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Local governments improve tax collection via iTAX Category: Top News Published on Saturday, 23 March 2013 19:01 Written by Jennifer A. Ng A NUMBER of local governments revealed over the weekend that their tax-collection efforts improved following their roll-out of a software developed under an €8-million development program of the German Development Cooperation-Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Dubbed as the Integrated Taxation Management System (iTAX), local governments have reported increases in collection with the use of the software in less than two years. The system allows local government units (LGUs) to address inefficiencies in tax collection. The system was pilot-tested in Negros Oriental province and implemented in selected cities and municipalities in the Visayas and Mindanao. In just one year-and-a- half of implementation, tax collection increased by 4.6 percent for 19 municipalities and 7.27 percent for two cities. Leyte province has initially benefited from the success of iTAX operations, with an average 35.34-per-cent increase in revenues. The province of La Union was inspired by this and rolled out the iTAX system, enabling it to increase its tax collection by P71 million in 2008. In succeeding years, the annual revenue of the province went beyond the P100-million mark. Seeing the benefits of the system, several other provinces, including Quezon, Pampanga and Pangasinan, also rolled out the iTAX in their bid to increase their tax collection. “Increasing LGU revenues allow them to allocate more funds for development projects, as well as for reform initiatives. This eventually leads to genuine fiscal autonomy,” said Dr. Herwig Mayer, program manager of GIZ’s Decentralization Program (GIZ-DP). GIZ noted that LGUs rely heavily on real property tax (RPT) for their own needs but collection efficiency rates remained low for many years. The iTAX was developed under GIZ-DP, which started in October 2005. The program will end in June this year. GIZ-DP is anchored on the critical roles of LGUs to raise revenues through effective tax collection and initiate fair and transparent spending to address corruption and mismanagement of public funds. The program’s work components involve support for LGU planning and budgeting; and local policy and local revenue administration with iTAX; policy development and dialogue at national

and LGU level; support of local alliances; and strengthening LGU capacity development through provider networks. The political decentralization component introduced measures for “clarified and refined” budgeting; and alliance building among local communities for the sustainable management of their environment and natural resources. GIZ has introduced Sustainable Integrated Management Planning for LGU Ecosystems as part of climate-change adaptation and disaster-risk reduction measures, citing the majority of LGUs have outdated and no land-use plans. The program allows LGUs to manage their entire territory from ridge-to-reef. It integrates planning and management into the Comprehensive Land Use Plan for all lands, including the 15kilometer municipal water zone. GIZ said that while the growth of LGUs is dependent on their infrastructure, economy, health, education and environment, it is important for LGUs to address sector-specific problems, particularly environmental degradation. The GIZ-DP program also introduced measures to synchronize core operations of LGUs, from planning, investment programming, revenue generation and budget management. GIZ believes that LGUs in the Philippines have a big number of ordinances and resolutions that are hard to implement as they are found to be either conflicting, plainly irrelevant or no longer applicable to the LGU’s current circumstances. The eight-year program also promoted alliances of LGUs to make each of them independent from the transfers of national government. Mayer said efforts to improve LGU systems and processes and decentralized capacity building, and service delivery models and structures have significantly empowered LGUs the program has served and supported. “The next challenge lies in finding a sustainable anchor which will ensure that these consolidated and up-scaled innovations will not be overturned by old practice and new faces. This challenge, the LGUs must welcome and overcome,” he said. Jennifer A. Ng‐news/11058‐local‐governments‐improve‐tax‐ collection‐via‐itax  

Children dying daily due to unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene–Unicef Category: Nation Published on Sunday, 24 March 2013 18:40 Written by Estrella Torres THE United Nations Childrens Fund (Unicef) over the weekend urged governments, civil society and ordinary citizens to remember that behind the statistics are the faces of children. In a statement issued on World Water Day on Friday, Unicef said that globally, an estimated 2,000 children under the age of five die every day from gastrointestinal diseases and of these, some 1,800 deaths are linked to water, sanitation and hygiene. “Sometimes we focus so much on the big numbers, that we fail to see the human tragedies that underlie each statistic,” says Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of Unicef’s water, sanitation and hygiene program. “If 90 school buses filled with kindergartners were to crash every day, with no survivors, the world would take notice. But this is precisely what happens every single day because of poor water, sanitation and hygiene.” Almost 90 percent of child deaths from diarrheal diseases are directly linked to contaminated water, lack of sanitation, or inadequate hygiene. Despite a burgeoning global population, these deaths have come down significantly over the last decade, from 1.2 million per year in 2000 to about 760,000 a year in 2011. Unicef says that is still too many. Unicef said child mortality data show that about half of under-five deaths occur in only five countries: India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Pakistan and China. Two countries—India (24 percent) and Nigeria (11 percent)—together account for more than a third of all under-five deaths. These same countries also have significant populations without improved water and sanitation facilities. Of the 783 million people worldwide without improved drinking water facilities, 119 million are in China; 97 million in India; 66 million in Nigeria; 36 million in DRC and 15 million in Pakistan. The figures for sanitation are even bleaker. Those without improved sanitation facilities in these countries are India, 814 million; China, 477 million; Nigeria, 109 million; Pakistan, 91 million; and DRC, 50 million. Improvements in water and sanitation would greatly contribute to a reduction in child mortality in these counties.

In the Philippines an estimated 26 percent of Filipinos do not have improved sanitation, translating to more than 24 million people. Almost 8 million Filipinos defecate in open spaces, which is the third highest total in the Asia-Pacific region. “Under the leadership of the Department of Health, the Philippines has made significant advances in sanitation over the last 20 years, however we are in jeopardy of not reaching the 2015 Millennium Development Goal on Sanitation because the poorest 20 percent of the population is sliding,” says Tim Grieve, chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Unicef Philippines. Over the last 20 years, the poorest 20 percent of the rural population went from 36 percent open defecation to a staggering 48 percent open defecation. Poor sanitation and poverty go hand in hand, and the rural poor are four times more likely to practice open defecation than in urban areas. Sanitation coverage in poor provinces such as Masbate and Maguindanao is as low as 38 percent and 30 percent, respectively. He added, “Unicef would like to take the opportunity of World Water Day to advocate to national government agencies, local governments, private sector and civil-society organizations to take collective action and increase funding for greater sanitation coverage in poor areas of the Philippines—an important step in achieving the Millennium Development Goal on Sanitation and breaking the cycle of poverty.” Wijesekera says the progress already made since 1990 shows that with the political will, with investment, with a focus on equity and on reaching the hardest to reach, every child should be able to get access to improved drinking water and sanitation, perhaps within a generation. Estrella Torres‐children‐dying‐daily‐due‐to‐unsafe‐ water‐poor‐sanitation‐and‐hygiene‐unicef       

Increase In Abaca Demand Expected Published: March 24, 2013 GENERAL SANTOS CITY (PNA) — The demand for abaca from the nearby province of South Cotabato is expected to increase in the coming months as the area is seen to take the lead this year in the production of the high-value fiber in the entire Mindanao. Henry Tuerco, Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) coordinator, said the province now hosts the biggest production area for abaca in Mindanao following the devastation last December of thousands of hectares of abaca farms in the province of Compostela Valley. He said Compostela Valley was once the biggest producer of abaca on the island and with South Cotabato coming in at the second spot. Abaca is used as raw material for the T’nalak cloth, and is considered as a superior material for specialty paper, cloth, ropes, and other products. “Local abaca markets in the country are now turning their attention to South Cotabato for supplies,” he said. Tuerco said the demand for abaca fiber has also been increasing because of its utilization as a biodegradable material. He said South Cotabato presently hosts around 5,000 hectares of abaca plantations, which are mainly located in the municipalities of Lake Sebu and T’boli. The five barangays (villages) in the two towns where the plantations are located could produce about 4,000 kilograms of abaca fiber every year, or an average of 200 kilos each every quarter, Tuerco said. Rey Palacio, agricultural technologist of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, said the provincial government and FIDA recently provided stripping machines to local abaca cooperatives to mechanize their fiber extraction operations. Rey Engani, manager of the Klowel Agricultural Enterprise Multi-Purpose Cooperative, said the production and market prospects for abaca have been increasing in the last several years.      

