Posted on February 21, 2013 11:22:53 PM
P5.88 billion in loans for agri projects unpaid STATE auditors have asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) to step up the collection of P5.88 billion in loans for agriculture projects from cooperatives and small businesses. "We recommended that management exert extra effort to collect the past due loan receivables," the Commission on Audit (CoA) stated in its 2011 report. The loans were sourced from the DA’s Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), which extends interest‐free loans to eligible farmers and fisherfolk cooperatives, small and medium enterprises and individuals. The loans are used to finance projects such as post‐harvest facilities, farm‐ to‐market roads and irrigation systems. CoA has discovered that each beneficiary tapped an average of P19.37 million in credit. Its report did not discuss the due dates of these loans.The CoA also asked the DA to penalize those who have defaulted and to take legal action against them after finding that the DA did not charge delinquent borrowers with the 24% per annum penalty or filed cases against debtors. "Impose the required penalty on defaulting proponents and/or foreclose the mortgaged property, if possible [and] take appropriate legal action against proponents in accordance with the ACEF guidelines," the CoA added. The CoA said that of the total loans granted, only P868.97 million or less than 15% of total loans was collected from 304 beneficiaries. State‐run firms Philippine Rice Research Institute and Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp. have a combined balance of P1.007 billion while seven local government units owe P42.59 million. Private groups collectively have a balance of P3.97 billion. Of the total 294 private sector beneficiaries, only 23 have fully paid their loans while 132 are with arrears or already in default. More than a hundred made no payments at all. Following CoA’s findings, the DA has issued legal notices and reminders of payment schedules to delinquent borrowers. It has also created a "monitoring and evaluation team" to examine the status of projects. The DA has also imposed a moratorium on the processing of new loans under the ACEF and has issued revised guidelines on the implementation of the fund. ‐‐ Monica Joy Cantilero http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=P5.88-billion-in-loans-for-agri-projectsunpaid&id=66255
Alcala urged to dun debtors of P5-B loan Published on 21 February 2013 Hits: 121 Written by John Constantine G. Cordon
STATE auditors are nudging the Department of Agriculture to exert more efforts in recovering P5-billion loans extended to beneficiaries, who until 2011 has not yet paid. In the latest report of the Commission on Audit, government accountants bared that the Agriculture department is having a hard time collecting the P5-billion loan from the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund. The commission reported that out of the P5.88 billion that it extended to 304 proponents from 2000 to 2010, “only P868.97 million was collected, leaving an outstanding balance of P5.019 billion.” Auditors said that out of the 304 loan applicants, 294 were from the private sector, who loaned P4.43 billion, of which P2.23 billion were already due. “Yet, only P462.809 million, or 20.74 percent was collected, thus, leaving a balance in arrears of P1.781 billion at year end,” the commission reported. Of the 304 loan proponents, two are government-owned and -controlled corporations, eight are local government units, while 294 are in the private sector such as cooperatives, small and medium enterprises and individual persons. Data culled by the commission revealed that among others, the Sugar Regulatory Administration, National Agribusiness Corp., the province of Aurora, the Aurora State University, Palawan State University and Aklan State University, were the recipients of a portion of the enhancement fund. Although the commission noted that there were no fund releases since Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala sat at the helm, P92.68 million were still released in 2011 for the last tranches of approved loans in previous years. However, collection efficiency on the part of the department showed laxity as only 14.76 percent of P5.89 billion was retrieved, or only P869 million. “Delinquent borrowers were not charged with a penalty of 24 percent per annum on the total amount of loan outstanding,” state auditors said. The Audit agency added that the department did not initiate any cases against the proponents and the other co-signatories, who are guilty of default nor take any legal action, judicial, or extrajudicial even if the Agriculture agency is entitled to. “Failure of management to monitor collection of receivables and to address the observations noted during validation will deprive the government with needed resources to finance other priority projects,” the commission said.As for recommendation, auditors said that the department should issue legal notices to delinquent borrowers and take appropriate legal actions against proponents in accordance with the guidelines on enhancement fund. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/nation/42004-alcala-urged-to-dun-debtors-of-p5-bloan
Posted on February 21, 2013 11:15:42 PM
Eastern Visayas abaca production declines TACLOBAN CITY -- Abaca production in Eastern Visayas declined amid weak demand for low-grade fiber, unfavorable weather and diseases. Jeffrey G. Espena, Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) regional director, said the region produced 14.59 million kilograms (kg.) of abaca fiber last year, about 16% lower than the 17.43 million kg. produced in 2011. "Most of the abaca farmers were discouraged to harvest and strip more fibers because of some traders’ refusal to buy low-grade abaca fibers especially in the latter part of the year," Mr. Espena told BusinessWorld. Many farmers opt to produce low-grade fiber because of the simple stripping process involved. High-grade fiber fetches a higher price. Continuous heavy rains also decreased the output as harvesting, stripping, drying, and even transport from farm to market were disrupted. Mr. Espena also said disease infestation was one of the factors that dragged down production last year. FIDA reported that some 19,000 hectares of abaca farms in the region were infested with diseases. Some 8,000 hectares have remained untreated. "We used to be number one in the country in terms of production but in 2010, Bicol dislodged us," Mr. Espena said. Five of the region’s six provinces reported lower production last year. Only Samar province increased production to 886,814 kg. in 2012 from 791,875 kg. in 2011. Leyte production went down to 5.08 million kg. from 6.14 million kg.; Southern Leyte, to 1.37 million kg. from 1.79 million kg.; Northern Samar, to 6.26 million kg. from 7.46 million kg.; Eastern Samar, to 791,875 kg. from 846,986 kg, and Biliran, to 138,180 kg. from 181,490 kg. Northern Samar was the top abaca-producing province in the region with its output accounting for 43% of the total harvest. Southern Leyte and Leyte used to be the top producers in the region and in the country.Eastern Visayas has around 40,000 hectares planted with abaca. FIDA also noted a decline in fiber exports as Japan, the region’s biggest abaca importer, suffered from an economic slowdown. Only a total of 16,275 bales were exported last year, 39.5% lower than the 26,903 bales exported in 2011. A bale of fiber weighs 125 kilograms. -- Sarwell Q. Meniano http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Other‐stories‐ %2802/22/13%29&id=66249
