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Posted on March 04, 2013 11:08:58 PM 

Farmers to get hybrid seeds on credit THE PHILIPPINE Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) will distribute hybrid rice seeds to farmers on credit to help them increase their production and income. Rice farmers in Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Cagayan, Leyte, the Bicol region and Region 12 will receive PhilRice’s hybrid rice seeds, Dante S. Delima, Agriculture assistant secretary and National Rice Program Coordinator, told reporters in an interview yesterday. PhilRice is the rice research arm of the Agriculture department. It is at the forefront of meeting the country’s rice self-sufficiency goal. PhilRice’s target is to distribute 50,000 bags of hybrid rice this year to farmers in the country’s major rice producing areas. One bag of hybrid rice is enough for one hectare. The yield is expected at 6.5 metric ton (MT) per hectare, higher than the average yield of 4 MT per hectare of regular rice varieties. The first 25,000 bags of hybrid rice will be distributed within the second quarter and the second batch, in December. However, after harvest, farmers will have to pay PhilRice P3,500 per bag. Mr. Delima said this will ensure that funds are available to produce more hybrid rice seeds. The government targets rice production of 20.04 million MT this year, 11.15% higher than last year’s actual production of 18.03 million MT. -- Raymond Jun R. Portillo - See more at:

Reports of higher rice yields boost  government’s self­sufficiency goal     Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Monday, 04 March 2013 19:32   Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Contributor   FIELD  reports  on  higher  rice  yields  have  further  bolstered  the  Aquino  administration’s  campaign  to  achieve  self‐sufficiency  in  the  staple,  Agriculture  Assistant  Secretary  and  National  Rice  Program  Coordinator Dante Delima said on Monday.  In an interview, Delima said these reports emboldened the Department of Agriculture (DA) to do more  in achieving food security. He added that the reported yields, in effect, made little sense the 30‐year‐old  suggestion of the United States Agency for International Development and the National Economic and  Development Authority to abolish the National Food Authority (NFA).  The NFA was established in 1972 to ensure adequate rice supply for Filipino consumers.  Delima  said  rice  harvests  have  started,  noting  that  a  bigger  picture  and  more  accurate  data  on  rice  production will be available by March 15, particularly from regions that had set higher targets for palay  (unhusked rice) output.  The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, on the other hand, will issue its report on rice output by April.  “The harvest area for rice has grown to 4.6 million metric tons [MMT], with Central Luzon still leading  the list of regions that expanded their production areas,” Delima said.  “There [are] also substantial [gains] in Oriental Mindoro and Leyte [provinces], and the reason for the  surprising  performance  in  Leyte  is  the  fact  that  Ormoc  had  subsidized  hybrid  seeds  for  farmers,”  he  added.  Also expected to record improved yields for the year are South Cotabato, Nueva Ecija, Isabela and Iloilo  provinces.  For  2013  the  DA  has  set  21  MMT  of  palay  as  its  target  figure,  Delima  said,  adding  that  “the  bigger  situation will be clearer by the third quarter, when all the figures are in.”  He  attributed  the  increase  in  palay  output  to  the  use  of  two  Philippine  hybrid‐rice  varieties—NSIC  19  and NSIC 20—that the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) had developed. 

“There are  three  commercial  hybrid  varieties  in  the  market,  along  with  the  two  PhilRice  strains  that  more farmers are using now,” Delima said.  He  also  said  these  hybrid  varieties  are  enjoying  wider  acceptance  since  these  are  cheaper  than  commercial varieties by P1,000 per sack.  Another incentive for farmers to increase rice production is the “plant now, pay later” program, which  allows farmers using hybrid‐rice varieties to secure loans.  This  program,  which  targets  50,000  hectares,  has  been  implemented  in  25,000  hectares,  with  the  DA  lending P400 million to farmers.  Farmers cultivating hybrid rice will get as much as P50,000 per hectare, with the limit set at 5 hectares,  and the money borrowed carries an interest of 15 percent per annum.  To assure that the output will be bought, Delima said farmers also have a purchase agreement with the  NFA as a last‐resort buyer.

GMA files bill calling for part of VAT to go  to aggie sector  • •

Written by  Tribune   Tuesday, 05 March 2013 00:00 

Former President, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo filed a bill calling for government to provide part of the annual value added tax (VAT) collections to finance expenditures for agriculture to boost countryside development. Macapagal-Arroyo’s House Bill 6704 allocates portions of the VAT collections for farm inputs, post-harvest facilities, infrastructure support, livelihood programs, capability programs and trainings and microfinance, amending for the purpose the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended. “Since agriculture plays a major role in countryside income and employment generation, the development of the sector is essential and should be given additional budgetary support,” Macapagal-Arroyo said. HB 6704 provides for an additional section that would identify which expenditures shall be given the five percent allocation from VAT. As proposed, 20 percent of the five percent allocation from VAT will go to construction, rehabilitation and restoration of a communal irrigation system; 10 perecent will go to the postharvest facilities including mechanical and solar dryers and warehouses; and 10 perecent will be spent for seed and organic fertilizer subsidies. Twenty percent will be spent for farm-to-market roads in municipalities with significant agricultural activities; 10 percent for livestock dispersal program; and 10 perecent for training/capability building programs for agriculture extension workers and their clientele. Ten percent will be used for microfinance lending programs to finance smallholder agriculture; 10 percent for the establishment and maintenance of mariculture and aquaculture parks.

Tramline For Aeta Agriculture, Tourism By: Franco G. Regala Published: March 5, 2013 FLORIDABLANCA, Pampanga — A tramline expected to boost tourism apart from serving its use to vegetable-producing Aeta upland farmers in this town will begin construction this month, the Department of Agriculture (DA) revealed yesterday. “Work (on the tramline) will start any time in March,” Honorio Pineda of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) told the Manila Bulletin. The tramline, measuring 800 meters will be completed in 60 days, will carry up to 350 kilograms of vegetables and crops in one trip, said Pineda. These vegetables produced by the Aeta people in the highest area of Barangay Nabuklod, perched some 1,200 feet above-sea level. Pineda said he had informed Governor Lilia Pineda regarding the P2.4-million project to be funded by the DA and then maintained and operated by the Aeta community. “The project is very good because we used to carry the vegetables on our backs. It was difficult and there was a tendency that the goods were damaged while we carried them,” an elderly Aeta woman said in the vernacular, “Kapampangan.” The governor thanked the DA for the project which is seen to improve agri-tourism in the area inhabited by 2,035 people, 99 percent of whom are Aetas. The governor earlier ordered the planting of some 5,000 banana trees. The Aetas’ major produce are bananas, ampalaya (bitter melon), string beans, taro, and kamote (sweet potatoes). Board Member Olga Frances DavidDizon, who joined Pineda in a visit to Nabuklod last Friday, said the tramline will boost the agricultural production of the Aetas led by Barangay Captain Roger Apang. “The governor has been helping the Aetas in Pampanga by providing them what they need. At the same time, she wants them to be self-reliant and productive,” said David-Dizon, who is from nearby Porac where there are also several tribes of Aetas. In the profile of the Florida Agri-Tourism Development Program, Pineda said her government “aimed to improve the lives of our indigenous families and individuals living in upland communities of the province. The program focuses in providing livelihood opportunities and employment to our Aeta brothers through agri-tourism development.” In January, 2011, a memorandum of agreement was entered into by and between the provincial government of Pampanga, the Tribung Aeta of Floridablanca and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to develop a 1,000-hectare land for agricultural production.

29 new sugar block farms pushed By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 5, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for the establishment this year of 29 new sugar block farms, mostly in the Visayas and Mindanao. This is the second phase of the block farming scheme initiated by the SRA to make local sugar production more efficient and less costly. The first phase was implemented in Batangas towns last year. The block farms comprise agricultural lands belonging to beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Under the agreement, SRA will provide technical assistance in managing the block farms but ownership of the parcels of land will remain with agrarian reform beneficiaries. SRA administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin said the 29 new block farms support DAR’s goal of improving the agribusiness technical and entrepreneurial skills of CARP beneficiaries. The establishment of the sugar block farms is also expected to increase the farm-based income of the beneficiaries. SRA and DAR have earmarked a total of P41.4 million for the establishment of the 29 sugar block farms. Of this amount, P29 million will come of DAR while 12.4 million will come from the Department of Agriculture and the SRA in the form of technical assistance and livelihood support. Participants in the second phase of the block farming scheme will be given access to credit from the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP), a credit program implemented by the DA, DAR and state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines for CARP beneficiaries. The second phase of the block farming scheme will cover eight block farms in Negros Occidental, six in Negros Oriental, five in Bukidnon, two in Iloilo and two in North Cotabato. The provinces of Tarlac, Batangas, Albay, Antique, Capiz and Davao del Sur will implement one block farm each. The block farming scheme is a component of the sugar industry roadmap to encourage farmers to group their production areas together into an integrated farming block. This will make the production process – land preparation, planting, fertilization and harvesting – more cost-efficient and more profitable per area. Under the block farming system, small farms of less than 10 hectares will be consolidated through joint ventures. A block farm should comprise an area of between 30 to 50 hectares.

