Magsaysay sees ruling on fertilizer fund scam soon By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) Updated October 31, 2012 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Former senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., who headed the Senate investigation into the multi million-peso fertilizer fund scam in 2006, said he is expecting the Sandiganbayan to come out with a ruling on the case in the next few months. Magsaysay, in a visit to The STAR on Monday night, said it is imperative for the Sandiganbayan to put closure to the celebrated case so the public can see this is in line with the reform agenda of the Aquino administration. He cited information from his lawyer friends handling the case that there is due diligence on the part of the court and the case is moving towards final resolution. “I’m expecting a conclusion maybe within the next few months. It has been in the Sandiganbayan for over 12 months already,” Magsaysay said. “I think they want to also prove that they are part of the reform. With the President and the Ombudsman and Supreme Court already in the same mode of reforms – judicial reforms, they want to be a positive part of it, too,” he added. Magsaysay admitted the case is complicated in the sense that there were so many people involved. He said determining any criminal liability on their part is a tedious process. “They are not all guilty, except that their names were introduced by Mr. Bolante. So they are going over each and every one of them. It’s not as simple as having just one or two people (involved),” Magsaysay said, referring to former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante. Magsaysay, former chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture, together with then Blue Ribbon committee chairman Sen. Joker Arroyo, led the initial probe into the P728million fertilizer fund scam. The probe revealed the funds intended for the purchase of fertilizers and other farm inputs were misused and realigned for various purposes, including allegedly to support the campaign war chest of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004. The funds were reportedly distributed to a number of pre-determined local government officials, members of the House of Representatives, Bolante, the supplier of the farm inputs and the Department of Agriculture official runners. Sworn testimonies given during the Senate hearings revealed the supplier of the fertilizer delivered either diluted products or those not suitable for agricultural products.
Some of the farm inputs managed to reach the intended recipients but most of these remained undistributed by the local government units. In several instances, the allocation went to areas where there were no agricultural lands. The P728 million is only a portion of a larger fertilizer fund released during the election period of 2004. According to the committee report prepared by Magsaysay and Arroyo, the total fertilizer funds amounted to P2.806 billion. A Commission on Audit (COA) report on the use of the fertilizer funds confirmed most of the findings of the Senate. In 2008, the Blue Ribbon committee under former senator Richard Gordon reopened the probe into the issue. Bolante, along with former agriculture secretary Luis “Cito” Lorenzo and former agriculture assistant secretary Ibarra Poliquit, were charged with plunder before the Sandiganbayan. Magsaysay previously criticized former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for sitting on the case even when she already had all of the documents from the two Senate probes as well as the COA report into the use of the fertilizer funds. He recalled that it was only when Gutierrez resigned in 2011, amidst an impeachment case filed against her, and Orlando Casimiro was designated as acting Ombudsman that the case was finally filed before the Sandiganbayan. According to Magsaysay, the information he received was that Lorenzo would no longer face a plunder charge and instead be tried for criminal negligence. He recalled the first committee report recommended the filing of plunder charges against Lorenzo but this was no longer the case in the second report released by Gordon. “The program was put together by Mr. Bolante, he was the ‘architect’ of the whole program. He was the one who prepared the list of politicians to be part of it. Cito signed the administrative order but after that he just wanted to (wash his hands of the issue) and turned it over to Usec. Bolante for operations. It is an act of omission,” Magsaysay said.
Agri damage placed at P100M By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) Updated October 31, 2012 12:00 AM MANILA, Philippines - The value agricultural assets damaged by tropical storm “Ofel” has been placed at P100 million, according to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. “The effect of the storm is minimal and will not affect our projections,” he said in an interview with radio station dwIZ over the weekend.Half of the value of crop damages comprised damages to palay. Damage to palay caused by the onslaught of tropical storm Ofel has been placed at P49.5 million covering 3,419 hectares with production loss of about 12, 992 metric tons. Agriculture assistant secretary and rice program coordinator Dante Delima said most of the affected rice lands (3,161 hectares) were in the province of Leyte. Ofel battered the provinces of Leyte, Mindoro, Cebu, Sarangani, Romblon, Marinduque, Bicol and other nearby provinces. Delima believes the damage inflicted on palay would not significantly affect palay production target for the fourth quarter. Alcala remains optimistic that rice farmers who participated in the third cropping scheme would still have a good harvest in December. Third cropping for the year started last month, with the aim of recovering production loses caused by typhoons Ferdie, Gener and the southwest monsoon that dumped torrential rains over rice producing regions in July and August. Based on farmers’ planting intentions, third quarter palay output is expected to reach 3.56 million MT, 12 percent higher than last year’s output of 3.17 million MT but Delima said growth could be lower for the quarter because of the weather disturbances. For the fourth quarter, palay production is seen to reach 6.36 million MT, seven percent higher than last year’s output of 5.94 million MT. During the second quarter of the year, palay production was placed at 3.9 million MT, up 10 percent from 3.54 million in the same period in 2011. This was because of the early cropping scheme implemented by the DA during the dry season to prevent crop damage during the typhoon season. In the first quarter of 2012, palay production declined by 1.12 percent to 3.99 million MT from the same period a year ago because of delayed planting in some provinces like Cagayan and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as a result of continuous rains. The DA has a palay production target of 18.46 million MT for the whole of 2012 but is setting a conservative target of 17.8 million MT which is 6.7 percent higher than the harvest of 16.68 million MT in the same period last year. http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?publicationSubCategoryId=66&articleId=865144
Posted on October 30, 2012 11:16:06 PM
8% palay output in Q3 seen PALAY output in the third quarter will likely be lower than first thought as a result of severe weather disturbances, an Agriculture official said yesterday. Farmers carry sackloads of rice harvested in the village of Penarubia, Abra, in this Nov. 2008 file photo. The government estimates palay production to rise by 8% in the third quarter after storms put many rice paddies under water. -- AFP “For rice production, we are looking at an 8% minimum increase in the third quarter,” Dante S. De lima, Agriculture assistant secretary and National Rice Program (NRP) coordinator told reporters. “The 12.3% forecast by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics could be achieved but an 8% projection is more realistic,” Mr. Delima added. Typhoons Gener and Ferdie hit the country in July, while the southwest monsoon brought incessant rains in early August. Mr. Delima said the 8% estimate for palay output in the third quarter -- due out on Nov. 15 along with other farm production data -- was based on field monitoring in the wake of the typhoons and the monsoon rains. An 8% increase would mean 3.43 million metric tons (MT) of palay, instead of the 3.56 MT if the growth rate were 12%. As for the fourth quarter harvest, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics’ 7.1% projection for increase in palay production still looked feasible, the official said. “Some 100,000 hectares have been pledged for the third cropping scheme, which is due for harvest in December” Mr. Delima said. “Of the 100,000 hectares, 80% has been planted for the third cropping.” The forecast is 6.36 million MT of palay in the last quarter of the year. Mr. Delima said tropical storm Ofel did not have a significant impact on the third cropping. He pointed out only 858 hectares of the 15,557 hectares affected by Ofel had no chance of recovery.
