Senators want ex‐NFA chief to answer rice smuggle raps By Cathy C. Yamsuan, Jeannette I. Andrade Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:39 am | Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 Convinced that a syndicate is behind rice smuggling in the country, senators want the former head of the National Food Authority (NFA) to answer charges that he “favored” rice importers over domestic farmers as alleged by a disgruntled officer of a rice cooperative. In an executive session, Simeon Sioson of 4SM Agri Venture Multi‐Purpose Cooperative told senators he was prepared to reveal more of former NFA Administrator Angelito Banayo’s alleged bias for rice importers. Senate leaders have provided Sioson with 24‐hour security after the co‐op officer revealed he was receiving death threats and was under surveillance by parties displeased by the ongoing probe by the chamber’s agriculture committee. Sioson’s revelation prompted Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada to ask the committee to invite Banayo anew to the Senate hearings. Banayo attended previous hearings as NFA head but he has resigned from the NFA to run for a seat in the House of Representatives. Contacted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Banayo said Monday that he did not favor rice importers during his stint at the NFA. “I could not have possibly favored rice importers over domestic farmers. We reduced importations drastically at the NFA,” he told the Inquirer in a phone interview. He said that in 2010, the Arroyo administration imported close to 2.5 million tons of rice, 200,000 tons of which were brought into the country by the private sector. By 2011, only 860,000 tons of rice were imported, 660,000 tons of which were brought in by traders and farmer‐cooperatives. This year, Banayo said, 500,000 tons were imported, 380,000 tons of which were brought in by the private sector while the NFA only brought in 120,000 tons. “Bigger allocations are given to the private sector… How can they say then that we favored importers over the farmers?” he said.
Bidding of allocations Banayo said a key change from the Arroyo administration’s practice of allocating imports to traders was the NFA’s bidding out of import permits under his stint. “The government loses a lot of revenue if importation permits are not bid out,” he said. He said that since the bidding was held by the NFA, the agency started earning revenue. From P103 million in 2010, the agency earned P1.6 billion in 2011 and P2.6 billion this year. Banayo said that people making the most noise probably lost in the bidding. As for rice smuggling, Banayo said the illegal activity was the concern of the Bureau of Customs. But he said, “There are many cooperatives, alleged farmer‐cooperatives, which may be allowing themselves to be used or are unwittingly being used by rice smugglers.” He said the NFA’s only concern was if a cargo of rice had an import permit. “If it does not have an importation permit, then it is illegal. Smuggling is the concern of the Customs,” he said. Fronts Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile told co‐op representatives who attended Monday’s hearing that traders were using them as fronts by buying their rice allocations and selling these at a huge profit. “If you yourselves sell the imported rice that you are allowed to acquire through allocations, then you can earn more than the P5 per bag of rice that you are paid,” Enrile said. Based on testimonies of various co‐op representatives, they pay a “service fee” of as much as P61 million so they can participate in the bidding for an allocation of rice to be imported. Normally, one allocation is equivalent to 10,000 metric tons (MT), or 200,000 bags. For each bag, a cooperative receives P5. This means the 10,000‐MT shipment earns a profit of only P1 million. If the cooperatives themselves sell the imported rice, they could earn more than this sum from the sale of 200,000 bags, according to Enrile. This is because the co‐ops eventually sell their allocations to wealthier rice traders.
Nixon Kua Some co‐op representatives said it was Banayo’s late associate, Nixon Kua, who subsidized the service fees paid to the NFA since the amounts were prohibitive to co‐ ops. They alleged that Kua, a former chief of the Philippine Tourism Authority, would arrive with envelopes containing checks equivalent to the subsidy after convincing them to participate in the bidding. At least two of the representatives said Kua had been a walk‐in visitor in their co‐op offices who offered to help them participate in the bidding for imported rice. In the case of the Indian rice shipment seized in Subic months ago, Magdangal Bayani III of St. Andrews Field Grains and Cereal Trading said Kua had assured him that he would provide the necessary documentation that would allow the co‐op to participate in the bidding for rice allocation. The Bureau of Customs seized 420,000 bags of Indian rice, estimated to be worth P450 million, allegedly smuggled through the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in April. Also foiled was an attempt to smuggle more than P100‐million worth of Vietnamese rice in Albay in September. Four unidentified men shot Kua in the face while he and his daughter were about to enter his brother’s house in Ayala Greenfield Subdivision in Calamba City in July. The attackers fled with the daughter’s bag containing P90,000 in cash meant to pay construction workers of the house that Kua was building in the same subdivision. Enrile, Estrada and the Senate agriculture committee chairman, Francis Pangilinan, were convinced of an existing syndicate in the NFA that allowed this arrangement that was disadvantageous to the co‐ops. Banayo told the Inquirer that “farmers” and “farmer‐ leaders” had to be differentiated. Farmers, he said, were planting rice while farmer‐ leaders imported rice. “They (farmer‐leaders) say they represent farmer cooperatives and the benefits go to farmers but they do not. That is the problem. We always tend to give incentives to organized farmers but who really benefits? The farmers or the farmer‐leaders? Most farmers are not able to import at all,” he said. Banayo said the “farmer‐leaders” had sought extra incentives from the NFA. Originally posted: 5:02 pm | Monday, December 10th, 2012 http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/321813/senate‐wants‐former‐nfa‐head‐probed‐anew
DA probes potato disease spread Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:09 am | Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
A WOMAN sorts out sacks filled with Benguet‐grown potatoes at the Hangar at Baguio City Public Market. RICHARD BALONGLONG/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—Government plant experts are tracking down Benguet farmers who may have unwittingly bought imported potato seeds that could be infected with a disease. The Department of Agriculture (DA) raised the alert after receiving reports and complaints from Gov. Nestor Fongwan that Canadian seeds imported and distributed by a local cooperative in April might have carried the potato blackleg (Erwinia carotovora). Benguet’s agriculture office has been collecting reports of rotten potato plants in many farms, Fongwan said on Thursday. He said the province was seriously taking these reports, owing to their potential impact on its multimillion‐peso vegetable industry. Benguet farms supply most of the salad vegetables, including potatoes, of Metro Manila and other markets in Luzon. Jesus Aspuria, Baguio superintendent of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the local office of the National Crop Research and Development Center, said initial surveys conducted in September confirmed several cases of rotten potato plants. The BPI, however, has yet to conclude that these cases came from imported potatoes. “Blackleg infection is also common in the Philippines,” Aspuria said. The potato blackleg bacteria turn the lower stems of potato plants black as infection turns the plant brittle until it wilts, according to the website, www.gardenorganic.org.uk. Its fact sheet on potato blackleg said that “even certified seeds can contain a blackleg but the disease is unlikely to spread from plant to plant during the life of the crop.”
Aspuria confirmed this detail but said the BPI’s task was to identify the farmers who bought the imported seeds. “The story about infected potatoes has been circulating [since July] so farmers are likely to be more careful, but there may be farmers who did not plant at first and who may decide to proceed to plant now because of the good weather,” he said. Farmers still rely on imported seeds because the government can only supply 2.5 tons a hectare of potato seeds, which they grow in Baguio greenhouses, he said. Potato farms cover 32,000 hectares in the Cordillera. The imported seeds under investigation cost farmers P70 a kilogram, compared to the seeds that the BPI sells for P25 a kg. In Benguet, 7,000 farmers annually produce an average of 97,834 metric tons of potatoes from a combined 10,967 ha of potato farms, government records showed. The farms are mostly in the towns of Buguias, Mankayan and Atok, all in Benguet, as well as in Bauko, Mt. Province. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/321969/da‐probes‐potato‐disease‐spread
Agri Growth Assured, Despite Pablo By ELLALYN B. DE VERA December 10, 2012, 5:39pm MANILA, Philippines ‐‐‐ Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala assured the public that the recent calamity will not adversely affect the total food and rice supply in the country, saying the country’s agriculture and fishery sector would register growth for the 4th quarter and the entire 2012. As of December 8, Alcala said agricultural damage due to typhoon “Pablo” has reached P8.5 billion, with the banana industry in Davao region suffering the bulk, at P5.6 billion, followed by the coconut sector, which reported losses amounting to about P767 million. Meanwhile, damage to livestock amounted to P393 million, while corn and rice suffered losses of P245 million and P177 million, respectively. The typhoon also damaged several irrigation systems worth P1.17 billion, and other fishery and other infrastructure, worth P25.8 million, for a total of P1.19 billion. During a meeting with DA Davao regional officials led by Director Constancio Maghanoy Jr., Alcala instructed them to speed up the delivery services and provision of interventions so that affected farmers and fisherfok would recover and resume their farming and fishing enterprises. In Davao region, initial DA assistance includes the distribution of about 15,719 bags certified rice seeds, open‐pollinated and hybrid corn seeds, and thousands of tissue cultured banana plantlets, including veterinary drugs and biologics for livestock raisers, he said. “We are currently implementing measures to help Cavendish banana growers so that they will be able to meet the delivery schedule of their overseas contracts,” he said. To assist exporters fulfill their commitments, he said the DA will help them source from unaffected plantations in Regions 10, 12 and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). He said the DA through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) will set aside P22 million for the insurance claims of banana farmers. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/385147/agri‐growth‐assured‐despite‐ pablo#.UMaWCaxFyKE
Major damage to the banana‐export industry Category: Opinion Published on Monday, 10 December 2012 18:39 Written by Butch del Castillo
THE entire cavendish banana‐export industry in Mindanao has emerged as the major economic casualty of Typhoon Pablo (international code name Bopha), which destroyed more than P9.2 billion worth of harvestable bananas and displaced at least 93,000 plantation workers in 11 provinces in the region. While the entire industry is lobbying for financial assistance, the ones more urgently needing and deserving of assistance are the “small banana growers” in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley provinces. These are the ones that are affiliated with the Mindanao Banana Farmers and Exporters Association (MBFEA), headed by Romy Garcia. He estimates that the damage wrought by Pablo on small banana farms would be some P3.5 billion. An estimated 13,230 hectares of banana plantations were damaged in Davao del Norte alone, based on reports submitted by the Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Council. Another 10,000 hectares of banana harvests were destroyed in Compostela Valley. For their part, the requirement of the “big boys” in the industry who are affiliated with the MBFEA would be much bigger. The cavendish banana‐export industry in Mindanao pull in average export receipts of some $720 million, or P28.8 billion, annually. This makes it the second‐largest agricultural dollar earner in the country and the backbone of Mindanao’s economy. Think of the huge opportunity losses while it tries to get back on its feet unassisted by the government.
Garcia said: “The banana industry is a vital component of Mindanao’s economy. The government must not ignore calls for its rehabilitation.” According to him, industry stakeholders are expected to face a more challenging year ahead because the full rehabilitation of the damaged plantations would take months before another harvest season can be expected from the affected areas. Estimates earlier made by the big or major growers and exporters right after the typhoon struck placed the total damage at about P12 billion. Nearly 30 percent of the areas planted with this export crop now lie in shambles. These estimates were made by the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association. The banana industry was already suffering huge losses brought about by supposedly quarantine sanctions imposed by China. And now the typhoon damage has all but crippled it. The Department of Agrarian Reform said agrarian‐reform beneficiaries owned most of the lands planted with cavendish bananas and that only 8,000 hectares of destroyed farms were operated and managed by members of the association. Omerta_bdc@yahoo.com http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/opinion/4971‐major‐damage‐to‐the‐ banana‐export‐industry
Former NFA chief, slain columnist linked to rice smuggling in PH By Maila Ager INQUIRER.net 3:53 pm | Monday, December 10th, 2012 1 274 245
Former PTA chief Nixon Kua. Facebook photo MANILA, Philippines – Former National Food Authority Lito Banayo and slain veteran columnist Nixon Kua have been dragged into the Senate’s investigation into the alleged rice smuggling in the country. Kua, who was shot by suspected robbers in July this year, was allegedly identified with Banayo. During Monday’s hearing in the Senate, Simeon Sioson of the 4 SM Agri Venture Multi‐ Purpose Cooperative, claimed that Banayo had only “favored” the group of Elizabeth Faustino, who identified herself as treasurer of farmers’ federation composed of 14 to 15 cooperatives. “I admit, we’re just a dummy,” an emotional Sioson said in Filipino. The P5 profit that the cooperatives had allegedly earned for each bag of rice sold to them, he said, was also not true. “Mr. Banayo was protecting the group of Ms. Elizabeth. The NFA is favoring only a few,” Sioson added. He said he was willing to tell all in an executive session but requested the Senate to give him protection .
