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Farmers to get less irrigation water from dam Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:06 am | Thursday, December 6th, 2012

PHOTO taken in August of the San Roque Dam in Pangasinan. WILLIE LOMIBAO/CONTRIBUTOR LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—Farmers in eastern and central Pangasinan are beginning to feel the impact of the El Niño phenomenon as San Roque Dam officials announced a reduction in the amount of irrigation water for farms there. “The water level at San Roque Dam as of Tuesday was only a little more than 271 meters above sea level (masl). In the past years, during this month, the dam’s water elevation was 280 masl or more,” said Oftociano Manalo, head of the Pangasinan Federation of Irrigators’ Association. San Roque Dam irrigates 12,000 hectares of rice land in 18 eastern and central Pangasinan towns. The province has more than 70,000 ha of irrigated rice land, which is more than half of its total rice production area of 130,000 ha. Manalo said that during a recent meeting with dam officials, National Power Corp. (Napocor) and National Irrigation Administration representatives, his group was told that the dam would stop releasing water for irrigation in April 2013. “The rainy season stopped early, that’s why we can now feel the impact of El Niño,” Manalo said. The El Niño phenomenon is the abnormal warming of waters in the Pacific characterized by a dry spell. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) earlier predicted that El Niño would descend on the country toward the end of this year.

Virgilio Garcia, Napocor principal hydrologist and in charge of the Agno Flood Forecasting and Warning System, said San Roque Dam has to conserve water because the expected water inflow did not come. “Water came early in August and the dam’s elevation even went beyond the normal high elevation of 280 masl,” Garcia said. But this water reserve, he said, was used for power generation. Nestor Batalla, rice program coordinator of the Pangasinan government, said in anticipation of the El Niño, the provincial government distributed water pumps to farmers in the province. Manalo said he had also advised fellow farmers whose farms would not be irrigated this year to plant crops that do not require much water, such as corn and tobacco. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

2013 rice importation limited to 150,000 tons Published on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 23:00

The government will limit rice importation to 150,000 metric tons next year, according to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who said palay production for the last quarter is expected to be bountiful. Alcala said the National Food Authority (NFA) Council would decide soon on the official import volume that should take care of the July lean season. Some 500,000 metric tons of rice was imported for this year with NFA buying 120,000 tons of the cereal as buffer stock for the lean season. In 2011, the country imported 860,000 tons of rice – with the private sector importing 600,000 tons and farmers’ groups buying 60,000 tons. On the other hand, NFA imported 200,000 metric tons. For 2010, Manila imported a record 2.45 million tons. Meanwhile, Dante Delima, DA assistant secretary and National Rice Program coordinator, said rice production should reach 18.2 million tons this year, boosted by a third cropping harvest. Delima expects the Philippines to hit 99 percent of the target production this year. Manila aims to produce 18.4 million MT of palay for 2012. Earlier, BAS forecast actual full-year palay production at 17.98 million MT. Delima also said that the DA expects minimal damage from typhoon Pablo, noting that rice areas in Mindanao are still in vegetative stage. He also said that major rice-producing provinces in regions 1, 2 and 3 will be spared, particularly those involved in the government’s third-cropping scheme.

PH pushing for access to tuna fishing ground Published on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 23:00 Written by AP The Philippines is pushing for the extension of access in Pacific fishing ground to halt the harvest of young tuna. Local fishing companies denied access in that area are fishing in Philippine seas where the tuna population is young. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala addressing the 9th session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Manila said that it would be a “winwin” solution for both parties. “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. The Philippines serves as a vital breeding and nursery ground for many migratory fish species, particularly tuna. But with the closure of high seas, Filipinos are fishing at the EEZ, which threatened to further deplete the existing tuna stock of the entire Pacific region. 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), 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,” Perez added. 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. Malsol 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. “The situation is simply unfair and has to stop,” Malsol said. Meanwhile, Prof. Glenn Hurry, executive director of the WCPTC, said they expect to come up with various conservation measures that would ensure sustainable fishing of four major tuna species – including Skipjack, Bigeye, Yellow fin and Bluefin tuna. Hurry also said that they are now discussing the moratorium on the use of fish aggregating devices (FAD) , which may be implemented as early as February 2013. The WCPTC official issued the statement amid concerns by environmental groups that the growing and unregulated deployment of tens of thousands of drifting FADs in the world’s oceans with little to no oversight has become “extremely worrisome.” According to the Pew Environment Group, an estimated 47,000 to 105,000 FADs are currently in use worldwide to catch tuna and other species of fish. 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. FADs can be adrift for years at a time and attract a wide variety of marine life – including skipjack tuna, sharks, billfish, juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna. Amanda Nickson, director of tuna conservation at Pew, said that 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 bigeye 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,” Nickson said.

Scientists are unclear about the overall impact of wide-scale FAD use on the marine ecosystem, yet the devices are being deployed in record numbers. Additionally, 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,� said Nickson. Pew estimate was obtained from data gathered from published scientific literature, industry expertise and documents from regional fisheries management organizations that oversee tuna fisheries.

Damage to rice farming placed at P11.5B per year Published on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 23:00 Written by ANGELA CELIS The total value of damage to rice farming in the country from 2007 to 2010 reached P46.09 billion or an average of P11.523 billion a year, data from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) showed. In a policy note titled “Typhoons, floods, and droughts: Regional occurrence and value of damages to rice farming in the Philippines,” Danilo Israel, PIDS senior research fellow, looked into the regional occurrence of typhoons, floods, and droughts in the country and the value of the damage they cause on rice farming in terms of production losses. “Typhoons, floods, and droughts negatively impact the agriculture sector of the Philippines. Rice farming in particular is among the hardest hit because it is practised in open areas,” Israel said. “Furthermore, some rice producing regions in the country are relatively more affected than others due to their greater exposure to these natural disasters,” he said. The PIDS research note used secondary data taken from institutional sources, such as the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and the Department of Agriculture. Based on the data gathered, Region II had the highest value of damage caused by typhoons, floods, and droughts at P11.78 billion, or an annual average of P2.945 billion. Region VII, on the other hand, had the least value of damage, only amounting to P14.57 million or P3.64 million on average annually. “Regions in Luzon experienced higher value of damages than those in the Visayas and Mindanao. Furthermore, among the three natural disasters, typhoons resulted in much higher values of damages followed by droughts and floods,” Israel said. TYPHOONS From 2007 to 2010, the Philippines experienced a total of 67 typhoons, or an average of 17 typhoons each year. Regions II, I, the Cordillera Administrative Region, III, IV-A, IV-B, VI, and VIII, in that order, experienced the most number of typhoons during the four-year period, Israel said. “These regions are located in Luzon except Region VIII, which is located in the Visayas,” the policy note said.

Israel said that Regions VII and VI in the Visayas and Region X and XIII in Mindanao followed, while the rest of the Mindanao regions had the fewest typhoons with Region XI having one on average yearly and Regions IX, XII, and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao having no typhoon. “The World Bank Group explained that while the trend in the occurrence of typhoons is still a subject of much debate, some studies suggest that in the future typhoons are likely to intensify in the Pacific, including the Philippines, with rising sea surface temperatures causing higher wind speeds and/or more intense rainfall,” Israel said. The total value of damage to rice farming brought by typhoons in the country reached P31.986 billion or an average of P7.996 billion a year, the note said. Region III had the highest value of damage at P10.669 billion or P2.667 billion a year, while Region XI had no recorded value of damage. “The regional values of damage to rice farming were generally consistent with the regional occurrence of typhoons. Luzon regions which had the higher occurrence of typhoons during the period also had larger total value of damages relative to those in the Visayas and Mindanao,” the report said. FLOODS Data showed that Region VI was affected by floods every year, while CAR, Region I, and Region IV-A were not affected by floods at all. “The World Bank Group stated that over time, heavy rainfall associated with typhoons and other weather systems may increase in both intensity and frequency in the Philippines and exacerbate the incidence of flooding in existing flood-prone areas as well as introduce a risk of flooding to new areas,” the report said. Israel said that the total value of damage to rice farming in the country from 2007 to 2010 due to floods was P4.277 billion, or an average of P1.069 billion annually. The highest total value of damage was recorded in Region II at P1.404 billion, or an annual average of P351 million. DROUGHTS Israel said that more regions experienced drought in the country in 2010 than in 2007, and some were affected by droughts both in 2007 and 2010. “In 2007, all regions in Luzon except Region IV-A and Region VI were affected while no regions in the Visayas and Mindanao were hit by droughts,” the report said.

“In 2010, all regions in Luzon except CAR were affected; only Region VI in the Visayas was hit; and all regions in Mindanao except Region XIII experienced droughts,” the note added. The data further showed that on a yearly basis, Luzon was more affected by droughts than the Visayas and Mindanao. “As in the case of typhoons and floods, the World Bank Group explained that droughts will likely intensify in the country in the foreseeable future,” Israel said. From 2007 to 2010, the total value of damage to rice farming caused by droughts amounted to P9.827 billion or an average of P2.457 billion a year. The highest value of damage was recorded in Region II at P3.742 billion or an average of P935 million per year. “The results showed that Luzon, which was more affected by droughts, also experienced higher total value of damages followed by Mindanao and Visayas,” Israel said. RECOMMENDATIONS Israel said that aside from the PIDS policy note, other recent studies have been undertaken to address the impacts of specific typhoon and drought events on agriculture and rice farming. “The recommendations of these studies and others should be seriously considered by the government in crafting strategies to address the impacts of natural disasters on rice farming in particular and the agriculture sector in general,” Israel said. “Since the available evidence suggests that there are regional differences in the occurrence of and value of damages due to typhoons and droughts in the case of rice farming, disaster assistance for farmers related to these natural disasters may be made more site-specific, zeroing in on the most affected regions of the country,” the note said. Israel said that in general, Luzon rice farmers may be given more attention since they are usually hit by these natural disasters, without unduly jeopardizing assistance to farmers in the Visayas and Mindanao. “Furthermore, typhoon-related assistance may be given more emphasis vis-à-vis flood and drought-related assistance as typhoons caused the highest value of damages to rice farming,” he said.

Rice soil mapping to be completed next year Published on 06 December 2012 Hits: 54 Written by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ The Department of Agriculture (DA) is pushing for the completion of soil fertility mapping by next year for more cost-efficient distribution of agricultural inputs, and to boost farm support programs where it is needed.

