ANGELES CITY NEWS

October 2008

New hotels and clubs are opening every month and more are under construction.  But despite these signs of optimism, October 2008 is not the cheeriest month we have had in Angeles City in recent years.  Accusations of the police setting up tourists with underage girls and then demanding huge payoffs have gone from bar talk to a full blown website that has been listed in numerous newspaper articles as one brave guy is fighting back instead of paying off the police and leaving town.  Several police listed on this website have filed charges against a American female that lives in Angeles because they "think" she took a photograph that is on this website, therefore she "must" be the webmaster! She has countersued. 

In addition to the alleged police corruption, more bars raided recently and at least one female floor manager was held for over one month for hiring a "suspected underage" girl that had a valid license issued by the Mayor's office.  Amazingly, the same official from City Hall that approved the girl's  license was reported to be part of the raiding team!  Whenever these raids happen, the bars usually end up paying a hefty fee, even if they are never found guilty of any wrong doing.  In addition to some of the staff frequently spending days, weeks or even months in jail and the businesses suffer lost revenues from closures and legal fees.  And now Christmas is on the horizon which means more visits/inspections/raids from city hall, the PNP, NBI Clark, NBI Manila, the BIR, the Barangay, etc.  Of course these costs are reflecting in increased costs of drinks and entertainment.

The tourist police have been disbanded and several sources say the number of "bad actors" on the street are on the rise already.  Petty crimes like pick pocketing is also on the rise throughout the tourist district. Add to this, it is a known fact that thefts and home break-ins increase significantly in November and December so the thieves can provide their families with Christmas presents.   Therefore, I recommend everyone exercise a little more caution when you walk around after dark.  EXPATS, remember previous holiday seasons and beef up the security in your residences.

Now, unconfirmed reports that a new group from City Hall has created a list of businesses (virtually all the clubs) that must pay them a monthly fee, which for some of the bigger bars is over $4000 a month.  This is not the infamous Jojo group that was shaking down all the clubs earlier in the year.  But, a new group collecting a  "fee" for which the businesses will receive no receipts. 

Furthermore, as I reported in previous newsletters, the minimum wage has been increased four times in the last two years and another significant raise is being considered.  Additionally, all imported food and liquor prices have increased dramatically in 2008.  These increased wage costs, increased  imported food prices and across the board increases in local foods, supplies and bottled gas all reflect in increased prices to the tourists after they arrive on vacation.

Asian tourists in Angeles have increased dramatically with the cheap direct flights from Singapore, Malaysia & Korea.  As a general rule, those from Malaysia & Singapore attempt to mix with the AC crowd.  But the xenophobic Koreans are just the opposite. They almost always travel in groups and shun conversations with any non-Koreans (except bar girls, and even with the bar girls there is often little to no conversation).   In February 2008, I indicated that the area that was known as Friendship during the days of the US Military was becoming "Korea Town."    Now, they have erected pillars on both sides of the road designating the area  as Korea Town.   It should be noted that very little "friendship" is shown to non-Koreans visiting the area.  On several occasions, when I have been checking out new businesses, I have been approached by the staff and told the establishment was for KOREANS ONLY and to please leave!  (There are exceptions like the Westin & Ramada hotels which Korean owned, but gladly accept all nationalities.)   The large, unfriendly,  Korean population is IMO having a increasingly negative impact on Angeles City.

Airfares from most major destinations (USA, Australia & Europe) to the Philippines are nearing double what they were one year ago. This can only mean a significant drop in tourists in the coming year.  The only bright spot in this area is direct flights between Bangkok and Angeles City (Clark) are beginning on 8 Nov on Cebu Pacific for much less than current fares out of Manila.

Several long term EXPATS have recently sold their businesses, packed their bags, and left Angeles City.  The most significant being Mark Smith from the Roadhouse (details below).  Love him or hate him, Mark did more than any other EXPAT in the last 15 years to insure that Angeles City was a great place for tourists.  It is unlikely anyone with his skills will step up to the plate to interface with the mayors office and other local politicians any time soon. 

On top of all this, an Australian business man was assassinated on his way home in late September.  Personally, I don't believe this murder or the anticipated pre-Christmas increase in crime indicates a change in the safety of tourists.  The shooting wasn't a random event, but a "hit" directed at a specific individual.  Angeles has always been a high theft city and it is always worse in the months leading up to Christmas. 

Doom & Gloom?   No, I believe that tourists should be able to visit Angeles in the next few months and have a great, incident free vacation. But, they should be alert and properly secure their valuables at all times.  And yes, everything is going to cost more than it did last year.  Most of the major problems I've mentioned are going to effect the business owners more than the average tourist.  For right now it is still a fun party town and personal security is still as good as most major US or European cities.