Iloilo irrigation project underway ILOILO CITY -- Construction of a major water supply and irrigation project in Iloilo province is expected to start this year, with proponents confident the facility will be operational before President Benigno S. C. Aquino III steps down from office in 2016. Mr. Aquino yesterday led the ceremonial groundbreaking of the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multipurpose Project II (JRMP II) aimed at providing year-round irrigation water to 314,840 hectares of rice farms. The project, partially funded by a loan from South Korea, also aims to harness water during heavy rains for irrigation, provide hydroelectric power and ensure bulk water supply. Senator Franklin M. Drilon, who hails from Iloilo and one of the project proponents, said "actual construction will start before the year is over and before you, Mr. President, leave office in June 2016, you will have to inaugurate the new Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project." Mr. Aquino said the irrigation project highlights the administration’s commitment to rice selfsufficiency starting this year. "This is a concrete example of our commitment to deliver real progress to our countrymen. Once this project is finished, 43% of the agricultural land here in Iloilo will be irrigated. This means we will double rice harvest in the region and sugar cane production will increase by 30%," Mr. Aquino said in Filipino. The expansion of Iloilo’s irrigated areas to 31,840 hectares from 22,340 hectares is seen to raise average yield to 5.20 metric tons (MT) per hectare from 3.25 MT/hectare, according to a project brief. The project also involves construction of a hydropower plant that will generate 6.6 megawatts of hydroelectric power. The JRMP II was mandated under Republic Act No. 2651 enacted by Congress in 1960. Phase one of the project, which consisted of rehabilitating the irrigation systems with an area of 22,340 hectares, was completed in 1983, but Phase 2 of the project was never implemented due to lack of funds and the apparent indifference on the part of the national government, Mr. Drilon said. Meanwhile, Mr. Aquino said South Korea may be one of the countries he will visit this year aside from his usual attendance in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Brunei and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Bali, Indonesia. "Well, of course Korea is really a very strong friend of ours... Maybe within six months we can schedule that trip," he said. -- Noemi M. Gonzales http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Other‐stories‐ %2802/22/13%29&id=66249
Iloilo strives to become nation’s rice granary Published on 21 February 2013 Hits: 150 Written by Lydia C. Pendon
ILOILO CITY: It is only a matter of time before Iloilo province will wrest the title from Nueva Ecija province as the country’s No. 1 rice producer. President Benigno Aquino 3rd said that the country will be rice self sufficient by 2013 supported by 30 agencies concerned with water, foremost of which is the flagship project of his administration in Iloilo, the Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project (JRMP) II. Western Visayas is contributing 7.6 percent in rice production target based on the Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Roadmap 2011 to 2016 and the city is recognized as the rice granary of the region. According to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, the government is now building a biggest dam outside of Luzon that will provide year-round irrigation for increased agricultural production to the 22,340 hectares and 9.500 hectares of rain-fed areas in Iloilo. Alcala was in Iloilo with the President for the project ground-breaking and laying of time capsule on Thursday. Also with them are Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd, Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya and the 12 candidates for senator of the Liberal Party. The P11.2-billion project is expected to increase crop production of rice from 141,945 metric tons (MT) to 287,958 MT a year. The projected production propped up by JRMP is expected to overtake the production of Nueva Ecija as the top rice producer in the country and will give a headache to Gov. Aurelio Umali of Nueva Ecija, Alcala said. The biggest dam project in Iloilo will be completed with energy and water components in two years and three months from today, the agriculture official said. Aquino acknowledged sen. Franklin Drilon and Gov. Arthur Defensor of Iloilo as instrumental in reviving and bringing the project to the attention of the President. Defensor spearheaded the endorsement of the project at the regional development council on November 9, 2011. Similarly, the Investment Coordination Committee-National Economic and Development Authority board approved the project in March 22, 2012 with an environmental clearance certificate (ECC) issued on July 3, 2012 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environment Management Bureau. Loan signing was conducted on August 9, 2012 of the Philippine government and Eximbank of South Korea, with a loan effectivity starting on November 28, 2012. Of the total project cost of P11.2 billion, the Philippine government provides P2.26 billion, while South Korea provides a soft loan of P8.95 billion with an interest rate of 0.15 percent and a grace period of 10 years, while the loan is payable in 30 years. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/regions/41976-iloilo-strives-to-become-nation-s-rice-granary
Economy Posted on February 21, 2013 11:24:43 PM
Prison inmates taught vegetable farming THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture and the Bureau of Corrections are implementing a project that will teach inmates how to plant vegetables, which they may pursue as a livelihood once they get out of prison. Twenty‐two prisoners at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP), as well as 13 bureau employees, underwent a 16‐week training under the Vegetable Production Project, according to a DA statement yesterday. "The DA will continue to assist you in farming even after your prison terms," Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala was quoted as saying in the statement. Mr. Alcala also asked for a list of released prisoners so they can be given farm inputs and other support services. The project was launched on Jan. 27, 2012 and has two phases. The first phase, implemented in October, involved planting hot peppers in 3,900 square meters of land inside the compound. Prisoners were able to harvest a total of 1,200 kilograms. According to the DA, the plan was to export the peppers to Singapore but the quality did not meet export standards. The peppers were sold locally through the Vegetable Importers, Exporters and Vendors Association of the Philippines, Inc. (VIEVA). Phase two of the project commenced in November. A total of 3,000 square meters were planted with string beans, okra, cucumber, eggplant, squash and tomato. This year, the project will be expanded to cover four hectares of land and to embark on the commercial production of vegetables. A vermicompost facility will also be established. The DA is in charge of the following: • providing agricultural inputs; • providing training and technical assistance to both employees and prisoners of NBP; • providing assistance in marketing the produce; and • monitoring the implementation of the project. The Bureau of Corrections will provide production area, manpower and irrigation. They will also secure the DA personnel when they are inside the Bilibid. ‐‐ RJRP
