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Merger of 3 big banks worth $33B OKd  Category: Top News   Published on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 21:29  Written by Jun Vallecera | Reporter  The directors of three of the country’s iconic banks voted on Wednesday to push ahead with a proposed  three‐way merger or  “share‐swap transaction” likely to make the Ayala‐owned Bank of the Philippine  Islands (BPI) the largest lender by assets.  In a telephone interview, an official said businessman and Philippine National Bank majority owner Lucio  Tan obtained board approval to proceed with the share‐swap proposal that would allow him to own 20  percent of BPI.  Tan has obtained earlier regulatory approvals to have PNB fused with the lender Allied Banking Corp.  that the businessman also owns.  In dollar terms, the combined assets of the three‐way merger of BPI, PNB and Allied Bank would sum up  to $33 billion.  Should the deal push through, Lucio Tan would become BPI’s second‐largest shareholder after the Ayala  Group, whose equity shares were seen to equal 33 percent of total outstanding shares.  According to the official, the share swap would result in BPI acquiring PNB shares for P95 or P96 a share  that analysts also estimated as 1.8 times the latter’s book value.  Analysts said PNB book value per share at present is P56 a share.  While some analysts view the proposed share‐swap deal as rather curious, one official pointed out it  was not as if Tan has not teamed with the Ayalas in a business venture ever.  According to the official, the Ayalas of BPI and Tan of PNB joined forces some two years ago to co‐ develop a 3‐hectare property along Edsa in Mandaluyong City.  The co‐development is formally known as the Avida Towers Centera, in which the Ayalas have begun  building what would eventually become a four‐tower residential and commercial space with Tan  contributing the real estate.  PNB acquired the property from its previous owner, Rodolfo Cuenca of the now‐defunct Construction  and Development Corp. of the Philippines or CDCP, when the lender had to foreclose as Cuenca  defaulted on his commitments all those many years ago.  Some have speculated a share swap of 1.7 times book value would allow Tan to earn P26 billion. 

It was learned the transaction, should it push through and have all the regulatory approvals, would  make BPI the largest lender in the country with assets collectively worth P1.201 trillion.  Banco de Oro Universal Bank, lead lender by assets collectively worth P1.150 trillion, holds the  distinction at present.  Data show BPI assets of P720.663 billion, PNB with assets of another P304.317 billion and Allied Bank  with P176.697 billion.  When sought on how the regulators view the transaction, BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr.  said it was still “too early to comment.”  But the BSP encourages further consolidation among local lenders as part of the preparations for  eventual financial system integration among countries comprising the Association of Southeast Asian  Nations seen happening by 2020.  The country’s largest lenders compare poorly against the giants in the region, which include Japan’s  Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group with assets worth $2.64 trillion as at end‐March this year.  The British‐owned HSBC Holdings has assets of $2.63 trillion while Beijing’s Industrial and Commercial  Bank of China has assets of $2.60 trillion.‐news/3714‐merger‐of‐3‐big‐banks‐worth‐33b‐okd                           

World bank: OFW remittances to reach $24  billion this year  Category: Top News   Published on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 21:24  Written by  The World Bank said on Wednesday money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) could reach  $24 billion this year, making the Philippines the world’s third‐largest recipient of remittances.  The lender’s forecast is higher than the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’s (BSP) estimate of $21.5 billion for  the entire 2012.  The BSP last week reported that remittances rose 6 percent year‐on‐year to $2 billion in September,  with transfers hitting $17.3 billion at the close of the first nine months of the year.  (The potential for $24 billion worth of worker remittances by the end of the year translates to $33.6  billion on the basis of estimates by the Asian Bankers Association that remittances are generally 40  percent understated.)   Remittances, which account for 10 percent of the Philippine economy, have helped fuel consumer  spending, which comprised over three‐fourths of the country’s gross domestic product, and lifted  growth to a better‐than‐expected 6.1 percent in the first half of this year.  In its latest Migration and Development Brief, the World Bank said India would be the world’s biggest  recipient of remittances, which are seen hitting $70 billion this year, followed by China with $66 billion.  The Philippines would tie with Mexico with inflows estimated to reach $24 billion.  For next year, the World Bank forecast remittances to developing countries growing 7.9 percent.  Growth would pick up to 10.1 percent in 2014 and to 10.7 percent in 2015.  Despite the growth in remittance flows to developing countries, the continuing global economic crisis is  dampening remittance flows to some regions, with Europe and Central Asia and Sub‐Saharan Africa  adversely affected, while South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa expected to fare better than  previously estimated, the lender said.  “Although migrant workers are, to a large extent, adversely affected by the slow growth in the global  economy, remittance volumes have remained remarkably resilient, providing a vital lifeline to not only  poor families but a steady and reliable source of foreign currency in many poor recipient countries,”  Hans Timmer, director of the bank’s Development Prospects Group said. 

The World Bank expects continued growth in remittance flows to all regions of the world, although  persistent unemployment in Europe and hardening attitudes toward migrant workers in some places  present serious downside risks.  Worldwide remittances, including those to high‐income countries, are expected to total $534 billion in  2012, and projected to grow to $685 billion in 2015.  The World Bank said the high cost of sending money remains an obstacle to remittance growth, citing  the 7.5 percent average for the top 20 bilateral remittance corridors in the third quarter and the 9  percent for all countries where data is available.  The lender said the promise of mobile remittances has yet to be fulfilled, despite the skyrocketing use of  mobile phones throughout the developing world.  “Mobile remittances fall in the regulatory void between financial and telecom regulations, with many  central banks prohibiting non‐bank entities to conduct financial services. Central banks and  telecommunication authorities, thus, need to come together to craft rules relating to mobile  remittances,” the bank said.  (‐news/3713‐world‐bank‐ofw‐remittances‐to‐reach‐ 24‐billion‐this‐year                         

PSEi in new high on financial‐sector boost  Category: Top News   Published on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 21:23  Written by Miguel R. Camus / Reporter  Philippine stocks touched a new high on Wednesday once again led by gains in the financial sector.  The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) added 0.61 percent to 5,534.18 on Wednesday, breaking  the previous day’s high of 5,500.58. This is the 27th time the benchmark measure—one of best performing in the  region this year—hit a record high.  The Senate also approved the so‐called sin‐tax bill, which will raise excise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.  Government officials said the bill, which now goes to the bicameral conference committee, could increase the  government’s revenue by another P40 billion and help the Philippines attain investment‐grade rating.  As mentioned, the financial subindex, up 1.72 percent, led gains among subcounters as excitement spread over a  prospective merger between Ayala‐led Bank of the Philippine Islands and Lucio Tan’s Philippine National Bank and  Allied Bank (See banner story).  These banks went on voluntary trading halt. BPI owner Ayala Corp. was up 4.90 percent to P487.80 per share and  was among the session’s most actively traded issues. Henry Sy’s BDO Unibank Inc., the country’s largest lender and  rival of BPI, also gained 1.32 percent to P69.20 per share.  All other subcounters ended positive, except for the industrial and property sectors, which dipped 0.16 percent  and 0.21 percent, respectively.  Foreign buying also surged on Wednesday as San Miguel Corp. completed a block sale of 25 million of its shares in  San Miguel Pure Foods Co. Inc. that were sold at a steep discount to P240 per share mainly to offshore investors.  Purefoods dropped by the maximum daily limit of 50 percent to P340 per share.  Total foreign buying jumped almost three times from the previous session to P8.5 billion, translating to a net gain  of P6 billion on Wednesday.  Accordingly, volumes rose with about P14.9 billion worth of shares changing hands.  Most emerging market stocks dropped on Wednesday, after European policy‐makers failed to reach a decision on  Greek aid, Bloomberg News reported.  “The deadlock over the aid package highlights the fragile situation in Greece and Europe,” Jonathan Ravelas, chief  market strategist at BDO Unibank Inc., said by phone. “This setback in Europe is creating uncertainty in the  markets.”   (With Bloomberg News)‐news/3712‐psei‐in‐new‐high‐on‐financial‐sector‐ boost  

Government flunks global education test  Category: Top News   Published on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 21:00  Written by Estrella Torres / Reporter  A study by Southeast Asian Ministers of Education said the Philippines is failing on its commitments in  the global Education for All (Efa) agenda because of low budget spending in education.  A preliminary report on Efa said the Philippine government failed in its global commitments to address  problems in basic education because it is spending only 2.12 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP)  in spite of a commitment to allocate 6 percent of GDP as of 2012.  The report issued by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for  Education Innovation and Technology (Seameo‐Innotech) said the Philippines still suffers from high rates  of truancy and dropouts in the elementary level because of a number of problems, including hunger and  poverty that prevent school‐age children from going to school, and lack of school buildings and  classrooms in remote barangays.  “Recognizing the gap in education financing in the Philippines and the enormous backlogs in achieving  Efa 2015, an Efa Financing Plan should be developed to be attained by 2020,” said the Seameo‐Innotech  report issued this weekend.  The educators’ group also noted “there should be a massive campaign and advocacy to increase  government financing in education to 6 percent of the GDP.”  Noting the high cases of dropouts among elementary pupils in conflict‐affected areas in Mindanao, the  educators’ group said the government should also set up an Efa Catch‐up Plan, similar to  the Bangsamoro Transition Fund.  The preliminary findings of the Efa goals of the Philippines showed that at least 37.35 percent of six‐ year‐old children did not enter Grade 1, while 10.11 percent of children 6 to 11 did not have access to  elementary education.  The report also said that 38.74 percent of high‐school children 11‐15 years old did not have access to  secondary school.  The assessment report also raised concern over the high rates of truancy and dropouts in elementary  levels mostly in Grades 1 to 3 due to lingering poverty, lack of interest in education, child‐labor problems  and the absence of schools in remote areas.  It noted that at least 6.26 percent of pupils in elementary left school, with the highest proportion of  dropouts in Grade 1. 

At the same time, 2.10 percent of pupils in elementary repeated a grade   level, with the highest  proportion of dropouts in Grade 1.  Low completion rate is also noted in both elementary and high‐school levels. The report said that 27.89  percent of elementary pupils did not complete their education, while 24.94 percent of high‐school  students did not complete their education.‐news/3708‐government‐flunks‐global‐education‐ test                                         

National Grid raising P5B through corporate  notes  Category: Top News   Published on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 20:38  Written by Paul Anthony A. Isla / Reporter  The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the country’s sole power‐line concessionaire, will  raise funds through the issuance of P5‐billion fixed‐rate corporate notes.  NGCP said in a statement on Wednesday that it had signed an agreement with Standard Chartered Bank  (Philippine Branch) as lead manager and bookrunner, and financial institutions Land Bank of the  Philippines, Philippine National Bank (PNB), ANZ Philippines and BDO Private Bank as noteholders.  Henry T. Sy Jr., president and chief executive, said NGCP’s efforts to operate, maintain, expand and  further develop the transmission network need to be supported both by technical and financial  improvements.  He added that he had commended Standard Chartered Bank, LandBank, PNB, ANZ and BDO Private Bank  for supporting NGCP’s endeavor in the fixed‐rate notes facility.  Sy expressed confidence that the agreement would strengthen NGCP’s business and financial portfolio  for the success of NGCP’s projects and for the benefit of the customers that it serves.  Among other things, NGCP has committed to put up the much‐delayed Leyte‐Mindanao Interconnection  Project (LMIP), which is deemed to link the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao grids.  In July NGCP was expected to complete the study on the Leyte‐Mindanao interconnection project.  It  commissioned China Research Institute to do the study.  NGCP said it remains committed to start the Leyte‐Mindanao interconnection as soon as possible and as  soon as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approves the project.  The construction of the LMIP is expected to take five to seven years, considering that it would involve  the setting up of submarine and overhead transmission lines.  Sy earlier said they were ready to advance the cost for the P24‐billion LMIP. “We will advance the  needed amount on a staggered basis as soon as ERC approves our petition. As soon as we obtain the  ERC approval, NGCP will carry out the first phase of the LMIP, which is the implementation of a  feasibility and technical study that will take six months to one year to complete,” he added. 

Before the 25‐year concession of National Transmission Corp. (Transco) was privatized, the LMIP was  supposed to be included in the list of projects that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will finance for  2003, which the latter canceled after the government decided to defer it. Transco estimated then that  the LMIP would cost them $275 million to build.  The LMIP is supposed to be the final phase in completing the transmission loop connecting Luzon, the  Visayas and Mindanao grids, which would enable the deferment of additional baseload plants and lower  the system production cost due to the overall pooling of resources.‐news/3706‐national‐grid‐raising‐p5b‐through‐ corporate‐notes                                       

Groups seek to enhance learning in public  participatory finance  Category: Economy   Published on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 19:23  Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter  The Social Watch Philippines (SWP), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme,  Civil Service Commission and different groups, is pushing for the creation of a center to enhance  participatory public finance in the Philippines.  University of the Philippines Prof. Leonor Magtolis‐Briones, lead covener of SWP said the center, to be  called People’s Public Finance Institute (PPFI) will be the first of its kind in the country.  A former national treasurer, Briones, in a statement, said the creation of the PPFI aims to provide a  venue to help educate the general public, civil‐society organizations (CSOs) and interested individuals on  public finance and how it can be engaged by ordinary people at any level—from national to local.  Courses will cover the whole range of public finance, which include revenue generation, budget,  expenditure, procurement, accountability and debt as it applies to different public finance campaign  themes, such as health, education, environment and climate change, and agriculture.  Briones, currently the chairman of Kaakbay party‐list, said the need for citizens to be given the capacity  to actively and directly engage in public finance processes is fundamental to ensure that the resources  will be used for the benefit of the citizens.  SWP also leads ABI, a network of over 100 civil society organizations that is pushing for broader citizens’  participation in the budget processes.  It is engaging national and local governments to promote a pro‐people budget that will benefit the  people through improved delivery of basic social services.  “Citizens should be the ones to directly influence decisions on resources that come from them.  For this  to happen, it is necessary for them to be equipped with knowledge, skills and information and not  intimidated by the notion of complexity and technical nature of these processes,” Briones said.  Public finance processes involve six phases: 1) revenue generation, 2) budgeting, 3) expenditures, 4)  procurement, 5) debt management and 6) accountability.  Different groups are already engaging one or  some of these processes. But in the course of their engagements, citizens groups realized the necessity  to have an understanding of each of the process in order to be effective. 

