Grace Christian College tops 2011 Tagisang Robotics


Grace Christian College (GCC) Team Gracean Whiz topped the maiden year of the Philippines’ first and only varsity type robotic competition for high school students, Tagisang Robotics, organized by the Science Education Institute, the country’s science and technology human resource development agency.


In partnership with SM Prime Holdings and Nido Fortified Science Discovery Center together with Alexan, Felta Multimedia Inc., Jollibee Foundation, National Instruments, Philippine Foundation for Science and Technology, and Thinklab, Tagisang Robotics seeks to help high school students discover how interesting and rewarding the life of engineers and researchers can be.


Graceans outdid 21 other high schools from Metro Manila and nearby provinces netting the highest seed after the elimination round, winning the Best Team award with a cash prize of P100,000, a trophy and gold medals.  Their coach, Warren OngPe, took home P30,000 as cash prize for their winning.


Graceans also won the Best Alliance Award together with Dr. Yanga’s College Inc. Team DYCI Trojans and Rizal National Science High School Team R11 Mekanismo beating the alliance of Makati-based schools Tibagan High School Team Masonry, Makati Science High School Team Maksci Roboccaneers and Bangkal High School Team Robotes Amables in the Final Round.


The Best Alliance awardees got P150,000 cash prize, their coaches, P30,000, their schools trophies and silver medals.


Special Awards were given as well to the other schools who joined Tagisang Robotics. Muntinlupa Science High School Team Munsci Jailbreakers got the Thinklab Best Blog Award.


Caloocan High School Team Mechanical High won both the Felta Most Popular Robot Award and the Alexan Most Popular Team Award, after their robot and team picture obtained the most number of Facebook likes at the end of the elimination round.


Philippine Science High School Main Campus Team Liyab, on the other hand, secured the National Instruments Best Robot Engineering Design.


Schools locked horned over Sikaran 2011, a mixture of football and basketball, two of the hottest games in the country with the objective of scoring the most milon and pakwan balls to their opponent’s goal.


A match begins with a random selection of alliances from the Tagisang Robotics participants, composed of 10 students per team from each school.


The teams are grouped into Red and Blue alliances, three teams per alliance, at each match with each team represented by two students.  One of the students will be driving their robot, another plays either as a shooter or the alliance commander.


Each shooter is given five milon balls, each worth two points, which they shoot to the opponent’s goal upon commencement of the game.  Robots of each alliance also try to score by pushing the milon balls to the opponent’s goal. The commander is the chief strategist of each alliance, guiding the drivers and the shooters in the match.


At the last 30 seconds of each match, an alliance can capture an opponent’s milon ball, bring it to their shooter who then exchanges it for a pakwan ball. Scoring a pakwan ball merits the alliance 10 points.


Alliances change at each match until the top four teams emerge.  At the semi-finals, each of the top four teams chooses two other teams to be their allies who will be with them until they reach the finals.


SEI Director Dr. Filma Brawner said Tagisang Robotics has brought into the country a brand new spectrum into Philippine robotics fueled by dynamism, enthusiasm and team spirit.


“Tagisang Robotics: Design, Build, and Play Competition has opened a brand new way of robotics learning that can be integrated into the curricular programs of schools. As a field, robotics is a perfect example of a convergence of various disciplines emerging from basic and applied sciences, building and controlling robots that perform, certain tasks are not just the goals of this competition, but rather, the development of skills and values that will be useful in running tomorrow’s technology-driven industry,” she said.


Brawner urged student participants to take on careers in science in the future and hone their skills in critical and creative thinking, teamwork, interpersonal communication and problem solving, despite being on a highly competitive environment.


“We are optimistic that in the future our students will take on careers in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering.  Moreover, we hope that they will share with their classmates and family members the zeal they have acquired during the conduct of the competition,” she said. Mark Ivan Roblas, Information Officer, Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute




More than eleven years after the commission of the crime, two Chinese nationals were finally convicted by the court for possession of 7.9 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.


Hon. Henri Jean-Paul Inting, Presiding Judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 95, found the accused, Tai On Cheung and Lung Wai Tang, guilty beyond reasonable doubt, sentencing them both to reclusion perpetua and pay a fine of P500,000 each.


Tai On Cheung and Lung Wai Tang were apprehended on July 18, 2000, after authorities recovered 7.9 kilograms of shabu by virtue of search warrant served against them at Unit 310, SGB Condominium along Panay Avenue in Quezon City.


“The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is delighted with the outcome of the case. Although the case against Tai On Cheung and Lung Wai Tang was filed back in 2000, when the governing law against illegal drugs was still Republic Act 6425, PDEA still considers it a victory for the Agency,” said PDEA Director General Undersecretary Jose S. Gutierrez, Jr.


