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Burnt rice, anyone? By Juan L. Mercado Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:03 pm | Monday, October 15th, 2012 Walang tutong sa taong nagugutom, a Filipino proverb says. “There’s no burnt rice to a hungry person.” Hunger anchors World Food Day (WFD), Oct. 16. The Philippines and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) member-countries established WFD in 1979. Today, 150 countries observe WFD. WFD came after Henry Kissinger told the 1974 World Food Conference that “[w]ithin 10 years, no child would go to bed hungry.” Today, one out of every eight—12 percent of the world’s population—is food short. Political static drowns WFD’s message here. The European Union, the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly the Organization of the Islamic Conference) welcomed the agreement on the framework for peace forged by government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front “to turn swords into ploughshares.” But the aging Moro National Liberation Front and communist commissars threaten mayhem. So do rebels like Umra Kato and gang. Sen. Ralph Recto gutted a P60-billion “sin tax” proposal to a pittance of P15 billion. He now twists in a whirlwind of criticism. Did coddled tobacco firms, in a hush-hush meeting, provide Recto’s mask of injured innocence? Social Weather Stations’ October report says 4.3 million households were hard put to get even burnt rice. Over the past three months, 21 percent “experienced involuntary hunger, at least once.” “Moderate hunger”—having nothing to eat only once or a few times—surged. In crammed Metro Manila, overall hunger rose to 10 percent. It inched up in Mindanao. Decades of conflict castrated its potential as the nation’s breadbasket. Weather pattern distortions, continued post-harvest losses and growing populations interlocked with shrinking farmlands. These morphed into the “new geopolitics of food scarcity,” Earth Policy Institute’s Lester Brown notes.

Between 2007 and 2008, grain prices doubled. FAO reported that prices bolted by a further 1.4 percent in September. “That left more people hungry than at any time in history…. An era of filled granaries had come to an end.” The rich rearranged their menus. But the poor spend 50-70 percent of skimpy incomes on food. They’ve long consumed the last scrap of tutong. They now skip meals. In India, 24 percent of families go through foodless days, a “Save the Children” survey found. More than half the people of Haiti are undernourished. The Global Hunger Index of 2012 identifies 20 countries saddled by “alarming” levels of hunger. These include East Timor, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Burundi, Madagascar, Niger, Djibouti and Nepal. World food reserves dwindled from 107 days of consumption to only 74 days in 2008. This triggered a “land rush.” Some Gulf states, China, South Korea, and Libya, even Sweden, bought or leased land where they can grow food for themselves—in other countries. Over 30 million hectares have now been contracted for. International Food Policy Research Institute estimates nearly $20 to $30 billion a year is spent by better-off countries on land. Most are in Africa. Saudi Arabia, whose aquifers ran dry last year, bought half-a-million hectares in Tanzania. South Korea signed a 99-year lease for 1.3 million hectares of agricultural land in Madagascar. Other major destinations for land hunters are Ethiopia and the two Sudans. Millions in these countries are sustained with UN World Food Programme donations. Here, 21 out of every 100 infants have low weight at birth. Wasting and stunting (32 percent) result when kids are nursed by wizened, chronically malnourished mothers. Out of every 1,000 births here, 29 never make it to age 5. Today, the country is almost on par with the Dominican Republic in infant mortality rates. It lags behind Malaysia’s 6. In an overall ranking of 193 countries, we’re wedged at slot 80. Worse, these dry-as-sawdust statistics infect many of us with Mego syndrome. “Mine eyes glaze over.” We’re blind to the pain. We do not see Lazarus at the gate. President Aquino’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program eased some of hunger’s raw pain. CCT provides families with monthly grants of P1,400—provided they keep children in school, and have them vaccinated and enrolled in health programs. There are 3.08 million household-beneficiaries. World Bank, the Australian Agency for International Development and Asian Development Bank are providing additional support until 2015. That’s when this program phases out.

Will we see then the frail men and women who till slivers of land or fish-depleted waters for what they are? Only they can provide a permanent solution to hunger. Ironically, they’re locked into subsistence treadmills by elite political dynasties. They’re denied access to tools for production, but above all, a just share from their work. As a result, their lives are truncated by disease, lack of schooling and limited hope. It is obscene that those who produce food are often the ones who go hungry. “Critics say our crafting of policies often confuses the problem of hunger with that of its cause: social injustice,” the late National Scientist Dioscoro Umali wrote. “They insist our flawed strategies did not stem from poor judgment. At rock bottom, it was a simple case of old-fashioned greed. Avarice rationalized the betrayal of the weak.” “I pray this assessment is wrong,” he added. “(Otherwise) we will have much to answer for from those whose lives and hopes were blighted by hunger.” (E-mail: )

KMP: Farmers want cash from coco levy By Delfin T. Mallari Jr. Inquirer Southern Luzon 9:25 pm | Sunday, October 14th, 2012

FADED coconut levy certificates of shares and receipts symbolize the forced extraction of tax on farmers during martial law. DELFIN T. MALLARI JR./INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON LUCENA CITY—Coconut farmers across the country prefer to receive cash from the P56.5 billion in coconut levy fund that is now in the hands of the national government, according to a leader of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella said their office had been flooded with phone calls and text messages from coconut farmers nationwide asking how to recover the coco levy fund. “The coconut farmers who contacted us want their money back. They don’t want Aquino’s government to use their money in the name of small coconut farmers and the so-called poverty reduction roadmap of the coconut industry,” Marbella said in an emailed statement to the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Sunday. As of Friday, Marbella, also the spokesperson of Kaisahang Pambansa ng mga Magsasaka sa Koprahan, said the number of queries had reached over 200 after the landline and mobile phone numbers of their office in Quezon City were mentioned in a radio interview. Marbella said KMP had dispatched several teams in different coconut-producing provinces to discuss the merits of their cash distribution proposal as a mode of returning the multibillion peso fund to benefit the long-suffering farmers.

“Phone calls and text messages are not enough to fully explain the issue. We have to reach them out and personally explain to them the advantage of the cash distribution,” Marbella said. On Oct. 5, food and beverage giant San Miguel Corp. paid the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF)—the administrator of the coconut levy fund—P56.5 billion in proceeds from the redemption of its Series 1 preferred shares. The CIIF, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government, in turn remitted the money to the National Treasury. However, the Aquino administration has yet to disclose how to use the money apparently still awaiting instruction from the President. The Coalition of Coconut Farmers of Quezon, the biggest coalition of farmers’ organizations in the province, wants the coco levy money intact as a perpetual trust fund for the coconut industry until a law is passed and policies are set and determined on how best to benefit the coconut farmers. Quezon farmers are believed to be the biggest contributors to the coco levy fund that was exacted from coconut farmers from 1973 to 1982 during Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law regime, supposedly to develop the coconut industry. Marbella reiterated their calls on the House of Representatives for the passage of Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano’s House Bill No. 3443 that seeks to constitute the coconut levy fund into a Coconut Farmers Fund to rehabilitate and develop the coconut industry. The farmers groups also support Deputy Speaker Wigberto “Erin” Tañada’s House Bill No. 5070, which seeks to finance programs that would increase the coconut farmers’ productivity, develop coconut-based enterprises and promote antipoverty programs.