As a first step, on November 22, a roundtable discussion on the integrity of public finance in the  environment will be held to gather inputs from stakeholders, including policy‐makers and CSOs.  Also, Briones said these groups need to collaborate in order to put more pressure on the Aquino  administration to be accountable in public finance management and to efficiently provide services to  the people.‐groups‐seek‐to‐enhance‐learning‐in‐ public‐participatory‐finance                                       

LBP, DENR renew partnership for rehab of  critical watersheds  Category: Regions   Published on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 18:58  Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter  SIX critical watersheds in the country will be getting the much‐needed boost from the Land Bank of the  Philippines (LBP) through its “Adopt‐a‐Watershed Program.”  The government bank recently renewed its greening partnership with the Department of Environment  and Natural Resources (DENR) to rehabilitate some 40 hectares of degraded areas in six critical  watersheds.  Environment Sec. Ramon JP Paje and LBP President and CEO Gilda Pico sealed the partnership through a  memorandum of agreement.  Paje said the partnership provides the ambitious National Greening  Program (NGP) a big boost as it would enhance the water‐yield capacity of watersheds.  This, Paje said, will enhance agricultural productivity.  Moreover, he said that the program will help  protect and improve the remaining forest cover as natural habitat for the country’s wildlife.  Under the agreement, 40 hectares of open and degraded watershed areas in Bugallon, Pangasinan (10  hectares); San Jose  del Monte, Bulacan (10 has.);  Sapang Dako, Cebu City (5 has.); Sitio Canlusong in  EB  Magalona, Negros Occidental (5 has.);  Paquibato District in Davao City (5 has.); and in Polomok, South  Cotabato (5 has.) will get the much needed funding from LBP.  The rehabilitation effort will start next year up to 2015.  Paje said that under the agreement, the LBP will sponsor the cost of the project’s implementation,  estimated to cost around P200,000 per 10 hectares or at least around a total of  P0.8 million throughout  the three‐year duration, from 2013‐2015.   It will also provide funds for the development of the  nurseries and maintenance of the planted seedlings.  The DENR will identify the area for plantation.  It will also provide technical assistance, through its  Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENROs).  To ensure community support to the project, Paje said that local communities or people’s organizations  in the area would be mobilized for site development and maintenance of the planted seedlings to  ensure their survival.  “They will also partake of the produce and the proceeds from the fruit trees that will be planted in the  project site, thus providing them additional sources for food and income,” Paje said. 

Meanwhile, the DENR chief  said the local office of the DENR in Bulacan and the LBP has tapped the  Samahang Malayang Magsasaka ng Karahume at Balagbag (Samakaba) Inc., a holder of a Community‐ based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA), for the reforestation of some 10 hectares of upland  area in sitio Balagbag, barangay San Isidro in San Jose City, Bulacan.  Signing the agreement last Nov. 16, 2012, Samakaba has taken the task of planting the area with around  5,000 indigenous forest tree species like narra as protection trees, and fruit‐bearing trees such as  avocado, guyabano, coffee, rambutan and jackfruit.  The LBP’s “Adopt‐A‐Watershed” Program began in 2006 through a joint agreement with DENR  involving  the rehabilitation of  some 14 hectares of open and degraded areas  in six watershed  sites  until 2010.  Its revival this year was spurred by its success in growing trees in the Magat Watershed in Isabela, Nueva  Vizcaya (two hectares);  Angat‐Ipo Watershed in Bulacan (four hectares);  Bago Watershed in Negros  Occidental (two hectares.); Binahaan Watershed in Leyte (two hectares);  Lasang Watershed in Davao  del Norte (two hectares);  and Silway Watershed in South Cotabato (two hectares).‐lbp‐denr‐renew‐partnership‐for‐rehab‐of‐ critical‐watersheds                             

Ban GMOs, top Indian scientist urges  government  Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 19:27   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter  THE government should ban genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the country, Indian scientist Dr.  Tushar Chakraborty said on Wednesday.  In a press conference organized by Greenpeace, Chakraborty, the principal scientist of the Gene  Regulation Laboratory—Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, said banning of GMOs in the Philippines is  the most prudent, science‐based approach to the “uncertainties” surrounding GMO crop technologies.  He also said GMO crops, like the insect‐resistant Bacillus thuriengensis (Bt) eggplant and the so‐called  golden rice, pose significant risks to human health and the environment.  Greenpeace had invited Chakraborty as an expert witness in the ongoing Writ of Kalikasan hearings at  the Supreme Court to help substantiate its claims that GMOs are unstable and unsafe to be planted,  processed and eaten.  “GMOs are not safe, have not been independently tested and have not undergone long‐term studies,”  Chakraborty said. He also said the country needed to put in place a more stringent regulatory system  and equip its regulatory body with experts and state‐of‐the‐art laboratory equipment and gadgets to  ensure the safety of GMOs being tested here.  The scientist cited the decision in a landmark case in India last month that called for a 10‐year  moratorium on GMOs due to safety concerns.  He was one of hundreds of Indian scientists who came out to support the call for a ban on GMO food  crops in the subcontinent.  “GMO technology is highly uncertain. As such, they are inherently unpredictable and irreversible. No  short‐ or long‐term study on these man‐made living food crops has conclusively shown that they are  safe for humans, livestock or biodiversity. All scientific studies about the benefits of GM crops are  conducted by the same companies that sell these. For this reason, scientists recommended that the  Indian government immediately stop the field testing of all GMO crops,” Chakraborty said.  Since 2001 scientists have opposed the field trials of GMO crops in Indian soil but it was only recently  that the Indian Supreme Court finally decided in favor of their petition to ban GMOs, according to  Chakraborty. 

Potential harm  A scientific report commissioned by the Indian High Court last month found that the moratorium was  necessary because of the potential harm that GM crops can cause to humans and the environment.  The scientists warned that field trials might contaminate regular crops, as well as India’s food supply.  They believe that India’s current regulatory system to assess the safety of GM crops is inadequate and  raises questions about the ability to safely conduct field trials.  “In India the commercial release of Bt eggplant was banned in February 2010 after [it was scrutinized]  by the scientific community. Ironically, here in the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture has been  relentless in approving GMOs without the benefit of a comprehensive and objective study and analysis  of safety data,” said Daniel Ocampo, sustainable agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.  According to him, the country’s GMO regulatory system is “flawed” making the entry of GMO events  particularly through crop biotechnology “unsafe” and “dangerous.”  “GMOs are living organisms,” Ocampo said. “Unlike GMOs in medicine, its impact in agriculture is  irreversible.”  “We are not anti‐GMO. We are not anti‐development or anti‐technology,” the Greenpeace campaigner  also said. He added that “GMO testing should be confined in the laboratory, not in the fields.”  Importation  Since 2002, the agriculture department’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) has approved 67 GMOs for  importation as food, feed and processing.  Aside from Bt eggplant, there are ongoing field trials of other GMO food crops such as Bt corn and GM  papaya, but the most worrisome GMO approvals are for rice.  Greenpeace has warned that the cultivation and commercialization of GM rice will spell disaster for  Philippine agriculture.  Aside from the inherent dangers to health and the environment, the group said GMOs would lead to the  increased use of—and resistance to—pesticide and herbicides, since most GMOs were designed to be  used exclusively in tandem with same‐brand chemical inputs.  Greenpeace also said GMOs also endangered the livelihoods of farmers, locking them into an industrial  agriculture system that enables the monopoly of a few giant agro‐chemical companies who have control  of the seeds.  “GMOs are a major threat to our country’s food security. They are a distraction to available, safe and  proven solutions,” Ocampo said.‐commodities/3691‐ban‐gmos‐top‐indian‐ scientist‐urges‐government 

IPs in Bukidnon alarmed by banana  companies’ foray into ancestral lands  Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 19:26   Written by Romy Elusfa / Correspondent  COTABATO CITY—While the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is bullish about Del  Monte Philippines’s P579‐million investment in a 550‐hectare banana plantation in Maguindanao’s Datu  Abdullah Sangki town, some indigenous peoples (IPs) in nearby Bukidnon expressed alarm over the  “massive incursion of foreign interests” into their ancestral lands.  This, after ARMM Officer in Charge Mujiv Hataman said the multimillion‐dollar banana plantation  expansion project in the town “would generate at least 3,000 local jobs.”  In his speech during celebrations of the ARMM’s 23rd founding anniversary last week, Hataman  encouraged local and foreign businessmen to invest in other provinces that make up the autonomous  region. He said that Wao and Bumbaran towns in Lanao del Sur as among those targeted by banana  magnates for expansion.  While he claims “remarkable achievements” in his reform agenda for the ARMM, Hataman stressed that  the “economic thrust [should] substantiate [the] reform agenda forged for the region.”  “Hindi tama na hanggang reporma at social services lang. Itinataguyod nating mas lalo pang mapaunlad  ang agribusiness para sa pangmatagalang kapayapaan,” he said.  Tribal leader Anilaw Inlantong of Bukidnon’s Malaybalay City, however, said the “right to self‐ determination,” which he said was “the core issue in our struggle, is far more serious and deeper issue  than job generation or any temporal economic benefits.”  Disturbed by the recent “incursion” of banana plantations along the ridges of Mount Kitanglad,  Inlantong alleged that Uni‐Frutti Inc.’s John Perrine, one of the top banana magnates in the country, has  “been offering economic concessions” to some IP leaders “so they would not block the conversion of  our ancestral lands into banana plantations.”  Uni‐Frutti, said to be a subsidiary of Del Monte Philippines, is the one investing in the banana plantation  in Datu Abdullah Sangki, and is reportedly planning to expand in other towns in Maguindanao.  According to Inlantong’s group, which has been aspiring for government recognition of their claimed  ancestral lands through the granting of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title, Uni‐Frutti’s alleged  incursion would circumvent the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (Ipra). 

Under this law, the government “recognizes and protects the right of the IPs to their ancestral lands and  possessions, and the applicability of customary laws in determining the ownership of their ancestral  domain.”  Inlantong said allowing big companies to grow bananas in their claimed ancestral lands “would  effectively cripple our efforts for the titling of our ancestral lands. More than that, it would render void  the essence of ancestral domain. How can we govern and implement our customary laws in a plantation  of a multi‐national corporation, which has rigid laws to follow for everyone inside the plantation?”  The banana magnates, Inlantong alleged, have been bribing some IP leaders with “considerable amount  of money and fancy vehicles.” He said that those who accepted the bribes had been convincing other IP  leaders to allow the presence of banana firms by highlighting the cash benefits offered.  “That is not an expression of self‐governance [or] self‐determination,” Inlantong said, and called on  other IP leaders in Mindanao to “unite in asserting the Ipra law even if it is not really the best law for the  Lumads [IPs].”‐commodities/3690‐ips‐in‐bukidnon‐alarmed‐by‐ banana‐companies‐foray‐into‐ancestral‐lands                             

Full Implementation of Biofuels Act Pressed  By BEN R. ROSARIO  November 21, 2012, 8:50pm  Lawmakers are crossing political fences to call on government to immediately rush to the aid of the  country’s 3.5 million coconut farmers now reeling under the continued decline in prices of copra.  Reps. Emil Ong (NUP, Northern Samar), together with leaders in the coconut industry, said a full  implementation of the Biofuels Act of 2006 has become imperative to ease the economic hardship  facing farmers.  Minority Leader Danilo Suarez issued a strong appeal to the Aquino government to pursue a formula  that would address the crisis.  Government, Suarez added should also be able to “give the industry a  decent explanatioin of the plunge in prices.”  Yesterday, biofuel manufacturers organizations told the House Committee on Energy that there is an  urgent need to increase the coconut component of biofuels blend from two percent to five percent.  Ramon Taniola, representative of the Biofuels Association said, “we are all ready.  There is a strong  social impact in this move, maraming farmers’ ang makikinabang (many farmers will benefit).”  The energy panel chaired by Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad has started reviewing the status of the  implementation of the Biofuels Act of 2006 by the Department of Energy and the National Biofuels  Board.  In an interview, Ong said workers in the coconut industry need urgent government assistance in  cushioning the impact of the plunging price of copra.  “The best way to help them is to fully implement the biofuels law because  this would help farmers sell  their products at a higher cost than the very low price prevailing in the market,” said Ong, chairman of  the House Committee on Labor and Employment.  Suarez told a press conference that government should explain why copra prices, the precursor  ingredient for cooking oil and cosmetics, has been falling.  “Clearly, somebody is making a killing from the price discrepancy,” he said. “The sad part is that it is the  copra industry which is being murdered.”  A report by the Philippine Coconut Authority showed that the average farm gate price of copra in  Eastern Visayas dropped this week ‐‐ the lowest in three years.  PCA regional manager, Edilberto Nierva, said the average price of commodity plunged to P12 per  kilogram this week, lower than the P26.71 level in January this year. 

"Bear in mind that last April 2011, the price of copra was at P60.51.  It would not be farfetched to  predict that the crash in copra prices could aggravate hunger in the months ahead," Suarez said. (Ben R.  Rosario)‐implementation‐biofuels‐act‐pressed#.UK2COeTBPSs                                             

Visayas Newsbits 

FISH KILL  November 21, 2012, 8:44pm  BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental (PNA) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’  Environmental Management Bureau (DENR‐EMB) recently inspected the water tributary in Brgy.  Estefania, this city where fish kill was reported. Barangay residents are wary about the murky water and  foul odor emanating from the creek. The probe will be conducted to determine the cause of the fish kill  in the creek and what intervention measures can be implemented. Probers will also see if such fish kill is  caused by dirty water being discharged from a nearby softdrink plant in the area.‐kill#.UK2CROTBPSs                                   

Central Visayas Wage Increase Confirmed  By MARS W. MOSQUEDA JR.  November 21, 2012, 8:34pm  CEBU CITY, Cebu  – The National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) yesterday informed the  Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) 7 that a P22 increase in minimum wage for  workers in Central Visayas has been confirmed by the NWPC commissioners.  This means workers in Central Visayas will now be receiving a P327‐ daily minimum wage by December,  said RTWPB 7 Secretary Grace Carreon, who revealed the latest development yesterday.  The wage order will be published in local newspapers today, which means workers will have to wait 15  days for the new minimum wage to take effect, said Carreon.  After the publication of the wage order, employers in Region 7 will have to follow the new minimum  wage rate with the RTWPB 7 and Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) will start inspecting  businesses for compliance of the order early next year.  The RTWPB 7, however, said it will exempt small companies from complying with said increase in daily  minimum wages for workers in the region.  RTWPB 7 Chair Ma. Gloria Tango, who is also DoLE regional director, said three types of businesses will  be exempted from complying with Wage Order No 17, which implements the recent increase.  Tango said “distress establishments,” or companies which can provide proof that they are not earning  profit and thus will not be able to implement the increase will be among those exempted along with  companies which have just started, operating for not more than two years.  The third exemption covers retail and service establishments with less than 10 employees.  Tango said firms that fall under the three categories will have to show proof to the RTWPB 7 before they  are given said exemption.  “They have to apply for the exemption at the RTWPB 7, and they have to convince the board that they  are losing and could not implement the increase,” said Tango, even as she appealed to workers who will  not be benefited from the wage increase not to turn their ire on the wage board because the RTWPB 7  can only act on the increase of minimum wages. Those who are earning more than the minimum wage  will not be included in the wage increase.‐visayas‐wage‐increase‐confirmed#.UK2CSuTBPSs     

Ilonggos Laud 12 Gov’t Agencies For Sincerity  In Fighting Corruption  November 21, 2012, 8:24pm   ILOILO CITY, Iloilo (PNA) – Ilonggos lauded the performance of 12 government agencies surveyed which  were perceived to be sincere in fighting corruption, but slammed seven others with low sincerity ratings.  The Social Weather Station (SWS) 2012 survey results on corruption in government agencies were  presented to the Iloilo public last Monday, November 19. The SWS, for the first time, included Metro  Iloilo in the survey with 100 enterprises as respondents.  Other areas included in the survey are National Capital Region, Metro Angeles, Cavite‐Laguna, Batangas;  Metro Iloilo, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao and Cagayan de Oro.  Results of the SWS survey on corruption in these areas showed “very good” sincerity ratings this year in  fighting corruption, namely, the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)  and the Department of Education (DepEd).  Ilonggos also gave a high rating in their fight against corruption to the Office of the President with a  positive 81 percent; followed by DTI with 58 percent; DOH with 52 percent; the Iloilo City Government  with 33 percent; Department of Budget and Management (DBM) with 33 percent; DepEd with 32  percent; Office of the Ombudsman with 32 percent; Department of the Interior and Local Government  (DILG) with 31 percent; the Senate with 29 percent; the Supreme Court with 23 percent, Sandiganbayan  with 17 percent; Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with 10 percent and the  Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with one percent.  With negative sincerity ratings in fighting corruption in the same survey results are the Bureau of  Customs with negative 33 percent; DPWH with 32 percent; Bureau of Internal Revenue with 19 percent;  House of Representatives with 12 percent; Land Transportation Office with 15 percent, Philippine  National Police with five percent and the Commission on Elections with one percent.  The survey also showed that 59 percent of respondents are of the belief that government can be run  without corruption while 41 percent believe corruption is part of the way government works.  The same SWS survey results showed that 60 percent of respondents now agree that it is easier for  anyone who wants to bid on a government contract to get information about the bidding, while 16  percent disagrees and 22 percent undecided.‐laud‐12‐gov‐t‐agencies‐for‐sincerity‐in‐fighting‐ corruption#.UK2CVeTBPSs   

