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Rice hybrids won’t replace inbreds, not  yet     Published on Friday, 12 April 2013 00:00   Written by EUFEMIO T. RASCO    

Research and development should help bring the best seed to the rice farmer. This is the public sector’s role, and it does not matter whether it is seed for hybrid or inbred rice. To the private sector, it makes a lot of difference. The seed of inbred rice varieties offers little protection to the owners of the technology. Thus, inbred seed does not attract as much attention from the private seed industry. History tells us that private sector involvement in the seed business developed as the level of protection increased. With hybrids and plant variety protection, the situation is perfect for the private seed industry to flourish. Where private sector came in, public sector R&D dropped. This was true in the case of corn and vegetables in the Philippines where public sector R&D had been relegated to niche topics such as organic farming. At the other extreme, public sector R&D had been relegated to research where public acceptance is an issue, such as the gene-modified eggplant – the type that many companies avoid not because they are useless, but simply because they are controversial. By historical precedent then, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) – the main public sector involved in rice R&D – should start creating its own niche and leave its traditional role of developing hybrids to the private sector. If demand for inbreds will decline as in corn and vegetables, PhilRice might as well proportionately scale down its inbred rich research too. But I believe that inbreds are not ready to give way to hybrid rice yet. While it is true that in multiple trials hybrid rice has exceeded the yield of inbreds by at least 1 ton per hectare on the average, there are individual inbred varieties that can compete well against hybrids under certain conditions. While hybrids improve, inbreds continue to improve too.

In spite of our concerted effort dating back to 2001, and a lot of government subsidy, hybrid rice adoption now accounts for only about 4 percent of the farms planted to rice. The most optimistic estimate puts it at about 10 percent, mostly in favorable environments. The most recent data at PhilRice indicate that some of the new inbreds can compete with the average commercial hybrids in yield and/or profitability even under ideal conditions where hybrids traditionally excel. During the wet season, the main season for rice, fewer hybrids excel. If one considers the cost limitations of hybrid seed (hybrid seed cost plus the cost of crop establishment), as well as the limited reach of hybrid seed promotion, hybrids have a lot of work to do before or if they will become mainstream. In other cereals such as wheat, hybrids have not really become mainstream in spite of years of work. Unlike vegetables where profit margins are high because of their high value, cereals are low-cost, low-value products. Unlike corn where hybrid vigor is very high, hybrid vigor in rice is quite low. There will be room for both hybrids and inbreds for rice for some time to come. At least for inbred rice, PhilRice must sustain its R&D work. Good inbreds will provide a continuing inspiration or challenge to private seed companies to produce better hybrids. Don’t get me wrong; my faith in hybrids has not wavered – but we need better hybrids than what we have now if we want farmer adoption to dramatically rise. And hybrid breeding must improve faster than inbred breeding. We also need to know more about the range of conditions where hybrids will be cost effective. This requires a more sustained R&D on hybrids, with the public and private sectors actively helping each other. For PhilRice, sustained work on inbreds will allow it to continue to develop hybrids at lower cost than if its sole objective is hybrids, because the inbred program provide parents that can be used in a hybrid program. (Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco is the Executive Director of the Philippine Rice Research Institute. The article is based on a paper he delivered April 3-5 at PhilRice during the First National Hybrid Rice Congress attended by private seed companies, government officials, the academe and farmers.) ****** What is an inbred rice? An inbred rice variety is a pureline. This means that the offspring or succeeding generations produced by this variety will have the same genetic makeup. It is the result of a cross between

two or more different varieties and subsequent selection through several cycles of selfpollination or inbreeding. Normally, each rice flower contains both male and female organs. This allows the plant to reproduce itself through self-pollination or inbreeding, hence, the term inbred (without any intervention from man). Seeds harvested from an inbred variety can be used for the succeeding plant seasons without losing their varietal identity, provided cross-pollination with other varieties is avoided. Most of the rice plants in farmers’ field today are inbred rice.

What is a hybrid? A hybrid is the product of a cross between two genetically distinct rice parents. When the right parents are selected, the hybrid will have both greater vigor and yield than either of the parents. The advantages of hybrid rice are: increased yields; increased vigor (which makes them more competitive with weeds); and increased resistance to diseases and insects. The disadvantages are: seed is expensive; and farmers cannot use their seed from the past season like they can with inbred rice. Seeds harvested from the hybrid plant are not recommended for replanting because the hybrid vigor is lost because of genetic segregation that results in a lower yield, so farmers must buy new hybrid seeds every year. SOURCE: IRRI


Farmers engaging government By Ernesto M. Ordoñez  Philippine Daily Inquirer   10:33 pm | Thursday, April 11th, 2013  

We get the government we deserve. This is a saying that farmers are now acting upon with greater vigor. During the fertilizer scam period, they bravely came out to denounce the corruption by specific unscrupulous officials in the Department of Agriculture, local government units, and even Congress. They succeeded only because of the help of the Senate, led by Senator Jun Magsaysay, and COA, led by officials like Heidi Mendoza. DA budget The Alyansa Agrikultura, a farmer-fisherfolk coalition of 42 federations and organizations covering all agricultural sectors, was one of three peoples’ organizations (POs) and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) accredited to engage the DA in budget deliberation. However, Alyansa objected to this selectivity, and succeeded in opening up this interaction to all interested POs and NGOs. On April 8, welcome changes were noted during the last National Agriculture and Fisheries Council (NAFC) meeting. NAFC is a government-private sector body created by law to, among other things, formulate and monitor the DA budget. During the previous administration, the NAFC would meet very irregularly—once not convening for more than two years. We suspect that this happened because the DA did not want the private sector to see how the DA budget was being spent. Because of little transparency, the DA became riddled rich with corruption. Under Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala’s leadership, transparency has increased and corruption decreased. NAFC meetings are now called frequently, and private sector recommendations listened to. Monitoring The NAFC is tasked not just to help formulate, but also monitor, the DA budget. This is where assertive farmer engagement is needed. The Alyansa had proposed the creation of a NAFC budget committee during the start of the current administration precisely for this purpose. That it was immediately created is the good news. The bad news is that it was one year and eight months between the committee’s first and second meetings, the latter being held only last April 4. In addition, the minutes of the Aug. 23, 2011 meeting, which contained several beneficial recommendations, were released only on April 4. Consequently, there was little accountability done for these recommendations.

Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano has instituted welcome changes. He directed the transmittal of the minutes of the last meeting the very next day. He also scheduled quarterly meetings for both the formulation and monitoring of the DA budget. Obstacle There is, however, a major obstacle to effective monitoring. Alyansa had reported that a P1.5million monitoring budget had been allocated to each Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Council (RAFC) under the previous administration. The total DA budget in 2010 was then P50 million. With the RAFC monitoring budget, RAFC chair Jesus Simeon said the RAFCs reported many anomalies at the provincial level to the DA national office. But hardly any action was taken. Under the government’s “Daang Matuwid” thrust, the RAFCs were more motivated to continue their monitoring. However, the RAFCs got an annual budget of only P220,000 instead of the previous P1.5 million. If P1.5 million was given to monitor a P50-million 2010 budget then, why was only P220,000 given to monitor the DA’s proposed budget of P96.4 billion for 2014? Despite Alcala’s directive to look into this, the official written response last April 4 to Alyansa’s recommendation was: “NAFC proposed to increase the monitoring funds for the Agriculture Fisheries Council, but the current situation does not allow such increase due to liquidation problems.” We were later informed that the Commission on Audit did not allow DA to implement this recommendation. Recommendation The farmers should go beyond engaging DA and expand this engagement to all government agencies affecting farmers’ welfare, including the COA. If the farmers engage COA properly, we believe that COA can help DA devise a mechanism which will allow the RAFCs to monitor the budget. Without this engagement by the farmers, the DA budget may be released as formulated, but wasted on corruption and inefficiency. Engagement is necessary to ensure transparency, which in turn is required to achieve effectiveness and a better life for the farmers and fisherfolk. (The author is chair of Agriwatch, former Secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, and former Undersecretary for Agriculture, Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions, email or telefax (02) 8522112).

South Cotabato eyes more projects for  farmers   Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Thursday, 11 April 2013 20:54   Written by PNA   GENERAL  SANTOS  CITY—Agriculture  officials  in  South  Cotabato  province  are  pushing  for  the  implementation of more community‐based agricultural projects this year by assisting local farmers and  irrigators in making proposals.  Reynaldo  Legaste,  South  Cotabato  provincial  agriculturist,  said  on  Thursday  he  and  other  agriculture  officials  are  helping  farmers’  organizations  and  irrigators’  associations  in  the  area  avail  themselves  of  some  projects  from  the  Department  of  Agriculture  (DA)  through  several  capability‐enhancement  programs.  A  series  of  project‐proposal  sessions  with  members  of  these  associations,  specifically  those  in  the  Marbel Banga River Irrigation System, was launched recently, he added.  “We’re teaching them [to identify] the projects their community or group needs and we help package  them [as] proposals for DA funding,” Legaste said.  According  to  him,  this  initiative  was  launched  to  take  advantage  of  the  considerable  increase  in  the  budget allocation for the department this year.  The DA has a P74.1‐billion budget this year, a 20‐percent increase from its 2012 budget. Similarly, the  DA in Region 12 (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces and General Santos  City or Soccsksargen) saw its budget increase by about 62 percent to P1.28 billion in 2012 from about  P795  million  the  year  before.  Amalia  Jayag‐Datukan,  DA‐Region  12  executive  director,  said  her  office  would use its budget to fund and implement projects benefiting local farmers and distribute more farm  equipment to them.  She urged farmers’ organizations and irrigators’ associations to submit their proposals.  “We  want  to  bring  the  DA  closer  to  our  farmers.  Without  them,  there  will  be  no  food  in  our  tables,”  Datukan  said.  Coordinators  of  the  agency’s  flagship  Agri‐Pinoy  Program  have  been  reaching  out  to  farmers at the grassroots level to ensure a more extensive reach for their services, she added.  PNA

Agri trade deficit widens by 30% By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 12, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s agricultural trade deficit in 2012 widened 29.51 percent to $3.1 billion against $2.4 billion in 2011, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS). Agricultural trade deficit was widest in May at $332.94 million. Agricultural exports earnings in 2012 made up 9.62 percent of the country’s total export earnings of $51.9 billion for the year, reaching $5 billion. This was down by 7.88 percent from $5.4 billion in 2011. The highest record of earnings from agricultural exportation in 2012 was seen in December at $547.60 million, while the lowest was seen in August at $226.06 million. Export earnings from the country’s top 10 agricultural exports fell 15.24 percent in 2012 to $3.38 million from $3.99 billion in 2011. Commodities that posted lower export earnings were centrifugal sugar (down 69.04 percent), milk and cream products (down 50.53 percent), fertilizer manufactured (44.23 percent), desiccated coconut (31.30 percent),coconut oil (28.72 percent), tobacco manufactured (21.26 percent), and seaweeds and carrageenan (12.64 percent). Tuna export earnings, however, rose 44.67 percent to $445.10 million in 2012 from $314.58 million in 2011. Export earnings from fresh bananas and pineapple products also rose 36.89 percent and 20.04 percent respectively. Agricultural import expenditure in 2012 reached $8.1 billion, comprising 12.42 percent of the country’s total import expenditure of $65.4 billion last year. This was up 3.60 percent from $7.8 billion in 2011. Expenditure for the country’s top 10 agricultural imports reached $4.07 billion, up 7.39 percent from $3.79 billion in 2011.

Import expenditure for maize, placed at $87.56 million, rose 82.34 percent in 2012. Increased import expenditures were also registered year-on-year for wheat and meslin at 1.32 percent, soyabean oil cake at 19.10 percent, fertilizer manufactured at 15.44 percent, coffee at 108.03 percent, urea at 4.39 percent, and rice at 10.67 percent. Reduced importation expediture, on the other hand, were recorded for meat of bovine animals at 0.19 percent, milk and cream products and tobacco unmanufactured both down by 6.51 percent. In 2012, higher world market prices were seen for Thai rice, maize and soybean, arabica coffee, and bananas. On the downtrend in 2012 were world market prices for coconut oil, copra, sugar and rubber. In 2012, the Philippine recorded a trade surplus with Japan at $575.48 million. Trade surplus with the European Union, however, fell to $283.68 million. Wider trade deficits were seen in the ASEAN region at $1.3 billion, and with Australia at $669.88 million. Trade deficit with the rest of the world fell slightly to $1.39 billion from $1.40 billion year-onyear.

Phl food firms sell $53.4 M in Dubai trade fair By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 12, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Philippine food companies generated $53.4 million worth of sales at a recent food trade fair held in Dubai. In a statement, the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) said the sales came from orders received by 19 Philippine exhibitor-companies that participated in the Gulfood 2013. “Among the best-selling Filipino products were Pampanga’s Best Halal-certified marinated meat items such as tocino (cured meat) and longanisa (sausage), Agrinurture’s fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, Pixcel’s Florence brand food preserves, Gemfoods’ Dani’s buko salad, and Celebes’ organic Halal-certified coconut water, coconut milk and desiccated coconut and Brandexports Philippines’ consolidated ethnic food,” it said. The Gulfood 2013, which was held from Feb. 25 to 28, had a record of 4,200 exhibitors from 110 countries showcasing more than 50,000 brands across every sector of the food and beverage industry. The trade fair is the world’s biggest annual food and hospitality show. The participation in the Gulfood is part of the government’s continuing efforts to promote the country’s food products in the Middle East. The Middle East is seen to be a gateway to the $632 billion international Halal food market. Halal food is the prescribed dietary requirement for the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims, making up about 20 percent of the world’s entire food consumption. Earlier, the Department of Trade and Industry said that apart from the Gulfood, the country will be participating in other major exhibitions overseas this year to promote the country’s exports. These exhibitions include the SEAFEX to be held in Dubai, the Foodex in Japan, as well as Anuga food and retail trade fair in Germany.Next month, the 9th IFEX Philippines, which serves as Asia’s Ethnic Food and Ingredients Show, will be held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.The 9th IFEX is organized by CITEM in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Service to help promote the country’s products.

