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Agrarian dept loses P10M in failed project Category: Top News Published on Sunday, 14 April 2013 20:31 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent THE Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) lost P10 million in an organic farming and vermiculture project that was supposed to be undertaken in Luna town, Isabela province, in 2010. Documents culled from the DAR showed the project, which was proposed by the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Workphil Foundation Inc. (WFI) under Teresita O. Reyes, was endorsed by Luna Mayor Manuel A. Tio and approved by Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes through a senior DAR official. Reyes, Tio and the DAR official signed a five-page memorandum of agreement (MOA) to seal the project on September 17, 2010. The project proposal called for the use of vermiculture among rice, corn and vegetable farmers in Luna, with WFI developing the techniques for vermicomposting and the use of vermicast to improve soil fertility and avoid the reduction of soil pH through consistent use of urea and ammonium chloride. WFI said its vermicompost would produce 0.5 percent of nitrogen, 0.57 per-cent of phosphorous and 3.14 percent of potassium, with the total nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium content higher than those produced by ordinary farm yard waste. The foundation was supposed to train farmers in vermicomposting and eventually transfer the technology to the trainees, from the preparation of the earthworm, pit and the propagation of the worms. WFI received the P10 million from the DAR on September 21, 2010, with the foundation issuing Official Receipt 0320, with Ashley Balmaceda acknowledging the check covered by a disbursement voucher processed by the DAR accounting division under Rowena U. Agbayani. On April 4, the Commission on Audit (COA) unit of the DAR sent Andy R. Domingo, Luna acting mayor of Luna, a letter asking the mayor to accomplish a questionnaire about the project funded by de los Reyes. In her letter, COA-DAR supervising auditor Beatriz A. Creag said accomplishing the questionnaire was necessary for her office to validate the project entitled “Organic Farming through the Use of Vermicomposting Program� for the farmers of Luna, Isabela. Domingo obliged and accomplished the one-page questionnaire, which was received by the COA-DAR on April 8.

The acting mayor said he did not receive any money for the project under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) and never knew anything about the project that was supposed to be implemented by Tio. Domingo said he does not know what WFI is. He added that he was not aware of any MOA entered into by the mayor’s office of Luna, the DAR and WFI. When asked about the receipt of P10 million from the DAR by the WFI, Domingo said he was not aware of it. He added that the mayor’s office was not informed about the commencement of the project and its implementation based on the MOA. Neither did the WFI send him any list of project beneficiaries, Domingo said. He argued that the WFI did not inform him about the activities being implemented under the project. Domingo said no document was ever submitted to his office regarding the completion of the project. He did not say “yes” to any of the 11 questions asked by the DAR auditors, fueling speculations that the department had been had and the project ended up as a ghost allegedly like many others implemented under the Carp.‐news/12079‐agrarian‐dept‐loses‐p10m‐in‐failed‐ project                  

NFA knows nothing about Category: Top News Published on Sunday, 14 April 2013 20:27 Written by Paul Anthony A. Isla P1.2-B ‘hot’ rice—Biazon Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon said they had been informed that the National Food Authority (NFA) had no knowledge of the P1.2-billion smuggled rice from Vietnam that is on hold at the Port of Cebu. The cargo was earlier valued at P1.08 billion. Biazon told a press conference on Friday that the imported rice smuggled from Vietnam arrived at the Port of Cebu on separate occasions between March 22 and April 3 this year. He said the shipment that was misdeclared as stone slabs, granite slabs and cooling insulators was consigned to nine different consignees and did not have the required import permits from the NFA. “The government could raise up to P600 million in duties, if this rice shipment was legal and covered by the required import permits,” the Customs chief noted. Biazon said they are yet to issue the Warrant of Seizure and Detention (WSD) against the smuggled cargo as the rice consignees still have not filed their entries. Technically, he added, the rice shipment inside 1,000 container vans are considered forfeited in favor of the government. Biazon attributed the Cebu rice catch to the BOC Intelligence Group under Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim’s enhanced profiling system. Lim said they are closely watching three high-risk ports for smuggling—Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Cebu. Paul Anthony A. Isla

Food plan By Elinando B. Cinco Published: April 15, 2013 Judging from his radio and television commercials, plus his pronouncements on various issues quoted by media, this candidate is visibly the only Senate aspirant who knows his product (his campaign platform) and how to make it acceptable to his market (the voters). That is how UNA candidate Jack Enrile is selling himself, and from all indications, the public is buying the legislative proposals that he will pursue once elected to the Upper House on May 13. Enrile’s crowd-appealing sales pitch: Food must be easily available to everyone, and his formulating a fair price structure for every commodity to make it affordable to every consumer. “Maraming pagkain, murang pagkain.” senatorial candidate Jack Enrile never tires of propagating his campaign maxim, with his trademark smile, as he goes around the country. Now, who can quarrel with a senatorial hopeful trumpeting a catchphrase like that? (Congressman Jack is such good copy that he merited a one-third page feature, with photo, in the widely read POLLS, a daily supplement on election news, in the Manila Bulletin, Friday, April 12, 2013.) But there’s more than sloganeering here for Enrile because he is intent on pushing the passage of his concept of a Food Master Plan or a Food for Filipinos First Act if elected to the Senate in May. Enrile has been explaining in his trips to public markets and densely populated areas that under his Food Master Plan, the government would provide all the necessary support to our underdeveloped agricultural sector. By developing our agri-fishery sector, Enrile reckons that the Philippines would be able to supply the obligatory food needs of its millions of citizens, expected to reach 100 million at year’s end. Under the plan, the Department of Agriculture would be cautioned against exporting our farmers’ and fishermen’s excess produce and catch until such time that the government has equitably distributed the larger part of the nation’s food supply to various provinces. This is the reason Enrile’s plan is called “Food for the Filipinos First.” There is sense to this, for why would some provinces export their excess vegetable production, for example, when others are experiencing scarcity? For Enrile, profit should not be the driving force in our allocation of food. It should be meeting the nutritional requirements of Filipino families. He envisions a set-up in which the government

distributes livestock, feed, and seed to the provinces in the hope of encouraging families to be self-sufficient. For this writer, this can also apply, to some extent, to urban areas through pot or backyard gardening, if space permits the latter. A salient feature of Enrile’s Food Master Plan is the creation of agricultural and fishery zones that would not be permitted for non-agricultural use, such as what happened in the 1980s and onward to many farmlands that were converted into residential and commercial enclaves. The creation of the exclusive agri-fishery zones would maximize food production at the highest level possible. Such zones would have full governmental support such as irrigation and postharvest facilities for farmers and fish processing technical and equipment support for fishermen. Enrile also wants government to step up the campaign against those who gobble up most of the income of farmers and fishermen, including the unscrupulous loan sharks and middlemen who either bury them in debt or buy their produce and catch at way, way below fair market prices. Here, Enrile strengthens his food sovereignty advocacy in partnership with one that seeks to protect consumers from artificial shortages and unreasonable spikes in the prices of food, like what happens every Lenten season when prices of fish and other seafood go up. No wonder that Enrile is always seen at public markets during UNA sorties. He feels at home there with the vendors of meat, vegetables, and fruits and the consumers who buy them.