Hybrid rice congress to be held in Nueva Ejica in April Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 24 March 2013 17:19 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning THE Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), will host the first National Hybrid Rice Congress at the rice agency’s headquarters in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija province, from April 3 to 5. The congress, which has “Bigas na Sapat, Binhing Hybrid ang Kabalikat” at its theme, will highlight the importance of the hybrid-rice industry in attaining the objectives of the Aquino administration’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP). Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala has been leading the implementation of the FSSP, which has been promoting the consumption of other carbohydrate-rich staples such as saba, sweet potatoes and white corn. In a press briefing, PhilRice Deputy Executive Director Dr. Eduardo Jimmy Quilang said the use of hybrid rice will be expanded under the FSSP to boost farmers’ yield. According to studies, hybrid-rice seeds increase yield by 21 percent compared to certified seeds. “Harvest [yield] can increase by 15 percent or more with hybrid rice. If the weather is good and the farmer is diligent, harvesting 12 metric tons [MT] per hectare is attainable. The usual harvest [yield] when farmers use the inbred variety is 4 tons per hectare,” Quilang said. As such, farmers’ income will go up by P15,000 to P20,000 per hectare with hybrid rice. Based on initial estimates, if hybrid rice is planted in 400,000 hectares of irrigated rice fields, 400,000 tons of harvested rice will be added to the country’s national rice production. The congress aims to develop policies and recommendations to popularize the use of hybrid rice and establish a stronger network with private seed companies. “Even if hybrid rice improves the farmers’ harvest and income, and [despite] a huge potential in helping the country achieve rice self-sufficiency, it remains unpopular because very few plant this variety,” Quilang said. “We are looking forward to the creation of the Philippine Hybrid Rice Industry Development Board and the identification of the target areas where hybrid rice will be planted,” he added. For the congress, PhilRice will partner with the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology and private companies such as Bayer CropScience, Bioseed Research Philippines,

DeVGen, DuPont Pioneer Philippines, SeedWorks Philippines, SL Agritech Corp. and Syngenta to deliver to farmers and seed growers new technologies and trends in the hybrid-rice industry. Prof. Yuan Longping, a 2001 Ramon Magsaysay awardee in 2001 who is considered the father of hybrid rice and a national treasure of China, will speak at the congress. Marvyn N. Benaning‐commodities/11074‐hybrid‐rice‐congress‐ to‐be‐held‐in‐nueva‐ejica‐in‐april  

NDA Importing 700 NZ Dairy Cows By Melody M. Aguiba Published: March 24, 2013 The National Dairy Authority (NDA) is bringing in 700 more dairy cattle from New Zealand as it aims to eventually achieve a 50 percent share of the liquid milk market that assures fresh product and nutrition for more Filipino consumers NDA Administrator Grace J. Cenas said the importation is part of a total of 2,100 dairy animal importation that started last year as financed by a P450 million PL 480 fund. At P140,000 per animal, this totals to P294 million. The target schedule for the shipment of the 700 animals is up to February, 2014. “We’re importing under our multi-year dairy animal procurement program. Through it, we wanted to maintain the price. Every year, the price goes up, and bringing a smaller amount like 600 (will be more expensive),” said Cenas in a press briefing. The Aquino administration has committed to support the development of the domestic dairy industry with increasing budget for NDA reaching to P262 million in 2013 from just P170 million in 2012. “Before 2012 it was only P50 million yearly on the average,” she said. The liquid milk production locally was at 18.45 million liters in 2012, up by 12 percent from 2008, and accounting for 46 percent of the country’s liquid milk market. NDA hopes to grow this by 10 percent in 2013. “How I wish we’ll soon have 50 percent market share of liquid milk,” she said. In relation to the country’s usual dairy cattle importation from New Zealand, the New Zealand government is extending to the Philippines $5 million (New Zealand currency) grant for the Philippines New Zealand Dairy Project. “We hope to start it within this year,” she said. The first component is increasing farm productivity. The New Zealand government will conduct a demonstration on the farmer level on how to increase productivity; how to provide the right feeds and nutrients for the cows to produce higher milk volume. “They will analyze our feed and modify feed regime so cows can produce more than eight liters per animal per day,” she said. The project also involves animal infusion of an initial herd of 300 which may happen in 2014 to 2015.

There is also a budget allocated for dairy development under the five year program. “This is a fund where proposals from dairy stakeholders will be analyzed, and those that will pass may be given support in facilities which should be a common facility for a certain group, not really intended for individual farms. Certain cooperatives may need to have milking machine, so they will stop hand milking,” she said. Each group of smallholder farms should have at least 10 animals in order to maximize use of a machine. “Smallholders can’t go into machine milking with only five animals. They have to pull all their cows together,” she said. NDA will also try to import younger animals to save on cost. “There are interests to explore the possibility of having heifers (female, milk producing animal up for pregnancy) whose ages are from 10 months old to 14 months old,” she said.    

Banks Open 358 Branches By Lee C. Chipongian Published: March 24, 2013 The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has approved 358 new bank branches in the fourth quarter of 2012, higher than the previous quarter’s 159 new bank openings. BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. in a circular letter said the approved applications are either new banking offices or banks which opened in the last three months of the previous year. During the quarter, the central bank approved 291 regular branches, 22 regular other banking offices (OBO), 19 microfinance-oriented branches, 15 microbanking offices (MBO), 10 extension offices and just one new head office license. Of the 358, 18 are new regular branches granted to nine universal and commercial banks while another 18 regular branches are also approved for eight thrift banks. In the meantime there are 10 rural banks with new microfinance oriented branches, OBO and MBO as well as the regular branches. There are 11 big banks that opened 16 branches during the quarter. Based on its updated report, the central bank at the end of 2012 is monitoring and supervising 27,081 financial instutions which are regulated, higher than the numbers as of end-September of 26,629. About 80 percent of the Philippine banking system is controlled by the 37 universal and commercial banks As for thrift banks, there are currently 69 from 71 at the beginning of the year. The rural and cooperative banks have the largest numbers with 599. The rural banks alone total 559 out of 599 while there are 40 cooperative banks to date. Last December, the BSP granted banks with licenses to open branches a three-year extension to open these unopened branches provided that these licenses have not yet expired as of June 17, 2012. The BSP usually give banks six months to open new branches and extensions granted lasts only another six months. The amended Circular No. 777 was signed by BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. last December 13.    

2012 External Debt Totals $60.3B By Lee C. Chipongian Published: March 24, 2013 The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) yesterday reported that outstanding external debt as of end-2012 slipped 0.2 percent or by $104 million year-on-year to $60.3 billion. BSP data showed that compared to the previous quarter ending in September, the country’s foreign debt declined 2.26 percent or by $1.4 billion due mainly to what the central bank explained as negative foreign exchange revaluation adjustments with the US dollar regaining some lost ground particularly against the Japanese yen in the last three months. The BSP also noted that external debt stock declined because of increased investments by residents in local debt papers amounting to $1.4 billion and the negative foreign exchange revaluation adjustment worth $1.4 billion which was because of the strengthening of the US dollar against the Japanese yen. The foreign exchange adjustments were offset by some $2.6billion worth of net availments and $59 million from positive audit adjustments. In a statement attributed to BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr., total external debt as a ratio to gross domestic product continued to decline to 24.1 percent as of end-2012 from 26.9 percent vis-a-vis the GDP in 2011. “The ratio is an indicator of solvency and reflects the country’s capacity to repay long-term foreign obligations,” said the BSP. The currency composition of external debt is still predominantly US dollar-denominated accounts or 48.7 percent of total while 23.8 percent are in Japanese yen and 12.6 percent in multi-currency loans from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. The rest of the accounts comprising the 14.9 percent balance were denominated in 18 other currencies. At the end of 2012, the BSP’s monitored foreign exchange reserves which totaled $83.8 billion is sufficient enough to cover 9.9 times of short-term debt. The BSP said the ratio under the remaining maturity concept is substantially higher than the international benchmark of 1.0. In the statement, the BSP also noted that external debt service ratio (DSR) which is a measure of the sufficiency of foreign exchange to meet currently maturing obligations improved to 7.4 percent in 2012 from 10.2 percent in 2011 because of higher exports in East and Southeast Asia as well as reduced debt payments. “The ratio is still well below the 20 to 25 percent international benchmark, indicating a strong liquidity position vis-à-vis payment obligations,” said the BSP.    