Dante Delima, DA assistant secretary and National Rice Program coordinator, has directed all regional agriculture officers to fast track the creation of their respective Soil Fertility Mapping (SFM), which aims to reduce wastage in the use of inputs and maximize logistical support to rice farmers nationwide. The maps will also help farmers to check soil fertility in their rice fields without resorting to expensive soil analysis, Delima said, adding that the nationwide SFM will complement the government’s rice self-sufficiency roadmap. To date, only Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) has a complete mapping of rice lands— including irrigated, non-irrigated areas, and rain-fed areas. Under the self-sufficiency roadmap, the government targets to produce 18.46 million metric tons of rice in 2012, and more than 20 MMT by 2013 to attain 100-percent sufficiency. “But by end of next year, we are facing a much bigger challenge on top of attaining rice self-sufficiency… the influx of cheaper imported rice,” said Delima, referring to the fullscale rice trade liberalization under the World Trade Organization (WTO). Manila is currently continuing discussions with WTO member-countries for the extension of its quantitative restriction on rice, citing the need to prepare Filipino farmers for international trade and to achieve rice self-sufficiency by 2013. An extension of the quantitative restriction will allow the Philippines to limit the volume of rice that can be imported by the government every year, preventing the influx of cheap rice from other countries. The government earlier said that it is asking for a five-year extension, but may only get another three-year extension like that granted to South Korea. The Philippines has until December 2012 to submit its position before the WTO.

Rural banks crucial to sustaining economic growth Published on 06 December 2012 Hits: 140 The rural banking industry will play a very important role in supporting the country’s economic growth, primarily in augmenting the purchasing power of the common people.

Through the first three quarters of the year, gross domestic product or GDP hit 7.1 percent driven mainly by the services sector and helped along by five consecutive periods of continuous accelerated growth of various industries and the agriculture sector. It was also the fastest in Southeast Asia and the second fastest in Asia, next to China’s 7.7 percent. To keep this pace, robust domestic consumption should be maintained. Rural banks, by functioning as the engine of economic growth in rural areas, have empowered average individuals to be a key source of domestic spending. Rural banks have enabled families to have a decent source of living, and the income generated from this provided them the money to purchase goods and services. Developing communities have thus been transformed into economically vibrant population centers, and simple families into productive units of society. From a spiritual perspective, this healthy change also gave low-income families integrity. Today, ordinary Filipinos know they have a real productive place in society that can contribute to the community and, eventually, national coffers. Nothing provides a clearer symbol of productivity than the microfinance products and services offered by the rural banking industry, through the Rural Bankers of the Philippines–Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (RBAP–MABS) Program. Microfinance provides a positive and significant effect on income and expenditure in rural areas. Under the RBAP-MABS, rural banks were able to lend to over 970,000 new borrowers, disbursed a total of P42 billion, and opened nearly 900,000 new micro deposit accounts over the last few years. Partner-banks under this program have provided viable microfinance services in the countryside, as well as innovations in terms of product and service deliveries. Rural banks are among the providers of micro-housing finance, micro-agri loans and microinsurance. As of October, 69 rural banks were issued the notice of no objection from the Bangko

Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), which assures the public of the good financial standing of the aspiring rural banks to offer microinsurance. The BSP has authorized 27 banks to engage in microinsurance, while the Insurance Commission has also granted license to 37 rural banks to sell the same. Rural banks also implement mobile banking for microfinance services. In fact, mobile banking has reached more than P16 billion worth of transactions since its inception in 2006. With over 2,500 rural bank branches and other banking offices located nationwide, serving more than 800,000 micro enterprise borrowers and more than 5 million microdeposit accounts, rural banks are now best positioned to facilitate access to formal financial services in the countryside.

DA urges level playing field in local hog sector Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 19:31 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to find ways to ensure that the local hog sector will not be unduly injured by the incentives granted recently to Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods Philippines Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Thai agribusiness company CP Foods PCL. The DA’s move came after the House committee on agriculture and the special panel on food security indicated that they will file a joint resolution asking the Board of Investments (BOI) to suspend the granting of these incentives, which include a six-year income tax holiday for the company’s P1.35-billion hog-raising project and the duty-free importation of raw materials. “This giant [CP Foods Philippines Corp.] can always compete. With the granting of incentives, I don’t think we can still say there is a level playing field in the hog sector,” Alcala said at the sidelines of the turnover of slaughterhouses to local government units. While he acknowledged that the country needs big foreign investments, the agriculture chief said the interest of local industries should be the top priority. “It’s OK to give incentives to foreign investors, but I hope that our local industries will also be given the same thing,” Alcala said in the vernacular. He also said the agriculture and trade departments held consultations on Wednesday to find “win-win” solutions. Local hog raisers, led by the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines (Propork) and the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. have protested the incentives. “[The income-tax holiday] will surely kill our backyard and commercial hog raisers. That is too much. They should also grant local producers the same incentives. Hindi level ang playing field sa sarili nating bansa,” Propork President Edwin Chen said earlier. He lamented that the incentives were granted after they drafted a road map or blueprint for sustaining the growth of the local hog sector. The local arm of the Thai conglomerate will pour investments into three commercial swine farms—one in Pampanga province’s Floridablanca town, and the rest in Tarlac province’s Concepcion town—that will start operations next year. According to Chen, the granting of incentives was ill-advised as it came when the local hog sector is faced with technical smuggling.

Hog raisers have complained that technical smugglers are able to avail of the lower tariff of 5 percent of pork offal by declaring prime meat as such. The prime meat cut is typically hidden behind offal, or innards that are used by food manufacturers as extenders.

‘Preferential treatment’ IN a joint hearing held on Tuesday, the House agriculture and food security committees agreed to file the resolution after representatives from the hog industry expressed their concerns over the alleged “preferential” treatment given by the BOI to CP Foods Philippines Corp. The firm has a total investment of P7.14 billion in the country, part of which will be used for the hog-raising project. The investments board reportedly granted the incentives because of the huge amount of money invested. According to Rep. Agapito Guanlao of Butil party-list, the alleged preferential treatment given to CP Foods Philippines Corp. “is like butchering the local hog and poultry industries.” “The BOI seems blind to the fact that 80 percent of the hogs in the country are produced by backyard raisers who stand to bear the brunt of this move,” Guanlao said. He stressed that he is not against the entry of foreign investments, “but I denounce with all vehemence the bias afforded by the BOI executives to this Thai firm.” “It is unthinkable and outright insensitive that BOI opted for the potential 1,800 jobs promised by CP against the potential loss of 7 million [jobs and livelihoods] for the small farmers,” Guanlao said. “I think that the suspension of CP operations is in order until all questions surrounding this BOI move are adequately addressed,” he added. Rosendo So, chairman of Abono party-list and director of the Swine Development Council who attended the hearing, said the BOI disqualified them from availing themselves of the incentives because of the required capitalization of P250 million. Gregorio San Diego, president of the United Broiler Raisers Association, also said local producers could be edged out of competition with the required huge capitalization. (With PNA)

November’s 2.8% inflation lowest in last 5 months Category: Top News Published on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 21:30 Written by Max V. de Leon / Reporter THE abundant supply of some food products caused the average increase in the prices of goods and services in the country to ease further to 2.8 percent in November, putting the year-to-date inflation rate at 3.2 percent. The November inflation rate was the lowest in the last five months and was way below the year-ago inflation of 4.7 percent. “It resulted from the deceleration in the annual growths posted in the indices of food and non-alcoholic beverages; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels; and transport. Excluding [select] food and energy items, core inflation was pegged at 3.4 percent in November, slower compared to the 3.6-percent growth in October,” the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported on Wednesday. Rolando G. Tungpalan, officer in charge of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said also on Wednesday that the abundant supply of agriculture and fishery products in November 2012 resulted in greater annual reductions in the prices of various food items compared to the previous month. Slower increase in prices was observed in major food items such as fish (5.9 percent in November 2012 from 6.0 percent in October 2012), milk, cheese and eggs (3.3 percent from 3.4 percent), and fruits (4.9 percent from 5.2 percent). This was also coupled with the decline in prices of vegetables (-5.3 percent from -0.1 percent) and oils and fats (-4.9 percent from -4.5 percent). “Slower increases of prices in electricity, gas and other fuels were also observed in November 2012 [3.1 percent from 4.9 percent last year] due to the contraction in Manila Electric Co.’s [Meralco] generation charge and the lower prices of kerosene and diesel,” Tungpalan said. Citing industry sources, he added that Meralco’s generation charge in November 2012 was lower by 2.7 percent (P0.16 per kilowatt-hour) against the same period in 2011 due to lower generation costs from suppliers. The prices of kerosene also slowed down, falling by 2.5 percent in November 2012 from an increase of 3.5 percent in October 2012. Furthermore, diesel prices fell by 4.6 percent from 3.1 percent. Tungpalan said the average inflation from January to November 2012 remains within the Development Budget Coordinating Committee’s target range of 3.0 percent to 5.0 percent for 2012.

He added that the lower core inflation, which excludes food and energy items, implies an easing of demand pressures on consumer prices. “With the continued benign price increases for the period, we are expecting that inflation should be manageable for the rest of the year,” Tungpalan said. Inflation is the rate of increase in prices of goods and services commonly purchased by households, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). On the other hand, core inflation represents a more long-term inflation trend, as it excludes certain items that have short-term and volatile price movements. The NSO said prices of goods and services in Metro Manila (National Capital Region, or NCR) only increased by 2.6 percent in November compared to 2.9 percent in October, while inflation in areas outside of NCR settled to 2.9 percent from 3.3 percent in October. Malacañang is “pleased” with the country’s 2.8-percent inflation rate in November, from 3.1 percent in October, which it obtained even with higher economic growth, Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Wednesday. “We are pleased with the announcement that inflation for the month of November had slowed down to 2.8 percent….This comes at a time when the Philippine economy is growing at a strong 7.1 percent, contrary to the common notion that rapid economic growth is usually accompanied by inflationary pressures,” Lacierda said. (Mia M. Gonzalez)

Banana plantations lose P1B to ‘Pablo’ Category: Top News Published on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 21:27 Written by Manuel T. Cayon / Mindanao Bureau Chief DAVAO CITY—One-billion pesos was estimated to have been lost by banana plantations in the town of Kapalong alone in Davao del Norte, according to the provincial government. Over three-fourths of such plantations in the Davao region lay in the path of Typhoon Pablo. National authorities had placed the death toll at 270 as of Wednesday. In Manila, President Aquino assured communities affected by the typhoon on Wednesday that the government has “at least” P8 billion for relief operations and repair of damaged infrastructure. At the oathtaking of the League of Municipalities at the Manila Hotel, he said that Interior Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II was in Mindanao to conduct an assessment of the situation in affected areas. When asked in a media interview after the event if the government had enough funds for relief assistance, the President replied, “There is sufficient fund at this point in time.” He said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad informed him on Tuesday night “that there is at least P8 billion ready to take care of all of the expenses necessary here and also in the necessary emergency infrastructure—roads that were closed, etcetera, if there is damage.” Mr. Aquino said that over P4 billion of the P8 billion would come from the calamity fund and the rest from the proceeds of the sale of Food Terminal Inc. (FTI). FTI had been sold to Ayala Land Inc. for P24.3 billion. The President called on concerned local officials not to exploit the situation in their areas to score points among their constituents in preparation for the 2013 elections. On the casualties and damages inflicted by Pablo so far, he said the situation is far better than when Typhoon Sendong hit parts of Mindanao in December last year. “But, again, any single casualty is a cause of distress,” Mr. Aquino added. He announced that he plans to visit the affected areas, particularly Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, but the schedule is still being determined.

