Saturday, August 9, 2014

Legarda Looks Forward to Philippine Participation in the 56th Venice Biennale

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda said she is looking forward to the Philippines’ participation in the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale 2015 following a 50-year hiatus.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), in partnership with the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, recently announced the Philippine participation to the 2015 Venice Biennale through an open call for curatorial proposals.

“It has been 50 years since we last joined this prestigious contemporary art exhibition. We have many talented Filipino artists worthy to be given the chance to showcase their craft in this event and we should also use this as a platform to engage the international community on the cultural level. I am confident that our artistry and culture would leave other nations in awe,” said Legarda.

The Philippines’ first national pavilion was in the 32nd International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale 1964. Jose Joya and Napoleon Abueva were chosen to represent the country.

The NCCA said that the Philippines’ participation in the 56th Venice Biennale, which will be held in Venice, Italy from May 9 to November 22, 2015, marks the country’s significant return to this kind of platform and further pursues an engagement in the dynamic process of defining and shaping contemporary art.

The Coordinating Committee is accepting curatorial proposals from Filipino curators and artists residing in the Philippines and abroad until August 28, 2014.

The curator must be a Filipino citizen, has curated international contemporary art exhibitions and has sufficient grasp of contemporary art discourse and practice; while the artists must be Filipino citizens and must have participated in one major national exhibition.

Submitted proposals will be reviewed by a distinguished panel in the field of contemporary art. Only one proposal will be selected and will be mounted at the Philippine pavilion in Venice.

The Artistic Director for the 56th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale is Okwui Enwezor, a Nigerian-American who is the current Director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich. He will curate the main exhibition in the central pavilion.

Enwezor has served as Artistic Director for several major exhibitions including the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale in South Africa (1996-1998), documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany (1998-2002), the Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo de Sevilla in Spain (2005-2007), the 7th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea (2008), and the Triennal d’Art Contemporain of Paris at the Palais de Tokyo (2012).

Recto calls for immediate debate on bill raising tax exempt cap on worker bonuses

MANILA-. Ralph G. Recto today pressed for immediate debates on his measure raising the annual tax exemption ceiling on employee bonuses, 13th month pay and allowances to P75,000 from the current threshold of P30,000.

He said changing the current limit is long overdue “as it was pegged 20 years and three presidents ago and has been eroded by inflation.”

The P30,000 ceiling was first introduced in 1994 upon the effectivity of Republic Act No. 7833, Recto said.

“The   tax imposed on bonuses and allowances exceeding P30,000 is outdated. It was pegged when the basic salary scale of state employees was only P2,800 and the salary of the Philippine President was only P25,000,” Recto said.

Currently, the basic pay scale of government employees is P8,287 while the salary grade of the chief executive is P120,000.  

The 1997 National Internal Revenue Code Section 32(B) Chapter VI states that private and government employees having bonuses beyond P30,000 were automatically subjected to income tax.

Recto's bill seeks to shatter the threshold of P30,000 so that bonuses and allowances up to P75,000 would be exempt from income tax.

The senator said adjusted for inflation the P30,000 tax exemption ceiling is worth less than half today as computed by two government agencies.

“If adjustments for inflation were reckoned from 1994, the National Tax Research Center said that exemption ceiling should have been raised to P72,000 in 2011 while National Economic Development Authority computed it at P75,000,” Recto said.

“And that was three years ago and inflation has inched up again since,” Recto said.

In his bill, Recto also batted for the indexation of the tax-exempt bonus ceiling to inflation every three years “so that its adjustment is scheduled and not subjected to the whims of whoever is in power.”

The guide in computing the new rates shall be the Consumer Price Index as published by the National Statistics Office, Recto said.

Recto urged the government to at least start discussions on recalibrating tax rates which have been rendered obsolete by inflation.

He said the adjustment of the tax-free zone on bonuses partly solves the plight of government employees who staged simultaneous walkouts last week to protest renewed moves to tax their allowances.