OFEL IMPACT IN VISAYAS An Agriculture official based in the Visayas also said Ofel had minimal damage on rice farms. In Leyte, Samar and Biliran, Ofel affected 5,134 hectares of rice farms, of which 767 hectares had no chance of recovery due to severe flooding. Some 5,687 farmers in the provinces of Leyte, Biliran, and Samar were affected. Antonio G. Gerundio, DA regional executive director, howevers said the damage won’t dent the region’s annual rice production target. The DA regional office targets to produce 1.014 MT of rice this year. “The volume of estimated yield loss is not even 1% of our projected regional production this year. Production decline per area reported ranges only from 10% to 35%,” Mr. Gerundio told BusinessWorld. “Even if the damage is only minimal, we have been preparing seeds stocks that will be provided to affected farmers through community seed banking (CSB),” he added. Under CSB, the Agriculture department has been distributing for free two kilos of registered rice seeds per hectare to qualified and participating farmers’ groups, cooperatives and irrigator’s associations in major rice-producing regions nationwide. Their produce serves as buffer stock and can be used during calamities. Nationwide, palay production rose by 4.15% to 7.89 million MT in the first half of the year. Palay contributes to 15-16% of the country’s agricultural output. The production target for palay has been set at P18.46 million MT for 2012. The DA, however, has set a conservative target of 17.8 million MT, still 6.7% higher than the 16.68 million MT notched in 2011. -- G. P. L. Guerrero and S. Q. Meniano
Unmilled rice output seen falling short in 3Q Published on 31 October 2012 Hits: 138 Written by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ The country’s palay production may fall short of projection for the third quarter of this year because of successive weather disturbances, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Tuesday.
Dante Delima, DA assistant secretary and National Rice Program coordinator, told reporters that palay (unmilled rice) production may increase by 8 percent in the third quarter of 2012, lower than the projected growth rate of 12 percent. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics earlier noted that third quarter palay output, which was based on farmers’ planting intentions, was projected to reach 3.56 million metric tons (MT), 12 percent higher than last year’s output of 3.17 million MT. “This is based on our field assessment. But we still see that damages to the palay sector caused by the typhoons as minimal,” Delima said. The DA official, however, said that they expect massive harvest in the fourth quarter of 2012 because of the ongoing third cropping. “We may exceed our production target of 6.36 million MT in the fourth quarter,” he said, noting that over 100,000 hectares have been pledged for the third cropping scheme that started in September and due for harvest in December. Of the total area, 80 percent, mostly in provinces in Region 2 and Region 3, have been utilized, he added. For this year, palay production is expected to reach 18.46 million MT. But the National Rice Program said that they are setting a conservative target of 17.8 million MT, which is still 6.7 percent higher than the harvest of 16.68 million MT in the same period last year. Delima believes that the target for the year can still be reached.
US food exports to PHL seen hitting $880 million in 2012 Category: Economy Published on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 20:21 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter Expectations of higher demand for American food items, especially during the holidays, prompted the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to project that US food exports to the Philippines would be higher at $880 million in 2012. In a Global Agricultural Information Network (Gain) report prepared and released recently by the USDA, the $880 million projected for 2012 is higher than the $850 million projected in March. Sales in 2011 reached $761 million. The Gain report revealed that US food and beverage (F&B) exports to the Philippines in January to June went up by 16 percent year-on-year to $336.22 million, making the Philippines the largest market for American F&B products in Southeast Asia. “The robust growth is expected to continue as importers stock up for the year-end holidays. Export sales of food and beverage products are expected to reach a record $880 million by the end of the year, more than double 2009 levels,” the report read. The USDA noted that the volume of exports by the end of 2012 will have filled over 21,000 container trucks and provide support to 1.8 million American food-processing jobs. In the January-to-June period, the top five best-selling items in terms of value were dairy products, red meats, poultry meat, processed fruits and vegetables, and snack foods. In terms of volume, the five top selling items were breakfast cereals, prepared/preserved red meats, fruit and vegetable juices, snack foods and poultry meat. Food and beverage products are not just consumed directly but are also being used by the Philippines’s burgeoning food sector, the USDA noted. In 10 years from 2003 to 2012, the USDA said American F&B exports to the Philippines have “exploded” by more than 500 percent. With most analysts projecting continued growth in the country’s economy and the Filipinos’ penchant for spending on food, the USDA expects demand for American-made food and beverage products will be sustained through 2013. The report noted that there is growth potential in the convenience, gourmet, and “healthy, natural and organic” categories. The USDA also sees sustained demand for American-made breakfast cereals, wines, beers and dairy products next year.
