BIR trains sights on self‐employed, small business owners By Zinnia De La Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
BIR Commissioner Kim Henares (left) and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima urge the self‐employed, small business owners and professionals to pay correct taxes, at a press conference in Quezon City yesterday. MIKE AMOROSO MANILA, Philippines ‐ Self‐employed individuals and businesses under‐declaring taxes or collecting a lot of income under the table, beware. The Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) yesterday declared an all‐ out war against those deliberately under‐declaring their income to evade taxes, saying, “enough is enough and there is no more excuse to not pay taxes.” “With computerization, you cannot hide anymore. We know who you are and where you are. We will no longer tolerate what you’ve been doing,” said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima in a joint briefing by the DOF and BIR.
“The right of government to collect taxes is absolute. Every Filipino, whether big or small, should pay taxes. Do not be an accomplice to the crime of tax evasion. When you cheat on taxes, you are robbing your children of their future and the country of its potential,” Purisima pointed out. He said the government’s crackdown on tax evasion might see the worst and persistent offenders face criminal charges. BIR commissioner Kim Henares said the agency’s goal is to boost the number of taxpayers and increase the average payment to P200,000, which translates to an additional P360 billion in collections or 2.1 percent of the countrys gross domestic product. Henares noted that the self‐employed income tax collections have declined from 8.4 percent to 6.8 percent. She said of the total 1.8 million registered taxpayers, only 402,000 self‐employed, business and professionals filed their tax returns. Data show that they pay an average of P33,441 or a total of P13.4 billion, which accounts for only 0.13 percent of GDP. Henares said this sector constitutes only 6.8 percent of total individual income taxes, way below the 81.5 percent share of those whose taxes are automatically deducted from their salaries. She cited data from the Professional Regulation Commission, which showed two million active professionals, and the Department of Trade and Industry’s database, which listed 816,759 registered micro, small and medium enterprises. Henares said the agency would go after professionals/self‐employed people who are paying less than P200,000 in tax yearly. Those who are paying less than P30,000 a year will also be subject to close scrutiny or checkup. Purisima said the government would also come down hard on individuals paying only a fraction of their income while living a luxurious life. “We will look at the listing of those who own expensive cars and are members of organizations as part of efforts to crack down on tax evaders.” Purisima said taxpayers claiming personal expenses as business expenses would also not be spared. He likewise noted the high incidence of tax evasion among professionals and self‐employed businessmen across the country. “Across regions and across professions, it’s a common sight to see extremely low tax payments. There were doctors in Pangasinan that paid only P800 for the year, lawyers in Mindoro who paid only P121, a radio and TV practitioner in Quezon City who paid only P400, and a businessman in Cagayan de Oro who paid only P1,000,” Purisima said.
“This implies that these professionals earn even less than minimum wage earners. These numbers are ridiculous.” Purisima said the agency also discovered in one audit that the top 10 lawyers in one region it visited had annual income tax payments of only P20,000. There were even multiple cases in Bacolod where taxpayers had gross sales of over P200 million, yet paid taxes of only P440,000 or less. Taking the cue from President Aquino’s call for greater participation from citizens, Purisima called on the people to pay the right taxes. “As the President said, the people are our bosses. Good bosses don’t just complain, they do their share of the work. We call on our ‘bosses” to share in the responsibility of moving our country forward by paying the correct taxes. We will all benefit from improved tax compliance,” he said. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/03/19/921458/bir‐trains‐sights‐self‐employed‐small‐business‐ owners
P154.9‐M infra projects overpriced By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines ‐ Contractors overpriced by as much as P154.99 million infrastructure projects undertaken nationwide by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in 2011, according to the Commission on Audit (COA). The COA is asking the DPWH to have the overprice refunded by the contractors or deducted from accounts that have yet to be paid by the government or from cash bonds. In a report, state auditors said the cost estimates alone exceeded the COA‐allowed cost by P92.83 million. “Contract cost should be equal to or less than the total COA estimate plus 10 percent hereof, otherwise the contract cost is deemed excessive,” the report said. “Evaluation/review of contracts and projects by the COA Technical Audit Specialists in NCR, Regions IV‐ A, V, VII and XI disclosed various deficiencies such as improper applications of profit and overhead, contingencies and miscellaneous ranges in the Approved Budget for the Contract, and excessive costing and overestimated quantities of some items, which resulted in the total difference/variance of P92,827,633.82 between COA allowable cost/estimates and contract costs.”
Auditors said the DPWH’s Standard Specifications for Public Works and Highways states: “The contractor will provide, erect and maintain at his own cost all necessary barricades, suitable and sufficient lights, danger signal, signs and other traffic control devices, and shall take all necessary precautions for the protection of the works and safety of the public.” http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/03/19/921457/p154.9‐m‐infra‐projects‐overpriced
Summer is here – Pagasa By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines ‐ Time to wear shades and get out the sun block. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) officially declared yesterday the start of the summer season in the country. PAGASA administrator Nathaniel Servando said the northeast monsoon, the cold winds from China and Siberia, have terminated and been replaced by the warm easterlies from the Pacific Ocean. “The establishment of the Ridge of North Pacific High Pressure Area that extended over Luzon has shifted the wind direction to easterly and southeasterly, and the gradual increase of observed daily temperature recorded in most parts of the country signifies the recession of the northeast monsoon,” Servando said in a statement. “Weather conditions will be mostly sunny associated with warm and humid air in most parts of the country, aside from isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms, particularly over the eastern section of the Visayas and Mindanao,” he added. He also said that there will be times that strong easterly winds will prevail, particularly over the eastern section of the Visayas and Mindanao, with moderate to rough coastal waters. PAGASA also said Metro Manila residents could expect temperature as high as 37 degrees Celsius in the later part of April. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/03/19/921456/summer‐here‐pagasa
Aquino concerned about effect of Sabah incident on economy (philstar.com) | Updated March 18, 2013 ‐ 10:00pm MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) ‐ President Benigno S. Aquino III warned today on the possible effect of the Sabah hostilities on the Philippine economy. Aquino said that if the violence in Sabah would prolong, many of the estimated 800,000 Filipinos there might flee from the Malaysian state and will return to Mindanao. He said the government has to take care those Filipinos who will flee to the country and "this will surely affect our economy. " Based on rough estimate, he said if about 160,000 Filipino families would return to southern Philippines from Sabah, the government has to allocate around P37 billion (about $911.33 million) for food and shelter alone for a span of one year. He said other basic necessities were not yet part of the estimate that the government needs to earmark for the families who would be displaced further. Over 2,000 Filipinos already fled from Sabah for fear that the Malaysian authorities would arrest them for allegedly supporting or aiding the followers of the Sulu Sultanate that invaded Sabah on Feb. 12 to reassert their claim over the minerals‐ and oil‐rich Malaysian state. "Which program are we going to suspend so that we can provide their (Filipino returnees) needs? What can we provide to other Filipinos who also need the state's attention?" Aquino said. He again blamed those who instigated the Sabah invasion for their own self interest. The president said he would not allow force to be used in addressing the Sabah claim as his administration is now conducting a study on the issue. He said part of the study being conducted by the Departments of Justice and Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Executive Secretary is to come up with "a road map towards a peaceful resolution of the Sabah issue." The Malaysian authorities have been hunting down the remaining followers of the Sulu Sultanate after the March 1 encounter where several people were killed, including some Malaysian police. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/03/18/921480/aquino‐concerned‐about‐effect‐sabah‐ incident‐economy
DENR orders arrest of illegal miners in Nueva Vizcaya By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am MANILA, Philippines ‐ The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered the arrest of illegal miners in several towns in Nueva Vizcaya. Mario Ancheta, regional director for the Cagayan Valley of the DENR Mines and Geosciences Bureau, (MGB) issued the order in response to complaints from barangay officials. Kasibu and Dupax del Norte are two towns where MGB personnel found evidence of illegal mining. In a letter to concerned officials, Ancheta said small‐scale mining in the two towns is illegal and against the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. He said investigation conducted by MGB teams showed that improvised processing plants have been set up in the sites visited by investigators. He added that aside from illegal mining, MGB personnel found evidence of illegal cutting of trees. Earlier, Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla accused certain provincial officials of tolerating illegal mining in the province. He said these officials have even found a way of making money by charging a transport fee of P250,000 per truck of 25 tons of mine tailings. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/03/19/921277/denr‐orders‐arrest‐illegal‐miners‐nueva‐vizcaya
Comelec orders Cavite mayor to vacate post By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines ‐ The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ordered Imus, Cavite Mayor Emmanuel Maliksi to vacate his post in favor of Homer Saquilayan, who was declared duly elected mayor of the city by the Supreme Court (SC) last week. In a writ of execution dated March 15, director Betty Pizana of the Comelec Electoral Contests Adjudication Department ordered Maliksi to “cease and desist from discharging the powers and functions“ of the mayor of Imus, Cavite. Maliksi was directed to “relinquish and vacate” the post and ensure a “peaceful and smooth turnover” of office. The poll body ordered the provincial election supervisor and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to implement the order. Voting 8‐7, the SC declared Saquilayan as Imus mayor after a recount of the contested ballots showed that he got 48,521 votes against Maliksi’s 40,092 votes. Saquilayan was proclaimed city mayor in 2010 but Maliksi filed an electoral protest with the Imus regional trial court (RTC). The Imus RTC ruled in favor of Maliksi in November 2011. Saquilayan filed a protest with the Comelec, which in turn upheld his proclamation in a resolution in September 2012. The Comelec decision prompted Maliksi to elevate the case to the high tribunal. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/03/19/921278/comelec‐orders‐cavite‐mayor‐vacate‐post
Magnitude 4.4 quake rocks Palawan By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am MANILA, Philippines ‐ A moderately strong earthquake jolted Balabac, Palawan yesterday but state seismologists said it did not cause damage or injury. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the magnitude 4.4 tremor occurred at 2:21 a.m. Its epicenter was traced some 14 kilometers southwest of Balabac, where it was felt at Intensity 4. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/03/19/921279/magnitude‐4.4‐quake‐rocks‐palawan
Zambales to host mango festival By Anthony Bayarong | Updated March 18, 2013 ‐ 1:21pm IBA, Zambales ‐ Zambales, known for producing some of the world’s sweetest mangoes, marks another milestone this week when it playS host to the 15th National Mango Congress, an annual convention of stakeholders in the country’s mango industry. Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said this was the first time the mango congress would be held in Zambales, which hopes to be a major player in the regional mango trade. The congress will be held on March 20‐22 at the Ramon Magsaysay Technological University convention center here. At the same time, the 13th Zambales Mango Festival will be held until Sunday, March 24, at the Zambales Sports Complex, also in this town. Ebdane said the congress is an important step to revitalize the local mango industry and realize its full potential. “Mango production is undoubtedly a major industry in Zambales and, in fact, our produce is now known worldwide as one of the sweetest and most delicious. Yet we have lagged somewhat in terms of production and marketing in the previous decades,” Ebdane said. Evelyn Grace, president of the Zambales Mango Growers Association, said that they have tried to bid twice to host the Mango Congress under the previous governors, but lack of facilities and financial support bogged them down. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/03/18/921212/zambales‐host‐mango‐festival
Phl bond market second fastest‐growing in East Asia By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines ‐ The Philippine bond market was the second fastest‐growing among emerging economies in East Asia last year, rising by 20.5 percent as the unresolved budget deadlock in the US and the debt crisis in Europe prompted investors to turn to safe‐haven and higher yielding investments. According to the Asian Development Bank’s latest Asia Bond Monitor, the bond market in the Philippines was one of the most preferred sites for portfolio investments given the country’s robust economy supported by strong domestic consumption and investment growth. It came second to Vietnam, whose bond market grew 42.7 percent. Outstanding fixed‐income instruments issued by the government and government‐controlled companies reached P3.6 trillion as of end‐December last year. Treasury bonds registered the most rapid pace, rising by 24.5 percent to P3.2 trillion last year from a year ago. Outstanding treasury bills represented a 6.8‐percent growth to P275 billion while that of corporate bonds posted an annual growth rate of 20.7 percent at P526 billion. For the entire region, the outstanding amount of bonds stood at $6.5 trillion or an increase of 12 percent in local currency terms. The corporate markets, though smaller than the government bond markets, drove the increase, growing 18.6 percent to $2.3 trillion last year. In the past 10 years, emerging East Asia’s bond markets have grown by over 16 percent annually and now account for nearly 10 percent of total global bonds outstanding. According to the ADB, the region’s growing bond markets have reduced the need to borrow in foreign currency, allowing government and companies to borrow more in and at longer maturities.
