Category Archives: Wealth, Poverty

Sorry, Jocjoc Bolante is not Coming Home Yet

The Final Update:

Joc-joc Bolante arrived already in RP from the US last Tuesday night but brought to the St. Luke’s medical Center not in the Philippine Senate. The question, will he appear in the Senate to answer all the accusations hurled against him being the architect in the multi-million fertilizer scam? How will the opposition in the Senate handle Angara’s refusal to re-open the case?

Below is a news update from abs-cbn.NEWS.com

“Former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn ‘Joc-joc’ Bolante arrived from the US Tuesday night and vowed to appear before the “proper forum” to give his side on allegations that he orchestrated the diversion of P728 million in fertilizer funds to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s election campaign in 2004. Bolante arrived at the NAIA on board Northwest Airlines flight 71 around 10:45 p.m.”

“Bolante, who has visibly aged and lost weight, was then wheeled to the airport’s immigration office for processing.”

“After the processing at the immigration, he was whisked to a white ambulance van which took him to the hospital.”

Upon arrival at SLMC, Bolante was immediately taken to a room.

Dimacali said the Senate arresting team will be guarding the former agriculture official while he undergoes the check up.

UPDATE from abs-cbn.NEWS.com Joc-joc Bolante is on Northwest Airllines flight 71 to Nagoya, Japan en route to Manila according to Alfonso Cusi’s, Manager of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport . He said at ANC, “The info we had is Jocjoc Bolante is on board Northwest 71, that’s coming from [a] source which I can’t name, it’s confirmed that he is on board Northwest 71.” 

“We’re making arrangements… he has to follow normal process for arriving passenger, except that of course, he being a deportee, he has to undergo certain processing, turnover from [US] marshal escorting him to our officers here in immigration,” the airport chief said

For those who are waiting for Jocjoc Bolante, sorry but your man will not arrive in the country as expected. He is still at the US after he failed to board Northwest Airlines flight 71 bound to Nagoya, Japan. Don’t worry; said the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), he is still in their custody. Here is an excerpt of that news 

Former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante failed to board Northwest Airlines flight 71 to Nagoya, Japan en route to Manila after he was ordered deported by the United States earlier this week.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), however, said Bolante, wanted by the Philippine Senate for repeatedly ignoring its summons to explain his alleged involvement in the malversation of P728 million in fertilizer funds, is still in their custody. ICE did not elaborate. According to Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau correspondent, they did not see Bolante on the Northwest flight 71 bound for Nagoya from Detroit as of 4:05 a.m. Manila time.

Gail Montenegro of the US ICE, meanwhile, told ABS-CBN new bureau chief Ging Reyes in an e-mail that Bolante “remains in the custody of the immigration and customs department.

“Mr. Jocelyn Bolante remains in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pending his removal from the United States,” Montenegro said.

She, however, did not say anything about Bolante’s present location.

Montenegro added that Bolante has been accorded due process and is awaiting a final order for deportation from a federal immigration judge.

A check at online flight status Website www.flightstats.com, meanwhile, said Northwest flight 71 left on time from the Detroit International Airport. The flight was scheduled to arrive at 6 p.m. in Nagoya.

Tentative schedule for arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 1, on the other hand, was at 11 p.m. Tuesday.

From: abs-cbn.NEWS.com

But upon his arrival at the Airport, he will immediately be arrested. Senate president Manny Villar already issued an order to Gen. Jose Balajadia Jr., the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to implement the arrest order. Villar insisted that the arrest order issued against former Agriculture Usec. Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante for his failure to attend the public hearings of the Committees on Agriculture and Food and Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon) on the P728 million Fertlizer Fund Scam is still valid.

Although Jocjoc Bolante’s lawyer Antonio Zulueta warned that only the Office of the Ombudsman could investigate Bolante. And if the Senators want to arrest him, they should first secure a warrant of arrest from a court. But Zulueta said he will only allow officials of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Immigration to “process” his client upon his arrival. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez already instructed NBI director Nestor Mantaring to “receive” Bolante “as is required in all cases pf returning Filipinos who are deported from abroad.”   

