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Asian fisheries body to review tuna fishing ban Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 02 December 2012 19:31 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter GENERAL SANTOS CITY—Member-countries of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) will review the ongoing ban on tuna fishing in four areas in the region’s high seas during their ninth regular session at the Philippine International Convention Center on Sunday. This, as the Philippines’s bid to extend access to these areas beyond February 2013 is put in peril after eight Pacific island-countries insisted that there is a need to close the high seas. The five-day meeting will discuss measures to conserve fisheries resources in the Western and Central Pacific. Prof. Glenn Hurry, WCPFC executive director, said the meeting would also look into possible replacement measures for the ban. The meeting is expected to draw delegates from countries, including Australia, China, Canada, the Cook Islands, the European Union, Fiji, France, Japan, Kiribati, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan, Tonga, Tuvalu, the US and Vanuatu. The Philippines is a signatory to the commission. The WCPFC also includes participating territories like American Samoa, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, the Northern Mariana Islands, Tokelau, and Wallis and Futuna. The commission also has Belize, Ecuador, El Salvador, Indonesia, Mexico, North Korea, Panama, Senegal, St. Kitts and Nevis, Thailand and Vietnam as cooperating non-membercountries. In 2008 the 25-country commission imposed a limited ban on tuna fishing after a steady decline in tuna catch raised alarm in the highly lucrative and competitive world tuna fishing industry. The following year, the WCPFC expanded its conservation efforts that included a two-year closure of four pockets of high seas in the Pacific Ocean that lie in the path of the highly migratory tuna and tuna-like species. The ban took effect in 2010, but was extended during the commission’s belated March 2012 meeting. The WCPFC, however, granted Philippine tuna fishing vessels the exclusive privilege to resume fishing in Pocket 1 after a strong lobby from the Philippine delegation, led by Mindanao

Development Authority Lualhati Antonino and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Asis Perez, at Guam early this year. The exemption, however, is limited to 36 Filipino fishing fleets with gross tonnage not exceeding 250 tons of traditional fresh/ice-chilled catching vessels. Only eight of 36 fishing vessels that were given the go-signal have set sail to the area. Pocket 1 is identified as the “area of high seas bounded by the exclusive economic zones [EEZs] of Micronesia to the north and east, Palau to the west, and Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to the south.” The Philippines had pushed for access to the area due to “increasing fishing pressures in the territorial waters and Philippine EEZ as a result of the closure of the high seas.” Manila noted that the Philippines’s territorial waters and EEZ are important spawning grounds of tunas and tuna-like species. Joaquin Lu, president of the Socsksargen (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City) Fishing Federation and Allied Industries Inc., said they would monitor the results of this week’s WCPFC meeting and see if the Philippines would remain exempted. The Philippines is one of the world’s leading tuna catchers, as well as producers of canned and processed tuna products. General Santos City, the country’s acknowledged tuna capital, is home to six tuna canning plants. The tuna industry in the port city generates more than $250 million in export revenues, making it the city’s single biggest source of employment and livelihood. More than 120,000 residents are directly and indirectly dependent on tuna production.

Stop overfishing IN a statement, the eight-member Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) said it is time for big fishing nations to stop the overfishing of bigeye tuna. “The PNA is sick of foreign fishing nations continually arguing for special exemptions from the rules and for ways they can continue overfishing bigeye tuna, use fish aggregating devices [FADs], access the high seas and generally continue with business as usual,” PNA Chairman Nanette Malsol said.

“Even though we are small island developing countries, it is the PNA that puts the most time, money and effort into conservation and management of tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. The situation is simply unfair and has to stop,” the PNA said. The eight Pacific island nations—Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati and Tuvalu—said foreign fishing nations need to cut back fishing, limit FADs, respect the closure of high seas and protect whale sharks. Malsol said the PNA had initiated and supported many WCPFC conservation measures, such as closing areas in the high seas and introducing controls on FADs that can result in catches of juvenile bigeye tuna. “We have gone beyond the WCPFC to introduce higher sustainability standards. We banned setting on whale sharks and we have certification by the Marine Stewardship Council of our skipjack tuna caught without FADs as sustainable,” she said. (With PNA)‐commodities/4425‐asian‐fisheries‐body‐ to‐review‐tuna‐fishing‐ban                            

Govt asked to impose safeguard duty on palm-oil products Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 02 December 2012 19:30 Written by Jennifer A. Ng THE country’s palm growers have said they will ask the government to impose a safeguard duty on all palm-oil products imported into the country. Erwin Garcia, president of the Philippine Palm Oil Development Council Inc. (PPDCI), expressed alarm that the market is being flooded with imported palm-oil products, mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia. PPDCI is an association of palm growers, whose members are mostly based in Mindanao. The group, which has Kenram Philippines, Filipinas Palm Oil, Agumil Philippines, Aberdi and some 5,000 growers as members, said the imposition of the appropriate safeguard duty on imported palm-oil products is a mechanism allowed under Republic Act 8800. Under this law, the government may impose a safeguard duty through the Department of Trade and Industry to protect local industries from an “import surge.” “The group’s petition will stress that the local palm industry, which is still in its infant stage, and the government should continue to assure investors that it will create a level-playing field for all,” Garcia said. Imposing safeguard duties was done in the recent past when there was a similar influx of glass, ceramic and cement imports into the country. The law requires an automatic Tariff Commission review of a trade department-imposed safeguard duty imposition. Garcia said the present surge was aggravated by the “technical” smuggling of palm-oil products, especially involving undervaluation. He warned that if this is not stopped, the local palm industry would no longer be competitive. He also said the government should take immediate measures to stop the smuggling of palm oil products to encourage investors to continue their planned palm plantation projects. PPDCI said it had expressed its concerns to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who promised to help the local palm growers’ plight. “We will never get tired of calling the attention of the government until smuggling is stopped and the smugglers penalized,” Garcia said.

Earlier, an industry insider alleged that some of the imported palm-oil products came in at prices lower than the world market price. This undervaluation of their products allows some importers to sell these at low cost even as it deprives the government of taxes. (Jennifer A. Ng)‐commodities/4423‐govt‐asked‐to‐impose‐ safeguard‐duty‐on‐palm‐oil‐products                                          

Economy Posted on December 02, 2012 09:57:35 PM 

Gov’t calls for extension of tuna access  THE PHILIPPINES will push for an extension of its exclusive access to High Seas Pocket‐1 (HSP‐1),  citing a steady decline in tuna catch since 2009 due to the closure of the high seas by the  Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).  This is amid an international organization’s request for the closure of HSP‐1.  "We pray that the Commission would find merit to the country’s request for an extension of  fishing access in the high seas," Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in his keynote  speech before the 9th Session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission that  opened yesterday at the Philippine International Convention Center. The Philippines was  granted exclusive access by the WCPFC to HSP‐1 from Oct. 1, 2012 to Feb. 28, 2013.  Mr. Alcala cited the importance of tuna fishing in the country, emphasizing the effect of a  closure in 2009. He noted that tuna production last year went down by 20.88% to 504,000  metric tons (MT), from 2008’s 637,000 MT.  "We could not deny that since the said closure, fishing effort has been transferred from the  High Seas to our Exclusive Economic Zone, resulting [in] an increase in catch of juvenile tunas,"  Mr. Alcala said. Meanwhile, a tuna organization said all high seas pockets should be closed.  "Our stand is to close all the High Seas Pockets indefinitely," the Parties to the Nauru  Agreement (PNA) Chairperson Nanette D. Malsol told reporters in a press conference.  Ms. Malsol said the WCPFC’s decision to allow the Philippines access to HSP‐1 was illogical since  the PNA member‐countries, which border HSP‐1, do not fish in the area.  PNA members include the federated states of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru,  Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. Ms. Malsol also reiterated the PNA’s  view that current WCPFC’s standards on tuna fishing should be heightened. "If WCPFC  continues to allow the Philippines to fish in that area, it must first raise its standards," Ms.  Malsol said.  "The commission is not doing enough," she said. Asked for comment, Mr. Alcala said that the  PNA should bring its concern to the council."It’s not good for one party to suggest something  and then it would be immediately adopted by all parties concerned," the Cabinet official said. 

Mr. Alcala claimed the government was doing everything to promote the "proper way of  fishing," a commitment that shows the world that the Philippines deserves exclusive access.  The Philippines is allowed 36 fishing boats to harvest tuna in HSP‐1. So far, only 11 have met  the standards set by both the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the  WCPFC.  Under the fishing body’s current Conservation and Management Measure, these fishing vessels  must be equipped with an automatic location communicator and are required to submit a  report 24 hours prior to entry and no more than six hours prior to exiting HSP‐1.  "These 11 fishing vessels have complied with our strict requirements and all of them are  monitored closely by foreign observers on deck," BFAR Director Asis G. Perez said in a press  conference yesterday. Mr. Perez also said that the government is implementing several  measures to ensure responsible fishing.  He noted several programs and policies such as BFAR’s fisheries administrative orders, which  include rules in the implementation of the fisheries observer program wherein regional  observers are placed inside fishing vessels.  He also cited the National Tuna Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) Management Policy.  FADs are floating fishing tools used to attract large numbers of fish.  This method is used to catch almost 50% of the world’s tuna, said a press release by the  watchdog PEW Environment Group.  "In addition, seas turtles, sharks and juvenile fish are often caught and killed in the process of  FAD fishing; hundreds of species are attracted by the floating devices," it said. PEW estimates  that there are 47,000 to 105,000 FADs used worldwide. These fishing devices can be assembled  using bamboo floats, plastic ribbons and old nets, among others.  "This method is used to catch half of the world’s tuna and is contributing to the overfishing of  bigeye tuna across the Pacific Ocean," the group said.  Bigeye tuna is one of the tuna species that the WCPFC is trying to protect from overfishing  along with yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna and skipjack tuna. The 9th Session of the WCPFC started  yesterday and will end in Dec. 6.  Over 368 delegates from different countries are in attendance. ‐‐ Raymond Jun R. Portillo‐calls‐for‐extension‐of‐ tuna‐access&id=62330 

PH seeks extension of high seas access before international body Published on 03 December 2012   Written by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ  

The Philippines is pushing for the extension of fishing access in the high seas before the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) amid calls by environmental groups and Pacific island nations for the full closure of the vital tuna fishing grounds.

In his speech during opening of the Ninth Session of the WCPFC in Manila, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala pressed for the extension of the country’s access at the high seas pocket 1 as part of the conservation and management measure in regulating the depleting tuna stocks in the region. He told the WCPFC that preventing licensed Filipino vessels from entering the high seas would have serious impact on global conservation efforts, noting increase in fishing activities in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). “By extending our access, we can prevent overfishing of juvenile tuna population within our EEZ. This would also ensure that our fishing vessels operating at the high seas pocket 1 would comply with the guidelines set by the commission,” he said. Uniquely positioned above the equatorial region, the Philippines serves as a vital breeding and nursery ground for many migratory fish species, particularly tuna. But with the closure of high seas, Filipino fishermen have resorted to catching low quality tuna stocks within the country’s EEZ, which threatened to further deplete the existing tuna stock of the entire Pacific region. “That is why, we are firmly praying that that best win-win solution would be achieved in the agreements that will be forged during this five-day meeting,” Alcala said. Earlier, the Philippines was granted with a special four-month access to high seas pocket 1 (from October 2012 to February 2013) on a condition that it would uphold conservation and management measures established by the WCPFC. At present, only 11 out of 36 catcher vessels were allowed by the Philippine government access to the high seas. Asis Perez, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director, said that they have yet to approve the remaining catcher vessels, noting that operators are still in the process of complying with the provision of special management area in high seas pocket 1.

