Page 1

Economy Posted on April 01, 2013 09:51:34 PM

Gov’t wants to expand hybrid rice experiments THE AGRICULTURE department wants to open more areas to hybrid rice experimentation to ensure the country hits its rice self-sufficiency target. “We are drawing up a proposal to expand phase two of the PhilSCAT program so we can increase rice production in support of our self-sufficiency program,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala told reporters yesterday. The Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology (PhilSCAT), located in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, is a joint project between the Philippines and China. It is focused on the development and establishment of a mechanized hybrid rice farming system. Phase one of the PhilSCAT program ran from 2003 to 2008, while phase two began in September 2011. Under phase one, the center was able to produce seven lines of hybrid rice and develop equipment and machinery that reduced post-harvest losses by 5-10%. “Under phase two, we have a five-hectare experimentation site but we want to establish other five-hectare sites in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Mr. Alcala said. “We will gradually expand each site to 100 hectares.” “We hope to finish the proposal within this month, then forward it to the Chinese ambassador so we can start the expansion within the first half of the year,” Mr. Alcala added. Phase two of PhilSCAT also aims to develop a technology that will utilize rice hull to produce biogas, a renewable energy source. The Agriculture department’s Food Staple Sufficiency Program aims to achieve self-sufficiency in rice by the end of 2013. The target for this year is set at 20.04 million metric tons (MT) of rice, 11% higher than last year’s actual production of 18.03 million MT. National Rice Program Coordinator Dante S. Delima told reporters that the target this year is to increase the area where hybrid rice is planted to 281,000 hectares from 146,000 hectares in 2012. Mr. Delima pointed out how hybrid rice harvests are higher: 10 MT per hectare of land planted with hybrid rice compared with 4 MT per hectare with ordinary rice. In China, the hybrid rice harvest is higher at 14 MT per hectare. Each hybrid rice experimentation site under PhilSCAT will be equipped with machinery and equipment from China. These machinery and equipment will be used along with the hybrid rice

seeds that will be developed by PhilSCAT scientists. The rice seeds will be sourced from the Philippines and China. The seeds will be crossbred to come up with a variety that can be grown here in the Philippines. “Some of the machines already arrived last year for the PhilSCAT phase two,” Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Kequing told reporters yesterday. “We have allocated an initial $500,000 for phase 2 of the project.” Asked how much the expansion of PhilSCAT will cost, Mr. Alcala said “we are still trying to finalize the budget and we will include it in our proposal.” Technologies that will be developed by PhilSCAT scientists will be commercialized. The Chinese and Philippine governments will hold the rights to these technologies, thus commercial producers that use these must pay royalties. – RJRP - See more at:


Posted on April 01, 2013 09:51:07 PM

Constraints to coco industry growth tagged TACLOBAN CITY -- Poor access to technology and lack of unity among the stakeholders have been identified as the two main constraints to the development of the coconut industry in Eastern Visayas. The 2012-2016 Eastern Visayas Coconut Development Roadmap, released by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) last week, traced poor technology access to the high cost of technology, lack of awareness of the existence of technology, and hesitance to shift to modern farming methods. Traders, meanwhile, cannot earn the highest income possible from coconut because of the poor state of farm-to-market roads, and lack of affordable financing. For processors, their main challenge is how to meet the standards imposed by foreign traders. The report noted that the lack of unity among stakeholders is detrimental to addressing inefficiencies in the entire production process. “Producers are hindered from forming themselves into cooperatives because they do not appreciate the value of organizing. The disintegration among oil millers limits their ability to promote their interests, especially in dealing with export markets,” it read. Edilberto V. Nierva, PCA regional manager, said the agency is currently implementing a participatory coconut replanting program in the region to encourage farmers to plant highyielding varieties. Last year, about 12,000 hectares of land were planted with new coconut trees. “We have also been distributing bags of salt fertilizers for application in coconut farms. The PCA expects a 25% increase in yield for every tree applied with fertilizer. Production growth is expected to reach 100% after three years,” Mr. Nierva said. However, he said that Region 8 farmers have not fully adopted the technology. On the issue of disintegration, Mr. Nierva said PCA has been meeting various stakeholders regularly. Coconut summits have been held every year that led to the formation of the Regional Organization of Coconut Stakeholders. “This movement is composed of representatives of farmers, farmers cooperative, nongovernment organizations, and oil millers,” he added. -- Sarwell Q. Meniano - See more at:


Posted on April 01, 2013 09:50:35 PM

Abaca disease eradication prioritized TACLOBAN CITY -- For this year, the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) will focus on preventing the recurrence and spread of abaca diseases in Eastern Visayas, the country’s second highest abaca producing region. Jeffrey G. Espeña, FIDA regional director, said FIDA has allotted P7.6 million for the abaca disease eradication program targeted at 3,800 hectares of farms in the region. The first round of treatment this year will focus on 2,000 hectares in the towns of Burauen, Javier, and Albuera in Leyte; and Dolores in Eastern Samar. Later this year, the program will cover 1,800 hectares in Kananga and Ormoc City in Leyte; Saint Bernard and Hinunangan in Southern Leyte; and Lavezares in Northern Samar. “We have been visiting previously infested farms to check possible recurrence. We have to ensure that disease incidence in an area should be 5% or less before turning it over to farmers for sustainable management,” Mr. Espeña said. Last year, FIDA treated 3,594 hectares in Burauen and Mahaplag in Leyte as well as in Allen in Northern Samar. The agency launched massive eradication activities in 2009. In 2011, abaca mosaic and bunchy top virus infested 19,107 hectares out of the 43,498 hectares devoted to abaca in Leyte and Southern Leyte. Mr. Espeña told BusinessWorld FIDA has received reports of fresh infestations in Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar and Biliran provinces. However, the infestation in Samar Island and Biliran province is only minimal compared to Leyte and Southern Leyte, he said. “We have been closely watching farms close to national roads. We believe that transport of umbak or dried leaf sheath has contributed to the spread of aphids to new farms. It’s hard to control this activity with our very limited resources,” he added. Bunchy-top is caused by a virus spread by banana aphids while the virus spread by aphids causes mosaic. The disease brings down production. Abaca farmer Danilo Peñola from Barangay Lanawan, Macarthur, Leyte, said that before the infestation, their three-hectare abaca farm produced 200 kilograms of fiber. It significantly went

down to only 50 kilograms starting 2010. Mr. Peñola is one of the more than 10,000 abaca farmers in Leyte. “There have been no treatments in our farms. We already reported this problem to authorities but it seems that we are neglected,” he said. His wife Ruperta, village chief of Lanawan, said all fathers in their area are abaca farmers. Hence all households have felt the pinch of low production. -- Sarwell Q. Meniano - See more at:

DA to revive Chinese-funded hybrid rice program By: Orti Despuez,  April 1, 2013 10:40 PM The online news portal of TV5 MANILA - The Philippines will revive a hybrid rice research center partly funded by the Chinese government, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Monday. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the agency this month will submit a proposal to the Chinese government for the second phase of the Philippine Sino Center for Agricultural Technology (PHILSCAT 2), involving the development of hybrid rice varieties suited to the Philippine climate. “We are drawing up proposals for the expansion and fine-tuning of the second phase of PHILSCAT program so that we can further increase rice production in support of our selfsufficiency targets,” Alcala told reporters. “It will involve planting of hybrid rice under mechanized environment,” he said after meeting with Chinese Ambassador Ma Kequing, SL AgriTech Corp president Henry Lim Bon Liong and Professor Yuan Long Ping, the father of hybrid rice. “With better coordination with our Chinese counterparts, we want expand the program implementation nationwide,” Alcala said.

A joint project between the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China, PHILSCAT is a research facility for hybrid rice farming that was sidelined for several years. The second phase was supposed to run from 2011 to 2016, but stalled after both countries lacked coordination. Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante Delima, who is also National Rice Program coordinator, said PHILSCAT 2 would be pursued within the first half of this year, adding that the five-hectare experimental site in Nueva Ecija will be expanded to 100 hectares. “This pilot site will be replicated in Visayas and Mindanao, with each site equipped with farm machinery from China,” Delima said. “This will help us nearly double the area where hybrid rice is planted to 281,000 hectares from 146,000 hectares in 2012. For 2014, they want to expand it to 350,000 hectares,” he said. Hybrid rice cornered only six percent of the Philippines' total area planted to rice in 2011. The DA plans to increase this to eight percent this year. Delima said a farmer can produce 10 metric tons of rice per hectare using hybrid rice, as against four using other varieties. “In China, farmers can produce up to 14 metric tons per hectare with hybrid rice,” he said. Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing said some of the machines had arrived last year as part of the $500,000 funding for the PHILSCAT 2. Besides the development of a mechanized hybrid farming system, Ma said PHILSCAT 2 aims to develop a technology that will use rice hull to produce biogas. Alcala said that the development of an alternative renewable energy source will be beneficial to the environment since it will use the rice husks for biogas that used to be a waste. “It will contribute to increased income for farmers which is a benefit that Filipinos do not get by importing rice,” he said.

NFA urged: Import rice, shun private traders By:  April 1, 2013 7:45 AM  

NFA rice. REUTERS FILE PHOTO The online news portal of TV5 MANILA, Philippines - The National Food Authority (NFA) should just import extra rice supplies on its own, instead of bidding out concessions to suspicious private traders, a member of Congress said in a news release. “We would definitely prefer that the NFA itself carries out all future rice importations meant to secure the nation’s reserve supply of the staple,” said LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty, a member of the House trade and industry committee. “This will prevent smugglers and profiteers from exploiting the rice importation program through the use of dummies,” Ty said. Ty made the statement shortly after the NFA said it will have to import some 187,000 metric tons (MT) of rice this year to augment the country’s stockpile. The volume is about 63 percent less than the 500,000 MT of rice imported by the NFA last year, some of which were brought in by specially permitted private merchants. Meanwhile, Ty welcomed the Bureau of Customs’ cancellation of the accreditation of 39 rice importers found financially incapable of bringing in large shipments.

“The NFA is the only entity authorized to issue specific (rice) importation permits, so Customs on its own should not be separately accrediting (rice) importers to begin with,” Ty said. Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon earlier acknowledged that rice smugglers may have used some if not all of the 39 entities as dummies in the past. The discredited rice importers included 16 cooperatives, supposedly of farmers. Customs has already filed charges against 31 officers of four Luzon-based cooperatives implicated in an attempt to smuggle some 78,000 bags of rice worth P93.6-million from Vietnam through the Port of Legazpi City in Bicol. “Rice smugglers are a menace to Filipino farmers. They also threaten President Aquino’s strategy to make the country eventually self-sufficient in domestic production of the grain,” Ty said. Smugglers not only defraud government of badly needed tax income, they also compete unfairly with local rice growers, he said. “Our rice growers deserve ample protection and support, so they can help fulfill the administration’s aspiration to quickly build up national production,” Ty said. Ty earlier introduced House Resolution 2806, calling on government to ensure national food security by strategically stockpiling reserves of essential grains such as rice, corn, and milled soya. The lawmaker cited the need “to cushion the Philippines from highly volatile commodity prices and potential future shortages." He warned that extreme climate conditions have put the world’s food crops under constant risk of being lost due to severe flooding and harsh drought.

PH, China to promote hybrid rice     Published on Tuesday, 02 April 2013 00:00  

The Philippines and the People’s Republic of China have agreed to promote bilateral exchanges for the development of hybrid rice production in the country. This is consistent with the goal of modernizing Philippine agriculture as legislated by the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) for the development strategy of a mechanized hybrid rice farming system. Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Kequing said both countries will further promote the exchanges and cooperation in Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology (PhilSCAT) based at the Central Luzon State University which is implementing the agreement. “We are on the second phase where the Chinese government provided machineries and technologies for the Philippines. For the first phase, I believe we have already made progress in developing some new types of hybrid rice seeds here in the Philippines,” Ma said. The rice seeds will be both sourced from the Philippines and China. The seeds will then be crossbred to come up with a variety that can be grown here in the Philippines. PhilSCAT bred seven new hybrid lines, initially named PhilSCAT 1 to 7, using existing local rice genetic resources. Data show that using PhilSCAT demonstrated machines, the traditional labor input -- at least 20 man-days per hectare for seedbed preparation, pulling of seeds and transplanting – has been reduced to only five man-days per hectare. The total manual labor input of harvesting with traditional mechanical threshing operations of about 25 man-days per hectare has also been significantly reduced to two man-days per hectare. Meanwhile, post-harvest losses were reduced by 5 to 10 percent using PhilSCAT’s rice combine harvester and thresher, mechanical dryer and rice mill. The development and commercialization of hybrid rice varieties is one of the three component projects of the second phase of the bilateral agreement between the Philippines and China. The first phase covered the period from 2003 to 2008.

The second phase of the agreement started in 2011 and will end in 2016. “The initial value for the second phase will be $500,000” she added. The two other projects that will be carried out under the agreement are agricultural engineering and farm mechanization and the adoption of Chinese biogas technology using human and animal manure. “PhilSCAT will also aim to develop a technology that will utilize rice hull to produce biogas,” said Ma. The biogas technology would address the problem of energy supply and sanitation in rural areas.