NFA exceeds palay procurement target (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 12, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The National Food Authority (NFA) has bought more than two million bags of palay in the first quarter harvest through massive procurement operations, surpass only its palay procurement targets for the period. The NFA bought a total of 2,244,142 bags or 38.22 percent more than its target of 1,695,900 bags for the January to March 2013 harvest. For the month of January alone, the grains agency bought a total of 591,575 bags or a 114.09-percent accomplishment of its 518,500 bags target for the month. For February, the NFA bought 683,219 bags or 139.92 percent of the 488,300 bags target. Last month, the agency registered the biggest procurement for the quarter, buying a total of 1,069,348 bags or 155.18 percent of the targeted 689,100 bags.The NFA’s palay procurement from January to March averaged at 56,281 bags daily. NFA administrator Orlan A. Calayag credited the high procurement volumes to the innovative methods employed by the agency’s field offices and the dedication of its personnel to support the agriculture department’s Food Staples Sufficiency program (FSSP) aimed at attaining rice selfsufficiency for the country. “This is a clear indicator that we are on our way to self-sufficiency and that our farmers have given their renewed trust in the government and the NFA and support our initiatives to wean the country away from costly rice importations that are detrimental to their own plight,” Calayag said. In previous years, the NFA’s actual procurement have not even reached 50 percent of its monthly or annual targets. At present, the NFA’s total inventory stands at 11,685,838 bags or 584,292 metric tons in total rice equivalent, including local rice stocks of 3,301,408 bags and imported rice totaling 2,717,006. Calayag said the NFA’s buffer stock is at a very safe level, allowing the agency to respond to calamities and emergencies such as the recent devastation from Typhoon Pablo and the exodus of Filipino workers and migrants from Sabah to Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (BASULTA). With enough funds, Calayag is optimistic the NFA would continue to exceed its procurement targets for the rest of the year. The agency operates a total of 435 buying stations and mobile procurement teams nationwide. Meanwhile, rice prices remained stable during the first quarter, averaging at P29.23 per kilogram (wholesale) and P31.02/kg (retail) for regular milled rice (RMR); P32.34/kg and P34.40/kg for well milled rice (WMR); P36.74/kg and P38.88/kg for premium rice; and P40.93 and P44.22/kg for the fancy varieties.There are 13,580 active market outlets for NFA rice nationwide.

Group seeks permits to import onions, garlic By Erika Sauler Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:20 pm | Thursday, April 11th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—A group of importers has asked the court to compel the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to issue importation permits for onions and garlic as it accused the agency of being selective despite the lifting of the quantitative import restriction. The Philippine Federation of Food Industry Inc. (PFFII) filed an action for mandamus with the Manila Regional Trial Court against Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, BPI director Clarito Barron and Plant Quarantine Service (PQS) chief Luben Marasigan. The BPI, through its attached agency PQS, issues import permits for plant and plant products through a sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) clearance. The PFFII said Republic Act No. 8178 repealed laws prohibiting the import of products including onions and garlic and yet “the DA (Department of Agriculture) has adopted a policy of not issuing SPS import clearance for onions and garlic since 2010.” “The DA, through Secretary Alcala, justified the non-issuance by stating that the country has enough supply and such method is a way to curb smuggling of onions,” PFFII said. The policy resulted in high prices, with onions reaching P210 per kilo and garlic, P120 per kilo in 2010, the group said. “The production cost for a kilo of onion and garlic, including seedlings, fertilizers, irrigation and other farm input, is roughly P10 and P12, respectively. Thus, the high price of onions and garlic due to scarcity is a result of the obvious manipulation of the market in order to benefit a small group of individuals,” PFFII said. Barron issued a memorandum suspending the issuance of permit but later issued another memorandum lifting the suspension. Despite the lifting, the PQS continued to be selective in the issuance of SPS importation permit for garlic and onion to PFFII, although the group admitted it had been issued a few permits. “The purpose of the issuance of SPS permit is to ensure that the imported agricultural products do not carry with them any plant infection or infestation from another country” and not to impose quantitative restriction nor to allow discretionary import licensing, the group said.

In a letter to PFFII, a copy of which was attached to the court case, Barron said, “we are likewise called to discharge such duty based on well-grounded data of any impending need or scarcity of it to prevent the hiatus that will prejudice the local market as well as our local producers.” “Your request for us … will only unfairly compete with our local producers whose lives depend on the production of the same,” Barron said.

Govt sets rice imports under MAV     Published on 11 April 2013   Hits: 86   Written by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ REPORTER    0 0 0 New    

The Philippines has started accepting applications for rice importation under the minimum access volume (MAV)-country specific quota.

On Wednesday, the National Food Authority has opened to all licensed grains businessmen (individual, entities, farmers’ organizations, associations and cooperatives) the importations of some 163,000 metric tons (MT) of rice under the MAV-country specific quota. Interested businessmen can source the grains from Thailand (98,000 MT), China (25,000 MT), India (25,000 MT), and Australia (15,000 MT). The minimum volume to be applied is 2,000 MT and the maximum is 5,000 MT, the NFA said. Earlier, the NFA auctioned the rights to supply Manila’s rice requirement of 187,000 MT, which will be purchased through a government-to-government deal. At present, only two countries— Vietnam and Thailand—have existing rice purchase agreements with Manila. The total volume of rice to be imported by the NFA under the government-to-government deal covers the omnibus MAV for rice under the World Trade Organization (WTO).Under the agreement with the WTO, the Philippines has committed to a minimum access volume of about 350,000 MT for rice, with tariff rate of 50 percent. MAV refers to the minimum volume of farm produce allowed to enter into the Philippines at reduced tariffs, while shipments outside MAV pay higher rates. Manila has reduced imports by more than half this year as the growing period for the lean months has become shorter as a result of the early cropping scheme implemented by the Department of Agriculture-National Rice Program. At one point the world’s biggest rice importer, the Philippines imported 500,000 MT last year. Of the total, 120,000 MT was purchased by the NFA to serve as buffer stock during the lean season.In 2011, the country imported 860,000 MT of rice, with the private sector importing 600,000 MT and farmers’ groups, 60,000 MT. The NFA imported 200,000. For 2010, Manila imported a record 2.45 million MT.

SRA closes sugar milling season     Published on Friday, 12 April 2013 00:00    The Sugar Regulatory Administrations (SRA) said yesterday it is set to close the country’s sugar milling  season as it hits over 93 percent of total production forecast for this crop year. 

SRA data showed that as of March 31, sugar production is already at 2.167 million metric tons, or 91.99 percent of the 2.356-million MT target for the crop year ending August 2013. Earlier, SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin said they expect an early close to the country’s sugar milling season – more than a month ahead of schedule due to an advance cropping scheme implemented by sugar farmers. “We expect milling season to close more than a month ahead of schedule – last week of May or early June,” Martin said. The SRA chief said that because of the early planting of sugarcane and good weather in the last quarter of the 2012, they were able to close early, noting that majority of the operational sugar mills – particularly in Negros Occidental – would stop operations this month. Traditionally, sugar milling ends June-July, according to Martin. The SRA is expecting a strong sugar demand for 2013 due to stable sugar prices and in the midterm elections next month. Despite the early end of milling season and two massive typhoons that hit the country, Martin said the sugar industry may exceed production target, adding that the agency may come up with revisions in its forecast by next month.

Economy Posted on April 11, 2013 11:34:51 PM 

Sugar already 92% of target SUGAR production as of March already hit more than 90% of the government’s target with  more than five months still left before the crop year will end, Sugar Regulatory Administration  (SRA) data showed.    Sugar production climbed by 14% to 2.17 million metric tons as of March, as favorable weather allowed  early milling. ‐‐ BW File Photo    Sugar production as of March 31 reached 2.17 million metric tons (MT), 92% of the government’s  2.356‐million MT target. This was also 14% higher than the 1.9 million MT recorded in the same period  in the previous crop year.    The sugar crop year starts in September and ends in August.    SRA attributed the record crop to early milling and favorable weather.    “We have almost reached our target and that is because we started milling early,” said SRA  Administrator Regina Bautista‐Martin in a phone interview yesterday.    Nine sugar millers started milling in September 2012, the first month of the crop year, compared to just  three in the same month in the previous crop year.    “Usually, millers will start their operations in October but this year, they started early,” Ms. Martin said,  “and we might finish milling in June.”    She said milling usually ends in July.    “In fact three millers are already finished milling,” Ms. Martin said, adding that two are located in  Negros and one in Pampanga.    Sugar withdrawals, or sugar withdrawn from milling warehouses by traders for domestic consumption,  rose by 12% to 580,000 MT as of March 31 from 519,000 MT in the previous crop year. Sugar  withdrawals indicate whether domestic demand is increasing or decreasing.    SRA Manager for Planning and Policy Rosemarie M. Gumera said via text the increase was “perhaps  because of stable domestic prices and partly due to the upcoming election.” 

The country has already shipped 27,160 MT of “A” sugar to the United States. The Philippines is allowed  to ship 138,827 MT of “A” sugar to the US annually under the latter’s Tariff Rate Quota scheme.  Meanwhile, sugar exports to the world market have reached 114,730 MT. Ms. Martin said the country  will export a total of 200,000 MT of “D” sugar to India, Indonesia, South Korea, and other market.    Sugar, along with coconut oil and abaca, is one of the country’s chief agricultural exports. Bureau of  Agricultural Statistics data showed that sugar exports receipts reached $108.8 million last year,  accounting for 2.17% of total agricultural trade earnings. ‐‐ Raymond Jun R. Portillo  ‐ See more at:‐already‐92%‐ of‐target&id=68577#sthash.NUaPVBhx.dpuf     


Biazon accuser backs reforms at Bureau  of Customs     Published on 11 April 2013   Hits: 119   Written by Jing Villamente And Catherine S. Valente  

THE group of agriculture stakeholders who earlier sought the resignation of Customs Commissioner Rozzana Rufino ‘Ruffy’ Biazon vowed on Thursday to support the implementation of a comprehensive action plan that will curb corruption and smuggling at the Bureau of Customs (BoC). Abono partylist chairman and Swine Development Council director Rosendo So said it is high time for President Benigno Aquino 3rd to embark on a no-nonsense program to cleanse the ranks of customs employees and address the unabated illegal entry of goods into the country. “We welcome the statement from the President himself that the administration is committed to implement reforms at the BoC to stamp out corruption and rampant smuggling,” So said. “We have written the President on various smuggling problems in the country since January. At least now, the Palace has already made a concrete commitment to really address the problem,” he added. After elections The reform measures, the details of which have yet to be revealed by the Palace, will be implemented after the May elections. Strategic Communications Secretary Ramon “Ricky” Carandang said the government is hoping that everyone can see the results before the end of the year. But Carandang refused to reveal more details so as not to give smugglers the chance to set counterattacks. “I think, at this point, for us to talk about specifics might make it more difficult to execute whatever we plan to do. So there are more specific actions but I’m not at a point right now where I can reveal what they are,” he told reporters. He assured the public that the government remains committed in addressing the problem on smuggling. “We’re taking steps to improve the performance of Customs and we’re hoping that before the end of the year those steps will have borne fruit in the form of higher collections than previous years,” he stressed.

Smuggling capital Carandang also defended Biazon from earlier accusations by the group of So that the Customs chief “is single-handedly making the country the smuggling capital of Asia.” The group blamed Biazon for the incompetence of the agency to address this problem and even clamored for his resignation. “Well, Commissioner Biazon is taking steps to improve the situation in Customs and let’s give him a chance to do that and we hope that before the end of the year, you’ll see improvements,” Carandang further said. So expressed hopes that Aquino will include in its action plan the much-delayed proposal of the stakeholders for the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Customs to share the copies of importers Inward Foreign Manifests to concerned agencies, like Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry, which contain details of the incoming importations so that there will be no room for any attempt for technical smuggling or misdeclaration or under declaration. He asked the President to order BOC to comply with the “Quarantine First” policy to check technical smuggling of meat and other farm products in the country. The Abono chairman lamented that Biazon has been ignoring the implementation of the socalled “quarantine first” policy, which is part of the BOC’s Port Operations Manual, which requires that the quarantine certificate should be among the documents presented by the master of the vessel to the customs boarding and inspection team. The said manual had been in effect since June 2010. “With the President’s pronouncement that the implementation of a comprehensive action against rampant smuggling is forthcoming, we are hoping that the BOC would also implement the requirement for quarantine inspection, as part of several measures aimed at effectively stopping the unabated smuggling of meat into the country, which continues to threaten the existence of our hog and poultry industries and allied agricultural sectors, as well as continue to endanger the health of our consuming public,” So said. Quarantine On June 26, 2012, So said Biazon agreed to let DA quarantine inspectors to see the IFMs so that they can check and determine whether all incoming shipments of hog, chicken, beef and other meat and agriculture products were issued veterinary quarantine certificate (VQC) from the DA. According to him, there is no more reason for Biazon to withhold the IFMs from the DA inspectors because this arrangement had been instituted in 2009 where DOF and BOC furnished copies of the IFMs, not only to the DA, but also to the Department of Trade and Industry. “These IFMs contain a declaration of the importation, which also indicate the country of origin, will be crucial in determining shipments of smuggled meats and other foodstuffs. The DA needs

these IFMs to check if the cargo subject of inspection jibes with the VQC (veterinary quarantine certificate) issued by the DA,” So stressed. Rejected Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who is reportedly being eyed to spearhead the government’s anti-corruption drive, rejected proposals for the creation of a new anti-smuggling “superbody” as it would only “complicate things.” According to him, creating another body with the same mandate as the BOC will make the situation unwieldy and it may even result in competition among personnel of the respective agencies. The idea regarding the creation of a separate anti-smuggling body was earlier brought up by former Senator Jamby Madrigal following reports about the alleged rampant oil smuggling in the country. Lacson said Biazon and BIR Commissioner Kim Henares are competent “to address the problem at hand.” With reports from Jefferson Antiporda And Fatima Cielo Cancel‐stories/45276‐biazon‐accuser‐backs‐reforms‐at‐ bureau‐of‐customs  