MARGARITA STATION NEWS

PARKING: We have removed the barricades in front of theville and made the spaces available for customer parking.  There are ropes blocking the spaces, but simply pull up and indicate to the guard that you want to park and he will move ropes so you can park right in front of the building.  Motorcycle parking is again available on the east end of these spaces.

CHRISTMAS FOR THE OLD FOLKS:  JC's favorite charity is the old folks home in Angeles.  There are about 80 residents in this home and they have very few visitors.  This year we are going to copy on of Neil's ideas and ask our customers to contribute items so we can take all of these people a gift a Christmas time.  If you would like to contribute a gift, the kind of things that I think they would like are candy (preferably sugar free as some of the residents are diabetic), t-shirts (small and medium), nice flip flops, towels, etc.  If you have something you'd like to donate, just drop it off with our cashier and tell them it is for the old folks home for Christmas.

Adeth's Gift Shop has moved into the first floor office in the rear of Margarita Station (formerly where Rick's Cafe Internet Shop was located).  She has absolutely the best selection of gifts from around the Philippines, all at reasonable prices.  Check it out on line at:   http://www.angelescitygifts.com/  or stop in and take a look.

ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT & PERIMETER ROAD NEWS

MORE BAR RAIDS: 

PARADISE  BAR was raided on 23 August.  Reports said inspectors came in followed by guy(s) with video camera.  One girl and two mamasans were taken into custody.  The bar was ordered closed. The girl in question was reported to be fully licensed, including all proper ID's and supporting paperwork.   Shortly after the raid the girls fiancé went to the police station to claim her, telling the police and whoever else was involved that she was in fact 19 years old. Not sure what evidence, if any he produced, but the police didn't release her. Instead she was taken to the DSWG and released the next day.  [NOTE: minors are not released from DSWG until a parent or guardian claims them.  In this case they apparently believed she was not a minor because they released her without waiting for a parent or guardian.]  However, the mamasans were held for an extended period and one remains in custody over one month after the raid.

Gentleman's Club was reported by a reliable source to have been raided in September, but I have not been able to confirm this raid from any other source.

cherry's bar was raided on 22 September by the Clark NBI office.  The club was charged with prostitution and human trafficking after an Asian guy and several undercover Filipinos entered the club.  Cherry's has been closed for a while for "renovations" but reopened in early October.  Reports are the club ended up paying out P400,000 to the NBI Christmas fund in addition to the estimated P50,000 that disappeared from the cashier's cage.  Rumor is that Cherry's Club is now for sale.

PHOTO(s) OF THE MONTH

Nothing like a nice "masaje" after a colon cleaning!

OPENINGS - CHANGES - ETC

After almost 16 years, Mark Smith has sold the Roadhouse and is moving to Las Vegas with his son & daughter.  Derek the owner of Angelwitch and Kokomo's added the Roadhouse to his growing list of clubs as of 1 Sept 2008.

Why In Mark's own words

 

In his early years Mark pretty much concentrated on insuring Roadhouse was absolutely perfect.  But it wasn't long before he branched out and and left his finger prints first in Jade Cool, then in Batay Bata, the Clark Rotary Club, Royal Amsterdam, C'Italian, Angeles Sports and Country Club and several of the local hospitals.

Talk about "the end of an Era," Tick has sold the DMZ. This was the oldest club (in one location) in Angeles City, dated back well into the USAF days.  But, Tick isn't leaving Angeles, he's relocating out of the entertainment district.  His energetic plans cal for the construction of several new clubs and some rental apartments and rooms.  This new complex will be where the DMZ annex was located (near C-How-U-R and the former Silver Bullet).

Here's Tick with the "destroyed fence!"

FROM OUR LAST NEWSLETTER

ANGELES CITY -- A former mayor of Mabalacat has filed criminal charges against an American businessman for a missing portion of his property at Hensonville Subdivision in Barangay Malabanias here. Reynaldo Candelaria filed before the City Prosecutor's Office charges of robbery by the use of force upon things against Norbel Bostick (aka TICK from DMZ), 60, an American trader...   According to Candelaria, Bostick on July 9, 2008 ordered his workers to remove the GI sheets, cyclone wire and other materials which served as fence for the former Mabalacat mayor's property in the village. Candelaria maintains a commercial building near Bostick's property. The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) provincial office assisted Candelaria in filing the complaint against Bostick. Aside from Bostick, Candelaria also charged certain Saldaña and three other persons for his missing fence. He said the four accused are Bostick's workers who removed and destroyed the fence. Candelaria said he is also planning to file a complaint against Bostick before the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID).

Stinger is GONE.  The second oldest bar in Angeles closed it's doors. Gary has moved his staff to a new club (Vortex) on the first floor of the Walkabout Hotel (near Blue Nile).

