Aquino: PH agriculture’s past result of lessons unlearned 9:35 pm | Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ—President Benigno Aquino has likened Philippine agriculture’s unremarkable performance in the past to a case of pupils not listening to their teacher. In a speech read by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala during the Gawad Saka awards at the Philippine Rice Research Institute here on Tuesday, the President said agriculture ministers of countries exporting rice to the Philippines learned from Filipino agriculture experts, whose ideas were neither applied nor fully supported in their country. Mr. Aquino, who missed the event due to poor weather, said the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) budget will be increased to P74.1 billion in 2013 to improve the country’s food output. “As I traveled abroad, I had opportunities to listen and talk with the ministers of agriculture in other countries. They were high praises for the institutions in our country for their excellent expertise in agriculture and for their excellence in teaching agriculture,” Mr. Aquino said in the speech. The President cited the International Rice Research Institute, University of the Philippines at Los Baños and Central Luzon State University as excellent teachers of agriculture. “It is noteworthy that we are acknowledged as a teacher in the field of agriculture but we are not listening to our own lessons,” he said. As a result, he said, the countries that learned from the Philippines have started exporting rice here. The President also said the mismanagement of rice imports led to huge volumes of excess rice that rot in warehouses. But Mr. Aquino said 2013 will be the year of a huge turnaround for the agriculture sector. On behalf of the President, Alcala announced that 2013 is the “National Year of Rice,” which would be anchored on full rice self-sufficiency that is complemented by an increased DA budget. “Because of honest and right administration and management, it’s not only rice selfsufficiency that we will attain in 2013 … We will be exporting rice in 2013,” Mr. Aquino said.
He said he is granting bigger budgets to agencies that deliver improved services. â€œThose of you in agencies who are just sitting out there and doing nothing, you better start thinking. If you are not delivering good and appropriate services to the people, you have no place in government service,â€? he said. The government cited 25 individuals and groups during the Gawad Saka awards. Each received P150,000 and a trophy. Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon
Tobacco farmers laud DA for opposing FCTC Published on 14 November 2012 Hits: 77 Written by Jing Villamente
Tobacco farmers lauded Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala for protecting their welfare and livelihood by opposing the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) that seeks to ban tobacco farming. “We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Secretary Alcala for opposing the proposals by FCTC to ban tobacco farming. By doing so, Secretary Alcala has saved the livelihood of thousands of Filipino tobacco farmers. We would like to congratulate him for protecting our welfare,” said Asuncion Lopez, spokesman of the Philippine Tobacco Growers Association. The Fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) meeting of the WHO FCTC, which is being held in Seoul, South Korea, will discuss proposals to ban tobacco farming, abolish government offices that promote tobacco farming like the Philippines’ National Tobacco Administration, cut-off technical and financial assistance to tobacco farmers, limit the existing land area dedicated for tobacco farming, and limit the planting season for tobacco. During the COP5 meeting, each country is allowed to state its official country position on the abovementioned proposals. The Department of Agriculture (DA), as lead agency and head of delegation tasked to provide inputs and comments on the issue, has submitted to the FCTC the official Philippine position opposing the proposals. “An important issue clarified to all participants was that the WHO Framework Convention does not aim to phase out tobacco growing. Alternatives to tobacco crops are only explored in preparation of an eventual decrease in demand caused by tobacco control. Upon review, we noticed that the draft guidelines on Articles 17 and 18 have shifted the focus away from the abovementioned intent towards a strategy / policy aimed at wiping out tobacco farming. The Philippines is of the view that this should not be the case,” the DA position paper said. It pointed out that “instead of aiming to forcibly eliminate tobacco farming, when there is high demand for the said crop, governments should identify viable crop alternatives that can contribute to improve the income and overall quality of life of tobacco farmers.” Alcala has reassured tobacco farmers that he will protect their livelihood despite efforts by some sectors to reduce cigarette consumption. The government believes that farmers “should be free to make their own decisions on what crops to grow and sell.” Lopez said that it is unfair and illegal to cut off all government and private sector support
for tobacco farmers. â€œTobacco farmers cannot survive without government and private sector support. The FCTC is singling out tobacco farmers and our government should not allow this injustice to happen,â€? she added. Earlier, Sen. Ralph Recto and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile revealed the presence of anti-tobacco lobby in the Philippines. Mendiola rally Meanwhile, members of the Peoples Coalition Against Regressive Taxation (PCART) on Tuesday stormed Mendiola to call on President Benigno Aquino 3rd to stop the plan to implement higher taxes on tobacco products. PCART members also sought to stop the passage of the sin tax reform bill that is being deliberated upon in the Senate. PCART is an alliance of workers, farmers and street vendors. The group said that The president is pushing for the passage of a measure that will displaced thousands of workers, when he should be working to elevate the plight of small workers.
PHL seen overshooting palay production goal by 7.7 percent Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 13 November 2012 19:51 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter THE Philippines will overshoot its target of producing 17.84 million metric tons (MMT) of paddy rice this year on the back of increases in yield and harvest area, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) said in a report. In its “Rice and Corn Situation Outlook,” BAS projected that paddy rice output for the whole of 2012 will go up by 7.7 percent on year to 17.98 MMT. “Harvest area may expand by 3.4 percent on year to 4.69 million hectares this year. Yield per hectare may improve to 3.83 MT, or by 4.2 percent,” said BAS in its report. Unmilled rice output in the July to December period is projected to increase by 10.7 percent on year to 10.08 MMT. “The expected 6-percent increase in yield may bring about the higher level of production during the second half of 2012,” said BAS. The July to September output of 3.6 MMT was 13.5 percent higher than what was produced a year ago. BAS attributed this to “significant increases” in production and harvest area in the Ilocos provinces, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Bicol, and Western Visayas. “The expansion in harvest area could be attributed to the ‘five croppings in two-year’ program of the government,” the report read. Production forecast for the fourth quarter of the year based on standing crop indicates a 9.2-percent increase on year to 6.49 MMT. “This could be primarily attributed to the sufficient water supply and recovery from the adverse effects of typhoons ‘Pedring’ and ‘Quiel’ on palay crop last year,” the report read. Palay production in January to June went up by 4.2 percent on year to 7.89 MMT. Based on farmers’ planting intentions, palay production for January to March 2013 will go up by 4.1 percent on year to 4.16 MMT. Corn production, meanwhile, is projected to increase by 6.4 percent on year to 7.42 MMT. Harvest area is expected to expand by 1.9 percent on year to 2.59 million hectares. Also yield per hectare may improve to 2.86 MT this year.
Production for the July to December period may increase 7.8 percent on year to 3.95 MMT. “Harvest area may expand to 1.48 million hectares, 2.7 percent above last year’s 1.44 million hectares. Yield per hectare may grow by 5 percent on year to 2.66 MT in 2012,” the report read. The standing crop for October to December this year is expected to produce 1.52 MMT of corn or 2.4 percent higher than last year’s output.
Value of abaca exports declined 17.3% in first 8 months of 2012 Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 13 November 2012 19:50 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter
REVENUES from the export of abaca products declined by 17.3 percent on year to $81.65 million in January to August on the back of lower demand from the countryâ€™s major markets such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. In a report released by the Fiber Industry Development Authority (Fida), the value of abaca pulp shipments declined by almost 19.1 percent to $58.8 million. Abaca pulp accounted for 72 percent of export receipts in the eight-month period. Shipments of raw fiber also posted a huge decline at 55.2 percent in terms of value. Export receipts from abaca raw fiber reached $4.31 million compared to $9.63 million posted a year ago. Earnings from cordage, the second top abaca product shipped abroad, went up by 11.6 percent on year to $12.88 million. Shipments of fabrics and fibercraft also increased in terms of value. In terms of volume, the export of abaca pulp declined by 20 percent on year to 16,960.4 metric tons (MT). Shipments to Germany, the top market for abaca pulp, declined by 32.2 percent on year to 4,668.3 MT. Purchases made by the United Kingdom also declined by 17.8 percent on year to 4,229.1 MT. Shipments of abaca fiber in terms of volume also went down by 54.5 percent on year to 3,237.87 MT. Sales to the United Kingdom, the top market for local abaca fiber, declined by 22.6 percent on year to 2,003.75 MT. Lower demand for abaca products abroad resulted in lower abaca output in January to September according to Fida figures. In the nine-month period, abaca production declined by 5.7 percent on year to 42,489.79 MT.
