Featured Posts

Monday, November 21, 2011

Auspicious Travel Tax Refund

As a citizen of this country, everyone is oblige to pay  travel tax when you travel to any destination outside the country. Right there and then when you book a ticket or at the time of your departure the airline companies are authorized to collect this fee.

What is a travel tax?

The travel tax is a levy imposed by the Philippine government on the following individuals who are leaving the country irrespective of the place where the air ticket is issued and the form or place of payment, as provided for by Presidential Decree (PD) 1183, as amended by PD 1205, Batas Pambansa (BP) 38 and Executive Order (EO) 283, Filipinos and other nationals travelling to other countries are required to pay travel tax before departure from the Philippines.

On the 7th of May I should be traveling to St. Petersburg but I was denied by the Philippine Immigration, as what my previous blog talks all about; therefore I am eligible to seek for a refund of the amount I paid for my travel tax. Cebu Pacific Air Manila Office instructed me to collect the refund at the issuing Office. I fly from Cagayan de Oro City; therefore Cagayan de Oro City is the issuing office. However, when I arrived in Cagayan de Oro city, I was instructed to collect it from the counter where they collect the travel tax and at my disappointment I waited for about three hours. The Cebu Pacific personnel were friendly; they let me sit inside their messy office. I said messy because everything is out of order. It was really a messy and unlucky day for me. I was denied by the Immigration and I have not collected the P1, 620.00 travel taxes. The almost three hours I spent waiting was put to waste, what a heck!

Imagine that I live in Iligan City approximately 43.73 kilometres (25.93 miles) from Cagayan de oro City. Considering its distance, from our house I have to pay (P15.00×2) jeepney fare to go to the Northbound Terminal, and the transportation fare by bus which is (P145.00×2) from Iligan to CDO Agora Terminal, then a fare by taxi cab of (P300.00×2) flat rate from the bus terminal to the Lumbia Airport. Approximately, if I will go back to CDO to collect my travel tax refund I will spend (P920.00) then what is left in my tax refund is less than a half of its original amount which is (800.00) where is Justice?

According to the Cebu Pacific Air personnel, they could not give the refund because they still have to call to the Accounting Office which I assume a government entity; all he said is that this office will decide if the refund will be granted. However, it was Saturday afternoon and government Offices do not operate on weekends. Therefore, seeking the refund is really impossible. For me, it’s understandable but for me to wait that long and be told in the end that I could not get it is very disappointing. I was wondering why the Cebu Pacific Air is granted the right to collect travel tax but not reimburse or refund right there and then. Well, when asked me to pay the said amount, right there and then I took my wallet and give it to them that easy, but why is it so difficult for them to return my money? Why is it that they still need authorization from the Accounting Office to reimburse funds? This is not a good practice, unjust and not acceptable for me. This is a very annoying arrangement.

I hope the aforementioned entities will devise strategies and other actions that will correct this very annoying practice. It’s not encouraging and very cost effective for a traveler like me to spend such amount just to get a very small amount of travel tax refund!

The Tragically and Traumatic Philippine Immigration Experience

Section 6 of the Bill of Rights states that “The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court; Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law” of which I believe was one of my right as a citizen of this Republic that are unjustly violated by the Philippine Immigration.

My friend invited me to visit St. Petersburg, Russia. The reason why he invited me to St. Petersburg is that he is working in the Finnish Consulate in St. Petersburg. He visited the Philippines last December 2009 and I was the one who stand as his guide as we are friends for more than a year now…The Philippines is the 56th country he visited around the globe.

As he is the one who invited me to visit the country he stands as the sponsor for all the expenses of my travel since I am not financially capable to travel as I am still a student. My travel in St. Petersburg is guaranteed by the Finnish Consulate as it is stated in the invitation letter with their consulate logo. As I spoke to Mr. Petri he told me that he was so disappointed on how the Philippine Immigration treated me.

