Page 1

Rice self-sufficiency by 2013 a dream– government think tank Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 20:51 Written by Max V. de Leon / Reporter GOVERNMENT think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids) has poured cold water on the Department of Agriculture’s (DA’s) program to make the country self-sufficient in rice by 2013. A study conducted by Roehlano Briones, Pids senior research fellow, showed that rice self-sufficiency could actually remain a dream for the country “even through the course of the decade to 2020.” While recognizing the DA for giving it a try through additional funding under the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), Briones said the agency made some exaggerated assumptions. To achieve the zero-importation goal by next year, Pids said the budget allocation for the DA has been increased to P55 billion for 2013, compared to P33 million in 2010. Much of the increase is intended to fund various strategies identified in the FSSP, such as improving irrigation, sustaining research and development for new crop varieties, promoting mechanized on-farm and post-harvest strategies, and harnessing the potential of high-elevation and upland rice ecosystems. “In spite of these efforts, however, rice self-sufficiency is still untenable. The FSSP targets are based on highly ambitious and unrealistic projections on palay [unhusked rice] yield, from 3.78 tons per hectare to 4.53 t/ha, and production from 17.0 million tons to 22.7 million tons, over the period 2011 to 2016, corresponding to annual growth rates of 3.8 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively. These growth projections are clearly unattainable considering that historically, yield and production grew by a meager 1.5 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, from 1994 to 2010,” said Pids, citing Briones’s study. Also, Briones doubted that importation would be eliminated through increased production alone, especially if the underlying economic forces and economic behaviors of producers, consumers and markets are factored in. He said the only way to achieve rice self-sufficiency is to increase import barriers.

But this has a negative side effect, Briones said, as protectionist policies would also make rice in the local market substantially more expensive and therefore will jeopardize the country’s pursuit for food security. He said the goal of rice self-sufficiency should not be equated to zero imports. Rather, the goal, Briones said, should be based on a broader set of criteria such as nutritional norms for rice consumption and rice affordability, among others. He, thus, urged the government to rethink its policy.

Department of Agriculture lifts ban on Taiwan poultry By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2012 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) has lifted the temporary ban on the importation of poultry and other poultry products from Taiwan after global animal health authorities confirmed that Taiwan is now free from bird flu contamination Through DA memorandum order No.32-2012, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala ordered the immediate lifting of the ban on the importation of domestic and wild birds and their products – including poultry meat, day old chicks, eggs and semen –from Taiwan. Importation of such products, however, should be in accordance with the existing rules and regulations of the Bureau of Animal Industry and the National Meat Inspection Service. Meanwhile, in a report submitted to the Office Internationale des Epizooties (OIE), Dr. Kwo-Ching Huang, chief veterinary official and deputy director general of Taiwan’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Inspection Quarantine Council of Agriculture, said that the H5N2 highly pathogenic avian influenza infection in Taiwan has been resolved as Aug. 14, 2012. Proper surveillance has also been completed to determine that the outbreak of bird flu in Taiwan had been contained. Huang said the disinfection of affected premises was completed in May 2012. No further cases have been reported in Chinese Taipei. “In compliance with the terrestrial animal health code of OIE, Taiwan is now free from HPAI,” Huang said.

Coco sector pushes hike in biodiesel blend By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Stakeholders in the coconut industry are urging the government to act on the petition of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to raise the mandated biodiesel blend from two to five percent, to increase demand for copra. Efren Villasenor, president of coconut farmers’ group Pambansang Koalisyon ng Manggagawa at Magsasaka sa Niugan (PKSMMN), said raising the mandated biodiesel blend would improve the lives of more than three million coconut farmers nationwide because it would raise competitive prices for copra. PSKMMN is composed of farmers’ organizations that are mostly from the Visayas and Mindanao. The CIIF Oil Mills Group, which operates six plants that are engaged in copra milling and refining of coconut oil, also supports the adjustment in the biodiesel blend. Company president and chief executive officer Jesus Arranza said he had also filed a petition before the Department of Energy way back in 2009 to adjust the blend. “Now that the price of copra, together with crude coconut oil (CNO), has gone down, I am confident that the big petroleum companies will cooperate and not oppose this proposed upward adjustment as they are aware that our coconut farmers now need support at this time.” he said. If the two percent biodiesel blend mandated by the Biofuels Acts of 2006 is raised to five percent, domestic consumption of coconut oil for fuel would rise to 350,000 metric tons (MT) from the current demand of 140,000 MT. Arranza said the higher volume could be easily supplied by the coconut industry.

The enormous benefits and potential of modern crop biotechnology in PHL Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 20:47 Written by Eddie D. Dulpina (First of two parts) THE Philippines is now harvesting and enjoying, figuratively and literally, the benefits of its modern crop biotechnology program after emerging from the controversies, protests and debates that marred its early years. According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications’ (Isaaa) Biotech Facts and Trends (2012), the country achieved biotech mega-country status in 2004 when more than 50,000 hectares were planted with biotech maize. In 2011 it skyrocketed to 644,000 hectares, indicating increased confidence among seed producers and improved adoptions among farmers. The latest data from Biotech Facts and Trend showed that approximately 2.7 million hectares were planted with maize. The Philippines is the first country in Asia to approve and grow a major biotech crop, Bt corn. Citing Dr. Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot of PG Economics in 2012, the data also revealed that the country’s economic gain from bumper harvests from 2003 to 2010 is estimated at $170 million, with $63 million for 2010 alone. Companies that produced the seed enjoyed significant income, and according to the 2006 economic impact study by Drs. Jose Yorobe Jr. and Cesar Quicoy, the farmers gained substantial yield increases of as much as 37 percent. This translates to an additional profit of P10,132 per hectare. With insecticide expenses reduced by 60 percent, an incremental net income of P1.34 per kilo was obtained by Bt corn users despite the higher cost of seed. One of the first to plant Bt corn is Isidro Acosta of Naguilian, Isabela. He attested to the benefits of the crop attained by farmers during the launch of Isaaa’s Brief No. 42 on March 11, 2011. Acosta said by minimizing the effect of the Asian corn borer, his income doubled from P25,000 to about P50,000 per hectare. He also said he saved on labor and pesticides, thus reducing any negative impact on the environment. “When we sprayed back then, we can’t stay long in the area and many insects disappeared. Now, we can linger in the field and the friendly insects are coming back to the farm,” Acosta said. Decreased use of insecticides is a major benefit of biotechnology. In his article “Scientists, journalists challenge claim that GM [genetically modified] crops harm the environment,” Jon Entine said the pesticide used in conjunction with GM crops is less harmful to animals and the environment. It is also less toxic to humans and non-targeted

insects. The potential dividends in the reduced dependence on these chemicals are almost unquantifiable in terms of improved soil, and environmental quality and safety. The benefits and potential of modern crop biotechnology in the Philippines is enormous because many crops in various stages of field trials conducted by different research facilities in the country will be launched commercially in the future. Isaaa has a list of these developments, taken from its Biotech Facts and Trends. In the pipeline are the elite lines of golden rice of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). This year, more trials will begin to generate the needed data for full regulatory submission in 2013. PhilRice is developing a “3 in 1” biotech rice that incorporates resistance to the tungro virus and bacterial blight diseases, in addition to vitamin A. Dr. Clive James, founder and chairman of Isaaa, commented on this aspect: “After more than a decade in development, approval of biotech golden rice is expected in the Philippines in 2013/2014. This very important product has the capability to generate lifesaving humanitarian benefits—6,000 people a day, mainly women and children, die from complications from vitamin A deficiency.” **** The author is a student of Our Lady of Fatima University and a member of The Fatima Tribune. This essay won first place in the college division of the 2012 Biotech Campus Journalism Contest. The publication of this article in the BusinessMirror is part of its observance of the Eighth National Biotechnology Week.

Possibility of El Niño this year now low, says Pagasa By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said yesterday the possibility of an El Niño phenomenon is now low but warmer than normal conditions will still be felt over the country throughout the remaining weeks of 2012. “The past few weeks sea surface temperatures (SST) over the Equatorial Pacific (one of the indicators of ENSO or El Niño Southern Oscillation) consistently went down to nearneutral ENSO although slightly warmer,” PAGASA administrator Nathaniel Servando said, citing the latest report of the US Climate Prediction Center. “For December we still expect some areas to have below normal rain, particularly in the western part of Luzon even El Niño has weakened,” Servando said. Esperanza Cayanan, chief of PAGASA’s climatology division, said neutral ENSO condition prevails “but the Philippines is located on the warmer side.” Rusy Abastillas, weather specialist at PAGASA, said the SST was warm, however, it did not reach the El Niño threshold of +0.5 degrees Centigrade. Abastillas said this was based on the recent forecasts made by the US Climate Prediction Center/International Research Institute and Australian Bureau of Meteorology. “The average SST for the last three months (August to October) was +0.4 degrees Centigrade. Even if it did not reach the El Niño threshold value of +0.5 degrees Centigrade, the impact of the warming of the Pacific Ocean could still be felt in the country,” Abastillas said. She said rainfall condition from Nov. 1 to 25 was below normal in Luzon and the Visayas, except in Samar. “If we compare it to the normal rainfall during the said period, there is a scarcity of rain. One of the contributing factors is the warming of the SST in the Pacific Ocean,” she said. “We expected in August to October for a full-blown El Niño. In August the El Niño conditions strengthened but fluctuated in September,” she added.

Servando said as of Nov. 27, most of Luzon, except the northeastern portion, Mindoro, Quezon, northern Palawan, western Panay and Metro Manila, received “way below normal” rainfall. He said central Visayas and central Mindanao also received below normal rainfall while eastern Mindanao experienced above normal rain. El Niño is defined as warmer sea surface temperatures across the equatorial Pacific Ocean and is characterized by below normal rainfall.