Executive Director Benito Ramos of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said also on Wednesday that he was surprised at the death toll from the typhoon. (Mia M. Gonzalez and Zaff Solmerin)

UN chief rejects doubts about global warming Category: Top News Published on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 21:26 Written by AP DOHA, Qatar—Pointing to the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy and other weather disasters this year, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told an international climate conference on Tuesday that it was time to “prove wrong” those who still have doubts about global warming. Ban, addressing delegates at the annual UN climate talks, said time is running out for governments to act, citing recent reports showing rising emissions of greenhouse gases, which most scientists say are causing the warming trend. “The abnormal is the new normal,” Ban also told environment ministers and climate officials from nearly 200 countries. “This year we have seen Manhattan and Beijing under water, hundreds of thousands of people washed from their homes in Colombia, Peru, the Philippines, Australia.” “The danger signs are all around,” he said, noting that ice caps are melting, permafrost thawing and sea levels rising. Delegates at the two-week talks that are set to end on Friday are discussing future emissions cuts and climate aid to poor countries, issues that rich nations and the developing world have struggled to agree on for years. In Doha developing countries have criticized richer nations for not promising higher emissions cuts and not giving any firm commitments on how they plan to scale up climate aid to $100 billion by 2020, a pledge they made three years ago. Ban further told reporters after his speech that richer countries, including the United States, “should take leadership” on climate change because they have the resources and technology to address the problem. Also on Tuesday, Britain announced two initiatives to support renewable energy in Africa and a water-management program that it said would help 18 million poor people become more resilient to climate change. The initiatives, totaling £133 million ($214 million) over the next three years, were welcomed by climate activists. “At last, a developed country has finally made a pledge for future climate finance here in Doha,” Oxfam Climate Change Policy Advisor Tracy Carty said, but also noted that the details remain “hazy.”

At a side event earlier also on Tuesday, Ban said the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean and the US East Coast should be a wake-up call, showing “that before it’s too late, we have to take action.” Climate scientists say it is difficult to link a single weather event to global warming but some say the damage caused by Sandy was worse because of rising sea levels. A small minority of scientists still question whether the warming seen in recent decades was due to human activities, such as the carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. “Let us avoid all the skepticism. Let us prove wrong all these doubts on climate change,” Ban said. Climate scientists have observed changes, including melting Arctic ice and permafrost, rising sea levels and acidification of the ocean, shifting rainfall patterns with impacts on floods and droughts. Low-lying Pacific island states, in particular, are losing shoreline to rising seas, expanding from heat and the runoff of melting land ice. Governments represented at the Doha conference have started talks on crafting a new global climate treaty that would take effect in 2020. They are also discussing how to rein in greenhouse-gas emissions before then, partly by extending the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty limiting the emissions of most industrialized countries that expires this year. The US never joined Kyoto, because it did not cover emerging economies such as India and China, which now has the world’s highest carbon emissions. With only a few days remaining to agree on the Kyoto extension and other issues, the head of the UN climate-change secretariat, Christiana Figueres, reminded the delegates that the “eyes of the world” are upon them. “Present and future generations are counting on you,” Figueres said. (AP)

Plot to junk 60-40 sharing in ‘sin’ bill bared Category: Top News Published on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 21:23 Written by Butch Fernandez / Reporter APLOT to junk the Senate-approved 60-40 burden sharing between alcohol and tobacco products in the “sin” tax reform bill being consolidated by a Senate and House panel conference committee has been bared by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Marcos, who hails from the tobacco-producing Ilocos region, told reporters that during their closed-door meeting on Wednesday to reconcile differing provisions in the sin-tax bill, their House counterparts indicated a shift to overturn the agreed 60-40 split of the P40-billion incremental tax burden on cigarettes and alcoholic drinks. He recalled that under the House-approved version of the bill, the combined revenue target from alcohol and tobacco taxes was pegged at P31.3 billion, of which only P5 billion plus would be borne by the alcohol industry.Marcos said the House panel members indicated that they were inclined to raise the target to P35 billion. In an interview, Sen. Franklin Drilon, who heads the Senate panel in the bicameral talks on the sin-tax bill, confirmed also on Wednesday that the senators and their House counterparts went through the clashing provisions of the money measure and “we have agreed to set it aside for further discussion.” “The various disagreeing provisions [in the Senate and House versions of the sin-tax bill] were discussed and agreed upon, but what remained to be discussed would be the tax rates and the earmarking of revenues,” he said, adding that “all the non-rate provisions on tobacco and alcohol have been agreed upon.”But Drilon also told reporters that there was no specific provision in the Senate-approved version of the higher sin taxes for a 60-40 burden sharing by the tobacco and alcohol industries. “There is no 60-40 sharing in the bill that we are presenting, that the Senate passed. That is the guide, that is the computation we arrived at, the P23.5 billion for the cigarettes and the remaining P16 billion on the alcohol,” he said. “We have not discussed the burden sharing because that is precisely a matter that we have deferred for further discussion.” Drilon reported that each side simply explained its position “and we have agreed on provisions that have no relation to rates and earmarking.”Marcos said that he is yet to hear a “justification” for the supposed shift of the sin-tax burden on the tobacco industry. He added that they are being told that there are several revenue-target options— P31billion, P35 billion and P38 billion.

Project to boost local govt’s utilization of disaster funds Category: Nation Published on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 19:53 Written by Jonathan Mayuga THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is embarking on a project to enhance the utilization of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) of several local governments in Metro Manila and Rizal. The department recently forged ties with the La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga), a development policy research non-government organization, to hold a series of workshops with local chief executives and disaster risk-reduction officers of the members of the Alliance of Seven LGUs (A7) based in Metro Manila and Rizal for the project. Undersecretary Austere Panadero signed the agreement for the utilization of its Civil Society Participation Fund (CSPF) by La Liga, one of 12 nongovernment organizations chosen by the agency as partners in its maiden implementation of the special fund utility. A component of the agency’s social accountability mechanism Local Government Watch (LG Watch) launched by the late Secretary Jesse Robredo, the CSPF provides an enabling instrument for citizen’s groups’ “participation in public decision-making processes and to strengthen local government-civil society collaboration toward the formation of engaging and development outcome-oriented local governance.” Roland Cabigas, managing director of La Liga lauded Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, for continuing and expanding the legacy of his predecessor in tapping citizen’s groups as partners in implementing the agency’s programs. Under the agreement, La Liga will use the funds in its project, “Making the LDRRMF Work Through the Alliance of Seven [A7] LGUs,” in Quezon City, Antipolo, Marikina, Pasig, Cainta, Rodriguez and San Mateo. (Jonathan Mayuga)

Number of 2013 bets for senators now 33 Category: Nation Published on Tuesday, 04 December 2012 19:08 Written by Joel R. San Juan / Reporter THE number of senatorial candidates for next year’s midterm elections is now 33 after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) approved the certificate of candidacy (COC) of the representative of evangelist Eddie Villanueva’s Bangon Pilipinas Party (BPP). Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. disclosed that the poll body gave due course to the COC of Israel Virgines despite that it was filed hours after the 5 p.m. deadline in October. Brillantes said the issue on Virgines’s late filing of COC was accidentally sidelined since they have been pre-occupied with the ongoing purge of the party-list groups. In approving his COC, Brillantes said the poll body took into consideration that Virgines is a nominee of one of the major political parties in the country. Based on his COC, the 45-year-old Virgines is a teacher by profession and resides in Silang, Cavite. Virgines earlier claimed that he failed to filed his COC on time because he was caught in a traffic jam going to the Comelec’s head office in Intramuros, Manila. “We don’t think he is a nuisance candidate since he came from the party of Villanueva,” Brillantes said. Villanueva, a religious and political leader, launched BPP during his failed presidential bid in 2010. Virgines will be joining 32 other candidates in the senatorial race next year. Among the other official candidates are Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, former Nacionalista Party Rep. Cynthia Villar of Las Piñas, former Party-list Rep. Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel, former Sen. Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal, former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Laban Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara of Aurora, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Sen. Aquilino Martin Pimentel III, of the ruling Liberal Party (LP). Other candidates who belong to the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) are Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, Margarita “Ting-Ting” Cojuangco, former Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon, former Sen. Ernesto Maceda, former Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Puwersa ng Masa Rep. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito of San Juan, Lakas Rep. Maria Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay of Zambales, Nationalist People’s Coalition Rep. Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile Jr. and Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan.

The Comelec en banc has also allowed common candidates of LP and UNA to run for the Senate—Movie and Television Review and Classification Board Chairman Grace PoeLlamanzares, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Sen. Loren Legarda. Also seeking a senatorial position, John Carlos de los Reyes, Marwil Llasos and Rizalito David (Ang Kapatiran Party), former Constabulary chief Ramon Montaño, Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn, Party-list Rep. Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño of Bayan Muna, Ricardo Penson (independent), Samson Alcantara (Social Justice Society), and Greco Antonious Beda Belgica, Baldomero Falcone and Christian Seneres (Democratic Party of the Philippines). Meanwhile, Brillantes said the Comelec is set to issue a resolution officially deputizing personnel of the National Police and the Armed Forces for the 2013 elections. The Comelec is also scheduled to hold a command conference on Wednesday with the National Police on the implementation of the election gun ban. Another party-list group seeks relief from SC ANOTHER party-list group had asked the Supreme Court to stop the Comelec from enforcing its earlier resolution that disqualified it and other supposed marginalized groups from participating in next year’s elections. In a petition filed before the Court, Binhi, or the Partido ng Mga Magsasaka Para sa Magsasaka, asked for the issuance of a status quo ante order against the ruling of the poll body. Through its lawyer Charita Agdon, the party-list group claimed the decision of the Comelec to disqualify it from joining in next year’s elections on a mere reason that its members are affiliated with a cooperative in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, was “whimsical” and “abusive.” “It is a manifest abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent Comelec to cancel the registration based on the pretext that the petitioner is not among the marginalized and underrepresented, and in doing so removing any chance on the part of these small farmers to be part of the legislative body so they can have a chance in promoting their interests in law making,” it said in its petition. The Comelec canceled the registration of Binhi and other party-list groups claiming that they do not represent marginalized groups, thus disqualifying them from participating in next year’s elections. Binhi told the court that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in its decision to cancel its registration since it has fully complied with requirements under the law.