Page Eleven Elinando B. Cinco He currently serves as a contributor for the Manila Bulletin, tackling a broad range of issues concerning the Philippine society. In 2005, during the centennial celebrations of the Christ the King (CKC) College in Calbayog City, Samar, he was named as an Outstanding CKC Alumnus, for his dedication in the field of journalism and public relations. He was raised in the same town.     

BSP acts on ATM skimming By Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye Published: April 15, 2013 We may have heard of the term “ATM skimming” – a criminal endeavor involving an unwitting ATM user and a technologically savvy perpetrator – in recent new reports. According to Dr. Johnny Noe Ravalo, managing director of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the suspects carry on with this modus operandi by installing a seemingly “chameleonic” device made to blend with the ATM card slot. This device acts like a photocopying machine, automatically “memorizing” the ATM card’s magnetic strip, which contains the victim’s vital banking information. Aside from the copying device, the suspects also install a micro-camera to spy on the victim while he is punching his PIN number. “Even if they successfully duplicate the actual ATM card through the skimming machine, the suspects would not be able to use it if they do not know the victim’s PIN number,” Ravalo explained in a radio interview. The BSP official further revealed that it would only take a perpetrator about two and a half minutes to install the skimming machine. The suspect, accompanied by two others, would normally choose an unengaged ATM machine to avoid suspicion while installing the machine. Or if the line in a particular ATM machine is long, three more suspects would create noise to distract the other bank customers while their companions are working on the skimming device. Banks protect their customers by making their ATM machines go “offline” as soon as they see the suspects through their CCTVs. Bank officials do not make a scene on the spot to avoid possibly armed suspects, Ravalo explained. “Many of the perpetrators are foreigners. Some are Asians, while others are Caucasian,” Ravalo said. This makes sense, as there has been a growing number of unauthorized withdrawals in some countries within the Asian region using ATMS copied in the Philippines. There has also been a complaint from a Filipino ATM holder that he lost P100,000 through an unauthorized withdrawal made in Bulgaria. “We are presently meeting with the Association of Bank Compliance Officers and the Bank Security Management Officers Association to discuss countermeasures to these crimes,” Ravalo

said, adding that they are exploring the possibility of an ATM withdrawal without using an ATM card. “Perpetrators use technology to take advantage of their victims, so we would also use technology to counter their efforts,” Ravalo said. The BSP official shares some tips to ensure the security of a financial consumer’s ATM card: • Do not use a common PIN number. A worldwide study revealed that the commonly used passwords are: 1) the word “password,” 2) 123456, and 3) the user’s birthday. • Do not lend your ATM to anyone, even to your friends or relatives. • Take note of your account number and the bank’s hotline in case of emergency. • Do not make withdrawals in ATMs located in places unfamiliar to you. Note: You may e-mail us at

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

Apalit road boosts rice industry By Franco G. Regala Published: April 15, 2013 The production and distribution of grains from Apalit, considered Pampanga’s rice granary, got a big boost with the completion an eight-kilometer road through two of its villages that have long been isolated. Barangay Chairman Gabby Mutuc said yesterday that the new road gives his village of Balucuc a greater chance of marketing their rice. He said 70 percent of the 10,000 residents of his village are rice producers. The same road also benefits some 4,000 residents of the neighboring village of Calantipe who are also engaged in rice production. Mutuc said that before the road was constructed, they could only sell their agricultural yield in Pulilian town, Bulacan because it is nearer in terms of travel time. Now, the travel time from the farms in the two villages to the major business center in Apalit will only take 30 minutes. Apalit Mayor Oscar “Jun” Tetangco said the farmers of the four villages will be able to sell their harvests in their town, benefiting the local market.                      

Customs Modernization and Tariff Act seen to help scuttle smuggling Category: Top News Published on Sunday, 14 April 2013 20:39 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez THE chairman of the Senate ways and means committee said he would push for the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) in the 16th Congress amid concerns on the government’s anti-smuggling campaign. Sen. Ralph Recto made the statement on Sunday in a radio interview, where he said he would look into rationalization of the taxes imposed on some products since high taxes encourages smuggling. When asked if he would file a measure seeking to rationalize the taxes on certain products in the 16th Congress, Recto replied, “They would include the modernization of the Customs and Tariff Code.” Last year the House of Representatives transmitted to the Senate House Bill 4788, or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), which is supported by the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) as it would enhance the country’s competitiveness. The proposed CMTA seeks to amend the Customs and Tariff Code of the Philippines. It adopts the provisions of the Revised Kyoto Convention of the World Customs Organization, which the 14th Congress ratified. Recto said businessmen are always looking for ways to cut cost, and if taxes of certain products are too high, they would “look for ways to cheat” such as smuggling in the goods in connivance with authorities as this would still save them money in the end. “If the tax is low, smuggling would be minimal. If the tax is high, there would be smuggling and corruption,” he added. On the proposal of Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon to “privatize” his agency, the senator said this would be difficult and suggested that the Philippines instead follow the Singapore model. “It would be hard to privatize. For me, the best model of the Bureau of Customs is the one in Singapore. We don’t have to go far…. There, the Bureau of Customs is a trade facilitator. Second, this generates funds for the government. So, I think, let’s look at the Singapore model,” Recto added. He joined other senators in supporting Biazon, saying the Bureau of Customs chief is “level-headed” and the problem besetting the bureau could be due to other appointees in the agency. Mia M. Gonzalez‐news/12083‐customs‐modernization‐and‐tariff‐act‐seen‐to‐help‐scuttle‐ smuggling

New nuts and seeds stamps Published: April 15, 2013 The Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost) is going topical, releasing tomorrow, April 15, 2013, a new line of "Edible Nuts and Seeds of the Philippines" stamps. It is classified as "special" of issue of four different grains with denomination of P10 and limited issuance of 104,000 pieces only. The upcoming stamp design showcases our common snack which are all excellent source of nutrients, the nuts and seeds, such as cashew nut, pili nut, watermelon seed and peanut. Stamps and Official First day covers will be available tomorrow at the Philatelic Division, Liwasang Bonifacio and at all Regional Offices of PHLPost.                          