Sulu To Invigorate Seaweeds Industry By NONOY E. LACSON November 28, 2012, 7:30pm JOLO, Sulu – Some P1.5 million has been jointly allotted by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Representative Habib Tupay Loong (1st District, Sulu) to jumpstart the massive planting of seaweed in the province of Sulu. Loong said his office has allotted some P1 million, while the BFAR has provided some P500,000 worth of seaweed farm inputs for the joint project, which will jumpstart on Sunday, until the first quarter of 2013. “My office has allotted P1 million that was drawn from my Priority Development Allotment Fund (PDAF), while BFAR has promised about P500,000 for the revival of the seaweed industry in the province,” Loong said during a meeting at his office here yesterday. Some 57 leaders of various seaweed associations, along with their members, are expected to attend today a seaweed consultation meeting aimed at finding ways and means on how to speed up the recovery of the seaweed industry in the province, he said. “The seaweeds industry in this province is already dying and we want to revive it because it is one of the income-generating sources of our farmers here,” Loong said. Adding that seaweed technical experts will conduct a lecture today for farmer leaders and their members regarding the kind of seaweed varieties that are suitable to be planted along the sea coasts of Maimbung, Parang, Talipao, Indanan, and Patikul. He said technical experts from the BFAR will also conduct lectures on the planting season for seaweeds, including the kind of varieties that they can plant, which can provide higher yields for their investment. “We will not buy new seaweed seedlings for planting, the province has enough seaweed seedlings. The only thing we have to do is to choose the kind of seaweed variety that can give good income to our farmers,” Loong explained. As this developed, former Sulu provincial board member Salip Aloy Jainal, a prominent seaweed cultivator and a member of the Seaweeds Association of the Philippines, Inc., will discuss with the group the seaweeds and carageenan industry in the country today. Jainal will also include, in his discussion, the government’s marketing assistance, organic certified subsidy from the government, agri-business development center, linkage and product promotion – both in the local market and in the international markets.

Jainal recently attended the seaweed convention in Cebu City that was sponsored by the BFAR, and was attended by seaweed processors, traders, and farmers coming from the various coastal provinces in the country.

Coco industry players seek increase in biodiesel blend Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 20:48 Written by Max V. de Leon / Reporter COCONUT industry players on Wednesday supported the petition of the Philippine Coconut Authority for an increase in the biodiesel blend from the current 2 percent to 5 percent. In a statement, the Pambansang Koalisyon Samahang ng mga Magsasaka at Manggagawa sa Niugan (PKSMMN) and CIIF-Oil Mills Group (CIIF-OMG) said increasing the mandatory blend for biodiesel will redound to more benefits for coconut farmers and increase the demand for coconut. “By adjusting the blend, the government will be helping the more than 3 million coconut farmers in the country, as this measure will surely increase demand for copra,” said Efrend Villasenor, PKSMMN president. He added that coconut farmers’ clamor for a competitive price of copra is justified, given the increasing cost of living. Increasing the blend is consistent with the Bio-Fuels Act of 2006, according to Villasenor. Jesus L. Arranza, president and chief executive officer of CIIF-OMG, said with the depressed prices of crude coconut oil, the Department of Energy is not likely to receive opposition from oil firms. “Now that the price of copra, together with crude coconut oil [CNO], have gone down, I am confident that the big petroleum companies will cooperate and not oppose this proposed upward adjustment, as they are aware that our coconut farmers need support at this time,” Arranza said. The 5 percent blend, he said, will require at least 350,000 metric tons of CNO, and this can be supplied by local coconut millers and refiners. CIIF-OMG operates six plants that are engaged in the milling of copra and refining of coconut oil. “The upward adjustment in the blend will also help the country conserve the country’s dollar reserves, as this will reduce the importation of diesel into the country,” Arranza said. “At the same time, an increase in the biodiesel blend will be a visible support to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ clean air program.” He also said studies showed that biodiesel substantially reduces carbon deposits in the engine that emit toxic fumes that are hazardous to humans and the environment.

WTO undecided on PHL ‘rice protection’ bid Category: Top News Published on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 22:19 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter CONCERNS by “influential members” of the Council for Trade in Goods (CTG) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are delaying the body’s decision on Manila’s request for a special protection on rice, according to the Philippine delegation to the council meeting. The mission did not identify the “influential members” but said the council meets again in late March 2013 and possibly decide on whether it would approve the extension of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice for five years or until 2017. It is known that the United States earlier said that it has a number of “serious concerns” and that it “looked forward to further bilateral meetings” with the Philippines. The QR on rice under the WTO allows the Philippines to limit the volume of rice that can be imported by the Philippine government through the National Food Authority (NFA). The Philippine delegation expressed “serious concerns” over the non-completion of the work of WTO members that led to the delay in the CTG’s issuance of a decision. But the Philippines remains hopeful that it could get the CTG’s nod by March 2013. “The Philippines is very pleased with the CTG’s endorsement for the waiver talks to continue and for the members to remain fully engaged so that solutions to the concerns of the remaining few but influential members can be had by the next meeting of the CTG,” said Agriculture Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide in a statement. Recide noted that India “came out strongly” and supported Manila’s request for an extension of the QR, while Australia, China, El Salvador, Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand also endorsed the request of the Philippines for more time so that talks can be concluded. The Philippines formally filed its request for an extension of the QR on November 28, 2011. The WTO temporarily waived the lifting of rice QRs so that the Philippines could conduct bilateral talks with other countries after it requested an extension for another three to five years. Early this year, then-NFA Administrator Angelito T. Banayo said Manila may have a hard time extending the special treatment for rice for at least three more years due to the expected difficulties that the government could face in negotiating with countries that have interests in the local livestock and poultry sectors.

In an update released by the WTO in March, the European Union has said that “in principle,” it could support the request to extend the QR while Indonesia noted that Manila’s request “had merits” and enjoined interested delegations to engage with the Philippines. The nine countries that have expressed their intention to negotiate with the Philippines are the United States, Canada, Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, India, El Salvador, China and Australia. China has said that it will not block the Philippine request despite the current tiff between Manila and Beijing over Scarborough Shoal. Banayo said Manila has held preliminary talks with Canberra and that Australia has expressed its interest to access the livestock and vegetable sectors of the Philippines. The Philippine delegation noted that rice is the predominant staple in the Philippines and the primary source of employment for at least 2.4 million farmers, majority of whom are small land holders. The CTG of the WTO meeting on November 26 was attended by Recide, the head of the Philippine rice-negotiating panel, National Food Authority Officer in Charge Ludovico J. Jarina, and Ambassador Esteban B. Conejos Jr., permanent representative of the Philippines to the WTO.

Mining can contribute more to economy – Purisima By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Mining can contribute more to the Philippine economy once the regulatory environment is rationalized, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said yesterday. Purisima welcomed the stronger-than-expected third quarter growth of 7.1 percent, which surpassed market expectations and placed the Philippines above its peers in the Southeast Asian region. He said the Philippines achieved the strong growth-rate in the third quarter despite the 2.2-percent decline in mining during the period. “It (strong growth) happened despite a 2.2-percent decline in mining, which shows that mining represents an extra gear for the Philippine economy once the regulatory environment is rationalized,” Purisima said. Purisima said the third quarter GDP results show broad-based growth across all sectors. “The third quarter GDP figures show that investor and consumer confidence in the Philippines is definitely on an upward momentum,” he said. The 7.1-percent GDP growth in the third quarter has brought growth in the first nine months of the year to 6.5 percent, driven by sustained government and private sector construction and consumption. Purisima said the third quarter results show the strong partnership between the government and private investors. “This is the ultimate public-private sector partnership. Government takes care of fiscal sustainability, macroeconomic stability and continued business facilitation while the private sector responds with more investment and consumption,” he said.

Purisima said the government would continue to focus on boosting growth. “We will continue to focus on the fundamentals of Aquinomics to make sure that we are able to achieve our growth aspirations.” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said public spending would continue in the last quarter of the year as the government implements public infrastructure projects. “All in all, we’re looking at very fruitful times ahead. With inflation kept down and an interest regime that stays low — not to mention increased public confidence in our anticorruption and reform-oriented government platform — we see the country’s risk profile to improve considerably,” Abad said. He said this would allow the cost of doing business in the country to go down and consequently, attract more investors.

Government retains 2012 growth targets By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - This year’s growth targets – which have already been exceeded – have been retained by the government, which wants to be “conservative” in their assumptions as the global economy remains fragile. “We kept the growth targets both for this year and the next,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told reporters after a meeting by the inter-agency Development and Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) yesterday. Abad is DBCC chairman. The Aquino administration has set a five to six-percent growth target this year and six to seven percent next year. However, this year’s goal was already surpassed after the government reported that growth for the third quarter reached a surprising 7.1 percent. This brought growth for the first nine months at 6.5 percent. Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said a 6.7-percent growth could be achieved this year, way higher than the dismal 3.9 percent recorded last year as a result of weak exports and state under spending. “We want to be more conservative as there remains weakness in the global economy,” Balisacan told reporters. Exports and imports are targeted to grow eight and seven percent this year, respectively. These assumptions were down from 10 percent and 12 percent seen in July, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said. As of September, exports grew 7.7 percent while imports inched up 0.5 percent.

For next year, exports and imports goals have been reduced to 10 percent and 12 percent, respectively, from 12 and 14 percent forecast four months ago. “We expect imports to pick-up next year,” Guinigundo said. Net foreign direct investments (FDI), meanwhile, are expected to reach $1.5 billion this year, up from $1.2 billion “due to good feedback from investment promotion agencies,” the deputy governor said. FDI, which totaled $1.038 billion as of August, could reach $2.2 billion in 2013. Remittances from overseas Filipinos are still forecast to expand five percent this year, Guinigundo said. Year-to-date tally of $15.571 billion already represents a 5.5-percent increase

DTI sees continued growth of economy By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2012 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expects the economy to continue to post strong growth at least for the next two years as firms open new plants and even look to expand, and given work on infrastructure projects. “Our high growth rate should be sustained for at least the next two years as the numerous new plants and expansions being built now start operations,” DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo said in a text message yesterday. The National Statistical Coordination Board reported yesterday that the economy grew 7.1 percent in the third quarter, beating expectations and making the Philippines the fastest growing economy in the Southeast Asian region. The third quarter gross domestic product growth brought the nine-month expansion to 6.5 percent. Domingo said the new plants being put up in the country and expansion plans being announced by manufacturing firms in the country are expected to help support the economy’s growth in the coming years. Many foreign firms are choosing to set-up plants or expand their existing operations here given the availability of a skilled workforce and low labor costs as compared to other countries. An improving business climate and confidence in the government is likewise leading firms to locate here or expand.Domingo said that apart from new plants being set-up by firms in the country, work on infrastructure projects is likewise expected to support strong growth in the coming years. The government is rolling out infrastructure projects under its public-private partnership program as it seeks to achieve higher economic growth. Meanwhile, Makati Business Club executive director Peter Perfecto said in a text message yesterday the business community welcomes the good news. “MBC and the larger business community welcomes the positive development for the Philippine economy despite continuing global challenges,” he said. “Good governance is paying off. President Aquino and his economic team must be lauded,” he said further.