Before this, Faustino claimed that it was Kua who paid the P57 million balance of the P61 million ‘service fee” that the Formosa Multi‐Purpose Cooperative paid to the NFA for the 10,000 metric tons of rice. Ricardo Gatuz of the Formosa Multi‐Purpose Cooperative, said they were only able to raise about P3M to P4 million to pay the NFA but Faustino helped them pay the balance. But when Senate President Juan Ponce‐Enrile asked Faustino about it, the latter pointed to Kua as the source of the money. “Hindi po ako. Hindi rin po ang federation. Meron pong tumulong sa amin. Si Mr. Nixon Kua (I was not the one. It’s also not the federation. Someone helped us, it’s Mr. Nixon Kua),” Faustino said in response to Enrile’s questions. She said she met Kua at the 6th floor of the NFA’s office. Faustino said it was Kua who had approached her and offered her 30 percent commission for every P5 per rice of bag of each cooperative . Several other cooperative members present in the hearing also identified Kua as agent of NFA, offering them to buy the rice from the agency. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/321733/former‐nfa‐chief‐slain‐columnist‐linked‐to‐rice‐ smuggling‐in‐ph
Palace assures funds enough to bring normalcy back to typhoon‐hit areas Category: Top News Published on Monday, 10 December 2012 21:15 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez / Reporter Malacañang gave its assurance on Monday that the government has enough funds to restore normalcy in areas ravaged by Typhoon Pablo. “Certainly, we have funds to make sure that the people of [the provinces of] Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley and the [other] affected areas will be able to rise up again,” Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a news briefing. The two provinces in southern Mindanao bore the brunt of the so‐called super typhoon, which battered them last week. Lacierda said that when Typhoon Sendong destroyed parts of Mindanao and claimed over 1,000 lives in December last year, the Philippines obtained from the World Bank a $500‐million low‐interest loan. When asked if the government has enough funds to help the affected provinces get back on their feet, the Malacañang spokesman replied, “We have the calamity fund. But, remember, during Typhoon Sendong we were able to procure from the World Bank at least P25 billion. We will just ask [the] Department of Finance on the status of those funds.” On whether the government can give its assurance that appropriate charges can be filed against those partly to blame for the extent of the loss in life, Lacierda said Interior Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II has started an inquiry into the matter. “As to culpability, one thing is for certain: If there’s any culpability, we will pursue that. We will prosecute. That’s the purpose [of] the investigation,” he added. Lacierda said that allegations that small‐scale mining and illegal logging are to blame for the scale of the disaster need further investigation. “If anybody is found to be culpable, we will file the necessary complaints,” he added. Lacierda said the government would strictly implement the removal of homes built on danger zones to minimize the number of casualties during natural disasters.
Roxas “is going to be strict in implementing the danger [zones]. That’s something that we need to emphasize because we don’t have to wait for another calamity, for another tragedy to happen. We learn and profit from experience and so this is something that we need to emphasize,” the Palace spokesman added. Lacierda reminded local government officials to be “mindful of the geohazard areas within their municipalities, within their province, within the region.” He said that Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje has distributed geohazard maps to all local government units. According to Lacierda, temporary shelters are being built for displaced families and that the government is exerting all effort to bring relief goods to evacuation sites. He said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will have built 63 bunkhouses in the hardest‐hit areas of Banganga, Boston and Cateel in Davao Oriental and New Bataan in Compostela Valley and that each bunkhouse can house 10 families while rehabilitation efforts are undertaken in their towns. “What is important right now is to ensure first, that they have shelter. And, you know, the President has always said the first freedom is freedom from hunger. That’s what we are addressing right now,” Lacierda added. He welcomed private‐sector initiatives to participate in the “multiplication of loaves and fishes” through donations. Lacierda said there are designated DSWD drop‐off points in Mindanao that can receive donations but those who wish to bring their donations directly to the municipalities may do so, with proper coordination with local government agencies. On ongoing search‐and‐rescue operations, Lacierda said two Philippine Coast Guard vessels were deployed for the purpose in Davao Oriental, while three patrol boats of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources were organized as a task force for the search and rescue of fishermen at sea. He added that the operations will continue to account for the missing. Lacierda said that upon orders of Roxas, the city government of Mati City in Davao Oriental is facilitating the release of its calamity fund to hire available large fishing boats to ferry goods from the city to other affected areas in the province. The Philippine National Police regional offices in Mindanao, he added, are also on full‐ alert status and their investigation units have been mobilized to assist local
governments and the Department of Trade and Industry to monitor market conditions for price‐control violations and unfair trade practices,” he added. Another assurance was given by the government also on Monday, this time on sufficiency of food supply despite damage caused by the super typhoon to the country’s farm sector. According to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, the farm sector will still be able to post positive growth for the fourth quarter of the year. “The recent calamity will not adversely affect our national food and rice supply,” he said in a statement. Alcala accompanied President Aquino during a recent visit to typhoon‐affected areas in Compostela Valley. As of December 8, he said, damage to agriculture had reached P8.5 billion, with the banana industry in Davao region suffering the most at P5.6 billion, followed by the coconut sector at about P767 million. Damage to livestock amounted to P393 million, while corn lost P245 million and rice, P177 million. The typhoon also damaged several irrigation systems worth P1.17 billion and fishery and other infrastructure, worth P25.8 million, for a total of P1.19 billion. Sources, however, said the amount of damage caused by the typhoon on farmlands in affected areas may have already climbed to P11.2 billion. Alcala instructed the regional office to speed up the delivery services and provision of interventions so that affected farmers and fishermen would be able to recover and resume their farming and fishing enterprises. In Davao region, he said, initial government assistance included distribution of about 15,719 bags certified rice seeds, open‐pollinated and hybrid corn seeds and thousands of tissue‐cultured banana plantlets, including veterinary drugs and biologics for livestock raisers. “We are currently implementing measures to help cavendish banana growers so that they will be able to meet the delivery schedule of their overseas contracts,” Alcala added.
To assist exporters fulfill their commitments, he said the Department of Agriculture (DA) will help them source from unaffected plantations in Regions 10, 12 and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Alcala added that the DA through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) will set aside P22 million for the insurance claims of banana farmers. The department through the Philippine Coconut Authority will undertake a massive replanting and fertilization program in Davao region, with an initial budget of P50 million, according to PCA Administrator Euclides Forbes. The DA’s National Irrigation Administration will immediately repair and restore damaged irrigation systems in four regions. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has distributed to affected fish farmers millions of bangus fingerlings and bamboo poles to reconstruct damaged fish pens and 1,250 packs of relief goods (rice, water, sardines) totaling P9.3 million. Alcala said the National Food Authority will lend rice on credit to affected local government units. A representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said also on Monday that danger posed in areas that had been hit by the typhoon remained high and called for guarded search‐and‐relief missions. He added that the effect of the typhoon has not stopped “because the threat of landslide has remained.” “Expect surprises,” the UNDP representative warned. (Jennifer A. Ng and Manuel T. Cayon) http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐news/5076‐palace‐assures‐funds‐ enough‐to‐bring‐normalcy‐back‐to‐typhoon‐hit‐areas
Asian fisheries body allows PHL to fish in Pacific until 2014 Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Monday, 10 December 2012 20:05 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter THE Philippines will be allowed to fish for tuna in a portion of the high seas in the Pacific Ocean until February 28, 2014, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Bfar) said on Monday. Bfar Director Asis Perez said this decision was reached by member‐countries of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) during its ninth annual meeting in Manila, which ended on December 6. “This year, the Philippines was able to keep the tuna home. With our continued access to high seas pocket 1, we will be able to add 50,000 tons to 70,000 tons to our tuna output from February 2013 up to 2014,” Perez said. A total of 36 fishing vessels will continue to fish in a portion of the high seas, according to the Bfar. Lualhati Antonino of the Mindanao Development Authority, head of the Philippine delegation to the WCPFC meeting, said that with the extension, the government hopes that tuna production will rebound to its 2008 level. In its November proposal, the Philippine government initially asked to be allowed to fish in high seas pocket 1 until February 28, 2016. Perez emphasized that the extension granted to the Philippines will be up for review in the next WCPFC annual meeting. In March Philippine fishing vessels were granted special access to high seas pocket 1 from October 2012 to February 28, 2013. The Bfar said the WCPFC required fishing vessels to strictly comply with the regulations it set under Fisheries Administrative Order 245. These include installing vessel‐ monitoring devices, using appropriate net mesh size and providing a fisheries observer, among others. In its position paper, the Philippines said that fishing activities in its territorial waters resulted in the harvesting of juvenile fish. It also said the WCPFC should ensure that the measures established should not result in transferring, directly or indirectly, a disproportionate burden of conservation action onto its member‐countries. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/5040‐asian‐ fisheries‐body‐allows‐phl‐to‐fish‐in‐pacific‐until‐2014
Senate to summon Banayo over alleged rice smuggling Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Monday, 10 December 2012 20:04 Written by Butch Fernandez / Reporter SENATORS probing the P500‐million rice‐smuggling case at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales province, will call back former National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Lito Banayo to their next hearing to explain the agency’s procedures that allowed smugglers to use legitimate cooperatives as fronts in illegally bringing in large shipments of the basic staple. “Yes, he [Banayo] will be asked to attend the hearing again as requested by Senate President Pro Tempore Jose Estrada Jr.,” said Sen. Francis Pangilinan, chairman of the rice‐smuggling inquiry. Citing previous testimonies, Pangilinan said the “whole process [covering rice importations] is conducted, certified and accredited by the NFA, so [we would] like to hear Mr. Banayo’s response on the latest findings of the Senate inquiry.” The lawmaker clarified, though, that they are yet to establish any link between Banayo and the rice‐ smuggling syndicate that brought in 21,000 metric tons of Indian rice worth about P500 million that Customs agents seized at the Subic port. “He [Banayo] admits that because of the two‐week period [dedicated to accrediting] all these rice‐importer organizations, nagkaroon talaga ng problema.” During Monday’s hearing, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile suggested that concerned government authorities should find ways to directly benefit duly accredited rice farmers’ cooperatives, instead of so‐called third parties used as fronts by smuggling syndicates. “Mas maraming farmers ang makikinabang pag binago ang sistema ng rice importation,” Enrile said. According to Pangilinan, his colleagues are also set to grill rice traders at the next hearing to verify the alleged collusion with smugglers to bring in imported rice shipments without paying the right taxes. “Pipigain pa rin natin ’yung mga traders at ’yung mga go‐between at aalamin pa natin. Hindi ako contented sa ilang mga sagot sa hearing. Palagay ko meron pa silang hindi sinisawalat sa atin. Hindi ako naniniwala na basta nagkakilala lang sila. Masyado namang coincidental,” Pangilinan said. “But if we will look on the data and evidence, it seems it [was] orchestrated, syndicated, calibrated [and] organized,” he added. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/5039‐senate‐to‐ summon‐banayo‐over‐alleged‐rice‐smuggling
Philippines to Japan: Ease import restrictions on sugar Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Monday, 10 December 2012 20:03 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Contributor MANILA again demanded Tokyo to relax its import restrictions on Philippine sugar, it was learned on Monday. Japan has failed to reduce tariffs on Philippine farm products even after the country slashed tariffs on the Japanese goods it imported, according to the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture. Both countries are reviewing the Philippines‐Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (Pjepa) in an attempt to renegotiate commitments made under the bilateral accord, which was intended to liberalize trade, investments and labor relations between the two countries. Besides reduced tariffs, the Philippines is also pushing for a regular sugar quota, from 150,000 metric tons to 200,000 MT. “We are also asking for higher premium for the sugar that will be shipped to Japan,” said Rosemarie Gumera, SRA manager for planning and policy. She emphasized that the proposed sugar quota allocation would be bigger than what the United States grants to the Philippines. The Philippines, a consistent and reliable sugar exporter, is given an annual allocation of sugar for export to the US market at a premium. The country currently has a regular US quota of 138,827 MT for crop year 2012 to 2013. Aside from Washington, Manila also exports sugar to other countries. “Once approved, we will be able to ship more sugar to other markets so that we will not rely on the traditional sugar quota allocation from the US,” Gumera said. She admitted, however, that the agency is yet to discuss its appeal with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the country’s lead negotiator in the discussions. “We want agricultural issues, particularly the sugar quota allocation, to be the focal point of the negotiations. The discussions are now ongoing. However, we have not heard anything from the DTI,” Gumera said. “We want to call the DTI’s attention on this matter.’’
In crop year 2012 to 2013, the Philippines expects sugar production to be between 2.3 million metric tons and 2.4 MMT, or 5 percent higher than the total production of 2.243 MMT in the crop year ending August 2012. Of the total production, SRA allocated 10 percent to the US and 8 percent to the world market, leaving 82 percent for domestic consumption. With the allocation, the country will be able to meet the regular US quota of 138,827 MT, a buffer stock for possible additional US quota of about 61,993 MT, about 2.03 MMT of domestic demand (including buffer stocks) and about 247,000 MT for the world market. Earlier, Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano, who attended a recent review of the Pjepa, said they are demanding Japan to grant at least 200,000 MT of in‐quota sugar allocation to the Philippines. According to the agriculture official, they are seeking to review the agreement based on Japan’s failure to fulfill its own commitments. “We want them [Japan] to bring down to zero all their agricultural tariffs to reciprocate our own reduction of tariff,” Serrano said, noting that the Philippines has been ahead in reducing its tariff wall compared to Japan. The agriculture official also said they are now negotiating with their Japanese counterparts at least 1,300 tariff lines for agricultural products, including Philippine pineapples, bananas, mangoes and other high‐value crops. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/5038‐philippines‐ to‐japan‐ease‐import‐restrictions‐on‐sugar
Nation Posted on December 10, 2012 10:03:38 PM By the BusinessWorld Staff
$65‐M in international aid sought for victims DAVAO CITY ‐‐ An international appeal was yesterday raised by the United Nations (UN) for a $65‐million assistance package for victims of typhoon Pablo (international code name: Bopha) which has killed hundreds and damaged billions of pesos in infrastructure and farm produce a week after making landfall in the Visayas and Mindanao. In a press briefing yesterday, Luiza Carvalho, UN coordinator, said the amount will cover a six‐month action plan for the recovery of devastated areas and to address the immediate needs of about half‐a‐million victims. Ms. Carvalho said the amount will be on top of the $35.5 million earlier sought for rehabilitation efforts that will extend to victims of tropical storm Sendong (Washi) that hit Northern Mindanao a year ago. Casualties from the recent typhoon have reached 647 while 780 others remained missing, according to a 5:00 a.m. report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Infrastructure and farm damage were pegged at 7.12 billion. The appeal for Pablo will cover 27 projects that have so far been identified by the government, said Ms. Carvalho. The UN official, who was joined by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon J. Soliman in visiting the hard‐hit towns of Cateel and Baganga in Davao Oriental yesterday, said the projects will include shelter, water and sanitation, as well as food and livelihood for the victims. Major challenges for relief and rehabilitation cited by Ms. Carvalho are the provision of shelter to the victims and cleaning up the debris which are urgent matter to "reduce health risks." Ms. Carvalho said the humanitarian effort is a major task as Pablo’s impact exceeded that of Sendong and double that of Hurricane Sandy.
