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El Nino? No problem, says DA By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) Updated November 04, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The El Niño weather phenomenon, which is expected to be felt at the end of the year, is no longer deemed destructive to crops, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA). Agriculture Assistant Secretary and National Rice Program coordinator Dante Delima said based on field monitoring and consultations with the weather bureau, the developing El Nino is expected to be non-destructive. “The effect, as we see it, will be very mild,” he said. Sometime during the third quarter of the year, the first signs of drought were felt in the province of Bohol which experienced below average rainfall. Cloud seeding was promptly conducted to prevent crop damage. In September, Delima ordered all regional field units to assess the possible effect of the developing El Nino in their jurisdictions. The weather bureau warned that the drought would be felt in the Visayas and Mindanao. “Bohol has already recovered because of cloud seeding operations,” said Delima. Agriculture Secretary Processo Alcala earlier said the El Nino phenomenon would put pressure on rice and corn production this year if it lasts for a prolonged period of time but would be beneficial if it lasts for only a short period. “If drought is lesser, sometimes it proves to be beneficial because of the high level of photosynthesis combined with adequate water supply. With this combination, it can lead to higher palay yield,” he said. Palay output for the fourth quarter is expected to exceed the production target of 6.36 million MT, seven percent higher than last year’s output of 5.94 million MT because of the ongoing third cropping scheme. Delima said the production target of 18.46 million MT for 2012 may still be achieved. The DA’s National Corn Program, meanwhile, is keeping its production target of 7.8 million metric tons (MT) for 2012 – from last year’s output of 6.97 million MT – at a sufficiency level of 98 percent. Corn production for the second semester is expected to reach 3.99 million MT based on third quarter standing crop and planting intentions of farmers in the fourth quarter.

For 2013, the government intends to raise corn yield to 8.4 million MT. By next year, the government aims to attain a sufficiency level of 101 percent with a surplus of 149,000 MT.

DENR declares critical habitat for marine turtles in Agusan del Norte (The Philippine Star) Updated November 04, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Marine turtles are now assured of a safe haven along the coasts of Carmen, Agusan del Norte, which has been declared as a critical habitat by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2012-08 has designated a 5,756-hectare area spanning the five barangays of Vinapor, Gosoon, San Agustin, Cahayagan and Tagcatong as the “Carmen Critical Habitat” for marine turtles. DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, who signed the DAO, said that the order was in accordance with Republic Act (RA) No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. “Declaring a critical habitat for threatened species would help guarantee their continued existence. It would also encourage the local community to work with us in protecting and conserving critically endangered species such as the hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) which has found a home in Carmen,” he said. Carmen is a fourth class municipality known for its dive sites owing to a rich marine life, particularly in Vinapor and Tagcatong. The designated critical habitat, along with other coastal areas in the adjacent municipality of Magsaysay in Misamis Oriental, has been observed as nesting grounds of the hawksbill sea turtle. Sea turtles, although migratory, are known to nest in beaches where they have been hatched despite after having traveled thousands of miles across the ocean. Under the administrative order, the DENR-Caraga regional office would establish the statistical, topographic and geographic features of the area. The office should ensure that the ecosystems within the critical habitat are preserved and kept conducive for the marine turtles and other forms of wildlife. This includes ensuring that developmental activities within and around the area would safeguard the ecological integrity of the critical habitat.

The regional office is also tasked to enforce all applicable environmental laws against “prohibited acts� defined under RA 9147, such as dumping of waste products, human settlement, mineral extraction or exploration, burning, logging and quarrying. A Critical Habitat Management Plan shall be jointly prepared by the DENR-Caraga along with the local government of Carmen and other stakeholders, and shall serve as guide in the management of the critical habitat. Marine or sea turtles are reptiles characterized by flipper-like arms used for swimming, and a flattened body shape with a protective carapace. The hawksbill sea turtle is particularly distinguishable by its curving beak. Marine turtles mostly feed on seagrass, plankton and jellyfish. Juveniles usually fall prey to predators such as seagulls and bigger fish, while adults are usually hunted by humans for their shells which serve as ornaments or accessories or for their meat. Some also drown when caught in nets or floating garbage. Most species are considered endangered.