2 fishermen missing in Pangasinan– NDRRMC By Frances Mangosing 9:13 am | Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — Two fishermen have been reported missing since last week in Agno, Pangasinan, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Tuesday. Siblings Manding Yares, 45, and Arnulfo Yares, 37, both from Boboy village, went fishing on October 11 or Thursday last week at 6 a.m. aboard motorbanca “Frank” but have failed to come home since. Search and rescue operations by the Coast Guard District Northwestern Luzon continued but so far yielded negative results, the NDRRMC said.

MAPping the Future

‘Revised tobacco taxes: Bane or Blessing?–Part 2’ By Anthony Alden Sy Aguilar Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:13 am | Monday, October 15th, 2012 Soaring cigarette prices may also open a particularly nasty can of worms. The rules of economics remind us that prices for a certain item can be raised only up to a certain point, beyond which consumers will cease to purchase that item and turn to lower-priced alternatives. And for smokers, who simply have to have their “nicotine fix” one way or the other, the alternative to exorbitantly-priced local cigarettes will be the much cheaper “black-market” cigarettes. While it’s true that these black-market cigarettes aren’t available—as yet!—throughout the country, there’s nothing to stop the spread of these bootleg products across the country if the demand increases. And if that happens, can the spectre of smuggling operations to bring in more and more of these black-market cigarettes into the country be far behind? I don’t mean to be a party-pooper here, I truly don’t. Smoking is a health hazard, whichever way you look at it. I also understand why the government wants to adjust excise tax rates, and I can definitely appreciate the fact that taxes need to be raised so that economic programs can be funded and our country can continue to look forward to sustained development. But I do believe that some thought has to be given to the spending habits of the Filipino consumer, particularly smokers. I sometimes think that a smoker is a bit like a person who’s a slave to fashion—ever observe how they’re so conscious of “name-brands,” and how they want to have all the hottest fashion accessories? But not everyone can afford that new Hermes bag or the latest Panerai watch, so what to do? I think we all know the answer to that, and why there’s a proliferation of imitation designer bag, shoes, watches, etc., throughout the metropolis— something which I guarantee is very good for the underground economy but very bad for legitimate, tax-paying businesses. If people can patronize these imitation designer items, it’s not a stretch to imagine that smokers, who absolutely have to support their habit, will resort to patronizing blackmarket cigarettes, especially when you consider that they’re looking at a price increase of at least 700 percent for the lowest-priced, legitimately-produced cigarettes. Smokers need their nicotine, and I’m willing to bet that when a stressed-out smoker reaches for a pack of cigarettes, he’s not going to think about whether taxes have been paid on the cigarette he’s about to light. Smokers who consume just one or two “sticks” a day may not be unduly affected by escalating cigarette prices, but those who consume one to two packs a day—and there are many of them—will surely feel the pinch, and it is a very distinct possibility that they’ll resort to black-market cigarettes just to make sure that they can meet their daily consumption of tobacco.

The long and short of it is that any change in tax rates will have an inescapable impact not only on the economy, but on people’s lives and their quality of life, and this is something that public finance planners should take into consideration whenever an attempt is made to significantly raise taxes that will affect a particular sector of the economy. Taxes—at least in the 21st Century!—are intended to provide the government with the resources to sustain the economy and improve the overall quality of life of the people. They should not be imposed, therefore, at the risk of encouraging the underground economy and fostering unhealthy consumption habits that may pose threats to the health and well-being of the people. “Sin taxes” got their moniker because they were supposed to ultimately benefit the nation by discouraging people from patronizing products and goods that could be detrimental to their health and welfare. In this case, however, whether the revised “sin tax” on tobacco products will benefit the country or cause greater problems for the economy is still up for debate. As I write these words, the Senate ways and means committee is preparing to hold its final public hearing on the proposed revisions to the “sin taxes”—to say that a lot is riding on their deliberations is putting it very mildly indeed. Because the answer to the question of whether the sin tax on tobacco products will be a bane or a blessing is an answer that will have far-reaching consequences for millions of Filipinos, smokers and non-smokers alike, and certainly for this asthmatic. I don’t know about you, but I’m rather glad I’m not sitting in that committee, and that I don’t have to make the decisions they’ll have to make. It makes me wheeze just thinking about it. (The article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines. The author is a senior partner of The Tax Offices of Romero, Aguilar & Associates and member of the MAP national issues committee and the MAP tax committee. Feedback at For previous articles, visit <>.)

Coconut water exports increase over 80% in H1 Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Monday, 15 October 2012 20:19 Written by

COCONUT water exports from the Philippines posted an 81-percent increase in volume for the first semester of 2012, increasing from 5.662 million liters to 10.249 million liters for the same period in 2011. The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) also reported $11.8 million in earnings, which is a 100.54-percent increase from the previous year’s $5.57 million. Emerging markets for coconut water consumption accounted for almost 7 percent of export volumes. Earlier in the year, the PCA expressed confidence that 2012 production will exceed that of 2011. As of the first semester of 2012, coconut water export volumes and earnings were already at 78 percent and 61 percent, respectively, of the past year’s record. Aside from increasing exports to traditional markets and increased consumption in new markets in Europe and Asia, the strengthening trend in health consciousness was also cited as a key factor in the strength of exports. The industry is also keeping with demand with a targeted production of 13 million seed nuts throughout the country, and the distribution of salt fertilizers to farmers. Beverly Po, Product Manager of Pepsi Cola Products Philippines Inc. (PCPPI), said, “Local consumption is also gaining ground, fuelled by coconut water’s increased popularity as a health drink in the west. The healthy trend has likewise gained traction in the country, making coconut water a more fashionable health drink. Coconut water is consumed locally through markets or street vendors, or in packaged plastic, both of which have limited shelf life.” The next frontier in consumer availability for coconut water is in packaging, which can meet increasing demand in exports and local consumers. Tropicana Coco Quench,

available in Tetra Pak packages, is stepping up to the plate by providing up to eight months in shelf life. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We launched Tropicana Coco Quench as a response to increasing demand for healthy yet convenient products. By keeping the taste, freshness, and nutrients of coconut water intact, we provide consumers with a true alternative to getting your coconut water from the wet market.â&#x20AC;? Tropicana Coco Quench is now available in convenience stores and supermarkets nationwide in 330 mL and 1 L packs. Tropicana Coco Quench is the first locally produced and locally distributed packaged coconut-water drink with up to eight months shelf life. It uses Tetra Pak packaging to keep the freshness and nutrients of real coconut water. It is also the only local drink that utilizes an octagon-shaped packaging for easier grip.