It cited as basis the resolution issued on November 19, 2009, by the poll body, wherein it granted the accreditation and registration of the group as a sectoral party duly representing the peasants, farmers and farm tillers, which are sectors that are covered under Section 5 of Republic Act 7941, or the Party-list System Act. Prior to its disqualification, Binhi had nominated Ryan Vincent Uy, Pacifico Rico Fajardo Jr., Nelson Villanueva, Victoriano Perez Jr. and Rodolfo P. Torreda Jr. as nominees. “The respondent commission whimsically and capriciously canceled the registration of the petitioner with a very shallow and very unacceptable reason that it is not among the marginalized and underrepresented while a clear reading of the law and jurisprudence concerned would readily reveal that there is no reason to consider the petitioner as not being part of those marginalized and underrepresented,” Binhi said in its petition. Binhi questioned why the Comelec disqualified it on a mere reason that its members also belong to the Cabanatuan City Seed Growers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CCSGMPC). “The membership of Binhi is composed of mostly small farmers and seed growers. However, not all members of Binhi are members also of CCSGMPC since its membership is not confined only in the City of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. Will that mean that those who are not members of the CCSGMPC could be represented in Congress?” it asked. “Are marginalized and underrepresented groups whose members are also members of a cooperative not marginalized and underrepresented anymore? With all due respect to the respondent Commission on Elections, en banc, Binhi does not believe so,” it added. (With R. Acosta)

Overpriced fertilizer: Ombudsman dismisses 3 Albay town officials By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales yesterday ordered the dismissal from government service of three officials of Polangui town in Albay for their involvement in the overpriced purchase of 1,315 bottles of fertilizer in 2004 amounting to P5 million. In a 12-page decision signed on Nov. 19, the Ombudsman said she found sufficient evidence to hold municipal accountant Ma. Jimalyn Sabater, municipal treasurer Anna Robrigado, and municipal agriculturist Renato Silo guilty of grave misconduct, dishonesty, and conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the service. In the ruling, the Ombudsman held that elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law or flagrant disregard of established rule, are manifest in the respondents’ act of hastily resorting to direct contracting, specifying in the purchase request and purchase order the brand name “Young Magic Foliar Fertilizer,” and disregarding the required public bidding process which gave the fertilizer supplier, Madarca Trading, an opportunity to overcharge the government in the amount of P4,819,187.50. The Ombudsman said the respondents violated Section 3(e) and (g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which also constitutes grave misconduct, an administrative offense. The Ombudsman said charges of dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service were based on the same acts for which the respondents were already found guilty of grave misconduct. The Ombudsman said the three municipal officials gave unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference to Madarca Trading by not conducting the requisite public bidding and specifying the brand name “Young Magic Foliar Fertilizer” in the purchase request. Ombudsman probers said they found as misplaced the respondents’ arguments that “direct contracting is proper and appropriate because ‘Young Magic Foliar Fertilizer’ is sold by an exclusive dealer or manufacturer,” after finding that Madarca Trading is not an exclusive dealer or manufacturer of foliar fertilizer. The Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority was able to canvass the prices of foliar fertilizer in September 2004, showing that Madarca Trading is not an exclusive supplier of foliar liquid fertilizer.

The respondents was found to have also caused undue injury to the government since the prevailing price of Young Magic Foliar Fertilizer in 2004 was only P125 per liter but the Polangui municipal government bought it at P3,800 per liter or a total overprice of P4,819,187.50 for the entire purchase. Aside from dismissal from the service, the retirement benefits, including accrued leave credits, of the three Polangui officials were forfeited and they could not be re-employed in the government.

Government has P8 billion assistance for ‘Pablo’ victims in Mindanao By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The national government has at its disposal around P8 billion for helping the victims of super typhoon “Pablo” in several provinces in Mindanao. President Aquino said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad informed him the amount came from “unexpected sources,” like revenues generated from the sale of government-owned Food Terminal Inc. in Taguig. “This amount is ready to take care of all of the expenses necessary here, and also in the necessary emergency infrastructure, the roads that were closed, etcetera, or if there are damages. There is sufficient funds at this point in time,” Aquino said. Aquino also confirmed he would be visiting Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental – two provinces hardest hit by Pablo – but will just make the necessary arrangements for the trip. “Yes (I will visit those areas hit by the typhoon). As to when, I will have to ask the team that is planning (the schedule). But I really want to go to Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental,” he said. Aquino also defended insinuations that weather forecasters predicted a wrong direction of the storm, saying this was why an hourly update is provided for the public. He noted that typhoons sometimes veer from their original path. Aquino parried criticisms that the projected landfall in Hinatuan turned out to be in Davao Oriental instead. Aquino also stressed that while he would have wanted zero casualty, it was worth noting that the government, in both national and local levels, prepared well for the eventuality and has come a long way since typhoon “Sendong” in December last year. Sendong killed more than a thousand people in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City.

“If we compare this to Sendong, we note the difference in the number of casualties, but any single casualty is a cause for distress. We have to look for ways to mitigate the number of casualties. Well, the count is about 70 right now,” Aquino said. Aquino expressed sadness over the number of casualties being reported but stressed there should be no blame game at this time. In a speech during the Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas, Aquino also called on the people to help the victims in various areas. “Right now, typhoon Pablo is departing the Philippines. I am happy to say that we have made considerable progress in how we anticipate and respond to natural disasters. Just as government has become proactive, I am seeing a greater spirit of cooperation among our fellow citizens. Still, Pablo has taken its toll, and I am confident that those of you who have always been giving generously in the past will take the time to lend a helping hand where it is needed,” he said. Aquino said the country was proving to the world that geographical gaps could not shake the unity of the Filipino people. “At this time of rebuilding for our people, let us work together in the spirit of bayanihan – the spirit that has always pushed our country past any adversity and towards a better tomorrow. And as we aim for the stars, let us continue to strengthen anchorage in our roots. After all, it is our collective identity, our shared pride, that is at the core of our continuing pursuit of excellence,” he said. The President also commended the Philippine Coast Guard for “preventing the possibility of any serious calamity happening,” adding that Project Noah, particularly in Iligan and Cagayan, seemed to have worked. “It’s still an ongoing project. I said earlier that the 18 river basins that are being monitored (under this project) would take a long period of time. But, again, any single casualty is a cause for distress,” Aquino explained further. “We will always try to seek better and better performances,” he said. Aquino directed Science Secretary Mario Montejo to assess whether the heavily damaged areas were among the danger zones the government had identified before. ‘Our people need us now’ Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urged her colleagues in the House of Representatives to set aside their legislative work so they could help victims of Pablo.

“On behalf of my family and my constituents in Pampanga, I extend my sympathies and prayers to the communities ravaged by typhoon Pablo, especially the families who lost their loved ones,” Arroyo said in a statement yesterday. “This is a time for national solidarity in protecting life and family, and urgently assisting the needy. We enjoin our fellow lawmakers to set aside legislative work and prioritize helping our affected and distressed countrymen,” she said. “The government should always be at the forefront of trying times like this as it will show responsiveness and compassion devoid of political boundaries, which should be the essence of a lasting peace framework,” Arroyo said “Besides lobbying Congress, the administration should meet the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council). Our people need us now,” she said. The former president did not specify what measures the administration is “lobbying” for and the officials doing the alleged lobbying. More help The House, however, will raise funds to help victims of Pablo, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday. “We will adopt a resolution urging voluntary contributions from all members,” Belmonte said. Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said he and his opposition colleagues “will donate a portion of our salary to our countrymen who were affected by the onslaught of the typhoon.” Suarez said that last year their contributions were used to procure water tanks that provided drinking water to victims of typhoon Sendong in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City. “Now is the time once again for all of us to come together at this moment of crisis and tragedy. We call on our colleagues in government to provide typhoon victims with all the necessary support in reconstruction and rehabilitation,” he said. Local governments unaffected by the typhoon also gave assurance they would provide relief and humanitarian assistance to the typhoon victims. Isabela provincial administrator Noel Manuel Marquez said the provincial government is ready to send assistance to its counterparts in the typhoon-ravaged areas in Mindanao.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it had prepositioned P40.25 million in standby funds and P45.86 million in relief supplies for distribution in areas affected by Pablo. Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the DSWD Field Office 11 is currently purchasing additional items to be transported to the affected provinces. These items include sleeping bags, first aid emergency medical kits, frying pans, cauldrons (kaldero), hard plastic plates and cups, spoons, forks, men’s and women’s undergarments, towels, short pants, pails, flashlights, whistles, portable life vests and heavy duty knapsacks. As of 8 a.m. yesterday, Soliman said the government and non-government organizations (NGOs) have provided a total of P3.29-million worth of relief assistance to families affected by Pablo. Of this amount, P1,250,000 came from DSWD, P2,044,199.68 from local government units and P2,600 from NGOs. Meanwhile, a total of 359 evacuation centers remained open as of yesterday morning, serving 35,406 families or 163,878 persons. Some 222 families composed of 4,169 persons who opted to stay with their friends and relatives are continuously being assessed and provided assistance, Soliman said. “The local DSWD office also deployed senior staff led by division chiefs to oversee disaster operations in the provinces of Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte,” Soliman said. The DSWD chief also assured the public that the agency has enough resources for the victims. Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II led the government’s relief efforts in the affected towns. Vice President Jejomar Binay will fly today to Davao and Compostela Valley to inspect the damage and extend assistance to those affected by the typhoon. Binay will meet Roxas and Soliman to discuss how to handle the situation. “Based on our experience during typhoon Sendong, we will have to coordinate all the government efforts, so that we can ensure fast and efficient service,” Binay said. Roxas said he would make sure assistance and aid are sent to coastal municipalities of Boston, Cateel, and Baganga in Davao Oriental and New Bataan in Compostela Valley that was left isolated by the typhoon.

“Damage from typhoon Pablo in Davao Oriental is centered in three coastal towns: Baganga, Cateel, and Boston. Compounding the damage sustained, the three towns with a total population of approximately 150,000 have become isolated as bridge connections – south from Mati and North from Compostela Valley – were struck down during the typhoon,” Roxas said in a situation report. He added relief goods such as food, water, generators, tents, and medicine provided by the DSWD, local government units, and civilian donations are stored in Davao Oriental’s capital, Mati City. He added Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya is sending a vessel from the Philippine Coast Guard while the Philippine Navy has also arranged to send a vessel to help move relief goods. Binay said the National Housing Authority will provide materials for the repair of damaged houses while the Home Development Mutual (Pag-IBIG) Fund will offer calamity loans and provide insurance to its members.

Senate, House finalize P2-trillion budget for 2013 By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2012 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Senate and the House of Representatives finalized the proposed P2-trillion 2013 national budget yesterday. A bicameral conference committee, which reconciled the two chambers’ versions of the spending measure, signed its report and endorsed it to the two houses. The Senate and the House were expected to ratify the report last night and send the budget bill to President Aquino for signing into law. The bicameral conference committee reduced the proposed budget by P100 million, representing the pork barrel fund allocation of Sen. Panfilo Lacson for six months. Lacson and Sen. Joker Arroyo had not been availing of the annual P200-million fund since they were elected more than 11 years ago. The two are ending their second term on June 30, 2013. Lacson had been making sure that his pork barrel allocation was deducted from the annual budget to prevent its possible misuse. The 2013 budget includes P25 billion in pork barrel funds for senators and congressmen. Each senator gets P200 million and each House member is allocated P70 million. House sources said Aquino would sign the budget bill into law on or before Dec. 20. This year is the third year in a row that Congress will have approved the spending measure before yearend, enabling the administration to make early fund releases.