Sendong killed over a thousand residents in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, while Sandy struck the eastern seaboard of the US. "We will all need to apply the same level of commitment," she said. The UN action plan was the result of a daylong session on Sunday where participants drafted concrete steps for rehabilitation efforts. Participants at the weekend planning session agreed that the typhoon victims would be tapped in reconstruction work to help augment daily needs. Participants in the cash‐for‐work program will receive 218 per day. GREATER IMPACT Bernard Kerblat, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said on Sunday that the "geographical and intensity impact" of Pablo that affected 10 regions and about a million families was greater than that of Sendong which only hit six regions and a tenth of this year’s victims. Efforts to reach isolated villages have been difficult, reported the Davao Oriental government, as roads and bridges were totally destroyed. On the day the typhoon hit, three towns in Davao Oriental were isolated as a bridge connecting Caraga and Baganga, among the hardly hit areas, was destroyed preventing even Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon to go to her house in Cateel. The governor’s house was not spared from Pablo’s fury as Ms. Malanyaon and Interior Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II flew by helicopter to Baganga the day after the disaster. The provincial government reported that the town’s infrastructure facilities such as roads and bridges were beyond repair prompting the government to tap the Navy to ferry relief goods to Baganga, Cateel and Boston. Looting, however, was a problem among desperate residents some of whom with arm blocked the trucks carrying relief goods. Last Friday, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala reported looting in the warehouse of the National Food Authority. Meanwhile, another pressing concern are the fate of victims in the nearby province of Compostela Valley, particularly in New Bataan town, where several bodies have yet to be buried.
In Baganga, Col. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, commander of the 701st Brigade, said residents buried their dead beside their houses as "the corpses are already decomposing." US ASSISTANCE As this developed, three C‐130 cargo planes bringing relief goods arrived in Davao City yesterday as part of the second tranche of relief assistance from the US government. On Dec. 8, two C‐130 planes arrived in the city with the first aid shipment for typhoon victims. "Additional flights will be coming," said US Deputy Ambassador Brian Goldbeck during a briefing. The US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of the US Foreign Disaster Assistance released an initial $100,000 to the Catholic Relief Services for water, sanitation and hygiene needs of the affected communities. On Dec. 7, three water purification systems were deployed by the US government in the region to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the relief operations. "This is what friends and allies do, help each other," Mr. Goldbeck said, adding that in the aftermath of Sandy in the US, the Philippines was among the first countries to offer its sympathies and financial assistance to the victims. But after seeing the devastation and following an assessment of the damage ‐‐ particularly in New Bataan as well as Boston and Cateel ‐‐ he said the US embassy added $3 million to address mounting humanitarian needs. Gloria Steele, USAID mission director, said the relief assistance will be non‐food items such as hydro‐kits and plastic sheets which "should be able to provide [temporary] housing for the displaced families." "Beyond donations for immediate disaster relief, the US government also supports efforts by local governments and communities to prevent and mitigate the impact of typhoons," Mr. Goldbeck said. HOUSING LOANS In a related development, housing loan payments of typhoon Pablo victims have been suspended for three months to help them recover from the calamity, housing czar and Vice‐President Jejomar C. Binay said yesterday.
Mr. Binay, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, said in a statement the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) and National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. (NHMFC) will provide a three‐month moratorium on housing loan payments for properties located in a calamity area. Borrowers will need to file an application for suspension of payments within 90 days from the declaration. NHMFC borrowers who are no longer interested to return to their mortgaged homes may surrender their properties to settle their loans, said Mr. Binay. Earthquake rocks typhoon‐hit areas DAVAO CITY ‐‐ A magnitude 5.8 earthquake rocked Southern Mindanao yesterday but there were no reports of damage in affected areas. Officials recorded the tremor at 11 kilometers northwest of San Isidro, Davao Oriental at a depth of 32 kilometers, around 5:45 a.m. The town of San Isidro, as well as Davao City and Mati City, which were hit by typhoon Pablo (international code name: Bopha) last week registered intensity 4. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said in a text message that intensity 3 was felt in General Santos City, Digos City and Padada in Davao del Sur; Manay, Davao Oriental; and Tagum City in Davao del Norte. The tremor was also felt as far as Bislig City in Surigao del Sur; Koronadal City in South Cotabato; and the town of Matalam in North Cotabato although at a much lower intensity 2. ‐‐ Joel B. Escovilla http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=$65‐M‐in‐ international‐aid‐sought‐for‐victims&id=62741
Phl gets continued access to Pacific Ocean tuna stocks By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 11, 2012 ‐ 12:00am MANILA, Philippines ‐ The Philippines has been granted extended fishing access to Pocket 1 of the Pacific Ocean until 2014 by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Asis Perez said 36 Philippine fishing vessels were allowed to continue operations in High Seas Pocket 1 from March 2013 to Feb. 28, 2014. Member states of the WCPFC reached a consensus to grant the extension during its 9th session in Manila which was concluded on Dec. 6. Last March, the WCPFC granted the Philippines special access to the High Seas Pocket 1 from October to Feb. 28, 2013 with the condition that it would implement conservation measures. The WCPFC is composed of 24 member countries, seven territories and 11 cooperating non‐member countries that bind together to ensure the proper management of tuna stocks in the western and central areas of the Pacific Ocean. The Philippines sought an extension of fishing access amid calls by Pacific countries to impose tighter tuna conservation measures in the high seas including controls on fish aggregating devices and closure of pockets where there is overfishing. In its petition, the Philippines argued that by extending the country’s fishing access in the high seas, overfishing of juvenile tuna population within the Philippine exclusive economic zone would be prevented. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala earlier said that the country sent a good signal to the WCPFC by implementing strict fisheries conservation measures such as the implementation of the fishing ban in the Visayas Seas and the re‐imposition of the fishing ban in the Zamboanga Peninsula to increase the spawning areas of sardines and herring (tamban). The fishing ban in the Zamboanga Peninsula would be re‐implemented from Dec. 1, 2012 to Feb. 28, 2013. The closed season in the Visayan Seas, on the other hand, would be implemented from Nov. 15, 2012 to Feb. 14, 2013. A fishing ban was imposed in the Zamboanga peninsula from December 2011 to February 2012.
Perez said that with the grant of the extension, BFAR would require fishing vessels sailing to the high seas to install proper monitoring devices and use the appropriate net size to prevent catching of juvenile tuna. “If in the last meeting we were able to bring home the tuna; this year, the Philippines was able to keep the tuna home,” Perez said. With the grant of the extension, tuna production in the country is expected to rebound to its 2008 level. The country’s tuna production fell by at least 70,000 metric tons in the past three years due to the ban in tuna fishing in the high seas imposed by the WCPFC. http://www.philstar.com/business/2012/12/11/884497/phl‐gets‐continued‐access‐ pacific‐ocean‐tuna‐stocks
P‐Noy urged to cancel tax perks for Thai agri firm By Perseus Echeminada (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 11, 2012 ‐ 12:00am MANILA, Philippines ‐ Local hog, poultry growers and feeds producers appealed yesterday to President Aquino to order the Trade department to heed the call of lawmakers to suspend the grant of tax incentives to Thai agricultural giant Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods because it would not be detrimental to the local hog and poultry industry user. Abono party‐list chairman and Swine Development Council (SDC) director Rosendo So warned in a statement that backyard hog and poultry growers and local feed producers would be among the first casualties of the tax incentives extended by the BOI to CP. “If President Aquino truly serves the interest of the local farmers and growers, in particular, and the country’s food security, in general, it is within his power to immediately rescind the decision of the Board of Investment (BOI) to grant tax perks to CP, a move that is not only grossly disadvantageous to local raisers, but is also a serious national food security concern,” So stressed. So made the appeal after lawmakers led by Batangas Rep. Mark Llandro L. Mendoza and Butil party‐list Rep. Agapito H. Guanlao, chairman of House of Representatives special committees on Agriculture and on Food security, respectively, required BOI to suspend the grant of tax incentives to CP due to serious questions on the propriety and validity of the agency’s decision. “The BOI should hold in abeyance the tax holidays granted to CP. Otherwise there will be serious consequences.” Guanlao said, noting that local farmers would suffer greatly from the uneven playing field arising from the questionable grant of registration and tax incentives to the Thai food conglomerate.In fact, So said that even Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who was not consulted by the BOI in granting the tax exemptions to CP, was lukewarm to the move. He recalled that former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap had already denied the application of CP during the latter’s term.So also disclosed that CP also wants to import cooked chicken, citing a document indicating that the Thai company is requesting for inspection for importation of cooked chicken. According to So, backyard growers who sell their produce directly to wet markets have themselves to blame for not applying for the same incentives extended to CP. He also questioned how CP, a 100-percent foreign owned food conglomerate from Thailand, was able to acquire more than 100-hectares of agricultural lands when foreigners are prohibited to own land property in the country. http://www.philstar.com/business/2012/12/11/884496/p‐noy‐urged‐cancel‐tax‐perks‐thai‐agri‐firm
Malacañang Urged: Help Local Livestock By FREDDIE G. LAZARO December 10, 2012, 6:54pm VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur — Local livestock growers and feeds producers here are appealing to President Benigno S. Aquino III for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Board of Investments (BOI) to suspend the tax incentives extended to Thai agricultural giant, Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods. Abono Party‐List Chairman and Swine Development Council (SDC) Director Rosendo So said yesterday that such an incentive has a serious negative effect on the country’s livestock industry. “The backyard hog and poultry growers and local feed producers will be among the first casualties of the tax incentives extended by the BOI to CP (Foods),” said So. The appeal to the President comes after lawmakers – Batangas Congressman Mark Llandro L. Mendoza, who chairs the Special Committee on Agriculture, and Butil Party‐ List Representative Agapito H. Guanlao, who chairs House Committee on Food Security – required BOI to suspend the grant of tax incentives to CP Foods due to serious questions on the propriety and validity of the agency’s decision. The lobbying groups specifically questioned BOI’s grant of “pioneering status” to CP Foods, which includes a seven‐year tax holiday and a 30‐percent incentive for the importation of corn and other raw feed materials, among other perks. So said this move serves as a “knockout punch” to the livelihood of backyard, small and medium commercial raisers. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/385193/malaca‐ang‐urged‐help‐local‐ livestock#.UMakqKxFyKE
Palace vows assistance to ‘Pablo’ victims By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 11, 2012 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines ‐ Police are on alert to ensure order, bunker houses will be built, and basic needs will be supplied by land, sea and air to the victims of typhoon “Pablo,” Malacañang assured the public yesterday amid reports that relief goods were taking time to arrive, prompting some villagers to resort to looting and begging. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the SARV‐3504 (Search and Rescue Vessel), loaded with relief goods and response personnel, has successfully completed its second trip to the town of Banganga, and has ferried 42 residents to Mati City, the capital of Davao Oriental. “It is now on standby for a third trip. Another vessel, the SARV‐003, is now moored at Sasa Wharf in Davao City. It will be deployed to augment SARV‐3504 after refueling,” Lacierda said. He said police regional offices in Mindanao are on full alert and its investigation units would assist local government units and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in monitoring price control violations and unfair trade practices. “To further complement relief operations, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will construct today 63 bunkhouses in the hardest hit municipalities of Banganga, Boston, and Cateel in Davao Oriental, and New Bataan in Compostela Valley. Each bunkhouse will provide shelter for 10 families as rehabilitation efforts begin in their towns,” Lacierda said. The Palace welcomed efforts of TV‐5 head and businessman Manny Pangilinan to raise P100 million, through a telethon, for the typhoon victims.