Makabuhay vines may shrink tumors By Dulce Sanchez (The Philippine Star) Updated November 04, 2012 12:00 AM

Philippines - A climbing vine, found in many parts of the Philippines, has the potential to shrink tumors, according to a study published earlier this year. The study, published in the International Journal of Bio-Science and Bio-Technology last June, used duck embryos to test if the extract from the makabuhay (called manunggal in the Visayas) plant, in varying doses, could stop the embryos from forming blood vessels. Researchers Rey Tantiado and Virgie Tan from the West Visayas State University and the Iloilo Doctors’ College said they did the study because solid tumors account for more than 85 percent of cancer mortality in humans and tumor growth and metastasis are dependent on blood vessels. Using 30 duck eggs incubated and treated with varying concentrations of makabuhay stem extract – at 25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent and 100 percent – they found that “the greater the dosage, the lesser the (blood vessel) branch points that were observed and counted.” They recommended further study to “define more precisely the mechanism” by which the plant extract inhibits the formation of blood vessels in the duck embryo “as well as the pathological relevance of these findings.” The makabuhay plant, according to the website is used to lower fever, heal wounds and ulcers, treat malaria, kill parasites in humans and rid plants of pests.

Old Nokia phones will help save Philippine tarsiers (The Philippine Star) Updated November 04, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The future now looks brighter for the endangered Philippine tarsier, thanks to the “i-rEcover. i-rEcycle.” program spearheaded by Nokia Philippines in collaboration with Globe Telecom, Ayala Foundation and the Philippine Tarsier Foundation Inc. (PTFI). The program, launched in September last year, enjoined the general public to donate their old mobile phones, batteries and related accessories for recycling; and for every phone received, Nokia would donate P100 to the PTFI support programs for preserving the Philippine tarsier and its habitat. The recycling bins were located in Globe stores and at Ayala malls nationwide. The “i-rEcover. i-rEcycle.” program successfully accumulated almost 5,000 old mobile phones. With this achievement Nokia is pledging P500,000 to the PTFI. The amount was turned over at the closing ceremony for the program last Oct. 24 at the Tarsier Sanctuary in Tagbilaran City, Bohol. “We are very thankful to consumers who donated their old mobile phones in support of this program. As Nokia we’re in a unique position to effect positive environmental and social change with regards to recycling. Nokia operates the world’s largest voluntary take-back program with more than 6,000 collection points in almost 100 countries. We accept all brands of phones, which are then collected and sent to approved Nokia recyclers, where they are recycled in a sustainable manner,” said Dharmesh Goshalia, Nokia Philippines general manager. “Of course, we were able to make this happen with the help of our great allies Globe Telecom, Ayala Foundation and PTFI who are all equally dedicated to protecting the environment,” he added. Edwin Ylescupidez, head of Globe energy management said: “Globe Telecom has always been one with the world in pursuing environmental sustainability. We continuously create initiatives as part of our commitment to care for our planet. Over the years, we have dedicated a wide range of activities that address these challenges such as energy management, reduction of greenhouse emissions and recycling waste. So we are happy for having partnered with Nokia on this program which has garnered so much support from the public. This program should serve as a reminder to everyone on the importance of responsible disposal of old mobile phones and its impact on the environment.”

On the other hand, Mario Deriquito, Ayala Foundation senior director, said the success of the program further strengthened their company’s commitment to creating public awareness on environment protection. “We saw the active participation of the patrons of Ayala Malls to the program which means that our call for help to preserve the environment and the endangered tarsiers came across well. We will continue promoting the value of the environment by making Ayala Malls more environment-friendly and initiating more green programs.” The Philippine Tarsier Foundation Inc., on the other hand, thanked the efforts of the private sector who supported its advocacies, as well as the people who donated their old mobile phones. PTFI president lawyer Urbano H. Lagunay said: “The success of the program proves that working together and getting involved is truly the best way to make things happen. We thank our partners for spearheading this program and for the donation that will greatly help our mission to protect the Philippine tarsier and its habitat. Most of all, we thank the public for going out of their way to help save the tarsiers.” The “i-rEcover. i-rEcycle.” program might have ended but the recycling doesn’t stop. For interested parties who still want to recycle their old phones, recycle bins are present in all Nokia Care Centers nationwide.

Philex Mining vies for 'Best in Mining Forest' award (The Philippine Star) Updated November 04, 2012 12:00 AM

BENGUET, Philippines – A miner visits an area in Padcal that is part of the 2,260 hectares of land in the towns of Tuba and Itogon, Benguet which was reforested with over seven million trees by Philex Mining Corp. The company’s Padcal mine is among those being considered in this year’s “Best in Mining Forest” award organized by the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) – the results of which will be announced in November. Padcal Mine has won the Best in Mining Forest award nine times, including last year and in 2008, 2007, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1994, and 1991. “Padcal’s reforestation program creates job opportunities in fire protection activities, seedling propagation, tree-planting, and maintenance, among other things,” Ben Galindez, head of forestry section in Padcal’s environment department said. He added that the program’s priority is to hire seasonal workers from outlying sitios.