Private Sector Eyes P400-Million LBP Facility For Hybrid Rice By Melody M. Aguiba Published: March 24, 2013

The private sector is pushing for the availment of a P400-million loan facility of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) for hybrid rice propagation which will continuously raise the country’s rice sufficiency amid receding land area. The Hybrid Rice Congress will unify positions of the private sector on how government could resolve problems that confront hybrid rice propagation top of which must be the lack of financing facilities. The congress will be the first gathering of hybrid rice stakeholders in the Philippines on April 3 to 5, 2013. The Sikat Saka, originally introduced by the Department of Agriculture (DA) at the start of the Aquino Administration, paved the way for the LBP loan whose use must now be expanded to more areas. “This loan should be expanded to the Top 20 rice producing provinces,” said Hybrid Rice Congress Co-Chairman Frisco M. Malabanan in a press briefing. “We’re establishing a Hybrid Rice Board to push for the support for hybrid rice.” Malabanan said that while Indonesia’s hybrid rice planting has already expanded to 650,000 hectares due to government support, hybrid rice planting growth in the country must have plateaued after hitting a peak area of 375,000. The Sikat Saka-LBP loan facility was earlier offered to four provinces. But easy terms and faster release are concerns on the loan program. “We can have a tie-up with irrigators association which should have access to the loan. But that has collateral, and we’re not sure how fast credit can be delivered to farmers,” he said. The P400 million facility can finance around 8,000 hectares of rice planting at a cost of P50,000 to P60,000. Expansion can be in the top provinces including Kalinga, Pangasinan, La Union, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Zamboanga Del Sur, Davao Del Sur, and Compostela Valley.

Recognizing the need for credit, Bayer Crops Science-Philippines (BCS) is now incorporating credit into its seed distribution, according to Analen Dela Roxa, BCS head of seeds. “We’re offering credit to address this problem and we’re training and educating farmers through our partnership with the German Foundation GIZ. This is a nationwide training to promote the technology. It will provide marketing (aid to farmers) from seed production to the entire value chain,” said Dela Rosa. Rice planting in the country is threatened by land limitations. For one, in Brooke’s Point, Palawan, rice planters are already planning to convert their land to palm oil trees over some 20,000 hectares, according to Malabanan. There should be prohibitions on such conversion, but the reducing land area is further compelling farmers to shift to hybrid rice. To likewise help resolve credit problems, local government units may be able to also find a good model in the 100 percent guarantee program introduced by Cagayan Governor Alvaro T. Antonio.                          

FDA warns public vs 3 ‘anti­cancer’  products   By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday warned the public against buying an unregistered food supplement and two herbal products that supposedly fight cancer. In an advisory, the FDA identified these products as Aro Baro Churo Organic Tea, Aro Guyabano Tea and Aro Baro Churo Guyabano capsules. FDA director Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go said these products are being sold and distributed nationwide with label claims that are not approved by the FDA. The products were “fraudulently labeled as 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy and that they contain Adriamycin that can kill cancer cells.” But the FDA said that based on its records, the products are neither registered as herbal drugs nor as food supplements. “The public is hereby warned not to buy any food supplements or herbal drug preparations that are not approved by the FDA or any products that claim to cure, treat or mitigate any form of cancer diseases,” Go said. He added that such products “are not only ineffective and expensive but they may cause adverse reactions and events, some of which may be life-threatening.” Go has directed FDA’s regional offices to continuously conduct monitoring and spot-checking for these products and to coordinate with local government units to ensure that these products will no longer proliferate in the market.‐warns‐public‐vs‐3‐anti‐cancer‐products     

DENR warns of land scam pulled by  Antipolo group  By DJ Yap  Philippine Daily Inquirer   1:16 am | Sunday, March 24th, 2013  

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje on Saturday warned the public against fraudulent schemes involving the sale of agricultural or forest lands that are inalienable or not suitable for private ownership. The official raised the alarm after authorities discovered a massive scam involving an Antipolo City-based group selling lands located within the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL). The 26,226-hectare land formerly known as the Marikina Watershed Reservation has been declared a protected area by virtue of Proclamation No. 296 signed by President Aquino in 2011, he said. “Any part of a proclaimed protected area is classified as public forest land and could not be in any manner disposed of, much less sold as a titled property,” Paje said in a statement. The UMRBPL covers the upper reaches of the Marikina watershed in the province of Rizal, straddling Antipolo City and the towns of Baras, Rodriguez, San Mateo and Tanay. The new land scam first drew public attention after an investigative TV series exposed the operations of Vanguard for Resourcefulness and Self-Reliance Livelihood and Housing Foundation Inc., which was reportedly involved in the selling of lands within the UMRBPL. In an entrapment operation on Feb. 20 at the group’s office in Antipolo, VRS Foundation officer Juanito Sta. Maria was arrested after receiving marked money from a DENR asset who posed as a buyer of a property being sold by the foundation. The operation was carried out by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police and the DENR led by Assistant Secretary for Internal Audit and AntiCorruption Daniel Nicer. Further investigation revealed that VRS Foundation was also engaged in buying Certificates of Stewardship Contracts (CSCs) from upland farmers taking part in DENR’s Integrated Social Forestry Program (ISFP) and would use these CSCs to resell plots of lands in the guise of “transfer of rights.”

Initiated in the 1980s, ISFP grants a 25-year stewardship contract to qualified forest occupants, allowing them to settle and till the upland areas. In return, they agree to protect and reforest these lands. But Paje said that under the ISFP regulations CSCs cannot be assigned or transferred without permission from the DENR secretary. “Rights to ISF areas cannot be transferred, sold or even titled; more so if they are inside protected areas,” he said. Read more:‐warns‐of‐land‐scam‐pulled‐by‐antipolo‐ group#ixzz2OWygR6P4                                    

Mango takes center stage in Zambales fest  Philippine Daily Inquirer   10:33 pm | Saturday, March 23rd, 2013  

STREET dancing, float parades and sweet mangoes swept the streets of Zambales as the province held its 13th Mango Festival in Iba. The mango is the largest export product of the province. JOAN BONDOC IBA, Zambales—It’s that time of the year when the aroma of freshly harvested mango wafts through Zambales, a coastal province facing the West Philippine Sea. With orchards teeming with the summer fruit, the province stages the Mango Festival to highlight the contribution of Zambales mango in boosting its reputation as one of the top producers of the best-tasting varieties in the country. In a message during the opening of the 15th National Mango Congress on March 20, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala promised the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) full commitment and support for the industry. “Mango is one of the prime commodities in the DA’s High Value Crops Development Program as it is one of the country’s export winners,” he said. Alcala said the Philippines, in 2012, exported 21,000 metric tons of mango-based products, worth $16 million, and around 9,400 MT of fresh mangoes, valued at $79.5 million. “Count on the DA to continue providing the necessary production and logistics support. In turn, we depend on the support of the private sector and local governments to our programs, specifically in strengthening associations and providing counterpart funding,” he added.

Best mango “When you talk about the best mango in the world, you will surely think of our variety,” said Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. He said fruit experts from the University of the Philippines Los Baños and Bureau of Plant Industry had considered Zambales’ Sweet Elena variety as the best carabao mango strain for commercialization. The mango congress, he said, is a “giant step to invigorate the province’s mango industry and develop the full potential of the mango trade.” The meeting gathered mango producers, farmers, marketers and scientists from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao and featured sessions on increasing mango farmers’ income, packaging and marketing trends in mango products, export-related issues, pest control and sustaining mango trees and orchards. The event opened with a civic parade, float competitions, street dancing contest and cultural performances.