Likewise, Lacierda urged the public to support the initiatives of ABS‐CBN’s Sagip Kapamilya and GMA’s Kapuso Foundation. “Both the national government and the private sector are at the forefront of humanitarian efforts in areas affected by this recent calamity. We call on all Filipinos to continue being of service to our countrymen most in need, knowing fully well that together we will persist and we shall overcome these difficult times,” he said. Lacierda said the government has made the calamity funds available for the victims “to make sure that the people of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley and the affected areas will be able to rise up again.” He said the Department of Agriculture under Secretary Proceso Alcala would address questions on assistance to banana farmers, especially now that “our situation with China has been resolved.” The Palace official said various countries as well as the United Nations had pledged help for the typhoon victims. Roads must be cleared Lacierda said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) would provide help continuously and C‐130 planes of the military would also be used to transport relief goods as some roads have to be cleared first for vehicles to be able to reach typhoon‐ravaged areas. He said while the survivors were being attended to, there would be no let up on search and rescue operations. “We need to look for the missing people. We also ask the Filipino people to pray for our countrymen who have yet to be found and for those who perished in the tragedy,” he said. Lacierda said so far, the P42 million in funds is sufficient, but impassable roads remain a problem. He said there are designated DSWD drop‐off points in Mindanao to receive donations from private sectors. He said the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Transportations and
Communications (DOTC) would assist donors in directly bringing aid to affected municipalities. “As far as we know, the problem is with the delivery, not the supply. But certainly we would like to do it as how they did – the multiplication of loaves and fishes. So it’s something that the government would certainly welcome, private sector initiatives,” he said. Lacierda said while they focus on providing temporary relief for the victims, the government has also been working on long‐term plans to keep people away from areas classified as danger zones. “In the meantime, what’s important is their shelter first because they really don’t have roofs over their heads. That’s the important thing that we are doing,” he said. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Edith Regalado, Danny Dangcalan, Mayen Jaymalin, Helen Flores http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2012‐12‐11/884615/palace‐vows‐assistance‐pablo‐ victims
Boosting Economic Development Of Mindanao December 10, 2012, 6:25pm Mindanao is getting a big share of the 2013 budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to fund farm infrastructure, mostly irrigation systems and farm‐to‐market roads. A big part of the 2013 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways will also go to infrastructure projects for Mindanao, to support the newly signed peace agreement. The DA will set up a community‐based hatchery for high‐value marine species to boost aquaculture. Post‐harvest facilities for high‐value crops will include trading posts, grains centers, and cold storage plants. A triple‐A abattoir will be established under the Public‐ Private Partnership (PPP) program. The government sees the region’s great potentials for agriculture largely due to its environment, vast plantations, and grazing fields. More funds will help improve the livestock sector, develop alternative feed technologies, and explore new export opportunities. The DA is banking on the development of Mindanao so that products from the region can compete when the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) becomes an integrated community by 2015. The government is working to reduce food imports by the end of 2013. The government is targeting to become rice self‐sufficient and export rice by next year. It is also seeking to become vegetable self‐sufficient by 2016. The Philippines has an agriculture‐based economy. Most Filipinos live in rural areas and earn their living through agriculture. The agriculture sector is made up of four sub‐ sectors: farming, fisheries, livestock, and forestry, employing 39.8 percent of the labor force and contributing 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product. The main agricultural crops are rice, corn, coconut, sugarcane, bananas, pineapple, coffee, mangoes, tobacco, and abaca. The country exports its agricultural products to the United States, Japan, Europe, and ASEAN. The Manila Bulletin, led by its Chairman of the Board Dr. Emilio T. Yap, President and Publisher Atty. Hermogenes P. Pobre, Executive Vice President Dr. Emilio C. Yap III, Editor‐in‐Chief Dr. Cris J. Icban Jr., Business Editor Loreto D. Cabañes, Officers and Employees, wish Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio L. Singson, all the best and success as they endeavor on programs that will uplift the living condition of Mindanao farmers and fisherfolk. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY! http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/385171/boosting‐economic‐development‐of‐ mindanao#.UManUqxFyKE
DA Launches First R206‐M Postharvest Facility In Central Visayas By PHOEBE JEN INDINO December 10, 2012, 5:24pm PILAR, Bohol — Aiming to improve the efficiency of rice postproduction system using state‐of‐the‐art facilities in line with the government’s aim to become sufficient in food staples by 2013, the Department of Agriculture (DA) officially launched the first modern rice processing complex (RPC) in Central Visayas worth R206‐million which is expected to benefit some 26,000 farmers in Bohol. The said facility was made possible through a R150‐million grant from the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), with DA and the concerned local government units providing counterpart funds to complete the project. South Korean Ambassador Lee Hyuk personally attended the event together with DA undersecretary for special concerns Bernadette Puyat, former DA secretary Arthur Yap who is now a third district representative in Bohol and Governor Edgar Chatto. Rex Bingabing of the DA’s Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization bared that through the RPC, farmers here are expected to have better incomes as the facility will provide them with stable market prices and incentives for producing good quality products.The Pilar RPC is designed to provide better rice quality of milled rice and maximization of rice byproducts. Meanwhile, the said facility is expected to reduce postharvest losses in unmilled rice as drying and milling constitute a high percentage on national postharvest losses. It is estimated that such losses average 15 percent of total rice production. Study shows that postharvest losses from 15 to 8 percent can be translated to about 0.74 million metric tons of rice per year or about a third of the country’s total rice import requirements in 2008. The RPC will also serve beneficiaries of the Bohol Integrated Irrigation System in this town and at least 17 nearby municipalities with rice lands serviced by Malinao, Bayongan, and Capayas dams. This town’s RPC is the fifth in the country with a drying capacity of 40 tons/drying period for eight hours, milling capacity of three tons/per hour, storage capacity of 1,100 tons of dried palay or 22,000 bags and milling recovery of 60 to 65 percent. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/385139/da‐launches‐first‐r206m‐postharvest‐facility‐ in‐central‐visayas#.UMalCKxFyKE
Food Festival December 10, 2012, 5:11pm ZAMBOANGA CITY (PNA) – At least eight food concessionaires offered their best offerings during the two‐day Christmas Food Festival that was conducted on Friday and Saturday at the Plaza del Pilar in this city. The Plaza del Pilar is located just beside the historic Our Lady of the Pillar Shrine, or commonly known as the Fort Pilar. People wanting to taste a variety of delicious cuisines and sweet goodies flocked to Plaza del Pilar during the two‐day event aimed at spicing up the Pascua na Zamboanga celebration. The cooperators in the two‐day food fest include the Alavar Seafood House, Chinito’s D’ Gathering Place, Dear Manang, Teng’s Grill, Grand Fiesta Restaurant, Colette’s, Mai Chai, and the 4‐H Club. For only P150, participants to the food festival were treated with four to five combo meals including a selection of desserts. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/385128/food‐festival#.UMalT6xFyKE
E‐Payment System For Traders Set By RAYMUND F. ANTONIO December 10, 2012, 6:33pm MANILA, Philippines ‐‐‐ The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has launched its electronic payment system for the export and import of sugar‐based products to enhance trade facilitation under the government's National Single Window (NSW) project. Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon confirmed that SRA's implementation of the electronic payment took effect last week. “It allows traders to pay their fees or charges online. So instead of going to the bank, they could do it in the convenience of their office any time of the day. This speeds up the transaction, cuts off transaction time and reduces human intervention,” said Biazon in an interview. “Once we are able to fast track one aspect in the procedures, it hastens the overall transaction. It can take away as much as a day in their transaction,” he added. The SRA is the second government agency which implemented the e‐payment under the NSW system after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). The Bureau of Customs, being the lead agency in the NSW implementation, is counting on other agencies to do the same. “We hope that other agencies will follow the lead of NTC and SRA,” said Biazon. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/385173/epayment‐system‐for‐traders‐ set#.UMalr6xFyKE
Ex‐NFA chief Banayo linked to rice smuggling • •
Written by Angie M. Rosales Tuesday, 11 December 2012 00:00
Whistle blower to tell all in Senate executive session
A whistleblower in an alleged syndicate‐operated rice smuggling in the country has offered to make a tell‐all expose in an executive session to Senate investigators, linking among many others officials from the Aquino administration, former National Food Authority (NFA) Angelito Banayo. Banayo had resigned a few months back, purportedly to concentrate on his congressional run in 2013. Banayo is alleged to be standing as “protector” of some favored groups of rice traders or cooperatives in securing rice allocation biddings of the government, the witness claimed yesterday before the joint investigation being conducted by the Senate agriculture and blue ribbon committees. While Senate investigators are inclined to believe in the existence of syndicate groups in the handling of illegal importation of rice, they also want to look deeper into their supposed operations. “We will try to get them to confess, they (rice traders) and the so‐called go‐between. I’m not contented with the testimonies of some of them. I think they have yet do devulge more damning information. But if we will look on the data and (some of the) evidence, it seems it is orchestrated, syndicated, calibrated and well‐organized,” said Sen. Francis Pangilinan, lead prober and chairman of the committee on agriculture and food.
Aside from Simeon Sioson of 4SM Agri Venture Multi‐Purpose Cooperative, who had implicated Banayo in the rice mess during the continuation of the probe yesterday, Pangilinan said two other possible witnesses are willing to divulge more information. “I think we are moving forward and getting more information that we need,” Pangilinan said, adding that Banayo, who was present in the previous public hearing conducted by the two committees, will be asked to attend the proceedings again to clarify the issues raised against him. It was Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada who had made a manifestation to ask Banayo to appear in the next hearing. “The whole process is precisely conducted by NFA, then certified by and accredited by the NFA so we would like to hear his response to the latest findings of the committee based on the (given) testimonies,” Pangilinan said. Banayo’s former underling while he was still in the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), the late Nixon Kua, was also tagged by one of the rice importers who had appeared before Senate investigators, describing Kua as the alleged conduit in the distribution to local traders of foreign rice shipment illegally entering the country, particularly those coming in through Subic ports. “I’ve heard about it although there is no direct evidence linking (Kua to) that incident in the smuggling,” Pangilinan said, referring to the P500 million rice shipment seized last April by the Bureau of Customs (BoC). “That (issue on Kua) creates a new set of questions. They said he is close to Banayo so these are matters that need to be looked into. That’s what we have to see because he has passsed away,” Pangilinan said, adding the possibility of Kua being a mere fall guy in this case since he is no longer around to defend himself. But as for Banayo, the former NFA chief who is now seeking a congressional seat in Agusan del Norte in the coming mid‐term polls, Senate probers said they will have to issue first an invitation and not a subpoena, Pangilinan said.
In the meantime, Pangilinan said they will have to set a date on the availability of his colleagues for the executive session to hear the testimony of Sioson who already has been provided security immediately after his appearance in the proceedings. Sioson, who confessed to being a mere dummy, had accused Banayo of being supposedly biased in favor of the group of Elizabeth Faustino, a treasurer of a federation of cooperatives and financier of some of the winning cooperatives. “If it is to your pleasure, so that we do not waste time, the Senate panel can hear my testimony in an executive session. Whatever you still don’t know, I will tell you all. “The protection that Elizabeth Faustino is talking about being placed under surveillance is Mr. Sioson who is prominent, and is the one who controls the importation of the rice,” the witness said in Tagalog. He asked to have it placed on the record that the Senate will provide him the protection he needs because “in the life of the farmers, it is always us who speak. We seek justice, but it is we who are being opressed, yet it is us who till the soil and we should be helped by the government,” the witness said. But the witness complained that there have been many instances where there is talk of government helping them, but that the government agencies have played deaf and blind to thier pleas. “Instead of helping us poor farmers, these government agencies help those who are bigtime importers. They are not the farmers. And it is we who are affected,” the witness said. The witness recounted that he had advised then NFA Administrator Banayo : “I have all the records, in order to minimize the illegal importation of rice, the smuggling. It should be the NFA that has to import first...The small retailers should be given their allocation, pro‐rated, and everybody is happy. “The common denominator in this, is the NFA. I’m not blaming the NFA. I am blaming Mr. Administrator Banayo,” Sioson said.
Faustino, who was present in the hearing, claimed that she merely assists in financing the service fees of the winning cooperatives amounting to P60 million each, purportedly through the help of Kua. According to her, Kua promised her a 30 percent commission and P5 per sack of rice sold to the cooperatives. When asked by Estrada who had introduced her to Kua, Faustino claimed she got to know Kua simply because the latter is known to be often visiting the office of Banayo. Magdangal Diego Maralit Bayani III of the St. Andrews Field Grains and Cereal Trading, a rice trader, also claimed that it was through Kua that he had learned of the supposed rice shipment that will be entering Subic and was asked if he would be interested to buy some. When asked by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile how Kua had introduced himself or is connected to Subic freeport zone, Bayani claimed that he was under the impression that Kua was acting as an agent. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/8007‐ex‐nfa‐chief‐banayo‐linked‐ to‐rice‐smuggling
Gov't downplays impact of typhoon Pablo on food supply (philstar.com) | Updated December 10, 2012 ‐ 7:00pm MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) ‐ The government today assured that the damage inflicted by typhoon Pablo to farmland in Mindanao will not adversely affect the food supply in the country. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala also said that despite the crops damaged by the typhoon, the growth rate of the farm sector in 2012 will be positive. The government assured affected farmers that seeds and funds to rehabilitate damaged farm infrastructure will be distributed immediately. Typhoon Pablo ravaged banana, corn and coconut plantations in southern Philippines, with the value of damage estimated at P8.6 billion ($210.1 million). The damage inflicted by the typhoon in several southern Philippine provinces was so severe that it prompted the United Nations to appeal for aid amounting to $65 million. Typhoon Pablo cut across southern Philippines from Dec. 4 to 7, triggering flash floods and landslides, killing at least 647 people, devastating houses, and displacing millions of people. It was the strongest typhoon to hit the area in decades. Despite the huge losses suffered by the farm sector, UBS Investment Research said the country's economy will still be able to post a growth rate of 6.3 percent for 2012. In its latest Asian Economic Monitor, UBS Investment Research said that it has revised upward its 2012 growth forecast for the Philippines following the stellar performance of the country's economy in the third quarter. In July to September, Philippine gross domestic product posted an increase of 7.1 percent on the back the good performance of the services sector and the increase in government spending. http://www.philstar.com/breaking‐news/2012/12/10/884483/govt‐downplays‐impact‐ typhoon‐pablo‐food‐supply
Bicameral panels okay final version of P35‐B ‘sin’ tax bill Category: Top News Published on Monday, 10 December 2012 21:11 Written by Butch Fernandez | Reporter The stage is set for final ratification by both chambers of Congress today of the consolidated Senate‐House version of a scaled down P35‐billion “sin” tax bill raising excise taxes on all brands of cigarettes and alcoholic drinks. “We were able to reconcile all the disagreeing provisions between the House and the Senate, and tomorrow, we will sign formally the bicameral conference committee report,” Sen. Franklin Drilon told reporters after the bicameral meeting on the money measure on Monday. Drilon described Monday’s bicameral agreement as “a breakthrough,” noting that the sin‐tax bill was crafted by the Executive branch as “a reform measure that President Aquino pushed for and which we will have after he signs the bill into law.” He credited their House counterparts in the conference committee “for their cooperation in having this reform measure passed” after both sides struck a compromise to settle unresolved issues, including the Senate‐approved earmarkings of the incremental revenue from higher alcohol and tobacco taxes. Drilon reported that as approved by the bicameral panel, the total incremental revenue from cigarettes for the first year was pegged at P23.4 billion and alcohol at P10.56 billion, for a total of P33.96 billion for Year One. “Note that this is lower than the Senate version of P39.5 billion. In terms of financial ratios, the cigarettes, in 2013, will bear 69 percent of the incremental cost against alcohol of 31 percent,” he said. But the senator added that this will gradually go down, so that in 2015 the burden sharing ratio would become 66‐44 percent. “In 2016, it will become 65‐35 percent, and in 2017, it will become 64‐36 percent,” he said. Drilon explained that where the financial burden on the cigarette industry is concerned, “we were able to achieve the Senate version” which imposed a P23.55‐billion revenue target for cigarettes on Year One, 2013. On the contentious earmarkings of sin‐tax proceeds, he said the Senate and House panels in the bicameral talks agreed that after deducting the P6.3‐billion subsidy to tobacco farmers provided under Republic Act 7171 and Republic Act 8240, 80 percent of the balance of the incremental revenue shall be allocated for the Universal Health Care under the National Insurance Program, the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and health‐awareness campaign.