The government aims to have around 100 block farm sites by 2015. In 2012, the SRA launched the first phase of the block farming scheme in Batangas province. The first phase covered 16 sites of block farms in the towns of Tuy, Lian, Nasugbu and Balayan. The average sugar cane yield per hectare is currently placed at 60 tons. The goal is to eventually increase this to 70-80 tons per hectare through improvements in the production process and increased farm mechanization. The Philippines is preparing sugar farmers for the tough competition resulting from the implementation of the free trade agreement within the ASEAN region by 2015 when tariffs on many agricultural goods would be lowered to five percent to even zero. The local sugar industry is particulary threatened by the influx of cheap sugar from Thailand which can strongly compete with local produce and pull down domestic prices. The Philippines remains a sugar exporter with the United States as its major market. The SRA has announced that sugar export prospects have been identified in India, Korea, Indonesia and the Middle East.

Luisita agrees with DAR By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 5, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Farm worker beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita must sign a written commitment to pay for the land that will be given to them. Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said farmer beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita will only get their share after signing a written commitment to pay for the land and make it productive. “If they will not promise such things to happen, then no land will be awarded to them,” he said. Antonio Ligon, Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) spokesman, said they agree with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) that the requirement is reasonable and legally sanctioned. “It must be understood that the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program entails responsibilities on all sectors – for government to see to it that it really alleviates or improves the plight of the farm workers, and for the latter to pay for the land and take care of it for their present and future benefit,” he said. “In the exercise of eminent domain, the government gets the land from private owner, but with the required just compensation, in the same way that the beneficiaries are required to pay for it.” The HLI owns the private land that the government will take and give to farmer beneficiaries, Ligon said. De los Reyes said in the next two weeks, DAR personnel will go back to the 10 barangays in Hacienda Luisita to talk to farm worker beneficiaries and make them sign an “application to purchase” and a “farmers’ undertaking” of responsibility to develop the land they would receive. Farmworkers would have to state the crops that they intend to plant and on which part of the hacienda, he added. At least 6,212 farmers are in the official list of beneficiaries of the land distribution scheme for Hacienda Luisita.

The final master list was drawn up in accordance with the Supreme Court (SC)’s directive that only farmworkers actually working in the Hacienda under Luisita Tarlac Development Corp. as of 1989 can qualify as beneficiaries. The beneficiaries were verified by thoroughly reviewing a list that Hacienda Luisita Inc. had submitted to the SC, containing the names of farmers who participated in the 1989 stock distribution option proceedings; all documents that farm workers had submitted to DAR; and documents that the DAR had acquired from the Social Security System. The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) land in Hacienda Luisita must be distributed to the farmers without any payment. They reminded De los Reyes that President Aquino’s family still owe the farm workers P1.3 billion and that they have eluded payment of the Central Bank-guaranteed loan in their acquisition of the hacienda. Antonio Flores of KMP said the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms law does not require farmers to sign an “application to purchase” and “farmers’ undertaking.”


Posted on March 04, 2013 11:14:17 PM 

P11-M road to facilitate transport of Tupi crops KORONADAL -- Transporting high-value flowers and vegetables from remote farming villages in Tupi, South Cotabato will now be easier with the opening of an P11 million farm-to-market road constructed under the auspices of the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP). Last week, municipal and Department of Agriculture-Region 12 (DA-12) officials inaugurated a 4.1-kilometer road funded by DA-12, the municipal government and the World Bank. The MRDP seeks to improve rural incomes. Funding comes from the World Bank, DA and local government units. Tupi, located at the foot of Mt. Matutum, has been a model farming town in South Cotabato, especially in implementing agriculture programs pushed by both national and local governments. The farm-to-market road, local officials said, was the government’s response to farmers’ request for a good road to be able to speedily transport perishable high-value crops from the uplands such as asparagus and cut-flower varieties. Tupi is also anticipating the completion of Miasong-Cebuano Road, which will connect more agricultural lands on the eastern portion of the town near Mt. Matutum. Another significant agricultural infrastructure project, among others based, on data from the provincial government, is the Banga-Tupi secondary road that will connect the two towns. Amelia J. Datukan, DA-12 director, said in a statement that Tupi has set a good record for undertaking agricultural programs and MRDP projects, which allowed it to corner a good number of road projects under MRDP. A fifth of Tupi’s land area is located 200 to 700 meters above sea level and is devoted mostly to high-value crops. Tupi’s major products are pineapple, papaya, corn, coffee and flowers - mostly planted in villages surrounding Mt. Matutum. Tupi Mayor Reynaldo S. Tamayo said the town is positioning to become South Cotabato’ fruit and vegetable basket and trading center. He said he would push for immediate completion of other road projects to further promote highvalue agriculture in his town. -- Louie O. Pacardo - See more at:

Philippines in talks with neighboring nations  for livestock, poultry exports     Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Monday, 04 March 2013 19:31   Written by   THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said the government is in talks with neighboring countries for the  export of livestock and poultry products ahead of Asean integration in 2015.  Asean  stands  for  the  Association  of  Southeast  Asian  Nations,  which  groups  Brunei  Darussalam,  Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.  DA‐Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Director Rubina Cresencio said the government is in discussions with  Papau New Guinea, South Korea, Hong Kong and Indonesia for possible exports to these countries. She  added that the government is also eyeing more shipments to Japan, which already buys yakitori nuggets  from the Philippines.  “We constantly keep in touch with these countries to find out their health protocol and requirements.  We are going to conduct a government‐to‐government collaboration to find out their requirements and  protocol,  and  later  on  proceed  to  a  business‐to‐business  transaction,”  Cresencio  said.  The  BAI  official  also said the Philippines may face tough competition from Thailand and Vietnam, but expects Manila’s  certification  as  avian  influenza‐  and  foot‐and‐mouth  disease  (FMD)‐free  to  be  an  edge  over  the  two  other countries.  “We are free from diseases, such as avian influenza and FMD, so we have greater chances to access our  target markets now,” she said, adding that the Philippines was among the few countries that the World  Organization  for  Animal  Health  certified  as  bird  flu‐  and  FMD‐free.  Thailand  suffered  from  a  severe  outbreak of bird flu last year.  “Based  on  our  assessment,  when  [the]  Afta  [Asean  Free‐Trade  Agreement]  takes  effect,  we  need  to  compete with Thailand. They are big poultry producers and also AI free. Meanwhile, for pork, Vietnam is  very aggressive,” Cresencio said.  The poultry subsector accounted for 14.3 percent of the Philippines’s farm output in 2012, growing 4.5  percent to P167.1 billion. Livestock production comprised 16 percent of farm output, rising 1.1 percent  to P214.3 billion. The DA is building two export‐oriented slaughterhouses in Luzon, adding to the 18 built  the previous year.


Posted on March 04, 2013 11:06:52 PM 

57 firms banned from multilateral banks’ projects MORE business entities have been banned from transacting business with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the multilateral lender said, as it "toughened measures" to combat corruption last year. In its 2012 annual report, the Manila-based lender’s Office of Anti-Corruption and Integrity (OAI) said complaints related to ADB-financed projects in countries in developing Asia reached reached a record 240. In keeping with an agreement with the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the InterAmerican Development Bank, the ADB cross-debarred 51 individuals and 57 firms. In 2011, ADB received a total of 211 cases and debarred 12 individuals and 37 firms. Once cross-debarred, business entities will be prohibited from doing business not only with ADB but with other multilateral development banks as well. In the Philippines, five projects, including the Integrated Coastal Resources Management Project, underwent project procurement review last year. "The bulk of complaints involved fraudulent misrepresentations about qualifications, experience, and technical capabilities of consulting firms, contractors and individuals seeking work from ADB," the report read. In the report, ADB said a total of 120 investigations were launched last year from complaints, which were mostly from ADB staff. "At a time when many donors are implementing austerity measures, those entrusted with development mandates have an obligation to use a steadily declining pool of development funds. When development funds are diverted or misused, people with real needs are deprived of basic services, rights, and opportunities," it added. The multilateral agency also piloted the project procurement-related spot review last year to strengthen project monitoring and compliance. The review involved skills training to improve project supervision and ensure delivery of intended outcomes. Sought for comment, Secretary Ramon "Ricky" A. Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office said the government has instituted

procurement reforms ensuring the bidding process is transparent and competitive. "Just being more transparent helps a lot. It makes it more difficult to engage in corrupt practices. Other thing would be making sure the bidding process is competitive," he said in an interview. -Noemi M. Gonzales - See more at:                                    

37% of Pinoys see better life in 2013 – SWS By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 5, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - About four in 10 Filipinos are optimistic that their lives will get better in 2013 even as most of them expect an improved economy this year, a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed. The SWS poll, conducted from Dec. 8 to 11 last year, found 37 percent of respondents expecting their lives to improve in 2013 against eight percent who said things would get worse, for a net score of 29, up by two points from August. The SWS said net personal optimism “has been ‘high’ to ‘very high’ since September 2009.” Meanwhile, the same survey showed 33 percent of Filipinos expecting the economy to get better this year compared to 14 percent who expressed a contrary view. The net economic optimism was 19 in December, also higher by two points previously. “Net economic optimism has been ‘very high’ (from 10 and above) in eight out of 11 surveys since June 2010,” the SWS said. Results of the SWS December 2012 poll were published in the newspaper BusinessWorld yesterday. The number of Filipinos who claimed their lives had improved in the last 12 months rose to 25 percent from 21 percent, the SWS survey said. However, the pollster noted that the percentage of those who said otherwise also rose by four points from 28 percent to 32 percent, keeping the net score at a “fair” -8. Net personal optimism remained “very high” among the ABC class, at 40 from 32 previously. It was 30 from August’s “high” 28 among the class D or masa.