I was granted an eighty-two days tourist visa to St. Petersburg by the Russian Embassy in Makati.  On the 6th of May I went to Cagayan de Oro City for my flight to Cebu City, but I came late so I was rebooked to another flight at 9PM this time to Manila, then I arrived in NAIA 3 at more or less at around 11PM. My connecting flight to Hongkong will be at 5:30 AM on the next morning, 7th of May 2011.

At my dismay, when I was processing my papers in the Immigration before boarding to the plane, they prohibit me to travel and denied to board the plane. I passed through three persons, the first one is the guy who interviewed me and let me signed two documents before he told me to go to the other person. I handed my papers including my passport to this second person who is another guy. This person went inside the office and then he came out along with all my documents. Then he turned over my papers to this lady whom I felt that time is a judge and she is judging me because of what she did to me that morning... I really felt that I was humiliated during her interview to me.

I really felt that the world fall on to me at that time, because I was so positive that I will be granted to travel because I have no bad intentions and then in the end it went as tragic as that. I wonder how easy for her to deny me to travel after the things that I’ve been through just to be there at that time.

I was so shocked on the reasons why she cannot let me travel. According to that lady she can’t let me travel unless I could present the following documents:

1. English Translation of the Invitation Letter done by the Russian Embassy in Manila.
2. Authenticated Affidavit of Support & Guaranteed from the nearest Philippine Consulate.

I infer that she required me the English Translation of the invitation letter because of her incompetence’s? As she is assigned to such job she should have the competency to speak different languages or might posses the ability to read and understand or someone in the Immigration Office shall be able to deal such situation. The Philippine Immigration should not hire and employ people who are not fit for the job. I believe I have the right to say this because what happened and what she did is a proof that she is incompetent. If she could read and understand Russian language then she will no longer need to ask me the second document because basically what is written in the invitation letter is a statement from Mr. Petri guaranteeing his support towards my travel and stay in St. Petersburg.

On the other hand, how come I could produce such document at that moment when I know that the requirement for a person to travel to Russia is a valid visa, a complete travel itinerary (back and forth flight itinerary), medical insurance and enough money this is found in Philippine Immigration website (www. specifically in this page: 

It was really impossible for me to get such document right there and then. It was Saturday and the Russian Embassy in Makati is only open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On the other hand, the Philippine Consulate in Russia is in Moscow. The following document she requires me to present to her is impossible to obtain. If I can obtain it, then it would really take time. In addition to it, I am a student and I have to be back on the scheduled date of my return ticket because I still have to enroll on the 1st day of June 2011. And how come she will require me to produce such documents, in which law it is based upon? I never heard a traveler was asked to produce such documents in the day of their travel because if I knew that they would require such I should have secured those papers. In addition, they didn’t put it in their website that they will require such document. I don’t have any pending criminal case that may be a concrete reason to deny my travel.

I was really disappointed and feel that my rights were unjustly violated specifically my right to travel. It was so easy for her to deny me “it’s like she was telling me to throw the hundred and sixty five thousand pesos into the trash can” as he spent more or less this much in order for me to visit St. Petersburg.

I was also caught into wonder about what she replied when I tried to negotiate and ask her the real reasons I mean the reasons based on the immigration law or whatever it is that will serve as the basis  for not allowing me to travel at that time. I don’t have concrete knowledge on immigration laws but when I asked her why she won’t allow me to travel, she only said, “it’s a case to case basis” ….does this mean that there is no specific guidelines or protocols being followed by them? And what case do I have for her to decide not to allow me to travel? Further, she said that Russia is not a good place for travel by saying that "Moscow is not a tourist friendly city". She did asked my travel itinerary and found out that I am passing Moscow. She even tried to solicit agreement with another immigration officer by calling the other lady officer by saying "Di ba ma'm ang Moscow hindi sila friendly sa tourist", but I never heard the other lady immigration officer replied. How come, she could perceive and refer Moscow as a "not a tourist friendly city" when I only read in internet it’s the upper north of Russia that there are threats not the capital city Moscow.