In Photo: A carabao-drawn cart loaded with freshly harvested young coconuts from barangay Nabbuan, Santiago City traverses a farm-to-market road for delivery to the coconut alley in Mabini Village. Despite the emergence of commercial coconut water in tetra packs, many still prefer what locals call buko juice from the fresh nuts. (Leonardo Perante II)

BFAR extends closed season for sardines to Visayan Sea Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Monday, 15 October 2012 20:22 Written by Marvyn Benaning THE closed season for sardines will extend to the Visayan Sea, if the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) will have its way. Nonetheless, BFAR National Director Asis Perez said the bureau will still consult with fishermen and commercial fishing fleets regarding the matter, which was a logical consequence of the apparent success of the sardine fishing ban imposed in the waters of the Zamboanga Peninsula last year. He said the imposition of a fishing ban in the Visayan Sea is based on Fisheries Administrative Order No. 167 issued in 1989. Perez justified the need for another closed season for sardines, arguing that it is necessary for the sardine population to grow and ensure sustained supply for canners and municipal fishermen. Moreover, he said a bigger sardine population all over the country is necessary to increase the catch of tuna, which feeds on the fish along with planktons.    The country’s inland waters are the haven for big-eyed tuna, with schools of yellowfin tuna swarming the waters between the Philippines and Indonesia and bluefin tuna populating the temperate waters north of the country. In Monday’s opening of the 49th Fish Conservation Week, Perez said the ban in the Visayan Sea is appropriate since the three major species of sardines like fimbriated sardines (tunsoy), Indian sardines (tamban) and round herring (tulis) breed and spawn in the Zamboanga Peninsula and the Visayan Sea. The latter straddles four major regions—Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas. All told, Perez said, the Zamboanga Peninsula, the waters of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Visayan Sea contribute between 30 percent and 35 percent of the total sardine population in the country. Even as Perez spoke, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) reiterated its opposition to closing the Sibuyan Sea in Bicol and Romblon not only to the capture of sardines but to the harvesting of other pelagic fish species. Pamalakaya earlier argued that closing the Sibuyan Sea and other fishing areas in the Bicol region would work to the detriment of fishermen already reeling from the high cost

of fuel since they would have to look for other means of livelihood for at least three months. BFAR slapped a sardine ban in East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait and the Sibuguey Bay from Dec. 1, 2011 to Feb. 28, 2012. Perez said the compliance with the ban was high, with stakeholders agreeing to the ban. “The collaboration among the local government units [LGUs], commercial fishing fleets, law enforcers and other players was very impressive. Compliance was close to 100 percent,” Perez said. “What is more inspiring is the impressive increase in production that is already evident within a short period following the lifting of the ban.” This illustrated by data culled from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), Perez said, as he cited the increase in sardine output from only 17,282 metric tons (MT) in the first quarter of the year to 72,486 MT the following quarter. Sardines accounted for nearly 20 percent of the catch of municipal fishermen and commercial fleets two years ago. The sardine industry provides about 30,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Zamboanga Peninsula alone.

Bondoc Peninsula farmers urge government to implement CARP in ‘hot spots’ Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Monday, 15 October 2012 20:20 Written by John Bello / Correspondent LUCENA CITY— Landless farmers in the five agrarian “hot spots” in Quezon province’s Bondoc Peninsula continue to hope and press for the implementation of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in the face of continued resistance and harassment by big landowners. Melchor Rosco, federation president of Samahang Magsasaka sa Barangay Bigo at baqrangay Villa Reyes in San Narciso said they are continuously being harassed and intimidated by farm personnel of Hacienda Reyes just to stop them from pursuing their dream of owning the hacienda’s land under the government’s CARP. “Almost 100 of us were sued with qualified theft, with one farmer sometimes charged with 6, 9 or even 11 counts of theft. Many already have warrants of arrest and are in hiding,” said Rosco in Filipino on Thursday at the sideline of the multi-stakeholders dialogue on peace and agrarian reform sponsored by the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court – Building Bridges for Peace Project held at Queen Margarette Hotel here. Rosco said that if Hacienda Reyes management, with an estimated 6,000 hectares (has.) to 8,000 hectares of land in San Andres and San Narciso towns, knows a farmer-tenant to be a CARP or leasehold petitioner he is sternly warned or prevented from harvesting coconut by the landowner’s “enkargado.”  He said the DAR has already issued its finality order for CARP coverage about 600 has. from a total of 1,124 has. of the Hacienda Reyes estate in San Narciso. Among other big landholdings in Bondoc Peninsula are the Matias family with about 2,000 has. of land in San Francisco; the Uy family which owns about 1,000 has. in San Andres and San Narciso; the Zoleta-Queblar family which owns about 359 has.; and Juanito Tan who owns about 483 has. in San Francisco town. Maribel Luzara, president of Kilusang Magbubukid sa Bondoc Peninsula with some 3,000 members from San Francisco, San Narciso, San Andres, Buenavista and Mulanay – all considered agrarian “hot spots” – said many tenant-farmers are suffering from harassment and ejection particularly from Hacienda Matias. Luzara said that all of 1,829 has. of Hacienda Matias have been decided by DAR to be under CARP and that the latest motion for reconsideration filed by Matias family has been thrown out by DAR last Sept. 17. 

Luzara said that about 70 tenant-farmers have undergone harassment, ejection and charges of qualified theft since 2005 from Hacienda Matias, represented by Cenen Gil Matias Jr. and Michael Matias, who have filed petitions for exclusion from CARP coverage claiming their lands are not agricultural but for livestock purposes. She said that of the 19 leaseholdings under Hacienda Matias, only 5 have been implemented; the rest have been thrashed and the leaseholders ejected. She said the DAR Adjudicatory Board installed the 5 leaseholders while the rest are being supervised by the DAR for harvest. Alma Dulce Deapera, executive director of Agrarian Justice Foundation (AJF), a nongovernment group which provides legal assistance to tenant-farmers in agrarian “hot spots” which include Bondoc Peninsula, has urged harassed farmers to take the initiative to sue landowners. “Take the offensive, do not be passive as you can lean on the law to assert your rights and defend yourselves from harassment of landowners,” Deapera told participants of the multi-stakeholders dialogue which bears the theme “Deepening the gains of agrarian reform and strengthening human rights on the ground.” Stressing that peace, human rights and agrarian reform issues are deeply intertwined, Deapera cited the importance of holding multisectoral consultations and dialogues because “many cases are resolved just by talking to each other.”