Cloud seeding to cut outages by 2 hrs Philippine Daily Inquirer 11:09 pm | Thursday, April 11th, 2013 DAVAO CITY—The Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) wants to reduce by two hours the rotating brownouts in Mindanao by conducting cloud-seeding operations over Lake Lanao. Minda Secretary Luwalhati Antonino said her office will conduct cloud seeding to boost the lake’s water level to immediately address the current power shortfall causing rotating brownouts in Mindanao. Since the start of the summer months, the water level of Lake Lanao had been declining and is fast approaching the critical level of 699.15 meters above sea level (masl), according to a press statement from the National Power Corp. (Napocor). Lake Lanao powers the Agus hydropower complex in Lanao and remains one of Mindanao’s major sources of electricity, contributing up to 40 percent of electricity to the Mindanao grid. Napocor said it has projected that the critical level will be reached by May if not enough rains were experienced in Lanao. The state-run power generation company said it will be forced to shut down the operation of the Agus plants if the lake’s elevation falls below 698.15 masl. Even when the lake is still capable of churning out 85 cubic meters per second, power outages are already being experienced in Mindanao. In some areas, the power outages would last up to eight hours. Napocor said what it is doing now to prevent the water level from going below the critical level is to control the flow of water out of the lake. Antonino said the government saw the need to conduct cloud-seeding operations over the lake to prevent longer hours of power outages because it is quicker, in terms of bridging the power supply shortfall in Mindanao. “Cloud seeding is among the recent recommendations presented to the President,” she said, adding that the plan will be carried out with the Department of Agriculture (DA). But Antonino clarified that the government has not run out of ideas to address the power crisis. She said power barges will be brought to the island. Antonino said the private sector is also helping and among the solutions seen is to build more coal-fired power plants.

New power plants being built will start operation by 2015, she added. Antonino said Minda has sent a team of experts to Lake Lanao from the DA’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management “to assess the viability of present cloud formation for cloud seeding.” If things go well, Antonino said the cloud-seeding operation could start immediately. Cloud seeding will hopefully improve the lake’s water level, to allow the flow of water into the plant at 100-120 cubic meters per second, a rate expected to result in increased generating capacity for the Agus hydro facility from 450 MW to 500 MW, she said. Allan Nawal and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao

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BAS-9 records 2012 fishery production By Nonoy E. Lacson Published: April 12, 2013 PAGADIAN CITY – The fishing industry in the Zamboanga Peninsula or Region-9 has recorded a decrease in commercial production by 2.30 percent, and 4.56 percent for municipal fisheries last year, or about 3.37 percent as compared to the fishery production in 2011. Based on the statistical data from the Region-9 office of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS-9) that was released to the Region-9 office of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-9) showed that commercial fishing produced some 209,494.12 metric tons or 4,942.33 metric tons lower as compared to the 2011 fishery productions of Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay. NEDA-9 Director Teresita Socorro C. Ramos said the BAS data also indicated that the total production for municipal fisheries was 123,155.28 metric tons in 2012 or 5,882.59 metric tons less than the production recorded in 2011, while municipal fisheries accounted for 20.57 percent of the total production. Ramos said aquaculture production was estimated at 266,020.27 metric tons in 2012. It also exhibited a downward trend – a decrease of 10,062.39 metric tons or 3.64 percent as compared to the previous year. Aquaculture accounted for about 44.44 percent of the total fisheries production in 2012. According to the BAS-9 monthly statistics, the decrease in fish production in 2012 was due to flash floods that damaged dikes in Dapitan City last February. In Zamboanga City, fish production at the commercial and municipal landing centers decreased during the first quarter, owing to the fishing moratorium and fuel cost increase. In Buug, Zamboanga Sibugay, fishing activities in the coastal villages of Pamintayan, Pulog, and Bawang were affected by the peace and order situation especially during the month of August.

2 charged with rice smuggling By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 12, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs (BOC) yesterday filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) a rice smuggling case against a trader and a customs broker for allegedly smuggling P6 million worth of rice from Taiwan. JBD Trading proprietor Cecilio Durano and broker Joevel Delda reportedly reported provisions of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, according to BOC Commissioner Rufino Biazon. Durano is the consignee of the 10 20-footer shipping containers that arrived at the Port of Cebu on Feb. 22. The shipment was reportedly misdeclared as wall insulator slabs, in an attempt to slip through customs without securing a government permit for rice importations, Biazon said.

Bukidnon, Benguet, Batangas eyed as agritourism sites Philippine Daily Inquirer 11:07 pm | Thursday, April 11th, 2013 DAVAO CITY—The academic community is pushing for agri-tourism as a key to economic growth. President Benigno Aquino III, in last month’s Euromoney Philippine Investment Forum, said his administration’s priority investment sectors—agriculture, tourism and infrastructure—would spell “inclusive growth” in the coming years. “We’re headed for ‘inclusive growth,’” the President said. Miguela Mena, Dean of the University of the Philippines Asian Institute of Tourism (UP-AIT), said the combination of agriculture and tourism “presents a massive potential for economic development in rural areas.” “The future development of agri-tourism in the country must be pursued with due emphasis on science if it is to take on a strategic relevance to national development,” said UP Los Baños Chancellor Rex Victor Cruz. UP-AIT professor Eli Paolo Fresnoza, who was a presenter in last year’s First National Agritourism Research Conference in the Philippines, also enumerated the many benefits of a strong agri-tourism sector, to include among others: wealth creation in and rejuvenation of hinterland economies, job generation and higher income for farmers, and food security. During the February Philippine Development Forum hosted by the World Bank, local and foreign participants mentioned agri-tourism as a major factor in an “all-inclusive” development, or one where the presence of jobs and livelihood opportunities are felt by the public. One of the areas tagged as ideal for agri-tourism is Bukidnon, which is host to vast pineapple and coffee plantations. Aside from Bukidnon, tagged as agri-tourism areas are the strawberry and organic vegetable farms of Benguet and farms in Batangas. At the World Bank forum, participants agreed that at least 14.6 million jobs would be created by 2016 if the business environment, especially for agriculture and tourism, is improved. Nico Alconaba, Inquirer Mindanao

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BFAR explores presence of ‘ludong’ in  Ilagan river   Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Thursday, 11 April 2013 20:53   Written by PNA   ILAGAN  CITY,  Isabela—The  Bureau  of  Fisheries  and  Aquatic  Resources  (BFAR)  in  Region  2  (Cagayan  Valley) is exploring the possible presence of ludong at the upstream of the Abuan River in the eastern  portion of this city.  Ludong is also known as the president’s fish or northwest Pacific salmon. It has a high market value of at  least P5,000 per kilogram.  Ludong, listed as one of the world’s most endangered freshwater fishes, is known among gourmands for  its delectable taste.  A team composed of employees from the Ilagan City agriculture office, the provincial fishery office, the  Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office and the Philippine Information Agency–Isabela, as  well as leaders of the province’s Cabisera village, is exploring the area to catch a pair of ludong that will  be transported to the BFAR breeding  station in Aparri town, Cagayan province, for study  and possible  breeding, said Roderick Revillosa, BFAR employee in charge of the ludong‐breeding project.  PNA

Corn production Published: April 12, 2013 KORONADAL CITY (PIA) – Following the success of the Agri-Pinoy Rice Program’s AgriPinoy Rice Achievers’ Awards (APRAA), the Department of Agriculture’s Agri-Pinoy Corn Program has launched the nationwide Corn Quality Awards to give honors to the top achievers involved in the development of the corn industry. Zaldy Boloron, regional corn program coordinator of DA in Region-12, said the awards, which has a budget allotment of P29 million is open to all provinces, cities, and municipalities, provincial and municipal coordinators, and agricultural extension workers (AEWs) involved in the implementation of the corn program. It aims to recognize the achievement of top performing local government units (LGUs) with outstanding contributions to the corn industry, thereby boosting a strong partnership with local government units as far as production of quality corn is concerned, he said. The Corn Quality Awards will commence this 2013, and will cover two cropping seasons. Top five performing provinces will get P3 million each, while the top 25 cities or municipalities will receive P500,000 worth of farm equipment, machineries, and infrastructure.

Farmers happy with Customs’ efforts Published: April 12, 2013 Dagupan City – Agriculture stakeholders were happy to hear the announcement made by President Benigno Aquino III that the government will implement a comprehensive action plan that would curb corruption and smuggling in the Bureau of Customs. Abono partylist chairman and Swine Development Council director Rosendo So said it was hightime that the administration adopt a no-nonsense program improve the capability and efficiency of the Customs bureau in addressing the unabated illegal entry of goods into the country. “We welcome the statement from the President himself that the administration is committed to implement reforms at the BoC to stamp out corruption and rampant smuggling,” So said. “We have written the President on various smuggling problems in the country since January. At least now, the Palace has already made a concrete commitment to really address the problem,” he added. So was also optimistic that soon President Aquino will include in its action plan the muchdelayed proposal of the stakeholders for the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Customs to share the copies of importers Inward Foreign Manifests to concerned agencies which includes the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry, which contain details of the incoming importations so that there will be no room for any attempt for technical smuggling or misdeclaration or under declaration.

Editorial: Agricultural loans benefit farmers, fisherfolk Published: April 12, 2013 Loans released under the Agro-Industry Modernization Credit and Financing Program (AMCFP), the umbrella financial arm of the Department of Agriculture (DA), grew by 151% to P1.12 billion in 2012 from 2011, as the number of farmer clients grew by 15% to 29,496. The total loans in 2012 was 4% higher than the P1.08 billion targeted for the year. Since it was launched in 2003, the AMCFP has granted a total of P5.44 billion in loans benefiting 198,085 farmer and fisherfolk nationwide as of December, 2012. Created by Republic Act 8435, the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act, the AMCFP serves small farmers, fisherfolk, those engaged in food and non-food production, processing, and trading, cooperatives, farmers’ and fisherfolk’s groups, and small and medium enterprises. For 2013, the government has allotted an additional P1 billion. The Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), which is overseeing AMCFP implementation, will use the P1 billion for farmers and fishers who are engaged in DA priority commodities, including rice, white corn, cassava, yellow corn, coconut, high-value crops, livestock, poultry, and fishery products. Programs being implemented under AMCFP are the Cooperative Banks Agri-Lending Program (CBAP), the Agri-Microfinance Program (AMP), the Cooperatives Agri-Lending Program (CALP), and the DA Sikat Saka Program. From January to September, 2012, a combined total of P806.43 million in agri-fishery loans were issued by the programs. We congratulate the Department of Agriculture headed by Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and the Agricultural Credit Policy Council in their programs to provide impetus to agricultural growth in the Republic of the Philippines. We wish them the best and success in all endeavors. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!

Huge cargo of smuggled rice seized in  Cebu port     Category: Top News   Published on Thursday, 11 April 2013 20:40   Written by Paul Anthony A. Isla / Reporter   THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) intercepted a total of 1,061 containers loaded with thousands of sacks of  imported rice at the Port of Cebu over the past few weeks, Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino B.  Biazon told the BusinessMirror on Thursday.  He made the disclosure when asked to comment on a report that 1,200 containers loaded with 600,000  sacks of rice valued at P1.08 billion were intercepted by BOC operatives.  Biazon said that based on reports submitted to him, there were only 1,061 containers and the bureau  has  yet  to  inspect  and  estimate  the  value  of  the  contents.  He  said  he  is  scheduled  to  inspect  the  containers next week.  On  Thursday,  the  bureau  also  filed  smuggling  charges  with  the  Department  of  Justice  against  a  Cebu‐ based trader and his broker for illegally bringing in P6 million worth of imported rice from Taiwan.  The case was filed by the  bureau’s Run After the Smugglers program led by  Deputy Commissioner for  Revenue Collection and Monitoring Group Peter Manzano.  Charged  were  JBD  Trading  owner  Cecilio  Durano,  the  consignee  of  10  twenty‐foot  container  vans  of  illegally imported rice from Taiwan worth P6 million that arrived at the Port of Cebu on February 22, and  his broker Joevel Delda. The shipment was declared as wall insulator slabs.  The BOC said the imported rice was discovered by operatives of the Risk Management Office‐Customs  Intelligence and Investigation Service under Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Danilo Lim.‐news/11974‐huge‐cargo‐of‐smuggled‐rice‐seized‐in‐ cebu‐port         

Thai firm invests in Bataan By Mar T. Supnad Published: April 12, 2013 SAMAL, Bataan- Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, the world’s largest producer of animal feed and shrimp, and one of the leading producers of poultry, had set up a P2.8 billion aqua feed company in this town. Mayor Gene Malibiran-dela Fuente said CP boosts the town’s employment and revenues. “The company is now running smoothly after its dry-run operations. We are thankful that we have big foreign investors who trust our people,” she said. With an estimated income of $33 billion annually, CP has over 100 companies in 15 countries and employs 280,000 worldwide. Its chairman Thailander Dhanin Chearavanont ranks 58 in the list of Forbes Magazine's world billionaires for 2013.                        