Posted on April 01, 2013 09:50:05 PM

Philippines, NZ explore areas of cooperation THE PHILIPPINES and New Zealand are looking at geothermal and hydroelectric energy as another possible area of cooperation, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said. In a statement, the DFA yesterday said that Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Virginia H. Benavidez and Vice Consul Glenn Joseph Q. Obach met with the executives of MB Century Drilling & Energy Services (NZ) Limited, Marcel Manders and John Barrat, in New Zealand last Feb. 26 to discuss possible areas of cooperation between the two countries, particularly in renewable sources of energy. “Geothermal energy development and cooperation in renewable sources of energy are complementary and priority areas of cooperation between the Philippines and New Zealand, both at the government and private sector levels,” the statement read. During their meeting, Mr. Manders highlighted how MB Century is involved in oil drilling in Palawan, among others. He also said MB Century specializes in “reservoir data logging, steamfield design and engineering, hydro and geothermal generating plant maintenance, machine shop services-precision engineering, fabrication services, and industrial coatings.” Messrs. Manders and Barrat also praised the work ethic of MB Century’s Filipino welding team. -- DEDS - See more at:,NZ-explore-areas-of-cooperation&id=67995#sthash.yywMYbVk.dpuf

Philmech to help 28 rice processing centers     Published on Tuesday, 02 April 2013 00:00   

The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) will provide technical assistance to 28 small to large-sized rice processing centers (RPC) worth P421 million to help farmers reduce post-harvest losses and become less dependent on private millers. PhilMech executive director Rex L. Bingabing said the project, called RPC 1-2-3, aims to establish milling facilities in farming clusters devoted to palay (unmilled rice) so farmers do not have to transport the grains for milling. The regional offices of the Department of Agriculture (DA) will implement the project while PhilMech will provide post-harvest technology and training of the farmer organizations that will operate, manage and maintain the rice centers. Bingabing said transporting palay over long distances to have them milled by private operators is also a cost burden to small farmers. An RPC-1 or small scale rice center will cost P6 million each; a medium-sized rice center, called RPC-2, will cost P15 million each; and a large rice center, called RPC-3, will cost P31 million each. The DA will establish 13 RPC-1 centers costing P78 million; seven RPC-2 centers, P105 million; and 8 RPC-3 centers, P248 million for a total cost of P421 million. In 2012, the DA established RPC-2 centers. Based on the field surveys of PhilMech, the 13 RPC-1 centers will be distributed as follows: Region 4A (Calabarzon), one; Region 4B (Mimaropa), two; Region 8 (Eastern Visayas), four; Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), two; Region 13 (Caraga), two; and Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, two. For the RPC-2 centers, the distribution is as follows: Region 4A, one; Region 5 (Bicol), three; Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), one; and Region 13 (Caraga), two. For the RPC-3 centers, Region 1 (Ilocos Region) will get one; Region 3 (Central Luzon), two; Region 6 (Western Visayas), two; and Region 12 (SOCCKSARGEN), one. Bingabing said that the based on an earlier pronouncement of the DA, government will shoulder 85 percent of the cost of an RPC and the recipient or beneficiary the remaining 15 percent. Only qualified farmer associations (FAs) or irrigation associations (IAs) can qualify to become recipients of the RPC and other farm machinery that PhilMech is coordinating for distribution nationwide under the Rice Mechanization Program of the DA. Bingabing said that besides building or facilitating the construction of the rice centers, PhilMech will also train FAs and IAs on how to maintain the facilities, especially the large types.He added that based on PhilMech’s experience, farmer organizations can be trained to operate and maintain various farm machinery like mechanical driers and tramline systems.

Gov’t to end farmers’ palay milling woe     Published : Tuesday, April 02, 2013 00:00   Article Views : 17   Written by : Joel dela Torre  

FARMERS will soon not need to transport palay over long distances to have their produce milled. The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) will establish a total of 28 small to large-sized rice processing centers (RPC) worth P421 million which will help farmers reduce postharvest losses and become less dependent on private millers. According to PhilMech Executive Director Rex L. Bingabing, the project, called “RPC 1-2-3,” aims to establish milling facilities in farming clusters devoted to palay (unmilled rice), so farmers do not have to transport their produce over long distances to have them milled. The Department of Agriculture, being the mother unit, will implement the project in the field. On the other hand, PhilMech will provide the technical assistance through the provision of postharvest technology and training of the farmer organizations that will operate, manage, and maintain the rice centers. Bingabing said that transporting palay over long distances to have them milled by private operators is also a cost burden to small farmers. PhilMech said that the 13 RPC-1 will be distributed as follows: Region 4A (Calabarzon), one; Region 4B (Mimaropa), two; Region 8 (Eastern Visayas), four; Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), two; Region 13 (Caraga), two; and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, two. For the RPC-2, the distribution is as follows: Region 4A, one; Region 5 (Bicol), three; Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), one; and Region 13 (Caraga), two. For the RPC-3, the distribution is as follows: Region 1 (Ilocos Region), one; Region 3 (Central Luzon), two; Region 6 (Western Visayas), two; and Region 12 (SOCCKSARGEN), one.

PHL targets $50­million coco coir exports  by 2016   Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Monday, 01 April 2013 19:56  

THE Philippines  is  seeking  to  increase  export  receipts  from coco coir shipments to $50‐million by 2016, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.  Trade Undersecretary Merly M. Cruz said during the recent Second National Coco Coir Summit that the  Philippines is targeting to become one of the top three world exporters of coco coir in three years.  The  government  is  also  planning  to  increase  domestic  sales  to  P1.7  billion  and  attract  P2  billion  in  investments in the local coconut industry.  Citing  2011  data  from  the  Philippine  Coconut  Authority  (PCA),  Cruz  noted  that  the  country’s  coconut  production  and  coco  coir  exports  lag  behind  that  of  major  coconut‐producing  countries  such  as  Sri  Lanka, India and Thailand.  PCA  noted  that  the  Philippines  produces  only  6,037  metric  tons  (MT)  of  coco  coir  products  for  export  from  the  15.245  billion  nuts  harvested  from  3.562  million  hectares  of  land.  In  contrast,  Sri  Lanka  produces  120,616  MT  of  coco  coir  export  products  out  of  395,000  hectares  of  land  that  produces  2.7  billion nuts.  “We  really  need  a  very  strong  convergence.  The  country  needs  support  industries  such  as  transport,  machineries and ancillaries,” she said.  Cruz said the Philippines should take advantage of the strong demand for coconut products such as coco  coir and coco peat in other countries.  She noted that the Philippines’ major export markets for coco coir and peat products are China, Japan,  Taiwan,  the  United  States,  South  Korea,  Malaysia,  Singapore,  Japan,  the  European  Union,  the  United  Arab Emirates (UAE), India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. 

Cruz also cited market prospects for the coco coir and peat. These include coir geotextile, coconets, coco  fascines for projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways and mining sites and for export to  China, the US and Asia.  She  also  noted  that  other  local  coco  coir  products  such  as  coir  tufted  mats  and  coir  twines  are  in  demand in the US, the EU and Asia.   

In Photo: Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo (third form left), together with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 11 Regional Director Marizon S. Loreto, looks at the coco coir twining facility awarded to 50 coco coir twine producers of the Talomo Riverside Multipurpose Cooperative on March 22 in Calinan, Davao City. This facility is one of the 1,000 shared service facilities (SSFs) that the DTI intends to set up nationwide within the year. SSF is the DTI’s flagship program for small and medium enterprises development that provides facilities shared by a number of beneficiaries, such as cooperatives, institutions and communities, to help micro and small enterprises be competitive in the local and global markets. (DTI-PRO)

750 hectares of farms hit by ‘Pablo’ now  rehabilitated     Category: Regions   Published on Monday, 01 April 2013 19:58   Written by Manuel T. Cayon / Mindanao Bureau Chief   DAVAO CITY—A team of farm technicians from the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 (South  Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces and General Santos City or Soccskarsargen)  has  rehabilitated  750  hectares  of  farms  in  Compostela  Valley  province  that  had  been  ravaged  by  Typhoon Pablo (international code name Bopha), and declared these as ready for planting.  According to DA Task Force Alayon, the number represents 148 hectares added to the 602 it had cleared  in March after their exit conference with Gov. Arturo Uy of Compostela Valley.  In its final report to Uy, the task force said 607 hectares were upland farms, while 143 hectares were  lowland farms.  The DA team also brought eight four‐wheel drive tractors to cultivate the farms, making these ready for  replanting.  The tractors were loaned from the DA‐12’s research outreach stations, the Kidapawan City government,  Koronadal  City‐based  Firmus  Farm  Service  Cooperative  and  Gawad  Saka  2012  national  winner  Jaime  Sillador of North Cotabato province’s Carmen town.  Among  the  areas  cleared  and  readied  for  planting  were  378  hectares  of  upland  farms  in  Compostela  town, 50.55 hectares in New Bataan town and 46.1 hectares in Monkayo town.  An aggregate total of 133 hectares of lowland areas in Monkayo and Compostela were cleared of debris  and cultivated to allow farmers to resume rice production.  A DA statement quoted Councilor Armando Almaza of Barangay Kahayag in New Bataan as saying that  the team’s assistance gave them hope to begin anew and helped relieve their suffering from the effects  of Pablo.  It also quoted Johnny Go, a farmer from Barangay Mapaca in Compostela town, as saying that hiring a  tractor for upland cultivation costs at least P3,500 per hectare and the cultivation of lowland rice fields  costs roughly P20,000 per hectare. 

Earlier, the DA‐12 team gave relief packs, laminated tarpaulins, seeds of open‐pollinated corn varieties  and certified palay (unhusked rice) seeds in December.  The  department  also  gave  P15.154  million  from  its  Quick  Response  Funds  to  Compostela  Valley,  including 5,000 rolls of laminated sacks worth P6 million, part of which were also distributed to Davao  del Norte and Davao Oriental provinces.  The  DA‐12  also  distributed  4,000  bags  of  certified  palay  seeds  worth  P4.8  million,  800  bags  of  open‐ pollinated  variety  white  corn  seeds  worth  P800,000  and  some  298  cans  of  assorted  vegetable  seeds  amounting to P1.5 million for typhoon victims.


Customs bureau plays favorites By Ramon Tulfo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   2:46 am | Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013  

In an effort to show the public that it’s doing its job going after rice smugglers, the Bureau of Customs has been holding a supposedly legitimate shipment of rice in Legazpi City. Three importers’ groups—Samahan ng mga Kapampangan sa San Ildefonso Multi-purpose Cooperative, Sili Multi-purpose Cooperative, and Green Valley United Cooperative—are complaining that the bureau seized their shipments despite being given import permits by the National Food Authority (NFA). The cooperatives imported a total of 94,000 sacks of rice from Vietnam under the NFA’s Private Sector Financed Importation Program. * * * On Sept. 11, the customs bureau’s office at the Port of Legazpi ordered the seizure of the rice cargo. Because the government approved the rice importation, Nestor Puangco, chief of the foreign operations division of the NFA’s grains marketing and operations department, validated the shipping documents of the imported rice on March 4. To back up its validation of the rice shipment, the NFA told the customs bureau it would settle the corresponding duties and taxes for the shipment as provided for by law. But the Bureau of Customs is still holding the shipment, records show. * * * In other rice shipments that didn’t have the imprimatur of the NFA, the customs bureau appears to look the other way. There are rumors within the bureau that the mother of a customs official is behind some of the smuggled rice shipments. Needless to say, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon should look into those rumors and identify the customs official.

* * * We serve and protect—Philippine National Police motto. On the night of March 10, Randy Rejesus, 27, was stopped at a checkpoint at General Trias, Cavite. Rejesus, who was driving his motorcycle, had just come from a birthday party and was on his way home. A witness, whom I will just identify as Peter, says he saw Rejesus being beaten up by several policemen at the checkpoint. Rejesus was then taken to the police station near the checkpoint. He was never heard from again. Rejesus’ sister, Marissa, came to us at “Isumbong Mo kay Tulfo” to report her brother’s disappearance. My staff went to work. They found the eyewitness by discreetly asking around. As an aside, my all-female staff makes better investigators than the ones in most police stations. “Isumbong” brought the eyewitness to the Cavite Provincial Police Office where, through a photo gallery, the eyewitness identified the policemen who allegedly ganged up on Rejesus: PO1 Rogie Fabrigas Cayaga, PO1 Allan John Ferrer, PO2 John Leo Amon Francisco and PO3 JohnJohn Dichoso Pilapil. Can we, ordinary citizens, trust Cayaga, Ferrer, Francisco and Pilapil to serve and protect us? If what our eyewitness is saying is true, the entire force of the General Trias police station should be made accountable for Rejesus’ disappearance since he was last seen at the station. * * * Reelectionist Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano was elected the first time to the Senate in 2007 because of his tirades against the abuses committed by then First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. Now, someone has accused persons in the barangay of his brother, Barangay Capt. Lino Cayetano of Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, of being abusive. A taxi driver, Noel Bulaay, complained to me that he was taken to Cayetano’s barangay hall where he was allegedly divested of his day’s earnings and P5,000, for a minor traffic incident. The incident happened in Pasay City, way out of Lino Cayetano’s jurisdiction. Read more:‐bureau‐plays‐favorites#ixzz2PGbWFcIq    

Customs to auction Vietnam rice seized in  Legazpi port     Published : Tuesday, April 02, 2013 00:00   Article Views : 18   Written by : People's Tonight  

LEGAZPI City -- The Bureau of Customs (BOC) finally ordered the unloading of 94,000 bags of Vietnam rice which was held aboard “MV Minh Tuan 68” (Vietnamese vessel) since the BOC issued a warrant of seizure and detention on both ship and cargo since September 2012. In a visit here during the Holy Week, BOC Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Danilo Lim announced that the BOC would bid this April the 94,000 bags of imported rice worth Php135 million. BOC district collector for Bicol lawyer Leovigildo Dayoja said “the auction will give the government additional revenue, but it is not assured of 100% return due to the depreciation of the rice shipment.” Dayoja also said the BOC has spent Php3 million for pilotage, wharfage, arrastre service, warehouse lease, fumigation, labor, supplies and trucking service.‐customs‐to‐auction‐vietnam‐rice‐seized‐ in‐legazpi‐port                  

Two in China first known deaths from H7N9 bird flu By AP  April 01, 2013 ‐ Updated 545 PKT   Print this story


BEIJING : Chinese authoriti es say two Shanghai men have died from a littleknown type of bird flu in the first known human deaths from the H7N9 strain. Medical officials say it's not clear how they were infected, but that there's no evidence of human-to-human transmission. China's National Health and Family Planning Commission says on its website that a third person, a woman in Anhui province, also was infected and is in critical condition. The medical commission says there's no sign that any of the three contracted the disease from each other, and no sign of infection in the 88 people who had closest contact with them. H7N9 is considered a low pathogen strain that is not easily contracted by people. China says the World Health Organization has been notified of the case.