Does this mean that it depends on the immigration officer’s mood if she likes to let or not a traveler board on the plane? Is it the reason why there are drug mules that get pass through their system of checking?

I really question the accuracy of their judgments… because if they will just say it’s a case to case basis this would only mean that they do not have concrete basis. She even said that it’s ‘actually what the United States is doing. How come that they are following what the United States are doing, does that mean that they don’t have originality?

It is very unfair if that’s how easy for them to thrash how much we spent not to mention the hardships that I have been through just for that travel. I even got an incomplete grade in my Financial Management subject because of the time that I devoted just to comply for the requirements for that travel.

I say, that experienced was tragically and traumatic for me and most especially very depressing. The Philippine Immigration displayed a very disappointing and very unjust practice towards me as its citizen. Citing the fact that there is no single reason that could possibly barred from boarding my flight to travel to St. Petersburg. I could not cite any reason to celebrate of what happened, but sadly, according to my friend Petri, as he wrote the Russian Prime Minister they are sad of how the Philippine Immigration viewed their country.  On the other hand, the Finnish head Consul in St. Petersburg is so shocked when Mr. Petri informed him this event. He cannot believe that such incident could happen.

By this incident, to those who intend to travel to Russia as a tourist, be aware of this cross-eyed lady immigration officer who acts like she is the law of the land and please secure the two documents she asked me by any means may be by magic wand? in order for you to surely board your plane to your destination.

To the Immigration key people, I hope this incident shall not happen to any Filipino citizen of this country who doesn’t have any intention but to enjoy the fun and experience of going out the country for vacation, you know to get away with the long tedious school works throughout the years of studying.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gloria Arroyo's Arrest|Government Scapegoating?

"Photo from Yahoo News"

The Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima still standing firmly despite the threat of being cited for indirect contempt by the highest court of the country- Philippine Supreme Court which could possibly result to a filing of a disbarment case after defying the highest court issuance of TRO Temporary Restraining Order with respect to Former President Gloria Arroyo’s appeal for allowing to travel abroad seeking medical remedy. The said TRO is issued by the Supreme Court citing the fact that there are no pending cases filed against the former president, except for his husband Atty. Mike Arroyo.

Two days after that dramatic incident in NIA, Friday, November 18, 2011 Senior Superintendent Joel Colonel served a warrant of arrest to Gloria Arroyo after the Commission on Election COMELEC filed a case “Electoral Sabotage” against the defiant Former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The arrest warrant was also served to Former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Former COMELEC election supervisor Lintang Bedol. The two people are thought to have direct participation of the same crime. With the hope of blocking the arrest, the former first family camp filed a motion arguing that the Regional Court has no jurisdiction over the case, citing the Sandiganbayan as the sole body who has it.

In this connection, the reason of the SC to issue TRO is no longer applicable? Since, the issuance of the TRO was based on the facts before the electoral sabotage case was filed on court. The former first family was granted a TRO because of the absence of case on court against them.

Now, my concern is the future of the case filed against Gloria and the other two perpetrators. Is this case strong enough? Well, I know that Electoral Sabotage is non-bailable and is punishable by reclusion perpetua. But, is this case filed just to bar Gloria from escaping? Or, it is just an escape-goat for the government to cover up its fault by defying the Supreme Court’s order?

I believe it is not a mere destiny or coincidence that after Gloria was barred from traveling, and then a case shall be filed just to keep her inside the country.  Granting without admitting that Gloria is guilty of the crime of electoral sabotage, isn’t it that the government also is guilty of Constitutional Sabotage by defying the highest court order? Is the son bound to destroy what the mother instituted – the spirit of democracy? Or this action is bound to defend it?