A heavy reliance on foreign borrowing in the past has caused exchange rates to depreciate, forcing governments to either reduce spending or raise taxes. Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said the bond market is an important pillar of economic growth if the Philippines is to build sustainable infrastructure. Purisima said the government is confident the country’s bond market will continue to grow at a faster pace given President Aquino’s good governance program. He said the market has significant room for growth, noting that only a few corporations have been tapping the debt market, of which 60 percent comprises banks. The government has programmed P120 billion in borrowings in the first quarter this year through its regular auctions,This will consist P45 billion of Treasury bills with 91,182 and 364‐day tenors and the remainder in the form of treasury bonds with maturities of 7, 10 and 25 years. Thiam Hee Ng, senior economist in ADB’s Office of Regional Economic integration, however, cautioned that the surge in capital inflows could raise the risk of asset price bubbles in the region. “Emerging East Asia is much more resilient than it used to be but governments still need to be careful that the surge in capital inflows doesn’t fuel excessive rises in asset prices and that they are prepared for a possible reversal in the flows when the economies of the US and Europe pick up again,” Ng said. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/03/19/921286/phl‐bond‐market‐second‐fastest‐growing‐east‐ asia
‘Politically‐correct’ taxation TOP OF MIND By Andrew James Gerard D. Ruiz (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has not missed a beat in subjecting high profile industries, individual and/or juridical entities, and major transactions to tax, and to tax rules and regulations. With the 2013 national and local elections occurring less than a month after the deadline to file 2012 Income tax Returns (ITRs), the BIR has issued Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 15‐2013, to remind participants in the ongoing political fiesta of their special duties and responsibilities as taxpayers. Let us take a quick look at these requirements. RMC No. 15‐2013 reminds individual candidates and political parties (including party list groups) to register with the BIR, or update their registration, if already previously registered since the 2010 national and local elections. It should be noted that the requirement of registration for election purposes extends even to individual and corporate contributors of either the candidates or the political parties, or both. Revenue Regulations (RR) Nos. 8‐2009 and 10‐2009, which further amended RR No. 2‐ 98, requires even individuals and corporations to withhold five percent (5%) on their payments for goods and services, which goods and services are intended to be given as campaign contribution to political parties and candidates. Following this amendment, RMC No. 40‐2010 expressly requires contributors to register with the BIR (with individuals having the special code reference of “POLIT” in the BIR Integrated Tax System or ITS). If the contributors were previously registered during the 2010 national and local elections, then the registration would have to be updated. Of course, the candidates themselves, together with the political parties, have to be registered as well. Those candidates and political parties previously registered with the BIR need to update their registration, likewise in accordance with RMC No. 40‐2010. Political parties are registered under the tax type of non‐stock, non‐profit organizations in the BIR ITS. Included under the registration requirements for candidates and political parties is the registration of adequate books and other accounting records such as cash receipts journal, cash disbursements book or their equivalent. With registration done, we move to the transactions which are commonplace during elections. First, evidence of payment for goods and services, and of donations, will require the issuance of official receipts (ORs). RMC No. 15‐2013 requires the candidates, treasurers of political parties, and any person acting under the authority of the candidate or treasurer to registration ORs, to be issued for every contribution received, whether in cash or in kind. To address the issue of having the candidates et al try to print ORs so close to the election date, the BIR is reviving the discontinued practice of issuing “BIR‐ printed” non‐VAT ORs. These are actually Non‐VAT ORs in booklets, printed for the BIR, which used to be distributed to newly BIR‐registered taxpayers that have not yet secured the necessary Authority to Print (ATP) ORs. The candidates are required to submit a summary of the ORs used within 10 days from the end of the elections.
Since every contribution, whether in cash or kind, shall be issued the appropriate OR, the next question would be, are these contributions subject to tax? Section 99(C) of the Tax Code states that any contribution in cash or in kind to any candidate, political party or coalition of parties for campaign purposes shall be governed by the Election Code, as amended. While this is not stated in RMC No. 15‐ 2013, we all know that under Section 13 of Republic Act (RA) No. 7166, as amended, any contribution in cash or in kind to any candidate or political party or coalition of parties for campaign purposes, duly reported to the Commission, shall not be subject to donor’s tax. The BIR has, however, pointed out in RMC No. 63‐2009 that the contributions which are not reported to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) would be subject to donor’s tax. And it is the contributor, not the candidate or political party that will be liable for the donor’s tax. Contributors, take note. Second, now that the candidates and the political parties have been funded, we go to payments that these participants make on purchases of goods and services. As previously mentioned, RR No. 2‐98, as amended, now requires payments for goods and services for campaign expenditures to be subject to a five‐percent withholding tax. This includes payments made by even the contributors to the service providers, if the goods and services are intended to be given as campaign contributions. However, if the contributor gives the contribution directly to the candidate or political party, then the contribution need not be subject to withholding tax. The time to withhold, and the manner of remitting the five‐percent withholding tax to the government, is stated in RR No. 2‐98, as amended. Of course, with the act of withholding, the candidates, political parties, and specific contributors have to issue the standard certificate of taxes withheld (BIR Form No. 2307), in triplicate, to the provider of goods and services. Note the general rule provided under RMC No. 85‐2012, reminding all withholding tax agents that the failure to issue BIR Form No. 2307 will result in the mandatory audit of the withholding agent, upon verified complaint filed by the provider of goods and services. Everybody, take note. Finally, when the elections are over, what do the candidates, political parties, and contributors do with all the paper (ORs, books of account, accounting records, summaries, BIR Forms, etc.) that they have generated? The BIR registration of individuals, in their capacities as candidates, automatically ends after 30 days from the date of the elections. However, the BIR registration of the political parties continues to exist. Further, the BIR requires that political parties and all candidates preserve the records of contributions and expenditures, together with all pertinent documents, for at least three years after the holding of the election to which they pertain to. In this case, the three‐year period would be counted from 2013. These records may be subjected to an order for their production for inspection as authorized by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue (CIR). Hence, even if the candidates are no longer registered with the BIR, they can still be subject to an audit investigation.
With regard the unused ORs, the same shall be returned to the BIR, with the summary/schedule of ORs used, within 10 days from the end of the elections. Note that all the post‐election requirements do not distinguish between the winning and losing candidates, and the political parties. Does this requirement to keep accounting records and other documents likewise apply to the campaign contributors? Contributors are not expressly mentioned in RMC No. 15‐2013 as covered by the requirement to either register books of account, and/or preserve the same. On the other hand, the BIR may argue that since a campaign contributor is subject to registration requirements under RMC No. 40‐ 2010, they should likewise be required to maintain books of account pertaining to election transactions, and keep the pertinent documents for three years. Notwithstanding the additional requirements imposed on campaign contributors, and the risk of possible audit investigation, these requirements should be but a small price to pay for continuously supporting candidates and political parties that the contributors believe in. Moving forward, the commissioner of Internal Revenue Kim S. Jacinto‐Henares has recently stated in public that, at the end of the elections, excess funds or contributions in the hands of the candidates and political parties would be subject to income tax, unless returned to the contributors or donated to qualified charitable entities. This imposition of income tax would be aside from the possible violations of the above requirements, such as the failure to register, failure to issue ORs, failure to withhold, and failure to keep books of account, etc. Given the issuance of RMC No. 15‐2013, and the commissioner’s recent remarks, it looks like the BIR is considering the conduct of post‐election audit investigations. Andrew James Gerard D. Ruiz is a senior manager from the tax group of Manabat Sanagustin & Co., the Philippine member firm of KPMG International. He has over 10 years in the audit profession. This article is for general information purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice to a specific issue or entity.The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG International or MS&Co. For comments or inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/03/19/921298/politically‐correct‐taxation
Gov’t to borrow P150 B locally By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am MANILA, Philippines ‐ The government has programmed to borrow P150 billion from the local debt market in the second quarter of the year, 25 percent higher than its planned borrowings in the first quarter due to enormous liquidity in the financial system. The Bureau of Treasury raised its monthly Treasury bill (T‐bill) sale to a total of P20 billion from the current auction size of P15 billion. The BTR also jacked up its monthly treasury bond offer to P30 billion from P25 billion. Based on the new borrowing program, the government will auction a total of 60 billion worth of T‐bills in the second quarter or P20 billion each on April 3, May 8 and June 5. The government is also set to auction a total of P90 billion worth of T‐bonds on April 25, May 23, and June 20. The government has been ramping up borrowings from the domestic market amid record‐low interest rates and a surge in capital inflows. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told reporters yesterday that the country is most likely to shy away from the global bond market this year. “Our preference is to raise our domestic borrowings in support of the Central Bank’s move to curb capital inflows. This year, for the first time, to support the central bank, we’ve said we’ll borrow one hundred percent locally,” he later told reporters after the forum,” Purisima said. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas spent billions of pesos last year to help temper the peso’s appreciation against the dollar due to the impact of large inflows of foreign money. Investors have turned to peso‐denominated instruments to capitalize on the country’s strong economic fundamentals and the possible upgrade of its credit rating to investment grade status. “We are not abandoning our investors abroad,” Purisima said. “It’s just that this year, we believe, based on our analysis, it would be more to our advantage as a country to borrow domestically.” In 2012, 64 percent of the national debt was borrowed from domestic sources while 36 percent came from foreign lenders. The domestic component of the debt grew 20.7 percent year‐on‐year, while foreign debt fell 5.3 percent. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/03/19/921290/govt‐borrow‐p150‐b‐locally
Lucio Co’s energy firm eyes backdoor listing By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am MANILA, Philippines ‐ The new majority stockholders of listed Mariwasa Siam Holdings Inc. are in talks for a potential backdoor listing of a renewable energy firm of Puregold‐owner Lucio Co. In a disclosure, Mariwasa said its major shareholders “have been approached by, and in talks with, different interested parties, one of which is the Lucio Co Group.” But Mariwasa said nothing formal has been agreed upon so far. The Co family that owns listed retail chain Puregold was reportedly interested in using Mariwasa as a vehicle for the listing of renewable energy firm Union Energy Corp. A backdoor listing, which is believed to offer a cheaper and faster way to achieve a listing status, occurs when a listed firm is acquired by an unlisted firm and the merger will result in a change in business. In January, Chinese‐Filipino businessman Lucio Co said he is looking to acquire more renewable energy projects as it hopes to make its presence felt in the power sector. Union Energy owns 66 percent of San Jose City I Power Corp., a renewable energy company that will build a P1‐billion biomass plant in Nueva Ecija. The plant, which can generate 9.9 megawatts of power, will be the first project of its kind and size in the country that will use 100‐percent rice husk. Mariwasa, for its part, is majority owned by Klarence T. Dy, Glenn Paul R. Garcia, Gilpatrick R. Garcia, Alfonso S. Anggala and Johnny S. Anggala, collectively known as the Anggala Group. The new board of directors of Mariwasa earlier approved several measures that will transform the dormant company into an investment holding firm. Its board of directors wants to change the company name to Apollo Capital Holdings Inc., Galileo Holdings Inc. or Da Vinci Capital Holdings Inc. subject to the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission. In November, the family of Mariwasa chairman and president Regina Co Seteng sold their shares to the Anggala Group for P192.33 million, allowing the investor group to own 97.14 percent of Mariwasa. Prior to the acquisition, Mariwasa conducted numerous reorganization efforts, leaving the company without any operations or assets. Thailand’s Siam Cement Public Co. Ltd. unloaded its stake in Mariwasa given the restructuring of its ceramics operations in the Philippines. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/03/19/921296/lucio‐cos‐energy‐firm‐eyes‐backdoor‐listing
PAL, Cebu Pac seek new routes to more countries By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am MANILA, Philippines ‐ National flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) and budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) are mounting additional international flights as they await the lifting of the ban on domestic airlines to mount additional flights to the US and Europe. Cebu Pacific has asked the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) for the green light to fly to Papua New Guinea and Macau. The airline is applying for 440 seat entitlements for thrice a week flights between Manila and Macau using Airbus A320 aircraft in accordance with the Confidential Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two parties. The budget airline also asked CAB to re‐allocate 300 seat entitlements to Papua New Guinea previously awarded to PAL. Likewise, Cebu Pacific has filed an application with the CAB for designation as official Philippine carrier to India in accordance to the existing Confidential Memorandum of Understanding entered into last July 2005. Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog said in a statement that the airline launched its maiden flight between Manila and Bali (Denpasar), Indonesia last Saturday in time for peak summer travel. “Bali is now a convenient and affordable option for leisure travelers, honeymooners, groups of friends or families. Cebu Pacific also aims to tap foreign tourists in Bali who wish to make the most of their holidays, by adding fun Philippines to their travel itineraries,” Iyog said. Bali (Denpasar) is Cebu Pacific’s 20th international destination and the second in Indonesia. In the Philippines, the airline offers the most extensive domestic network of 34 destinations and 62 routes. Aside from Bali (Denpasar), it offers 20 other international destinations, including Osaka, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul. On the other hand, PAL has asked the CAB to reallocate one frequency unutilized entitlement to Doha, Qatar. Last March 6, PAL launched six new destinations including Kuala Lumpur (May 1); Brisbane, Darwin and Perth in Australia and Guangzhou, China (June 1); and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Oct. 1) brining to 34 its total number of international destinations (including Manila).
PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang earlier said the airline is likely to return to profitability in 2014 after cutting by half its losses this year with its ongoing re‐fleeting program involving the acquisition of 100 new aircraft. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/03/19/921295/pal‐cebu‐pac‐seek‐new‐routes‐more‐countries
Aboitiz unit provides two power barges for Mindanao By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am MANILA, Philippines ‐ Power barge operator Therma Marine, a subsidiary of AboitizPower, said its two power plants in Mindanao are now running on a 24‐hours basis to augment the thinning power supply in the island. Therma Marine chief operating officer Jovy Batiquin said that despite being a peaking plant ‐‐ which is supposed to provide back‐up and ancillary power to the grid – the company has become a major source of power for electric cooperatives. “With no other capacity left to help the electric cooperatives, we are now running almost like a baseload power plant,” Batiquin said. Therma Marine produces 200 megawatts from its power barges in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte and Maco, Compostela Valley provinces. These power barges supply power to 23 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities, to complement supply coming from state‐owned National Power Corp. (Napocor). Napocor supplies majority of the power supply to all the power cooperatives and utilities in Mindanao. This supply, however, is not enough to meet growing demand in Mindanao. As such, cooperatives in the island are also relying on Therma Marine to lessen the power curtailments and shorten the blackouts in some areas. “Unfortunately, Therma Marine is already fully‐contracted and we could no longer produce more and supply more power to electric cooperatives despite many requests for additional capacity,” Batiquin said. The extended running hours, poses a challenge to the company especially in terms of manpower as well as on maintenance and spare parts, Batiquin said. He said this trend is likely to continue until major power plants come in by 2015. In terms of electricity cost, Therma Marine said 90 percent of its rate is on fuel, which is a pass‐through rate. “The remaining 10 percent goes to us for salaries, maintenance, spare parts and capital recovery,” he said.
With the summer months expected to affect the water levels in Lake Lanao and the power output of the Agus‐Pulangi complex, Therma Marine expects “challenging times” to continue for the rest of the year. AboitizPower is the holding company for the Aboitiz Group’s power generation, distribution, retail and power services business. It has hydroelectric and geothermal assets in its generation portfolio and also has fossil‐fired power plants located across the country. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/03/19/921294/aboitiz‐unit‐provides‐two‐power‐barges‐ mindanao
55% of ARMM forests denuded Category: Regions Published on Monday, 18 March 2013 19:34 Written by Antonio Rimando / Correspondent LAMITAN CITY, Basilan—The rampant illegal cutting of trees by unscrupulous individuals has denuded close to 55 percent of the remaining forests in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This was disclosed here recently by ARMM’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Hadji Kahal Kedtag prompting, he said, OIC‐Gov. Mujib Hataman to issue an executive order calling for a total log ban in all the forests in the five provinces of the region. Kedtag said based on the latest monitoring by DENR personnel in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi‐Tawi, barely 45 percent of the region’s forested areas remain untouched, including watershed and forest reserves. He identified Basilan as having the biggest denuded forest area among the five provinces, motivating the DENR provincial officer to dispatch a memorandum creating a Provincial Anti‐Illegal Logging Task Force to monitor and prevent the further illegal cutting of naturally growing trees in this island. Kedtag said his office has implemented the government’s National Greening Program (NGP), which, among other things, enjoins all local and national government employees and members of civil‐society organizations to undertake mass tree‐planting activities in bare forest areas. Seedlings of mahogany, a fast‐growing tree specie, are now being propagated in various nurseries from all ARMM provinces, Kedtag said, adding that Maguindano has seven nurseries while the other ARMM areas have two nurseries each. “We aim to raise millions of tree seedlings so we can later plant them in our denuded forest,” he said. Kedtag said there is no letup in the region’s information and dissemination campaign asking those who have vast plantations of trees to register their areas with the DENR “to avoid future problems arising from the cutting of planted trees in their respective areas.” http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/regions/10792‐55‐of‐armm‐forests‐denuded
P170‐M infra projects scheduled in Basilan Category: Regions Published on Monday, 18 March 2013 18:56 Written by Antonio P. Rimando / Correspondent LAMITAN CITY, Basilan—The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has scheduled the construction of three major infrastructure projects—including three bridges—with an aggregate cost of close to P170 million here and other neighboring towns in this province. Acting ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said separate public biddings on the projects were earlier conducted here with him and Public Works and Highways Regional Sec. Emil Sadain later signing the contracts with the winning contractors. Hataman said the first project involves the P22.3‐million upgrading of a portion of a national road connecting Lamitan to Tuburan town; the second consists of the P55‐million concreting of a municipal road linking Sumisip town to barangay Buli‐Buli; and the third comprises the P92‐million construction of the three bridges in the municipalities of Bacung, Limbo Candis and Giong to interconnect them to several barangays and sitios. Sadain said the upgrading works of the Lamitan‐Tuburan highway was awarded to the Basilan C&J Construction while the road project bidding in Sumisip was won jointly by BSP Company and Abubakar Engineering. ESR Construction topped the bidding for the construction of the bridges, Sadain said, adding that the bidding process on all the three projects was observed for the first time by members of the local media and non‐government organizations in line with Hataman’s policy of transparency. Hataman expressed confidence that the completion of the three major projects would not only help hasten the socio‐economic growth and development of Basilan, considered the native home of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf rebels, but also improve the peace‐and‐order condition in this island province. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/regions/10812‐p170‐m‐infra‐projects‐scheduled‐in‐ basilan
New COA exec vows strict watch on GAD spending Category: Economy Published on Monday, 18 March 2013 20:13 Written by Max V. de Leon THE third lady commissioner appointed to the Commission on Audit (COA) has committed to strictly guard against state agencies that are not properly using their allocations for gender awareness and development (GAD) programs. “My priority is to monitor the utilization of GAD budget in the bureaucracy,” newly appointed COA Commissioner Maria Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon said. Guanzon was sworn into office by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno on Monday. Guanzon is known as a litigation lawyer in the pioneer field of gender discrimination and violence against women. GAD has long been a passionate cause of the new COA commissioner. According to the web site of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law where she is a professor, Guanzon has written three books connected to the subject: Engendering the Philippine Judiciary published by the United Nations Fund for Women and the UP Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, The Davide Court: Its Contributions to Gender and Women’s Rights published by The Asia Foundation and UP Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, and The Anti‐Violence Against Women and Their Children Act. She has published articles on the Anti‐Violence Against Women and Their Children Act in the Journal of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. She also wrote A Primer on The Anti‐Violence Against Women and Their Children and the Barangay Protection Order, published by the UP Law Center. She is a founding member of the Asia Cause Lawyers Network Gender Justice Network, and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Dissimination Again Woman Watch. Guanzon graduated in the top 10 of her Class in the UP College of Law and has a degree in Economics also from the UP. She has a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where she was an Edward Mason fellow and class marshal. Max V. de Leon http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/economy/10814‐new‐coa‐exec‐vows‐strict‐watch‐on‐ gad‐spending
DOE creates smart grid committee for power industry Category: Economy Published on Monday, 18 March 2013 20:11 Written by Lenie Lectura / Reporter AN interagency committee shall be created by the government to craft a comprehensive smart grid policy framework and road map for the power industry. The Department of Energy (DOE) will be part of the committee. Other government agencies that will be participating include the National Power Corp., National Transmission Corp., National Electrification Administration, National Grid Corp. of the Philippines and Philippine Electricity Market Corp., a circular from the DOE stated. The committee shall invite other government agencies and the private sector to assist in the development of the proposed policy and road map and it shall “tap funding from bilateral or multilateral funding institution willing to finance smart grid initiatives.” It is also tasked to formulate and prepare the transition policies and guidelines for the effective implementation of the smart grid by all electric power‐industry participants, namely, generation companies, transmission company, market operator, distribution utilities, power suppliers, consumers and other network service providers. Smart grid is a multi‐technology innovation that builds intelligence into the electricity network so distribution utilities like Meralco have access to real‐time feedback on network conditions, consequently minimizing outages and significantly improving restoration and complaints handling. The circular stated that the committee “shall propose the national strategy for the smart grid for the period until 2030 with major consideration on the possible impact to the price of electricity.” The road map shall also include success criteria, timelines and coverage, business case framework, integration for low‐carbon technologies, among others. According to Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, a smart grid policy and a road map are vital “in order to encourage greater participation from all stakeholders of the electric power industry.” The road map itself will promote technology innovation, business growth and job creation thereby enhancing regional and global competitiveness of power industry players.