The Bicol region remained as the top producer of abaca, accounting for 32 percent of total output for the period. The region produced 13,577.35 MT of abaca, 20 percent lower than its output last year. Eastern Visayas, the second biggest producer of abaca, contributed 9,794.36 MT to the countryâ€™s output in January to September. The production of the region is 4.6 percent lower than its output in 2011.
plan’ to junk, not finish, agrarian
reform Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:55 pm | Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 Share Contrary to the pledge of President Aquino to complete the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) during his third State of the Nation Address, the recent actions of his administration indicate that he is reneging on this commitment. First, the “transition plan of the Department of Agrarian Reform” will transfer the support services to the Department of Agriculture and other CARP-implementing agencies; scale down its staffing; and rationalize its organizational structure. This looks more like an abandonment of the program, not effective implementation and completion. The transition plan is contained in item number 5 under the special provisions of the 2013 CARP Extension with Reforms (Carper)/National Expenditure Plan Budget submitted by Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio “Gil” delos Reyes to the House of Representatives. DA does not have the appropriate organizational structure to cater to agrarian reform beneficiaries, especially at the barangay level, and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala himself has admitted that his department is not ready for such transfer. On the other hand, Delos Reyes shifts the blame to the Department of Budget and Management, in particular Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, who allegedly is the “brains” behind this transition plan. Further, from the 2013 Carper budget submitted by DAR, it is apparent that DAR is being prepared for phaseout and will be “legally” abolished by June 30, 2014. In fact, we know that Secretary Abad has proposed a zero-budget for DAR in 2014. We share the concern of more than 80 lawmakers, including Pampanga Rep. Anna York Bondoc who is in charge of DAR’s budget, that the President has “virtually crippled DAR” because of the transition plan, despite DAR’s land distribution backlog (“Agrarian reform areas not priority in 2013 budget, says lawmaker,” Inquirer, 9/30/12). Second, Delos Reyes already admitted that the department will not be able to finish land distribution, leaving around as much as 321,974 hectares of undistributed land by June 2014, the deadline for the completion of land distribution under Carper. This size of land comprises more than one-fourth of DAR’s land distribution target. The nonimplementation of Carper will affect 1.1 million farmers. We expect that these figures will increase as Delos Reyes is off-track in his own targets for land distribution, as shown the constant revision of land distribution targets for 2012 from 260,000 to 240,000 and now to 180,000.
Third, the rationalization plan has resulted in demoralization among DARâ€™s rank and file. This has contributed not only to the paralyzation of the bureaucracy but also to the poor implementation of CARP. At this critical stage, the Mr. Aquino should instead reenergize the bureaucracy. We urge the Aquino administration to abandon the transition plan. â€”JAIME TADEO, spokesperson, Save Agrarian Reform Alliance, Quezon City; NANETTE PASCUAL, president, Department of Agrarian Reform Employees Association, Quezon City
ROADMAP FOR PHILIPPINE BANANA INDUSTRY Information November 13, 2012, 5:21pm THE banana industry remains a leading export income-earner for Filipino farmers. Bananas are the second biggest cash-crop export after coconut. In 2010, the Philippines earned R30.2 billion in exports of Cavendish bananas. In 2011, there was a 7 percent growth in production, of which 1.8 percent was on Cavendish variety, which is grown on plantation scale in Mindanao, employing some 150,000 workers. The sector contributes about $700 million annually to merchandise sales overseas. Japan is the biggest export market for bananas (the Philippines supplies 90 percent of the Japanese requirement), followed by China and the United States of America. The government is expanding its global market. It is looking towards Italy and Spain, as well as Russia and Scandinavian countries. Prospective export markets are Canada, Middle East and Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Filipino farmers have been lobbying for the entry of Philippine bananas into the US for over a decade now. Banana growers are crafting a roadmap to maximize the sectorâ€™s potentials. Growers, farmers, cooperatives, traders, exporters, and participants from national agencies and the local government for the first-ever Mindanao Banana Congress last November 7-8, 2012 in Davao City, led by the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PhilExport)-Davao, to establish supplier-buyer linkages, improve access to government programs, and provide impetus to growth and development. Banana growers and exporters plan to form a Banana Industry Development Council that will facilitate dialogue and partnership between growers and exporters, talk with financing institutions, and design strategic blueprint for the sector. We wish Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, Mindanao Development Authority Chairperson Luwalhati R. Antonino, PhilExport-Davao Chairman Domingo O. Ang, PhilExport-Davao President Ferdinand Y. Maranon, and Mindanao Banana Farmers and Exporters President Ireneo D. Dalayon, all the best and success in their partnerships to provide direction and initiatives to the Philippine banana industry. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!
RICE TARGET November 13, 2012, 6:17pm ILOILO CITY, Iloilo (PNA) — The Iloilo Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) is optimistic about meeting its long time goal of producing a million metric ton of rice. PAO chief Dr. Ildefonso Toledo said “from January to middle of October this year, we already produced over 786,000 metric tons of rice.” He said 786,194.58 metric tons of rice production came from some 210,287 hectares of both irrigated and rain-fed rice lands planted January to October, 2012. “There are still farmers harvesting and planting for the dry season so we expect their production to be included in the yearend report that we have reached the 1,000,000 metric ton target,” he said.
DENR-7 Exceeds NGP Seedling Target By PHOEBE JEN INDINO November 13, 2012, 11:55am MANDAUE CITY, Cebu — Central Visayas has exceeded its mark in seedling production under the national greening program (NGP) this year by seven percent or some 6,087,255 seedlings against its target of 5,693,770 seedlings, according to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 Regional Executive Director Dr. Isabelo R. Montejo. “With around 111 nurseries operating and functional in the region, we were able to meet our objective ahead of schedule and even surpassed it,” Montejo said. Cebu province produced a total of 1,720,226 seedlings or 89 percent of its 2,009,100 target; Bohol has 1,053,785 seedlings or 102 percent of its aim of producing 1,034,721 seedlings; Negros Oriental has 3,115,931 seedlings or 128 percent of its intention to produce 2,440,359 seedlings while Siquijor produced 197,313 seedlings or 94 percent of its 209,600 target of. Based on a consolidated report as of October 30, the Department of Agriculture (DA) registered an accomplishment of 504,655 seedlings or 81 percent of its goal of 624,500, while the DENR registered over six million available seedlings. Government’s NGP aims to reforest 1.5 million hectares of degraded forest lands and will essentially focus on developing a sustainable forest resource base to accelerate the NGP campaign and rejuvenate rural economies in parts of the nation’s most chronically poor areas in the uplands. The Program ultimately hopes to provide livelihood opportunities for some six million families in the country’s upland areas within six years, from 2011 to 2016. “The NGP also seeks to improve water quality in rivers and irrigation for farm lands, reduce the potential for flooding, soak up carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and lay the foundation for an expanded wood-products economy,” Montejo informed. To recall, President Benigno S. Aquino III issued Executive Order No. 26 last February 24, 2011 establishing the NGP not only to reforest 1.5 million hectares of land but also to promote a sustained environmental awareness campaign against the deleterious effects of climate change. A commitment by the DENR, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in implementing the NGP is the establishment of nurseries and seedling production nationwide. Montejo, meanwhile, lauded efforts of organizations or institutions that joined the DENR here in said seedling production and allowing an adequate supply of various tree species to be planted in the coming months. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/381222/denr7-exceeds-ngp-seedling-target#.UKMGvGcTgok
Coconut farmers want their money back Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:14 am | Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 LUCENA CITY—More than 200 small coconut farmers and leaders of various peasant organizations from Southern Tagalog and Bicol region who were attending the “coco levy funds claimants summit” in the town of Pagbilao, Quezon, on Tuesday demanded a cash distribution of the multibillion-peso coconut levy funds being held by the government. The one-day assembly led to the formation of the “Coco Levy Funds Ibalik sa Amin” (Claim) movement which will spearhead the campaign to unite the country’s coconut farmers around the issue of demanding a distribution of the coco levy funds. “I came here to personally know how to reclaim the money that I paid for the levy. And I want to be paid back in cash,” said Carmen Consuelo, 66, who had traveled from Malilipot, Albay. Yesterday’s meeting was meant to kick off a nationwide campaign to reclaim the coco levy funds, according to the Kilusang Mangagawa ng Pilipinas (KMP), which initiated the summit. Money back “This summit aims to deliver a strong message to President Aquino that we want our money back,” said Willy Marbella, KMP deputy secretary general. The summit will be followed by provincial, municipal and barangay-level assemblies for the screening, verification and enlistment of small coconut farmer-claimants, he said. The summit participants called for the immediate enactment of House Bill No. 3443, or the proposed Coconut Levy Funds Administration and Management Act, filed by Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano. They rejected the Malacañang-created Task Force Coco Levy Funds under the National Anti-Poverty Commission which is proposing to borrow part of the funds to finance the government’s poverty alleviation program. The coco levy funds were the proceeds of a forced tax that the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed on the coconut industry between 1973 and 1982. The levy funds collected was valued at P9.7 billion and was estimated by the Philippine coconut Authority to have grown to P100 billion by 1999. Using money from the levy funds, businessman Danding Cojuangco, whom Marcos had appointed as administrator of the levy funds, was able to acquire a substantial stake in the San Miguel Corp. Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/306822/coconut-farmers-want-their-money-back