Senate approves 2013 national budget By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Voting 14-1, the Senate approved last night the P2.006-trillion budget for next year. Senate finance committee chairman Sen. Franklin Drilon said next year’s budget is 10.5 percent higher than this year’s P1.816 trillion. “There are no committee amendments. In fact, there are no major differences between the House and the Senate version,” Drilon said before the session yesterday. Drilon said the bicameral meetings between the Senate and the House of Representatives will start next week. “We expect to send the reconciled version of the general appropriations bill for 2013 and have it signed by the President before Christmas,” the senator said. Drilon also downplayed insinuations by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago that the Congress has become the “rubber stamp” of Malacañang in terms of budget allocation. “The President enjoys very broad support. Our economy is doing very well. (The) third quarter GDP growth is 7.1 percent, the highest in the past decade. It means that the President deserves all the support from Congress,” Drilon added. Only Sen. Joker Arroyo voted against the measure, lamenting that “Congress has hopelessly lost its power of the purse.” Arroyo said he was constrained to vote against the 2013 GAA despite the fairness in the allocation of funds. “Over the years, every President seeks to enlarge his powers in the budget. And over the years every Congress feebly tries to rescind this executive encroachment but the legislature always loses out,” Arroyo said.

For the 2013 budget, Arroyo noted the President has more powers than in the 2012 budget. “By Congressional submission, the President’s power to impound appropriations rightfully due legislators remains intact. That is why legislators cannot go against the President,” Arroyo said. On the motion of Sen. Panfi lo Lacson, the Senate increased the budget of the Philippine National Police by P 20 million for the repair and construction of its camp in the Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan (MIMAROPA) area. Prior to the approval, Drilon introduced individual amendments by senators, which were readily approved by the majority. The budget for the National Museum was increased from P556-million to P1.56079 billion on the request of the agency, as realigned from the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The Nueva Vizcaya State University’s P260 million also received a boost for upgrading of buildings and purchase of equipment. The Office of Solicitor General (OSG), which initial budget was placed at P495 million, received an increase of P30 million for capacity building for lawyers and legal consultation. The OSG’s budget is now P525.8 million. The Bureau of Immigration’s budget was also increased from P565 million to P568 million, with additional funds to be used for purchase of fi ve passport reading machines. The DPWH’s budget was reduced by P500 million, which was realigned for the construction of the Museum of National History. The budget for the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) of P28.6 billion was increased by P120 million. The Anti-Money Laundering Council (ALMC) also got an increase. The budget of the Supreme Court and lower courts of P15.039 billion was increased by P1 billion to provide for the repair and rehabilitation of the various halls of justice. For the Court of Appeals, there was a realignment of P2 billion for the construction of new buildings in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro, to be augmented from savings. The Commission on Elections’ budget of P8 billion was increased by P500 million which can be sourced from within the agency budget to be used to purchase land and building for the warehouses of the PCOS machines. – With Marvin Sy

Economy soars 7.1% in Q3 By Ted Torres and Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2012 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine economy moved the fastest in Southeast Asia in the third quarter at 7.1 percent from a year earlier, coming just a little behind China’s growth and surpassing projections. “This was possible due to sustained confidence in the leadership of President Aquino and his administration, which has consistently equated good governance with good economics,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said yesterday, referring to the record growth. “Government has pushed to ensure this economic growth is felt by the broadest number of people,” he added. With the robust third quarter growth, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the country might even breach its full-year target of between five and six percent. “Once more, the third-quarter performance was way above the market’s median of 5.4 percent,” Balisacan said. “Moreover, we posted the fastest economic growth within the ASEAN,” referring to the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In the same period, Indonesia posted 6.2 percent growth; Malaysia, 5.2 percent; Thailand, three percent; and Singapore, 0.3 percent. China’s growth was 7.4 percent.

“Both private and public construction registered more than 20-percent growth rates during the same period,” Balisacan, director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, said. A sharp jump in third-quarter farm output and a late rebound in exports also contributed to the economy’s 1.3 percent growth rate in the July-September quarter from April-June, which was three times as fast as economists had predicted. Like many of its Southeast Asian neighbors, robust domestic consumption and higher government spending have helped cushion the Philippine economy from the worst of the global slowdown, while manageable inflation has allowed Philippine authorities to keep interest rates in sync with growth. “We will face the fourth quarter not only with utmost optimism but also with careful vigilance,” Balisacan said, citing the country’s need for foreign funding assistance or loans for infrastructure projects, including those falling under the public-private partnership (PPP) program. The entry of more foreign funds is likely to temper the strengthening of the peso. ‘Aquinomics works’ Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the glowing third quarter figure proved “that economics of good governance or Aquinomics works” and that “investor and consumer confidence in the Philippines is definitely on an upward momentum.” “This brings growth for the first three quarters of 2012 to 6.5 percent, driven by sustained government and private sector construction and consumption. This is the ultimate publicprivate sector partnership. Government takes care of fiscal sustainability, macroeconomic stability and continued business facilitation, while the private sector responds with more investment and consumption,” Purisima said in a statement. “This economic performance is significant for several reasons. One, it is much higher than the trend growth of 4.7 percent in the past 10 years. Two, it was accomplished in a very difficult global economic environment. And three, it happened despite a 2.2 percent decline in mining, which shows that mining represents an extra gear for the Philippine economy once the regulatory environment is rationalized,” he added. “The peace agreement once completed and fully implemented represents another extra gear that will unlock the significant potential of Mindanao,” he pointed out. “We will continue to focus on the fundamentals of Aquinomics to make sure that we are able to achieve our growth aspirations,” he said.

At Malacañang, Lacierda said the government has spent P20 billion since January this year for its conditional cash transfer program, which has benefited “more than three million people.” He said public health spending also surged, “resulting in an expansion of health care safety nets and improvements in hospitals and health centers.” For his part, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said it was notable that the Philippines has achieved such growth despite the global economic slowdown, which has affected even the United States and Europe. “Over the last 10 months, the Philippines has demonstrated extraordinary fiscal strength, even in the face of a bleak global economy,” Abad said in a statement. “All in all, we’re looking at very fruitful times ahead. With inflation kept down and an interest regime that stays low – not to mention increased public confidence in our anticorruption and reform-oriented governance platform – we foresee the country’s risk profile to improve considerably,” he said. “We’ve seen our GDP (gross domestic product) growth climb at an impressive rate in the first two quarters, and our goal has always been to sustain this high fiscal momentum through vigorous public spending, sound macroeconomic policies, and good governance reforms,” he added. “Our 7.1-percent GDP growth in the third quarter, however, surpasses not only the momentum we set since the beginning of the year, but also our own expectations on our fiscal performance,” he pointed out. “In an environment where external demand is weak, local demand continues to spike because of consistently high public expenditure. “Public construction grew by a strong 23.7 percent in the same quarter. Private construction also soared by 25 percent during the period, due largely to the private sector’s heightened confidence in the administration’s economic and governance measures. “We are, in other words, creating an environment that’s ripe for both local and foreign investments and stable enough to keep our fiscal performance at a reasonable high,” he said. “We are optimistic that our fourth-quarter growth will remain as energetic. Public consumption will most definitely stay robust, fueled by high consumption levels during the holidays, continuing investments in public and private infrastructure, and the kickstart of election-related spending this Christmas season,” he added.

Fantastic year For banking giant HSBC, the third quarter results showed that the Philippines was having “a fantastic year.” “This is largely due to the fact that policy makers took timely measures to counterbalance an anticipated slowdown of demand from China and the eurozone as well as the resilient nature of the services-oriented economy,” said HSBC economist Trinh Nguyen. He added that robust domestic demand has also energized the real estate sector, resulting in a 24.8-percent expansion of construction investment. “Exports also proved to be very strong in stark contrast to the region’s weak shipment in the third quarter. Both exports of goods and of services rose 6.7 percent year-on-year and 7.6 percent, respectively,” Trinh added. The Philippines has set a record infrastructure budget of over P400 billion next year as it pursues major upgrades of roads, ports, bridges, and airports to speed up growth and boost private investment. The Philippines is the only economy in the world which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes will grow faster than earlier anticipated this year. The IMF earlier this month raised its 2012 growth outlook for the country to more than five percent from its October forecast of 4.8 percent, citing its sound fiscal and monetary policies. “The Philippines is the diamond of the region this year,” said Enrico Tanuwidjaja, economist for Southeast Asia at RBS in Singapore. To cushion the economy from the global downdraft, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has cut its key policy rate by a total of 100 basis points so far this year to a record low of 3.5 percent. Last week, the BSP released data showing businesses were more confident in the fourth quarter than in the third, given expectations of an increase in business activity and demand, low inflation and interest rates, and favorable macroeconomic conditions. BSP Gov. Amando Tetangco said its current stance was appropriate for now, but added authorities would carefully steer policy to sustain strong growth and manage risks from capital inflows. Policymakers meet for the last time this year on Dec. 13 and analysts expect the policy rate to be kept steady well into 2013.

“We have probably already seen the bottom of the rate-cut cycle. Our call is still neutral until probably June 2013,” RBS’ Taniwudjaja said. “If the reforms continue, especially in revenue collections and efficiency in public spending, this will continue to support growth next year,” he said. However, the continued rise of the peso against the dollar may warrant policy action. The BSP had said it was reviewing foreign exchange liberalization measures to counter the rapid appreciation of the peso, which is Asia’s best performing currency this year. Balisacan said upward pressures on the peso should ease next year as major infrastructure projects under the PPP (public-private partnership) scheme get underway and as the DOF continues to tap the country’s record foreign reserves to pay its foreign debts.