‘Make beautiful’ The 13th Mango Festival started on March 19 and included a first-time event called “parayawan” (to make beautiful), where the provincial capitol and 13 town halls were decorated with replicas of the fruit. Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain II, chair of this year’s festival, said the parayawan was adopted to make the event “more felt in the province.” The festival featured booths showcasing the best of mango products of every town: dried mangoes, wines, tart, jam, candies and souvenir items. Samples of the original Zambales mangoes were presented, complete with mango carving competition and games, on March 21. The search for the mango master chef, mango wine mixing and bartending battles were held on March 22. The festival shifted to a talent search on March 23, coupled by the search for the best bonsai, a grand parade and street dancing. The festival is taken to the beaches of Zambales today (Sunday, March 24) for sports tourism. The night variety show features movie and television stars. Cesar Villa and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon Read more:‐takes‐center‐stage‐in‐zambales‐ fest#ixzz2OWz12SGW    

NDA revises milk production targets   By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The National Dairy Authority (NDA) is revising its projection for domestic milk production for the next four years as milk production outpaces original targets. NDA administrator Grace Cenas said yesterday the agency now expects local producers to be able to provide for 50 percent of the country’s liquid milk requirements by 2016. Under the National Dairy Roadmap, the country aims to enable dairy producers to produce 43 to 46 percent of the total domestic liquid milk requirement. “By 2016, we are hopeful that we can supply more than half of the country’s liquid milk requirements,” Cenas told reporters on the sidelines of the NDA’s 18th anniversary celebration. Raw milk production in 2012 rose 12 percent to 18.45 million liters from 16.45 million liters in 2011. Milk production has been growing at an average of seven percent annually in the last five years. The growth in 2012 milk production exceeded the initial target of 10 percent. The NDA intends to keep the growth rate at 12 percent and above in the coming years. Cenas said domestic producers currently satisfy 40 percent of the domestic liquid milk demand. The milk production target this year is placed at 20 million liters. The agency intends to achieve full sufficiency by 2021. To increase raw milk production, the government is importing more breeding dairy animals this year to improve local stock. More multiplier farms will also be established to increase the breeding stock.The country has a current inventory of 40,696 dairy animals. To fully meet the country’s dairy demand and replace imports, one million dairy animals would be needed. In 2012, the government imported 10 bulls and 2,100 female cows for breeding. The offspring of these breeding stocks are redistributed to capable dairy farms. This year, the NDA intends to procure a 700 additional milking cattle.‐revises‐milk‐production‐targets

Sugar milling season to close a month  early   By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The current sugar milling season is expected to close a month earlier as production has already reached 83.7 percent of the target for the current crop year, according to the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA). SRA administrator Ma. Regina Martin said that because of early planting of sugarcane nationwide, production has already reached 1.79 million metric tons (MT) against the target production of 2.356 million MT for the current crop year which ends in July or August. Martin said the milling season is expected to close by May or early June. She said most of the sugar mills, particularly those in Negros Occidental, would cease to operate by April. Martin said production is expected to slightly increase the production guidance for the year. For crop year 2012-2013, domestic sugar production is expected to reach 2.356 million MT, five percent higher than the total production of 2.243 million MT in the crop year ending August 2012. Of the total output, the SRA has allocated 10 percent to the US quota sugar, 82 percent to the domestic market, and eight percent to the world market. The Philippines is keeping its regular US sugar quota of 138,827 MT this year. Domestic demand is placed at 2.03 million MT, while world market requirement is placed at 247,000 MT. Rosemarie Gumera, SRA policy and planning manager, said that the Philippines shipped last week 84,385 MT to newly opened markets like Singapore, Korea, Japan and Indonesia. In January, the country shipped 27,000 MT of the sweetener under the US quota program. A second shipment to the US is yet to be made.

Quality IT adoption needed to meet 2013  challenges   By Tam Noda ( | Updated March 23, 2013 ‐ 4:49pm 

Ronnie Latinazo, Country Manager of EMC Philippines said technology adoption is a must to meet the  challenges of companies through year 2013. TAM NODA 

MANILA, Philippines -- In line with the explosive demand for analytics to improve business performance, companies and organizations in the Philippines are urged to improve their IT adoption to meet the challenges through 2013. According to IT company EMC Corp., the Philippines with its upgraded economic standing has opened opportunities for increased technology adoption this year. "The Philippines is enjoying a lot of optimism with its improved economy but this resulted also to an environment peppered with a lot of challenges," said Ronnie Latinazo, country manager of EMC Philippines. The Philippine economy hit 6.6 percent in 2012, surpassing the official 5- to 6-percent target. It became Asia's second best performing economy last year, next only to China. This year, the target has been raised to 6 to 7 percent. "Technology is now at the forefront, at the mainstream offering savings and speed of deployment," Latinazo said, noting the Top 3 trends that currently drive today's IT spending are Big Data problems (23 percent), Cloud Computing (18 percent), and Security (14 percent). Among the other IT trends are Windows upgrade cycles, desktop virtualization, storage virtualization, offshoring labor/labor optimization, server virtualization, and green computing or saving on power.

Latinazo added mobility and social networking are major disruptive but opportunistic technology trends. The executive said the digital universe is growing by 7,600 petabytes a day and every IT department in any organization faces two fundamental challenges of lowering operating costs and increasing business revenue. He said about two-thirds of IT budgets are spent on maintaining existing systems with only onethird of the budget left to invest in new applications to increase business revenue. "Advances in new workload will drive continued innovation in storage and storage arrays and Big Data will help customers increase revenue, while mobile and cloud will be the key enablers," Latinazo said. For EMC's part, Latinazo said the company will continue to develop their portfolio of IT solutions throughout 2013. EMC will also continue to invest in their go-to-market strategies to expand their reach and provide customers with the broadest choice in accessing IT with either product or via a service provider.‐it‐adoption‐needed‐meet‐2013‐ challenges                    

DNA marker technology to improve dairy  breeding program   By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) is adopting the DNA marker technology which promises to improve its breeding program and lower breeding cost. PCC supervising science research specialist Jesus Rommel V. Herrera said the use of the technology would have a long term contribution to raising the country’s milk production. To identify a bull with high genetic merit: • based on the performance of his daughters (progeny testing) • bull is already eight years “We will improve our selection scheme for dairy buffaloes by integrating DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) markers. This is our future direction,” said Herrera. The breeding program is expected to reduce the time by which a milk-producing bull may be identified as superior. Bulls could be identified as superior milk producer at two to three years of age instead of waiting until they are six to eight years old. The cost of breeding can also be reduced by at least 50 percent. The cost of test for progeny (to determine offspring’s milking ability) alone is placed at P664,257 per bull by the Agricultural Research Council-Animal Production Institute. The PCC recently completed the upgrading of its bull-breeding center in Nueva Ecija which was funded by a $3 million grant from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

In 2010, the PCC announced its partnership with KOICA to fund the three-year project to increase the breeding capacity and capability of its national bull farm and semen laboratory in Carrangalan, Nueva Ecija. PCC’s improved bull-breeding facilitiy now hosts a state-of-the art semen processing center and cryobanking facility that will be used for artificial insemination services. The improved cryobank, which contains six cryotanks and a liquid hydrogen depot, can conserve the genetic material of selected livestock for a longer period. Along with the improvements made in the national bull farm, PCC personnel are also given advanced training in livestock breeding technology. With the establishment of state-of-the-art facilities for semen processing and cryobanking, the PCC will be able to double its semen production for wider provision of artificial insemination services nationwide. The services that can be provided by the bull breeding facility would not only be limited to the breeding of Philippine buffaloes, but would be extended to other players in the livestock industry. The livestock sector, which has consistently recorded positive growth, is being groomed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) – along with the poultry sector – to be export-competitive ahead of the economic integration with the ASEAN region. The DA is also expanding the local dairy industry through a herd build up and breeding program to sustain the growth in the industry. The National Dairy Authority (NDA) earlier said that the local dairy industry needs more investments in milk production to enable processors to produce more dairy products for domestic consumption and make the prices of local dairy products competitive to imported goods. In the dairy industry’s value chain, the production segment which comprises the breeding of dairy animals and milk harvesting, is a priority investment area because this will spur growth in the processing and marketing segments of the chain. Raw milk production in 2012 rose by 12 percent to 18.45 million liters from 16.45 million liters in 2011. Milk production has been growing at an average of seven percent annually in the last five years.The growth in 2012 milk production exceeded the initial target of 10 percent. The NDA intends to keep the growth rate at 12 percent and above in the coming years. Despite these gains, the local raw milk production can only provide for roughly one percent of the country’s total dairy product requirement of 1.8 billion kilograms. The balance of the demand is covered by imports coming from New Zealand, USA, Australia and France.‐marker‐technology‐improve‐dairy‐ breeding‐program