China H7N9 bird flu spreads to new  province—state media  Agence France‐Presse   10:45 am | Sunday, April 14th, 2013  

A nurse stays with a patient at a specialized fever clinic inside the Ditan Hospital, where a Chinese girl warded for the H7N9 strain of bird flu, in Beijing Saturday, April 13, 2013. The 7year-old girl has become the first confirmed case in Beijing of the latest strain of bird flu virus, which has killed 11 and sickened 34 others in eastern China, officials said Saturday. AP BEIJING – China’s H7N9 bird flu virus spread to a new province on Sunday, with state media reporting two human cases in central Henan just west of the area where the disease has been centred. “Two new cases of H7N9 bird flu infection were reported in central China’s Henan province on Sunday,” the Xinhua state news agency said. Until Saturday, when one case was reported in the capital of Beijing, all other instances had occurred in the eastern city of Shanghai and nearby Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces hundreds of miles (kilometres) away. Altogether 51 people have been infected and 11 have died of the disease since Chinese authorities announced two weeks ago they had found H7N9 in humans for the first time. Experts fear the prospect of such viruses mutating into a form easily transmissible between humans, which would have the potential to trigger a pandemic. But the World Health Organization (WHO) said last week there was as yet no evidence of human-to-human transmission of H7N9.

Health authorities in China say they do not know exactly how the virus is spreading, but it is believed to be crossing from birds to humans, prompting mass poultry culls in several cities. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has said H7N9 shows “affinity” to humans while causing “very mild or no disease” in infected poultry, making it more difficult to find the source of transmission. In 2003 Chinese authorities were accused of trying to cover up the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which went on to kill about 800 people worldwide. But China has been praised for transparency over H7N9, with the WHO saying it was pleased with the level of information sharing and US scientists congratulating it for “the apparent speed with which the H7N9 virus was identified” in a New England Journal of Medicine article. China has said it expects to have a vaccine ready in seven months but in the article the US experts said developing one could take “many months”.‐h7n9‐bird‐flu‐spreads‐to‐new‐province‐state‐media                          

Lawmaker: Abolition of BOC a foolish response to smuggling Category: Economy Published on Sunday, 14 April 2013 20:17 Written by Marvyn n. Benaning / Correspondent A LAWMAKER said over the weekend the proposed abolition and privatization of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is a “foolish, knee-jerk response” to smuggling. “It’s like saying we should abolish and privatize Congress or Malacañang for failing to stop corruption. In the first place, the smugglers are all from the private sector so it is like asking vampires to run the blood bank,” Party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna said. “What should be done is to hold Customs officials, including their protectors in Congress and the Executive, accountable for the crime of smuggling,” the three-term Bayan Muna congressman said. “The President should first make the political decision to stop smuggling even if it means tangling with his politician and businessmen friends, then appoint a no-nonsense official to do the job. Biazon’s resignation or the abolition of the agency would not be enough to curb smuggling because the protectors of smuggling remain unscathed,” Casiño said. “The proposal is a non-solution and merely diverts attention from the real problem of smuggling,” he said. Casiño earlier called for the termination of Biazon for failing to stop the rampant smuggling in the country. He said the BOC is tasked not only to “enhance revenue collection” but to “effectively curb smuggling” and “to provide quality service to stakeholders with professionalism and integrity” based on the bureau’s Mission and Vision statement. With its failure to curb smuggling in the country and its dismal collection of targeted taxes, the BOC had proposed for the agency’s abolition and its replacement with a professional institution run by private officials and employees. The chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means in the House of Representatives said over the weekend that it is a good proposal which shall address the corruption problem at the BOC, but said it would need the nod of Congress. Rep. Isidro Ungab of the Third District of Davao City said the role of Congress he supports is the anti-corruption campaign at the BOC and the modernization of the agency.

“I will support whatever organizational structure is best to create a culture of ‘straight path’ and modernization of the BOC,” Ungab said. He said the government has to be realistic now with the advent of free trade and tariff incentives. With Leony R. Garcia‐lawmaker‐abolition‐of‐boc‐a‐foolish‐ response‐to‐smuggling                                         

BSP needs over P50-B capitalization By Lee C. Chipongian Published: April 15, 2013 The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will need more than P50-billion capitalization to strengthen its financial position and improve its response mechanism tools to meet challenges of continued capital inflow surges. “Based on the current and emerging operating environment for the BSP, we are computing estimates on the amount of capital the BSP needs to hold under these circumstances,” BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo said. “But definitely, we need a higher level of capitalization consistent with the broader operating environment,” he added. The Aquino government has remitted P30 billion cash in BSP in the last two years and the last P10 billion, which would complete the full P50-billion capitalization, is programmed for December this year as confirmed by Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima last month. Under the New Central Bank Act of 1993, the government at the time decided that P50-billion capitalization was enough for the BSP to fulfill its functions as the central monetary authority that is independent with “fiscal and administrative autonomy.” When the BSP was established replacing the old Central Bank of the Philippines, an initial P10 billion was deposited as capital. The next P10 billion was released to the BSP 18 years later in 2011. According to Guingundo, “both the Philippine economy and financial system have grown significantly from the time the capital stock of P50 billion was stipulated for the BSP 20 years ago.” “As a central bank operating in the face of surges in capital flows and continued uncertainty in the global markets,” Guinigundo explained, “there exists a need for higher capitalization to allow the BSP to effectively pursue its policy objective of promoting monetary and financial stability, both of which are important in helping sustain the country’s economic gains.” The improving budget deficit level has enabled the finance and budget departments to finally complete the BSP capitalization after two decades of waiting. At the end of 2012 the deficit gap as a ratio to GDP has been reduced to 2.3 percent at P242.8 billion from 2.6 percent of GDP in 2011 and for this year the target is two percent. “A stronger capitalized central bank is good for the country and if there is a need to increase capital then we will be supportive,” Purisima said in March. “The BSP is operating in a very dynamic environment and we’ve been working together to ensure that the country is stable and it is conducive to investments.” Based on data, the BSP has been incurring losses for the past three years. With continued losses, the central bank has not been able to remit dividends to the NG. The last time it posted an income gain was in 2009 of P13.13 billion and paid dividends of P9.85 billion to the NG. The BSP renewed calls for the capitalization in 2007 when it started incurring huge foreign exchange losses because of the strong inflows, which was making the local currency very strong. To contain market volatility, BSP was continually intervening in the currency market, but which causes an erosion of its resources.