Food security, sufficiency goals threatened by mining Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 19:53 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga LIKE land conversion and cultivation of agricultural land for the production of biofuels, large-scale mining is a threat to the country’s food security and the present administration’s rice self-sufficiency goals, a local rice watchdog said on Tuesday. The group issued the warning as the government prepares to implement Executive Order 79 signed by President Aquino on July 6, which institutes reform on the country’s minerals sector. According to Lita Mariano, spokesman of Bantay Bigas, large-scale mining operations are located along food production areas, particularly rice farms, which threatens the government’s goal to become rice self-sufficient by 2013. Mariano cited the findings of the National Peasants’ Conference on Land, Mining and Militarization co-organized by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on October 9, 2012, which identified thousands of rice farms in different regions that are threatened by the approval of more large-scale mining operations. The group cited for instance that in South Cotabato, 57,000 hectares of rice farms may be affected in case of a tailings dam leak takes place upon the commercial operation of Tampakan Copper-Gold Project. Also, in the Zamboanga Peninsula, 15,207 hectares of rice farms and another 33,000 hectares in the Visayas are also threatened by mining. The recent tailings dam failure of Philex Mining Corp. in Padcal, Itogon, Benguet, resulted in the heavy siltation and poisoning of the nearby Balog Creek and tributaries leading to the Agno River. The leak contaminated waters finding its way to the San Roque dam, which was meant to irrigate some 50,000 hectares of rice farms in Central Luzon, according to Mariano. In Sipalay, Negros, Philex gold expansion of its mining operations will destroy about 100 hectares of rice farms which will serve as catchment basin for its mine wastes and tailings, she added. “About 80 farmers and their families will be affected,” according to Gregorio Ratin, secretary general of KMP-Negros.
“Philex Gold has been mining Sipalay since 1994. A year later in December 1995, a leak from its tailings pond caused massive fishkill and damage to rice farms, including health problems as toxic dermatitis, severe muscular pain and coughing,” Ratin added. About 1,827 farming families and 800 fisherfolks,and their families were affected in that tailings disaster which is claimed to be as damaging as the Marcopper disaster in Marinduque in 1996. The group said President Aquino’s new mining policy aims to override local ordinances passed by local government units (LGUs) banning mining operations in their provinces, precisely for the purpose of protecting local food production base, watersheds and the environment in general. “Even the current land-reform program of the government supports the conversion of agricultural lands after five years to other uses deemed more productive by LGUs,” Mariano added. The group echoed calls by anti-mining groups to repeal of Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and E.O. 79 and pass into law a Peoples’ Mining Act that provides for a sustainable national mining development without sacrificing the country’s food security.
Banana growers, exporters to draft work plan to boost overseas sales Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 19:52 Written by Max V. de Leon / Reporter BANANA exporters and other stakeholders will be drafting an industry work plan that is focused on making Philippine bananas compliant with the international technical and phytosanitary standards. To kick off this initiative, the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Mindanao Business Council and about 500 industry players are scheduled to meet with concerned government agencies on November 6 and 7 for the Mindanao Banana Congress. Marizon S. Loreto, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regional director in Mindanao, said attending the event are growers, farmers, cooperatives, suppliers of production inputs, traders, exporters, logistics players, industry associations, agrarianreform communities, research institutions, academe, other support groups and participants from government agencies and local government units. “The Mindanao Banana Congress is expected to result in the attainment of five major outcomes, to wit: formulation of the banana industry road map; improved access to government support programs; established supplier-buyer linkages; significant contribution of the banana industry on the hunger and malnutrition mitigation measures of the government; and industry, growth and development,” Loreto said. The Congress, Loreto added, is expected to produce solutions to the various issues and concerns confronting the banana industry such as plant diseases, phytosanitary standards protocol, good agricultural practices and product traceability.Other topics include integrated management and control of major banana diseases. Also calendared are the proposed Banana Research Center and business-matching sessions. There will also be an exhibition on various banana recipes for commercialization. “This is an event that shows how important convergence is between the government and private sector especially in achieving industry growth and development,” Loreto said. Banana exports in the January-to-August period went up by 20.16 percent to $309.16 million, with Japan as the top market. China, which imposed phytosanitary restrictions on Philippine bananas early this year, imported 358,000 metric tons worth P4.75 billion in 2011. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri-commodities/1441-banana-growers-exporters-todraft-work-plan-to-boost-overseas-sales
PHL should learn from Vietnam agri development Category: Opinion Published on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 18:57 Written by Ed Javier / Firebrand
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam—We are on a trip to this country that is one of the emerging economies in the Southeast Asian region to get a view of how a nation once ravaged by war has been able to transform itself into a bastion of food security in the Asia-Pacific region. In a forum we heard, experts talk on food security, among them Prof. Paul Teng, senior fellow at the Center for Non-Traditional Security Studies at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Nanyang Technological University of Singapore. We also heard Andrew Guthrie, regional director for Syngenta Asia Pacific, and Ponsi Trivisvavet, head of Asean Syngenta, on the contribution of the Swiss-based multinational company in ensuring global food security. Vietnam is the perfect backdrop for tackling food-security issues considering its phenomenal achievement in agricultural development, particularly in rice production, which is a vital cog in food self-sufficiency. Data from the World Bank says, and I quote, “From being one of the poorest countries in the world with a per capita income below $100, Vietnam has steadily risen to lower middle-income status within a quarter of a century with a per capita income of $1,130 in 2010.” “The ratio of population at the poverty level has also dropped from 58 percent in 1993 to 14.5 percent in 2008.” Most economic indicators have gone up on the back of a vibrant agricultural sector that has made Vietnam a major rice bowl in the region. The phenomenal growth of rice production in this country makes for an interesting case study on how it was able to achieve rice self-sufficiency in so short a time. Vietnam now ranks among the world’s top rice exporters alongside Thailand and India. Its rice exports for the first nine months of 2012 totaled 5.845 million metric tons, amounting roughly to between $2.5 billion and $3 billion. Vietnam deserves plaudits for