Agriculture stakeholders By Liezle Basa Inigo Published: April 12, 2013 Manila, Philippines --- Agriculture stakeholders were happy to hear about the announcement made by President Aquino that the government will implement a comprehensive action plan that would curb corruption and smuggling in the Bureau of Customs (BOC). Abono Party-list chairman and Swine Development Council Director Rosendo So said it was high-time that the administration adopt a no-nonsense program improve the capability and efficiency of the Customs bureau in addressing the unabated illegal entry of goods into the country. “We welcome the statement from the President himself that the administration is committed to implement reforms at the BOC to stamp out corruption and rampant smuggling,” So said. “We have written the President on various smuggling problems in the country since January. At least now, the Palace has already made a concrete commitment to really address the problem,” he added.                    

Cebu trader, broker slapped with smuggling case over alleged illegal rice import By Tetch Torres-Tupas 4:00 pm | Thursday, April 11th, 2013 2 9 2 MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Customs on Thursday filed a smuggling case against a Cebu based trader and his broker for illegally importing rice from Taiwan worth P6 million. In a complaint filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ), facing a case for violation of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP) include JBD Trading owner Cecilio Durano, the consignee of 10 20-footer container vans of illegally imported rice from Taiwan and broker Joevel Delda. The alleged illegally imported rice arrived at the Port of Cebu on Feb. 22, 2013 and was misdeclared as wall insulator slabs to avoid the required government import permit for all rice importations.

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QC prevents ‘Hot’ meat influx By Chito A. Chavez Published: April 12, 2013 Manila, Philippines --- A Quezon City councilor urged the city government to monitor the delivery of meat products in the city’s wet markets as the possible influx of tainted meat remains a threat as the summer months have caused stroke and similar diseases on farm animals in some towns of Central Luzon. Third District Councilor Allan Benedict Reyes said that hogs and poultry may have been affected by the extreme heat as the temperature in the Central Luzon provinces continue to soar. With this scenario, Reyes said that the local health department should be “on its toes’’ to prevent the sale and distribution of unsafe meat in the local wet markets particularly in the Balintawak area. Balintawak area has been the dumping ground of botcha or double dead meat due to its proximity to the Central and Northern Luzon provinces. Quezon City health authorities in the meantime said it has intensified its watch against tainted meat from the provinces especially from places hit by the recent typhoons.


DA to conduct cloud seeding over Lake Lanao By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 12, 2013 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture will conduct cloud seeding operations over Lake Lanao in Marawi City in an effort to increase the lake’s water level. Mindanao is largely dependent on hydroelectric power sources mainly from Lake Lanao and Pulangi River in Bukidnon. The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) yesterday pegged Mindanao’s peak demand at 1,141 megawatts while the actual supply only reached 1,003 MW, or a shortage of 138 MW. At present, the NGCP has imposed a power curtailment scheme, bringing power outages of up to eight to 10 hours in most parts of the island. This prompted the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) to seek the DA’s help to conduct cloud seeding operations over Lake Lanao to trigger rains in the area. According to MinDA, a team of cloud seeding experts from the DA’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management was fielded yesterday to assess the weather condition and cloud formation in the area.‐conduct‐cloud‐seeding‐over‐lake‐lanao                

Shellfish ban up in 3 Mindanao bays By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 12, 2013 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - A shellfish ban is now in effect in three bays in Mindanao which were found contaminated with red tide toxin, according to a Department of Health bulletin. Covered by the ban are Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur, Murcielagos Bay in Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental, and Balite Bay in Davao Oriental.‐ban‐3‐mindanao‐bays                           

DENR eyes P12.72­billion budget increase  for 2014   Category: Economy   Published on Thursday, 11 April 2013 20:06   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter   The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will propose a P36.45‐billion budget for  2014 to promote and enhance the country’s “environmental sustainability” amid the impacts of global  climate  change.  The  DENR’s  proposed  budget  for  2014  represents  an  increase  of  P12.72  billion  or  35  percent over its current year’s total budget allocation of P23.73 billion.  Director Angelito V. Fontanilla of the DENR’s Financial Management Services presented the DENR’s draft  proposed budget for 2014 during a meeting attended by budget activists at the DENR Conference Hall  on Wednesday afternoon.  The  proposed  budget  includes  the  allocation  for  the  operation  of  the  DENR’s  attached  agencies,  staff  bureaus and regional offices nationwide.  It is roughly P15 billion more than the indicative budget ceiling of P21.76 billion set by the Department  of Budget and Management (DBM) for the DENR for the next fiscal year, which will mean a budget cut of  8.3 percent.  He said the  DENR’s Financial Management Services and the Planning Department will come up with  a  final draft proposal to be presented to Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje.  “We will come up with a proposed budget subject for the approval of the secretary. The proposal will  form part of the budget to be submitted to Congress by the DBM,” he said.  Organized by the DENR and the private think tank La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga), the meeting was the  culmination  of  a  series  of  budget  consultative  meetings  conducted  by  the  DENR  with  various  citizens’  groups.  La  Liga  President  and  Managing  Director  Roland  Cabigas  said  the  budget  consultative  meetings  previously conducted prior to the public presentation of the DENR’s proposed budget for 2014 was the  first of such to be conducted by the DENR in partnership with citizens’ groups.  Participatory  budgeting,  he  said,  is  consistent  with  the  DBM’s  National  Budget  Circular  536,  which  directs select national line agencies including the DENR, to conduct public consultation in preparing its  budget. 

According to Cabigas, participatory budgeting in the environment and natural resources sectors is in line  with  the  Aquino  administration’s  commitment  to  strengthen  democratic  institutions  through  people  empowerment, should be institutionalized.  He said participatory budgeting provides opportunities for learning and cooperative engagement among  the various levels of the DENR bureaucracy, and the citizens’ organizations from the environment sector.  La  Liga  is  the  convening  organization  of  the  Environment  Cluster  of  the  internationally  recognized  Alternative  Budget  Initiative,    a  network  of  more  than  100  citizens’  groups  led  by  Social  Watch  Philippines.  The group has been advocating for substantial increase in the annual budget of the government for the  environment  and  natural  resources  sectors  and  is  pushing  for  a  broad  citizens’  participation  in  the  budget process.  During  previous  budget  consultative  meetings,  citizens’  groups  came  up  with  alternative  budget  proposals with the hope that the inputs from citizens’ groups will be integrated in the final draft budget  proposal to be submitted by Malacañang to Congress.  The alternative budget proposal includes the recommendations of citizens groups as to how the DENR  should spend its limited budget.  Roger Guzman, executive director of Philippine Federation for Environmental Concern, recommended a  critical review on the National Greening Program (NGP).  The DENR has allocated a P5.7‐billion budget  for  the  implementation  of  the  program  this  year.  But  he  said  that  during  previous  meetings,  DENR  officials privy to the implementation of the program reported about the number of seedlings produced  by the agency, but failed to account for the number of planted seedlings that survived.  Guzman added that there were no livelihood programs reflected under the NGP.‐denr‐eyes‐p12‐72‐billion‐ budget‐increase‐for‐2014       

Phl to Asean: We need legally binding sea code By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 12, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to focus on solidarity in taking a stronger position on violations of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. Speaking at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Del Rosario said: “We will continue to work with ASEAN and China in crafting the COC (code of conduct) and in implementing our commitments under the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.” Del Rosario said the Philippines has resorted to the rule of law by initiating arbitral proceedings under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to clarify its maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea. “The Philippines shall always adhere to the peaceful settlement of disputes through lawful, noncoercive, and transparent means that promote the healthy functioning of an equitable and rulesbased international system,” he said.

Del Rosario said the Philippine arbitral initiative, when objectively considered, will benefit all parties. “For the Philippines, it will clearly define what is legitimately ours, specifically maritime entitlements under UNCLOS with regard to our fishing rights, rights to resources and rights to enforce our laws within our exclusive economic zone,” he said. Del Rosario said for China, an arbitral award will finally clarify for the Chinese people its lawful maritime entitlements in the South China Sea under the UNCLOS. “For ASEAN and the rest of the global community, the clarification of maritime entitlements under UNCLOS would assure peace, security, stability and freedom of navigation in the region,” he said. Russell Smith, Asia Pacific director of critical information provider IHS, said Chinese vessels are not likely to leave Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal to continue to assert Chinese sovereignty. The Asia Pacific specialist for IHS, publisher of Jane’s Defence Weekly, made the statement a year after Chinese vessels started intruding into Panatag Shoal. “I can see the Chinese increasing their patrol activity,” he said. “I know last week, the Chinese marine surveillance vessels were operating. I don’t think it is the riches (as) some portray it to be. It is a sovereignty issue. “Patrol activity will be increasing in that region and through the West Philippine Sea in the months ahead and the reason is it built infrastructure in the island in the Paracel group.” Smith said the Scarborough issue is not about oil and gas but sovereignty over the area. “I was talking to our energy analyst before I came to this trip and they were telling me there’s no oil and gas in Scarborough Shoal,” he said. “According to our analyst, it’s not fighting over oil and gas. It is a sovereignty issue. “It is not economically viable to extract, too deep, we don’t think there is anything significant out there anymore.” Smith said the Philippines can continue raising the issue before the United Nations. – With Alexis Romero‐asean‐we‐need‐legally‐binding‐sea‐code  

Batanes folk watch chickens to predict weather By DJ Yap Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:48 pm | Thursday, April 11th, 2013 6 25 12

Batanes seascape. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Mandy Navasero MANILA, Philippines—Predicting the arrival of a storm is no easy task even for meteorologists. But for the elderly residents of the tiny island town of Ivana in Batanes, sometimes it’s as simple as watching how chickens behave. Through the years, residents of this farming community that is regularly visited by strong typhoons have found many ways to cope with the extremes of weather. It’s this folk knowledge that the government hopes to harness through a new climate change project called “Ecotown.” “The senior citizens in our town know how to read the signs that a storm is coming. For example, when the chickens begin behaving oddly, when they don’t sleep in their regular haunts, that’s one sign,” said Ivana Mayor Anastacio Barsana. “There are many signs, telltale signs that have been proven, which is how they survive strong storms,” he said. With a population of just more than 1,200, the town of Ivana has been chosen as a demonstration site of Ecotown, a two-year P25-million research program of the Climate Change Commission in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development.

The Ecotown project analyzes how the specific climate risks in a community can enhance and be integrated into the municipality’s development plans, officials said. But the information exchange will be two-way, as the researchers will also document the town’s best practices in dealing with weather disturbances, said Mary Ann Lucille Sering, CCC vice chair and executive director. “We will learn a lot from Batanes,” Sering told a press conference on Thursday. “What we’ll do in Batanes is to document their best practices in adapting to strong typhoons that can be replicated in other communities, as in Mindanao where typhoons have now become more prevalent,” said Alexis Lapiz, program coordinator of Ecotown project. Barsana said residents of his town had weathered many natural disasters, from tsunamis to earthquakes, with virtually no casualties. “Sometimes when the storm is so strong, coconut trees would be uprooted, and houses would be unroofed, but the people survive even then,” he said. “They are always prepared.” Barsana noted that for the past seven years, however, fewer and fewer typhoons have been striking the island. “Before we were lucky to have fewer than three big storms in a year, but now, most of these storms cross Mindanao instead,” he said. Sering said climate change involved not only extreme weather disturbances but also other effects on the community. “We’re not only talking about typhoons, we’re talking about different impacts, such as food security and agriculture,” she said. Sering said Batanes residents were known to have a fondness for alcoholic drinks like rum, but because of their diet, which is rich in root crops, liver ailments have been relatively low. “But because the climate is changing, crop harvests are lower, and drink-related ailments have risen. It’s possible the root crops have changed because of the slight spike in temperature,” she said. The other main objective of Ecotown is the production of hazard maps to identify vulnerable areas and minimize harm from extreme weather events brought about by climate change. Besides the Ivana demonstration site, Ecotown will also be introduced in other places this year, including Davao Oriental, Camarines Sur, and the lower Marikina watershed, Sering said. Read more:

BSP reviews microfinance ratings system By Lee C. Chipongian Published: April 12, 2013 The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is currently reviewing proposed changes to the rating standards for microfinance operations of banks. “A rating system for microfinance operations of banks has been proposed to have an objective rating after each examination,” said the BSP. The amendments will also result to comparison of the microfinance operations among banks. The central bank said they are currently revising the ratings system to be more “principle-based”. The BSP has already amended the rules and regulations for the Microfinance Institution Rating Agencies (MIRAs) for an “appropriate use of objective, credible and competent third-party ratings of microfinance institutions.” MIRAs provide institutional ratings rather than ratings related to a safety grade of a specific instrument or a rating on an institution’s ability to service an existing or proposed debt. The changes reflect a more holistic assessment from a governance perspective, human resources as well as the strategic, management and financial performance of the microfinance institution. The BSP said earlier that the growing microfinance industry has a demand for such ratings. “Ratings are seen as an effective tool to raise the quality and efficiency of microfinance institutions, increase the transparency in the industry as well as provide confidence for social and commercial investors,” it said. The rules on the recognition and de-recognition of MIRAs include pre-qualification as well as minimum eligibility criteria. “For banks with microfinance operations, ratings may provide valuable assessments that can materially improve access to financing and capital by qualified banks and generate a useful benchmark vis-à-vis other microfinance institutions both locally and internationally,” the BSP added. At the moment, there are international microfinance rating agencies in the Philippines. Since 2009 and four years in a row, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global survey has ranked the country as number one in microfinance regulatory framework. As of the third quarter of 2012, there are 191 banks providing microfinance products and services. There are 1,105,454 microfinance borrowers with an outstanding loan portfolio of P7.9 billion and savings of P4.2 billion, said the BSP.  