PCA continues campaign to eradicate scale  insect infestation    (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) administrator Euclides G. Forbes assured yesterday that the agency is continuing with its campaign to eradicate the scale insect infestation plaguing nine towns in the province of Batangas. In a recent field operation, the PCA Scale Insect Control Action Team (SICAT), composed of representatives from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Local Government Units (LGUs,) joined forces in implementing mitigating measures which include pruning, spraying and fertilization in the affected municipalities. “As we conduct field tests, we found out that mineral and/or vegetable oils and dishwashing liquid soap can be used as alternatives to pesticides,” Forbes said. Experts from PCA recommend the use of mineral and/or vegetable oils with four percent concentration for spraying on scale insect-infested palms. It is also recommended for use in coconut nurseries and young palms. The dishwashing liquid soap was used as an emulsifier with a 0.4 percent concentration. As a home remedy solution, the dishwashing liquid soap with a four-percent concentration can also be used. Spraying should be done every 10-15 days. This is cheaper and safer as pesticides can leave residue on nuts. The residue is dangerous to human health as pesticides contain harmful contents.This was supported by Dr. Luis Rey Velasco, an entomologist from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB), who had previously said that the spray has negative impact to natural enemies.In addition, director Norlito Gicana of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) admitted that there is no registered coconut pesticide yet. As part of the timely intervention measures, PCA resident scientist Ambrosio Raul Alfiler reported that thousands of predators have already been released.In Talisay there were 2,500 predators released; 3,000 in Sto. Tomas, Batangas; 1,690 in Dolores, Quezon; 1,000 in Cavinti and Liliw, Laguna and 2,000 in Sampaloc, Quezon respectively. “With the help of our LGUs, farmers, land owners and constant support from the government, these campaign and control measures won’t be possible. A united community effort is essential in getting rid of this infestation,” Forbes noted.‐continues‐campaign‐eradicate‐scale‐ insect‐infestation

Albay sets up center for climate change    (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Albay has established the first of its kind science and technology center for the advancement of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) programs in the country. The Kabalikat Science and Technology Institute (KSTI) is based at the Bicol University (BU) with another pioneering institution established two years ago, the Albay Climate Change Academy. The academy is dedicated to the training of local government officials. The KSTI, on the other hand, focuses on research and experimentation on technologies to improve disaster resiliency. An innovation and landmark in DRR-CCA history, the KSTI was established recently by virtue of a memorandum of understanding signed by Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, Office of Civil Defense regional director Raffy Alejandro, BU president Fay Leah Patria Mata-Lauraya, and Department of Science and Technology assistant regional director Manuel Lucena. Another signatory was David Haut of the US Marine Experimentation Center (MEC) based at the US embassy in Manila. Salceda has pioneered innovative programs in DRR and CCA when he became Albay governor six years ago. The province is regularly buffeted by typhoons and its growth has been stunted by the constant beating of disasters. Zero casualty goal and preemptive evacuation are just two of Salceda’s innovative strategies that proved effective and have been adopted by the national government and other local government units. KSTI’s first major project is funded by a $50,000 grant from MEC, for the construction of a prototype 200 square-foot typhoon-resistant building made of expanded polystyrene that can withstand a maximum wind speed of 170 miles per hour. The structure has its own solar power source and water supply, an example of ready mitigation and risk reduction during disasters.‐sets‐center‐climate‐change    

Dolphins found dead with bullet wounds  Philippine Daily Inquirer   10:36 pm | Saturday, March 23rd, 2013  

A DOG stands guard over a dead dolphin being buried in the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ Fish Cemetery in Dagupan City. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/WESTLY ROSARIO DAGUPAN CITY—Two dolphins and a sea turtle with hack wounds were found dead in separate sections of the Lingayen beach on Friday. The first dolphin was recovered at the beach front near the Pangasinan capitol, said Westly Rosario, chief of the National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center at the Ilocos office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) here. The male Fraser’s dolphin, which measured 2.36 meters long and 1.18 m wide, bore gunshot wounds across its belly, Rosario said. A female Fraser’s dolphin, which measured 2.36 m long and 1.2 m wide, was found off the Pangapisan village in Lingayen. Coast Guard personnel recovered a 15-kilogram Olive Ridley sea turtle (measuring 57 centimeters wide and 78 cm long), which bore a footlong wound across its shell. “It could have been dead for days as its flesh was already rotting,” Rosario said. The turtle and the gunshot-riddled dolphin were buried in the fish cemetery here. Rosario said officials had to decide whether the BFAR would preserve the other dolphin. He said the Lingayen Gulf receive migrating sea animals like dolphins at this time of the year, but fishermen sometimes shoot the mammals because they feed on fish they try to catch. Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon Read more:‐found‐dead‐with‐bullet‐ wounds#ixzz2OXBGsjhT    

EDITORYAL ­ Kailan titigil sa pag­import  ng bigas?    (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated March 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

HINDI maganda ang ipinahayag ng National Food Authority (NFA) na aangkat ng bigas ngayong taon. Ayon sa report, 187,000 metriko tonelada ng bigas ang aangkatin umano sa Thailand at Vietnam. Kung hindi raw aangkat, kakapusin sa pagkain ang bansa. Hindi raw sapat ang ani ng bansa para mapunan ang populasyon. Ang pag-angkat ng bigas ngayong taon ay taliwas sa “mapangahas at mayabang” na pahayag ni Agriculture secretary Proceso Alcala noong nakaraang taon. Ayon kay Alcala, hindi na makakaranas ng kakapusan sa bigas ang bansa ngayong 2013. Sobra-sobra raw ang bigas at maaaring makapag-export pa. Mariin pang sinabi ni Alcala na hindi na aasa sa imported na bigas sapagkat sobra-sobra sa pangangailangan ng bansa ang ani. Napakaganda raw ng ani ng mga magsasaka. Marami ang natuwa siyempre sa pahayag ni Alcala. Sino ang hindi matutuwa na makapageexport ng bigas ang Pilipinas? Kung mag-eexport, ibig sabihin, sobra-sobra ang bigas. At kung sobra-sobra, wala nang magugutom. Hindi na rin mangyayari ang pagkabulok ng mga bigas gaya nang nangyari noon sa Arroyo administration na sobra-sobra ang inangkat --- 500,000 metric tons. Dahil sobra-sobra ang bigas, marami ang nabulok at nasayang lamang sa mga bodega ng NFA. Sa halip na mapakinabangan ng nagugutom na mamamayan, mga uod at bukbok lamang ang nagpasasa. Dagdag pa ni Alcala ang magandang ani raw ngayong 2013 ay dahil sa maayos na sistema ng patubig sa mga bukirin at ganundin ang mga magagandang binhi na ginamit ng mga magsasaka. Sinusuportahan ng pamahalaan ang mga magsasaka para makapag-ani nang marami. Pero pawang kabaliktaran ang mga pinahayag ni Alcala. Hindi sapat ang ani at kakapusin ngayong 2013 kaya nararapat mag-import. Hanggang kailan kaya dedepende ang bansa sa imported na bigas? Naturingang agricultural country ang Pilipinas subalit umaangkat ng bigas. Anong nangyayari sa agri department?‐opinyon/2013/03/24/923355/editoryal‐kailan‐titigil‐sa‐pag‐import‐ng‐ bigas   

Aquino urged to stop campaigning By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Mar. 24, 2013 at 12:02am | 1,881 views 5