For the ABC class, net optimism has been “very high” in eight out of 10 surveys since September 2010, while the masa’s score has been above 20 since September 2009, the SWS noted. Among the class E, the net optimism improved by four points to 24, which was classified as “high.” The SWS said scores in this socioeconomic bracket have also stayed above 20 in 10 out of 14 surveys since September 2009. By area, the net optimism in Metro Manila dropped by a point but remained “very high” at 35. It improved by five points in balance Luzon to 35 and to a “high” 23 in the Visayas from August’s “fair” 17. However, it fell to a “fair” 19 in Mindanao from a “high” 22 in August. The SWS survey also showed net economic optimism improving in all areas except in Mindanao. In balance Luzon, it increased by three points to 26; and improved by a point in Metro Manila and the Visayas, to 21 and 11, respectively, with all three staying in “very high” territory. It dropped by two points in Mindanao from a “very high” 11 in August to a “high” 9 in August. By class, net economic optimism remained at a “very high” 28 among the ABC. It gained a point to 19 (still “very high”) among the masa, and higher by five points to 16 (still “very high” among class E. For net personal optimism, the SWS classifies scores of 30 and up as “very high” and those of 20 to 29 “high.” The 10 to 19 range, which contains the historical median and mode, is classed as “fair,” while 1 to 9 is “mediocre” as these are below what is normally expected. Zero to -9 is “low” and -10 and below, “very low.” For net economic optimism, meanwhile, the SWS categorizes scores of -20 to -29 as “low” and 30 and below “very low.” “Fair” is assigned to the -9 to zero range, -10 to -19 is “mediocre,” 1 to 9 “high” and 10 and above, “very high.”

DENR allots P50M for Pasig River mangrove-planting program By Jeannette I. Andrade  Philippine Daily Inquirer   10:38 pm | Monday, March 4th, 2013  

In a bid to fast-track efforts to revive the biologically-dead Pasig River, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) have teamed up for a P50 million mangrove-planting project along its banks. The deterioration of the river—one of Metro Manila’s most important waterways—started in the 1930s until it was declared biologically dead in 1990 due to pollution from industrial and domestic waste. In a move geared toward facilitating the “resurrection” of Pasig River, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and PRRC chair Regina Paz Lopez signed on Monday a memorandum of agreement at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City for the planting of mangroves on the banks along its 19-kilometer-long stretch. According to Paje, the Pasig River Greening Project is part of the government’s national greening program which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees, including mangroves in coastal areas and tributaries, on 1.5 million hectares of land around the country by 2016. The project will also complement the DENR’s “Adopt-an-Estero project” which seeks partners from the private sector in cleaning up waterways, from major rivers to smaller tributaries such as rivers and creeks nationwide. “Aside from the obvious benefits we get from mangroves as trees, this greening project is a step toward reviving the Pasig River by improving its water quality and making it viable for more life forms to survive in it. Providing clean water, after all, remains a top priority of the Aquino administration,” Paje said in a statement. Under the MOA, the PRRC, the sole agency mandated to rehabilitate and manage Pasig River, would be responsible for planting mangroves on its banks from C-5 Road in Pasig City to the mouth of Manila Bay. The DENR will provide P50 million to the PRRC for the implementation of the project, including the establishment of a mangrove seedling nursery site within the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecosystem. The PRRC will also carry out all phases of the project from planning to repair or remedial work and regularly submit physical and financial reports to the DENR.

Camiguin Beneficiaries Published: March 5, 2013 MAMBAJAO, Camiguin (PIA) – Some 91 free patents were awarded to farmer beneficiaries here under the government’s “Handog Titulo Program” covering an area of 40.8 hectares. These titles confirm the ownership of the beneficiaries in accordance with the public land law. According to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), the Handog Titulo program is implemented consistent with the goals of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which seeks to improve the lives of farmers and their families. It is carried out in partnership with the local government units (LGUs), following the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2011-06, which prescribes the guidelines for the implementation of “Public Land Titling.” At present, the Camiguin PENRO have already trained LGU partners to be deputized as Public Land Inspectors. A Memorandum of Partnership Agreement (MOPA) was also signed last year, between the PENR, and the LGU here, while it is currently finalizing a MOPA with Mahinog and Sagay LGUs.

CSC Opens Search For Achievers By: Freddie C. Velez Published: March 5, 2013 CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — The Civil Service Commission (CSC) Regional Office 3 yesterday announced that they are still accepting nominations for 2013 Search for Outstanding Public Officials and Employees. CSC Central Luzon information officer Diana Henson, said government employees can be nominated as “Presidential Lingkod Bayan,” “Pag-asa,” and “Dangal ng Bayan” awards categories. Henson said that the Presidential Lingkod Bayan can be awarded to individual or to a group in their unsolicited contribution and grateful appreciation which gives magnificent effect in the public interest and country’s security. The nomination forms and other requirements could be downloaded at, the official website of the commission. All nominees must be all active and current government employees. The last day submission of the nominees will be on March 29.

BDO offers P5B high-yielding deposits By Doris C. Dumlao  Philippine Daily Inquirer   1:17 pm | Monday, March 4th, 2013  

MANILA, Philippines – Banco de Oro Unibank started offering on Monday a new tranche of high-yielding deposits worth up to P5 billion as part of efforts to stretch out the maturity profile of its funding sources and support its medium-term growth objectives. The new offering of long-term negotiable certificates of deposits (LTNCDs) will carry a maturity of five and a half years and likely priced at about 4 percent per annum, BDO told the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday. Banks currently pay about 2-3 percent per annum on regular time deposits. The pricing will be finalized at the end of the offer period which began on Monday and will run until March 15. BDO, however, reserves the right to adjust the timing of the offer as needed. Issue date is targeted by March 25. While the LTNCDs cannot be pre-terminated unlike regular time deposits, they are negotiable so they can be sold in the secondary market to other investors. By using the LTNCD structure, which is tax-free because of the long tenor, banks can offer better yields to clients. LTNCDs are covered by deposit insurance with the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. up to a maximum amount of P500,000 per depositor. For this LTNCD offering, interest will be paid quarterly and will be tax exempt for individual investors if held for more than five years. The minimum investment is P100,000 with increments of P50,000 thereafter. BDO, the banking arm of mall tycoon Henry Sy, has mandated foreign banks Standard Chartered Bank and ING Bank N.V. as the joint lead arrangers and selling Agents for the LTNCD, while BDO and BDO Private Bank are the other selling agents.

Horsemeat DNA In Beef Found Published: March 5, 2013 WARSAW, Poland (AP) — One of Poland’s top veterinarians said Thursday that traces of horse-meat DNA have been found in beef samples taken from three meat processors - the first acknowledgement that the country could be a source of the horse meat that fraudulently ended up in processed meat products sold as beef across Europe. Deputy National Veterinarian Janusz Zwiazek said the DNA was found in three samples out of 121 tested. They came from cold storage at processing plants in central Poland. The meat arrived there from various suppliers in Poland and abroad, including from the Netherlands, Zwiazek told The Associated Press. Dutch authorities also announced Thursday that their large-scale testing program has uncovered horse meat in two samples out of 370 tests it has carried out since Europe’s horse meat scandal erupted. The country’s Food and Wares Authority said it found horse DNA in a batch of beef cuttings and in a meatball labeled as containing only beef and pork at a meat processor and a frozen storage center. The authority did not release the names of the companies where it found the horse meat traces. In Greece, authorities said they detected traces of horse meat in salami labeled as containing beef that was imported from the Netherlands, and in frozen kebabs packaged locally. It was unclear whether the kebab meat was locally produced or imported, and food safety authorities were not available for comment. Greece first detected horse DNA in meat labeled as beef on Wednesday, in frozen meat from Romania. Polish authorities said some 80 more samples are to be tested, and separate tests are needed to determine the proportion of horse meat.