‘Pinoys should develop positive traits’ (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2012 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino opened up to students on Tuesday and told them about the positive traits that Filipinos should develop. One student of The Learning Tree Child Growth Center in Quezon City said Filipinos were known to be jolly, but “what character trait would you want our country to develop more? In what way can we practice this at a young age?” Aquino replied: “Our ability to say ‘thank you’ should really be nurtured again.” Aquino said showing appreciation and gratefulness to something that was done to Filipinos, no matter how small, had been a good trait of the Filipino. “For instance, you have a traffic policeman who inhales all of the pollution, who stands under the heat, whose presence ensures that the traffic flows correctly, how many times do you think in a year will somebody come up to him and say: ‘Sir, thank you for what you are doing’,” he said. “How about your teachers? When was the last time you said: ‘Thank you, Ma’am for teaching us?” How about your parents who, besides your birthday and Christmas, give you a gift? When was the last time you said: ‘Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Dad’? Or even to your classmates who did you a good turn?” Aquino said a lot of times, “especially for those of us in public service,” they were not expecting much thanks in return, but it would be good to be appreciated for what they had been doing. “When people are getting into public service I tell them: ‘If you’re looking for a lot of thank you’s that doesn’t happen.’ A lot of times they’ll focus on the things that have yet to be done rather than the things that have already been done,” he said. “So it really helps to feel that the work, the sacrifices that you’re doing is appreciated by somebody. So the next time we have an opportunity to say ‘thank you,’ perhaps we should nurture that trait that we used to have. And sometimes our society becomes a bit impersonal. Let’s bring back the humanity in it and (saying) ‘thank you’ goes a long way doing that.” Before going to the Learning Tree, Aquino read to students at the Teodora Alonzo Elementary School, also in Quezon City, the Filipino short story “Halu-halo Espesyal” by Yvette Ferriol that was about the healing power of love and care. It was about a child who had been sick but who became well after being taken cared of by her mother and grandmother, who served different kinds of food, including halu-halo.– Aurea Calica, Paolo Romero

Govt addressing GOCC concerns over rationalized benefits: Abad Category: Economy Published on Tuesday, 27 November 2012 20:43 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez / Reporter MALACAÑANG has assured employees of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) that the government is addressing their concerns regarding the rationalization of their benefits. When asked, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the government is “certainly” looking into the concerns of GOCC employees demoralized by their rationalized benefits. “There were certain GOCCs that granted bonuses and allowances beyond what the law and the rules provides and then they were subjected to these allowances by COA. We don’t want to be party to that. So we want to put this along the correct and reasonable grounds,” he said. Abad said the government recognizes the GOCC concerns, plus the fact that “they are of different types.” “I think the proposal looks at it that way and correspondingly, their capacity to provide bonuses will also be determined,” he said. Abad said the system to be applied to GOCCs would be different as they belong to several categories. “There are categories of GOCCs. There are GOCCs which are GFIs [government financial institutions]; they’re huge. There are GOCCs which earn revenues. There are GOCCs that perpetually are losing because of the nature of their mandate. So they’re different. But there is going to be a separate one [system] for them,” said Abad. To illustrate the difference among GOCCs, Abad said unlike other GOCCs, Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines are competing with the market and should thus “have to be treated differently from a non-GFI.” But then again, he said, there are non-GFI GOCCs like the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Manila International Airport Authority that generate revenues. “There will be modalities; categories [under the Governance Commission on GOCCs or GCG] proposal,” he said. The GCG presented to President Aquino on Monday afternoon its proposed system for GOCCs.

Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that after the GCG presentation to the Mr. Aquino who, in turn, directed the GCG for further study of its proposal. “The President has asked the GCG to study it [proposal] further so that we’ll be able to address the concerns of the GOCCs,” Lacierda said.

Lawmaker distributes post-harvest equipment Tuesday, November 27, 2012 THE office of Representative Erico Basilio Fabian (second district) is set to distribute portable combined rice and corn mills to farmer cooperatives in three villages in Zamboanga City next week. The distribution of the post-harvest facility is in coordination with the Office of the City Agriculture (OCA), the body that identifies the farmer cooperatives beneficiaries. The distribution of the portable post-harvest equipment aims to improve the food supply situation in Zamboanga City, according to City Agriculturist Diosdao Palacat. Among those lined up to receive the portable combined rice and corn mills are the farmer cooperatives in the villages of Buenavista, Latuan and Manicahan, Palacat said. The rice-corn mills are distributed to farmer cooperatives in the villages for them to utilize the facility among its members, he said. He added that four of the post-harvest equipment were already distributed earlier to the farmer cooperatives in the villages of Cabaluay, Culianan, Talabaan and Vitali. Fabian said the distribution of the portable post-harvest equipment will be a big boost to the farmers’ production since they can now mill their harvested grains right at the harvest site. (Bong Garcia)

Bright Prospects for Livestock Industry Posted by Online on Nov 29th, 2012 // No Comment Manila, Philippines – The government sees bright prospects for the livestock industry because of its export potentials notably pork to Asian countries and Halal products to the Middle East. Domestic demand is growing for semi-processed and processed beef, pork, and chicken. The Bureau of Animal Industry maintains the Philippines’ status as avian flu-free and keeps it safe from food-and-mouth disease. Livestock are animals – chicken, duck, quail, hog or pig (swine), cattle (cow and carabao) and goat – raised for work, food or clothing. Livestock raising is profitable and sustainable, especially in rural areas. The meat and skin of animals command high prices; by-products are used as fertilizers. The livestock industry generates revenues with its production; it also creates allied industries such as feed milling, marketing and distribution, manufacture of veterinary drugs and supplies, and cosmetics. Rules and regulations on hygienic handling of newly slaughtered meat, as well of frozen, chilled, and thawed meat in meat markets, have been formulated to boost quality control and ensure that meats being sold are clean and of high quality. The Department of Agriculture funds the upgrade of its national animal diagnostic at meat laboratories, especially in major production areas. One of its agencies, the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) is finishing this year two triple-A abattoirs or slaughterhouses in Luzon. Next year, NMIS will set up a triple-A slaughterhouse in Mindanao and a triple-A poultry dressing plant in Luzon. In 2014, a tripe-A slaughterhouse will be set up in the Visayas. With their operations, locally produced meat and meat products will be able to replace 20% of our present meat imports. The government is strengthening its partnerships with meat importers and processes, and negotiations are ongoing to export chilled and frozen meat to the Middle East, Malaysia, and Japan, and frozen meat to South Korea. We wish Bureau of Animal Industry Director Efren C. Nuestro and National Meat Inspection Service Executive Director Minda S. Manantan, all the best and success in their cooperation to help prop up the growth of the livestock industry. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!

Nation Posted on November 28, 2012 10:30:33 PM

Agriculture dep’t pushing establishment of food terminals ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The regional office of the Agriculture department is encouraging traders and farmers to set up barangay (village) food terminals to provide a direct market for consumers, an official said. The food terminals will benefit both farmers and consumers, said Agriculture Regional Director Eduardo B. Holoyohoy in a statement, in terms of farm costs and low retail prices. The Agriculture department described the food terminal as a depot and distribution system offering affordable, safe and quality products, while promoting "communityparticipated retail food distribution system." Mr. Holoyohoy said the project also creates employment opportunities through its livelihood components such as satellite outlets, rolling stores and establishment of food packaging and processing centers. Ferdinand D. Gamorot, regional focal person on the food terminal project, said the Zamboanga Peninsula region has at least 55 operational barangay food terminals, and nine more will be established before the yearend. Currently, most of the farmers incur high costs in transporting their produce to the market, resulting in high retail prices. The Agriculture department’s regional office has recently conducted training for farmers and traders on management, basic record and bookkeeping, and cross visits within and outside the region. Farmers and traders have recently organized the Regional Federation of the Food Terminal Operators Alliance in a bid to strengthen alliances. -- DTW

Nation Posted on November 28, 2012 10:35:53 PM

Visayan Sea fishing restriction backed BACOLOD CITY -- A local official and an environmental lawyer have jointly backed the temporary fishing ban in the Visayan Sea amid claims from opposing groups that the policy will be disadvantageous to small fishermen. Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo G. Marañon, Jr. and Antonio A. Oposa, Jr., team leader of Visayan Sea Squadron, have sent a letter to President Benigno S. C. Aquino III on Nov. 18 expressing their appreciation to the enforcement of the close season for sardines and mackerel from Nov. 15 to March 15, 2013. The close season is provided in Fisheries Administrative Order 167 issued way back in 1939 but "was never implemented," they said. "It is with great delight for us who have been working for the restoration of the Visayan Sea to know that for the first time ever, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) finally implemented the law." Governors of provinces surrounding the Visayan Marine Triangle, including Mr. Marañon, have forged an alliance for the protection of the Visayan Sea, known as the Earth’s geographic heart of marine biodiversity. It is home to more than 12,000 species of fish. Messrs. Marañon and Oposa told the President that the fishing ban, launched last Nov. 14 in Bantayan Island, Cebu, is "long overdue but a most necessary initiative" after the Visayan Sea "suffered severe damage as a result of the destructive fishing methods for the last five decades." "This move will undoubtedly increase the biomass of the Visayan Sea and will redound to the ultimate benefits of small fishermen," they added. The Visayan Sea Squadron groups volunteers such as divers, marine enforcement personnel, legal experts, teachers, architects, and doctors. According to the BFAR, the fishing ban covers areas from the mouth of the Danao River on the northeastern tip of the Bantayan Island to Madridejos, through the lighthouse on the Gigantes Island to Clutaya Island, to Culasi Point in Capiz province, and along the northern coast of Capiz to Bulacaue Point in Carles, Iloilo.

It also includes areas southward along the eastern coast of Iloilo to the mouth of Talisay River, westward across Guimaras Strait to Tomonton Point in Negros Occidental, eastward along the northern coast of the Island of Negros and back to the mouth of Danao River in Escalante, Negros Occidental. The Pamalakaya Fisheries and Marine Environmental Research Institute and the Visayan Sea Fisherfolk Forum have said in reports that about 100,000 municipal fishermen in the Visayan Sea will be affected by the four-month fish ban. -- Nanette L. Guadalquiver

Sailing, Flying, Fishing Banned In Korea Rocket Path By ELENA L. ABEN November 28, 2012, 9:01pm MANILA, Philippines --- The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said all concerned agencies are placed on red alert as South Korea is expected to proceed with its delayed rocket launch today. NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos said “no sail zone, no fly zone, and no fishing zone” policies are being imposed in areas where parts of the rocket may fall. The no sail, no fly, and no fishing zone will cover Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, Northern, Western and Eastern Samar, Southern Leyte, Siargao, Caraga, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur. Ramos said information sent by the Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attaché (Phildafa) in Seoul, South Korea indicated that “the launching of Korea Space Launch Vehicle-I (KSLV-I) will be on November 29 at 4 p.m. (3 p.m. Manila time).” As such, all concerned agencies have activated their respective disaster operations centers under blue alert status on November 28 and red alert status on November 29. Korea has initially scheduled the rocket launch for October 26 but this was postponed and reset for November 9, then 15, and was again moved to 29.