Vortex in the Walkabout has become the quasi Asian Escapades hangout with Martin as the manager.

EAGER BEAVER has opened where Stinger was located.  This club is part of the Ray Kelly Group of Clubs.

CADDY SHACK (on Perimeter road) was sold to the Gentleman's Club Group.  They did some major renovations and renamed it Peanuts.   The pool table is gone and the new layout is pretty comfortable.  Local drinks are P55, which is pretty standard.  The music volume is comfortable, but it has to be one of the darkest bars in Angeles City.

STAMPEDE was closed for a while for renovations.  It's now open and although it has been redone from top to bottom, it is laid out exactly the same, and the girls still turn their back when you aim a camera, so I didn't bother to take any photos.  When I visited in early October it was packed with the staff's from both Stampede & Cherry's while they did some minor renovations on Cherry's.  By now Cherry's should be open again.

Final touches are going in at Studebakers (formerly Cadillac Jack's) on Perimeter Road.  Grand Opening soon?

CLUB 68  on Perimeter Road was sold and recently renamed CHEERS.  Soft opening was Monday Sept 15th.  Regular hours are 2 pm to midnight.  The club has GROs only (no dancers).  Prices reportedly will remain the same (typical for the area): Local Drinks @ 50, LDs @ P100.

I recommend BYOG (Bring Your Own Girl). I tried to take a photo of the GRO's but when they saw my camera they fled like Mexicans seeing an INS raid coming in the door! 

The former Club68 will be relocated (to the former location of Jackie & Bull's Restaurant) on Lower Field, opposite the new Walkabout Hotel.

Mr. Frosty has closed their restaurant on the corner of Fields and Teodoro Street.  This was one of the best, low price restaurants on Fields Ave.  Their other outlets are very popular with Filipinos.  It was a clean restaurant with an excellent location, but never popular enough to pay the high rent for the area.

Bourbon Street Restaurant is closed for renovations. When it reopens it will be as a Aussie sports bar named NED KELLY's

Shanno has now left Shanno's!  He is now the manager in the walkabout hotel.

Food for bar hopping.  A new sausage stand has opened in front of Lancelot in the heart of the entertainment district.

The walkabout hotel is down past Blue Nile and Chicken and Ribs. It is a 32 room hotel right on Fields Avenue.  Prices are P1200 for a standard room, P1400 for a deluxe, P2400 for a VIP jacuzzi. They have the only 2 bedroom suite in town and it is only P2200 (but it isn't available yet).  For reservations, contact reservations@theville.com

After several administrative delays construction has begun on TEQUILA REEF CANTINA next to the Swiss Chalet.  This will be a two story building with an air-conditioned restaurant and bar on the first floor.  TRC is currently scheduled to open in mid-January.  Plans are to have a menu similar to the menu at Tequila Reef Cantina in Pattaya, Thailand (ribs, steaks, Baja Mexican, etc).

TOURIST POLICE DISBANDED After roughly fours years of service, the tourist police were shut down due to lack of funds.  These volunteers had been supported by contributions from the EXPAT businesses in town, but due to vastly increased "corruption taxes" many businesses can no longer afford to donate to things like the tourist police and the Angeles City Tourist Association.

The Europhil Hotel is going through major renovations and will be renamed EUROASIA.  Hopefully the renovations will include the management as that was the main problem with the the Europhil.
Another new business?  This area (between Zapata's and the Phoenix Hotel) has been vacant since the early 90's?  The last thing I can remember here was Tabatha Reef bar.  A short lived club that looked like the inside of a whale. Uggh!
Our buddy Scott has been busy and has recently released a new map of the Angeles City tourist district. Check it out at:  http://www.visitangelescity.com/map/angelescity.html

ON-LINE BEAUTY CONTEST: Over the next nine months there will be a series of online judging on www.magandafilipina.net  and live events at the ABC Hotel. The search is on for the most beautiful girls in the Philippines with a primary concentration on Angeles City, Subic and possibly, Manila.

This contest should yield hundreds of contestants and thousands of judges worldwide. The ABC Hotel  set aside over one million pisos in prizes!  The ultimate winner will receive over a QUARTER OF A MILLION (250,000) pisos! 

The live events should be just as exciting as the popular Wet & Wild Boxing events that ABC has hosted in the past.   The first event was on October 4, 2008.   Twenty four hand picked girls will compete every month at the ABC, ticket price is P1,000 for the guys and P500 for girls.  This will include an all-you-can eat and drink buffet.  The gates will be open at 7:00 pm.  Future events will happen every first Saturday of each Month at the ABC.