On the other hand, it has been reported long before Gloria stepped down from the office of the presidency that she had appointed a sufficient number of highest court magistrates including the SC chief justice. I didn’t wonder then that she has given TRO. It was no surprising at all when all of her appointed judges in the highest court favored issuing the TRO.

As the fight against the corrupt is going hot and intense---the image of truth has become vaguer and the fight seems no ending. Knowing history, this will end up to the common people suffering! Its bound to be true, that in "every power struggle, Truth is always the casualty."

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Philippine Nation: Can We Trust Former President Gloria Arroyo?

                               "Trust is something that is earned. It is not given nor asked"

Lately, pictures of the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo spurred and flooding across social networking platforms like Facebook, youtube and twitter depicting the former President of the Republic of the Philippines as a movie cartoon character "Transformer" and cartoon hero "Naruto" Now let us examine why this happened?

Apparently, these photos was taken and was publicized with the intension of convincing the public how sorry is her condition while suffering a disease called hypoparathyroidism, which she was diagnosed from St. Lukes Medical Center on August 2011. As a product of the Filipino playful minds---"creativity" these photos became the source of laugh and mock over the internet. I would like to interpret these as the public reciprocal action towards her planned exit of the country.

It became a public concern when the former Philippine President seek a travel authority for her treatment abroad citing an either valid reason nor a valid alibi that there are no experts on the disease in the country. I was wondering why a big fish like her with a big cases filed against her will be allowed to go out from the country?

Last May 2011, I was bound to visit St. Petersburg and was denied by the immigration because of one reason. I don't have an English translation of the invitation letter sent from the office of the Finnish Embassy in St. Petersburg. Wow! for that single document, I lost my tickets and the chance of visiting St. Petersburg that could be amounted into P156,000.00 in total.

But Gloria with a lot of cases pending in the Department of Justice involving billions of cash and the election fraud that remains unsolved up to this very moment will be given the freedom to travel abroad---where is the spirit of equality? 

After all the lies, the greed and all the frauds that she have done to the nation, can we afford to trust her still?

Well, after the "Im Sorry" and the "I will not run for President in 2004 Election" can we still believe her words? Do you think we can still have her word of honor? Does she have a word of honor? Where in the first place she doesn't have consistency!

Madam former President, Can we trust you?

My professor in college told me, "Don't trust people, especially those who said, "Trust Me."

Photos in this article are credited to their respected owners.

I found a video of Ms. Juana Change that is trying to convey a message that I am trying to emulate :)

I Never Doubt Manny Pacquiao's Winning Over Marquez

Seeing this picture in your Facebook account wouldn't this distract you? I was! and it made me write this article. This photo excites me and even made me ask, who will be the next? While each fighter one by one is falling in Pacquiao's fists, will it be the full of hot air --- Mayweather? 

At present its no longer a surprise for everyone of us to hear and see over the television the Pacquiao's winning streak in the sports arena of boxing. Not until last Sunday November 12, 2011 in his fight against his third time opponent Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico. What I have noticed is that after in every fight of which now three times in total, I never heard Marquez accepted his losing. All I hear of Marquez after each boxing fight with Pacquiao is his statement that he actually won the fight. 

Have I doubted Pacquiao's last winning over Juan Manuel Marquez?

Disappointed yes, but to doubt his winning never occured to me while watching the fight last Sunday over the television. I was disappointed that Pacquiao was not able to knock Marquez down. If you watched and doubted Pacquiao's winning thats fine with me, but I don't! because what I saw and what is more obvious is the rattling Marquez last Sunday. I saw all of their fights and each fight made me noticed Marquez changes in his tactics. Not to mention the dirty ones that are scattered in facebook and youtube. Well here are video I found on the web. 

I don't see anything bad about feeling doubtful. I noticed that in twitter, a lot people expressed their concern over Marquez when he lost the fight. But, what is bad about it is when we doubt our own kababayan. In the first place he didn't declare himself the winner. It was a shame for Marquez to claim as the winner when he is not the one who is declared the winner. A loser has always something to say. Ang sabi ni Angelina sa Bubble Gang, "Marquez is such a loser!" 