Company Ventures Into Food Processing February 21, 2013, 6:25pm La Filipina Uy Gongco Corp., the country’s leading flour, feeds and hog producer, is investing P1.2 billion to expand its operation into food processing of corned pork, luncheon meat and pasta for domestic and exports market making it one of the most integrated agro-industrial firm in the country today. Company chairman Alfonso Uy told reporters the company has invested P1 billion for its pasta manufacturing plant and is putting up a P200 million factory for the production of corned pork and luncheon meat. Uy said they have created a new business unit Mama Tina Pasta Co. for the pasta manufacturing venture. The new plant, which just opened in November last year, has a production capacity of 140 tons a day or 140,000 kilos a day of spaghetti and macaroni. It is located across its Philippine Foremost flour factory in Manila Harbor Center. The company is marketing and promoting its first brand “Amigo Segurado.” It is also coming up with a new brand called “La Filipina.” “The pasta market is growing especially the fast food sector because our people have developed the taste for pasta,” Uy said. Its huge capacity is also meant to serve the ASEAN market, Uy said. “Our exports to the region should be as soon as possible,” he added. On its canned food project, Uy said they are putting up a P200 million cannery plant in Bulacan. At present, their corned pork and luncheon meat carry is under the company brand “La Filipina” under a toll manufacturer. The new plant, Uy said, would enable them to scale up their production to meet local demand. The corned pork is the first of its kind in the local market, which is more used to corned beef. Their new canned products, which are now sold in supermarkets and even in sari-sari stores starting last year, have been getting favorable market response. The company’s entry into corned pork market is on the assumption that the Philippine is a pork eating country than beef. “The good thing about this corned pork is it is 100 percent pure pork with no extender,” he said. Uy said they decided to go into canned food processing to maximize the capacity of its two hog farms – Amigo Agro Industrial Development and Excel Farms Inc. in San Ildefonso and Sta. Maria in Bulacan. These farms have a population of 30,000 heads. “To improve the competitiveness we try to add some value
that’s why we are going into this. We are not using scrap pork, this is pure pork. We are trying to develop the market (corned pork) and that is the essence of entrepreneurship. We want to introduce something novel,” he said. (BCM) The new facility, Uy said is equipped with the most modern facility to ensure, “We have the most sanitary and healthy operation because we are dealing with food, we have a responsibility to the public for safety.” While he admitted that their integration into the food processing is a little bit late, it is “better late than never.” “The Philippine market is growing as well as the ASEAN market. We need this kind of investment. We have the most modern plant, most modern equipment,” Uy said. The originally Negros based company was formally established in 1971 as La Filipina Uy Gongco Corporation. From a small bake shop and grocery store, La Filipina has grown into a company involved in trading of feeds ingredients, fertilizers, sugar, vegetable oils, grains, wheat flour, and owneroperators of sugar mill, flour mills, animal feeds mills, livestock farms, cargo ships, hotels, housing projects, shopping mall, and bank.(BCM) http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/394962/company-ventures-into-food-processing#.USbRSPJFyjs
Try going into agribusiness, overseas Pinoy workers told Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Thursday, 21 February 2013 19:45 Written by Estrella Torres / Reporter THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has encouraged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to return home and go into agribusiness and related enterprises. In a statement, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said her department is offering a P2‐billion loan facility for distressed OFWs as an incentive for them to return and explore better opportunities in the country. “Returning OFWs, OFWs who had been displaced, or OFWs who had become victims of abuse should not be afraid to come home to the Philippines, particularly if they have idle farmlands. Their lands are a source of income security,” Baldoz said. “You should not be worried. You can develop your farms through organic farming, or start your own agribusiness and expand it with the assistance of the National Reintegration Center for OFWs through [a] loan from the P2‐billion national reintegration loan fund,” she added. The OFW reintegration program, under the Balik‐Pinay, Balik‐Hanapbuhay Program, provides loans ranging from P300,000 to P2 million to workers who want to engage in small businesses. The loan has a maximum repayment period of seven years and a grace period of two years. It can be used as working capital or to acquire fixed assets. The labor chief said Philippine Labor Attaché to Hong Kong Manuel Roldan had facilitated a meeting between Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and Filipino workers in the Chinese city. The workers attended a seminar, where they were taught agribusiness skills, including organic farming and raising chickens and rabbits, by Dr. Rey Itchon of the Spread Organic in the Philippines. The seminar is part of the regular agricultural livelihood training held every Sunday at the city’s Filipino Workers Resource Center. Roldan said Alcala has committed to support efforts in building the capacities of Hong Kong OFWs to engage in agricultural enterprises after they have shown interest and enthusiasm in tilling and developing their lands using the knowledge and skills they acquired from the seminar. He added that the agriculture chief has also expressed plans to hold similar skills training and seminars for OFWs in other countries.
Baldoz said OFWs and their families stand to benefit more if they “come back and cultivate that land they left behind,” adding that they “will never have to lose sleep on how they can support the needs of their families again.” She also said besides the loan facility, her department will give free business counseling, technical and marketing assistance, and skills training to ensure the success of their businesses.
Inventions that actually aid farmers By Ernesto M. Ordoñez Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:32 am | Friday, February 22nd, 2013
There are true and false prophets. Unfortunately, some true prophets who have invented something useful are not even recognized in their own country. Here in the Philippines, some agricultural inventions have been rejected by our people, but farmers of other countries find these same inventions to be useful and even profitable. We need to separate the true from the false prophets. Then, the valid inventions should be disseminated to benefit our own Filipino farmers. Soil conditioner One such invention—a soil conditioner—has been featured several times in a government-run radio station. About 25 years ago, Dante Dizon left a large chemical trading firm and struck out on his own with one of his own inventions, which was sold by Shell Chemicals. The first generation of his soil conditioner, called Trikombi, was officially endorsed by the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) and Philrice. Since then, he has been working on a second-generation soil conditioner. In his radio interviews, Dizon talked about Trikombi and how it would benefit different kinds of farmers. The marginal farmer, who constitutes 85 percent of the palay-growing population, usually cannot afford the recommended six bags of chemical fertilizer because of the high costs. Thus, using only two to four bags (currently costing an average of P1,200 a bag), the marginal farmer may expect a yield of 60 to 75 cavans per hectare. The typical farmer, who uses the recommended six bags of chemical fertilizer, can produce 80 to 100 cavans per hectare. But the progressive farmer, who uses 8 to 12 bags of chemical fertilizer, plus 10 to 20 bags of commercial organic fertilizer, may expect an average yield of 100 to 120 cavans per hectare. Dizon claims that, with the help of a 3.5-kilogram bag of Trikombi organic soil conditioner costing P1,975, both the marginal and typical farmer can significantly cut chemical fertilizer costs by limiting their purchase to only three bags.