'Pablo' death toll balloons to 238 By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 5, 2012 - 3:23pm 1 47 googleplus2 6

MANILA, Philippines - The death toll from Typhoon "Pablo" (international name Bopha) ballooned to at least 238 people as rescue and retrieval operations intensified on Wednesday and local officials feared many more bodies could be found as rescuers reach hard-hit areas that had been isolated by landslides, floods and downed communications. The Armed Forces of the Philippines' Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), whose troops were engaged in ongoing disaster, relief and retrieval operations in areas ravaged by Pablo, reported that at least 143 people died from flash floods and landslides in the farming and mining provinces of Compostela Valley, specifically in the towns of Monkayo, New Bataan, Compostela, Montevista, Nabunturan and Pantukan. “In the whole province of Compostela Valley the number of deaths has risen to 143. In New Bataan alone, 67 civilians and three of our soldiers died from flash flood,� said Eastmincom spokesperson Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza. Paniza added that 154 were also injured while 58 persons were missing including eight soldiers. The Provincial Disaster Risk Management Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) of Davao Oriental, on the other hand, reported 82 fatalities either from flash floods, landslides or by fallen trees after the typhoon made landfall in the province before dawn Tuesday. The PDRRMC said that the fatalities were recorded from the towns of Tarragona (1), Manay (1), Caraga (3), Banganga (31), Cateel (30) and Boston (16). It also reported that 21 more people were missing and 148 were injured in the province. The other fatalities came from Caraga region with six dead, Northern Samar with one, two in Bukidnon, one more in Misamis Oriental, two in Misamis Occidental and one more in Siquijor.

Cross-checking death count Undersecretary Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), meanwhile, announced that the agency has confirmed only 95 deaths from the typhoon's onslaught as of 1 p.m. “We could not just confirm the number of fatalities from Comval (Compostela Valley) and Davao Oriental because we are still validating and cross-checking all field reports that are coming in,” Ramos said. However, Ramos said that he expects the official number of fatalities to increase as there were many typhoon-ravaged areas that have yet to be reached by soldiers and policemen involved in the search, rescue and retrieval operations. Aside from the rising number of fatalities, Ramos said that he also expects a massive damage in agriculture and infrastructure in the two provinces. There were initial reports that 75 per cent of the houses as well as private and government infrastructures along Pablo’s path were either totally or partially destroyed. Ramos said that as of Wednesday afternoon, the weather has largely improved in Mindanao but the people in the typhoon-ravaged communities are still reeling from the massive destruction left by Pablo. “It’s already sunny out there but the people there are asking for food, clothing and shelter. These are three basic services they need. Lahat sila ngayon ay mangiyak-ngiyak at humingi ng ayuda at tulong. Kaawa-awa ang kanilang kalagayan ngayon,” Ramos said. Meanwhile, the national government, through the Department of Health (DOH), is sending body bags to the worst-hit areas while the recovered bodies, including children, are being processed for identification. The Department of Social Welfare and Development has been attending to the basic needs of the displaced civilians who lost their houses and are staying in more than 80 evacuation centers. With Dennis Carcamo,

PCA gets stringent on coco tree cutting By Juancho Mahusay (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 5, 2012 - 12:00am CALAPAN CITY, Philippines – The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) announced here that it would no longer issue permits for the cutting and transporting of more than 500 coconut trees in the entire province of Oriental Mindoro. PCA provincial manager Benjamin Combalicer added that aside from banning the felling and shipment of such volume of coconut trees, applications involving some 300 trees are now being subjected first to stringent or strict evaluation by PCA technicians. Combalicer said they want to make sure that coconut trees being felled are more than 60 years old and already on their unproductive stage.

DA asks DTI to level playing field for hog raisers By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2012 - 12:00am

Alcala MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is asking the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to come up with measures that can level the playing field for local hog raisers who have to contend with the P2.3 billion integrated farm project of Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippines Corp. (CPFPC). Hog raisers are unhappy with the grant of tax incentives to the company, warning that the grant of tax perk to the Thai firm threatens the swine industry. The BOI has defended the grant of tax incentives for the project, saying it is consistent with the Invetsment Prioritites Plan. CPFPC is a unit of Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Co. Ltd. Its projects in the country, which is expected to begin commercial operations in the first quarter of 2013 include hog parent stock farms located in the provinces of Tarlac and Bulacan as well as a hatchery in Nueva Ecija. It will also operate broiler farms in Bulacan. The company’s parent hog stock capacity will be 25,453 heads and 3,647 metric tons slaughtered hogs. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said his department was not properly consulted on the matter. “This was not explained clearly to us before. The consultations were lacking,” he said. He said the livestock industry is also upset over the provision of incentives because players have only just begun to cooperate with the government in instituting reforms within the industry. “Although this is a big investment, they should have also considered the welfare of the local industry,” said Alcala. “Ever since the beginning of this administration, we have appealed to livestock growers to works towards having a steady supply and a steady price. And they have kept their word. Before, there were perceived shortages that were actually false shortages done to drive up prices. This was fixed,” he added.

Alcala said he has formally communicated with the DTI to conduct consultations with the industry. “There must be proper consultation. If they (BOI) will give incentives to foreign investments, they must also provide investments to the local industry,” he said. The agriculture chief credited the local livestock industry for its contributions to improvements in meat safety in the country. “We would not have attained our FMD-free (foot-and-mouth disease free) status without their cooperation,” he said. “And because of this, we now have the opportunity to export because of our own efforts. And now, here comes a giant who will try to produce everything and can compete with local industries.” “I don’t think the playing field is fair as of now,” he said.

Department of Agriculture allots P139 million for slaughterhouse upgrade By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2012 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is spending P139 million for the upgrade and construction of 18 AA slaughterhouses in various municipalities this year until 2013. The DA-National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) yesterday signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with 18 municipalities for the provision of financial assistance ranging from P5 to P10 million for each municipality for the upgrade and construction of AA abattoirs. NMIS will provide the technical expertise for the upgrade of existing and construction of new slaughterhouses. The municipalities, in turn, would provide counterpart equity in the form of lots, coverage of administration cost, land development assistance, access roads, as well as power and water supply. The municipalities of Tuao, Cagayan; Basco, Batanes; Lucban, Quezon; Tangkayawan, Quezon; Tiaong, Quezon; Real, Quezon; Polilio, Quezon; Agoncillio, Batangas; Bansud, Oriental Mindoro; odiongan, Romblon; Roxas, Capiz; San Joaquin, Iloilo; Ibajay, Aklan; Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo; Padada, Davao del Sur; Mati, Davao Oriental; Tagum, Davao del Norte; and Isulan, Sultan Kudarat would benefit from the financial assistance. NMIS director Minda Manantan said the upgrade of existing slaughterhouses and construction of new ones in the chosen municipalities wouldenable livestock raisers to meet the quality standards of meat processors. “This will address the sanitation concerns of meat processors,� she said in an address during the signing of the agreement. The funding for the upgrade and construction of the 18 AA slaughterhouses was originally intended for the construction of two AAA (export-oriented) slaughterhouses in Luzon, the construction of which were deferred next year. Manantan said that of the P180 million in original funding, P139 million would be used for the construction of the slaughterhouses while the remaining funds would be used to establish cold chain systems for the transfer of the cuts to meat processors. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the upgrade of some of the slaughterhouses have already started.

He said the DA is also considering the addition of biodigesters in the slaughterhouses to be used in the generation of the abattoirs’ power requirements. Alcala said the construction of two AAA slaughterhouses in Luzon are expected to finally push through next year. “We have already identified locations and we are evaluating the best place. We also need the support of the local government unit,” he said. The original budget of P180 million for the AAA slaughterhouses may be increased. The government is postponing to 2013 the construction of two export-oriented slaughterhouses in Luzon because the local government units (LGUs) that are the intended beneficiaries of the project are not yet prepared to host the abattoirs. The slaughterhouses would enable hog raisers to supply the cuts required by meat processors.

Suspension of tax perks for Thai agri firm urged By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2012 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Two committees of the House of Representatives urged the Board of Investments (BOI) yesterday to suspend the tax privileges it has granted Thai agricultural giant Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF), which is expanding its operations in the country. The committee on agriculture and food, chaired by Batangas Rep. Mark Mendoza, and the special committee on food security, headed by Rep. Agapito Guanlao of the party-list group Butil, made the call in the course of a hearing on CPF’s tax perks. “The BOI should hold in abeyance the tax holidays granted to CPF, which other investors do not enjoy. We have to carefully study the adverse effects of the Thai firm’s projects on the local hog-raising sector, particularly backyard raisers,” Guanlao said. The Thai firm, which started its business in the Philippines in 2007 in Cebu, has bought land in Floridablanca and San Fernando in Pampanga, Gerona in Tarlac, Jaen in Nueva Ecija, and Samat in Bataan, where it plans to build hog farms. Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. and BOI Director Lucita Reyes promised to review CPF’s tax privileges but refused to give the committee documents relating to the grant of such incentives, claiming they are confidential. The two committees decided to issue a subpoena for the production of such documents in their next hearing. Aside from the tax perks, Guanlao and Mendoza said they want to find out how the Thai company managed to accumulate at least 100 hectares of agricultural land in Central Luzon for its planned hog farms. Nestor Floranda of the Department of Agrarian Reform told the two committees that 80 percent of farmlands in Luzon is already in the hands of beneficiaries of the comprehensive agrarian reform program.

Inflation dips to 8-month low of 2.8% By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2012 - 12:00am 0 7 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Consumer prices eased to 2.8 percent in November, the slowest since March this year due to sufficient supply of agriculture and fish products and lower domestic petroleum prices, the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported yesterday. The latest inflation rate was the slowest since March’s 2.6 percent and was also down from the 4.7-percent rate recorded in the same period last year. Inflation rate is the growth in the prices of goods and services commonly purchased by households. “The abundant supply of agriculture and fishery products in November 2012 resulted in greater annual reductions in the prices of various food items compared to the previous month,’’ National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) officer-in-charge Rolando Tungpalan said. Malacañang expressed elation over the decline in consumer prices, saying this would contribute significantly to the economy’s growth momentum. “This comes at a time when the Philippine economy is growing at a strong 7.1 percent, contrary to the common notion that rapid economic growth is usually accompanied by inflationary pressures,’’ Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. The November figure fell within the 2.7-percent to 3.6-percent forecast range by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), which yesterday said policy rates remained appropriate for the economy, ahead of its policy meeting next week. Year-to-date inflation stayed at 3.2 percent, falling at the low-end of the BSP’s three to five-percent target for the year. It is also near the BSP’s outlook for the year of 3.3 percent. “This is an indication that inflation has remained under control... At this point in time, the stance of monetary policy is appropriate,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. told reporters on the sidelines of a financial education summit in Makati.