Upon the operationalization of PDEA as the as the lead anti-drug agency with the enactment of Republic Act 9165 in 2002, PDEA paid special attention to the Tai On Cheung and Lung Wai Tang case, recognizing the significance of the volume of illegal drugs and the personalities involved.  Through the Agency’s Legal and Prosecution Service (PDEA LPS), constant liaising and close coordination with the National Prosecutors Office was established to strengthen the evidence against the accused.


Gutierrez said this recent accomplishment is the product of harmonious working relationship between law enforcers and prosecutors.


“The unwavering dedication and commitment of prosecutors and law enforcers as witnesses played a crucial role in presenting air-tight evidence against the accused.  This subsequently convinced the rule in favor of the government,” Gutierrez said. Evangeline DJ Almenario, Chief, Public Information Office, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency

TUCP strongly supports PALEA Cautions Palace on legal action against workers


The Trade Union Congress Party (TUCP Party-List) strongly supports members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) on their protest action against the impending termination of 2,600 employees.


President Benigno C. Aquino is being badly advised by functionaries and factotums on the possibility of bringing up criminal charges. Workers are merely exercising their legitimate rights which outsourcing will destroy. Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) management decision to terminate regular rank-and-file employees is on its face a blatant violation of the existing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).


The present difficulties in the airline is a labor dispute caused by unfair labor practices committed by the PAL management – a deliberate attack on the workers’ fundamental rights and core labor standards using the veil of corporate sustainability and competitiveness.


The Palace’s action will undermine the Constitution and create a chilling effect throughout the entire labor movement. PPP cannot be built on workers being the whipping boys, sacrificial lambs as government follows the path of least resistance to curry favor with capital and oligarchs.


What we have now is a two-faced government: liberal democrat with respect to fight against grafters and outright reactionary with respect to workers. President must not be captive to his advisers. It is the kind of gentler, kinder society that President Cory would wish that he places at risk. HON. RAYMOND DEMOCRITO C. MENDOZA, Trade Union Congress Party (TUCP Party-List)                              



The RP-US AMPHIBIOUS LANDING EXERCISE (PHIBLEX) 2012 will kick off here on October 17, 2011 in an Opening Ceremony. This year’s PHIBLEX is the 28th in the series of bilateral exercises conducted every year to serve as a venue for joint and combined training between the Marine Corps of the Philippine and United States militaries.


The robust defense partnership of the Philippines and the United States is set to magnify its latitude this year by giving primacy to effective interoperability on disaster response preparedness, community development and humanitarian assistance projects.


The joint military training exercises aim to formulate and assess concepts for the Unilateral Defense Plan (UDP). Furthermore, it also envisions evaluating concepts for transition from UDP to Bilateral Defense Plan (BDP) to Post-Conflict response.


These training exercises will be held simultaneously in different venues including Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija; Basa Air Base in Clark, Pampanga; Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim in Ternate, Cavite; Crow Valley in Tarlac; Naval Station San Miguel in San Antonio, Zambales; and in Palawan.


On the other hand, the joint military exercises will also focus on revitalizing the interoperability of the Philippines and US militaries in post conflict response through the conduct of disaster rehabilitation and rural development projects. These will materialize through the Engineering Civic Action Program (ENCAP) and Medical Action Program (MEDCAP) activities which will be conducted in Luzon.


Thousands of local residents will benefit from the MEDCAP and a total of two barangays in Cavite and Palawan will benefit from the ENCAP. The vigorous relation between the military and the civilian community will be brought to greater heights as Community Relations activities will be conducted in several exercise areas.


The success of the RP-US military training exercises like the PHIBLEX can also be attributed to the diligent participation of AFP reservists and the cooperation of concerned local government units.


The conduct of PHIBLEX 2012 perpetuates a long and lasting partnership founded firmly on common heritage between freedom-loving countries committed to the preservation of liberty and democracy.  1LT CHERRYL P TINDOG PN(M), Director, Marine Corps Public Affairs Office, Philippine Marine Corps



Bureau of Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon today ordered the seizure of 100 million-peso worth of high-end laptop computers at the Port of Manila (POM).


Commissioner Biazon said this 3,915 units of Asus-brand laptop computers came from China, stuffed in two container vans and misdeclared by the consignee, Orza Marketing, as computer parts.


In his report to Commissioner Biazon, Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement Group Horacio Suansing, Jr. said his office thru the Operations and Intelligence Office (OIO) initiated the operation due to misdeclaration and gross undervaluation of the said shipment, a clear violation of Section 2530 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP).


“Let this serve as a warning to all those who think they can get away with their illegal activities at the bureau.  We shall not waver in our anti-smuggling campaign and we will eventually catch up with your illegal activities,” Biazon said.