Tax relief for workers pushed By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Apr. 12, 2013 at 12:02am | 212 views

Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers wants income tax relief extended to employees in the public and private sectors. “Every time small- and middle-income earners file their tax returns, every payslip they get, they see that much of what they earn goes to the government,” he said. “For some, they wonder why they give away a third of their salaries when they can barely make ends meet for themselves and their families.” Tinio said government should adjust annual personal and basic exemptions in time with the rise in cost of living and with pay hikes. These exemptions will result in higher take-home pay, he said. In 2008, when the exemptions were last adjusted, a government employee earning the minimum P6,149 could take home a non-taxable salary of at least 68 percent of his or her earnings because of the P50,000 basic personal exemption, he said. On the middle level (earning around P12,748), take home is at least 33 percent while the minimum wage earner in the private sector gets 42 percent, Tinio said. “Today, the non-taxable earnings have deflated,” he said.”The BPE stands at 46 percent of the minimum salary in government (P9,000 monthly), 22 percent of those in the middle level (P18,549), and 35 percent of that of a minimum wager.” Tinio authored a bill in the House of Representatives, increasing the BPE to P75,000 and additional exemptions to P40,000 per dependent in an effort to restore non-taxable earnings to 2008 levels. He also filed a similar measure that seeks to increase the amount of tax exempt bonuses and incentives from P30,000 to P60,000.‐relief‐for‐workers‐pushed/ 

Farmers hold PNoy to his vow By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Apr. 12, 2013 at 12:01am | 429 views 2

AGRICULTURE leaders on Thursday lauded as timely President Benigno Aquino III’s declaration of an all-out-war on smuggling and expected the President to decisively avert the Philippines from being tagged the “smuggling capital of Asia.” Abono Chairman and Swine Development Council Director Rosendo So, who first raised the alarm that “anything and everything” is being dumped and smuggled into the country, claimed the Agriculture industry has lost P32 billion in 2012 alone. “We have written the President on various smuggling problems in the country since January. At least now, the Palace has already made a concrete commitment to really address the problem and finally stamp out what he calls the smuggling scourge,” So said. The President on Wednesday said that the government will carry out a comprehensive action plan to stop corruption and smuggling in the Bureau of Customs. “Since January, we have started alerting and warning the Palace that substandard, expired, and fake imported items and agricultural products had been illegally entering the country and flooding the local markets at the expense of the local producers,” So said. In the case of pork meat, So said the imported frozen ones were being passed off as fresh meat and were being sold alongside the local fresh meat at a cheaper cost since the smugglers did not pay the rightful duty, defrauding the government of P8 billion in revenues. Some 600,000 metric tons of imported smuggled rice worth P10 billion also entered the country in 2012 alone, he said. In Cebu alone, an importer and his broker have been charged with smuggling, Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon said.

They were held responsible for an attempt to smuggle 10 container vans of rice from Taiwan, Biazon said. The oil industry was not spared with some P30-billion worth of illegal fuel products finding their way to the local market, So said. “You would find in the list that we got anything and everything. There were fake medicines, fake beauty products, substandard kitchenware, clothing, bags, fake cigarettes, liquor and on and on,” So lamented. “The Philippines was fast becoming known as the smuggling capital of Asia because any kind of imported products can liberally enter into the country right under the noses of the BoC officials,” So said. “We have warned the Palace that Salmonella was present in the smuggled frozen pork and chicken that rendered the meat unfit for human consumption,” So said. “The BoC does not only kill the local agriculture industry, it also put in jeopardy the health and well-being of the consumers,” So said. So said it was high time that the administration adopt a no-nonsense program to improve the capability and efficiency of the Customs bureau in addressing the unabated illegal entry of goods into the country. So urged the President to include in the BoC’s action plan the long overdue proposal of the stakeholders for the Department of Finance and the BoC to share the copies of importers’ Inward Foreign Manifests (IFM) to concerned agencies, such as the Departments of Agriculture and the Trade and Industry. The IFM, he said, contains details of the incoming importations and so the concerned agencies could easily detect from the port of origin any attempt on technical smuggling or misdeclaration or under declaration of any products.‐hold‐pnoy‐to‐his‐vow/   

Aliwan Fiesta traffic update By Rio N. Araja | Posted on Apr. 12, 2013 at 12:01am | 264 views 2

Several roads in Manila and Pasay City will be closed to traffic Saturday afternoon to give way for the Aliwan Fiesta. The Metro Manila Development Authority announced the closure of some roads and rerouting starting 1 p.m. on its Twitter account. The agency the roads to be used for the festivity are the southbound lane of Roxas Boulevard. from P. Burgos Street to Vito Cruz St. (P. Ocampo), President Quirino Ave.-Adriatico, President Quirino Ave.-M.H. del Pilar, Roxas Blvd. from the US Embassy, P. Ocampo St.-Mabini. Vehicles coming from Jones, McArthur and Quezon Bridges using the southbound lane of Roxas Blvd. must turn at Roundtable (Palacio) before heading to Maria Orosa, right at T.M. Kalaw, left at M.H. del Pilar, left at President Quirino Ave., and right at Mabini, or use Taft Ave. All vehicles from the northern part of Manila and using T.M. Kalaw can turn left at M.H. del Pilar, left at President Quirino, right at Mabini, or use Taft Ave. Motorists from P. Burgos, T.M. Kalaw, UN Ave., Pedro Gil, President Quirino and P. Ocampo must take Taft Avenue or M.H. del Pilar. Buses from Park n’ Ride it Lawton going to Cavite or Las Piñas City via Roxas Blvd. must take Taft Ave. Rio N. Araja‐fiesta‐traffic‐update/         

P26-b check cost Land Bank exec’s job By Rey E. Requejo | Posted on Apr. 12, 2013 at 12:00am | 766 views 1

It’s one whopper of an amount that has caused the dismissal of a former branch manager of the state-owned Land Bank. Artemio San Juan Jr. of Land Bank-Binangonan, Rizal had tried but failed to encash a check for P26 billion in 2002. Land Bank’s administration charged San Juan with gross negligence of duty before the Office of Government Corporate Counsel. The Supreme Court in a recent decision upheld San Juan’s dismissal and forfeiture of benefits as well as perpetual disqualification from government service. Court records showed that San Juan instructed the Land Bank-Binangonan branch’s supervisor and teller to facilitate the encashment of a check for P26 billion issued by another bank, drawn against the account of a certain CQ Ventures and paid to a certain Esmayatin Bonsalangan. The bank manager directed his subordinates to open a checking account in their branch for Bonsalangan and forward the check to their Cainta branch.‐b‐check‐cost‐land‐bank‐execs‐job/         

Megaworld’s bond issue raises $250m By Jenniffer B. Austria | Posted on Apr. 12, 2013 at 12:01am | 171 views

Property developer Mega-world Corp. successfully raised $250 million, or over P10 billion, from the dollar bond market to fund major projects this year. Lauro Baja, chief Philippine representative of UBS AG, which acted as the sole bookrunner of the debt issue, said the 10-year US dollar-denominated bonds fetched 4.25 percent, the lowest for 10-year Philippine dollar bonds. It was also the lowest yield for an unrated issuer in Southeast Asia. “The strength of the underlying credit of Megaworld combined with the solid shareholder support from Alliance Global Group Inc. allowed them to achieve the lowest ever yield for a 10-year Philippine corporate bond,� Baja said in a mobile message. Baja said the order book was over $500 million and drew more than 40 investors, including fund managers, banks, private banks and insurance companies. Megaworld said earlier it would use the proceeds from the issue for general corporate purposes. The bonds will be listed on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Ltd. Megaworld plans to spend P35 billion in capital expenditures this year as it remains bullish about the property sector. It plans to launch 10 new residential projects in the first half of the year. One of the projects launched this year is Paseo Heights, a 30-story residential tower within the Makati central business district offering a total of 320 units. It also recently announced the doubling of its investments in the 16-hectare project in Mactan, Cebu to P20 billion. The property will be transformed into a township development that will include luxury residential condominiums, office towers, a world-class lifestyle mall, a hotel and sports and leisure facility.

Megaworld is a pioneering developer of integrated live-work-play-learn township communities. These townships include Eastwood City in Quezon City, Newport City in Pasay City and McKinley Hill, McKinley West and Uptown Bonifacio in Taguig City.‐bond‐issue‐raises‐250m/                                       

Govt opens auction for LRT fare system By Lailany P. Gomez | Posted on Apr. 12, 2013 at 12:01am | 155 views 1

The Transportation Department said it will start today the bidding process for the P1.72-billion fare collection system designed to cut long passenger queues at light rail lines in Metro Manila. The agency said it would conduct on Friday the opening of qualification documents for the contactless fare collection system, which is among the projects offered under the public-private sector partnership scheme. The project will introduce a smart card-based technology similar to the Octopus card system in Hong Kong. “The AFCS project will modernize and improve the overall passenger experience at the LRT and MRT systems. Passengers will no longer have to spend so much time lining up just to buy tickets,” it said. It said the system would also enable passengers to seamlessly transfer from one line to another. “We have spared no effort to make sure that the project will attract many investors, while at the same time ensuring the best service for our people,” the agency said. Prospective bidders are expected to submit qualification documents for evaluation by the department and the Light Rail Transit Authority on Friday, in line with the requirements of the Build-Operate-and-Transfer Law.‐opens‐auction‐for‐lrt‐fare‐system/       

PH inflation, exports seen to moderate in 2013 •

Published on 11 April 2013  Hits: 192  Written by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER  0 2 4 6 

Philippine inflation is likely to edge up to 3.6 percent in 2013 on increased consumption and a rise in excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). In its recently released Asian Development Outlook report, the ADB said that tax hikes on alcohol and tobacco added 0.5 percentage points to inflation recorded at 3.2 percent in the first three months of the year. The report also projected that inflation in 2014 may stand at 3.8 percent as the firm peso and soft global commodity markets are expected to offset part of the upward pressure on prices generated by strong domestic demand. “Inflation at these rates would be well within the central bank’s target range of 3 percent to 5 percent, giving it the option of keeping policy interest rates accommodative to growth,” it said. On the other hand, the ADB report also mentioned that Philippine merchandise exports are also on the positive track this year. “A projected pickup in exports of electronics will contribute to growth in merchandise exports in 2013,” it stated, noting that rapidly growing Southeast Asian markets now buy 19 percent of the Philippines’ exports, up from just 13 percent in 2008. On the contrary, data from the National Statistics Office earlier showed that the double-digit negative growth recorded in electronic products dragged February 2013 export earnings to a low $3.741 billion. February exports went down by 15.6 percent, while electronic exports declined by 36.5 percent. The National Economic and Development Authority said that the lower export earnings were partly because of persistent weakness in global demand. “We indicated that there is a possibility that electronic exports in the first quarter of 2013 will be sluggish,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan. This was affected by the decline of semiconductors, which decreased by 31.3 percent in February 2013 partly because of the still depressed volume of outward shipments, which recorded a decline of 15.6 percent also during the month, it explained.

“But improved prospects for the semiconductor industries for 2013 remain following the Semiconductor Industry Association’s report that worldwide chip sales increased by 1.4 percent in February 2013 vis-àvis the same period in 2012,” Balisacan said. He also said that increasing orders for semiconductor equipment may be expected in the near future, as indicated by high book-to-bill ratios in major electronics production hubs like the United States and Japan.‐business‐news/45255‐ph‐inflation‐exports‐seen‐ to‐moderate‐in‐2013                                   

Drivers of domestic growth remain firm, says central bank Published on 11 April 2013  Hits: 185  Written by RAADEE S. SAUSA   

The most recent available indicators suggest that domestic drivers of growth remain firm, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said recently. “Vehicle and energy sales have been strong at the start of first quarter, capacity utilization rate in the manufacturing sector remained above 80 percent, while the latest Purchasing Managers’ Index readings continue to indicate expansion in the manufacturing, retail/wholesale and services sectors,” the central bank said. Growth is also likely to be supported by election-related spending and the government’s accelerated spending program. Meanwhile, the BSP said that “the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics [BAS] expects palay [unmilled rice] and corn production to expand in first quarter 2013 on account of increased yields and harvest area but could decline in second quarter 2013, as some farmers were reluctant to plant amid expectations of dry weather conditions given pronouncements of a possible occurrence of El Nino during the year.” The BAS also noted that domestic rice prices have remained well behaved amid recovery of domestic production and stable global rice prices. The National Food Authority’s grains inventory level also remained above target. Indicators also point to stable global rice prices. Nevertheless, rice importation level for 2013 should be carefully reviewed to ensure sufficient supply. The BSP, however, said that, “oil prices advanced month-on-month in February after the US Fed [Federal Reserve] maintained its asset-purchase program to boost the US economy.”‐business‐news/45254‐drivers‐of‐domestic‐ growth‐remain‐firm‐says‐central‐bank     

Dollar lingering toward 100 yen Published on 11 April 2013  Hits: 128  Written by AFP   

TOKYO: The dollar was lingering just below the 100 yen level in Asian trade on Thursday, as the Japanese unit resisted further losses following last week’s huge stimulus from the Bank of Japan. The dollar was quoted at 99.56 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade against 99.76 yen in New York City on Wednesday afternoon. The euro slipped to 130.07 yen against 130.26 yen while edging down to $1.3061 from $1.3068. The greenback temporarily climbed to 99.87 yen in early trade but fell back by mid-afternoon, dealers said. The market may need a bit more time to push the dollar up above the 100-yen mark as there are still some sell orders below that level, said a senior dealer at a major bank in Tokyo. “London names have been selling dollars this morning . . . It’ll be less likely to happen during Asian hours, though we may be able to test it again in London, or New York trade,” he told Dow Jones Newswires. Market players expect the dollar to hit 100 yen soon following the Bank of Japan’s sweeping monetary easing last week. The dollar last topped 100 yen in April 2009.‐business‐news/45252‐dollar‐lingering‐toward‐ 100‐yen       