P260B allotted for Mindanao infrastructure projects Category: Top News Published on Monday, 15 October 2012 21:11 Written by Butch Fernandez and Mia M. Gonzalez / Reporters

THE administration-controlled Senate has given assurances that close to P260 billion has been set aside for various infrastructure projects in Mindanao for 2013. The assurance was given by “administration” Sen. Frank Drilon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, who said the implementation of the projects would be hastened by the peace deal the government signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Monday. “In the proposed 2013 budget now being deliberated in Congress, we have allotted P258.4 billion for Mindanao,” said Drilon, chairman of the committee reviewing the annual budget bill. Earlier in Malacañang, supporters and authors of the just-signed peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said much work lay ahead in fulfilling the commitments made under the pact, which would be fleshed out to produce a comprehensive agreement before the end of year. “Much work remains to be done in order to fully reap the fruits of this Framework Agreement,” President Aquino said just minutes before the government and MILF panels signed the Framework Agreement at the jampacked Malacañang Rizal Hall. The President said that after the signing ceremony, the panels would now work on the annexes to the agreement which would “provide us with a solid opportunity to expand the common ground whose principles we have already articulated through the agreement. “But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. We are now at the beginning of a comprehensive agreement that will map out the detailed steps, detailed commitments, and detailed programs that will lead to the fulfillment of our long-term goals,” he said. Mr. Aquino said the government was committed to helping the MILF.

“We are committed to enabling our partners to transform themselves to a genuine political party that can help facilitate the region’s transition toward a truly peaceful and progressive place. He said this year, the government has committed P8.59 billion for the Transition Investment Support Plan or the stimulus fund for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), on top of the P12.93 billion already allotted in the budget. “This agreement not only marks a new chapter in our history; it now defines the very path we take as a people—one where opinions are heard and hope is shared; where understanding and consensus breed meaningful solutions for all stakeholders; one where every child is offered the opportunity to shape his own destiny,” he said. In his speech, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak recognized the challenges facing the peace deal and expressed the readiness of Malaysia, the third-party facilitator of the peace process with the MILF, to be a Philippine “partner in peace” through the provision of training, education and land development skills to the Bangsamoro people. “I give my assurance to all the people of the Philippines, we will stand with you to make this agreement work,” said Najib, who attended the signing ceremony upon the invitation of Mr. Aquino. He said the Framework Agreement was only the “beginning” as “it does not solve all the problems” but “sets the parameters in which a lasting peace may be found.” “On this day of hope and promise, we should not forget the challenges that remain. The ink on this paper will not save a single life unless it is matched with a true and immovable commitment to peace…. All parties must stand by the principles on which this agreement rests: respect for religion, non-violence and human rights,” Najib said. He said after four decades, peace is finally “within reach” in Mindanao. “Let us grasp with both hands and never let go,” Najib said. Chief Peace Adviser Teresita Deles expressed confidence that while the road to lasting peace in Mindanao would not be easy, supporters of the peace process would help ensure that all such obstacles would be overcome. “So many challenges await us, but the bridge of trust that spans this room is strong enough to withstand the trials ahead, however difficult they may be. Never again shall we allow that bridge to be undermined, weakened, or destroyed by the forces of greed, avarice and envy,” Deles said. In his speech, MILF Chairman Murad Al Haj Ebrahim urged the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)—apparently referring to the faction of MNLF founder Nur

Misuari—“to support the framework agreement and take this historic journey with us to rebuild our Bangsamoro homeland.” “This is not the time for recrimination. This is the time for unity, the time for all of us to think, act and speak as one Bangsamoro, as we summon all our strength to face the daunting tasks [ahead].” Murad said. He traced the roots of the MILF’s 40-year-struggle and why it finally agreed to sign the Framework Agreement. “We are here to put an end to the adversarial relationship between the Bangsamoro and the Philippine nation,” he said, adding that the President’s parents—the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. and President Corazon Aquino—like the MILF had fought against the Marcos dictatorship. Murad said the Framework Agreement could be considered as a “victory for the Bangsamoro people and the Filipino nation…earned not by war but by that collective desire tempered by the inner nobility of human nature to restore justice and peace.” He said the Framework Agreement was the “greatest tribute” to departed MILF leaders led by Chairman Hashim Salamat who passed away in 2003, and to all the slain fighters of the MILF and the MNLF. Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said in an interview after the ceremony that investors are expected to show more interest in Mindanao’s development following the signing of the peace deal. “There are those interested even before this. But I guess with such an agreement, then we expect that there will be more interest in the future in the areas of power, mining, agriculture, including palm-oil plantations being considered by Malaysia for some time now. And some manufacturing perhaps,” Domingo said. He said the peace agreement “sends a very positive signal to potential investors.” Asked to estimate the potential investments in Mindanao with the signing of the Framework Agreement, Domingo said, “It’s hard to say but obviously Mindanao is very rich in natural resources. The potential is huge. We’re just tapping a very small percentage of what it could be, maybe just 10 percent to 20 percent only of the potential. Responding to questions in a news briefing, MILF Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the most difficult issue encountered during the negotiations for the Framework Agreement was on the police force for the Bangsamoro, and what made them overcome this was their “perseverance” and the “creativity” of the Malaysian facilitator. On concerns about the MILF breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Iqbal said it “has no legitimacy so they will fade away in due time.”

Iqbal declined to comment on the issue of decommissioning MILF forces provided under the Framework Agreement, as this would still have to be further discussed. The next round of talks would be held sometime in November, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. When asked, Iqbal said the MILF wants the peace agreement to be implemented during the Aquino administration, as it saw Mr. Aquino as “a very reliable partner.” At the signing ceremony, the speakers—Mr. Aquino, Najib, Murad and Deles—took turns thanking each other and various foreign governments and institutions that supported and were involved in the peace process. The President thanked Najib and said his “commitment to our peace process shone as a beacon of peace to the international community.” The President cited Deles and Chief Peace Negotiator Marvic Leonen for being “true exemplars of public service.” He lauded Iqbal “who approached the process cognizant of our shared aspirations for peace” and “kept an open mind, which enabled compromise without sacrificing the interests of the Bangsamoro people.” The President said Murad “even while striving for the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people, remained an astute statesman who realized that progress lay in building consensus among the many stakeholders in the region.” “He led not with dogmatism or hardened ideology, but with a flexibility and open mindedness borne of trust. We all owe him our collective thanks,” he said. Mr. Aquino first met Murad in August 2011, in Tokyo, Japan, to boost peace negotiations with the MILF. “We looked at each other as brothers, responsible and committed to the attainment of the aspirations of our people. This mindset, I am certain, percolated throughout the negotiating process and our respective panels. We now all share in the triumph of this Framework Agreement,” he said. The President thanked the governors of the ARMM for supporting the agreement and also for the “hard work” they are expected to exert in doing so. Najib lauded Mr. Aquino “for his strong unwavering resolute commitment to durable peace in the Southern Philippines”; Murad “for his strong leadership in the peace process and for his personal choice over the path of conflict”; Chief Peace Negotiators Marvic Leonen and Mohagher Iqbal; and the Malaysian facilitator.