Joining Commissioner Biazon and Deputy Commissioner Suansing in the media presentation was Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim of the Intelligence Group.


“We will not treat you with kid gloves.  We will not treat those who willfully rob the Filipino people and their government gently.  To those who get their way through bribery and inducement, don’t even think about it,” Lim said, adding that “The Arroyo government and the corrupt few in the military, which I have fought against, failed to seduce me with money or favor, so will you.”


For his part, Deputy Commissioner Suansing said both IG and EG are working hand in hand by providing intelligence and logistical support to all operating units working under their respective organizations. Jessil A. Felisario, Public Information & Assistance Division, Bureau of Customs (BOC)

Over 500 Containers Overstaying Due to “Special Stop Order”


Over 500 containers and other break-bulk cargoes with “Special Stop Order” issued by previous BOC Commissioners remain unclaimed at the Asian Terminals Incorporated (ATI) and International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI).


In a letter to Commissioner Ruffy Biazon dated Sept. 26, 2011,  a week after he assumed the office of the BOC Commissioner, ATI and ICTSI officials advised the Commissioner of the more than 500 unclaimed containers.


Commissioner Biazon for his part explained that upon knowing of the situation through the ATI and ICTSI letters, he was alarmed as no proper turnover by the staff of the previous Commissioner was done about the said cargoes that were put on “special stop.”


To facilitate the release of the subject containers, Commissioner Biazon is asking the affected brokers and consignees to contact Atty. Adelina Molina, Chief of Staff, Office of the Commissioner and to present copies of the corresponding entries (back-to-back) for said containers with the appropriate BOC findings. 


According to the ATI Government Relations and Customer Service Officer Jun Hermes M. Balita’s letter, some of the containers on hold have already been processed for release by the BOC but the containers cannot be released in their system because of the Special Stop Order.


The ATI official particularly mentioned two (2) containers consigned to MBME Trading and another seven (7) containers consigned to Bounty Fields Enterprises that were recently requested for release by the BOC but could not be processed because of the Special Stop Order.


In addition to the nine (9) containers, 13 more overstaying containers that have already been approved for condemnation cannot be disposed due to the Special Stop Order.


 “The records show some of the cargo has been on special stop for several years.” Biazon said, adding that “this practice of issuing special stop orders especially on practically wholesale scope like the over 500 containers and leaving it unattended is affecting the BOC’s collection, henceforth, we shall address this concern appropriately.” Jessil A. Felisario, Public Information & Assistance Division, Bureau of Customs (BOC)

Rotting goods in customs’ warehouses, backlog of Arroyo government—Lim


Bureau of Customs Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim today said the rotting goods reported in the bureau’s different warehouses were the backlog of the previous Arroyo administration. Lim said the customs bureau is already making an inventory of all the seized goods currently stockpiled, many of which were reportedly in a putrid state of condition. 

“As ordered by BoC Commisioner Ruffy Biazon, we have already made directives to conduct a comprehensive appraisal of all seized goods currently stored at the bureau’s warehouses,” Lim said. 

“If there are perishable goods, then they must be immediately assessed if they can still be of use to the public. If they are not fit for human consumption or a threat to public safety, then they must be immediately destroyed. If they are used clothes, which were originally intentioned as donations to charitable institutions but ended up as ukay-ukay, together with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, we will study the possibility of restoring them to their original intent—for charity and relief,” Lim added. 

Lim also said all goods that are deemed for auction but are “accumulating cobwebs” in different warehouses would immediately be processed. The customs intelligence chief said the seized goods must help in generating more revenues for the government. 

“Without more ado, these seized goods must benefit the people either through increased revenues or relief. The longer they stay at warehouses and gather dust, the more they are prone to pilferage and wastage. We will not let that happen,” Lim stressed. 

Lim said many of the hot goods gathering cobwebs at the bureau’s warehouses were the backlog of the previous Arroyo administration. 

“Truth is, many of these goods were the backlog of the previous administration. This is the product of inefficiency, which conveniently fused with corruption. These are the things the new leadership of Comm. Biazon is trying to rectify. I hope the public will be more patient as we try to correct the errors of the past and realize meaningful reforms inside the bureau,” Lim concluded.

Some of the hot goods reportedly still stored at the bureau’s warehouses are hot cars, second hand tires, used clothes, flour, iron, canned goods (Maling), electrical wires, unclaimed balikbayan boxes, printers, cigarettes, batteries, plastic resin, tiles, textile and stuffed toys. 

Some of the goods have pending cases before the courts, while others have failed biddings. Jessil A. Felisario, Public Information & Assistance Division, Bureau of Customs (BOC)