Manufacturing Is Top GDP Contributor  November 21, 2012, 5:36pm  The country’s manufacturing sector continued to be the single biggest contributor to the economy  although its contribution has slowed down to 21 percent of GDP from over 30 percent several years ago,  the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) said.  Roberto Batungbacal, chairman of the organizing committee of the 2nd Philippine Manufacturers and  Producers Summit with the theme  “Pursuing Industrialization for a Progressive Philippines” organized by FPI today, said the association is  going to assess the industry’s developments after they campaigned for the revival of this sector a year  ago.  “Manufacturing is already 21 percent of GDP but there was a time that it contributed over 30 percent,”  Batungbacal said.  Even if the figure is broken down one level lower, the manufacturing sector would still remain the  biggest contributor to the economy. He noted that the services sector is a consolidation of several  factors including trading, banking, BPO, warehousing, and distribution.  Batungbacal also pointed that the 21 percent share of the manufacturing sector to the Philippine  economy cannot be considered low because the UNIDO 2009 data on 120 countries surveyed ranked  the Philippines 20th highest based on manufacturing as percentage of GDP.  “So, compared to other countries, we still have a big share of manufacturing as our base to grow  further. This also means that we are being competitive,” he said.  Other countries have lower manufacturing contributions to their economies because much of the  manufacturing firms went to China.  He also quoted data showing that the manufacturing sector has grown 9 percent per annum in the last  ten years in terms of gross value added at current prices.  “The growth appeared small because the services sector has grown quicker,” he pointed out.  According to Batungbacal, the country is becoming more competitive as a manufacturing hub.  He explained that the high cost of manufacturing in the country can largely be traced to the fact that the  government does not provide subsidies to domestic manufacturers. (BCM)  But, he also noted that other countries that provide huge subsidies to their domestic industries are now  under strong pressure to remove their subsidies. 

The issue of power being one of the region’s highest second only to Japan would be resolved soon once  the open access on energy sourcing is implemented as the rate would be based on supply‐demand  situation.  But, Batungbacal said that in reality power is only a small portion of 4 percent of a company’s total  production cost, depending on the nature of the company. For power intensive operations, power cost  would be higher.   “Should we give up manufacturing, definitely not. We are still a manufacturing country,” said  Batungbacal.   Besides, he said, the manufacturing would provide employment opportunities for those unskilled  Filipinos like high school graduates who can be employed in factories, but not in the BPO sector.(BCM)‐is‐top‐gdp‐contributor#.UK2CMeTBPSs                                   

BSP Stepping Up Note Printing  By LEE C. CHIPONGIAN  November 21, 2012, 5:37pm  The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will start printing lower‐denominated banknotes next month as volume picks  up ahead of the holidays when spending and demand for money will increase.  The BSP has had to print additional banknotes after the first order of 702 million pieces of 20‐piso and 50‐piso  notes from French banknotes printer, Oberthur Technologies were not delivered due to climate‐related delays,  said sources. A new re‐order was made which the BSP then awarded to De La Rue Currency, also based in Europe.  The same sources said the BSP has yet to fully operate the P1.8‐billion superline printer it acquired last year from  Komori Corp. of Japan but they are hoping it will start producing banknotes next month to meet the demand for  more money.  The installation of the new superline which includes two intaglio printers, a finishing equipment and offset printer,  commenced last December and it was assembled and commissioned by the first quarter this year. The actual start  of printing was delayed while testing has started in the last three months.   “We will have to print more 20‐piso and 50‐piso to meet the order,” said a BSP source, however they will have to  use the old printers for this.  The central bank this year, partly also from the demand in 2011, outsourced almost two billion pieces of notes in  all of the six denominations, or 1,000‐piso, 500‐piso, 200‐piso, 100‐piso, 50‐piso and 20‐piso.  Outsourcing of banknotes cost a lot of money for the government. An estimated P2 billion are spent on the  printing of new banknotes every year, and this is all outsourced. The four 40‐year‐old printers at the BSP’s printing  facility, the Security Plant Complex in Quezon City, can only print one billion pieces of notes every year. The  Monetary Board of the BSP, in the meantime, has already awarded the second contract to Komori Corp. for the  purchase of a second superline last month. Bidding was concluded in July.  BSP Deputy Governor Juan de Zuñiga Jr. said earlier that the budget for the second superline was P1.7 billion. It  would take another six months to deliver, install and assemble the second banknotes printer.‐stepping‐up‐note‐printing#.UK2CH‐TBPSs             

Italian Businessmen Return To RP  By BERNIE CAHILES‐MAGKILAT  November 21, 2012, 5:40pm  After a long time, the Italian business community led by the Confederation of Italian Industries (Confindustria), has  paid the Philippines a visit to explore business opportunities and deepened relations beyond the presence of  150,000 overseas Filipino workers in Italy.  Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Luca Fornari told Business Bulletin in an email that 18 member companies  and three industry associations of Confindustria, which is Italy’s largest industry association, were interested in the  Philippines as a new place to do business.  “Yes, this is the first time in 65 years of diplomatic relations that Italy has sent a business mission to the  Philippines. This is a concrete indicator of the increasing importance of the Philippines to Italy,” said Fornari.  Fornari said that Confindustria members have been attracted to visit the Philippines for several reasons. The Italian  business mission members come from varied industries, including insurance and finance, construction,  engineering, electronics, clothing designer, security solutions, and other fields in manufacturing.  “The Philippines looks more and more attractive to Italian entrepreneurs and that is the main reason why they are  here. There are many good reasons for their visit,” Fornari said.  These factors include the country’s astounding economic growth rate, which is second only to China in the region,  and its one of countries with the highest consumption propensity.  In addition, Fornari said the Philippines is part of ASEAN, an upcoming free trade area with access to over 600  million consumers.  In this regard, Fornari said, there’s a lot of room for Italy’s core quality export sectors (fashion, furniture, food),  that already enjoy favorable reputation here.  The Philippines has also ambitious plans of developing its infrastructures, in particular through the PPP projects, as  well as its main industrial activities, the ambassador added.  “These are areas that offer tremendous opportunities to many Italian companies particularly in the field of  constructions and energy that already operate internationally,” the ambassador said.  Also, Fornari noted that the Philippines, unlike its neighbors, is even more attractive from the cultural standpoint  being a Catholic country, proficiency of the English language and profound ties to the western world.  “The  Philippines represents an extremely convenient base of operations for all western companies willing to move in  the Far East,” Fornari said.  Fornari said that the Philippines is now in the investment radar of the Italian business community and the country  is now perceived as a favorable investment destination.‐businessmen‐return‐to‐rp#.UK2CDuTBPSs 

Agri Plain Talk 

Grafted Ampalaya Is More Productive  By ZAC B. SARIAN  November 21, 2012, 3:50pm 

GRAFTING AMPALAYA — Photo shows Myrna Ramirez doing the grafting of Galactica ampalaya at the seedling  nursery of East‐West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan. She learned grafting ampalaya from an expert at the  Lipa experiment station of the seed compan   The latest development in growing ampalaya is grafting. That’s what they are doing at the Farm Ready Nursery of  East‐West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.  The technique was started to be commercialized last year and is now becoming increasingly popular. During our  recent visit to the nursery, technicians were busy grafting thousands of seedlings that have been ordered by  growers in Nueva Ecija and Southern Luzon.  Although the grafted seedlings cost P17 each compared to the P4 to P5 per piece of the ungrafted seedlings, there  are farmers who would rather plant the grafted ones. 

Why? Because the grafted seedlings are more robust and more tolerant to stresses such as bacterial wilt disease,  too much water or too dry conditions. According to Ailyn Infortuno, the lead woman in the grafting operations, the  grafted seedlings have a much longer productive life. Usually, the ungrafted seedlings produce 18 to 20 harvests  per cycle. In the case of the grafted ampalaya, the grower can expect 10 extra harvests.  East‐West uses as rootstock a certain variety of cucurbit (cucurbits include upo, patola, cucumber, watermelon and  the like) that the company would rather keep to itself.  In grafting, a small biodegradable rubber tube is used to keep the point of union in place. The seed of the rootstock  is planted ahead by four days. When the rootstock is 12 days old it is ready for grafting. By then the scion would be  eight days old.  The seedlings are grown in plastic trays with 104 holes. Once grafting is done, the tray of grafted seedlings is  placed in a healing chamber that’s fully enclosed inside the greenhouse. They stay inside the chamber for four  days. After that, the grafted seedlings are transferred to another chamber which is opened every two hours to let  air inside. That is one way of hardening the plants. Ten days after grafting, the seedlings are ready for field  planting.  Ampalaya is one of the most profitable vegetables to grow although it requires more capital than others. A total of  P300,000 to P500,000 may be required as capital per hectare because of the high cost of planting materials,  trellising materials, plastic mulch, fertilizers and crop protection chemicals. Nevertheless, with the right production  techniques such as those practiced by Gabby Retuya of Bautista, Pangasinan, one can produce 30 to 35 tons per  hectare. At an average of P30 per kilo, the 30 tons would be worth P900,000. There are times when the farmgate  price is more than P50 per kilo. In that case, the profit would be very high, indeed.  By the way, the different vegetables being propagated by East‐West Seed will be showcased during the celebration  of the company’s 30th anniversary on December 12. These include, new sitao varieties, squash, papaya, sweet  corn, tomato, eggplant, cucumber, upo, patola, hot and sweet peppers, onion, watermelon and others.  During the anniversary, 30 outstanding vegetable producers who are planting East‐West seeds will be honored.  *****    *****    *****  Log on to: for practical tips in farming, ideas and interesting agri‐people. Last Nov. 19, more  than 1,200 visited our site.‐ampalaya‐is‐more‐productive#.UK2GN‐TBPSs             

Vegetable growers unite to pre‐empt foreign  buying  Published on Thursday, 22 November 2012 00:00   Written by MARIA ELENA GONZALES    LA TRINIDAD, Benguet ––  The Philippine Vegetable Industry Development  Board (PVIDB) is uniting all vegetable growers nationwide to stabilize supply  in preparation for an ASEAN common market by 2015.  The vegetable growers said that by being united, they can fill up demand and  pre‐empt the need to buy from other countries.  PVIDB chairman Marcelino Remotigue  said all vegetable growers from Luzon  to Mindanao can stabilize supply by cooperating.    “What we lack in Mindanao maybe Benguet can fill as well and vice versa,” he said.   Remotigue said a proactive stand must be taken in preparation for AFTA (Asean Free Trade Agreement). “We need  to improve production by stabilizing the volume of vegetables produced as well as the quality, sustainability of  supply and, lastly, reliability of supply.”  All the PVIDB members traveled to the province to hold an official meeting tackling the upcoming AFTA.  Edgardo Codilla, PVIDB vice president representing the Visayas, said, “We have set our safety nets for the AFTA, we  have to talk it over or else we will be trapped”.   Codilla said a roadmap has been put in place so that farmers as well as the government will know what positions to  take when the AFTA takes effect. Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan, who acts as consultant of the PVIDB, said  “we are no longer competitors.”  Fongwan relayed the Benguet experience when smuggled vegetables flooded the market years ago and said AFTA  is a challenge for farmers and disposers of the industry.  Fongwan said the AFTA will test the production, quality and consistency of the local stakeholders.  Fongwan said the province can supply 65 percent of the needs of the nation and is currently shipping a minimum  of 1 million kilos a day to various wet markets in the country.‐news/18210‐vegetable‐growers‐unite‐to‐pre‐empt‐ foreign‐buying     

PDEA has list of gov’t execs linked to drugs  By Christian V. Esguerra  Philippine Daily Inquirer  5:40 am | Thursday, November 22nd, 2012     

PNP Deputy Director General Arturo Cacdac. Photo from http://www,  The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has released a list of “government officials involved in illegal  drugs.”  But it failed to impress House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez who said it included only “small fry” like town mayors,  councilors, and barangay (village) chairs and councilmen.  To prompt the PDEA to reveal more names and details, Suarez has filed a resolution seeking a House inquiry into  the agency’s revelations that some government officials were involved in illegal drugs.  Suarez said he was not satisfied with the list because, for one thing, it included the name of former Ilocos Sur Rep.  Ronald Singson who, he noted, was “not a drug pusher but a user.  “[Singson’s] case is over… and Ronald is not a pusher. He is a user,” he told reporters.  Singson served 11 months of an 18‐month sentence in Hong Kong where he was arrested in July 2010 after he was  found in possession of 6.67 grams of cocaine and two tablets of Valium. He claimed that he did not intend to sell  the illegal drugs.  PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon insisted that the list submitted to the House by PDEA chief Arturo Cacdac Jr.  contained “tangible figures” and not based on mere suspicions.  “The list that (Cacdac) presented is a record of the status of cases of personalities occupying government posts  who have been arrested (for drug‐related cases),” he said in a phone interview. 