FOOD SAFETY (Conclusion) Of Trees And Forest By SENATOR MANNY B. VILLAR November 13, 2012, 5:24pm THERE are five important features of Senate Bill No. 3311. These are as follows: First, it delineates the mandates and responsibilities of food business operators and government agencies involved in the food sector. Emphasis is placed on their knowledge of the specific requirements and procedures of existing food laws as well as their accountability on instances of food recall, inspection, and collaboration with regulators; Second, it provides a mechanism for coordination and accountability in the implementation of regulatory functions. Section 20 provides for the creation of the Food Safety Regulation Coordinating Board (FSRCB), whose powers and functions include the monitoring and coordinating the performance and implementation of the mandates of the agriculture, health, local government and local government units in food safety regulation; crisis management and planning during food safety emergencies; establishment of policies and procedures on food safety; and the continuous evaluation of the effectiveness of the enforcement of food safety regulations, as well as research and training programs; Third, it lays down policies and programs for addressing food safety hazards and developing appropriate standards and control measures. A rapid alert system will be put in place in response to food safety emergencies that are likely to pose risk to human health. A tracking system will also be adopted as a control measure for food at relevant stages of production, post-harvest handling, processing, and distribution; Fourth, it upgrades the capability of farmers, fishermen, industries, consumers, and government personnel in ensuring food safety. Section 31 provides for the regular conduct of skills training for food business operators, particularly micro, small, and medium enterprises, regarding food safety regulations and the understanding of these requirements; and Fifth, it strengthens the scientific basis of the regulatory system. Section 34 mandates the implementation of an integrated food-borne disease monitoring system that links to the sources of food contamination, in collaboration with the National Epidemiology Center and the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control of the Department of Health. The government and the academe will develop and implement a program on costeffective technologies and codes of practice for assisting farmers, fishermen, micro, small, and medium enterprises and other stakeholders to enable them to comply with food safety regulations. Given that health is something we value as much as our lives, SB 3311 provides stiff penalties for those who will violate its provisions, including higher penalties in case there is physical injury or death resulting from food poisoning, or if the offender does not have
appropriate authorization to engage in the food business, or if it involves a government personnel, a naturalized citizen, or an alien. For the first conviction, the proposed law imposes a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000 and suspension of appropriate authorization for one month shall be imposed. For the second conviction, a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P200,000 and suspension of a ppropriate authorization for three months. For the third conviction, a fine of not less than P200,000 but not more than P300,000 and suspension of appropriate authorization for six months. For violation resulting in slight physical injury to a person, upon conviction, a fine of not less than P200,000 but not more than P300,000 and suspension of appropriate authorization for six months. For violation resulting in less serious or serious physical injury to a person, upon conviction, a fine of not less than P200,000 but not more than P300,000 and suspension of appropriate authorization for one year shall be imposed. For violation resulting in death to a person, upon conviction, the penalty of imprisonment of not less than six months and one day but not more than six years and one day and a fine of not less than P300,000 but not more than P500,000 and permanent revocation of appropriate authorization to operate a food business shall be imposed. If the offender does not have the appropriate authorization, the imposable fines shall be doubled. A government official or employee who is convicted under this law will, in addition to the penalty prescribed herein, also be subjected to civil service laws. If the offender is a naturalized citizen, the naturalization certificate and the registration of the citizen shall be cancelled and he/she will be immediately deported after payment of fine and service of sentence. An offender who is an alien shall be summarily deported after payment of fine and service of sentence and perpetually barred from entering the country. (For comments/feedback email to: email@example.com. Readers may view previous columns at www.senatorvillar.com) http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/381275/food-safety-conclusion#.UKMHE2cTgok
Phl cited for anti-tobacco efforts (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 14, 2012 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is one of the top five most burdened nations in terms of tobacco use, according to a study conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). But the country has succeeded in erasing its “negative image” in the international and local health community, which was created by its perceived support for the tobacco industry. The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday awarded the prestigious Orchid Award to the Philippines for excluding the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) from the official delegation to the 5th Conference of Parties (COP5) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). “This is a remarkable moment in the history of public health. We salute the President, the Department of Health and Civil Service Commission for upholding our obligations to WHO FCTC,” HealthJustice managing director Irene Reyes said in a statement. John Steward, Challenge Big Tobacco campaign director at Corporate Accountability International, expressed hope that the Philippines would continue to make great strides toward advancing public health. “This is a true win for the Filipino people and for civil society who can look to a government that now recognizes that the preservation of health far outweighs any profit that the tobacco industry could provide,” he said.
For its part, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) director Bungon Ritthipakdee stressed that the Philippines’ action should serve as a good practice for other government officials and policymakers to emulate. “Government officials and policymakers have the power to stop tobacco industry interference in their hands. As long as government consistently rejects the tobacco industry in activities and events such as attendance to the COP, this sends a very strong signal that we are serious in halting their interference and manipulative tactics,” Ritthipakdee added. Two years ago, the Philippines was bestowed the shameful Dirty Ashtray Award for doing exactly the opposite: the Philippine delegation mouthed pro-tobacco industry interests at the COP4 in Uruguay. Earlier this year, Corporate Accountability International also selected the Philippine government’s Inter-agency Committee on Tobacco (IAC-T) to receive its infamous “Marlboro Man Award” due to the tobacco industry’s presence in the IAC-T. The Conference of Parties has been firm on ensuring that tobacco industry representatives are kept at a safe distance. Even the Interpol, the world’s largest police organization, was refused observer status at the COP5 due to reports that it received $15 million from Philip Morris International. “These are necessary steps to ensure that the Illicit Trade Protocol which has just been adopted is safeguarded against tobacco industry interference,” Reyes said. Locally, the Bureau of Customs refused to renew its partnership agreement with Philip Morris in accordance with a 2010 joint memorandum circular issued by the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Health to protect the bureaucracy from industry interference. Most burdened nations Meanwhile, the Philippines is ranked among the top five most burdened nations in the world in terms of tobacco users. The top five are all Asian countries - the People’s Republic of China, India, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. Based on the ADB study titled “Tobacco Taxes, A Win-Win Measure for Fiscal Space and Health,” two-thirds of the world’s tobacco users live in just 15 countries, five of which are the most burdened. – Mayen Jaymalin, Ted Torres
Ayala formally acquires Food Terminal property By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 13, 2012 - 12:00am
President Aquino and Ayala Land Inc. chairman Fernando Zobel de Ayala applaud as Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and ALI president and CEO Antonio Aquino shake hands to seal ALI’s P24.3-billion acquisition of Food Terminal Inc. during a ceremony at Malacañang yesterday. WILLY PEREZ
MANILA, Philippines - Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) formalized yesterday its P24.3-billion acquisition of Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) in Taguig City. The ceremonies were witnessed by President Aquino, who called the deal proof “that the relationship between government and business is flourishing and will continue to grow.” Malacañang hailed the deal as one of the largest in the history of government privatization and a product of the administration’s commitment to transparency and competitive bidding. The P24.3-billion price was more than double the base price of P10.25 billion, an impressive haul for government that the Palace said would be used for funding social infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and tollways. Under the terms of the purchase agreement, ALI said it would develop the 74-hectare FTI complex in Taguig into an integrated, mixed-use and sustainable business district featuring “high energy blocks” that will offer “excellent living and working spaces.” According to ALI, the FTI property will have new infrastructure facilities envisioned to spur economic activity in the area and will feature “convenience-centric” retail, dining and entertainment offerings set within generous spaces and surrounded by pockets of green aimed at promoting social interaction and an active community life.