Lawmaker warns against CARP extension By Paolo Romero The Philippine Star Updated November 04, 2012 12:00 AM MANILA, Philippines - Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño yesterday urged Congress to pass a new agrarian reform law instead of extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). “The mere fact that the CARP needs another extension even if it has been going on for decades is proof that it is a failure. Until now seven out of 10 farmers in the country are landless and poor. In some areas it is eight out of 10,” Casiño said. “It is high time that the Aquino administration admit that we need a genuinely progressive agrarian reform law and not a flawed one like CARP,” added Casiño, one of the authors of the proposed Genuine Agrarian Reform law. He said that if the Supreme Court (SC)rules in favor of the Aquino and Cojuangco families, who own Hacienda Luisita, they would get P10 billion based on the 2006 valuation of the 4,915.7466 hectares up for distribution in the sugar estate. “But if CARP ends as scheduled and the SC would not rule in AquinoCojuangco’s favor then the valuation would remain at the 1989 value of Luisita. The point is the longer the CARP is, the worse for farmers,” Casiño said. Meanwhile, farm workers and their sympathizers have lined up a series of activities to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the massacre in Hacienda Luisita. The Alyansa ng Mangagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) said the activities will start as early as Tuesday with a press conference, forum, picket in Tarlac City and a benefit gig in Angeles City. Ambala said a “misang bayan” for the slain farmers will be held at the Baclaran Church on Nov. 14 and protest rallies at Mendiola on Nov. 15 and at the Hacienda Luisita on Nov. 16. “Eight years after the Hacienda Luisita massacre, no one has been made accountable for the killings,” Ambala said. – With Ding Cervantes 6470

FDA warns vs food, diet supplements anew By Sheila Crisostomo The Philippine Star Updated November 04, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday reiterated its warning to the public that food and dietary supplements do not have therapeutic effects. In an advisory, the FDA said the public should observe caution in taking these supplements because they do not have “curing” benefits. “This applies to testimonials given by certain individuals with or without the consent of food manufacturers, importers, or distributors promoting or advertising said product,” the FDA said. According to the FDA, promotional or advertising materials containing testimonials and anecdotal promotion on these supplements associated with healing or curing diseases are not allowed. The agency said consumers should not stop taking prescribed drugs in favor of supplements “unless otherwise advised by a physician.” 6586

DOF counting on Drilon to push sin tax measure By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) Updated November 04, 2012 12:00 AM MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Finance is counting on Sen. Franklin Drilon to push for the original “sin tax” measure after Sen. Ralph Recto approved a “watereddown” version. However, sources at the Senate said the Senate panel may endorse a version that would yield revenues of only P30 billion to P40 billion. Drilon is acting chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee after Recto earlier resigned as committee head. Recto, who approved a sin tax bill that would translate to only P15 billion in revenues, resigned following allegations from sin tax advocates that he received lobby money from tobacco companies. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the department is counting on Drilon to push for the original sin tax version. “We have no reason to doubt the pronouncements of the acting chair of the Ways and Means Committee, that the Senate will maximize the health and revenue impacts of the reform of excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol,” Purisima said. Purisima, Health Secretary Enrique Ona and Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares met with Senators in a caucus last month to push for the administration’s sin tax reform agenda. Senate sources, however, said it is unlikely that the Senate panel would push for the P60billion version. Instead, sources also said, the Senate committee version would be a compromise measure that would yield from P30 billion to P40 billion. Purisima had said that the government is willing to settle for P40 billion. He said the finance department is willing to resume discussions on the measure at the Senate’s plenary sessions in November and we will work tirelessly to pass the measure together with next year’s budget. “The finance department remains committed to push for reforms in fiscal policy and revenue-generating legislation,” he said. The health department is also pushing for the approval of sin tax reforms at the Senate.

Peso seen to hit 30:$1 next year

By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) Updated November 04, 2012 12:00 AM