Also, the marginal farmer may increase his yield by 15 to 20 cavans, while the typical farmer may expect an additional four to six cavans. On the other hand, the progressive farmer may only expect a significant decrease in costs. He may no longer increase the yield of his farm because he has already applied a balanced agrochemical fertilization method. That farmer is in a position to take the balanced approach further by going completely organic. Dizon further claims he has proof that Trikombi is specially suited to counter the ill-effects of climate change. He cited an instance when 30-day-old palay had been completely submerged with no oxygen for 60 hours. In areas where Trikombi had been applied on the soil, there was 100-percent recovery of the crops, while only 60 percent had been recovered in parts with no soil conditioner. Evidence After observing the effects of Trikombi for 2 Â˝ years, a former associate of Dizon during his Shell Chemical days is now distributing Trikombi to 10,000 hectares. The Kapampangan Development Foundation has also embarked on Trikombi free trials in all the rice-producing towns of Pampanga. But because there is now independent investigation of the product, there is still not enough justification for a thorough endorsement of Trikombi. In our own research on Trikombi, we learned of an unsuccessful trial. Is this failure an exception? Or is it indicative of false claims? Independent credible sources are needed to answer these questions before any more endorsements can be made. On the other hand, if no such investigation is undertaken, agriculture experts of another country may conduct their own study. If the results favor Trikombi, foreign farmers would once again benefit at our expense. Conclusion After 10 years of monitoring, we have discovered that gullible farmers are losing hard-earned money for inventions that do not work. But there are many inventions that actually work. We can only recognize the good prophets in our own country through independent credible investigations. For the sake of our technology-starved farmers, the government should respond immediately. Only then can our little-known inventions benefit our farmers. (The author is chairman of Agriwatch, former secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, and former undersecretary for Agriculture, and Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail email@example.com or telefax (02) 8522112). http://business.inquirer.net/108801/inventions-that-actually-aid-farmers
Local fruit growers seek BOI perks By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Local fruit grower Mont Manna Fruits, Inc. is seeking incentives from the Board of Investments (BOI) for a project in Leyte. In a published notice, the BOI said “Mont Manna Fruits, Inc. is applying for registration with the BOI as new producer of pineapple buckers on a non-pioneer status.” The project is located in Ormoc, Leyte. The project has an annual capacity of 3.5 million pieces. The firm could get perks such as income tax holidays should its application be approved by the BOI. To promote investments, the government is offering incentives for activities under the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP). Agriculture or agribusiness and fishery are among the preferred activities under the IPP. Apart from agriculture or agribusiness and fishery, other preferred activities that can qualify for incentives are creative industries or knowledge-based services; energy; shipbuilding; mass housing; infrastructure; research and development; green projects; motor vehicles; strategic projects; disaster prevention, mitigation and recovery projects; iron and steel; and hospital or medical services. Mont Manna Fruits is engaged in growing fruits such as pineapples and bananas in Ormoc. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/02/22/911571/local-fruit-growers-seek-boi-perks
Economy Posted on February 21, 2013 11:20:23 PM
Philippines sets target for coconut exports in 2013 THE PHILIPPINES targets to export 900,000 metric tons (MT) of coconut oil this year, about 6% higher than in 2012, anticipating high production and demand for the oil, which has been touted for its health benefits. United Coconut Association of the Philippines, Inc. Executive Director Yvonne V. Agustin said the goal is to export 900,000 MT of coconut oil this year, 5.63% higher than last year’s exports of 852,000 MT, but 2.7% lower than the targeted 925,000 MT for last year. "We based our target this year from last year’s actual production," Ms. Agustin said. She noted that last year, "most coconut producing provinces experienced above normal rainfall in the first three quarters." She explained that coconut, like other crops, benefits from higher rainfall but the effects on production will be felt only a year later. Most of the coconut oil is sourced from Mindanao, she pointed out. Aside from higher production, demand from export markets is expected to stay high. The country’s major markets are still the United States and Europe, capturing at least 80% of total coconut oil exports. The rest goes to Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Last year, coconut oil exports grew by 3.71% on the back of increased demand from the major exports market as they slowly recovered from an economic slowdown, Ms. Agustin said, citing preliminary data. Coconut oil is one of the country’s top dollar earner among agro‐based products. It contributed 28.62% of the total value of all agro‐based products exported last year, National Statistics Office data showed. ‐ See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Philippines‐sets‐ target‐for‐coconut‐exports‐in‐2013&id=66253#sthash.mIyxqnEJ.dpuf
Nation Posted on February 21, 2013 09:41:01 PM
Trader, broker facing smuggling charges A TRADER and a broker are facing smuggling complaints with the Department of Justice (DoJ) for illegally shipping in 16 million worth of smuggled agricultural products through the Port of Manila. "These attempts to bring into the country illegally imported onions are not intended to fill in demand or shortage, but simply, to exploit the high demand for the crop, to the detriment, of course, of our local farmers," Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon said in a statement yesterday. Emelita T. Ramirez, trader and owner of ETR Trading, and her broker Sheila T. Larrachochea allegedly schemed to smuggle four 40‐footer container vans of red onions from China using fraudulent import permits, said the Bureau of Customs (BoC). FAKE PERMITS Director Clarito M. Barron of the Bureau of Plant Industry has certified that the respondents used fake permits, according to the Customs bureau. The bureau filed the complaints yesterday under its Run After the Smugglers (RATS) program. The smuggling case is the 77th for RATS under Mr. Biazon’s watch. The trader and the broker violated the Section 3601 of the Tariff and Customs Code, the department orders of the Department of Agriculture, and Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code, according to the BoC. Mr. Biazon said the bureau is now examining all food importations shipped in to the country to avoid similar incidents. ‐‐ Richard Jacob N. Dy http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Trader,‐broker‐facing‐smuggling‐ charges&id=66234
R3.5-M Hydropower Plant For Apayao By Mark Anthony N. Manuel February 21, 2013, 7:18pm BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya — A hydro-power project worth up to R3.5 million is seen to provide ample electricity to hundreds of residents of far-flung villages in Apayao province, electricty provider SN Aboitiz Power Group (SNAP Group) said yesterday. The project is expected to generate electricity of less than 5 kilowatts that can be used in remote communities that need only a small amount of power. SNAP said it would undertake site investigations, conduct feasibility studies, and design, manufacture and install pico hydro projects in prospect areas. It explained that once established and completed, the pico hydro project will address the demand for electricity among the villagers of Barangay Pina in Calanasan town in Apayao province where most of the communities rely on the power given by the neighboring province of Cagayan.