 

Cebu Pacific is starting direct flights from Clark (Angeles City) to Bangkok in November !!! These flights are on Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday.     Round trip price runs from $200 to $300 depending on how far in advance you book your tickets.  Baggage is strictly limited to 15 kilos with a hefty overweight charge.  I have already booked two tickets and will report on these flights by December.

Want to read more about Angeles City?  Check out the current issue of City of Angeles magazine.  Click on the photo for a direct link.

Another popular monthly magazine on Angeles City is the Blue Book.  Click on the magazine on the left for a direct link to their website.

 news clippings

Accusations of Police Corruption and Libel Charges!

Nothing good can come out of all this being in the press.

Friday, August 29, 2008
Aussie in attempted rape case says he was 'set up'
 
ANGELES CITY -- An Australian national who was charged with attempted rape by the Pampanga Criminal Investigation and Detection Team (CIDT) has alleged that he was set up by police officers who apprehended him last August 13.

Dr. Stephen Charles Soul, 58, of Doña Josefa Subdivison in Barangay Malabanias here was charged with two counts of attempted rape before the Office of the City Prosecutor after two minor girls were rescued from his apartment. The victims complained that they were molested by Soul and another foreigner identified only as John Doe in the complaint sheet.

Soul denounced the case filed against him, saying it is "an extortion attempt" by policemen. He also alleged that a group of policemen here belong to a syndicate victimizing foreigners. Soul has a doctorate in economics and retired as a justice of peace in Australia. He arrived in this city in January this year to enjoy retirement at age 58. "I have been told that many foreigners have been victimized before, but no one dared speak out. Someone has to speak out. It can not go on like this," Soul said after posting P120,000 bail for his temporary liberty.

Scores of foreigners, who left the country after claiming to have been framed up with accusations of pedophilia, have reportedly came out with websites like http://centralluzoncorruption.com/  to "expose" the alleged operations of syndicates victimizing foreigners. Their aim is to "warn other tourists" visiting this city.

Soul was jailed for 10 days at the Angeles City District Jail with 54 other inmates. But the allegation made by Soul was dismissed by Superintendent Florendo Saligao, chief of the Pampanga CIDT. Saligao denied that Soul had been framed up. "He was in-quested. If there was frame-up, this would not happen," he said. In his report, Saligao stated to the prosecutor that at about 1 p.m. last August 13, mothers of 14-year-old Amy and 17-year-old Joy (not their real names) went to the CIDT office in Barangay Amsic here to report that their children were detained against their inside Soul's apartment. The minors, who communicated with them through mobile phone, reportedly gave their parents the complete address of Soul's apartment. Elements of the Pampanga CIDT, together with Amy and Joy's parents, arrived in Soul's place at 2 p.m. Saligao said his men found the apartment's door unlocked and "immediately entered and saw the two foreigners molesting the victims." He said Soul was then arrested while his companion escaped through a fire exit.

Soul said Amy and Joy were introduced to him by his former girlfriend who got pregnant with another guy. He alleged the policemen arrived in his apartment five minutes after the girls came, indicating that they were already in the vicinity from the beginning. With only a towel wrapped around his waist, Soul said policemen locked him in a jail near Clark. Without his statement being gathered at the police station, one who introduced himself as "Ranger" allegedly told him that the mothers of the girls would drop the case if he could pay them P500,000. The amount, according to him, was later reduced to only P300,000. "I can't pay them that much. I'm not that rich," he said. Soul also lamented that a lawyer recommended to him by another foreigner residing here had not even prepared any counter-affidavit in his case. "Every time we talk, the only thing he asks me is to settle the case by paying up," he said.

According to Soul, he was told that while the case had already been filed with the court, he still had a chance "of being relieved" from the case "as even some officials in the local judiciary system are in collusion with syndicates involved in extortion frame ups victimizing foreigners." Saligao, who assumed post as CIDT chief in Pampanga a year ago, said he knew Ranger, the man who allegedly sought P500,000 from Soul, as being a member of the "tourist police" in this city. But he stressed that his men do not frame up foreigners to gyp money from them, saying his unit even organized Oplan Sagip Anghel to protect children from pedophilia.