CEBU, Philippines - The peso could strengthen to the 30-level against the dollar next year as investors continue to flood emerging markets regardless of the outcome of the US elections on Tuesday, an investment bank said. In its latest research note, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (BofA) said it expects the peso to average 41 to a dollar by the first quarter of 2013, before appreciating further to 39.80 for the rest of the year. BofA’s forecasts are stronger than the government’s official assumption of 42-45 next year. The peso closed at 41.18 on Wednesday, the last trading day before the holidays. A strong peso, while making imports cheaper, also makes export products expensive abroad, possibly denting demand. It also trims the value of remittances from overseas Filipinos. “In our view, there is still further upside to EMFX (emerging market foreign exchange) in the near term. PMI data has been decent for September following the US Fed meeting, and we think investors will continue to push currencies higher as they await further confirmation of improved activity,” BofA explained. The US, considered as investors’ safe haven, has been struggling to boost growth four years after the global financial crisis. Its central bank, the US Federal Reserve, said on September it is embarking on a third round of bond-buying program meant to flood the economy with cash to boost demand and growth. The Fed announcement came after US manufacturing activity hit 51.5 in the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) in September, similar from August. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. A strong US manufacturing performance signals economic recovery for the world superpower and thus, should drive investors to invest in risky assets such as the peso. The outcome of the US elections will also only have “neutral” effect to emerging market currencies like the peso, which BofA expects to trade at an average of 42 this quarter. “Market pricing of an Obama victory is mild USD (US dollar) negative. (Mitt) Romney victory, USD positive,” it said. This indicated that the market may view a re-election of US President Barack Obama positively, giving them confidence to acquire risky assets and thus lowering the dollar’s value. In contrast, a Romney victory is predicted to drive investors to safe havens like the

dollar, contributing to its appreciation. “Both a Romney win and Great Rotation pose upside risks to US rates. Historical evidence suggests this would be bearish for EM rates but neutral for EMFX overall – though with significant differentiation within it,” BofA said. In an effort to tame the peso’s appreciation, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) slashed its policy rates by another 25 basis points last Oct. 25, bringing them to new record-lows of 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent for overnight borrowing and lending, respectively. BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said last Monday the central bank is looking at using its macroprudential measures to manage capital flows which drive the peso to strengthen. These measures include tweaking the bank reserve requirements, real estate exposure ceilings and single borrower’s limit, among others.

Ilocos Region Palay Procurement Starts November 3, 2012, 6:58pm Manila Bulletin SAN JUAN, La Union — The National Food Authority (NFA) has started its massive “palay” procurement activity for the main cropping season this year with its opening of 19 stationary buying stations located in the different Ilocos provinces including Abra. Region 1 NFA Director Piolito C. Santos said Saturday that the palay buying stations are distributed as follows: Abra – 1; Ilocos Norte – 2; Ilocos Sur – 3; La Union – 3; Eastern Pangasinan – 6; and, Western Pangasinan – 4. “Aside from the buying stations, we also have field mobile procurement teams in farflung areas in order to erase the burden of farmers in transporting their palay,” Santos said. Santos revealed that the agency will buy clean and dry palay from farmers at the government buying price of R17.00 per kilogram. He added that farmers could also avail of incentives, whether they are individual or members of farmer cooperatives. “Incentive fees for individual farmer include delivery fee of R0.20 per kilogram and another R0.20 per kilogram for drying fee. For cooperatives, the incentives are the same as the individual farmers plus an additional R0.30 per kilogram cooperative development incentive,” Santos said. For the main palay cropping season, Santos said the agency expects to buy around 1.2 million bags of palay from farmers which would serve as the region’s buffer stocks to ensure food sufficiency and security in the area. With no importations coming to the Ilocos in the coming years, Santos said the region will rely on its own production to serve the food requirement of its population. The region, he added, is expected to produce around 27,170,048 bags for the second semester of 2012. “The NFA’s procurement program not only helps in boosting the buffer stock of the agency but also serves as a ready market for the harvests of the farmers offering them a competitive buying price resulting in a higher return of investment for their produce,” he stressed.

Camiguin Markets New Lanzones Variety November 3, 2012, 5:41pm Manila Bulletin MAMBAJAO, Camiguin (PIA) –- This island province is synonymous to sweet lanzones. It’s October festivities center on this lucrative industry. After years of study to better improve the shelf life of its renowned fruit, the island now starts introducing a new variety called “camlong” or the Camiguin longkong lanzones. The camlong is a cross breed of the local variety and longkong — a variety usually grown in Thailand and Indonesia. Longkong is described to be almost seedless and with a skin or peel that has almost no latex. Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus M. Romualso said that for seven years, they had been doing studies to produce the camlong variety. “We tried mixing both because locally grown lanzones fruits usually change its color four days after harvest, although its sweetness and taste remain superb,” Romualdo said. With the new variety, the island now produces not only very sweet lanzones, but has longer shelf life as well. The provincial government runs its own nursery and produces this variety in Mahinog town. Guests and visitors in the recently concluded Buahanan Festival (Lanzones Festival) which was celebrated in the island last week, got the chance to visit the demo farm and eat as many lanzones they could gather straight from its branches. For the tourist, nothing is more fun and exciting than picking and enjoying the fruit straight from the tree. Inviting as it may, unfortunately, lanzones is a seasonal crop. It produces fruits only in late September to early November.