According to the senator, the balance of 20 percent shall be allocated nationwide based on political and district subdivisions for medical assistance and health enhancement facilities program, the annual requirement of which shall be determined by the Department of Health. He said there were objections from the House panel on specific allocations per local hospital “because the needs are not the same, so the provision is more general: Universal Health Care under the National Health Insurance Program, MDGs, health‐care awareness program.” Drilon said that he could not yet provide figures on specific earmarkings because they would need to first deduct subsidies to tobacco farmers as mandated by law. The bicameral panels also accepted an amendment introduced by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on curbing smuggling activities, expected to be spawned by steep taxes on tobacco products. On the proposed 15‐percent local content requirement for tobacco products, Drilon said that they included a clarifying provision that they believe to be in compliance with international trade rules to read as follows: “Any manufacturer of tobacco products must source at least 15 percent of its tobacco leaf raw material supply locally subject to adjustments based on international treaty commitments.” http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐news/5075‐bicameral‐panels‐okay‐ final‐version‐of‐p35‐b‐sin‐tax‐bill
Manobos get government nod to declare ancestral domain as pilot agro‐forestry plantation Category: Nation Published on Monday, 10 December 2012 19:55 Written by Zaff Solmerin / Correspondent Bae Agayon Hawodon Cugbahan Tagleong Anlamit Merlyn Coguit, the supreme chieftain of the Manobo tribe in Agusan del Sur, and tribe elders will receive from the government on Wednesday an official certificate declaring a portion of their ancestral domain as a national priority flagship program and pilot model for social fencing implementation. “The certificate of declaration will be received by the Manobo chieftain, the datus and selected scholars, who will come all the way from Agusan del Sur. The awarding will be held at the national office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources [DENR] in Quezon City,” retired Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda, chairman of the Anti‐Illegal Logging Task Force (AILTF), said on Monday. Of the 51,000 hectares covered by the Manobo tribe’s Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC) 132, the government will officially adopt an initial of more than 10,000 hectares in Barangay Valentina in La Paz town as its pilot social‐fencing program. On June 5, 1998, the government through then‐Environment Secretary Victor Ramos awarded the CADC 132 to Supreme Datu Haudon Cugbahan Tagleong Coguit, leader of the Manobo Council of Elders. At present, through a special‐power‐of‐attorney, Datu Haudon constituted and appointed his offspring Merlyn Tagleong Coguit as chieftain of the Manobo tribe. But it was only in April 2010 that the Manobo tribe finally received official recognition of their CADC 132, meaning the area is owned by them and legally recognized by the government. The CADC itself is a tenure instrument that granted dispensation to the Manobo tribe to harvest, transport, process and sell resources within the CADC. Miranda said the social‐fencing program prohibits all kinds of activities that are damaging to the environment within the area such as logging, mining, gathering of endangered species found within, among others. Dubbed “Datu Tagleong Agro‐Forestry Plantation,” Miranda said the pilot area is very suitable for the social‐fencing implementation and feasible replication of an agroforestation program, pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 23 and AILTF Resolution 2011‐004.
EO 23 was issued by President Aquino in January 2011. It banned logging activities in the country. But early this year, the President was angered by reports that illegal logging continues to thrive in the province and other parts of the Caraga Region. He then ordered the AILTF to prosecute those involved in the illegal logging business which involved some politicians, influential personalities and policemen and military officials. “In fact, the Datu Tagleong Agro‐Forestry Plantation was able to create jobs for 700 people and to increase to 10,000 hectares its coverage in the next six years; provide full scholarships for 70 students; maintain day‐ care centers; provide medical care for the sick and the elderly treated at private medical facilities; build homes complete with water, electricity and sanitation for the Manobo and provide several other facilities,” Miranda said. He said the AILTF reached an agreement with the heirs of Datu Tagleong Coguit to share their methodology with other tribal communities for replication. “In fact, six Aetas from Iba, Zambales, will undergo a short training course with the Manobo project area in Mindanao by early next year. In doing this, the Aetas themselves will learn to develop and cultivate their ancestral land and make a sustaining community while forests are being protected,” he said. “The recognition to be given to the Datu Tagleong Agro‐Forestry Plantation is a manifestation that forest protection, production programs and sustainable social, economic and environmental development can be done and is possible,” he added. Meanwhile, the commander of the 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division, Maj. Gen. Nestor Añonuevo, ordered all units under his command to prepare for the eventual handover of the anti‐illegal logging operations to his division’s area of responsibility. The division covers some provinces in the Caraga Region including Agusan del Sur. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/nation/5024‐manobos‐get‐ government‐nod‐to‐declare‐ancestral‐domain‐as‐pilot‐agro‐forestry‐plantation
DAR excludes 77,000 hectares from agrarian‐reform coverage Category: Nation Published on Sunday, 09 December 2012 19:42 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter THE Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has identified more than 77,000 hectares of “untitled” private agricultural lands that can no longer be covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms or CARPer. Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said these “untitled private agricultural lands” have been previously targeted for land acquisition and distribution by the department. “Because these lands are untitled, then they are public lands and fall under the mandate of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” de los Reyes said. These untitled private agricultural lands, being “untitled” have to be turned over to the DENR, he added. “These untitled private agricultural lands are public lands with individual claimants,” he said. The claimants of these lands still stand to lose the land to the government, but not to the DAR through CARPer, but to the DENR by virtue of the Public Land Act. De los Reyes explained that a Department of Justice (DOJ) opinion provides that public lands that are over 12 hectares cannot be claimed as private lands, and as such belong to the government. He said the department is still conducting an inventory of the close to 1 million hectares, the remaining balance of the DAR’s 1.3 million hectares target under the five‐year CARPer. Under the Public Land Act, the government agency mandated to distribute public lands to qualified beneficiaries is the DENR. This leaves the DAR with 77,000 hectares less to distribute in the last two years of CARPer. “The 77,000 hectares we have identified would have to be deducted from our balance [for land distribution] after formal turnover to the DENR,” de los Reyes said.
He said the formality of turning over these untitled private agricultural lands to the DENR would involve concerned Provincial Agrarian Reform Committees (PARCs). PARC is a multi‐sector, inter‐agency committee composed of representatives from various sector along with national and local government agencies. A formal communication from concerned PARC would be processed to clear the road for the DAR to turn them over back to the DENR for disposition, de los Reyes said. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/nation/4883‐dar‐excludes‐77‐000‐ hectares‐from‐agrarian‐reform‐coverage
Palace bares new appointees Category: Nation Published on Sunday, 09 December 2012 19:34 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez / Reporter MALACAÑANG on Sunday announced the latest presidential appointees to diplomatic posts, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Dangerous Drugs Board, and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) Family Bank. The President has tapped Domingo C. Lucenario to be ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Pakistan with concurrent jurisdiction over Afghanistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Malacañang Deputy Spokesman Abigail Valte also said that President Aquino has nominated Sahid S. Glang as ambassador to Bahrain and Alex G. Chua as ambassador to Burma. The President appointed Vicente L. Gengos Jr. as PCGG commissioner, replacing Gerard A. Mosquera who was transferred to the Office of the Ombudsman. Amador Serrano Pabuscan, a retired police chief superintendent, was appointed as acting deputy executive director for Administration of the DDB with the rank of assistant secretary. At the GSIS Family Bank, the President appointed Geraldine Marie Berberabe‐Martinez as a member of the board and approved her nomination as chairman, a position she had held since 2010; and Emmanuel L. Benitez, as president and chief executive officer. The other newly appointed GSIS Family Bank board members are Mario J. Aguja, Francisco S. Varon, Melinda Gonzales‐Manto, Victor Y. Lim Jr. (replacing Eduardo de los Angeles), and Gracita Gilda V. Bocanegra (replacing Aida C. Briones). The GSIS Family Bank appointees will serve until June 30, 2013. The President also appointed Freda M. Gawisan as director II of the Department of Trade and Industry, and Gamaria Abubakar Bawasanta as a member of Sangguniang Panlalawigan in Tawi‐Tawi. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/nation/4878‐palace‐bares‐new‐ appointees
Things to ponder on the record 7.1‐percent growth Category: Opinion Published on Monday, 10 December 2012 18:40 Written by Manny B. Villar / Entrepreneur
Conclusion THE performance of the Philippine economy in the third quarter of 2012 is something to be proud of, coming as it did while wealthy countries are languishing due to sluggish growth or a recession. It’s nice to know that the growth was broad‐based, with all the major sectors of the economy—services, industry and agriculture—making positive contributions. In general, there’s good reason to be jubilant about the economy. However, analyzing the economy’s performance as reported by the National Statistical Coordination Board brought up things that merit attention from our economic planners and managers. On the supply side, the services sector continued to account for the lion’s share of the gross domestic product at 57.46 percent. The industry sector accounted for only 34.91 percent, while agriculture, hunting, forestry and fisheries contributed just 6.2 percent. A look at the performance of the subsectors of industry shows a clearer picture. Mining and quarrying were contracted by 6.7 percent in the first nine months of 2012, a drastic reversal from the positive growth of 13.8 percent during the same period last year. Manufacturing grew by 5.3 percent in the past three quarters, the same growth rate as a year ago, although its 5.7‐percent growth in the third quarter was a marked improvement from 2.0 percent last year. Electricity, gas and water supply turned around from ‐0.1 percent last year to 5.6 percent this year. Construction led the industry sector’s growth at 14.1 percent, a significant turnaround from a contraction of 11.9 percent last year. Construction was also a star performer on
the expenditure side, where it posted a 24.8‐percent growth in the third quarter, a turnaround from the 8.6‐percent contraction a year ago. I share the concern that I sensed in Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan’s statement in connection with the manufacturing subsector. He noted that while double‐digit growth rates were seen in wearing apparel (56.7 percent), furniture and fixtures (35.1 percent), office accounting and computing machinery (20.4 percent), rubber and plastic products (11.9 percent), “we hope that the industry sector would expand much faster. In particular, we hope to see a faster‐growing manufacturing sector.” I agree with Balisacan that a growing manufacturing sector could provide the “higher‐ quality jobs that are also more stable and remunerative,” compared to the labor‐ intensive construction sector, where jobs are “temporary and intermittent.” Even the world’s biggest economies focus on manufacturing to drive growth. In the United States, the world’s No. 2 economy, President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers released a report described as his administration’s blueprint for the economy. Titled “Economic Report of the President,” it calls for a “manufacturing revival,” along with an increase in exports. In China, the world’s biggest economy, recovery in the manufacturing sector has fueled speculations that the government would raise its growth target of 7.5 percent for 2013. News reports said the increase in the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index in November indicated that China’s economy was recovering after a slowdown in the past seven quarters. For the Philippines, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has cautioned against too much reliance on services‐based employment. The ADB echoed my position when it proposed increased attention to the manufacturing sector as a major source of employment. The Department of Trade and Industry, together with industry players and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, have been preparing industry road maps, which will identify constraints to growth, as well as possible solutions. Road maps are important because they will provide direction for the medium or long term. On the other hand, we should also focus on measures that we can do right now to encourage investors who are already operating or knocking on our doors. For instance, the “Doing Business 2013” report, published by the World Bank and its investment arm, the International Finance Corp., showed that the Philippines slipped two notches in the global rankings of the ease in doing business—138th from 136th—due to the absence of significant reforms to speed up dealings of enterprises with various government agencies.