The PDEA list included 53 government officials who were arrested in connection with illegal drugs possession.  Other than Singson, the highest officials in the list were town mayors and councilors, and a former candidate for  the provincial board.  The East Visayas region had the most number of names with eight, followed by Cagayan Valley with seven. Metro  Manila, Calabarzon, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao each had five, while the Cordillera  Administrative Region had three.  Suarez said he was “not impressed” with the PDEA list as it involved only “small fry.”  “We are talking here of chicken feed. A barangay councilman, a councilor of a small town? (The names) are very  small. In the meantime, we know that the industry is worth about P800 billion,” he said.  The congressman said he would “not be surprised” if there are highly placed government officials involved in illegal  drugs, particularly with the coming elections as illegal drugs are “a very easy source of funds.” With Marlon Ramos‐has‐list‐of‐govt‐execs‐linked‐to‐drugs                                   

Public Lives 

Educating the Filipino family  By Randy David  Philippine Daily Inquirer  11:31 pm | Wednesday, November 21st, 2012      Last Monday morning, I found myself in the basketball court of a remote village in Bataan province, quietly  observing a “family development session” (FDS). The young energetic woman who was conducting the proceedings  is a “Municipal Link,” one of 2,250 social workers expressly trained for the government’s greatly expanded  conditional cash transfer program, known locally as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). About 30  household heads, all women except one, were in attendance at this particular session. They meet once a month  for about an hour depending on the topic to be discussed.  The course covers nearly every subject a parent needs to know in order to properly raise a family in the modern  world—children’s rights, parental responsibilities, gender equality, the correct relationship between spouses,  domestic violence, family planning, the management of time and money, community involvement, disaster  preparedness, health and hygiene, proper nutrition, etc. Attendance in these sessions is compulsory for all 4Ps  beneficiaries.  Thousands of such adult “classes” are held every day in various parts of the country. The program, the most  ambitious social intervention scheme ever undertaken by any administration, operates in 33,152 barangays out of  the 41,563 that have been identified. It now covers 3,085,798 of the country’s poorest households, out of the  3,106,979 that have been targeted. For 2012 alone, more than P20 billion in cash grants have been given as of the  end of October.  Not being a believer in the long‐term value of doles, I wanted to see for myself what difference a program of this  nature can do for the poor of our country. I have read on the experience of Mexico and Brazil where similar cash  transfer schemes have yielded positive results.  I have listened to the arguments of people who believe that giving  cash to the poor only encourages indolence among them. I wanted to know how such a program, when introduced  in a milieu like ours, can avoid the pitfalls of politicization and corruption. I have heard people complain of folks  living in air‐conditioned homes who line up at the bank to get their cash awards. I am almost certain there is some  basis to these horror stories, but can they possibly constitute more than a minuscule portion of the total?  The more I read on the subject, the more intrigued I was by the potential it offered. It was these thoughts that led  me to that FDS in Barangay Pita at the foot of Mt. Malasimbo in Bataan last Monday morning. This place is not  alien to me; I regularly come to these parts mainly to watch birds. This time I was watching and listening to families  with the same sense of awe and wonder.  I would be hesitant to form conclusions from one field visit. But what I saw for myself convinced me that the 4Ps  may be triggering something good in our society that is worth pondering. I can’t say exactly what it is. All I felt is  that of energy being unlocked when household heads come together to talk about common issues facing their 

families. They not only seem to be learning from one another, they also appear to draw uncommon strength from  the sheer thought that their government and community are interested in what is happening to their families.  The session opened promptly with a prayer and closed an hour and a half later with a prayer. Three times during  the session, the social worker and the midwife assisting her led the parents in stretching exercises in order to keep  them from getting bored or falling asleep.  After taking the attendance, the teacher then asked everyone to show  their cash cards and the laminated contracts they had signed as beneficiaries. A quick review of the previous  month’s lesson followed. Parents were randomly asked to read from the notes they had taken, with the rest of the  class helping out to complete the review.  There was a lot of good‐humored cajoling and banter during these  recitations.  The lesson for the day was the nature of a balanced diet. The teacher began by introducing three types of food:  carbohydrates (the “go” foods), proteins (the “grow” foods), and fruits and vegetables (the “glow” foods).  Everyone seemed familiar with these concepts already; chances are they have encountered them in their own  children’s notebooks. The fun part came when the class was divided into three groups, and each group was given a  sheet of Manila paper on which to write a full menu for an entire week. Here one could see the struggle to  reconcile the reality of deprivation with the ideal of a balanced diet. The teacher kept reminding them that the  price of food was not a measure of its nutritional value.  From the responses, I could see how much the Filipino  diet has been shaped by the mass media. I wondered how our communities could be made more sensitive to the  local food around them.  Coming away from that session, I could not help but sense the vast distance that separates our society from the  Greek city‐states that gave us the concept of democracy. The ancient Greeks gathered their household heads in  freedom in order to consolidate their families into one political entity. We gather the poorest of ours for  something pre‐political: to equip them for the long‐term management of their households. There are no schools  for parents; the family development sessions are the closest we have to a mechanism for educating the Filipino  family.  Democracy will never thrive under conditions of mass poverty. The program called 4Ps may not, by itself, end  poverty, but by bringing families together in the spirit of shared learning, it may help rebuild the sense of  community from which democracy can grow.‐the‐filipino‐family               

Mayor linked to Aman scam by 2 complainants  By Christine Avendaño, Nancy Carvajal  Philippine Daily Inquirer  1:34 am | Thursday, November 22nd, 2012 

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has in its custody two  complainants who have linked Pagadian City Mayor Samuel  Co and his wife to the multibillion peso Aman Futures group pyramiding scam, a bureau official said.  The official, who spoke to the Philippine Daily Inquirer on condition of anonymity, said the two complainants, whose names he  did not reveal, claimed the mayor and his wife were directly involved in the investment scam that duped thousands of investors  in the Visayas and Mindanao.  NBI director Nonnatus Rojas confirmed that two complainants, both investors in Aman Futures, submitted their statement to  the NBI late afternoon Wednesday but declined to reveal details of their statement.  “We have their statements but we have yet to validate them,” Rojas said in an interview.  The source privy to the statement of the witnesses, said Co and his wife were said to have put up a separate company that  operated like an authorized representative or sub branch of Aman Futures group Philippines.  “The company was called Aman Futures Group—Manila to differentiate it from the original Aman Futures Group,” the source  said. He did not explain how these entities operated. It was implied that investors probably did not notice the difference  between the two groups.  The complainants, the source said, had checks that showed they deposited money in the accounts of Co and his wife.  The two said they decided to come forward and seek protection from the government because they feared for their lives.  Investigators suspect up to 15,000 people, among them local government officials and law enforcers, lost up to P12 billion in  the investment scam that promised to double their money.  Meanwhile, 21 policemen and two fire officers in Pagadian City filed a joint complaint of syndicated estafa against the Aman  Futures Group Philippines.  The joint complaint was submitted to a special 14‐member panel of prosecutors formed by the Department of Justice, bringing  to seven the number of complaints against Aman Futures, according to Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edna Valenzuela.  The policemen victimized by the scam ranged from rank‐and‐file patrolmen to high ranking officers—some investing as high as  P4.1 million.  The 23 law enforcers were: SPO4 Garlie Macario Diamante Angelada, SPO1 Edgardo Figuracion II, SPO1 Dexter Dalena, SPO1  Rex Barnido, SPO1 Albrt Villa, SPO1 Charlemagne Lopez, SPO1 Joy Figuracion, SPO1 Suharto Calalagan, SPO1 Jimm Manuel  Pactol, SPO1 Adonai Durangparang, PO3 Baden Powell Beltran, PO3 Imelda Dumon, PO3 Marcelo Andale, PO3 Grace Mantos  Fosgate, PO3 Ramil Tormis, PO3 Allan Colipano, PO3 Buenaventura Fernando, PO3 Dindo Yap, PO3 Albert Leonardo, PO3  Melanie Andale Sermon. Fire Officer 3 Roy Anthony Padua, FO2 Mocalidin Enca, and PO1 Philip John Baculao.‐linked‐to‐aman‐scam‐by‐2‐complainants    

Rains flood 8 municipalities in Davao,  Compostela Valley  By Frinston L. Lim  Inquirer Mindanao  10:15 pm | Wednesday, November 21st, 2012 

   TAGUM CITY—Hundreds of people evacuated as relentless rains brought floods to eight towns in three provinces  in southern Mindanao, authorities said.  Two children were reported dead in the floods, which hit the provinces of Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and  Davao Oriental. Most of the flooded communities are along the flood plains of Agusan River.  At least 2,000 people in eight towns were moved to shelters.  In Compostela Valley, 425 families were rescued overnight as heavy rain battered Monkayo, Compostela,  Montevista and Nabunturan, according to Raul Villocino, provincial disaster officer.  Most of the displaced residents came from Compostela town. At least 87 families were evacuated in Monkayo and  64 families in Nabunturan and Montevista, Villocino said.  Army trucks picked up residents as soldiers and volunteers raced to rescue residents trapped in their flooded  homes in Monkayo, Compostela and Montevista at around 9 p.m. on Tuesday, according to Lt. Col. Cesar Molina,  head of the Army’s 25th Infantry Battalion.  By yesterday morning, however, the floods started to subside and some evacuees returned home.  Small landslides also forced the evacuation of several families in Barangay Tuburan in Mawab town, said Villocino,  the Compostela Valley disaster official.  Two children, including a 14‐year‐old boy, were swept away by floodwaters as Bitaugan River burst its banks and  inundated several communities in San Isidro town in Davao Oriental, according to Luz Jayson of Davao Oriental’s  Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.  In a phone interview, Jayson said the fatalities had not yet been identified.  He said flooding was reported also in the town of Governor Generoso.  The rain also flooded rice‐producing towns in Davao del Norte, with many families rescued by volunteers in several  villages, according to Sonio Sanchez, Davao del Norte’s provincial disaster action officer.‐flood‐8‐municipalities‐in‐davao‐compostela‐valley     


Moderating the Filipino First policy  By Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas  1:44 am | Friday, November 16th, 2012 

Those of us who are advocating for a freer foreign investment regime should celebrate the first victory: The  leaders of both the Senate and the House of Representatives are convinced that the very restrictive economic  provisions against foreign investments in the Philippine Constitution should be amended. There is hope that the  legislative process of amendment through Charter change (Cha‐cha) can happen during the 2013‐2016 term of  Congress.  We have two major challenges. The first is to convince the President that removing those restrictions will address  the problems of mass poverty and unemployment; reduce red tape and bureaucracy; limit the leeway for corrupt  practices; and impose the flow of foreign funding to very vital infrastructures and public utilities. The second is to  educate the independent judiciary about a correct interpretation of the Constitution so that the courts, especially  the Supreme Court, do not unnecessarily limit even further the freedom of foreigners to invest in the Philippines.  Last June 26, 2012, I had the occasion to help promote the second objective by appearing as an amicus  curiae (friend of the court) in the PLDT case in which the Supreme Court had earlier interpreted the 40‐percent  foreign equity permissible in public utilities to mean 40 percent of voting stock, instead of total capital stock. The  following are excerpts from my memorandum to the Supreme Court.  Considering present political realities, any amendment of the economic provisions of the Philippine Constitution  will have to wait till after the 2013 elections. Meanwhile, those of us advocating for more liberal policies towards  FDIs should do everything possible to prevent any more additional restrictions over and above what is already  contained in the Constitution. This vigilance should apply to additional restrictive interpretations of the actual  provisions. For this reason, I would like to comment on the recent Supreme Court decision to define the 40 percent  allowable foreign equity in public utilities (Article XII, Section 11) as applying only to voting shares instead of the  total capital stock of the corporation. This was in the celebrated case of foreign investments in the Philippine Long  Distance Company.  As an economist with a background in accounting, I took it upon myself to explain to the best of my ability to the  other Commissioners, within and outside the committee meetings, as well as in the plenary sessions that in 1986,  the Philippines was facing a most serious shortage of foreign exchange and long‐term capital and that we needed  to moderate the very strong tendencies among a large number of the Commissioners to “Filipinize the economy.”  Opening the economy to more foreign capital, in my opinion then (and now),  was  the patriotic thing to do if we  were to define the good of the nation in terms of  helping the teeming masses who were poor by generating  employment and income for them through larger doses of foreign investments. I have explained this in another  paper entitled “Economic Patriotism.” My success in this advocacy was quite limited because a large number of  Commissioners were strongly influenced by decades of “Filipino First” and “nationalist industrialization” policies.  This can be seen in the numerous restrictions against foreign investments still encrusted in the 1987 Constitution.  As can be read in the Records of the plenary sessions of the Constitutional Commission on Aug. 14, 22 and 23,  1986, the Filipinization of public utilities was one of the most hotly debated issues in the drafting of the 

Constitution.  The committee on the national economy proposed to the plenary session that the ratio should be  2/3 Filipino and 1/3 foreign.  During the plenary session, however, there was much debate about raising it further  to as high as 100‐percent or 75‐percent Filipino. I must say that among those who were proposing much higher  Filipino participation were some of the more respected and eminent Commissioners. Partly because of my strong  advocacy for more openness to foreign capital and with the help of three or four other commissioners who were  equally knowledgeable about the state of the Philippine economy at that time, even the moral authority of a  commissioner who subsequently became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court—who was proposing the 75 to 25  ratio—did not influence the majority.  His proposed amendment was voted down 25 to 15. The final ratio was 60 to 40 after a close vote of 21 to 19.  As  can be read in the Records of the Plenary Sessions, the discussion on this issue became so emotional that one of  the commissioners, a professor of political science who was among the strongest proponents of the Filipinization  of the national economy, publicly congratulated the multinational corporations in the Philippines, in a tone  dripping with sarcasm, for having succeeded in influencing the voting on this issue. Two commissioners, one a  former minister of labor and the other a Catholic bishop, strongly objected to this unwarranted emotional  outburst.  I have gone to some extent describing the process by which the final 60‐40 ratio was arrived at to drive home the  point that it was a hard‐earned triumph for those of us who sincerely thought that the common good of the  Philippines then required more openness to foreign equity, especially in very capital‐intensive public utilities. That  is why I find it unfortunate that the present Supreme Court has in a way blunted our victory by giving an erroneous  interpretation of the 60‐40 requirement, applying the 40 percent to only the voting stock rather than the entire  capital stock, which includes both common and preferred stocks. I sincerely hope that this error can still be  corrected.  For comments, my email address is‐the‐filipino‐first‐policy                       

Tobacco farmers assured protection  Published : Thursday, November 22, 2012 00:00  Written by : Bernadette Tamayo 

THE newly‐passed sin tax reform bill will “double” the safety net being provided under the law to tobacco farmers,  Sen. Franklin Drilon said yesterday.     The Senate Tuesday night approved on third and final reading Senate Bill No.3299 otherwise known as “an Act  Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco Products, which seeks to generate Php40 billion in  incremental revenues from increased taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, in an effort to boost  government healthcare programs, as well as to address the high prevalence of smoking in the country.”    Drilon, Senate Ways and Means acting chairman and main sponsor of SBN 3299, said that of the amount to be  generated, 15 percent of it, or around Php6 billion, will go to tobacco farmers to help improve their craft and to  assist them in switching to a different crop that yields higher income. The Php6 billion will be in addition to Php4  billion that, at present, is allotted annually to tobacco farmers, he said.      “The bill will double the safety net being provided under the law to help them augment their income and to  support alternative livelihoods for the farmers,” said Drilon.     The safety net can be used to assist the farmers who want to shift from planting tobacco to farming other more  profitable crops like corn, garlic, tomato and pepper, he added.        “The passage of this bill is monumental in the history of this chamber. Once again, amidst the differences in our  views, we have proven that we care more about saving lives than generating revenues; and that we remain true to  serving the nation above personal interest ,” he said.     He also lauded his colleagues for seeing the rationale behind the passage of the bill. “I praise our colleagues for  voting swiftly on this important measure, because any delay will only put to further danger the lives of more than  17 million Filipinos, four million of which are youths, who now are cigarette smokers,” he said.     Meanwhile, some tobacco farmers yesterday said that the approved sin tax measure “was far from ideal, but was a  significant improvement over other versions presented in Congress.”     The PhilTobacco Growers Association (PTGA) thanked the senators, particularly Senate President Juan Ponce  Enrile,  Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. and Sen. Ralph Recto “for fighting for the interests of farmers” in  hammering out the final version of the bill.    The farmers commended them for passing a fair and equitable tax measure, that took into account a better  sharing of the tax burden  between tobacco at 60 percent and 40 percent for alcohol, compared to that of  Drilon’s proposal which has a tax sharing of 75 percent for tobacco and 25 percent for alcohol.   

