DA pledges to help onion producers bolster output, assures transparency Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 19:28 Written by Max V. de Leon / Reporter THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has assured local onion producers that any decision to import the crop will be transparent, with the National Onion Action Team (NOAT) tasked to consult with stakeholders. The agency gave the assurance while committing to launch initiatives that will increase the domestic production of onion, which stood at 124,830 metric tons (MT) in 2012, or 2.8 percent lower than the year before. NOAT, composed of stakeholders from the government, the private sector and non‐governmental organizations such as onion‐farmers’ groups and associations, regularly meets to discuss issues and concerns confronting the industry. “The decision to allow or not to allow the importation of onion is fully discussed, based on the data and information collected by the Bureau of Plant Industry Allium Task Force. These include onion‐stock inventory [and] the local production [of onion], as well as the prevailing market price,” the agriculture department said. NOAT will submit its resolution to the DA if there is a need to import to augment the insufficient domestic production and supply of onions. It will only be at the required volume based on actual demand, and only for a limited period of time. The government allowed the importation of 9,100 MT of yellow onions in August and September 2012. Of the total, only 7,479 MT arrived as of November 29, 2012. Some 8,500 MT of red onions were allowed to be imported for the September‐to‐December 2012 period, but only 7,254.4 MT arrived. “The public is rest assured by the DA that the issuance of the Plant Quarantine Clearance [or import permit] is granted evenly and fairly to all accredited importers,” the department said. The DA also said it is also regularly communicating with the Bureau of Customs on efforts to stop the entry of smuggled onions. In 2012, 32 40‐footer container vans of smuggled onions were seized by the bureau.
The department said that through its High‐Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP), it is boosting the country’s onion industry by increasing production or expanding planting areas. Among the major interventions of the DA‐HVCDP to assist onion farmers are the provision of production inputs (seeds, organic fertilizers, etc.), the planting of onion in non‐traditional areas like the provinces of Siquijor, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Sarangani and Quezon; the conduct of training for farmers and extension workers (training of trainers, package of technology and farmers’ field schools, etc.); the development of good agricultural practices for onion production; the conduct of a techno‐ demonstration on off‐season production of onion; the construction of onion hanger storage facilities in major onion‐producing areas; and linking farmers’ groups directly to markets. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri-commodities/9551-da-pledges-to-help-onionproducers-bolster-output-assures-transparency
BoC presses fight vs rice smuggling Published : Thursday, February 21, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 31
THE Bureau of Customs has cancelled the accreditation of 14 rice importers as part of the intensified campaign launched by Commissioner Ruffy Biazon to curb rice smuggling. The office of Biazon revealed that the agencyâ€™s Interim Customs Accreditation and Registration (ICARE) cancelled the accreditation of Conquistar Marketing, Dream the Dream Marketing, Happy Morning Enterprises, Kakampi Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Kapatiran Takusa MultiPurpose Cooperative, Malipampang Concerned Citizens Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Pinambaran Farmers Producers Cooperative, Samahang Magsasakang Kapampangan at Katagalugan MultiPurpose Cooperative, Thunder Glutch Marketing, Ugnayang Magbubukid ng San Isidro, Inc., Vita Rose Marketing, Dragon Clash Enterprises, Masagana Import Export and King Casey Trading. Reports reaching the office of Commissioner Biazon showed that the 14 rice importers were found to have insufficient financial resources to import large volumes of rice. The importers have rice importation allocation quota from the National Food Authority (NFA) to operate. Some companies initially complied with minimum requirements to get ICARE accreditation as general importers and then managed to start operating by first seeking rice import allocation quota from the National Food Authority. However, the companies were said to have been used as front by rice smugglers to be able to import rice at a lesser amount. The importations were tax- free. The cooperatives were also importing rice from other countries beyond the NFA quota prompting the BoC to look into their activities. The BoC reviewed the financial status of the companies and inspected their business addresses, warehouses and operations. After finding out that they do not have enough resources to import large volumes of rice, the agency delisted the 14 importers. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/45263-boc-presses-fight-vs-rice-smuggling
PHL economy’s ‘weakness’ is agriculture, says think tank Category: Economy Published on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 19:59 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter
Philippine economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 may have surpassed expectations but a local think tank said the numbers exposed the weakness of the agriculture sector which requires a permanent solution. First Metro Investment Corp. and University of Asia and the Pacific’s Capital Markets Research noted that in the last four years the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors trended “sluggishly” at a quarterly pace of 1.2 percent, way below the 4.7 percent and 5.8 percent quarterly rates of industry and services, respectively. “This is despite the fact that almost four out of 10 Filipino workers are in agriculture and basic food processing. Moreover, a great majority of the poor, approximately 70 percent, live in rural [areas],” said its periodic report titled “The Market Call.” Despite this, the report noted that Philippine policy‐makers have been giving less importance to agriculture, forestry and fishery. “The pale agricultural sector worsens rural poverty, forcing farmers to migrate to urban areas. This, in turn, leads to congestion, rising informal settlers, and extreme joblessness,” the report read. The think tank pointed out that the National Capital Region (NCR) posted the highest unemployment rate in the Philippines. In October 2012 unemployment rate in NCR stood at 11 percent compared to the national average of 68 percent. “[This] indicates that the development of the agriculture sector must have greater priority even if the country is moving toward industrialization,” the report read.
The think tank noted that the unemployment problem may not ease anytime soon due to the appreciation of the peso. It projected that the peso may trade at an average of P40 to the greenback for the whole of 2013. “Economics works on relative prices, and as we make foreign goods and resources cheaper relative to domestic goods and resources, firms will prefer spending on the former [foreign goods]” the report read. “Despite high growth, employment of domestic resources will not follow. What would be problematic is if policy‐makers bask in short‐term gains and do not realize that this situation cannot last more than a few years,” it stressed. The think tank said the peso’s continuous appreciation is a fly in the ointment for the long‐term sustainability of the country’s economic growth as it puts exports, business‐process outsourcing and overseas Filipino worker remittances under serious threat. The country’s gross domestic product grew by 6.8 percent year‐on‐year in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the whole of 2012, the Philippines posted an economic growth of 6.6 percent on the back of the strong performance of the services sector.