Now the question, who will prevail in arresting, receiving, and processing Jocjoc Bolante? A lot of people is interested with him, a lot of people will be waiting for him when he finally comes home upon release by the US immigration and customs authorities. Like any other Filipino citizen hoping that justice be done to what he did, I want this guy alive to speak what he knows about the multi-million pesos fertilizer scam. But I am afraid too that some shadowy groups may just be lucky to silence him forever. 


Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under government, Philippine government, politics, Religion, Wealth, Poverty

Majority of Filipino Catholics Support the Reproductive Health Bill

You may agree or disagree with me but news indicate that majority of the Filipinos are now supporting measures that control the swelling of the population and a law that promotes the reproductive health of women based on the result of the latest survey conducted by Social Weather Stations where 71 percent favor the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, and 76 percent are in favor of teaching sex education and family planning in public schools. 

The News: (From ABS-CBN news on line) 

Majority of Filipinos are in favor of  Reproductive Health Bill and Sex Education in Public Schools

Seventy-six percent of adult Filipinos want family planning education in the public schools while 71 percent favor passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, a survey by research firm Social Weather Stations said Thursday.  

In the survey conducted last September 24 to 27, 76 percent of 1,500 respondents agreed to the test statement “There should be a law that requires government to teach family planning to the youth” while 10 percent disagreed.  

Support for family planning education is high in all areas: agreement is 78% in Balance Luzon, 77% in the Visayas, 76% in Metro Manila, and 72% in Mindanao. It is also high across socioeconomic classes: 78% in class ABC, 78% in class D, and 71% among class E. 

Sex education in classrooms is one of the issues opposed by hardline Catholics in the proposed RH Bill. Under the proposed measure, sex education will be taught to students from Grade 5 to fourth year high school.  

The survey, however, showed overwhelming support to teaching sex education to classrooms with three out of four men (75%) and women (77%) supporting a law requiring family planning education for the youth. The support is equally high among singles and marrieds.  

It also showed 76 percent of Catholics and 78 percent of non-Catholics supporting sex education for the youth, regardless of frequency of church-going, and regardless of trust in the Catholic church. 

Faculty Members of a Catholic School Support Reproductive Health Bill (HB 5043) 

Fourteen faculty members of Catholic school Ateneo De Manila University are out to prove that not all Catholics agree with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the controversial reproductive health bill pending in the House of Representatives.

In a 16-page position paper full of quotes from Catholic Church teachings and scientific studies on health, population, and poverty, the faculty members expressed their strong support for House Bill 5043 because “we believe that the provisions of the bill adhere to core principles of the Catholic social teaching.”

The bill is controversial for promoting contraceptives and imposing sex education in schools starting in Grade 5. Catholic bishops have tagged the bill as “pro-abortion” and “anti-life.” 

Although they are aware of the Church’s position, the faculty members said in the paper “our reason, informed by our faith, has led us to believe and say otherwise.” They argued that the bill is actually pro-life, pro-women, and pro-poor.

They argued that the HB 5043—by providing universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health services—will improve the country’ maternal and child health situation, prevent abortion, help poor families, and make the youth more responsible sexually.

“We ask our bishops and fellow Catholics not to block the passage of House Bill 5043…. To campaign against the bill is to deny our people, especially our women, many other benefits, such as maternal and child health and nutrition; promotion of breastfeeding; adolescent and youth health; reproductive health education; prevention and management of gynecological conditions; and provision of information and services addressing the reproductive health needs of marginalized sectors, among others,” the paper said. 