In their sworn affidavit, the two girls said they were walking along Doña Josefa Subdivision around 2:30 p.m. last Aug. 13 when Soul and another foreigner offered them snacks. "We really thought we were just going to have a snack, when they suddenly pulled us into an apartment," the victims said. Inside, they were given soft drinks and sandwiches. "After we are, we were made to shower in the bathroom and after that they brought us to a room and kissed the sensitive parts of our body," the said. In the separate sworn affidavit of the victims' parents, they said their minor daughters did not come home since the morning of August 11. (RGN)
Article on PNP starting a  probe of "police syndicate."
Thursday, September 04, 2008
American faces libel case
By Reynaldo G. Navales

ANGELES CITY -- Three separate cases of libel were filed against an American who allegedly effected the publication of articles about the alleged corruption of public and police officials in this city and in Central Luzon.   The articles are posted online at http://centralluzoncorruption.com/Set-upsAngelesCityStyle.htm  website

Police identified the foreigner as Maribel Langley Van Keulen of Apartment B, 34 Cavite Street, Mountain View Subdivision in Barangay Balibago here.  Among those who filed three separate complaint sheets before the Office of the City Prosecutor against Langley are businessmen Jonathan Ponce and Elpidio Lim, both residents of Barangay Balibago here, and Chief Inspector Luisito Tan, deputy chief of Angeles Police-Station 4.

In his complaint, Tan claimed that Langley allegedly published a story referring to him as "Screwy-youie-Louie". He said he was called as a police officer who is a chief murderer, extortionist preying on foreigners, and father of the "rugby" boys along Fields Avenue here.  He also filed similar charges against one Linh Wang, the alleged owner and publisher of the website.

"In my 27 years of service in the Philippine National Police (PNP), I never encountered such issues against me. The publication of these fabricated articles caused me sleepless nights and anxiety," he said.  The website allegedly also shows a photograph of Tan with alleged undercover police agents assisting Ponce and Lim.

But the police official clarified that the photo was taken by Langley at the Office of City Prosecutor several months ago and that she just met Ponce and Lim at the said office.  According to Tan, he had a chat with the duo before going to the preliminary hearing of another case of Oral Defamation he filed against Langley previously.  Ponce stated in his complaint sheet that he recognized Langley as the one who took the photograph because of his clothes.

"I noticed a person on the other side of the table who appeared to me as a lesbian American pointing her mobile phone at us if I could be mistaken. I later came to know that the lesbian-looking American is Maribel Langley Van Keulen," Ponce stated.

He also said that he was surprised by the accusations hurled against him that he was involved in the extortion activities of policemen since he was not in any way connected with the PNP. Although Major Tan and I are mere acquaintances, I have also known him to be a sincere, honest, and law abiding citizen and a police official," Ponce stated.  He added that "with the malicious and baseless defamatory imputations against us, which sternly ruined his reputation as private person, it is just proper to defend his honor through legal process."  For his part, Lim denied that he was connected with police officers gypping money from foreigners.

Aussie trader shot dead in Angeles City
By Tonette Orejas  Central Luzon Desk   Sept 24,2008

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—Two unidentified men shot dead an Australian businessman in Angeles City, north of this city, at 5:50 p.m. Wednesday. Senior Superintendent Pierre Bucsit, Angeles City police chief, identified the victim as Ivan Brown. Police investigators learned that the gunmen, riding in tandem on a motorcycle, opened fire as Brown drove past the Seramonte Lodge along the Friendship Highway in the village of Anonas. The triggerman used a .45-caliber gun, said the police. Brown, who has a company inside the nearby Clark Freeport, lived in Timog Park beside the ecozone.  Investigators were still determining the motive for the killing, the second roadside ambush in Angeles City in two weeks.

Sunday, September 28, 2008    

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga – An Australian national who was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding armed men along the Friendship Highway in Barangay Anonas, Angeles City was a respondent in a case for attempted homicide. This was the initial findings of Angeles City police director Senior Superintendent Pierre Bucsit during a case conference Thursday on the killing of Ivan Brown, 65, of Timog Park Subdivision, Barangay Pampang, Angeles City.

In his report here, Bucsit said the victim was a respondent of a case for attempted homicide at the Municipal Trial Court Branch 111, Angeles City docketed cc no. 08-3657.  The victim has posted bail on the said case on Aug. 20.

Bucsit said the complainant identified as Gerald Wayned Hiller, also an Australian national of Hensonville Plaza, Barangay Malabanias, Angeles City.  The said case transpired on Jan. 17 at Cold Drop Bar along Friendship Highway in Barangay Anunas.

The killing of Brown was the handiwork of gun-for-hire, said Bucsit.

Brown on Wednesday was on his way home on board his Toyota Prado (RCW-885) when gunned down by two men riding in tandem along the Friendship Highway in Barangay Anonas.  The vehicle of the victim slammed at the cemented fence of Sierra Monte Hotel along the Friendship Highway.  After killing the foreigner, the suspects immediately fled toward the north and now the subject of manhunt operations.  Police recovered four spent shells for a .45 caliber pistol at the scene of the ambush.

Brown was the president of Outback Five Star Clark, Philippines, a firm manufacturing ice boxes and coolers at Clark. – Ric Sapnu

Update 7 Oct from Ian's nephew

Charges for murder, forgery, and great threat have been file against Gloria Fuentes Brown, my uncle’s wife at the Angeles city court.