Banco Filipino reopening sought By Rey E. Requejo | Posted on Mar. 05, 2013 at 12:01am | 355 views

A group of 101 depositors of Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank yesterday went to the Court of Appeals to appeal for the bank’s reopening following flip-flopping of the CA last year in ruling on legality of the bank’s closure in 2011. In a motion, the group of uninsured depositors —or those having at least P500,000 in minimum deposits—sought intervention in the petition filed by shareholders of the bank questioning Resolution No. 372-A issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, through its policy making Monetary Board, that ordered the closure of Banco Filipino and placed it under receivership of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. The movants through lawyer Florante Bautista and his daughter and collaborating counsel Alexandra Bautista urged the CA to consider their interest in ruling on the legality of the closure and order the reopening of the Aguirreowner bank. They said that Banco Filipino was still solvent and should have not been closed, insisting that the computation of assets should have been based on the market value and not on book value. “The proof of solvency lies in the wrong computation of the assets,” Alexandra Bautista stressed. Under the Civil Code, claims of depositors of a closed bank are not the priorities to be settled by the receiver. On top of the list are taxes and other liabilities of the bank. It was the first time depositors of the bank participated in the legal battle between Banco Filipino and BSP over the closure order.‐filipino‐reopening‐sought/  

BIR-E. Visayas info drive By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Mar. 05, 2013 at 12:00am | 251 views


Tacloban City — Internal Revenue Revenue Region No. 14—Tacloban City Regional Director Diosdado R. Mendoza and Assistant Regional Director Nasser A. Tanggor have launched the 2013 tax campaign for the whole Eastern Visayas before a gathering of all stakeholders. The kickoff signaled the start of a year-long series of taxpayer information drives that will be conducted in various parts of Leyte and Samar. The program was also the venue for the pompous showcasing of the rich Eastern Visayan culture. Mendoza took the kickoff as an opportunity to thank all the taxpayers and other stakeholders who were delighted to know that the region has collected P4.74 billion in 2012 exceeding its collection goal of P4.5 billion by 4.69% or P212 million. In his keynote address, Deputy Commissioner of Internal Revenue Nelson M. Aspe stressed the value of the contributions given by the taxpayers in fuelling the economy through the taxes that they pay. He mentioned a number of priority programs that the BIR is working on this year to complement the taxpayers’ efforts and increased consciousness. He cited as an example the Bureau’s latest innovation—the Mobile Revenue Collection Officer System (MRCOS)— highlighting its features that ensure ease in the filing of tax returns and payment of tax liabilities.‐e‐visayas‐info‐drive/            

‘Sabah claim a conspiracy’ By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Mar. 05, 2013 at 12:00am | 1,133 views

Aquino links Arroyo people to the plot President Benigno Aquino III said Monday that members of the past administration may have connived with the Kirams in launching the armed incursion in Sabah three weeks ago. “There was connivance allegedly by certain members of the past administration in the formation of this. This is in violation of the Constitution,” Mr. Aquino said.

Malacañang’s view. President Benigno Aquino III expresses his views on the standoff in Lahad Datu in Sabah to reporters in Malacañang on Monday, saying he was concerned about the safety of the Filipinos there. Asked if the conspiracy reached all the way to former President and now detained Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, Mr. Aquino said: “You’re asking me for a conclusion that I wish I have right now. But again unless we have the evidence that can be brought before the court that will prove the case, I will not make an accusation.” The sultan’s daughter, Jacel Kiram, dared the President to present proof of his allegations. “Our challenge to him is to prove it,” she said. “How can we respond to speculative statements? What we need to address is the situation now on the ground where the lives of the Filipinos are at stake.”

But the President justified the violent response by Malaysia against Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram and his followers in Sabah that has left close to 30 people dead as the violence spread to neighboring areas. Mr. Aquino confirmed speaking on Saturday with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who informed him that the Kirams had already crossed the line. “The prime minister said negotiations can no longer be held at this point because there has already been a loss of lives, especially on the part of the Malaysians,” the President said. “Let us be frank with each other: If the situation were reversed, and armed groups entered our own community, would it be possible for us to do nothing? Whatever your nationality may be, if there exists a threat to your safety, you would naturally retaliate and find a way to remove your citizens from harm’s way. How can you expect a reasonable discussion when you are pointing a gun to the face of those in the other side?” Mr. Aquino also confirmed that his appeal to Najib centered on the fate of an estimated 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah who are not part of Kiram’s group. “I appealed to him if it is possible not to involve our kababayan in Sabah who are living peacefully there. And he gave us an assurance that they would do their best to accommodate our appeal,” the President said. Mr. Aquino insisted that people connived with the Kirams to reach the standoff in Sabah. “Some of their identities are clear to us, while others continue to skulk in the shadows. The family of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III could not possibly have settled on this course of action alone,” he said. “We have also noticed how our critics have stuck to a single messaging line to exacerbate a situation that has already grown dire. They have made this issue worse, and they are doing this even as their actions place thousands of Filipinos in danger. To the people who are behind this, even now, I tell you: you will not succeed. All those who have wronged our country will be held accountable,” the President added.

The sultan’s view. Sultanate of Sulu spokesman Abraham Edjiran discusses the sitaution in Sabah with Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram (extreme left) and former Bayan Representative Satur Ocampo at the sultan’s house in Taguig City. Manny Palmero In a television interview, former national security adviser Norberto Gonzales denied rumors of his involvement in the Sabah crisis. “Being a former national security adviser, I know the implications of such an armed incursion. So we will not do that even if we are not part of this administration,” Gonzales said. “I cannot understand why I am the favorite suspect whenever something goes awry.” Gonzales said he was surprised that Jamalul, who ran and lost during the 2007 senatorial race under the Arroyo administration ticket, resorted to violence since he knew the 74-year-old sultan to be mild-mannered. “He does not resort to violence. I think this happened because they have reached their breaking point from all the things they had to suffer,” Gonzales said. Opposition senatorial candidate Ernesto Maceda said he was shocked by suggestions that former President Joseph Estrada, who is a friend of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, had financed the Sabah operation. “My God! That’s far out and out of left field. Malacanang is looking for scapegoat to blame for its own neglect and failure to support our Muslim brothers in Sabah,” he said. “Up to now, Malacanang has not taken a position supporting the claim to Sabah. In fact, they are inclined to [the view] that we should not take Sabah anymore. It’s embarrassing, and they are blaming people like President Estrada, who has nothing to do with it.”

Estrada laughed off talk that he was involved because of his friendship with former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, who has been linked to the Sabah troubles. He said he had not spoken with Anwar for over a year. A spokesman for the Sulu Sultanate, meanwhile, denied that it has asked for help from the Moro National Liberation Front. Abrahim Idjirani, the sultanate’s spokesman, said the Sulu Royal Army in Sabah led by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram was being supported by Filipino immigrants and sympathizers who have experienced repression under the strict Malaysian rule. “If MNLF wants to help, they have no capacity to transport people in Sabah,” Idjirani said, adding that the sultan has not asked MNLF leaders to serve as mediators. But Habib Mujahab Hashim, chairman of the MNLF’s Islamic Command Council, said they have sent reinforcements to Sabah to augment Agbimuddin’s forces. The MNLF contingent reportedly breached the Malaysian cordon in Sandakan, another part of Sabah, and ambushed two truckloads of troops belonging to the Malaysian Territorial Army Regiment. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, on the other hand, said it would maintain a hands-off policy over the worsening crisis in Sabah. “We reserve our comment…we prefer settlement,” MILF vice chairman Ghadzali Jaafar said in a phone interview. Pressed what the MILF could do the help resolve the standoff, Jaafar again declined to comment, saying only that they were “confident” that the problem would be resolved peacefully to avert more bloodshed. Jaafar also refused on the legitimacy of Kiram’s claim over Sabah. In a radio interview, the chief negotiator of the MILF, Mohagher Iqbal, said it was MILF policy not to meddle, noting that Malaysia was a facilitator in its peace talks with the government. But Iqbal said that in case the situation deteriorates, the peace panel might recommend for the MILF leadership to issue an official statement.

