to the world the Filipino resiliency and undying spirit. The 10 billion or make it 20 billion budget will be aptly justified….by rebuilding Tacloban City to a new modern look including the airport…and other facilities.

    6. If you truly want to know how the 10 billion pesos’ budget was spent, maybe you can suggest to one of the Manila Times reporters that the question should be asked during a press conference at Malacanang Palace, and to keep repeating the same question at every conference with the PNoy’s administration until a proper answer is received.

      If Manila and surrounding areas have a sufficient number of facilities to host the APEC delegates, there is really no need to build new hotels and some such structures. Just because Indonesia and Russia built new “infra-structures” for their APEC turns, it does not necessarily follow that the Philippines should imitate them and do the same. The Philippines is a different country, and PNoy and his administration are not bound by what had taken place in other countries. They are also not bound by what former president Fidel Ramos had done. Times have changed, and the Philippines of 2015 is nowhere similar to the Philippines of 1993 or 1995.

      Maybe the Commission on Audit should be prodded to audit this venture. The people want to know: “Where did the money go?”

    7. surely..plenty true blooded filipino crab mentality here..why the APEC is here is because Pnoy brings home the bacon..and all you do is criticize.. how can this be a great nation with people who are so negative thinker.

      • You talk as if Pinoy did the spade work for the APEC extravaganza to be held here. It is simply our turn to host this event that everyone knew more 6 years ago. The beef against this president is he failed to plan for this event early in his term; incompetence pure and simple. Now we will have to contend with the real cost of this extravaganza – which is turning the metropolis into a virtual ghost town: no fly zone air, no sail zone sea, no car zone roads, no pedestrian zone sidewalks…what else?

      • bacon ba ‘ka mo? baka BURUNG TALANGKA. crab mentality, crab mentality, puro utak talangka kasi nasa government kaya di tayo umaangat, kasama ka brod

      • Crab mentality? So questioning the Daang Matuwad’s incompetence is crab mentality?

        There are hundreds of way to showcase to the world that we can be a good investment capital..

        1. Use Subic, security and traffic is not an issue, it will show case what we have done to the old bases.

        2. Build infrastracture outside metro manila, urge companies to build ventures and give them huge tax credits. This will build new metropolis.. the government have at least 4 years to prepare but they cram a lot.

        3. Rebuild Tacloban, put roads and fix the convention center and improve it. This will showcase that we can recover from a calamity and turn business back on it’s shoes.

        4. Rebuild Bohol, add a convention center.. showcase the environment..

        the list is very long.. just giving the instant top items.

    8. With victims of Yolanda and other calamities still yearning for attention and assistance in rebuilding their lives. With others needing medical attention and dying, spending P10 Billion for a short party of international and local big business called APEC smacks of insensitivity and immorality at its highest.

      The spirit and substance of APEC which is the ideology of “Globalization” or the utopian doctrine of the “Free Market”, has done nothing good for the entire nation. Adherence to this inhuman ideology, in fact, destroyed our agriculture and local industries as well as their development.

      It has resulted in more than 30 million unemployed and underemployed able-bodied productive force, the exodus of more than 10 Million of the best hardworking and brightest Filipino worker, breaking apart families, exposing many to prostitution, and unspeakable forms of exploitation and physical and psychological violence abroad as OFWs. For what? To sustain a bankrupt economy through OFW remittance, by consuming and purchasing imports from foreign economies, excess financial portfolios through loans, products and services of foreign multinational firms in the country, and help bail out from crisis all their country’s factories, agricultural products, and various economic needs. The result is the current perpetual destitution for the majority of our people, and massive wealth for the local top 50 corporation.

      APEC ideology has virtually deleted direction, control, and regulation of the economy by the elected sovereign government of the people in favor of the corporate elite. Policies and programs are dictated not by representatives of the sovereign people through elections but by the Board rooms of the biggest capitalist corporate elites!

      When the BS Aquino III propaganda says something good is in store for us because of APEC and should support it, facts and the reality would show otherwise.

      What he is practically saying is that we continue to accept their(Corporate elites) ownership of our well-being and future as slaves, to keep their own kind super wealthy and lord over us till eternity!

      If we are to look seriously on how and why have we become as what we see of us today, everyone would know that it is because we were so stupid in believing that APEC as an ideology is our salvation as a nation. But of course knowing presupposes that we as a people has a working brain. If one considers himself or herself as a global citizen don’t bet on it.

      • I understand that every member country of APEC must serve its turn as the host country. Would you want the Philippines to refuse to serve as host for the reasons (Yolanda and other calamities; people needing medical attention and dying) you mentioned? Why attend such conferences if the Philippines cannot afford to serve as host? Always a guest, but never a host? In such a situation, what happens to “delicadeza”? “Pakapalan na lang ng mukha”?

        I concur with you concerning the evils of “globalization”. But what do you suggest should replace it? A closed economic system practiced only in the Philippines, while the world moves on onward and forward?

        I recognize that corporate elites (and the super-rich like Warren Buffet and so-called One Percenters) control 99% of the people. Politicians are owned by these elites and oligarchs, and they do the latter’s bidding. And of course, greed and corruption, plunder, self-interest govern their actions. We need leaders who are above suspicion. Just like Diogenes with his lamp searching for an honest man in Ancient Athens, we seek and look high and low for such leaders. I believe that Representative Leni Robredo is one such leader. If only she could be cloned multiple times.

        I know where you are coming from, Braincleaner. Things are bad and sad in the Philippines. But do not lose hope. More and more people (especially the OFWs) are speaking out about the unacceptable practices in the Philippines, especially through the widespread use of social media. For example, had OFWs not mentioned through “Twitter” and “Facebook” their “tanim-bala” victimization, I am sure, the powers that be would not have done anything about this abomination. Maybe a “revolution” by “negative publicity” is what is needed. So far, in respect of “tanim bala”, it seems to be succeeding…. slow, but succeeding. I suspect there will be more public complaints of this nature as more and more people realize what can be accomplished by speaking up.