I have been quite as I can’t leak to much as it may cause problems. I currently have 24hr a day guards on my house, I can’t even chance sending my kids to school. My family has had threats directly from her. I have vouched now not to walk away from these parasites, I not fair for me or you! Yet my uncle. My uncles wife, (bitch) tried to manipulate shares in our company 6 months ago and was caught out. The hit was planned quite some time As, sources have reviled. Here for justice is not like most places, yes it cost $ and believe me ive spent so much. Yet it the system here.

People bag certain police, but I must say most have been very professional; my hat goes of to Mr Tan.and Station 4 have been so good, we have also helped them were we can with leads.

Interchanges (Entrances & Exits) to SCTEX being built on Clark

Japanese to build 4 SCTEx interchanges
By Tonette Orejas   Philippine Daily Inquirer

MABALACAT, PAMPANGA – The two Japanese contractors of the Bases Conversion Development Authority have agreed to build the four interchanges on the Pampanga and Clark Freeport sides of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and finish these by mid-2009.  Narciso Abaya, BCDA president and chief executive officer, confirmed this to the Inquirer on Thursday on the eve of the opening of the Clark-Tarlac segment.

The Floridablanca and Porac interchanges will be built by the Kajima Corp., Obayashi Corp., JFE Engineering Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (KOJM), the builder of the 50.5-km Subic-Clark portion.  The Clark North and Clark South interchanges will be done by the Hazama-Taisei-Nippon Steel (HTN) Joint Venture, which completed the 43.27-km Clark-Tarlac segment.

Abaya said KOJM and the HTN agreed to do the interchanges because the project’s contract required them to undertake additional works.  The general managers of the two joint ventures declined to be interviewed on Thursday when the BCDA kicked off here its project to plant 20,000 trees in five years along the 94-km highway.  In previous interviews, they confirmed the hesitancy but declined to give the reasons for such.  Abaya said the construction of the interchanges would be funded by the P6.1-billion supplemental loan obtained by the BCDA from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.   The JBIC also provided the P21-billion loan to build the SCTEx, the country’s newest and longest toll road.

Construction works have started for the Clark North, including its 3.8-km Panday Pira Road leading straight to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, the country’s port of entry for the open skies regime of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations starting December this year.  The Clark South is being built as well.  Since the opening of the Subic-Clark segment on April 29, the Tollways Management Corp. reported a daily toll collection of P550,000.  This was below the projected income, Abaya said, adding that he hoped that over time and with the opening of the interchanges, more motorists would use the SCTEx.  The loan, payable in 30 years, has a 10-year grace period for the payment of the principal that starts in 2013. The government has begun paying the loan interest.

“This brings us closer to the vision of President Macapagal-Arroyo to make Subic and Clark into an international logistics and service hub,” Abaya said at the launch of the greening project.   “Traveling here is fuel efficient. It is a safe access to the North,” he said. “This is a historic moment. It is record-setting [because] it was finished in three years’ time.”

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL Jr. - Philippine Star

CLARK FIELD   Work has been going on furiously here to put back the interchanges of the P27-billion Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) that had to be dropped when funds were ambushed by commissioners along the 94-kilometer road. The dropping of the vital Clark interchange has embarrassed President Gloria Arroyo, the patroness of the Clark industrial-tourism zone who has been boasting that this signature project in her home province would spark the rapid development of Central Luzon.  But how can the SCTEx serve Clark, its main client, without an interchange through which raw materials can be received from the Subic port and finished products trucked back for export?  To plug the gap, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority has borrowed some P6.4 billion more from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. The JBIC already lent earlier some P23 billion for the entire length of the expressway and the missing interchanges.

* * *
WORK RUSHED: One interchange is being rushed near the Yokohama Tire factory in South Clark, and one each in the towns of Floridablanca and Porac, which are adjacent to this former US air base. There is another interchange near the Expo Filipino (also known as the Ramos White Elephant) but officials are representing it as an extension of Panday Pira road. Why the fuss over what to call it when it is clearly an interchange because it has an exit and an entrance to the SCTEx? Officials of BCDA assure us that the Panday Pira interchange will be finished before the yearend and the other one near Yokohama by Feb. 14 as a Valentines Day gift. The interchanges at Porac and Floridablanca may take longer (possibly later next year), because the roads to which they will connect are to be built by the Department of Public Works and Highways, which is not known to work that fast.