On Monday afternoon, the President dispatched Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario to Kuala Lumpur to appeal to Malaysian authorities to exercise “maximum tolerance.” Del Rosario will meet with Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman to “continue discussions on how to avert further loss of lives.” “Secretary del Rosario will also take this opportunity to personally convey the Philippine government’s requests for a full briefing by Malaysian authorities on the situation and for clearance for the Philippine Navy ship AT-296 Tagbanua to proceed to Lahad Datu to enable the Philippine medical personnel aboard to provide humanitarian and consular assistance and provide medical care to the wounded and ferry them and the remaining members of the group back to their respective homes and families,” the Foreign Affairs Department said in a statement. Reports said separate clashes in Semporna, Sabah, have already killed 12 people on both sides and led to the capture of four Malaysian security personnel. The sultan reported more fighting was Monday. In Manila, the sultanate advised its men not to hurt the Malaysian captives and treat them well instead and work for their safe release with the presence of international media. More than 20 people have been killed since the standoff started in in the middle of last month. The Philippine military chief and the Malaysian head of the International Monitoring Team of the Mindanao peace process met Monday afternoon to talk about the worsening conflict between the Malaysian security forces and followers of the Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, sources told Manila Standard Today. “The situation in Sabah has endangered the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. We believe the Sabah issue has been being used by some political quarters to sabotage the peace talks,” a senior security expert said. With Ferdinand Fabella‐claim‐a‐conspiracy/    

Budget deficit exceeds P242.8b By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Mar. 05, 2013 at 12:01am | 106 views

THE government incurred a budget deficit of P115.7 billion in December, bringing the 2012 total to P242.8 billion, preliminary data from the Finance Department showed. Data showed the 2012 budget gap was 22.8 percent higher than the P197.8billion deficit registered in 2011. However, it was below the government’s deficit ceiling of P279.1 billion for the year. The figures were based on data posted on the Finance Department’s Web site Monday morning, which the agency later pulled out. The 2012 deficit represented 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product, below the official ratio target of 2.6 percent but higher than the 2.2-percent deficit-toGDP ratio recorded in 2011. Revenue collections last year increased 12.9 percent to P1.535 trillion from P1.36 trillion in 2011, while expenditures rose 14 percent to P1.777 trillion from P1.557 trillion. Deficit in December widened to P115.7 billion as expenditures increased 14 percent to P242.1 billion from P211.7 billion, while revenues climbed to P126.4 billion from P110.2 billion. “We are currently in discussion with DBM if they are as well prepared to release data tomorrow,” the Finance Department said in an e-mail. Data showed the Bureau of Internal Revenue collected P1.057 trillion last year, up 14 percent from P924 billion in 2011. The BIR collected P88.6 billion in December.‐deficit‐exceeds‐p242‐8b/      

EastWest Bank opens 10 new branches to boost network By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Mar. 05, 2013 at 12:01am | 1 views

EASTWEST Bank, the banking unit of the Filinvest Group, said it opened 10 new branches in a single day in February, bringing the bank’s network to 255 branches. “EastWest’s growth objective is to effectively reach out and provide convenient banking services to customers in key areas all over the country,” the bank said. The newly-opened EastWest banks are in Tondo, Manila; Kalentong, Mandaluyong City; Cubao, Araneta Center in Quezon City; Alabang in Muntinlupa City; Ninoy Aquino Avenue, Paranaque City; BF Homes in Parañaque City; Bonifacio Global City in Taguig; Legaspi Village in Makati City; Tanza, Cavite, and in Asia Town IT Park in Cebu City. EastWest said branches were now called stores because they served as one-stop shops that could address customers’ financial needs through a complete line of products, such as savings, loans, debit and prepaid cards, credit cards and investment products. The bank expanded its branch network from 122 in 2011 to 245 by end-2012. The bank, which opened its doors to the public on Aug. 1, 1994, aims to have 350 stores nationwide by 2014. Earlier, the bank raised P238.880 million in the second tranche of its long-term negotiable certificates of deposit sale. It said it expected to continue the issuance program in several tranches within the period allowed by the Bangko Sentral “but not to exceed P5 billion.” EastWest raised P1.53 billion when it conducted its first tranche of LTNCD sale in November last year. The bank is a subsidiary of the Filinvest Development Corp., the publicly-listed holding company of the Filinvest Group that evolved from a consumer business founded by Andrew Gotianun Sr. in 1995.FDC is one of the country’s premier conglomerates, with business interests in real estate, banking, sugar, hospitality and tourism, and power generation.‐bank‐opens‐10‐new‐branches‐to‐boost‐ network/

Avoiding software piracy By Chin Wong | Posted on Mar. 05, 2013 at 12:01am | 297 views

MICROSOFT announced last week that it had found pirated copies of its Windows operating system running in newly bought branded PCs, an admission that put computer buyers in Southeast Asia on notice. We’ve long grown accustomed to seeing pirated Windows running on generic white boxes, but we normally expect a legitimate, licensed copy of it when we buy a branded PC. Now Microsoft is telling us this isn’t so. In a sample of 282 PCs and DVDs taken from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam in December 2012, Microsoft said it found pirated copies of Windows embedded with malicious software spread across numerous well-known PC brands, including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung. Seven in 10 of these computers with counterfeit Windows were also infected with dangerous and malicious software such as trojans and viruses, Microsoft added. The software giant made clear that it was not blaming the manufacturers, but their partners in the retail channel “who deal in the illegal duplication and distribution of pirated software.” “Many people assume that buying a name-brand PC is all that’s required to guarantee a good and safe computing experience,” said Keshav Dhakad, Microsoft’s director of Intellectual Property for Asia Pacific and Japan. “They don’t think twice about the software sold with the computer, and whether or not it’s pirated.” “But consumers need to beware: while they might think there are great deals to be had by looking the other way, the hidden cost of pirated software is significant, and contrary to popular belief, can’t be remedied by simply running anti-virus software,” he continued. “If a consumer can’t verify that the computer they purchased was shipped with a pre-installed, genuine copy of Windows, their risk

of exposure to viruses and spyware—and the potential for data corruption, theft, and financial loss—increases exponentially.” Microsoft also revealed that since 2007, it has received more than 10,000 piracy reports from within Southeast Asia—many from people who bought a namebrand PC, paying more money to get “the real thing,” but ending up with far greater risk and liability at the hands of counterfeiters. In its latest study, Microsoft said, the infection rates of pirated software varied significantly across Southeast Asia: the Philippines surfaced at 42 percent, a full two out of every five computers and DVDs tested were infected. In Vietnam, malicious software was found on 66 percent of the pirated DVDs and a full 92 percent of hard drives tested. In total, Microsoft’s testing revealed 5,601 instances and 1,131 unique strains of malicious software and virus infections in its Southeast Asia sample—including the highly dangerous “Zeus” trojan, which records keyboard activity to steal account names and passwords. To avoid the hidden cost of software piracy, Microsoft advised consumers to take the following steps: 1) When buying a new PC, always ask for a genuine, pre-installed operating system. 2) Buy from a trusted reseller and avoid deals that seem “too good to be true.” 3) Ensure all software purchases come in their original packaging. 4) When buying a PC with Windows, look for the genuine label and certificate of authenticity that Microsoft requires be affixed to all PCs on which Windows is pre-installed. As a further check after purchase, users can log on to to confirm the label is authentic. Of course, Microsoft and its friends at the Business Software Alliance who warn us from time to time about the dangers of software piracy will always leave out the best and most cost-effective way to avoid pirated software altogether, which is to junk Windows and switch to free and open source software. If you are running an open source operating system such as Linux, and running open source applications such as LibreOffice, Dia, Gimp, Open Workbench,

Inkscape, Audacity, Avidemux, Scribus, TurboCash, and Pidgin – just to name a few of the hundreds of free, high-quality programs available (see for a more comprehensive list) – why would you ever bother running pirated software again? And here’s the icing on the cake: you won’t have to worry about viruses and trojans, either. Regardless of what the alarmists and vendors of anti-virus software say, infections on the Linux platform have been fairly uncommon despite the operating system’s growing popularity. In the seven years since I ditched Windows and began using Ubuntu Linux, I haven’t experienced a single virus attack. Nor have I had to examine my hardware for genuine stickers or certificates of authority. Who needs that? I’ve got better things to do. Chin Wong‐software‐piracy/                              

Blood on Noynoy’s hands By Jojo Robles | Posted on Mar. 05, 2013 at 12:01am | 1,867 views


This is how it appears to be ending in Sabah: Not with the whimper of surrender expected by President Noynoy Aquino from the Sultanate of Sulu, but with the bang of gunfire and bloody confrontations. There is blood on the hands of Aquino, the same blood splattered on the hands of the Malaysian security forces who decided last Friday that it was time to use their guns to put down the Tausug warriors. And because Aquino declared that he will have nothing to do with the claims of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, the Malaysians were convinced that it was time to settle the matter with force. This is the sin committed by the Manila government in Sabah: It fed the Sultan’s men to the Malaysian wolves instead of protecting Filipino citizens. Setting aside the legality of the Sultanate’s claims to Sabah, Aquino’s first response should have been to protect his country’s citizens, his “bosses.” And the Sultan and his people have always called themselves Filipinos, with the same insistence that they have claimed Sabah as their own. But instead of appealing to the Sultan’s men to remain calm, what did Aquino do, when he finally emerged from seclusion two weeks into the crisis? The Philippine president declared the Sultanate’s action “foolhardy” and demanded that its men come home to face charges. The bullying by Aquino was wisely ignored by the Sultan and his people. But the Malaysians apparently took it as a sign that the Philippines had thrown its citizens under the bus, for Kuala Lumpur to deal with as it pleases. The result was predictable. Bloody clashes in Lahad Datu town, where the Sultan’s men had landed three weeks ago, in Semporna 300 kilometers away and unconfirmed reports of unrest and more clashes in Kunak, Sandakan and