R728‐M fertilizer scam witness rescued  By Leonard D. Postrado  Published: April 2, 2013  

MANILA, Philippines --- The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has rescued a supposed star witness in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam after his four months captivity inside a Taguig City posh condominium owned by the second biggest supplier of fertilizer for the Department of Agriculture (DA) project during the Arroyo administration. Rescued by the NBI was Benhur Luy, a lead employee of JLN Group of Companies owned by Janet Lim-Napoles, who was allegedly held captive by the businesswoman and her brother Reynald Lim, also known as Jojo Lim, since December, 2012 inside her posh condominium at Pacific Plaza Tower, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City. Of the two alleged abductors of Benhur, NBI-Special Task Force headed by Assistant Regional Director Rolando Argabioso, only Lim was arrested in the rescue operation they carried out at the condominium of Napoles last March 22. However, Lim complained of chest pains prompting the NBI agents to rush him to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City. “The complainants alleged that Benhur, as the lead employee of JLN Group of Companies, who allegedly oversaw the implementation of several governmentfunded projects on behalf of JLN Group of Companies like the alleged Fertilizer Scam, Malampaya Fund Scam, and Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) anomalies, maybe the reason he is being detained,” Argabioso told reporters. Lim and Napoles were charged before the Department of Justice (DOJ) with Violation of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines or Serious Illegal Detention. The DOJ, for its part, has sent subpoenas to the suspects and they were expected to attend the first preliminary hearing of their case on April 15. Records show that the rescue of Benhur stemmed from the request of the victim’s relatives who, through their counsel, Atty. Levito Baligod, wrote to Justice Secretary

Leila de Lima last March 1 and informed her that their kin was being held captive by a group headed by Napoles and Lim. Arturo Fransisco and Gertrudes Luy, parents of the victim, said in a joint sworn statement they executed that on December 15, 2012, they tried to contact Benhur to plan their Christmas holiday but they failed to reach him. They learned from the Benhur’s friends that the victim was being held captive by Napoles and Lim. Gertrudes also recalled receiving a phone call from Lim and the latter informed her that Benhur allegedly betrayed JLN by engaging in projects that the company is not aware of and that the victim was being investigated and detained by them. She claimed that Lim demanded that Benhur’s laptop be given to them in exchange for allowing her to see her son. Lim, according to Gertrude, even dissuaded them to inform NBI since the suspect bragged that they “we have the government at our clutches.” “[Gertrudes] asked for her [Napoles] forgiveness for whatever it is that Benhur have done. JLN [Napoles] told her that Benhur is being held in a room for “rehabilitation,” the sworn-affidavit read. The complainants said they repeatedly asked Lim and Napoles to release their son but Jojo told them that “he will have to put Ben under the custody of the lawyer and he washes his hands of whatever happens to him.” They said that there are times wherein the suspects let them see their son, but during their meeting on February 23, 2013, Benhur handed to them his handwritten note, saying that the victim was being detained against his will. The complainants are convinced that Benhur was being detained because of his knowledge in several government-funded projects on behalf of JLN Group of Companies like the fertilizer fund scam, Malampaya fund scam, and PDAF anomalies.

CHED urged not to rush approval of tuition hike petitions By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 2, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Student groups yesterday urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) not to rush into granting petitions filed by over 400 higher education institutions (HEIs) to increase tuition and other fees that might have been filed without proper consultation with students. Members of the Kabataan party-list group and the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) staged a protest rally in front of the CHED head office in Quezon City on the last day of filing proposals for tuition increase and complaints yesterday. Pursuant to CHED Memorandum Order No. 3, series of 2012, all HEIs that plan to increase tuition and other fees for the next academic year should submit a proposal alongside pertinent documents to CHED regional offices on or before April 1. Prior to the April 1 deadline, it was reported that some 451 colleges and universities nationwide have submitted tuition and other fee hike proposals for school year 20132014, including 95 proposals in the National Capital Region and 38 proposals in Western Visayas.

CMO 3 mandates schools planning to increase tuition to conduct consultations with students and other constituents until Feb. 28. Article VI of the memorandum also states that within 30 days after the consultation period, students can file complaints and grievances for proposed fee increases that did not undergo proper consultation. “CMO 3 – which replaces previous weak CMOs issued by CHED in previous years – should supposedly impose stricter rules and regulations regarding tuition increase proposals and consultations. Yet the guideline remains to be a cruel joke for the youth, as CHED has no means to monitor compliance to the rules,” Kabataan partylist president Terry Ridon said. Earlier, CHED chair Patricia Licuanan said the agency would tighten its rules in granting tuition increase. “By not having appropriate mechanisms to monitor compliance, CHED’s tuition guidelines are revealed to be useless paper tigers. Many schools hike fees even without justification and proper consultation, and CHED can do nothing about these cases but serve as a mere stamp pad,” Ridon said. CHED executive director Julito Vitriolo, however, maintained that petitions for tuition hikes would not be approved without proper consultation with the students. In 2012, CHED allowed 222 of 2,181 private colleges and universities nationwide to raise their tuition by an average of 10 percent or P41.52 per unit. Meanwhile, the successive cuts in the budgets of state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the last two years were imposed by Malacannang to force the privatization of the educational institutions, a woman lawmaker said yesterday. Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said the budget cuts and insufficient funding are “part of an existing education budget policy espoused by the Department of Budget and Management, which explicitly states that funds for SUCs will be gradually reduced following the recommendation of the World Bank.” “The Aquino government wants our SUCs to abandon their public nature and become privatized institutions,” Ilagan said. “President Aquino should properly address the demands of SUCs for increase of state subsidy instead of spreading deceitful claims. Budget cuts and insufficient funds are totally unacceptable,” she said. She said Malacañang should not also use as an excuse the funding SUCs receive from the pork barrel allocations of members of Congress, as the bulk of it is for scholarships, and the rest for upgrading of equipment and facilities.

She said it is the responsibility of the government, not politicians, to improve the facilities of state schools. “In budget cutting the SUCs, it is deceiving that the government claims they are proposing an increase in the budget for basic education. It is just fair that they increase the budget for the proper implementation of K+12. Using this as an excuse for cutting budget for SUCs is unacceptable,” Ilagan said. Officials earlier announced that an increase was proposed in the budget for basic education for 2014 as the Department of Education may get a bigger allocation of P255.2 billion compared to last year. “It is not only the welfare of our SUCs that is at stake here but also the future of our youth and our nation,” Ilagan said. – With Paolo Romero


DoJ summons suppliers linked to P728-M fertilizer scam By Tetch Torres‐Tupas   6:23 pm | Monday, April 1st, 2013  

Department of Justice building. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Justice (DoJ) on Monday summoned suppliers linked to the P728-million fertilizer fund scam. Ordered to appear for a formal probe on April 15 were Janet Lim-Napoles and her brother Reynaldo Lim for allegedly detaining Benhur Luy, lead employee of JLN Group of Companies. JLN Group of Companies allegedly oversaw the implementation of several government-funded projects like the alleged fertilizer scam, Malampaya fund scam, and Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Luy was rescued by National Bureau of Investigation agents over the weekend after four months in captivity inside Pacific Plaza Tower, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. The siblings were ordered to submit their respective counter-affidavits, witnesses, and any supporting documents. “You are hereby warned that failure on your part to comply with this subpoena shall be considered as a waiver to present your defense/s in this preliminary investigation and the case shall be considered submitted for resolution based on complainant’s evidence only,” the subpoena stated. Last March 1, relatives of the victims sought the government’s help in ensuring the safety of Luy. Read more:

PAGASA: possible 40 degree weather in  coming days   By Chito A. Chavez  Published: April 1, 2013  

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) predicted that there is a possibility that the temperature might soar to 40 degrees Celsius in the coming days. Weather forecaster Leny Ruiz said that the climate might range from 38 up to 40 degrees Celsius  particularly at Tuguegarao Cityin Cagayan Valley.     She noted that the region is the area where extreme heat was experienced adding that the temperature  in Subic, Zambales,Cabanatuan and Cavite was also expected to rise.     The other day temperature in Tuguegarao City was measured at 36. 5 degrees Celsius while that  of Subic and Metro Manila hit 36.6 Celsius and 34.4 degrees Celsius during the same day.     The hottest temperature of 42.2 degrees Celsius was recorded in Tuguegarao City on May 11, 1969.     State forecasters said that the intense heat is caused by the easterlies or wind coming from the Pacific  Ocean.     The public is advised to drink plenty of water and bring gear that will protect them from the intense heat  of the sun.     

Gov’t urged to pour more funds for education (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 2, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Re-electionist Sen. Francis Escudero yesterday urged the government to ensure that the upgrade in the country’s credit rating must be translated to more investments in education. Escudero specifically cited the public-private partnership program (PPP) as a way to pour more funds into the education sector. He said the PPP for school buildings would work as he intends to provide P500,000 from his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) for the repair and rehabilitation of school buildings for each town. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said the investment grade rating and economic growth would only be meaningful if it is felt by the poor through an increase in their spending power. Meanwhile, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial candidate Jack Enrile said the credit upgrade given by Fitch Ratings to the country should uplift the lives of the poor. Enrile said the credit upgrade is a big step for the government to move towards sustained economic growth, and could result in a surge in foreign investments that would create more jobs and reduce poverty. – Marvin Sy, Jose Rodel Clapano‐urged‐pour‐more‐funds‐education

Thrift banks — for broader horizons By Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye Published: April 1, 2013 I had the privilege of witnessing the changing of the guard of the Chamber of Thrift Banks during CTB’s recent annual convention. TG Limcaoco, president of BPI Family Bank, took over the helms of the chamber from Patrick Cheng, president of HSBC Savings Bank. It was an auspicious occasion for the thrift bankers whose convention theme was Building for Broader Horizons in 2013. The event was graced by BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr., BSP Monetary Board Members (Peter Favila, Andy Suratos, and this writer), Deputy Governor Nesting Espenilla, and other BSP senior officials. Gigi Montinola, president of Bank of PI, himself a former president of the Chamber of Thrift Banks, was also a guest and a resource speaker during the convention’s morning session. For our non-banker readers, thrift banks, refer to that classification of banks which consist of savings banks, private development banks and savings and loans associations. In terms of size and banking activities, thrift banks occupy a notch below commercial banks but above rural banks. Thrift banks focus on retail lending, specializing in such areas as small business loans, housing, auto and personal loans. I got my first car loan and subsequently my house improvement loan from a thrift bank. As TG Limcaoco aptly put it, “Thrift banking is not about thrift, but really, about financial inclusion. In the early days, and even up to today, thrift banks set themselves up in areas where the larger commercial banks were hesitant to open.” Today, thrift banks are present throughout the country through 1,600 branches, 70 per cent of which are located outside Metro Manila. It is estimated that thrift banks provide banking and bank-related services to close to 5 million Filipinos. In 2012, the thrift banking industry grew its assets almost 10 percent to R666.17 billion. Compare that to the situation years ago when, as Gigi Montinola described it, “the sum of the entire thrift bank industry then (was) the size of one major thrift bank today, both from the asset and capital perspective.” With respectable asset growth and an expanding network, Limcaoco said: “We can and should be the engines of the countryside.”

But to be able to do that we need “ to build our skills, our capabilities, our institutions so that we can do more for our customer base.” Taking the cue from the BSP, Limcaoco added: “We need to take a leadership role in financial literacy so the general population understands how to use the financial system responsibly and to their benefit.” The road ahead for the entire banking industry looks rosy – thanks to a strong growth-low inflation rate scenario, a robust external position, stronger consumer confidence, and just a few days ago – a country investment grade rating. But the industry needs to do more. To further broaden the thrift banking industry’s horizon, Governor Tetangco and Gigi Montinola left precious words of advice for the thrift bankers. (To be concluded next week) Note: My book Central Banking for Every Juan and Maria is now available at the following outlets: Fully Booked – Bonifacio Global City , Powerplant Mall Rockwell, Katipunan. Power Books – Alabang Town Center, Greenbelt 4, Serendra. National Book Store – Greenbelt 1, Powerplant Mall Rockwell, Cash and Carry, Market Market, SM Mega Mall. And UP University Press.

Speaking Out Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye He is a Filipino politician who is currently serving as the Monetary Board Member of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas since July 3, 2008. Prior to his appointment as monetary board member, he previously served as the Press Secretary, acting Executive Secretary under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Congressman, and Mayor of Muntinlupa City. Bunye writes weekly columns for the Manila Bulletin, Tempo, People’s Tonight, Sun Star and Filipino Reporter.         

1,360 hired in 7 DOLE, TESDA job fairs By Jerry E. Esplanada  Philippine Daily Inquirer   2:04 pm | Monday, April 1st, 2013  

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines – More than 1,360 job applicants were hired on-the-spot while over 15,480 others were scheduled for further interviews and screenings by their prospective employers during seven job fairs, held last month by the Department of Labor and Employment and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, among other agencies, for graduates of technical and vocational schools in Metro Manila. This was disclosed on Monday by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz as she also cited the DOLE-attached Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Federation of FilipinoChinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Association of Local Service Contractors, Association of Tech-Voc Schools in Metro Manila, and various local government units in the metropolis for taking part in the job fairs. The employment fairs, conducted in Manila, Quezon City, Muntinlupa City, Taguig City, Caloocan City, Pasay City, and Pasig City, “are part of the Hanap-Buhay para sa mga Tesda Specialists job bridging program for tech-voc graduates,” Baldoz noted. They are “also part of the Aquino administration’s labor and employment agenda to address unemployment by providing decent and productive work to Filipinos towards inclusive growth.” “The labor department remains true to its commitment to generate employment,” said Baldoz, citing the DOLE campaign “More than jobs. It’s decent jobs.”