Foreign­employed Pinoys not exempt  from income tax – BIR   By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 15, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos employed by foreign governments, embassies, diplomatic missions and several international organizations are not exempted from paying income taxes, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said in a memorandum circular. The BIR cited Sec. 23 of the National Internal Revenue Code, which states that a Philippine resident-citizen is taxable on all income derived from sources within and outside the Philippines. The agency issued the circular to emphasize that the exemption from withholding taxes on the compensation of officials and employees of foreign governments/embassies, missions and select international organization only applies to those individuals who were expressly and unequivocally identified in international agreements or laws. The clarification was issued to sow confusion as many taxpayers from this sector fail to file their income tax returns on the assumption they are exempted from paying income taxes. Officials of the United Nations and its specialized agencies are exempt from Philippine income tax, regardless of their nationality and place of residence. However, only those officials whose names have been communicated to the Philippine government shall be covered by the tax exemption, the BIR said. Philippine nationals who were not granted tax exemption or immunities are required to file their annual income tax returns on or before April 15 each year using BIR Form 1700 or 1701, declaring their amount of their respective compensation income for the preceding taxable year for services rendered or performed for such foreign government embassy/mission, agency or international organization. The annual income tax return should be filed with the Revenue Distrct Office, authorized agent bank or other proper office which has jurisdiction over the employee’s legal residence of principal place of business. It may also be filed with the Revenue District Office or authorized agent bank.

Failure to do so would result in corresponding tax assessments, inclusive of surcharges and penalties. The BIR may also initiate criminal actions against the erring individuals. Philippine nationals claiming exemption from income tax under the terms and provisions of international agreements or under laws granting privileges to employees of international organizations should file an application for confirmation of tax exemption with the International Tax Affairs Division of the BIR.‐employed‐pinoys‐not‐exempt‐income‐ tax‐bir                                      

IRRI defends efforts to improve rice production, farmers’ lives Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 14 April 2013 16:50 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter THE Philippines has made huge improvements in its rice production over the last 50 years, partly because of the country’s hosting of and partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). This was stressed by Sophie Clayton, IRRI communications manager, who said Filipino farmers have tripled their rice yield by adopting new varieties and improved management practices, including those the institute helped develop. Clayton said that up until recently the Philippines was the biggest importer of rice, but in 2012 it started to move toward reaching its rice self-sufficiency goal. According to her, the Philippines has many unique challenges that have contributed to its status as a rice importer. “Three main factors explain why the Philippines imports rice: limited land area, rapid population growth, and limited infrastructure development and maintenance,” Clayton said in response to allegations that IRRI’s introduction of hybrid rice, which are designed to be high-yielding but are dependent on fertilizers and pesticides, should be blamed for the country’s status as a rice importer. A group of farmers and scientists earlier called for the scrapping of a Marcos-era decree giving IRRI immunity from lawsuits, saying that the institute should be held liable for crimes against Filipino farmers, such as “taking hostage” native rice varieties and introducing hybrid-rice varieties it helped developed that are supposedly fast-growing, high-yielding and pest-resistant. Clayton said IRRI’s rice research in the Philippines was in cooperation with appropriate government institutions “to facilitate the proper administration of justice.” “IRRI takes its responsibility as a member of the Los Baños community very seriously. Our work could not be done without the support of the University of the Philippines [in] Los Baños, where our headquarters are based, or without the support of the Philippine government, our host,” the institute official said. “Our work is dedicated to helping rice farmers and consumers worldwide, including those in the Philippines, but we also take special pride in being part of our local community,” she added.

According to her, IRRI employs more than 1,000 people at its headquarters in Los Baños town, Laguna province, including about 900 staff recruited locally and 100 staff from overseas, plus an additional 1,200 kabesilya or contract agricultural workers. “Through this employment, we support many local families and the local businesses they rely on—a significant contribution to the local economy,” Clayton said. She also said IRRI provides scientific training for Filipino students, and supported 1,880 Filipino scholars between 1960 and 2008. It also supports on-the-job trainees who come to the institute as part of their education to get valuable work experience in an international organization. She added that to serve the Los Baños community beyond rice research, IRRI is also involved in local community projects to help improve the livelihood of local residents, particularly those with low incomes. Clayton said one of the most important traits of modern rice varieties is their potential to produce more grain because they have higher yields. She added that these varieties do not have to be fertilized or sprayed with pesticides to make them grow. “Modern rice varieties are bred to be more efficient [in] using existing available resources, so with no extra inputs they will produce more grain,” she said. Clayton also said, however, these varieties can also respond to additional nutrients, such as those applied with fertilizers, to produce more. This is backed by results of IRRI’s Long-Term Continuous Cropping Experiment, which showed that with appropriate fertilizer management, yields can be maintained and soil health can be improved. The results debunk the idea that because of the hybrid-rice varieties IRRI introduced, farmers had to use fertilizers and pesticides more, making farms addicted to them, as well as unproductive without the application of agrochemicals. Clayton said that with effective pest management, which does not mean using more pesticides, modern rice varieties are less limited by pest damage so that they can thrive and produce more grain. She added that IRRI recommends integrated pest management for rice farmers, which restores balance in the ecosystem and reduces pesticide use. “IRRI recognizes that excessive [use of] pesticides can increase the occurrence of pests and has called for a ban on the use of certain chemicals [that are] known to be problematic,” she said. Hybrid rice has the potential to produce significantly higher yields—up to 30 percent more— than other types when grown in the same environment, according to the IRRI official.

Clayton said although the first generation of hybrid-rice varieties introduced in the Philippines in the 1990s had higher yields, they also had inferior grain quality and weak resistance to diseases and insects. “The current generation of hybrid rice that is now available for Filipino rice farmers has excellent grain quality and improved resistance to pests and diseases [that are] equivalent to or better than their inbred counterparts,” Clayton said. “New and improved IRRI-bred hybrid-rice varieties were released in the Philippines in 2011.” Clayton also clarified reports that IRRI is funded by producers of seeds and chemical fertilizers who have vested interests in the development of hybrid-rice varieties. According to her, only about 2 percent of IRRI’s 2011 budget was supported by the private sector. Clayton, nevertheless, stressed that partnerships are fundamental to IRRI’s success. “Since IRRI was established in 1960, we have forged relationships with partners across the public and private sector, including with rice farmers, donors, extension officers, scientists, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and businesses. We work with the private sector in areas of complementary strength, to help us develop and deliver products and other solutions faster and to make them widely available to rice farmers worldwide,” she said.‐commodities/12038‐irri‐defends‐efforts‐ to‐improve‐rice‐production‐farmers‐lives                      

DA extends financial aid to Zambo del Sur farmers Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 14 April 2013 16:49 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is extending aid to farmers in Zamboanga del Sur province through the Sikat Saka 2013 Financial Assistance Program, it was learned over the weekend. According to the DA, the assistance is in line with the government’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) and supported by a lending scheme devised by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank). Farmers in the pilot municipalities of Dumingag, Mahayag, Molave and Tambulig will receive the funds directly or through conduit lending perfected by the state-run bank. Sikat Saka, one of the DA’s banner programs that focus on rice production, aims to nurture the progress of farmers who will be provided with capital to improve their market penetration, raise their output and help reduce rice imports. Farmers met with DA and LandBank officials to discuss Sikat Saka at the Mahayag Municipality Gymnasium on March 20. Among the officials were those from the National Food Authority (NFA), the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics and the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. Lynn M. Agno, senior irrigation development officer of the Zamboanga del Sur Irrigation Management Office, presented the program’s requirements for farmers wanting to avail themselves of easy credit. Those eligible to borrow must be a member of a recognized irrigators’ association (IA), endorsed by the IA president, certified by the NIA and a holder of between half a hectare and 5 hectares of land. The eligible borrower must have no existing loans from banks or conduits in the past six months and must have a purchase order or market contract from the NFA or the National Agribusiness Corp. To initiate the program, the DA provided LandBank with an initial budget of P10 million for lending at 15-percent interest per annum for the first two cycles and reduced it by 1 percent for succeeding cycle loans fully paid in time of the eighth cycle. In case the member-borrower defaults, the IA will take over his or her land so that it can pay the loan.