Mangyans, Inmates Participate In Intex’s LEAF TreePlanting Project February 20, 2013, 6:13pm
While the minerals development industry is at the doldrums as it waits for the lifting of the government moratorium on mining, some companies have remained focused on addressingsocietal expectations for sustainable development. These expectations include mitigating the harmful effects of climate change, maximizing land use, protecting damaged ecosystems, and providing livelihood opportunities to residents of host communities. One such company, Intex Resources Philippines, Inc., has found an innovative way of effectively meeting these expectations through a tree-planting project called “Livelihood Enhancement through Agro-Forestry” or LEAF. And while initially intended as Intex’s response to government’s call for private sector participation in the National Greening Program, LEAF is now also proving to be an inclusive development mechanism with the active involvement of two sectors that are often sidelined in the pursuits of mainstream society: indigenous peoples (IPs) and inmates. In Sablayan Penal Colony in Occidental Mindoro, some 40 minimum-security inmates are being trained under LEAF’s plant propagation program in a total 17-hectare demonstration farm and nursery operated by Intex. In the farm, two rows of rubber trees have been planted, separated by two rows of coffee and banana, respectively. “This arrangement will eventually develop into a three-canopy agro-forestry plantation,” explains Andy Pestaño, Intex Community Relations and Development Office manager, says. “And since banana and coffee require two years to propagate and rubber four years, early value crops such as sweet potato, cassava and pineapple are planted in between the tree and bush crops in the interim.” Over at Victoria, Oriental Mindoro, around 500 Mangyan belonging to the SADAKI indigenous peoples organization are implementing the LEAF system in a 55-hectare area provided by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the National Greening Program. “Apart from the trees and crops being planted by their inmate-counterparts at Sablayan, our Mangyans partners in Victoria have included hardwood trees and local crops in the configuration,” Pestaño adds. “Overall, our partners in the Sablayan Penal Colony and the Mangyans of Victoria have propagated some 200,000 plants. We have likewise planted more than 45,0000 trees over currently a 60-hectare area,” he says. “LEAF is designed to encourage local farmers to better utilize their land and establish sustainable income, growing over time as more crops reach harvesting age,” says Leo Gamolo, Intex EVP. “Partnership with international off takers for coffee and rubber will ensure local
farmers a sustainable income. LEAF has already generated considerable interest among local farmers and other Mangyan indigenous communities. Training sessions are being held at Intex’s facility, even as help in the form of seedling distribution is extended to those who wish to implement the project in their backyards. “Our partner stakeholders come primarily from the areas where the tree-planting will take place, and since they will be doing the work its only fitting that they reap the benefits of LEAF. As these ecosystems are restored, these trees will provide added security against flooding, erosion and in time will bear fruits that they can sell as well,” Gamolo points out. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/394834/mangyans-inmates-participate-in-intex-s-leaftreeplanting-project#.USWFAvJFyjs
Farmers' coop from PNoy's home province embroiled in rice smuggling By: Rain Castro, InterAksyon.com February 20, 2013 10:02 AM
InterAksyon.com The online news portal of TV5 MANILA - A farmers' cooperative from President Benigno Aquino III's home province is in hot water after they were caught smuggling 875 metric tons of Indian white rice. In a statement, the Bureau of Customs said the rice, packed in 17,500 bags shipped inside 35 container vans, were seized in Cagayan de Oro City. This was the second such shipment seized this month in that city in Mindanao. The first seizure made on February 12 netted 5,000 bags of rice from Vietnam that were consigned to another Luzon-based farmers' cooperatives. Under government rules, farmers' cooperatives can import rice, but the said shipment, valued at P26 million, bore no valid import permit from the National Food Authority (NFA), according to Customs. “Our string of successful operations against illegal rice importations should serve as a stern warning to importers that the CDO collection district is now off-limits to smugglers,” Port of Cagayan de Oro district collector Lourdes Mangaoang said.
According to Customs documents, 20 of the seized container vans arrived at the Mindanao Container Terminal on November 22 and the remaining 15 vans a week later. Mangaoang said her office declared the twin shipments as overstaying and abandoned after the consignee failed to secure their release within the maximum period allowed by law. Customs Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim identified the latest shipment's consignee as the Jefmin Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, which is based in Barangay Datung Matas in Concepcion, Tarlac. â€œThe pattern that has emerged is that Luzon-based farmers cooperative who have no permit from the NFA prefer Cagayan de Oro as unloading point for their illegal importation. It begs the question why?â€? Lim said. He has ordered an expanded probe on the matter, saying syndicates may be misusing the tarifffree importation privilege of farmers' cooperatives. The Philippines maintains a rice import quota, under which shipments of the staple that go beyond the 350,000 metric ton quota are slapped tariffs of 40 percent. http://www.interaksyon.com/business/55463/farmers-coop-from-pnoys-home-provinceembroiled-in-rice-smuggling
200 giant clams to be transported to Bohol Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 19:26 Written by Zaff Solmerin / Correspondent
THE local government unit (LGU) of Bolinao town in Pangasinan province is set to provide at least 200 giant clams for seeding in a marine protected area (MPA) in Bohol province’s Bingag town as part of a livelihood project, it was learned on Wednesday. Known locally as taklobo, these clams are expected to attract other marine species by providing nutrition and shelter to small sea animals. The Bohol provincial government regards the project as a way to reduce poverty and ensure food security in the province without sacrificing vital marine resources in protected areas. Brig. Gen. Rolando Jungco, head of the Civil Relations Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said the military has teamed up with the Bingag and Bolinao LGUs to implement the project, which not only aims to provide livelihood to people in some insurgency‐free provinces like Bohol, but also to help promote and protect the environment. He added that the venture is in line with the Armed Forces’ Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan. “Actually, this is the main objective of the Bayanihan. After clearing an area from the influence of rebels, we have to support efforts of the government to [promote] economic development such as the introduction of sustainable livelihood projects for the people,” Jungco said. He also said Armed Forces Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista allowed the use of military resources to help the Bohol provincial government implement the project. AFP Spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said the military will provide manpower and equipment in transporting the giant clams from an ocean nursery in Bolinao.
“The giant clams will be flown via the Philippine Air Force’s C130 plane to Tagbilaran, Bohol, before they are transported onboard four M35 trucks to the MPA,” Burgos said. “[Transporting the taklobo is crucial,] since any delay in the schedule will threaten the survival of [the] giant clams, [which] can only be transported [within] 11 hours,” he added. “By providing a C130 plane [and] M35 trucks, the AFP will shorten the time needed for the swift transportation and seeding of the giant clams,” the spokesman said. According to the spokesman, the AFP and the Bohol provincial government have been partners for many years, especially during the implementation of the IPSP, which was called the “Bohol Experience.” “Through the partnership of the local government, private organizations and individuals, and other stakeholders, the anti‐insurgency efforts of the AFP in Bohol was successful and accounted for the further improvement of tourism and economy of the province,” Burgos said. Bautista lauded the provincial government and the people of Bohol for their contributions in the nationwide effort to save the environment and the marine resources of the country. “The strong partnership we have with the government and people of Bohol remains to be one of the success stories of IPSP Bayanihan,” Bautista said. “We are well aware of the adverse effects of environmental degradation [on] our communities, especially in coastal areas. This effort to transport 200 giant clams will further increase the volume of marine species in the seas of Bohol and promote biodiversity in the area,” he added. In Photo: A fish swims above a giant clam at a coral reef in the waters of Bolinao town, Pangasinan province. 200 clams like the one in the photo are expected to be transported to Bohol province’s Bingag town soon. (Zaff Solmerin)
Agri Plain Talk
Good Business In Papaya Seed By Zac B. Sarian February 20, 2013, 3:49pm
NEW PAPAYA HYBRIDS — Dr. Mary Ann P. Sayoc, general manager of East‐West Seed Philippines, poses with fruits of newly developed papaya hybrids showcased at the recent International Field Day at the Simon N. Groot Research Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Producing hybrid papaya seeds could be a big business for seed companies if their plant breeders could develop varieties with the color and taste preferred by the target markets, are productive and tolerant to pests, diseases and other stresses. Papaya is a favorite fruit the world over and is grown in tropical and subtropical climates. The supply of fruits is year-round and so farmers who grow them can have year-round cash flow. And that is the reason why plant breeders of companies like East-West Seed International are spending a lot of money in research to come up with new varieties that fit the requirements of different markets. Oh yes, different markets have differing preferences.