In a statement, the Dole head explained that “to ensure a high placement rate for job applicants, the approach is focused-hiring, with Tesda providing the skills profile and number of tech-voc graduates in a given district which the labor department’s National Capital Region office matches with the industries that require manpower for specific skills.” In 2012 alone, the number of tech-voc graduates in Metro Manila reached 171,412. DOLE-NCR Director Alan Macaraya said their office “finds it necessary to facilitate the immediate employment of these tech-voc graduates.” Vacancies in the just-concluded job fairs included health and wellness positions, sales representatives, dermatologists, graphic artists, pharmacists, dieticians, electricians, factory and construction workers, welders, and general clerks, among others. According to Baldoz, “the number of applicants hired on-the-spot combined with the number of those lined up for further interviews and screenings is a very good indication of the success of the job fairs.” She expressed confidence DOLE and its attached agencies would be able to facilitate the hiring of more tech-voc graduates not just from Metro Manila but also other parts of the country. Read more:‐hired‐15480‐set‐for‐interviews‐in‐7‐dole‐tesda‐ job‐fairs#ixzz2PGqPsDm6                        

Witness in fertilizer fund scam rescued By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 2, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has rescued a witness in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam from the condominium unit in Taguig of a businesswoman implicated in the corruption scandal. Benhur Luy was rescued last March 22 from the residence of Janet Napoles, who owns the JLN Group of Companies, one of the suppliers of fertilizers to the Department of Agriculture during the Arroyo administration. Luy’s parents said Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim had illegally detained their son since December last year after he decided to testify in the graft case. Napoles has eluded arrest, while Lim was taken to a nearby hospital due to chest pains. Arturo and Gertrudes Luy have accused Napoles and Lim of kidnapping their son on Dec. 19, 2012. They were allowed to see and visit him twice, they added. On the second visit their son “surreptitiously handed his hand-written note indicating that he is being detained against his will,” read the complaint. According to his parents, Luy said he knew how employees of JLN Group forged signatures of “fictitious individuals” in organizing non-government organizations Kaupdanan Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Social Foundation, People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Pangkabuhayan Foundation and Masaganang Ani Foundation. He had decided to testify in the fertilizer fund and Malampaya cases, they added. The DOJ has summoned Napoles and Lim to a preliminary investigation on April 15 on charges of serious illegal detention. The Luys sought the assistance of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in rescuing their son.‐fertilizer‐fund‐scam‐rescued      

Gov’t vehicles can’t be used for election campaign – Comelec By Matikas Santos   1:16 pm | Monday, April 1st, 2013  

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Monday that government vehicles cannot be used for the campaign of any candidate including incumbent officials. “That’s public property and cannot be used for private campaign of candidates,” Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. told reporters when asked if ambulances were allowed to join in motorcades of candidates. “Any government property cannot be used for the campaign of any candidate including the incumbent,” Brillantes said. The local campaign period officially started on March 30. Government vehicles use a red plate to separate them from public vehicles, which use yellow plates and private vehicles which use green plates. Public utility vehicles such as jeepneys, buses, taxi cabs, tricycles are also not allowed to have election propaganda posted on them. Diplomatic vehicles, which use blue plates, are likewise prohibited from election propaganda according to Comelec Resolution 9615. Read more:‐vehicles‐cant‐be‐used‐for‐election‐campaign‐ comelec#ixzz2PGqucp6y    

Government to spend P431 million to cut  postharvest losses in rice     Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Monday, 01 April 2013 19:54   Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent   The Department of Agriculture  (DA) has set aside P431 million to construct 28 rice processing centers  (RPC) starting this year to help farmers cut postharvest losses pegged at one‐third of their harvest.  The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (Philmech) said the project “RPC  1‐2‐3” aims to establish  milling facilities in palay farming clusters so farmers  do not  have  to transport  their produce over long distances to have them milled.  The  regional  offices  of  the  DA  will  implement  the  project  at  the  field  while  Philmech  will  provide  technical  assistance  through  the  provision  of  postharvest  technology  and  training  of  farmer‐ organizations that will operate, manage and maintain the rice centers.  RPC‐1 or a small‐scale rice center will  cost P6 million each, RPC‐2 or a medium‐sized rice center costs  P15 million each, while a large rice center or RPC‐3 costs P31 million each.  The government will spend P78 million to set up 13 RPC‐1, P105 million to construct seven RPC‐2 and  P248 million to construct eight RPC‐3.  Following field surveys, Philmech said the 13 RPC‐1 will be constructed in Regions 4A, 4B, 8, 10, 13 and  the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.  The RPC‐2 will be set up in Regions 4A, 5, 10 and 13. Regions 1, 3, 6, and 12 are the recipients of eight  RPC‐3. Last year the DA constructed three RPC‐2.  The  DA  has  earlier  announced  it  will  shoulder  85  percent  of  the  cost  of  an  RPC  while  the  recipient  or  beneficiary will shoulder the remaining 15 percent.  Philmech  said  only  qualified  farmer‐associations  or  irrigation  associations  can  qualify  to  become  recipients  of  the  RPC  and  other  farm  machinery  it  will  distribute  under  the  government’s  rice  mechanization program.‐commodities/11451‐government‐to‐ spend‐p431‐million‐to‐cut‐postharvest‐losses‐in‐rice 

Businessmen eye Southeast Asian market  for halal food products   Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Monday, 01 April 2013 19:53   Written by Estrella Torres / Reporter   Filipino  manufacturers  are  seeking  to  take  a  crack  at  the  Southeast  Asian  market  for  halal‐compliant  products such as food and beverages.  At least 13 Filipino businessmen are showcasing their products during the 10th Malaysia International  Halal Showcase (Mihas) which kicked off on Monday.  Mihas  is  hosted  by  the  Ministry  of  International  Trade  and  Industry  and  is  organized  by  the  Malaysia  External Trade Development Corp. (Matrade).  Matrade  said  the  trade  fair  is  the  “best  entry  point”  for  manufacturers  who  plan  to  penetrate  the  flourishing halal trade in member‐countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).  The  majority  or  69  percent  of  the  expected  visitors  in  this  year’s  Mihas  are  trade  buyers  and  major  players in the food and beverage industry in Southeast Asia.  Halal  is  an  Arabic  word  which  means  any  object  or  action  that  is  permissible  to  use  or  engage  in  in  accordance to Islamic Law.  The two biggest overseas markets of halal products are Southeast Asia and the Middle East. In Southeast  Asia, Indonesia and Malaysia are regarded as major markets for halal products.  Aside  from  food  and  beverages,  local  businessmen  are  also  seeking  to  penetrate  Asean  markets  for  cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and health‐care products.  Last year Matrade said traders who participated in the annual trade fair raked in over RM514.84 million  in negotiated sales.‐commodities/11450‐businessmen‐eye‐ southeast‐asian‐market‐for‐halal‐food‐products   

DENR expanding CL bamboo plantations By Mark Anthony N. Manuel Published: April 2, 2013 CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — The Regional Office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here announced yesterday plans to establish 40 hectares of bamboo plantations in Central Luzon, targeting about 500 upland farmers in four provinces through a cash-for-work program. The two-year project, which would stretch the bamboo cultivated areas in Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, and Zambales, aims to maximize the economic and ecological potential of bamboo as an industry and source of livelihood to poor upland farmers in the region. Commercial species of Kawayan tinik (Bambusa blumeana), Bayog (Bambusa sp.), Kawayan kiling (Bambusa vulgaris) and Giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper) shall be planted to an initial 40 hectares of lower to mid-slope upland areas in the said provinces. The DENR and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) have agreed to harmonize their resources for the project. PCAARRD will extend the initial P3.5million startup capital, with the DENR providing another P1.5 million DENR Project Coordinator Maximo Dichoso said the national government recognizes the enormous potential of bamboo not only for construction and furniture, but also for environmental rehabilitation, carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. “Given the right socio-economic and political environment, Central Luzon can very well supply this international demand for commercial bamboo,” Dichoso said. DENR explained that a sustainable bamboo industry will position the Philippines as the second largest bamboo producer in the world, next only to China whose current market share is about 50 percent. Owing to its tensile strength, bamboo is considered by forest scientists as a “poor man’s lumber” whose many new products included high-value engineered floor tiles, export furniture and handicrafts, and musical instruments. Tensile strength refers to the stress or load a piece of bamboo can hold without breaking. The DENR added that there are about 1,000 species of bamboo in the world, 49 species of which grow abundantly in the Philippines. As the world’s fastest growing plant, bamboo can grow up to a meter a day, can reach maturity in five years, and can be harvested once every two years for about 120 years. Bamboo belongs to the Graminae family of grass, like rice and corn.  

Revenue agencies to get additional budget next year By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 2, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Budget hikes of as much as 300 percent are being readied for revenue collection agencies for 2014. Based on budget ceilings set by the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Finance (DOF) would be given an additional P16 billion, from P11.8 billion this year to P27.8 billion next year. Of that amount, P16.8 billion would go to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and P7.5 billion to the Bureau of Customs (BOC). The budget ceiling for the BIR represents an increase of nearly 100 percent. Its 2013 outlay amounts to P8.9 billion. On the other hand, BOC funds would more than triple. Customs’ budget this year is P2.2 billion. Funds for the office of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima would go down from P619 million this year to P429 million next year. The DOF and its agencies are expected to collect a total of P2.025 trillion in 2014 to support the planned P2.268-trillion national budget. Their collection target this year is P1.746 trillion. In a television interview yesterday, Purisima said they would try to collect more from selfemployed persons and professionals like doctors, lawyers, actors, and accountants. Citing data from the BIR and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), he said that of the 1.8 million professionals, only 400,000 file their income tax returns. And the 400,000 professionals who are paying their income taxes pay an average of only P33,000. “When you do the math, this means they are making less than the minimum wage earner. That’s not believable,” Purisima said. He said their goal is to make at least 1.5 million professionals pay an average of P200,000 each in income tax. He said that while P200,000 is still small and wouldn’t even buy “a (Hermes) Birkin bag or business-class ticket to the US,” it would mean total collections of P300 billion.

He revealed that he has secured a commitment from Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to require professionals – through the PRC – to present their income tax returns before being issued their licenses. The PRC is under the labor department. Purisima said that people would see great improvement in public services if they pay the correct taxes. “That is the experience in Singapore. Tax compliance is the key to efficient and better public services,” he stressed. He added that taxpayers should not worry about their money going to corruption, since the Aquino administration has made great strides in addressing this problem.‐agencies‐get‐additional‐budget‐next‐ year                              

Phl to conduct final assessment on reef damage by stuck US minesweeper ( | Updated April 1, 2013 - 11:00pm MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Divers are set to conduct their final dive to determine the extent of the damage caused by the grounding of the United States Navy ship on Tubbataha Reef off Sulu Sea, a senior government official said today. "The next step now that it's fully extricated, a final dive will have to be conducted to see the extent of the damage and we' ll go from there," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a news briefing. The final dive would help the government determine the claims that it would press from the United States, she said. The last piece of the stuck USS Guardian was lifted from the UNESCO World Heritage site on Saturday. The vessel was cut into pieces to lessen the damage that the ship could incur on the corals. Based on the initial dives conducted by a composite team led by the Philippine Coast Guard, 4,000 square meters of corals were destroyed since the US minesweeper ran aground there on Jan. 17 while enroute to its next port of call.

Phl aims to become 3rd biggest coco coir exporter ( | Updated April 1, 2013 - 10:25am MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is gearing up to be the third biggest exporter of coco coir or fiber with the infusion of P2 billion to the Philippine Coconut Authority, the Department of Trade and Industry announced on Monday. "By 2016, we intend to place the country’s coco coir industry as the top three exporter of coco coir in the world," DTI Undersecretary Merly Cruz said in a coconut husk summit in Lucena City. Cruz said the coco coir industry is aiming for a $50-million export revenue yearly along with domestic sales of P1.7 billion. The industry is also seen to create 10,000 jobs while increasing the production of 200,000 coconut farmers and 450 small and medium businesses. She said the government is planning to develop and expand the country's supply base for coco coir, strengthen access to information and expand the market linkage among players in the industry. Cruz said there are four business models to help improve coco coir production in the country: the community-based integrated processing; the big-brother integrator (with decorticating plant and outsources twining to communities); the tufting facility as market consolidator of coco twines; and triple-armor application of coir in mining sites. The United States, China, the European Union and other Asian countries are big potential markets for the coco coir industry which includes mattresses, rubberized coir, coir tufted mats and coir twines and yarns. She said the industry will be needing support from the transportation sector, machinery and ancillaries, small coconut farmers, cooperatives, associations, processors, exporters and traders, government agencies and units such as the DTI, Department of Agriculture-Philippine Coconut Authority, Department of Science and Technology, Coconut Industry Investment Fund and local government units (LGUs), "and the Philippine coconut industry cluster team for the coconut coir and peat.� In 2011, the coco coir industry produceed 6,037 metric tons of coco coir for export out of the 15.245 billion coconuts harvested from 3.562 million hectares of land.