To provide credit management to qualified borrowers, the ATI will hold a training on financialcredit discipline that will be handled by Geo Padilla from the central office under the Rice Banner Program. After the training, the NIA will certify the members as eligible borrowers. LandBank will do a credit investigation in two weeks after an application is filled up, followed by credit administration and account monitoring. Re-availment of the loan is encouraged after farmers have completed payments of existing credit within a year. “In lending, we don’t practice shortcuts to avoid issues in the future,” said Vincius Hamoy, LandBank chief in Dipolog. He encouraged farmers to avail themselves of the conduit lending scheme and go back to the cooperatives, saying that they will receive dividends and extra services from those groups. Regino Delfin, NFA provincial manager in Zamboanga del Sur, said if the second cropping cycle is successful, “we will extend our help to other IAs so [that] more farmers will receive the service rendered by the government.”‐commodities/12037‐da‐extends‐financial‐ aid‐to‐zambo‐del‐sur‐farmers                        

Strawberry thrives even in CamSur  By Juan Escandor Jr.  Inquirer Southern Luzon   1:57 am | Monday, April 15th, 2013  

LOWLAND STRAWBERRY Strawberry plants are thriving not just in Benguet’s cold climate, but also in a tropical one in Ocampo town in Camarines Sur. An agribusiness graduate has successfully propagated the plants in a lowland farm, including green apples and tangerine, and claims that his fruits are sweeter. JUAN ESCANDOR/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON OCAMPO, Camarines Sur—He’s a green thumb par excellence in these parts. Agribusiness graduate Leonardo Libreja successfully propagated strawberry in the lowland of this town, demonstrating that the plant can thrive in a hot climate and bear fruit “sweeter” than those found in the Mountain Province. It has been a common belief here that plants thriving in cold climate, such as strawberry, apple and tangerine (a citrus fruit similar to the mandarin orange) will barely survive in a tropical climate like in Ocampo town, northeast of Naga City. Using a marcotted specimen from Hawaii, Libreja, 34, was also able to plant green apple and tangerine, and make them thrive and bear fruit on his farm. He plans to produce commercially the green apple and tangerine. Marcottage is a method of propagation that induces a shoot or branch to take root while it is still attached to the parent plant. University of Hawaii Using a Hawaiian variety of strawberry he brought here after training from 2003 to 2005 at the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at University of Hawaii Minoa, Libreja took seven years to perfect the “acclimatization” of the variety that he is now starting to massproduce.

Acclimatization is the process by which a plant is gradually made to adjust with the weather until it becomes used to it. Libreja said what he did was to expose the strawberry plant to the heat of the sun in varying duration until he was able to create shoots that could withstand the hot climate. Since the breakthrough, he has been able to produce the kind of strawberry plants that can thrive here and sell these to farms in Camarines Sur and Albay. Farm boy Libreja, who grew up on a farm and has loved cultivating crops, said he enjoyed spending long hours in backyard experiments clad in shorts, old shirt and flip-flops. Farm work eventually became a passion that helped him unlock the secrets of raising strawberry. After graduating in 2001 from an agribusiness course at Camarines Sur State Agricultural College (now Central Bicol State University of Agriculture), he told his father that he would concentrate on farming. Two years later, he transformed their farm into an integrated system, complete with aquaculture production and innovative propagation of vegetables on bamboo trays that touch pond water. He combined these with the planting of ornamental plants to complete the classic “bahay kubo” concept that won him the most outstanding young farmer honors in Bicol in 2003. Through initiatives of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Libreja was granted an 18-month training in farming in Hawaii where he learned different skills in propagating crops and ornamental plants. “I learned hydroponics farming, use of drip irrigation and several other techniques in propagating plants scientifically,” he said. At the end of the 18-month training, Libreja obtained shoots of Hawaiian strawberry and grapes, and marcotted green apple and tangerine that he brought to the Philippines with help from the DA. Excited to prove he could raise plants that could thrive in a different climate, Libreja planted green apple and tangerine in his farm in Barangay (village) Binit in this town, employing the same process of acclimatization that has helped the plants survive, thrive and bear fruit. Steady income But his most important discovery and creation was his success in propagating strawberry through commercial production of fruit-bearing plants, a feat that has been providing him with steady income since December last year.

Libreja sells ready-to-bear-fruit strawberry plants for P300 per plastic bag, an enterprise which he foresees would give him long-term income. He said he would also branch out to propagating ready-to-bear-fruit grapes in plastic bags and other plants like an herb-like plant called stevia whose leaves are sweeter than sugarcane. The stevia plant, which Libreja cultivates in his small garden store by the highway, has a distinctive sweet taste when chewed. He said the garden store where he was cultivating his strawberries would be computerized this year through the installation of an electronic system that would control and monitor the irrigation of his plants. Garden store Libreja envisions a garden store where the plants he would sell differ from the other products sold like grafted roses with different colors in each branch or a citrus tree with different branches bearing different fruits. He said he so mastered grafting such that 98 percent of his creations were surviving and thriving. Libreja sees himself as becoming the sole distributor of heat-resistant strawberry seedlings with the increasing number of farms adopting his crops for wider commercial use.‐thrives‐even‐in‐camsur                      

BFAR prepares for shellfish production   By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 15, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is identifying the toxicity levels in Philippine waters — including toxic-bearing organisms and red tide affected areas — in preparation for a planned massive shellfish production program. In an interview over radio station DWIZ on Saturday night, BFAR director Asis Perez said the bureau wants to encourage the culture of shellfish like mussels in more saltwater areas. In line with this, BFAR is holding consultations with the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Toxicology and the Department of Health (DOH) for a study on toxic bearing organisms and red tide affected areas in the country to determine areas fit for expanding shellfish production in the country. “This is the first step in determining the direction of the bureau in increasing fisheries resources particularly low trophic organisms like shellfish and oysters,” Perez said, adding that “it’s more profitable to farm low trophic organisms as it entails lower production cost because they do not need to be fed.” At present the waters of Dumanquillas and Murcielagos Bay in Zamboanga are still positive for red tide. “We can open more bays for the cultivation of shellfish because it entails a low cost to raise and has high market value,” said Perez. “We have to make sure that these bays are free from toxins.” He said the expected increase in tourist arrivals in the coming years will also give rise to seafood demand. This, in turn, will increase employment and livelihood in rural areas.‐prepares‐shellfish‐production              