The approved version of the House of Representatives (amended HB 5727), on the other hand, calls for a heavier  tax burden of 85 percent for tobacco and only 15 percent for alcohol.    PTGA spokesperson Asuncion Lopez credited Enrile and Marcos, who both hail from the tobacco‐producing regions  of Ilocos Norte and Cagayan Valley respectively, for ensuring a fair sharing of the tax burden from the projected  incremental revenue starting in 2013 to 2017.    However, she noted that the rates on low‐priced cigarettes remain high and this would adversely affect their  income, since the produce of the tobacco farmers are the ones used in the manufacture of the low‐priced brands.    “Malaki pa rin para sa aming magsasaka ang napagpasyahang pinal na bersyon ng excise tax bill sa Senado. Pero  masasabi naming malaki naman ang pinagbago nito mula sa Drilon bersyon,” said Lopez.    Under the Senate‐approved version, the low‐priced cigarettes, which account for 65 percent of the market, gets  the highest tax increase of 341 percent to 855 percent.‐stories/41947‐tobacco‐farmers‐assured‐protection                                   

SIN TAX OK HAILED  Published : Thursday, November 22, 2012 00:00  Written by : Efren Montano and Lee Ann Ducusin   

MALACAÑANG yesterday hailed the senators who voted for the approval of Senate bill 3299 revising the excise  taxes on tobacco and alcohol products.    The Palace also commended Sen. Franklin Drilon for his “unshakable” commitment in passing the sin tax bill.    “We also thank the countless advocates in government and civil society for staying the course and keeping faith in  this crusade,” Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.    Lacierda said the bill’s approval is a “vital step forward in improving and expanding public health safety nets for all  Filipinos.”    “This complements the Aquino administration’s relentless pursuit of Universal Health Care which underscores the  belief that healthcare should be a right and not a privilege in our country,” Lacierda’s  statement added.    He said the President was resolved in ensuring the passage of the measure even certifying it as urgent prior to its  approval.    The sin tax bill is now expected to go to the bicameral conference committee to be reconciled with the version of  the House of Representatives, which was approved earlier this year.    The Department of Health also welcomed the passage Tuesday of Senate Bill 3299 or the Sin Tax Bill, a measure  which aims to increase taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.    Health Secretary Enrique Ona hailed the bill’s passage. Fifteen senators voted for it and only two against. 

“The passage of this bill is a victory in our campaign to protect our people, especially the young and the poor, from  the ill effects of smoking and excessive drinking. At the same time, the additional revenues will be used to fund the  expansion of PhilHealth enrolment to the second poorest 20% of our population, upgrade and modernize  our hospitals and other health facilities, and expand our existing preventive and promotive programs under  Kalusugan Pangkalahatan,” Ona said.    The Senate approved version of the bill is estimated to generate incremental revenues of Php40 billion in the first  year of implementation. The House of Representatives earlier passed its own sin tax bill version, House Bill 5727,  as amended, last June 6, 2012.     The measure, a priority of the Aquino administration, will be sent to the bicameral conference committee for  reconciling conflicting provisions prior to the approval of President Benigno Aquino.    Ona said the DoH is grateful for the invaluable dedication of Senator Franklin M. Drilon, acting Chair of the Senate  Committee on Ways and Means and bill sponsor, in ensuring that this critical health measure is passed.     “We also recognize the support of our health champions in the Senate as well as the Department of Finance,  Bureau of Internal Revenue and our partners in the academe, medical societies, patients’ groups and other  members of civil society,” he said.    Most of the incremental revenues will be earmarked for the enrollment of an additional 5.6 million families,  considered the Q2 or the second poorest 20% of the population, under PhilHealth, upgrading and modernization of  government hospitals and other health facilities, expansion of preventive and promotive programs including  tobacco and alcohol control, elimination of public health threats such as filariaisis, malaria, schistosomiasis and  rabies, expansion of existingimmunization programs, strengthening health policy and regulations and bolstering  health human resources through additional hiring and deployment of doctors, nurses and other health care  professionals. Part of the revenues will also be used for assistance to tobacco farmers and workers for shifting  to alternative crops and livelihoods.     “With the expected approval of the sin tax bill, our health care system will be getting the badly needed funds, to  make Kalusugan Pangkalahatan or universal health care a reality for our people,” the health chief said.‐sin‐tax‐ok‐hailed               

Bam bares goal for PH  Published : Thursday, November 22, 2012 00:00  Written by : Itchie G. Cabayan 

This is what senatoriable and presidential first cousin Benigno “Bam” Aquino  hopes for thePhilippines to become  as he vowed to work on this goal if and when he gets to win a Senate seat in the coming elections.                  Aquino, son of democracy icon Senator  Benigno Aquino Jr.’s brother Paul, made the pronouncement as he arrived  at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 at around 10 a.m. yesterday, bringing home the prestigious  award as one of the 2012 Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) of the World given by the Junior Chamber  International (JCI) during the  67th JCI World Congress in Taipei.                                                  While holding his trophy, Aquino said he is proud that there are two Filipinos who won this year, the other being  Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvaña.          Aquino was cited for his business,economic and entrepreneurial accomplishments while Salvaña was awarded  for  his contributions in the field of humanitarian and voluntary leadership.                                  “Napanalunan ko po ito dahil sa work ho namin kasama ng maliliit na negosyante dito po  sa ating bayan,” he  said.                                Asked what the award meant to him and how it would affect his life, he said: “Napakagandang parangal nito. Alam  mo naman ’yung mga parangal na ganito eh ibig sabihin niyan, kailangan mo pang ipagpatuloy ’yung mga ginagawa  mo.  ’Yung mga nasimulan mo na,  kailangan mo talagang ipagpatuloy, palakihin pa, pagandahin pa, ipaglaban pa  and I think it means that in the world, nare‐recognize talaga ’yung trabaho natin at kung gaano kaimportante ’yung  pagtulong sa maliliit na negosyante sa ating bayan.”                                 

The 35‐year‐old Ateneo de Manila University summa cum laude graduate also said that in seeking a Senate seat,  he intends to uplift the two sectors where he have worked in for the past 12 years ‐‐  the youth and the enterprise  sectors.            “Tulungan natin ’yung mga  kabataan na makuha ’yung trabaho na gusto nila. Pagdating naman sa mga nagne‐ negosyo, tulungan natin sila na kumita at magnegosyo nang mas maayos,” he said.                                  Citing the administration’s “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” policy, Aquino said the President has been  consistent and successful in carrying out reforms toward a corruption‐free government which is why in his own  capacity, he intends to focus on making businesses flourish and promoting entrepreneurship.          “’Yung dalawang sector na ’yan, providing jobs and providing support for businessmen, nasa ekonomiya pa rin `yan  eh. Kumbaga, sabi ng ating Presidente, kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap. Marami na tayong nagawa sa  korapsyon pero ngayon, panahon na  talaga para mag‐focus du’n sa kung walang mahirap,” he  said.                                                          “Let’s put all of our efforts in providing jobs, bringing investments and providing support for theentrepreneurs para  maging isa tayong bayan ng mga nagnenegosyo at entrepreneurs sa ating bayan,” Aquino added.                   Aquino is a former chair of the National Youth Commission of the Philippines  and is currently the president of  MicroVentures, Inc. that runs the multi‐awarded social enterprise, ‘The Hapinoy Program’,  which helps small  stores in the countryside to develop into sustainable businesses.                       When the said program won the United Nations’ Project Inspire Award, Aquino was cited as ‘Young Global Leader  of the World Economic Forum’ in 2006.                                                     Aquino was also one of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneurs of the Year and Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the  Republic of the Philippines for Social Enterprise and Community Development.                          This year, Aquino was chosen by the TOYP program which recognizes “young people who exemplify the best  attributes of the world’s young people.”       Each year,  the JCI selects 10 outstanding young people under 40 who live the “JCI Mission in extraordinary ways.”‐stories/41977‐bam‐bares‐goal‐for‐ph             

Drilon prods colleagues on budget approval  Published : Thursday, November 22, 2012 00:00 

SENATOR Franklin Drilon yesterday appealed to his colleagues in the Upper Chamber to immediately enact the  proposed Php2.006 trillion 2013 national budget.     Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, made the appeal after he sponsored the 2013 General  Appropriations Act on the floor. He recommended several amendments to House Bill No. 6455 or the  General Appropriations Act of 2013 to ensure that public funds are managed “prudently and judiciously.”     He said the 2013 national budget, which he described as “Empowerment Budget of 2013: A Bridge of Hope,” is  anchored on the gains in 2012. “This year can be best described as an annus mirabilis – a wonderful year – for  Philippine governance.  What bountiful harvest we may reap this year, will comprise our very fiscal and social  capital for next year’s gains,” he said.     Among the Drilon committee’s proposed amendments are: incremental funds for the Bureau of Immigration to  buy five passport reading machines; additional funds for repairs and maintenance for the Anti‐Money Laundering  Program; reduction of Php27.5 million in the budget of the Southern Philippines Development Authority;  realignment of Php1 million from maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) to capital outlays (CO)  within the budget of the Supreme Court for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice; and realignment of  Php500,000 within the Commission on Elections to provide for purchase of land and construction of building to  serve as warehouse for PCOS machines.     He also moved to specify, under the unprogrammed funds, the amount of Php23.4 billion for the Universal Health  Care Program which is subject to the incremental revenue from the enactment of the sin tax reform bill.     Drilon also proposed an amendment on the Use and Disbursement of Internal Revenue Allotment of local  government units to require them to post their utilization of the local disaster risk reduction and management  fund in three publicly accessible and conspicuous places.     He also asked the deletion of the special provision on funds for unfilled positions which violates the provision on  fiscal autonomy of Constitutional offices including the Judiciary, Congress, Civil  Service Commission, Commission on Audit, Comelec and the Office of the Ombudsman.   Bernadette E. Tamayo‐drilon‐prods‐colleagues‐on‐budget‐approval         

Moody’s PH rating buoys Palace  Published : Thursday, November 01, 2012 00:00 

BUDGET and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad expressed optimism yesterday on the impact of Moody’s  positive rating for the Philippines, emphasizing that the credit upgrade would lead to quicker spending and faster  implementation of reforms.    “We thank Moody’s for further upgrading our credit rating from positive to stable, bringing us one step closer  to investment grade. The upgrade affirms the Aquino administration’s efforts to ensure the country’s economic  resilience and widen more opportunities for growth amidst the global economic slowdown,” Abad said in a press  statement.    “Of course, this upgrade means that there are greater expectations from the international community on our fiscal  performance. President Aquino is intent on fulfilling these expectations, and we in the DBM are equally inspired to  take the necessary measures to ensure faster and more efficient spending across the bureaucracy, even as we  adhere to the principles of open, transparent, and accountable budgeting,” he added.    According to the budget chief, the Moody’s upgrade will also help expand the DBM’s capacity to enforce key  budget reforms in government.    EMontano‐moodys‐ph‐rating‐buoys‐palace                           

P5-m pesticides seized By Jess Malabanan | Posted on Nov. 22, 2012 at 12:00am | 62 views

CLARK FREEPORT—More than P5-million worth of unregistered pesticides and fertilizers were seized on Tuesday by government agents here and in nearby Magalang town, an official of the National Bureau of Investigation said. Director lawyer Ric Diaz, of NBI-Central Luzon Regional Office, said a Taiwanese national was arrested in a warehouse in Barangay San Nicolas 2. He said the suspect, Hsien-Hui Wang alias Tommy Wang and Teng-Fa Wang, was around during the raid led by Supervising Agent Marlon Toledo. Another group joined by the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority under executive director Dr. Norlito Gicana found pesticides stored near the abandoned ammunition dump at the former US Air Force base.‐m‐pesticides‐seized/                    

Farmers beg lawmakers to lower rates on cheap cigarettes Published on 22 November 2012 Written by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

The ink hardly dried on the Senate version of the excise tax measure, farmers are already on their knees begging lawmakers to lower the rates in the low-priced priced cigarettes—accounting for 65 percent of the marked—which gets the highest tax increase of 341 percent to 855 percent. This early, farmers are banking on the members of the bicameral conference committee to reconcile the differences of the House and Senate versions of the tax measure. The PhilTobacco Growers Association (PTGA) thanked the senators, particularly Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Sen. Ralph Recto for fighting for the interests of farmers in hammering out the final version of the bill. The farmers commended the senators for passing a fair and equitable tax measure, that took into account a better sharing of the tax burden between tobacco at 60 percent and 40 percent for alcohol, compared to that of Senator Franklin Drilon’s proposed tax sharing of 75 percent for tobacco and 25 percent for alcohol, The approved version of the House of Representatives (amended HB 5727), on the other hand, calls for a heavier tax burden of 85 percent for tobacco and only 15 percent for alcohol. PTGA spokesman Asuncion Lopez credited Senators Enrile and Marcos, who both hail from the tobacco-producing regions of Ilocos and Cagayan Valley, for ensuring a fair sharing of the tax burden from the projected incremental revenue starting in 2013 to 2017.

She, however, noted that the rates on low-priced cigarettes remain high and this would adversely affect their income, since the produce of tobacco farmers are the ones used in the manufacture of the low-priced brands. The bill approved by the Senate on third and final reading proposes a three-tier tax rate for cigarettes, a unitary tax rate of P26 for machinepacked cigarettes, which would be implemented on the fifth year, or in 2017. The original proposal presented by Sen. Franklin Drilon, the acting chairman of the ways and means committee, calls for a two-tier tax scheme, a higher unitary tax rate of P32, which would be implemented earlier in 2016. The final version of the Senate bill retained the target of collecting aggregate revenues of P40 billion from the measure in the first year, with cigarettes accounting for P24 billion of the tax collections, and alcohol products, P16 billion. This would be followed by a three-year transition period, with taxes increasing moderately by P1 to P3 per pack, until the unitary rate of P26 is reached on the fifth year. “Nagpapasalamat kami kina Senate President Enrile, Senador Bongbong Marcos at Senador Ralph Recto dahil nasaksihan namin kung paano nila pinaglaban ang kapakanan ng mga magsasaka ng tabako sa bulwagan ng Senado (We would like to thank Senate President Enrile and Senator Marcos and Recto because we witnessed how they have fought for the welfare of tobacco farmers in the halls of the Senate),” the farmer leader said. Lopez said they thought that all was lost for tobacco farmers until Enrile and Marcos vigorously opposed the proposals put forth by Drilon in last night’s plenary debates.‐farmers‐beg‐lawmakers‐to‐lower‐rates‐on‐ cheap‐cigarettes 

MORE Job opportunities seen in K-to-12 strategy Published on 21 November 2012 Written by LLANESCA T. PANTI

The Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2012 (K-to-12), which would add two more years to basic education cycle will generate more jobs for the marginalized sectors in the country, House leaders said on Tuesday. Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara of Aurora province, House Higher and Technical Education panel chairman, and Assistant Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna of Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption party-list made the pronouncement a day after the House approved the K-to-12 measure on third and final reading. Under the K-to-12 measure, the 10-year basic education will have two additional years by dividing secondary education to two phases namely: junior high school (four years) and senior high school (two years). Likewise, it allows the Department of Education (DepEd) and private institutions to hire graduates of technical-vocational courses to teach in their specialized subjects in the secondary education, provided that these graduates possess the necessary certification issued by Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or Tesda and they can undergo appropriate in-service trainings to be administered by the Education department. Angara, who went to Xavier School for his elementary and secondary education and London School of Economics for his college degree, noted that K-to-12 will enable those who don’t have enough resources to finish a four-year college degree to get decent employment. K-to-12, Angara said, is crucial considering that only one out of five

college students go on to finish a college degree. “Our high school graduates cannot be employed anymore because the manufacturing industry is down. There are not a lot of products made here. Second, there’s a low agricultural employment. With only one out of five finishing college, what would happen to the other four? K-to-12 will give them the skills, opportunity to get employed, make them more competitive,” Angara stressed during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum. “It is about time that we address the job mismatch. The idea has been pending for 30 to 40 years. We are lagging behind in the world,” Angara added. Tugna agreed, saying that K-to-12 provides a feasible alternative route considering that graduates of four-year courses are also scrambling for jobs. “We need more skilled workers, instead of having so much manpower in the four-year graduate force,” Tugna added. Angara, however, clarified that K-to-12 is not the panacea to unemployment.‐more‐job‐opportunities‐seen‐in‐k‐to‐12‐ strategy             

The solution Published on 22 November 2012 Written by ALAN F. PAGUIA

What is the root of the Filipino people’s current problems? Answer: Misapplication of the principle of cause and effect. There appears no system of knowledge that does not ultimately deal with human problems and solutions. This is true in both physical and non-physical terms. Every problem represents non-satisfaction of a human need or want. Corollarily, every solution represents satisfaction of that need or want. Hunger Thus, hunger is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for food. It also represents nonsatisfaction of the people’s need to survive decently. Corruption Corruption is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for optimum use of limited resources. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for honesty among public servants, whether elected or appointed. Outlawry Outlawry is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for orderliness in society. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for the rule of law. Deception Deception is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for factual and material information. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for truth. Greed Greed is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for equitable sharing of local, national and international resources. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for mutual love and respect. Incompetence Incompetence is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for responsive and effective public service. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for a government that truly embodies their ideals and aspirations. Narrow-mindedness Narrow-mindedness is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for a long-term strategy for local and national development. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for true statesmanship, not fake statesmanship, among their politicians. Ruthlessness Ruthlessness is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for optimum use of limited resources. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for honesty among public servants, whether elected or appointed.