Reaction:

It appears, as shown by the survey, that majority of the Filipinos are in favor of Reproductive Health Bill and the teaching of Sex Education in the public schools. What is surprising here is the number of respondents Catholics (76 percent), and Non-Catholics (78 percent) among the Filipinos supporting measures that control the swelling of the population and promoting the reproductive health of women. There is one reason for this in my own opinion, poverty and the worsening world economic crisis. Besides, people are getting more practical these days. You may not agree with me but gone are the days when the church could dictate anything it wants to its believers. 

Take the case of 14 faculty members from Ateneo de Manila, a Catholic school, who are out to prove that not all Catholics agree with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the passage of the controversial reproductive health bill. In their “16-page position” paper they countered the Church opposition to the Reproductive Health Bill “quoting from Catholic Church teachings and scientific studies on health, population, and poverty.” One faculty unfortunately belongs to the Department of Theology. 

Does this show a crack in the position of the church against reproductive health bill? Of course those who support the position of the church may say no. And the debate continues even if majority of the Filipinos are now seeing more on the practical advantage of the bill.

7 Comments

Filed under government, Philippine government, politics, Religion, Wealth, Poverty

The foundation of trust, the population management debate

Trust is defined as “firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing.” This phenomenon has been extensively explored by various disciplines across the field of social sciences, including economics, social psychology, and political science. And socio-behaviorist have different ways of looking at it.

 

Rousseau and her colleagues define it in this manner. “Trust is a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another.” Likewise, Lewicki and his colleagues describe trust as “an individual’s belief in, and willingness to act on the basis of, the words, actions, and decisions of another.” Because we are not the only organism in the social environment we exist, trust transpires from our interdependence with others. We depend on others to help “us obtain, or at least not to frustrate, the outcomes we value,” according to Lewicki and Tomlinson.

 

“Trust has been identified as a key element of successful conflict resolution (including negotiation and mediation). This is not surprising insofar as trust is associated with enhanced cooperation, information sharing, and problem solving.” In the light of this, there are three factors that influence trustworthy behavior. Ability, assessment of other’s knowledge, skill, or competency, it requires some sense that the other is able to perform in a matter that meets expectations. Integrity, the degree to which the trustee adheres to principles that is acceptable to the trustor. Trust in this context is based on “consistency of past actions, credibility of communications, commitment to standards and fairness, and the congruence of the other’s words and deeds.” Benevolence, trusted individuals are concerned enough about promoting our welfare interests and at the same manner do not impede them.   

 

In the case of our population program, which is more trusted here, those who propose and support population laws/policies that governs population management in the country or those who impede them because they find it as something immoral and unnecessarily counter productive? 

 

Why do we trust the position of the Catholic Church in its pro-life stance?

 

If one has to trust the words of Francisco Tatad, this is what he says in favor of the position of the Catholic Church in its pro-life stance.

 

“The population has many problems. But population is not itself the problem. Assuming there are problems associated with population growth, the reproductive health bill does not provide any answers. I hope the following will help put this bill to rest and allow the nation to devote its time, energy and resources to its real and more pressing problems.”

 

There are two items in his views which worth looking into:

 

There is no “population explosion” and the country is not overpopulated.

”The population growth rate and the total fertility rate (TFR) have declined. The National Statistics Office puts the growth rate at 2.04 %, the TFR at 3.02. However, the CIA World Factbook (2008), for one, puts the growth rate at 1.728%, the TFR at 3.00.” 

“The country has a population density of 277 Filipinos per square km, with a GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) of $,3400”

”This means a Filipino has more years to be productive than his counterpart in the developed world, where the population is graying and dying, without adequate replacement because of negative birth rates.”

 

The Bill according to him is destructive of public morals and family values

”It seeks to legislate a hedonistic sex-oriented lifestyle whose aim is to assure couples and everybody else of “a safe and satisfying sex life” (the other term for contraceptive sex), instead of a mutually fulfilling conjugal life, and ultimately change time-honored Filipino values about human life, family life, marriage, in favor of the most destructive counter-values that are wreaking havoc on the morals of many consumerist societies.” 

But what is there too in the statements of the pro Reproductive Health Bill that deserve our trust?