the equitable nature of its economic development, which has accomplished the twin goals of boosting rice production and increasing the income and standard of living of farmers. Interestingly, many of the rice experts in Vietnam, Thailand and India were trained at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at the University of the Philippines in Los Ba単os, Laguna. While these foreign students have helped improve the yield and quality of their rice, our country still struggles to develop rice self-sufficiency. Of course, the Philippines does not have the kind of topography found in this country. Vietnam can boast of the fertile Mekong Delta, which accounts for a bumper crop of rice year after year. I remember the late Ka Sonny Escudero, who twice served as secretary of agriculture under President Marcos and President Ramos, explaining the importance of the naturalwater irrigation system coming from the Mekong River. Ka Sonny was the resident expert on all matters relating to agriculture on our radio program, Karambola sa DWIZ. It becomes increasingly urgent, therefore, for society to harness the power of new agriculture technologies that will develop new crop varieties and crop-management techniques in order to help farmers in an environmentally sustainable way. We also have to come up with novel solutions to the problems concerning the impending critical shortage of arable land on which to grow crops to feed the growing world population. That is why I am glad to hear that some multinational private companies of agricultural products have taken up the cudgels to help face the issues, challenges and opportunities of agricultural economies. For instance, these companies are helping reduce poverty by providing equal access to information and knowledge on improved technologies that enhance food production. Countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia still need to conduct further agricultural research and training, and to disseminate these information and knowledge to both the private and public sectors. The goal is for countries in the Asia- Pacific region to lay the foundations that will reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of farmers and consumers and ensure environmental sustainability through more robust partnerships and agricultural research. Agriculture is a gut issue to most nations in this part of the world. Governments rise and fall on the basis of the supply of rice and other staple food products. A hungry stomach knows no law, as the saying goes. With the burgeoning population, increasing demand for food and shrinking acreage of land that can be used for agricultural purposes, it is crucial for governments in the Asia Pacific to formulate policies that will ensure food security. The Philippines should study
the Vietnam example. It has overtaken us in the most basic service of ensuring sufficient food supply for our people. It would do well for the Philippine government to take a closer look at Vietnamâ€™s agricultural techniques, instead of sending a coterie of officials to remote places like Navarra, Spain, to observe their practice of autonomy, ostensibly in aid of the peace process. Some say that the trip is obviously nothing but a junket. But that, they say, is another story. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/opinion/1413-phl-should-learn-fromvietnam-agri-development
Upland Rice Technology Adopted By Farmers Group In Negros Oriental October 30, 2012, 6:41pm MABINAY, Negros Oriental — Farmers in this town will continue to adopt the upland rice technology introduced to them by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), as such practice has been successful in rice-producing Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand. PhilRice recently conducted a demonstration in Mabinay showcasing upland rice technologhy using such rice varieties as Azucena, Dinorado, Camuros, Palawan and UPL Ri3 with the use of organic and chemical fertilizers. Upland Farmers’ Association president Flore Rubio, President said the positive outcome of the demonstration by PhilRice led the group to adopt said upland rice technology. Upland rice varities are grown in rain-fed fields prepared and seeded when dry, much like wheat or maize. It is said to provide higher income to farmers even as statistics show that nearly 100 million people now depend on upland rice for their daily staple food. Meanwhile, PhilRice program coordinator Ed Libertario has disclosed that the development of upland rice is an opportunity by which the country’s rice supply could very well be augmented. He said Mabinay has a potential area of 100 hectares for upland rice farming and if fully utilized, such hectarage can most likely be an effective contributing factor in achieving rice sufficiency by 2013, said Libertario. He emphasized that though upland rice yields only 1 to 1.5 tons per hectare, it can increase farmer’ income due to its high buying price in the market. Current buying price of upland rice range from R50-R100 per kilo. Meanwhile, Mabinay Mayor Ernie Uy has advised farmers to practice multi-crop and consider upland rice instead of focusing on sugarcane planting as sugar currently has a fluctuating price in the market. He further encouraged farmers to make use of the current PhilRice program which provides free seeds. (Phoebe Jen Indino) http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/379327/upland-rice-technology-adopted-by-farmersgroup-in-negros-oriental#.UJCOimcTgok
UNDAS ASSISTANCE October 30, 2012, 6:34pm
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte (PIA) â€” Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture collaboration in Eastern Visayas on the rabies-free campaign program in the region has gained positive result with this monthâ€™s declaration of Biliran as rabies- free province. The two national government offices have jointly lobbied for the Anti-Rabies Act since 2007 with an aim to achieve a zero-rabies country by 2020. Dr. Erlinda Domingo of the health facility enhancement program of DOH said Secretary Enrique Ona has vowed to increase the procurement of dog vaccines and increase funding for the program in recognition of DAs good performance in the implementation of the program.