To support growth, the central bank cut its policy rates by a total of 100 basis points this year to a new record low of 3.5 percent for overnight borrowing and 5.5 percent for overnight lending. The economy grew by 6.5 percent for the first three quarters, surpassing government targets. “The Philippines is in a good position of having achieved the ideal convergence of high economic growth and low inflation,� he added. Consumer prices eased in November on the back of slower annual increments for food and non-alcoholic beverages, electricity, water, housing and oil, as well as transportation prices, the government statitics office said. Compared with their October levels, price increases of food and non-alcoholic beverages slowed to 2.2 percent from 2.5 percent, utilities (to 3.8 percent from 4.5 percent) and transportation (to 1.3 percent from 1.7 percent). Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and oil prices, likewise dipped to 3.4 percent from 3.6 percent. On the flipside, prices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco went up faster at five percent from 4.8 percent, NSO said. The health and communication indices also recorded a slight uptick to 3.1 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. – with Aurea Calica, Ted Torres

Ham prices moving up By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2012 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Prices of most items for the traditional Noche Buena meal have been stable except for the huge movement in prices of some brands of ham, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said. “For Noche Buena products, most of the items that will be sold... have relatively been stable and are at the price levels of 2011, except for ham,” Trade undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya told reporters in a chance interview. She said that based on the department’s monitoring, prices of ham sold in the market have increased by about two to six percent or a low of P4 to a high of P41.50 per box from last year for all brands. According to the DTI, the suggested retail price (SRP) for one kilogram (kg) of noche buena ham ranges from P170 to P182.75 as of Nov. 14. For fruit cocktail, price hikes were seen for two brands with the increase ranging from P1 to P4.50 per can from last year. “The leading brand has not increased. It is of the same price as last year so that should be no problem,” Maglaya said. The SRP for 439 grams of fruit cocktail is from P49.50 to P50.25. For pasta or spaghetti, Maglaya said only one brand recorded a price increase ranging from P1.25 to P1.75 per pack compared to last year. The SRP for 400 grams of spaghetti ranges from P32.75 to P52.25. For salad macaroni, Maglaya said, prices of all brands declined from a year ago. “It went down by as much as P12.25 per pack. That’s good news,” she said. The SRP for 400 grams of elbow or salad macaroni is from P39 to P52.50. As for spaghetti sauce, only one brand recorded a price increase from last year by P1.30 to P2.25 per pack. The SRP for 250 grams of spaghetti sauce is P22 to P24.50. For milk used for cooking, only slight increases were seen. Maglaya said the price of milk increased by about P0.50 to P1 per can.

The SRP for 250 milliliter of evaporated milk is P25. Maglaya said that while prices of items for Noche Buena have been mostly stable, some slight movements may still be seen in the coming days. “There may still be some slight movements towards the Christmas week,� she said, adding though that it should not be higher than the SRP.

Government optimistic it will meet this year’s spending target By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2012 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is optimistic that it would be able to meet this year’s program to spend P1.839 trillion this year. Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad told The Star that it’s possible to meet the target in terms of release of allotments. Abad said even in terms of cash disbursements, expenditures have also been improving and would continue to improve. “In terms of cash disbursements, it will be dramatically higher than last year also,” Abad said. He noted for instance that many government agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have significantly improved in their absorptive capacities such as in terms of release of allotments and cash disbursements. The Aquino administration has been trying to boost spending to fuel economic growth. In the ten months of October, the government spent P1.369 trillion, which is 14.5 percent higher than year-ago figures.Of the amount, the government spent P1.102 trillion for the regular disbursements and P266.689 billion for interest payments. This is an improvement from the P960.179 billion for regular disbursements and P235 billion for interest payments.For the whole year, the government has programmed to spend P1.839 trillion or P317 billion for interest payments and P1.102 trillion for the regular disbursements. While government spending has been improving, the government’s end-October deficit recorded at P115.736 billion is still way below the programmed ceiling of P279 billion for the whole year. Nevertheless, Abad said the government would continue to improve spending for various needs including infrastructure projects under the government’s public-private partnership program (PPP) and other road projects. For instance, the DPWH is allotting P5 billion for several high-impact flood-control projects in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.The P5-billion infrastructure fund will be divided among 15 projects, the Budget department said.

PCA distributes seed nuts to ex-Muslim rebels, tribesmen Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 19:31 Written by Jennifer A. Ng THE Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has distributed 30,000 coco seed nuts to returning Muslim rebels and an indigenous tribe in South Cotabato province as part of its coconut seed-dispersal program in Mindanao. The 101st Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Brigade and the Ubo Tribal Group also received 15,000 seed nuts each for their planting projects in their respective ancestral domains in the province’s Lake Sebu and adjacent municipalities. The seed nuts were of premium, early-bearing hybrid varieties provided by the PCA’s National Coconut Seednut Production Center in Aroman town, North Cotabato province. PCA Administrator Euclides Forbes assured the brigade members and Ubo tribesmen of the agency’s full support in developing a vibrant coconut-based industry in their locality to provide them additional livelihood. The project with the MNLF and the tribe initially covers 300 hectares of new coconut farmlands. Mindanao is a region that is considered by experts as most suitable for the production of food and cash crops, such as the coconut, as it is rarely visited by typhoons. (Jennifer A. Ng)

In celebration of biotechnology Category: Opinion Published on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 17:36 Written by Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. / US Ambassador to the Philippines ON behalf of the United States, I would like to offer congratulations to the government of the Philippines for holding its Eighth National Biotechnology Week (November 26-30)! The co-sponsorship of National Biotech Week by the Departments of Science and Technology, Agriculture, Health, Environment and Natural Resources, Interior and Local Government, Trade and Industry, and the Commission on Higher Education, is eloquent testimony to the contributions of this powerful technology to many aspects of our lives, and to the great promise it holds for the future. With the world population passing 7 billion in 2011, the pressures on agriculture, health care and the environment have never been greater. But these pressures and challenges are not new. In 1798 the English philosopher Thomas Malthus warned that a growing population would lead inevitably to mass starvation. Fortunately, the ingenuity and accomplishments of farmers and scientists have allowed crop yields to outpace the growing demand for food. For thousands of years our ancestors saved seeds from the best plants and crossed them with others in pursuit of more production and new varieties. As our understanding of plant genetics has improved, so has our ability to get the most out of our crops. In the United States, average corn yields increased from 1.1 ton per hectare in 1940 to over 10 tons per hectare in 2010. Millions of Filipino farmers have also achieved major yield increases by adopting modern agricultural practices. Biotechnology played a key role in these achievements, improving yields while reducing erosion and the use of pesticides.Meanwhile, the use of biotechnology in medicine is responsible for a number of revolutionary advances, such as the production of insulin to treat diabetics. The Philippines has long been a strong international partner and well-recognized leader in the responsible regulation and use of this miraculous technology. Indeed, some of the world’s leading research on key crops such as rice and eggplant is being conducted in the Philippines by Filipino scientists.The past and future contributions of biotechnology to health, food security and the environment have clearly made it a technology worth celebrating. The Philippines and the United States share a commitment to applying a science-based approach to the use of biotechnology. Congratulations again on this successful and important event.

Agri Plain Talk

Bright Prospects In Sugar Industry By ZAC B. SARIAN December 5, 2012, 4:09pm

BEE CULTURE FOR HONEY PRODUCTION AND POLLINATION — Bee culture is one of the projects being undertaken at the farm of Mario Rabang in the rolling hills of Abucay, Bataan. The project is both for the production of honey as well as for enhancing pollination There are a number of developments that point to a rosy future for the local sugar industry. These were cited by a top executive of a leading company engaged in the sugar industry. He is Archimedes B. Amarra, vice president of Roxas Holdings, Inc. for marketing, trading, corporate planning and corporate strategy. He also served as a board member of the Sugar Regulatory Administration, and in other capacities in a number of foundations or agencies involved in the sugar industry. One recent significant development was the ability of the country to diversify the foreign market for Philippine sugar. Another was the effective curtailment of smuggled or unauthorized entry of sugar from outside sources. Amarra cited that in crop year 2010/11 sugar production reached 2.4 million tons which was a significant increase from the previous year’s production of 1.97 million metric tons. To prevent the undue drop in price for locally produced sugar, the SRA was aggressive enough to look for markets abroad. SRA was able to negotiate with the US for additional

purchases. The Philippines originally had an allocation of 138,000 tons for 2011-2012, but the shipment from Sept. 3, 2011 to July 5, 2012 had increased to 163,900 tons. In addition to the increased shipment to the US, the SRA’s marketing efforts resulted in the shipment of 361,663 tons (D sugar) to Japan, China and Indonesia in the same period. Amarra said that SRA’s efforts were an effective market diversification move to meet a potentially problematic overflow of production carryover from the previous year. The Bureau of Customs’ efforts in curbing sugar smuggling also contributed to the stabilized price range for domestic raw sugar (millgate) in the vicinity of P1,300 per Lkg (50-kg sugar) in the first half of crop year 2011/12.Official data from Thailand reported that the volume of sugar exported to the Philippines was about 126,829 metric tons for the period of November 2010 to October 2011 while the reports from the SRA indicated that the agency allowed the importation of 117,000 metric tons for the same period. This is a very significant reduction from previous estimates of 200,000 to 300,000 tons of illegal or unauthorized entry of sugar each year. Amarra cites one more indication pointing to the bright prospects of the sugar industry. This is the positive market response to the relisting of Victorias Milling Company at the Philippine Stock Exchange, which means that the sugar industry is getting a serious second look from the business sector. He cites reports in media that the Metro Pacific group of Manuel V. Pangilinan is keen in getting into the sugar business. Amarra considers as the foremost challenge to the sugar industry the decelerating rate of AFTA tariff on sugar imports from 38% in 2011 to 18 percent in January 2013, down to 10% in January 2014 and then 5% in January 2015. He is optimistic, however, that the local sugarcane farmers can meet the challenge. He said that since 2010, the industry embarked on the implementation of the master plan for the sugar industry in conjunction with the SRA Road Map. The twin objectives of cost competitiveness and profitability were set. A cost of US 14 cents per pound (or about P750 per LKg was set as the bottom line. At this level, producing sugar in the country should provide sufficient returns to both farm and industrial sectors despite competition from the expected imports come 2015. The targets, Mr. Amarra says, are an acknowledgment that fluctuating world prices (and therefore import prices) cannot be accurately forcasted nor influenced by the local industry. As of the middle of 2012, nine sugarcane producing areas or districts have reported average costs of production at about or below the mark mentioned above. Many more areas, however, need to shape and are forecasted to catch up with the implementation of more projects to support efforts at the farms and the factories.