The new development, ALI said, would showcase the largest inter-modal transport system linking various types of transit options to facilitate commuting from various points. The planned Integrated Transport System project of the Department of Transportation and Communications will be adjacent to the property and will be connected to the current Philippine National Railways station in the area, ALI said. ALI said plans are underway for a possible bus rapid transit (BRT) system between Pasay City and Makati City, Bonifacio Global City, Ninoy Aquino International Airport and FTI. Signing for the government were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, chief privatization officer of the Privatization and Management Office Karen Singson, FTI president Rene Fuentes and Taguig City Mayor Maria Laarni Lopez-Cayetano. Representing ALI were its chairman Fernando Zobel de Ayala and president and chief executive officer Antonino Aquino. In her opening remarks, PMO’s Singson said ALI’s bid was chosen over Robinsons Land (P14.7 billion) and Empire East (P11 billion) for being the highest and most comprehensive.She said the proceeds of the sale would be used to support the Department of Agriculture’s modernization program as well as the projects of the Department of Agrarian Reform. “We hope the re-development of the FTI complex will lead to a surge in economic activity and increase employment in the City of Taguig and the surrounding metropolitan area,” Singson said. In a statement, Aquino through spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the privatization of the FTI property was a significant step toward developing former stateowned lands to maximize potentials for economic growth and infrastructure development. “In this particular case, portions of the property have been set aside for the Metro Manila Integrated Transport System which aims to ease traffic congestion by connecting provincial commuters to other modes of urban transportation,” he said. “Meanwhile, a connector road has been proposed by the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), which will link the C-5 road to the South Luzon Expressway through the FTI property,” Lacierda said. “Equitable and inclusive growth is at the core of the Aquino administration’s economic model. We believe this is achievable only through a steady and mutually beneficial partnership between the public and private sectors,” he said.
Gov’t focused on sin tax, leaves RH, FOI to lawmakers (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 13, 2012 - 12:00am
An activist carries a pro-Reproductive Health bill placard during a rally outside the House of Representatives yesterday. BOY SANTOS MANILA, Philippines - For the Aquino administration, the 2013 national budget and the sin tax measure need more urgent legislative action than the reproductive health (RH) and freedom of information (FOI) bills. “As far as I know, definitely the budget is an important piece of legislation that we hope will be passed before the year ends, and also the sin tax measure. These two measures are important,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told a news briefing. “Obviously, budget is important for obvious reasons. The sin tax measure, again, is a health issue. We would like to address the funding gap of the health sector and so we need the sin tax measure passed,” he said. The two priority measures are pending in the Senate. The RH and the FOI bills are pending in the House of Representatives, but Lacierda said “amendments made” in the responsible parenthood bill “took away a number of provisions that the anti-Responsible Parenthood (faction) found offensive.”
The House committee on public information will try to come up with its version of the FOI bill when it meets today. “Hopefully, both sides of the aisle would be able to agree to the provisions in the Responsible Parenthood bill. But, as far as I know, it’s still up for discussion,” Lacierda said. He was apparently referring to the revised RH bill version introduced by its main author, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, which several quarters deem as a compromise bill. But Health Secretary Enrique Ona declared that the new version is not a watered-down bill, considering that the original Lagman bill was very “specific, which was why they generalized it a bit.” To attend today’s House committee hearing on FOI, Lacierda said, are representatives from the Presidential Communications Operations Office and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also said she is optimistic about the chances of the sin tax measure but expressed helplessness in dealing with the RH bill. “For the sin taxes, we’re very hopeful that it will continue to move forward. For the responsible parenthood, as we’ve said, we cannot impose our own timetable on members of Congress and it will be up to them really,” Valte said. The Catholic Church is openly opposed to the RH bill, and some of its bishops have even threatened to use the pulpit to dissuade their flock from voting for politician-backers of the measure. “We don’t know what will happen. We’re also just waiting on the resumption of the debates in Congress on the Responsible Parenthood bill,” Valte said over state-run radio dzRB. “I don’t really know if the prioritization question is relevant in this case. Two different houses are tackling the two separate issues.” At the Senate, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III admitted then RH bill is not a priority of the chamber. “Why should we make it a priority when even Malacañang is hands off on the issue?” Sen. Pia Cayetano, the principal author and sponsor of the RH bill, wants the measure taken up alongside other pending bills so that this could be voted upon already. Cayetano said that all she needs is just 30 minutes every session day to discuss the proposed amendments to the RH bill.
Sotto said that the matter is out of his hands because it is the senators who intend to introduce amendments and who would determine when the bill would be taken up “so she should ask those with proposed amendments.” “Priority is the sin tax bill and the budget. After that, it’s rumble. Every senator will have (his or her) own priorities,” Sotto said. He said that the sin tax bill and the proposed national budget would naturally be prioritized over other bills because they involve revenues for the government. “The government needs this. The government cannot run properly and would not be able to deliver the basic services to the people if these (sin tax and national budget bills) aren’t around,” Sotto said. Cayetano emphasized that the RH bill is a very important piece of legislation as it involves the welfare of Filipino women. “Lawmakers all over the world are shocked and aghast at what we have to go through to just allow women access, the difficulty that I’m going through to make this available,” Cayetano said in an interview over ANC. “We’re not promoting abortion. All I’m saying is wake up guys, in other parts of the world, people talk about abortion in a manner that is objective. These are topics that are being talked about all over the world because it affects women. It affects their health, it affects their life,” she added. Cayetano said the RH bill is a popular bill, contrary to what the leaders of the Catholic Church are saying. “This is not a Catholic bill, this is a bill for all Filipinos. For me to impose the Catholic view on this bill would be a disservice to every single Filipino who are not Catholics and even the Catholics who want to avail of those services, which surveys show they do,” Cayetano said. “Time and again the surveys have been consistent that Catholics want and need reproductive health services.” Too late For the sin tax measure, Sen. Miriam Santiago said objections are too late already because the government has to comply with its international obligations to reduce the prevalence of smoking in the country. Santiago, who filed a version of the sin tax bill, aired her support for the bill endorsed by acting ways and means committee chairman Sen. Franklin Drilon.
The Santiago bill projected incremental revenues of P60 billion in the first year of implementation, the same figure as the original version proposed by the Department of Finance. In the version endorsed by Drilon, the incremental revenues expected are within the range of P40 billion to P45 billion. “The substitute bill will be able to achieve the same health target of reducing smoking prevalence by 10 percent in 2012. However, my bill will have a greater impact on reducing smoking prevalence,” Santiago said. During the resumption of the debates on the sin tax bill yesterday, Drilon said his version would result in a reduction in smoking prevalence from 28 percent of the population to 26 percent. In contrast, the bill of Santiago would bring down the smoking prevalence to 25.4 percent, bring about the quitting of 2.99 million smokers and prevent the deaths of 90,000 individuals. As far as the health impact of the bill is concerned, Drilon admitted that Santiago’s version is superior. Santiago said the foreseen health impacts of the bill are consistent with the requirements of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which the Philippines ratified in 2005. ‘Spirited debate’ At the House, committee on public information chairman Rep. Ben Evardone said he expects “a healthy and spirited debate on the various FOI measures pending in the committee” as his panel meets today. “I hope we will be able to distill the issues clearly to enrich the draft report of the technical working group, particularly the provisions that cover national security and national interests,” he said. “We will try to balance the need for transparency and the need to safeguard possible abuse of the rights under the FOI bill. The committee will particularly zero in on the proposal to incorporate a right of reply provision,” he said. The measure seeks to grant easier public and media access to government documents for legitimate purposes. The pending proposals include a Malacañang version that expands the list of information and documents not accessible to the public, including those relating to national defense and security, foreign affairs and issues taken up in closed-door Cabinet meetings.
The bill’s authors are against the inclusion of a right of reply provision, which they propose should be treated in a separate measure. They fear that discussions on such a right, which is as controversial as the right to obtain official information, could further delay the approval of the FOI bill. During the last days of the previous Congress, passage of the bill was derailed when a Mindanao congressman insisting on the inclusion of a right of reply questioned the quorum. The bill’s authors are also apprehensive that such a provision could infringe on freedom of the press. There is even a proposal to require media organizations to give the same space or airtime and prominence to replies of persons who feel aggrieved by an adverse news report. Evardone, a former journalist, said by tradition and practice, and in the interest of fairness, media entities routinely use the replies of aggrieved parties. He said he is against dictating on the media how they would use such replies. “That should be left to their discretion,” he said. Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño urged his colleagues to approve the bill “even if it means earning the ire of President Aquino.” “It is an open secret among us that one reason why the bill’s main proponent was bumped off the Liberal Party’s senatorial slate was because of his insistence on the bill,” he said. He was referring to Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other House leaders have promised to put the controversial FOI measure and the more controversial RH bill to a vote before next month’s Christmas recess of Congress. Delon Porcalla, Jess Diaz, Marvin Sy, Sandy Araneta
Phl debt climbs to P5.213T in Sept By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 14, 2012 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The total outstanding debt of the National Government climbed to P5.213 trillion as of end-September 2012, higher by P342.23 billion from the endSeptember 2011 level of P4.870 trillion, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) reported yesterday. The increase stemmed mainly from the increase in domestic debt to P3.184 trillion as of end-September 2012 from the comparable P2.780 trillion recorded a year ago, data showed. Foreign debt, on the other hand, declined to P2.028 trillion from P2.089 trillion. Theoretically, at this level, each of the 94 million Filipinos is indebted by P55,457 to foreign and domestic creditors. The governmentâ€™s outstanding debt represents direct and assumed loans to various foreign and local lenders, incurred mainly to finance expenditures such as education and public health.