President Aquino’s critics on Saturday urged him to quit campaigning for his Team PNoy and instead focus on addressing the country’s problems such as the Mindanao power crisis. At least two lawmakers, Rep. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna and Rep. Rodolfo Albano of Isabela took turns in criticizing Mr. Aquino and dared him to stop being an “absentee president” and to balance his priorities, allegations that the Palace spokesman rejected. Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said the President was not being distracted in discharging the functions of his office when he goes campaigning for his administration’s candidates. “Our people can be assured that the President is perfectly capable of addressing multiple priorities on a daily basis and has been doing so since he assumed office,” Valte said. Casiño took the President to task over the latter’s pronouncement that he is not inclined to declare emergency powers amid the regular blackouts in Mindanao. But he kept assuring that there will be adequate power supply on Election Day, Casino added. “I truly wish nothing happens on Election Day. That is why he should be putting all his efforts in solving the energy problems in Mindanao,” he said. Albano said the President should be able to balance his priorities. “We cannot stop the President that he has to campaign for his candidates, but I think the best that he can do is to balance his position—the need to campaign for Team PNoy; while at the same time focus on the urgent problems of the country,” Albano told the Manila Standard. The former House minority leader said that the President should prove his critics wrong that his presence in campaign sorties and political rallies of the

administration tickets has failed him to fulfill his duties and responsibilities as father of the nation. Casiño complained that when was in General Santos City on Friday, he himself experienced the blackout. He urged the President to act at once on the power crisis in Mindanao before it worsens in the next few months, especially during the elections because it would be very dangerous and the result of the elections there would be very suspect. The president’s ally Rep. Ben Evardone, also spokesman of the Liberal Party-led Team Pnoy, took up the cudgels for Mr. Aquino, saying that the administration is attending to the Mindanao crisis through Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla. Casino lamented that the government has failed to act on the thirteen recommendations made by the Mindanao Power Summit in April last year. Among the recommendations were: • Accelerate the rehabilitation of all the Agus hydro plants not producing their designed capacity (Agus 1, 2, 4, 6), accelerate the implementation of the Balo-i flood control project and rehabilitation of the Pulangui plant to produce at least 254 megawatts of cheap, renewable energy; • Accelerate the construction of renewable energy power plants instead of coal plants; • Compel PSALM-NPC to deploy its power barges to Mindanao to take up the power shortfall while additional capacity is being created from renewable energy sources; and • Create the Mindanao Power Corporation to manage and upgrade the existing government power plants in Mindanao.‐urged‐to‐stop‐campaigning/        

PNoy names Iran envoy, 15 other key govt execs By PNA | Posted on Mar. 24, 2013 at 12:00am | 1,431 views 6

PRESIDENT Aquino has appointed 16 officials in key government positions, Malacañang Palace announced on Saturday. In the Department of Foreign Affairs, President Aquino appointed Eduardo Martin R. Menez as Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Turkmenistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan. Menez replaces DFA Undersecretary for Policy Evan P. Garcia. For the Department of Education, the President has appointed Dina Joana Saltiva Ocampo-Cristobal as Acting Undersecretary. In the Department of Transportation and Communications, Camille R. AlcarazCampos was appointed as Assistant Secretary, Rodolfo John Paul C. Palattao III as Director III, and Eriberto C. Suria as Directo IV under the Office of Transportation Security. For the Department of Justice, the President has appointed Lawyer Florin T. Hilbay as Senior State Solicitor of the Office of the Solicitor General. In the Department of Trade and Industry, Ceferino S. Rodolfo was appointed as Assistant Secretary. There is also a new Commissioner of the Civil Service Commission — Nieves L. Osorio. President Aquino also appointed Antonio A. Fleta as Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture; Madeleine de Rosas Valera as Health Undersecretary, and Raymond E. Liboro as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology.‐names‐iran‐envoy‐15‐other‐key‐govt‐execs/  

Coco farmers join forces By Rio N. Araja | Posted on Mar. 24, 2013 at 12:00am | 463 views 1

LAWMAKERS from coconut-producing regions dominate the House of Representatives, but have never authored or introduced a bill to look after the welfare of 3.5 million coco farmers. At least three big coco farmers’ groups – the Philippine Coconut Producers Federation Inc., Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahan ng mga Magsasaka at Manggagawa sa mga Niyugan, and Philippine Association of Small Coco Farmers’ Organization Inc. – have joined forces to back the Cocofed party-list in the upcoming May 13 elections. At a weekly forum in Quezon City, Charlie Avila, second nominee of the Cocofed party-list, said two-thirds of Congress are from predominant coco provinces, but not even a single law is passed to uplift the lives of the coco farmers. “We have no voice in Congress. This is the reason why we all have agreed to have a party-list,” he told reporters. While there is a law protecting tobacco farmers, there is none for coco farmers who continue to produce 15 billion nuts a year, he said. “Farmers are suffering from big poverty, but bringing big wealth for big manufacturers of coco byproducts,” he lamented.‐farmers‐join‐forces/                  

M’world townships turn off the lights By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Mar. 24, 2013 at 12:01am | 744 views

Megaworld, the country’s largest real estate developer and BPO landlord, in partnership with World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines), joins Earth Hour by leading the country in joining the rest of the world in turning off lights for an hour at its two largest townships, Eastwood City in Libis, Quezon City, and the McKinley Hill in Taguig City. A ceremonial lighting of torch was held Saturday at Venice Piazza in McKinley Hill, with WWF Philippines Vice Chairman and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, Megaworld First Vice President Kevin L. Tan and other Megaworld executives marking the exact second when the turning of lights began. “Our support for Earth Hour signifies our commitment to building townships that espouse environmental sustainability. We enjoin everyone—from our mall-goers, tenants to the BPO companies and residents of our condominium properties inside our two biggest townships—to this worldwide campaign ,” said Tan. WWF-Philippines national director for Earth Hour Angela Consuelo Ibay said Megaworld has been an active supporter of the Earth Hour movement since 2009, citing Eastwood City as one of the longtime venues for Earth Hour celebrations. “The partnership is a symbolic act which represents Megaworld’s ongoing commitment to reduce its usage of energy and other finite resources. More than that, Eastwood City and McKinley Hill are both hubs of development. Humanity is moving towards cities –and the cities of the future—like Eastwood and McKinley Hill. It would do well to inculcate tenants and residents with the message of Earth Hour,” Ibay said. Eastwood City, the country’s first cyberpark and one of Megaworld’s most successful townships that pioneered the LIVE-WORK-PLAY lifestyle concept in the Philippines, is a testament to how far a developer can do when it comes to marrying urbanization and sustainability.

The 17-hectare township is home to 10 office buildings mostly occupied by some of the country’s biggest business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, 19 residential condominium towers, three Megaworld lifestyle malls (Eastwood Mall, Citywalk 1 & 2 and Cybermall) and Eastwood Richmonde Hotel. It is also home to 400 commercial establishments and retail stores and a total of around 55,000 employees work inside this vibrant township. On the residential side, around 23,000 residents live in the various condominium towers in Eastwood City. Meanwhile, the 50-hectare McKinley Hill in Bonifacio Global City is home to 13 office buildings, 23 residential towers, an upscale village covering more than 400 residential lots, 80 commercial establishments and retail shops including those in the Italian-themed Venice Piazza mall, four international schools, four foreign embassies and the country’s first world-class football field, the Emperador Stadium. This e township in the booming Bonifacio Global City in Taguig employs around 45,000 workers, mostly from the BPO companies that made McKinley Hill their preferred hub for their Philippine operations. For Earth Hour, leading BPO companies in Eastwood City and McKinley Hill such as IBM, Accenture, HP, Dell, Wells Fargo, Sitel, Fuji Xerox, Bayer, Logica and Lawson, among others, took part in the township-wide power switch-off. “It was easy to convince the BPO companies to join in this movement because a lot of them have been advocates of the Earth Hour for the past years. We are very optimistic for an even bigger participation from other companies in our townships this year,” explained Jericho Go, first vice president for business development and leasing group, Megaworld. In Eastwood City, residents of condominium towers such as One Central Park, Eastwood Parkview, Eastwood Park Residences and Eastwood LeGrand 1 & 2 will be turning off their lights simultaneously with the office towers and malls. Same goes to the residents of McKinley Hill and condominium towers such as Stamford Residences, Morgan Suites, 115 Upper McKinley and The Tuscany, who have signified their support to the campaign.‐townships‐turn‐off‐the‐lights/