A true fighter, will not resort into dirty tactics when he knew himself is prepared and is ready for the fight. Well, if Pacquiao's former opponent Morales would have done this I might get surprised. But seeing this from Marquez do not surprised me at all. He have done this many times already in his last fights with Pacquiao. He admitted it that Pacquiao is very fast. Realizing this made him develop a tactic that will make Manny slow and that is by stepping Pacqiao's foot during the fight. An ordinary watcher of the fight, especially when you are inside the arena will not and cannot noticed this. Well, I've been to boxing fights many times. What people see during the fight is the higher part of the player. People are all focused of who's jabs are landing with whom. I don't blame the audience because I admit thats the exciting part of the sport. Seeing each move and every scene when a boxer is hit badly.

This is the reason why there are what we call "judges" who are holding the score cards of the fighters. I myself don't know how to score a boxing fight but what I knew is that when you are chosen as one of the judges, you can be considered "experts." Experts as they are though they are not perfect, they have the last say of who really wins the fight. If you don't trust the judges why have them? If you can do better, why not be the judge?

Who will be the next?

Well, it could have been better if Mayweather will stop uttering degrading words for Pacquiao. If he is brave enough and confident enough, there is no need for him to accused Pacquiao of things he can't prove. I believe what he is doing is just a way of evading the truth that he is afraid of Pacquiao. We are familiar of a Filipino line "Kung gugustuhin maraming paraan, Kung hindi maraming dahilan." Now, Mayweather if you are man enough go with it. After all if its really you who will win---it will only prove us only one thing. You are the Super boxer!

Photo and videos of this article are credited to their respective owners.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Goodbye!|You are Mine, Even though I Have to Regret It!

If "sorry" seems to be the hardest word according to Elton John, For Air Supply, "Goodbye" is the saddest.

Hearing Air Supply's "Goodbye" while waking up this morning makes me visit the past. Well, its okay to revisit the past as long as you will not bring an overnight bag :)

Looking back, in the 90's radio drama is still the most popular or the common medium of entertainment in our province. Obviously, you cannot find a television in my birthplace. Since there was no television yet during that time, radio seems to be the most valuable possessions the neighborhood should possessed. While everyone is in their respective farms preparing it for planting or while harvesting radio are always with them. Some farmers loves to listen songs, but majority loves to listen the drama series.

Well, I believe radio is a great stimulator for being creative and imaginative compared to television.

1990's---It was on that days that my eyes are being opened to romantic dramas as I was so addicted to Radio Drama and one of the most unforgettable drama I was addicted into is entitled "Ako Ka, Magbasol Man Ako" which I translated into the English Terms "You are Mine, Even though I Have to Regret It." Air Supply's "Goodbye" serves as the theme song of this drama.

The Characters:

Gerry---the guy who first met and fall in love with Gina.
Anton---the best friend of Gerry who fall in love with Gina.
Gina---the main character of the story.
Monique---Gerry's first girl-friend who became his mistress after marrying Gina.

Brief Summary:

Gerry and Gina met in an almost accident which involves them both. Gina was walking on the way to school when Gerry almost bump her with his car. Gina belongs to the middle class family, while Gerry is a son of a wealthy business man Don Augusto Mondragon. After meeting they fell in love and decided to get married. Before getting married, Gina was introduced to Anton, Gerry's best friend who will serve as their best man. From the moment of introduction Anton realized that he is falling in love with Gina. Despite the fact that he was falling in love with Gina he managed to keep it. Gerry and Gina's wedding is fast approaching while the bridal shower is scheduled a week before the big ceremony. 