At the recent International Field Day in Chiang Mai, the company showcased several newly developed varieties intended for different countries. Most of the newly developed varieties are red-fleshed because that is the preferred color in most of the markets like Thailand, Brazil, India and some other countries. Only the Philippines, it seems, does not have any preference as to color of the papaya flesh. Whether it is yellow or red, it is okay as long as the taste is acceptable to the consumers. And speaking of a new variety that will be field tested in the Philippines, there is a new yellowfleshed hybrid with a novel taste that combines the flavor of papaya and mango. The hybrid does not have a name yet but some people just call it “Papamango” for easy recall. Two new red-fleshed hybrids are now released for the Brazil market. One is called Chara which produces medium to large size fruits with very good shape and uniformity. It has excellent fruit quality – thick and firm flesh, small cavity, attractive red-orange color and very sweet. The other variety for Brazil is called Vega with good fruit setting ability and medium size fruits. The fruits have very good shape and uniformity, thick and firm flesh, small cavity, attractive redorange color and very sweet. Gymbia is another red-fleshed variety from East-West which produces large fruits with thick firm flesh, deep red, sweet and aromatic. Then there is what they call the multipurpose redfleshed variety principally for the Thai market. This is the Mikaili which is semi-dwarf with excellent fruit-setting ability. It can be used for fresh consumption, papain extraction, Thai Somtam papaya salad and for cooking. There is really big money in papaya seeds if the companies can produce the right varieties. We were talking to Priyanka Nanayakkara of Sri Lanka who manages Best Seeds in Colombo. He said that he is also selling papaya seeds, including our own Sinta. Last year, he said that he sold 20 kilos of Sinta seeds. At first glance, that is a very small amount. But then we did our calculations. East-West’s own catalog says there are 58,000 to 62,000 papaya seeds per kilo. And we learned that the retail price per seed that farmers pay in Sri Lanka is the equivalent of P4 to P5. Granting P4 for the 58,000 seeds, that translates to more than P232,000 per kilo; P23.2 million for 100 kilos; and P232 million per ton. That’s a lot of money if you ask us. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/394781/good-business-in-papaya-seed#.USWTK_JFyjs
REGIONS IN BRIEF Published on 20 February 2013 Written by Severino Frayna
AQUINO BREAKS GROUND OF P11.2-B DAM PROJECT ILOILO CITY: President Benigno Aquino 3rd will lead in the groundbreaking rites of the biggest dam project in Visayas on Thursday at the Iloilo provincial capitol. The P11.2-billion project, Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project, is partly funded with a soft loan of P8.9 billion by Eximbank of South Korea and by the government of the Philippines of some P2.2 billion payable in 30 years with a grace period of 10 years. Sen. Franklin Drilon said that the project will be completed before President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s term expires in 2016. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala will conduct a briefing on project to be constructed in the mountains of Calinog. The project is expected to provide year round irrigation to 22,340 hectares of the five existing irrigation systems and 9,500 hectares of rain-fed areas.
LYDIA C. PENDON http://www.manilatimes.net/~manilati/index.php/news/regions/41888‐aquino‐breaks‐ground‐of‐p11‐ 2‐b‐dam‐project
Agribusiness Posted on February 20, 2013 06:21:34 PM
Goat industry gets tech help THE GOVERNMENT is firming up a program that will develop technologies to improve goat production, the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) said in a recent statement. GOAT‐RAISING has been identified as a priority thrust for state research and development intervention. The department, through its Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), has formulated an Industry Strategic Science and Technology Plan that spells out general thrusts for such state intervention. The thrusts are summarized as: improving health and feeding protocols that can increase kid survival rate by 20%; enhancement of breeding protocols to double slaughter weight; enhancement of the national goat farm recording system; development of a halal system for goat‐based products; standardizing slaughtering and cutting process; and diversifying products. "ISP is about partnership with government and the industry and where science can make a dent on the goat industry," the statement quoted PCAARRD Livestock Research Division Director Edwin C. Villar as saying.PCAARRD targets the country’s goat production to hit 81,330 metric tons (MT) this year; 82,320 MT in 2014; 90,550 MT in 2015; and 99,600 MT in 2016. By 2020, the target is to produce 145,830 MT. To achieve these goals, PCAARRD plans to reduce pre‐weaning (introduction of adult food) mortality rate to 10% from 25%; cut "kidding interval" (the period between two consecutive births by a dam) to eight months from nine months; and raise slaughter weight to 30 kilograms (kg) from 15 kg. Besides DoST, the program also involves the Agriculture department’s offices in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao and the South Cotabato‐Cotabato‐Sultan Kudarat‐Sarangani‐General Santos City (Soccsksargen) cluster in southern Mindanao. Partners in the program include Central Luzon State University, Central Mindanao University, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, Isabela State University, Sultan Kudarat State University and Visayas State University. Once technologies developed under the program prove effective, PCAARRD plans to share them with the private sector, the same statement said. ‐‐ RJRP http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Agribusiness&title=Goat‐industry‐gets‐tech‐ help&id=66132
BSP FX Intervention Boosts Surplus February 20, 2013, 6:36pm Intervention by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in currency markets and a surge in income from its investments abroad swelled the country’s balance of payments surplus in January and may prompt a revision of the bank’s forecasts. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said January’s BOP surplus was $2.043 billion, more than triple the $640-million surplus registered in December 2012 and well above the $864-million surplus in January 2012. The substantial increase in January’s surplus was mostly supported by the central bank’s foreign exchange operations as well as income from investments abroad, said BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. The central bank has been intervening in the currency market to keep the peso from appreciating sharply. Despite the bank’s support of the dollar, the peso appreciated 6.4% against the greenback in 2012. That intervention has led to a buildup in the Philippines’ foreign exchange (FX) reserves and those reserves are mostly parked in US Treasurys, providing income for the BSP. The government is planning to revisit its projection for a BOP surplus of $3 billion for 2013, Mr. Tetangco said. When the forecast was made last year, “the expectation was that, among others, the country will have a larger trade deficit, as imports will recover, in line with a recovery in the export market, given the expected improvement in the external environment,” he said. “If the EU recovers as the ECB [European Central Bank] anticipates, and if the US economy remains on track, we should see some easing in the capital inflows,” Mr. Tetangco added. (Dow Jones) http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/394848/bsp‐fx‐intervention‐boosts‐surplus#.USWJGvJFyjs
NG’s New Financing Framework OK’d By Chino S. Leyco February 20, 2013, 6:23pm The government’s economic planning and fiscal authorities will soon adopt new standards in appraising project proposals of agencies that would lead to a more efficient, transparent, coordinated, and better project evaluation as well as implementation. In a statement, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said that the new standards are more stringency to the project approval process that would result in much improved and prudent management of government financial resources. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Finance (DOF) have already directed the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) on the new financing framework for national government. The new framework also entails the proponent agencies to justify projects on technical and economic merits, and on financial viability without regard to a particular financing source. The ICC secretariat will, likewise, conduct financial evaluations of revenue-generating proposals based on DOF-provided benchmarks. The framework also stipulates that the NEDA board will refer ICC/NEDA approved national government projects to the DOF for financing, while the budget department the will allocate funds for the conduct of feasibility or pre-investment studies for projects that will eventually require ICC approval. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the framework would allow for enhanced project delivery. “With the adoption of the new financing framework, agencies can look forward to more efficient project planning, review, and rollout. The framework will lead to more accurately targeted projects that fit in better with our overall economic plan,” Balisacan said. The ICC is one of seven interagency committees of the NEDA Board, and is tasked with evaluating the fiscal, monetary and balance-of-payments implications of major national projects. The ICC’s powers and functions reside in its Cabinet Committee, which is co-chaired by the Secretary of Finance. The ICC is supported by an interagency Technical Board, with NEDA as ICC Secretariat. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/394845/ng‐s‐new‐financing‐framework‐ok‐d#.USWF9PJFyjs