Tuwau; more than two dozen of the Sultan’s men have died in the weekend violence, while a handful of casualties have been reported on the Malaysian side. For its Manila audience, the administration once again played the Arroyo card, hinting that the crisis was instigated by operatives of the previous government to embarrass Aquino and scuttle his peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. But there is no way to spin the fact that Aquino dropped the ball so clumsily by admitting that he never heard from the Sultanate (because he lost the letters sent by Kiram) nor studied its claims, and then hibernating when the crisis broke, appearing only to weigh in firmly against the Sabah claim two weeks later. This is certainly the biggest foreign-affairs crisis to hit this administration, bigger even than its spat with China over the Spratly Islands. And Aquino is not only found wanting in diplomatic savvy once again but is also guilty of allowing citizens of his country to die at the hands of a foreign government’s armed forces because he did nothing to protect them. *** Even assuming that the Malaysians will be able to drive out the members of the Sultan’s small occupying force that they don’t kill, because of their numerical and logistical strength, there is simply no guarantee that the crisis will have been resolved. Now that Malaysia has decided to use force on the Sultanate, it has escalated the conflict by an order of magnitude. When the Malaysians unleashed their forces on the Sultan’s men, they cast aside their carefully cultivated image as regional peacemakers and honest brokers in local insurrections not only in the Philippines but also in Indonesia and Thailand. They also went against their policy of supporting proprietary territorial claims like those of the Palestinians who, arguably, are in same situation as the Sultanate and its people. And if the blood continues to flow in Sabah, Malaysia will have only itself to blame for instigating the violence. For decades, after all, Kuala Lumpur had been paying nominal rent on the Sultan’s territory – the strongest proof of the Sultanate’s proprietary rights to Sabah. By the same token, the Aquino administration will have no one to point fingers at (as it always does) but the “foolhardy” President in his palace, who acted as if he

were in league with the Malaysians against the Sultanate instead of its protector. The administration’s claims that it had to side with Malaysia to protect up to 800,000 Filipinos in that country simply does not excuse it of setting the stage for the attack by the Malaysians on the Sultan’s forces. And while Aquino attempts to reassure the Malaysians that he is on their side, it is uncertain that the Philippines as a whole will not be sucked into the conflict in Sabah. There are enough politicians, after all, who still believe that Manila’s sovereign claim is still valid, enough to make Kuala Lumpur suspect that the “invasion” has been hatched by the same neighbor who once tried to grab Sabah through Operation Merdeka half a century ago. As for the Sultan and his people, they can’t be blamed for feeling abandoned by their own clueless and uncaring government. If the conflict spreads north from Sulu, Aquino will rue the day that he ignored the Sabah claim and sold out the Sultanate.‐on‐noynoys‐hands/                          

MALAYSIA DEPLOYS MORE TROOPS Published on 04 March 2013  Hits: 289  Written by AFP   

Malaysian soldiers in an armored personnel carrier head on Monday toward Tanduo village in Lahad Datu town where the standoff with Sulu gunmen is on going. AFP PHOTO

SEMPORNA, Malaysia: Terrified Malaysians fled a town where dead gunmen lay in the streets on Monday as authorities ramped up security to combat a bizarre invasion by Philippine followers of a self-styled sultan. Twenty-seven people have been reported killed after two deadly shootouts in the state of Sabah on Borneo island where militants landed on February 12, claiming the state for the heir to a former Philippine sultanate. Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose government was scrambling to contain Malaysia’s worst security crisis in years, authorized a “doubling” of police and armed forces deployed in the tense state. “An additional two army battalions have been dispatched to Sabah,” Najib, who has vowed to root out the intruders, was quoted as saying by state news agency Bernama. Malaysians have been shocked by the incursion, which began three weeks ago when some 100 to 300 intruders were cornered by police and the military in the remote farming village of Tanduo. A Friday shootout there killed 12 intruders and two police. But fears of a wider guerrilla infiltration have escalated after another weekend gun battle in Semporna, a town that is hours away by road, in which six people and six gunmen died, according to authorities. An Agence France-Presse reporter in Semporna saw the corpses of three suspected gunmen with gunshots wounds, covered in flies and a foul stench as dozens of people were packing up their belongings and fleeing the town. Residents said that the bodies were gunmen killed by police.

“Our peaceful town has become a nightmare to live in,” Julasri Yaakob, 38, told Agence FrancePresse as he heaved a bag full of clothes onto a lorry, his young daughter next to him. “We are moving out because these are uncertain times. We heard the gunshots. My children are afraid,” he said. The armed intrusion deeply embarrassed Najib—who must call elections by June—by exposing lax border security and fuelling perceptions of lawlessness and huge illegal immigration in Sabah. At least 18 suspected militants and eight police officers have been killed in the gunfights, while authorities said that another gunman was beaten to death on Saturday by villagers in Semporna. Followers of the 74-year-old Manila-based Islamic leader, Jamalul Kiram 3rd, said that the gunmen are ready to die to defend his claim to Sabah, which was once controlled by the nowdefunct sultanate. Supporters of the Filipino intruders took their campaign to cyberspace on Monday, manipulating Google listings to post a message backing the incursion. A Google search for “Sabah” came back with a results page that displayed a Wikipedia entry preview calling Malaysian control of the state “illegitimate.” Philippine news portals have said that a number of sites in the country also were defaced by proMalaysia hackers. The exact identities of the gunmen remains a mystery, but Malaysian armed forces chief Zulkifeli Zin told a news conference in Sabah on Sunday that they appeared to have guerrilla combat experience. The adjacent southern Philippines has been wracked for decades by Muslim insurgencies. Authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia have called for calm, saying that the situation was under control, but have come under fire from the political opposition over the police deaths. In Semporna, schools, stores and government offices were closed, but there was little sign of a heavy security presence in the town despite the recent clashes and fleeing population. Sabah has seen previous smaller-scale cross-border raids from Islamic militants and other bandits from the Philippines. The Sulu sultanate’s power faded about a century ago but it has continued to receive nominal Malaysian payments for Sabah under a lease deal inherited from European colonial powers.‐stories/42754‐malaysia‐deploys‐more‐troops

Depositors eager to join battle for banco filipino Published on 04 March 2013  Hits: 186  Written by Jomar Canlas Senior Reporter   

THE Court of Appeals was urged on Monday to allow depositors and employees of Banco Filipino to step into the case of the bank against the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), monetary board and the Philippine Deposit Insurance System. In a 38-page petition-in-intervention filed before the appeals court, they urged the tribunal to issue a halt order on the liquidation of the embattled bank and the sale of its assets. “Banco Filipino’s illegal closure has effectively resulted in the BSP divesting depositors of their hard-earned savings and in the BSP depriving employees of their permanent means of livelihood, which at bottom is a serious deprivation of live and liberty . . . Depositors and employees are literally dying and continuously incurring debts to sustain their daily needs,” the petition by St. Martin’s Foundation, et al. read. The petitioners, who are both depositors of over P500,000, argued that aid that the proceedings for receivership and liquidation under Republic Act 7653, or the New Central Bank Act of 1993 have not been followed, adding that the bank as insolvent was hastily done and without proof of notice to the bank’s board. The appellate court in 2012 stopped the reopening of the bank as well as the move to infuse P25 billion for its rehabilitation. This was after a division of the appellate court reversed the decision of another division of the court declaring null and void the memorandum issued by the central bank and the monetary board placing the banking firm under receivership. The court’s Special Seventh Division had granted the motion for reconsideration filed by the central bank and monetary board as it reversed and set aside the decision rendered on January 27, 2012 in favor of the bank. Founded in 1964 by Tomas Aguirre, Banco Filipino was closed in 1985 by the central bank because of alleged insolvency. The bank was reopened in 1994, but was again closed in March 2011.‐depositors‐eager‐to‐join‐battle‐for‐banco‐ filipino  

P20M earmarked for Pampanga youth Published on 04 March 2013  Hits: 87  Written by Neil A. Alcober   