Gov’t keeps 15% export growth target   By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 15, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The government is keeping its 15 percent export growth target for this year as it sees the electronic sector’s recovery in the coming months and expects the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry to remain strong. “For 2013, we will maintain the 15 percent growth target for total exports,” Export Development Council (EDC) executive director Senen Perlada told reporters. For total exports to achieve the 15 percent growth target this year, merchandise exports will have to increase by 15 percent to $61.10 billion, while service exports will have to rise by five percent to $20.43 billion. Merchandise exports hit a record high of $51.994 billion last year, beating the previous record of $51.498 billion in 2010. Although it was a record high, the figure was still below the $53.13-billion target for that year. Exports of services, meanwhile, reached $18.6 billion last year, higher than the $17.77 billion goal. Perlada said the EDC is sticking to the target for this year, as it hopes that the performance of the electronics sector will improve in the coming months. “Usually, the electronic sector’s performance is better in the second quarter and third quarter,” he said. Last year, the value of shipments of electronic products, the country’s top export, declined by 5.20 percent to $22.557 billion from 2011. Latest data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed that as of end-February, exports of electronic products amounted to $2.949 billion, down 34.28 percent from a year ago. Perlada said shipments of non-electronic products are seen to help drive higher merchandise exports. “For service exports, the driver of growth is still the BPO sector,” he said. He said the government is currently starting work on an export development plan for 2014 until 2016. “What we want is to have it ready by the end of 2013,” he said.‐keeps‐15‐export‐growth‐target  


Iloilo, Bacolod step up rivalry for Queen  City  By Amando Doronila  Philippine Daily Inquirer  3:11 am | Monday, April 15th, 2013  

ILOILO CITY—The ferry boat trip across the sea from Bacolod City to Iloilo City takes only 45 minutes—less time to travel from Manila to Corregidor. Actually, they are the only twin cities in the Philippines. Their inhabitants speak the same language, Ilonggo. Their economies are intertwined and symbiotic. They cannot exist without each other. Negros Occidental historically is the sugar capital of the country and produces 70 percent of the sugar crop. Iloilo is the rice granary of the Visayas. Up to this time, Ilonggos haven’t reconciled totally with the concept that Tagalog is the base national language. They still believe that Ilonggo is the superior and richer language than Tagalog. They are proud of their accent. The port of Iloilo opened to foreign trade in 1855—over a decade ahead of the Suez Canal. Since then, Iloilo was crowned by the Spanish colonial government as the Queen City of the South. It had the second-deepest and -safest harbor port in the country after Manila. Negros Occidental produces the sugar that the Philippines exports to United States and Europe. Because Negros has no deep water port, it ships sugar to Iloilo and that makes them inseparable economic twins. In Bacolod last week, local officials told me that in the near future Negros would produce sufficient rice to feed its population, ending its dependence on Panay Island for its staple supply. That means the Negrenses are more optimistic of achieving self-sufficiency in rice earlier than the Department of Agriculture. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alacala has forecast that the Philippines will be self-sufficient in rice in the next several years for the first time since the 1970s in its goal of achieving food security. Without taking the cue from the central government of Negros Occidental, Mayor Alfredo Marañon told the local media that Negros Occidental had been cited as the organic food production center of the Philippines, including fruits and vegetables, in addition to sugarcane production. This indicates that Negros is becoming more diversified in production and getting away from its mono-crop culture centered on sugarcane. The sugar industry—powered by the 17 sugar centrals in Negros, the most number in the Philippines—is having a revival in the midst of bigger world markets and rising domestic demand. The Philippine Sugar Administration is pushing for expanding production in the industry by making it more efficient and producing byproducts. In addition to sugar, it is

promoting biomass for fuel (ethanol) and rum. It is encouraging the production of Muscovado sugar, which has a growing demand in domestic and foreign markets. Among all categories of farmers in the Philippines, nothing is more dynamic, modernized and mechanized than the sugar planters. They have adapted to change more quickly than rice and coconut planters, despite disruptive economic policies during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. Evident transformation The Negros planters have shed their extravagant lifestyle as sugar barons and power brokers embodied by the so-called sugar bloc of pre-martial law years. The transformation is evident as one travels the highways of Negros Occidental from north to south, from Silay where the new airport terminal is located, to Hinigaran in the south. The milling season for sugar has concluded but the cane fields are green again, and the next crop due for harvest in October is robust. Now waist-deep in height, the crop carpets the well-irrigated cane fields. The sugar plantations in Negros make a mockery of their counterparts in Luzon, such as the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. The canes of Negros are the size of the wrist while those in Central Luzon are like broomsticks from which you cannot squeeze any drop of juice. They’re only fit for bagasse. Without exaggeration, the highways of Negros Occidental are the most extensive and best paved after those in Metro Manila and the provinces surrounding it, such as the Calabarzon. These highways have been maintained since the Commonwealth Period of President Manuel Quezon as a concession to the sugar industry as the No. 1 Philippine export crop. The improvement of the highways continues. A new road network is being built branching out of the Silay highway to Bacolod, bypassing Talisay. The new highway is expected to cut in half the travel time and distance between Silay and Bacolod. In contrast, Iloilo—much older than Bacolod—is in a state of decay, trapped in time. Its highways are in tatters, but it is a city with the heritage of the mansions of the old-money families in Jaro and Molo, famous for its pancit molo and Panaderia de Molo. A living monument But Iloilo is determined not to be left behind. The old commercial buildings in the central district are having a face-lift, like those in Singapore. The district is being built on the old streets— Iznart, Calle Real, Muelle Loney, JM Basa and the boulevard in front of the old customs house (Aduana) on the waterfront. Iloilo is being promoted by city authorities as a tourist destination and a living monument with an elegant and historical past. The latest initiative is developing the city as a suitable venue for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in 2015. It was selected over other cities, including Cebu and Bacolod. This is a last chance for Iloilo to regain its glory as the Queen City of the South at the turn of the 20th century.