* * *
SLOW POKE: Some BCDA officials are afraid that if they rush the Porac and Floridablanca interchanges and complete them without the DPWH roads, they would be accused of having put up White Elephants. They do not want a repeat of the embarrassing Bridges to Nowhere of President Arroyo erected by the British firm Mabey & Johnson even where there was no river or creek to span or in the absence of connecting rural roads. (The scandal did not faze the local runner of M&J. Emboldened by his Palace connection, he has reportedly found a new principal, a French firm, selling steel bridges that are reportedly 2.5 times more expensive than comparative European bridges in the country.)  Engineers said the Porac and the Floriblanca interchanges are actually not as urgent as Yokohama and Panday Pira in Clark, but that the projects are political commitments of somebody in Malacañang.

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SPECULATORS: But the biggest news here at the moment about the interchanges is the frenzied real estate transactions and speculation involving business-minded politicians. Some technicians tell us that while the owners of land hit by the interchanges have to haggle to get a good price under expropriation proceedings, speculators and officials with insider information gobble up adjacent property at higher prices. One landowner with property near one interchange is being offered in court only P150 per square meter, while well-connected officials and their business associates have cornered adjacent property for much more.  One interchange being eyed with suspicion, also with jealousy, is the interchange in barangay Dolores in Mabalacat. This is in addition to another interchange, also in the same town, in barangay Mabiga where motorists from North Luzon Expressway enter SCTEX.  We have not heard of a good explanation for the redundancy. Having two interchanges in one town and adding two more right in Clark does not seem to make sense to many observers.

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DESERTED ROAD: A drive through the SCTEx prompts one to ask how the expressway can pay for itself with its scanty traffic. Driving from Clark to Subic and back, for instance, one hardly sees other vehicles on the road. At the toll rate being charged, the road will not be able to earn enough for its upkeep, much less to pay for the P27 billion borrowed from Japan to build it. That is just vehicular traffic, most of which consist of a few weekenders and sightseers. As for the trucks and vans supposedly laden with raw materials for the factories in Clark, one hardly sees them. Despite its obvious design deficiencies, the road is a beautiful experience for Filipinos used to bad roads and who have not traveled abroad. The scenery is still pleasant until the strip beside the expressway starts getting dotted with squatter shanties and billboards, which may not be far off.

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NO TURNING: Motorists should be warned that there is no exit or U-turn anywhere between Clark and Dinalupihan in Bataan, which are about 50 kilometers apart.  If one enters the expressway and changes his mind or realizes a mistake about which direction he should take, there is no way he can turn around. He has to drive the entire length between Dinalupihan and Clark to go back. As for the question of why there are no lights, making the expressway dangerous for night driving, motorists are forewarned that they have nothing but their headlights and the reflectorized signs to guide them.  By and large, however, the SCTEx is a good road. Driving through it is an experience  like driving on an expressway abroad  that one wants to talk about.

Friday, September 12, 2008
Burglars steal P1.2M
By Reynaldo G. Navales

MABALACAT -- Cash amounting to P1.2 million and other items worth P500,000 were reportedly stolen from a big supermarket in this town at dawn last Tuesday.  The thieves, who belonged to a group known as Acetylene Gang, managed to enter and rob the Jumbo Jenra Supermarket in the commercial area of Barangay Dau, this town, through a hole they drilled from an apartment directly connected to the walls of the establishment.  Acting Mabalacat chief of police Jovencio Flores said the suspects used a small Acetylene machine to the supermarket's vault.  "There are many suspects. Their number cannot be less than eight," Flores said on Thursday.

Aside from the P1.2 million cash, the suspects also carted away a laptop, a digital camera and other valuables worth P500,000. Flores said almost a month ago, a couple rented the room the suspects used as entry point to the supermarket.  Residents near the establishment told police investigators that they have been hearing noise from the apartment rented by the suspects over the past few weeks.  Witnesses also stated that a group of persons carrying big bags came out of the said apartment around 6 p.m. on Tuesday. They immediately boarded a Mitsubishi L300 van and left the place.  According to Flores, they have identified one of the suspects with the help of witnesses. He, however, refused to give the suspect's identity, saying it would hamper their investigation.   Flores said they are now preparing charges against the suspect and his companions.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Bidding for DMIA Terminal 2 project fails
By Reynaldo G. Navales

CLARK FREEPORT -- The Joint Venture Special Committee (JVSC) of the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) has declared as "failure" Monday's competitive selection of constructors for the P6.5-billion Terminal 2 project at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) here.  Only one bidder-company passed the requirements to build and operate the DMIA Terminal 2. However, CIAC officials said they will now pursue other options for the immediate implementation of the project.

Admiral Energy LCC USA, a Chicago-based firm, passed the eligibility, technical and financial requirements during the JVSC bidding process held at the Mimosa Convention Center on Monday.  "This is a positive development for DMIA and we can move forward from here, the company (Admiral Energy) passed the three requirements and even exceeded its minimum investment," CIAC President Victor Jose Luciano said.  "We can say we will have a terminal by the first quarter of 2010," Luciano added.