Organic Farming October 30, 2012, 5:56pm ZAMBOANGA CITY – Close to 1,000 farmers, irrigators’ association members, and local officials participated in the first-ever Municipal Organic Agriculture Congress that was held in Midsayap, North Cotabato, over the weekend, and was hosted by the Region12 office of the Department of Agriculture (DA). DA-12 Regional Executive Director Amalia Jayag-Datukan, who was the guest of honor and speaker, said the congress was aimed at ensuring the full implementation and success of the Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Program of the agency by promoting organic farming practices not only in the region but throughout the country. “Organic farming practices have contributed greatly to the health of Filipinos as well as in the preservation of the environment,” Datukan told the participants. Datikan also informed the farmers that the DA-12 is set to receive some P21.7 million for the organic farming projects. Datukan also appealed to the farmers to shift to organic farming, as it will make farming more productive and environment-friendly, as she made a special mention that the 17 towns in the region are now covered by organic agriculture. Central Mindanao is composed of the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Kidapawan, Tacurong, and Cotabato. (Nonoy E. Lacson)
Retraining Of Coffee Farmers Urged By MELODY M. AGUIBA October 30, 2012, 5:35pm The Philippines needs to retrain its farmers in the adoption of best cultural practices and fertilization of coffee farms to reduce the projected 150,000 metric tons (MT) of coffee bean imports in five to 10 years valued at P15 billion. The Philippines used to be one of the big exporters of coffee beans in the 1980s, but farmers’ inability to fertilize their farms and practice farm maintenance such as pruning have substantially brought the country’s production down to 25,000 MT level. Consumption growth, particularly in the three-in-one instant coffee segment which grows by 20 to 30 percent yearly, will prop imports up from the present 100,000 MT, according to Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI) chairman Nicholas Matti. “The time to hide our problem is over. We have to accept our problem. We’re drinking Vietnamese and Indonesian coffee. We’re importing P10 billion worth of coffee because our production is not moving. We’re denying the potential income to our farmers,” said Matti at the Options Inc. Coffee-Cacao forum. During the peak in 1989, the country was able to produce 72,000 MT because one of the exporters of Robusta coffee was able to export coffee to the US at premium price under a privileged quota system. At that time, Vietnam was just producing 15,000 MT and did not enjoy this bilateral agreement. But as the Vietnamese government planted coffee on 500,000 hectares of land over the Daklak province that had a coffee-suitable height of 300 to 350 meters above sea level, it slowly gained production growth rising to 1.4 million MT yearly at present. In this coffee research center, Vietnam has an experimental field of 175 hectares for plantation crops and 130 hectares for forest crops. Vietnam’s establishment of putting up a 300-hectare coffee research center at Dak Lak’s capital, Buon Ma Thuot, was contributory to its production leap as it was able to produce coffee at an average of 2.5 MT per hectare. The Philippines’s coffee yield is just at 0.5 to one MT per hectare. Exceptional Vietnamese farmers can produce four to five MT per hectare. The price of coffee at present is at $2,000 per MT FOB which should be enough attraction for farmers to start planting. This is much higher than the $400 per MT price in 2002 when Vietnam’s production shot up to around 1.2 million MT. Key to raising local coffee production is improving fertilization and the coffee cultivar, Matti said.
A Vietnamese farmer can put in 25 to 30 kilos of fertilizer on his coffee farm with a total cost of P40,000 to P45,000. And yet this pays off as a production of 3,300 kilos per hectare at P100 per kilo can generate a gross income of P330,000. Still, his net income is more than P200,000 per hectare. Having noticed that coffee farmers in the Philippines do not practice fertilization, pruning, and other best practices, a Belgian consultant of the PCBI has noted that the low coffee production in the country may be addressed through farmersâ€™ adoption of best cultural practices. The country also needs to develop a high-yielding coffee cultivar as the Vietnamese government has the TR5 coffee variety. This can yield four MT per hectare that is capable of bringing its total production to two million MT out of the same 500,000 coffee area in Dak Lak. Globally, coffee demand is expected to grow further particularly arising from hefty consumption growth in China and India. There will be a 30 million bag shortage of coffee beans in 10 years. With this forecast, the Philippines should produce more coffee including the Arabica variety to strengthen its global competitiveness. The country produces more Robusta variety turned into instant coffee.
Banks to service customers during long weekend By Ted P. Torres and Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star) Updated October 31, 2012 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - The country’s largest banks have assured customers of continuous – although limited – operations during the long weekend. In separate press advisories, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank), BDO Unibank Inc. and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) said aside from opening branches in select locations, their entire ATM network would remain in service from Nov.1-4. Metrobank said some of its branches nationwide will be open as it beefs up its bank channels for the long All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day holiday weekend. It is also conducting maintenance checks on all its ATMs nationwide, which will be loaded with sufficient cash to meet the requirements of its customers over the long weekend. “The bank’s operation support teams are on-duty 24/7 to ensure continuity of ATM services,” it said. Metrobank ATM accountholders can also pay for their purchases in department stores, supermarkets and other establishments through the BancNet point-of-sale (POS) terminals. Likewise,Metrobank’s thrift unit Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) said all its more than 500 ATMs nationwide are set to serve clients in time for the holidays. PSBank said it has a dedicated team working 24/7 to ensure that all branch and offsite ATMs are operational during the long weekend. Meanwhile, BPI said their branches will be open until today, and will be closed on Nov. 1 and 2. BPI kiosks will continue to follow their regular Saturday / Sunday weekend schedules on Nov. 3 and 4. BPI said it is ready to service all ATM transactions through its 1,800 units nationwide during the four-day holiday. “We are encouraging the general public to withdraw and finish their transactions early enough to avoid the rush and queues. During this same period last year, the average daily withdrawal volumes on BPI ATMs were about P 1.4 billion. If possible, please withdraw at ATMs in the city as the ATMs along the expressways are busiest during holidays,” it said in a statement.