AT least one thousand out-of-school youth in Pampanga province will get their free training in the technical vocational education under the Cash for Training (C4TP) program of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Tesda director general Joel Villanueva said on Monday. Under the program, Tesda will mobilize its own technology institutes and partner technical vocational schools to bring skills training to 1,022 out-of-school and underprivileged youths from various towns in the province. For its role, the Social Welfare department will allot P20.44 million to finance the schooling of these out-of-school youths. “We are giving training opportunities to our youth to enable them to get employed either as wage earners or as self-employed individuals,” Villanueva said, who led the program launch on Monday at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando City, together with Gov. Lilia Pineda of Pampanga province and other local officials. “Employability is the end goal of every training course of Tesda,” the Tesda chief added. Besides Pampanga, Aurora province will get P6 million for 300 beneficiaries; Bataan will get P6 million for 330 beneficiaries; Bulacan, P19 million for 950 individuals; Nueva Ecija, P22.8 million for 1,140 individuals; Tarlac, P11.96 million for 598 individuals; and, Zambales, P7.1 million for 355 individuals. “Amid this backdrop, skills training sound very apt. We want to tap people who are good with their hands, very mechanical and good problem solvers, they can look at something and produce things out of it,” Villanueva said.‐p20m‐earmarked‐for‐pampanga‐youth              

92% of dept. budgets released as of Jan. Published on 04 March 2013  Hits: 170  Written by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER  

About 92 percent, or P898.3 billion of the P977.7 billion for departments’ specific budgets have been released as of January 2013, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Monday. Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad also confirmed that total allotment levels as of January 31, 2013 registered at 62.8 percent, or P1.26 trillion of the P2.006-trillion 2013 budget. This is 39.6 percent higher than budget release levels posted in the same period last year. Abad noted that departments and agencies now have sufficient budgetary support for the immediate implementation of their programs and projects. “With 92 percent of their budgets already released to them, departments can commence their procurement activities in the first quarter and, consequently, speed up project execution ahead of the election ban,” he stated. The DBM secretary added that swift budget releases will allow departments and agencies to comply with the one-year validity policy for all appropriations. He reported that the Budget department began enforcing the said measure in 2013 to encourage agencies to jump-start their priority programs and projects and, consequently, ensure the faster provision of goods and services to the public. The budget chief also noted that among all allotment classes, end-January releases for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenditures (MOOE) soared by 86.8 percent year-on-year. He added that MOOE soared because of the release of the full-year requirement for the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) to local government units (LGUs), amounting to P302.3 billion. “Previously, LGUs received their IRA shares on a quarterly basis. Because their shares were released comprehensively this year, our local governments can now obligate their budgets well in advance and create more legroom for efficient service delivery to their respective constituents,” Abad said. Meanwhile, data from DBM showed that P330.8 billion under Automatic Appropriations have already been released as of January 31, comprising 43.8 percent of the P755.2 billion programmed for this year. Releases under Special Purpose Funds (SPFs), on the other hand, amounted to P24.6 billion within the same period, P17.5 billion of which was released to cover pension and terminal leave

benefits of retiring government employees The data also mentioned that P5.5 billion of the P35.8 billion in 2012 carry-over appropriations have already been released as of end-January. It added that this includes P3.26 billion released for specific departments and SPFs, as well as P2.24 billion rolled out for the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which was charged against 2012 pooled savings.‐business‐news/42709‐92‐of‐dept‐budgets‐ released‐as‐of‐jan                                    

DTI optimistic toward 7% growth this year Published on 04 March 2013  Hits: 186  Written by ROSALIE C. PERIABRAS REPORTER   

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expressed optimism for the Philippine economy in 2013, as sustained key initiatives and ongoing reforms in the areas of trade and industry will enhance the country’s business climate and attract more investments. Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo during the recent Arangkada Forum said that the department projects a 7-percent gross domestic products (GDP) growth for this year. He said that the projected growth is sustainable because of the diverse achievements of different sectors of the economy. Domingo also noted the manufacturing sector’s performance, which surpassed the services sector in the third and fourth quarters of last year. “That’s a very good indication that manufacturing is back and when you go to Laguna, Batangas and Cebu, you’ll see manufacturing plants, huge ones that are being built and some operating already,” Domingo said. “We are in the good spot,” he added, referring to the recent statements of the three major ratings agencies—Moody’s, Fitch and Standard and Poor’s—that the Philippines is one notch below investment grade. Domingo likewise noted the latest Jetro survey where the Philippines is considered one of the most profitable business locations in Asia. The same survey showed that recruiting general staff is easiest in the Philippines, “with a stable labor environment and with labor costs increasing steadily and quite predictably,” he said. Domingo also sees a more vigorous year for investments than the record-setting 2012 where approved investments of the Board of Investments and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority reached P672.3 billion. “Based on the foreign inbound missions and the plans that we have been informed about by various companies and embassies, 2013 will be a much better year for investments. So expect more good things to come this year,” he said. On the trade front, 2012 merchandise exports rebounded, reaching a record $52 billion. Domingo noted that in the last five years, 60 percent of total Philippine exports went to our Southeast and East Asian neighbors compared to 10 years ago, when 50 percent of the country’s exports went to the United States and Europe. Domingo credits this to the diversified and balanced geographic markets, and the big

improvement in non-electronics exports as well as the pursuit of active trade relations and free trade agreements (FTAs). “We are further intensifying participation in trade negotiations and constantly on the lookout for opportunities brought about by FTAs,” Domingo said. To increase the level of global competitiveness of local industries, the DTI, together with various business and industry groups, and the National Competitiveness Council have crafted 19 industry roadmaps, with nine more underway. The DTI is also pushing for the revision of laws and policies such as the Foreign Investment Negative List, the rationalization of incentives, and the Mining Act, among others. The DTI is looking to file the draft bills at the start of the new Congress and is hoping for some to become laws by the end of this year.‐business‐news/42706‐dti‐optimistic‐toward‐7‐ growth‐this‐year                              

EastWest opens 10 more ‘stores’ in a single month Published on 04 March 2013  Hits: 77  Written by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR  

Publicly listed EastWest Banking Corp. opened an additional 10 branches in a single month as it aims to have 350 branches nationwide by 2014. In February, the bank opened 10 more branches, bringing the current EastWest network to a total of 255 branches. The newly-opened EastWest branches are located in Tondo, Manila; Kalentong, Mandaluyong City; Cubao, Araneta Center in Quezon City; Alabang in Muntinlupa City; Ninoy Aquino Avenue, Parañaque City; BF Homes in Parañaque City; Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City; Legaspi Village in Makati City; Tanza, Cavite and in Asia Town IT Park in Cebu City. “EastWest’s growth objective is to effectively reach out and provide convenient banking services to customers in key areas all over the country,” the bank said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange. The bank further mentioned that its branches are now called “stores,” because these serve as onestop shops that can address customers’ financial needs through a complete line of products— savings, loans, debit and prepaid cards, credit cards and investment products, among others. In 2012, EastWest grew its branch network two-fold, or from 122 in 2011 to 245 by end-2012. The company announced on October the previous year that it targets to grow its branch network by 350 in 2014. EastWest previously said that it remains steady in its bid to be a major industry player, as it continues to aggressively expand. “For this year, EastWest plans to open a total of 100 branches and grow its network to 350 by 2014,” EastWest said in a disclosure to the bourse late last year.‐business‐news/42700‐eastwest‐opens‐10‐more‐ stores‐in‐a‐single‐month    

Posted on March 04, 2013 10:45:42 PM

Six-month T-bill rate falls to record low HIGH MARKET LIQUIDITY pushed down the rate of the 182-day Treasury bills to its lowest on record, while that of the one-year securities likewise declined at the auction yesterday. At the same time, the rate of the 91-day debt papers inched up as investors shunned these securities due to low returns. The rate of the six-month T-bills declined by six basis points (bps) to 0.27%, while that of the one-year securities fell by 19.8 bps 0.57%. In contrast, rate of the 91-day papers inched up by three bps to 0.08%. Tenders for all three tenors totaled P38.604 billion, more than twice the government’s P15-billion offer. The Treasury bureau raised the planned amount. "Investors don’t find it attractive to invest in the 91-day T-bills because the rate is so low," National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon said in a briefing after the auction. There was not much demand for the three-month papers as reflected by tenders which amounted to P4.96 billion -- a little more than double the government’s P2-billion offer. Tenders for the same tenor reached more than four times the government’s offer in the past two T-bill auctions this year. As for the 182-day and one-year securities, Ms. de Leon said: "high liquidity in the market may have caused the rates to decline." "We are seeing strong inflows from foreign investors to the government securities market," she noted. "Investors also deem government securities as a safe haven given the country’s strong fundamentals so they are placing their funds in T-bills and T-bonds," she added. "We also have some maturing bonds this week, so investors may have reinvested their funds at the auction," she continued, referring to P76.5 billion worth of Treasury bonds maturing this week. Sought for comment, a bond trader, in a phone interview, agreed with Ms. de Leon saying: "the rate of both the six-month and one-year papers declined at the auction due to high liquidity in the market." Asked about the government’s borrowing plan in the second quarter, Ms. de Leon said: "We are still discussing with the market to know their [sic] appetite in terms of tenor and volume." -- Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio‐month‐T‐bill‐rate‐falls‐to‐ record‐low&id=66753