 

In his privilege speech in the Congress, proponent of the Reproductive Health Bill Congressman Edcel Lagman has this to say.

 

“The use of contraceptives for family planning does not make acceptors bad Catholics. But having more children whom parent can ill-afford to feed, educate, medicate, guide, and love makes them irresponsible regardless of their religion.”

 

“We must open our minds to the import and merits of the reproductive health bill and reject contrived criticisms, expose barefaced lies, refute malicious innuendoes, and resist menacing threats.”

 

AKBAYAN Representative Risa Hontiveros on the other hand also expresses the significance of recognizing the health of every woman still in the reproductive age in this country. She says:

 

“We may not be united in supporting the RH bill, but we must at the very least recognize that reproductive health is a women’s issue. It is us, after all, who bear and nurture the child.”

 

One group of supporting the Reproductive Health Bill asks: “Why is it important to focus on reproductive health?”

 

The results of the 2003 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) show that Filipino women, especially among the ranks of the poor, still bear more children than they desire.

Only half of married women practice family planning because of lack of information and proper knowledge of various family planning methods and services. The greater proportion of these women live in rural areas where there are few service providers and where services are scarce and inaccessible.

 

Poor women have three times more children than the rich (5.9 children for the poor and 2.0 for the rich), give birth to their first child at a younger age, and have more problems spacing their children than wealthier women.

 

Likewise, men who belong to the poorest segments of society have more children (5) compared to those who belong to the richest sectors (3). One in four pregnancies is mistimed and one in five is not wanted at all.

Meanwhile, despite the advances made in medicine, maternal health remains problematic in the country:

 

Maternal mortality is pegged at a disturbing 162 for every 100,000 live births (2006 Family Planning Survey). The only exceptions are a handful of areas where there is an efficient program on maternal and child health, such as the municipality of Carmen, Bohol. The vast majority of local governments have yet to establish a system that would drastically reduce maternal mortality.

Only 38 percent of deliveries have been found to be attended by skilled health professionals (2003 NDHS). Majority still seek the services of traditional hilots because they could not afford birthing in hospitals or because of lack of proper information.

 

Unless these people’s needs are addressed, Filipinos will keep on having more children than they want and can afford to have, and thousands of mothers will continue to die from causes that could have been prevented, were they only provided with complete information and services on reproductive health.

 

Who can be trusted?

 

The debate on population has been going on for years. Majority of people have been confused and keep confusing themselves with these varying views. But who among them are really telling the truth? Who among them is really concerned about life and the conditions for a rightful living? Who among them shows real benevolence in looking into the social and economic interest of the people? Unless population views are really guided by the interest of the people morally, spiritually, and physically it will be difficult to build our trust on whoever is speaking pro or against the Reproductive Health Bill.

4 Comments

Filed under government, Philippine government, Philosophical and psychological foundation of trust, politics, Religion, Salvation, Trust, United Nations, Wealth, Poverty

The Power of the President to Spend More

What will you do if you have an over-all savings of 106 billion from the 2007 government budget as a result of re-enacted budget? Critics to the President accused her administration of causing forced savings from the budgets of certain key departments in order to realign funds for pet projects that may possibly benefit her allies for their campaign funds for their campaign funds during the 2010 presidential election.

Is the allegation correct?  

As reported by Gemma Bagayaua posted in abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak allegations of forced savings “arose after lawmakers noticed a provision in the 2009 National Expenditure Program that shows that “Over-all Savings” for the year 2007 amounted to P106 billion, which included P29.9 billion in transfers from the budget of the Department of Education for that year. “

This prompted opposition congressman Teofisto Guingona III to say that, “budgets of certain departments in 2009 (as in 2007) may be deliberately bloated so that they can incur savings. Guingona said this will provide Malacañang with disposable funds that may be redirected to other agencies and may be used to advance political ambitions of certain individuals.” 

However Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya pointed out, “If we stepped on the gas then the P106 or so billion would have been added to the deficit posted that year. To call for the release of this money is to become an apostle of unmanageable deficits,” he said in defending. the amount posted under “Over-All Savings.” 

Further Andaya said that the “expenditure ceiling” for 2007 was P1.136 billion but only P1.012 billion in allotments was released. 

But the bureau director from the budget department who explained earlier to the ABS- CBN news correspondent about the bloated savings as a result of re-enacted budget insisted, that said amount could have been released since “there is no law that prevents the budget department from releasing all the new appropriations for the year, including the continuing appropriations from the previous year’s budgets.” 

Not Saving at the Expense of Social Service 

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya assured the public that the government is not saving at the expense of Social Services. Well and good, but again the question what will they do with the bloated savings of 106 billion from the 2007 government budget? 

There is a perception that the president will get more spending power with re-enacted budget. Prolonging budget deliberations does not in anyway hurt the president. In fact she will be assured of more funds to spend. And when she spends funds transferred to overall savings she spends it in any projects she wishes including those that benefit her allies. 

So there is no truth at all to the statement of Budget Secretary Andaya that the government is not saving at the expense of social services. In health services you could just imagine how many medicines to benefit the poor could be purchased with that savings, and how many school buildings could have been constructed to accommodate more pupils in the public schools, etc. 

As tax payers, it is my sovereign duty to demand the government to spend wisely the tax payers’ money for the benefit of the public, but not for their own political advantage.

15 Comments

Filed under government, Philippine government, politics, Wealth, Poverty

What is so bias with the latest Pulse Asia survey on the acceptability rating of the President?

I don’t exactly understand why Pulse Asia is being accused by Malacanang as bias in their surveys. Isn’t it that they the most objective and scientific method of investigation. They have crafted well their methodology, they’re so familiar with the geographical terrain and population or universe of their study.
No matter what they say with Pulse Asia, I still find them credible and objective. Here is the detail from the ABS-CBN news on line.

Palace accuses Pulse Asia of bias

Malacañang on Wednesday accused polling firm Pulse Asia of political bias when it released a survey last week on the Filipino public’s skepticism of President Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

In a press conference, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said Pulse Asia sought to “embarrass” and “shame” the president when it disclosed just days before the 8th SONA its survey which showed that only 14% of respondents believed the forthcoming SONA would be “truthful.”

He was referring to the Pulse Asia survey released on July 24, or four days before the 8th SONA, on “Public Perceptions Regarding State of the Nation.”

Out of the 60% of respondents who were aware of past SONAs, the survey results showed only 13% found Arroyo’s past SONA’s truthful while 46% said her past SONA’s were “not truthful.” Forty-one percent were undecided.

When asked whether they expected the July 28 SONA of Arroyo to be truthful, 14% said it would be truthful, 40% said it would not be truthful, and 46% were undecided.

The nationwide survey of 1,200 adults was conducted July 1 to 14. It had a margin of error of plus/minus 3 percent.

Methodology questioned

Dureza said it was unfair to ask people whether they thought the forthcoming SONA would be untruthful when Arroyo had not yet made her speech.

“I think it sought to embarrass the president or to shame the president at a time that she has not even given the SONA,” he said.

“I question the methodology and the way the question was phrased,” he added.

Dureza said Pulse Asia “became a political player” in this particular survey.

“The way it was done, it was not to reflect a public opinion. It had something else in its objective,” he added.

Dureza called on the Marketing and Opinion Research Society of the Philippines (MORES), which he described as the “guardian polling and statistics,” to look into Pulse Asia’s alleged bias. He said Pulse Asia was not a member of this association of market research professionals and poll organizations.

“I challenge the MORES, which is a respectable institution to look into a non-member because the non-member may be spreading wrong information, which would destroy the integrity of other polling institutions that are doing their job,” he said.

“I challenge Pulse Asia to submit itself to scrutiny by the experts and to see how the questions were framed, the methodologies,” he said.