“Our Greenfield Development team has identified specific projects and watersheds which have good potential for hydro development. Through this, we hope to provide a model for other small but sustainable hydro projects,” SNAP Group president Emmanuel V. Rubio said in a statement. SNAP owns and operates the 360-megawatt (MW) Magat Hydroelectric Power Plant (HEPP) located on the border of Isabela and Ifugao, and the 105-MW Ambuklao and 125-MW Binga HEPPs in Benguet province. It is a joint venture between SN Power of Norway and AboitizPower. In line with this, officials of the SNAP Group and the De La Salle University’s Center for MicroHydro Technology for Rural Electrification (DLSU-CeMTRE) recently agreed to undertake studies for the establishment of the said project. The project funding will be shared jointly by SNAP through its Corporate Social Responsibility program and DLSU. DLSU-CeMTRE aims to drive research and development on micro-hydro technologies in the country as well as provide assistance in manpower training. “I hope between our partnership we will be able to create shared value not only for both of our institutions but for the communities we try to serve,” Bro. Ricardo P. Laguda, De La Salle University president said in a statement. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/394982/r35m‐hydropower‐plant‐for‐apayao#.USbdYvJFyjs
Lake agency hopes program will address invasive marine species Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Thursday, 21 February 2013 19:48 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter THE Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) is hoping that the successful implementation of a cash‐ for‐work program in Laguna de Bay will address the growing number of invasive alien marine species in the 90,000‐hectare freshwater lake, after reports said Chinese soft‐shelled turtles are proliferating there. In an interview, Neric Acosta, LLDA administrator and presidential adviser on environmental protection, said the agency is coordinating with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to look into those reports. “We are coordinating closely with BFAR Director Asis Perez and the agency’s director in Region 4 concerning the problem. We are hoping to get feedback from the BFAR about those turtles,” Acosta said. The LLDA official also said he would ask the bureau to come up with full scientific data about the state of the lake, but for now the initiative to address a looming crisis caused by the massive proliferation of another invasive species—the knife fish—will continue with the help of fishing communities around the lake. This initiative is a cash‐for‐work program that the LLDA and the BFAR started last year. Reena Buena, LLDA officer in charge for community development, said that under this program, the BFAR gave 12 municipalities support funds worth P2.4 million—or P200,000 per town—to buy the knife fish caught by fishermen at P20 per kilo. She added that her agency also gave technical and marketing support in the production of patis (fish sauce). Buena also said the LLDA brings the knife fish bought from the fishermen to Navotas City, known for producing patis and bagoong isda (fish paste). Another program that the LLDA launched, this time in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), is the cash‐for‐egg program. Under this program, which has an initial P5‐million budget, fishermen are hired to gather knife‐fish eggs from bamboo poles that have become the species’ breeding ground, in an effort to control its population. The fishermen tapped for this work receive P250 per day for 15 days in a month.
This program, however, was discontinued after the DSWD refocused its efforts to help victims of Typhoon Pablo (international code name Bopha) in Mindanao. According to Acosta, the LLDA is aggressively promoting the production of fish sauce, with knife fish as raw material, to address the infestation in Laguna de Bay. “We are looking at scaling up the program now,” he said. As for the cash‐for‐egg program, Acosta said the LLDA is looking to make it a lake‐wide program very soon. He added that his agency is looking forward to get bigger funding for this program. The LLDA official also said the agency will pick 100 communities where the program will be implemented. He added, however, that those who will be tapped for the program must not be beneficiaries of the DSWD’s Conditional Cash‐Transfer Program. Using the 1970s and 1980s as a benchmark, Acosta said Laguna de Bay is really in a “sorry state,” not just because of the invasive alien species, but because of other factors such as the indiscriminate dumping of wastes and the fish‐cage and fish‐pen operators’ excessive use of the lake to raise milkfish and tilapia over the past four decades. “Sobra na ang organic matters sa lake. The biological oxygen demand is high. In essence, if you look back at the benchmark in the 1970s and 1980s, talagang malala na. But in terms of what we can do, maagapan pa,” Acosta said. He added that among the areas where the lake’s water quality is really bad are the towns of Binangonan and Angono, where there are a lot of fish pens. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/9626‐lake‐agency‐hopes‐ program‐will‐address‐invasive‐marine‐species
Philippines, Japan to hold dialogue on maritime security Published on 21 February 2013 Hits: 168 Written by Bernice Camille V. Bauzon The Philippines and Japan will hold the Second Dialogue on Maritime and Oceanic Affairs today amid maritime territorial tensions with neighboring China, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday. According to the Foreign Affairs agency, the two sides will “discuss various areas of cooperation in maritime safety, maritime security, anti-piracy measures, fisheries and marine scientific research” during the dialogue, which will be held at the department’s main office in Pasay City. The Philippine delegation will be headed by Gilberto Asuque, assistant secretary for the Office of Special and Ocean Concerns, and Henry Bensurto, special assistant for the Office of the Undersecretary for Policy. Other representatives will also come from the Foreign Affairs department, Department of National Defense, Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. The Japanese delegation, meanwhile, will be led by Kenji Kanasugi, deputy director general for Southwest and Southeast Asian Affairs of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It will also be composed of experts from the Japanese ministry of Foreign Affairs, secretariat of the Headquarters for Ocean Policy of the Cabinet Secretariat, the ministry of Defense and the Japanese Coast Guard. The meeting comes at a time when both Manila and Tokyo are in separate territorial disputes over resource-rich islands in the waters they share with Beijing. Japan and China have claims on the islands in the East China Sea called Senkakus by the Japanese and referred to as Diaoyus by the Chinese. The Philippines is also in competing claims with China over the islands, islets, shoals, reefs and rock formations in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), a region believed to hold vast reserves of oil and minerals.The first dialogue on maritime cooperation between the Philippines and Japan was held in Tokyo on September 9, 2011 http://www.manilatimes.net/~manilati/index.php/news/top‐stories/41983‐philippines‐japan‐to‐hold‐ dialogue‐on‐maritime‐security