Cleaning up the Bureau of Customs •

Published on 11 April 2013  Hits: 187 

It is a task that not even the mythological demi-god Hercules could accomplish. For the past many decades, ever since the post-World War II years, the country’s Bureau of Customs has rightfully earned a reputation as a beehive of corruption. Presidents may come and presidents may go, but the Bureau of Customs bureaucracy will always be around, earning dirty money by the bags full, turning even the lowliest clerks into multi-millionaires after a few months on the job. Now comes President Benigno Aquino 3rd implying that he has a “huge plan” to address the rampant smuggling now going on in the country. The most serious case is the unabated smuggling of oil and petroleum products, resulting in hundreds of millions of pesos on lost revenues on a regular basis. It has even been claimed that up to one third of all oil, gasoline and diesel products sold in the country is smuggled. If this is true, then the problem is beyond serious. It may be impossible to solve in a short span of time. We can only wish the President good luck. But clearly, he has some very difficult choices to make, top of which is whether to retain or remove Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon. The fact that smuggling has worsened under his watch should be reason enough to remove Biazon, yet Malacanang is insisting that Biazon be given more time to prove himself. This is the Palace’s prerogative. But it must take into consideration that if the situation does not improve, and soon, then the government will be deprived of the funds it needs to operate efficiently. It can only be hoped that Biazon is not holding on to his present position

for the wrong reasons. Long has it been said that anyone who wants to be filthy rich only needs to find a padrino who will find a way to land him a job at the BoC. The only problem is, there are so many seeking that job—any job, including janitor if need be—that the waiting list is likely to be kilometers long. When the first President Aquino assumed power in 1986, her new administration attempted to clean up the BoC. To recall, retired Gen. Salvador Mison had assumed the post of Customs commissioner, and one of the things he wanted to do was to overhaul the bureau. He did not want to merely purge the BoC, but to drastically clean it up the way Hercules cleaned up the Aegean stables. The cleansing of the BoC was part of a massive shake up of the government by the Cory Aquino administration. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled that the plan of her government was not legal, and that all government employees could keep their posts. They could not be summarily removed. At best, those prone to graft and corruption had to be charged, then removed after being convicted. Considering the snail’s pace of justice in the country, it would take centuries before every corrupt Customs official and employee is legally removed. Realistic expectations What then can be realistically expected of the present administration and its goal of cleaning up the BoC? For starters, every effort must be taken to minimize smuggling, technical or otherwise. The government must throw the book at all parties that have been taking part in smuggling. The government should also take a good look at all the employees of the

BoC. No exemptions. There should be lifestyle checks on all Customs employees, paying careful attention at those who are clearly living way beyond their means. Current Customs employees who may have taken part in the corrupt practices that is endemic in the bureau should be asked to resign at once. By taking this option, they are not automatically forgiven for their crimes. But they may be allowed sufficient opportunity to prepare their defense if and when they face corruption charges before the Sandiganbayan. The government should also professionalize Customs collection by bringing in a new generation of employees, young men and women who are committed to increasing the revenue collection of their office, while vowing to live within their means. The culture of corruption that is widespread at the BoC cannot be removed overnight. It is like a cancer inside a human body. Drastic measures are called for, all of which are bound to be quite painful. Let the Aquino administration do what can be done. Let the purge commence.‐cleaning‐up‐the‐bureau‐of‐customs             

Silliest electoral system in the world Published on 11 April 2013  Hits: 289  Written by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO COLUMNIST 

I’ll bet you’ve never heard of outfits called Kakusa, Buhay, or Alay Buhay. These are groups hastily set up, really fly-by-nighters which however won enough votes in the last elections to designate their congressmen in Congress, yet whose constituencies are really ephemeral. “Kakusa” refers to “Kapatiran ng mga Nakulong na Walang Sala”, which roughly translates to “Brotherhood of Those Imprisoned without Guilt”. Is our justice system so broken that many of the country’s 75,000 convicts are innocent that they organized a movement powerful enough to get their representative in Congress? You don’t need to research that. Kakusa was organized and bankrolled by former Zamboanga del Norte congressman and provincial tycoon Romeo Jalosjos, who was imprisoned for 12 years for statutory rape. A very clever man Jalosjos has proven to be. His conviction bars him from running for any public office. But he has his Kakusa representative in Congress. I’ll bet the 235,000 votes that got Kakusa into Congress came mainly from the Zamboanga area. “Buhay” on the other hand is the front of “Brother” Mike Velarde, who heads the religious movement El Shaddai that promises worldly prosperity to its adherents. One of its two representatives in Congress is his youngest son Mariano Michael, who with a net worth of P50 million is one the richest congressman. “Alay Buhay” is another front organization, this time of the billionaire William Gatchalian, with its representative his son Weslie, executive vice president of his family’s Metro Alliance Holdings and Equities Corp. I’ll bet most the 164,00 votes that got Alay Buhay to Congress came mainly from Bulacan, where Weslie’s brother Rexlor is

congressman and another sibling Sherwin, Valenzuela mayor. Welcome to the Philippines’ “party-list” system, probably the silliest electoral system in the world. It was mandated by the 1987 Constitution purportedly to allow marginalized sectors to have their good representatives in Congress who would challenge the traditional bad politicians elected by voters in a geographical (“legislative district”) area. Instead it has been on the one end of the spectrum, a venue for the Communist Party to have their articulate cadres—now numbering five—through its front organizations Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, and Gabriela to become congressmen with all of a regular legislator’s resources, including pork-barrel funds, from the state they hate so much. Indeed, the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing national parties to compete for party-list slots as long as they organize their sectoral wings —i.e., front organizations—merely follows the template of the national party that the Communist Party is. Yet on the other end, and ironically, it has been a system for the rich to get into congress without being a politician with a geographically-based constituency. As a result, except for the communist congressmen, party-list representatives are hardly poor people. Based on their statement of assets and liabilities, the total wealth of the 57 party list representatives in the current 15th Congress totaled P1.3 billion, with their average net wroth at P22 million, hardly that of someone from a marginalized sector. The richest one, Catalina Bagasina, with a net worth of P150 million, is representative of ALE, which stands for, believe it or not, “Association of Laborers and Employees”. One Homer Mercado reported a net worth of P86 million. Before he was eased out, he represented 1-UTAK, which claims to represent, according to its Facebook account, “pambulikong drayber, operator, at komuter.” One Teodorico Haresco, with a net worth of P93 million, represents “microentrepreneurs”. The congressman for “Ang Laban ng Indigong Filipino”, purportedly representing the country’s oppressed indigenous peoples, is Acmad Tomawis, a wealthy congressman with a net worth of P58 million who has been a politician from Marawi City since the Marcos era. The names chosen by the party-list groups demonstrate how silly the party-list

system has been. Out of the 44 party-list groups in the 15th congress, two-thirds have names beginning with 1 (e.g. 1-UTAK and 1-CARE) or A (Aasenso and AAKasosyo for example). The names of groups competing for the 2013 elections have become absurd, such as 1-AAMOVER and 1-AALAY. One obviously thought its name assured it will be no. 1 in the list: 1-AAAP, which stands for “1-Alliance Advocating Autonomy Partylist”. The reason for this is that the ballot had listed the party-list groups alphabetically. Since they could vote only one party-list group, voters who weren’t really keen or informed in this voting simply chose the first names appearing in the ballot—either those starting with A or 1. The Commission on Election however startled the party-list groups by deciding last month to list them in the ballot form, randomly as determined by a raffle. A group called 1-CARE got the first slot, and stands for ”1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy”. It had already pulled a fast one though by being one of the first groups to use a numeral 1 for its name—and therefore in the top slot in the alphabetical listing in the last elections. That trick obviously had worked as it had been getting enough votes in the past two elections to have two representatives. Christian Monsod, the main sponsor of the party-list system in the 1986 constitutional commission argued that if a local politician who has a constituency of 200,000 residents in his area can be a congressman, then an organization representing 500,000 Filipinos but scattered all over the country should be in the legislature. That has turned out to be so naïve. It is irrelevant if a group has ID-carrying members of 500,000. What matters in the real world is that a group can have 500,000 people vote for it, and it is the rich who can afford funding a campaign to get that many votes. That requires substantial resources to gather those votes throughout the archipelago, pay off local political leaders in a vote-rich area, or spend millions for posters and TV ads. Monsod also predicted that smaller groups would “band together, form a coalition and get five percent of the vote and, therefore, have two seats in the Assembly. Those are the dynamics of a party -list system.” However, the real dynamics of the party list system in the country has turned out to involve these groups striking quid-pro-quo deals with traditional political leaders and parties to get their supporters to vote for them, often for its financial

contribution. The Communist Party had no problem getting its cadres into congress since its muscle the New People’s Army requires politicians especially in rural areas to get their people to vote for its party list groups in exchange for their safe passage in their sorties. The pink group Akbayan piggy-backed on President BS Aquino’s popularity and on the Liberal Party in exchange for being Mr. Aquino’s attack dogs in media and providing the warm-bodies for their demonstrations against the their enemies. A Chinese-Filipino tycoon bankrolled a party-list organization with an athletic-sounding acronym and got politicians in vote-rich areas whom he had been supporting in every election to include his outfit in their “sample ballots.” What a silly system. But thinking about it, isn’t a system in which incompetents get to be senators just on the basis of “name-recall”—because of their fathers, because they’re actors, or because they hugged the headlines for a time with their stupid mutiny—just as silly?‐silliest‐electoral‐system‐in‐the‐ world                     

Pre-high noon is not midnight •

Published on 11 April 2013  Hits: 198  Written by RENE SAGUISAG COLUMNIST   

The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) authored the report on offshore accounts, which triggered a spirited response from Erap and JV. Imee simply referred the matter to her lawyers; no outright flat-out denial so there must be some account, good for Archimedes Trajano’s heirs who have a judgment for $4.5M, in this I helped Bob Swift, Rod Domingo and Ruben Fruto in, a reason I had to go to Honolulu in 1994. Manny Villar said he had only a paper account of one dollar. Good but self-serving. Better if it was the bank that issued the certification. JV should just say, calmly, not petulantly, no account, or there is, and I have reported it in my SALN so I can remain working class, unlike Rene Corona; what else can I do for you? One lesson for the Marcoses, today, is that: no haven for gross human rights violators. And indeed, where is a foreign haven for Pinoy families, not individuals, to consider after false starts here so the horizon may cancel all mistakes? The condition in the U.S., Spain, Ireland, Greece, Egypt and Cyprus is such that we even see reverse emigration from crisis-hit Italy rising by a third; with suicides up. Business World, Apr. 8, 2013, p. 10S1, col. 1. As reported. But, reporting must be complete, not elliptical, so as not to mislead. Abello v. Commissioner, decided on January 23, 2005, ruled that gift taxation does not cover political donations AFTER 1991. Donors may be misguided that political donations are taxable today. They aren’t. I caused such investments in democracy to be exempt in 1991 because one votes for what candidate X stands for, or in taking a stance on a ratification plebiscite or a referendum. We fought for credible polls. One who also so fought was Ting Jayme. Gone. But where PNoy rushed to our good friend Billy Esposo on his migration to a better world, there is no report of PNoy going to the wake of the Cabinet Member of Prez Cory with whom we worked in 1986. Billy was so honored but maybe no time for Ting given the tight presidential sked. Maybe PNoy was too busy defending his High Noon Appointments, which needed no defense at all. Not even High Noon really, which is on June 30, 2013 yet. Both Ting and Billy played key roles in ousting the Marcoses. We owe them. Anyway, the prohibited period for appointments under Sec. 15 of Art. VII of the Constitution refers to “two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, [when] a President or acting President shall not make appointments, except temporary appointments to executive

positions where continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.” Appointments today are not even High Noon. Captain Midnites refer to Prez Garcia’s 350 in 1961 and Prez Macapagal’s 4,000 in 1965 (including the appointment of my boss, Dean Feliciano Jover Ledesma in December, 1965, to the Court of Appeals). So PNoy takes into account bar exam grades, which GMA did not, giving a premium to gratitude and loyalty as natural sentiments; pagtanaw ng utang na loob is the most beautiful flower in the garden of the heart. (Why not publish the grades of all SC appointees of Prez Cory, FVR, all the way up to today? But, of course, law school grades may matter, but integrity and competence should be decisive. Even Compassion, in a society that would be humane in the Preamble of the 1987 Constitution, a possible makeweight. And no criminal geniuses.) Sentimental, as in gratitude? Up to now nothing on how native Sabahans feel, to me crucial, even decisive, as in Falklands and Scotland. This is 2013. The Sabahans’ preference to me is critical, on where their home is. Home? I go for home or house arrest for GMA, Manoling Morato, et al. “Wesley Snipes to Finish Tax Sentence Under House Arrest.” Manila Bulletin, April 9, 2013, p. E-1,col. 1. A court may grant GMA house arrest, and even Manoling Morato. They aren’t likely to flee. Justice Ricardo Ilarde had an edifying Separate Opinion in Erap’s case dated June 8, 2001 on the ability of a court to detain an accused in other than a jail, where he must first be taken (or a police station). Then humanitarian conditions a court may consider. And the likelihood of flight, death to GMA and whatever legacy she may leave. GMA and Manoling are not likely to flee even if allowed house arrest. Or city arrest, as was done with Suharto. Neither may be convicted with finality in their lifetime anyway in a culture where detainees or prisoners may die of old age before finality of conviction. Young Hubert Webb spent more than 15 of the best years of his life in jail for a crime he did not commit, a belief I will carry to my grave. Up to now, Zos Mendoza is anxious about his fate in the case of Lenny Villa (killed in an Aquila Legis frat hazing on Feb. 11, 1991), now on its third decade, despite acquittals by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court (SC) itself, in this harrowing case of multiple jeopardy. Having been detained myself, becoming a Batang City Jail candidate-member for calling Marcos in court a “super-subversive” and refusing to take it back, and having seen jail conditions all over the land, I would not want jail for those charged with non-violent crimes. The stigma alone kills. But, not in case of the Marcoses, directed by the Supreme Court (SC) to return billions on July 15, 2003; these dynasts last because if you have billions, or two mules laden with gold, you become people of respect and you prove that a fort is impregnable. Unlike in the cases of relative small fry, the SC did not order their prosecution. You steal small, you are jailed and disqualified. You steal big, you aren’t. That’s the law of the land? Lawyers are widely disrespected but Shakespeare is misunderstood when he is quoted for “first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” High praise of lawyers in fact in context because the advice to would-be power grabbers is to kill the Tanadas, Dioknos, Salongas, Rodrigos, Arroyos, et al.. Foolish lawyers asking the foolish questions of the day. I try to be foolish like them but I end being labelled “weird” even as I try to understand the complexity of situating an issue in context, like Sidney Sheldon’s polycentric Other Side of Midnight.JJ Justiniano of Ka Pepe’s FLAG I remember for being with Juan T. David, Araceli Baviera, Odie Melchor and me before a military commission, in 1977, when few lawyers dared to confront the regime. His appointment to the DBP is not midnight, but the other side, near high noon.‐pre‐high‐noon‐is‐not‐midnight 