Shellfish ban ordered in Bolinao, Anda in Pangasinan November 27, 2012 11:33 pm MANILA, Nov. 27 — Shellfish from the coastal waters of Bolinao and Anda in Pangasinan are unsafe to eat as coastal waters from these areas were found to be positive for the red tide toxin, the Department of Health reported on Tuesday. The bulletin prepared by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) also showed that shellfish ban is also in effect in Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur and Murcielagos Bay in Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental. BFAR said harvest, sale, procurement, and consumption of shellfish from the red-tide infected bodies of water are prohibited as they tested positive for "paralytic shellfish poison that is beyond the regulatory limit." “All types of shellfish and Acetes species or alamang gathered from the areas (where the ban is in effect) are not safe for human consumption. Fish, squids, shrimps, and crabs are safe for human consumption provided they are fresh and washed thoroughly and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking,” the bulletin said. Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) or red tide poisoning can be fatal and is caused by ingestion of contaminated bivalve shellfish. Early symptoms include tingling of the lips and tongue. Depending upon the amount of toxin a person has ingested, symptoms may progress to loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty in breathing, based on previous DOH red tide information sheets. The BFAR release said the red-tide free areas are Cavite; Las Piñas; Parañaque; Navotas; Bulacan and Bataan (Mariveles, Limay, Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Orani, Abucay and Samal) in Manila Bay; Alaminos and Wawa, Bani in Pangasinan; Masinloc Bay in Zambales; Milagros and Mandaon in Masbate; Juag Lagoon in Matnog and Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon; Honda and Puerto Bays in Puerto Princesa City and Inner Malampaya Sound in Taytay, Palawan; Pilar, President Roxas, Panay, Roxas City, Ivisan and Sapian in Capiz; Others are E.B. Magalona, Pontevedra, Pulupandan, Villadolid, Talisay City, Silay City, Bacolod City, Hinigaran, Cadiz City, Victorias City, Bago City, Binalibagan and San Enrique in Negros Occidental; Irong-irong, Maqueda and Villareal Bays in Samar; Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar; Ormoc, San Pedro, Cancabato and Carigara Bays in Leyte; Biliran waters in Biliran province;Hinatuan, Bislig and Lianga Bays in Surigao del Sur; Balite Bay, Mati Davao Oriental and Taguines Lagoon in Benoni Mahinog, Camiguin Island. (PNA)

COA Asks Senate About Taxes By ROLLY T. CARANDANG November 28, 2012, 9:40pm MANILA, Philippines --- The Commission on Audit (COA) said the Senate failed to withhold and remit income tax on certain benefits of officers and employees in violation of certain regulations of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) COA said that as a result of this, it deprived income due to government. The COA did not accept the explanation by the Office of the Senate President, which claimed that the benefits were not subject to withholding tax. The Senate argued that PERA or the Personal Economic Relief Assistance in the amount of P2,000 per month and the Representation Transportation Allowance (RATA) are not subject to tax. “There is no dispute that Personnel Economic Relief Assistance (PERA) and the Representation and Transportation Allowance (RATA) as fixed by the General Appropriations Act (GAA) are not taxable,” the COA said, adding that the auditors did not state it in their list of benefits. Same with the 13th month pay, cash gift, and productivity incentive benefit while clothing allowance is within the limit as non-taxable. Additional Representation Allowance and Transportation Expense (RETE) and additional Extraordinary and Miscellaneous Expense (EME) is on top of the RATA and EME provided under the GAA, the COA pointed out. “Further, the statement of management affirmed our position that subject benefits are subject to withholding tax… (which) may be viewed as fringe benefits to fringe subject to benefit tax but Senate is not covered because fringe benefit tax is applicable to private corporations,” the COA noted. In its 2011 report, the COA said that while the Senate was able to remit a total of P107,054,036.09 for the year 2011, state auditors claimed that the remittances excluded “withholding taxes due on certain allowances.” The COA cited some benefits enjoyed “free of tax” by hundreds of Senate officers and personnel. They were outlined as anniversary bonus, rice allowance, special technical assistance, additional food subsidy, 8th salary range level allowance, longevity pay, food subsidy, cost of living allowance, mid-year economic assistance, financial relief assistance. Other Senate benefits include: education assistance, additional RETE, additional extraordinary EME, grocery and transportation allowance, efficiency incentive benefit, performance benefit, and SP Yuletide assistance, and milestone award.

“The personnel benefits were granted pursuant to Section 2 of the Special Provisions Applicable to the Congress of the Philippines, which provide, among others, that the Senate President is authorized to fix and determine the salaries, allowances and other benefits of its respective members, employees and consultants,� the COA report read.

UN Agency: 2012 Warmer Than Normal Despite La Niña November 28, 2012, 9:29pm DOHA, Qatar (AP) – Despite early cooling from La Niña, 2012 is on track to become one of the top 10 hottest years on record, with the US experiencing extreme warmth and Arctic Sea ice shrinking to its lowest extent, the UN weather agency said Wednesday. In a statement released at international climate talks in Qatar, the World Meteorological Organization said the “alarming rate” of the Arctic melt highlights the far-reaching changes caused by global warming. “Climate change is taking place before our eyes and will continue to do so as a result of the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which have risen constantly and again reached new records,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said. Delegates from nearly 200 countries are meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha to discuss ways of slowing climate change, including by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases that scientists say are warming the planet, melting ice caps, raising sea levels, and changing rainfall patterns with impacts on floods and droughts. Discord between rich and poor countries on who should do what has kept the twodecade-old UN talks from delivering on that goal, and global emissions are still going up. The WMO said global temperatures rose after initial cooling caused by the La Niña weather oscillation, with major heat waves in the US and Europe. Average temperatures in January-October were the highest on record in the continental US, and the ninth highest worldwide. Before that, a cold spell had much of the Eurasian continent in an icy grip between late January and mid-February, when temperatures in eastern Russia plunged to -50 degrees C (-58 F). Cyclone activity was normal globally, but above average in the Atlantic, where 10 storms reached hurricane strength, including Sandy, which wreaked havoc across the Caribbean and the US east coast. Sandy wasn't the strongest cyclone, though. That was typhoon Sanba, which struck the Philippines, Japan, and the Korean Peninsula, “dumping torrential rain and triggering floods and landslides that affected thousands of people and caused millions in US dollars in damage,” the WMO said. Droughts impacted the US, Russia, parts of China and northern Brazil. Nigeria saw exceptional floods, while southern China saw its heaviest rainfall in three decades.

But of all the weather events in 2012, the most ominous to climate scientists was the loss of ice cover on the North Pole. In September, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado said Arctic Sea ice measured 1.32 million square miles (3.41 million sq. kilometers) – which is 18 percent less than the previous record low, set in 2007. Records go back to 1979 based on satellite tracking. The scientists said their computer models predict the Arctic could become essentially free of ice in the summer by 2050, but added that current trends show ice melting faster than the computers are predicting.

As PH economy surges, regulator keeps watchful eye on inflation By Michelle V. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:54 am | Thursday, November 29th, 2012 The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will be keeping an eye on foreign capital inflows to effectively manage the country’s inflation while the economy continues to grow by a robust pace. The Philippines now occupies what is called a “sweet spot”—where economic growth is high and inflation is low—and the BSP aims to keep the country there for as long as possible. According to BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr., the central bank will closely monitor foreign capital inflows and implement appropriate measures to guard against excesses and speculative investment activities. “The BSP will be careful to calibrate the use of its enhanced policy toolkit to help ensure that domestic aggregate demand price pressures and risks from capital flows are managed,” Tetangco told reporters. The Philippine economy surged by 7.1 percent in the third quarter from a year ago. It was the second-fastest growth rate in Asia during the period next to China’s 7.4 percent. With the sharp growth rate, monetary officials said, foreign portfolio investments may spike. Although investments are welcome, excessive amounts may destabilize the economy, officials said. This is because additional liquidity in the economy may lead to a rise in demand and accelerate inflation. Inflation in the first 10 months of the year remained benign, averaging at only 3.2 percent. For the full year, the government hopes to keep inflation within a range of 3 to 5 percent. The BSP said it would help keep inflation moderate in the face of growing demand, brought on by strong

Western Visayas: Top Chicken Producer November 28, 2012, 6:07pm ANTIQUE — Western Visayas produced a total of 9.98 million native chickens in 2011, making the region the top producer of chicken in the entire country, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said. DA 6 Technical Director Joyce Wendam said Western Visayas is followed by Central Visayas which produced seven million native chicken last year and Southern Tagalog with 6.29 million production. To further increase the production of native chicken in Western Visayas, the DA announced that it will finance a three-year development project in partnership with the Central Philippine University (CPU). The CPU is researching the development of native chicken breed. The research for the initial year this 2012 has been given funding of R250,000 and the same amount will be given each year for another two years continuing the same endeavor. The aim is to help meet the demand for consumption of native chicken meat. Dr. Jaime Cabarles, dean, CPU College of Agriculture and Resources and Environmental Sciences (CARES), added that CPU has decided to do research on the development of the native chicken breed because of high demand. (Mars W. Mosqueda Jr.)


Mariculture parks propel tourism plans By Juan Escandor Jr. Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:26 pm | Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

SEA GRASS BEDS thrive with a mariculture project in Juag Lagoon, drawing tourists in Matnog, Sorsogon. MATNOG, Sorsogon—When tourists began arriving by motorboat to see the coves and islands of Matnog in the San Bernardino Strait in Sorsogon, municipal officials realized that it was time to boost the town’s brand of ecotourism by embarking on fisheries projects. Live fishes in mariculture areas always draw curious tourists, according to Councilor Christopher Hadap, chair of the municipal council’s committee on fisheries and agriculture. For instance, Hadap said, the Juag Lagoon became a must-see site for visitors before hopping to the pinkish-white sand of the Subic Beach of Calinataan Island, facing the Pacific Ocean and Samar Island. “Tourists are always delighted to see and feed groupers swimming inside enclosures with just minimal fees,” he revealed. Fish projects For this experience, Matnog, situated more than 600 kilometers south of Manila, is implementing fish production projects in areas declared mariculture parks and dotting the coasts of several islands near the town proper.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has allocated P155,000 for the grouper sea cage project. Under the scheme, each fisherman-beneficiary will be provided with floating cages, fingerlings and feeds. According to Hadap, the project envisions a regulated production of groupers, “siganid” (taffi or rabbitfish), red snapper and even “bangus” (milkfish) to augment the income of fisherfolk and the ecotourism pull of Matnog. The mariculture parks are also seen as vehicles to regenerate sea grass beds, the population of sea horses and coral reefs, the councilor said. MOA on tourism Last year, a memorandum of agreement was signed between the municipal government and the ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI) to jointly undertake projects to enhance the tourism

LIKE A HUGE skull half-submerged in water, the Calintaan Island limestone facade has many openings to underground tunnels crisscrossing underneath the 40-hectare island. sites and activities of the town. They vowed to promote cleanliness, environmental protection and conservation and local governance to preserve Matnog’s natural resources and scenic spots under the agreement signed on Nov. 15, 2011 by Mayor Emilio G. Ubaldo and AFI managing director Gina Lopez. Under the deal, Matnog would fund priority ecotourism programs adopted by the AFI and the foundation would “promote and publicize Matnog’s ecotourism and its best practices here and abroad, with an airtime and cost production worth P5,500,000.” PHOTOS BY JUAN ESCANDOR JR.

Philippines sets higher growth targets for 2013, 2014 By Michelle V. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:06 am | Thursday, November 29th, 2012 129 34

Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan: Aiming for 6 to 7 percent in 2013 INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Confident that the economy will surpass the official growth target set for this year, the government has set more bullish growth goals for 2013 and 2014. Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the government would aim for the economy to grow by a range of 6 to 7 percent for in 2013, and between 6.5 and 7.5 percent in 2014. “We expect growth of the economy to remain strong in the next two years,” Balisacan told reporters after the meeting of representatives of the interagency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC). Economic officials of the government see a surge in foreign investments starting next year on the back of expectation that the Philippines will finally get an investment grade rating by 2013.