It comes from debt securities sold to local investors, foreign bonds issued by the government and direct loans availed by government agencies and relent to governmentowned and controlled corporations (GOCCs). Domestic debt comprised largely of Treasury bills and bonds sold to local investors amounting to P3.182 trillion as of end-September 2012. Foreign debt, meanwhile, comprised of debt owed to foreign creditors amounting to P1.223 trillion in bond issuances as of end-September 2012, broken down as follows: P1.044 trillion in US dollar bonds; P53.92 billion in Japanese yen bonds; P27.02 billion in euro bonds and P98.88 billion in global peso-denominated bonds. On the other hand, the total guaranteed debt of the National Government or debt incurred by state agencies and corporations but guaranteed by the government declined compared to year-ago levels. The total guaranteed debt of the National Government amounted to P540 billion as of end-September 2012, down P42.92 billion or 7.36 percent from the end-September 2011 level of P583 billion. This as governmentâ€™s guaranteed domestic and foreign debt declined during the period. Of the amount, guaranteed domestic debt dropped to P155.37 billion as of end-September 2012 from P161.64 billion a year ago while the guaranteed foreign debt declined to P385 billion as of end-September 2012 from P421 billion a year ago. According to the 2012 fiscal program, the debt stock will reach P5.52 trillion by yearâ€™s end and climb to P5.91 trillion in 2013. The Aquino administration hopes to slash the budget deficit to P279 billion this year or 2.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and to P241 billion or two percent of GDP in 2013.
Inclement Weather Cancels Presidential Sortie By GENALYN D. KABILING November 13, 2012, 6:55pm MANILA, Philippines --- Bad weather forced the cancellation Monday of President Aquino’s visit to Nueva Ecija where he was supposed to attend a forum on the country’s rice production. The President was eager to fly to Nueva Ecija despite the inclement weather but was advised by the Presidential Security Group (PSG) to skip his trip for his safety, according to Presidential deputy spokeswoman Abigail Valte. Aquino was supposed to take the helicopter to Nueva Ecija to attend the 27th anniversary rites of the Philippine Rice Research Institute and Gawad Saka ceremony in the province at 10 a.m. Wednesday. He was instead represented by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in the Nueva Ecija event. The President usually rides the Bell helicopter in his trips in the provinces. “President Aquino was inclined to still attend but PSG strongly advised against it due to inclement weather in the locality due to the amihan,” Valte said. Last August, heavy rains and poor visibility compelled President Aquino and his official party to make an emergency landing on a national highway while en route to Tarlac to check the condition of storm victims. Aquino was safe when the unscheduled landing of his helicopter was made at the Luisita exit of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. He proceeded by land to check the condition of the people in Paniqui. In the speech read by Alcala, the President declared that the country is on the road to selfsufficiency in rice after years of importing the staple from other countries.
Bankers: PHL banks need massive adjustment to Asean integration Category: Banking & Finance Published on Tuesday, 13 November 2012 19:46 Written by Jun Vallecera / Reporter LOCAL banks have much to do yet to meet commitments sought under the financial integration program of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) set for full implementation by 2020, bank executives across the region told a press briefing organized on Tuesday by the Asian Bankers Association. Integration pertains to ongoing efforts by Asean members to achieve parity of rules and regulation across the 10 countries of the Asean initially for example so that banks in the region can begin to operate not as foreign banks but as local banks in any of the 10 Asean jurisdictions. But according to Elbert Zosa, former executive vice president and head of corporate planning at the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., while Philippine banks continue to endeavor to meet the various commitments needed to put the industry on even footing with colleagues in the region by then, the collective state of readiness has much to go still. Zosa remains a consultant with the bank. “That is why Philippine banks still have ample time to prepare for the eventual integration,” Zosa said. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Amando M. Tetangco Jr. whose speech at the 29th general meeting and conference of ABA on Tuesday was read by Deputy BSP Gov. Nestor Espenilla Jr., said the Asean banking integration framework (ABIF) was seen to be fully on stream by 2020. “Under ABIF, organically Asean banks can operate as ‘foreign bank’ branches in each of the 10 Asean member jurisdictions. These organically Asean banks are referred to as qualified Asean banks (QABs) and the premise is that these QABs operate under the same regulatory conditions as domestic banks. “Parity across jurisdictions is likewise proposed under the ABIF so that banking becomes ‘cost and policy neutral’ between one Asean jurisdiction and another. This literally suggests a harmonized regulatory framework across the 10 Asean jurisdictions. “A capacity building program underpins the entire framework. Under the rallying call of ‘Asean for Asean,’ there will be principally a transfer if experience and competencies from the original Asean 5 economies to the five newer members of Asean. Given how different the banking conditions are within Asean itself, one can only imagine how
extensive will be this capacity building program,â€? Tetangco said in welcoming the various delegations to the ABA meeting held at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel. He also said the big challenge was for all jurisdictions to build a holistic and robust Asean market. â€œThough delimited to 10 economies, the extent of change that is needed is nothing short of massive, particularly if the plans are to materialize by 2020,â€? Tetangco said.
Thailand, Indonesia, PHL form private sugar alliance Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 13 November 2012 19:49 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter THE private-sector sugar industries of Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines agreed to form an alliance in preparation for the coming Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. Stakeholders from the sugar industries of the three Asian countries established the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Sugar Alliance or ASA. According to the Philippine sugar industry, the idea to form an alliance was initially discussed by Thailand sugar industry representatives when Philippine sugarcane farmers and millers visited that country in August 2012. At first, the alliance was to be comprised of the sugar industries of Thailand and Indonesia, but after the Philippine sugar industry showed interest, it was welcomed as an incorporating party.The private sector Philippine sugar industry said in a statement that it was attracted to join to establish a â€œstrong relationshipâ€? among the sugar industries in Asean. Among the member-countries in Asean, Thailand is considered the largest producer and exporter of sugar, while Indonesia is regarded as the biggest consumer and importer. The ASA will be the venue for exchanges and collaboration on sugarcane, sugar and relatedproducts researches among alliance members. This is in response to the changing business environment--trade, growing demand for sugar, advances in farm and mill technologies and changing weather patterns. ASAâ€™s mission focuses on the important role of sugarcane as a raw material for food and energy, the cooperation on sugar related business development, and the support to the government sector for the upcoming Asean Economic Community. Asean, with a population of almost 600 million, produces around 17 million tons of sugar, and consumes about 14 million tons of sugar yearly. The consuming ratio per person is around 23 kilograms per year, according to the International Sugar Organization (ISO). Cherdpong Siriwit from Thailand was elected Chairman of ASA, while Pedro Roxas of the Philippines was elected Vice-Chairman during the Nov. 7, 2012 organizational meeting in Bangkok. Joining the Philippine delegation were Jeannie Krebs and Francisco Varua, treasurer and executive vice president of PSMA, respectively. The administrator of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) was invited by the Philippine sugar industry to observe the proceedings. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri-commodities/2756-thailandindonesia-phl-form-private-sugar-alliance
Farmers need to plant alternative crops to lessen tobacco dependence Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 13 November 2012 19:48 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter THE Philippines thumbed down moves to discourage tobacco farming without identifying alternative crops which can be planted by affected farmers under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). In a position submitted to the FCTC of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Agriculture (DA) observed that Articles 17 and 18 of the draft guidelines appear to promote the phase of tobacco farming. “Instead of aiming to forcibly eliminate tobacco farming, when there is high demand for the said crop, governments should identify viable crop alternatives that can contribute/complement to improve the income and overall quality of life of tobacco farmers,” the statement read. The position taken by the Philippines is consistent with the earlier promise made by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala that he would protect the livelihood of tobacco farmers despite efforts by some sectors to reduce cigarette consumption. “The Philippines oppose the narrow approach espoused under the proposed recommendations for Article 17 because it only promotes diversification by way of complete replacement (i.e., pushing farmers from tobacco another crop) which should not be the case,” the Philippine position read. “To reiterate, farmers should be free to make their own decisions on what crops to grow and sell,” it stressed. The Philippine Tobacco Growers Association (PTGA) said it welcomes the position taken by the Philippine government. “We thank Secretary Alcala for opposing the proposals by FCTC to ban tobacco farming. By doing so, he has saved the livelihood of thousands of Filipino tobacco farmers,” said Asuncion Lopez, spokesperson of the Philippine Tobacco Growers Association (PTGA). The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO’s FCTC of which the Philippines is a signatory will hold its 5th session which started on Nov. 12 in Seoul, South Korea. PTGA claimed that the conference, which will run until Nov. 17, will discuss proposals to ban tobacco farming, abolish government offices that promote tobacco farming, cut-off
technical and financial assistance to tobacco farmers, limit the existing land area dedicated for tobacco farming, and limit the planting season for tobacco. During the COP5 meeting, each country is allowed to state its official country position on the proposals under FCTC.