Sulu Coffee Gains Global Recognition By Nonoy E. Lacson February 20, 2013, 4:20pm JOLO, Sulu – The unique taste and aroma of locally grown coffee in the province of Sulu has started to gain the respect not only of local coffee drinkers but as well as the recognition of coffee lovers in the various parts of the world. Muslims – who are coffee lovers themselves – describe the kind of locally grown coffee here as having a “very good taste and tempting aroma,” adding that no one can resist if a cup of coffee is offered to them. As this developed, Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan said his administration has already set aside a substantial fund to help local coffee producers here to promote their product, which is known to many as “Kahawa Sug.” Earlier, Tan has formed a tasked force headed by Sahiron Amirul to oversee the development of the coffee industry in the province. At the same time, he also tasked Amirul to conduct lectures for the coffee producers or farmers coming from the towns of Parang, Talipao, Patikul, Indanan, Panamao, Panglima Estino, and Luuk, in an effort to help them maintain the good quality and harvest of their coffee beans. The task force, Tan said, was also able to establish the Coffee Processing Center here, which is equipped with several machineries and equipment. Tan said the equipment and other facilities in the center had been donated by the United Nations under its Act For Peace Program. He also said that the building and the solar drier of the facility were constructed and donated by the provincial government. He said the facilities installed at the center are all aimed to cater to the processing needs of the local coffee producers. The governor expressed confidence that very soon, the coffee beans produced in the province of Sulu will continue to gain worldwide recognition, mainly because of its “unique taste and aroma.” In the province of Sulu, some 3,347 hectares of agricultural land is dedicated to coffee production, Tan said. At present, some farmers in the municipalities of Parang, Talipao, Patikul, Indanan, Panamao, Panglima Estino, and Luuk are now engaged in the production of quality coffee beans. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/394786/sulu‐coffee‐gains‐global‐recognition#.USWRlvJFyjs
Oil firms hike prices anew By Amy R. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:52 am | Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
Local oil companies raised again the pump prices of their petroleum products on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, to reflect the continued uptrend in the prices of oil in the international market. AP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Local oil companies have raised again the pump prices of their petroleum products to reflect the continued uptrend in the prices of oil in the international market. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Petron Corp., Chevron Philippines and Total Philippines increased on Tuesday the prices of regular gasoline by P1.15 per liter, premium gasoline by 95 centavos per liter, kerosene by 70 centavos a liter and diesel by 65 centavos a liter. With the latest price adjustment, the prices of diesel now range between P41.70 and P44.75 a liter while those of gasoline products are now sold between P51.35 to P57.70 a liter, data from the Department of Energy showed. Based on the price adjustments implemented since the beginning of the year, the price of gasoline has increased by P3.40 a liter, and diesel, by P2.50 a liter. Meanwhile, Anakpawis party-list on Tuesday urged President Aquino to impose an indefinite price freeze on the prices of petroleum products, following the successive oil price hikes. In a statement, Anakpawis party-list vice chairman Fernando Hicap said that “national interest compels the Aquino [administration] to stop the oil cartel from exploiting the crisis and taking advantage of the election season to illegally and immorally jack up prices of their oil products.” http://business.inquirer.net/108517/oil‐firms‐hike‐prices‐anew‐2
NPA raids Del Monte plantation, kills guard By Florante S. Solmerin | Posted on Feb. 21, 2013 at 12:02am | 577 views
SOME 100 members of the New People’s Army attacked the truck yard and plantation of Del Monte Philippines in Bukidnon on Tuesday, killing a security guard and injuring three others. Lieutenant Colonel Eugenio Julio Osias IV, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry, reported on Wednesday that the lone fatality was Alfredo Neri, who succumbed to two gunshot wounds on his upper right torso. Neri was the guard on duty at the gate when the guerrillas entered the camp. Seriously injured were Neri’s fellow guards Franklin Millanes and Jofol Jumawan and Mario Ayuban, a civilian. Millanes sustained wounds on his shoulder; Jumawan was hit on the right thigh while Ayuban was wounded on the left thigh. Osias said the rebels also burned Del Monte’s fertilizer warehouse and logistics office in Sumilao town. They also torched three trucks and two motorcycles inside a motor pool garage in front of a Caltex gas station in Manolo Fortich town. Osias said the damage to property could run into millions of pesos. He said the attack happened at around 6:30 p.m. The rampage was similar to what happened on October 2011, when around 200 rebels simultaneously raided the compounds of three foreign mining giants in Claver, Surigao del Norte that resulted to P3 billion losses to properties. The management of Del Monte, meanwhile, said it was “clueless” why the rebels attacked the company.
The management sais the plantation had been operating in Bukidnon for the last 87 years, and has provided employment to over 20,000 people across 10 municipalities. Del Monte added that it has “undertaken numerous socio-civic projects that continue to improve the lives of many families in the province.” The company has tightened security measures in its plantation office and truck yard but the firm said the attack did not hamper its operations. The police were able to respond, but were engaged by a blocking force of around 20 rebels in Barangay La Fortuna in Impasug-ong town. The rebels also raided a building there owned by Del Monte where they allegedly took the cellphones and valuables of the employees. The policemen were led by Senior Police Officer 2 Jayson Sabac of the 1st Platoon of the Bukidnon Provincial Public Safety Company. Sabac said they encountered the rebels at a checkpoint near a Caltex station, “15 to 20 meters away” and a firefight ensued which lasted around 20 minutes. The policemen, however, were overwhelmed by the rebels and lost an M14 rifle, a 9mm pistol, M16 rifle and a .45 caliber pistol. Osias said pursuit operations were ongoing against the rebels. He said that the attack may be linked to extortion. “The main reason is the failure to extort money from these companies and another one is that they want to project a position of force because this will strengthen their demands for ‘permit to campaign’ and ‘permit to win’ this coming election,” Osias said in a television interview. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/02/21/npa‐raids‐del‐monte‐plantation‐kills‐guard/
AFP pension fund loses land to govt By Rey E. Requejo | Posted on Feb. 21, 2013 at 12:01am | 349 views
The Armed Forces of the Philippines Retirement and Separation Benefits System has been ordered to return to the government 1.5 hectares of public land, known as the Magsaysay Park in General Santos City, which was unlawfully titled in its name in 1997. In a decision, the Supreme Court through Associate Justice Mariano C. del Castillo ruled that 16 transfer certificates of titles could not be issued to the AFPRSBS because the 1.5 hectares of land had been classified as inalienable and non-disposable public land in 1963. “Certificates of title issued covering inalienable and non-disposable public land, even in the hands of an alleged innocent purchaser for value, should be cancelled,” the stressed. The SC made the ruling as it granted the petition filed by the government and reversed the 2007 decision of the Court of Appeals. “Besides, we cannot ignore the basic principle that a spring cannot rise higher than its source; as successor-in-interest, AFP-RSBS cannot acquire a better title than its predecessor, the herein respondents-intervenors. Having acquired no title to the property in question, there is no other recourse but for AFPRSBS to surrender to the rightful ownership of the State,” the high court said. It reinstated the 2001 decision issued by the regional trial court of General Santos City. The high court also ordered the Register of Deeds of General Santos City “ to cancel Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. T-81051, T-81052, T-81053, T-81054, T-81055, T-81056, T-81057, T-81058, T-81059, T-81060, T-81061, T-81062, T-
81146, T-81147, T-81150, and T-81151 (in the name of AFPRSBS), and issue in lieu thereof, new titles in the name of the Republic of the Philippines.” Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio and Justices Jose Portugal Perez, Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen concurred with the decision. Through Proclamation No. 168 issued in 1963, Lots X, Y-1, and Y-2 consisting of 5.2 hectares of land in Barrio Dadiangas, General Santos City were reserved for recreation and health purposes. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/02/21/afp‐pension‐fund‐loses‐land‐to‐govt/