Paje warns vs forest land scam By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Mar. 24, 2013 at 12:01am | 601 views 5

ENVIRONMENT and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje warned the public against buying lands in areas covered by the government’s agro-forestry program, saying these are public forest lands are not alienable and cannot be sold or titled. Paje said the new land scam was exposed by television network GMA 7’s investigative program “Imbestigador” which revealed that an organization was allegedly selling lands within the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape. The environment chief identified the group as Antipolo City-based Vanguard for Resourcefulness and Self-Reliance Livelihood and Housing Foundation Inc. which was supposedly caught selling land within the Marikina watershed reservation which was declared a protected area in 2011. The UMRBPL is a 26,126-hectare protected area covering the upper reaches of the Marikina watershed in the province of Rizal, flowing through Antipolo City and the towns of Baras, Rodriguez, San Mateo and Tanay. “Any part of a proclaimed protected area is classified as public forestland and could not be in any manner disposed of, much less sold as a titled property,” Paje explained. But in an entrapment operation held last February, lawmen arrested VRS Foundation officer Juanito Sta. Maria after he allegedly received marked money from a DENR asset, who posed as buyer of a real property being sold by the foundation. The operation was carried out by agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police and the DENR, led by Assistant Secretary for Internal Audit and Anti-Corruption Daniel Nicer. Further investigations revealed that VRS Foundation was also engaged in buying certificates of stewardship contracts (CSCs) from upland farmers taking part in

DENR’s Integrated Social Forestry Program and would use these CSCs as bases to resell plots of lands in the guise of “transfer of rights.” Started in the 1980s, ISFP grants a 25-year stewardship contract to qualified forest occupants, allowing them to settle and till the upland areas; in return they agree to protect and reforest these lands. However, Paje said ISFP regulations prohibit the assignment or transfer of CSCs without the permission of the DENR Secretary. “Rights to ISF areas cannot be transferred, sold or even titled; more so if they are inside protected areas,” Paje said. Paje called on all other victims to come forward and file charges against the foundation, urging them to report to Nicer’s office any unlawful sale of public land, especially those involving DENR people.‐warns‐vs‐forest‐land‐scam/                            


Malacañang on Sunday said that authorities will be closely watching airports, sea ports and bus terminals as thousands of Filipinos prepare to visit the provinces during the Holy Week break. In an interview aired over state-run Radyo ng Bayan, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte concerned authorities have put in place measures for the Holy Week exodus to ensure the safety of travelers. She said that the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Ports Authority and Philippine Coast Guard are among the agencies that devised security and safety measures. “Most of the preparations for the Holy Week exodus are already in place. So we hope that everybody will be safe,” she added. “Magtataas po ng mga ide-deploy ang MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) at ‘yung ating mga kapulisan para naman po mabigyan ng assistance ‘yung mga lalabas ng Maynila at ‘yung mga babalik din. We would be monitoring, as is our custom, ‘yung mga bus terminals, ‘yung mga seaports, mga airports, and all other relevant places for the coming Holy Week,” Valte said. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will also remain vigilant during the entire Holy Week period. “The AFP assured that it will continue to conduct its joint security operations with other security and law enforcement agencies particularly the PNP through the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Centers (JPSCCs) situated all over the country,” military spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said on Sunday. He explained that the decision to raise alert levels rests on the AFP’s unified commanders depending on their current assessment of the security conditions in their respective localities. “They are fully responsible in making necessary security adjustments to ensure that the week-long commemoration is safe and secure for our people,” he said. The Armed Forces, in support to the police, had been initiating proactive measures aimed at preventing any form of threats and violence which may hamper the observance of the Lenten season. Burgos said the military will provide additional security contingencies like manpower, intelligence, explosive and ordnance disposal teams, K9 and medical teams if needed.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd earlier said that he will be checking security measures in different ports and bus terminals in Metro Manila during the Holy Week. He and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya will inspect ports and bus terminals. “(Transportation) Secretary (Joseph Emilio) Abaya and I will visit all the terminal ports, both air and sea, just to make sure that all our countrymen who will be going back to the provinces will have a safe trip,” the President said. The AFP, he said, joins the whole Filipino Christendom in the holy and spiritual observance of the Lenten Season which signifies the Christian values of sacrifice, unconditional love and forgiveness.‐stories/44214‐govt‐braces‐for‐holy‐week‐exodus                                    

Experts warn of untreatable tuberculosis Published on 24 March 2013 Hits: 180 Written by AFP

PARIS: Disease experts called Sunday for decisive leadership and more research funding to fend off the “very real” risk of an untreatable strain of tuberculosis (TB) emerging as more and more people develop resistance to existing drugs. In a series of papers in the Lancet medical journal to mark World TB Day on Sunday, they warned that health systems risked being overwhelmed by increasing numbers of drug-resistant TB patients. Already, more than 30 percent of newly-diagnosed patients in parts of eastern Europe and central Asia have multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB, a form of the disease which does not respond to the two most potent drugs — isoniazid and rifampin. There were believed to be about 630,000 MDR cases out of some 12 million TB cases in 2011. Extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB, thus far reported in 84 countries, does not respond to an even wider range of drugs. “The widespread emergence of XDR tuberculosis could lead to virtually untreatable tuberculosis,” wrote the authors of one study, led by Alimuddin Zumla, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases and International Health at University College London Medical School. “With ease of international travel and increased rates of MDR tuberculosis . . . the threat and range of the spread of untreatable tuberculosis is very real,” they said. TB was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) 20 years ago, but remains a leading cause of death by an infectious disease. On its website, the UN agency says at least $1.6 billion (1.2 billion euros) is needed annually to prevent the spread of the disease. For their part, the study authors urged “a radical change in political and scientific thinking”. “The global economic crisis and reduced investments in health services threaten national tuberculosis programs and the gains made in global tuberculosis control,” they wrote. “The world needs to acknowledge the serious threat of drug-resistant tuberculosis before it overwhelms health systems.”

Most needed are new drugs and better, quicker diagnostic tools. In 2011, 8.7 million people fell ill with TB and 1.4 million died, said the WHO. Over 95 percent of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and it is among the top three causes of death for women aged 15 to 44. In 2010, there were about 10 million orphans who had lost their parents to TB. It is also a leading killer of people with HIV. The death rate did drop by 41 percent between 1990 and 2011, according to the WHO, which says the world is on course to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reversing the spread of TB by 2015. “We have gained a lot of ground in TB, but it can easily be lost if we do not act now,” WHO director general Margaret Chan said in a statement. An airborne disease of the lungs, tuberculosis is usually treatable with a six-month course of antibiotics. It is spread from person to person through the air and usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body such as the brain and kidneys. Resistance to TB drugs develops when treatment fails to kill the bacteria that causes it — either because the patient fails to follow their prescribed dosages or the drug doesn’t work. It can also be contracted through rare forms of the disease that are directly transmissible from person to person.‐stories/44213‐experts‐warn‐of‐untreatable‐ tuberculosis                    

Reforms in rural, farm policies sought Published on 24 March 2013

The Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) recently convened experts on agricultural development and policy in a workshop in Bangkok, Thailand to take stock of the current situation of the rural and agriculture sector in Southeast Asia, particularly the factors that hindered policy reforms and institutional innovations in agriculture in the region. Searca noted that government policies play a crucial role in diminishing the effects of inhibiting factors to Southeast Asia’s food security initiatives. Aside from market manipulation, the food price shocks that hit South and Southeast Asia in 2008 and 2010— especially agriculture-based developing countries—are believed to have been caused by government speculations and poor policies on food security. To address this gap, Searca urged governments to focus on policies that provide food-based safety nets and social protection programs, enhance agricultural productivity, promote rural development, and support more investments in agricultural research. “The Bangkok workshop brought together ministry officials, academics, researchers, consultants, and experts on agricultural development and agricultural policy from the 11 Southeast Asian countries. They reviewed the current institutional and policy regimes of countries in the region and determined how they affected agricultural productivity and competitiveness vis-à-vis government responses,” Searca said in a statement. By identifying new and emerging cross-country and regional issues on food and agriculture, the workshop produced a new outlook on Southeast