To avoid long lines at their ATMs, BPI said it is encouraging the public to use their Express Payment Service (EPS). Similarly, BDO said its ATMs would continue to handle transactions during the long weekend. All BDO branches will have regular banking hours until today, but will be closed on Nov.1-2. Branches open on Saturday and Sunday will have regular banking hours. As a precaution, BPI listed some reminders in using an ATM during the long break: • Check the area before using an ATM. If anyone or anything appears suspicious, leave at once. • Do not use ATMs that appear to have tampered card / cash slots. • Have your card ready for use. • Cover your hand as you type your PIN. • Never accept help from a stranger. Call your bank. For lost BPI cards, call 89-100 immediately. The provincial toll-free number is 1-800-188-89100. • For your security, never count your money at the ATM in full view of strangers. • Get your card and transaction slip at once. http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?publicationSubCategoryId=66&articleId=865141
BSP urged to be 'creative' in addressing challenges By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) Updated October 31, 2012 12:00 AM MANILA, Philippines - Merely lowering policy rates has proven not enough to address capital inflow concerns, prompting the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to be “creative” to consider other tools. “We can no longer rely on just policy rate adjustments to address challenges arising from strong capital inflows,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. told reporters yesterday on the sidelines of the First National Convention of the Capital Markets Institute of the Philippines. “We must use other tools like macroprudential. We have to be creative with the tools to use given the condition and circumstances. We have to see the appropriate tools to use,” he added. Those tools, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said in a text message, include the 20-percent ceiling on banks’ real estate exposure, the single borrower’s limit as well as recent prohibition of foreign inflows in special deposit accounts (SDA). Last Thursday, BSP slashed policy rates by 25 basis points for the fourth time this year, bringing the overnight borrowing and lending rates to new record low of 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively. Aside from tweaking key rates, however, BSP has a number of tools at its disposal meant to make sure prices and capital inflows are in check to maintain financial stability. A number of measures using those tools were announced during the course of the year. On January, the central bank raised non-deliverable forwards transaction charges to 15 percent from 10 percent, while in July it banned foreign funds from parking at SDAs, short-term deposit accounts which the BSP is paying interest. Both measures were targeted at speculative inflows contributing to the peso’s recent appreciation. A strong peso, which opened at 41.28 to a dollar yesterday, trims the value of export earnings and remittances from overseas Filipinos. Last month, BSP also tightened banks’ real estate exposure reporting to make sure it prevents asset bubbles from forming. Asset bubbles, seen detrimental to the economy, are formed once asset prices do not reflect real market rates due to large demand buoyed by “easy-money” environment. Despite the measures however, the peso has continued to strengthen by roughly six percent this year, SDA deposits rose by some 14 percent from P1.645 trillion in March to P1.878 trillion as of Sept. 28 while real estate loans continued its uptrend, hitting its highest level since March 2008 at P244.428 billion as of June. http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=865154&publicationSubCategoryId=66
Moody's raises credit rating of Phl's four biggest banks By Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star) Updated October 31, 2012 12:00 AM Comments (0)
MANILA, Philippines - Global credit rater Moody’s Investors Service has raised its credit rating of four of the Philippines’ biggest banks, a sign of its continuing confidence in the country’s economic climate. In a statement, Moody’s said the foreign currency deposit rating of BDO Unibank Inc. (BDO), Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) was raised to Ba1 from Ba2 following the upgrade of the Philippine government’s credit rating and the raising of the foreign currency debt and deposit ceilings. Additionally, Moody’s has upgraded BDO’s foreign currency senior unsecured debt rating to Ba1 from Ba2. It said the outlook on the affected foreign currency ratings was revised to stable,along with the stable outlook of the ratings of the Philippine government. Moody’s raised early this week the Philippines’ sovereign credit rating to one notch below investment grade, citing the country’s strong economic prospects and stable financial system. It noted that the recent breakthrough in peace talks, aimed at ending a decades-long Muslim separatist rebellion in the south, had improved the country’s longterm economic potential. Moody’s raised the Philippines to Ba1 from Ba2, while maintaining the ratings outlook at “stable”. “Despite the headwinds from softening external demand, the Philippines has demonstrated considerable economic strength and fiscal resilience,” Moody’s said in an earlier statement. It noted that the banks’ foreign currency deposit ratings were previously constrained at the sovereign ceiling. It was further noted that BDO’s foreign currency senior unsecured debt rating of Ba1 remains similar to the rating assigned to the foreign currency government bond of the Philippines, which was upgraded to Ba1.
The other three banks do not have outstanding senior debt ratings assigned.
PH consumers among world’s most bullish Very optimistic about jobs, personal finances By Daxim L. Lucas Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:42 am | Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 Share
Shoppers queue at a bakeshop in SM Southmall in Las Piñas City on Aug. 4, 2012. Filipino consumers continue to have one of the highest confidence levels to spend in the third quarter of 2012, according to a survey of residents in 58 countries. PHOTO BY RICK ALBERTO Filipino consumers continue to have one of the highest confidence levels to spend in the third quarter of the year among residents of 58 countries surveyed by media research firm Nielsen. Despite this, the latest results of the Consumer Confidence Index showed that spending remained “restrained” and that saving was the top priority for those surveyed. Just like in the previous quarter, the Philippines was ranked third, behind Indonesia and India, in consumer confidence levels, with a score of 118, up from 112 in the same quarter last year. “This paints a positive picture for the third quarter of 2012,” Nielsen Philippines managing director Stuart Jamieson said in a statement. “The high confidence can be attributed to the positive perception regarding local job prospects in the country for the next 12 months, which at this point is the second-highest worldwide.”
He added that “expansion plans in the energy, transportation, telecom industries and largely the BPOs (business process outsourcing), are helping to create this positive perception in the country.” The Nielsen global survey of consumer confidence and spending intentions, established in 2005, measures consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 29,000 Internet consumers in 58 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism. The study also showed that Filipino online consumers felt positively about the state of their personal finances, ranking second among the most optimistic about their personal finances in the world. For the third quarter of 2012, perceptions of Filipinos on whether it was a good or a bad time to buy things that they wanted and needed over the next 12 months showed a slight improvement in confidence with 7 percent saying that it was an excellent time to do so as compared to 5 percent a year ago. Thirty-nine percent of the respondents said that it was a good time to buy compared to 42 percent in the third quarter of 2011. When there was spare cash available in the household, 67 percent of Filipino respondents said they would rather put this into savings, while 34 percent would buy new technology products. Some 32 percent would purchase new clothes while 28 percent would pay off debt, credit cards or loans, and 27 percent would spend it on holiday or vacation. “The Philippines is among the top 10 countries which prioritize savings when there is spare cash in the household,” Jamieson said. Among the major concerns of those polled over the next six months, job security remained at the top of the list as it did in the same quarter last year. It was followed by work/life balance, health, welfare and happiness of parents, and education and/or welfare of children. “This is a true mirror of the Filipino culture, which is very focused on the family,” the Nielsen chief said. “These five major concerns are all related to the family, whether it is for the parents’ or children’s welfare. If you look at it worldwide, the Philippines is number one among the top 10 countries who said that they are concerned about their parents’ welfare and happiness.” In the third quarter of last year, Filipinos’ concern about the economy was part of the top five concerns but for this year, it ranked number six. While recessionary sentiment increased seven percentage points in the Asia-Pacific to 52 percent, Filipino sentiment toward the economic state of the Philippines improved with 56 percent. This was a big difference if compared to Korean and Taiwanese respondents, 86 percent of whom were of the opinion that they were in a recession.