Bongbong tells Pinoys ; don’t be duped by ‘Marcos scams’

JAEN, Nueva Ecija – The son and namesake of late former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. on Saturday called on Filipinos not to be deceived by people claiming to be caretakers of the socalled Marcoses’ wealth, promising to give huge amounts and money and vast tracts of land from the family fortune, dismissing  their gimmicks as scams.

          “These are all scams and don’t fall for it,” said Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at a press conference in Barangay Langla here.

          The younger Marcos was referring to the reported operations of groups of people who claimed to be caretakers of Marcos assets worth billions of pesos. He said the money racket has been practically operating in many provinces in the country, claiming to have ties with the Marcoses.

          “This has become all too-prevalent and we warn you, don’t let yourself be fooled by these people,” he said.      

          Marcos issued the warning after newsmen brought to his attention the activities of syndicates, including two suspects who claimed to be caretakers of the Marcos assets.

          Only recently, he said, they were able to apprehend someone posing as their relative who was engaged in fund-raising using the Marcoses’ name.

          Early this year, two suspects were also charged for milking money from individuals. The suspects, identified as Felicisima Cantos and Emmanuel Destura   demanded money from 81 individuals supposedly to have their share of the Marcos wealth.

The National Bureau of Investigation said that in January 2012, Destura and Cantos introduced themselves to complainants as caretakers of the Marcos assets and talked them into investing in their company called Bullion Buyers Limited with office address in China.

The two also persuaded them to recruit more members nationwide so that accordingly, by numbers, they have their strength as claimants of the Marcos’ wealth and could have more company shares.

          After investing P2,000 each, the suspects promised the victims a profit of P5 million to $5 million. But the suspects failed to deliver the promise, prompting the victims to seek NBI help.                        

In Southern Leyte, a massive tree planting project operating under the acronym FIRM for “Friends of Imelda Romualdez Marcos” has been attracting thousands of members in the province with the promise they would share the gold bullions of the former First Lady which is alleged stashed away in 177 foreign banks.

Under the scheme all that was needed to join FIRM was to buy and plant a mahogany tree, build a red fence around it, pay a P300 registration fee (which entitles the member to a red T-shirt) and the applicant would automatically qualify for a share of Imelda’s wealth at between P700,000 to P1 million per member.

According to Southern Leyte State University President Dr. Gloria Markines Reyes, she learned about the project from Bontoc Vice Mayor Pedro Fustanes who told her that some of his supporters had asked him if they could join FIRM since it was easy money.

Fustanes said he advised them not to since it had all the makings of a scam but that some had already planted the trees and had paid the membership fee.

One of the victims said many of his friends had even borrowed money to join FIRM because they believed the organization was legitimate and qualified them for riches beyond their imagination. He said they were also promised free education, employment and housing.

FIRM was organized in 2000, formerly composed of Marcos loyalists. Its critics claim its goal was to keep the groups supporting the former president intact and to serve as the nationwide organization for the senator’s presidential campaigns.

          The senator disowned the movement and said their family does not operate that way. – Manny Galvez

Bongbong endorses Antonino as Ecija gov bet

JAEN, Nueva Ecija – He says the elections are still too far away to talk about politics.

          But Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., gave himself away, endorsing a former congressman as his gubernatorial candidate in the 2016 elections.

          In a brief exchange with the media during an out-of-town sortie here Saturday, Marcos referred to former three-term Rep. Rodolfo Antonino as “governor” amid reports that the latter, father of fourth district Rep. Magnolia Antonino, is seeking the governorship.

          Antonino has not officially declared his gubernatorial bid although reports going around said his running mate is outgoing three-term second district Rep. Joseph Gilbert Violago.

          Antonino comes from a family of politicians. His father Gaudencio was sitting senator and was running for reelection when he died in a helicopter accident in 1969, a day before the elections. Gaudencio’s wife Magnolia ran as a substitute candidate and won.