Asian agriculture. The outputs can be used to craft new strategies to address pressing issues that can be scaled up for the whole region and other developing countries in Asia. They can also be used in formulating policies on regional trade integration, regional standards, and equivalence. Searca intends to publish the outputs of the workshops the second edition of its widely disseminated Southeast Asian Agriculture and Development Primer (Saadp) series. The focus of the second edition is on “Policy Reforms and Institutional Innovations in Agriculture: Experiences, Impacts and Lessons.” The Saadp series is an 11-volume series covering Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. It is a concise yet comprehensive reference on Southeast Asian agriculture that aims to promote awareness on the state of agriculture across countries in the region and draw lessons from each country’s experiences. Several participants of the Bangkok workshop will serve as authors of the second edition of the Saadp series.‐reforms‐in‐rural‐farm‐policies‐sought                

Market to trade slower ahead of Holy Week break Published on 24 March 2013 Hits: 208 Written by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR REPORTER

Trading at the local stock market this week is expected to be slower as most investors look forward to the Holy Week holiday break. According to the weekly market outlook of analyst Freya Natividad, slower sessions are expected for this week, as trading activity might thin while local and foreign investors take a leave for the Lenten season. “Long-term players are likely to seize this lull to position, in anticipation of improved local prospects for the initial quarter of the year. Moreover, strong support appears visible at 6,400 [points], as this is still within the PSEi’s [Philippine Stock Exchange index] ascending channel,” she said. “Check on lead sectors and aim for good trading ranges in preferred bets,” Natividad added. On the other significant factors that may affect the market this week, Natividad said that the Cyprus bailout issue may remain to be in the spotlight. She took note that the European Central Bank gave an ultimatum yesterday to Cyprus to arrive on a bailout plan, with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Otherwise, Cyprus would be prevented from accessing emergency funds from the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA).

Natividad said that Cyprus officials have yet to resolve their impasse in adopting a conditioned tax on bank deposits, which was among the conditions for the bailout package. “We believe such option might be supported by Cyprus policy makers, in the absence of other choices. The earlier perceived stigma of potential ‘ripple-effect’ has already been discounted into prices, as investors are more able to look on Cyprus’ overall impact on the euro block,” she said. In the previous week, the PSEi slumped 135 points at 6,518, or less than 2 percent week-on-week even if ended positively flat during the last two days of the week. The benchmark index was dragged by the losses incurred by holdings (-3.9 percent) and property (-2.7 percent). Turnover also decreased 16 percent to P10.554 billion on average, while market breadth skewed in favor of the bears, 91-69. For this week, immediate support is 6,450 points, and resistance 6,570 to 6,600.‐business‐news/44169‐market‐to‐trade‐ slower‐ahead‐of‐holy‐week‐break                

Public warned on buying govt lands Published on 24 March 2013  Hits: 198  Written by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ   

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) warned the public against buying lands in areas covered by the government’s agroforestry program, saying these are public forest lands that are inalienable or could not be disposed of. “Any part of a proclaimed protected area is classified as public forestland and could not be in any manner disposed of, much less sold as a titled property,” Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said in a statement. Paje issued the warning after authorities have discovered a massive landfraud scheme involving an Antipolo City-based group selling lands located within the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL), which was declared a protected area by virtue of Proclamation 296 signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2011. Formerly known as the Marikina Watershed Reservation, the UMRBPL is a 26,126-hectare protected area covering the upper reaches of the Marikina watershed in the province of Rizal, flowing through Antipolo City and the towns of Baras, Rodriguez, San Mateo and Tanay. The new land scam has come to public attention after GMA 7’s investigative program “Imbestigador” featured Vanguard for Resourcefulness and Self-Reliance Livelihood and Housing Foundation Inc. (VRS Foundation), which was reportedly involved in the selling of lands within the UMRBPL. In an entrapment operation held on February 20 at the group’s office in Antipolo City, VRS Foundation officer Juanito Sta. Maria was arrested after receiving marked money from a DENR asset, who posed as buyer of a real property being sold by the foundation.

The operation was carried out by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police and the DENR led by Assistant Secretary for Internal Audit and Anti-Corruption Daniel Nicer. Further investigations revealed that VRS Foundation was also engaged in buying Certificates of Stewardship Contracts (CSCs) from upland farmers taking part in DENR’s Integrated Social Forestry Program (ISFP), and would use these CSCs as bases to resell plots of lands in the guise of “transfer of rights.” Started in the 1980s, ISFP grants a 25-year stewardship contract to qualified forest occupants, allowing them to settle and till the upland areas; in return they agree to protect and reforest these lands. Paje, however, said that under the ISFP regulations CSCs cannot be assigned or transferred without permission from the DENR secretary. “Rights to ISF areas cannot be transferred, sold or even titled; more so if they are inside protected areas,” he said. Paje called on all other victims to come forward and file charges against the foundation, urging them to report to Nicer’s office any unlawful sale of public land, especially those involving DENR people.‐business‐news/44168‐public‐warned‐ on‐buying‐govt‐lands      

Gov’t sees food sufficiency this year Farm reforms to boost coconut, agritourism By Riza T. Olchondra Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:42 pm | Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala FILE PHOTO

The Philippines is expected to reach food sufficiency this year and will focus on further farm reforms to boost agribusiness and agritourism, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. This will not only create value-added output for the domestic economy but would make economic expansion more “inclusive” in the sense that farmers would be able to earn beyond merely selling fresh produce, he said at a roundtable discussion with the Inquirer. The Department of Agriculture was anticipating a new record rice harvest this year of about 20 million tons from the record 18.3 million tons output in 2012, Alcala said. The country is 97 to 98 percent self-sufficient in palay. However, since food sufficiency involves other farm products, Alcala said expansion was also expected from a range of subsectors from corn to coconut. Among the reforms already underway was with the National Food Authority, which is increasingly stocking up in terms of palay or rough rice (which can be stores for longer periods) rather than white or milled rice. It is also importing less, estimated at only 187,000 tons this year (for buffer stock only) from the record 2.4 million tons in 2010. Rice imports were seen to decrease and the Philippines could even export specialty rice this year, Alcala said.

The agriculture chief also highlighted reforms in the coconut sector, where a quedan system has been proposed for implementation so that farmers could choose to participate in value-added production from coco sugar to cocobiodiesel through cooperative- and joint venture-type arrangements. The controversial coco levy fund, which is estimated to yield P3 billion to P4 billion in interest a year, could be tapped to institute reforms once made accessible to the Philippine Coconut Authority, Alcala said. Another innovation is the Sikat Saka program, introduced at the start of the Aquino administration, which paved the way for a P400-million loan facility of the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines for rice propagation. The program, which enables individual farmers to borrow funds using an ATM card, was launched in four provinces and will be expanded to cover all of the top 20 rice-producing areas all over the Philippines. Beyond reforms, the DA is also encouraging foreign and domestic investors, as well as OFWs, to invest in farm production, postharvest facilities and processing, Alcala said. Anticipating the impact of Asean economic integration by 2015 on local rice production and trade, the DA is also spending P26 million on a baseline study on the Philippines’ rice sector in comparison with those of other rice-producing countries. The DA is also proposing a medium-term nationwide rural development program, called the Philippine Rural Development Program, which will initially cover six regions (4A, 4B, 5, 6, 7 and 8) in Luzon and Visayas and all provinces covered under the current Mindanao Rural Development Program Phase 2. In 2011, farm output grew 2.34 percent or lower than the revised 3 to 3.5 percent projected by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. Philippine agriculture comprised only 11.89 percent of economic expansion (measured in terms of gross domestic product) last year though it is the biggest employer in the country. Including agribusiness, the sector’s contribution is estimated at 30 to 35 percent.‐sees‐food‐sufficiency‐this‐year      

2013 03 24 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  
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