There’s a plan to build another airport in the old site of Mandurriao. The present terminal in Sta. Barbara has been the best provincial airport after Mactan in Cebu. The terminal in Sta. Barbara is modeled on the centennial airport in Manila. The Bacolod airport in Silay is also modeled on Sta. Barbara, which makes them almost like twins. Not least, which no other city can claim, is that the last Spanish governor general in the Philippines, Diego de los Rios, surrendered Spanish sovereignty over the Philippines to Gen. Martin Delgado, head of the revolutionary forces in Panay, in Sta. Barbara. He didn’t surrender it to the Aguinaldo revolutionary government in Luzon.‐bacolod‐step‐up‐rivalry‐for‐queen‐city                                      

Revival of RP garlic production underway By Melody M. Aguiba Published: April 15, 2013 An inter-agency garlic project has raised hopes Ilocos Norte could revive the country’s garlic production and provide livelihood to farmers. A garlic project from November 2008 to June 2012 of the Ilocos Integrated Agricultural Research Center (ILIARC) and Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) has proven farmers could yield higher and earn more. A farmer could earn as much as P16,148 from a single transaction for garlic bulbs, and processed food items using garlic, such as noodles, pickles, flakes, chips and polvoron. Net income from garlic production was also high in the project’s pilot areas at P171,540 per hectare. Yield has been consistently high in pilot areas at between 4,272 kilos to 4,284 in garlic seasons from 2008 to 2011. Technology demonstration sites also had higher yield at 4,340 kilos per hectare compared to farmers’ practice at 3,160 kilos. Adjacent farms doing the usual practice only had around P100,000 net income. With these positive results, the Philippines is hoped to restore its garlic production which is believed by some stakeholders as a sunset agricultural product due to excessive imports and smuggling. The contribution of Ilocos Region, a known garlic province, in Philippines’ garlic production has been decreasing over the years. Its contribution to national garlic output dropped from 73 percent in 2008 to 68 percent in 2010. There was also a reduction in area by 37 percent from 2006 to 2011, while production declined more significantly by 104 percent in the same period. BEST PRACTICE ILIARC and DA Region 1 leaders Luciana T. Cruz and Wilhelmina P. Castaneda believe the P3 million project funded by BAR has already brought a life-changing impact for Ilocos farmers. Cruz and Castaneda stressed that through the adoption of Good Agricultural Practice, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and processing-enterprise development programs of different agencies, farmers’ confidence on garlic farming soared. In a 2012 transaction, 2,000 kilos of garlic was sold at P120 per kilo, generating P240,000 gross income and P90,000 net income. The costs f P65 per kilo or P130,000 for production; labor for clove separation, P12,000; and transportation cost, P7,000.

Enterprises that came out from the program were the MCM Garlic Growers Assn, Pasuquin Farmers Garlic and Onion Growers Assn, Vintar Garlic Growers Assn, and San Nicolas Bawang Association. “The strategy nurtured the seed of empowerment for garlic farmers to germinate and grow, though slowly but at a steady pace,”according to Castaneda and Cruz. “It took a positive culture of participation, commitment, patience, risk taking, and mutual trust.” The Philippines has been recording a declining garlic supply. Imports outpaced production at around 55,000 metric tons (MT) in 2008, 18,000 MT in 2010 and around 8,000 MT in 2011. Local production was almost flat at around 10,000 MT yearly throughout the same period. Consumption was apparently following the same trend with per capita consumption decline by 50 percent from 2006 to 2011. Over the study period, the garlic program expanded steadily in number of farmers and area. On the first year it was only 130 farmers over 58 hectares. This number rose on the second year, 349 farmers on 86 hectares; third year, 448 farmers on 122 hectares; fourth year 958 farmers, 280 hectares. VALUE ADDING Value adding, garlic processing, and rural-based enterprise development were also introduced by the Mariano Marcos State University where 55 farmer-beneficiaries participated. The raw and processed products were sold through the Agri Trade Fair in national and provincial areas. Garlic flakes and chips were produced using extra large and large bulbs. Smaller bulbs were used for garlic powder and pickles. Available garlic processing equipment were peeler-slicer, mechanical dryer, pulverizer, form-fill seal, vertical sealer, and cooking utensils. “Most preferred products were garlic miki noodles, pickles, flakes, chips, polvoron. Processing the garlic into these five products generated a net profit of P16,148 per day,” said Castaneda and Cruz at a National Research Symposium report. The provincial agriculture has organized a federation of farmers into the Garlic Associations in Ilocos Norte(AGGPIN). The LGUs provided a P1 million soft loan for garlic trading. The municipal LGUs also provided capital for processing. Department of Labor and Employment provided equipment in the processing business. A total of 132 farmers attended the Farmers’ Field School and Integrated Pest Management administered by the DA’s Agricultural Training Institute, Philippine Rice Research Institute, and Bureau of Plant Industry, and LGUs. Farmers from Ilocos were tapped from the towns of Pasuquin, Vintar, San Nicolas, and Pinili. The project aims to maximize Ilocos Region’s potential as a big garlic producer with its suitable

agro-climatic condition and the preference of consumers for Ilocos garlic due to its aroma and pungency. A package of technology boosted production specifically of Ilocos white, Ilocos pink, and Tan Bolters. Soil type of sandy or silt loam was chosen, drained well, and fertilized well with organic matter. Garlic clove seeds for planting were soaked with bio-fertilizer Vital N for 30 minutes, air dried, placed in a shaded area, and planted within the day. Cloves should be medium to large and free from insects and diseases. Zero tillage was practiced, and for fertilizer use, 10 bags of organic fertilizer as basal just after irrigation was applied. Recommended NPK fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) was also applied. Planting distance between plants is 20 centimeters (cm) by 20 cm. Hand weeding was recommended, while herbicides were also used when needed. Irrigation was at seven to 10 days interval based on soil moisture and crop appearance. Gibberelic acid was sprayed in the late afternoon as supplement with foliar fertilizer.                            

8 Cagayan Valley freshwater species  threatened   By Charlie Lagasca (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 15, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has identified eight freshwater species in Cagayan Valley as endangered or threatened as their populations have dwindled in recent years. Besides ludong (mullet), the country’s most expensive fish, BFAR identified the region’s other threatened freshwater species as paltat (native catfish), gurami (snake-skinned gourami), igat (eel), mori (goby), bisukul (native snail), cabibi (clam) and udang or ulang (giant freshwater prawn). Dr. Jovita Ayson, BFAR regional director, described these “high economic value” freshwater species as endangered now. Of the eight species, ludong (Cestraeus sp), also called the President’s Fish or Pacific Salmon due to its high-market value of at least P5,000 per kilogram, is probably the most endangered or nearing extinction, the BFAR said. Known among gourmets for its delectable taste, ludong used to thrive in rivers in northern Isabela up to the mouth of the Cagayan River. Recently, BFAR called for a consultation meeting with state colleges and universities and agriculture offices of various local government units in the region to formulate strategies for the conservation of these endemic freshwater fishes.‐cagayan‐valley‐freshwater‐species‐threatened                