These reforms are not complicated or costly. Reducing the processing time and the number of documents will make it easier for businessmen to set up shop here, which, in turn, will support the government’s campaign to convince more investors that the Philippines is truly open for business. For comments/feedback e‐mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may view previous columns at www.senatorvillar.com. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/opinion/4972‐things‐to‐ponder‐on‐the‐ record‐7‐1‐percent‐growth
Treasury bureau raises P6.37B in bills auction Category: Banking & Finance Published on Monday, 10 December 2012 20:09 Written by VG Cabuag / Reporter The Bureau of Treasury on Monday raised P6.37 billion in its last auction of treasury bills for the year after investors made a higher bid for the 183‐day paper. The amount fell short of the bureau’s offer of P7.5 billion. Yield of the 91‐day and 183‐day papers also went down. The former—the benchmark of banks when pricing their loans—slid by .2 basis points to .198 percent. Its yield at the previous auction was .2 percent. At the secondary market, the 91‐day paper was traded at .4 percent, which was 20.2 basis points higher. Tenders reached P3.36 billion and the auction committee made a full award of P1 billion. As for the 183‐day paper, the committee calibrated its rate several times to get the proper yield. The yield reached .52 percent, or .7 basis points lower than the previous .527 percent. Tenders reached P3.37 billion and the committee made a partial award of P1.37 billion instead of its offer of P2.5 billion.Had the committee made a full award, the rates would have risen by 20 basis points to .727 percent, higher than the yield for the one‐year debt. “It will affect the yield curve if we have a higher rate for the 183‐day than the one‐ year [securities],” said National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon, head of the committee.The said paper is being traded at the secondary market at .65 percent, or 11 basis points higher than the government‐awarded rate. Meanwhile, the rate of the 364‐day securities increased by 5.7 basis points to .606 percent. Tenders reached P5.7 billion.The committee contemplated on also having a partial award of P3.55 billion with a lower rate of .504 billion, but in the end decided to give a full award of P4 billion. “The market has sustained confidence in the fundamentals of the economic management of the country, and at the same time, they see that better things are yet to come for the Philippines,” de Leon said. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/banking‐finance/5043‐treasury‐bureau‐raises‐p6‐37b‐ in‐bills‐auction
Government offices cancel Christmas parties Category: Nation Published on Monday, 10 December 2012 19:43 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez / Reporter SEVERAL offices in the executive branch have scrapped their Christmas parties, following the call of President Aquino to donate to Typhoon Pablo victims the funds intended for celebrations the Yuletide season. Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a news briefing that these offices include the Presidential Communications and Operations Office, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, the Office of the Presidential Spokesman and also the Office of the President. “How does one celebrate when you know that there is misery when people are missing? How can one celebrate and fully enjoy knowing that there are fellow brethren who have family members [who] cannot be found, cannot be accounted for?” Lacierda said. He said that “instead of pouring our resources to a party, we’d like to use those resources for our assistance to the typhoon victims.” “We’re taking our cue from the President. This is not a [presidential] directive but we’re taking our cue from the President. I think it’s important to know that the national government is one with the typhoon victims,” Lacierda said. He said there would be an expectedly “more subdued” celebration of Christmas this year among Filipinos. “The idea here is a simpler celebration of Christmas,” Lacierda said http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/nation/5019‐government‐offices‐cancel‐ christmas‐parties
Fears Vs Peso Strength Expressed By MALOU M. MOZO December 10, 2012, 5:26pm CEBU CITY, Cebu — Despite prevailing rosy prospects for the country’s economy all through 2013 as indicated by the continued strengthening of the Philippine peso against the US dollar, exporters in Cebu are expressing apprehension that the situation could actually cause many industry players to close shop. “Not everything that is good will benefit everyone,” Fred Escalona, Philexport‐Cebu Executive Director said in reference to the Philippines gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 7.1 percent that will see a boosting of the peso further but which, on the downside, will adversely affect the value of export products making it more expensive for buyers of Philippine products overseas. Escalona points to the country’s overall export volume in the first semester this year which was $26.8 billion, $1.96 billion of which is credited to Central Visayas. Exporters earlier warned that the continued appreciation of the peso, which is now trading below the R41‐level, will push companies to lay off workers or shut down operations. Exporter and Gift, Toys and Housewares (GTH) Foundation Inc. – Cebu President Ramir Bonghanoy said GTH members are already feeling the impact of the strong peso, making their export products less competitive in the global market. He said that his business, Bon‐Ace Fashion Tools Inc., had to downsize from 350 to 285 employees to streamline operations. By next year, he plans to lay off 30 to 50 more employees. “The global market is still not doing well for exports compared to previous years,” Bonghanoy said. Amid reports of a recovery, Bonghanoy said the export industry in the Philippines is still facing many challenges which hinder its full recovery including the slow growth of US and Europe economies, a R20‐wage increase, natural calamities and the strong appreciation of the peso. Escalona confirmed that there are already some companies that have laid off their employees. He said his organization has already warned the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board of possible job losses in the exports sector because of the increase in the minimum wage.
Philexport Cebu will hold seminars on process control in order for companies to improve their bottom line by controlling their processes and cost structures. Bonghanoy urged other export companies to institute reforms in their business through investing in new technologies, adopting innovations and widening their market to stay alive and competitive in the global market. “Creating new markets or finding uncontested ones can help exporters remain competitive amid the appreciation of the peso,” he said. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/385140/fears‐vs‐peso‐strength‐ expressed#.UMak2KxFyKE
No productivity bonus for gov’t workers (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 11, 2012 ‐ 12:11am 5 71 googleplus0 1
MANILA, Philippines ‐ The 1.1 million government workforce will not receive the P10,000 productivity enhancement incentive (PEI) given to them last year, Malacañang said yesterday. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said last year the national government took on the additional P5,000, since concerned agencies only paid out P5,000. Lacierda said government employees will still get the mandatory 13th month pay and other bonuses like the Performance Based Bonus (PBB) for deserving workers. “But that (PBB) is a merit‐based bonus,” he said. “So I’m sure if an employee performs well, we see no reason why (he or she) will not be able to receive the PBB.” Lacierda said the national government made use of the P5,000 to form part of the PBB to reward hardworking state workers.
“Now we’re using that additional P5,000 instead of giving it to everyone,” he said. “This PBB is a way of recognizing the people who work hard in the government.” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the PBB aims to encourage good performance in the public service sector. The government’s objective is to achieve a performance‐based system for government employees to boost morale and improve the delivery of goods and services, he added. Abad said the PBB will “reshape the bureaucratic culture” in government and replace it with a “culture of excellence in the bureaucracy.” “Reshaping the bureaucratic culture through PBB will be contentious at first because it is new and it has never been done before, but we hope that eventually, it will ease itself into general acceptance among those in the bureaucracy,” he said. The PBB is on top of and distinct from other benefits that civil servants already receive, such as the productivity enhancement incentive (PEI). “The PEI has been fixed this year at P5,000 for all government employees.” The PBB is a strictly merit‐based incentive system given to deserving government employees for exemplary work in government service. Unlike other bonuses, an employee receives the PBB based on how well he serves the public, with the ultimate objective of delivering public goods and services among our people. Public school teachers accused the government yesterday of effectively cutting by half their P10,000 Christmas‐time PEI in implementing the PBB scheme. Some 60 public school teachers from the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) picketed yesterday the Department of Budget and Management in Manila to join the symbolic protest denouncing the reduction of their “traditional” P10, 000 PEI. The protesting teachers from TDC, a federation of public school teachers’’ associations, sang popular Christmas songs with altered lyrics to air their grievance. Calocan City teacher Benjo Basas, TDC national chairman, said the year‐end incentive for teachers has been a tradition. – Delon Porcalla, Rainier Allan Ronda http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2012/12/11/884794/no‐productivity‐bonus‐govt‐ workers
US plane delivers goods to Pablo‐ravaged provinces in Mindanao (philstar.com) | Updated December 10, 2012 ‐ 3:46pm MANILA, Philippines ‐ The United States military has brought at least 270,000 pounds of emergency supplies to provinces ravaged by typhoon "Pablo," the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced Monday. The AFP said that the goods were delivered by the American C‐130 "Hercules" cargo aircraft on Sunday and Monday. Col. Arnulfo M. Burgos Jr., AFP spokesperson, said that the aircraft unloaded its cargo at the Davao City airport, where the Air Force has an existing facility. Burgos said that the supplies would be forwarded to the typhoon‐battered areas, either by helicopters or trucks. Burgos said that 76,000 pounds of the supplies came from the World Food Program and the rest came from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The AFP spokesperson also said that the United States paid for the fuel and maintenance and flying costs of the C‐130 while Filipino military only secured the American aircraft. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2012/12/10/884448/us‐plane‐delivers‐goods‐pablo‐ ravaged‐provinces‐mindanao
House, Senate OK sin tax bill By Cathy Yamsuan, Karen Boncocan INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:53 am | Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile huddles with other senators and clarifies a point with BIR Secretary Kim Henares during a short break in the hearing of the repackaged sin tax bill in the Senate last Nov. 7, 2012. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO The two chambers of Congress will ratify the reconciled version of the sin tax bill today after yesterday’s face‐off between senators and representatives that centered on whether they would make good on their promise to dedicate the incremental revenue from tobacco and alcohol products to health‐related government expenditures. Sen. Franklin Drilon made the announcement after stepping out of the grueling four‐ hour meeting between senators and representatives tasked to thresh out the differences between their respective versions of the measure. Drilon, acting chairman of the Senate ways and means committee, said the reconciled version adhered more closely to the upper chamber’s version. For 2013, the sin tax measure is expected to raise an additional P33.96 billion on top of present collections from tobacco and alcohol products. Drilon said P23.4 billion of this amount was expected from the tobacco sector while the rest would come from revenues from alcohol products. “The tobacco revenues are actually lower than the Senate‐approved target of P23.55 billion,” he noted, recognizing some colleagues’ objection to what they believe is a skewed burden‐sharing between tobacco and alcohol.
Senators approved the sin tax bill on third and final reading after agreeing on a 60:40 burden‐sharing ratio between tobacco and alcohol taxes. The reconciled version, however, contains a 69:31 ratio between the two products. In subsequent years, tobacco’s burden share would taper slowly to 64 percent in 2017, Drilon said. During the Senate debates, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Ralph Recto voiced concerns over the apparent favor given to alcohol producers since their burden share is significantly smaller. Drilon said that Marcos, in particular, held back when he noted that the reconciled sin tax version would take note of the law that requires that 15 percent of all incremental revenues from sin products would go to support workers in the tobacco industry. Meanwhile, representatives rejected an amendment introduced by Recto requiring specific uniform amounts for the repair and rehabilitation of hospitals. Drilon said the representatives described the proposal as unrealistic since the financial needs of different hospitals would also vary. The Philtobacco Growers Association (PTGA) said it would campaign against all reelectionist senators who voted in favor of the sin tax bill. PTGA president Saturnino Distor said that aside from street rallies, his group would soon launch an Internet campaign (http://www.senator1000.com/) to ensure that “anti‐ farmer, anti‐labor” reelectionist senators would not get votes from tobacco‐producing provinces and other areas affected by higher sin taxes nationwide. The bicameral conference committee is made up of Senators Drilon, Recto, Marcos, Panfilo Lacson, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Sergio Osmena III, and the contingent from the House of Representatives: Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab, House majority leader Neptali Gonzales II, House minority leader Danilo Suarez, Iloilo Representative Janette Garin, Batanes Representative Henedina Abad, Camarines Sur (third district) Representative Luis Villafuerte, Camarines Sur (fourth district) Representative Arnulfo Fuentebella, Negros Oriental Representative Jocelyn Limkaichong and Ilocos Sur Representative Eric Singson Jr. Also present during the deliberations were Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, Finance Undersecretary Jeremias Paul Jr. and Health Undersecretary Eric Tayag. Originally posted: 3:22 pm | Monday, December 10th, 2012 http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/321719/bicam‐oks‐sin‐tax‐bill
Housing agencies offer moratoriums for ‘Pablo’ victims By Fat Reyes INQUIRER.net 4:18 pm | Monday, December 10th, 2012 0 15 0
Vice President Jejomar Binay. FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines – Two housing agencies on Monday announced that their borrowers who were victims of the devastation caused by Typhoon “Pablo” may defer payments for their housing loans. Vice President Jejomar Binay said that the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag‐IBIG) and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) had imposed three‐ months and six‐ month moratoriums, respectively, on amortizations of their housing borrowers. Binay, also chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Council (HUDCC) and NHMFC Board of Directors, made the announcement after the typhoon slammed Visayas and Mindanao last week. “Pag‐IBIG will provide a three‐month moratorium on the payment of housing loan amortizations without penalties or additional interests,” Binay said in a statement, noting that this will cover housing loan borrowers whose property mortgage is in an area declared under a state of calamity. “However, the borrower must file his application for moratorium within 90 days from the declaration of the state of calamity,” Binay added. The statement noted that the NHMFC’s moratorium, meanwhile, would be effective from December 2012 to May 2013.