Measure seeks VAT exemption for water services By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Feb. 21, 2013 at 12:01am | 126 views A measure was filed in the House of Representatives seeking exemption of water services from the value added tax to provide relief to the domestic economy and to the people. House Bill 6889, authored by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, said that the proposed exemption would allow people to invest in basic needs, like food, and in education. “It will ensure a healthy population and labor force and a progressive nation,” said Casiño, chair of the House committee on small business and entrepreneurship development. Casiño, in his bill’s explanatory note, said as consumers are weighed down by the rising cost of water services amid access to water being an international human right, the government doubly burdens the public by imposing VAT on water services and other basic utilities. From the 10 percent VAT to its increase to 12 percent through the Expanded VAT law, Casiño said basic services and utilities have been unjustly taxed, raising the cost of water services. Since the start of the Concession Agreement between the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System) and Manila Water as well as Maynilad in 1997 and up until 2011, water rates dramatically rose by 833.2 percent in the East concession areas, and by 520 percent in West concession areas. At the start of the agreement, Casiño said the Maynilad water rate was only P7.21 per cubic meter while Manila Water was only P4.02 per cubic meter. At present, he said the basic water cost for Maynilad is P47.83 per cubic meter while the Manila Water is P36.42 per cubic meter. Meanwhile, the Local Water Utilities Administration (LUWA) said the average basic rate of water districts is P18 per cubic meter from P6.75 per cubic meter in 1996. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/02/21/measure‐seeks‐vat‐exemption‐for‐water‐services/
‘Crising’ uproots 60k people in south By Francisco Tuyay | Posted on Feb. 21, 2013 at 12:01am | 30 views The weather bureau raised storm signal number one in six provinces in Northern Mindanao and the Davao Region and nearly 60,000 people fled their homes because of floods and landslides, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Wednesday. NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario said storm signal number one were raised in Southern Palawan, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Basilan and Sulu. A farmer died from drowning in Compostela Valley and four others were injured in landslides in New Bataan and 3,568 people fled to seven evacuation centers in Northern Mindanao and the Davao Region, Del Rosario said. Tropical depression Crising, packing maximum winds of 45 kms per hour and moving west northwest at 24 kph from Zamboanga City, was expected to make landfall at the southern tip of Palawan today. Crising might merge with another potential cyclone spotted at 220 kms off Palawan. As of Wednesday morning, Crising was hovering over the Sulu Sea. “Posibleng mag-merge sila dahil halos magkalapit sila, at kung sino ang mas malakas iyon ang maging dominante sa kanila,” weather forecaster Buddy Javier said. Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas alerted local disaster and risk reduction management councils to prepare for Crising and provide assistance to affected residents. “Nanawagan akong muli sa ating mga kababayan sa mga probinsiyang tintahak ng bagyo … iwasang muna nating lumabas ng bahay, at yung mga nakatira sa mababang lugar ay dapat lumikas na agad,” Roxas said. He said reports from the area said 389 families were stranded at the Catingod Bridge, which was destroyed by floods, in Barangay San Pedro, Caraga, Davao Oriental and residents of Upper and Lower Sangilangan in Waan, Davao City fled to higher grounds as Davao River overflowed its banks. With Florante Solmerin, Rio Araja and Ronald Reyes http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/02/21/crising‐uproots‐60k‐people‐in‐south/
Covenant ends land dispute in Cotabato By Rio N. Araja | Posted on Feb. 21, 2013 at 12:01am | 253 views
AGRARIAN Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes on Wednesday presided over the signing of a peace pact between two groups of farmers in Cotabato to put an end to a 40-year land dispute. He said Moslem and Christian farmer-beneficiaries in Sitio Lacobe have signed a peace covenant to end bloody encounters over the 178 hectares of land in Makilala, Cotabato. The covenant of peace will enable the Department of Agrarian Reform to finish the land titling and actual distribution of the disputed land to warring parties, he added. Earlier, agrarian reform officials in Cotabato complained to De los Reyes about the snail-paced implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms. The feud turned more violent after the Baclid group and the Christian agrarian beneficiaries sought intervention from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and National Democratic Front to firm up their claim on the disputed area. The problem was traced to the 1970s when a group of Moslem farmers, led by a certain Sailila Baclid, were displaced from Sitio Lacobe due to armed encounters between the Moslem “Blackshirts” and the Christian “Ilagas.” http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/02/21/covenant‐ends‐land‐dispute‐in‐cotabato/
Election spending to boost Q1 growth By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Feb. 21, 2013 at 12:01am | 98 views
The economy is poised to grow faster in the first quarter than the 6.8-percent expansion registered in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to economists of First Metro Investment Corp. and University of Asia and the Pacific. “The slight acceleration in Meralco electricity sales in December and continued government spending focused on infrastructure, as well as heightened electionrelated spending in first quarter and part of second quarter, should provide the momentum to keep the economy humming at a similar or even faster pace than in fourth quarter of 2012,” First Metro and UAP economists said in a joint report. “Despite the double-edged nature of the peso appreciation, we remain upbeat about the economy for the near term,” the economists said in the latest issue of Market Call. The report also said the “stable food prices as a consequence of better harvests and less devastating typhoons will offset the slight temporary upswing in crude oil prices and bring inflation rates in first quarter in the low 3-percent level, and back to below 3 percent in the second quarter.” The economists predicted that the Bangko Sentral would maintain key policy rates and possibly lower special deposit account rates further to prevent further peso appreciation and slow down capital inflows. “Exports are likely to remain at single-digit growth in the first quarter of 2013, in view of Eurozone weakness and the deceleration of Japan’s GDP expansion,” it said. The economists said the appreciation of the peso, which gained 6.8 percent against the dollar in 2012, would likely continue.
“The peso reached 40.55 against the greenback on Jan. 14, the strongest record since March of 2008, and an almost five-year high. At the current run, the peso looks like it has the tendency to settle at below 40/$,” the report said. It said the Bangko Sentral intervened to prevent the peso from breaching 40/$ because this level was considered an undesirable for exporters, migrant workers and the business process outsourcing industry. It said these sectors represent as much as 80 percent of the economy. The Bangko Sentral incurred P78.4-billion net loss as of October, more than half or P41.4 billion of which was due to dollar purchasing. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/02/21/election‐spending‐to‐boost‐q1‐growth/
Debt reaches P5.4t By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Feb. 21, 2013 at 12:00am | 57 views
THE Treasury said Wednesday the national government debt reached P5.4 trillion as of end-December 2012, or P56 billion higher than the November level. It said of the total debt, P1.969 trillion or 36 percent was owed to external creditors and P3.468 trillion, or 64 percent, to domestic creditors. “External debt decreased by P6 billion from end-November 2012 level due to the combined effects of the net depreciation of third currencies against the US dollar which reduced the peso value of NG debt by P19 billion along with the depreciation of the local currency which raised the peso value of NG debt by P10 billion,” the Treasury said. Domestic debt increased by P62 billion from the previous month’s level due to net issuance of government securities. Total guaranteed debt of the national government declined to P502 billion from the P509 billion end-November 2012 level. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/02/21/debt‐reaches‐p5‐4t/
Aquino ‘should not join rallies’ Published on 20 February 2013 Hits: 105 Written by Johanna M. Sampan Reporter
President Benigno Aquino 3rd raises the hands of the Liberal Party’s candidates at the local level during a visit in Talisay City, Cebu province. The President has been attacked for joining his coalition’s campaign sorties. PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ
Two labor organizations and a party-list group on Wednesday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to prohibit President Benigno Aquino 3rd from joining campaign sorties of Team PNoy. In a three-page letter addressed to Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., labor groups Pamalakaya and Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Anakpawis party-list, said that President Aquino has been on a “super road show” with the administration coalition since the start of the campaign period, joining his team’s campaign sorties in the provinces of Cebu, Laguna and Cavite. “How much did the government spend for the campaign sortie of Team PNoy during the proclamation rally last February 12? How much did the Office of the President spend for the campaign sortie in Laguna and Cavite last week? Did he get the funds from his own pocket?” the groups asked.