During the bridal shower Gina got drunk, despite her friends suggestions not go home in her groggy condition she still went home. Along the way, he fell on the ground and sleeps there without knowing that something could happen in that moment that will make her life miserable ever. Few minutes past Gina woke up crying and feeling the pain in that part of her ---she was raped by whom---that she didn't know. In a distance behind the bushy part of the corner is the familiar guy whom he thought is a friend.

Gina thinking that Gerry's love is unwavering and pure, decided not to tell the incident that happened the night after the bridal shower. The wedding was successfully held at a five star hotel and everyone was so happy except Gina who is worried of her untold story. The visitors have gone home, and the new couple is left alone at Gerry's condo unit. The next morning, they are scheduled to fly to Italy for their honeymoon.

to be continued :)) so sleepy!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Disputed Spratly Island

The Spratly Islands consist of 100 - 230 islets, coral reefs and sea mounts Despite the fact that the archipelago is spread over 250,000 sq km of sea space, the total land mass of the Spratly Islands is a mere 5 sq km. The land is not arable, does not support permanent crops, and has no meadows, pastures or forests. Furthermore, the Spratly Islands have not been occupied by humans until recently. Countries with territorial claims use military means --airstrips and armed forces -- to reinforce their claims.

The Spratly Islands are situated in the South China Sea -- one of the largest continental shelves in the world. Typically, continental shelves are abundant in resources such as oil, natural gas, minerals, and seafood. According to James Kiras, a contributing editor of the Peacekeeping & International Relations journal, one study conducted by China estimated oil reserves in the South China Sea to be larger than Kuwait's present reserves.

Oil and natural gas reserves in the Spratly region are estimated at 17.7 billion tons; Kuwait's reserves amount to 13 billion tons.The Spratly reserves place it as the fourth largest reserve bed worldwide.

Country’s claims the Spratly

Claims all the islands in the Spratly region.
1950’s it claims the Paracel Island which is north of Spratley.
1974 seized Paracel Island from Vietnam.
1988 China used military to overthrow the Vietnamese Military after removing China’s flag from the aforementioned island.

China's historical claim is dubious and neglects similar historical claims by Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia. Moreover, China's historical interpretation of its sovereignty rights ignores current international law.

Claims approximately 60 of islands in the Spratly region. Conducted a joint Oil exploration with Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Alcorn International near the Palawan Island will raise the Philippines annual oil production from the 3,000 b/d produced in 1991 from 7 wells in the South China Sea.

Claims part of islands in the Spratly region. Vietnam's only oil well in production as of 1991 is the White Tiger field, 400 km west of the Crestone block. In 1992, however, Vietnam hastened leasing to foreign exploration.

Claims all islands in the Spratly region. The Spratly Islands are strategically important to Taiwan for two reasons: (1) important shipping lanes pass through waters surrounding the Spratly Islands; and, (2) the South China Sea, in general, is fish abundant. Thus, Taiwan feels compelled to protect its interests.

Is the earliest oil operator in the sea and claims 3 islands and 4 rock groups in the Spratly region. As of 1992, Malaysia was running 90 oil- producing wells, with $210 million planned for further development between 1992 and 1995.

Claims the Louisa Reef in the Spratly region, located adjacent to its coastline. Brunei became an active player in the Spratly disputes only within recent years. Production of its 9 oil fields in the South China Sea hovers around 143,000 b/d.

Economic exploration endeavors appear to ignite the tenuous stability in the Spratly region. The conflict is further exacerbated by foreign firms willing to undertake riskier oil development projects in Asia. The foreign oil firms are looking to profit from the current energy boom in Asia as well as to find replacement reserves for those in the United States and the North Sea where production approaches their peak.

Aside from granting foreign firms exploration rights in disputed waters and conducting military exercises in the Spratly area, China has also committed itself to the build-up of its navy and air force. The Financial Times reported in August of 1996 that China planned to purchase advanced navy radar from the British. This radar would improve warning signals to China of 'impending' attacks as well as facilitate naval task group deployment in the South China Sea. The islands are particularly strategic to China.