PNoy shuns small cops, vetoes height measure By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on Apr. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 601 views President Aquino has vetoed a bill that seeks to remove a height requirement that barred small people from becoming policemen, firefighters and jail guards, saying the measure was unnecessary because exemptions were allowed under certain conditions, officials said on Monday. Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said law enforcers, firefighters and jail guards “must possess necessary physical attributes to be effective in their jobs,” which is a euphemism for being small. “While I recognize the noble intent of this measure … I am also seriously apprehensive of the concerns propounded by Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology on the safety of their personnel in the performance of their duties, as well as the public’s safety in general,” Valte quoted Aquino as saying. Under existing laws, height requirements for police, firefighters and jail guards were 5 feet four inches for men and five feet two inches for women. But exemptions were allowed under certain conditions such as special skills and exemplary achievements of applicants. The bill was titled “An Act Repealing the Minimum Height Requirement for Applicants to the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Bureau of Jail Management and Penoloy.” The President’s veto message was transmitted to the Senate and House of Representatives last February 25. Valte said the PNP, BJMP and the BFP objected to removal of height requirement because it would affect their performance and compromise public safety. “As raised by the BJMP, jail officers, by the nature of their work in guarding detainees or in escorting criminals, must possess necessary physical attributes to perform their functions effectively,” Valte said. “Likewise, public safety is paramount in law enforcement by the PNP as well as in firefighting by the BFP,” Valte said. Valte brushed aside criticisms about lack of coordination and consultation between Malacanang and Congress, which resulted in the president needing to veto an unnecessary bill. “If I answer that I’m going to assume that there was no discussion (between Congress and Malacanang). What I can assure you is that we will continue to work with that particular branch of government on

possible pieces of legislation that may also involve information that the executive has access to,” Vale said. House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez supported the president’s veto of the bill, citing the advantages of big men in law enforcement work. “Meron kasing psychological effect pag masyadong malaki, meron din naman psychological effect pag masyadong maliit,” Suarez said. With Maricel Cruz‐shuns‐small‐cops‐vetoes‐height‐measure/                                     

Bourse opens online trading By Jenniffer B. Austria | Posted on Apr. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 229 views

The Philippine Stock Exchange said Monday it launched an online trading platform to increase the number of investors in the stock market. The PSE said it was in talks with Maybank-ATK KimEng Securities Inc., which wants to be one of the first brokerage companies to avail of the online trading system called PSETradex. PSE president and chief executive Hans Sicat said PSETradex could now be used by trading participants, after the bourse successfully completed a series of test runs on the online trading system. “We are pleased to inform our trading participants that they can now sign up for the PSETradex which they can offer to their clients. We are excited about this new service which we believe will further expand brokers’ reach to investors and boost activity in the stock market in a significant way,” Sicat said. Data from the PSE showed that online investors grew by 42 percent annually over the past five years. PSETradex is a Web-based trading management system that will allow users to trade shares of stock, monitor the order status and manage the stock portfolio and gather relevant market information through their computers. It can provide a mobile application for equity trading which operates on Web-based mobile phones. It enables investors, who have registered with stockbrokers, to trade in a totally mobile environment. “Having this system in place for investors will allow them to enter and monitor their orders online. The system is designed to also let investors trade using their mobile phones and tablets,” Sicat said. The PSE earlier engaged the services of Malayan securities trading solutions provider N2N Connect Berhad for the PSE’s online trading project. N2N’s key management has been involved in the ICT industry for more than 25 years with 10 years in financial industry.‐opens‐online‐trading/

PCSO seeks less lease rates from contractors By MST Business | Posted on Apr. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 62 views

The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office is batting for lower lease rates from service contractors to boost available charity funds and comply with Senate and Commission on Audit directives aimed at assuring a fair deal for government. PCSO lotto operations manager Remaliza Gabuyo said Pacific Online System Corp., the local service provider for Visayas-Mindanao, had already agreed to the lower lease rate in June, resulting in P9-million savings for PCSO from June to December 2012. Philippine Gaming and Management Corp. of Malaysia, the leading operator in Luzon, meanwhile, has yet to agree on reducing its lease rate from the present 10 percent of retail receipts, excluding paper supply. Gabuyo said had PGMC also agreed to the same terms, the PCSO would have saved an additional P35 million monthly from June to December 2012. Pacific Online signed with PCSO an agreement to extend its equipment lease, which will expire on March 31. The extension will be up to July 2015 and the new lease rate will be at 7.7 percent with paper supply included. The additional reduction in the lease rate will mean more savings and more funds for PCSO’s charitable mandates. PCSO chairman Margarita Juico commended Pacific Online for lowering its rates. “PCSO is not a profit-oriented institution. But it has to remain viable to fulfill its mandate of being the principal agency to help raise funds for charity. Such was a good gesture from POSC,” she said.‐seeks‐less‐lease‐rates‐from‐contractors/     

Trans-Asia plans to drill 3 oil wells By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Apr. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 212 views

Trans-Asia Oil and Gas Development Corp., a unit of the Phinma Group, said it will participate in the drilling of three exploration wells in west Palawan, northwest Leyte and Cagayan province this year. Trans-Asia said in a company report the drilling involved one offshore and two onshore wells, including a deepwater well in offshore west Palawan under service contract 55, an onshore well in San Isidro, Leyte under SC 51 and another onshore well in Gattaran, Cagayan under SC 52. Trans-Asia’s 6.82-percent participating interest in SC 55 will be carried in the drilling cost of Cinco-1 well under its participation agreement dated March 15, 2005 with the predecessors-in interest of Otto Energy Investments Ltd. The Cinco-1 well will test a large structure in 1,400 meters of water depth. Trans-Asia owns a 6.67-percent interest in SC 51 in northwest Leyte. The SC 51 consortium is set to drill the Duhat-2 well from Jan. 31, 2013 to Jan. 31, 2014. The consortium members signed a farm-in option agreement with Frontier Oil Corp. over the south block on Oct. 23, 2012 where Frontier has the option to acquire an 80-percent interest in SC 51 by agreeing to drill the Argao well at its sole cost from Jan. 31, 2014 to July 8, 2015. Trans-Asia said preparations were under way for the testing of the Nassiping-2 well in SC 52. Trans-Asia and Frontier also signed a farm-in option agreement for SC 52 in Cagayan. The company earlier disclosed it signed various agreements and deeds assigning its participating interests in SC 6 (northwest Palawan), SC 51 and SC 69 (Camotes Sea) to Trans Asia Petroleum Corp. and transferring its interests in

SC 55 to Palawan55 Exploration and Production Corp., both wholly-owned subsidiary of the company. “This spinoff of oil and gas assets to dedicated vehicles will bring focus to the company’s oil and gas exploration efforts, and facilitate additional capital raising which may be required for oil and gas activities in the future,” the company said.‐asia‐plans‐to‐drill‐3‐oil‐wells/                                        

Your e-mail account has been hacked! By Chin Wong | Posted on Apr. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 236 views


I RECENTLY received e-mail from a friend saying she was stranded in Aberdeen in the UK, where someone had stolen her bag, which contained her passport and personal belongings. “The embassy has just issued me a temporary passport but I have to pay for a ticket and settle hotel bills. I’ve made contact with my bank but it would take me 5 working days to access funds in my account from here,” the e-mail read. It then asked me to use Money Gram or Western Union to send money to her at the Blue Island Hotel and included a phone number at which she could be reached. Having received similar letters before, I instantly recognized the message as an attempt to bilk my friend’s e-mail contacts in what the security industry calls phishing. I quickly texted my friend to let her know that her e-mail account had been compromised, and that some lowlife was now using it—and her name—to send out phishing messages and spam. The Next Web reports that Yahoo Mail users like my friend have been seeing their accounts broken into for months, despite Yahoo’s announcement in January that it had fixed two security holes that allowed accounts to get hijacked. Channel 4 News in the UK adds that Yahoo!’s e-mail system seems to have been hacked by criminals based in Russia who use hijacked accounts for a global spam campaign. “From as early as 1 March Yahoo! users’ accounts began to show suspicious log-ins, apparently from a mobile phone, from locations around the world,” Channel 4 said.

Once inside a user’s account, the criminals sent an e-mail containing a single Web address to a handful of the victim’s contacts, seemingly chosen at random from e-mails they have sent or received. The link leads to the hacker’s Web site, a get-rich-quick scheme that promises thousands of dollars in income while asking for a credit card payment. The British report cites another source, a UK organization that tracks spammers, as saying the Web site might also contain a trojan that could infect the computers of those who visit it. If your contacts are getting e-mail you didn’t send or if your Sent folder is full of messages you didn’t create, these are telltale sign that your account has been compromised. Act quickly! Here are some crucial steps to take immediately, according to 1. Change your password. This is like changing the locks on your door when a key has gone missing. It’s basic common sense. In the new Yahoo Mail, mouse over your name at the top right of the screen and pick Account Info from the dropdown menu. Click on Change Password. In Gmail, click on the gear icon (Settings) and choose Settings again. Click on Accounts and Imports then choose Change Password. In, click on your name, choose Account settings and Change password. When choosing a password, remember not to give into the temptation of using the same password for multiple accounts. Choose passwords that are easy for you to remember, but difficult for others to guess. 2. Check your recovery e-mail address. This is the one that you use to rest your password. If it’s been changed, it can be used to get the password of your account, so make sure that it points to an e-mail address that you own. In Yahoo Mail, mouse over your name, go to Account Info and Update passwordreset info. In Gmail, go to Accounts and Imports and choose Change Password Recovery Options

In Outlook, choose Account settings and Edit Security Info. 3. Change your hints. If the hacker knows the answer to your hints for password recovery, he can regain access to your account and reset your password. 4. Change your passwords on connected accounts. These days, e-mail accounts are used for a whole slew of other related online services, including personal, social networking and even financial accounts. Your Gmail account, for example, can be used to purchase products from online stores, a scary prospect if someone else has access to that account. Better safe than sorry and quickly change the passwords to any of these linked accounts, too. A hijacked e-mail account compromises not only your privacy but could do real damage to you financially and even threaten your safety. Don’t shrug it off. Take action the moment you suspect someone else has access to the account and minimize that damage. Chin Wong Column archives and blog at:‐e‐mail‐account‐has‐been‐hacked/                       

Security Bank’s profit By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Apr. 02, 2013 at 12:00am | 119 views

Security Bank Corp. registered a 12-percent increase in its 2012 net income to P7.5 billion from P6.7 billion a year ago and a return on equity of 22 percent. The bank said in a disclosure to the stock exchange Monday business volumes increased with customer loans growing 30 percent to P119.7 billion, deposits increasing 19 percent to P142.4 billion and total assets expanding 21 percent to P259.3 billion. “We are pleased to achieve our financial and business results amid increased competition even while we are investing to increase our branch network and customer coverage capabilities during this period of economic growth,” Security Bank president and chief executive Alberto Villarosa said in a statement.‐banks‐profit/                           

Height requirement for cops, firemen, guards stays •

Published on 01 April 2013  Hits: 295  Written by CATHERINE S. VALENTE  President Benigno Aquino 3rd booted out the proposal repealing the height limit for aspiring cops, firemen and guards, a Malacañang official said on Monday. “I can confirm that the President vetoed Senate Bill 3217, or House Bill 6203 entitled an act repealing the minimum height requirement for applicants to the Philippine National Police [PNP], to the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology [BJMP],” Presidential deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said at a press briefing. Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan 2nd earlier said that discrimination based on height limits choice and promotes social injustice. Valte, however, said that Aquino’s move to veto bill on height requirement was in no way discriminatory. She said that the police, firemen and jail officers have to reach minimum height requirements “because of the nature of [their] work.” Currently, the height requirements are at least 5’4” and 5’2” for male and female, respectively. Under the bill, the height requirements under Sections 15 and 16 of Republic Act 8551 and Section 4 (h) of Republic Act 9263 or the Bureau of Fire Protection and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology Professionalization Act of 2004, as amended by Republic Act 9592, will also be repealed. In his veto message, the President cited that the total repeal of the height re-quirement is also unnecessary, as there are exemptions “under certain conditions.” “Whereas height is among these qualifications [5’4" for males and 5’2" for females], a waiver of disqualification is allowed under certain conditions; hence, the total repeal of the height requirement among these service bureaus is unnecessary,” the Chief Executive said. “While I recognize the noble intent of this measure to address height equality among these bureaus, I am also seriously apprehensive of the concerns propounded by the PNP and BJMP in the safety of their personnel in the performance of their duties, as well as public safety in general,” he added. Under the existing Republic Act 9592, or the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology Professionalization Act of 2004, the height requirement can be waived for “cultural communities.” “A waiver for height and age requirements shall be automatically granted to applicants belonging to the cultural communities,” it added.‐height‐requirement‐for‐cops‐firemen‐guards‐stays 

Incoming freshmen urged to take blue-collar courses Published on 01 April 2013  Hits: 199  Written by NEIL A. ALCOBER REPORTER 

TECHNICAL Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Director General Joel Villanueva on Monday urged incoming freshmen college to also consider taking technical-vocational courses. According to Villanueva, incoming freshmen should make sure that the courses they will enroll in college will help them find a job after graduation. The Tesda chief, however, clarified that he is not pressuring incoming freshmen to enroll in the technical-vocational education but he stressed that Tesda graduates are much sought after not only by local firms but even for overseas employment. “Instead of enrolling in oversubscribed degree courses, incoming college students can take up technical-vocational courses. I am not forcing them to take up technical-vocational programs,” Villanueva told reporters in an interview at the conclusion of massive jobs bridging programs at Pasig City on Monday. The job fair was organized by the state skills training agency and the Department of Labor and Employment and the local government of Pasig. In 2011, the Commission on Higher Education issued a moratorium on oversubscribed degree programs, which include teacher education, business administration, hotel and restaurant management, and information technology. The state skills training agency earlier said that technical-vocation al

courses are also growing in popularity as evidenced by the number of technical-vocational programs accredited by Tesda. According to Villanueva, Tesda have already registered 19, 991 technicalvocational programs since 2008. The agency, he added, have already 4, 000 public and private technicalvocational schools nationwide. The Tesda chief said that among the technical-vocational programs where skilled workers are needed by the industry are in construction, tourism, electronics, agro-fisheries and business process outsourcing.‐incoming‐freshmen‐urged‐to‐take‐blue‐ collar‐courses                           

Stock index nearing 6,900-point mark Published on 01 April 2013  Hits: 256  Written by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR REPORTER 

After surpassing the 6,900-level during the early hours of trading, the local stock market wrapped up the Monday’s session with a slight decline, further falling below its recent record. In a telephone interview, Astro del Castillo, managing director of First Grade Finance, said that although the market is still on a positive trend, news like the North-South Korea spat and Cyprus fiscal jitters could be significant factors that weakened the start of another trading week. Locally, del Castillo emphasized that the retreat may have just been triggered by the last-minute buying within the local stock market. “Even if there was buying during the early period, most investors are not yet in the market and some opted to buy ahead. There were more sellers towards the end of the period. This is still healthy for the market and for the whole week, we can still see a more positive trend in line with the upgrade,” he specified, referring to the sovereign upgrade made by Fitch Ratings on the Philippines. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) concluded on Monday shying away from the 6,900-poin mark it breached during the morning session, ending a few points away from its recent record. The benchmark index registered a 0.11-percent decrease, or 7.88 points to 6,839.49, while the wider all-shares index managed to improve slightly by 0.06 percent, or 2.59 points to 4,236.90. The decline in the local index wiped off the robust gains recorded during the morning session, which saw the PSEi hit an intraday high of 6,956.92.