“These catch vessels have to comply with set provision for allocation of fishing access, including the observer coverage, vessel monitoring system, reporting landing, catch limits net mesh size and the use of fish aggregating devices,” he added. Opposing views

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), on the other hand, called for the indefinite closure of the high seas pocket to all fishing vessels until the WCPFC comes up with decisive conservation and management measures. “We believe that the WCPFC is not doing enough to implement measures to stop overfishing of various tuna species. Our position is to close the high seas pocket until proper conservation and management measures are in place, or raised the standard to those exempted from the closure,” said PNA Chairman Nanette Malsol. She stressed that the PNA “is sick” of foreign fishing nations continually arguing for special exemptions from rules and generally continue with “business as usual” attitude. For this year’s WCPFC meeting, the PNA—which includes the Federated States of Miconesia, Kiribati, Mashal Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Island and Tuvalu—is proposing for cut in overfishing of bigeye tuna, limit the use of fish aggregating devices and indefinite closure of the high seas. The Pacific Island nations is also pushing for the reduction of the so-called “burden of conservation,” time, government resources and finance needed from them to participate in WCPFC decisions and enforcement in their jurisdiction.‐business‐news/36544‐ph‐seeks‐extension‐of‐ high‐seas‐access‐before‐international‐body                  

Economy Posted on December 02, 2012 09:53:20 PM 

Stricter implementation of fishing ban vowed  ZAMBOANGA CITY ‐‐ The annual three‐month fishing ban for sardine and mackerel began last  weekend to give the two species time to recover and spawn and thus avert overfishing.  On Friday, officials of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Southern  Philippines Deep Sea Fishing Association, Inc., and sardines canneries held a send‐off ceremony  for monitoring, control and surveillance or MCS vessels that will help implement the fishing ban  from Sulu Sea to the waters off north of Zamboanga Peninsula.  Fisheries Regional Director Ahadulla S. Sajili said the government was determined to fully  implement the fishing ban as well as help address issues involving 30,000 fishing and canning  workers that would be affected by the ban. The ban will last until February next year.  BFAR Director Asis G. Perez said this year’s fishing ban includes the seas in the Visayas to ensure  that sardines and mackerel have a much larger area for spawning. The fishing ban in the Visayas  is longer, starting Nov. 15, 2012 until March 15, 2013.  In a statement posted on the BFAR Web site, Angel Buan, secretary of the Alliance of the  Philippine Fishing Federation, Inc., said the group’s members have requested the bureau to  look into the possibility of having a uniform schedule for the closed season.  For Zamboanga waters, rules should take into account the "latest findings of the agency  indicating that the sardines from both waters belong to the same stock and have similar  spawning periods," he said.  "The roe of a single sardine could contain as much as 600,000 eggs. Assuming that less than one  percent of this would reach maturity during the four‐month period, this would assure us 500  additional fish for each spawning sardine spared," Mr. Perez said.  In the Visayas, at least six monitoring vessels of the BFAR were sent to strategic points starting  Nov. 15 to ensure compliance of commercial fishing vessels.  These are manned by a composite team of officers and staff of the Philippine Coast Guard, the  Maritime Police, and the BFAR Fishery Law Enforcement Team, among others.The fishing ban  also covers the waters of Western and Central Visayas, the two regions that straddle that  portion of the Visayan seas covered by the closed season. They account for 10%‐13% of total  output, BFAR said. 

Mr. Sajili said awareness is key in fully implementing the fishing ban, adding that ban is part of  an initiative to maintain the fish stock.  BFAR has cited the positive effect of ban, noting the increase of sardine stocks based on latest  data on sardine production in Zamboanga Peninsula. Output went up by 13% to 72,446 metric  tons (MT) in the second quarter from 63,351 MT in the same quarter last year.  Stephen L. Kaw, president of the Southern Philippines Deep Sea Fishing Association, Inc., the  largest fishing group in the region, earlier told BusinessWorld his group would simply divert its  fishing operation to non‐sardine species to stay afloat.  The fishing sector here is now heavily focused on small fish for the industry to survive. The  commercial fishing industry is supplying raw materials to the canning sector here, which  controls more than 90% of the country’s canned sardines market.  The shift was made from high‐value commercial fishing to small fish was due to the steady  decline in the number of big fish in the area, based on a recent study on business risk  assessment and the management of climate change impact conducted by the World Wildlife  Fund (WWF). The environmental group said Zamboanga’s fish exports "declined so dramatically  in recent years."  While the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) continues to report increases in both  commercial and municipal fisheries production, a "more in‐depth analysis of fisheries  information indicates that there has been a major change in fish catch composition. Yellowfin  and skipjack tuna catch have [shrunk] to relative unimportance, and the city’s top five fish  products are now dominated by smaller, lower trophic species such as sardines and scad."  "A pattern such as this, where catch composition has shifted from high value to lower trophic  species, can be an indication that the regional fishing fleets that have fuelled Zamboanga City’s  past prominence in fish exports may have already fished‐down the regional food web," the  WWF study said.  "This could explain the dramatic decrease of fish as an export leader for Zamboanga… The BAS  data reveals quite clearly that the types of [high‐value commercial] fish being caught and sold  now are very different from barely ten years ago," said the study, available on the WWF  Philippines Web site. ‐‐ Darwin T. Wee‐implementation‐of‐ fishing‐ban‐vowed&id=62321   

BFAR bans fishing in Mindanao Published on 03 December 2012   Written by AL JACINTO   

The Philippines has imposed a 90-day ban on commercial sardines fishing in Western Mindanao to allow fish to spawn and mature.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said that the ban does not cover small fishermen. “The ban only applies to commercial fishing. Small fishermen can continue their catch,” said BFAR Director Asis Perez. He said that two patrol ships were deployed to ensure the enforcement of the ban. Local canning factories said that there are enough stocks of canned sardines in the country, while others are looking to import sardines from China so it can continue producing more despite the moratorium. Tens of thousands of workers rely for livelihood or benefit directly from canning factories here in the country.‐stories/36582‐bfar‐bans‐fishing‐in‐mindanao                    

PH urges Dubai to lift poultry ban By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Dec. 03, 2012 at 12:01am | 243 views 

The government asked the Ministry of Water and Environment of the United Arab Emirates to lift the ban on Philippine poultry. “It is likely that the UAE government may soon lift the ban. I believe that if we immediately follow up on our request, the ban could be lifted any time within December or early 2013,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said over the weekend. The department said the ban imposed by the UAE on Philippine poultry was still in effect despite the bird flu-free status of the Philippines. Alcala and other senior officials of the Agriculture Department recently embarked on a five-day visit to Dubai. The Philippines and UAE reviewed their bilateral relations and discussed ways of cooperation and coordination in agricultural development and new technologies to achieve sustainable agricultural production. Alcala said the UAE was interested to import tropical fruits such as pineapple, solo papaya, cardava (saba) mangosteen and rambutan from the Philippines. A team of quarantine experts from Dubai is scheduled to arrive in Manila this month to check on plantations and processing sites where the local fruits are grown and handled. The Philippine delegation hopes that Dubai will increase its take-up of Cavendish bananas in addition to importing other exotic fruits from Philippine growers. “We are also trying to convince Dubai to get from us long grain aromatic rice. We’ll be exporting specialty rice staring next year and Dubai is one of the first few markets that we plan to penetrate,” Alcala said. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department launched the “AgriPinoy” project in Dubai to encourage Filipino workers there to engage in small and micro-scale agriculture trade activities for their families in the Philippines. “We would like our OFWs to have an option should they decide to go back to the Philippines. This is an alternative livelihood program that will help our fellow Filipinos start over should they decide to go back and live here,” said Alcala. Some 500,000 Filipinos are living in Dubai.‐urges‐dubai‐to‐lift‐poultry‐ban/    

Palm growers seek import cover By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Dec. 03, 2012 at 12:01am | 323 views 

Local palm growers plan to ask the government to impose a safeguard duty on all palm oil products being imported into the country. Philippine Palm Oil Development Council Inc. president Erwin Garcia said the group was alarmed over the influx of imported palm oil products from Indonesia and Malaysia. The council groups local palm growers, who are mostly based in Mindanao. The council, composed of Kenram Philippines, Filipinas Palmoil, Agumil Philippines, Aberdi and some 5,000 growers, said the imposition of the appropriate safeguard duty on imported palm oil was a mechanism allowed under Republic Act No. 8800. The law provides that a safeguard duty may be imposed by the government through the Trade Department to protect local industries from an “import surge.” The government earlier imposed the duty after a similar influx of glass, ceramic and cement imports into the country, the group said. Safeguards usually take the form of increased duties to higher than bound rate, or standard rates or quantitative restrictions on imports. Safeguard is a form of temporary relief that gives domestic producers a period of grace to become more competitive vis-à-vis imports. Garcia said the present surge of palm oil imports was aggravated by the “technical” smuggling of palm oil products, especially involving undervaluation. He said if this was not stopped, the local palm industry would no longer be competitive. He said the government should take immediate measures to stop the smuggling of palm oil products to encourage investors to continue their palm plantation.‐growers‐seek‐import‐cover/          

Agri comm’l crops post production uptick in Q3 By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 3, 2012 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Most of the country’s major commercial crops posted higher production volumes in the third quarter of the year, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS). In a report released last week, the BAS said production of coconut, rubber, sugar-cane and tobacco rose while production of abaca and coffee, fell during the period. Abaca production dropped to 17,430 metric tons (MT), down from 17,460 MT last year due to reduced output in Catanduanes, Eastern Visayas and Mindanao, due to weather uncertainties and the onslaught of diseases in crops. Production in Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, and Lanao del Sur decreased by 43.09 percent, 55 percent and nine percent respectively as frequent rains affected harvest. The Bicol region remained the top abaca producing province with a share of 31.78 percent in the third quarter output. Coconut production rose by 4.10 percent to 4.27 million MT from 4.10 million MT in the same period last year. Around 98.03 percent were harvested as mature nuts while 1.97 percent were harvested as young nuts. According to the BAS, there was high demand for buko juice and coconut-based desserts. Coffee production went down by 1.28 percent to 9, 040 MT. BAS said production of Arabica coffee rose by 0.30 percent while production of other coffee varieties fell by 1.84 percent. Production of Arabica coffee rose by 4.87 percent in Sultan Kudarat because of the early flowering of Arabica coffee plants. BAS said production of Excelsa coffee dropped because of a 10.42 percent drop in production in Davao as farmers shift to the cropping of senorita bananas. Production of Liberica coffee in Sulu fell by 5.41 percent or two MT because of land use conversion in Talipao, Sulu. Production of Robusta coffee, meanwhile, fell because of lesser fruit bearing among coffee plants in Bukidnon, shifting of cropping to senorita bananas in Campostela Valley and to Lakatan and Cavendish in Davao City.