Selfishness Selfishness is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for a government that truly promotes the common good. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for a truly democratic government that is uncompromisingly pro-Filipino in every way possible, but with due regard for international reciprocity and comity. Obscenity Obscenity is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need to be respected by others. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for self-respect. Miseducation Miseducation is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need to correct their mistakes in the past. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for the intellectual equipment that will enable them to cope best with present and future challenges. Cowardice Cowardice is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need to live righteously. It also represents nonsatisfaction of the people’s need for constitutional leadership that faithfully obeys the sovereign mandate. Hypocrisy Hypocrisy is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for leaders who are willing to live and die for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for leaders who deserve to be leaders for what they really are as persons, and not for what they are able to project themselves to be thru their public relations network. Faithlessness Faithlessness is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for leaders who have the ability to inspire the people’s active participation in government. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for leaders who will live up to the highest expectations of public trust. Demagoguery Demagoguery is a problem. It represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for leaders who understand what they are talking about. It also represents non-satisfaction of the people’s need for leadership that says what it means and means what it says. Cause or effect A problem is either a cause or effect. As a cause, the problem creates socially undesirable effects. Thus, the problem or the cause of those effects has to be solved or eliminated. Therefore, the question that logically presents itself is: What is the cause of the cause? Unless this question is asked and correctly answered, any solution to the problem would, at best, be superficial and would not really solve the problem. As an effect, the problem necessarily has a basic cause. It would follow that the elimination of that basic cause would eliminate the effect or solve the problem. Therefore the proper question would be: What is the cause of that effect? Unless this question is asked and correctly answered, there would obviously be no real solution to the problem. In sum, there would appear to be two basic steps in formulating the solution to any problem. First, we must ask the right questions. Second, we must respond with the right answers. The problem is that we do not even bother to check whether we have been asking the right questions. Consequently, we end up with wrong solutions. The problems remain unsolved to the detriment of the Filipino people.

Conclusion What then should we do? We must distinguish between real and unreal causes, as well as between real and unreal effects. Unless we are finally able to discern this basic distinction, our people will continue to suffer the painful consequences of (1) wrong understanding of the problem, and (2) wrong solutions. For the central problem of dishonesty, the solution is not the law of force. The solution is the force of law, regardless of the consequences. Any other solution would be wrong in the long r‐the‐solution 

‘Safe’ Published on 22 November 2012 Written by GIOVANNI TAPANG, PH.D.

More than a month ago, a hazard call was made to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority with regard to the presence of wastes that was borne on a ship MT Glenn Guardian docked in Subic Bay. Their Ecology Center made a check on October 15, 2012 but was asked to return the next day. On October 16, the wastes were gone from MT Glenn Guardian which alleged that they dumped the wastes several nautical miles off the coast of Subic. The SBMA Ecology Center then took samples of the liquid wastes in their hold and asked Subic Water to test these for its physical characteristics. The news broke out as the SBMA accused the operators of MT Glenn Guardian of intentionally dumping tons of toxic and hazardous wastes to the waters of Subic Bay. The tanker owner, of which former Navy Chief Mateo Mayuga is a part, then asserted that under the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) the company and its operation in Philippine territory is not covered by Philippine laws thus cannot be held accountable by the Philippine government and its agencies. The Department of Foreign Affairs and the US later denied that this was true. A few days later, a news report came out saying that Malacañang, the SBMA, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Glenn Defense are now claiming that the wastes that they dumped are “merely” human wastes and should not be considered toxic materials. We should strongly condemn the irresponsible dumping of hazardous and toxic waste in Subic Bay by US Navy contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia because as it turns out that upon closer inspection, according to SBMA’s own laboratory analysis, what they dumped on our waters is highly dangerous and can cause possible death and harm to humans. According to the laboratory report by Subic Water, the samples that the SBMA took show effluent levels that surpass the DENR standards by over 700 times. Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in one sample reached 20,500 milligrams per liter (mg/L), which is 638 times the DENR DAO 35 standards (limit is 30 mg/L). BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen that is needed to breakdown organic components in the sample such as human fecal material and the like. Such a high BOD would result in a rapid depletion of the oxygen in the waters where such waste is dumped and would cause death of the organisms in the surrounding area. For the same sample, the chemical oxygen demand (COD), a similar measure of organic compounds in the sample, is 43,982 mg/L, which is 733 times the DENR DAO 35 standards (limit is 60 mg/L). The amount of oil and grease (O&G) in the sample is 9,953 mg/L is 1,990 times the limit of 5 mg/L. This amount of oil and grease would need treatment before any dumping and can be considered toxic. The total suspended solids (TSS) in the sample is also 463 times (at 23,160 mg/L) the limit of 50 mg/L which gave the sample a viscous black quality. Furthermore, the sewage material dumped by Glenn Defense could also contain pathogens that can cause disease and may also concentrate endocrine disrupting chemicals in the water that can later affect human health. The case of the waste dumping of Glenn Defense Marine Asia is a clear example of how the so-called visits of US

military war ships under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) can endanger us all. Subic Bay, and the whole of the country, is now a virtual large military base where the US military can have their ships dock for repair and supplies, throw their wastes as well as conduct rest and recreation for their men. We challenge the officers of the US Navy, Malacañang, SBMA and the officials of Glenn Defense to swim in such a sample if they really consider that these are not dangerous and toxic materials. The US left toxic wastes in Clark and Subic when they left in 1991. They have not yet cleaned this up and has now again caused another dumping of dangerous wastes on our shores. President Aquino should order the urgent filing of a criminal case, the arrest the officers and officials of MT Glenn Guardian, and confiscate their assets in the Philippines and call for the abrogation of the VFA. The root causes of these dangerous wastes are the US military exercises being continually held in the country. The unhampered visits of the US warships on our shores not only violates our national sovereignty, it is now a direct threat to our environmental safety. Dr. Tapang is the chairperson of AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the Peo‐safe                                 

BizNewsAsia’s 2012 excellence awardees Published on 22 November 2012 Written by TONY LOPEZ

BizNewsAsia, the largest and most influential weekly business and news weekly in the country day and of which I am the editor and publisher, marks its 11th year on November 26, Monday, at the Hotel Intercontinental. The event also happens to be my 64th birthday. As we have done in the past decade, we honor 25 outstanding personalities in business and public service for their vision, accomplishments, track record, and overall management excellence. I have ordered custom-made gold trophies for them designed by a famous sculptor. I cite some of the awardees in this column: Ramon Ang, president of San Miguel Corp., CEO of Petron and PAL: For transforming San Miguel Corp. into the Philippines’ largest and most diversified and one of Asia’s most profitable conglomerates and leading the company into businesses that drive the national economy and touch the lives of all Filipinos like oil, power, infrastructure, tourism, mining, telco and banking, while sustaining the growth and profitability of SMC’s traditional beer, beverage, food and packaging businesses. Teresita Sy Coson, chair of Banco de Oro For being one of the most powerful businesswomen in Asia—which brings honor and adds international recognition to the Philippines—and for her business acumen and management excellence as chair of BDO Unibank Inc., the country’s largest and one of the most profitable banks, vice chair of SM Investments Corp., the largest retailer and mall operator and one of the biggest players in the property, hotel and leisure businesses, and leading the second generation of Sys. Lawyer Felipe Henry Gozon, CEO of GMA Network For visionary management and excellent leadership in making and sustaining GMA Network as the No. 1, most profitable and most-admired radio-television network, enriching the lives of Filipinos with superior entertainment, while preserving its reputation for courageous, objective and responsible gathering and delivery of news and information. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile For unmatched years of government and public service experience that changed the course of history and changed the lives of many for the better; for fighting for truth, justice and fair play in all aspects of governance, and for proving that one can rise from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of political power thru vision, intellect, true grit and hard and purposeful work. Nedy Tantoco, CEO of Rustans Group For her tenacious management and strict adherence to exceptional customer service, thus affording the Filipino consumer with access to luxury goods and world-famous brands thru the years, boosting the Rustan Group of Companies with almost 7,000 employees in six luxury department stores, 300 lifestyle boutiques and 60,000 accounts, to having over P15 billion sales over the last five years. Henry Sy Jr., CEO of SM Development Corp. and National Grid Corp. For his management excellence and spirit of cooperation and public service in the highly competitive business of energy generation and distribution, being president and CEO of National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, in which capacity he forged a strong partnership with all stakeholders of the energy sector, including consumers, to transform NGCP to a class-leading First World utility.

Helen Dee, chair of RCBC and House of Investments For leading Filipino women, by example, to the top positions in business as chair of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., the country’s fourth largest private bank, and of House of Investments, the holding company for a vast and diversified conglomerate with interests in insurance, banking, construction, education and banking, among others, and for occupying key positions on the management and boards of more than a dozen companies. Lorenzo V. Tan, president and CEO, RCBC For combining aggressiveness and prudence, and vision coupled with technology, to sustain the growth, financial strength and profitability of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. as the country’s fourth largest bank and one of the most profitable, while pursuing corporate social responsibility through its micro-financing program. Nestor V. Tan, president and CEO of BDO For successfully steering BDO Unibank, the banking industry’s leader in terms of resources, loans and deposits, into a sustainable double-digit growth trajectory while harnessing BDO’s resources to support the country’s development. Elena Lim, founder, Solid Group For her pioneering spirit and entrepreneurial skills, which has led to the success of the Solid Group of Companies as one of the country’s homegrown manufacturers of consumer audio and video electronics products for both local and foreign markets, as a developer of industrial parks and recently, a developer of MyHome and of innovative, locally branded digital products such as dual-SIM mobile phones and LCD television sets. Senator Loren Legarda For her passion and consistency in seeking patronage of local designs and materials; advocacy for risk reduction, disaster preparedness, environmental protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation; for excellence in both legislative work and social advocacy, for her leadership in the chamber of leaders, the Senate; for substantial achievements as a career media personality, and for the beauty and wholesomeness she conveys in a very natural and sincere manner. Architect Felino Palafox Jr. For bringing honor to his country through his more than 800 projects in 33 countries, and for his leadership and excellence as one of the top 200 architects in the world, with a keen design focus on the triple bottom line— economy, environment and social equity—which ensures that he will not accept lucrative assignments if these mean sacrificing the environment or public interest.‐biznewsasia‐s‐2012‐excellence‐awardees 


Tobacco & taxes, blessings & curses. May the curse be with you! Published on 22 November 2012 Written by FRANK A. HILARIO

[Frank A. Hilario writes the “When Words Collide” column for The Manila Times. He is an agriculturist, an Ilocano, the author of books, a prize-winning writer and a teacher of writing creatively. This is recent blog he wrote.] MANILA: Here’s one for the Ilocanos to make much of time, tobacco, singing. The Senate has just approved the “sin tax” bill exacting higher taxes on tobacco and alcohol (Rio Rose Ribaya, 21 November 2012, Senators voted 15-2 to generate some PhP 40 billion in revenues in the very first year of implementation, “to expand healthcare services in the country.” Included in the approved Bill is Ilocano Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s suggestion “to compel cigarette manufacturers to source 20% of their production requirements from local growers.” Is that good? Non-Ilocano Senators Chiz Escudero and Joker Arroyo voted against the bill. Joker objected, for two reasons. One, the bill does not provide for a program to campaign against smoking and drinking. Two, the bill authorizes a lump sum appropriation of P40 billion. He said, “Lump sum appropriation is a curse in budget making.” May the curse be with you! So much for corruption. I’m more interested in the first objection of Joker, and about the uses of tobacco. I’d love it that the Philippine government would not practice the 4 Cs of Communication against tobacco, that they would not have a clear, coherent, comprehensive, concise campaign against smoking. Why? If you campaign against smoking, you campaign against the tobacco farmers who you know are Ilocanos, plain and simple. You are in the realm of racial discrimination. And yet you want to collect more taxes from the Ilocanos? You are out of your mind! Everyone thinks bad of tobacco, except the Ilocanos, of course. I’m Ilocano but I’m not a smoker, never been. I have also never been convinced that smoking causes cancer. In the June 2004 issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (, Ann Charlton, BA, PhD, says, “At present, tobacco smoking is causing over 3 million deaths a year worldwide.” Not true! What’s causing those deaths is lung cancer, not smoking. My logic is very simple: If smoking causes lung cancer, then all smokers should be slowly dying of lung cancer! Including the most famous smoker of all, Philippine President Noynoy Aquino. The doctors are not always right, including the PhDs. Here’s bizarre news: In Australia, Imperial Tobacco has come out with plain packaging of its Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes, as required by law, with only these words outside showing, in defiance of law: “ It’s what’s on the inside that counts” (ANN, 12 September 2012, In angry reaction, Australian Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said, among other things, “Diseased lungs, hearts and arteries are the reality of what is happening on the inside to a smoker.” Oh, Miss Tanya, if you examined the bodies of all the millions of smokers in the world, would you necessarily find diseased lungs, or diseased hearts, or diseased arteries? What if you also found those in nonsmokers?