The sector indices were somehow dominated by losses with four ending in red. Among the gainers was holding firms, which ended with a 1.30-percent increase, or 77.52 points to end at 6,036.90 and financials, which went up slightly by 0.01 percent, or 0.20 points to 1,781.15. Mining and oil, meanwhile, registered the biggest decline, falling 1.85 percent, or 397.41, followed by the property counter, which went down 1.09 percent, or 31 points to 2,800.61. Industrial also experienced a decrease, erasing 35.68 points, or 0.35 points to end at 10.238.61, while services fell 0.82 percent, or 16.58 points to 1,997.80. As expected, decliners outnumbered advancers, 87 to 72, while 46 shares were unchanged. During the previous trading session, the PSEi closed at 6,847.47, surpassing its previous record finish of 6,835.21 that was set on March 6. The benchmark index also gained 182.35 points during the previous trading day, its highest one-day point increase since August 21, 2007, while the 2.7-percent rise was the biggest percentage gain since May 17, 2012. Intraday, the PSEi reached another record level at 6,873.89, beating the previous record of 6,867.10 achieved on March 11. These are all on the back of Fitch’s investment grade for the Philippines.‐business‐news/44519‐stock‐index‐nearing‐6‐900‐ point‐mark     

Fitch upgrade to drive infrastructure spending •

Published on 01 April 2013  Hits: 214  Written by RAADEE S. SAUSA    Fitch Ratings’ investment grade stamp for the Philippines will help push infrastructure spending higher, as the Aquino administration creates greater room for expenditures for the country’s social and economic sectors. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said that, “with the country now at investment grade, we’re determined to strengthen our economic position further and expand our fiscal space for key socioeconomic services. At the same time, we expect to attract more investments into the country’s infrastructure development program and, eventually, bring infrastructure spending to 5 percent of GDP [gross domestic product].” He said that at the moment, public spending for infrastructure is at 2.8 percent of GDP. The Aquino administration earlier committed to bring expenditures for infrastructure to 5 percent of GDP by 2016. Abad said that more infrastructure investments will help support the growth of key industries, including the country’s agriculture, tourism and business process outsourcing sectors. These include rehabilitating and developing arterial farm-to-market roads—especially in rice-and-corn, coconut, and high-value crop areas—and improving road access to tourism zones, and upgrading key airports and seaport hubs in tourist destinations. Also in the works are the upgrading and expansion of rail and metro-rail transport systems and bus stations in urban centers. Abad emphasized that infrastructure spending will also buoy the administration’s social services programs, such as social housing for informal settlers, rural electrification in remote sitios and barangays, the development of post-harvest facilities for farms, and the rehabilitation and upgrading of Regional Health Units, as well as district, provincial, and regional hospitals. “While we funnel investments into industries with high growth potential, we will continue devoting resources to programs and projects that support our long-term development agenda. We’re also looking at ways to support emerging, small-to-medium sized industries, as well as bringing down the cost of doing business in the country,” Abad said. The Budget secretary also expressed optimism on the country’s growth prospects, in the wake of Fitch’s rating upgrade for the Philippines. “As we strengthen our bid for rapid, inclusive, and long-term economic growth, we look forward to inviting greater confidence from the global market, especially as we pursue our good governance agenda and work toward establishing real transparency, accountability and openness in the Philippine bureaucracy. Ultimately, we intend to facilitate socio-economic growth that is truly inclusive, where jobs are successfully created and the dividends of improved governance are cascaded to all Filipinos,” he said.‐business‐news/44518‐fitch‐upgrade‐to‐drive‐ infrastructure‐spending 

PSE online trading platform ready for use Published on 01 April 2013  Hits: 191  Written by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR  The online trading platform for the local stock market investors is now out, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) announced on Monday, adding that this platform will allow trading participants to trade shares of stock, among others, through computers. Also, the PSE, which rolled out its online trading platform called PSETradex after completing series of test runs for the system, is in talks with a brokerage firm to be the first one to adopt the platform. “We are now in discussions with Maybank-ATR KimEng Securities Inc. to be one of the first brokerage firms to avail of the PSETradex,” PSE President and Chief Executive Officer Hans Sicat said. Through PSETradex, the local bourse intends to increase the number of online investors in the stock market. PSETradex is web-based trading management system that will allow users to trade shares of stock, monitor order status, manage a stock portfolio and gather relevant market information through computers. It can also provide a mobile wireless application for equity trading which operates on web-based mobile phones. “We are pleased to inform our trading participants that they can now sign up for the PSETradex which they can offer to their clients. We are excited about this new service which we believe will further expand brokers’ reach to investors and boot activity in the stock market in a significant way,” Sicat said. “Having this system in place for the investors will allow them to enter and monitor their orders online. The system is designed to also let investors trade using their mobile phones and tablets,” he added. The PSE engaged the services of Malaysian securities trading solutions provider N2N Connect Berhad for the PSE’s online trading project. N2N’s key management has been involved in the information and communications technology industry for more than 25 years, with 10 years in the financial industry. It has expanded its business to Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China and Indonesia. PSE data showed that online investors have grown 42 percent annually in the past five years.‐business‐news/44516‐pse‐online‐trading‐ platform‐ready‐for‐use       

What would it mean to today’s Mang Pandoys? Published on 01 April 2013  Hits: 190  

Remember Mang Pandoy? During the Ramos presidency, one man was plucked from the millions of urban poor to show that there was hope for all of them. Mang Pandoy was that man just like the “bankang papel” kids were made to represent that same segment during the Arroyo era. He may have been a symbol more than anything else, but Mang Pandoy was useful to government propagandists. Or at least, he should have been. Between 1992 and 1998, the Philippines was able to attain tiger cub status. During this time, a new middle class was growing and new wealth was being created for tens of thousands of workers and entrepreneurs. In theory, the country’s growing economy at that time should have translated to an improvement in the lives of the millions of poor Filipinos, represented by Mang Pandoy. Alas, the Ramos administration committed some errors. Either the man himself was a bad choice to represent his peers, or the administration went overboard in making sure that Mang Pandoy would attain a measure of improvement in his lifestyle. For one, he was made a co-host of a TV show in the government station, a job for which he was totally not qualified. He also continued to receive other doleouts during the Ramos era. But when FVR’s time as chief executive ended, the well from which Mang Pandoy extracted extra cash on a regular basis dried up. He would then go back to peddling brooms in the metropolis, and die the way he lived—as a pauper. This cautionary tale is important given that the Aquino administration is

now crowing about how the country’s credit rating had improved to investment grade, according to Fitch Ratings. While the current administration does not have a Mang Pandoy or a group of bankang papel kids, there remain millions of Filipinos living below the poverty line. They do not need anyone to symbolize them. They are everywhere. They do not have decent jobs, they do not have sufficient food on their table, and the places they call home leave them exposed to the elements. Just like the Ramos era, the second Aquino administration has been experiencing solid economic growth. New wealth is being created and the skyline of Metro Manila is changing very quickly, what with so many condominiums rising which have no shortage of buyers. New vehicles are also present everywhere in the National Capital Region, as well as other growth centers. Consumers spend freely not only on necessities, but also on luxury goods and services. If the Aquino administration is to be believed, the Philippines is definitely on its way to developed world status. We therefore have every reason to celebrate. Not so fast, folks. Not so fast. A huge gap remains When the number of poor Filipinos is still in the tens of millions, and the unemployment and underemployment statistics are in double figures, then very clearly the economic growth is not filtering down to the lowest levels of society. There remains a huge gap between the rich and the poor, with the only positive development being the rising percentage of those who fall under the middle class. And while the original Mang Pandoy received doleouts from the government, he was still one man. Today, there are tens of thousands of Mang Pandoys who are beneficiaries of the government’s conditional cash transfer program.

Because the economic growth has not filtered down to the poorest of the poor, there is still the need for outright charity. This is all that the government can offer those who would very much prefer to be given employment opportunities instead. And this is precisely where the Aquino administration must make greater efforts than the Arroyo, Estrada, Ramos, Aquino and Marcos administrations before it. There should be greater focus on creating jobs. The only way that the country’s improved credit rating will make sense to any Filipino is when there are more than enough jobs available to the point that there will no longer be any need to find employment abroad. Most of the time, it is sheer desperation that forces overqualified Filipinos to seek menial jobs in foreign shores. What the people want to see is for the improved investment grade status to result in an influx of investors, creating decent-paying jobs in the short term and helping eradicate poverty for the long term. For as long as there remain millions who see no bright future ahead of them, “investment grade status” is still nothing but empty rhetoric.‐what‐would‐it‐mean‐to‐today‐s‐ mang‐pandoys                   

The Philippines has 15 dollar billionaires Published on 01 April 2013  Hits: 223  Written by TONY LOPEZ   

Forbes Magazine counts only 11 billionaires in the Philippines. My count is that there are at least 15 Filipino dollar billionaires. The 15 have a combined wealth of $48.13 million ($48.13 billion—nearly a fifth or 19 percent of the $257.76 billion GDP (total value of goods and services) produced in 2012. In effect each of our dollar billionaires accounts for 1.26 percent of GDP. In 2012, when BizNewsAsia made a partial tally of who are the Philippines’ richest individuals, there were only 10 billionaires. This year, the number of billionaires increased by 50 percent, an indicator of the furious pace of wealth creation among the country’s economic elite.‐the‐philippines‐has‐15‐dollar‐ billionaires           

Credit rating upgrade, so what’s next? Published on 01 April 2013  Hits: 119  Written by EJ LOPEZ   

Officially, the campaign period for local political aspirants started last Good Friday, March 29, 2013. However, in deference to the occasion, the Comelec declared it as a no-campaign day for both local and national hopefuls. It is therefore this week when the local campaign “circus” officially starts. The colorful campaign is more visibly seen in the local electoral arena where policies visibly affect the community level unlike in the national where abstraction and lip service is the common political weapon. The administrative acumen therefore lies in the hands of the local leaders where academic qualifications do not really matter. It is different however in the legislatives posts where academic accomplishments “should” be imposed by the electorate because it is a legislative position that requires comprehensive ability. A candidate bereft of academic qualification will end up dictated upon by people who have interest to protect, therefore ends up with their selfish interest in mind, setting aside the foremost that should have been protected . . . the constituents. It has become imperative for us to rely on the youth to come out swinging this coming election as they comprise the majority of the electoral body. It therefore is a manifestation that the youth will decide the outcome of the forthcoming political exercise. Young as they are, we should be banking on their idealism in the choice of the leaders to come and therefore should not be swayed by the guise of kindness and goodness but behind them are evil goals and objectives in mind. This corner thinks that the voters should be conscious enough that the future of this country lays on the one vote that we have. So we should vote for the future . . . Credit rating upgrade

The recent investment grade rating upgrade granted by Fitch Ratings last Wednesday to the Philippines has created a lot of stir and pressure to authorities as regards their possible effect to the economy whether positively or negatively. Finance and economic authorities see a positive economic aftermath of such a pronouncement because it created more than just a sign of development but an impression that could create manifestations of interest to foreign investments here in the country. The series of indicators achieved locally like stable inflation, debt positions and improved fiscal discipline has contributed to the positive achievements. All these achievements create a package of goodies that attracts foreign investments to pour into the local turf. This presumably led to the last week’s rally of the financial market, particularly the bourse. The PSEi surged 182.35 points, or 2.34 percent to close to a new record of 6,847.47 last Wednesday after Fitch’s announcement. However, achievement of this convincing economic feat is one thing, but translating this positively into workable benefit for the people is another thing. In this era of world economic letdown, very few countries received accolades like we do. It therefore becomes apparent that we ourselves still have to wait for the “materiality” of this benefit of credit upgrading. How many “legitimate” investors are interested in investing if they themselves are victims of economic crisis in their host countries? We are therefore isolated in growth and developments because few are enjoying our position. Those who are potentially capable of investing in our local arena are likewise victims of crisis. And their barrier to entry in the business like enormous capitalization and technology has become their barrier to exit. Their decision therefore to transfer to other business interest are constrained by these barriers. As they say, “It is lonely at the top.” Sustainable growth Apparently, we have now our first foot forward towards achievement of tiger status with the continued positive developments in our economy. The mere fact that the country has now been noticed outside of our sphere means that we have been magnificent in our accomplishments. The government should now start improving local economic indicators that could help alleviate unimproved indicators like employment. This is one area that seems to have not moved significantly despite the series of improved economic performance. It has become evident that foreign and local investments seem to

have not shown support and interest despite local economic accolades. Increased employment or marked decrease in unemployment is the most significant area that should manifest improvement since it creates long term investments that is productive and creates income that would be locally beneficial. As it is when news of positive outlook comes in, only the bourse market benefits. Despite being locally favorable, it is mere temporary indicator that acts as a benchmark of stability. Its productive nature aside from being temporary is limited to its recipients and not permanent in scope because of limited participation and benefits. Despite continuous accomplishments, the number of people living below the poverty line remains high at around 30-40 percent. The real problem therefore, is how to alleviate the plight of these people who comprise a big percentage of our population. Unless and until we come up with a formula where the people in the grassroots level will feel the benefit of economic accomplishment and growth, our economy is still considered a failure . . . (For comments email: with cc to:‐credit‐rating‐upgrade‐so‐what‐s‐ next                   

Be wary of bottled water sold in streets Published on Tuesday, 02 April 2013 00:00

THE Department of Health yesterday warned of the possible health hazards of buying bottled water from ambulant vendors in the streets, especially in Metro Manila. In a statement, DOH – National Capital Region (DOH-NCR) Director Dr. Eduardo Janairo said the public should avoid buying bottled water peddled in the streets because their source is unknown and they do not have the proper Food and Drugs Administration registry. Janairo said bottled water from an uncertain source might be contaminated or stale and could cause illnesses like diarrhea, and amoebiasis. Street vendors offering bottled water and energy drinks to motorists and pedestrians are a common sight in Metro Manila. – Gerard Naval‐be‐wary‐of‐bottled‐water‐sold‐in‐streets                         