SSS offers bigger loans for studes Published on Thursday, 11 April 2013 23:00

THE Social Security System (SSS) has announced that it will further liberalize guidelines of its educational loan facility called the SSS Educational Assistance Loan Program or “Educ-Assist” for college and vocational-technical (voc-tech) course students. SSS said members earning P25,000 and below per month are now eligible for Educ-Assist loans, replacing the former limit of P15,000 on the monthly income needed to qualify under previous guidelines. “Members can now borrow up to P20,000 per semester or trimester, up from the previous limit of P15,000 for college degrees. For voc-tech courses, we likewise increased the maximum loanable amount to P10,000 from the previous cap of P7,500 per semester or trimester,” said SSS president and chief executive officer Emilio de Quiros Jr. The P7-billion SSS Educ-Assist fund allotment consists of P3.5 billion in national government subsidy and P3.5 billion in SSS counterpart funding.‐sss‐offers‐bigger‐loans‐for‐studes                     

Fil-Ams join thousands at immigration rally Published on Thursday, 11 April 2013 23:00 Written by JENNIE L. ILUSTRE

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Filipino Americans joined thousands of Hispanic American and Asian American advocacy groups from across the nation in a rally April10 Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) to get some 11 million undocumented–those who entered the country illegally, or have overstayed their visas– earn a path to citizenship. A bipartisan group of US senators, called the Gang of 8, is finalizing a legislative proposal to address the nation’s broken immigration system. The online Washington Post, quoting Senate aides, reported the proposal would be announced next week and presented to a Senate floor vote before the end of May. President Barack Obama has made it his top priority to get a comprehensive immigration reform that will address both legal and illegal immigration. He admitted during the November presidential campaign that not passing one during his first term was his biggest disappointment. No one knows what form the final legislative proposal is at this point. But Filipino American advocates join other minorities who are incensed over speculations on a provision that would stop the legal immigration of brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens. “That provision is just idle talk, it will never succeed,” said Santiago Busa, Jr., a former diplomat, on the eve of the rally. “The system needs to be fixed–this is the year it would get done,” said activist Jon Melegrito, joining others touting a huge banner, “Filipinos for Family Reunification” and a poster stating “Filipino Americans for Immgration Reform.” Area Fil-Americans have forged a coalition with other Asian American groups, particularly the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC). Since the 80s, AAJC has championed reducing the 22-year period for Filipino Americans to reunite with their Philippine-based siblings. Also at the rally were Filipino Americans from the New York-based Asian American Legal Defense Fund (AALDEF), a top advocacy group. Busa, a former Republican and now a Democrat, echoed the general consensus that a comprehensive immigration reform bill would become a law this year. At the rally, Hispanic Americans chanted “The time is now!” and “Si, se puede!”

“Obama got majority of the votes of all minorities last November, with seven out of ten Hispanic American voters handing him the presidential victory in crucial states.” He added, pointing his index finger for emphasis: “The Republicans know they have to stop blocking the reform, or they would continue to lose the crucial Hispanic vote.” Next year, the country will hold midterm elections for senators and congressmen. A presidential election will take place in 2016. Most Republicans are against granting citizenship to those who break the nation’s law. They strongly favor securing the country’s porous borders as top priority.‐fil‐ams‐join‐thousands‐at‐immigration‐rally                                   

Posted on April 12, 2013 12:33:27 AM By Diane Claire J. Jiao, Senior Reporter

Monetary Board upbeat on economic growth GROWTH LIKELY remained strong in the first quarter given healthy domestic demand and supply conditions, monetary authorities noted during a policy meeting last month. “Recent indicators of activity since... January suggest that domestic drivers of growth remain firm,” according to highlights of the Monetary Board’s March 14 meeting that were released yesterday. On the demand side, sales of vehicles and energy were strong at the start of the first quarter, monetary officials said, while the Purchasing Managers’ Index showed favorable conditions in the manufacturing, retail and wholesale, and services sectors. This was supported by a Senior Bank Loan Officers’ Survey in the fourth quarter of 2012, which found that banks had expanded private credit as demand for loans rose among businesses and households. Confidence was also rising according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) latest Business Expectations Survey, with companies anticipating a better first and second quarter this year. “Growth is also likely to be supported by election-related spending and the government’s accelerated spending program,” the Monetary Board said. On the supply side, meanwhile, the agriculture sector was buoyed by a first quarter uptick in palay and corn production as yields and harvest areas increased. This could dip from April to June, though, as farmers are reluctant to plan amid fears of an El Niño over the summer. “The [National Food Authority’s] inventory level also remained above target. Indicators also point to stable global rice prices,” the Monetary Board said. “Nevertheless, rice importation levels for 2013 should be carefully reviewed to ensure sufficient supply,” it added. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 6.6% last year, beating market expectations and the official 56% target. The government is targeting 6-7% this year and monetary officials have said this was being sustained. “As of the first quarter, the economy is still on an expansionary phase. Leading and coincidental indicators monitored by the BSP show that the economy is still growing faster, relative to trend,” Central bank Assistant Governor Cyd N. Tuaño-Amador has said. The Monetary Board, meanwhile, saw a mild improvement in the global economy. “Recent developments suggest that the global economy, on balance, continues to stabilize,” the March meeting’s highlights read. The global, all-industry Purchasing Managers’ Index signals an expansion in output, it pointed out. While emerging markets continue to drive growth, the United States has started to move at a modest pace, it

added. Market sentiment remains cautious, though, given uncertainties. “Meanwhile, economic conditions in the euro area have broadly stabilized, although the broad outlook for the region remains on the downside due in part to lingering financial market uncertainty,” said the Monetary Board, which also noted that prospects in Japan remained weak. “Moving forward, global economic growth would likely remain subdued, but recent monetary policy actions by central banks in advanced economies are expected to provide ample support to economic activity,” it said. During the March 14 meeting, the Monetary Board kept policy rates steady, as expected, but also delivered a fresh special deposit account (SDA) rate cut and slightly higher inflation estimates. The BSP’s policy-making body maintained overnight borrowing and lending rates at record lows of 3.5% and 5.5%, respectively, and slashed SDA rates by 50 basis points to 2.5% across all tenors -- following up on cuts in January. Higher than expected consumer price increases in recent months, meanwhile, prompted monetary authorities to forecast 3.3% inflation for 2013 and 2014 from 3% and 3.2% previously.‐Board‐upbeat‐on‐ economic‐growth&id=68593                     

Posted on April 12, 2013 12:30:53 AM

Net hot money down anew FOREIGN PORTFOLIO investments remained strong in March but profit taking pulled the net result down for a second straight month, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) yesterday reported.   A total of $2.334 billion was placed in local stocks and bonds but investors also withdrew $2.729 billion, for a net outflow of $395.14 million last month. Foreign portfolio investments -- also called “hot money” for the ease by which these can enter and leave the market -- hit a net inflow of $1.27 billion in January but petered to a net $211.65 million the following month. March’s $2.334-billion inflow was up 10.1% from February. It brought registered investments for the quarter to $7.26 billion, 79.1% higher from a year earlier, which the central bank said was due to investor optimism as the Philippines continued to outperform on the economic front. Local corporations posted strong earnings performances, it added, and the country also bagged its first-ever investment grade credit rating from Fitch. The relaxation of foreign ownership rules provided another spur to the March result, the BSP said. The inflows went mainly to equities listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), to the tune of $2 billion. Peso-denominated government securities accounted for $351 million, while peso-denominated time deposits added $18 million. The main beneficiaries of hot money in the PSE were holding firms ($510 million), property developers ($454 million), banks ($333 million), telcos ($185 million), and food, beverage and tobacco companies ($183 million). The strong influx, however was offset by heavy outflows “due mainly to profit-taking as well as continuing concerns about the euro zone,” the BSP said. March’s net outflow trimmed the first quarter result to net $1.087 billion, still more than double the $464.45 million a year earlier. The BSP expects hot money to post a net inflow of $3.8 billion this year. It hit $3.885 billion last year, breaching the $3.2-billion forecast.

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Posted on April 11, 2013 08:26:58 PM By Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio, Reporter

Corporate demand drags peso vs dollar

CORPORATE demand for dollars weighed on the peso yesterday. After gaining 20 centavos last Wednesday, the local currency dropped five centavos. The peso settled at P41.12 per dollar against its P41.07-per-dollar close the previous day. “The peso opened stronger yesterday on the back of strong equity performance overnight on the back of investors’ risk appetite on optimism of good corporate earnings,” a trader said in a phone interview yesterday. The peso firmed up by seven centavos to open at P41 per dollar yesterday. “However, towards the afternoon, dealers bought dollars on mid-month corporate demand, which caused the peso to close weaker against the dollar,” another trader said in a separate phone interview. Firms, mostly oil companies, purchase dollars to settle obligations offshore. The peso is expected to trade within the P41.05-to P41.25-per-dollar band today. Dollars traded yesterday totaled $836.60 million, lower than the $1.15 billion traded the day before.

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Posted on April 11, 2013 08:24:23 PM

Bank lending in China nearly doubles Facebook Tweet LinkedIn Google + ShareThis

BEIJING -- Chinese banks in March lent nearly twice as much money as in February, official data showed Thursday, as Beijing beefed up efforts to bolster a faltering economic recovery. Banks granted a total of 1.06 trillion yuan ($171 billion) in new loans last month, up from 620 billion yuan in February, the central People’s Bank of China said in a statement. Total social financing, a broader measure of credit, surged to 2.54 trillion yuan, it said, more than doubling from 1.07 trillion yuan in February, although that month had fewer working days because of the Lunar New Year holiday. The figures came after official inflation and foreign trade data for March released this week indicated recovery in the world’s second-largest economy has remained fragile. “With the supportive monetary policy, we expect growth to regain its rising momentum in the second quarter after a pause in the first quarter if the ongoing bird flu won’t turn much uglier,” analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report, referring to the H7N9 illness that has killed nine people. But they cautioned the strong rebound in lending last month could again fan fears on inflation, property bubbles and government debt, which could trigger monetary tightening. “China’s monetary policy makers are in a tough position to balance short-term growth stability, market worries, and long-term economic health,” they said. The Chinese economy grew 7.8% last year, its slowest pace in 13 years, due to the global downturn and domestic woes. An acceleration in the final three months of last year to 7.9%, which snapped seven straight quarters of slowing growth, had raised recovery expectations among economists. However, the consumer price index -- a main gauge of inflation -- in March rose 2.1% year-on-year, down from 3.2% in February, suggesting consumer spending remained sluggish. Adding to concerns on the country’s economic outlook, the world’s top exporter recorded a rare trade deficit last month as external demand, particularly in Japan and the debt-laden euro zone, remained weak. Chinese shares ended down 0.30%. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 6.58 points to 2,219.55 on turnover of 62.1 billion yuan ($10.0 billion).“Recent economic figures are mixed, so investors are not very enthusiastic about trading,” Industrial Securities analyst Jiang Shiqing said. -- AFP

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Posted on April 11, 2013 11:38:09 PM

BIR reviewing eFPS usage THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) has moved to review returns filed by taxpayers mandated to use its electronic filing and payment facility to determine their compliance with the use of the system. Taxpayers who file tax returns manually but are required to file these using the electronic system will be fined, the BIR has warned. -- BW File Photo

Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 30-2013 dated April 1 aims to ensure the strict implementation of the provisions of Revenue Regulations (RR) No. 9-2001. Under the 2001 issuance and its succeeding amendments, such as RR 2-2002 and RR 3-2005, certain taxpayers are required to file their tax returns and pay their taxes using the BIR’s electronic filing and payment system (eFPS). These include firms in the large taxpayers group, non-large taxpayers identified by the bureau, corporations with paid-up capital stock of P10 million and above, taxpayers joining public biddings, and enterprises enjoying fiscal incentives granted by other government agencies. The eFPS is a Web-based facility that allows taxpayers to file tax returns and pay the taxes due thereon online through the convenience of an Internet-banking service via debit from their enrolled bank account. The BIR introduced the system in 2001 to automate its process and reduce contact between its personnel and taxpayers, which could lead to corruption. It has been gradually expanding its coverage to include other taxpayers. “It has been observed that there are still some eFPS taxpayers who are still filing their tax returns and/or paying their taxes manually,” BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares noted in the 2013 memorandum. “In view thereof, all Revenue District Officers are hereby directed to immediately review and determine the compliance of eFPS taxpayers within their area of jurisdiction as regards the e-filing and e-payment through the eFPS facility,” the issuance read. RMC 30-2013 said that any manual filing of tax returns or payment of taxes by these eFPS taxpayers, other than those authorized by the BIR, such as during system unavailability upon written notification by the Deputy Commissioner of the Information Systems Group, shall be considered as a violation of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997. Taxpayers required to use the system and found to have filed manually during the course of the review, the issuance noted, shall be issued collection notices for the imposition of a “compromise penalty” of P1,000 for each failure to file returns or pay their taxes electronically. “However, only the first and second offenses may be compromised. For the third and subsequent offenses, no compromise shall be entertained or allowed by the BIR, as provided under Section 16 of RR No. 9-2001, as amended by RR No. 2-2002,” the circular said. “Consequently, the same shall be strictly subjected to the provisions of Section 275 of the Tax Code, as

amended.” Section 275 of the Tax Code states that any person found violating of the NIRC’s provisions and other rules and regulations issued by the Finance department for which no specific penalties are mandated by law shall, upon conviction for each act or omission, will be made to pay a fine of not more than P1,000 or be subject to imprisonment of not more than six months, or both. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc‐reviewing‐eFPS‐ usage&id=68578                                    

Noynoying once more •

Written by Tribune Editorial

Friday, 12 April 2013 00:00

Noynoy is back to Noynoying or procrastinating on the problem of smuggling in the country that had turned for the worse under his administration, enough for businessmen to now call the Philippines the world’s smuggling capital. Noynoy is turning a blind eye on the dire situation that no less than business leaders needed to bring to public notice but which is already common knowledge in the business world. Noynoy wanted to keep a business as usual position with the Bureau of Customs (BoC), primarily with Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon who he said continues to enjoy his trust. The extent of massive smuggling in the country surfaced after Petron chairman Ramon Ang revealed that P30 billion in potential government revenues is being lost yearly from oil smuggling. Ang’s lament triggered representatives of other industries to make known the depth of the smuggling problem in their own fields. The figure is almost consistent in all industries: The government is being robbed of P30 billion in each sector more or less each year. Biazon can no longer take the lead in the so-called reform agenda that Noynoy claims is underway at the Customs bureau since he already blew the chance given him to institute reforms. The only honorable route for him and other key Customs officials should be to give up their posts with the massive failure of the agency to control, if not stop, the smuggling menace. The problem also can’t be resolved by a mere assurance from the Palace that BoC officials continue to enjoy the full confidence of Noynoy. Sweeping policy changes in the Customs bureau and tariff-free economic zones should be handed to individuals with a deep knowledge of the problem that Biazon could have acquired through constant consultation with members of the business sector. The smuggling problem has been a puzzle the solution of which has become so elusive that the former government of Cory Aquino even tapped a third-party import inspection service firm to control smuggling. The result was that the government only ended up paying the astronomical costs for the services yet the smuggling problem persisted. Business groups said, however, that the problem is not beyond solution and that instituting sweeping reforms on tariff-exempt economic zones identified as sources of smuggled products and stiffer penalties against smugglers would be key to eradicating the problem. The solution to end the smuggling menace, however, requires a great deal of political will from the leadership which Noynoy lacks since he prefers to protect his allies when they are found to be short of the

qualities required for the post assigned to them. Connivance between Customs personnel and smuggling syndicates under Noynoy has become so blatant that it is being done in broad daylight, such as the disappearance of 2,000 container vans at the Port of Manila (PoM) in 2011. The container vans have in them products intended for transshipment and were estimated to have deprived the government of more than P240 million in potential revenues. The controversy led to the resignation of then Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez, another Noynoy ally. A House of Representatives investigation into the incident indicated the seized products ended up mostly on the shelves of a local supermarket chain. The held goods were supposed to have been transshipped from the PoM and the Manila International Container Port (MICP) to the Port of Batangas. The recent fiscal figures which had a budget deficit of P12 billion in February as the government ramps up spending for infrastructure showed how the failure of Biazon and the Customs bureau is contributing to the total ineffectiveness of the administration of Noynoy. The BoC was the chief laggard in the February figures missing its target for the month by 6.53 percent or by P1.6 billion. Government spendings for February were up 14.3 percent to P124 billion but revenues dropped 5.7 percent to P112 billion during the period. Noynoy and his practice of protecting his allies also make him a law breaker. The Lateral Attrition Law requires the imposition of penalties on government personnel who fail to perform their duties. Biazon actually could help Noynoy out of his Noynoying habit by voluntarily resigning.‐noynoying‐once‐more            

Local banks urged to follow reforms set by int’l bodies • •

Written by Ed Velasco Friday, 12 April 2013 00:00

The Bankers Association of the Philippines (BSP) said local banks must follow all reforms set by international agencies as the next few years will be crucial in shaping up the performance of every economy. BAP president Lorenzo Tan said it is very timely that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) decided to implement Basel 3 reforms in the country two years in advance so as to expedite its foothold of economic developments in the region where the Philippines belongs. “The Philippine banking system has to keep in step in the context of an interrelated/interconnected global financial community,” Tan told The Daily Tribune. He said people should not think the BSP is in a hurry to impose banking reforms set via Basel 3 because the gradual start of the reforms was set for countries, especially those in central and northern Europe, reeling from financial crisis. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and Bank of International Settlements (BIS) agreed to set a gradual start of the global banking reforms from 2016 to 2018 so those countries in deep financial trouble will have time to adapt. Basel 3, according to some observers, is very challenging because of the additional capitals that all universal and commercial banks must follow. The reforms mandated by BCBS and BIS will start in the Philippines on Jan. 1, 2014 along with New Zealand. Six other countries, led by Malaysia and Australia, started it on Jan. 1, 2013. Tan, president and chief executive officer of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), backed BSP on its lengthy preparation for Circular 781, the guidelines for Basel 3 implementation. “That is the nature of proposed regulations as significant as Basel 3 to be thoroughly discussed, even argued, and finally polished. “The length of time it took for the BSP to issue the final set of guidelines is testament to how both the BSP and banking community try to balance stability and economic growth,” the official, who is also chairman of Asian Bankers Association, said. Published in Business‐local‐banks‐urged‐to‐follow‐reforms‐set‐ by‐int%E2%80%99l‐bodies

Next BSP deputy governor for RMS remains unknown • •

Written by Ed Velasco Friday, 12 April 2013 00:00

Who will be the next Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) deputy governor for resource management sector (RMS)? This is the question that hounds senior officials at the BSP as lawyer Juan de Zuñiga, deputy governor for RMS, has barely a month left before retiring next month. Several officials at the BSP were asked but only one gave an answer and didn’t want his name be printed. De Zuñiga has been reappointed twice on a six-month basis, first in May last year and later in November 2012. His last reappointment will lapse next month. Under the Civil Service Commission (CSC)rule, any retiring BSP official can be reappointed twice and serve for one more year, both on a six-month basis. De Zuñiga will bow out of office with flying colors despite serving for just over a year vice Armando Suratos, who is now at the Monetary Board (MB). As deputy governor for RMS, its duties include overseeing of the security plant complex and delivers human resource services such as recruitment, appointment, performance evaluation, compensation and benefits, payroll, leave and retirement and employee relations. In an interview last year, the 65-year-old deputy governor said anybody among assistant governor Cyd Tuaño Amador, then anti-money laundering council chief Vicente Aquino, Elmore Capule, the deputy general counsel, and Gerry Tison, managing director for human resource, can be his successor. De Zuñiga, fifth in the 1972 bar examinations, didn’t reply to Tribune queries. However, none of the four succeeded him as he was reappointed one more time last November. Now that Aquino is the head of the BSP security plant complex, it is unclear if the race for the next deputy governor is trimmed down to three. A look at the scholastic records of the three remaining candidates shows it is evident that all of them are qualified to occupy higher post. Amador, a cum laude in economics from UP, served for four years at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 2003 to 2007 as alternate director.

Capule placed third in the 1987 Bar examinations and the youngest among the three while Tison holds a postgraduate degree from University of Manchester in United Kingdom. A very reliable source at the BSP who requested not to be named doubted if any of the three will become deputy governor. “Don’t bother. None of them,” the source told the Tribune.‐next‐bsp‐deputy‐governor‐for‐rms‐ remains‐unknown                                 

Only Congress can scrap ‘cedula,’ says BIR head • •

Written by Ed Velasco Friday, 12 April 2013 00:00

Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares is giving lawmakers free hand to decide whether her proposal to scrap the community tax certificate (CTC) or “cedula” in local parlance is worth their attention. Henares said she has no intention to encroach in other government branches’ job. According to Henares, what she suggested last week was just a pure proposal and she doesn’t intend to cross the boundary between the executive and legislative branches of government. BIR is an implementing agency while Congress enacts, amends and repeals laws. “I was asked my opinion by a blogger and I gave my opinion,” Henares explained to The Daily Tribune. Last April 4, Henares said there are things that are no longer needed today and cedula is one of them. “Actually, if there is going to be any policy reform, the first reform is to remove what is not needed. The cedula is something we do not need now,” she said. Henares didn’t admit that many CTC applicants only fool local governments when getting the certificate as many of them claim they are jobless to avoid paying higher dues. However, the BIR commissioner’s proposal got some flak from various quarters including a lawmaker who said scrapping the cedula would mean less income for many local government units. Since the CTC is a local tax, Valenzuela Rep. Magi Gunigundo said the collections are divided equally by the city and the barangay issuing the CTC. There is a 50-50 sharing between the municipality or city and the barangay where the CTC was issued. Cedula was used to be a symbol of Spanish oppression during their lengthy colonization of the country. It replaced the tribute system and were issued to indios (inferior race) after payment of residence tax. People were required to bring the certificate at all times or risk being declared undocumented or “indocumentado.” Those who can’t show cedula are jailed without trial due to suspicion they belonged to revolutionary groups. “Congress and Senate will have to decide if they want to repeal the law, not me,” she added. Published in Business‐only‐congress‐can‐scrap‐ %E2%80%98cedula%E2%80%99‐says‐bir‐head 

DOH: 13-15 basong tubig dapat sa 1 araw (Tina Mendoza)


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Sa tindi ng nararanasang init, hindi sapat na 10 baso lamang sa isang araw ang iinuming tubig bagkus 13 hanggang 15 baso upang iwas sa dehydration, ayon sa Department of Health (DOH).



Ayon kay Health Assistant Secretary Dr. Eric Tayag, hindi dapat na isantabi ng publiko ang sobrang init. Dapat umanong pangalagaan ang sarili upang iwas sa mga sakit lalo na ang nakamamatay na heat stroke. Maliban umano sa pagsusuot ng mga light clothes, pagligo araw-araw, pagkain ng masusustansyang pagkain ay dapat iprayoridad tuwing summer season ang pag-inom ng tubig kung saan hindi na umano dapat hintayin na nauuhaw na bago uminom ng tubig.

Pinaiiwas naman ng DOH ang publiko sa pag-inom ng tsaa, kape at alak na nagiging dahilan rin ng dehydration bukod pa sa pag-iwas na mabilad sa araw sa pagitan ng alas-nuwebe ng umaga hanggang alas-tres ng hapon. Sa mga mahihilig naman na mag-ehersisyo ay sinabi ni Tayag na mas hirap ang katawan kapag mainit ang panahon kaya mainam na pumili ng oras na hindi na masyadong mainit at magbaon ng maraming tubig.

Patuloy naman na mino-monitor ng DOH ang temperatura sa bansa sakaling tumama ang heat wave. Ipinaliwanag ni Tayag na nagkakaroon ng heat wave kapag tatlong araw na tumama sa 37 degrees Celsius ang temperatura.


Maximum alert vs killer flu Published : Friday, April 12, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 40  Written by : Willy Balasa 

MANILA International Airport Authority MIAA) quarantine officials yesterday implemented a maximum alert level against the possible entry of the H7N9 strain of avian flu. MIAA general manager Jose Angel Honrado ordered the strict monitoring of the body temperatures of all passengers arriving at the three international terminals of the Ninoy AquinoInternational Airport. The World Health Organization’s Michael O’Leary called the infections in China sporadic cases and urged people not to overreact. Honrado said that quarantine officials have ordered thermal scanners installed at all entry and exit gates of the three NAIA terminals to screen passengers and detect possible carriers. He also ordered maintenance and janitorial staff to thoroughly clean carpets and footbaths at the arrival concourse area of the three terminals. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Customs at the NAIA also tightened the watch against passengers bringing into the country frozen fowl, chicken and duck that might be contaminated with the avian flu virus. Edgar Macabeo, chief of the airport operations division of the BoC-NAIA, said that frozen meat of ducks and other similar farm animals, was ordered banned due to the H7N9 outbreak.

“This is addressed to all concerned authorities at the gateway. The front-liners can do the necessary precautionary measures to contain the virus. Indeed, we cannot compromise the safety and protection of our people against another possible epidemic just because of negligence,” Macabeo said.‐stories/48376‐maximum‐alert‐vs‐killer‐flu             


2013 04 12 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

News monitor for 2013 04 12

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