Following favorable ratings revisions over the past two years, the Philippines is now rated just one notch below investment grade by all three major international credit watchdogs, namely Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings, and Standard & Poor’s. Balisacan said the Philippines would continue recording a favorable growth story, at least in the next two years, even with the weak global economy. The government announced Wednesday that the Philippine economy, measured in terms of gross domestic product, grew by a faster-than-expected pace of 7.1 percent in the third quarter from a year ago. This brought the average growth for the first three quarters of this year to 6.5 percent, prompting officials to project that growth for 2012 would exceed the official target of 5 to 6 percent for this year. Growth in the third quarter was fueled largely by household consumption, government spending, and private-sector investments. “It is almost the end of the year, and we can say that the target of 5 to 6 percent for the full year may be exceeded. It is likely that growth for this year will settle between 6 and 7 percent,” Balisacan said.

Solons demand daily bulletin on PNoy’s health By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Nov. 29, 2012 at 12:02am | 376 views

Haggard look. President Aquino looked drawn as he attended the awarding rites for the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo on Nov. 26. Malacañang should issue a daily bulletin on the state of health of President Aquino, who seems to be battling recurring colds and flu and stubborn cough that interrupts his speeches, minority members in the House of Representatives said on Wednesday. “The public has the right to know the truth about the President’s health condition,” Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano said. “He should rest and Malacanang should issue a daily health bulletin on his condition. He should stop smoking, too.” Last week, Albano also asked Aquino to see a doctor. Health Secretary Enrique Ona supported Albano and said Aquino should take breaks in his work and go on a holiday. But presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte turned down suggestions that Aquino should undergo medical check-up to determine his state of health. When the president cough or sneeze, his face turn red as if he was embarrassed by the effort. Albano said the presidential daily health bulletin was also adopted during the term of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who suffered from liver ailment that led to his death. But Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said he does not see anything wrong with the state of health of Aquino, adding: “I don’t think he’s sick. Maybe, it’s just caused by his smoking. But we all know that smoking can also lead to death.”

Siquijor Rep. Orlando Fua said the health condition of the President should not be an issue because “there’s nothing wrong with the president,” and he should not go on vacation. “It’s important that we have a healthy president, but it is not for us to decide. If we perceive that he is sick, then it should be his doctor and his family who could tell and say whether he needs to go on vacation,” Fua said. But Zambales Rep. Jun Omar Ebdane insisted that the president should see his doctor because the country needs a healthy president. “Leaders must always be healthy, if not the healthiest in our country, so they can rule properly and set a good example to their constituents,” Ebdane said.‐demand‐daily‐bulletin‐on‐pnoys‐health/                              

Senate votes 14-1 to pass P2t budget By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on Nov. 29, 2012 at 12:01am | 474 views

VOTING 14-1 with no abstention, the Senate approved on third and final reading the proposed P2.006 trillion national budget for 2013 which Senate finance committee chairman Franklin Drilon described as “a tool for people’s empowerment.” Drilon said next year’s budget was 10.5 percent more than this year’s . In interposing the lone objection to the proposed budget, Senator Joker Arroyo said he was constrained to vote against the 2013 General Appropriations Act because the one prepared by Malacanang and approved by the House and the budget the Senate had just approved appeared to be “xeroxed copies” “Aren’t we expected to scrutinize and if need be, make changes thereon?” he asked. He noted that this year’s “gargantuan” lump sum appropriations which are ultimately disposable by the President, directly and indirectly, had become bigger. “This is anathema to budget making. Itemization of expenditures, whenever possible and practicable, is the preferred mode,” he said. He added that over the years, every President seeks to enlarge his powers in the budget. “And over the years, every Congress feebly tries to rescind this executive encroachment but the legislature always loses out,” he added. For the 2013 budget, he said the President has more powers than in the 2012 budget and that Congress has hopelessly ceded its power of the purse. He also questioned the speedy passage of the budget, which took the Senate only five days of “passive” plenary deliberations, from sponsorship to the period of amendments. “In contrast, we spent 2 weeks of heated debates on the P40 billion sin tax measure,” said Arroyo. He added that the President’s power to impound appropriations rightfully due to legislators remain intact, which he said was the reason why the legislators cannot go against the President. Those who voted in favor of the bill which was certified “urgent” by the Palace were Senators Edgardo Angara, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Franklin Drilon, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Gringo Honasan,

Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Serge Osmena, Francis Pangilinan, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Aquilino Pimentel III. Drilon said next year’s budget is slated to provide P698.4 billion for social services program, P510.9 billion for economic services and P333.9 billion for debt services. “The budget is directed to provide funding for public service, which would provide more jobs, better education, improved healthcare services and empowerment of the Filipino people in nation building,” Drilon. He said that once signed, the 2013 national budget will provide for funds to finally close the resource gaps in education system such as the shortage of teachers and educational resources, as well as the lack of enough classrooms “The President’s instruction in his last State of the Nation Address is clear, to completely address by next year the classroom backlogs of P66,800,” he said. To attain this, Drilon said the Department of Education was given the biggest budget of P292.7 billion, which is 22.6 percent higher than this year’s budget. The bigger budget for DepEd will also help boost its K- 12 program. Drilon added that the budget could continue to invest in social protection package of about P3.8 million indigent families through the conditional cash transfer program which is allotted P44.25 billion in 2013 from P39.5 billion this year. A total of P12.6 billion has also been provided for the enrollment in Philheatlh of 5.2 million poor families. The DPWH, meanwhile, received the second highest budget among government agencies with P152.9 billion, followed by the DND with P121.6 billion, the Interior and Local Government Department will receive P121.1 billion while the Department of Agriculture will get P71.4 billion. The Health Department will receive P56.8 billion, followed by the Social Welfare Department with P56.2 billion; the Transportation and Communications Department, P37.1 billion, the Finance Department, P33.2 billion and the Environment and Natural Resources Department with P23.7 billion. The Office of the President will receive P2.7 billion.‐votes‐14‐1‐to‐pass‐p2t‐budget/    

Groups want Recto out of sin tax process By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on Nov. 29, 2012 at 12:01am | 370 views

SENATOR Ralph Recto on Wednesday rejected calls made by 35 medical organizations in the country to inhibit himself from the bicameral conference proceedings on the sin tax bill. “I will always do my job as the Senate requests me to do,” Recto said, demanding the earmarking of the additional funds to be generated by the sin tax for projects handled by the Department of Health. Another lawmaker, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was also asked by the medical groups to recuse himself from the proceedings. He could not be reached for comment. The groups, representing over 100,000 doctors, signed the manifesto in a press conference at the Philippine General Hospital on Wednesday. Health Secretary Enrique Ona witnessed the signing of the manifesto. The manifesto also called on legislators to pass a measure “that will prevent thousands of deaths,” asking them not to water down the bill on sin tax. The signing of the manifesto was led by Dr. Leo Olarte, vice president of the Philippine Medical Association. “Why would they be scared? That (earmarking) in health is the most important to me,” said Recto who noted that he is not applying to be a member of the bicameral committee on the sin tax bill. Recto said he was surprised why the anti-tobacco advocates were scared when his proposed health amendments would press for the specific provisions on the distribution of income to be generated from the excise tax increase. The senator said he would wait and see if the bicameral group would support his inclusion in the panel. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III were said to be in favor of Recto’s membership in the bicameral committee. Recto sponsored the Senate committee report on the reformed sin tax bill which projects to collect P15 billion to P20 billion from tax hikes on alcohol and tobacco products.‐want‐recto‐out‐of‐sin‐tax‐process/

Rice target unrealistic — PIDS By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Nov. 29, 2012 at 12:01am | 140 views

A study commissioned by government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies showed the Agriculture Department’s target for rice self-sufficiency by 2013 is not achievable. PIDS senior research fellow Roehlano Briones said the rice self-sufficiency target was unlikely to be achieved, whether in 2013 or even through the course of the decade to 2020. Briones said the government’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program were based on highly ambitious and unrealistic projections. The rice sufficiency program assumes that palay (unmilled rice) yield would increase 3.8 percent annually to 4.53 metric tons per hectare in 2016 from 3.78 MT/hectare in 2011, while production would rise 6.3 percent annually to 22.7 million from 17 million MT in 2011 over the same period. The government aims to increase rice production to 20.04 million MT in 2013, a level deemed sufficient enough to feed the entire nation. Production is expected to hit 21 million MT by 2014 and 22 million MT by 2015. “These growth projections are clearly unattainable considering that historically, yield and production grew by a meager 1.5 and 3.2 percent, respectively from 1994 to 2010,” Briones said. The study showed the only way to achieve rice self-sufficiency was to increase import barriers. The protectionist policy, however, would make rice in the local market substantially more expensive and endanger the country’s pursuit for food security, it added. It said a closer look at the underlying economic forces and economic behaviors of producers, consumers and markets showed increasing rice production alone would not eliminate importation. Briones said the goal of self-sufficiency should not be equated to zero imports. He said the goal should be based on a broader set of criteria such as nutritional norms for rice consumption and rice affordability.He urged the government to rethink its policy on rice sufficiency. The Food Staples Sufficiency Program is one of the banner programs of the Agriculture Department, which seeks to achieve zero importation starting 2013. The government increased its budget for agriculture to P55 billion in 2013, up significantly from the 2010 budget of P33 billion, to fund various strategies such as improving irrigation, sustaining research and development for new crop varieties, promoting mechanized on-farm and postharvest strategies, and harnessing the potential of high-elevation and upland rice ecosystems.‐target‐unrealistic‐pids/

Water district privatization opposed By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Nov. 29, 2012 at 12:02am | 289 views

Teddy Casiño The House and Senate are set to privatize 600 water districts nationwide, prompting a lawmaker to warn that this would jack up the billing rates by up to 1,083 percent which will burden consumers and deprive 16 million Filipinos of a basic service. Bayan Muna Rep. and Makabayan senatorial candidate Teddy Casino said about 30,000 water district workers will be displaced as well. At the Central Visayas Water Summit in Rajah Park Hotel over the weekend, he cited the case of Metro Manila and its two concessionaires. “At the onset of the privatization in 1997, the Maynilad water rate was only P7.21 per cubic meter, while Manila Water was only P4.02 per cubic meter,” Casino said. “At present, the basic water cost for Maynilad is P47.83 per cubic meter or an increase of 564 percent while Manila Water charges went up by as much P36.42 per cubic meter or an increase of 1,083 percent.” Maynilad Waters is owned by the company of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan while the Manila Water belongs to the Ayalas. Casino said the Palace-backed measures are authored by Senator Angara for the Senate and Davao Rep. Karlo Alexie Nograles in the House. The plan came simultaneously with the privatization of 26 public hospitals, Casino said. “This is why we support the Philippine Association of Water Districts that also opposes the bills on privatization,” he said. “Angara’s Senate Bill 2997 provides that ‘water is a human right but also an economic good and that water districts must be more friendly to private investors’,” Casino said.