They added that it is possible that Aquino is using taxpayers’ money in campaigning for his senatorial candidates. “We believe that the poll body should exercise extra vigilance and exert legal, political and moral efforts to remind and restrain Mr. Aquino from using the Office of the President and taxpayers’ resources to campaign for and advance the candidacy of allies and party mates of Aquino running in the May 2013 elections,” the groups said. “The Comelec should admonish, warn, and insist that President Aquino to cease and desist from leading the electoral campaign of his allies and party mates and compel the Aquino presidency to uphold political delicadeza and promote honest, orderly and peaceful elections,” they added. Under the omnibus election code, an official who campaigned using public money can be jailed for six years. The groups asserted that it is morally questionable for the President to be too preoccupied with campaigning for Team PNoy at the expense of the whole country. “Public interest bars the Chief Executive from engaging in partisan politics such as open endorsement of favored candidates and putting priority to the electoral sorties of administration-backed candidates instead of exhaustively running the day-to-day affairs of the state,” they told the poll chief. In a meeting with Brillantes, the groups expressed dismay over the Chief Executive’s alleged misuse of government’s funds. “Malinaw na ginagamit ng Presidente ang pondo ng pamahalaan sa pangangampanya. Halimbawa sa gasoline at pagkain ng mga kasama. Unfair naman iyon sa ibang partido na dinudukot ang pondo sa pangangampanya sa sarili niyang bulsa samantalang dito malinaw naman siguro hindi ito pera ng Presidente, pera ito ng taumbayan [It is clear that the President is using public money, for example in buying food and
gasoline for his teammates. This is unfair to the candidates of other parties who use their own money],” the groups stressed. The poll chief pledged to address the groups’ complaint “in due time.” He also urged the organizations to produce evidence that the Mr. Aquino is using government resources for the sorties. The Liberal Party said that it spent P1.89 million for its proclamation rally in Plaza Miranda in Manila. Former Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento earlier said that the ban on government employees with regards to campaigning is not absolute since it exempts officials occupying what can be considered as political posts such as the president, vice president and Cabinet members. Article 10-B, Section 2.4 of the Constitution states: “no officer or employee in the civil service shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political campaign.” http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/top‐stories/41928‐aquino‐should‐not‐join‐rallies
Monies stay kept in Jose Velarde account Published on 20 February 2013
The Sandiganbayan has ordered Banco de Oro (BDO) Unibank Inc. to remit the remaining P88.41 million that is yet to be recovered from the former Equitable PCI bank account under the name of Jose Velarde, who purportedly was former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada.
The Sandiganbayan’s Special Division has issued a notice asking the bank to deliver to the antigraft court the amount “together with its interest and other income earned in cash, or its equivalent assets in whatever kind of form found in IMA [Investment Management Account] Trust Account No. 101-78056-1.” In April 2009, Banco de Oro released three manager’s checks amounting to P101.29 million out of the P189.7 million from the Velarde account. The remaining P88.41 million has yet to be delivered. Part of the returned asset under the Velarde account is a P450-million shares of stocks of Waterfront Philippines Inc. The public auction, though, has not yet proceeded immediately since Wellex Group Inc. initiated a case against former Sandiganbayan sheriff Edgardo Uriarte in line with the forfeiture of the shares. Last year, the regional court in Makati City ruled that it was the government through the Sandiganbayan that should take custody of the Wellex shares. Besides the P88.41 million, the state has yet to recover some P330 million, which were proven to have come from jueteng payola collections. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/nation/41909‐monies‐stay‐kept‐in‐jose‐velarde‐account
Philippine economy to grow at faster pace Published on 20 February 2013 Hits: 316 Written by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER
The Philippine economy as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) may grow at a faster pace in 2013, according to the February issue of The Market Call. The publication said that the slight acceleration in electricity sales in December, the continued government spending focused on infrastructure and election spending were some of the factors for the faster economic growth in 2013. “Heightened election-related spending in first quarter and part of second quarter, should provide the momentum to keep the economy humming at a similar or even faster pace than in the fourth quarter of 2012,” it stated. GDP grew at 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. The Market Call also projected that inflation may settle at 3 percent level in the first two quarters of the year as good weather condition may stabilize food prices. “Stable food prices as a consequence of better harvests and less devastating typhoons will offset the slight temporary upswing in crude oil prices and bring inflation rates for the first quarter in the low 3 percent level, and back to below 3 percent in the second quarter,” it added. Appreciating peso However, despite the positive outlook for the economy, the publication still warned the public about the appreciating peso. “But there’s a fly in the ointment for the long-term sustainability of the growth, which is the peso’s appreciating trend. This is because it puts exports, business process outsourcing industry [BPO], and OFW [overseas Filipino workers] remittances under serious threat,” it further said. The Market Call continued that after having a 6.8 percent year-on-year appreciation in 2012 by averaging P41.01 a dollar in December, the peso had momentous strength in January by landing on the P40.73 a dollar plane. “At the current run, the peso looks like it has the tendency to settle at below P40:$1,” it said. The publication also mentioned that a spate of positive onshore news and negative offshore news provided cushion for the peso. It cited that Standard and Poor’s credit upgrade of the Philippines from BB+ “stable” to BB+ “positive” provides a favorable setting for the Philippine peso.