PHILIPPINE FOOD PRODUCTS IN EUROPEAN MARKET THROUGH PINOY FOOD FAIR December 5, 2012, 5:23pm TO promote Philippine food products in Europe, the Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Office of the Agricultural Attaché in Brussels, staged the recent Philippine food promotional event called “Hapag Yaman: Top Chefs Working with the Best of Philippine Products” in Brussels, Belgium. This year’s event featured an ensemble of nine top chefs in Belgium and France, most of whom have Michelin stars attached to their establishments, who prepared gourmet dishes using Philippine bangus, prawns, octopus, cuttlefish, ube, pomelo, calamansi, mangoes, sauces and fruit syrups, coconut oil, and coconut sugar, among others. The chefs came up with gourmet dishes like Philippine octopus with misua, bangus escabeche (Western style), surf & turf cuttlefish, prawn fremie and ube rice pudding in coco mousse and calamansi coulis, and the classic Philippine chicken tinola. Drinks served were organic coconut juice, iced teas, juices, beers, brandies, and rum, all Philippine brands. Hapag Yaman is part of the DA’s European Food Circuit Tour which presents Philippine agricultural products, in cooperation with the private sector, to the European market. It taps renowned chefs to interpret Philippine dishes using quality and high value export food products from the Philippines. It serves as a platform of exchange for buyers and sellers that can view, taste, and enjoy Philippine agricultural products in a conducive setting. Completing the Philippine theme is the adornment of the venue with fabrics made possible with the assistance of the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA). Each of the chefs and members of the Hapag Yaman organizing team donned a barong tagalog made from pineapple fiber. Hapag Yaman was supported by various Philippine and Europe-based companies. We congratulate the government of the Republic of the Philippines headed by H.E. President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Department of Agriculture led by Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, for successfully promoting Philippine food products in European market through the “Hapag Yaman: Top Chefs Working with the Best of Philippine Products” in Brussels, Belgium. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!

Senators ratify P2-trillion budget By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on Dec. 06, 2012 at 12:01am | 514 views

THE Senate on Wednesday ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed P2-trillion national budget for 2013, higher by 10.% percent than the 2012 appropriations. Senator Franklin Drilon, chairman of the finance committee, described the national spending plan as a tool for empowerment. “This year’s budget is expected to provide much needed funds aimed at improving government’s infrastructure projects, thereby enhancing public services and providing more jobs, better health care services, and education,” Drilon said. The Senate panel in the bicameral conference committee included Senators Ralph G. Recto, Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Panfilo Lacson, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV. Drilon mentioned the top ten departments which received the bulk of the budget, namely: Education a budget of P293.32 billion from this year’s P238.8 billion; Public Works and Highways from P126.4 billion to P152.4 billion; National Defense, from P108.1 billion to P121.6 billion; Interior and Local Government, including the PNP, from P99.8 billion in 2012 to P121.12 billion; Agriculture, from P61.4 billion to P74.1 billion; Health, from P45.8 billion to P56.8 billion; Social Welfare and Development, from P48.8 billion to P56.2 billion; Transportation and Communications, from P34.7 billion to P37.1 billion; Finance, P23.6 billion to P33.2 billion; and Environment and Natural Resources, from P17.5 billion to P23.7 billion.

Drilon said the Health budget did not include the sin tax proceeds earmarked for this purpose. “We estimate that it should at least be P23 billion; if not more, in addition to what is provided in the 2013 budget,” Drilon said. “The disagreeing provisions were minimal at best,” he said. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will be receiving copies of the appropriations bill in the next few days, he said. “We are confident that President Aquino will be able to sign the measure into law before the end of the year.” He noted that this will be the third year that the budget will be enacted into law in time for the coming fiscal year. The proposed national budget for 2013 has been earlier approved in the congressional bicameral conference committee. The report was signed by members of both panels of the Senate and the House of Representatives after they met at the Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City.‐ratify‐p2‐trillion‐budget/                   

PPI journalism workshop By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Dec. 06, 2012 at 12:00am | 247 views

The Philippine Press Institute and Philippines Communication Society will hold a joint conference dubbed as “Making Sense of Journalism Today” on December 7, 2012 at St. Mary’s College, Quezon City. This is PPI’s final salvo for 2012 on a series of seminar-workshops on scholastic press as part of its outreach program. The previous workshops were held in Davao, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro. PCS, a group of communication scholars and media practitioners, shares PPI’s belief that by going back to the basics of journalism which are excellence and ethics is how this scholastic press program would benefit campus journalists, journalism and communication students through a conference. Thus, the organizers have invited Joseph Alwyn Alburo, GMA 7 Program Manager, and Rowena Paraan, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Secretary General, to reinforce classroom lessons with the rigors of the practice from media practitioners themselves. Moreover, the book “Crimes and Unpunishment: the Killing of Filipino Journalists” published by UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines and Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) will be launched during the program. Annual PCS membership meeting and election of officers will ensue after the conference. AIJC and St. Mary’s College-Quezon City are co-sponsors of the event.‐journalism‐workshop/ 

Sign language bill passes By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Dec. 06, 2012 at 12:00am | 54 views

The House of Representatives has approved on third reading a bill which requires the use of Filipino sign language insets for local news programs. House Bill 6709, the substitute bill of House Bills 4121, 1055 and 3838 authored by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, and Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino, was intended to make television more accessible to persons with hearing disabilities. With the passage of the bill, the bills’ authors said that all free-to-air television stations will be required to provide Filipino sign language insets, and if possible, closed caption or subtitles in at least two newscast programs a day and special programs covering events of national significance.‐language‐bill‐passes/                     

Low attrition rate By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Dec. 06, 2012 at 12:01am | 152 views

Companies in the Philippines experience less difficulty in attracting and retaining employees compared with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a survey by global professional services company Towers Watson. The survey found that the attrition rate in the Philippines was lower than in other fast-growing economies such as China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The Philippines also reported higher hiring activity than other countries in the region. “In the Philippines, aside from base pay and job security, employers perceived health care and wellness benefits among the top attraction drivers but in the eyes of employees, learning and development opportunities were more attractive,” it said. It said employers in the Philippines underrated the impact of trust or confidence in senior leadership, job security and convenient work location as retention drivers. Health and wellness benefits were perceived by employers as good retention tools, though employees reported that they preferred retirement benefits over these.The Towers Watson Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey surveyed 1,605 companies globally, out of which 796 were from Asia Pacific. The study found that 79 percent of employers in Asia Pacific had problems attracting critical-skill employees, while more than seven in 10 employers (73 percent) had difficulty attracting high-potential employees, compared to global figures of 72 percent and 60 percent, respectively.‐attrition‐rate/ 

PSE cites 5 firms, 6 traders By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Dec. 06, 2012 at 12:00am | 282 views

Five listed companies and six trading participants clinched the top honors in the first 2012 Bell Awards for Corporate Governance given by the Philippine Stock Exchange during its 20th anniversary celebration on Dec. 3. The PSE Bell Awards served as the highlight of the exchange’s 20th anniversary celebration that gathered key decision makers from both the public and private sectors. “Through the first PSE Bell Awards for corporate governance, we hope to deliver the message that the exchange joins the government and the private sector in upholding good governance in the country. We want to highlight the importance of good corporate governance through the PSE Bell Awards,” PSE president and chief executive Hans Sicat said. The winners for listed firms are Ayala Land Inc., China Banking Corp., Globe Telecom Inc., Manila Water Co. Inc. and SM Prime Holdings Inc. Meanwhile, the winners in the large trading participant category are CLSA Philippines Inc. COL Financial Group Inc., and Macquarie Securities (Philippines) Inc. Winners in the small trading participant category are Armstrong Securities Inc., PCIB Securities Inc. and Tri-State Securities Inc. The PSE Bell Awards added prestige and credibility to its first corporate governance awards by tapping the expertise of respected capital markets practitioners and regulators.

Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Teresita Herbosa served as the chairman of the Bell Awards panel of judges. Others in the panel are Isla Lipana & Co. or PricewaterhouseCoopers chairman and senior partners Judith Lopez, Governance Commission for GOCCs head Cesar Villanueva, and UK Ambassador to the Philippines Stephen Lillie.‐cites‐5‐firms‐6‐traders/                                         

Posted on December 05, 2012 11:38:13 PM

By Diane Claire J. Jiao and Ann R. R. Gregorio

BSP considers controls MONETARY OFFICIALS are considering a holding period for portfolio investments as part of policy responses against the threat of volatile capital flows. "We are studying some length-of-stay provisions to prevent money from leaving within 90 days," Monetary Board member Felipe M. Medalla yesterday said at the sidelines of an event sponsored by a think tank. Once implemented, foreign investors will not be able to take out placements in securities and equities until the holding period lapses, he explained. The Monetary Board, though, is still reviewing the scheme’s scope and the mechanics, he said, adding that implementation is just as important as the principle of the policy. "Should equities be included or excluded? What will be the mechanics? Who will implement? The devil is in the details," said Mr. Medalla, who was Socioeconomic Planning secretary during the Estrada administration. The Monetary Board is not expected to come to a decision during its Dec. 13 policy-setting meeting but Mr. Medalla said the holding period could be implemented "very quickly" if necessary. "We need to be able to balance the benefits and the harms that come along with capital inflows," he said. The Philippines, among other emerging nations, has been attracting capital inflows as investors turn away from advanced economies that are continuing to struggle amid the global downturn. The bulk of these inflows enter as portfolio investments, directed at equities and securities and also called "hot money" for the ease with which the funds can enter and leave the market. Net inflows have been forecast by the BSP to hit $4.5 billion this year, 10% more than the $4.078 billion recorded in 2011. As of Nov. 16, net inflows totaled $3.161 billion. Concerns have been raised that a reversal could trigger a market crash along the lines of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Indonesia implemented a six-month holding period last year for central bank bonds. Other economies have imposed similar measures, such as taxes and fees on inflows and foreigners’ interest income. Another strategy being eyed by the BSP, central bank Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. yesterday said, is a cap on banks’ non-deliverable forwards (NDFs). "[The ceiling] is being discussed with the Bankers’ Association of the Philippines (BAP)," Mr. Tetangco said at the sidelines of the Citi-Financial Times Financial Education Summit.