From rice importer to exporter — Aquino By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Nov. 14, 2012 at 12:01am | The Philippines will start exporting long grain aromatic rice by 2013, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said on Tuesday. Alcala read the speech of President Aquino for the 27th anniversary of the Philippine Rice Research Institute in Nueva Ecija after the latter was advised not to push through because of the inclement weather. Mr. Aquino earlier declared 2013 as the National Year of Rice to mark the country’s move toward rice self-sufficiency by next year. “A sustained and nationwide campaign to boost farmers’ morale and motivate them to adopt technologies to further improve farm productivity and encourage the general public to be responsible rice consumers are necessary to complement the government’s efforts to achieve rice self-sufficiency,” Mr. Aquino said in Proclamation No. 494. Earlier, the President said the country will not only be self-sufficient next year, it can also now aim to becoming a net rice exporter. In his speech before the Filipino community in Laos, Mr. Aquino said this can happen if calamities spare the country during the harvest season. He said the country only needs to import some 50,000 metric tons of rice this year to provide for the needs of the population. Mr. Aquino said the “no-importation” plan next year is well in place. The President noted that before he came into office, the country under the Arroyo administration has been importing 2.5 million metric tons of rice as cover for the 1.3 million metric tons demand.
Rice output to rise 4.1% By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Nov. 14, 2012 at 12:01am | 93 views Rice production is forecast to increase 4.1 percent to 4.16 million metric tons in palay terms in the first quarter of 2013 from 3.99 million MT in the first quarter of 2012, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics based the forecast on the assumption that the harvest area would expand 4.7 percent from 1.08 million hectares in the first quarter of 2012 to 1.13 million hectares in the same period in 2013. The average yield per hectare is projected to decline by 0.5 percent from 3.70 MT to 3.67 MT during the period. Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Caraga are expected to contribute the biggest shares in the probable increase in production in the first quarter of 2013. The Agriculture Department expects rice production to reach 17.98 million MT in the whole of 2012, up by 7.7 percent from the 2011 output of 16.68 million MT. Harvest area is projected to expand by 3.4 percent from 4.54 million hectares last year to 4.69 million hectares this year. Yield per hectare is also seen improving from 3.68 MT to 3.83 MT. Production in the second half of 2012 is predicted to reach 10.08 million MT, up by 10.7 percent from last yearâ€™s record output of 9.11 million MT. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2012/11/14/rice-output-to-rise-4-1/
Exports jump 22.8% to $4.8b By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Nov. 14, 2012 at 12:02am | 204 views Exports climbed 22.8 percent in September, the fastest growth in 21 months, led by higher shipments of commodities and manufactured goods amid higher demand from Asian countries.
The National Statistics Office said merchandise exports hit $4.8 billion in September, up from $3.9 billion a year ago and $3.8 billion in August, on increased orders for tuna, metal components, bananas, woodcraft and furniture, ignition wiring sets, petroleum products, coconut oil and electronics. The National Economic and Development Authority said the Philippines was the strongest performer in East and Southeast Asia in terms of exports growth in September, eclipsing the 15.8-percent growth in Hong Kong, 15.6 percent in Vietnam, 10.4 percent in Taiwan, 9.9 percent in China and 0.2 percent in Thailand. “The strong export performance mainly reflected the moderate improvement in global economic activity as industrial production and business confidence indicators showed signs of recovery,” said Neda deputy director-general Emmanuel Esguerra. Exports in the first nine months also showed a 7.2- percent growth to $40.1 billion from $37.4 billion recorded in the same period last year. “The Philippines is only one of four East and Southeast Asian countries that posted positive growths in the first nine months of 2012, along with Vietnam [18.3 percent], China [7.4 percent], and Hong Kong [1.8 percent],” said Esguerra. Electronics remained the country’s top export with total receipts of $1.8 billion in September, up 1.1 percent from a year ago. “The nearly flat performance of electronics shipments was due to the drag coming from electronic data processing units amid renewed strengths in other electronics sub-segments such as telecommunication, which was projected to surpass computers as one of the leading market drivers,” said Esguerra. Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio said the export growth in September demonstrated the country’s resiliency despite uncertainties in the global economy.
“The country’s merchandise exports growth momentum remains robust despite significant threat posed by the crisis in the Euro area and lethargic state of the US economy,” he said. “We have always aimed to make our export growth rate at par with our Asean neighbors to sustain the country’s growth,” Panlilio said. Data showed overseas sales of forest products surged 185 percent to $11.3 million, due to significant boosts in export receipts from logs and lumber.
Asian cities more prone to calamities Published on 14 November 2012 Hits: 89 Written by Mayvelin U. Caraballo Reporter The Asia-Pacific region is more prone to natural calamities that can derail economic growth and development, a new study from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Tuesday.
The study entitled ADB’s Response to Natural Disasters and Disaster Risks showed that people in the Asia-Pacific region are four times more likely to be affected by natural disasters than those living in Africa, and 25 times more likely than those living in Europe or North America. It added that the region generated almost 25 percent of the world’s gross domestic product from 1980 to 2009, but it accounted for 38 percent of global economic losses because of natural disasters during this period. “Most of the large cities in the world classified as having extreme risks of climate vulnerability are in Asia, and the region faces expected annual disaster losses in excess of $19 billion,” it added. The ADB study reiterated the need for policy makers to recognize that natural disasters are becoming increasingly endemic in the region, where four of five cities are at extreme risk. As natural disasters threaten to seriously undermine rapid economic progress, the study called on governments to focus on disaster prevention. It said that the region has borne the brunt of the physical and economic damage from the sharp rise in natural disasters since the 1980s. It added that a wider recognition is needed of the fact that natural disasters, particularly storms and floods, are becoming endemic and their increasing frequency and severity can slash economic growth. “We have thought for too long that natural disasters come and go, that they are just an interruption to development, and that they can be dealt with after they strike,” said Director General Vinod Thomas of Independent Evaluation of the ADB. “However, there is growing international recognition that the incidence and impact of natural disasters are increasing because of persistent poverty, population growth and
climate change. Throughout the region, we must recognize that investments in disaster risk management are an essential means to sustaining growth and poverty reduction,â€? Thomas added. â€œYou cannot simply rehabilitate roads and bridges and then build temporary shelter. Often, poverty, gender, ethnic issues, property rights and other problems compound the difficulties and require much greater attention and capacity for response from the development community,â€œ said Tomoo Ueda, principal evaluation specialist and the main author of the study.
Countries adopt global pact to curb illicit tobacco trade Published on 13 November 2012 Hits: 96 Written by AFP SEOUL: More than 170 countries on Monday adopted what chief Margaret Chan of World Health Organization (WHO) called as a “game-changing” global pact to combat the illegal tobacco trade.