In its bid, Admiral Energy offered P12.4 billion to develop the DMIA Terminal 2 project, exceeding the required minimum investment of P6.5 billion.  It also offered an upfront payment of P108 million, exceeding the required minimum upfront payment of P100 million; and a minimum guaranteed annual payment of P261 million.  Luciano, however, stressed that the JVSC headed by its chairman, CIAC executive vice president Alexander Cauguiran, will now have to undertake post qualification evaluation within 15 days.   CIAC will further scrutinize the proposals, Luciano said.

Cauguiran clarified that Admiral Energy is not yet declared as the winner in the bidding despite passing all the requirements under the eligibility, technical and financial proposals, as this will undergo careful review. He said he will award the contract to Admiral Energy if it passes the post-qualification evaluation.  But if the firm fails in the evaluation, CIAC will undergo again the same bidding process or will look for a new mode of implementing the project.

Two other bidders -- Synergy International Resources Group Company, Ltd. and Philippine Regional Investment Development Corporation -- did not pass the eligibility requirement under the Competitive Selection Process of the joint venture guidelines. The CIAC Board on Monday decided to pursue the bidding under the Limited Negotiation process wherein Admiral hurdled the technical and financial requirements.  There were initially 11 public sector participants (PSPs) or "bidders" who joined in the pre-selection conference held a few months ago at the Mimosa Convention and the number was eventually reduced to three.

Thursday, September 25, 2008
Air Force mulls Clark pullout
By Reynaldo G. Navales

CLARK FREEPORT -- The 600th Air Base Wing of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is prepared to pull out of this Freeport, a ranking PAF official said.  Newly installed Wing Commander Francisco Cruz said the PAF has commissioned the creation of a master development plan citing Crow Valley in Tarlac Province and Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga as new locations for the 600th Air Base Wing.  Cruz, over the cable program "Aksyon Central Luzon Special Edition" hosted by veteran broadcaster Sonny Lopez Jr., said the total cost of the pullout and transfer of personnel, equipment, and infrastructure from Clark is about P8 billion.

"We are just waiting for the master development plan to be finished before we could proceed with the pullout of personnel," he said, adding that only a small contingent will remain in Clark. He stressed that the presence of PAF here is vital for the Freeport in terms of security, citing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's vision for Clark when she declared the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport as the country's premier gateway.  "The presence of Air Force personnel inside Clark plays a very important role as far as security measures are concerned, especially now that the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) is on its way to becoming the country's premier gateway," Cruz said.

The PAF is based inside the 333-hectare Air Force City here. The area has 668 housing quarters and accommodates 4,318 people mostly composed of enlisted personnel, dependents, and civilian employees. It had been staying in a designated area here known as the Clark Air Base Command (Cabcom) when this Freeport used to be the United States' largest military installation in the Asia Pacific Region. It has continued to secure Clark environs after the US military's pullout following the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991.

The volcanic eruption and bases pullout prompted the government to transform Clark into a special economic zone. On June 10, 1995, the Department of National Defense, Bases Conversion and Development Authority, and Clark Development Corporation signed a memorandum of agreement for the management, responsibilities, and delineation of areas, among others, of the former Clark Air Base.

This agreement, which does not observe any timetable, is renewable every five years.

ANGELES CITY CALENDAR:  Here is something that should sell out fast, a calendar with some of the cuties from Gecko's Bar.  Nice photos, but nothing you can't hang up in your office at home.  The Calendar begins in September 2008 and ends in December 2009.  There are 16 beautiful girls and an added bonus picture every month with each picture being 12 x 18 1/4 inches.  Cost will be P690 each and they can be purchased in Gecko's or Margarita Station.

 

Our good friend Sherylie was featured in June's FHM Magazine.   We have a few copies that she autographed for Tom Donnelly's fundraiser.  These are on sale from our cashier for P500.  All profits go to the Tom Donnelly medical fund.

FINAL SALUTE

ROGER "BUCK" SCOTT, a retired USAF CMSGT  died in Angeles  on 13 September.  He is survived by his wife and son.
GLEN FOSTER, age 52, died in his sleep on Saturday night Sept 20th.  He had a business on Clark and in Cebu making shower screens. Lived at Kareela in Sydney.
Ivan Brown, an Australian businessman was gunned down by a hitman on the rear of a motorcycle.  See news articles above.

 

SERVICED HOUSE FOR RENT  Available 2 October thru 21 Dec, and again after 3 Jan 09.  We only have one,  so book early.   You can rent one bedroom and have the entire house to yourself, or a group of 3 guys can have a party house much cheaper than 3 hotel rooms.    For more details see http://www.margarita-station.com/house.html

Margarita Station Website

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