Compostela Gets Substantial Gov’t Aid November 3, 2012, 5:33pm Manila Bulletin COMPOSTELA VALLEY (PIA) –This region is receiving substantial government funding assistance for health, agriculture and infrastructure development which is bringing people closer to the government. Technical Working Team head Manolo Serafin Cayme of the Provincial Special Projects Management Committee revealed that funds are coming from the Office of Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), Davao Integrated Development Program (DIDP) and from European development assistance sources. Cayme noted the improvement in the lives of residents in upland Barangay Panansalan in Compostela town, and how residents have changed the way they regarded the government after having seen and benefited from the R15 million infrastructure projects with agro-forestry component funded by OPAPP through the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Peaceful and Resilient Communities) known as Pamana. A big chunk of the OPPAP Pamana funds went to road rehabilitation, making the Mandaya populated upland barangay of Panansalan easily accessible, and promoting easy transport of agriculture products to poblacion markets. Recalling testimonies of residents, Cayme said before the total rehabilitation of the fivekilometer road was done, they would not take risk going back to Panansalan from Poblacion Compostela after 2 p.m. due to the treacherous road terrain. “But now, even at 7 p.m., they can travel back home,” Cayme said. Aside from road rehabilitation, part of the OPAPP funds was spent for installation of a water system, training on upland rice production, technology transfer on vegetable raising and agro-forestry, particularly planting rubber trees. “With these projects, people feel the presence of the government,” Cayme said, particularly taking Panansalan as an instance while revealing the place as a highly rebelinfluenced area back in the 1990s. Having turned over the Panansalan road project to the LGU, OPAPP again allocated to the provincial government in June this year a R28-million fund for road rehabilitation, with bridge construction component, intended for the towns of Monkayo and Montevista to provide easy access to the towns’ far-flung areas.

Cayme projected that the road network in the province of Compostela Valley will open and provide easy access to isolated areas with the allocation of another additional R29 million from OPAPP through its Pamana program. He said requirements are being processed with the corresponding approval of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, giving authority to Provincial Governor Arturo Uy to enter into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with OPAPP. Compostela Valley is also a recipient of R2.1-million infra funding from OPAPP Pamana coursed through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and another R1 million from the same source for carabao breeding. DIDP has also extended development assistance to Compostela Valley, pouring in R6.4 million for the Nabunturan farm-to-market road with bridge component project, which was recently completed and turned over to the local government. Cayme further revealed that DIDP is bringing in another R14.7 million for a farm-tomarket road in Mawab town. He said a notice to proceed has been issued, marking the start of the project implementation to be completed in 256 days.

Four Faces Of Successful Farming November 3, 2012, 5:29pm Manila Bulletin KIDAPAWAN CITY (PIA) – Their names - Gregorio B. Saljay III, Vicente Doletin, Alberto Panghulan and Jaime P. Sillador - wouldn’t ring a bell. But these four individuals from Soccsksargen Region are no average people. Although their credentials are as varied as their names sound, they are bound by a single hobby – farming. Definitely, they are the examples of how farmers become when the desire to achieve is coupled with hard work and strategies as well as application of useful technologies. Saljay, Doletin, Panghulan and Sillador are four of the national awardees of the Department of Agriculture’s Gawad Saka Search 2012. GREGORIO B. SALJAY III: National Outstanding High Value Crops Farmer This 28-year-old bachelor councilor of Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato grew up in a family whose business revolves around agriculture -- buy and sell of palay and corn augmented by livestock raising -- that led to his early preference for farming and animal raising as career choice. Greggy, as he is called by his relatives and neighbors, finished Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with specialization in animal husbandry at the Central Mindanao University in Bukidnon. After finishing college, he took over the management of the family farm and began the process to turn the lot into an organic farm. In 2006, he introduced integrated natural farming system by raising goats for meat and dairy production and growing fruit-bearing trees such as durian, lanzones, among others. He also opened the farm to several agricultural research undertakings and innovations from the academe, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other public and private individuals and institutions. Out of these initiatives, he was adjudged Magsasakang Siyentista of the Cotabato Agricultural Resource Research and Development Consortium (CARRDEC) in 2010, which encouraged him to engage more in value-adding activities by adding more livestock and other high-value crops, including the succulent dragon fruit. VICENTE DOLETIN: Outstanding Small Animal Raiser Former vice mayor Vicente Doletin was nominated for Gawad Saka Outstanding Small Animal Raiser in 2005 but did not get the award. But this did not discourage him to work more to improve his farm. This year, his efforts gained him a second nomination and the national award.