It said affected borrowers must file their applications for moratorium not later than March 15, 2013 supported by a certification from the barangay (village) chairman of the affected area. It added that NHMFC borrowers who were no longer interested to return to their respective units may voluntarily surrender their properties through dacion en pago, as a mode of settlement of their loan obligations subject to terms and conditions under the law. Dacion en pago, in Philippine law, is defined as a “special mode of payment whereby the debtor offers another thing to the creditor who accepts it as equivalent of payment of an outstanding obligation.” Binay also said Pag‐IBIG members may apply for a calamity loan which is the equivalent of 80 percent of their total savings. “Pag‐IBIG’s calamity loan now carries a yearly interest rate of 5.95 percent, compared to the previous 10.75 percent,” Binay said. The death toll from Typhoon Pablo has risen to more than 600 people and authorities feared that the numbers could reach up to 1,000. Search operations continue for the hundreds missing. The Philippine government also noted that damages from the typhoon could amount to P4 billion, and that it had affected at least 5 million people. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/321747/housing‐agencies‐offer‐moratoriums‐for‐pablo‐ victims
Foreign investments down 60% in Sept. Many structural issues still hinder flow of FDIs By Michelle V. Remo 1:27 am | Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
A laborer works on a road project in Makati City in this file photo. Economists said that outstanding domestic problems related to insufficient infrastructure, among others, adversely impact on the ability of the Philippines to attract foreign direct investments, which suffered a big drop in September 2012. AFP PHOTO/Jay DIRECTO The Philippines suffered a big drop in foreign direct investments (FDIs) in September in what officials claimed was due to global economic problems. The decline was also attributed to lingering issues adversely affecting the business climate in the country. Economists said a growing economy alone would not be sufficient to generate a higher amount of FDIs, noting the need for efforts to solve structural issues that discouraged more foreigners from doing business in the country. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported Monday that the net inflow of FDIs amounted to only $55 million in September, down 60 percent from $138 million in the same month last year. Gross inflow amounted to $100 million, falling by 41 percent from $170 million from a year ago, while total outflow during the month amounted to $45 million. Sectors that benefited the most from the gross inflow in FDIs during the month were wholesale and retail trade, real estate, transportation, and storage and manufacturing.
For the first three quarters of 2012, however, the net inflow of FDIs was up 40 percent at $1.09 billion from $782 million in the same period last year. Government economic officials said the prolonged crisis in Europe was causing volatility in risk appetite among foreign businesses, eventually leading to a drop in FDIs in September. But economists said that outstanding domestic problems related to insufficient infrastructure, the tedious process in setting up a business, restrictions on foreign ownership and high power cost adversely impact on the ability of the Philippines to attract FDIs. Although there was risk aversion globally, they said the ability of neighboring countries to attract investments was less affected than that of the Philippines. “There is also a local component affecting the drop in FDIs. There are still issues that remain hanging in the balance,” economist Victor Abola of the University of Asia and the Pacific told the Inquirer. He said the implementation of infrastructure projects lined up under the public‐private partnership (PPP) program must be hastened and that investments in power plants should increase to address problems on insufficient infrastructure and high electricity cost. “There is no room for complacency. A lot of work still has to be done to attract more investors and create jobs,” Abola said. http://business.inquirer.net/97567/foreign‐investments‐down‐60‐in‐sept
91‐day treasury bill yield declines to 0.198% By Ronnel W. Domingo Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:25 am | Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 0 8 0 The interest on the benchmark treasury bills eased slightly while those for the other two tenors rose amid an apparent continued correction despite investors remaining confident on the Philippine economy. The yield on the 91‐day bills settled at 0.198 percent, down 0.2 basis point from the previous average. The rate for the 183‐day was at 0.52 percent, up 0.7 basis point, while that for the 364‐day paper was at 0.606 percent, also higher by 5.7 basis points.
Monday’s result for the benchmark bills was 20.2 basis points lower than the corresponding 0.4‐percent average for done deals at the floor of Philippine Exchange and Dealing Corp. In the secondary market, prevailing rates for the 183‐day bills was 11 basis points higher at 0.65 percent, and for the 364‐day bills, also 17.9 basis points higher at 0.785 percent. The Bureau of the Treasury raised a total of P6.38 billion instead of the planned P7.5 billion due to a partial award for the six‐month securities. Investors tendered a total of P12.44 billion or less than twice the total offering. National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said in an interview that Monday’s results showed that the market sustained its confidence on the economy’s prospects given the government’s debt management program. She noted that a very low inflation environment continued to prevail, which hopefully would carry over to the next year. “We’re entering 2013 with a very strong cash balance,” she said. Last week, the National Statistics Office reported that inflation in November settled at 2.8 percent, which was below the lower end of the central bank’s target range of 3 to 5 percent. http://business.inquirer.net/97563/91‐day‐treasury‐bill‐yield‐declines‐to‐0‐198
Shattered hopes By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Dec. 11, 2012 at 12:02am | 406 views
Grim situation in south moved UN to flash global appeal for $65m in aid
The United Nations on Monday made a flash global appeal for $65 million in humanitarian aid for the people devastated by typhoon Pablo—international name Bopha—in the Visayas and Mindanao after confirming the grim situation in the disaster areas. UN Humanitarian Coordinator Luiza Carvalho said the Bopha Action Plan for Recovery outlined how the humanitarian community would deliver assistance to meet the needs of the survivors in desperate need of emergency shelter, water and sanitation, food and livelihood. Carvalho, who had just visited the most devastated areas in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, said the typhoon damage was “beyond imagination.” “I have seen total devastation of villages,” she said. “Neighborhoods are completely flattened and houses reduced to debris. Entire communities, including pregnant women and children, have no shelter.” The death toll from the super typhoon climbed to 706 on Monday while 780 remained missing as disaster workers continued to search for more bodies in the muck.
Dozens of K‐9 units have been deployed in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental—the Ground Zero of the devastation—to help in the search. Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said 217 of the recovered bodies in Mindanao remained unidentified and, as a result, would be buried in a mass grave within 48 hours. He said they had already recovered 647 bodies of which 430 had been identified and claimed by relatives. “The 217 [bodies] are my problem because nobody will claim them until they are identified,” Ramos said. “In about 48 hours we will bury them in a mass grave if no one claims them.” President Benigno Aquino III has already declared a state of national calamity to automatically impose price controls in the affected areas and to expedite the processing of international assistance. The Bopha Action Plan outlines a six‐month response ranging from sending urgently needed food, water and emergency shelter to 480,000 seriously affected people to helping them recover emotionally and physically from the devastation. The UN plan focuses particularly on the need to rehabilitate the agriculture sector in Mindanao. To commiserate with the suffering, Malacañang has decided to cancel its Christmas parties and called on other government agencies to hold “subdued” celebrations. President Benigno Aquino III on Monday also called on the private sector to lend their helicopters to help in the relief operations in Mindanao.
“The President himself has said that how does one celebrate when we have countrymen who have lost their loved ones to the typhoon? Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. “The decision to cancel the parties was not an order from the President, but we are taking our cue from him. I think it is important for our countrymen to feel and know that the national government sympathizes with them.” The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council last week decided to cancel its Christmas party, and Filipinos abroad have been heeding the call for assistance for Pablo’s victims. The Filipino community in Dubai held a “brunch for a cause” over the weekend to raise P80,000 in donation. Foreign allies have also weighted in, with the Japanese government donating P22 million in emergency assistance in the form of tents, sleeping pads and plastic sheets, while the Red Cross Society of China donated has $30,000 to its Philippine counterpart. Washington has released $100,000, while the United States Agency for International Development has committed to send teams to assess which areas need the most humanitarian assistance. South Korea on Friday conveyed its sympathies and donated $200,000 to the Social Welfare Department. The situation in the devastated areas remained desperate. In New Bataan in Compostela Valley, families including children were begging for food as many parts of the town remained isolated and the distribution of relief had been slow as a result.
At least 11 bridges and nine roads in Compostela Valley and Negros Oriental remained impassable while the power supply in 21 municipalities remained erratic. In Compostela Valley alone, 643,996 people were pleading for help. And to help, the United States on Monday flew to Davao 8,800 food packs worth P2.2 million. The British government has offered military cargo aircraft to fly relief to the devastated areas. Despite the destruction in Mindanao, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Monday said there would be enough food, and that the farm sector would still post positive growth for 2012. Alcala, who accompanied President Aquino to Compostela Valley to assess the situation there, said the damage to agriculture had reached P8.5 billion, with the banana industry in Davao accounting for P5.6 billion and the coconut sector accounting for P767 million. Vice President Jejomar Binay said two housing agencies had imposed moratoriums on the amortizations of the borrowers affected by Typhoon Pablo. He said the Home Development Mutual Fund would impose a three‐month moratorium on housing loan amortizations, while the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. would be implementing a six‐month moratorium. With Francisco Tuyay, Florante S. Solmerin and Julito G. Rada http://manilastandardtoday.com/2012/12/11/shattered‐hopes/
Pump prices 75c cheaper By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Dec. 11, 2012 at 12:00am | 208 views
The oil firms cut prices for the second consecutive week by as much as P0.75 per liter due to the softening of world oil prices. The oil firms said prices of premium and unleaded gasoline were reduced by P0.75 per liter, regular gasoline by P0.20 per liter, diesel by P0.15 per liter and P0.10 per liter of kerosene. Pilipinas Shell, Petron Corp. and Seaoil Philippines announced their respective price cut effective 12:01 am December 11. Phoenix Petroleum cut prices last December 6. With the rollback, premium, unleaded and premium plus unleaded gasoline now sell at P47.65 to P57.10 per liter. Diesel sells at P40.50 to P44.80 per liter and kerosene, P49.00 to P55.08 per liter. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2012/12/11/pump‐prices‐75c‐cheaper/
Pensioners get Christmas gifts By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Dec. 11, 2012 at 12:01am | 186 views
THE Government Service Insurance System has approved the allocation of P1.8 billion as Christmas cash gifts for its 219,000 pensioners who are already receiving their regular monthly pensions. “We will credit the cash gift to our pensioners e‐Card accounts on or before Christmas Day,” said GSIS president and general manager Robert G. Vergara. Pensioners whose 2011 cash gift is P10,000 and below, will receive an amount equivalent to one month current pension, up to a maximum of P10,000. While pensioners whose Christmas cash gift last year is above P10,000, will receive an amount equivalent to one month current pension, up to a maximum of P12,600. Pensioners who resumed their regular monthly pensions after December 2011 (or the five‐year guaranteed period) will receive an amount equivalent to one month current pension, up to a maximum of P10,000. However, some pensioners are deemed ineligible to receive the cash gift. These include: basic survivorship pensioners and dependent pensioners; retirees who received in advance their guaranteed pensions in the form of lump sums and who will be receiving their regular monthly pensions only after Dec. 31, 2012; and new retirees from 2008 to 2012 who will be entitled to the Christmas Cash Gift five years after their retirement date.The same is also true for those members who separated from the service from 2006 to 2012 before reaching age 60 and who will be entitled to the cash gift once they have been regular pensioners for at least five years, and pensioners under RA 7699 (Portability Law) who are receiving their regular pro‐rata pensions. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2012/12/11/pensioners‐get‐christmas‐gifts/
Albay aids flood areas By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Dec. 11, 2012 at 12:01am | 585 views
LEGAZPI CITY—The Albay provincial government has appropriated financial aid of P500,000 each for Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, hard hit by Typhoon Pablo last week, aside from deploying its emergency response group popularly known as Team Albay to help disaster victims. The mission is called Team Albay ‐OCD: Tabang ComVal‐DavOr. ‘Tabang‘ is a Bikol word for assistance. Its members are all well trained in disaster response operations. Albay Gov. Joey Salceda approved the disbursement the P1 million financial assistance proposed by Vice Gov. Harold Imperial, in response to calls for help, primarily from President Noynoy Aquino. Recent reports put the number of victims in these areas at close to 50,000 families. Salceda said the assistance will be delivered immediately to the two provinces by a delegation composed of members of the Albay Provincial Board and the Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office, who will also help assess the victims’ needs. The assistance, Salceda said, will complement the emergency response operations in the towns of New Bataan in the Compostela Valley, and Cateel, Boston and Baganga in Davao Oriental.The governor pointed out that cash is still the best form of relief because the victims know their needs better; it does not displace local demand and supply dynamics, and incurs less transport and inventory holding costs. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2012/12/11/albay‐aids‐flood‐areas/
T‐bill rates decline By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Dec. 11, 2012 at 12:00am | 128 views
Rates of three‐month and six‐month Treasury bills fell during Monday’s auction, as market appetite for the short‐term government debt papers remained strong. The average rate of 91‐day Treasury bills eased to 0.198 percent Monday from the previous auction’s 0.2 percent. Tenders for the three‐month debt paper were almost three times oversubscribed. The yield of 183‐day T‐bills also declined to 0.52 percent from 0.527 percent previously, with demand reaching P3.4 billion and the government accepting only P1.4 billion out of programmed debt sale of P2.5 billion. National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said the market continued to expect a very low inflation rate. “We hope that this kind of environment will continue. We have a lot of challenges for this year but at the same time, given low inflation, we have taken advantage of the market conditions to meet our target,” De Leon said. “We are at peace with our performance and at present, the government has a very strong cash balance,” she added. Meanwhile, the average rate of one‐year T‐bills climbed to 0.606 percent from the last auction’s 0.549 percent. Demand for the debt paper reached P5.7 billion, but only P4 billion was accepted by the auction committee. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2012/12/11/t‐bill‐rates‐decline/
UnitedHealth Group opens PH facility By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Dec. 11, 2012 at 12:01am | 355 views