The Malaysian Prime Minister also thanked his predecessors, Mahathir Mohammad and Abdullah Badawi “for initiating and honoring their commitments to the peace process,” and the Malaysian contingent in the International Monitoring Team (IMT).

In Photo: Government peace negotiator Marvic Leonen (seated, right) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal (seated, left) formally sign the Framework Agreement reached by negotiators of the Philippine government and the MILF. Witnessing the signing ceremony at Malacañang on Monday were Malaysian peace broker Dato Tengko Abdul Ghafar (seated, center), MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad (standing, second from left), Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (third from left), President Aquino (second from right) and government peace negotiator Teresita Deles. Standing at left is unidentified MILF negotiator. The Muslim group and the Philippine government overcame decades of bitter hostilities and took their first tentative step toward ending one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies with the ceremonial signing of the preliminary peace pact that both sides said presented both a hope and a challenge. (AP)

Remittances rose 7.6% to $1.8B in August Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:35 am | Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 Share on facebook_likeShare Tweet Cash remittances from overseas-based Filipinos sent through banks reached $1.8 billion in August, increasing at a 10-month high of 7.6 percent from $1.67 billion in the same month last year. Remittances in August eased from $1.81 billion in July, but still higher than the $1.7 billion average for the first seven months of the year. This brought the inflows for January to August to $13.7 billion, 5.5 percent higher than the $15.3 billion sent in the same period of 2011. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said in a statement that eight-month fund transfers rose following a steady stream from both sea- and land-based workers, who accounted for $3.2 billion and $10.5 billion, respectively. According to BSP officer-in-charge Juan D. de Zuñiga, growth in remittances was sustained by higher transfers—including non-cash items—from land-based OFWs with work contracts of at least one year as well as all OFWs with contracts of less than a year. The BSP also measures “personal remittances,” which cover cash and goods carried into the country as well as travel expenses in countries where the senders work. In terms of territories from where the funds were sent through banks, the top source was the United States with 43 percent of the total for the eight months. Other key sources were Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Japan, United Arab Emirates and Singapore. Citing preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the BSP said there was continued demand for skilled Filipino workers, with 231,316 job orders for the nine months to September. These workers are needed in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Taiwan. “With expectations of sustained demand for skilled Filipino workers overseas, remittances are projected to continue to boost economic activity and provide a steady supply of foreign exchange,” Zuñiga said. “Moreover, the increasing use of financial channels for transfers and the continued introduction of innovations in remittance products are expected to contribute to the steady flow of remittances into the country,” he added.—Ronnel W. Domingo

PH jobless rate unchanged despite GDP growth By Ana G. Roa Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:34 am | Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 Despite a 5.9-percent economic growth in the second quarter, labor market conditions in the country have not improved, according to a World Bank research note. The October 2012 Job Trends note issued by the World Bank’s Human Development Network said that labor markets in four East Asian countries, namely, the Philippines, China, Thailand and Indonesia continued to perform reasonably well. However, economic growth, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), did not translate into better labor market conditions in the Philippines and Indonesia. “GDP growth remained reasonably high in Indonesia and picked up speed in Thailand and the Philippines. These growth increases did not necessarily translate into improved labor market conditions, however, except in Thailand,” the note said. The Philippine economy grew 5.9 percent in the second quarter of 2012 from 3.1 percent in the same quarter last year. Despite the GDP growth, latest figures showed that the unemployment rate in the country hit 7 percent in July 2012, almost unchanged from 7.1 percent a year ago. Further, the report noted that the quality of employment was deteriorating, as the underemployment rate rose by 22.7 percent in July 2012 from 19.1 percent in July last year. The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) earlier said the government was working to address the challenge of creating more jobs and ensuring the quality of employment in the country. Neda said it would work closely with the Department of Labor and Employment in crafting measures to encourage private investments that would generate stable and highquality employment. The Human Development Network is World Bank’s unit for policy, programs and research in the fields of education, health, nutrition & population, social protection and labor, children and youth, HIV/AIDS and development dialogue.

House passes P2-T budget for 2013 Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:05 am | Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Joseph Emilio Abaya. LYN RILLON The House of Representatives swiftly approved the P2.006-trillion 2013 national budget proposal on third and final reading with a 195-6 vote Monday afternoon. Outgoing House appropriations chairman Joseph Emilio Abaya, who is moving on to the Department of Transportation and Communications as its secretary, allayed concerns the money measure was meant to help administration allies running in the 2013 polls. “This will come out by the time the Commission on Elections ban will kick in. Majority of the appropriations in the 2013 budget won’t affect the election. It’s the 2012 budget that is the real election budget. But again, that doesn’t imply it will be used for partisan purposes,” Abaya told reporters. The proposal features a higher budget for infrastructure and for the administration’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program for the poor. Abaya also said the approved budget cleared up the status of the P22-billion Priority Social and Economic Projects Fund (PSEPF). The PSEPF is a lump sum that comprises allocations for special projects of various agencies that have not been put under their respective budgets because the project proposals lacked details. 2013 election worries Critics say the fund could be used for the 2013 elections, given the administration’s control over the release of the money.

But Abaya said that during budget deliberations, various agencies submitted the particulars of their projects that fell under the PSEPF. With all the project details completed, the amounts initially placed under the PSEPF reverted to respective agencies, along with the breakdown of how the funds would be spent. Abaya also said that the lawmakersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, remained intact, although the lawmakers added another item to the menu of projects for which they could use the fund. A member of the House is allowed P70 million a year from the PDAF. The pork barrel can now be used for the Development Academy of the Philippines to train barangay (village) officials. The Aquino administration has proposed setting aside P409.8 billion for infrastructure outlays, including allocations for government-owned and -controlled corporations, for 2013. The budget for the CCT was expanded to P44.256 billion to cover 3.8 million households. The six lawmakers who objected to the budget were Gabriela Representatives Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus, Siquijor Rep. Orlando Fua, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, Act Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio and Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano.