Dureza urged media organizations to be “more critical” of these surveys since media are the “principal consumers” of such surveys. He also urged media to “go beyond the survey.”

Hard times

On Pulse Asia’s July 1-14 Nationwide Survey on Quality of Life and State of the Economy released July 30, which showed 75% of respondents felt they were “worse now,” Dureza said this “reflects…that we’re in hard times.”

He said Malacanang does not expect people to be happy in times of high oil and food prices.

Dureza said the president accepts that her popularity ratings are low due to unpopular decisions such as keeping the 12% Value-Added Tax on oil products.

“I’m not doing this because I’m trying to gloss over the unpopularity of the president,” he said.

Dureza also said it was not fair to compare the ratings of Arroyo with former President Joseph Estrada since prices of oil then were around $80 per barrel or much lower than today’s world oil prices of $148 per barrel. “Don’t you think the dice is loaded?” he said.

Pulse Asia‘s comment

Elaborating on the Nationwide Survey on Quality of Life, Ana Maria Tabunda, executive director of Pulse Asia, told ABS-CBN the sentiments show the people’s economic hardship.

“What you get there is the sense of how difficult things are right now. They can’t even see it how it’s going to be improving in the coming year. It gives you a sense of helplessness at the situation,” she said.

Asked to comment on the claim it was not fair to compare the Estrada era with Arroyo’s, Tabunda said: “Well, the question doesn’t even mention the president. It’s only asking them to compare the quality of life or uri ng pamumuhay ngayon sa nakaraang taon. And we have been asking these questions since 1999. And we had a different president back then.”

 

1 Comment

Filed under government, politics, Wealth, Poverty

Only the Poor Could Judge GMA Fairly, not Surveys?

While President Arroyo was able to survive all attempts to eject her out from power, her acceptability rating has steadily plunging down. The latest survey showed her popularity rating to record low negative 38 points from negative 26 in March. This makes president Arroyo the most unpopular president of the Philippines since Marcos,

Malacanang however countered that it should be the people who will judge the president, not surveys. Executive secretary Eduardo Ermita,however, said that “running and managing the country is no popularity contest.”

It has been perceived that it is the passing in Congress of the  Extended Value Added  (EVAT) which made the president unpopular apart from the accusations of election fraud and a number of controversies of corruption and fraud in her administration. So far nothing has actually been proven in court.

About P8 billion worth of subsidies has been given to the poor since January of this year according to Ermita. The amount used came from the collection of extended Value Added Tax. Dole out services for the poor, conceived by Malacanang, include subsidizing cheap rice, subsidies to “lifeline users” of electricity, microfinance programs for wives of transport drivers, etc. Ermita is wondering why the president is still unpopular to the people despite all her efforts to help the poor.

Ermita however does not consider the survey result credible, it is something inaccurate that you don’t take in seriously.

 More on the survey report from Teresa Cerojano.

Arroyo’s approval rating in Philippines hits low

TERESA CEROJANO,Associated Press Writer

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s public support rating plunged last month to a record low, making her the country’s most unpopular president since democracy was restored in 1986, a survey showed Friday.

The independent Social Weather Stations survey found that 22 percent of Filipinos were satisfied and 60 percent dissatisfied with Arroyo’s performance.

The net satisfaction rating _ the difference between those satisfied and dissatisfied _ plunged to negative 38 points from negative 26 in March.

The rating was the lowest for any Philippine president since 1986, when Corazon Aquino restored democracy after leading a popular “people power” revolt that toppled longtime dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Arroyo is the longest-serving head of state since Marcos. She took over the presidency after Joseph Estrada was toppled on corruption charges in the country’s second “people power” uprising in 2001, and then went on to win her own election mandate in 2004.

She has survived four attempted power grabs and three opposition impeachment attempts on allegations she cheated in the 2004 vote.