The treaty envisages an international tracking system, which aims to halt the smuggling and counterfeiting of tobacco products—a trade which accounts for 11 percent of the total tobacco market and costs governments an estimated $40 billion in lost tax revenue. “This is a game-changing treaty,” Chan said in an address to a meeting in Seoul of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which has been ratified by 176 countries since coming into force in 2005. “This is how we hem in the enemy,” she added, calling the pact a major step towards “eliminating a very sophisticated criminal activity”. The protocol gives signatory states five years to establish a tracking and tracing mechanism on cigarettes and every other tobacco product. The system will use nonremovable markings and will be coordinated globally to detect illegal tobacco trading. Agents, suppliers and tobacco manufacturers will all have to be licensed. Manufacturers will have to carry out checks on customers to ensure that they are genuine or if they have associations with criminal organizations. In her address on Monday, Chan lambasted the tobacco industry for seeking to “maintain its profits and kill at the same time” and accused it of complicity in the illicit tobacco trade. “It is a ruthless industry that quite literally cannot afford to lose. It behaves like a corrosive substance that can eat and slip through any cracks or fissures in the armor of our defenses,” she said. Monday’s pact marks a departure for the FCTC, whose main focus so far has been on curbing demand for tobacco products rather than controlling the supply chain. The Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), which groups about 300 non-government organizations working for tobacco control, said that it was “excited” by the adoption of the pact, which required four years of intense negotiations. “The illicit trade in tobacco feeds the worldwide tobacco epidemic by flooding markets
with cheap producers and keeping tobacco taxes low,â€? said FCA director Laurence Huber. The six-day FCTC meeting in the South Korean capital will also review guidelines on tax measures to reduce tobacco demand, recommendations on promoting alternatives to tobacco growing and regulation of smokeless tobacco products like e-cigarettes.
Noy gets ire of cigarette vendors for ‘masterminding’ higher sin tax • •
Written by Tribune Wednesday, 14 November 2012 00:00
Street cigarette vendors trooped to Mendiola yesterday urging President Aquino to junk the propossed Senate bill imposing high taxes on locally manufatured cigarettes.
In a rally near Malacañang, the cigarette vendors were joined by farmers to slam the sin tax bill being pushed by Sen. Franklin Drilon which they say would take away their jobs and sources of income.
Both the cigarette vendors and farmers are part of the of the Peoples Coalition Against Regressive Taxation (PCART), a group opposing the bill pushing for exorbitant taxes on sin products.
The group uged Aquino to concentrate on matters that would improve the lives of poor Filipinos rather than work on a measure that will tax the underprivileged.
“We don’t understand why the Palace is more keen on supporting a bill that will make life more difficult for us rather than attend to matters that would improve our plight,” PCART lider Edwin Guarin said.
The group said they staged the rally in Malacañang because it has become clear that the Palace is the one behind the regressive tax system.
“The mastermind of the sin tax bill is in Malacañang. If he will only listen to us, the most powerful person in the land will have the reason to prevent the bill from being approved and implemented,” Guarin said.
PCART is also composed of poor workers who are dependent on the beleaguered tobacco industry.
Members of the militant organization fear they will lose their jobs and only souce of income once the sin tax bill is implemented in the country.
Meanwhile, thousands of Filipino tobacco farmers lauded Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala for protecting their welfare and livelihood against proposals by the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to ban tobacco farming.
“We thank Secretary Alcala for opposing the proposals by FCTC to ban tobacco farming. By doing so, he has saved the livelihood of thousands of Filipino tobacco farmers,” said Asuncion Lopez, spokesman of the Philippine Tobacco Growers Association (PTGA).
The 5th Conference of Parties meeting of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Seoul, South Korea from Nov. 12 to 17 will discuss proposals to ban tobacco farming, abolish government offices that promote tobacco farming, like the Philippines’ National Tobacco Administration, cut-off technical and financial assistance to tobacco farmers, limit the existing land area dedicated for tobacco farming, and limit the planting season for tobacco.
During the COP5 meeting, each country is allowed to state its official country position on the abovementioned proposals.
The DA, as lead agency and head of delegation tasked to provide inputs and comments on the issue, has submitted to the FCTC the official Philippine position opposing the proposals.
The DA said the FCTC does not contain provisions that ban tobacco farming and neither does it contain provisions pertaining to the abovementioned proposals.
“An important issue clarified to all participants was that the WHO Framework Convention does not aim to phase out tobacco growing. Alternatives to tobacco crops are only explored in preparation of an eventual decrease in demand caused by tobacco contro,” the official Philippine position stated. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/business/item/6844-noy-gets-ire-of-cigarettevendors-for-%E2%80%98masterminding%E2%80%99-higher-sin-tax
Gov’t has no choice but to impose high taxes on sin products — solon • •
Written by Angie M. Rosales Wednesday, 14 November 2012 00:00
The government is likely to fall off the fiscal cliff if the proposed imposition of high sin taxes is not approved by Congress, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who is one of the authors of the measure, said yesterday.
Santiago made the statement as she supported the acting sponsor of the measure, Sen. Franklin Drilon, in pushing the approval of the bill which happens to be similar to her filed version seeking to yield P40 billion incremental revenues from liquor and tobacco products.
Likewise, Santiago said the government has no other choice but to effect the increase in excise taxes of covered products as this is among the commitments that the Philippines entered into in ratifying the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2005.
“It’s an international law, it binds the Philippine government,” Santiago said on the floor as she took her turn in interpellating Drilon on the measure.
The senator said the government must raise sin taxes and reduce smoking prevalence, consistent with the country’s commitments under the FCTC which was developed in response to the global tobacco epidemic.
“It is too late for industry leaders to raise their objections now. They should have raised their objections in 2005, when the Philippines was about to ratify the FCTC,” she said. “This treaty has morphed into international law. The Philippines will become a rogue state if we do not comply with our obligations under the FCTC,” Santiago warned.
Furthermore, she claimed, the government could be on the brink of a fiscal cliff if it will not raise sin taxes as it’s seen as the only option to decrease government spending on healthcare costs from tobacco-related diseases.
“The Philippine government and the Filipino people are ‘at a losing end’ (because) healthcare costs far outweigh the revenues being generated from tobacco,” she said.
She added that these healthcare costs are “all underestimated” since these only covered the four major diseases, including heart ailment, lung cancer and emphysema, for which government is spending, she said, at least P47 billion a year.
“It did not include the more than 40 other diseases, such as cancers other than lung cancer, occlusion of arteries to the leg, aneurysms, asthma attacks, and many more, related to tobacco use as well as exposure to secondhand smoke,” she noted.
Drilon, in responding to some of the queries of the senator, admitted that Santiago’s version of the bill was far more superior to his proposal which targets a much lower P45billion multi-year tax take from cigarettes and alcohol products.
Yet, he underscored the fact that unless the “sin” products are priced beyond reach of consumers, government cannot effectively wipe out these vices.
Labor leaders have expressed alarm over the excessively high excise tax rates proposed by Drilon on tobacco products, saying the plan would lead to massive job losses in the cigarette manufacturing sector.
The National Federation of Labor Unions led by Hilario Punzalan said its worst fears were confirmed when Sen. Ralph Recto explained during the plenary deliberations on the excise tax bill the wide-ranging negative impact of Drilon’s tax measure on the tobacco industry.
“We have long been warning about the fact that workers in the tobacco industry would suffer the most if the government insists on imposing steep tax increases on locally produced cigarettes,” Punzalan said.
RP lauded for removing NTA from COP delegation • •
Written by Tribune Tuesday, 13 November 2012 00:00
The Philippines has broken its negative record with the local and international health community for its perceived support of the tobacco industry.
Yesterday, the prestigious Orchid Award was given to the Philippines for excluding the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) from the official delegation to the 5th Conference of Parties (COP5) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which opened yesterday in Seoul, Korea.
“This is a remarkable moment in the history of public health. We salute the President, the Department of Health and Civil Service Commission for upholding our obligations to WHO FCTC,” says Health Justice managing director Irene Reyes.
In 2010, the Philippines was bestowed the shameful Dirty Ashtray Award for doing exactly the opposite: the Philippine delegation mouthed pro-tobacco industry interests at the COP4 in Uruguay.
Earlier this year, Corporate Accountability International also selected the Philippine government’s Inter-agency Committee on Tobacco (IAC-T) to receive its infamous “Marlboro Man Award”, saying that the the tobacco industry’s presence in the IAC-T through the Philippine Tobacco Institute’s membership in the same compromised the committee’s obligation to protect against the harms of tobacco.
The Conference of Parties is firm on ensuring that tobacco industry representatives are kept at a safe distance.
Interpol, the world’s largest police organization, was refused observer status at the COP5 due to reports that it received $15 million from Philip Morris International. Interpol has a strong interest and potential contribution in the enforcement of smuggling measures.
“These are necessary steps to ensure that the Illicit Trade Protocol which has just been adopted is safeguarded against tobacco industry interference,” adds Reyes.
Locally, the Bureau of Customs refused to renew its partnership agreement with Philip Morris in accordance with a 2010 joint memorandum circular issued by the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Health to protect the bureaucracy from industry interference.