The report shows that to save on household expenses, Filipinos have lessened their expenses on new clothes, saving on gas and electricity, delaying their upgrades on technology like computers and mobile devices, switching to cheaper grocery brands and cutting down on take-away meals. Should economic conditions improve, the respondents said that they will continue doing these actions. http://business.inquirer.net/90440/ph-consumers-among-worlds-most-bullish
More rural banks offer microfinance By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Oct. 31, 2012 at 12:01am | 67 views
More rural banks were accredited to provide microfinance products such as mobile banking and microinsurance across the country, according to the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines. RBAP said its partnership with the Microenterprise Access to Banking Services, an organization funded by the US Agency for International Development, enabled more banks to provide financial inclusion in developing areas and introduce innovations such as mobile banking and microinsurance. It said as of end-September, the RBAP-Rural Bankers Research and Development Foundation Inc. Microinsurance Initiative had certified 197 banks since August 2010. The association noted that as of October, 69 rural banks were issued the notice of no objection from the Bangko Sentral, which secures the public of the banks’ good financial standing. The Insurance Commission also granted 37 rural banks license to sell microinsurance, while the Bangko Sentral authorized 27 banks to engage in microinsurance. RBAP president Edward Leandro Garcia said the partnership between USAID, MABS and RBAP has gone farther than expected. “The numbers speak for themselves. RBAP-MABS Project has helped transform rural communities into productive communities and poor families into an economically integral part of society,” Garcia said. He said the program helped over 140 rural banks to expand and offer new microfinance products and services. Rural banks were able to lend to over 970,000 new borrowers, disbursed a total of P42 billion, and opened nearly 900,000 new micro deposit accounts. Mobile banking also reached more than P 16 billion worth of transactions or more than $300 million since its introduction in 2006.
Group bucks genetic crops By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Oct. 31, 2012 at 12:01am | 53 views
A Cebu-based coalition raised alarm over the increasing incidence of transgenic contamination of white corn, the staple food in most parts of the Visayas and Mindanao. The Cebu Coalition for Food Security protested the government’s approval of genetically modified organisms such as Golden Rice and Bt corn. “Filipinos eat rice or corn for every meal, every day. The fact that the Department of Agriculture is bent on propagating GMO varieties like Golden Rice and Bt Corn for mass consumption is truly disturbing,” said coalition spokesman Roberto Bajenting. “There are cases that GMO corn has cross-bred with normal corn crops. How can we protect our rice crops to prevent the same thing from happening once the golden rice is commercially produced?” he added. Representatives from the Catholic church, Muslim groups, farmers, lawyers and doctors in a recent forum in Cebu belied claims by the Bureau of Plant Industry and GMO proponents that genetically-modified crops would be beneficial to Filipino farmers and help ensure the country’s food security. Farmers from Bohol raised concerns about soil contamination of Bt corn, a genetically modified crop that contains built-in pesticide that makes it resistant to corn borer, a pest that destroys the cob. Varieties of Bt corn were banned in other countries because of health concerns, the coalition said. The coalition said negative impacts of GMOs on the environment were well-documented, including the emergence of super weeds tolerant to the herbicides that are used in tandem with herbicide-tolerant GMO crops, as well as the evolution of pests that resist the toxins in the Bt crops.
Greenpeace slams overfishing By Florencio P. Narito | Posted on Oct. 31, 2012 at 12:01am | 50 views
Donsol, Sorsogon—10 out of 13 fishing grounds nationwide have been overfished or heavily exploited and the country will probably be epicenter of marine adversity because of government neglect, according to the global environmental group Greenpeace. Vince Cinches, Greenpeace ocean campaigner for Southeast Asia, cited official government data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources showing the country’s total annual fish production in 2010 was already at 5,159,458.67 metric tons. Commercial fishing, although few in number, contributed about 1,242,101.76 metric tons while small fishers contributed about 1.3 million metric tons, he added. But, Cinches claimed, 80 percent of the tuna from General Santos City in South Cotabato come from outside Philippine waters and “this is an indicator that Philippine waters has been depleted of fish.” The BFAR earlier announced that Filipino commercial fishing operation to go full blast in November with more Philippine-flagged vessels allowed to fish at the so-called “High Seas Pocket 1” (HSP-1) of the Pacific Ocean. The Philippines has 36 vessels with an average capacity of 20 metric tons per day and more Filipino vessels are expected to fish in HSP-1 boosting the supply of tuna until February next year. “We are an archipelagic nation. Soon, we will become the epicenter of global marine adversity if our government agencies refuse to acknowledge and address these crises at sea,” he said. “Our seas are already threatened by massive overfishing and decades of unsustainable fishing practices that have resulted in today’s dwindling fish catch. With ocean acidification and rising sea temperatures, fish won’t be able to spawn and propagate. That leaves 30 million Filipinos with even less fish to eat,” he added.