Meralco is already involved in the promotion of smart grid technology and has engaged various stakeholders on discussions on its proposed company‐wide smart grid road map. The said technology will allow Meralco to offer prepaid electricity to its customers. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/economy/10813‐doe‐creates‐smart‐grid‐committee‐for‐ power‐industry
ADB warns East Asia vs capital inflows Category: Top News Published on Monday, 18 March 2013 22:25 Written by Bloomberg News CAPITAL inflows into emerging East Asia risk flooding the region with cash, creating asset bubbles, as investors seek higher returns from the fast‐growing economies, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Outstanding local‐currency debt in the region rose 12 percent to $6.5 trillion in 2012, and increased foreign participation has reduced yields, the Manila‐based lender said in its quarterly Asia Bond Monitor released on Monday. Authorities have taken measures to curb inflows, with Taiwan’s central bank telling lawmakers in a March 15 report that global “hot money” has overtaken economic fundamentals in determining the direction of Asian currency and stock markets. “These developments might put upward pressure on exchange rates, making exports less competitive,” the ADB said in the report led by Thiam Hee Ng, senior economist at its regional economic integration office in Manila. “There are concerns that higher levels of liquidity could lead to excess credit growth, thus fueling asset‐price bubbles in the region.” Six of the region’s currencies are among the top 10 performers among emerging markets in the past year, led by advances of 5.8 percent for the Philippine peso and 4.3 percent for Thailand’s baht. Yuan positions at local lenders accumulated from sales of foreign exchange to the central bank, an indicator of cross‐border inflows to China, rose a record 684 billion yuan ($110 billion) in January, official data showed on March 5. Average yield The average yield on Asia’s local‐currency debt fell 36 basis points, or 0.36 percentage point, in the past year to 3.6 percent on March 14, according to indexes compiled by HSBC Holdings Plc. A key consideration in managing capital inflows for several of the small and open economies of the region is to have well‐developed and liquid government bond markets, the ADB said in Monday’s report. The lender classifies emerging East Asia as comprising China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Developing Asian economies will grow 6.6 percent in 2013, bolstered by private consumption and investment, the ADB said in December. Bloomberg News http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐news/10830‐adb‐warns‐east‐asia‐vs‐capital‐inflows
ADB notes PHL great potential for growth Category: Top News Published on Monday, 18 March 2013 22:24 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter THE Philippines was the second fastest‐growing bond market in emerging East Asia in 2012, according to a report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Monday. In its latest Asia Bond Monitor, the ADB noted that the Philippine bond market grew 20.5 percent last year. Vietnam had the fastest‐growing bond market, which expanded by 42.7 percent in 2012. “Some of the rapid growth of the Vietnamese and Philippine bond markets reflected the fact that these are the two smallest markets in the region, and thus have great potential for further growth and development, especially in their nascent corporate‐bond sectors,” the report read. The ADB, however, said the growth of these two markets’ government‐bond sectors was the result of significant borrowing requirements in 2012. “The Philippine budget deficit for full‐year 2012 is 2.3 percent of gross domestic product [GDP], up slightly from 2 percent in 2011, reflecting, in part, an uptick in infrastructure investment in 2012,” the report further read. The ADB said emerging East Asia’s local currency bond markets continued to expand in 2012, signaling ongoing investor interest in the region’s fast‐growing economies but also raising the risk of asset‐price bubbles. “Emerging East Asia is much more resilient than it used to be but governments still need to be careful that the surge in capital inflows doesn’t fuel excessive rises in asset prices and that they are prepared for a possible reversal in the flows when the economies of the US and Europe pick up again,” said Thiam Hee Ng, senior economist in the ADB’s Office of Regional Economic Integration. By the end of 2012, emerging East Asia had $6.5 trillion in outstanding local currency bonds versus $5.7 trillion at the end of 2011. That marked a quarterly increase of 3.0 percent and an annual increase of 12.1 percent in local currency terms. The corporate markets, though smaller than the government‐bond markets, drove the increase, growing 6.2 percent on quarter and 18.6 percent on year to $2.3 trillion. Emerging East Asia is defined as the People’s Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; the Republic of Korea; Malaysia; the Philippines; Singapore; Thailand; and Vietnam. Investors have been putting their money to work in emerging East Asia since the early 1990s, but the flows picked up pace in recent years because of low interest rates and slow or negative economic
growth in developed economies, while emerging East Asia has enjoyed high growth rates and appreciating currencies. Investment is increasingly coming from overseas, with foreign ownership in most emerging East Asia local currency bond markets increasing in the second half of 2012. In Indonesia, for example, overseas investors held 33 percent of outstanding government bonds at the end of 2012, while foreign holdings of Malaysian government bonds had reached 28.5 percent of the total at the end of September 2012. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐news/10829‐adb‐notes‐phl‐great‐potential‐for‐ growth
PHL boosts domestic debt, shuns global bonds Category: Top News Published on Monday, 18 March 2013 22:08 THE Philippines will boost domestic bond sales to the most next quarter since 2005 as it seeks to raise nearly all of its debt requirements locally amid record‐low interest rates and a strengthening peso. The Bureau of Treasury will increase borrowing via debt auctions to P150 billion ($3.7 billion) from P120 billion in the three months through June, National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said in a memo to dealers on Monday. At each of three monthly auctions, the government will offer P30 billion of either three‐, five‐ or seven‐year bonds and P20 billion of bills, according to the memo. Some P25 billion of bonds and P15 billion of bills were sold at the offers this quarter. The Philippines has informed the central bank it would raise almost 100 percent of its debt needs locally in 2013, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told reporters on Monday, ending a decade‐long run of global sales. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas cut the rate on P1.86 trillion of funds in its special deposit accounts (SDA) last week and may limit access to its reverse‐repurchase facility to help manage capital inflows, Monetary Board Member Felipe Medalla said separately. “There might be a movement of funds from the SDA to the auction,” de Leon said in a March 15 interview. “We’re still seeing oversubscription in auctions so yields won’t necessarily go up even if we increase the volume.” Bonds decline The country plans to borrow P730 billion of debt this year, compared with P717 billion in 2012 that included $1.5 billion of dollar bonds, de Leon said earlier this month. The P150‐billion target is the biggest since at least 2005, based on comparable data available on the Treasury’s web site. The yield on the 5.875‐percent bonds due January 2018 rose 10 basis points to 3.27 percent, according to midday fixing prices at Philippine Dealing & Exchange Corp. The rate is at the highest level in more than a week. The peso fell 0.3 percent to 40.713 per dollar, according to data from Tullett Prebon Plc. It remains the best performer among emerging markets in the past 12 months, gaining 5.7 percent. President Aquino’s administration is narrowing the budget deficit as a proportion of GDP, extending debt maturities and cutting foreign‐currency risks in pursuit of an investment‐ grade credit rating. The $225‐billion economy expanded at the fastest pace in two years in 2012, surpassing neighbors in Southeast Asia, helped by a record‐low 3.5‐percent benchmark rate and inflation near the lower end of a 3‐percent to 5‐percent target range.
Maturities lengthen The average maturity of Philippine notes has lengthened to 10.4 years from 6.7 years in 2010 after several bond exchanges, de Leon said on March 15. The ratio of debt to gross domestic product (GDP) was 51.4 percent at the end of 2012, compared with 54.7 percent in 2008, she said. “The additional supply is well within their borrowing program, and amid benign inflation and ample liquidity,” said Michael Calleja, treasury head at the Manila‐based Bank of the Philippine Islands. “The plan will also support the recent cut in the SDA as the belly sector can be an alternative destination for the funds,” he said, referring to securities with maturities of three to seven years. The Philippines has the highest junk rating at Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. The Treasury is studying the sale of inflation‐linked bonds and plans to offer retail notes in the latter part of 2013, de Leon said. It will continue to repurchase expensive foreign‐ currency bonds “if opportunities are present” and doesn’t discount conducting a debt exchange to further extend maturity, she said. ‘Important pillar’ “Significant progress” has been made in shifting toward a so‐called single‐price convention that will add liquidity to the bond market by letting tax‐exempt institutions like state‐owned pension funds trade, de Leon said. The Philippine bond market remains one of the smallest in the region and was “relatively stagnant” at 37.7 percent of GDP in 2012, from 36 percent in 2007, she said. That compares with 75 percent in Thailand, 85.3 percent in Singapore and 106.6 percent in Malaysia, according to the treasurer. Average interest on domestic debt has dropped to 6.5 percent from 7.1 percent in 2010, de Leon said. Treasury bill yields fell to all‐time lows this quarter, with the 91‐day notes at a record 0.05 percent in February. “We have our eyes on not only deepening the market but making sure we are creating the right structure within the Philippine bond market,” Purisima said. “The bond market is an important pillar if we are to build a sustainable infrastructure for growth of the economy.” http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐news/10824‐phl‐boosts‐domestic‐debt‐shuns‐ global‐bonds http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐news/10824‐phl‐boosts‐domestic‐ debt‐shuns‐global‐bonds
Improving employment via massive infrastructure Category: Opinion Published on Monday, 18 March 2013 19:41 Written by Manny B. Villar / Entrepreneur
LAST week I talked about revitalizing the industry sector, particularly manufacturing, to improve our employment situation. Actually, this is one of three approaches I have in mind to increase employment generation and make economic growth inclusive, which means spreading the benefits of growth to all sectors of the population. The second approach to improving employment is massive infrastructure. I don’t mean just the high‐ profile Public‐Private Partnership (PPP) Program, but all infrastructure programs, particularly the regular infrastructure activities of the Department of Public Works and Highways and other agencies. Compared to our neighbors, we’re behind when it comes to infrastructure development. This is also one reason we’re not attracting as much foreign direct investments as they do. So we will be shooting three birds when we address our infrastructure problem: drive economic growth, attract more investments and create employment. The second annual assessment of Arangkada Philippines, a compilation of 471 recommendations from the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC), points out, among other things, that the Philippines has been under‐ investing in physical infrastructure, with spending averaging 2 percent to 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for the last 10 years. That assessment was first submitted by Arangkada Philippines to the government in 2010. It identified infrastructure as one of the “seven big winners” that will propel the Philippine economy to fast‐paced growth. The other winners are agribusiness, business‐process outsourcing, creative industries, manufacturing and logistics, mining and tourism, medical, travel and retirement. And it cited the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, which ranks the country’s overall infrastructure quality below that of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and close to Vietnam.
During the Philippine Development Forum last month, the World Bank proposed the doubling of infrastructure spending to at least 5 percent of GDP to support inclusive growth. The multilateral institution stressed that better infrastructure is essential to inclusive development. In Mindanao, the World Bank said, infrastructure development will produce the added dividends of stability and peace. The good news is that the government is already increasing spending on infrastructure. According to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), infrastructure spending will be steadily increased from P249 billion in 2012 (2.6 percent of GDP) to reach P698 billion (5 percent of GDP) by 2016. In the past two‐and‐a‐half years, the Neda Board has confirmed 61 projects approved by the Investment Coordination Committee, of which 70 percent, or P425 billion, are infrastructure‐related and amount to P425 billion. The P2.01‐trillion national government budget for 2013 includes P404.6 billion for infrastructure, according to the Department of Budget and Management. The amount may be raised with additional revenues from the higher taxes on tobacco and liquor. I agree with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad that the increase in the infrastructure budget will have a significant impact on employment. In addition to government revenues, the JFC noted that substantial resources are available in the private sector. It cited the P2.0 trillion currently deposited in special deposit accounts with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as well as in Reverse Repurchase Agreements, which the joint chambers said is more than enough to fund all PPP projects in the pipeline. The PPP can be a major contributor to infrastructure development, if it can be accelerated. Only two PPP projects were awarded in the past two years: the Daang Hari‐South Luzon Expressway project and phase 1 of the PPP for School Infrastructure Project. According to the 2013 Arangkada assessment, two big‐ticket rail projects (LRT 1 South and LRT 2 East Extensions) and the Cavite‐Laguna—Cala Expressway—project were ready for bidding as early as 2010. LRT 1 South was tendered in November 2012. In January 2013 Cala was approved for bidding. Obviously, we need to speed up the implementation of PPP projects to contribute to job generation. According to the World Bank, the Philippine economy must provide employment for 14.6 million Filipinos who would be looking for work by 2016. For comments/feedback e‐mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may view previous columns at www.senatormannyvillar. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/opinion/10801‐improving‐employment‐via‐massive‐ infrastructure
Environmental destruction goes unchecked Category: Opinion Published on Monday, 18 March 2013 19:40 Written by Ernesto Hilario / About Town
ON March 1 a landslide occurred at the geothermal complex of the Energy Development Corp. (EDC) in Kananga, Leyte, resulting in the death of 14 workers who were building a concrete shelter to protect the steam pipeline in the facility. The tragedy took place in an area identified by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as a “red zone” or high‐risk area vulnerable to landslides. In the wake of the incident, acting Leyte Gov. Mimiette Bagulaya, the departments of Energy, Labor and Employment, as well as the DENR, launched separate investigations. The DOLE and DOE ordered an indefinite stoppage of work at the site of the landslide and directed the EDC, First Balfour and JA Arradaza Construction to submit documents on their compliance with labor laws and safety standards. The victims were workers of JA Arradaza Construction, a subcontractor of First Balfour Corp. for its civil works in the EDC facility. First Balfour is the general contractor of EDC. First Balfour and EDC are both owned by the Lopez group of companies. The lethal landslide has raised doubts on the commitment of these companies to a number of issues, such as transparency and accountability, safety in the workplace and environmental protection. Media reports indicated that after the tragedy, EDC/First Balfour prohibited authorities, volunteers and the media from going to the scene of the landslide, quite possibly to sanitize the area ahead of the official investigations. It is said that two workers could have been saved had the area not been declared off‐limits to outsiders. The two firms deployed 45 workers to build a riprap to protect the steam pipes of the complex amid heavy rains in an area that the DENR had pinpointed as an environmental high‐risk area. The workers were sent to the site without adequate safety gear, resulting in severe burns from the steam that leaked out of damaged pipes. Apart from all this, a toxic chemical called boron that had leaked out from the busted pipeline is reported to have spilled into a nearby river that farmers use to irrigate their crops.