Posted on March 04, 2013 11:12:08 PM

Mangroves to be planted on 19km Pasig River banks 2



THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has inked an agreement with the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) for a P50-million project that involves planting mangroves on the banks of Pasig River to rehabilitate the polluted waterway. Environment Secretary Ramon P. Paje and PRRC Chairman Regina L. Lopez yesterday signed the memorandum of agreement for the project. Under the agreement, the PRRC will be in charge of implementing the project, which includes the planting of mangroves along the entire 19-kilometer stretch of the Pasig River by 2016 while the DENR will provide the P50-million funding. The project is under the DENR’s National Greening Program, which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares by 2016. The PRRC is an agency attached to the Office of the President that is mandated to preserve, rehabilitate and manage the Pasig River. Its main goal is to implement projects that will ensure the river meets the standards of a class "C" waterway, defined as one that can support the propagation and growth of fish and other aquatic resources. "Planting mangroves in the Pasig River will improve its water quality," Mr. Paje told reporters. This year, PRRC aims to complete the planting mangroves in the nine-kilometer part of the Pasig River located in Guadalupe, Ms. Lopez said. That stretch has been chosen as starting point to make the project "visible" and to entice the private sector to help them in their rehabilitation effort, she explained. Aside from improving the water’s quality, the project aims to "beautify" the river and the areas surrounding it. Aside from providing the P50-million budget, the DENR will also allow the PRRC to utilize a mangrove sanctuary in the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area. The mangrove sanctuary will be used as a nursery for mangrove seedlings that will be used in the greening project. -- Raymond Jun R. Portillo‐to‐be‐planted‐on‐19‐ km‐Pasig‐River‐banks&id=66769

Posted on March 04, 2013 11:19:42 PM

P898-B released to agencies BULK of department budgets have been released, allowing for faster and more efficient project  implementation, the Budget department said yesterday.    In a statement, the department said P898.3 billion or 91.9% of the P977.7 billion total for government agency budgets under the 2013 national budget were released as of Jan. 31, leaving only P79.402 billion unreleased. Agencies to which the funds were released can now enter into obligations. "Departments and agencies now have sufficient budgetary support for the immediate implementation of their programs and projects," Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad was quoted as saying in the statement. "With 92% of their budgets already released to them, departments can commence their procurement activities in the first quarter and, consequently, speed up project execution ahead of the election ban." The ban on state spending starts on March 29 and ends on May 13. During this period, the release, disbursement, and expenditure of public funds and the construction of public works, as well as the delivery of materials for public works, among others, are prohibited. The midterm election is scheduled on May 13. Mr. Abad added the early release of funds will also allow government agencies to use up their respective allocations within the year in view of this year’s implementation of the one-year validity policy for all appropriations. "We began enforcing this measure in 2013 to encourage agencies to jump-start their priority programs and projects and, consequently, ensure the faster provision of goods and services to the public," Mr. Abad said. Budget department data showed that of the entire P2.006-trillion budget for this year, P1.26 trillion or 62.8% has already been released as of end-January, 39.6% higher than budget release levels posted in the same period last year. Mr. Abad said releases for maintenance and other operating expenditures (MOOE) were up by 86.8% yearon-year, and said this was mainly due to the release of P302.3 billion representing the full-year internal revenue allotment (IRA) to local government units (LGUs). "Previously, LGUs received their IRA shares on a quarterly basis. Because their shares were released comprehensively this year, our local governments can now obligate their budgets well in advance and create more legroom for efficient service delivery to their respective constituents," the Budget chief said. Special purpose fund releases, meanwhile, amounted to P24.6 billion, P17.5 billion of which would cover pension and terminal leave benefits of retiring government employees Automatic appropriations totaling P330.8 billion were released as of Jan. 31, 43.8% of the P755.2 billion programmed for this year.Furthermore, P5.5 billion of the P35.8 billion in 2012 carry-over appropriations were released as of end-January. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc‐B‐released‐to‐ agencies&id=66772

Posted on March 04, 2013 10:16:01 PM

Ex-PCSO official seeking bail A FORMER state lottery official seeking a congressional seat in the May elections has asked court  permission to post bail citing weak evidence.    Raymundo T. Roquero, former board member of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), has filed a manifestation with the first division of the Sandiganbayan "to immediately resolve his petition for bail; to determine that the prosecution has failed [to prove] that the evidence against him is strong…." He further stated that he is seeking the seat for the lone district of Antique province under the United Nationalist Alliance. Mr. Roquero, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and other former officials of the PCSO and the Commission on Audit have been accused of conspiring to divert 366 million worth of state lottery funds from January 2008 to June 2010. A Senate probe last year linked the fund transfer to financing election activities. Mr. Roquero has claimed that the testimony of PCSO board member Ma. Aleta L. Tolentino, a witness for the prosecution, does not link him to the crime of plunder, a non-bailable offense. "... [I]t is evidently clear that the prosecution has miserably failed to establish the existence of strong evidence for the crime of plunder against accused Roquero." -- MJOC‐PCSO‐official‐seeking‐ bail&id=66738                    

Posted on March 04, 2013 10:20:02 PM

Bishop listens to Vatican, not Comelec BACOLOD CITY ‐‐ The lawyer of Bacolod Bishop Vicente M. Navarra said the prelate will follow orders  only from the Vatican, not from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), on the "Team Patay/Team  Buhay" tarpaulin poster at the San Sebastian Cathedral.    "Since the tarpaulins are on the Church grounds, only the bishop will say when it shall be removed," Ralph Sarmiento, one of Mr. Navarra’s legal counsels, said. He added that "since the tarpaulins are connected to the Church’s teachings touching on moral issues, the bishop will receive orders only from the Vatican." "The Diocese has no intention to comply with a Comelec rule that infringes on its Constitutional rights. [This] takes precedence and prevails over mere Comelec resolutions," he further said. Mr. Sarmiento, in behalf of the bishop, filed on Friday an urgent petition for certiorari and prohibition before the Supreme Court, with the Comelec and City Election Registrar Mavil Majarucon-Sia as respondents. The petition asked the high tribunal to declare the Comelec order unconstitutional and void and to issue a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction to stop the respondents from enforcing the orders to remove the tarpaulin. On Saturday, Comelec Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr. said the poll body will file charges against those responsible for the oversized poster. Mr. Sarmiento said that if the High Tribunal does issue a temporary restraining order, the Diocese and Mr. Navarra will be ready to face whatever cases Comelec will file against them. "We believe that it has no legal basis for any of its threats," he added. Lawyer Mitchelle Abella, who also represents Mr. Navarra, said the rules on campaign materials apply only to political parties and candidates and not to private persons on propaganda posted on their own private properties. -- Nanette L. Guadalquiver‐listens‐to‐Vatican,‐not‐ Comelec&id=66741        

Henares: BIR not ‘motionless’ against rice smuggling • •

Written by Ed Velasco

Tuesday, 05 March 2013 00:00

Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares strongly denied she is not doing anything about the firms and individuals identified by the Senate as rice smugglers. Henares said the BIR has filed tax evasion cases against some of those on the list. “I cannot sue them all because we need evidence to support our suits. Otherwise, it will just end in dismissal for lack of merit,” Henares explained to The Daily Tribune in an exclusive interview yesterday. However, Henares failed to tell how many of those in the list were sued as she didn’t have the data with her. So far, Henares said, the BIR has sued 153 corporate and individuals for various tax offenses. “I don’t know how many of those 153 were rice smugglers. I have to look at the data,” she said. Henares said the BIR cannot just file cases against these smugglers if thye are not supported by evidences. The BIR chief said her agency has very few personnel who can handle cases, from filing to attending hearings. She said BIR has only 11,000 personnel and only roughly 100 of them are lawyers who can handle cases. “When a case is assigned to any of our lawyer, he or she will take care of everything from substantiating the complaint with evidences to being witness and supervising the trial. We lack people that will oversee the progress of the cases,” she said. So far, only one of the 153 cases ended in conviction while the rest are being litigated. The lone conviction was that of Gloria Kintanar, who was sentenced to six years imprisonment for evading P6 million in taxes. “We cannot locate Kintanar. Maybe you can help us,” Henares pleaded. If only one conviction is recorded for tax evasion, definitely the cases filed against rice smugglers will take time, probably years, the official admitted.‐henares‐bir‐not‐%E2%80%98motionless%E2%80%99‐ against‐rice‐smuggling.html  

2013 03 05 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

News monitor for 2013 03 05