Another bizarre news: Schizophrenics are heavy smokers, according to a finding by Dr Paul Sanberg of the University of South Florida (Sean Henahan, undated, But, I say, it’s schizophrenic to say smoking causes schizophrenia. Being associated does not mean being the cause. I believe the public’s association of smoking with lung cancer started earnestly with the unrelenting campaign of the Reader’s Digest starting more than 50 years ago; I was still in high school, but already I was fond of reading that magazine for its wit and wide coverage, and I remember those anti-smoking articles in (almost) every monthly issue. Hate the sin, not the sinner; I still love the Reader’s Digest; I still hate its anti-tobacco campaign. This Ilocano still loves the tobacco farmers, Ilocanos that they are, with all their faults. I visited the Ilocos Region this March, and, to exaggerate just a little, I saw only tomato in Ilocos Norte and only tobacco in Ilocos Sur. When I told an Ilocano friend that, he said, “Good! Ilocos Sur remains the king of tobacco.” You know where he comes from. Me? I want neither Ilocos Sur to be the Kingdom of Tobacco, nor Ilocos Norte to be the Kingdom of Tomato. Not the whole Kingdom, but a Province of Tobacco, yes, a Province of Tomato. In the Kingdom of Ilocos Sur, there must be provinces other than Tobacco; in the Kingdom of Ilocos Norte, there must be provinces other than Tomato. To survive and be sustainable, kingdoms must grow crops other than their favorites; in other words, tobacco farmers should be multiple croppers. Each of your multiple crops is a hedge against natural disasters like climate change and man-made disasters like tobacco being taxed dry of billions of pesos. For cigarette manufacturers to source 20 percent of their raw materials from the Ilocanos is not enough! But if you insist on your Tobacco Kingdom, let me oblige you with a paradigm shift: Don’t multiply your crop; instead, multiply your tobacco. In other words, multiply your tobacco products 100 times more than just dry tobacco leaves. In other words, I’m calling for a display of inventiveness and bold entrepreneurship among my tribe. For the innovative minds, any Ilocano artist or scientist can concoct any product or service out of the uses of tobacco other than smoking; right now, I can count at least 20 general uses, including treating the common cold: From Wikipedia: ornamental, peace pipe, sealing a bargain, creamy snuff (ask the Indian women about it), gutka (with betel nut, with flavoring, mild stimulant), tobacco paste (insect bites or stings), tobacco water or dust (insecticide). From Ann Charlton herself: general bodily ills, catarrh, colds, fevers, aid to digestion, prevention of hunger and thirst, purgative, narcotic. From the New World Encyclopedia ( rheumatic swelling, skin diseases. From Edward K Balls (University of California, pain killer (earache, toothache), poultice (rheumatic and other swellings), eczema & other skin infections, rattlesnake bite (after poison has been sucked out), colds. Agpanunotka, Apo Ilocano: Next time you smoke, use your imagination! Here’s another peso for your thoughts: an AFP journalist says the tobacco is an “evil weed” and at the same time says Janio Nuñez, a Cuban sculptor, has found a unique use for tobacco, of course, in sculpture; for more than 13 years, he has been sculpting popular figures out of rolled leaves of Cuban tobacco such as those of Fidel Castro, Winston Churchill, and Arnold Schwarzenegger (AFP, 08 March 2012, World-class, I must say (see image of The Tobacco Man in my blog— Just for this, it should be more fun visiting Cuba.

And another: Speaking of the arts, Ilocos Sur can be a patron and, say, commission my son Paul Hilario to paint a tobacco series, can’t they? World-class, I must also say (see my essay, “Videre Videnda. Paul Hilario paints a story that sells,” 11 November 2012, Just for this, it should be more than fun in the Philippines visiting Ilocos Sur and its genius of tobacco paintings! So, there’s no reason why the impoverished Tobacco Kingdom of the Ilocanos should not be enriched with the blessings of universal arts and sciences. Ilocanos, if you don’t use your imagination, may the curse be with you!‐tobacco‐taxes‐blessings‐curses‐may‐the‐curse‐ be‐with‐you  


Passage of sin tax bill fulfills govt’s revenue objectives Published on 22 November 2012 Written by Mayvelin U. Caraballo Reporter

Cigaratte vendor Alex Santiago waits for customers on a street in Manila on November 21, 2012.AFP PHOTO

The passage of the sin tax bill fulfilled the government’s objective of reaching P40 billion in incremental revenues in the first year and collecting funds to help finance Universal Health Care, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a statement on Wednesday. “We congratulate and thank our partners in the Senate, especially our sponsor Senator Frank Drilon, for passing the sin tax bill on third and final reading. We also thank all advocates who have tirelessly pursued this urgent reform, especially those who have done so the past 15 years,” Purisima said. He added that the version of the bill also provides moderate tax increases to protect the young and the poor from the ill effects of smoking and excessive drinking, achieving a unitary tax rate at P26 per pack with an excise tax burden of 60 percent on tobacco products in the fifth year, close to World Health Organization and World Bank recommended levels. “While we would have wanted higher tobacco tax increases to maximize our health gains, we understand that we work within the rigors of the legislative process to achieve our reforms,” the Finance secretary stated. Purisima also said that the Finance department will continue to work closely with its partners in the Congress in the bicameral conference committee to ensure that they optimize the health and revenue gains from this urgent reform agenda of President Benigno Aquino 3rd. The final version of the sin tax bill was approved by the Senate on Tuesday. On the third reading, 15 senators voted in its favor.

The senators agreed that P23-billion of the total revenue to be collected from the sin tax measure would be allotted annually to the health care program of the government.


THE problem will not be guns, goons and gold, but rather men, money and machines. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) admitted that they are facing multiple challenges over the 2013-midterm elections. The poll body is implementing stricter rules on campaign finance and forcing all candidates to abide by them. As for the holding of the country’s second automated polls, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., said: “We want to assure the public, most especially the Information Technology community, that we are sincere in working for a more improved Comelec. All of us want a clean, honest and credible automated election, why should we not work together?” Brillantes acknowledged that they were lax in the past but vowed to be rigid on the implementation of rules come election period. At the same time, he downplayed the lawsuit filed in the US by Smartmatic International against its former partner Dominion Voting Systems, which supplies the source codes to the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. A lawyer for an election watchdog warned that President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s administration might lose the people’s confidence and the country’s economy is likely to suffer if there is a failure of elections next year. Atty. Tranquil Salvador 3rd, the convenor of Bayan Ko, Konsensiya Ko, said that it is alarming to know that the 2013-midterm elections might be affected due to reports that bugs were found on the PCOS machines used in the 2010 polls. The Comelec leased the machines from Smartmatic, and later purchased them for use in next year’s polls. Left unanswered is the question of how Smartmatic can fix all the bugs in the PCOS machines if Dominion does not provide the source codes, given the ongoing legal battle between the two. It was earlier reported that Smartmatic filed a lawsuit against Dominion in the state of Florida over the latter’s alleged breach of a licensing agreement and tortuous interference with Smartmatic’s business. Smartmatic is accusing Dominion of allegedly withholding technology and services that had been licensed to them, and for its intentional actions to denigrate Smartmatic’s brand and undermine its relationship with customers and prospects. Smartmatic International is the technology provider for next year’s automated elections including 81,280 PCOS machines that will be used in the midterm elections. The agreement between the two firms had previously allowed Smartmatic to use the software of Dominion to operate the PCOS machines and install the necessary software upgrades to enhance and address glitches in the system. The worst-case scenario that Brillantes could foresee is of Smartmatic being unable to complete the enhancements Comelec had requested in 2011. The poll chief assured critics that everything will be cleared, since they will be meeting with the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Elections this week. For his part, Smartmatic Asia-Pacific president Cesar Flores assured the public that the case would not affect the upcoming elections. “We are filing a lawsuit looking for compensation for one of our providers. This is a common business situation that has no impact on our ability to serve our customers worldwide,” Flores told The Manila Times. “Comelec is using a technology provided by Smartmatic, upon which we guarantee its proper functioning and compliance with their requirements. The relationship with our providers must not worry any of our customers,” he added.

Despite many detractors, the Comelec decided to buy the PCOS machines earlier this year. “So many detractors but we decided to finally exercise the obsolete purchase. Dahil sa mura kinu-question po kami ng Supreme Court pero si-nustain na kami so tapos na yung issues sa machines,” Brillantes explained. Meanwhile, the poll body is addressing other equally important issues. Brillantes reiterated that the tidying operation of Comelec aims to disqualify organizations that have multiple violations. “Several other congressmen will be on their way out,” Brillantes said, adding that more incumbent party-list representatives would be removed “in the coming days.” He also said that campaign finance rules should be strictly observed this election period. He believes that some candidates will be taking advantage of the party-lists just to promote themselves. The monitoring of expenditures will promptly begin come the campaign period, which includes the right sizes of the posters, tarpaulins, donations and even fund raising. “Hindi kami nagbibiro dito, seryoso talaga kami wala nga lang mapapakulong pero [we will] take advantage of the administrative fine. I-impose naming yan, hindi kami nag bibiro [We’re not kidding here, We are serious, even if no one lands in jail. We will impose the administrative fines] . . . We will be very strict in all political propaganda,” the Comelec chief said. Under Section 13 of Republic Act 7166, candidates for president and vice-president may spend only P10 per voter. Other candidates supported by a political party may spend only P3 per voter, while those not nominated by a political party may spend P5 for every voter. Political parties, on the other hand, are limited to spend only P5 for every voter registered in areas or districts, where they have official candidates. The Comelec preparations for the midterm polls to be successful are ongoing, the chief said. “Other preparations for 2013 [midterm election] are so many, patong patong na nga e,” Brillantes said. The Comelec will produce the final list of candidates in December, in time to print all the candidates’ names on the ballots. “The reason is by January we need to commence on the configuration of the ballots, which means we configure every ballot in each town and municipality. Iba-iba kasi yan, sa senators at party-lists lang pare-pareha,” the chief explained. But despite the obvious load of things to accomplish, Brillantes was confident that they will finish everything on time because of the recent appointment of their new commissioner, Mary Grace Cielo Padaca. “The good that happened in the Comelec is that we are now complete, nadagdagan kami ng isang anghel ang pangalan Grace. Hindi na kami masyadong nag aaway, lagi kasing nakangiti si ate Grace,” he said. “Tuloy tuloy lang ang trabaho, walang titigil,” the chief said. WITH A REPORT FROM RITCHIE A. HORARIO

Misamis Occidental gets state farm assistance THE NATIONAL government has committed hundreds of millions of pesos worth of production inputs, equipment and facilities for local governments in Misamis Occidental to help farmers and fishermen among their constituents boost production, the Agriculture department said in a statement yesterday. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala handed over certificates of assistance to Misamis Occidental Governor Herminia M. Ramiro last Nov. 14 during ceremonies marking the province’s 83rd foundation anniversary, the department said. The amount consists of 70 million worth of farm-to-market roads and a hanging bridge funded under the department’s Mindanao Rural Development Program, 35 million for the provincial government, as well as 32 million for the municipalities of Panaon ( 18.8 million) and Tudela ( 13.5 million) for rehabilitation and construction of such roads. Specific assistance the department cited included: • farm inputs and equipment worth 8 million under the department’s Agri-Pinoy rice program, as well as two corn mills worth 300,000 each under the department’s national corn program; • a 10-million multi-species fish hatchery for the town of Sapang Dalaga provided by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources; • 2.6 million worth of fishery inputs, equipment and projects for fisherfolk groups in coastal towns; as well as •

2.1 million worth of small water reservoirs to be built by the Bureau of Soils and Water Management.

In a forum held as part of celebrations marking the province’s anniversary that was attended by 1,000 farmers, fisherfolk and local government officials, winners of a raffle won 1.1 million worth of farm equipment like hand tractor, rice thresher, collapsible dryers, backpack sprayers; 300 bags of certified rice seeds and open-pollinated variety corn seeds; 700 pouches of vegetable seeds; five heads each of carabao and cattle; and 25 head of goats, the department add isamis-Occidental-gets-state-farm-assistance&id=61787


Posted on November 21, 2012 09:42:53 PM

Thailand cuts 2012-13 sugar crop forecast

BANGKOK -- Thailand, the world’s second biggest sugar exporter after Brazil, has revised down its forecast for sugar output in the year to October 2013, to 9.4 million tons from 10 million, because of poor rain, a senior official said here recently. The figure is in line with traders’ estimate of 9.3 million to 9.5 million tons. "We cut our forecast due to falls in cane production," Somsak Suwattiga, secretary-general of the Office of Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB), told Reuters. He said poor rain in mid-2012 had cut cane production from an expected 100 million tons to around 94.6 million tons. The crushing season started on Nov. 15 and runs until mid-April, he added. The OCSB was expected to set aside 2.2 million to 2.4 million tons of sugar for domestic consumption and the rest, around 7 million to 7.2 million tons, would be left for export in 2013. Thailand exported a record 6.71 million tons of sugar in 2011 and was expected to ship around 7.7 million tons in 2012, according to traders. -- Reuters


Posted on November 21, 2012 09:52:34 PM

Taiwan model eyed for banana center DAVAO CITY -- The local banana industry has identified the Taiwan Banana Research Institute as a possible model for a similar facility planned in the country, a leader of the sector said in a recent interview. A team that includes Rep. Anton F. Lagdameo of the 2nd district of Davao del Norte is set to visit Taiwan to be briefed on the institute’s operations, said Stephen A. Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA). Mr. Lagdameo, grandson of banana plantation pioneer Antonio O. Floirendo, has sponsored a bill at the House of Representatives that seeks to create a similar center in the Philippines. "There might be similarities in the diseases that afflict their banana farms and ours," Mr. Antig said, citing as an example the Fusarium Wilt fungal disease which has devastated farms in Davao Region. Some banana farms, mostly of independent growers, in the Davao Region have suffered extensive damage from Fusarium Wilt. Black Sigatoka, another fungal disease, had also ravaged farms before Fusarium Wilt’s current onslaught. The center will not only detect new diseases but also develop protocols, or standards, that will help the industry observe higher standards and, in turn, attract more buyers abroad. New markets, Mr. Antig said, are necessary for the industry to grow especially since China, a major buyer, has continued to restrict entry of local bananas. Such restriction had been widely blamed on the regional giant’s simmering territorial spat with the Philippines in parts of the South China Sea, although China has insisted that it tightened inspection procedures only after it detected last summer diseases among Philippine banana shipments. Alexander N. Valoria, PBGEA president, cited Japan and South Korea as markets that can accommodate supply displaced by China’s restrictions. Mr. Valoria also pushed the government to negotiate access with New Zealand in exchange for easier access for that country’s dairy products in order to make up for lost opportunities in Australia, which has maintained restrictions on Philippine bananas. The United States had also been cited as an alternative, but banana exporters promptly shot down this idea, noting that high shipping and storage costs required due to the long voyage involved would automatically put Philippine bananas at a great disadvantage against competitors from Latin America. Industry data show southern Mindanao’s banana sector produces about $700 million worth of fruits for export annually from roughly 70,000 hectares of commercial plantations.

Davao Region’s banana farming directly supports an estimated 140,000 employees as well as several thousand other workers in allied industries. -- CQF iwan-model-eyed-for-banana-center&id=61789



Posted on November 21, 2012 09:45:00 PM

Airport warehouse tapped to store rice BANGKOK -- The Thai government plans to use an old airport warehouse and has been desperately hunting for more storage space for a mountain of rice that has resulted from a subsidy scheme that won it votes but which is now sapping the treasury. Traders estimate the government has a record 12 million tons of milled rice in stockpiles, bought in a controversial intervention scheme under which it pays farmers way above the market price for their grain. "We have prepared a 30,000 square meter warehouse at Don Muang Airport for the government to store rice and we are asking around whether other government organizations have any space left for keeping rice," Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan said recently. The old Bangkok airport recently reopened after extensive refurbishment made necessary by flooding a year ago. The government could buy another 15 million tons of unmilled rice from the new main crop now being harvested. Mr. Jarupong said the government had asked other airports if they had warehouse space available. Military facilities could also be used. Critics of the intervention policy say these storage facilities are not suitable for rice, which can deteriorate if moisture and insects are not kept out. The policy was a major factor in bringing the government to power last year, winning it huge support from rural communities. Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom had again insisted that he had sold 7.3 million tons of rice to foreign governments, including China, Indonesia and the Philippines. "Around 1.4 million tons of rice has already been shipped to those countries," he told reporters, but declined to go into detail. Exporters and industry officials have seen no evidence of such sales at the ports or in statistics. Both Indonesia and the Philippines have denied any such deal and there has been no word from China. Export data from the Ministry of Commerce show rice shipments of around five million tons so far this year, down 44% from the same period last year. Thailand exported a record 10.6 million tons in 2011. It has been the world’s top exporter for years but looks likely to lose that crown to India or Vietnam this year because the intervention scheme has made Thai rice too expensive. The minister met with exporters recently to discuss the situation.