Posted on April 02, 2013 12:00:01 AM

T-bill rates fall to all-time low RATES of Treasury bills fell to record lows across the board in yesterday’s auction following a credit rating upgrade from debt watcher Fitch Ratings last week. The 91-day T-bill rate fell by four basis points (bps) to 0.04%; the six-month papers fetched 0.216%, down by 5.4 bps; and the one-year securities sank by 26.30 bps to 0.307%. The previous record low for the three-month papers was posted on Feb. 4 when it got 0.05%; the six-month paper, on March 4 when it was quoted at 0.27%; and the one-year security, on Nov. 26 when it fetched 0.549%. Tenders for government securities totaled P30.218 billion, higher than the P20-billion offering. The government sold as planned. “We already expected for the rates to go down after a credit rating upgrade was announced last week,” National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon told reporters after the auction yesterday. Fitch Ratings last Wednesday raised the Philippines’ long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating (IDR) to ‘BBB-’ from ‘BB+’, or by a notch into investment grade. It also raised the country’s long-term local-currency IDR to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB-’ and assigned a stable outlook to the ratings. Ms. de Leon added that foreign inflows, which are now banned from the central bank’s special deposit account (SDA) facility, flocked to government securities at yesterday’s auction. In July last year, the central bank banned foreign funds from parking at the SDA, arguing that the facility was designed to siphon off excess domestic liquidity that could stoke inflation and not serve as an investment vehicle for foreign investors. At the same time, Ms. de Leon noted that tenders for the debt papers were not that huge as the Treasury has increased the volume in T-bill auctions to P20 billion this quarter from P15 billion last quarter. She added that, “after the credit rating upgrade, there was a huge appetite in the long end of the curve, causing rates of long-tenored securities to decline.” A bond trader of a local bank, interviewed by phone, agreed, noting that rates of long-tenored securities -the 10-, 20- and 25-year debt papers -- decreased by an average of 25 bps yesterday from last Wednesday, the last trading day before the Lenten holiday. “High liquidity in the financial system also caused rates of the T-bills to decline at yesterday’s auction,” another bond trader said in a phone interview yesterday. -- Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio‐bill‐rates‐fall‐to‐all‐time‐ low&id=68018    

Posted on April 01, 2013 11:57:32 PM

Gov’t tightens tax noose on professionals INDIVIDUALS registered with the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) will be required to present their latest income tax returns (ITRs) when renewing their licenses, the government’s Labor chief said yesterday. “...[T]he PRC will pass a resolution to this effect,” said Labor Secretary Rosalinda D. Baldoz in a text message yesterday when asked to confirm the plan, which Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima bared in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel earlier in the day. “I have discussed it with PRC Chair Teresita [R.] Mansala.” Ms. Baldoz would not say when the resolution would be issued, and neither Mr. Purisima nor PRC officials were available for comment. The government has been taking steps to hike its revenue take from the self-employed and professionals. The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) last March 18 issued Revenue Memorandum Order 3-2013, which identifies business taxpayers -- mainly self-employed individuals, small business owners, and professionals (SEPs) -- whose annual income tax payments average below P200,000 as priority audit targets. Mr. Purisima had said two weeks ago that this is part of the government’s drive to increase its revenue take from SEPs to widen its tax base and increase overall tax effort. BIR data showed that while 1.8 million individuals are registered as SEPs, only about 400,000 file ITRs, with their annual payments averaging P33,441 annually. Individual income tax collections last year totaled P223 billion, 14.95% more than 2011’s P194 billion. Of the total collected in 2012, P181.7 billion or 81.5% came from taxes withheld from wages of fixed income earners. In comparison, SEPs accounted for just P15.1 billion or 6.8%, down from 6.9% in 2011 and 8.4% in 2010. The BIR was able to collect a total of P1.058 trillion in taxes last year, up 14.48% from 2011 but still P8 billion short of a P1.066-trillion goal for 2012. It is mandated to collect P1.253 trillion this year. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc

- See more at: 99t-tightens-tax-noose-on-professionals&id=68017#sthash.VXyxtRPX.dpuf

Posted on April 02, 2013 12:05:12 AM By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Reporter

Inflation seen steady THE ANNUAL RISE in prices of consumer goods likely steadied last month on stable food and fuel costs, a BusinessWorld poll of analysts showed. The median of estimates among seven economists and bankers was 3.3%, within the central bank’s own 2.8-3.7% expectation for March and slightly slower than February’s 3.4%, which was a five-month high. The government is scheduled to report official March inflation data this Friday. Theresa Marcial-Javier, head of Bank of the Philippine Islands’ (BPI) Asset Management and Trust Group, estimated inflation rate last month to have fallen between 3.2% and 3.4%. “Major CPI (consumer price index) components were down (palay and gasoline prices) and effects of the implementation of ‘sin’ taxes have subsided,” Ms. Marcial-Javier said via text. Economists Jeffrey Ng of Standard Chartered Bank, Prakriti Sofat of Barclays Capital, and Victor A. Abola of the University of Asia and the Pacific, as well as Jonathan L. Ravelas, chief market strategist of Banco de Oro Unibank, Inc. expected consumer prices to have risen by 3.3% annually in March. “We are expecting inflation to come in at 3.3% year on year. Energy prices likely led a year-on-year slowdown due to strong base last March,” Standard Chartered’s Mr. Ng said in an e-mail over the weekend. “Meanwhile, we see support from food (as 2012 prices peaked in September) and housing inflation (due to increases in housing prices).” Mr. Abola said in a text message that lower petroleum pump prices and stable food costs last month were expected “to more than offset rise in electricity rates.” The Energy Regulatory Commission approved last Feb. 19 the collection of P0.1938 per kilowatt-hour from electricity consumers to cover some P53 billion in stranded contract costs of National Power Corp. for 20072010. Manila Electric Co. customers started paying this additional universal charge component last month. At the same time, fuel firms rolled back pump prices four times last month as they tracked downward global price movements. Eugene Leow and Euben Paracuelles, economists of DBS Ltd. and Nomura, respectively, both had an estimate of 3.4% for March. “Inflation has been benign despite the strong surge in GDP (gross domestic product) growth over the past few quarters. Stable food prices have been a key factor behind muted price pressures and the strength of the peso has also reduced imported inflation,” DBS’ Mr. Leow said via e-mail. Mr. Paracuelles, in a separate e-mail, cited lower fuel prices “offsetting the impact of ‘sin’ tax changes” for his estimate. “That said, core inflation likely remained higher given the strength of domestic demand and the lower slack in the overall economy,” he said. Core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, picked up to 3.8% in February from 3.6% in January.

Ms. Marcial-Javier and Mr. Leow, however, said inflation could quicken in later months. “We retain our 2013 inflation forecast of 3.5-4% year on year due to the pending utility price hikes and the strong inflow of capital,” Ms. Marcial-Javier said. Mr. Leow said headline inflation could drift towards 4.5% by yearend. “Conditions are aligning for a pickup in inflation over the coming quarters. Notably, there has been progress on public-private partnership (PPP) projects and investment pledges reached a record high of $15.9 billion last year. Coupled with robust domestic consumption, realization of investments and construction of the PPP projects will add to demandpull pressures down the line” Mr. Leow said. “Moreover, the cumulative 100 bps (basis points) reduction in the special deposit account (SDA) rate this year is likely to prompt faster credit growth.” Last March 14, the central bank slashed SDA rates by 50 bps to 2.5% across all tenors, following up on a similar cut in January. Central bank data released yesterday showed that some P1.954 trillion in funds were parked in its SDAs as of March 15.‐seen‐steady&id=68019                 

Posted on April 01, 2013 08:30:01 PM

Philippine bank ratings improve FITCH RATINGS raised the debt grade of two of the country’s largest banks following its upgrade of the country’s credit rating last week. In a statement yesterday, Fitch said it lifted Bank of the Philippine Islands’ (BPI) long-term foreign currency issuer default rating (IDR) to “BBB-” -- a notch into investment grade -- from “BB+” and BDO Unibank, Inc.’s (BDO) long-term local currency IDR to “BB+” from “BB”. It also gave a stable outlook on the ratings. The Ayala-led bank’s long-term foreign currency IDR was raised to be in line with a ‘BBB-’ long-term local currency IDR and ‘bbb-’ viable rating, indicating capacity to meet obligations without “extraordinary support,” Fitch said. The global debt watcher noted that BPI holds the highest credit rating among the major Philippine banks that it rates, citing the bank’s “established domestic presence, sound financial metrics and prudent management.” BPI grew net earnings by 27.34% to a record P16.3 billion last year on the back of loan portfolio growth and securities trading gains. Fitch also affirmed BPI’s support rating of “3” and raised its support rating floor to “BB+” from “BB,” following the credit rating upgrade secured by the country last week. A support rating of “3” means there is a moderate probability of extraordinary sovereign support available for the bank. Fitch last Wednesday raised the Philippines’ long-term foreign-currency IDR to ‘BBB-’ from ‘BB+’ and the country’s long-term local-currency IDR to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB-’ and assigned a stable outlook to the ratings. For BDO -- the country’s largest bank in asset terms -- Fitch attributed the rise in the Sy-led bank’s ratings to “substantial amount of fresh capital from the rights issue in 2012, which should help the bank better support strong loan growth as well as cope with unexpected setbacks, at least over the medium term.” It also cited “BDO’s growing franchise and funding strengths, gradual diversification in its loan book, improving albeit still modest profitability and reasonable asset quality performance.” In June last year, BDO raised $1 billion in fresh capital from a stock rights offer that would allow the bank to beef up its capital base in anticipation of the higher capital adequacy standards under Basel 3 and in order to sustain the bank’s medium-term growth plans.Under Basel 3, the central bank has required a minimum 10% Tier 1 capital ratio and 12.5% total capital adequacy ratio for universal and commercial banks by Jan. 1 next year. The Sy-led bank’s support rating were also affirmed at “3,” while its support rating floor was also raised to “BB+” from “BB”. Fitch said BDO’s concentrated loan books, foreclosed properties with modest reserves and conglomerate structure weigh on the bank’s credit rating. It also cited the bank’s “higher appetite for rapid expansion, which in part explained its weaker metrics in profitability and capitalization over the last few years”. Fitch also affirmed the Development Bank of the Philippines’ (DBP) and the Land Bank of the Philippines’ (Landbank) support rating at “3”; raised the support rating of China Banking Corp. (China Bank), Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), Security Bank Corp. (Security Bank) and Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) to “3” from “4”; and increased the support rating floor of DBP, Landbank, China Bank, RCBC., Security Bank, and UnionBank to “BB+” from “BB”. -- A. R. R. Gregorio

Posted on April 01, 2013 08:26:31 PM

Peso joins regional peers, euro in weakness WEAKER-THAN-EXPECTED manufacturing data from China caused the peso to weaken against the dollar yesterday, ignoring general optimism on the country’s credit rating upgrade last week. The euro and some Asia-Pacific currencies exhibited similar weakness. The peso weakened by four centavos to close at P40.84 to the dollar yesterday against its P40.80-per-dollar close on Wednesday last week, the last trading day before the Lenten break. This, even as the peso opened five centavos stronger at P40.75 to the dollar and traded within a P40.75-40.84 band against Wednesday’s P40.80-41.05 range. “The peso opened stronger when trading began yesterday buoyed by investors’ positive sentiment on local assets after the credit rating upgrade from Fitch Ratings last week and after dealers sold dollars that accumulated over the long weekend,” a trader said in a phone interview yesterday. International debt watcher Fitch Ratings last Wednesday raised the country’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating (IDR) to ‘BBB-’ from ‘BB+’. It also raised the country’s long-term local-currency IDR to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB-’ and assigned a stable outlook to the ratings. In a separate phone interview, another trader said: “The peso pulled back against the dollar towards the afternoon on risk aversion after China reported weaker-than-expected PMI (purchasing managers’ index) data yesterday.” China’s official manufacturing PMI stood at 50.9 last month -- the highest in 11 months -- up from 50.1 in the month before. Though the data showed a modest improvement in the world’s second-largest economy’s manufacturing sector, it was still fell short of the market’s expectation of 52 for the month of March. The peso is expected to trade within the P40.70- to P40.90-per-dollar band this week. Dollars traded yesterday totaled only $530.40 million, lower than the $1.14 billion traded last Wednesday. Such weakness was seen in Europe and elsewhere in Asia. In a report from Tokyo, Reuters said the euro started the quarter on a weak note on Monday, staying near a four-month low on worries that the euro zone’s rescue for Cyprus might have opened a can of worms and as Italy struggles to find a way out of its political impasse. The yen was little moved by the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) tankan survey, which showed Japanese business sentiment had improved slightly less than anticipated, as investors looked ahead to the central bank’s policy meeting later this week.