Rubber production, meanwhile, rose by 5.30 percent to 98,065 MT due to the increase in number of mature tappable trees in many rubber-producing provinces such as zamboanga Peninsula, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, SOCCSKSARGEN and Northern Mindanao. Production of sugarcane for all uses climbed 57.34 percent to 935,052 MT. The top producers were Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Bicol region and SOCCSKARGEN. Around 96.54 percent of the sugarcane produced were processed as sugar. Production of tobacco grew by 29.85 percent to 218 MT. Half of the tobacco produced came from Misamis Occidental.‐comm%E2%80%99l‐crops‐post‐ production‐uptick‐q3                                  

Presyo ng gulay, bumaba; karne, posibleng tumaas  ngayong Christmas season    Posted by Online Balita on Dec 3rd, 2012 // No Comment 

Bumaba na ang presyo ng ilang pangunahing bilihin sa Metro Manila dahil sa magandang ani sa Central  Luzon, ayon sa Department of Agriculture (DA).  Nabatid na P10 hanggang P20 ang ibinaba sa bawat kilo ng ilang gulay na partikular na inaangkat sa  Benguet, Baguio, La Union at iba pang karatig na lalawigan.  Kabilang sa mga gulay na bumaba ang presyo ang sitaw, na mabibili na sa P30 kada tali, repolyo (P40),  carrots (P50), patatas (P60), kamatis at native petchay (P30).  Samantala, dahil sa malaking demand sa tilapia ngayong Disyembre, tumaas ang presyo nito sa P100  kada kilo mula sa dating P80.  Bukod rito, nagmahal din ang galunggong, na umabot na sa P100 sa dating P90 na bentahan, habang  nananatili naman sa P130 ang bawat kilo ng malalaking bangus mula sa Dagupan, Pangasinan.  Sa ngayon, wala pang paggalaw sa presyo ng karne ng manok, na nasa P130 kada kilo, P170 sa baboy, at  P185‐P200 ang kada kilo ng baka.  Gayunman, posibleng asahan ng mamimili ang pagbabago sa presyo ng karne ng baboy at manok  ngayong buwan dahil malapit na ang Pasko, kung kailan tumataas ang demand o pangangailangan rito.  Sa kabilang banda, pinangambahan naman ng mamimili na maaaring maaapektuhan ang halaga ng ilang  gulay sa posibleng pananalasa ng bagyong ‘Pablo’ sa bansa ngayong linggo. – Bella Gamotea‐ng‐gulay‐bumaba‐karne‐posibleng‐tumaas‐ngayong‐ christmas‐season/           

Growing Unregulated Use Of FADs To Catch Tuna Worries Group By ELLALYN B. DE VERA  December 2, 2012, 6:33pm 

MANILA, Philippines --- There are 100,000 fish aggregating devices (FADs) currently in use worldwide to catch tuna and other species of fish and this is “extremely worrisome,” according to an international tuna conservation group. The Pew Environment Group released the first-ever estimate of the use of FADs at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting in Manila yesterday. The meeting aims to seek attention to the growing and unregulated fishing technique. The estimate was obtained from data gathered from published scientific literature, industry expertise and documents from regional fisheries management organizations that oversee tuna fisheries. “The deployment of tens of thousands of drifting fish aggregating devices in the world’s oceans with little to no oversight is extremely worrisome,” said Amanda Nickson, director of tuna conservation at the Pew Environment Group. FADs are used by fisherman to attract tuna and other species of fish. They often extend 50 meters below the surface and can be made from a variety of materials, including bamboo floats, plastic ribbons, and old nets. They can be adrift for years at a time and attract a wide variety of marine life, including skipjack tuna, sharks, billfish, juvenile yellow fin and big eye tuna. FAD fishing is widespread and growing because of its increased efficiency – the devices allow more fish to be caught with less effort. This method is used to catch almost half of the world’s tuna and is contributing to the overfishing of big eye tuna across the Pacific Ocean. In addition, sea turtles, sharks and juvenile fish are often caught and killed in the process of FAD fishing; hundreds of species are attracted by the floating devices. While scientists are unclear about the overall impact of wide-scale FAD use on the marine ecosystem, the devices are being deployed in record numbers, the group said. In addition, thousands of drifting FADs are lost or abandoned by fishing vessels every year, compounding an already serious marine debris problem.

“The fishing industry is not currently required to account for its use of FADs. It is being allowed to gamble with the health of the ocean, and it is time for governments to require full accountability and management of this proliferating and risky fishing gear,” Nickson said. Pew called on governments to take action to require information sharing and other aspects of management and regulation of FADs. It also urged fishermen, fleet managers, and satellite-buoy companies, all of whom know how many FADs are deployed, to cooperate with governments, fisheries management bodies like WCPFC, and scientists to share their data on numbers, locations and whether the devices have been retrieved.‐unregulated‐use‐of‐fads‐to‐catch‐tuna‐worries‐ group#.ULwWw2cTgok                                  

Two House Panels To Question BOI Incentives For Thai Firm By BEN ROSARIO  December 2, 2012, 6:30pm 

MANILA, Philippines --- Members of two House of Representatives panels will grill officials of the Board of Investments for allegedly giving a Thailand-based firm preferential treatment and questionable financial incentives that have been denied local hog and poultry raisers that are still reeling from losses brought by the flooding of imported products in the local market. The House committees on agriculture and on food security will hold a congressional inquiry into the alleged “insensitivity” of BOI officials to the plight of local poultry producers. Batangas Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza, chairman of the House agriculture committee, said BOI officials have a lot of explaining to do for granting Thai-owned Charoen Pokphand a number of perks and privileges for its integrated hog and poultry project that the Thai firm has recently launched in the Philippines. Mendoza said members of his committee want to know which foreign-owned agricultural firms are receiving the same wide-array of benefits granted to Charoen Pokphand. Butil Rep. Agapito Guanlao, who heads the food security panel, said the special treatment extended by BOI to Charoen Pokphand have been denied local producers. The House leadership decided to ask the two House committees to conduct a probe after Guanlao delivered a privilege speech assailing the BOI for allegedly “murdering” the local hog and poultry industries by granting pioneering status to Charoen which is a guarantee of financial incentives to be made available by government to the Thai corporation. Reacting to Guanlao’s privilege speech, Mendoza called on government to look into the BOI decision and address the complaints aired by Filipino local hog and chicken raisers. “We are shocked by the insensitivity of the DTI – BOI when they granted fiscal incentives to Thai company Charoen Pokphand while the local hog and poultry industries are still recovering from severe losses wrought by the flood of imported frozen meats in the west markets during the past few years,” Mendoza said. Guanlao disclosed that the special treatment granted Charoen Pokphand a “whole range” of tax exemptions. “It is lamentable that the BOI appears to have put aside the interest of the local industry which is just beginning to recover from losses amounting to P28.5 billion because of technical smuggling

in the past three years. Now, the BOI is in a hurry to support a foreign competitor in various areas in Central Luzon," Guanlao said. The party-list lawmaker said the local hog and poultry industries have raised a howl of protest against the BOI decision as they aired fears that the will be displaced by the entry of the foreign corporation. Guanlao said the congressional probe should address four crucial issues: that the preferential treatment extended by BOI to a foreign firm like CP is to the detriment of Filipino hog and poultry growers; that the BOI appeared to disregard the statement of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala that CP's entry "will definitely have an adverse impact on the backyard industry;" that the Department of Agriculture appeared to have been not consulted in the approval of CP's registration; and that a 100 percent foreign owned firm will be allowed to acquire land in Pampanga and Tarlac. “It makes my blood boil that while the Department of Agriculture has been trying to revive the barely recuperating local hog and poultry industries, the BOI leadership appears to be bent on pushing them down further," he said. On the other hand, Swine Development Council director Rosendo So said Malacañang should order the BOI to re-evaluate its approval of the CP's registration. “Are we going to let a foreigner control our local industry? Food security is a national concern. The BOI's decision to grant perks to CP will kill not only the backyard industry but the entire domestic industry," said So, who is also the chairman of the Abono party-list group. United Broilers’ Association president Gregorio San Diego said his members will also demand a tax holiday and duty-free imports for their raw materials.‐house‐panels‐to‐question‐boi‐incentives‐for‐thai‐ firm#.ULwXFGcTgok                

Super Typhoon Moving Towards Surigao Del Sur By ELLALYN B. DE VERA  December 2, 2012, 7:44pm 

PATH OF ‘PABLO’ — Weather data on electronic screen at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and  Astronomical Services Administration in Quezon City shows the path of super typhoon Bopha (Philippine  codename: Pablo) that forecasters are... (KJ Rosales 

MANILA, Philippines --- The typhoon east of Southern Mindanao further intensified as it moved closer to the country on Sunday, the state weather agency said. Typhoon “Bopha” was packing maximum sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 220 kph on Sunday morning. The US-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) categorized “Bopha” as a “super typhoon” on Sunday. The weather agency classifies a typhoon with winds of more than 215 kph as “super typhoon.” The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) located the eye of typhoon “Bopha” at 1,110 km east-southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. The tropical cyclone remained outside the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) Sunday morning but was expected to enter the country's territory by Sunday evening and would be locally named “Pablo.” It is moving relatively fast west-northwest at 22 kph. Typhoon “Bopha” is expected at 660 km east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur by Monday morning. By Tuesday morning, it will be at 140 km east-northeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur or 230 km east-southeast of Surigao City and 60 km north of Dumaguete City by Wednesday morning.

PAGASA warned that the typhoon has a huge diameter of 700 km that may bring 20 to 30 millimeters per hour of heavy to intense rains within the cyclone’s cloud cover. According to PAGASA weather forecaster Jori Loiz, the typhoon will likely make landfall over Northeastern Mindanao, near the vicinity of Surigao City, by Tuesday. As early as Monday, the advancing clouds of the typhoon will begin to bring rains over Eastern Visayas and Eastern Mindanao, and will move through the Mindoro-Palawan area, he explained. He warned residents in areas such as Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Leyte, Cebu, Romblon, Negros, Panay Island, Misamis Oriental, and Misamis Occidental to brace for heavy rains. Meanwhile, government disaster management agencies and the Philippine Navy (PN) are now on alert for the possible effects of typhoon "Pablo." National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos said the typhoon was expected to enter the PAR around 8 p.m. Sunday. Among the areas expected to be affected by the typhoon are Surigao City, Siargao, Dinagat, Bohol, Northern Cebu, Northern Negros, Iloilo, Aklan, Antique, Panay, Capiz. "Dederetso sa Mindoro at Busuanga, then papunta na sa West Philippine Sea," he added. Rains are also expected in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon. As government authorities take appropriate actions in preparation for the typhoon, the NDRRMC operations center was placed on red alert to monitor and disseminate severe weather bulletin to all Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional centers The NDRRMC also said all concerned agencies, particularly in the Bicol region and areas of Mindanao, have begun to preposition relief supplies. The Bicol DRRMC was likewise scheduled to conduct aerial assessment of Mayon Volcano's crater and related river channels to inspect possible lahar flow. "Relief supplies are pre-positioned, weather updates are continuously disseminated, appropriate preparations are conducted by LGUs (local government units), and the public is advised to make appropriate adjustment in their travel plans between December 3 to 7, 2012," the NDRRMC said. In the Visayas and Mindanao, local disaster councils have likewise conducted a conference to prepare for "Pablo." Meanwhile, Navy spokesman Col. Omar Tonsay said the PN headquarters on Roxas Boulevard in Manila has issued a directive to place all its disaster response task units (DRTUs) on standby alert.