The incident at the EDC geothermal facility in Kananga, Leyte, underscores what observers believe is a pattern of environmental degradation by Lopez‐owned firms. According to the Save Mount Kanlaon Coalition, the Northern Negros Geothermal Power Plant (NNGPP) cut down thousands of trees and dislocated flora and fauna in the area, resulting in environmental ruin. The occupants of West Tower Condominium in Bangkal, Makati City, were driven out of their units three years ago when the oil pipeline of another Lopez‐owned company, First Philippine Industrial Corp. (FPIC), developed a leak and contaminated the water underground. While FPIC says the fuel leak has been plugged, the residents still cannot go back to their units, as the gas cloud from contaminants has not been removed, posing a clear and present threat to the health and safety of residents. In Palawan another Lopez‐owned entity, the ABS‐CBN Foundation’s Bantay Kalikasan, has been accused of illegally occupying an area considered a sacred tribal ground in Brooke’s Point and constructing a resort in Sabsaban Falls where they cut trees and built cottages without the consent of the indigenous peoples in the area. According to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, the resort should be closed down because of the absence of a permit from the council, which requires a Strategic Investment Plan clearance from any private or government project in Palawan’s forest areas under Republic Act 7611. The apparent failure of the Lopez‐owned firms to protect the environment is not in consonance with the public image of a prominent member of the family who has been championing various environmental projects, such as the cleanup of the Pasig River, but has chosen to remain silent over violations of environmental laws by family‐owned firms. The DENR has been running after Philex Mining for polluting a river near its Padcal mining site and even imposed more than P1 billion in fines for the environmental damage. The government has also ordered the closure of the coal‐mining site of Semirara Mining Corp. in Caluya, Antique, after a section of the open‐pit mine collapsed in February, killing five workers. Will the DENR apply the law evenhandedly and thoroughly investigate the Lopez‐owned firms for environmental destruction in at least three instances, or will these be conveniently shelved? (Email: email@example.com) http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/opinion/10799‐environmental‐destruction‐goes‐ unchecked
P10B in CCT aid for farmers sought Groups say tillers need to compete vs smuggling By Niña P. Calleja Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:37 pm | Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 While government officials forecast food sufficiency this year, farmers’ groups alleged that rice tillers are reeling from an oversupply of rice stocks, a scenario that may lead to another food crisis. As a remedy, officials of party‐list groups and nongovernment organizations are calling on the government to allocate P10 billion from the conditional cash transfer (CCT) fund for rice farmers hurt by continued smuggling of rice. At a press briefing, officials of Abono and Butil party‐list groups, Confederation of Irrigators Association and Pangasinan‐based Cherries Cons Cooperative and Caflorescan Multipurpose Cooperative claimed smuggling has been widespread in areas like Pangasinan, La Union, Nueva Ecija and Baguio. “If smuggling is widespread, who will buy our local farmers’ produce?” Abono chair Rosendo So said. He said the oversupply of rice stocks demoralizes farmers and discourages them from planting again in the next cropping season. This could lead to a rice crisis when the government would be forced to import more rice due to a shortage in local supply. “We are drowning in rice that can’t be sold in the market,” said Herculano Co, head of Philippine Confederation of Grains. Asked for proof, So said: “The proof is right inside the mills,” noting the irony that there is a shortage of darak or rice wastes when there is an oversupply of milled rice. “That is an indicator of a widespread smuggling,” he said. On Tuesday, industry stakeholders signed a manifesto asking the government to expand the CCT and provide subsidies to rice farmers. “We call on President Aquino to order the Department of Social Welfare and Development to include farmers in the government’s conditional cash transfer program or CCT,” the manifesto said. The industry stakeholders said 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 the expected price dip due to the flooding of the market with smuggled rice.
“Doing so 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,” read the manifesto. Jojo Soliman, vice chair of Alliance of Grain Industry Stakeholders of the Philippines, called on the government to grant police power to the National Food Authority (NFA) to allow the agency to seize and confiscate smuggled rice. “The stakeholders are requesting the Office of the President to give police powers to the Department of Agriculture through the NFA to be able to monitor all incoming rice shipments,” Soliman said. The groups noted that the price of palay has already dropped from P18 per kilo last year to about P15.50 per kilo. Rice bran or darak prices, on the other hand, shot up to P14 per kilo from P10. The NFA allotted a P10.9‐billion budget for the procurement of 615,985 metric tons of palay from farmers this year, only 3 percent of the total harvest of the farmers. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/361579/p10b‐in‐cct‐aid‐for‐farmers‐sought#ixzz2NwzFKmVx Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Viewpoint Getting the message By Juan Mercado Cebu Daily News 7:43 am | Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 On Thursday, 193 United Nations member‐states will mark the “International Day of Forests.” That includes a Philippines stripped to only a fifth of it’s original 27.5 million hectares of tree cover. There’s no other way but up. Asia and the Pacific are starting to reverse forest loss, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports in “Forest Beneath the Grass” ( 2011). They gained 2.2 million hectares of trees. Spurred by private groups, a delayed yet promising start to reforestation is underway here. “A ‘phoenix forest’ is emerging,” writes hydrologist and research director Pedro Walpole, SJ. Regeneration is taking place as old secondary forests regain their original stature… But they need a nurturing hand.” President Benigno Aquino plowed an unprecedented P54 billion to back a National Greening Program, notes former FAO forester Napoleon Vergara. Will this enable our forests to catch up with bolting temperatures? The world is “warmer now than at any time in at least 4,000 years,” the Journal Science reported Friday. Thursday’s rites will include usual recitals of squandering forest wealth. There’s no shortage of hard data, including plunder by the timber mafia. Studies come from the University of the Philippines to the World Bank. The last “virgin” forests in Samar, meanwhile, are chainsawed by Juan Ponce Enrile’s logging firm. We were the “first Asian country to liquidate its forest wealth after World War II,” FAO notes. One of the top three log exporting “prima donnas” in 1974, we’re now a timber importing pauper. Reforestation efforts were erratic. And tree survival rates are low. Under the Arroyo administration, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources salaries chewed up 72 centavos out of every peso. These impersonal statistics acquire human immediacy in the 2008 book: “Forest Faces: Hopes and Regrets in Philippine Forestry.” It portrays 53 Filipinos—from scientist, rebel, T‐boli leader to cardinal. “If we don’t do the impossible now, we shall face the unthinkable soon,” they agree. “The scale of forest loss irrevocably altered the identity of many Filipinos,” says this bookco‐published by the Environmental Science for Social Change at Ateneo University and FAO. “Today’s degraded forests reflect a history of logging and abandonment…Degradation of vital watersheds continue. Encroachments wreck ill‐protected areas, though they’re are at the core of receding biodiversity.” “Hunger defines our lives,” says South Cotabato’s Tboli leader Timbang Tungkay. His people used mountain forests down to Allah river until lowland migrants shoved them off the land. Stretching over months, gutom unleashes high infant death rates. “The forest always had a human face” writes development planner George Aseniero. “And it was always Jose Rizal’s forest,” referring to the hero’s poems of forests in Dapitan and Mount Makiling “A fiesta culture can sap shape strategic coherent action,” Walpole cautions. “We lack a common perception as to what lessons (were) learned, We live by anecdote and the hope of sunrise….”
Surging temperatures, however, can focus the mind. Over the coming decades temperatures are “likely to surpass levels not seen on the planet since before the last ice age,” cautions Pennsylvania State University’s Michael Mann. Previous research extended back roughly 1,500 years. “We and other living things can adapt—to slower changes.” The World Bank makes that point in its report “Turn Down The Heat.” Current efforts to tamp down global warming below a 2‐degrees‐Celsius increase are faltering, it says. A 4‐degrees‐Celsius hotter world will wreak havoc everywhere. “Things can get ugly fast.” In the last three years, typhoons Sendong, then Pablo followed by Crising slammed Mindanao—a region where typhoons hit, at most, once every 12 years or so. There is no guarantee another one won’t barrel down this track again in 2013. “How do we explain the decreasing number of years in occurrence of destructive typhoons affecting southern Philippines?” marine scientist and Magsaysay Awardee Angel Alcala asks. “Since the 1980s, typhoons hitting the country below the 10‐degree latitude seem to be increasing in frequency at year’s end.” Skim through the March 2013 World Bank report on “Wetlands under threat from Sea Level Rise” in 76 countries. Sea level rise of one meter from higher temperatures is likely to destroy 60 percent of the developing world’s wetlands. Annual cost: $630 million US dollars per year. Sea level rise is unstoppable and will continue for several centuries. In Asia, China and Vietnam will bear the brunt of the losses. Lakes and low lying coastlands in the Philippines will be affected. “Wetland mangrove ecosystems in some Pacific low‐lying nations will succumb to rising seas. “To survive, their population and culture will have to migrate elsewhere.” “Rainfall is changing in Mindanao,” climatologist Jesus Ramon Villarin earlier wrote. This Jesuit priest explored rainfall patterns in Mindanao over the last 50 years through light detection and ranging lasers. The impact of altered precipitation “on croplands on Cotabato and other major river basins will be considerable….” On the eve of 2013’s “International Day of Forests,” Geophysical Research Letters will publish a British weather service study. Somalia’s 2011 famine, where almost 100,000 died, stemmed partly rains that petered out because of the La Niña weather pattern, it says. Changing rainfall patterns are creating major food problems. Are we getting the message—finally ?
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Cebu, Davao seen to host next‐generation CBDs Both areas have various emerging urban districts Cebu Daily News 7:27 am | Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 Property experts are looking beyond Metro Manila for the next emerging central business districts (CBDs). But where in the islands would that be? Claro dG Cordero Jr., Jones Lang La Salle’s head of research, consulting and valuation in the Philippines, told Inquirer Property that “Cebu and Davao have the potential to be the locations of the next big CBDs, due to the level of economic and commercial activities in these two areas.” “In fact, both Cebu and Davao have various emerging urban districts (EUDs),” he added. Cordero explained that in Cebu, aside from the Cebu Business Park and the Cebu IT Park (both developed by Ayala Land) which can be considered the traditional CBD areas, new EUDs are being developed by property giants SM Group (in the South Reclamation Project); Robinsons Land (on Maxilom Avenue); and Megaworld (at the Mactan Newtown Center in Lapu‐Lapu City). Cordero said the Filinvest Land project in the South Reclamation Project could also be considered as another EUD in Cebu. Karlo Pobre, Colliers International’s research and advisory services manager, also gives a thumbs up for Cebu. “I think Cebu is somehow a few years younger than Metro Manila, but the current rapid rate of development suggests that it can grow faster moving forward.” Pobre explained that there has been the emergence of major business districts, pioneered by the Cebu Park District, now followed by the Mactan Newtown and the 300‐hectare South Road Properties. For completed residential condominiums, the supply grew rapidly by an average of 60 percent annually since the first project in 2005. Enrique M. Soriano III, Ateneo program director for real estate and senior adviser for Wong+Bernstein Business Advisory, pointed out that a CBD serves as the “focal point” of a city; the commercial, office, retail and cultural center, and usually the hub for transportation networks. So much promise “Cebu, Davao and even Iloilo offer so much promise as the next‐generation CBDs. However, it will only happen if—and it’s a big if—the city mayors, urban planners and eco‐developers get their acts together. When that happens, these strategic areas may just be the next‐wave cities in 2020,” said Soriano. David Leechiu, Jones Lang La Salle country head, said that Cebu and Davao are, indeed, promising, but “Cebu is limited to the business and IT parks.” “Davao is looked upon as the next labor frontier since it is perceived to be an untapped labor market. In Davao, many of the clients we have brought there have doubled in size in less than two years,” Leechiu said. Cordero said that in Davao, the emerging business districts are those that are being developed by SM Group (the SM City Lanang development), Ayala Land (the Abreeza development) and the Villar group (the Northpoint development).
He said that both Abreeza and the SM City Lanang development consist of retail, hotel and office developments. Abreeza also has residential condominium development towers, while SM City Lanang has convention center facilities. Pobre said that at present, the total residential stock in all of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu‐lapu cities is at 6,765 units, roughly about the size of Eastwood City. By the end of 2013, it would grow to the size of Ortigas Center. By 2015, it is expected to grow by over 70 percent. “Meanwhile, Cebu likewise has its own share of the office market, which is still mainly driven by the BPO (business process outsourcing) industry. In 2012 alone, there have been 80,000 square meters of leasable office space, or about seven new buildings delivered, some 150,000 sq m more are expected to be completed by 2014. Currently, the average rental rate in Cebu is similar to that of Ortigas, between P400 and P600 per sq m per month,” Pobre revealed. Tourism market Pobre said that Cebu is more appealing compared to Metro Manila when it comes to tourism. “Even the frequently visiting Japanese and Koreans have found Cebu as their new home, which reflects in their acquisition of leisure residential units, particularly in the cities of Mactan and Lapu‐Lapu.” He added that the best thing about Cebu is its “business‐plus‐leisure environment.” “You can be in your office the whole day, but find yourself enjoying a drink in Mactan Shangri‐La in the evening; or at least an escape to the nearby beaches and islands during the weekends, which you can hardly do in Metro Manila,” said Pobre. Cordero said the emergence of EUDs in Cebu and Davao presents local businesses an alternative to the traditional business districts in city centers, by offering masterplanned communities and high‐quality space and accommodation. “These EUDs are not at all different to the early years of the established CBDs in Metro Manila (such as Makati and Ortigas CBDs). These EUDs will eventually attract businesses and companies to locate in these areas. He stressed that what would make these different from the established CBDs is for these EUDs to properly implement the masterplan and carefully provide easy access by introducing new modes of transport, which have been commonly neglected in business districts,” said Cordero. /Tessa R. Salazar of inquirer.net
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Serious concerns By Danilo Suarez | Posted on Mar. 19, 2013 at 12:01am | 472 views
As we reach the final lap before the midterm elections in May, a validated measurable progress resulting from the Presidents slogan of anti-corruption still remains to be realized. While his perceived political opponents get slapped with every technicality under the law and blamed as conspirators or culprits for every crisis our country has encountered in the past three years, the same parameters are skewed and slanted to coddle and favor those on the inside. In the US Congress, the most powerful committee is like ours, the Appropriations Committee. Second is also like ours, the Oversight Committee. I was Chairman of the Oversight Committee for six years. Its function is to evaluate the performance of all government agencies. It puzzles me why this administration, which ran on the theme of “Tuwid na Daan,” would dissolve the oversight. Had not the leadership of the House of Representatives collapsed this committee, perhaps our government executives would be on their toes. While 50 percent of agencies are performing well, a good number which are vital and sensitive are performing below par. With the absence of an oversight committee, these agencies, led by those under the favored list of the President, are left to perpetuate their mediocrity at the expense of the Filipino people. The Bureau of Internal Revenue collected P1.058 trillion in 2012, missing its target by P8 billion. For 2013, the BIR is tasked to raise P1.24 trillion—16 percent higher than the P1.066-trillion goal of last year. This does not propose a stronger and more vigilant collection result, the increase only being corollary to the implementation of the sin taxes this year. Another thing is that most of its collections came from government institutions, which means that for these collections, the BIR did not really have to do anything. Sabi nga po sa Tagalog, matik na iyan. What we want to see is a more vibrant and pragmatic solution to big-time tax evaders. The Bureau of Customs has also been continually failing to comply with its collection targets. The challenges are indeed great—but not insurmountable. The government’s second-largest revenue agency after the BIR had set as its target for the year P347 billion, but collected only P287 billion in 2012, falling short by some P60 billion. This year, the BOC has set P397 billion as its target, but Commissioner Biazon has already given a good indication of its performance this year when he said that the target was too high. He has also been quoted describing the BOC’s assigned revenue goals as “stretched and unrealistic,”
rhetorically asking where Customs is supposed to get the amounts needed to fill in its ever increasing annual target. One significant action would be to step up its current initiatives against smuggling, which has gone unabated and even proliferated under this administration. Though the BOC has been attempting to plug revenue leakages with its Run After the Smugglers (RATS) program, most of the 107 anti-smuggling cases it has filed under RATS are still pending preliminary investigation. In a related manner, we mention the case of the more than 2000 missing container vans while these were being transshipped from Manila to the Port of Batangas between May and June in 2011. Within 61 days, the vans went missing at the rate of 32 vans a day. The case has not been resolved up to now. It boggles the mind how the bureau could misplace 2000 20-footer container vans and not have a lead after more than a year’s time. In the annual assessment of the progress made by the Philippines on economic reforms, The Arangkada Philippines Project of the Joint Foreign Chambers last February, rated efforts of the government to fight smuggling as “backward/regression.” The report estimated that the “smuggling hole” is worth $20 billion a year. Industry participants said it’s the manufacturing and farm sectors which suffer most from smuggling as smuggled products were not charged with the requisite duties and taxes and compete with locally-produced goods. In the forum where the report was presented, the president of the Chemical Industries Association of the Philippines underscored the need for an oversight committee which will monitor the Bureau of Customs activities. Similarly, University of Asia and the Pacific’s Center for Food and Agribusiness executive director Rolando Dy cited a study they made which examined the magnitude of smuggling in the Philippines in 2011. For that year, he said that 500,000 metric tons of palm oil left Malaysia as palm olein but only 350,000 tons arrived in the Philippines under a different value-added tax classification. Again, Dy underscored the need for “a serious oversight on the informal trade of farm products.” The Philippine Palm Oil Development Council Inc. has already expressed alarm that the market is now flooded with imported palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia, a fact which is further aggravated by “technical” smuggling, specifically the undervaluation of palm oil products. Additionally, Philippine coconut oil exports, accounting for more than half of global supply, have been shrinking as millions of trees are ageing and dying. Extreme weather is also blamed for the drop in output of coconut oil and other coconut products.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala was present in that forum and he is well informed about how smuggling is also seriously affecting the plight of the agricultural sector, particularly our 3.5 million coconut farmers who have been tremendously affected by the deteriorating prices of copra for the past three years. The lowest point was in October 2012 when prices reached P25 per kilo. Normally the difference between the mill gate price and the world market copra prices is usually between P5 and P7 per kilo. Therefore, the mill gate price today should be around P18 to P20 per kilo. Moreover, according to the Philippine Coconut Authority farm gate prices are generally P5 to P10 lower than the mill gate price. This means the farm gate price should be P8 at its lowest compared from P44 three years ago. These are serious concerns which Secretary Alcala can hopefully immediately and decisively address, and not with empty rhetoric. Much better, maybe the good secretary can exercise prudence and delicadeza and leave it to someone more capable than him, particularly as his integrity as a public servant is placed in serious difficulty with his pending graft case. The people are tired of incompetence, intramurals, indecisiveness, inaction, and the excuses and the arrogance. They suffer while the so-called top advisers are in knots when confronted by challenging problems. Midway into his full term, the President still seems oblivious to what are glaring facts to more than 90 million Filipinos—poverty has increased, joblessness and underemployment have increased, the economy has become lopsided to vested interests, taxes have increased with corruption gaining new heights, and hunger rates have gone much higher now than those recorded when there was a global recession. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/03/19/serious‐concerns/
Agricultural sector growth not maximized Published on 18 March 2013 Hits: 174 Written by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER The Philippine agricultural sector is a major challenge in the country’s economic development, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that the agricultural sector’s potential as a growth driver and source of poverty reduction is not being maximized. The agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing sector grew by only 2.7 percent in 2012. For its part, the NEDA is advocating an evidence-based program in agriculture for a sustained improvement in productivity and farm incomes, especially for small farmers. “We also want the National Food Authority to be strong in rice buffer stocking for emergency purposes and to focus its interventions and programs in areas that would enhance efficiency in the production, marketing and trade of rice,” said Balisacan, who is also the NEDA director general. He added that NEDA has never advocated a policy change that runs contrary to efficiency and poverty reduction objectives in agriculture. The Cabinet official said that the government needs to substantially improve productivity and raise farm incomes, especially among small farmers and landless workers, to make a big dent on poverty in rural areas where two of every three poor persons in the country are located. “This will require investment in long-term sources of growth, such as rural road infrastructure, irrigation, research and development, security of land rights and tenure, as well improving the access of farmers to credit and the global or national supply chains,” he stated. One of the thrusts in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) is the country’s development strategy for agriculture. The strategy involve three goals such as improved food security and increased farm household incomes; increased sector resilience to climate change risk; and enhanced policy environment and governance. Furthermore, Balisacan said that NEDA is focused on developing an enabling environment for food security. “Food security is not just guaranteeing availability of food at the national level but, more importantly, ensuring that food is accessible for all through low prices and improved purchasing power of buyers, including millions of small farmers who are net buyers of food,” said Balisacan. Also, he stressed that investments in infrastructure is a crucial area, particularly roads and bridges, that fit in the picture because this improves mobility of people, goods and services, thereby reducing the cost of doing business in rural areas. “We must also increase the sector’s resilience to climate change risk, and enhance the policy environment and governance through convergence of rural development agencies and through public-private partnerships in infrastructure and value chain development,” Balisacan said.
The Vatican and gay rights Published on 18 March 2013 Hits: 119 Written by ERNESTO F. HERRERA
Much has been said about the new Pope’s conservatism but what do we really expect from the Pope? Pope Francis, the former cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, leads a staunchly traditional and conservative Catholic Church. Is he expected to veer away from tradition? Is he expected to be a radical? The last pope with a liberal reform agenda was probably Pope John XXIII, who in 1959 called for what became the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II. Vatican II produced 16 documents that somewhat modernized or updated the Catholic Church to more or less how we know it today. But after John XXIII there have been moves to curtail and even roll back Vatican II reforms within the Vatican itself. Much has been reported about the precedent-setting ascension of Pope Francis to the papacy. He is the first Jesuit and Latin American to become pope. The Jesuit order was home to independent-minded and left-leaning intellectuals that once riled and clashed with the Vatican. And Latin America is the birthplace of liberation theology. Still, we doubt if there would be major upheavals in the Catholic Church’s doctrine regarding issues like contraception, celibacy, same-sex marriage as well as other gay issues under his watch. By May, France would likely become the 12th country in the world that allows gays and lesbians to legally wed. The French National Assembly had already passed a measure legalizing same-sex marriage last February although the bill still needs to win the approval of the French Senate and be signed by the president. The British House of Commons had also voted overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriage last February, and the bill is expected to pass their legislature and become law also by May this year. So the United Kingdom may soon be the 13th country to allow gays and lesbians to wed. Other countries that allow gay marriage are the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Denmark and Argentina, where the Pope hails from. In two other countries, the United States and Mexico, some jurisdictions have allowed gays and lesbians to wed, while others have not. So far, the Catholic hierarchy has assured no less than hellfire and eternal damnation for those Catholics who approve of homosexual marriages. The last Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, who once headed Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
wrote in 2003 (before he became Pope) a document entitled, “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons,” which, in no uncertain terms, told all Catholic politicians that supporting a law legalizing gay marriage would be contrary to their faith. “Considerations” began with the statement, “Homosexuality is a troubling moral and social phenomenon . . . ” and never let up. The paper called homosexuality “an anomaly”, “a serious depravity”, “intrinsically disordered” and “objectively disordered.” It gave Catholic legislators clear marching orders: “When legislation in favor of recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral. “When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. “Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil.” Will the new Pope say any differently? His record says no. In the debate leading up to the successful passage of same-sex-marriage legislation in Argentina, then-Cardinal Bergoglio was a strong and vocal opponent of the measure. This is why even as some gay Catholics and their respective organizations have welcomed Pope Francis’s papal election they aren’t hopeful he would be more welcoming towards them. Gays who already feel so distant with the Catholic hierarchy because of its homophobic pronouncements in the past are understandably wary. But who knows? God works in mysterious ways and a lot of strange things have happened in the evolution of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis may be conservative and it might take nothing short of a miracle to make him a Pope who is willing to listen more than antagonize, but I for one am a believer in miracles. A defender of the old order might just become a liberal reformer. And there are perhaps millions or billions of people around the world—Catholics and non-Catholics alike—who truly wish the newly-elected Pope Francis would lead the Catholic Church to a more accepting, transparent and less tarnished institution. Let us not forget that the Catholic Church is comprised of its faithful, its people, not just the Pope, cardinals and bishops who make up its hierarchy.
Earning money on electricity usage Published on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 00:00 By A Web design Company
To help reverse the effects of Climate Change by decreasing electric consumption, the Pasay City government recently launched the “Electric-Friendly Lifestyle Program”. Under the program, some 150 households from the 201 barangays are competing in a contest to decrease their electrical consumption from March 11 to December 2, the City’s 150th anniversary. Pasay City Mayor Antonino “Tony” Calixto said of the contest: “There are many ways to conserve electricity and it’s not only about turning off the lights or the aircon when you leave your house or office. It also means using energy efficient lighting apparatus, regulating the times when you use your high-consumption electrical appliances, and buying energy efficient appliances.” Under the contest, the 150 household-participants with the highest decline in kilowatt consumption will be named the winner. According to a 1995 Department of Energy report, the average electricity consumption per household was 423.1 kilowatts per month. Calixto said he is looking at a reduction in cumulative consumption of 1.3 megawatts by at least 30%. http://www.malaya.com.ph/index.php/news/nation/26782‐earning‐money‐on‐electricity‐usage
Monetary Board eyeing RRPs THE CENTRAL BANK could streamline its reverse repurchase (RRP) operations to keep funds from swamping the facility, a Monetary Board member yesterday said, following moves to rationalize special deposit accounts (SDAs). "There could be too much liquidity because of the SDA rate cut, so we may have to focus more on the RRPs," Monetary Board member Felipe M. Medalla said at the sidelines of the Asia Bond Monitor launch. Interest rates on SDAs were slashed by 50 basis points to 2.5% last week, further adding to reductions in January that led to a single 3% rate across all tenors. The fresh cut was prompted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) desire to push an estimated P1.855 trillion in SDAs out into the financial system to support consumption, investment and economic growth. There is the possibility that the funds will placed in RRPs instead, Mr. Medalla noted. Banks and trust entities can place money in the BSP by buying government securities, to be bought back at 3.5% -the overnight borrowing rate. "We don’t want the RRPs to mop up excess liquidity. When RRPs play a bigger role, then we would become more watchful," Mr. Medalla said. One option is to restrict foreign banks and trust entities from transacting in the RRP facility. "Currently they are not banned since total outstanding RRPs are relatively small at around P200 billion. But the day we decide that RRPs will play a bigger role, then we will be more watchful," Mr. Medalla said. Foreign funds have been inundating the Philippines as investors shun struggling advanced economies for higher returns in emerging markets. Mr. Medalla stressed, though, that the need to tweak RRPs was not urgent as liquidity remained focused on SDAs. Since the SDA rate cut in January, deposits in the facility have even increased. The P1.855 trillion parked in the facility is reckoned from Feb. 22 and is 2.37% up from the P1.812 trillion notched as of Jan. 25, a day after the first rate cut. At the start of the year, deposits totaled just P1.69 trillion. SDAs are fixed-term deposits by banks and trust entities with the BSP. They were introduced in 1998 as a means of mopping up excess liquidity. It has since become an investment outlet -- something the central bank has been seeking to curb. Last July, it barred non-residents from putting funds in SDAs, claiming the facility was being used for "opportunistic investment activities." - See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=Monetary-Boardeyeing-RRPs&id=67458#sthash.XtbqkkHg.dpuf
Posted on March 18, 2013 11:52:22 PM By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Reporter
Audits to be prioritized for those paying less than P200K in taxes SELF-EMPLOYED individuals, small business owners and professionals (SEPs) who pay less than P200,000 in income taxes annually will be prioritized for audit by the Bureau of Internal Revenue as the government seeks to improve its finances. "I signed a revenue memorandum circular, basically stating that although all taxpayers will be audited, the priority that will be audited are those business taxpayers whose average payment are below P200,000," said Kim S. JacintoHenares, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner, in a briefing yesterday. "We’ll look at those who pay less than that and whose growth rate in their income tax payment is below 35% and gross revenues reported did not go up by more than 40%," she added. The circular, once released, will be effective "immediately." The BIR chief said this was part of the government’s drive to widen the collection base and increase the overall tax effort. "Our data shows that about 1.8 million are registered as SEPs but only 402,934 of those filed returns, paying an average of P33,441 annually. We want to find those missing 1.4 million registered as SEPs," Ms. Jacinto-Henares said. She added that 1.8 million was also a "conservative" number. "PRC (Professional Regulatory Commission) registrations show two million active professionals, while in the DTI’s (Department of Trade and Industry) database, there are 816,759 registered micro, small and medium enterprises," she noted. Apart from accounting for all registered SEPs, average payments must also be increased, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said. "The current average annual payment of P33,441 implies a monthly income of P23,647. This is unbelievable considering the lifestyles of most entrepreneurs and professionals. It is reasonable to expect the average to reach P200,000," he said.
The Finance chief said visits to the BIR’s revenue district offices revealed extremely low tax payments. "There were doctors in Pangasinan that paid only P800 for the year, lawyers in Mindoro who paid only P121, a radio and TV practitioner in Quezon City who paid only P400 and a businessman in Cagayan de Oro who paid only P1,000," he said. "This implies that these professionals earn even less than minimum wage earners. These numbers are ridiculous." He said the BIR was also looking into benchmarking average tax payments by profession and industry. Ms. Jacinto-Henares added that aside from ongoing initiatives to improve operational efficiency, the BIR will also use existing information from various organizations in order to effectively monitor taxpayers, such as looking into business permits issued at the local level and looking into memberships in professional organizations. BIR data showed that total individual tax collections amounted to P223 billion last year, 14.95% higher than the P194 billion recorded in 2011. Of this, P181.7 billion or 81.5% came from taxes withheld on wages of compensation income earners. In comparison, SEPs only accounted for P15.1 billion or 6.8%. The ratio of payments made by the sector to the bureau’s total tax take from individuals, the BIR noted, declined from 8.4% in 2010 and 6.9% in 2011. Collections from SEPs currently only account for 0.13% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), Mr. Purisima also said. "We want to increase this to 2.1% of GDP or P360 billion by 2016," the Finance chief said. "This will help us in achieving our total tax effort ratio goal of 16% of GDP by 2016." http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=Audits‐to‐be‐prioritized‐for‐those‐ paying‐less‐than‐P200K‐in‐taxes&id=67457
Posted on March 18, 2013 10:42:50 PM
PSE-PDEx merger pushed THE GOVERNMENT is pushing for the merger of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) and the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp. (PDEx) to create stronger and more efficient capital markets. “We are encouraging the PSE and the PDEx to see it to their commercial interest to merge,” said Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima at the launch of the Asian Development Bank’s Asia Bond Monitor report yesterday. “The Philippine market is growing rapidly, but still it is not big enough to have two exchanges at this point. Both from a skill and governance standpoint, a merger of the two would be desirable,” he continued. “A more efficient structure will be required for a stock exchange with deeper volumes. We would like to see the merger happening within the administration of President Benigno S.C. Aquino III.” While a merger between the two exchanges is possible, PSE President and Chief Executive Officer Hans B. Sicat cautioned that “operational issues” could arise. He did not elaborate on what the issues were, but he assured that they were already under study. “We are studying the merger. What Sec. Purisima said was quite logical,” Mr. Sicat said, adding that it was possible to complete the merger by the end of the Aquino administration in 2016. Officials of the Philippine Dealing System Holdings Corp. -- the holding company of PDEx -- could not be reached for comment. PDEx operates the trading infrastructure of the secondary market, which covers fixed income securities and foreign exchange. A total of P277.53 billion in corporate debts and government-guaranteed notes was listed on PDEx in 2012, 40.90% higher than the P196.97 billion the previous year. PSE, Inc., meanwhile, runs the local bourse. It listed in 2003 by way of introduction, and it has two subsidiaries: the Securities and Clearing Corporation of the Philippines -- its clearance and settlement unit -- and the Capital Markets Integrity Corp., which is an independent audit, surveillance and compliance unit.
As of February, the bourse had 254 listed firms and 134 active trading participants in its roster. Moreover, the government has been undertaking various measures to develop the countryâ€™s capital markets, the Finance chief said. These include the unification of the taxable and tax-exempt market segments, which will allow institutional investors to participate in secondary bond market trading. The government is also looking to set benchmarks across the yield curve to aid price discovery. -- Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio - See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Finance&title=PSE-PDExmerger-pushed&id=67445#sthash.83FtYWzs.dpuf
Posted on March 18, 2013 10:38:49 PM
PNB income up on trading gains THE PHILIPPINE National Bank (PNB) saw its net income rise by nearly 6% last year, buoyed by gains from securities and foreign exchange trading activities. In a disclosure to the stock exchange yesterday, the Lucio C. Tan-owned bank said it booked a net income of P5.027 billion in 2012, up 5.72% from the P4.755 billion it posted the year before. The bank’s net interest income declined by 3.16% to P6.97 billion last year as interest earnings from loan and receivables dipped by 0.93% to P7.45 billion. Deposits also declined sharply, falling 22.69% to P3.10 billion. PNB’s earnings from securities trading, however, surged by 49.70% to P5.13 billion. Foreign exchange activities added to the gains, as they brought in P1.40 billion, a jump of 14.75% from 2011. The bank’s operating expenses also declined by 0.94% to P11.64 billion. PNB’s non-performing loan ratio -- the ratio of bad loans to total loans -- stood at 2.45% last year. Its capital adequacy ratio (CAR), a measure of the bank’s financial strength, was 16.63%, well above the central bank’s 10% minimum requirement. Its Tier 1 CAR was 11.40%. In February, PNB merged with Allied Banking Corp. -- another Tan-led bank -creating the fourth largest bank in terms of assets, with total resources of more than P500 billion. After the merger, PNB had a total of 654 branches and 803 automated teller machine units, along with 83 overseas branches and offices. The bank’s shares closed at P98.10 apiece yesterday, 0.91% or 90 centavos lower than their P99 close last Friday. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Finance&title=PNB-income-upon-trading-gains&id=67444
Posted on March 18, 2013 09:38:41 PM
UK embassy wants to lure small, medium businesses here A BUSINESS delegation from the United Kingdom (UK) is in the country to hold meetings with officials as the British Embassy said it wants to lure more small and medium sized British enterprises to the Philippines. Thirteen defense firms and six aid-funded firms are part of the delegation. The six aid-funded firms are being supported by the Asian Development Bank and cover a variety of sectors. "This is a good time for firms to be looking at the Philippines as it has a growing and dynamic economy," said British Ambassador to the Philippines Stephen Lillie during the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing between the British Embassy and the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP). The British Embassy hopes that more firms from the United Kingdom, not just large firms, will enter the Philippines. "We want smaller firms to also thrive in the Philippines. There are already many British firms in the Philippines but we want to be able to expand that. We hope that it can bring about new export products," said Mr. Lillie. Some sectors that can be attracted to the Philippines include car manufacturing, he said. The British Embassy said there are already around 100 UK-based firms registered in the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. The MoU is part of plans to expand business and economic relations between the Philippines and the UK. Mr. Lillie said the BCCP will be playing "an increasingly active role to help firms enter the Philippines." -- E. N. J. David
- See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=UK-embassywants-to-lure-small,-medium-businesses-here&id=67425#sthash.uhLCTNr2.dpuf
Posted on March 18, 2013 09:41:56 PM
E. Visayas co-ops get loans TACLOBAN CITY -- Land Bank of the Philippines has signed a P152-million loan agreement with four cooperatives in Eastern Visayas to finance their business expansion. The Metro Ormoc Community Cooperative (OCCI) in Ormoc City received the biggest loan -- P90 million. Saints Peter and Paul Multi-purpose Cooperative (MPC) in Maasin City received P45 million, Peerless MPC in Tacloban City got P12 million, and Palompon Transport Cooperative in Palompon, Leyte borrowed P5 million. Top cooperative officials and Land Bank Tacloban Lending Center Head Eulalio Lagapa, Jr. led the signing witnessed by Land Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Gilda E. Pico. The agreement raised the region’s loan portfolio to P3.5 billion. "The thrust of Land Bank is financial inclusion. We always look at cooperatives as critical partners in developing the countryside. We have to assist them so we can reach out to more small farmers and fisherfolk," Ms. Pico said. Ms. Pico said that Land Bank released a total loan of P39.9 billion to more than 800 cooperatives, 300 rural banks and irrigators association nationwide in 2012. -Sarwell Q. Meniano - See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=E.-Visayas-coops-get-loans&id=67426#sthash.pHubMSzc.dpuf
Butas ang batas na walang pondo - Chiz (Bernard Taguinod) Pinaghihinay-hinay ni Sen. Francis 'Chiz' Escudero ang susunod na Kongreso sa paggawa ng batas lalo na kung walang koordinasyon ito sa executive department upang hindi na madagdagan ang mga batas na nawalan ng silbi dahil sa kawalan ng pondo.
Ayon kay Escudero, napakaraming batas ang walang silbi o hind napapakinabangan ng taumbayan dahi hindi ito pinopondohan kaya nararapat lamang na makipagugnayan muna sa executive department ang susunod na Kongreso para hindi matambakan ng mga 'butas' na batas.
"If Congress becomes remiss on the enactment of laws, the government will not have any authorization for programs it espouses but on the contrary, the enactment of a law becomes meaningless if there is no budget for it," pahayag ni Escudero.
Ayon kay Escudero, nangangailangan ngayon ang gobyerno ng P500 bilyon para maipatupad ang lahat ng batas na hindi kumikilos dahil sa kawalan ng pondo para sa operasyon nito.