Nograles’ House Bill 5497 is the counterpart of SB 2997, he said. “These bills also aim to create a ‘water superbody that will administer the country’s water systems.’ In fact, the bills mandate the smooth process of passing the 600 water districts nationwide to private interests.” Casino called for a campaign to oppose the measures before the Metro Manila experience is followed elsewhere. “It is imperative for people’s organizations and local government units in the provinces to unite and counter the persistent efforts to corporatize and privatize water districts that will affect some 30,000 employees and would burden consumers with higher water service rates,” he said. Themed “Responding to the Dire Need for Potable Water among Farming Communities: The Feasibility of PO-Managed Water Systems in the Rural Areas,” the Central Visayas summit was attended by stakeholders, non-government organizations and government officials led by Cebu City mayoralty candidate and Rep. Tomas Osmeña and Trinidad Mayor Roberto Cajes of Bohol. “The national government knows full well that 30 percent of the poorest Filipino families do not have access to potable water – that is 16 million Filipinos according to the Millennium Development Goals report for 2010. Yet the policy response is to privatize water systems,” Casino said. “We therefore should prevent the privatization of water districts since it is government’s responsibility to ensure that the basic needs for people’s survival and livelihood are met.” The Central Visayas water summit was organized by the Central Visayas Farmers Development Center, Community Empowerment Resource Network, Iglesia Filipina Independiente-Visayas Mindanao Regional Office for Development, Sibol ng Bagong Agham at Teknolohiya, Panaghugpong sa mga Gagmay ng Bayanihang Grupo sa Oriental Negros and the Tuburan for Rural Women Empowerment.‐district‐privatization‐opposed/          

Govt sells $500m worth of onshore dollar bonds By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Nov. 29, 2012 at 12:01am | 174 views

Tweet The government successfully raised $500 million from the sale of 10.5-year dollar-denominated bonds to local investors Wednesday. The 2023 onshore dollar bonds were sold at a coupon of 2.75 percent, as the offer was three times oversubscribed, with tenders amounting to $1.7 billion. National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said after the auction the government would use proceeds from the bond sale to finance expenditures and debt payments. The Treasury said the onshore dollar bonds allowed the government to mop up excess dollar liquidity onshore and pioneer a new benchmark in the local capital market. The Philippines executed a series of fund-raising issuances and tender offer exercises in November, which included the P30.8-billion, or $750-million, 10-year global peso notes. The government also announced a tender offer program for 14 dollar-denominated bonds and one Euro denominated bond amounting to $15.65 billion. “Our program was hinged on three legs, each addressing specific key metrics under President Aquino’s mandate of good economics. We achieved debt re-denomination, realized interest savings, and take advantage of ample dollars liquidity onshore,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.‐sells‐500m‐worth‐of‐onshore‐dollar‐bonds/            

CA finally recognizes BSP’s powers; Paje is inconsistent By Ray S. Eñano | Posted on Nov. 29, 2012 at 12:01am | 193 views

A court has finally cleared the confusion and legal technicalities surrounding the viability of Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank. The Court of Appeals last Friday reversed its January 27, 2012 decision to reopen the bank and give it a P25-billion loan to resuscitate itself. In clear wording, the appellate court conceded that it gravely erred in its first decision to order the Bangko Sentral and Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. to reopen Banco Filipino under the comptrollership of the BSP and the Monetary Board “complete with a rehabilitation plan.” “With all due respect, the honorable court gravely erred when it encroached on the authority and competence of respondent BSP-MB as the central monetary authority of the government in granting reliefs not prayed for by the petitioners in their petition dated 21 March 2011,” the CA decision penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam said. The court acknowledged, too, that “a viable rehabilitation plan for Banco Filipino, as well as any loan facility must be freely entered into in accordance with… BSP-MB’s legal mandate and, thus, may not be imposed and dictated by the honorable court.” “The grant of financial assistance, special liquidity loan and regulatory reliefs to Banco Filipino is discretionary and, thus, cannot be compelled by mandamus,” the ruling said.The court, in another pellucid writing, dismissed Banco Filipino’s allegation that it was not given due process before it was placed under the receivership of PDIC. It noted the central bank held several conferences about the bank’s financial health, adding that the Bangko Sentral was not required to furnish Banco Filipino of its findings and report. “Time and again, it has been ruled that the essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard. What the law prohibits is not the absence of previous notice but the absolute absence thereof and lack of opportunity to be heard. Unequivocally, there is no denial of due process in this case,” the CA said. The controversial MB Resolution No. 372-A also gained the support of the appellate court. The resolution essentially ordered the closure of Banco Filipino and placed it under the receivership of PDIC, after findings showed the bank was illiquid and “unable to pay its liabilities as they become due” and had “insufficient realizable assets to meet liabilities…”

The CA noted that the MB resolution “was anchored on factual and legal findings of BSP’s supervision and examination department,” and destroyed Banco Filipino’s argument that its own appraisal report was more credible. “Contrary to the postulate relied upon in January 27, 2012 decision that it was the Banco Filipino’s appraisal report that deserves more credence, we hold that it should be the report of examination adduced by the BSP-MB that should hold water inasmuch as the same emanates from a duty mandated by law,” the CA decision said. Doublespeak Einvironment Secretary Ramon Paje is either lying or trying to be cute. The controversial Cabinet member declared before Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda that he has not issued any mining permit or tenement since assuming his post. Records of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, however, showed he issued a minerals production sharing agreement to Mount Sinai Exploration and Mining Corp. on February 18, 2011, or a month after President Benigno ‘Noynoy” Aquino III suspended the issuance of mining permits as spelled out under DENR Memorandum No. 2011-01. Zamboanga del Sur Antonio Cerilles, a former environment secretary, also alleged Paje issued an MPSA to Mount Sinai after the moratorium on mining permits. The permit enabled Mount Sinai Mining to explore a 510-hectare area in Homonhon Island in Eastern Visayas.Paje defended himself, saying the act was a mere conversion of an existing emancipation patent to an MPSA for exploration, and not an MPSA for mining. The House of Representatives may soon conduct an investigation on the controversial permit. Cerilles earlier objected to the confirmation of Paje as environment secretary in a hearing conducted by the Commission on Appointments, citing the Special Ores Extraction Permit that his department issued to Lupa Pigegetawan Mining Co. Cerilles alleged that owners of Lupa Pigegetawan misrepresented themselves as members of the indigenous people in Zamboanga del Norte after they logged their official address as Banilad, Cebu City. Cerilles has gained the support of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who declared Paje’s SOEP illegal and invalid. She said the power to issue SOEP should be removed from the DENR secretary because it was against the law.E-mail:, or‐finally‐recognizes‐bsps‐powers‐paje‐is‐ inconsistent/

Farmer group pushes higher biodiesel blend Published on 29 November 2012 Hits: 110

Stakeholders from the coconut industry are calling on the government to increase the biodiesel blend from the current 2 percent to 5 percent. Pambansang Koalisyon ng Manggagawa at Magsasaka sa Niugan (PSKMMN) President Efren Villasenor said that the government through the Department of Energy should immediately act on the petition of the Philippine Coconut Authority and the coconut industry to adjust the biodiesel blend upwards. “The government-mandated blend is presently at 2 percent and its immediate adjustment is consistent with the requirements of the BioFuels Act of 2006,” Villasenor said. “By adjusting the blend, the government will be helping more than three million coconut farmers in the country as this measure will surely increase demand for copra,” he said. He added that coconut farmers’ clamor for a competitive price of copra is very much justified given the increasing cost of living. PSKMMN is the largest federation of coconut farmer cooperatives in the country, whose member-organizations are mostly based in Mindanao and the Visayas. Moreover, the CIIF Oil Mills Group, which operates a total of 6 plants that are engaged in the milling of copra and refining of coconut oil, also supporting the coconut farmers in this move. Jesus Arranza, CIIF OMG President & Chief Executive Officer, said that he had petitioned the Energy Department as early as 2009 to

adjust the blend. “Now that the price of copra together with crude coconut oil (CNO) have gone down, I am confident that the big petroleum companies will cooperate and not oppose this proposed upward adjustment as they are aware that our coconut farmers now need support at this time.” Arranza said. “He added that the 5 percent blend will require at least 350,000 metric tons of CNO and this volume can very be supplied by local coconut millers and refiners,” Arranza said. “The upward adjustment in the blend will also help the country conserve the country’s dollar reserves as this will reduce the importation of diesel into the country,” Arranza added. “At the same time, an increase in the biodiesel blend will be a visible support to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ “clean air” program,” he said. Studies showed that biodiesel substantially reduces carbon deposits in the engine that emit toxic fumes that is hazardous to humans and the environment.‐business‐news/36253‐farmer‐group‐ pushes‐higher‐biodiesel‐blend              

Finance Posted on November 28, 2012 09:36:17 PM

Peso slips on BSP dollar purchases THE PESO closed weaker against the dollar yesterday despite a higher-thanexpected gross domestic product growth in the third quarter as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) purchased greenbacks to temper the local unit’s sharp appreciation. After a seven-day climb against the US currency, the peso shed three centavos to settle at P40.90 per dollar against its P40.87 -- a 59-month high -- finish last Tuesday. “The central bank was seen buying dollars in the market yesterday to prevent the rapid appreciation of the peso,” a trader said in a phone interview. “The BSP was protecting the P40.85 support level,” he added. He said the central bank purchased around $200-$300 million worth of dollars yesterday. “The central bank was already seen buying dollars when trading began yesterday,” he noted. Another trader in a separate phone interview added, “the BSP’s dollar purchases prevented the peso from further appreciating, even after the release of third quarter GDP data.” Surprising economists who thought the economy would decelerate due to damage from bad weather, the Philippine economy grew by 7.1% in the third quarter -- the fastest pace since 2010 -- bringing the year-to-date GDP to 6.5%, above the government’s 5-6% full-year target. The peso is seen trading within the P40.85-to P40.89-per-dollar band today. Dollars traded yesterday totaled $616 million, lower than the $899.515 million traded the previous day. -- Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio‐slips‐on‐BSP‐dollar‐ purchases&id=62144          