Naval forces in parts of the country expected to be affected by "Pablo" were also told to place their major naval assets on standby for possible deployment. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also directed all the agency’s units to brace for the upcoming onslaught which will be brought by the super typhoon. Rear Admiral Luis Tuason Jr., Coast Guard officer-in-charge and vice commandant for operations, said he placed all Coast Guard units which will be directly affected by the weather disturbance on heightened alert. Tuason said the district commanders in the affected areas should coordinate with their counterparts in the Regional Disaster Risk and Management Council for rendering assistance and rescue mission. Also, operators of small vessels, motor bancas and fishing boats were advised by PCG to avoid sailing in the southeastern and eastern section of the country where sea condition is rough. He said all shipping vessels are not permitted to travel once a Public Storm Warning Signal is already hoisted by PAGASA in the affected areas. Director General Nicanor Bartolome, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), mobilized all police units for relief and rescue missions in the areas that are expected to be pounded by typhoon “Pablo.” (With reports from Elena L. Aben, Aaron Recuenco, and Raymund F. Antonio)‐typhoon‐moving‐towards‐surigao‐del‐ sur#.ULwWBWcTgok                      

Greenpeace to report fishing violations of Phl By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 3, 2012 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The environmental group Greenpeace disclosed that it would submit to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) fishing violations allegedly committed by the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations that cause the low supply of tuna. In a statement, Greenpeace said that the dossier detailing the alleged violations of fishing regulations would be submitted to the WCPFC which is scheduled to meet in the Philippines. The group said a similar dossier that it had previously submitted resulted in heavy penalties for the fishing companies as well as inclusion in a global pirate fishing blacklist of the fishing boats that were used. The WCPFC is also known as the Pacific Tuna Commission. Among the violations recorded were illegal transshipment, vessels operating in the high seas without permits, failure to report via the mandatory Vessel Monitoring System, operating in the high seas without mandatory observers onboard, and illegal deployment of fish aggregating devices (FADs). The commission will meet in Manila this week to form management and conservation measures in the face of fast-declining tuna stocks. Waters around Pacific island countries supply about 60 percent of the world’s tuna demand, but species such as yellow fin and albacore tuna are reportedly on the brink of becoming extinct due to over fishing by ships from Asia, the Americas and Europe. “While at sea, we saw firsthand that pirate fishing and destructive fishing methods abound in the Pacific. The evidence we gathered clearly demonstrate failure by governments and industries to comply with the most basic rules they themselves have instituted through the Tuna Commission,” said Chow Yuen Ping, Greenpeace campaigner onboard the ship Esperanza that docked in Manila yesterday. Last month, Greenpeace conducted an expedition in the waters of Palau and the Pacific High Seas Pocket 1, the area of international waters between the exclusive economic zones of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and Papua New Guinea.‐report‐fishing‐violations‐phl      

COA lauds Senate for P338 million savings By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 3, 2012 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Audit (COA) lauded the Senate for saving about P338 million in 2011 and upholding the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)’s directive to return unused cash allocations to the national treasury. The Senate has returned to the national treasury a total of P338,134,834.92 in 2011, the COA said in its annual audit report. “We commend the legislative accounting service of the agency for complying strictly with the DBM-National Cash Allocations (NCA) rulings,” the 31-page report stated. Under the DBM directive, all unused NCA corresponding to the book balance shall automatically lapse at the end of that month. The COA however cited the Senate for failure to account for an aggregate amount of P3.627 million, which remained unsettled as of Dec. 31, 2011 that is “inconsistent with certain provision of law/regulation.” As of Feb. 27, 2012, only P1,411,781.69 remained unliquidated. “We recommend that management closely monitor liquidation of individual cash advances and strictly observe the provision of COA circular No. 97-002 and PD 1445,” the COA said. Invalid prepaid accounts? The COA also noted what it described as “doubtful validity and correctness of some prepaid accounts.” There is a total of inactive prepayment of P700,829.77 by yearend 2011. Subsidiary ledgers examined by state auditors showed that the prepayments included “inactive balances.” “Some were aged more than a decade and the payees were no longer existing or their whereabouts were not available in the records of the agency,” the COA said.

Lost income The COA also expressed concern over the “loss of income on canteen concession and catering services” when the Senate allowed the concessionaire to use for free kitchen space and dining area, electricity and water. The concessionaire (Yakitori Dori Bar, Grill and Restaurant) was also not paying any fee for monthly pest control operations of kitchen and dining area as well as the regular maintenance of concessionaire’s equipment, the COA said. “Per our verification, the canteen concessionaire did not reciprocate the free rental given by management in terms of best price to Senate employees,” the COA said. The COA recommended that the Senate consider the “economic side of the transaction and the welfare of the employees by collecting, at least, the cost of utilities used by the concessionaire.” In its 2011 report, the COA also mentioned the failure of the Senate leadership to comply with tax laws when it violated Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) regulations to impose certain taxes on various bonuses, which were beyond the regular ones.‐lauds‐senate‐p338‐million‐savings                            

Surigao Livelihood, Infra Projects Up By MIKE U. CRISMUNDO   December 2, 2012, 4:12pm 

SURIGAO CITY – Some P38 million worth of livelihood support, agricultural infrastructure development, health, social welfare, and education program are already on the pipeline and set for implementation in this city next year, local officials said yesterday. This developed after the City Mayor Ernest T. Matugas recently received a letter from the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) regarding the approval of the proposed projects of the city’s Local Poverty Reduction Action Team (LPRAT). The jubilant city officialdom expressed heartfelt gratitude to President Aquino for continuously supporting their anti-poverty alleviation program. “This is really a big help to our various programs here,” said Matugas. He said the approved budget will pave the way for the implementation of the various projects in 2013. Included in the approved budget is the amount of P8.584 million that is sourced out from the Special Purpose Fund (SPF) for the poverty reduction program. All in all, this brings the total project funding accessed by the local government to more than P38 million. Of the projects approved, P13.5 million is for agriculture – including micro-enterprise, P2.130 million for health, P3.6 million for social welfare, P6.084 million for education, P3.786 million for the barangay water systems, and P400,000 for the greening program. The City Planning and Development Office, who took the lead in packaging these project proposals from other city departments, will once again initiate to convene the LPRAT to identify the additional projects that will be submitted under the P8.5 million SPF. The approved project proposals were the product of an earlier conducted bottoms-up budgeting and local poverty reduction action planning done by the local government in coordination with representatives of various civil society organizations who approved and endorsed these projects.‐livelihood‐infra‐projects‐up#.ULwYhmcTgok    

Investors open to tap UPLB biotech facility By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 3, 2012 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Investors in the manufacture of biotechnology products for agricultural use can take advantage of the improvements in the biotechnology plant of the country’s premier agriculture university to service their research needs. During the recently-concluded business forum hosted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Los Baños, Laguna, officials of the University of the Philippines Los Baños announced that Phase 1 of the rehabilitation of its Biotech pilot plant is nearing completion. For years, the plant has been providing assistance to entrepreneurs producing biotechnology products on a commercial scale. Such products include enzymes like rennet, amylase and cellulase; microbial fertilizers; plant growth promoting additives, probiotics, animal vaccines, antibiotics and others. The pilot plant translates laboratory-developed technologies into semi-commercial scale production. The pilot testing stage generates data that can be used for economic feasibility studies. Markets for the products being tested at the pre-commercial stage may also be developed. Spent for Phase 1 of the plant rehabilitation was around P15 million from the P50 million research and development grant provided by the DOST to the university for 2012. Phase 1 of the rehabilitation of the plant is expected to be completed by January 2013. Phase 2 of the rehabilitation, on the other hand, is expected to be completed next year. Currently installed in the plant are new bioreactors or fermenting tanks with capacities of 30 liters, 130 liters, and 200 liters. Still to be installed are bioreactors with capacities of 100 liters and 1,000 liters. Upon the completion of the two-phase rehabilitation program, the plant would house the five bioreactors along with improved downstream processing facilities.‐open‐tap‐uplb‐biotech‐facility        

The Philippines, Thailand, And Indonesia Form The A.S.E.A.N. Sugar Alliance December 2, 2012, 5:52pm 

In preparation for the coming Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community in 2015, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia have formed the ASEAN Sugar Alliance (ASA). Initially composed of the Thailand and Indonesia sugar industries, the alliance was joined by Philippine sugar industry to establish a strong relationship among the sugar industries in the region, where Thailand is the largest producer and exporter, and Indonesia is the biggest consumer and importer. The alliance will focus on the important role of sugarcane as a raw material for food and energy cooperation on sugar-related business development, and support for the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community. During its organizational meeting in Bangkok on November 7, 2012, Thailand’s Cherdpong Siriwit was elected Chairman of ASA, while Pedro E. Roxas of the Philippines was elected Vice Chairman. The Philippine delegation was joined by Jeannie Krebs and Francisco Varua, Treasurer and Executive Vice President of the Philippines Sugar Millers Association (PSMA), respectively. The Administrator of Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), Ma. Regina Bautista Martin was invited by the Philippine sugar industry to observe the proceedings. Other ASEAN countries are expected to join the ASA in the near future. According to the ASA Chairman, the partnership will be a mechanism to assist the government sector in eliminating obstacles hindering the development of the sugar industry, such as protectionist measures used by some countries. The ASA will help facilitate sugar sales around the region. Thai sugar mills are interested in investing in Myanmar. Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture wants to cooperate with Thailand on increasing exports and technology transfer, and with Filipino companies on increasing worker productivity. With a population of almost 600 million, ASEAN produces around 17 million tons of sugar, and consumes about 14 million tons per year. Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines produce about 15 million tons of sugar per year combined – with 10 million tons in Thailand, 2.5 million in Indonesia, and 2.5 million tons in the Philippines. We congratulate the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Sugar Alliance headed by its Chairman, Cherdpong Siriwit, and its Vice Chairman, Pedro E. Roxas, on their newly formed alliance to strengthen the region’s sugar industry in preparation for a single and competitive market in the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 and wish them all teh best. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!‐philippines‐thailand‐and‐indonesia‐form‐the‐asean‐sugar‐ alliance#.ULwZD2cTgok  

Pampanga farmers celebrate ‘duman’ bounty By Tonette Orejas  Inquirer Central Luzon   9:46 pm | Sunday, December 2nd, 2012  

THERE is enough supply of this native cereal as grains withstood the rains triggered by the southwest monsoon last August E.I. REYMOND T. OREJAS / INQUIRER Central Luzon STA. RITA, Pampanga—The heavy rains induced by the habagat (southwest monsoon) in August and the amihan (northeast monsoon) wind two months later had brought an unexpected bounty to local rice farmers who celebrated the ‘Duman’ Festival here on Saturday. The lakatan malutu (red glutinous rice) variety withstood the habagat rains and had matured into a unique kind of sweetness because of the amihan (amyam to farmers here) in October. “This enabled us farmers to make duman (soft and green native cereal),” said Councilor Felix Amio, also a farmer. “We have enough grains this time, thank God,” said Arnel Galang, a 77-year-old duman maker. Galang recalled that the red glutinous rice turned very scarce after Typhoons “Pedring” and “Quiel” battered Central Luzon in September and October last year. Habagat rains flooded 287 villages in Pampanga in August this year but the variety survived. Festival The festival, for the first time in 11 years, was moved to the spacious gasak (farmlands) at the foot of the western side of the lahar barrier, the FVR Megadike, instead of the traditional venue at the grounds of the Sta. Rita Parish Church. The venue change meant an open-air theater, backdropped by two old acacia trees and lit by the full moon. “I am surprised that despite the change of venue, many, many people still came to watch the zarzuela,” said Andy Alviz, executive director of the ArtiSta.Rita, the private cultural organization that mounts the festival. The new setting is the “town’s Amorsolo,” Alviz said, referring to rural landscapes painted by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo.