Doletin of Barangay Kiwanan, Midsayap, North Cotabato takes pride in his goat production that brings millions of pesos for himself and his family. He began commercial goat raising with just five does and one buck in 1998 after leaving the political arena, despite lack of formal training in agriculture (being a commerce graduate) but with help from other people who guided him in his newfound interest. ALBERTO PANGHULAN: National Outstanding Coconut Farmer Venturing into coconut farming started as an experiment for this 52-year-old former overseas foreign worker, a bid which he knew could either make or break the Panghulan family’s yearning to live a happy and comfortable life. Abet, who is a farmer-businessman and barangay leader in Sagasa, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat, albeit lacking in knowledge in farming began farming in early 1990s using R200,000 in family savings. He started by planting some 300 coconut trees. He also used a portion of a five-hectare farm to cultivate pineapples and some backyard vegetables to ensure FAITH, or Food Always in the Home, and raised cattle, goat and poultry such as native chicken and ducks on the side. JAIME P. SILLADOR: National Outstanding Sugarcane Farmer “I am the producer, the director and the superstar in the movie of my life,” says this farmer from Kibudtungan, Carmen North Cotabato, who as a young man once dreamed of becoming an actor. Although unable to get a college education, Jaime was an active member of the 4H Club that allowed him to get a two-year (1996-1977) training at the University of Hawaii through the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, under DA’s Philippine Agricultural Training Program (PTAP). Fresh from his training, he established a five-hectare mango plantation. From his income from the mango farm, he was able to buy a truck, a jeep, a home lot and another fivehectare farm lot, which he used for corn production then later for sugarcane production.

Number Of Banks Trimmed Further By LEE C. CHIPONGIAN November 3, 2012, 5:15pm The number of banking institutions in the country has been trimmed further to 712 as of end-June from 723 in the quarter ending in March. Compared to the same period in 2011, a total of 27 banks have been shut down by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas including one commercial bank, three thrift banks and 23 rural and cooperative banks. The BSP’s supervised banks are universal/commercial banks, thrift banks, rural and cooperative banks. The universal and commercial bank category includes private domestic banks, subsidiaries of foreign banks and branches of foreign banks. As of the end of the first semester, there are a total of 37 universal/commercial banks from 38 in March after the closing of commercial bank, Export & Industry Bank last April. The bank, currently awaiting schedule for a public bidding after attempts to sell it by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. last October 18 was slapped by a temporary restraining order, is the first bank since 2001 that have been padlocked by the regulator for insolvency. Of the 37 big banks, 17 are operating with a commercial bank license only. The difference between a universal and commercial bank is that the former have a wider banking functions and can act as both a commercial and an investment bank, while the latter is a pure commercial bank with the normal banking activities of deposit-taking and other transactions relating to financial intermediary. There are commercial banks that convert into a full universal-commercial bank such as East West Banking Corp. which was granted universal bank license in November, 2010 and it started operating as a universal bank only in August this year. The number of the mid-capital sized thrift banks has also decreased to 69 from 71 in the previous quarter, and from 73 in June 2011. The smaller rural and cooperative banks which totaled 629 in June last year now number 606. There are 566 rural banks and 40 cooperative banks versus last year’s 589 rural banks while the number of cooperative banks remained the same. In the meantime, the BSP-monitored non-bank financial institutions also include those that have quasi-banking functions and those without quasi-banking functions such as non-stock savings and loan associations, pawnshops, among others. The central bank also supervises offshore banking units.

As of end-June, there are 6,595 non-banks supervised by the BSP, just less than one compared to end-March but 40 from the 6,555 registered the same period in 2011. Of the total non-banks, 15 have quasi-banking functions, 71 are non-stock savings and loan associations and 6,463 are pawnshops. The central bank has been crafting and improving existing rules and regulations to encourage further consolidations in the banking industry, especially among the rural banks. It currently implements a P5-billion rural banking consolidation and merger program called the Strengthening Program for Rural Banks or SPRB with PDIC.