America’s largest health insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc. set up a back office in the Philippines to provide offshore critical business support services. “We welcome UnitedHealth’s decision to transfer to Manila various labor‐ intensive, information technology‐enabled business support functions,” said House deputy majority leader Roman Romulo, a supporter of the booming business process outsourcing industry. “This is yet another strong vote of confidence in Philippines coming no less from a major American corporation in the US Dow Jones 30 [stock market index],” Romulo said. Romulo said UnitedHealth, ranked No. 22 in the Fortune 500 largest US corporations by gross revenue, began hiring Filipino staff, including registered nurses with hospital experience, BPO exposure, and who had active US licenses. The nurses were signed up to perform Philippine‐based jobs as “nurse associates, clinical quality analysts and clinical managers.” Minnetonka, Minnesota‐based UnitedHealth serves more than 75 million people worldwide, mostly in America, through a network of 754,000 physicians and other health care professionals, and 5,400 hospitals. UnitedHealth offers consumer‐oriented health benefit plans and services to corporate employers in America, public sector employers, mid‐sized employers, small businesses, and individuals; health and well‐being services to individuals
aged 50 and older addressing their needs for preventive and acute health care services; health plans and care programs to beneficiaries of acute and long‐term care Medicaid plans; and specialty benefits, such as dental, vision, life, and disability products. Romulo said UnitedHealth is also recruiting medical billing coordinators, medical coding specialists, healthcare experts and customer service associates with BPO experience in a financial account or in handling human resource processes. UnitedHealth’s move to relegate several business support activities to a new in‐ house center at the McKinley Hill Cyberpark in Taguig City came not long after Romulo predicted that a new US law enabling more Americans to obtain health insurance would boost the BPO sector in the Philippines. Romulo expressed confidence in October that Obamacare would drive new demand for health insurance‐related business support services in Manila. Obamacare refers to the US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will allow an additional 30 million Americans to get hold of health insurance through new subsidies and tax credits to employers and individuals, among other mechanisms. It also mandates reforms to simplify and cut down the cost of health care in America.UnitedHealth, which also separately offers IT‐enabled health services, reported an annual net profit of $5.142 billion on gross revenue $101.86 billion, according to Fortune Magazine. Romulo is author of the new Data Privacy Act of the Philippines, which is anticipated to further encourage global corporations to either establish in‐house back offices in Manila, or relegate their non‐core, business support activities to independent BPO firms operating in the country. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2012/12/11/unitedhealth‐group‐opens‐ph‐facility/
UN APPEALS FOR $65‐M GLOBAL AID FOR ‘PABLO’ VICTIMS Published on 11 December 2012 Written by Neil A. Alcober Reporter
THE United Nations and its humanitarian partners on Monday appealed for US$65 million to provide aid to the millions affected by Typhoon Pablo (international codename: Bopha) in the southern Philippines. UN Humanitarian Coordinator Luiza Carvalho said that the impact of the calamity was “beyond imagination” and people desperately needed help. “I have seen total devastation of villages. Neighborhoods are completely flattened and houses reduced to debris. Entire communities, including pregnant women and children, have no shelter,” Carvalho said in a statement. The UN official also hailed the response by the local Filipino people, authorities and civil society groups. “I am profoundly moved by the Filipino people and their determination to help each other during this time,” Carvalho said. “We pledge to work alongside them and the government for as long as it takes to get everyone back on their feet,” she added. Officials said the death toll had risen to 647 with 780 people still missing. Earlier, President Benigno Aquino 3rd declared a state of national calamity and accepted the offer of international assistance made by
the Humanitarian Country Team. The Action Plan for Recovery outlines a six‐month plan for response, to be provided by UN Agencies, international and local non‐ government organizations working alongside the government. The Plan will deliver urgently needed food, water and emergency shelter and other urgent assistance to 480,000 seriously affected people in the worst hit areas. In the weeks and months to come, support will be provided to assist emotional as well as physical recovery, with particular attention to the needs of the most vulnerable. The ‘Bopha’ Action Plan for Recovery was launched as an Addendum to the 2013 Humanitarian Action Plan for Mindanao. Calling for $35.5 million, the plan seeks to support the government in addressing the most critical humanitarian needs and building resilience of the people in central Mindanao. Govt builds bunkhouses Malacañang said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development on Monday started constructing some 63 bunkhouses in the hardest‐hit municipalities of Compostela Valley. Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that this is part of the government’s efforts to provide temporarily shelter to the displaced typhoon victims. The bunkhouses will be built in the municipalities of Banganga, Boston and Cateel in Davao Oriental province and New Bataan town in Compostela Valley. Lacierda said that each bunkhouse would provide shelter for 10 families.
Search and rescue operations Lacierda said that the government strengthened its disaster response operations to find and rescue those still missing. He said that two Philippine Coast Guard vessels have been deployed to conduct search and rescue as well as relief operations in Davao Oriental province. Lacierda said that three patrol boats of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources manned by Coast Guard personnel have been organized as a Task Force for the search and rescue of fishermen at sea. Citing a report by Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Lacierda said that 20 fishermen have been rescued, five bodies were recovered and 310 remain unaccounted for. On the other hand, Lacierda also said that in support of the Department of Transportation and Communications‐Philippine Coast Guard efforts, the Department of the Interior and the Local Government has been continuously assessing the situation in Regions VII, XI and XIII to facilitate the delivery of national government assistance. The Philippine National Police regional offices in Mindanao are also on full alert status and its investigation units have been mobilized to assist local units and the Department of Trade and Industry to monitor market conditions for price control violations and unfair trade practices. “In addition, we welcome the efforts of TV5 and Mr. Manny Pangilinan for a telethon this evening to raise P100 million for the victims of Typhoon Pablo,” he said.
The government, likewise, urged the public to support the private sector initiatives of ABS‐CBN’s Sagip Kapamilya and GMA’s Kapuso Foundation. “We call on all Filipinos to continue being of service to our countrymen most in need, knowing fully well that together we will persist and we shall overcome these difficult times,” Lacierda said. Moratorium on loan amortizations Two housing agencies of the government have imposed moratoriums on amortizations of borrowers affected by Pablo. Vice President Jejomar Binay said that the Home Development Mutual (Pag‐IBIG) Fund will implement a three‐month moratorium on housing loan amortizations, while the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. will implement a six‐month moratorium for victims of the typhoon. With reports from Catherine S. Valente, Ritchie A. Horario And Anthony Vargas http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/top‐stories/37154‐un‐appeals‐for‐65‐m‐global‐ aid‐for‐pablo‐victims
Posted on December 10, 2012 10:28:12 PM By Diane Claire J. Jiao Senior Reporter
Equity infusions boost FDI FOREIGN DIRECT investments (FDI) recovered in September after a sharp dip the month before, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) yesterday showed. Driven by equity infusions, net FDI inflows hit $55 million ‐‐ more than four times August’s $13 million that was a sharp dive from the $108 million recorded in July. Year on year, however, the September result was 60.15% lower compared to the $138 million registered 12 months earlier. Equity capital, amounting to a net inflow of $57 million, comprised the bulk of September inflows. The main sources were the British Virgin Islands, the United States, Macau and Singapore, with investments coursed to wholesale and retail trade, real estate, manufacturing and transportation and storage. Gross equity placements totaled $102 million while withdrawals took away $45 million. Other than equity capital, the net inflow of reinvested earnings added $20 million, BSP data showed. Other forms of capital ‐‐ inter‐company borrowing and lending between foreign investors and their subsidiaries/affiliates in the Philippines ‐‐ posted a net outflow of $22 million. For the nine months to September, FDI totaled $1.093 billion, 39.77% more than the $782 million seen a year earlier. It also accounted for almost three‐fourths of the central bank’s $1.5‐billion forecast for 2012. Equity capital brought in a sizeable $1.2 billion for the period, with $1.397 billion in placements and $197 million in withdrawals. "The bulk of these investments originated mostly from the US, Australia, the Netherlands, the British Virgin Islands and Japan," the central bank said.
Sectors that benefited were manufacturing, real estate, wholesale and retail trade, mining and quarrying, finance and insurance, and transportation and storage. Reinvested earnings added a net inflow of $121 million, while other capital again posted a net outflow of $228 million. Last Friday, the IMF released data that showed the Philippines continuing to lag behind its peers. The country lured a total of $25.59 billion in 2011, up from 2009 and 2010, but lower compared to neighbors such as Malaysia, which attracted $114.555 billion. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=Equity‐infusions‐ boost‐FDI&id=62752
Posted on December 10, 2012 10:55:10 PM
Tuna fishing in Pacific extended THE PHILIPPINES will continue to fish for tuna in a high seas pocket in the Pacific Ocean until 2014, ensuring supply for the country’s tuna manufacturers and exporters and reducing fishing activities in Philippine seas, where tuna has been known to spawn. The Philippines can fish in High Seas Pocket 1 until Feb. 28, 2014. ‐‐ BW photo The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), in a statement yesterday, said the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has allowed the Philippines to continue fishing in High Seas Pocket 1 (HSP1), an area of about 560,000 square miles located east of Indonesia and north of Palau, where tuna is abundant. The WCPFC, which seeks to conserve highly migratory fish such as tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean, gave its go‐ahead at the end of the 9th Session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Pasay City on Dec. 6. The Philippines will be allowed to fish in HSP1 until Feb. 28, 2014. "If in the last meeting, we were able to bring home the tuna, this year, the Philippines was able to keep the tuna home," BFAR Director Asis G. Perez was quoting as saying in the statement. BFAR said the WCPFC approved the extension of the Philippines’ Conservation and Management Measures (CMM) for tuna fishing ‐‐ the document the government agency prepared that detailed how it would regulate the 36 Philippine fishing vessels that have been allowed to enter and fish in HSP1 after a ban was lifted in October. At the 8th session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in March in Guam, the Philippines was granted exclusive access to HSP1 beginning Oct. 1 and up to Feb. 28, 2013 after it argued that closing the high seas area had diverted fishermen to Philippine fishing grounds and resulted in a higher catch of juvenile tuna. The Philippines made the same argument at the last meeting, underscoring the need to preserve the country’s tuna spawning grounds.
Giving continued access by 36 Philippine fishing vessels to HSP1 will mean a rebound in tuna production, which dropped by 20.88% to 504,000 metric tons (MT) last year from 637,000 MT in 2008. The WCPFC had closed HSP1 to fishing beginning January 2010. In a phone interview yesterday, BFAR’s Mr. Perez said access to HSP1 means an increase by 50‐60,000 MT in annual tuna production, with each metric ton valued at $1,800 to $2,000. Industry players produce frozen and canned tuna for local and international markets. The 36 fishing vessels that will benefit from the continued access to HSP1 will have to strictly comply with government regulations, the BFAR chief said. "The agency requires the strict compliance… to regulations set under the Fisheries Administrative Order No. 245 series of 2012" which include "installation of vessel monitoring devices, the use of appropriate net mesh size and the provision of fisheries observer among others," Mr. Perez said in the statement. ‐‐ from a report byRaymond Jun R. Portillo http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Tuna‐fishing‐in‐ Pacific‐extended&id=62759
No more errors in printing 3‐B notes — BSP • •
Written by Ed Velasco
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 00:00
The Security Plant Complex (SPC) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has assured the public there will be no more errors in the forthcoming printing of three billion pieces of assorted Philippine currencies beginning January 2014. Outgoing assistant governor and SPC chief Manuel Torrres said all the necessary measures have been done by the BSP numismatic committee and other BSP personnel in charge of the designs. The BSP drew heavy flak in 2008 after several thousand pieces of P100 notes have been circulated in the market with the surname of then president Gloria Macapagal‐Arroyo misspelled as “Arrovo.” Ironically, the former president felt humiliated as “Arrovo” rhymes with “dorobo,” which means “robber or thief” in Nihongo, the Japanese national language. Several thousand pieces of “Arrovo” bills are still in the financial system and sold for P1,000 each. At least half of the three billion notes will be printed at SPC in Quezon City while the half is will be printed abroad. Torres, who will retire on Dec. 14 after serving SPC for five years, said there are two firms that are eyeing to print the money — Delarue and Oberthur.The assistant governor said the printing job still has to be bidded out. The SPC will be printing almost a billion pieces of P20 notes; almost half a billion pieces of P100 notes and about 50 million P200 notes. The remaining will be divided for the P50, P500 and P1,000 notes. “No more mistakes since we approve the print proof here,” Torres told The Daily Tribune. All the would‐ be printed notes are new generation currencies that started circulating in December 2010. Beginning January 2014, the SPC will also start demonitizing old design notes. There is no timetable yet as to when the demonitization will cease, according to the official.
NG’s domestic borrowing to temper capital flows • •
Written by Ed Velasco
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 00:00
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) welcomed the national government’s (NG) announcement that it will further increase domestic funding to at least 60 to 70 percent to avoid more dollar infusion to the financial system. Deputy Gov. Diwa Guinigundo said the annoucement is a welcome move for the BSP as far as tempering peso growth is concerned. The peso has been on its strongest in four years, not exceeding 41.20‐$1 since August 2012. Last Nov. 28, 2012, it further strengthened to 56‐month period as it broke into 40.87‐level versus the US dollar. “The national government has announced it will start shifting from foreign to more local borrowings. This will greatly help temper capital flows,” Guinigundo told The Daily Tribune. Even National Treasurer Lea de Leon is contemplating to push through with the $3 billion bond float next year. If the program pushes through, it will cause more dollar inflows to the system, a move quite unwelcome to the BSP since it will push losses to further increase. The BSP’s hands have been full for the past several months tempering further peso strength. It has cut interest rates four times, all by 25 basis points but the local currency remains strong and steady. According to Guinigundo, the peso is strong because the Philippines is able to export and remittances from overseas Filipinos are record‐high. “This scenario is not surprising. It’s a good thing for us,” he was quoted as saying. Exporters also urged BSP to do all the necessary tools to ward off peso strengthening, saying there are 40 million overseas Filipino workers and four million employers relying on exports’ sector.