Aside from duman, native meals and snacks were sold during the festival. The second and third levels of the dike, designed to catch Mt. Pinatubo’s lahar, became dining areas, al fresco style. About 15,000 people came, organizers said. “We are developing this place into a tourist destination. Here, people can view the whole of Pampanga and enjoy good food prepared by our cooks and residents,” said Mayor Yolanda Pineda. Planted in May, the red glutinous rice variety sprouts grains before the amyam. These are planted in few plots in the villages of Becuran, Dila-Dila, San Basilio, San Agustin and Sta. Monica. “They’re strong against the cold winds and rains but production is limited,” said Amio, 65. The harvest for every hectare averages 25 cavans, with each cavan weighing 50 kilograms. But farmers earn from growing lakatan malutu when they opt to keep their harvest and instead hire others to produce duman for them. While a cavan of the red glutinous rice sells for only P2,500, a wooden box of duman measured into a pati (more than a kilogram) sold for P2,200 to P2,500 on Saturday night. The value was high because producing duman takes a week, employing more than seven people who share backbreaking tasks, said Galang. ‘Pinipig’ Amio expects more farmers to grow the red glutinous rice variety as pinipig (roasted grain) to supply the need of top ice cream maker, Magnolia. The bulk of duman buyers are Kapampangan based abroad. The sweet smell of duman wafted at the new venue as Galang and his team made the final pounding of the grains on Saturday. While Dominga Guanzon, 79, and Teodora Santos, 80, sold these to residents and visitors, with some coming from Metro Manila, the zarzuela (musical play) played to an appreciative audience. The 40 homegrown artists belonging to ArtiSta. Rita, aged 10 to 60, performed with the Ima at Arti, a group of 30 or so accomplished women who turned to performing arts. To date, these are the only groups that regularly stage zarzuelas using current themes, like fathers leaving for jobs abroad. Yearly, new funny and sad scenes, as well as songs, are added to the play.‐farmers‐celebrate‐duman‐bounty    

BSP requires foreign-controlled banks to go public By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 3, 2012 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine banks controlled by their foreign counterparts will now be required to go public under new regulations issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) which finally decided to implement a provision of a 1994 law. At least 10 percent of the capital of local lenders majority owned and controlled by foreign banks will have to be listed at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), Circular No. 775 issued last Nov. 28 stated. They must do so “within three years from the effectivity of the circular,” which will still have to be published before taking effect 15 days after. Succeeding transactions will have to be approved by BSP first, after which the three-year provision begins. The circular implements Section 3 of RA 7721 which requires foreign banks that acquire up to 60 percent of the voting stock of a local bank or its subsidiary to list at the PSE. The banking sector is exempted from the 40-percent foreign ownership cap.

“Being listed imposes more transparency and discipline,” BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said in a text message over the weekend. He did not elaborate. Asked how the three-year provision was conceived, Espenilla said: “It was a judgment call based on a reading of the over-all situation.” The type of listing was not provided by BSP, which means the bank can either list by way of introduction- which does not involve new capital- or through an initial public offering (IPO) to raise “cheap capital,” said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at BDO Unibank Inc. “This should be good for investors and I think it would be easy for these companies to list if they wish to do so,” Ravelas said in a separate text message. Ideally, banks use their deposits to finance lending activities as this would help them limit the risks they take. However, listed banks sometimes issue shares for other purposes, such as business expansion and to pay maturing debts. The new BSP order came on the heels of its approval of the sale of a transaction involving a Malaysian bank’s acquisition of a 60-percent stake in Ang-led Bank of Commerce also late last month. CIMB said the transaction is set to be completed January 2013. Before this, however, there were a number of foreign lenders which entered the Philippine banking industry, some of which are listed while some are not. In 1998, Singapore-based DBS bought into then Bank of Southeast Asia and established DBS Philippines Inc. The latter was folded in 2001, according to its website, when it acquired a “significant stake” at Ayala-led Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) to establish the BPI Family Savings Bank. Just last October, DBS trimmed its holdings at BPI to 9.9 percent from 20.3 percent. BPI shares closed down five percent to 89 apiece last Thursday. In August 2000, Malaysian lender Maybank acquired 99.96 percent stake of Maybank Philippines Inc. to become “the first foreign bank to have almost 100 percent ownership stake in a Philippine commercial bank under the new Philippine banking law,” a statement on its web site said. Maybank is not listed at the bourse. What is listed is the diversified financial services group, Maybank ATR Kim Eng Financial Corp. BPI and Maybank representatives, as well as those from the banking industry, were not immediately available for comment.

DBM Sees Higher Nov.-Dec. Spending By CHINO S. LEYCO  December 2, 2012, 4:50pm 

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said government spending will further rise in the last two-months of the year due to holiday season and election related expenses. Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad said that higher government spending in November and December will further boost the country’s economic growth in the last quarter of the year. The fourth quarter has been traditionally posting better growth. “The sustained strength in government spending augurs well for the continuing expansion in the economy, after we broke expectations with a 7.1-percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the seasonally slow third quarter,” Abad said. “We are confident that this growth can be sustained in the traditionally strong fourth quarter. We expect the momentum in government spending to combine with the seasonally strong holiday consumption as well as the start of spending in relation to the upcoming 2013 elections,” he added. But Abad earlier said that the government’s budget deficit this year may be smaller than target, but it should at least hit 2.3 percent of GDP, with the government bent on accelerating spending to help spur economic growth. The government, criticized for weak spending that pulled down overall economic growth in 2011, committed to increase and speed up expenditures to help meet this year’s 5 percent to 6 percent GDP growth target. The government had set a budget deficit target of 2.6 percent of GDP in 2012, wider than the previous year’s 2.0 percent budget gap. In the first 10-months, government spending increased by 14.5 percent year-on-year to P1.37 trillion, as compared to the P1.20-trillion level in the same period of last year. Abad highlighted the growth of infrastructure and other capital outlays (CO) by 65 percent and of maintenance and other operating expenditures (MOOE) by 39.2 percent year-on-year as of October. He further reported that government disbursements net of interest payments rose even higher year-on-year by 14.8 percent to P1.1 trillion during the same period. Abad also reported that disbursements in October rose by 15.0 percent to P144.0 billion against P125.2 billion in the same month last year. The October spending level is also 5.8 percent more than the average monthly spending of P136.1 billion in the preceding nine months.

The ability of agencies to spend released funds continues to improve due to ongoing reform efforts, particularly the deployment of Account Management Teams, to strengthen the capacity of agencies to implement programs and projects, said Abad. DBM reported that 92.8 percent of all Notices of Cash Allocation (NCAs) released as of October has been disbursed; while the NCA utilization rate as of September this year is 91.8 percent while the rate during the ten-month period of last year reached only 90.3 percent. “President Aquino is commitment to reform: To maximize the impact of public services delivered by government to the people, especially the poor; as well as to further improve our economy’s risk profile. We believe that we can only achieve rapid, inclusive and sustained economic growth through good governance,” Abad said.


Strong Peso Should Translate To Lower Electricity Cost, Says DTI By BERNIE CAHILES‐MAGKILAT  December 2, 2012, 4:52pm 

The strong peso coupled with lower prices of oil in the international market should translate to lower electricity cost because imports of goods, including oil, become cheaper, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said. “This should translate significantly into lower electricity cost,” Domingo told reporters. In addition to the strong peso, Domingo stressed that the price of oil in the international market has softened already. The peso has already reached P40.90 level as of Friday and is expected to further strengthen during the holidays with more OFW remittances for the Christmas holidays. Domingo noted that when the oil price was at $110 per barrel, the peso-dollar exchange rate was at P45. The local currency has so far appreciated by 10 percent to P41 level. The price of oil has also declined by 15 percent. In sum, he said, this would translate to total reduction of 25 percent. “So, services directly related to oil should be lower because of this 25 percent reduction arising from the peso appreciation against the US dollar and lower cost in oil, that is the simple view,” Domingo said. The country’s high power cost has been one of the major complaints by foreign investors. The Philippine power rate is known to be the second highest in Asia, second only to Japan. Earlier, however, Domingo said that while the strong peso is a stamp of approval by the foreign investors, he also cautioned against “irrational” and “drastic” appreciation saying that it would weaken the competitiveness of Filipino exporters. “The strengthening of the peso is difficult to stop because the government does not have enough resources to control the volatility of the peso,” Domingo said. He, however, said that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has done a good job at managing the peso. While a strong peso is an indication of confidence on the economy by foreign investors on the country, it also unfortunately weakens the competitive position of exporters. He said that up to P39 level, all sectors of the economy would still be able to handle their businesses but exporters will be put more under pressure depending how the government can manage the local currency appreciation. Domingo said that if the government can manage the P39 level in two to three years, industries would have enough time to adjust but not if it happens in a 6-month period.