The cap, he explained, will cover the entire industry, imposed on the total amount of banks’ transactions. NDFs allow market players to hedge against foreign exchange rate fluctuations. However, some investors use it as a tool to make a "currency play," betting that the peso will further appreciate against the dollar. The BSP regards this as a destabilizing practice, prompting it to raise capital charges on NDFs to 15% from 10% in January to curb speculation. The peso ended at P40.85 to the US dollar yesterday, a 59-month high. It has so far gained by 6.82% against its P43.84:$1 close on the last trading day of 2011. A senior official from a local bank confirmed that an NDF cap had been discussed by the central bank with the BAP. He added, however, that an agreement still had to be reached. "Putting a cap on banks’ NDF transactions will definitely temper dollar inflows because banks would have to turn down some clients given the limit, which will effectively temper the peso’s sharp appreciation that is hurting the overseas workers and exporters," the source said. Asia United Bank President Abraham T. Co, meanwhile, cast doubt on the effectivity of imposing a three-month holding period on foreign portfolio investments. "It could work in the stock market because investors will be worried about being locked in for 90 days," Mr. Co said. It may not be as effective when applied to the bond market though, he said, as the only risk for foreign investors will be currency fluctuations. Since the peso has been steadily appreciating, it may be a one-way bet for these investors, Mr. Co said.‐considers‐ controls&id=62530                 

Posted on December 05, 2012 11:33:00 PM

Export goals still achievable? EXPORT GROWTH targets for the year can be achieved if an electronics sector rebound continues, a Trade official yesterday claimed. Given a surge in September, Trade Undersecretary Cristino L. Panlilio told an industry gathering that merchandise exports could "hit $52 billion to $53 billion by December 31." With 2011 exports having totalled $47.9 billion, his estimates would mean 2012 growth in the 8.510.6% range, better than the government’s reduced 8% outlook or the original 10% target. September saw exports gain by 22.8% to $4.78 billion, a near-two year high, with electronics’ 1.1% uptick to $1.83 billion snapping a five-month slump. Year-to-date merchandise export growth, however, remains below target at an annual 7.2%, equivalent to $40.07 billion. Electronics remain in a slump overall, down 7.24% from a year earlier. But with data from the last three months of the year still to be counted, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., said, "It is very possible that we will reach ... maybe around 9% to 10% ... if electronics continues to pick up we will definitely meet it." Mr. Panlilio, who told businessmen attending the National Export Congress to "work harder," noted that "if you book your shipments before December 31 it will still be part of our 2012 numbers". "There is high demand for our products, of course, because it is the Christmas season, so there will be a pickup in exports," he added.‐goals‐still‐ achievable?&id=62527               

Posted on December 05, 2012 08:55:54 PM

Peso stays on appreciation track THE PESO hit a new all-time high for the year despite its limited movement against the dollar yesterday as the greenback closed weaker due to continued concerns over the US fiscal cliff.

  The local unit gained two centavos to close at P40.85 per dollar yesterday against its P40.87-perdollar close last Tuesday. The peso has so far appreciated by 6.82% as of yesterday against its P43.84 per dollar close on Dec. 29, 2011, the last trading day of 2011. A trader, in a phone interview, said: “The peso traded within a tight range yesterday. It tracked other Asian currencies that also gained against the dollar. The dollar was generally weak yesterday, still due to concerns over the US fiscal cliff.” The local unit traded within the P40.85- to P40.875-per-dollar band. US President Barack Obama last Tuesday stood firm on his stance on imposing higher tax rates on the richest 2% of taxpayers in the US beginning next year to avoid huge spending cuts. This is currently facing opposition from Republicans, making the prospect of a deal before the end of the year uncertain. In a separate phone interview, another trader noted: “The peso may have been supported by continued remittance inflows to the country as we near Christmas.” The peso’s surge was countered by dollar purchases by the central bank. The trader said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas purchased $200 to $300 million worth of dollars when the peso traded at P40.85 to the dollar. The peso is seen trading within the P40.80-to P40.95-per-dollar band today. Dollars traded yesterday inched up to $754.20 million from the $752.35 million traded the previous day. -- Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio‐stays‐on‐appreciation‐ track&id=62495     

Posted on December 05, 2012 08:55:10 PM

Cooperation in financial literacy needed THE GOVERNMENT and the private sector must work together and utilize various tools to enhance financial literacy globally, experts yesterday said. “Around 3.4 billion people in this planet have not gone through any process of financial education,” said Julius Caesar Parreñas, coordinator and member of the advisory group of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, at a session titled “Bridging the Financial Capability Gap -- The Social, Economic and Moral Imperatives” during the Citi-FT Financial Education Summit 2012 in Makati City. He said there is a need for the government and the private sector to combine their resources to increase financial literacy around the globe. “Financial education is a very promising public-private partnership...However, there is a lot of work to be done such as developing the applicable models for each segment and identifying the relevant stakeholders and getting them to work together,” he said. From his experience, Mr. Parreñas said different sectors of society must be approached with “different frameworks” to be able to address their specific needs. Stephen Rasmussen, manager for business innovation and technology program of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, agreed and said: “The low income sector of society is under a lot of stress when making financial decisions... They face much stronger repercussions from making mistakes than those with higher income who have access to various information.” Mr. Parreñas also said that advocates of financial literacy must tap various channels to reach more segments in society. “With mobile banking and other new technologies, we have to look at new ways to promote and provide financial education,” he said. For his part, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr., during his speech stressed the importance of financial literacy as it is vital in “ensuring a person’s well-being.” Financial literacy, he said, empowers the citizenry and improves people’s lives. “It is a life-skill that will ensure a better future,” Mr. Tetangco said.‐in‐financial‐ literacy‐needed&id=62494         

Local hog and poultry producers up in arms against BoI decision • •

Written by Tribune

Thursday, 06 December 2012 00:00

Hog and poultry producers in the country are up in arms against a recent decision by the government allowing a Thailand-based agribusiness company to operate a multibillion-peso integrated facility in the country.

“All our hard work, blood, sweat and tears will be put to waste if the Thai company is allowed to operate here. It will not only kill the business of local producers who worked very hard for many years but will also be detrimental to the national economy,” a local producer, who requested anonymity, said.

The Board of Investments (BoI) released a decision recently allowing Charoen Pokphand (CP), a large agribusiness enterprise and Asia’s largest swine and poultry producer, to put up Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippines Corp. (CPFP).

CPFP has been given the green light to build a P2.32-billion integrated hog facility that will produce 3,647 metric tons of slaughter hogs and six huge poultry farms with an annual parent stock capacity of 25,453 heads producing 21,847 metric tons of chicken.

“What we are complaining about is that CPFP, a foreign company, was given the license to operate a facility in our country with multiple tax incentives, including tariff-free importation of feeds and equipment. Local producers were not given these same incentives at all,” the local producer said.

With these tax perks, CPFP will get a 6 to 10 percent pricing advantage over local poultry and hog producers, a huge disadvantage already because of the fact that chicken and pork are two highly price-sensitive commodities.

And once the CPFP facility is operational, its production output will bring about a flood of lowpriced poultry and meat products in the local market, according to the local producer. This will kill

the business of backyard, small and medium-scale hog and poultry producers. Even corn farmers, who have all waited for real substantial government support and subsidy, will be affected by the tax-free feed importation granted to CPFP, not to mention massive loss of jobs.

“The government is supposed to protect local business from the entry of foreign companies and unfair competition. With the (BoI) decision, the government is effectively killing the local industry, aside from causing the loss of jobs to thousands of Filipinos who depend on the local agribusiness sector in order to put food on the table,” the local producer said.

The local producer even invoked the protection guaranteed by Section 1, Article XII of the Philippine Constitution for Filipino businesses which provides for the State to “protect Filipino enterprises against unfair foreign competition and trade practices.”

“We can accept if our business was wiped out by natural disasters like typhoon or floods. We can easily rebuild it but the impact of this development is far worse than any natural disaster, and I don’t believe we can ever recover from it,” the local producer said.‐section/item/7771‐local‐hog‐and‐poultry‐ producers‐up‐in‐arms‐against‐boi‐decision                       

Following Charter can help economy grow—expert • •

Written by Ed Velasco

Thursday, 06 December 2012 00:00

All governments should adhere to constitutional provisions of their country regardless of system of governance whether democratic, autocratic or dictatorial, a leading economics expert said yesterday.

Dr. Bernardo Villegas, senior vice president of the University of Asia and the Pacific, said there are many dictatorial governments in the world that prospered because their leaders followed their Constitution even though the Constitution was just a product of their leadership.

“Who can forget Park Chung Hee of South Korea? He was a dictator. From that strict leadership, he created the 11th biggest economy in the world and it keeps on going at faster phase,” Villegas told the crowd yesterday at the roundtable discussion sponsored by the Angara Centre at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

He said during Park’s term, the late dictator abolished the South Korean parliament twice and amended the Constitution thrice to give the local economy due advantage against foreign competition during that time.

According to the economist, Park and former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos had the same mind frame but the latter failed to bring prosperity and growth in the Philippines. “Park developed hungdon system which is to include those in the grassroots in lifting the economy,” the economist said.

Villegas said the former South Korean president used the technocrats and chaebols (family-run businesses) in managing the economy.

In the Philippines, Marcos also used technocrats but only for his own gain.

The economist admitted there are now serious problems evolving around family-run businesses in South Korea because all of them used to be backyard industries that are now among the best and biggest profiteering companies in the world.

Among the chaebols that grew 33 years after Park was killed are Samsung, Hyundai and LG. Villegas said the elections in South Korea two weeks from now will be very crucial since the leading candidate is Park’s only daughter.

“South Korean people are caught between the rock and a hard place because despite the economic gains under his rule, the terror of his iron hand rule persists. Thousands had disappeared and jailed during those years without trial but the flashpoint is the dozens fold GDP per capita, export growth, GDP growth and erasing the country’s image as Japan’s clone,” Villegas explained.

The South Korean dictator ruled from 1961 to 1979. He was serving his fifth term when his chief intelligence agent shot him in October 1979, ending 18 years of strict, iron-fisted dictatorship.

“Park used the technocrats to the full to help him manage the economy while Marcos did not. That is their biggest difference,” the UA&P official, who is a high-ranking member of Opus Dei, pointed out.

Villegas’ comments about the strong handed strategy of the two presidents were supported by Dr. James Robinson, the guest of honor at yesterday’s meet.

“Even Putin of Russia used the oligarchs to shake off Russia’s bad image right after Yeltsin’s departu‐following‐charter‐can‐help‐ economy‐grow%E2%80%94expert       

Hearing on CPFPC clarifies hog, poultry growers’ issues • •

Written by Aileen Lor

Thursday, 06 December 2012 00:00

The congressional hearing yesterday over a recent Board of Investment (BoI) registration of Chareon Pokphand Food Philippines Corp. (CPFPC) helped clarify issues among local hog and poultry growers. During the hearing, BoI managing head Adrian Cristobal Jr. said that the registration of CPFPC was in accordance with the existing laws, rules and even procedures. “The existing laws are applicable to all, foreign and local alike. Should consultations result to recommendations by the stakeholders to amend certain provisions of the law, we can consider revising these as well as the Investment Priorities Plan,” Cristobal said.

Meanwhile, representatives from hog and poultry organizations expressed their fears that the entry of the foreign investors might have a negative effect in the livelihood of small and medium growers.

However, the BoI clarified that 42 out of 45 projects registered in the sector are Filipino-owned. “For over past 10 years, 94 percent of our investments are locally owned. This is the first registration of a foreign-owned entity in this industry,” Cristobal said.

“The infusion of P5.9 billion will redound to substantial benefits of up to P11.5 billion to the economy over a 15-year period,” he added.

Stakeholders also appealed to government officials to review current procedures for BoI approvals. They also sought for the inclusion of consultations with local industry and relevant government agencies.‐hearing‐on‐cpfpc‐clarifies‐hog‐ poultry‐growers%E2%80%99‐issues 

2012 12 06 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor