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Posted on March 22, 2013 06:22:40 PM

Sugar production up SUGAR PRODUCTION as of the first week of March increased by 15.80% compared to the same period last year owing to early milling. According to Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Manager for Planning and Policy Rosemarie S. Gumera in a phone interview on Friday, sugar production as of March 10 grew by 15.80% to 1.971 million metric tons (MT) from 1.702 million MT recorded in the same period last year. "This is already 84% of our target this year," Ms. Gumera said, "and this is because majority of the millers started milling earlier." A total of nine sugar millers started milling in September 2012, the first month of the crop year, compared to the three that commenced operations in the same period last crop year. The sugar crop year starts in September and ends in August. SRA is targeting to produce 2.356 million MT, 4.99% higher than the last crop year’s actual production of 2.244 million MT, data from SRA showed. "Most mills in Negros will complete their milling operations this coming April or May," Ms. Gumera said and added that out of the 28 millers nationwide, 12 are located in Negros. Sugar withdrawal increased by 13.78% to 1.131 million MT as of March 10 of the current crop year from 0.944 million MT year-on-year. Sugar withdrawal is an indicator of whether domestic demand is increasing or decreasing and refers to the volume of sugar withdrawn from milling warehouses by traders for domestic consumption. "This may be attributed to higher demand because of the upcoming elections," Ms. Gumera said. To date, the Philippines has already shipped 27,000 MT of "A" sugar to the US market under its Tariff-Rate Quota scheme. Under the scheme, the Philippines is allowed to export 138,827 MT of "A" sugar to the US annually. Meanwhile, 84,000 MT of "D" sugar have already been exported to the world market. The SRA is planning to export 200,000 MT of "D" sugar to the world market which includes India, Indonesia and Korea among others. "Local production is enough to fulfill our export commitments," Ms. Gumera said. -- Raymond Jun R. Portillo - See more at:

Veggies At Talad Thai Market By Zac B. Sarian Published: March 23, 2013

BIG FINGER PEPPER IN TALAD THAI MARKET — You will find many unusual vegetables when you visit the vegetable section of the Talad Thai Market, a huge wholesale market of different agricultural products found about an hour’s drive north of Bangkok. Here, Anthony Cortes of East-West Seed Company shows two packs of exceptionally big finger peppers. Because Thais love hot food, there are many varieties of hot and sweet peppers in the market, big as well as very small. Talad Thai Market is a most interesting wholesale market for agricultural produce in an area that could be easily 20 hectares, about an hour’s drive north of Bangkok. In several visits in the past, we spent most of the time in the fruit section where they sell in big volumes such fruits as sweet tamarind, jackfruit, longkong, duku, different varieties of makopa, mango, durian, pummelo, kamachile, mayongchid, mafai, mangosteen, papaya, pineapple and many more. In our last visit last February 7, we devoted about half a day taking a good look at the many items being offered. The spacious vegetable section is very well organized, arranged in such a way that the spaces between the stalls are wide so that delivery vehicles could pass through. It is thus very convenient for customers to go around the place. We noticed big piles of various pumpkin varieties. We were particularly fascinated by the warty fruits that were available. We were told that these varieties are well liked for their nutty consistency. Of course, there are also the smooth-skinned varieties. And there are also fancy varieties that are often used for decorative purposes. We also observed the big piles of wax gourd or kundol, which means that this fruit vegetable is produced commercially in that country. In the Philippines, there are really no big producers of this vegetable. Which is lamentable because kundol is also a delicious vegetable when cooked

with chicken and sotanghon, for instance. It is also processed into sweets. In Taiwan, kundol is also an important vegetable where it is often called winter gourd. This is because it can keep for a long time, even throughout the winter. Then there are the different varieties of eggplant which may be purple, white, striped or green. They come in all sizes and shapes. What fascinated us most were the tiny eggplant fruits that are about the size of coffee berry. We were told the mini eggplant fruits are a favorite for curry recipes. Then there are the many varieties of hot peppers which come in various sizes. Some of the finger pepper types are particularly big compared to the varieties that are available in the Philippines. Onions and garlic are also plentiful. There are very small cloves but which we were told to be very pungent. That could be just right for using in the Philippine adobo. Specialty items like Kaffir lime leaves and other culinary herbs are available in big numbers. That’s because most of the Thai recipes require hot as well as aromatic ingredients. Then we saw green fruits of black pepper packed in styropor. We were told that many Thais prefer to use the green fruits of the black pepper in their cooking. Shoots of viny vegetables like sayote are offered in big quantities. There were big piles of this item during our visit. Coconut heart or “ubod” is also available in significant quantities. The whole heads are packed in transparent plastic so they are very visible. They must have been treated with sodium metabisulfite to prevent them from turning brown or oxidized. Of course, we also had a short passing look at the fruits section. Star Ruby and the green makopa are plentiful in crates ready for pick up by customers. Mangosteen is particularly cheap if compared to the price obtaining in the Philippines. One can buy mangosteen at 40 to 50 baht a kilo. That’s just about P60 per kilo in Philippine money. Longkong is fairly cheap too. A kilo costs about 60 to 70 baht. By the way, the very successful Talad Thai Market was established by a private individual who had the foresight to come up with a wholesale market in a big way. The founder, known by his single name of Thanom, is now gone but his monument is there near the entrance of the market. One can simply imagine the volume of transactions by just seeing the number of delivery vehicles as well as the trucks and SUVs of buyers who take their purchases to different markets in the country. Talad Thai Market is where the traders and supermarket owners can source all their requirements from one convenient place. Next time we visit Thailand, we will try our best to visit the place again. We never tire seeing what’s available in the market. **** **** ****

HAPPY FRUIT TREE PLANTER — Felipe “Pepe” Pestaño is very happy these days. His 16hectare property planted to exotic fruit trees in San Mateo, Rizal is something he is very proud of. He started planting his fruit trees about 15 years ago and his Phillip’s Sanctuary is now the envy of neighboring landowners who are mostly professionals. His mangosteen trees are currently fruiting. His rambutan, Abiu, durian, longkong, latexless jackfruit and other fruit trees are of fruiting age. And he has thousands of mahogany trees that make his property a very cool place. Pepe has turned his farm into a resort where visitors can swim, trek and indulge in other activities. He also has lodging facilities. Now, he is telling neighbors that the fruit trees they previously thought would not bear fruit in Luzon do bear fruit in San Mateo. And he is encouraging them to source their planting materials from reliable nurseries so that they can be sure of the quality of the fruits that they will produce.

Agri Plain Talk Zac B. Sarian A veteran agriculture journalist who also runs a one-hectare nursery of exotic fruit trees. I am currently the Agriculture Editor of Manila Bulletin, a 113-year-old daily newspaper. My agriculture page appears every Thursday and Saturday where I write my Agri Plain Talk column. This twice weekly column has been running for more than 21 years now.              

Gov’t Losing Over P600M In Unpaid Fishport Loans By Ben R. Rosario Published: March 23, 2013 MANILA, Philippines --- The government fishery modernization program in the provinces has suffered huge setbacks resulting from local politics and failure of its fishery infrastructure arm to monitor of 54 municipal fish ports built for over P700 million. The Commission on Audit (COA) blamed poor monitoring of the projects as among the reasons the government has been unable to recover the huge amount of funding it poured into the projects. The Philippine Fishery Development Authority (PFDA) has been tasked to oversee the operation of municipal fishports built out of the fund. In its 2011 annual audit report for PFDA, COA revealed that only P464,107.27 was collected from three out of the 54 municipalities that operated fishports built by the government. Under Presidential Decree 977, the PFDA is empowered to develop fishports and construct postharvest facilities for the proper unloading and handling of fish and fishery products in certain localities. To be able to avail itself of PFDA’s assistance, a local government unit must agree to render financial reports of the operations of the fishports and pay monthly retainer fees of 10 percent of the gross income of the operations. Of the 54 municipal fishports turned over to local government units, 39 folded up in just six years or less of operations while only three were able to turn over financial reports and pay its commitment fees to the PFDA. State auditors said that PFDA is partly to blame for failing to regularly inspect the facilities and look into the operations of the fishports. On the other hand, the PFDA management claimed that low collection of payments could be blamed for the change of political leadership wherein incumbent officials renege on the commitment to the PFDA promised by previous local executives. In the same annual audit report, COA recommended the sale or lease of the P289 million Northern Palawan Fisheries Development Project (NPFDP) in Coron town. According to state auditors, the NPFDP stopped operations in 2008 after incurring losses which has reached P289 million.

“Being non-operational, it may incur further loss in term of maintenance and depreciation expenses for the remaining property and equipment of the project and incidental expenses to clear the area of informal settlers,” COA said. The project was financed from an P18-million loan extended by the Asian Development Bank to the Philippine government.                                          

Subic To Host Food Festival By Jonas Reyes Published: March 23, 2013 BSUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Zambales — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is pushing the boundaries of tourism by offering foreign and local visitors a variety of tastes at a week-long food festival that will be held during the Holy Week. SBMA Deputy Administrator for Tourism Raul Marcelo, the Subic Pascha 2013 food festival is the first of its kind inside this premier Freeport and would provide tourists the different cuisines that can be found here. “The SBMA and restaurateurs here have come up with this food festival to further spur the tourism industry during the Holy Week. Tourists love to go to the Boardwalk area, so why not give them a treat?” Marcelo said. Restaurateur Raymund Magdaluyo, who spearheads the festival’s operation, says that the Boardwalk area will also have live bands performing. Magdaluyo said that the festival will incorporate the sacredness of the Lenten season by showcasing the different religious areas of Subic Bay Freeport such as the San Roque Chapel and the Holy Land theme park. A performance by artist Karylle will also be held at the food festival on Good Friday.      

Exports Of Local Food Products To China Need Online Accreditation By Edu Lopez Published: March 23, 2013 Local companies exporting food and agriculture products to China are required to register and accredit online to ensure entry of their products to the huge market. “All goods to enter mainland China such as fishery, feeds, processed food and beverages and fresh fruits require registration and accreditation. For new exporters, this may involve site inspections and product tests or sampling,” said Christine dela Cruz, commercial officer of the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in China. Dela Cruz said China’s Decree 55 requires all exporters and agents, as well as Chinese importers, to complete a web-based registration process. The decree covers a wide range of products under the jurisdiction of China’s State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (SAQSIQ) Food Safety Bureau. These include food commodities such as meat and meat products, aquatic products, egg and egg products, dairy products, bee products, and other non-prescribed foods such as biscuits and beverages. “Exporters are encouraged to work closely with their importers to provide the required information,” said De la Cruz. China is implementing the electronic certification (e-cert) system to establish a unified data exchange platform and achieve automatic data exchange and one-to-one certification. When Chinese authorities finish inspecting and quarantine, they will issue the certificate which include the electronic certificate and printed certificate. All the data of electronic certificate can be viewed in the e-cert system. The printed certificate, on the other hand, will be transmitted to the import authority along with the goods and will be delivered to the exporter. Measures for inspection, quarantine, supervision and safety management are applicable to import and export food, as well as on food-related products, grains, fruits and edible live animals. Exporters need to establish a quality safety management system; prepare a purchase inspection and record system for raw materials, auxillary materials, food additives, packaging material and containers; and establish production records about safety management of exported food.

The Global Impact Of Bio-Piracy By Nelly Favis-Villafuerte Published: March 23, 2013 Have you heard of stories about foreigners collecting Philippine flora and fauna including marine life and being shipped out to other countries? Or of stories about seedlings of Philippine plants being transported to other countries and planted there? Or of some Philippine biomaterials that are being patented in other countries? These stories are not fiction. They are not figments of our imagination. They are reality. They have been happening in the past. They continue to happen today. The saddening part of this scenario is that many of us are not aware of this situation. Many are aware, but they cannot grasp the adverse impact on our economy, on our patrimony/resources and on our heritage. Bio-pirates – this is the common term used to describe those who take a ‘free ride’ on the resources of least developed countries and developing countries. The third world countries, socalled. Others call it the ‘raping’ of the biological diversity of a nation. According to Article 2 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, biological diversity means the “variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species and ecosystems.” Biological diversity includes the millions of plants, animals and other living organisms. There are researches conducted in developed countries to search for biomaterials in the third world to advance agricultural, industrial, pharmacological and medicinal technologies. The third world countries are rich in biomaterials. No wonder foreign researchers go to third world countries like the Philippines and Africa for “bioprospecting.” Since the foreigners are not knowledgeable in the local language, culture, customs and the target places to explore – they usually recruit “locals” to be their partners in their projects. The locals are usually NGOs. And in not a few cases, government agencies “partner” with the foreign institutions in exchange for compensations, grants, subsidies, training programs and other financial incentives. Unfortunately, without the “locals” realizing it, the financial concessions offered to them in exchange for their assistance is peanuts compared to the immense loss to our economy and our resources. This is the reason why government bureaus and agencies should be very cautious in entering into agreements or arrangements with foreign institutions (especially those in the business of giving foreign grants) who entice the local government bureaus with subsidies in exchange for the shipment of local biomaterials from our country. Supposedly for research specimens. Like foreign institutions that request our government agencies to provide them with samples of indigenous plant materials that our local herbal and organic industries are using as raw material components for their manufactured products being marketed here and abroad. In other words, we will be competing abroad with foreign-made products using as raw components biomaterials from our very own country which we provided them. How ironic indeed! Considering too the advanced technologies that the countries of the biopirates have developed. We are knocked out even before we know what hit us.

Going back to the partnership with foreign bio-pirates... The local NGOs actually end up doing the bulk of the work including the collection and preparation of biological specimens. It is onesided arrangement, so to speak. In other words, the bioprospecting agreement should be welldrafted to protect the interest of the country and the “locals” as well. In terms of the benefitsharing mechanisms. This controversy on biopiracy has spread to other countries as well. Not only in our country. Countries like Thailand, Indonesia, India, and African countries have problems too. Or to use a stronger word – exploited too and victimized. Let me share with you the tragic story of our ilang-ilang. More than a century ago, before 1900, our country practically dominated the world supply of ilang ilang oil. A kind of oil that is used in the manufacture of perfumes, and other products as well. Ilang ilang trees used to abound in Manila and surrounding areas. Decades ago our ilang ilang oil was traded in the international market. And famous as one of the finest essential oils in the world because of its seductive scent. But did you know that some German traders came to the Philippines in the eighteenth century to gather planting materials of the ilang ilang which they planted in the Reunion Island in Madagascar. Since then the essential oils derived from ilang ilang became a major essence of the perfumeries in Europe. They may now have called ilang ilang by other names but the origin of the plant came from the Philippines. A more detailed of how ilang ilang was transported out of the country could be found in the famous treatese written by Blair and Robertson. The message I am trying to convey here is the urgent need to create more awareness about biopiracy. Be joyful and kind always! *** Note: My articles under this column will NOT be appearing during the period covering from March 28, 2013 to May 14, 2013. This is to comply with the provisions of Republic Act No. 9006 dated February 12, 2001, otherwise known as the Fair Election Act. I am running for a congressional seat in the 3rd District of Camarines Sur. My articles will be resumed immediately after the election ban.

Export Action-Line Nelly Favis-Villafuerte   

DBM Releases Initial P832 Million For Performance-Based Bonuses By Chino S. Leyco Published: March 23, 2013 The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will release P831.8 million to several departments and agencies, state colleges, and universities (SUCs), and government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) for the distribution of the Performance-Based Bonus (PBB) to their respective employees. Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad said that of the total amount, P806.1 million has already been authorized for release by the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG), with 26 GOCCs given the go signal for releasing the PBBs of 15,415 eligible officials and employees. These will be sourced from the GOCCs’ own corporate funds. Another P25.7 million has also been rolled out to five agencies and three SUCs for the meritbased incentives of 2,780 officials and employees. “Since the administration launched the merit-based bonus scheme in December, 2012, the DBM has been receiving and processing submissions from departments and agencies as efficiently as possible, in line with the PBB’s goal of rewarding excellent work among our government employees,” Abad said. The DBM also confirmed that the Department of Health (DOH) and the Laguna State Polytechnic College have already complied with all their requirements, and that their releases are currently being processed by DBM. DOH is the first major government agency to have fully complied with the PBB requirements, with 25,307 employees eligible for the PBB. “I enjoin other agencies and departments to complete their submissions to the DBM. This will allow us to facilitate the quick release of their PBBs, and ultimately, ensure that their employees receive the bonuses due them,” Abad said. The PBB is one of the components of the government’s Performance-Based Incentive System (PBIS), an incentive program that recognizes and rewards exemplary performance in government. It aims to improve the delivery of goods and services to all Filipinos, as well as institute a culture of excellence in public service across the bureaucracy. Under the PBIS, qualified agencies that submitted all compliance reports on time will be assessed, provided that they meet at least 90 percent of their targets for the year. Agencies are also required to fulfill all the good governance conditions set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on

the Harmonization of the National Government Performance Monitoring, Information and Reporting Systems, or the A.O. 25 Task Force. Through the PBB, employees ranked as “Best” in a best-performing bureau stand to receive as much as P35,000, while underperformers – those who were unable to meet at least 90 percent of their individual targets, or employees in a poorly ranked bureau – will not be eligible for PBB. In releasing the PBB, the DBM emphasized the need for qualified departments and agencies to establish grievance mechanisms that will allow them to respond to employees’ feedback.                                  

Number coding lifted in metro from March 27-April 1–MMDA By Jamie Elona 11:30 am | Friday, March 22nd, 2013 MANILA, Philippines—In anticipation of an increase in the number of motorists who will go to the provinces this coming Holy Week, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said Friday it would suspend its Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) for six days starting next week. In a Twitter post, MMDA said that except for Makati and Las Pinas, the coding scheme in Metro Manila would be lifted starting March 27 up to April 1. For Makati, the suspension will take effect Thursday and Friday, the MMDA added. The MMDA said that it would reactivate its traffic management plan under Oplan Metro Alalay Semana Santa (Oplan MASS) 2013 wherein a total of 1, 847 personnel would be deployed to help man the traffic, especially along major thoroughfares such as Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), and roads leading to and from transportation hubs such as provincial bus terminals, airports and seaports.

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Navotas storage yields P3-M smuggled onions Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:59 pm | Friday, March 22nd, 2013 The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has confiscated some 5,000 bags of imported red and white onions worth P3 million at a cold storage facility in Navotas City, after its operators failed to show proof that they had paid the proper taxes. BOC Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said the items were seized by virtue of a letter of authority and a warrant and seizure order he issued on March 18 following surveillance operations by Customs personnel at Marcelo Cold Storage on North Bay Boulevard. “The operators of the storage facility could not show import documents or proof of payment for the duties and taxes on the imported onions, so we had to seize the items to prevent it from getting into the local market.” Biazon said. But Biazon declined to name the operators, saying they were still under investigation. “This is to protect the interest of the local farmers from the ill effects of agricultural products smuggling, particularly onions,” he told reporters on Friday. Local onion growers are partly blaming smuggling as one of the reasons for their industry’s stagnant growth, the official noted. Biazon said the BOC is closely monitoring the importation of agricultural products, whether within or outside BOC premises, to ensure that only legally imported products reach local markets. Onion importation is regulated by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and is allowed only during lean production months in the country to ensure the absorption of locally produced onions by the local market and also to prevent price distortion. “We are very much concerned about the interest of the local farmers. This is the reason why we maintain a zero-tolerance policy for agricultural products smuggling. We will seize all illegally imported products, particularly agricultural,’’ Biazon said. The BOC said the seized onions will be destroyed in accordance with the law. Tina G. Santos

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Ex-DA chief backs farmer group in polls 10:08 pm | Friday, March 22nd, 2013 DAVAO CITY—Former Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban has endorsed the Ang Agrikultura Natin ay Isulong (AANI) party-list group, stressing the need for farmers to be represented in Congress. Panganiban, in a statement sent by e-mail, said the group would be pushing for reforms and legislation that would benefit the sector. Based on its primer, AANI said it is a party that promotes grassroots education campaign for the “prioritization of agriculture for food security and clean, sustainable renewable fuels.” “The party has engaged in numerous activities such as fertilizer price discounts, comprehensive education and outreach programs and upland farmer livelihood,” the AANI primer added. For Panganiban, the party would be pushing for government support for the agriculture sector. “Government should help the farmers have bigger yield and better prices for their produce,” he said. Panganiban said the party, among others, aims to wage and support campaigns that will improve the quality of life of farmers in the countryside; give farmers access to practical and costeffective farming methods and technologies; and encourage participation of farmers in decisionmaking. AANI, formerly named Kapatiran Para sa Kaularan sa Kanayunan (KPKK), was organized in 2003. Inquirer Mindanao

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Comelec exempts ‘pork’ from election ban By Sheila Crisostomo and Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 23, 2013 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has exempted the priority development assistance fund (PDAF), commonly known as “pork barrel,” from the ban on the disbursement of public funds during the 45-day election period. In Resolution 9660, the Comelec said the “release, disbursement or expenditures of PDAF and other state funds” are not covered by the prohibitions stipulated in Sec. 261 (v) of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC). The OEC prohibits any public official or employee, including barangay officials and those of government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries, from releasing, disbursing or expending any public funds 45 days before a regular election and 30 days before a special election. The Comelec has excluded PDAF on the request of incumbent members of the House of Representatives. But the poll body noted the exemption is subject to several conditions to prevent the funds from being used in the campaign. Under the resolution, requests for exemption shall be evaluated by the Law Department in its capacity as Campaign Finance Unit that is also looking into the campaign expenses of all candidates in the May 13 polls. The poll body said “the projects, programs and activities (PPAs) sought to be implemented during the prohibited period of March 29 to May 13 were established before the said period and duly reported to the Commission on Audit (COA).” Public works projects undertaken by contract through public bidding or negotiated contract awarded before March 29 are also exempted from the ban.

Also exempted are emergency works “necessitated by the occurrence of a public calamity, but limited to the restoration of damaged facility” and “ongoing public works project commenced before the campaign period of other similar projects under foreign agreements.” Payment for public works projects, purchase of materials and equipment, incidental expenses for wages of watchmen and other laborers employed for the projects, and delivery of materials for public works are likewise excluded.‐exempts‐pork‐election‐ban                                        

Banana growers groaning under calamity, ‘taxation’ GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 22, 2013 - 12:00am 2 7 googleplus0 5 How has the Sulu Sultanate’s Royal Army fared since occupying a piece of Sabah on Feb. 12? With 53 rifles and pistols they started 235-strong, including 19 women. Raja Muda (Crown Prince) Agbimuddin Kiram, who led the ragtag band, has not been heard from since weekend. Malaysian security forces say he has been killed or fled back to Sulu from three weeks of air and ground assaults. Last phone contact with Filipino officials was Mar. 2, day after the first clash, through Gov. Mujiv Hataman; Agbimuddin reportedly wanted evacuation. Abraham Idjirani, spokesman of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, says returning is not an option for the younger brother. Malaysia counts 62 killed to date: 54 Sultanate followers, and eight Sabah policemen. The 54 include the father and son who housed them in Lahad Datu, and two imams, two sons, and a Moro rebel in Semporna. The Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur reports 104 more followers captured by Malaysian troops. Kept from contact, eight of them have been indicted for terrorism. Philippine troops arrested 38 more sailing to Sulu. Offenses: illegal possession of firearms, violating the election gun ban, and inciting to war; bail: P6.2 million. Malnourished, the 38 like many of the 235 are aged land seekers. As of Tuesday, 2,719 Filipinos have fled Sabah to Tawi-Tawi. Malaysia has deported 289 illegal entrants in two batches in March. Dozens others are in refugee camps in Lahad Datu, Semporna, Tanjung Batu, and Sandakan. There are 800,000 Filipino workers in Sabah; an undetermined number have been granted immigrant status. * * * The banana industry is literally sagging. Natural and man-made disasters — typhoon, Panama disease, China restrictions — battered it in 2012. Before all that and to this day come floods of extortion letters into the offices of big and small banana growers alike in the Davao region. Exactions range from tens to hundreds of thousand pesos a month. They could be emanating from any of the armed bands roaming Mindanao; growers suspect the communist New People’s Army (NPA). Events last month are cause for alarm. Over a hundred NPA rebels simultaneously raided the two largest plantations in Bukidnon province. Equipment worth P27.5 million of Del MontePhilippines and Dole-Stanfilco were torched. Both firms reportedly had rejected the rebels’ “progressive taxation.”

The attacks came on the eve of the collapse of government peace talks with the rebels’ national front. Jorge Madlos, NPA-Mindanao said the plantations must cease operations. Supposedly they spokesman, worsened the typhoon damage in Cagayan de Oro in Dec. 2011. Other “crimes” were attributed to the two multinationals and a third, Sumifru. Allegedly they abuse laborers, amass vast lands that should be for agrarian reform, and ruin the environment. Refuse to vacate the area and face more reprisals, they were warned. The incidents unnerved plantation executives and workers alike. They have been striving for comity in the workplace and communities. Now there is talk of new foreign investors running away, and of older ones hesitating to expand. Days after the Bukidnon attacks the NPA set fire on a copra truck in Agusan del Norte, again because the owner refused to pay up. Early this month an NPA band razed Sumifru’s warehouse in Compostela Valley. It was the second raid on the facility since Oct. 2011. Destroyed this time were two trucks and the radio communications room. Security guards’ rifles and an electric generator were carted away. Agribusinesses were not the only targets. Bus lines and cell phone companies too have been attacked. In early March the NPA killed three soldiers in Baguio district, Davao City. The rebels boldly had ambushed a joint force of the Army, National Police, and paramilitary tribesmen. This week the ruling Liberal Party cried that the NPA has begun to collect “permit-to-campaign fees” in controlled sections of east Mindanao. Particularly targeted for million-peso exactions, said LP head Sen. Franklin Drilon, were candidates for local elective seats in May. NPA offensives have not been limited to Mindanao. Days after the Del Monte-Dole raids, about 50 rebels attacked a truckload of civilians and policemen in La Castellana, Negros Occidental. Fatalities: eight. In Dec. 2011, soldiers aiding flood victims were ambushed with land mines. Paying real taxes to the government has not afforded effective protection, one Davao banana grower groaned. Planters feel compelled to pay the NPA levy, or else lose more. One morning in Oct. 2011 the NPA staged its biggest raid ever, burning billions of pesos in equipment in four mining compounds in Surigao del Norte. For several weeks early last year China barred Philippine banana imports in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. While Chinese officials proclaimed detection of fruit flies, Davao growers felt it was to retaliate for the China-Philippines sea dispute in Scarborough Shoal. The growers saved the day by shifting deliveries to Japan, Korea, and the Emirates. Late in 2012 typhoon also ravaged hundreds of banana farms in Davao. About 15,000 of the 80,000 hectares devoted to Cavendish variety were toppled. Industry leaders say it would take at least two years for the affected growers to recover. Production also dipped last year with the discovery of the soil-borne Panama disease, or Fusarium wilt. To control its spread, infected plants must be uprooted.

Stephen Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, cannot yet pinpoint the extent of the damage. Still he shudders: “If the industry is wiped out like in Taiwan, potential revenue loss annually would be 760 million US dollars.” Small growers would be hardest hit. The bigger ones can move elsewhere near the equator, the ideal banana zone. * * * Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM). E-mail:‐growers‐groaning‐under‐calamity‐ taxation                                

P3M 'hot' onions seized in Navotas ( | Updated March 22, 2013 - 1:05pm MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs has seized some P3-million worth of illegally imported red and white onions at a cold storage in Navotas City. In a statement, the BOC said Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon and Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Danilo Lim led other Customs officials in inspecting and presenting to media 5,000 bags of these onions seized earlier by Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) and Intelligence Division (ID) operatives at the Marcelo Cold Storage at North Bay, Navotas City. According to Biazon the hot onions were seized by virtue of a Letter of Authority he issued on March 18, 2013 and a Warrant and Seizure Order issued on the same date after the surveillance operations of the Customs operatives on the Navotas cold storage confirmed the presence of the hot onions. “The operators of the Marcelo Cold Storage could not show import documents or proof of payment for the duties and taxes on the imported onions stored in its cold storage. So we had to seize the illegally imported onions to avoid its getting into the local market.” Biazon said.The local onion raisers are partly blaming smuggling as for the local onion industry’s losses. Biazon added that the BOC is closely monitoring the Importations of agricultural products, whether within or outside BOC premises to ensure that only legally imported products like onions are able to get to the local markets. Onion importation is regulated by the Department of Agriculture and is allowed only during lean production months of onions in the Philippines to ensure the absorption of locally produced onions by the local market and to avoid price distortion as well “We are very much concerned on the interest of the local farmers. This is the reason why we maintain a zero tolerance policy for agricultural products smuggling. We will seize all illegally imported products, particularly agricultural, no matter who are the people behind it and no matter where these illegally imported agricultural products are.” Biazon said.Lim expressed confidence on his unit’s anti-smuggling initiatives saying that the enhanced intelligence network of the BOC Intelligence group (IG) will result in more seizures to follow. “This hot onion seizure today will definitely result on jobs saved for many local onion growers. It is on this light that our operatives are working doubly hard to get smuggled agricultural products like onions, off the local markets.” Lim said. Lim said the onions will eventually be destroyed and disposed in accordance with the law. He added that the BOC will still pursue legal action to those involved in bringing the 5,000 bags of onion into the country without the required import permit from the DA.‐hot‐onions‐seized‐navotas

Gov”t to increase use of hybrid rice seeds By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 23, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The government intends to increase the use of hybrid rice seeds under the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), to increase rice yield per hectare and boost farmers’ incomes. The government and private hybrid rice seed producers thus will hold the 1st National Hybrid Rice Congress next month to identify policies that can be instituted to popularize the use of hybrid rice varieties. The Department of Agriculture, through the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and private rice companies will hold the first hybrid rice congress at the PhilRice research center in Munoz, Nueva Ecija from April 3 to 5. The congress, with the theme, “Bigas na Sapat, Binhing Hybrid ang Kabalikat,” will identify the position of the hybrid rice industry in the government’s food staples sufficiency goal. During the recently-held consultation meeting in preparation for the congress, PhilRice deputy executive director for development Eduardo Quilang said the government would expand the use of hybrid varieties in the coming years. In the past, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala had favored the used hybrid rice. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Quilang noted that the use of hybrid rice seeds could increase yield by 15 percent. A yield of 12 tons per hectare is value as achievable compared to only around four tons per hectare when inbred variety is used. “It’s one of the priorities because of our rice self-sufficiency targets. We have a lot of interventions and the use of hybrid rice seeds is one of these,” said Quilang. There are currently around 40,000 hectares of planting areas for hybrid seeds. These would be increased this year to give farmers an alternative to commercial hybrid rice seeds.

PH sugar production at 83% of target   Published on 22 March 2013   Hits: 374   Written by James Konstantin Galvez  

The Sugar Regulatory Administrations (SRA) said it expects an early close to the country’s sugar milling season, noting that it has already hit over 83 percent of the total production forecast for this crop year. In a telephone interview, SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin said that as March 10 sugar production has already reached 1.97 million metric tons, or 83.7 percent of the 2.356 million MT target for crop year ending August 2013. “We expect milling season to close more than a month ahead of schedule—last week of May or early June,” Martin said. The SRA chief attributed to the early planting of sugarcane nationwide and favorable weather condition in the last quarter of the 2012 for the early closing of milling season, noting that majority of the operational sugar mills—particularly in the Negros Occidental—would stop operations by April. Traditionally, sugar milling ends June to July. Despite the early end of milling season and two massive typhoons that hit the country, Martin said that the sugar industry may exceed production target, saying that the agency may come up with revisions in its forecast by next month. Earlier, the SRA maintained the target of 2.356 million metric tons, noting that the Philippines remained resilient despite the effects of Typhoons Pablo and Quinta that hit Mindanao and Visayas sugar-producing areas. “There is a notable increase in production, which resulted to higher rate of crushing,” she said. Rosemarie Gumera, SRA policy and planning manager, said that sugar exports gained momentum over the past weeks as prices stabilized due to the increasing demand for the sweetener in the world market.As of last week, the country has shipped 84,385MT to newly opened markets like Singapore, Korea, Japan and Indonesia. “There are also reports that India and Indonesia will be importing more sugar, so we are expecting more shipments in the coming weeks,” Gumera said.

Experts discuss colorectal cancer By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:00am | 168 views

Medical experts and advocates met the media on Friday to raise awareness on colorectal cancer and Kirsten Rat Sarcoma Viral Oncogene Homology biomarker, the first biomarker in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer which helps determine the therapy suitable for the patient. Dr. Ellie May Villegas, vice president of the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, discussed screening, diagnosis and treatment. “Recent studies show that Cetuximab and Panitumumab do not work for tumors that have specific mutations to a gene called KRAS,” she said. Having the tumors screened for KRAS mutations after diagnosis of metastatic disease is recommended before any treatment is done, Villegas said, noting the need to determine a suitable intervention to spare the patient unnecessary costs and side-effects. The conference was supported by PhilHealth and Merck Serono. Lectures were given by Dr. Felycette Gay Lapus, PSMO president, Dr. Ramy Roxas, ASEAN society of Colorectal Surgeons president and TMC Colorectal Clinic director; Merla Rose Reyes, RPh, PhilHealth senior social insurance specialist; and Prof. D. Oroceo, on a survivor’s chronicle. KRAS protein regulates other proteins in the EGFR pathway, which is related to tumor survival, angionesis, proliferation, and metastasis.‐discuss‐colorectal‐cancer/          

Chinoys told: Pay correct taxes By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:00am | 719 views

President Benigno Aquino III on Friday reminded the members of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. to pay the correct taxes and to fulfill their civic duty. He made the admonition during the group’s 29th biennial convention to which he had been invited to deliver the opening speech. “Today I am appealing to you to correct the situation and fulfill your civic duty. There is still time,” Mr. Aquino said. “After April 15 you will have to deal with Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares herself with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima at her back.” The President’s statement elicited what sounded like “nervous laughter” from the Filipino-Chinese businessmen. He initially asked their indulgence as he would be bringing up a “sensitive topic” that he said would be “a bit unnerving.” “These are the facts as we understand them. Based on your own 2011-2013 directory, I understand that your federation includes 207 firms and organizations as members,” Mr. Aquino said. “Only 105 of these have a tax identification number. Of these 105 firms only 54 filed tax returns. To make matters worse, 38 firms and organizations actually filed returns with zero tax due. “This means that only 16 out of the 207—or only around eight percent—of your member-organizations paid taxes.” Mr. Aquino said only 424 of the 552 individual members of the federation had tax identification numbers. “It is interesting to note that only 185 of these members with TINs—or almost 44 percent—filed income tax returns,” Mr. Aquino said.

“Of those that filed tax returns, 14 filed returns with zero tax due. What this means is 354 out of 552 members—or 64 percent of you—did not pay taxes for the same reasons: no TIN, no tax due, or nothing filed at all. “In fact, of those who filed and paid income taxes, a lot of you paid less than 100 thousand pesos. There were some who paid less than one thousand pesos in taxes.” Mr. Aquino said the figures shocked him because those meant the FilipinoChinese businessmen were making even less than his monthly salary. “Can this be correct?” Mr. Aquino said. “The stockholders of your companies—some of whom must receive glowing reports of your earnings—must be surprised by this as well. In fact, they would probably be even more disturbed than I am right now. After all, is it not true that earnings should imply a corresponding tax?” Still, the President assured the Filipino-Chinese businessmen that the taxes they would be paying would not go down the drain. “The taxes you pay are not lost in some black hole,” Mr. Aquino said. “They redound to real, concrete benefits for businessmen like yourselves, and for the rest of our people. “Gone are the days when your taxes disappeared into the pockets of an unscrupulous few, or when bending the rules [might] have been the only way for otherwise honest companies to keep operating. Things have changed.”‐told‐pay‐correct‐taxes/            

Earth Hour By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:00am | 1,949 views

For the past five years, the Philippines has supported the worldwide one hour “lights off” campaign for climate change, but the government was “on the dark” on the celebration of 2013 Earth Hour on Saturday. Presidential Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippines will join the Earth Hour celebration but she is “yet to see a copy of a memo from President Aquino” about the annual event in which people in their homes and offices switch off the lights for one hour from 8:30 to 9:30 on Saturday night.

“I’m still waiting for a copy of the memo from the office of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.,” Valte said. Last year, Malacanang ordered all agencies and local government units to hold simultaneous switch-off ceremonies in the cities of Makati, Cebu and Davao. When Manila Standard Today called about this year’s celebration, Malacanang was apparently in the dark “until the 11th hour.” A total of 140 countries will take part in this annual event, which was intended to raise people’s awareness about the need to take action on climate change. The worldwide event is organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature. As most of the world turns dark on Saturday, the Got Heart shop, which sells organic products of Aetas and other indigenous people, will turn on its lights using solar power, according to Dakila, an environment and human rights group.

Dakila spokesperson Jam Severo said they decided to use the event to call attention to the need to switch to renewable energy to lessen carbon emissions in a campaign they dubbed as “Go Beyond Earth Hour. Go Solar.” “Instead of switching off the lights for one hour to help the Earth, the event will highlight the benefits of using renewable energy to lessen the carbon emissions that contribute to heating the planet, thus, helping the earth in the longer run, beyond the celebrated Earth Hour,” Severo said. She said the Philippines is a country that enjoy a great amount of sunlight, a major source of renewable energy, and solar power is beneficial to the planet and economical for power consumers. “We decided to go solar because we want to share the light of hope through sustainable social enterprises and green technology,” Severo said. In Uganda, Earth Hour 2013 was a first step to fight the 6,000 hectares of deforestation that occur in the country every month, according to the WWFUganda Team. In Indonesia, a revolutionary use of Twitter mobilized 30 cities across the country to take ongoing action beyond the hour as part of the “I will if you will” campaign spreading to more than 50 countries. “People from all walks of life, from all nations around the world, are the lifeblood of the Earth Hour interconnected global community,” said Earth Hour 2013 chief executive officer Andy Ridley. “They have proven time and time again that if you believe in something strongly enough, you can achieve amazing things. These stories aren’t unique, this is happening all over the world,” he said. With Joyce Pañares‐hour/      

Gabriela backs SC ruling on stay of RH law By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:01am | 1,393 views THE status quo ante order on Reproductive Health Law only goes to show that the law has “loopholes and flawed policies” particularly on population control, and runs contrary to President Benigno Aquino III’s plan to privatize the 26 state-run hospitals, Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan said Friday. Ilagan, who voted “yes with reservations” on RH bill, said Gabriela would show up during oral arguments in the Supreme Court to ensure that their concerns were tackled. She also bared that the House tried to railroad the hospital privatization bill by passing it on second reading while everybody was not looking during the impeachment trial but that they were able to block it. The bill was tossed back to the panel. Ilagan accused President Aquino of doing “double speak” for wanting RH to give the poor free access to contraceptives and medical health care, yet at the same time depriving the poor access to cheaper hospitalization cost for pushing for privatization of 26 public hospitals. “Various dissenting opinions including Gabriela’s reservations as explained in our vote when the law hurdled deliberations in the House underscores the various criticisms raised on the RH Law,” Ilagan said. Ilagan has long raised its objection to what she calls the Aquino-Akbayan backed population control agenda in the RH Law. Ilagan explained that the provision under the Declaration Policies, which provides that couples planning to have children should raise the child in a “humane way,” practically bars the poor from having children. “It is population control and practically telling the poor to stop having children. How can the government expect the poor to raise their children in a humane way when they are not equipped with the means and empowered to do so,” Ilagan said.

“President Aquino is a strong advocate of responsible parenthood. We have no quarrel with that. However, as parents are given access to contraceptives, the President would also privatize the hospital that would make it more difficult for these parents to afford hospitalization,” she said.‐backs‐sc‐ruling‐on‐stay‐of‐rh‐law/                                                                    

Highways to do repairs until Wednesday By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:01am | 265 views

The Department of Public Works and Highways will do repairs this weekend up to Holy Wednesday in Metro Manila. Secretary Rogelio Singson said motorists and other road users should take alternate routes. Included in the repair schedule is the Nicanor Reyes Street in Sampaloc, Manila from C. M. Recto to España under the North Manila Engineering District Office. The Quezon City First Engineering District Office will supervise repair works at Quirino Highway (southbound) from Hilltop to Belfast Street (2nd lane); Fairview Avenue (northbound) from Mindanao Extension to Milano Drive (4th lane); Mindanao Ave. (southbound) from Catleya Street to North Ave. (1st lane); EDSA (northbound) from Congressional Ave. to Access Road (5th lane); EDSA (southbound) from Cloverleaf to Oliveros St. (5th lane); and Regalado North Avenue (northbound) from Casmilan V to David Lim International Trading Corp. (2nd lane). Repair work in Mandaluyong City on Shaw Blvd (westbound) between Guerrero St. and Araullo St. (inner lane); EDSA (northbound) beginning of Shaw Blvd. underpass to United St.; and EDSA (southbound) after Libertad Street to Potenciano Hospital will be under the First Metro Manila District Engineering Office. The Second Metro Manila District Engineering Office will repair Makati City portion of EDSA that includes northbound lane after Orense St. to Guadalupe Bridge and southbound lane from Guadalupe Bridge to Bernardino Street while Third Metro Manila District Engineering Office will employ similar work scheme in repair the Caloocan City portion of EDSA’s northbound lane from Asuncion St. to General Simon St. (lane 6) and southbound lane from Benin St. to Urbano Plata St.‐to‐do‐repairs‐until‐wednesday/

Beijing pushes sea aggression By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:01am | 1,954 views PH ‘strongly objects’ to Chinese naval drills China continued its aggressive moves towards reinforcing its claim over the contested waters and territories in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), by conducting maritime patrols, both in the waters and in the air space above the contested areas. The Chinese’ aggressive actions were made in defiance of other claims, especially from the Philippines, which had hoped to resolve the issue of its claim by bringing its case against China before an international tribunal. China’s Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday that a Chinese helicopter patrolled parts of the disputed Spratly Islands on Monday. The news website quoted an official of the Guangdong Maritime Safety Administration as saying that the chopper monitored part of the Islands. “The helicopter took off from the Haixun 31, a marine surveillance ship, to monitor maritime traffic in waters near Dongmen Reef of the Nansha Islands,” it said. The administration added that this was the first time a Chinese maritime helicopter was dispatched to patrol the South China Sea. China refers to the Spratlys as the Nansha Islands, which is also being contested by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Xinhua said the Haixun 31 is one of three Chinese marine surveillance ships that left Sanya Port in Hainan province last Thursday. China said the patrol seeks to boost China’s maritime law enforcement capacity and test the patrol team’s response abilities in the South China Sea. The report said that the helicopter has “covered 800 nautical miles, monitored the navigation environment in waters near the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha Islands and conducted safety inspections for more than 40 Chinese and foreign vessels.” Aside from the helicopter patrol, the Chinese continued to underscore its might in the waters, following the deployment of its largest fishery administration ship, the “Yuzheng 312,” which began its maiden patrol on the South China Sea on Friday.

The ship, the Chinese fleet’s largest in terms of displacement, left Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, at 10:30 a.m. on Friday. It sailed to the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea to carry out a law enforcement mission. Xinhua said “routine fishery administrative patrols” around the Nansha Islands were being carried out to “better safeguard the legitimate interests of Chinese fishermen.” Xinhua also reported that several Chinese vessels sailed to the South China Sea on March 19 and the Western Pacific Ocean to conduct combat readiness patrol and high-sea training. The Foreign Affairs Department, said on Friday that it “strongly objects’ to the continuing naval drills in the Philippine maritime domain in the West Philippine Sea.” Department spokesman Raul Hernandez said he was calling on China to respect the Philippines’ maritime zones facing the South China Sea amid reports of ongoing Chinese naval drills in the resource-rich waters that Beijing claims in whole. At the same time, Hernandez said they were still ascertaining the exact location of the exercises. “The government is in the process of determining the exact location of the exercises, which could fuel tensions anew if China would insist on holding it in areas being claimed by the Philippines and other claimants. Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan are also staking claims to the waters, in which some parts are called West Philippine Sea by the Philippines.” He said the new Chinese intrusions violated a 2002 accord between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that discourages countries claiming parts of the China sea that could ignite tension or confrontations. He said the Philippine Coast Guard will conduct a sovereignty patrol in the West Philippine Sea to ensure that there will be no Chinese Navy intrusions. “As of yesterday, they don’t have a report of possible intrusions of Chinese ships in the area that was reported. Our Philippine Coast Guard will be doing its own sovereignty patrol at an appropriate time,” he said. Aside from China’s naval drills, Taiwan, a province of China, said it also planned to conduct fire drills in Spratly Island.

An official of Taiwan’s coast guard said that they may stage the China, may stage the live-fire exercise next month, which would supposedly take place on Taiping Island in the Spratlys between April 9 and 11. It will involve 40mm artillery and 120mm mortars, both shipped to the island last year to boost Taiwan’s defense capability there. But Taiwan’s planned activity in Spratlys drew a tepid response from the government, which said it would only take action when the fire drills push through. Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office head Ricky Carandang said that they would try to resolve the issue through the usual diplomatic channels. The government made the same “wait-and-see” response when military sources said a Chinese ship “intruded” into one of the islets in the Kalayaan Island Group in Palawan, which is located within the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone. The sources quoted local fishermen who said that a “large ship with Chinese markings’ unloaded construction materials in the area. Presidential deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte, however, denied that that there was the alleged intrusion of Chinese vessels into the country’s territory. She also said that what the locals saw was a fishing vessel, not a landing ship. On Friday, Valte refused to comment further on the issue when pressed on whether there was an intrusion or not, saying that “we’ll leave that to the assessment of the [Department of Foreign Affairs]. With Vito Barcelo‐pushes‐sea‐aggression/              

Correct holiday pay urged By Vito Barcelo | Posted on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:01am | 427 views

Labor Department is calling on private sector employers to observe the correct pay rules and general occupational safety and health labor standards this coming holy week. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said that on March 28, Maundy Thursday and March 29, Good Friday are declared as regular holidays, and Black Saturday on March 30 as a special non-working day. The payment of wages for the regular holidays, special (non-working) Days, and Special Holiday (for all schools) for the Year 2013, rules to be observed are provided in existing regulations and pronouncements of the department, she said.‐holiday‐pay‐urged/                        

Windmills need more funding By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:02am | 658 views

Energy Development Corp. is planning to obtain $80 million more in loans from foreign banks for its $300-million, 87-megawatt wind farm in Ilocos Norte. In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Thursday, EDC said its board approved the new loan and authorized company officers to approve its final terms and conditions. “The USD 80 million club loan will complete our funding source for the Burgos wind project,” EDC chief finance officer Nestor Vasay said.

Bangui windmills. Manny Palmero Vasay said a club loan is smaller than a syndicated loan and usually involves only three or four lenders who each provide a portion to make up the entire amount. Unlike a syndicated loan, the club loan requires no underwriter. “In EDC’s case, this club loan will complete our fully funded business plan for our Burgos wind project and will trigger a notice to proceed,” Vasay said. The project is expected to be online by 2014. The EDC board also approved the issuance of seven-year and 10-year fixed rate bonds up to P7 billion to be placed in an offering to domestic investors. EDC had earlier filed for registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission for its proposed P5 billion bond issue, with an oversubscription option of up to P2 billion.

EDC said BDO Capital & Investment Corp. will act as issue manager and sole book runner for the bond issue. The company had earlier selected Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer as equipment supplier for the wind project which covers about 600 hectares across three barangays: Saoit, Poblacion, and Nagsurot. Vestas will supply and put up 29 large scale V90 wind turbines, each of which will deliver about 3 megawatts. The wind project also involves the construction a 115 kV transmission line connecting the wind farm from the Burgos substation to the Laoag substation of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, as well as the expansion of the switchyard and substations. The Burgos wind project is expected to generate about 233 gigawatt-hours annually and power over a million households. EDC is the world’s largest integrated geothermal producer and one of the leading renewable energy companies in the Philippines with a portfolio of 1,130 MW of geothermal and 132 MW of hydroelectric plants.‐need‐more‐funding/                  

Holy Week markers By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:02am | 310 views

Workers produce palm fronds near a church in Baclaran for use on Palm Sunday. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle will lead the Palm Sunday procession and Mass at the San Fernando De Dilao Church in Paco, Manila, to mark the start of the Holy Week. Lino Santos‐week‐markers/            

Wind farm gets investor By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:00am | 157 views

Berkeley Energy, a Singapore-based investor, agreed to acquire a 40-percent stake in the 16-megawatt wind power project to be built by Philippine Hybrid Energy Systems Inc. in Puerto Galera. “We have chosen a big brother strategic investor,” Phesi chief operating officer Nicanor Villaseñor said. He did not disclose the cost of the capital infusion. Berkeley Energy, based in Singapore with presence in Delhi and Manila, is a hands-on funder of development and construction stage renewable energy assets in emerging markets. Berkeley Energy is run by principals TC Kundi, Robert Renfrew and Alastair Ver Nicoll. Phesi said with the entry of Berkeley Energy’s Renewable Energy Asia Fund, the company now had sufficient equity for the wind farm in Puerto Galera in Mindoro.‐farm‐gets‐investor/                      

EDC gets $80-m wind farm loan By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:01am | 442 views

Energy Development Corp., the country’s biggest producer of geothermal energy, said Friday it signed an $80-million new term loan facility due in June 2018. “The new facility shall be used for capital expenditure needs and general corporate purposes of the company,” EDC said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange. EDC tapped Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. as lead arrangers and bookrunners of the transaction, with Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. Hong Kong as the facility agent. EDC chief finance officer Nestor Vasay earlier said the $80-million loan would complete the funding requirement of its 87-megawatt Burgos wind project in Ilocos Norte costing an estimated $300 million. “In EDC’s case, this club loan will complete our fully funded business plan for our Burgos wind project and will trigger a notice to proceed to commence the project,” Vasay said. The project is expected to begin operation by 2014. The company earlier selected Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, as equipment supplier for the project. The wind farm covers approximately 600 hectares across barangays Saoit, Poblacion and Nagsurot. Vestas will supply and put up 29 large scale V90 3-MW wind turbines for the project. Each wind turbine will deliver around 3 MW per hour. The wind project also involves the construction a 115-kV transmission line connecting the wind farm from the Burgos substation to the Laoag substation of National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, and the expansion of the switchyard/substations.

The Burgos wind project is expected to generate approximately 233 gigawatthours annually and power over a million households. EDC is the world’s largest integrated geothermal producer and one of the leading renewable energy companies in the Philippines with a portfolio of 1,130 MW of geothermal and 132 MW of hydroelectric plants.‐gets‐80‐m‐wind‐farm‐loan/                                        

Napocor refund starts April By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:02am | 331 views

Electricity consumers are expected to get a refund starting next month after the Energy Regulatory Commission approved the petition of Manila Electric Co. to recover overpayments of P5.176 billion from National Power Corp. ERC director Francis Saturnino Juan said Napocor would pay P73.945 million a month to Meralco until such time the overpayments were refunded in full. Meralco overpaid due to the double charging of transmission line fees by Napocor. “We have already approved the refund of Napocor to Meralco at P5.176 billion but the order has not yet come out. There is no peso per kilowatt-hour [price reduction] because Meralco will deduct it from its monthly generation charge so that the generation charge will go down for the month,” Juan said. Juan said Meralco will deduct the amounts from the monthly generation costs charged by Napocor to the country’s biggest electricity retailer. Meralco officials said they were still waiting for the ERC order in order to make a computation of the impact on consumers. Meralco filed a petition against Napocor in September 2008 demanding the refund of overpayments to Napocor. The petition stemmed from the inability of Meralco and Napocor to implement their contract provision on the reconciliation of the 2.98-percent line loss charge incorporated in Napocor’s rates, and which are imposed on Meralco, and the actual line rental payments to the Philippine Electricity Spot Market, as operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market. The line rental payments of Meralco to the WESM have a component for the same line losses, which eventually were remitted to the generators, including Napocor. “Such reconciliation and adjustment, had it been implemented, would have avoided the double charging for line losses,” Juan said.

ERC, in a decision on March 10, 2010, upheld Meralco’s position and confirmed the existence of double charging for line losses. The ERC said a methodology should be drawn up to calculate the actual overpayments made by Meralco to Napocor from 2006 when the WESM first started operations. Meralco, PEMC and Napocor submitted their respective positions on how the overpayments should be calculated. Meralco proposed to calculate the overpayments by simply deriving the amount equivalent to the 2.98 loss factor embedded in Napocor’s rates. It computed the overpayment for the line losses at P9.84 billion, covering the period from 2006 to August 2012.‐refund‐starts‐april/                              

Bargain-hunting assists market to end in green Published on 22 March 2013  Hits: 427  Written by Madelaine B. Miraflor Reporter  

After seeing the market idled in red for several days, investors went on bargain-hunting in the last two days of the session, leading the market to a positive end.

Astro del Castillo, First Grade Finance managing director, said in a phone interview that there was a continued bargain-hunting in the market since Thursday because the market was down for several days. “Because of that, prices were just too tempting for most of the investors,” del Castillo said. He further said that moving forward, the optimism within the local stock market is still there, specifying that good results on corporate earnings may have also triggered the recovery. “The week’s close at 6,518.71 implies the bounce may still try the 6,575/6630 levels in the near term. If said levels will hold, expect another sell-off to try the 6,000-6,250 levels,” Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist of BDO Unibank Inc., added. Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) has closed the week in green, advancing further to 0.71 percent, or 45.73 points to 6,518.71, as well as the broader all shares, which rose 0.56 percent, or 22.77 points to 4,099.26. It was still a buoyant end for most of the sectors except for the industrial, which was down 0.12 percent, or 12.15 points to 9,866.40. Financials, on the other hand, made an upsurge by 1.39 percent, or 23.63 points to 1,729.86, followed by the mining and oil, which went up 1.01 percent, or 213.97 points to 21,491.46.

Holding firms also improved 0.69 percent, or 38.89 points to 5,702.38, while property went higher by 0.68 percent, or 17.83 points to 2,653.34. Services also advanced by 0.42 percent or 7.95 points to 1,918.93. Advancers remained on top against decliners, 89 to 74, while 31 were unchanged. On Thursday, the benchmark index finally made its way back to positive territory after eight-day losing streak, rising 0.83 percent, or 53.36 points to 6,472.98, while the broader all shares index was able to record a 0.83percent recovery, or 33.63 points to 4,076.49. All of the sector indices also made significant improvements after staying in the red for the past few days. PSEi also improved a bit on Wednesday although still in the red, reducing the previous meltdown by 0.10 percent, or 6.63 points to end at 6,419.62, while the broader all-shares index dipped by 0.15 percent, or 6.26 points to 4,042.86. On Tuesday, however, the local index fell below 6,500 points, losing 1.68 percent, or 109.93 points to 6,426.25, while the broader all-shares index went down by 1.11 percent, or 45.50 points to 4,049.12.‐business‐news/44038‐bargain‐hunting‐assists‐ market‐to‐end‐in‐green        

It’s all systems go for hassle-free Holy Week travel via North Harbor • •

Written by Tribune

Saturday, 23 March 2013 00:00

In anticipation of the influx of passengers for the Holy Week break, the Manila North Harbor Port Terminal Inc. (MNHPI) is leaving no stone unturned to make travel through the Manila North Harbor enjoyable and comfortable. MNHPI chairman Michael Romero said they have put in place a better system that will make passenger and cargo handling more efficient and expeditious. “Every year, we anticipate the arrival of thousands of passengers during the Holy Week break but this year we have put in place a better system that will make travel via the Manila North Harbor fast and efficient,” Romero said. Romero added port employees are working double time to assist passengers and handle cargoes going in and out of the port. He said they are constantly in consultation and coordination with the shipping lines using the port for the implementation of smooth and organized system in passenger and cargo handling. He added they are implementing improved security measures to ensure the safety of passengers and their cargoes. Aside from the police and Coast Guard contingents, MNHPI also has its own security forces to beef up safety precautions. A medical team is also in place to assist passengers who may be needing assistance during their trip. He said they will continue to improve the system as they are soon to open a new terminal for passengers at the North Harbor to facilitate their orderly and trouble-free boarding and disembarkation and handling of their cargoes. “The long queues of passengers for booking, boarding delays and missing or lost cargoes will be a thing of the past with the new and modern Manila North Harbor,” Romero said. He added the new passenger terminal is only the beginning in his

company’s bid to transform North Harbor into a world-class port. MNHPI had won the award to operate and modernize the North Harbor, the largest and busiest port in the country. Aside from its management of the passenger terminal, MNHPI will also improve and modernize cargo handling, berth and storage management and other related port services. “We have just started and we will continue with our commitment to make Manila North Harbor, our primary passenger and cargo terminal, to be a world-class maritime hub which can compete with our Asian neighbors,” he said.‐section/item/12017‐it%E2%80%99s‐all‐systems‐go‐for‐hassle‐free‐ holy‐week‐travel‐via‐north‐harbor                                

BoC seizes P3-M onions imported illegally • •

Written by Conrado Ching Saturday, 23 March 2013 00:00

The Bureau of Customs (BoC) seized 5,000 bags of illegally imported red and white onions worth P3 million at the Marcelo Cold Storage in North Bay, Navotas City. Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said the onions were seized by virtue of a Letter of Authority he issued on March 18, 2013 and a Warrant and Seizure Order issued on same date after the surveillance operations of the Customs operatives on the Navotas cold storage confirmed the presence of the illegally imported onions. “The operators of the Marcelo Cold Storage could not show import documents or proof of payment for the duties and taxes on the imported onions stored in its cold storage. So we had to seize the illegally imported onions to avoid them from getting into the local market,” Biazon said. “This is to protect the interest of the local farmers from the ill effects of agricultural products smuggling, particularly onions,” he said. The local onion raisers are partly blaming smuggling as one of the reasons for the local onion industry’s stagnant growth. The BoC is closely monitoring the importations of agricultural products, whether within or outside Customs premises to ensure that only legally imported products like onions are able to get to the local markets. Onion importation is regulated by the Department of Agriculture and is allowed only during lean production months of onions in the country to ensure the absorption of locally produced onions by the local market and to avoid price distortion as well. “We are very much concerned on the interest of the local farmers. This is the reason why we maintain a zero tolerance policy for agricultural products smuggling. We will seize all illegally imported products, particularly agricultural, no matter who are the people behind it and no matter where these illegally imported agricultural products are,” Biazon said. “The confiscated onions will definitely save many local onion growers. It is on this light that our operatives are working doubly hard to get smuggled agricultural products like onions, off the local markets,” the Customs official said.‐section/item/12019‐boc‐seizes‐p3‐m‐onions‐imported‐illegally  

2013 03 23 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  
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