“Breaching the P39 level would be more difficult would create further complications to foreign investors,” he added. “As we become expensive, it would be more difficult to buy companies here, provide services and valuations become more expensive too so it will diminish our attractiveness as an investment destination,” he stressed. Domingo noted that exporters were doing pretty well at P45 and even with the 15 percent appreciation of the peso. At P42 to P41, companies have been willing to pay a premium to the Philippines because the strength is largely the people, who are productive, creative and technically proficient. In fact, he said, the Philippine BPO is more expensive than India but because the Philippines has better productivity and efficiency, BPOs are willing to pay the premium. Domingo, however, stressed that such premium cannot be so much because the human resource advantage is also limited. “A 15 percent depreciation is something that can be handled but a 20 percent or more would be difficult and would require major restructuring of the local industry,” he said. Thus, a managed appreciation should be able to give time for local industries to adjust their operations.‐peso‐should‐translate‐to‐lower‐electricity‐cost‐says‐ dti#.ULwaE2cTgok                    

Gov’t spends P266.7 B on interest payments By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 3, 2012 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The government spent P266.7 billion for interest payments in January to October, up 13.4 percent from P235.099 billion a year ago, latest data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the increase was due largely to the “higher volume of government securities issued.” Nonetheless, Abad said, the share of interest payments in the total disbursements has narrowed as of end-October. “Interest payments accounted for 19.5 percent of total disbursements as of October, as compared to 19.7 percent in 2011, 20.5 percent in 2010 and 33.9 percent in 2005,” Abad said. Interest payments, which form part of expenditures, are paid on the country’s domestic and foreign debts. Minus the interest payments, the government’s total expenditures for January to October amounted to P1.102 trillion, 14.8 percent higher than the P960.179 billion spent by the government a year ago. In October alone, the government’s disbursements – less interest payments – increased to P122.554 billion, 8.9 percent higher than last year’s P112.539 billion. The Aquino administration is stepping up efforts to fix the country’s fiscal position through a combination of higher revenues, increased spending and debt liability management. Fiscal authorities said the government’s fiscal space remains wide, giving it more room to accelerate spending. The government has been trying to step up spending to boost economic growth which is targeted to hit anywhere from five percent to six percent this year. The government has a budget deficit ceiling of P279 billion this year or 2.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from the actual P197.8 billion recorded last year.


Mangrove replanted in Nasugbu By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Dec. 03, 2012 at 12:01am | 223 views

PascualLab volunteers have devoted weekends to replant mangrove in Nasugbu, Batangas, in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature. In a parallel project under the company’s SEED Initiative, employees joined “Sowing to Empower, Educate, and Develop” (the acronym) by conducting the Kalakasan, Kalikasan module among public school children in Barangay Papaya in the morning, and planting mangrove seedlings in the afternoon. The outreach is part of PascualLab and WWF advocacy to educate the community particularly children on dealing with climate change and achieve better health. Volunteers took a boat to a small cove where they planted 450 mangrove following last year’s 250 seedlings. The SEED group also cleaned up the shoreline of its debris. In a statement, the company said better environmental practices should be promoted within and outside of the work premises. PascualLab sees itself as a family serving generations of Filipino families and part of its legacy is to help ensure that future generations are able to enjoy the benefits living in a healthy, thriving planet. For more information on SEED Initiative, contact Kristine Gonzalez e-mail or on mobile 0917-7271243.‐replanted‐in‐nasugbu/            

House set to name panel to sin tax bicam By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Dec. 03, 2012 at 12:01am | 155 views

The House plenary elects today its contingent to the bicameral conference committee that will harmonize the two versions of the Sin Tax bill. “The list will be presented in the plenary for its approval [Monday],” Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House committee on ways and means and head of the contingent, said Sunday. To be reconciled is the revenue to be collected from the Sin Tax bill with the House proposing P31.35 billion and the Senate P39.5 billion. Ungab said the House version aimed to promote “fair competition” among cigarette and alcohol stakeholders. Also to be tackled is the House’s imposing 8-percent tax every two years up to 2025 versus the Senate’s three-tier increase and start of unitary increase of P26 per pack by 2017. Ungab said the House was awaiting the transmittal of the amended Senate Bill 3299, which was approved on third and final reading on Nov. 20. The Senate contingent is led by Senator Franklin Drilon, acting chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means, joined by Senators Sergio Osmeña III, Panfilo Lacson, Ralph Recto, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., for the majority, as well as Alan Cayetano and Pia Cayetano, for the minority. Ungab earlier said he favored a measure that would mind the health concerns of the youth, the women and the poorer sectors of society. “The excise tax can be a good measure to control smoking and excessive drinking,” he said. Last June 6, the House passed House Bill 5727 authored by former Cavite Rep. and now Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya. The Abaya bill seeks to raise a revenue of P31.35 billion during the first year of the restructured excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol products. Of the P31.35 billion, P26.87 billion will come from cigarettes, P3.03 billion from fermented liquors and P1.45 billion from distilled spirits, as proposed. The bill provides an 8-percent increase in the excise tax rates every two years from Jan. 1, 2015 to Jan. 1, 2025 for distilled spirits, wines, fermented liquors, tobacco products, cigars and cigarettes through revenue regulations issued by the Secretary of Finance; removes the price/brand classification freeze on

alcohol and tobacco products; allocates the incremental revenues from the excise tax on tobacco products for the provinces producing burley and native tobacco, in accordance with the volume of tobacco leaf production, to promote economically viable alternative programs for tobacco farmers and workers; and provides additional funding for the universal health care program of the government. The amended SB 3299 seeks to raise P39.5 billion during the first year of implementation of higher excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol products in 2013. Of the amount, P24 billion or 60 percent shall come from tobacco and P16 billion or 40 percent from alcohol products. The Senate bill also provides for a unitary cigarette tax of P26 per pack by 2017. Rates for the current three tiers will be increased beginning next year, and the tiers themselves gradually cut starting 2015. It sets two tiers for fermented liquor and a single tier for distilled spirits, with rate increases to start next year. It earmarks P23 billion in health insurance for families and P750 million for an anti-smoking campaign. Regional hospitals and medical centers will receive P100 million annually, and P10 million will be allocated for each of the 618 district hospitals. At least P2 billion yearly will be used for tax administration, while P750 million will be utilized for programs benefiting displaced tobacco farmers.‐set‐to‐name‐panel‐to‐sin‐tax‐bicam/            

PNoy: Flu can’t put me down By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Dec. 03, 2012 at 12:01am | 458 views

ALLERGIC rhinitis and flu appeared not to have been enough to put down President Benigno Aquino III, although he has said will be taking a quick break on Dec. 31 to recharge. Mr. Aquino said he “chose to get well in the company of left and right work” during the Belenismo 2012 Grand Awards Night in Tarlac. He said he felt “fully charged” in the company of his fellow Pampangueños in Tarlac Saturday night after taking time to be with his Liberal Party allies and to attend the National Thanksgiving Mass for St. Pedro Calungsod on Friday in Cebu. “I have decided to give in to Secretary Ona’s request: I will rest on December 31,” Mr. Aquino said. Health Secretary Enrique Ona earlier proposed a week-long vacation for the President every quarter to de-stress and recharge. He said Mr. Aquino could take week-long breaks at the family’s Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. In Cebu, the President told his Liberal Party allies in jest that plane rides were already tantamount to vacations for him. “Somebody texted me asking if I will be taking a vacation soon,” Mr. Aquino said. “I said I have already taken a vacation when I was on the plane [en route to Cebu]. I did not bring any paperwork with me.” The President said the local political fights in light of the 2013 mid-term polls had been giving him headaches on top of the other stressful issues he had to deal with. “I was talking to a mayor from Central Luzon who was complaining of his many local problems. I told him, ‘I hope you understand. I am the President. I take care of the entire Philippines and Filipinos outside of the Philippines. If you have problems at the local level, maybe you can spare me from every-other-day calls and reports’,” Mr. Aquino said. Earlier, deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte acknowledged that a quarterly vacation might be used by the President’s critics to question his work ethics. “Even Presidents in other countries do take vacations that are really non-working vacations. But they have been met with criticisms,” she said.

“It’s funny that the President has been criticized for working only from 9 am to 5 pm. Now, some might raise questions on the proposal for him to take a vacation. If I were the President, I probably wouldn’t know what to tell my critics.” Mr. Aquino, a smoker, earlier said the allergic rhinitis he suffered during his visits to New Zealand and Australia were due to the spring pollen and the cold weather. He also grappled with a bum stomach during the Australia leg of his state visits. In Cambodia last month, Mr. Aquino was suffering from flu and was even caught on camera taking lozenges.‐flu‐cant‐put‐me‐down/                              

39 bird species face extinction By Gigi Munoz-David | Posted on Dec. 03, 2012 at 12:01am | 439 views

A total of 39 bird species face extinction because of rampant illegal trade and destruction of their habitats in the forests and mangroves, a non-profit organization that watches potential violation of environmental and conservation laws said on Sunday. Former senator Miguel Zubiri, convenor of the Pilipinas Ecowarriors, said the birds were categorized as “threatened” but one specie, the Cebu Flowerpecker, has been tagged as “critically endangered.” “There birds are now considered either vulnerable or endangered,” Zubiri said. Environmentalists point to the destruction of their habitats and breeding grounds as one of the major causes of population loss of birds. They will be wiped out in the next several years unless the government arrest their shrinking population. In compliance with existing international and national laws, the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau keeps a registry of wildlife species. The list, which is updated regularly, include mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Zubiri said the biggest perils to wildlife species are “unchecked destruction of their habitats, whether these are forests or mangroves, and rampant illegal trade.” “We have to step up conservation efforts if we are to save our threatened species, and safeguard our biodiversity,” Zubiri said. Environmentalists said the country’s development goals include provisions on “environmental sustainability,” which were aimed to reverse the loss of environmental resources but the gap between intentions and actual performance was big. They said one of the indicators used to measure reduction of biodiversity loss was stopping the decreasing number of species threatened with extinction, but it continue to decline. Zubiri listed the endangered bird species as Streak Reedwarbler, Blue-capped Kingfisher, Silvery Kingfisher, Philippine Duck, Darter, Malaysian Plover, Philippine Leafbird, Japanese White Stork, Mcgregor’s Cuckoo-shrike. Visayan Flowerpecker, Cebu Flowerpecker, Scarlet-Collared Flowerpecker, Pink-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Visayan Broadbill, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Merlin, Little Slaty Flycatcher, Palawan Flycatcher, Mindanao Bleeding-Heart, Tabon Scrubfowl, Ashy-breasted Flycatcher.