The Market Call also reported the 13 times record high of the Philippine Stock Exchange index in January alone also lifted the value of the peso, as well as the weaker-than-expected US housing data and the uncertain recovery in the eurozone further strengthened the stance of peso against the greenback. “Given this, the BSP [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas] has often intervened to prevent the peso from breaching P40:$1,” it said, noting that this level was considered an undesirable level because it posted a great threat for exporters, OFW workers and the BPO industry, since it could lower their peso incomes while peso costs remain the same. On the other hand, the publication also projected that exports are likely to remain at single-digit growth in the first quarter of 2013, in view of the eurozone weakness and the deceleration of Japan’s GDP expansion. “This outcome is expected since the continuing but weak recovery in the US and improved demand from China and Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] will not be sufficient to offset the dark clouds in the horizon, which exacerbate the negative impact of the peso appreciation,” it added. The Market Call is a newsletter published by the First Metro Investment Corp. and the University of Asia and the Pacific Capital Markets Research. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/business/top‐business‐news/41901‐philippine‐economy‐to‐ grow‐at‐faster‐pace
Market surprised over SDA reduction Published on 20 February 2013 Hits: 135 Written by RAADEE S. SAUSA REPORTER
The Monetary Board (MB) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas surprised the markets recently by slashing special deposit account (SDA) rates to 3 percent for all tenors from an average 3.625 percent in its first meeting of the year. ”This was done to flush out idle money in BSP vaults to productive use and stem the appreciation of the peso. To further juice up growth in the economy [which expanded by 7.1 percent in third quarter 2012] and maintain its momentum, MB maintained the key policy rates fixed at 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent for overnight borrowing and lending rates, respectively,” said The Market Call, a publication of First Metro Investment Corp. and the University of Asia and the Pacific Capital Markets Research. The BSP’s decision to maintain policy rates was based on its assessment that inflation will remain firmly anchored on the weakness of the world’s advanced economies. In September 2012, the BSP did less liquidity mopping in November and this helped push up money growth. Total domestic liquidity sped up to a 9.8-percent growth from 7.5 percent in October. The growth was from banks lending more money mainly to sectors such as real estate, renting and business services; wholesale and retail trade; financial intermediation; manufacturing; transportation, storage and communication; and public administration and defense. The Market Call stated that “BSP’s restraint in draining excess liquidity was reflected in net domestic assets dropping to its first negative year-on-year growth of -1.6 percent from 3 percent in October. This had a larger impact than the deceleration of net foreign assets from 4.4 percent in October to 3.3 percent in the latest reported month.” Money infusion into the banking system in the form of reserve money zoomed up by 12 percent from 6.7 percent in the previous month, the publication said. It added that while waiting for clearer directions from the global economy, the BSP would most likely maintain the current key policy rates. “If sluggishness persists in the US and the eurozone, the BSP can afford to slash policy rates further by 25 basis points. This would also help control the influx of hot money inflow,” The Market Call said. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/business/top‐business‐news/41900‐market‐surprised‐over‐sda‐ reduction
What now Published on 20 February 2013 Hits: 92
Just as rural banks were already excitedly anticipating a number of mergers and acquisition (M&As) to really take shape this year, a ruling by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) put these plans again on hold. Now, everything is on a standstill. Based on Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) 66-2012 issued on October 31, consolidated rural banks that have availed themselves of tax exemptions provided under the law “shall not be entitled to the tax exemption” in cases when these are already “previously availed of.” Section 15 of Republic Act 7353 exempts any new rural bank established after the law was passed from all taxes, fees and charges for five years from the start of their operations. But according to the BIR circular, the provision does not apply to rural banks formed through merger or consolidation when constituent rural banks have already previously availed of this exemption. Thus, succeeding mergers involving the same bank will no longer be covered by the tax-exempt privilege. This has slowed down any momentum gained from all merger talks brewing among different industry players since last year. The tax relief component is one of the major incentives for bigger rural banks to acquire smaller and financially-troubled rural banks. Besides tax exemptions, rural banks will also enjoy incentives from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC), including additional branches and the waiving of fees. These incentives are part of the packages under the Strengthening Program for Rural Banks Plus (SPRB Plus) launched in August 2012.
The SPRB Plus offers branching incentives and waived fees for banks that will support mergers. The program was an expansion of its earlier version that ran for two years. Under the SPRB Plus, white knights may now include universal, commercial and thrift banks versus the original version where only rural banks may acquire another rural bank. A budget of P5 billion was allotted for the program that runs until December 2013. To BIRâ€™s credit, it is just following its mandate to rev up the tax collection efforts of the government. The Department of Finance has assigned the BIR a revenue goal of P1.253 trillion for this year, 17.59-percent higher than the 2012 goal of P1.066 trillion and the original 2013 target of P1.238 trillion. The BIRâ€™s 2013 collection goal is based on the latest Medium Term Revenue Program dated January 15, 2013. By tax type, the BIR has a goal to collect P759.187 billion from net income and profits; P102.367 billion from excise taxes; P268.631 billion from value-added taxes; P60.732 billion from percentage taxes; and P62.762 billion from other taxes. On the other hand, the tax incentive will certainly provide a boost to the collective objective of the BSP, PDIC and the whole rural banking industry in supporting consolidation that will help struggling banks. M&As is one of the key factors that will ensure the survival of small players in the industry. Another one is the expected entry of foreign investors once Senate Bill 3282 is enacted into law, which will allow foreign individuals and entities to acquire equity of up to 60 percent ownership in rural banks. It should be stressed that rural banks will not engage in M&As just for the sake of availing of the tax exemption.
The tax exemption component is just one of the enticements for the acquiring bank. Of course, the prospect of growing bigger with wider customer reach is the real reward, not the incentive it will get from acquiring a smaller bank. As the term aptly puts it, rural banks acquiring ailing rural banks should correctly be hailed as a white knight. Without the tax relief, acquiring an ailing bank would also mean absorbing the acquiree’s losses, which will weigh heavily on the acquiring lender’s balance sheet. Right now, the hope is that through a dialogue, the BIR will be persuaded to change its stance for the sake of the rural banking industry. If all else fails, lobbying for an amendment to the Rural Banks Act of 1992 can also be considered, although any legislative action is most definitely time consuming. To promote a stronger rural banking system, we all must think and act alike in support of this objective. Perfect timing and strong political are of the essence. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/business/top‐business‐news/41898‐what‐now
Posted on February 20, 2013 09:57:11 PM
Court orders full remittance of Estrada accounts A SPECIAL division of the Sandiganbayan has demanded full remittance of commissions obtained by then president Joseph E. Estrada from the purchase of shares in a gaming firm using state insurance funds -- the case that led to his conviction for plunder. "In the said minute resolution [dated Feb. 11], the undersigned (Sheriff and Security Services Division, Sandiganbayan) was directed to issue another notice to deliver to Banco De Oro (BDO) Unibank, Inc. for the latter to deliver/remit to this court the amount of P189.7 million, together with its interest and other income earned in cash and/or its equivalent value in assets in whatever kind or form found in [account] in the name of Jose Velarde from Dec. 27, 2007 until full delivery," according to a manifestation filed yesterday by the Sheriff’s division. The amount, according to court records, was Mr. Estrada’s commission in the purchase of shares in listed Belle Corp. using Government Service Insurance System and the Social Security System funds. It was deposited in the account of Jose Velarde -- who was identified as Mr. Estrada himself -- in the former Equitable-PCI Bank. The bank was bought by BDO Unibank, Inc. in 2007. Albert A. Dela Cruz, acting division chief who signed the five-page manifestation, stated that BDO has delivered to the court a total of P101.3 million in April 2009 and 450 million shares of hotel developer Waterfront Philippines, Inc. in the same year. The Waterfront shares, according to the document, were registered under the Wellex Group, Inc., chaired by Estrada associate William T. Gatchalian. These have been labeled as "initial collateral." Earlier reports showed Mr. Estrada approved a P500-million loan to Mr. Gatchalian’s company in 2000. Mr. Dela Cruz informed the court that the P88.4-million balance can be remitted from proceeds from a possible sale of the shares. "The reposting of the public sale may now be in order so that the undersigned may carry on with the auction of the shares of stocks above-mentioned. Proceeds thereof shall be for the recovery of the remaining balance…," he said. The previous share sale in 2009 was canceled after a case was filed by the Wellex Group against then Sandiganbayan Sheriff Edgardo Urieta with the Makati Regional Trial Court. The case was already dismissed last year while Mr. Urieta has retired. Mr. Estrada, who was convicted in 2007, was pardoned by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the same year. He is seeking the mayoral post in Manila during the midterm elections on May 13. -- MJOC