    9. I’m going to play devil’s advocate, regarding the more numerous APEC submeetings in the provinces. Only Metro Manila has enough facilities to house all these delegates for the main event. Even in a previous subevent, Cebu hotels had resorted to price gouging. APEC and its activities has grown over the years and is actually doing work. It’s not just a means for host countries to show off.

      Regardless of how many oligarchs are dipping into the pie, we can at least know that the funds have been spread over a wider area. The tourism industry even in far off regions in the Philippines have benefited from this. Had Aquino did what others have done and poured everything in major infrastructure projects in a single location, the competition would have been extremely fierce. Plus after APEC is over, it is doubtful the infrastructure would remain utilized. Look at Subic now, doing worse than Clark.

      If I were a foreigner I would actually be more suspicious of major white elephant show-off projects, knowing full well of the natural disasters that have plagued this country.

    10. as the late Sen. Joker said..
      this admin was composed of OJTs, something to that effect.. was shown clearly not only for this event..

    11. Ayan ang hirap sa Pinoy..pag ginastusan sasabihin naman ay kayabanagan..Pag di gaano ginastusan ay sasabihin naman,dapat pinaganda at inaayos ng mabuti..mga buwisit..Panira kayo sa Bansa..Sa kaloob looban ninyo ay ayaw ninyo talaga maging succesful ang APEC sa Pangangallaga ni Aquino..Ayaw ninyo i set aside muna ang politika..Ngayun sasabihin ang 10 billion ay gagamitin sa campaign fund, palibhasa ay corrupt ang dati ninyong mga amo.kaya utak ninyo ay ganon din,,EH bakit noong una pa ay di mo sinuggest sa column mo? at ngayun na nandiyan na ay saka ka dakdak..di kabutihan sa bansa ang sa puso mo,tiglao,typical na propagandist ka..katulad ni tatad..Ngayun sinasabi mo dapat niyabangan,,,to show te world na ok ang pilipinas…eh kung ano ang pinas at yun lang ang budget ay yun na lang..Kung anong existing na building na magagamit ay yun na lang..Dami ninyo reklamo, wala naman sa ayos at may halong politikas talaga…

      • Ang ginastusan ng walang pagiisp at paggagasta lang. You can hit 2 birds at one stone with this event.

        On the contrary, the government hits 2 birds with 1 stone. Host APEC and pocket some money.

    12. We shouldn’t have hosted the APEC summit in the first place. The billions of pesos poured in for hosting the event is better spent on building classrooms and equipping our military.

      • This is the the problem with us filipinos, we only see the money being poured in not thinking about the outcome. If the Apec summit is successful investments will pour in to our growing economy. More investments, more money = more budget for military and education. This is why our country is a mess, people criticize without even thinking. Us filipinos tend to be irrational and blame Pnoy for everything even though the fact is that our economy is growing after decades of our economy going down we’re finally starting to make some progress!

    13. Gaucho McGringo on

      Sayang. It seems evident that the new owners of my alma mater have direct ties to the Aquino political dynasty.

      There is also clearly an undeniable resemblance between the elite dynastic shenanigans at the Skull and Bones at Yale University in the US and the KKK. I wonder if the secret societies are actually linked, and created and funded from the same source? This is a rhetorical question because in my heart I already know the answer. The important thing is the question: Can these people be outmaneuvered, or is it hopeless?

    14. Saw a lot of looks like brandnew vans bearing the apec2015 plates around the vicinities of hotels yesterday. Wonder if its hotel vans or is it charged to the taxpayers. Perhaps u will see a lot of new cars sold at fire sale after apec.

    15. Raymond Stenhouse on

      The APEC Meeting Motto should be ‘There is More Corruption in the Philippines’ Something our upper class is so proud of. Put me down for a T Shirt and Sticker. Make that two I send one to the Pope letting him know the Filipino ‘Fat Cats’ ignored everything.

    16. Somehow, the APEC delegates would have a first-hand experience of treading EDSA, the “Daang Makitid” of Balut-Penoy.
      Also expect the Laglag-Bala-Lagay-Laya NAIAA untouchables to drumbeat their lucrative “diligence” – the Paris carnage.

    17. Well, to add in this article one truth, PNoy continues to be noynoying, as usual. He still does not know what his job s are and apparently does not care.

    18. Leodegardo Pruna on

      Ineptocracy, democrazy, ineffectiveness, inefficiency, kleptocracy, oligarchy are hallmarcks of this administration, manipulated by A BAD man in the company of the Hyatt 10 and the KKK. God bless the Philippines.

    19. There were natural calamities that hit the Philippines since 2013 and some man-made ones such as the result of mining and illegal logging which wreaked havoc to our economy and the livelihood of the common folks. But what is disturbing to an ordinary citizen like me and millions of others is the fact that plans and money for big events like APEC go hush-hush and are granted to the KKK’s or their relatives and/or friends.
      APEC by itself is not worker-friendly at all but practically benefits big businesses and capitalists so I consider the spending and planning of President Aquino’s men as selective and unfair.
      What is really going on with the current governance of President Aquino? It’s just too much to be ignored or tolerated these days.

      • Will the military wake up after the APEC week to arrest benigno to prevent further shame and embarassment to the country? Paano pa sila naturingan na PROTECTOR OF THE PEOPLE if they do not have the balls to do what they are constitutionally mandated to do?

    20. Truly it is as “embarrassing as TANIM BALA” in the eyes of the world!
      It could have been held in Cebu or Davao … Or somewhere around the country.
      Daang Matuwad!