Assistance Agrarian Reform Communities Information February 21, 2013, 8:42pm Over 30,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, and upland farmers in four Mindanao provinces – Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat in Region 12 and Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) – will benefit from development funds allocated by the Italian government for agrarian reform communities (ARCs), under its Italian Assistance to Agrarian Reform Community Development Support Program (IAARCDSP). The Memorandum of Agreement for the IAARCDSP was signed between the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Italian government in Davao City on February 1, 2013. The IAARCDSP, funded by a loan of 26,190,000 euro (R1.57 billion) and a grant of 1.35 million euro (R81 million) from the Italian government and a Philippine government counterpart fund of R866 million, would be carried out in the next six years and benefit 53,000 households. It will provide start-up financing for livelihood projects and microenterprises in 35 agrarian reform communities (ARCs), as well as build farm-to-market roads and post harvest and irrigation facilities. The Department of Agriculture is the lead agency that will work with the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Office of the ARMM Regional Governor for project implementation. In Sultan Kudarat, the covered municipalities are Lambayong, Lutayan, Esperanza, Isulan, Tacurong, Kalamansig, Lebak, and President Quirino. In Sarangani, the project will include the municipalities of Alabel, Glan, Kiamba, Maitum, Malapatan, and Malungon. The cities of Cotabato and General Santos are also part of the project area. In Maguindanao, the project sites are the towns of Datu Montawal, Datu Piang, North Upi, SK Pendatun, and Sultan Mastura. In Lanao del Sur, it covers the towns of Wao, Bubong, Kapatagan, Balindong, and Malabang. The program expects that after six years, the income of farmers will be raised above poverty threshold, and the average net income of target household beneficiaries will increase by 20 percent. It also expects that 53,000 households will have more access to basic infrastructure and social services, and 50 farmers’ organizations will be self-sufficient. We congratulate the Department of Agriculture headed by Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, the Department of Agrarian Reform led by Secretary Virgilio R. de los Reyes, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao by Governor Mujiv S. Hataman, Philippine Ambassador to Italy H.E., Virgilio A. Reyes Jr., and Italian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Philippines Luca Fornari, in their concerted efforts to promote an improved quality of life in rural communities in Mindanao. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!
DAR urged to install farmers in less contentious lands Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Thursday, 21 February 2013 19:47 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Contributor FARMERS’ organization Task Force Mapalad (TFM) has reiterated its call to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to immediately install hundreds of farmers in 671.2978 hectares of land in at least three provinces that are deemed less problematic. TFM said farmers in four landholdings in Negros Occidental province and one each in Davao Oriental and Bukidnon provinces have secured installation orders as early as June 2012, but are still waiting for the DAR’s action. In pressing for the farmers’ installation, the group cited a legal opinion, dated May 12, 2011, that Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao had issued regarding the Arcal estate in Davao Oriental’s Magdug village. According to Parungao, the farmers’ installation may proceed, since no temporary restraining order (TRO) had been issued against the move, “despite the pendency of the cases in the Court of Appeals and [Branch 12 of the Regional Trial Court in Lupon town, Davao Oriental], in order not to delay the process of land acquisition and distribution.” Former Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Field Operations Narciso Nieto cited Parungao’s opinion to press for the installation of farmers in that province and elsewhere. Moreover, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes himself argued in his July 26, 2011, letter to the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo that the Supreme Court had ruled that no court aside from itself shall have the jurisdiction to issue TROs and preliminary injunctions against the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council, the DAR and any other authorized or designated agencies in any case or dispute arising from the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). “It is appropriate…for Secretary de los Reyes to invoke the same opinion and judicial principle in order to speed up the installation of farmers in the agricultural lands,” TFM‐Negros President Alberto Jayme said. “If the DAR could use the same in installing farmers in 2011 and 2012, then it stands to reason that it could be invoked now,” he added. No legal impediments expected TFM said that based on the assessment of the Multi‐Sectoral Task Force (MSTF) that was created to monitor the CARP’s implementation, farmers can be installed in 219.7 hectares of land in Negros
Occidental, Davao Oriental and Bukidnon without encountering any serious legal impediments. It added that the DAR can proceed with installing the farmers in these lands. One property in Negros Occidental—Hacienda Paz, which has 13.8 hectares—is in the north; the rest— Hacienda Carmenchika (98 hectares), Hacienda Tipolo (19 hectares) and Hacienda Avina (53 hectares)— are in the south. The Arcal estate (29 hectares) is in Davao Oriental, while the Datu Simeon estate (6.9 hectares) is in Bukidnon. Jayme said farmers who had their certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) registered as of January 30, 2013, are also waiting to be installed in six other Negros Occidental landholdings measuring 451.5978 hectares. Five of these are in the northern part of the province: Hacienda Cecelien/Erico, with 56.1484 hectares; Hacienda Concepcion, with 61.1991 hectares; Hacienda Dolores, with 68 hectares; Hacienda Leonor 1, with 232.3236 hectares; and Hacienda Susan, with 23.7670 hectares. The sixth—Hacienda C. Manalo, which has 10.1597 hectares—is in the south. Jayme said besides the combined 671.2978 hectares for the two sets of properties, the DAR should have no problem installing farmers in other lands measuring 4,052.866 hectares. According to him, these lands are subject to a field investigation (FI), a field investigation report review (FIR review) and a pre‐processing unit (PPU) for the issuance of a memorandum of valuation (MOV), a certificate of deposit (COD), and for the generation and distribution of emancipation patents or CLOAs. Jayme said that properties that are with the register of deeds total 915.9466 hectares, while those under COD total 71.8139 hectares. He added that those covered by a MOV total 1,601.135 hectares, while those to be subjected to FI, FIR review and PPU total 1,463.98 hectares. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/9625‐dar‐urged‐to‐install‐ farmers‐in‐less‐contentious‐lands