Post-Mine Land-Use Plan Proposed By MELODY M. AGUIBA November 3, 2012, 5:17pm Manila Bulletin The government should adopt a national land use plan if it commits to making excellent mine uses as England, Canada, and Malaysia had turned post-mines into educational, entertainment, and tourist sites swarmed by millions, turning in revenue. It is unfortunate that while the government urges mining companies to come up with rehabilitation plan way before mine life expires, government has not provided the right environment to make excellent mine rehabilitation programs possible. First, national land use plans are essential for these mine rehabilitation plans to be integrated with town and community development. “We don’t have any national land use plan. That really becomes a problem. All communities should have a land use plan,” said Karima Patricia V. Palafox, senior urban planner and partner of global architectural firm Palafox Associates. “We like to paint a picture for a post mine site in the Philippines in the same way that other areas are able to generate sites that are beneficial to local community.” Whenever Palafox plans towns as it is currently engaged in town planning in Central Luzon, it needs to check if the area had not earlier been declared by previous administrations as relocation site for informal settlers, as a national park, or other uses. It needs to determine if it can construct a port or a road in a certain area without encountering conflicts. It also needs to harmonize a town plan or a post-mine plan with a local uses such as for agriculture, recreation, or power plant site. Such harmonious integration will not be possible without a land use plan. Many mining countries have well planned out and converted previous mine sites as model areas. One excellent example is the Eden Project in Cornwall, England. It has an ice skating rink, student and professional learning sites on social and environmental regeneration, marathon area, garden, and entertainment area. Cornwall may be notorious as among the poorest places in western Europe, yet the Eden Project has been converted as a successful tourist area visited by millions of tourists.

Mining sites can be haunted for having turned areas into wastelands, but Eden educates people on the benefits and reuse of mining and continues to give livelihood to its host community. In the country’s neighbor, Malaysia, the Sunway Lagoon has been converted into a leisure area (water park, amusement park, wildlife park). It was visited by 1.6 million tourists in 2011, making it one of Asia’s top tourist destinations. The Mines City Resort in Malaysia was formerly world’s largest open cast tin mine. It now houses the Mines Shopping Mall, Mines Waterfront Business Park, Mines Resort & Golf Club, Malaysia International Exhibition & Convention Centre, and the Heritage and Mines 2 Streetmall. It transformed the city into a health and wellness center. It has a five-star hotel, the Palace of the Golden Horses, Mines Wellness Hotel with a man-made beach and swimming lagoon. In British Columbia, Canada, the Butchart Gardens, a former quarry site, is now one of the best botanical gardens in the world with its floral gardens. It is a national historic site, receiving more than a million tourists yearly. From the mine area, a lake has been created, and a hotel is now being constructed.

Peanut Program Gets Corporate Backers By MELODY M. AGUIBA November 3, 2012, 5:21pm Manila Bulletin A value chain peanut program has tied up with East West Seed Co., Puentespina of Davao, and Sorsogon Dairy Farm as part of a national aim to boost peanut production value to P317 million by 2014. The national peanut program led by the Cagayan Valley Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CVIARC) has started partnering with government and private institutions that are now generating results in increased seed production and peanut processing activities. “We now have partner-producers of Asha and Namnama peanut varieties in Mindanao and Bicol region which we at Region 2 (Isabela, Cagayan province) supplied with foundation seeds and registered seeds. East West has officially signified interest to venture on confectionery peanut seed production in Mindanao,” according to CVIARC Peanut Leader Rose Aquino. The peanut project of CVIARC, co-funded by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research, believes that an effective seed system will be key to raising the country’s peanut production. “Seeds must be available for every crop production cycle, and it has to be there at the right time, in right quantities, and qualities and right price,” said Aquino, quoting seed authorities Gregg and Van Gastel. “Any attempt to develop the peanut industry must seriously consider a sustainable seed support system.” The project’s target is to raise peanut value to P298 million, 4,966 hectares in 2013 and P718 million, 11,966 hectares in 2020. The 2014 target area is 5,966 hectares. It is targeting to raise the country’s peanut production value to a projected P238 million in 2012 from a value of only P80 million yearly. CVIARC has already harvested peanut seeds over three cycles since 2008. The first cycle ending April 2009 generated 35,000 kilos of registered seeds, worth P2.1 million, P60 per kilo; second cycle ending October 2010, 300,000 kilos of certified seeds, P15 million, P50 per kilo; and third cycle ending April 2011, 2.5 million kilos of registered seeds, P75 million,P30 per kilo. On the marketing side, the peanut program has partnered with Alcala Peanut Food Processing which serves as a market outlet of peanuts produced in Alcala, Cagayan and with R.B. Chua Trading which buys 400 to 500 MT of peanut per year.

R.B. Chua distributes shelled and pre-graded seeds to food processors in Metro Manila like Tobi Marketing Inc, Newborn Food Products Inc., Marygold Commodities Corp., and California Mft Co. Inc. R.B. Chua is capable of buying all of Cagayan province’s peanut production of 1,800 MT per year. DA CVIARC has also established the Agri Store which distributes 10 to 15 MT of certified seeds yearly. It assembles and distributes these seeds throughout the country. CVIARC has other partners in processing. Jones Local Government Unit (LGU) Peanut Processing processes two to three MT of peanut per month. Jones LGU has other partners through the Barangay Women Association of peanut food processors assisted by the Department of Science and Technology. CVIARC’s partner in seed production are the Cagayan Valley Legumes Seed Growers Assn which supplies certified seeds and the Lighthouse Cooperative which produces five to 10 MT of peanut per month. Lighthouse also supplies seeds to peanut food processors in Cagayan. It also serves as assembler and distributor of processed products with brand Tia “Nani.” Good seeds have raised the average net income of peanut farmers in Region 2. Average net income is now at P31,770 per hectare, already about double the income of peanut farmers prior to the introduction of good seeds like Asha and Namnama. The Jones town in Isabela achieving the highest average net income of P44,500 per hectare as it achieved a peanut yield of 2.5 MT per hectare, way above some farmers’ average of just one MT per hectare. The program has so far benefited a total of 36 accredited seed growers and 651 commercial producers.