High court says borrowers, creditors still protected despite removal of interest rate ceiling • •
Written by PNA
Thursday, 21 February 2013 00:00
The Supreme Court (SC) has clarified the circular issued by the Central Bank of the Philippines (now Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) that effectively removed the ceiling on interest rates do not give lenders the freedom to raise interest rates to the point of hemorrhaging borrowers. In its ruling promulgated on Jan. 15, and made public Wednesday, the SC dismissed the petition filed by Eduardo Olaguer and the Advocate for Truth in Lending Inc. The SC, through Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, said even if borrowers and lenders agreed on an excessive interest rates on debt, it is still not allowed for being immoral and unjust. The petitioners argued CB Circular 905 was promulgated without the benefit of public hearing and violated Article 5 of the New Civil Code which states “acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void except when the law itself authorizes their validity.” They said with the issuance of the circular, the benchmark 91-day Treasury bills (T-Bills) shot up to 40 percent per annum while banks repriced their loan rates higher than the T-bills. However, the SC in its ruling said “stipulations authorizing iniquitous or unconscionable interests have been invariably struck down for being contrary to morals, if not against the law.” The SC said under Article 1409 of the Civil Code such contracts are considered inexistent and void ab initio (void from the beginning) and therefore cannot be ratified nor may the right to set up their illegality as a defense be waived. Still, it said if interest rates are excessive, lenders are still protected because it will not affect the other terms of the credit. “The debt due is considered as without the stipulated excessive interest and a legal interest of 12 percent per annum will be added in place of the excessive interest formerly imposed,” the SC said. Published in Nation
Gov’t losing potential income over legal tussle on BCDA lot • •
Written by Ed Velasco
Thursday, 21 February 2013 00:00
The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) is worried over potential revenues being lost by the government as a result of a legal dispute over the 33-hectare South Pointe Property in Fort Bonifacio. A court case is hampering the bidding for the said property that can pave the way its development and eventually generate revenues for the government. BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Casanova said of the P13 billion minimum amount the BCDA stands to earn once the property is awarded to a private developer, P3.5 billion will go to the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). However, not a single centavo will be earned at the moment because of the temporary restraining order issued by the court. “No development whatsoever about it. The ball is now at the court, not on us,” Casanova told The Daily Tribune in a chance interview yesterday. A source at the BCDA said no one knows until when the waiting game will last as it will only stop when the court tussle surrounding the issue is resolved. Minimum price of the property is P13 billion based on the current appraisal of an independent body commissioned by BCDA. Casanova didn’t give a timetable as to when the court issue will be resolved. The Bonifacio South Pointe Property was formerly known as the BNS/PMC/Ascom/SSU area in Bonifacio South. The property is composed of lands presently occupied in part by the Army Support Command (ASCom) and Special Services Unit (SSU) of the Philippine Army and in part by the Bonifacio Naval Station and Philippine Marine Corps of the Philippine Navy. Reached for comment, BCDA vice president for finance Nena Radoc also echoed the same tune. “The bidding for Bonifacio South Pointe is put on hold in deference to the TRO issued by the Supreme Court.
SM Land was the original proponent for the development of the Bonifacio South property. The company brought the case to the SC after BCDA decided to hold a public bidding for the property. BCDA said no contract has been awarded to SM which offered P36,900 per square meter. The offer, according to BCDA, is an “insult” considering that many portions of the Fort, including where the property sits, are now worth no less than P200,000 per square meter.
Nerve poison found in mugs Published : Thursday, February 21, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 59 Written by : Joel dela Torre
A “nerve poison” that can permanently damage the brain is found in fake mugs bearing brand logos of a leading food and beverage company, an environmental watchdog said yesterday. According to the EcoWaste Coalition, samples of at least 10 mugs with KitKat, Milo, Nesvita and Nescafe logos subjected to X-Ray Fluorescence examination were found to have high levels of lead, a potent neurotoxin (nerve poison) that can damage the brain. Nestle Philippines however said that the company is not responsible for the manufacture and distribution of the mugs in question. In a letter to EWC, Nestle vice president and head of corporate affairs department Edita De Leon said that the items are undoubtedly manufactured by businessmen intent on riding on the popularity and goodwill of their brands, without any regard for public safety. “The mugs you have sent provided us with additional clues to aid our current investigation, for which we thank you,” de Leon said as she recognized the EcoWaste Coalition’s “invaluable assistance in (the) company’s campaign against counterfeits.” Thony Dizon, coordinator of EWC’s project, said that the 10 samples they bought from P20 to P35 per piece are enjoying brisk sales in bargain shops and sidewalk vendors in Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila.
All 10 were found with huge amounts of lead ranging from 3,470 to 76,200 parts per million. Traces of other heavy metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium and chromium were also detected. “We decided to make public our findings after receiving a written reply from Nestlé Philippines confirming the brazen misuse of their brand logos and trademarks in these unauthorized mugs,” Dizon said. Products designed for eating and drinking, he added, should not contain health-damaging substances such as lead – an irreversible toxin. Nestlé Philippines had requested the joint assistance of the Food and Drug Administration and the Intellectual Property Office “to clear the market of the subject mugs as soon as possible.” http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/45259‐nerve‐poison‐found‐in‐mugs
PNoy urged to subsidize rice growers Published : Thursday, February 21, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 26
AGRICULTURE stakeholders have called on President Benigno Aquino III to allocate less than a fourth of the total budget of the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer program to subsidize farmers who are bearing the brunt of the unabated rice smuggling. In a manifesto, the stakeholders said expanding the CCT to include grain tillers would result in a natural death for rice smugglers and rice cartels. “We call on President Aquino to order the Department of Social Welfare and Development to include farmers in the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer program or CCT. Allocating a fourth of the CCT budget or about Php10 billion to farmers would allow them to sell palay at a price of Php14 per kilo from Php17.50, which is the expected price dip due to the flooding of the market of smuggled rice. Doing so will ensure that market competition would kill smuggling operations as a discounted cavan price of Php1,150 will be able to compete with smuggled rice being sold at Php1,200 per cavan,” reads the manifesto. Abono Party-list chairman Rosendo So said the CCT for farmers can range from a minimum of Php5,000 for farmers tilling half a hectare of land to a maximum of Php20,000 for those tilling two hectares. “Regardless of their land size, they will be only given subsidies for two hectares. Using part of the CCT for this purpose is a good idea as it would benefit small rice growers directly and immediately,” So said, adding that one hectare usually produces around 70 sacks of rice. “If this plan will be adopted by the government and the DSWD, the price of rice will hit the Php23 per kilo mark, defeating the efforts of rice smugglers to undercut the market and ensuring a stable and affordable price of rice for all,” he added. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/45264‐pnoy‐urged‐to‐subsidize‐rice‐growers
Early educ project Published : Thursday, February 21, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 27
THE Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Council, Department of Education (DepED) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) yesterday launched the Early Learning for Life project which aims to help children ages 3-5 years old get ready for school. “The vital years of the child 0-6 years old should be a collective aspiration,” said Dr.Teresita G. Inciong, Chairperson of the ECCD Governing Board. She continued: “It is in this light that the project responds to the urgent need for children to get the right start to learning and development, and eventually complete their education.” Significant research studies show that 50 percent of a person’s ability to learn is developed in the first few years of life. However, national statistics indicate that only 78 out of 100 Grade 1 entrants have kindergarten experience. “This initiative is most welcome as it will give our young learners a strong foundational head start in early education,” Education Secretary Armin A. Luistro said. The US$18-M project, funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and in collaboration with UN children’s agency, UNICEF, will be implemented in 36 disadvantaged areas in the Philippines until 2016. A synergy of efforts that builds on the work of local and national government, and links with the government’s flagship poverty alleviation projects, it also seeks to build models of quality early childhood care and development (ECCD) programs and mainstream innovations and quality standards at the national level. ECCD is a critical foundation for life-long learning—it paves the way for children to be ready, to stay, to participate more and to learn better in school. Rich early learning experiences have a strong, positive impact that reaches well into adulthood. Alvin Murcia