The euro traded at $1.2801, down about 0.1% from late Asian trade on Friday last week and near a fourmonth low of $1.2750 hit on Wednesday. European and US markets were closed for a holiday on Friday. Having steadily descended from a 14-month peak of $1.3711 hit in February, the euro has major support around $1.2680, a 61.8% retracement of its July-February rally. But a break there could open the way for a test of last year’s low near $1.20. Against the yen, the common currency fetched 120.68 yen, not far from a one-month low of 119.745 yen hit on Thursday and off a three-year high of 127.71 yen hit in February. At the weekend, the Cypriot central bank confirmed that major depositors in Cyprus’s biggest bank would lose approximately 60% of savings over €100,000, well above initial talk of a cut of 30-40%. “I don’t think cuts in deposits would be applied to every other country in the euro zone. Still, investors will see some risk and there are also some issues with Italy, so the euro is likely to head toward $1.25,” said a trader at a European bank. Investors fear the shock of deposit cuts could tempt savers in other fragile euro zone countries to shift funds to German bunds and other safe assets, unwinding months of fund flows of the opposite direction. The yen barely moved after BoJ’s tankan survey, which also showed companies’ capital spending plans were much weaker than economists had expected, even as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for easy monetary policy has boosted Japanese share prices over the past few months. “The weak capex plans suggests that companies do not feel confident about spending even though ‘Abenomics’ has boosted markets,” said Yunosuke Ikeda, senior currency economist at Nomura Securities. “In the past, when companies were bullish on spending, Japanese investors became eager to take more risks in foreign bond investment, so the data was mildly negative for the dollar/yen.” The dollar traded at 94.30 yen, almost flat on the day, but above its March 18 low of 93.45 yen, supported by expectations of strong easing from BoJ under new Governor Haruhiko Kuroda at its monetary policy review on April 3-4. The Aussie was subdued at $1.0407, down slightly from late last week and off a two-month high of $1.0497 hit last Tuesday. In a report from Seoul, Reuters also said the South Korean won fell in shallow trade on Monday as foreigners covered dollar-short positions after North Korea ramped up threats of war against the United States and South Korea over the weekend. The Korean currency was quoted at 1,114.8 against the dollar at the end of onshore trade, compared to Friday’s domestic close at 1,111.1. -- ARRG with reports from Tokyo and Seoul by Reuters

- See more at:,-euro-in-weakness&id=67981#sthash.r27gH7zJ.dpuf

Posted on April 01, 2013 10:01:39 PM

Melco Crown Philippines to begin institutional roadshow this month MELCO Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp., the local unit of regional casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd., is set to begin this month its roadshow to drum up investor interest in its planned offering of up to one billion shares for capital raising. In a disclosure yesterday, Melco Crown Philippines said an institutional roadshow is “expected to start in April 2013,” ahead of a planned share placement and subscription transaction of up to one billion company shares. This plan is expected to boost the company’s public float level to 30.42% from a previous 10.01%. The shares will be priced via a bookbuilding process following the roadshow, the disclosure added, but further details on the planned transaction were unavailable yesterday. Melco Crown Philippines said the proceeds of the planned share sale will be allotted for the consolidation of its affiliates and the construction of Belle Grande Manila Bay, the integrated resort and casino complex of Belle Corp. which Melco Crown Philippines will manage. “The company intends to use the net proceeds of the subscription to pay for part of the acquisition cost of MCE Holdings (Philippines) Corp. and its direct and indirect subsidiaries, and to fund work on the [Belle Grande] project… including to pay for gaming equipment purchases, fit-out work, and other various initial operating costs, such as pre-opening costs and working capital, as well as for general corporate purposes,” the disclosure read. Last month, the board of Melco Crown Philippines approved the issuance of 2.85 billion shares to MCE (Philippines) Investments Ltd., one of the company’s controlling shareholders, at one peso apiece and the purchase of 147.85 million shares of MCE Holdings -- an affiliate of MCE Investments -- from MCE Investments for P7.20 billion. The share purchase would make MCE Holdings a wholly owned subsidiary of Melco Crown Philippines, consolidating the former’s businesses under one corporate entity, Melco Crown Philippines previously said. Also last month, Melco Crown Philippines affiliates MCE Holdings, MCE Holdings No. 2 (Philippines) Corp., and MCE Leisure (Philippines) Corp. finalized an operating agreement with Sy-controlled casino developer Belle Corp. wherein MCE Leisure will operate the $1-billion Belle Grande. Belle is currently devoting “significant resources” for the mid-2014 completion of Belle Grande, which will rise on a 6.2-hectare site within the state-run Entertainment City. Belle Grande is located along Diosdado Macapagal Avenue within the Bagong Nayong Pilipino Entertainment City.

Upon completion, the complex will feature mass market and gaming facilities, restaurants, entertainment attractions, upscale boutique hotel facilities, as well as a branded family entertainment center for live performances, central lounge, and the dome-shaped Fortune Egg which will house a night club. Melco Crown Philippines, officially known as Manchester International Holdings Unlimited Corp. until early this month, was formed after holding company Zuellig Group sold Manchester shares last December to MCE Investments and MCE (Philippines) Investments No. 2 Corp. -- Franz Jonathan G. de la Fuente

- See more at:

Noy wants ban lifted for poll appointments • •

Written by Paul Atienza Tuesday, 02 April 2013 00:00

Seeks exemption from Comelec for appointing two commissioners Since February this year and prior to the election ban, President Aquino had all the time to appoint two commissioners for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) posts to fill the vacancies in the poll body, despite having earlier appointed two commissioners who had to decline the presidential appointments, for different reasons. Now that the election ban on government appointments and movements of personnel in government agencies have set in, Aquino seeks from the Comelec exemptions to the ban for his two appointees, contrary to the election law. Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said yesterday that the President seeks to secure a favorable decision from the Comelec to appoint the two commissioners to fill the vacancies in the poll body. “The office of the President, through the Office of the Executive Secretary, wrote the Comelec to ask (the poll body for the lifting of the election ban in the case of Aquino’s appointment of two commissioners to fill the vacancies), saying that the Palace position is that “the appointments to the two Comelec posts are not covered by the ban,” Valte said. The prohibition for Aquino to appoint his chosen men in the different government positions had taken effect on March 29. It will be recalled that during the 2010 presidential campaign, then presidential candidate Aquino insisted that then associate justice Renato Corona’s appointment to the highest seat in the Supreme Court by the President Gloria Arroyo was unconstitutional, as the law says that there can be no appointments made while the election ban was in effect. And at that time, the election ban was in effect. He refused to recognize Corona as the Chief Justice of the High Court, saying that it should have been him who has the appointing power and that it was unconstitutional for Arroyo to be given that appointment power, amid the election ban law. The High Court upheld the presidential appointment of Corona, but Aquino still refused to recognize and acknowledge Corona as the Chief Justice. He had, in fact, ensured that Corona would be impeached and convicted by Congress.

But apparently, now that he sits as president, Aquino wants that same power and authority to appoint two poll commissioners despite the election ban on government appointments. Valte said the Comelec has yet to make a formal reply to the note sent by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa. Valte said an informal notice was already received by Malacañang officials that a favorable resolution granting exemption for the President the right to exercise his power to appoint the two election commissioners. “I understand that we are waiting for a reply from the Comelec but we have already been told, we were given advance information, that the Comelec does concur with the position of the OP (Office of the President) that it is not covered by the March 29 appointments ban due to the urgency and brought upon by the upcoming elections in May,” Valte said. It also appears that the Comelec, now headed by its chairman, Sixto Brillantes, even gives Aquino and Malacañang advance information to the effect that the Comelec has already approved of Aquino’s move to have the election ban on hiring and appointing lifted. This decision from the Brillantes Comelec apparently had been made even in the absence of an en banc commission meeting. The Brillantes Comelec, with majority of the commissioners being Aquino’s appointees, and with them being so lenient even when Aquino and his team mates violate the election rules, is largely seen by the general public as Aquino’s runner stamp poll body. Valte did not provide any names that Aquino would be appointing to the commission. Valte said the administration does “not want to give a timetable but rest assured that we are very cognizant of the urgency of the appointments”. Apparently, Aquino is also into antedating appointments. Valte also added that Aquino had signed the appointments of other government appointees dated before the election ban effected. “I was advised that President Aquino signed a number of appointments last Tuesday and Wednesday, we are processing their transmittal papers,” Valte said. Valte said Ochoa’s office informed her that “majority of them are appointments under the judiciary”. “So, as soon as we get the list, we will share them with you,” Valte said. To recall, Aquino already named former ambassador Macabangkit Lanto and election lawyer Bernadette Sardillo to replace the retired Comelec commissioners, Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco, last March 7 in Davao. However, both Lanto and Sardillo withdrew their applications, leaving the two Comelec commissioner posts vacant again. Sardillo, in her letter to the President, stated that she was prevailed upon by her family to withdraw the nomination as Comelec commissioner. Lanto cited “delicadeza” as basis for his decision not to accept his appointment and nomination as

Comelec commissioner. “With deep regret, I respectfully decline my appointment as a member of the Comelec…After a thorough consultation with my family, I have arrived at this decision, owing in large part to the controversy that surrounded my appointment,” Lanto said in his letter to the President. Lanto was a congressman who was unseated by the House Electoral Tribunal on account of electoral fraud. Aquino had earlier said there was a new list being formulated, “and we are vetting even more so than the other times that we vetted candidates.” Meanwhile, the Comelec has launched a video that would guide the public and local candidates on the proper way of campaigning. Brillantes said the two-minute video features “Tina Tama”, as she outlines legal, proper and novel techniques that local candidates can adopt in their campaign. “Now that the campaign period for local candidates has started, we expect them to strictly follow the rules on campaigning. Those who will violate the law will face criminal election offense,” he said in a statement. The campaign for local candidates has officially started last Saturday, March 30, 2013. In the new Comelec video, “Tina Tama” contradicts “Boy Bawal,” saying that “not everything is prohibited, there is also a right way to campaign. “Boy Bawal” was the poll body’s poster boy versus illegal campaigning. The video also urged candidates to be creative in their campaign and should be informed as to the location of Common Poster Areas designated by the commission. Likewise, she noted that candidates should seek the permission of private property owners if they want to place their campaign materials there. ‘Tina Tama’ also discouraged the practice of vote buying. “We all know what is wrong, we should do what is right. For the elections to be successful let us start by following the campaign rules,” they said. Earlier, Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said that the poll body expects an increase in violations of campaign rules once the campaign period for local candidates start.

BSP allows banks to decide where to place excess cash • •

Written by Ed Velasco Tuesday, 02 April 2013 00:00

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is giving all banks, particularly universal and commercial banks (UKBs), a free hand to decide where to put their excess liquidity. The BSP now estimates banks’ execess liquidity to be P2.5 trillion to P3 trillion, or almost half of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011. According to the BSP, the amount is so huge that it will not be kept in a special window created for excess liquidity as it will tend to give the economy a higher inflation. So far, only P1.6 trillion is kept at the BSP’s special deposit account (SDA) window. A 2.5 percent interest is given to any amount parked at SDA which is far higher if banks will buy government securities that only have interests between .67 percent to 1.4 percent. A source at the BSP said there are two ways how banks can fully utilize excess liquidity of the system — either increase loan exposure to various businesses or increase their placement at SDA. “We don’t really get into that. We leave that as a business decision since each bank has its own unique situation,” BSP deputy governor for supervision and examination sector Nestor Espenilla explained to The Daily Tribune in an exclusive interview. However, the BSP cut interest for SDA to 2.5 percent a week ago to temper the peso appreciation and siphon off excess liquidity that will definitely cause inflation to rise. It was the second rate cut for SDA in three months but no change has been done to borrowing and lending rates, which remain at 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively. However, some critics said the BSP’s move is tantamount to competing with the national government as banks would tend to park their money at SDA as its interest is far higher than buying government securities. Another reason for cutting interest for SDA is the estimated P20 billion savings from interest payment. If the interest will be put to just 1.5 percent, BSP could achieve higher savings. “It’s better for them to float own bonds rather than having a window like this (SDA),” the source said. BSP was disallowed to issue own bonds when its name was renewed from Central Bank of the Philippines to BSP in July 1993. Two banks also predict that the BSP would likely maintain key rates at 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent as there are ample liquidity. Cutting rates would mean punishing banks as it would entice businesses to borrow more.

Banks are too choosy when lend as they are under time pressure to unload risk assets in preparation for the very punishing Basel 3 beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

Isda, balik na sa dating presyo (Armida Rico)

Balik na sa normal ang presyo ng isda matapos na tumaas ito nitong nagdaang Semana Santa, ayon sa Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) kahapon.


Sa ipinalabas na ulat ng DTI, bumaba na ang presyo ng mga isda matapos tumaas ng P10 hanggang P30 pesos kada kilo.

Sa kanilang monitoring mula sa palengke ng Mutya ng Pasig at Pasay City Public Market, ang presyo ng bangus ay nasa P110 kada kilo, tilapia ay P80, galunggong ay P100, hipon ay P360, dalagang bukid ay P140, at pusit ay P180.

Sinabi ni DTI undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya, nagmahal ang presyo ng isda dahil tumaas ang demand noong Mahal na Araw at ito’y dahil sa umiiwas na kumain ng karne ang mga Katoliko.

‘Wag balewalain ang tag-init OPINION Nagbabala na ang weather bureau hinggil sa pag-atake ng sobrang init na panahon ngayong Abril at ang matinding init ng temperatura ay bunsod ng hanging manggagaling sa Pacific Ocean.

Kapag sobrang init ng panahon, marami ang nakakaranas ng iba’t ibang sakit tulad ng ubo at sipon na nauuwi sa trangkaso; sore eyes na nakakahawa, mga sakit sa balat, dehydration at ang pinakamatindi ay heat stroke na kadalasan ay nauuwi sa kamatayan.

Kaya naman kasama namin ang Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration o PAGASA sa pagpapaalala sa taumbayan na maghanda para labanan ang mainit na panahon.

Sa mga nakaraang payo ng Department of Health (DOH), makakatulong sa pagharap sa tag-init ang pag-inom ng maraming tubig at fruit juices, maligo ng ilang beses sa isang araw at huwag magbabad sa ilalim ng init ng araw.

Sa pamamagitan nito, maiiwasan ang pagkakasakit, gayundin ang pagtama ng heat stroke.

Bukod sa kalusugan, dapat ding ingatan ang mga ariarian ngayong panahon ng tag-init. Sa ganitong panahon kasi naitatala ang sunud-sunod na sunog ng mga kabahayan at mga establisimyento, grassfire at pagkasunog ng mga sasakyan.

Mainam na laging itsek ang koneksyon ng kuryente ng mga kabahayan. Kaunting aberya o problema, agad na kumpunihin. Gayundin sa mga sasakyan, lalo na’t ngayon pa lamang, kapansin-pansin na maraming sasakyan sa kalsada ang nag-o-overheat, mayroon ding tuluyang nag-aapoy.

Iwasan din ang pagtatapon ng mga bagay na lumilikha ng apoy sa mga madamong lugar upang maiwasan ang grassfire na kadalasang lumalamon ng isang baryo o ekta-ektaryang lugar.

Laging tandaan, kapag handa at maingat ka, mainit man ang panahon ay may puwang para magsaya.                                       

2013 04 02 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

News monitor for 2013 04 02

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you