Philippine banks remain well capitalized, says BSP Category: Top News Published on Thursday, 21 February 2013 21:08 Written by Miguel R. Camus / Reporter Philippine banks continued to be well capitalized as of June last year as their combined capital adequacy ratio (CAR) stood well above local and international benchmarks, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed on Thursday. The BSP noted that the CAR of universal and commercial banks closed the first half of 2012 at 16.87 percent on a solo basis and 17.96 percent on a consolidated basis. The banks’ CAR as of March last year stood at 16.85 percent on a solo basis and 18.01 percent on a consolidated basis. The BSP requires banks to have a CAR of at least 10 percent, slightly above the international norm of 8 percent. “The industry maintained its CAR levels despite the rise in its risk‐weighted assets [RWAs] of 2.15 percent and 2.08 percent on solo and consolidated basis [respectively] in the second quarter,” it said in a statement. It added that banks also increased their qualified capital by 2.26 percent and 1.83 percent on a solo and consolidated basis, respectively. “The industry positioned its CAR level well by building up capital to support an increase in assumed risks. Banks either retained earnings or issued capital instruments to match the rise in their RWAs,” it said. RWAs rose due to higher corporate and consumer loans and to investments in debt securities issued by unrated counterparties. The rise in lending can be attributed to the low interest‐rate environment. The industry’s ratios for Tier 1, which generally represents high‐quality capital, also remained high at 14.33 percent on a solo basis and 14.46 percent on a consolidated basis, the central bank said. “Prudential regulations on banks’ risk‐based capital are essential to the country’s Financial Stability initiatives because a well‐capitalized banking system enables the industry to better absorb unexpected losses especially in times of stress,” it added. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐news/9642‐philippine‐banks‐remain‐well‐ capitalized‐says‐bsp
Quality Seedlings February 21, 2013, 4:23pm PAGADIAN CITY (PNA) â€“ The Region-9 office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-9) will produce quality seedlings for the National Greening Program (NGP) of President Aquino with the operation of a clonal nursery in Zamboanga del Sur. Seedlings in a clonal nursery are produced by a complicated cloning process and not through seeds or tree cuttings. Officials said this Regional Clonal Nursery and Ecological Research and Training Center (RCNERTC) will answer the need for quality seedlings in order to attain the vision of NGP. The RCNERTC was established sometime September last year, by virtue of DENR-9 Regional Administrative Order No. 001, Series of 2011, setting aside some 12.3 hectares within the Baclay-Pulacan Reforestation Project for the purpose. The facility, which is located in the municipality of Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur, serves as the regional center for the production, storage, and disposition of quality planting materials and indigenous and premium forest trees, and economically important non-timber forest species. DENR-9 Director Arleigh J. Adorable is confident that this nursery will be an additional source of quality seedlings that can boost the NGP efforts in the region. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/394939/quality-seedlings#.USbg0vJFyjs
BIR collection hit P1.058 trillion in 2012 Category: Top News Published on Thursday, 21 February 2013 21:15 Written by Paul Anthony A. Isla | Reporter THE Department of Finance (DOF) reported on Thursday that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) increased its tax revenues by almost 15 percent to P1.058 trillion last year from P924 billion in 2011. The DOF added that collections from BIR operations amounted to P1.017 trillion last year from P890 billion in 2011, while collections from non‐BIR operations amounted to P40.95 billion from P33.65 billion in 2011. This year the BIR is expected to collect P1.253 trillion. To meet this target, Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto‐Henares issued Revenue Memorandum Circular 11‐2013, which mandates that all activities and undertaking of the agency be aligned with its 26 priority programs. “The commendable performance of the agency last year—which saw, for the first time in the history of the revenue service, our collection of revenues in excess of P1 trillion—is an affirmation of the contributions of our priority programs to the improvement of our operations and the delivery of service,” she said. For the month of December alone, the DOF said the BIR collected P88.58 billion in tax revenues, or 18.68 percent higher than its collections in December 2011. The collection for December 2012 exceeded the target by P11.89 billion or by 15.51 percent. For December 2012, the DOF said collections from BIR operations amounted to P85.92 billion, which was P13.55 billion or 18.75 percent higher than those made in December of 2011, which was also P12.06 billion or 16.35 percent more than the target for December 2012. The DOF said collections from non‐BIR operations amounted to P2.76 billion, which is P396.17 million or 16.79 percent more than those made in December of 2011. However, this is P166.13 million or 5.69 percent less than the target for non‐BIR operations for the month. The priority programs include strengthening the Run After Tax Evaders Program and Oplan Kandado, re‐ engineering other business processes, electronic official registry book, implementation of the internal‐ revenue stamps integrated system on the use of secured stamps for cigarettes, electronic letter of authority monitoring system and electronic certificate registration. It also added the accounts‐receivable management system, collection‐reconciliation system, online system for transfer‐tax transactions, geographic information system for Metro Manila and Zonal Values and e‐sales, electronic tax‐information system, enhancement of e‐accreditation and registration and e‐
sales, expansion of ISO certification to other districts, re‐registration of taxpayer through the taxpayers registration information update, asset information management, interactive forms, centralization of data processing of the regional officers, and increase in taxpayer database. The BIR is also looking at programs like mobile revenue‐collection officers system, e‐linkage with the Bureau of Treasury, electronic tax‐remittance advice, exchange of information program, tax‐ruling and case‐management system, organizational and management‐development program or rationalization plan, and the procurement, payment, inventory, and the distribution‐monitoring system.
P11.2-B Reservoir to Be Built in Iloilo February 21, 2013, 7:59pm
ILOILO DEVELOPMENT — President Aquino is joined by Ilonggo government officials at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Jalau River Multi-Purpose Project in Iloilo City on Feb.20, 2013. (Malacañang Photo) ILOILO CITY — A massive reservoir project in Iloilo province, with a cost of P11.2 billion, will soon be constructed to provide irrigation to farmlands and boost rice production, generate additional electricity, and mitigate flooding in nearby areas. President Benigno S. Aquino III yesterday led the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project (JRMP) phase II with an estimated cost of P11.2 billion during a visit here. Under the South Korean loan-funded project, three dams will be constructed in the next three years mainly to solve farm irrigation needs and augment power and water supply in Iloilo. Funding requirements for the project will be sourced from the P8.95 billion loan from Export Import Bank of Korea while the P2.2 billion will be the government's counterpart. The biggest dam project outside Luzon also seeks to boost the region's rice self-sufficiency and contribute to the annual increase in the country's rice production target by 7.6% under th Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Roadmap 2011-2016. It will also provide irrigation for increased agricultural production to the 22,340 hectares of the five existing irrigation systems and 9,500 hectares of currently rain-fed areas in Iloilo. “Oras na matapos ang proyekto, apatnapu’t tatlong porsyento ng lupang agraryo dito sa Iloilo ang magkakaroon ng irigasyon. Ibig-sabihin, inaasahan natin ay dodoble ang maaaning bigas sa rehiyon, at aangat nang tatlumpung porsyento ang produksyon pati ng tubo (Once the project is complete, 43 percent of agricultural lands in Iloilo will have irrigation. This means, we expect the rice production in the region to double while sugar cane production will increase by 30 percent),” the President said.