Aytas, governor support entry of investors in Nabuklod Category: Regions Published on Monday, 15 October 2012 19:27 Written by Joey Pavia / Correspondent FLORIDABLANCA, Pampanga—Gov. Lilia “Nanay” Pineda and indigenous Aytas living in the 5,000-hectare area here, dubbed “Paradise in the Sky,” said private investors are welcome to invest in the agriculture-tourism project perched 1,200 feet high above sea level. Ambo Santos, one of the Aytas leaders based in Barangays Mawacat and Nabuklod, said they do not oppose the idea of local and foreign firms investing in this vast ancestral domain known for its spectacular views of the mountain ranges of Porac, Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales. “BOT [built-operate-transfer] sana [I hope],” said Santos, one of the more than 1,000 Aytas based in the two villages at the eastern portion of the town. Santos said new investors will spur growth in tourism and agricultural largely benefitting his fellow Aytas. “This is so that the province will be removed from the burden of adding more fund, especially on maintenance. More important, it will increase activities and income for us,” said Santos in the dialect. He said the “help and attention” given by the governor is “a big boost and help.” Santos and his fellow Aytas leader, Ricardo Guiao, said the tourists, most of whom are based in Angeles City, Central Luzon and Metro Manila, have begun to visit the portion of the area developed by the provincial government since last year. A nearly complete statue of the ascension of Jesus Christ, zipline, cable car and other amenities for team-building were completed earlier this year, said Nabuklod agri-tourism project coordinator Roy Imperial, former executive director of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) North Luzon Agri Business Quadrangle. Mountain biker Rudy Gueco of Santa Rita town said they visited the area regularly years before Pineda began to develop it. “But there are more visitors now and not just bikers but tourists, especially after it was exposed in the media. If there are villas, I am sure many will come to spend the night,” said Gueco. The Angeles City government library division, led by Agnes Gomez, recently held their team-building in the area with three view decks.

Gilda Padua, president of the Alliance of Travel and Tours Agencies of Pampanga (Attap), said their group supports “not just Nabuklod but other tourism areas in Pampanga.” “Nabuklod certainly has huge potentials to be a major destination but the natural beauty of the area should be maintained while they develop it,” said Padua, whose group is working with the provincial government for local food promotion activity lined up for the Pampanga Day Celebration set in December. Second District Board Member Olga Frances “Fritzie” David Dizon, whose hometown of nearby Porac hosts at least 1,800 Aytas families, said the governor “is just giving love and attention due to the long-neglected Aytas.” Meanwhile, Pineda said she welcomed the plan of Aytas leaders and their people to offer parts of their area for agri-tourism related developments. “Projects done with other private groups may be in our area or outside of it. It’s the call of the Aytas and the potential investors,” said Pineda in the dialect, adding that the welfare of the Aytas should be the “utmost priority” in agreements reached in coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. Pineda and the provincial board led by Vice Gov. Joseller “Yeng” Guiao earlier signed a memorandum of agreement with the Tribong Ayta of Floridablanca for the development of the 1,000-hectare area which is part of the total 5,000 hectares. The provincial government is using more than P6 million for the development in the area. For the first time, potable water drawn from the lower portion of the area is now available in the developed area and houses of the Aytas. Pineda cited the American government’s efforts to improve the tourism and leisure projects near San Diego, California, to benefit the Native American Indians. The casinos at Fallbrook, California, a rural community about an hour by land from San Diego, had provided huge profits to the American Indians. She added that areas for the casinos and other related projects “largely benefited the Indians foremost.” “We are not talking about the casinos in particular but businesses that can turn vast land into earning entities. In the American set-up, the Indians are the real primary beneficiaries,” said Pineda. At least seven Indian casinos are within 45 minutes away from Fallbrook. Pineda said they were failed efforts from other top public officials in California to tax the earnings of the Indians. She said the government’s commitment in raising the welfare of the group who owns the vast lands prevailed over attempts to tax them.

“My point is that our Aytas should be like the now prominent American Indians. What will the Aytas do with the 5,000 hectares by their lonesome? They are still poor, deprived of benefits due them and this happening for many, many years already,” said Pineda, adding that the present and future business activities are designed to give “dignity and life to our Aytas siblings.” In partnership with the DA, the Pampanga government gave vegetable seedlings to the Aytas. Their first major yield was displayed and sold on Saturday. Pineda also gave goats and other animals for the Aytas’ livelihood. Third District Board Member Trina Dizon said the provincial government is closely working with the National Housing Authority to complete at least 350 houses for Aytas.

Four tramlines help WV farmers October 16, 2012 12:42AM TRAMLINES were installed in selected provinces of Western Visayas to serve farmers in farflung areas. An agricultural tramline is a hauling facility that is made of steel cables, pulleys, carriers, posts, power house, and loading and unloading platforms. Dr. Rodolfo P. Estigoy, chief of the Applied Communication Division of the Philippine Center for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech), said P5.15 million worth of tramlines were installed in Negros Occidental while Antique got P1.6 million worth of hauling facilities. A 340-meter tramline was installed in Tagukon, Kabankalan; 620 meters in Minuyan, Murcia and 330 meters in Cabatayon, Talisay all in Negros Occidental. In Antique, the existing tramline is located at Igburi, Patnongon while Passi City, Iloilo also signified its intention to avail of the technology. Dr. Estigoy said the tramline is one of the technologies under the national program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) together with the cold chain system and the mechanical and flatbed dryer. These technologies are made available to farmer organizations and associations with subsidy coming from the national government. Estigoy said there are 27 existing tramlines in the country and 106 are slated to be installed this year. Local government units (LGUs) that are interested to avail of the technology could coordinate with the DA regional office for proper endorsement. The tramline system serves as alternative for farmers who find difficulty bringing their products to the nearest "Bagsakan" Center or market due to lack of available transportation. With the tramline, the goods are expected to remain in good condition upon reaching the market due to less human intervention and will likewise command better prices which will bring higher income to farmers. The management and sustainability of the tramline is left to farmers upon establishment of necessary guidelines. (PNA) Category: For Local News