Arroyo’s chief of staff, Cerge Remonde, blamed the poor ratings on high oil and food prices. He also said the public reacted negatively to Arroyo’s decision to continue with a trip to the U.S. in June despite a typhoon in the Philippines that left hundreds of people dead and missing.

“While the president is sensitive to public opinion, she took an oath that requires her to do what is right and not what is popular,” he said.

While Arroyo has been credited with making economic reforms, she has grappled with political unrest stemming from allegations of corruption and influence-peddling involving her husband and accusations of human rights violations.

Social Weather Stations said its nationwide survey of 1,200 adults was conducted June 27-30 and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

 

2 Comments

Filed under government, politics, Wealth, Poverty

Iran is prepared to react fiercely if attacked by Israel or the United States

Iran will continue to supply crude oil even if attacked however it would react fiercely in an unimaginable reaction. Is Tehran bluffing or simply stating facts on the magnitude of what it could do if pushed to the limits and go on war with Israel or the United States?

Iran says any attack would provoke fierce reaction

By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer

MADRID, Spain – With Middle East tensions building, Iran’s oil minister warned Wednesday that an attack on his country would provoke an unimaginably fierce response.

Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said, however, that Tehran would not cut oil deliveries and would continue supplying the market even if struck by Israel or the United States.

Tehran “is not going to be quiet,” if attacked, Nozari told reporters. It’s “going to react fiercely, and nobody can imagine what would be the reaction of Iran,” he added.

Over the weekend, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned that Tehran would respond to an attack by barraging Israel with missiles and could seize control of a key oil passageway in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz.

But a senior U.S. military commander said Wednesday that Washington would not allow that to happen.

Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, commander of the 5th Fleet spoke to reporters after talks withnaval commanders of Gulf countries in the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi. The one-day meeting was to focus on the security of the region’s maritime and trade routes and the threat of terrorism.

The 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, across the Gulf from Iran. Cosgriff said that if Iran choked off the Strait of Hormuz, it would be “saying to the world that 40 percent of oil is now held hostage by a single country.”

“We will not allow Iran to close it,” he told reporters.

Minister Nozari addressed rising tensions outside the 19th World Petroleum Congress after a presentation on Iran’s oil and gas industry to a packed audience, including representatives of European and U.S. energy companies.

Tehran is under U.N., U.S. and European sanctions because it has defied U.N. Security Council demands to suspend its uranium enrichment program. But with oil supplies tight and prices at unprecedented levels, the energy industry remains tempted by the possibilities of investing in Iran, OPEC’s second largest oil producer and No. 2 in terms of the world’s natural gas reserves.

President Bush has repeatedly said that a military strike on Tehran is possible as a last-resort if Iran continues to pursue uranium enrichment and fails to heed other Security Council demands.

Last month, Israel sent warplanes on a major exercise in the eastern Mediterranean that U.S. officials said was a message to Iran — a show of force as well as practice in the operations needed for a long-range strike mission.

ABC News quoted an unnamed senior Pentagon official warning of an “increasing likelihood” that Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear facilities before the end of the year.

Nozari said such any attack would send oil prices further into uncharted territory.

“We don’t think the wise people in the world even think about any action like that,” he said. “Can you imagine … what would be the result in the oil market?”

Oil prices hit a record high above $143 this week.

But Nozari indicated Iran would not withhold its crude from the market even if attacked.

“Iran has always been a reliable source of supply to the market, and Iran remains a (reliable) source of supply,” he said.

He dismissed suggestions that the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program has diminished Iran’s oil and gas exports, despite U.S. sanctions that prohibit American companies from doing business with Tehran and growing pressure from Washington on other countries to follow suit.

“We have increased our production in the past two years by 250,000 barrels a day and we have added to the production of our gas,” he told the AP

 

Leave a comment

Filed under government, Israeli and US military, Middle East Diplomacy, OPEC, politics, Religion, UN Security Council, United Nations, United Nations Mediation, Wealth, Poverty, World terrorist activities