Bristle-thighed Curlew, Ryuku Scops Owl, Palawan Scops Owl, Mantanari Scops Owl, Mindanao Scops Owl, Oriental Scops Owl, Java Sparrow, Mindoro Hornbill, Oriental Honeybuzzard, Tawi-tawi Brown Dove, Ijima’s Leaf-warbler.‐bird‐species‐face‐extinction/                                        

Senate to insist on 60-40 tax burden for tobacco, alcohol Published on 03 December 2012 Written by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA REPORTER

THE Senate is likely to insist on the 60-40 tax burden sharing for tobacco and alcohol products during the bicameral conference committee deliberations. This was one of the issues discussed during the Senate caucus on November 28, when Sen. Franklin Drilon, sponsor of the sin tax bill, reportedly assured Senate President Juan “JPE” Ponce Enrile that he would keep the 60-40 tax burden sharing in reconciling the sin tax bill versions of the Senate and House of Representatives. Under the Senate tax plan, cigarettes will shoulder 60 percent or P24 billion of the P40-billion projected additional revenue in the first year of implementation, while alcohol products will contribute 40 percent or P16 billion. Under the version approved by the House, cigarettes and alcohol products will shoulder 83 percent and 17 percent of the P31.5-billion projected revenue, respectively. Enrile, in an earlier interview, said that the agreed 60-40 percent burden sharing between tobacco and alcohol should be maintained in the bicameral conference. “On the burden sharing, they have to maintain that [60-40 ratio] or reach a reasonable version but not to over-burden the other. But as much as possible we maintain the 60-40 ratio,” Enrile said. The Senate president revealed a plot of further raising the rate of tax burden to be imposed on cigarettes in order to ease alcohol taxes during the

bicameral conference. According to Enrile, some members of the bicameral panel will try to lower the alcohol tax from P16 billion to P11 billion and add the balance of P5 billion to tobacco tax, raising it to P29 billion. Enrile said that he was not sure if the information he received was true, but he called on lawmakers who would participate in the bicameral conference not to do that because tobacco farmers will suffer. Apart from Drilon, other lawmakers who will participate in the bicameral conference include Senators Ralph Recto, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Sergio “Serge” Osmeña 3rd and siblings Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano.‐stories/36579‐senate‐to‐insist‐on‐60‐40‐tax‐burden‐ for‐tobacco‐alcohol                        

BSP files administrative charges against two Metrobank officers  Published on 03 December 2012 Written by JING VILLAMENTE REPORTER


The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) recently ordered the filing of administrative charges against two officers of the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank) for allegedly unsound banking practices. In a Resolution dated November 12, 2012, the BSP, through its Office of Special Investigation, found prima facie case against Crisostomo de Guzman and Helen Villaruel, assistant vice president and branch manager, respectively, of Metrobank for conducting business in unsafe and unsound manner under Section 56.3 of the General Banking Act of 2000, or Republic Act 8791, in relation to Section 37 of the New Central Bank Act, or RA 7653. The case stems from the complaint filed by George Tano alleging that Metrobank allowed his former secretary, Maricel Pasco Cruz, to illicitly draw funds from his account through the acceptance and payment of about 46 checks, despite of the fact that the same bore his forged signatures. Tano further alleged that despite the lapse of more than six months from the time he reported the fraud in December 2010, no action was taken on his complaint and the respondents allegedly merely sat on his demands. Metrobank’s side In their answer to the complaint, the respondents denied the imputations against them, contending that the complaint is nothing but a strong-arm tactic of the complainant to compel Metrobank to compensate the complainant for losses caused by his own fault and negligence. After proper proceedings, the BSP ruled in favor of the complainant,

holding that, “Notable is the indifference displayed by the bank in treating complainant’s claim and demands. Other that the interview conducted by the bank’s representative on the complainant and the bank’s letter dated 15 December 2010, the records is bereft of any proof that the bank had adequately addressed the concerns of the complainant. In fact, the bank did not even bother to respond to the complainant’s demand letters dated 12 January 2011 and 08 February 2011, and neither was it shown that the complainant was updated on the status of the investigation.” The central bank also cited that despite repeated demands by Tano, Metrobank “unreasonably withheld certain documents from the complainant.” It also said that even if the respondents eventually complied, it took almost eight months after the documents were due for delivery. “What is deplorable is that the complainant has suffered the inconvenience of instituting a complaint and in so doing has to spend so much in order to obtain what is rightfully due to him as a depositor of the bank. Compounding complainant’s woes is the fact that he was given mere photocopies thereby making it more difficult to pursue other legal remedies. We cannot help but censure such utter and willful indifference or disregard of complainant’s predicament who suffered undue injury as a consequence thereof,” the BSP said. The OSI has approved the filing of formal charges against de Guzman and Villaruel before the Supervised Banks Complainants Evaluation Group (SBCEG) of the BSP. The administrative complaint against MetroBank President Arthur Ty, who was earlier included in the suit, was dismissed because of the absence of concrete evidence linking him to the alleged acts.‐business‐news/36542‐bsp‐files‐administrative‐ charges‐against‐two‐metrobank‐officers    

3Q growth useless if no new jobs created Published on 03 December 2012 Written by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER

The economic expansion in the third quarter of the year should create more opportunities for ordinary Filipinos for them to experience inclusive growth, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). “In order for the ordinary Filipinos to experience the economic growth, it should lead to an increase in income and improvement in employment opportunities,” NEDA Director General Arsenio Balisacan said. He noted that the Philippines’ 7.1-percent gross domestic product (GDP) should be sustained not just in one quarter but in the following quarter so that ordinary Filipinos feel the economic growth. “The government’s objective is to ensure that the growth we are experiencing will continue to gain momentum,” Baliscan added. However, the NEDA chief said that the real challenge for the government is to make the growth more inclusive, so that even ordinary people or the masses can also feel the improvement. Balisacan also stated that inclusive growth can only happen if there is a sustainable and rapid improvement in employment opportunities. “There is a requirement on continued improvement in investment climate and continued expansion of investment in the country so that there will be more opportunities,” he added. Moreover, the NEDA chief said that the government is pushing for a continued reduction of unemployment and underemployment, adding that the jobless rate must be reduced to at least 5 percent to 4 percent.

Latest National Statistics Office data showed that the unemployment rate in July stood at 7 percent, while underemployment was at 22.7 percent. In addition, Balisacan described that there is inclusive growth if improvements in all the sectors of the economy results to the increase in opportunities in employment, access to education, health, and infrastructure. “That is why we need to recover our industries, we need to pillar the growth of the sectors that potentially have high linkages on employment, and we will push for that,” he added. Meanwhile, the NEDA chief said that even though the Philippines recorded the highest GDP growth in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the country is still at the bottom in terms of average income. “If we could sustain the expansion of the economy for a long time, that should eventually lead increase in the average income,” he added. Balisacan also cited that the average income of Filipinos is much lower that the average income of Indonesians, Thais and Malays. He said that the Philippine economy must grow at least 6.7 percent yearly to increase the real per capita incomes to two-fold in 15 years.‐business‐news/36541‐3q‐growth‐useless‐if‐no‐ new‐jobs‐created            


Posted on December 02, 2012 08:58:36 PM

Peso likely to firm up further THE PESO is expected to further strengthen against the dollar this week due to inflows attracted by the country’s strong economic showing and remittances from overseas Filipinos.

The local unit gained 15 centavos to settle at P40.90 to the dollar last Thursday against its P41.05-per-dollar close on Nov. 23. Financial markets were closed last Friday in celebration of Bonifacio Day. “The peso may continue to appreciate against the dollar due to remittance inflows as we near Christmas,” a trader said in a phone interview last Thursday. Overseas Filipino workers typically send dollars before school enrollment and Christmas. “However, the central bank will certainly be in the market to temper the peso’s sharp appreciation,” the trader added. Last week, the central bank prevented the peso from climbing past the P40.85-per-dollar level by purchasing greenbacks. The central bank intervenes in trading to smoothen volatilities in the exchange rate. In a separate phone interview, another trader said “the peso could further strengthen as investors stay bullish on local assets after a better-than-expected GDP (gross domestic product) growth in the third quarter.” The National Statistical Coordination Board last Wednesday reported the economy grew by 7.1% in the third quarter, exceeding most analyst’s expectations. As of September, the country had grown by 6.5% but the government has retained its 5-6% GDP growth goal for the year even if the economy could expand by 6-7%. The peso-dollar exchange rate could range from P40.60- to P41-per-dollar this week. --A. R. R. Gregorio‐likely‐to‐firm‐up‐ further&id=62309    

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Posted on December 02, 2012 11:35:45 PM

More Filipinos upbeat on economy’s prospects MORE FILIPINOS expect the economy to improve in the next 12 months but fewer see their lives getting better in the same period, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in a new report.

It said a third quarter nationwide survey found 31% of the 1,200 respondents optimistic of an economic improvement versus 14% saying otherwise, for a "very high" net score of +17. With the poll having been conducted late August, the optimism was all but prescient given last week’s news that economic growth had accelerated to 7.1%, beating expectations of an easing. The SWS, which noted that net economic optimism was "very high" in seven out of the last 10 surveys, said the August results were up from May’s "high" +8. Asked about their personal quality of life, meanwhile, 34% said they expected it to improve in the next 12 months, with 7% claiming it would get worse, for a "high" net personal optimism score of +27. This was three points down from the "very high" +30 recorded in the previous quarter, though the SWS noted that the net scores for this indicator were "high" to "very high" in the last two years. Twenty-eight percent, meanwhile, said their lives had improved in the last 12 months ("gainers") and 21% said otherwise ("losers"), for a "fair" net gainers score of -8, marginally better than May’s -9 result. Malacañang declined to comment on why personal optimism had dipped but said this should improve in the coming months given the third-quarter growth results. Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail F. Valte, in a text message, said: "We believe that with the upturn of the economy, the optimism will, of consequence, rise as well." Net economic optimism rose to "very high" for all socioeconomic classes, the SWS said, with the biggest gain among the ABC (up 28 points to +28), followed by the class E (up eight to +11) and class D or the masa (up seven to +18) It was also "very high" in all areas, at +23 from +14 in Balance Luzon, +20 from +11 in Metro Manila, +10 from -3 ("fair") in the Visayas and +11 from +7 ("high") in Mindanao. Net personal optimism, meanwhile, saw declines among all socioeconomic classes. It dipped to +32 from +34 (still "very high") among the ABC, to +28 ("high") from +32 ("very high") among the masa, and to +20 from +24 (still "high") among the class E.

It also fell by area, slipping by a point each in Metro Manila and the Visayas to +36 (still "very high) and +18 (still "fair"), respectively, and falling a steeper nine points to +30 (still "very high") in Balance Luzon. The only gain was in Mindanao, where the net score rose two points to +22 (still "high"). The net gainers score, meanwhile, rose 27 points to a "very high" +18 among the ABC class, stayed at a "fair" -7 among the masa and fell four points to -14 (still "mediocre") among the class E. It improved five points to a net zero (still "fair") in Metro Manila, improved 14 points from "low" to a "mediocre" -10 in the Visayas, stayed "mediocre" but improved by eight to -10 in Mindanao, and fell 10 points from "high" to a "fair" -8 in Mindanao. The SWS noted that personal net optimism had been dampened by hunger and poverty, hitting, in particular, a "mediocre" +7 among those whose families had experienced having nothing to eat often in the last three months. Among those who did not experience hunger, the score was a "high" +28. It also noted that hunger and poverty was worse among the "losers" at 29.6% and 58%, respectively, compared to 15.7% and 43% among the "gainers". For net personal optimism, the SWS considers scores of +30 and up as "very high"; +20 to +29, "high"; +10 to +19, "fair"; +1 to +9, "mediocre"; -9 to zero, "low"; and -10 down, "very low". For net economic optimism and gainers-losers, +10 and up is "very high"; +1 to +9, "high"; -9 to zero, "fair", -19 to -10, "mediocre"; -29 to -20, "low"; and -30 down, "very low."‐Filipinos‐upbeat‐on‐ economy%E2%80%99s‐prospects&id=62335                        

Economy Posted on December 02, 2012 09:54:17 PM

Damage to crops placed at P58M DAVAO CITY -- Estimated damage to crops following the floods in Davao del Norte last week has reached P58 million, data from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Division showed.