"We were urged by the government to help boost exports, especially of premium-grade fragrant rice," Charoen Laothammatas, president of Uthai Produce, said after the meeting. The long-grain fragrant rice, which is only grown once a year in a specific region, is currently sold at around $1,100 per ton. Thailand normally produces 25 million tons of paddy from the main crop, of which around six million tons is fragrant rice. The market for the premium rice may hold up better than for ordinary white rice. Thailand’s benchmark 100% B grade white rice currently commands an export price of around $565 per ton, while its 5% broken grade is quoted at $555 a ton. The latter grade from Vietnam is around $100 a ton cheaper. -- Reuters rport-warehouse-tapped-to-store-rice&id=61785


Posted on November 21, 2012 09:31:01 PM

China turns to machines as farmers seek fresh fields BAOQUANLING, CHINA -- China needs to replace millions of workers who have quit farms for cities, but even its vast state power might not be able to transform the countryside into a network of big industrial farms capable of feeding its growing economy. Pulling together small plots of land to make larger operations and introducing modern mechanical techniques would help boost productivity, vital if China’s agricultural sector is to meet soaring domestic food demand. But efforts to modernize the sector are struggling to gain traction because many farmers are suspicious about giving up their land, and even for some mechanized farms, there are few workers. Guaranteeing food security is a major tenet of the ruling Communist Party. The country is self-sufficient in rice and wheat, but is struggling to meet corn demand and has long given up trying to satisfy soy demand. It is the world’s biggest importer of soybeans, and a major buyer of corn. It has increased grains output for nine straight years and aims to add 50 million tons per year by 2020 to the record 571.21 million tons of grain harvested in 2011. "It now needs the government to come out and manage the land of those who give consent, and improve economies of scale," said Fu Xuejun, a manager at the Baoquanling farm, owned by the Beidahuang Group, a huge state-owned farming conglomerate in Heilongjiang in northeast China. Some say China should give up its fixation with self-sufficiency and take advantage of growing grains trade internationally. "China used to emphasize self-sufficiency because the international environment was not favorable," said Li Guoxiang, researcher with the Rural Development Institute of the China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). "Food security should have two aims -- one is domestic production and the other is the ability to buy overseas." The challenge of reviving the farming sector is daunting at a time when both the rural population and available agricultural land are shrinking. The number of rural workers has been falling for years because of a low birth rate, an ageing population and most importantly the lure of China’s fast-growing cities. Between 1982 and 2010, when China’s overall population rose by a third, the number of registered rural residents fell to around 710 million from 790 million, Reuters calculations based on census data show. The real rural population is likely to be lower though, because many of 260 million migrants working in cities are registered in their home villages. Millions of hectares per year of farming land are being lost to urban and industrial development. China’s 2011-2015 plan for the farm sector allocates at least 104 million hectares for crops, an area the size of Egypt, compared with 120 million hectares in the previous plan. The main problem is persuading farmers

not to abandon their plots. Some land is simply lying fallow, as farmers find better pay elsewhere but still prefer not to give up their land. "There is a lot of talk about urbanization and urban expansion encroaching on agricultural land but I often argue that non-farm wages are more relevant to whether land gets kept in production," said Bryan Lohmar, an agricultural economist and China director of the US Grains Council. "A lot of land is left fallow because nobody wants to farm it." Reflecting those wage gaps, 69-year-old corn grower Li Huamin said he could earn as much from leasing out his land as from planting. His 36-year-old son plans to abandon the plot near the state-owned farm of Suibin, a few miles from the Russian border, and open a restaurant. "Young people aren’t willing to be farmers anymore and leave to work or study in the cities -- more than half have gone already," he said. More than half of China’s ploughing, planting and harvesting is carried out by machines, compared with a third a decade ago. But the biggest challenge lies in aggregating farms to develop economies of scale. "The government simply can’t go too fast and transfer land too quickly because of the impact on rural social stability," said Mr. Li of CASS. -- Reuters

More taxes next • •

Written by Tribune Editorial Thursday, 22 November 2012 00:00

Now the seal has been broken, that of the vow of Noynoy not to impose new and higher taxes during his incumbency. It would not matter anymore for his administration to make new impositions to achieve what appears to be a fixed target of P60 billion in additional revenues each year.

The sin tax bill, passed in an extended Senate session, is expected to raise only half of the target or P40 billion each year, which, going by the record of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs, such target is more likely to be missed than hit.

The P60 billion goal was initially all tucked under the revenue growh target in the Palace-sponsored sin tax bill and reducing the goal now to P40 billion means that the economic managers of Noynoy will seek new ways to raise the amount.

So what are the options? Recently being floated, obviously from Malacañang’s orchestration, was again the very unpopular proposal to impose the tax on mobile phone texting services, which Filipinos use up to 400 million times or an average of 150 million a day, based on studies.

The direction of the administration of Noynoy toward imposing a tax on texting was too obvious in the sudden decision of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to order telecommunications firms to immediately slash the cost of short messaging services (SMS) which is how the service is called technically, by 20 centavos and for phone companies to pay a token refund. How the telcos will refund the pre-paid users would be almost impossible.

The refund would be nothing like the real texting trend in the country since it would be based merely on a supposed 20 million text messages since December last year, a figure which insults the intelligence of the local texting community.

The 20 million messages sent are achieved during a usual lunch hour in the country. It would be a token refund of something like P4 million shared among mostly the two giants Globe Telecom and Smart Communications which is peanuts compared to what they earn from the service each day.

Even an 80 centavos per text rate is already an endless source of revenue stream for the two phone rivals for a service that was introduced as a free add-on to voice calls. It was only when these phone companies realized that there were more text messages being sent than phone calls among the ingenious that they started charging SMS but having started it as a free service meant gains outstrip costs by a mile in offering the service.

The 20 centavos refund would likely make way for the tax on text which, if based on a conservative 100 million text messages a day and just a 10 centavos rate per text would rake in P10 million a day or P300 million a month or P36 billion a year which will take care of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima’s budgetary gap. Noynoy wants to tax the people to death.

The issue was floated using an apparent elicited remark from International Monetary Fund (IMF) chairman Christine Lagarde on the imposition of a tax on texting to further improve the fiscal situation under Noynoy.

The IMF, and the rating agencies anyway, were all rooting for the tax on text, telling Noynoy that the much sought investments rating depends on raising the government’s revenue generating capability.

It was later picked up by allies in the Senate and the House, of course with perfunctory expressions of opposition against the proposal somewhat similar when the sin tax increase effort was first introduced. Expect the text tax and much more before Noy ends his term. Read Noynoy’s lips: His lips say: I lied. It’s more taxes, stupid.


Pork use eased, MPBF back in 2013 budget • •

Written by Angie M. Rosales Thursday, 22 November 2012 00:00

It seems that President Aquino’s allies are bringing back the ways of the past which was termed crooked under the previous administration but which now seems to be introduced as the norm in the use of public funds after the Senate finance committee endorsed a “relaxation” on the use of lawmakers’ pork barrel funds and the deletion of a provision in this year’s budget withholding funds for unfilled positions in constitutionally independent agencies or the so-called Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) clause.

The provision was suspected to have primarily targeted the Supreme Court (SC) under impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona in restricting the budget of judiciary.

Corona was ousted and replaced by Aquino’s SC appointee Maria Lourdes Sereno. The easing of pork barrel use will come about with a proposal of chief Aquino ally Sen. Franklin Drilon to include projects for national bridges, roads and even school buildings among infrastructures covered by the “priority development assistance fund (PDAF)” or more commonly known as pork barrel. Drilon, in presenting to his colleagues the proposed version of the upper chamber on the P2.006-trillion national budget for 2013, cited this as among his called amendments to the version of the lower house, House bill 6455.

Incidentally, Drilon last year spearheaded calls to have the lump sum appropriations on unfilled positions in the Judiciary placed under the supervision of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). Drilon seemed to have “somersaulted” this time around for the 2013 election year budget. He cited as among the highlights of the amendments on special and general provisions the “deletion” of the special provision on funds for unfilled positions which violates the provision on fiscal autonomy of Constitutional offices including the Judiciary, Congress, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, Comelec and the Office of the Ombudsman.

He also called for the inclusion of the “pre-disaster activities” in the utilization of the Quick Response

Fund (QRF) under the Department of National Defense - Office of the Secretary and the Office of the Civil Defense.

Currently, the QRF is used only as a standby fund for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction project. In this connection, Drilon proposed an amendment on the Use and Disbursement of Internal Revenue Allotment of local government units to require them to post their utilization of the local disaster risk reduction and management fund in three publicly accessible and conspicuous places. Despite the revisions on the proposed national budget which is some 10.5 percent higher than current P1.8 trillion appropriations, the biggest share or 34.8 percent will go to social services while economic services is second with 25.5 percent.

“On the other hand, the share of our debt-servicing will fall to 16.6 percent next year from 18.3 percent in 2012. General public services will have a 17.3 percent share while defense will get 4.5 percent,” he said. “Our people’s education will continue to be the government’s top priority in the 2013 budget, as mandated by our Constitution. Thus the Department of Education will remain as the agency with the highest budget allocation. Its budget will increase by 22.6 percent to P292.7 billion, from P238.8 billion this year. A P54 billion increase in funding will help address shortages in education resources such as classrooms, teachers and textbooks. It will also support the department’s K+12 program,” Drilon said in his speech. The DPWH is second with P152.9 billion, followed by the Department of National Defense (P121.6 billion); Department of Interior and Local Government (P121.1 billion); Department of Agriculture (P74.1 billion); Department of Health (P56.8 billion); Department of Social Welfare and Development (P56.2 billion); Department of Transportation and Communications (P37.1 billion), Department of Finance (P33.2 billion), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (P23.7 billion).

“The Corporate Operating Budgets of the National Electrification Administration (NEA), the National Power Corporation (NPC), and the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) have also been submitted to Congress for approval, pursuant to Section 13, Chapter III of R.A. No. 7638 or the Department of Energy Act of 1992.

“Allow me to state that no major amendments were introduced in the House-approved General Appropriations Bill. While the said bill does not include the Priority Social and Economic Project Fund, a lump-sum fund newly created in the President’s Budget, the specific programs, projects and activities contained therein have been transferred back to the relevant implementing agencies. This the DBM itself requested from Congress upon the concerned agencies’ submission of the detailed breakdown of their specific allocations,” he explained.

Among the amendments presented for plenary approval by Drilon as concurrent chair of the Senate Finance committee are: incremental funds for the Bureau of Immigration to buy five passport reading machines; additional funds for repairs and maintenance for the Anti-Money Laundering Program; reduction of P27.5 million in the budget of the Southern Philippines Development Authority; realignment of P1 million from maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) to capital outlays (CO) within the budget of the Supreme Court for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice; and, realignment of P500,000 within the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to provide for purchase of land and construction of building to serve as warehouse for PCOS machines.

Drilon also moved to specify under the unprogrammed funds the amount of P23.4 billion for the Universal Health Care Program which is subject to the incremental revenue from the enactment of the sin tax reform bill.

He also pushed amendments on Special and General Provisions of the House-approved budget bill, including the provision on “pre-disaster activities” in the utilization of the Quick Response Fund (QRF) under the Department of National Defense – Office of the Secretary and the Office of the Civil Defense. He noted that presently, the QRF is used only as a standby fund for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction project.

Drilon then proposed an amendment on the Use and Disbursement of Internal Revenue Allotment of local government units to require them to post their utilization of the local disaster risk reduction and management fund in three publicly accessible and conspicuous places.

The senator sought to delete in the House bill the special provision on funds for unfilled positions which he said violates the provision on fiscal autonomy of Constitutional offices including the Judiciary, Congress, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, Comelec and the Office of the Ombudsman. He also asked the Senate to adopt his proposed amendment to allow the “inclusion of national roads and bridges, as well as school buildings among the infrastructure projects that may be funded by the priority development assistance fund.”

At the same time, Drilon’s Finance committee also recommended new provisions in the budget bill not contained in the House version of the money measure, as follows: • New special provision under the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development earmarking P40 million for research projects on algae research and

commercialization, precision farming, and smart agriculture. • New special provision under the Philippine Council for Industry Energy Research and Emerging Technology Research and Development earmarking another P40 million for research projects on disaster science and management, and responsible mining technologies. • New special provision under the Public-Private Partnership Center of the Philippines providing P630 million to augment the Project Development and Monitoring Facility (PDMF), and another new provision stating that in addition to their appropriations, the PDMF fund, which is structured and to be managed and administered as a revolving fund, will have reimbursements of technical assistance fees directly from the winning bidder of the PPP project or from the implementing agencies. • New special provision under the E-Government Fund on the Funding for the Innovation Clusters, earmarking P50 million for research projects and activities for cloud computing and software-as-a service. • New special provision under the Unprogrammed Fund on the Universal Health Care Program amounting to P23.4 billion to cover the Philhealth premium of workers in the informal sector, health facilities enhancement program, preventive and promotive health programs, and policy and regulation standard, subject to the incremental revenue from the enactment of the law restructuring the excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products.

Drilon confirmed that the Senate wll continue holding extended sessions starting at 2 p.m. so the Senators could finish plenary deliberations on the budget bill by Nov. 27 and have the money measure approved on final reading on Nov. 28.

‘JV’ asks SRA to revitalize sugar industry • •

Written by Gerry Baldo

Thursday, 22 November 2012 00:00

San Juan City Rep. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito Estrada yesterday asked the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to revitalize the country’s sugar industry and improve the economic conditions of thousands of sugarcane farmers.

The legislator made the call as the country braces for the expected influx of imported sugar as a result of the country’s free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) which lowers the tariffs on sugar imports.

The congressman said the SRA should implement programs to provide long-term support to the local sugar industry so that it can compete with foreign producers.

The solon said measures designed to strengthen the local sugar industry must be implemented as early as possible.

Without a viable program, he added, some 500,000 sugarcane farmers stand to lose their livelihood, with dire consequences to the economy.

Under the Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA), the tariffs for imported sugar and rice will be lowered every year from the current 28 percent down to five percent in 2015.

He said this means that the country can expect being flooded by a huge volume of sugar from Aseanmember countries, “to the detriment of Filipino farmers.”

He added that left to their own devices, Filipino sugar farmers, especially small ones, will be forced to abandon sugar production because it is no longer profitable.

Ejercito Estrada said he fully supports the initiative of his colleague, Rep. Alfredo Benitez, who filed

House Bill 6113 which aims to help sugar industry players to overcome AFTA’s adverse effect on them.


2012 11 22 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

News monitor for 2012 11 22