“We are hopeful to see the Philippines making great strides towards advancing public health as a priority. This is a true win for the Filipino people and for civil society who can look to a government that now recognizes that the preservation of health far outweighs any profit that the tobacco industry could provide,” says John Stewart, Challenge Big Tobacco campaign director at Corporate Accountability International.
While congratulating the Philippine delegation for ensuring a tobacco industry-free team to the COP5, SEATCA Director Bungon Ritthipakdee stressed that this should serve as a good practice for other Philippine officials and policymakers to emulate.
“Government officials and policymakers have the power to stop tobacco industry interference in their hands. As long as government consistently rejects the tobacco industry in activities and events such as attendance to the COP, this sends a very strong signal that we are serious in halting their interference and manipulative tactics, Ritthipakdee added.
Bangko Sentral warning By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Nov. 14, 2012 at 12:00am | 265 views
Tweet The Bangko Sentral on Tuesday issued a reminder that bringing in or electronically transferring Philippine currency exceeding P 10, 000 will be subject to confiscation by the Bureau of Customs unless covered by its specific written authorization. Under Section 4 of the Manual of Regulations on Foreign Exchange Transactions issued by the Bangko Sentral, “a person may without prior BSP approval, bring into, import or electronically transfer legal tender Philippine notes and coins, checks, money order and other bills of exchange drawn in pesos against banks operating in the Philippines in an amount not exceeding P 10,000.00.” The BSP said cross-border transfer of local currency in excess of the limit is allowed for limited purposes only, typically for testing, calibration of money counting, sorting machines and in small amounts for numismatics.
Business Bank defers public offering to Q1 By Jenniffer B. Austria | Posted on Nov. 14, 2012 at 12:01am | 156 views
Tweet The P4.25-billion initial public offering of Philippine Business Bank may be postponed to the first quarter of 2013, following the delay in securing regulatory approvals, the arranger of the transaction said Tuesday. Maybank ATR Kim Eng managing director Roberto Benares said the local thrift bank, owned by businessman Alfredo Yao, might need to re-file its IPO application with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange because the financial statement included in the registration statement was no longer up to date. PBB tapped Maybank to arrange the IPO. Audited financial statements of companies applying for public listing should not be more than 135 days old under the Securities Regulation Code. Benares said the PBB’s audited financial statement was based on the company’s first-half performance. The PSE was set to act on the bank’s IPO application Wednesday. “So what will happen is they [PBB] will postpone it [IPO]. They will have to decide. The next window could either be using September, October, November financial figures. After that, you go out first quarter next year,” Benares said. PBB plans to offer 101.33 million shares at a maximum offer price of P41.94 per share. The offer shares represent 29.5 percent of the bank’s outstanding capital stock. The bank earlier said it intended to use the proceeds from the offering for payment of bank branch licenses to the Bangko Sentral, expansion of its branch network, implementation of IT projects and general banking purposes.
Economy Posted on November 13, 2012 10:47:15 PM
Report cites benefits of higher tobacco tax A STUDY of five countries, including the Philippines, has found that higher taxes on tobacco products will reduce the number of smokers and smoking-related deaths. "We find that for the five countries in Asia (People’s Republic of China, India, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam), increases in cigarette prices (in the range of 25%-100%) effectively reduce the number of smokers and the number of smoking-related deaths, and generate substantial revenues," according to "Tobacco Taxes: A Win-Win Measure of Fiscal Space and Health" published by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). "In the five countries, a 50% price increase, corresponding to a tax increase of about 70%-122%, would reduce the number of current and future smokers by nearly 67 million and reduce tobacco deaths by over 27 million, while generating over $24 billion in additional revenue annually (a 143%178% increase over each country’s current cigarette tax revenue)," it further read. The ADB noted that two-thirds of the world’s tobacco users live in just 15 countries, including the People’s Republic of China, India, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. It said that smoking traps people in poverty due to the diseases resulting from the habit and diverts funds for household expenses to feeding the addiction. The report also pointed out that in the five countries, "benefits of higher prices in terms of reduced numbers of smokers and deaths accumulate more for males than for females, across the region" because there are more male smokers than female smokers. It also noted that if "revenue were to decline in extreme scenarios (well beyond the approximately 300% tax increases we have modeled), these declines should be viewed in the context of overall increased revenues from economic growth, productivity, reduced health expenditures, and other benefits of tobacco control." According to the report, any revenue loss is negligible. "The economic gains from better adult health are likely to be much larger than the small change in revenue," the report said. On smuggling, the report said "the best response to smuggling is not to lower tax rates, but to clamp down on large-scale organized smuggling that evidence suggests in some countries may be aided by the tobacco industry." Meanwhile, an advocacy group expressed support for a bill restructuring the taxes on tobacco and alcohol products. Senate Bill No. 3299 pushed by Senator Franklin M. Drilon removes a price classification freeze, shifts to a unitary tax system and earmarks bulk of P45 billion in additional revenues for tobacco farmers and the government’s universal health care program, said the New Vois Association of the Philippines in a statement yesterday. --Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza
Tax sends BSP gold purchase down to 75% • •
Written by Ed Velasco
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 00:00
A day after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to reassess the five percent withholding and two percent excise tax it is imposing against gold sellers, the gold being purchased by the central bank is now only less than five kilograms (around 165 ounces), which is less than one percent of the original purchase volume.
The latest gold purchase was for September, according to the security plant complex of the BSP in BIR Road, Quezon City.
The gold purchase had not even reached one percent of the SPC purchase before the tax on all gold sellers was imposed in mid-2011.
“Very little gold purchases. Less than five kilograms,” assistant governor and SPC chief Manuel Torres revealed to The Daily Tribune.
One troy ounce of gold is equivalent to 31.1 grams. BSP buys gold from anybody, mostly small scale miners, at around $1,600 per troy ounce.
The latest volume of gold sold to the SPC was roughly 75 percent of the original purchase volume of 20,000 to 25,000 ounces per month prior to the imposition of the seven percent combined tax imposed by BIR.
Last Monday, the BSP urged BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto Henares to study how the tax imposed on gold sellers can help the industry and other stakeholders.
The BIR commissioner, for her part, is firm on her decision not to recall or reassess the tax against gold sellers.
She added if sellers can prove that they are just middlemen, they should show receipt. However, none among the sellers were able to show the papers that will prove they only bought the gold and that is already taxed through the first owner.
Earlier, the BSP called on Henares to at least reassess the tax because most small scale miners are just middlemen, and the gold they are selling are already taxed by the original seller.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), an attached agency to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the BSP is severely affected by the tax because 70 to 80 percent of gold sellers belong to the small-scale mining industry.
Torres also said that during the first few weeks of the tax imposition, the BSP has set a dialog before gold sellers and BIR personnel to explain why the tax is being imposed.
The BIR chief didn’t reply to numerous queries of The Tribune if she will continue imposing tax against gold sellers.
BSP aids typhoon-hit banks • •
Written by Ed Velasco
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 00:00
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)is granting regulatory relief to all commercial, thrift, rural and cooperatives banks that were severely afected by typhoon “Gener.” The move aims to enable said banks to similarly ease and assist the financial burden of their customers, according to the BSP. Gener hit many parts of Luzon, Visyas and some places in Mindanao last July 28 to Aug. 2. Areas where relief is offered include 10 cities in Metro Manila and 35 provinces and cities outside the metropolis, BSP data said. The 10 cities in Metro Manila are Makati, Malabon, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Taguig, Quezon City and Valenzuela. Places outside the metrpolis covered by the relief include Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan in Region I; Cagayan in Region II; Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga in Region III; Batangas, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal in Region IV-A; Occidental and Oriental Mindoro in Region IV-B; Masbate and Sorsogon in Region V; Aklan, Antique, Iloilo and Negros Occidental in Region VI; Cebu in Region VII; Zamboanga del Norte in Region IX; Lanao del Norte and Misamis Oriental in Region X; Davao del Sur in Region XI; North Cotabato in Region XII; and Abra, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao and Mountain Province in Cordillera Administrative Region. The regulatory relief will primarily allow banks to provide loans/financial asssistance to their employees who were affected by the calamity. The relief include those asssistance that maybe not within the scope of the existing BSPapproved fringe benefit programs. For thrift, rural and cooperative banks, they can exclude existing loans of borrowers in affected areas from the computation of past due ratios provided these are restructured or given relief; reduce the five percent general loan loss provisions to one percent for restructured loans of borrowers in the affected areas; not impose penalties on legal reserves deficiencies with head office and/or branches in the affected areas.