          One of the former congressman’s brother Adelbert was twice elected representative of South Cotabato and twice mayor of General Santos City while Adelbert’s wife Lualhati was also once congresswoman.

Antonino’s niece is Darlene Antonino, a former three-term representative who was best remembered for defeating boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in their congressional duel in South Cotabato in his first run at local politics.  

          Antonino is hoping to dislodge the camp of outgoing three-term Gov. Aurelio Umali from the Capitol where the latter has ruled since unseating the Josons from their 48-year reign. He was best remembered for ending the decades-old reign of the Villareals in the fourth district.

          Antonino is not only counting on votes from his southern Nueva Ecija bailiwick but also from the support of the Josons and Cabanatuan Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara who is feuding with Umali, his former political ally.   

Umali’s wife, third district Rep. Czarina Umali, is already a declared gubernatorial bet.

          Marcos came here on the invitation of the elder Antonino who showed up with some of his mayoral allies, namely San Antonio Mayor Antonino Lustre, Cabiao Mayor Gloria Crespo-Congco and Jaen Mayor Santiago Austria.

          When Marcos posed for a photo-ops with newsmen, Antonino volunteered to take the shot himself, prompting the senator to tell the scribes, “See, you have a congressman for your photographer. And one who will become governor,” he said.

          Antonino took the compliment with a smile.

          Earlier, Marcos, when asked about his political plans, declined to make any specific response.

          He said he is  definitely not retiring in 2016 and will be a candidate for certain positions.    “There is too much to do. There’s little time to speak about politics. It’s not yet part of the discussions,” he said. (Manny Galvez)  

Bongbong renews call for Abad to resign to save P-Noy

JAEN, Nueva Ecija – Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. over the weekend called on Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to submit his irrevocable resignation to President Aquino to ease the pressure on the Chief Executive over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

          Speaking to reporters in Barangay Langla Saturday, Marcos said Abad’s resignation would help lessen the pressure on the presidency caused by the DAP controversy.

          “He (Abad) should do it for the President. By quitting, it would relieve pressure on President Aquino and his entire administration,” he said.

          Abad resigned last month amid the brouhaha over the DAP. But the President did not accept the resignation, saying to accept the same is to assign to him (Abad)  a wrong. “I cannot accept the notion that doing right by our people is a wrong. Therefore, I have decided not to accept his resignation,” said Aquino.

          But Marcos said that the administration should move on from the DAP. He said that as far as the issue is concerned, it has already been decided so there should no longer be any more discussions about its merits.

          The honorable thing to do, he added, is for Abad to quit so the President would be relieved from the pressure being exerted by various groups. (Manny Galvez)  


MANILA-Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said the people behind the campaign to extend President Benigno Aquino III’s term should respect the President’s decision.

“President Aquino, through Secretary Coloma, has made known his sentiments on term extension. We must respect his decision and end this politically-divisive initiative,” Binay said.

Binay also questioned the motive of those behind the proposal after it caused undue criticism of the President.

“It was a selfish proposal to begin with, motivated more by personal rather than national interest.  It was also unfair to the President. The proposal put him on the spot and made him the object of criticisms which he doesn't deserve,” he added.

Binay said he is certain the President will not seriously consider running again because doing so would damage the legacy left by his mother former president Corazon Aquino.

“Those who made the proposal don't know the President.  He is a decent person and will not cling to power. He is a student of history, and he won't tarnish his mother's good name just to please some personalities,” he said.

“President Cory rejected a similar move to extend her term. As a private citizen, she opposed similar moves by succeeding administrations. I am certain President Noynoy will follow the sterling example of his mother,” Binay added.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. made it clear that the President has no plans to extend his term.

He also reminded the public of the provision in the 1987 Constitution that a Philippine president could only serve a six-year term.

Aquino could only be re-elected if Congress would amend the Constitution, but the President himself has repeatedly rejected proposals to amend the Charter.


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