Gov’t prepares for All Saints’ Day Published on 31 October 2012 Written by Catherine S. Valente Reporter
Workers clean the graves of soldiers at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, on Tuesday, two days before All Saints’ Day. AFP PHOTO
The government’s preparations for a peaceful and orderly observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day are already in place, Malacañang said on Tuesday. The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is also preparing for the four-day weekend, and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) already lifted the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) for authorized public utility provincial buses as part of its preparations. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), meanwhile, advised the public to bring umbrellas even as it expects generally good weather until Friday. In a press briefing, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said that government agencies have already started doing the necessary preparations for the long weekend.These agencies include the MMDA, the Philippine Coast Guard, the Department of Transportation and Communications, the Land Transportation Office, the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Valte said that the MMDA already made preparations in anticipation for the large volume of people leaving Manila to visit the provinces. She added that a contingency force would be deployed to ensure the passengers’ safety and the adequacy of transportation alternatives. She also said that the PNP has already beefed up police visibility in cemeteries, churches and other public places. “Nakahanda naman ho ‘yung mga preparasyon natin, lalo ho doon sa mga lugar na madalas pinupuntahan ho talaga ng tao sa ganitong panahon. Nakaalerto na ho ang NCRPO [National Capital Region Police Office] para siguraduhing wala hong untoward incident na mangyayari habang nasa sementeryo po at naglilinis ng mga puntod ‘yung ating mga kababayan,” Valte said. First aid The PRC will provide first aid and ambulances services in major cemeteries and memorial parks
this weekend. It will also set up welfare desks to facilitate the tracing of missing persons and other welfare needs of the public, especially the elderly, children and people with disabilities. PRC Chairman Richard Gordon directed all Red Cross personnel to be alert. “We have to ensure that everyone is safe and can access to emergency response in case of any untoward incident,” said Gordon, a former senator. Two hundred sixty three first aid and welfare stations will be set up in 137 cemeteries nationwide and will manned by more than 1300 Red Cross staff and volunteers from 38 chapters. Huge increase In lifting the UVVRP, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino took into consideration the expected huge increase in the number of commuters who will be traveling to the provinces by ensuring that there would be enough public utility buses to serve them. The decision also came amid ongoing major road and bridge repairs being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the provinces of Quezon and Nueva Vizcaya. Tolentino said that the suspension of the UVVRP for provincial buses is part of his agency’s contingency plans for the holiday. The UVVRP, however, will remain in effect for private vehicles and other public utility vehicles. Scattered rains Pagasa forecaster Bernie de Leon said that no tropical cyclone is expected until Friday. A low-pressure area, however, is expected to be formed between the eastern Visayas and Mindanao either today or tomorrow and will bring scattered rains to these areas.|} But the weather disturbance has a “slim chance” of intensifying into a tropical depression, de Leon said. Except for possible light passing rains, Metro Manila, Southern and Central Luzon, as well as the rest of the Visayas, will be generally sunny or have partly cloudy skies until Friday. Northern Luzon, on the other hand, will experience occasional light to moderate rains due to the effects of the northeast monsoon. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/headlines‐mt/34383‐gov‐t‐prepares‐for‐all‐ saints‐day
Metro workers to get P10 wage increase Published on 31 October 2012 Written by Johanna M. Sampan And Jing Villamente, Reporters
Starting on November 1, workers in Metro Manila will get an additional P10 in their daily pay.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said on Tuesday that the P10 wage hike is the last tranche of the P30 salary increase approved by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-National Capital Region in May. The wage increase will peg the minimum pay for non-agricultural workers at P456 and P419 for agricultural workers. However, the TUCP said that the P30 wage increase is “too small” since a family of six needs at least P993 every day to live decently. The group had asked for a P90-wage increase for at least 700,000 workers in Metro Manila in March, citing high prices of basic food, increase in cost of services, tuition and liquefied petroleum gas. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/top‐stories/34362‐metro‐workers‐to‐get‐p10‐ wage‐increase
Food Security Act minamadali na sa Senado Ni Malou Escudero (Pilipino Star Ngayon) Updated October 31, 2012 12:00 AM MANILA, Philippines - Upang masigurado na ligtas ang pagkain na nabibili sa merkado at mapangalagaan ang kalusugan ng mga mamamayan, minamadali na ng mga senador ang pagpasa ng panukalang Food Safety Act of 2012 na may pinakamabigat na multang aabot sa P500,000 at pagkakulong ng mula anim na buwan hanggang anim na taon kung mamamatay ang biktima sanhi ng maruming pagkain.
Sa Senate Bill 3311 na inihain nina Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senators Manny Villar, Miriam Defensor-Santiago at Edgardo Angara, sinabi ng mga senador na panahon na para magkaroon ng batas na magpaparusa sa mga tiwaling negosyante na hindi sinisigurado ang kaligtasan ng kanilang produktong pagkain. Ikinatuwiran ng mga senador na katungkulan ng gobyerno na isulong ang karapatan ng mga mamamayan na magkaroon ng maayos na kalusugan. Ang mga tao at kompanya umano na nagpo-produce ng pagkain para sa mga mamamayan ay may malaking responsibilidad para mabawasan ang tinatawag na ‘food safety hazards sa kanilang produkto. Sinabi pa ni Estrada na dapat magkaroon ng epektibong programa ang gobyerno para maprotektahan ang food industry sa bansa. Lusot na sa komite ang panukala at inaasahang maipapasa sa plenaryo sa pagbabalik ng sesyon ng Senado sa susunod na buwan. Multang P50,000 hanggang P100,000 at suspensiyon ng authorization sa loob ng anim na buwan sa unang conviction; P100,000-P200,000 multa at suspensiyon ng authorization sa loob ng tatlong buwan sa pangalawa; at sa third conviction, P200,000-P300,000 multa at suspensiyon ng authorization sa loob ng 6 na buwan. Kung magreresulta sa slight physical injury ang maruming pagkain, ang naglabas nito ay papatawan ng multa na hindi bababa sa P2000,000 pero hindi lalampas sa P300,000 at pagbabayarin din ang offender ng nagastos sa ospital ng biktima. Aaabot naman sa P500,000 ang multa at kulong ng anim na buwan hanggang anim na taon kung mamamatay ang biktima. http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=865223&publicationSubCategoryId=92