Aquino said the construction of the dam project will also generate employment for 17,000 workers. “At ’pag fully operational na ang Jalaur River Project, tinatayang at least tatlumpu’t dalawang libong Pilipino – mga magsasaka, mangingisda, vendors, at iba pang manggagawang Ilonggo – ang magkakaroon ng empleyo’t pagkakakitaan (Once the Jalaur River Project is fully operational, at least 32,000 Filipinos – farmers, fishermen, vendors and other Ilonggo workers – will have jobs and livelihood),” he added. The project also involves the construction of a 6.6-megawatt hydroelectric power plant to augment supply in the province. It also seeks to provide potable water supply, help in flood mitigation, and promotion of eco-tourism in selected dam/reservoir areas. “Kapag nakumpleto ito, makikinabang ang inyong rehiyon sa dagdag na kuryente mula sa hydropower—talagang napakalayo na po doon sa panahon na limang oras ang brownout n’yo (When this is completed, your region will benefit from increased power supply from the hydropower plant, far from the five-hour brownouts you have experienced),” the President added. With the huge reservoir project irrigating more farmlands, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor said they hope the province will become the number one rice producer in the country. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/394997/p112b‐reservoir‐be‐built‐iloilo#.USbilfJFyjs
‘Allocate CCT funds to rice farmers’ By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - A farmers’ party-list group is urging the government to allocate a fourth of the P44-billion budget for conditional cash transfer (CCT) this year to rice farmers not covered by the procurement program of the National Food Authority (NFA) to enable them to cope with the ill-effects of continuous rice smuggling into the country. In a briefing in Quezon City yesterday, Abono party-list chairman Rosendo So said the “temporary” measure would enable farmers to sell palay at a lower cost to local millers, thus making their produce competitive to rice smuggled from Thailand and Vietnam. So said the root of the palay procurement problem in the countryside is still the unabated smuggling of foreign rice into ports in the Visayas and Mindanao. The smuggled rice has reportedly reached even rice-producing provinces such as Nueva Ecija, Baguio, Pangasinan, La Union and Isabela, competing with local produce and threatening to discourage farmers from planting. “Allocating a fourth of the CCT budget or about P10 billion to farmers would allow them to sell palay at a price of P14 per kilo from P17.50, which is expected to dip due to the flooding of smuggled rice into the market,” So said. “This will ensure that market competition would kill smuggling operations as a discounted cavan price of P1,150 will be able to compete with smuggled rice being sold at P1,200 per cavan,” he added. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/02/22/911559/allocate‐cct‐funds‐rice‐farmers
BOC files complaint vs trader, broker for alleged smuggling of onions By Tetch Torres‐Tupas INQUIRER.net 2:36 pm | Thursday, February 21st, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Customs on Thursday filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) smuggling complaint against a trader and her broker for the unlawful importation of P16-million worth of onions. Facing a complaint for violation of the Tariff and Customs Code and Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code for Falsification are Emelita T. Ramirez, owner of ETR Trading together with her broker Sheila T. Larrachocea. The two, based on the complaint, allegedly conspired to smuggle into the country 4×40 container vans of fresh red onions from China using fake import permits as certified by Clarito Barron, Director of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI). http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/362581/boc‐files‐complaint‐vs‐trader‐broker‐for‐alleged‐smuggling‐of‐ onions
Debt-to-GDP ratio up to 51.4% in 2012 By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The government’s outstanding debt as a proportion of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased last year, dealing a minor blow to the country’s goal of hitting the international benchmark for investment grade. Data from the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) showed that the government’s debt in relation to the economy, one of the closely monitored indicators of a country’s credit standing, hit 51.4 percent in 2012 compared with only 50.9 percent the previous year. This is seen as a setback since the ratio, computed by dividing outstanding debt by the country’s GDP, has been on a downward trend since its peak of 84 percent in 2004 when the country was said to be on the verge of a financial crisis. The country’s outstanding debt stood at P5.437 trillion last year, up 9.8 percent from P4.95 trillion in 2011. Data from the National Statistical Coordination Board, on the other hand, showed that the economy was worth P10.568 trillion in 2012.
The 2012 ratio, however, was well above the government’s target of 50.2 percent, just a bit short of the 50 percent target. International standards provide that debt-to-GDP ratio should be 50 percent or less for it to be considered manageable. While credit rating firms have acknowledged improvements in some of the country’s macroeconomic indicators such as its huge reserves of foreign currencies and a robust banking sector, the debt-to-GDP ratio has remained an impediment to achieving investment grade status. Debt-to-GDP ratio is one of the indicators used by credit-rating agencies in assessing a country’s ability to service its obligations or its creditworthiness. Since President Aquino assumed his post, the Philippines has received eight credit rating and outlook upgrades from international agencies. Current ratings for the Philippines are BB+ from Fitch and Standard & Poor’s and BA1 from Moodys, putting it only a notch below investment grade. Securing the much coveted investment grade status is seen to translate to more investments in the country and additional jobs. The government is keen on getting an investment grade for the country this year on the back of a robust economy, steady remittances from overseas workers, a growing call center industry, strong domestic consumption and a low interest rate environment. President Aquino’s efforts to contain debt, curb corruption and undertake massive infrastructure projects have boosted investor confidence in the Philippines as seen in the deluge of foreign funds being poured into the stock market. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/02/22/911569/debt-gdp-ratio-51.4-2012