Dolphin export hinarang ng korte Posted by Online Balita on Oct 16th, 2012 // No Comment Ni Rommel Tabbad Pinagbawalan ng Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QCRTC) ang Department of Agriculture (DA) at Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) na muling iexport sa Singapore ang 25 na dolphin na kinukupkop ngayon sa Subic. Bukod sa DA at BFAR, hindi rin pinapahintulutan ni QCRTC 1st ViceExcutive Judge Bernelito Fernandez ang Singapore-based Resorts World sa Sentosa na umangkat ng anumang uri ng dolphin papasok sa bansa. Ang kautusan ay inilabas bilang tugon sa isinampang reklamo ng Earth Island Institute, Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), at ng Compassion and Responsibility to Animals Welfare Philippines. Ayon sa nasabing mga animal welfare group, isinampa nila ang petisyon nang matuklasan nila na ireexport sa Singapore ang nasabing mga dolphins na inangkat pa sa Solomon Islands noong 2008, 2009 at 2011. Maliban sa temporary environmental protection order (TEPO), hiniling din ng mga ito sa hukuman na ipawalang-bisa ang nasabing import permits na ginamit noong 2008, at ang pagpapawalangsaysay sa mga import permit ng mga dolphin mula sa Solomon Islands. Iginiit din sa korte ng mga naturang grupo na â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;alagaanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; muna ng mga inirereklamo ang mga nasabing dolphin na kasalukuyang nasa Ocean Adventure Park sa Subic hanggang hindi pa sila nare-rehabilitate para mapakawalan sa karagatan.

No DAR Abolition, Mass Layoff By ELLALYN B. DE VERA October 15, 2012, 8:22pm MANILA, Philippines --- Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes yesterday allayed fears of a mass layoff with the rumored abolition of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). De los Reyes said the budget for the support services for agrarian reform beneficiaries in 2013 stays with the DAR, not with the Department of Agriculture (DA). He said the DAR field personnel are determined to complete the distribution of land, including Hacienda Luisita, according to the timetable set by law. “I am sorry to disappoint the critics of this government, the rumors on abolition or dismemberment of the DAR are just not true,” De los Reyes pointed out. He dispelled allegations that the present administration is intent on “dismembering” the DAR so it can abandon its commitment to complete the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) before the term of President Aquino expires in 2016. “This government is committed to implementing both the language and spirit of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, and we will continue to perform the twin tasks of providing land and appropriate support services to rightful beneficiaries,” he said. De los Reyes noted that the government’s commitment to agrarian reform is best exemplified by the increasing budget allocated every year not only in land acquisition and distribution but also in support services to beneficiaries. “We have said time and again, agrarian reform is not only land distribution. It is about improving of life of our farmers and accelerating development in the rural areas. As a result of devolution, the DA has no personnel in the municipal level. Only DAR, at the moment, has the capacity to ensure that the program will be implemented efficiently in the grassroots,” he said. De Los Reyes also described as “unfounded rumors” talk that the Aquino administration is readying a Transition Plan to abolish the department by June 30, 2014. He said the government is exploring options, but there are no concrete plans as of yet. He added that any plan will surely involve the employees, and all the stakeholders. De Los Reyes explained that the Transition Plan was designed not to abolish DAR, but to rationalize the department’s manpower complement to ensure the conclusion of the land distribution component of CARP within the timetable set by law.

The plan, which was submitted by the DAR management to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), was crafted in consultation with the DAR Employees Association (DAREA). He expressed disappointment that some groups have misinterpreted the plan of DAR management to offer early retirement to personnel who wish to avail of the voluntary retirement program in exchange for a robust compensation package. De Los Reyes noted that under the proposed Transition Plan, these retirees would be replaced by new personnel who are willing to take on the herculean task of completing the land distribution program in contentious and problematic areas such as Negros Occidental. He explained that a big number of DAR field personnel, understandably, have lesser workload in areas where the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) is almost completed. “There really is a need to align the Department’s personnel complement to fit the volume of work that needs to be done. For example, Region 1 has a LAD balance of only 2,500 hectares but its personnel complement number 524 employees from the provincial offices down to the municipal offices. In contrast, one province in Region 6, Negros Occidental, has a LAD balance of 131,000 hectares but only has 178 employees from the provincial to the municipal offices,” he said. He added that DAR personnel assigned in areas with smaller land to distribute have the option to retire early with a substantial compensation package or decide to relocate to areas with low rate of land acquisition and distribution. “Nobody will be forced to resign or retire. Under our proposed Transition Plan submitted to the DBM, these DAR personnel have the option to remain to help us finish the task of land distribution. In fact, we may need to fill up or create 2,751 critical positions to ensure the distribution of land in provinces with big land balances,” he said.

DAR chief denies agency's abolition, mass layoff By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) Updated October 16, 2012 12:00 AM MANILA, Philippines - Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes yesterday denied the alleged plan to abolish the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the looming mass layoff of its workers. De los Reyes also slammed critics over claims that the budget for the agrarian reform beneficiaries in 2013 stays with DAR, and not with the Department of Agriculture (DA). “I am sorry to disappoint the critics of this government. The rumors on abolition or dismemberment of the DAR are just not true. The DAR field personnel are determined to complete the distribution of land, including Hacienda Luisita, according to the timetable set by law,” he said. He noted that the government’s commitment to the agrarian reform program is proven by the increasing budget allocated every year not only in land acquisition and distribution but also in support services to its beneficiaries. The DAR chief described as “unfounded rumors” the allegations of some groups that the Aquino administration is readying a transition plan to abolish the agency by June 30, 2014. “The government is exploring options, but there are no concrete plans as of yet. Any plan will surely involve the employees, and all the stakeholders,” he said. He explained that the transition plan is not meant to abolish the DAR, but to rationalize its manpower to ensure the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) within the timetable set by the law. The official said the plan they submitted to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was crafted in cooperation with the DAR Employees Association (DAREA). “Nobody will be forced to resign or retire. Under our proposed transition plan submitted to the DBM, these DAR personnel have the option to remain to help us finish the land distribution task,” he said, adding that the agency may need to fill up or create 2,751 critical positions to ensure the distribution of land in provinces with big land balances. The DAR has already reported to the President that it is possible to finish the distribution of bulk of the CARP-covered lands, especially those of more than 10 hectares, by June 2014 – the legislated deadline for the land acquisition and distribution program of CARP. “However, it is highly probable that there will be landholdings in the pipeline for acquisition but whose distribution will not be completed by June 30, 2014. These are the landholdings with cases and some of the small landholdings whose acquisition cannot be

started before July 2013 because of phasing provided under Republic Act 9700 (CARP Extension with Reforms),â&#x20AC;? De los Reyes said. Earlier, DAREA called for De los Reyesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; resignation for allegedly failing to fulfill his promise to delete Item No. 5 in the proposed DAR budget for 2013, which provides for the transfer of DAR Program Beneficiaries Development Funds to the DA, and the scaling down of DAR personnel way before the CARPER ends in 2014.