Nation Posted on November 28, 2012 10:24:35 PM

Davao setting sights on 2015 APEC hosting DAVAO CITY -- The local government is rolling out the red carpet for representatives of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) secretariat today until the weekend as the city bids to host the Leaders’ Summit in 2015, an official said. Roberto P. Alabado III, officer-in-charge of the City Planning and Development Office, said the visiting team will check facilities such as hotels, infrastructure, transportation, hospitals and event venue. A possible choice to hold the event here "will send a message to the whole world that Mindanao, or Davao City in particular, is ready for investments," Mr. Alabado said. The Philippines last hosted the APEC summit in Subic during the Ramos administration in November 1996. Mr. Alabado said the APEC delegation will be brought to the Public Safety Command Center, with its state-of-the-art control room and "Big Brother" technology, as well as the 911 Central Command. Davao City is the first local government in the country to install a 911 system, with the help of Aboitiz-owned Davao Light and Power Co., where residents can dial a three-digit access line and be patched to the police or medical team depending on the need. Mr. Alabado said the team would also be shown the SM Lanang Premier’s SMX Convention Center, the first outside Luzon, which can accommodate as much as 5,000 guests at a given time. During the APEC Summit in Russia last Sept. 2-9, the Philippines was chosen through the Leaders’ Declaration to host the summit in 2015, following Indonesia and China, which would host the event in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Just last week, Davao City also hosted the delegation from the Ad Congress. The local government, in cooperation with the regional office of the Tourism department, is also proposing to host the biennial event next year. -- J. B. Escovilla

2013 budget ‘sloppily’ done • •

Written by Angie M. Rosales Thursday, 29 November 2012 00:00

Senators, voting 14-1, approved on second and third reading the P2.006trillion 2013 budget submitted by Malacañang, over 10-percent higher than the current P1.8 trillion national appropriations, the bulk of which has been allotted for social services programs that included the government’s so-called dole-out project conditional- cash transfer (CCT). Amid its approval in the plenary, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago claimed that the 2013 President’s budget submitted to Congress last August was “sloppily prepared.”

Santiago disputed claims made by Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Undersecretary Mateo Montano that the figures in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) on the DSWD budget were “inaccurate.”

According to the senator, the DSWD reportedly wrote a letter to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) last Aug. 24 requesting a revision of the DBM budget.

Santiago earlier had blasted the DSWD for the huge 2013 overhead budget for the CCT program, basing her analysis on what was written on the President’s budget.

“Cabinet officials should not take the preparation of the national budget lightly. We base our analysis on the budget documents which the President is constitutionally mandated to submit to Congress within 30 days after his Sona (State of the Nation Address),” Santiago stressed.

“Until properly corrected, the budget documents submitted by the President to Congress remain the official sources of budget and revenue data. If the President submitted an erroneous document that later needs to be corrected, as what the DSWD claims, then this whole episode

reflects on how sloppily the DBM has prepared the President’s budget,” she said. The senator pointed out that any correction on the President’s budget requires formal communication from the Office of the President through the Speaker and the Senate President. In turn, the Speaker and the Senate President are expected to inform the members of their respective Houses on the corrections made by the President.

“Corrections made by DBM Secretary or his underlings are not enough,” Santiago said. She said that formal communication from the President is expected by members of a co-equal branch of government.

“Of course we have to rely on the President’s budget. That is the official document. Are those people who asked for corrections in the President’s budget higher than the President?” Santiago said.

“A Cabinet underling can’t just disavow what is written in the President’s budget when Congress finds its department’s budget excessive or unconscionable. Otherwise, we can just throw accountability and transparency out the window,” she added.

In last night’s plenary proceedings, the chairman of the finance committee, Sen. Franklin Drilon, reported to his colleagues that the biggest chunk of the budget, amounting to P698.4 billion was allocated for social service programs, P510.9 billion on economic services and P333.9 billion for debt service.

“The budget is directed to provide funding for public services which would create more jobs, better education, improved health care services among others. Once signed into law by President Aquino, the 2013 national budget will also provide funds to finally close the resource gaps in the education system such as shortage of teachers, textbooks and classrooms,” Drilon said.

The lone dissenter in the appropriations bill, Sen. Joker Arroyo, echoed the observation aired earlier by Santiago that the Senate and House-approved versions of the budget bill looked like “xerox copies” of the original budget proposal that Malacanang submitted to Congress for scrutiny and approval.

“If you look at the budget as prepared by Malacanang, and the budget as approved by the House, and the budget as we in the Senate have just approved, all these three look alike as if they are

xerox copies Aren’t we expected to scrutinize and if need be, make changes thereon?” Arroyo asked in explaining his negative vote.

He added that “this year’s gargantuan lump sum appropriations which are ultimately disposable by the President, directly and indirectly, has become bigger. This is anathema to budget making. Itemization of expenditures, whenever possible and practicable, is the preferred mode.”

The senator also pointed out that over the years, every President seeks to enlarge his powers in the budget.

“And over the years, every Congress feebly tries to rescind this executive encroachment but the legislature always loses out. For the 2013 budget, the President has more powers than in the 2012 budget. Congress has hopelessly lost its power of the purse,” he said.

He also noted that it took the Senate only five days of “passive” plenary deliberations, from sponsorship to period of amendments, to complete the debate on the P1,368,328,156.00 budget for 2013, in contrast to the two weeks of heated debates in the Senate on the P40 billion sin tax bill.

“By congressional submission, the President’s power to impound appropriations rightfully due legislators remains intact. That is why legislators cannot go against the President,” he said. Drilon said he does not foresee any major hurdles at the bicameral talks to hammer out a consolidated final version of the budget bills separately passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“We will immediately schedule the bicameral conference committee with the House,” Drilon said noting that there were no major amendments introduced in the Senate Finance Committee. “In fact, there are no major differences between the House and Senate version [of the budget bill].”

The Senator indicated that bicameral talks on the budget would begin next week, in the hope that a reconciled final version of the 2013 budget bill can be ratified by both chambers and submitted to President Aquino for signing into law before Congress goes on Christmas recess next month.

“We will start [bicam talks] next week. As I said, I don’t expect much difficulty in the SenateHouse bicam talks” said Drilon.

On the CCT budget. CBCP Permanent Council member Digos Bishop Guillermo Afable has expressed apprehension that the questionable budget of the CCT Program of the Aquino administration might be used in the 2013 election.

According to Bishop Afable, the budget for the CCT must eamined to know how much is allocated to all of its benefeciaries.

The Bishop said that there is a possibility that the CCT budget may be used by incumbent local officials this forthcoming election.

“In the implementation of this, as undertaken by LGU, especially that we are heading for an election , you cannot do away with it , it will be used connected with the election of those incumbents,” said Bishop Afable in a radio interview.

Afable explained that it is important to know what percentage of the budget that will be allocated in the program, how much, who are the beneficiaries of this and what are the places of the distribution on this.

However the bishop clarified that the people must remember that that the CCT is just a short lived help and relying on government dole out.

“The CCT is really a temporary relief , so how long is temporary , it depends on the executive discernment ,it is not saying that because there is CCT , there is no more budget available , it is in its proper use and proper apportionment that is important, so whatever is allocated is really received by the intended beneficiaries, and we all know that when it come on the implementation there we will know whether it goes to the right benefeciaries.,” the bishop explained. With Pat C. Santos

BSP support for rural banks inspires RBAP • •

Written by Ed Velasco

Thursday, 29 November 2012 00:00

The Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) has expressed thanks and gratitude to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) deputy governor Nestor Espenilla for having a full trust and confidence in the rural banking industry despite the odds it’s facing.

Edward Garcia, RBAP president, said the inspiring words they received from Espenilla are driving them to work harder to serve the people in the countryside, especially the unbanked sector.

“We welcome the comment of deputy governor Espenila regarding the role of rural banks. For 60 years, rural banks served as leader in countryside financing that helped changed the lives of millions of Filipinos,” Garcia told the Daily Tribune in an exclusive interview.

“The problem is not too many of us are aware of this because it has not been publicize that much. We thanked the deputy governor for recognizing this fact as this will inspire us to continue to improve,” Garcia added.

Espenilla said there are still 2,503 RB head offices and branches that help people in the provinces finance their businesses.

Rural banks (RB) are known to be the leader in micro-finance, a kind of loaning program that has very little interest.

Earlier, Espenilla said even in financial aspect, RBs strength is still felt because as of end-June 2012, there are a total of 139 rural banks offering microfinance services to close to 900,000 micro-enterprise borrowers with a total outstanding loan portfolio of P5.9 billion.

“These numbers may not seem all that impressive but the impact could be better appreciated if

we consider that each of those microenterprises give employment to many others,� Espenilla said. RBs are known to be the leader in microfinance business as the paid up capital of RBs is only for loans not exceeding P10,000 to 15,000.

However, many RBs close several months ago after their liabilities exceeded their assets. Despite the closures, the RBAP remained steadfast and continues to strive as there is one program of the BSP and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC)that aims to help ailing RBs—the Special Program for Rural Banks plus (SPRB+).

Under SPRB+, any universal, commercial or RB can acquire ailing RB using on a 50-50 percent capital infusion from the acquiring bank and PDIC. There are a hundred applications for SPRB+, according to PDIC.

RP won’t reach rice sufficiency target for next 7 years — study • •

Written by Aileen Lor

Thursday, 29 November 2012 00:00

Rice sufficiency target is unlikely to be achieved by the country, whether in 2013 or even through the course of the decade to 2020.

In a recent study conducted by the The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Senior Research Fellow Roehlano Briones said that in spite of the efforts the Department of Agriculture (DA) that crafted the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) and its increased budget for 2013 to P55 billion, rice sufficiency is still unstable. Budget for 2010 was P33 billion.

Although most of the budget increases are intended to fund various strategies that are identified in the FSSP such as improving irrigation, sustaining research and development for new crop varieties, promoting mechanized on farm and post harvest strategies, and harnessing the potential of high- elevation and upland rice ecosystems, rice supply is still not enough, according to Briones.

He noted that FSSP targets are based on highly ambitious and unrealistic projections on palay yield from 3.78 t/ha to 4.53 t/ha, and production from 17 to 22.7 million tons, over the period 2011 to 2016, corresponding to annual growth rates of 3.8 and 6.3 percent, respectively.

These growth projections are clearly unattainable considering that historically, yield and production grew by a meager 1.5 and 3.2 percent, respectively, from 1994 to 2010.Study also reveals that the only way to achieve rice sufficiency is to increase import barriers. Briones further said that protectionist policies would also make rice in the local market substantially more expensive and therefore will jeopardize the country’s pursuit for food security. He also noted that the goal of self-sufficiency should not be equated to zero imports.

2012 11 29 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you