Inihalimbawa nito ang batas ukol sa kapakanan ng PWDs o People With Disabilities na hindi naipapatupad dahil sa kawalan ng pondo. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/mar1913/news05.htm#.UUfOzRdvAqM
Presyo ng isda tumaas (Eralyn Prado) Isang linggo bago ang Semana Santa, nagsimula nang tumaas ang presyo ng isda sa mga pamilihan sa Metro Manila.
Dahilan na rin ito upang kumilos ang Department of Trade and Idustry (DTI) upang tiyaking hindi samantalahin ng mga negosyante ang sitwasyon.
Sa pinakuhuling price monitoring, tumaas na ng mula P10 hanggang P20 kada kilo ang presyo ng isda.
Tulad na lamang ng bangus na mula sa dating P105 per kilo, ito'y tumaas na sa P125 kada kilo. Habang ang tilapia na dating nabibili sa halagang P70 per kilo, ngayon naging P80 kada kilo.
Ang presyo naman ng tulingan ay tumaas rin mula P100 ito'y P120 na kada kilo habang ang kilo naman ng galunggong na dating P75 naging P80 per kilo na ngayon.
Samantala, nananatili namang matatag at walang paggalaw sa presyo ng karneng baboy, manok, gayundin ang gulay.
Tumataas ang demand ng isda tuwing Mahal na Araw dahil naging tradisyon na ng mga Kristiyano ang hindi pagkain ng karne tuwing panahon ng Semana Santa.
Pagkain Created on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 00:00
Parang kailan lang, tinuturuan pa natin ang mga Thai ng agriculture sa sarili nating mga paaralan. Naging masigasig silang estudyante. Sayang nga lang at simula noong 1980s, naging matamlay ang teacher at napag-iwanan sa ani ng mga bukid ng Thailand. Ngayon, marami na tayong matututuhan sa dati nating estudyante. Sa kabuuan, 56 percent ng inaani ng Pilipinas sa agrikultura ay mula sa manukan, babuyan, at isdaan.
Lumalaki nga ang ating manukan ng 3 percent kada taon. Ang palahayupan (livestock) ay lumalaki ng 1 percent, habang 0.7 percent lang ang paglaki ng isdaan. Pero short ang paglaki at halos hindi makasabay sa paglobo ng populasyon.
Kahit pa nangunguna sa paglago ang manukan, kahit pa gaano kasikat ang lechon manok at inasal sa atin, isa pa rin ang Pilipino sa pinakamatipid kumain ng manok sa Asya. Bakit?
Ginto ang presyo ng manok dahil napakamahal ng mais na primaryang sangkap ng feeds. Dahil kapos sa mais, yapos tayo ng importasyon ng hindi lang manok, pati baboy na rin ay imported.
Ikumpara natin sa Thailand.
Ang Thailand ay bansang may â€œfood surplusâ€?. Ibig sabihin, hindi nakaasa sa ibang bansa ang isinusubo sa bibig ng pangkaraniwang Thai. Sa nakaraang ilang dekada, itinutok ang patakaran ng Thai government sa pag-export ng pagkain. Ngayon, No. 1 rice exporter na ang Thailand sa mundo.
Sa manukan, No. 9 ang Thailand sa chicken meat production at No. 4 sa exportation ng manok. Lahat ng ani sa pig production ay tumutuloy sa tiyan ng mga Thai. Hindi nakaasa sa ibang bansa ang mais na kinakain ng kanilang mga baboy at manok. Ganoon din sa fishmeal na pambahog sa mga palaisdaan.
Ano ang sikreto ng Thailand? Ano ang mayroon sila na wala tayo? Isang clue ang ibinahagi ni Zac B. Sarian, Pinoy agricultural journalist at magsasaka, sa isang column kamakailan: Pinalahok ng Thailand ang taumbayan sa pagpapalago ng agrikultura.
Para palusugin ang mga estudyanteng Thai sa rural areas, hindi sila bumibili ng instant noodles. Nag-aalaga ng manok ang mga mag-aaral sa campus. Inaani nila ang mga itlog at kinakain ito nang libre sa tanghalian. Hanggang 500 manok ang inaalagaan sa school. Salit-salitan ang students sa pag-aalaga. Kasama sa pag-aaral ng mga bata ang mga praktikal at siyentipikong paraan sa manukan.
Tinutustusan ng pribadong sektor ang panimulang mga sisiw, chicken feed, at bakuna. Tumutulong din ang pamahalaan sa “lunch project” para matiyak na masustansiya ang kinakain ng mga bata. Samantala, ang manukan ay sumasailalim sa kooperatiba ng mga estudyante, mga teacher, at kinatawan ng lokal na board of education. May account ang kooperatiba sa bangko na gumagarantiya na patuloy at walang patid ang pag-unlad ng manukan.
Bilang dagdag sa paglalahad ni Sarian, iba naman ang approach sa pagpapakilos ng taumbayan sa Nong Wah sa Eastern Thailand.
Dating mahirap na lugar ang Nong Wah at nabubuhay lang ang mga naninirahan doon sa subsistence farming ng kamoteng kahoy. Noon, P2,000 lang sa loob ng isang buwan ang pangkaraniwang kinikita ng magsasaka.
Subalit nag-organisa ang mamamayan sa tulong ng gobyerno na nagkaloob ng lupa, pribadong sektor na nagbigay ng panimulang pangangailangan, at bangko para sa puhunan. Isang “village company” ang itinayo ng mga magsasaka na pinagkalooban ng mga benepisyo tulad ng pabahay, training, swine house (babuyan), feeds, gamot, at mga biik. Pumapel na “profit risk-taker” ang pribadong sektor na bumibili ng aning baboy sa garantisadong presyo at tubo para sa mga magsasaka.
Bukod sa pag-aalaga ng baboy, nagtayo ng feed mill ang mamamayan sa sarili nilang sikap at pinasimulan ang kinakailangang pananim. Nagtayo rin sila ng waste treatment plant kung saan sila humahango ng biogas para pababain ang presyo ng kuryente.
Mula sa kakarampot na kita, P109,000 na ang pangkaraniwang kinikita ng magsasaka sa Nong Wah sa Thailand. Patuloy pa itong lumalaki kasabay ng pag-unlad ng kanilang “village company”.
Ang galing, â€˜no? Talagang iba kapag mamamayan na ang kumilos. Mula sa agrikultura, sa pagtatasa ng national at local budgets, sa aktibong paglahok sa paggawa ng mga batas, at sa pagtatanggol sa ating kalayaan, makakaasa ka kapag umandar na ang boses at diwa ng nakararaming mamamayan.
Sa laganap na pag-iral ng demokrasya sa bansa, lahat tayo ay kaya nang pakainin ng Pilipino.
Wide support for fight vs rice smuggling urged Published : Tuesday, March 19, 2013 00:00 THE Department of Agriculture has enjoined local chief executives, agriculturists, farm technicians and farmers to join the government’s campaign against smuggled rice. Speaking at the 2nd Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers Awards at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City, Secretary Proceso Alcala said that smuggling should be addressed as a priority as it distorts fair trade, depresses prices of palay, and discourages farmers to plant rice. “Malaking pinsala ang smuggling sa ating industriya ng bigas. Pinapatay nito ang patas na kalakaran na nagbubunga din ng pagbaba ng presyo ng ating mga palay. Nahihirapan at nawawalan ng gana tuloy ang ating mga magsasaka,” Alcala said. The Aquino government is exerting efforts to clamp down on this illegal activity which the DA chief described as a form of economic sabotage. All rice industry players and the general public are urged to take part in a renewed campaign against rice smuggling, particularly since the country is set to attain rice sufficiency this year. “Makibahagi sana tayo na labanan ang ganitong mga gawain, lalo pa at nasa kamay na natin ang ating minimithing kasapatan sa bigas ngayong taon,” Alcala added. Joel dela Torre
$12M ADB grant welcomed Published : Tuesday, March 19, 2013 00:00 SURIGAO City - Team PNoy senatorial candidate Bam Aquino has welcomed the grant provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) amounting to $12.5 million. The grant will be used to fund a pilot youth job placement program and improve skills in the tourism sector. Aquino expressed gratitude to the ADB for recognizing the tourism sector of the country which holds great potential for growth, and has benefited from reforms began in 2011. A $7.0 million grant to the Department of Tourism, funded by the Canadian government, will test pilot projects in Bohol, Cebu, Davao, and Palawan that aim to reduce regulatory costs for tourism operators, improve hotel accreditation systems, and provide funding for skills development in the industry.” Meanwhile, another $5.5 million grant to the Department of Labor and Employment, also funded by the Canadian government, will connect vulnerable outof-work youth to a job placement program called MyFirstJob, a pilot program that will provide high school leavers with career counseling, funding for vocational training, and work place experience. At least 1,600 youth – half of them women – are expected to participate in the pilot project. Aquino said the grant will give job placement and tourism skills advancement “a much-needed boost, and at the right time. ”The grant only shows that the global community is even more confident in investing in Filipinos because of the serious reforms undertaken by the Aquino administration under ‘Tuwid na Daan,’” he said. ”Now that our government has put in place many of the foundations for economic growth, we can concentrate on boosting our top industries and also boosting the skills of our youth, to allow them to take advantage of the many jobs and economic opportunities that are opening up in the Philippines today,” he added. Jester Manalastas http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/46936-12m-adb-grantwelcomed
Earth Hour 2013: Simula ng oras para sa pagbabago Published : Tuesday, March 19, 2013 00:00
SA darating na ika‐23 ng Marso, isang pangyayari ang magaganap sa buong mundo. Sa araw na iyon, mula alas‐8:30 hanggang alas‐ 9:30 ng gabi, saan mang bansa o parte ng mundo, papatayin ng lahat ng tao ang ilaw sa kanilang bahay. Ito ang Earth Hour. Ang Earth Hour ay sinimulan noong 2007 ng World Wildlife Fund (WWF) para tawagin ang pansin ng mga tao sa lumalalang problema sa climate change. Ito ay sinimulan sa Australia at ngayon ay naging isang pangdaigdigang event. Noong 2011, dito sa atin, umabot sa 1,661 syudad at munisipyo ang nakiisa sa Earth Hour at nagpatay ng kanilang mga ilaw. Ayon sa tala ng Philippine electricity Market Corp., ang konsumo sa kuryente noong taong iyon ay bumagsak sa 78.63 megawatts sa Metro Manila at hanggang 102.2 megawatts sa buong Luzon. Sa kabuuan, ayon sa tala ng Department of Energy, nakatipid tayo ng 600 megawatts ng kuryente sa Earth Hour noong 2011. Simula noong 2009, ang Pilipinas ang nakapagrehistro ng pinakamaraming bayan na nakisali sa Earth Hour, dahilan para tayo ay bigyan ng titulong Earth Hour Hero Country. At ngayong 2013, layunin natin na malampasan natin ang ating record noong 2012. Ang climate change ay nagdadala sa atin ng maraming komplikadong problema. Unti‐unting binabago nito ang panahon ng tag‐ulan at tag‐araw na nakaaapekto sa ating pagsasaka. Nalulusaw ang yelo o glaciers sa Polar Regions na siyang dahilan sa pagtaas ng tubig‐dagat, at marami pang iba. Sa Earth Hour, ipinakikita nito na ang ilang solusyon sa mga problemang ito ay simple lang. Isa na nga rito ay bawasan o iwasan natin ang paggamit ng kuryente o baguhin ang ating pamamaraan ng pamumuhay o lifestyle. At sana, ang Earth Hour ang oras para sa pagsisimula ng pagbabagong ito. Ugaliin natin ang pagtitipid sa lahat ng bagay, simula sa paggamit ng kuryente, sa paggamit ng ating sasakyan, sa pamimili, atbp. Bukod sa nakatutulong na tayo para mabawasan ang greenhouse gas
emission, nakatitipid pa tayo sa ating gastos at mga bayaran. Tandaan po natin na malaki ang kontribusyon ng tao sa problema natin sa climate change kaya tayo rin ang makalulutas sa problemang ito. Kaya’t para sa inyong mga mungkahi o komento, maaari po ninyo akong sulatan sa aking e‐mail sa firstname.lastname@example.org o ’di kaya ay iparating ang mga ito sa aming facebook account (climate change commission) at twitter account (@CCCommissionPh). Pwede rin ninyo kaming tawagan sa aming opisina sa 735‐30‐69 at 735‐31‐44. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/opinion/46923‐earth‐hour‐2013‐simula‐ng‐oras‐para‐sa‐ pagbabago