The provincial disaster unit, however, failed to provide a breakdown of agricultural losses based on crop types. Compostela Valley, meanwhile, has yet to account for total damage. The towns of Nabunturan, Compostela, Monkayo, New Bataan and Montevista were among the hardest hit in Compostela Valley after the weather disturbance, during which the inter-tropical convergence zone brought rains for days. Nearly 500 families sought refuge in gymnasiums, schools and houses of relatives on higher ground, provincial officials said. In Davao del Norte, about 600 individuals remained on shelter areas in Santo Tomas and Tagum City. The extreme weather condition has affected 10,128 residents as of Nov. 26. Residents of Kapalong and Asuncion towns, meanwhile, went back to their homes after floodwaters receded. The Davao del Norte Provincial Information Office said Asuncion town was placed under a state of calamity with nearly 10,000 residents affected by the floods. The town also recorded the lone casualty. He was identified as Regidor Roa, 38, whose body was found a day after he went missing. Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo R. del Rosario said food and clothing were sent to 1,000 families. The regional Office of Civil Defense said the floods initially displaced around 745 families in 32 villages in Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley. -- Joel B. Escovilla‐to‐crops‐placed‐at‐ P58M&id=62322          

Economy Posted on December 02, 2012 09:52:33 PM

Firm to open P200-M cold storage facility DAVAO CITY -- An investor has spent about P200 million on a three-hectare cold storage facility that aims to support the region’s small agribusiness entrepreneurs.

Jonathan O. Suy said he hopes to open within the next few weeks the facility dubbed Sub Zero, which will initially provide services to meat producers. Mr. Suy, who is among the 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year finalists, said his venture will also help backyard poultry and livestock raisers in selling their goods. "We will provide them inputs for their raw materials and help them market their products," he told BusinessWorld. Mr. Suy was recognized in the annual Entrepreneur of the Year search as head of Jomaray Pulp Packaging, a company that customizes packaging materials both for local and export products. He also runs Ana Breeders Inc., a poultry and livestock farm that was started by his parents. The new company is looking at accommodating two million kilograms of meat when it starts operations, but that figure will later increase to three million kilograms, approaching the plant’s capacity, Mr. Suy said. It will not only provide cold storage facilities and blocks of ice to those who will need them, but will also buy from farmers at standard prices that will allow them to earn profits from their ventures. The firm also seeks to help small producers lower their losses due to lack or insufficiency of post-harvest facilities. "Sometimes farmers cannot even recover their investments because of these losses. This business will try to address that issue," Mr. Suy said. In July, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization called on the Philippines to minimize losses in crop production by putting up post-harvest facilities. The international organization pointed that Asian countries, on the average, lose about 30% of food produced annually due to lack of post-harvest facilities. -Carmelito Q. Francisco‐to‐open‐P200‐M‐cold‐ storage‐facility&id=62320      

Economy Posted on December 02, 2012 09:51:20 PM

DA funds study to improve organic chicken ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) has partnered with the Central Philippine University (CPU) in pushing for the production of native chicken.

Larry P. Nacionales, DA-Western Visayas regional director, said the department provided P250,000 this year to fund a three-year study that aims to improve the quality of native chicken meat and shorten the harvest period without resorting to commercial feeds and growth supplements. The study is being conducted by the CPU College of Agriculture and Resources and Environmental Sciences (CPU-CARES). Mr. Nacionales also cited the partnership of the university and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) for a research and development project on supplemental feeds using natural ingredients such as corn bran, crab meal and molasses. PCAARRD and the university each provided P2 million. Jaime C. Cabarles, Jr., CPU-CARES dean, said the supplemental feeds are available to farmers. These include breeder mash, grower mash, and starter mash, which were scientifically formulated and compounded by CARES teachers and students to fit to the needs of native chicken. Mr. Nacionales said the Western Visayas region consumes 64 million heads of native chicken per year. -Francis Allan L. Angelo‐funds‐study‐to‐improve‐ organic‐chicken&id=62319          

‘Noy gov’t should revisit policies to address business challenges’ • •

Written by Angie M. Rosales Monday, 03 December 2012 00:00

The enactment into law of the controversial sin tax bill may bring positive credit standing for the Philippines but such would not suffice to sway prospective investors in infusing their capital to the country, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said.

“The approval (of the bill) is important because it creates a better impression about the financial strength of the country. But that is not enough. We have to re-examine our policies in order to bring a higher level of confidence to outsiders to the business of the Philippines. We must be sure that our policies are not chameleons that could change anytime,” Enrile told reporters.

The Senate chief pointed out what he noted as a possible setback insofar as judicial cases are concerned which are now being handled under the Aquino administration where some controversial cases that had been rendered with final rulings are being overturned.

“I do not know whether it is true or not. But if that’s the impression of other countries, that there is no fixity of policies, that policies can be overturned anytime, even final decisions of the highest court of the land, then who is the crazy person who will come here and risk his hard earned capital to do business?” he asked.

Following the Senate’s approval on third reading of the measure, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares earlier was quoted as saying the bill which seeks to raise excise taxes on liquor and tobacco products is needed to help generate more confidence in the government’s ability to maintain good credit standing.

More than anything else, Henares said, the adoption into law of the bill will give the impression that the government has the political will to institute reforms.

As lawmakers from the Senate and House of Representatives begin work reconciling the conflicting provisions in their respective versions of the bill in the bicameral conference committee, upper chamber

leaders are banking on Sen. Franklin Drilon’s commitment in pushing the adoption of the amendments they have introduced in the plenary that paved for its approval on second and third reading some two weeks ago.

Drilon has committed to keep the revenue sharing scheme that allocates 60 percent of the tax load for cigarettes and 40 percent for alcohol products during the deliberations of the bicameral conference committee on the excise tax bill.

In a caucus held last November 28 to constitute members of the Senate bicameral conference panel, Drilon told his colleagues that his mandate is very clear in safeguarding the parameters given to him by the Senate on the excise tax bill.

Enrile reminded Drilon about the 60-40 revenue sharing plan during the caucus, prompting the latter to reiterate his vow to maintain this provision in reconciling the excise tax bills of the two houses of Congress.

The senators firmed up the commitment from Drilon during the caucus, upholding the 60-40 sharing not only in the first year but throughout the duration of the tax measure approved by the Senate on final reading last November 20.

It was Enrile who exposed an attempt by the Department of Finance, led by Secretary Cesar Purisima, to distort the revenue-sharing scheme in favor of alcohol products during the plenary debates held by the Senate on the excise tax measure.

“On the 60-40 burden sharing, they have to maintain that or come up with a reasonable version that will not overburden the other,� Enrile said.

Under the Senate tax plan, cigarettes will account for P24 billion of the incremental revenues, or 60 percent of the P40 billion target in the first year, while the share of alcohol products is P16 billion or 40 percent.

The Senate proposal is far more equitable than the version approved by the House, in which cigarette manufacturers would have to cough up P26.8 billion or 83 percent of the P31.5-billion target of aggregate revenues, with alcohol products accounting for only about P5 billion, or 17 percent of the tax burden.

Enrile earlier uncovered a ruse by finance officials to distort the Senate’s revenue-sharing plan, despite an earlier agreement reached during a caucus held prior to the start of the plenary debates to maintain the P40-billion target but through a fairer 60-40 sharing scheme.

Enrile pointed out at the tail end of the plenary hearings that the 60-40 sharing scheme drawn up by the DoF would only hold true on the first year. But in the period during the transition to the unitary tax scheme, the share of tobacco products would increase to 68 percent in 2014 with alcohol given a lesser burden of 32 percent. It will increase further to 69 percent in 2015 as against alcohol’s declining 31 percent, before dropping slightly to 67 percent in 2016, he noted.

The House of Representatives, meanwhile, will announce today the members of the chamber’s contingent to the bicameral committee on the sin tax reform measure. Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, said the list will be presented today during sessions.

“It will be presented in the plenary tomorrow (December 3),” he added.

Prior to coming out with the House contingent list, he said the chamber had awaited the transmittal of the amended version of Senate Bill 3299 which was approved on third and final reading by senators last November 20.‐%E2%80%98noy‐gov%E2%80%99t‐ should‐revisit‐policies‐to‐address‐business‐challenges%E2%80%99                

Government employees, ‘di dapat malungkot Posted by Online Balita on Dec 3rd, 2012 // No Comment Sinabi ng Palasyo na hindi dapat malungkot ang mga manggagawa ng gobyerno ngayong Pasko makaraang matapyasan ng kalahati ang PNoy bonus o Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI). Magugunitang mula sa dating P10,000 na PEI ng mga government worker, magiging P5,000 na lang ito, alinsunod sa executive order na nilagdaan ni Pangulong Benigno S. Aquino III. Sinabi ni Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, maliban sa PEI, may cash gift pa naman daw ang mga empleyado mula sa kanilang ahensiya. Ayon kay Valte, nandyan din ang performance-based bonus (PEI) na aabangan nila bagamat hindi lahat ay maaaring makatanggap. Magsisilbi sanang pang-engganyo ang PEI para pagbutihin pa ng isang kawani ang kanyang trabaho. “Nandyan pa naman po ‘yung cash gift — may cash gift pa naman po mula po doon sa mga ahensiya so huwag na po tayong magalala. Looking forward, ‘yung PEI po kasi while not everybody will be entitled to it umaasa po tayo na mas makakagana po ito doon sa ating mga kasamahan na nagtatrabaho sa gobyerno na i-improve po natin ‘yung ating mga target, ‘yung ating mga sarili, ‘yung ating serbisyo sa publiko,” ani Valte. – Beth Camia

Magsasaka, naaayudahan Posted by Online Balita on Dec 2nd, 2012 // CAUAYAN CITY, Isabela – Pinag-ibayo ng pamahalaang panglalawigan ang pagkakaloob ng mga benepisyo sa mga magsasaka. Sa Farmers’ Congress sa idinaos kamakailan, sinabi ni Isabela Gov. Faustino “Bojie“ Dy III na patuloy na itinataguyod ng Isabela ang mga programa para mapalaki ang ani at mapaunlad ang buhay ng mga nagtatanim ng palay, mais at gulay, gayundin ang mga mangingisda at naghahayupan. Aniya, simula nang umpisahan ang Farmers’ Congress sa bawat bayan sa Isabela ay malaki na ang ipinagbago ng buhay ng mga magsasaka, na naaayudahan na sa mga pangangailangang agrikultural, sa pakikipagtulungan ng National Food Authority (NFA). Wilfredo Berganio

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Karneng baboy sa Pasko, sapat Posted by Online Balita on Dec 1st, 2012 // No Comment Hindi kukulangin ang karneng baboy ngayong Pasko, tiniyak ng Department of Agriculture (DA). Sinabi ni DA Secretary Proceso Alcala na tiniyak ng Pork Producers’ Federation of the Philippines (PPFP) sa ahensiya na walang dapat ikabahala ang publiko dahil sapat ang suplay ng karneng baboy sa bansa para tugunan ang inaasahang pagtaas ng pangangailangan bago matapos ang taon. Paliwanag ng Kalihim, maraming pagkukunan na backyard raisers at commercial hog raisers sa bansa, partikular sa Southern Tagalog at Central Luzon na nagsusuplay sa Metro Manila at hindi na kailangang mag-angkat. Ayon kay Alcala, nagdagdag na rin ng 12 porsiyento sa kanilang produksyon ang Philippine Swine Producers’ Association, isang samahan ng malalaking farm sa bansa, upang paghandaan ang malaking pangangailangan sa Christmas season. – Rommel Tabbad

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2012 12 03 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  
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