BSP Keeps Prudent Watch On Its Foreign Investments And Deposits By LEE C. CHIPONGIAN November 3, 2012, 5:27pm Manila Bulletin The Philippine foreign currency investments and deposits managed by the central bank went up by only 3.95 percent or $2.6 billion year-on-year to $68.3 billion as of the end of the third quarter, as monetary authorities continue to exercise prudence and caution in handling externally-managed portfolios. Based on the latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data, about $62.62 billion of the country’s official reserve assets are invested in securities issued abroad, 10.11 percent or $5.75 billion more compared to the same period in 2011. Other reserve assets are deposited in foreign banks, other central banks, Bank for International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund. The total deposits amounted to $5.43 billion, 35.25 percent or almost $3 billion lower compared to same period last year of $8.39 billion. Bulk of this amount or $4.86 billion are deposited in foreign banks. It was deposits in these banks that have declined significantly or by 41.64 percent year-on-year. The security holdings and deposits of the BSP are reported in the gross international reserves or GIR, which as of end-September amounted to $82 billion, nine percent or $6.8 billion higher year-on-year. JPMorgan Chase and The Northern Trust Co. (TNTC) – both US-based financial institutions – act as BSP’s global custodians and securities agents handling the Philippines’ $10-billion externally managed portfolios.JPMorgan and TNTC are tasked to consolidate, safekeep and to account for all of the BSP’s foreign currency-denominated securities which was raised from $4 billion to $10 billion in 2010 and 2011. A review of these foreign assets are ongoing after the three credit rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings all upgraded ROP credit scores to just one notch shy of speculative grade. BSP officials said that diversification of portfolios are called for but still under review as the US and European economies and financial markets continue to battle debt and fiscal concerns.

State Workers' Personnel Benefits Assured By CHINO S. LEYCO November 3, 2012, 4:28pm Manila Bulletin The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) assured that the remaining funds for personnel benefits allotted for government workers will be released before the end of the year. Data from the budget department showed yesterday that another P85 billion is left for release this year consisting of personnel benefits including the Salary Standardization Law III (SSL-3). The remaining allocation is for the final tranche SSL-3, retirement gratuity and terminal leave, and filling-up of unfilled or newly-created positions in the government. The DBM earlier implemented the fourth tranche of the SSL III last June 1 this year, effectively raising the pay of all government employees ahead of its original schedule. The fourth tranche of the SSL III covered all salary and base pay increases for national government employees until December 31, 2011. The pay hike will be supported by P21.7 billion from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MBPF) in the 2012 General Appropriations Act (GAA). This will be further augmented with P2.7 billion, chargeable against savings from the 2012 General Appropriations Act. “The implementation of the fourth tranche should help government employees respond better to the rising cost of living and price increases for basic commodities. Besides this, the pay raise may give them a much-needed boost for paying tuition and academic fees, especially since schools will be reopening soon,� Abad said. While the fourth tranche of government employees will be sourced from the MBPF in the 2012 GAA, the amount for government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs) will be charged against their respective corporate funds in the approved corporate operating budgets. The pay increase for local government units (LGUs), on the other hand, will be charged against their respective local government funds. Abad clarified that the pay hike for President Aquino, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and all Cabinet Secretaries will not be implemented until July 1, 2012. Meanwhile, individuals not covered by the fourthe tranche are individuals and groups engaged through job orders, contracts of service, and other similar agreements.

Excluded as well from the salary hike are civilian personnel in government institutions which are exempt from Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6758, “Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989,” as amended, and which are authorized by law to adopt and are implement their own compensation and position classification systems approved by the Office of the President. Abad added that Section 10, Article VI of the Constitution will also apply in the implementation of the fourth tranche of SSL III. According to the provision, “The salaries of Senators and Members of the House of Representatives shall be determined by law. No increase in said compensation shall take effect until after the expiration of the full term of all the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives approving such increase.”

2012 11 04 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

News monitor for 2012 11 04

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