DAR secretary junks rumors of premature closure of the department • •

Written by PNA Tuesday, 16 October 2012 00:00

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes on Monday dashed allegations that the Aquino administration is intent on “dismembering” the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) so it can abandon its commitment to complete the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) before the term of President Aquino expires in 2016. De los Reyes stressed that there is no plan to abolish the DAR nor a mass lay-off in the department. “I am sorry to disappoint the critics of this government, the rumors on abolition or dismemberment of the DAR are just not true,” De Los Reyes pointed out. He also clarified that the budget for the support services to agrarian reform beneficiaries in 2013 stays with the DAR, not with the Department of Agriculture. The DAR field personnel are determined to complete the distribution of land, including Hacienda Luisita, according to the timetable set by law. “This government is committed to implementing both the language and spirit of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, and we will continue to perform the twin tasks of providing land and appropriate support services to rightful beneficiaries,” he added. De Los Reyes noted that the government’s commitment to the agrarian reform program is best exemplified by the increasing budget allocated every year not only in land acquisition and distribution but also in support services to beneficiaries. “We have said time and again, agrarian reform is not only land distribution. It is about improving of life of our farmers and accelerating development in the rural areas,” the DAR chief said. “As a result of devolution, the DA has no personnel in the municipal level. Only DAR, at the moment, has the capacity to ensure that the program will be implemented efficiently in the grassroots,” the DAR chief said. Also, he described as “unfounded rumors” the allegations aired by some groups that the Aquino administration is readying a transition plan to abolish the department by June 30, 2014. The government is exploring options, but there are no concrete plans as of yet. Any plan will surely involve the employees, and all the stakeholders. De Los Reyes explained that the transition plan was designed not to abolish DAR, but to rationalize the department’s manpower complement to ensure the conclusion of the land distribution component of CARP within the timetable set by law. De Los Reyes noted that the transition plan submitted by the DAR management to the Department of Budget and Managementwas crafted in consultation with the DAR Employees Association. “There is no mass lay-off in DAR,” De Los Reyes stressed. The DAR has already reported to the President, as the Sona was being crafted, that it is possible to finish distributing the bulk of CARP-covered lands, especially those above 10 hectares by June 2014 — the legislated deadline of the land acquisition and distribution program of CARP.

WE CELEBRATE WORLD FOOD DAY Celebration October 15, 2012, 9:02pm IN his message to mark this year’s World Food Day (WFD), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva noted a reduction in national investments in agriculture and official development assistance that have prompted millions of small producers to find creative and innovative ways to cope with these limitations. Despite the commitment of many countries to improve livelihood and eradicate hunger worldwide, concrete political program, and financial support remains inadequate. Cognizant of these, the theme chosen for the 2012 WFD celebration is “Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to Feeding the World” to “highlight the many, concrete ways in which agricultural cooperatives and producer organizations help to provide food security, generate employment, and lift people out of poverty.” Various events are organized worldwide to mark WFD. On October 16, 2012, a wide range of programs is organized at the FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. Other UN agencies, government offices, and academic institutions worldwide also host conferences, workshops, exhibits focusing on specific issues related to food production, distribution, and security in their region or country. The Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food Security Community of Practice in the Asian Development Bank will host several events, including a food bazaar and exhibit featuring local sustainable products. The Department of Agriculture (DA) opened its 2012 World Food Day Celebration cum Exhibit on October 15. The 20th Session of the United Nations FAO that was held in Rome, Italy, in November, 1979, called for the observance of World Food Day on October 16 in 1981, and on every year thereafter. The UN General Assembly ratified this decision on December 5, 1980, and urged governments and international, national and local organizations to contribute to the observance of WFD. Food security has been a national and a global issue for several decades now. It is hoped that this WFD will serve to further motivate the concerned government agencies, non-government entities, and private organizations to examine food production and distribution processes and practices, with a view to contributing to the eradication of hunger and famine. Households and individuals are likewise urged to reflect on their food preparation and consumption practices and habits to avoid food wastage and spoilage. We greet the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, its officers and members led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, FAO Director-General, Jose Graziano da Silva, and Deputy Directors-General Ann Tutwiler (Knowledge) and Manoj Juneja (Operations) on the occasion of Word Food Day 2012. We wish them all the best and success in all their endeavors. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!

Economy Posted on October 15, 2012 10:46:59 PM

Higher tuna catch expected in Q4 THE PHILIPPINES should see a higher tuna catch starting next month after the country deployed 36 high-seas fishing vessels to the Pacific, a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) official said. BFAR Director Asis G. Perez said the 36 vessels were destined for Pocket 1 of the Pacific Ocean for a five-month fishing trip. “The ships left on Sept. 25. It’s a five-day journey so the vessels were expected to arrive on Oct. 1,” Mr. Perez told a press briefing yesterday. The ban on tuna fishing in Pocket 1 was lifted in April. Pocket 1 is open sea flanked by Palau, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia -- areas where local tuna fishing firms, mostly Mindanao-based, frequently operate. Pocket 2, meanwhile, is bounded by the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tuvalu, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and parts of Kiribati. Mr. Perez said each boat has 40 “fish aggregating devices” and are allowed to catch 24 metric tons (MT) of tuna a day. The BFAR chief added the expectation is “120 active fishing days” over the five months granted to the Philippines by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). “I’m very optimistic that the last quarter will pull us up especially with the tuna production coming in” Mr. Perez said. Fish output had declined by 3.3% in the first semester. The WCPFC is a 25-member organization that regulates the fishing of migratory fish stocks such as big-eye and yellow-fin tuna. It imposed a two-year ban to let tuna stocks recover. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala in May said the department was expecting an additional 120,000 MT to 150,000 MT in fish harvest in the third quarter due to the lifting of the ban. Overall fish production totaled 4,980,260 MT in 2011 while tuna catch summed up to 941,378.6 MT, based on BFAR data.

DA upholds farmers’ cooperatives Published : Tuesday, October 16, 2012 00:00 THE Department of Agriculture has recognized the role of farmers’ cooperatives in improving food security and in eradicating hunger worldwide. The DA spearheaded the celebration of “World Food Day” in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Themed “Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to feeding the world” - the WFD has been observed to heighten public awareness of the predicament of the hungry and the malnourished. It also encourages respective countries and governments to invest and vigorously pursue long-term programs to eradicate hunger and poverty. Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the DA has been partnering with farmers’ and fisherfolks’ groups and cooperatives, along with the local government units and the private sector, to increase productivity and income. Alcala also made a special pitch during his provincial sorties by encouraging small farmers and fishers to organize themselves into cooperatives so they could benefit from the “economies of scale.” Joel dela Torre

2012 10 16 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

News Monitor for 2012 10 16

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