Gov’t asked to update agri statistics Published on Sunday, 14 April 2013 23:00 The Aquino administration must not only focus on policy interventions to boost the agriculture sector, but must also invest in improving and updating statistics in agriculture to make sure that the government’s actions will be in line with the sector’s needs, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said. NSCB Secretary General Jose Ramon Albert said statistics in agriculture will require investments and will need constant improvement to help serve as guideposts for government. “Unfortunately, many statistics we collect and compile only describe the past, and very often, even when policy interventions are made, the effects take time,” Albert said. In his latest Beyond the Numbers column, Albert compiled the country’s available agriculture data to show the current state of the sector, as compared to many years ago. However, some of the charts, such as the poverty statistics, show that the latest data were derived in 2009. “Whether the current efforts of government will be successful, only time will truly tell.” Albert said that in recent years, the Philippine population has become less dependent on farming. “In terms of share to the total economy, the agriculture sector’s importance has continuously dropped over the past decades,” Albert said. “In 1946, about a third of the economy (29.7 percent) was agricultural, but the share of agriculture to the economy has declined over the years. In 2012, it is now contributing merely 11.1 percent to the economy,” he added. Albert also cited employment figures, which showed that over the past two decades, agricultural employment accounts for about a third of the total labor force. However, data also show that agriculture workers receive the lowest average daily basic wage and salary compared to non-agriculture sectors. “Farmers and fishermen are among the least paid workers in the Philippine economy, with an average daily wage and salary of P156.8 and P178.43, respectively, in 2011,” Albert said. Albert also noted that the wage and salary received by those in the agriculture sector are comparable to those of private households with employed persons, or domestic helpers, at P138.99.

“It is not surprising that across basic sectors, poverty incidence is highest among fishermen and farmers at 41.4 percent and 36.7 percent in 2009, way above the poverty incidence for the whole country at 26.5 percent in 2009,” Albert said. The compiled data also showed that bulk of working children aged 5-17 years are employed in the agriculture sector, estimated at 56.6 percent in 2011. “While this profile of the agriculture sector may give more bullets for prophets of doom to point to the lackluster performance in boosting the sector, it is important to recognize that government has a number of policies and programs toward uplifting the lives of the Filipino farmers and fishermen,” Albert said. “The budget allocation of the government to the agriculture sector, as indicated in the General Appropriations Act 2012, may seem meager but it has been continuously increasing from a share of 0.5 percent in 2007 to 4.7 percent of the total budget in 2013,” he added. Albert also said the government is working on improving access to agricultural loans through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council Agricultural production loan, a mechanism which helps farmers finance their inputs to the process of production. “It can be noted that palay production had the biggest share to total agricultural loans in food commodity with 35.2 percent,” Albert said. The NSCB chief also said that the government has started to compile its Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture, an electronic compilation of basic information on farmers, farm laborers, and fishermen.‐and‐transportation/28720‐govt‐asked‐to‐ update‐agri‐statistics                

Back offices expand hiring By Gigi Munoz-David | Posted on Apr. 15, 2013 at 12:02am | 289 views

The back offices of global corporations will open 150,000 new jobs in the business process outsourcing sector this year, said House Deputy Majority Floor Leader Roman Romulo. “We have high hopes that our BPO sector can easily achieve, possibly even surpass, the target to add some 146,000 full-time jobs this year,” said the Pasig City representative. “The in-house centers here of large firms have greater permanence, since they are fully-owned extensions of parent entities with durable core businesses requiring constant support.” Romulo’s remarks came shortly after Sydney, Australia-based QBE Insurance Group Ltd. bared the setting up of a global in-house center, at The Fort in Taguig City. “Compared to independent BPO contractors, these back offices are largely immune to external factors, such as the peso’s rise against the US dollar,” he said. out. The center will support the global business of QBE, which is mostly into property, motor vehicle and marine insurance, and has operations in 52 countries. Romulo said Missouri-based Emerson Electric Co., was getting more than a thousand more workers here through its locator, Emerson Electric (Asia) Ltd., in the cities of Pasig, Mandaluyong and Makati. Romulo also said the Hague, Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell plc is recruiting staff for its Shell Shared Services Asia B.V., which has hired about 3,000. He said JPMorgan Chase & Co., was planning to shift more jobs to its Philippine Global Service Center, the largest back office in the country by revenue, at P9.888 billion in 2011 with more than 10,000 Filipinos employed.

Via back offices, global corporations have offshored highly labor-intensive and information technology-enabled business support activities here, a lower-cost location with a surplus of college-educated and fluent English-speaking population, Romulo said. The firms include Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp., Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings plc, Manulife Financial Corp., Chartis Inc., IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc., Lexmark International Inc., and Thomson Reuters Corp. The IT and BPO industry targets $25 billion in revenues and 1.3 million hires by 2016. It posted $16 billion in revenues and had a staff headcount of 780,000 in 2012. The sector covers contact center services, back offices, diverse data transcription, animation, software development, engineering design, and digital content. Romulo is author of the new Personal Data Privacy Act, which has helped to drive outsourcing to the Philippines.‐offices‐expand‐hiring/                   

Bird flu infects 60, spreads to Beijing By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Apr. 15, 2013 at 12:02am | 415 views

Beijing confirmed that a 7-year-old girl has H7N9 avian influenza and Henan province reported its first two cases, opening a new front in the spread of the virus that has killed 11 people in the world’s most populous nation. State-run Xinhua News Agency said 60 people were infected and the death toll had risen to 13. In Henan, central China, the health bureau confirmed that a cook near Kaifeng city in the northeast of the province and a farmer in Zhoukou city, some 130 kilometers (82 miles) further south, are infected. That raises China’s tally from the new bird-flu strain to 51 after the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang each reported two more infections yesterday and Shanghai announced one. The cases of the child in Beijing and two men in Henan widen the geographic spread of H7N9, adding impetus to the government’s efforts to gauge the magnitude of the infection in poultry and wild birds. Live-poultry trading has been banned in some cities and the Ministry of Agriculture last week ordered local governments to collect tissue samples from birds at markets nationwide to contain the outbreak. “There’s no way to predict how this will spread,” Michael O’Leary, the World Health Organization’s China representative, told reporters in Beijing today. “The good news is we have no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission. That’s a key factor in this situation.” Looking Intensively The source of infections remains “under active investigation,” he said. “We’re still looking intensively for the reservoir of infection but the suspicion remains in birds, chicken, ducks and poultry.” The first three cases of H7N9 in China were announced by the central government on March 31 and until yesterday all of those infected were in eastern China.

The Beijing case is very important, said Nikki Shindo, a medical officer on the influenza team at the World Health Organization in Geneva. “Theoretically all China’s coastline provinces are touched by this virus, which means the great majority of China is at risk,” Shindo said in an e-mail yesterday, adding that early treatment with an anti-flu medicine may aid the girl’s recovery. Henan province’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention tested the two men positive for the H7N9 virus on April 11 and their infections were confirmed after tests by the central CDC early today, the Henan Provincial Health Bureau said today on its website. Poultry Contact The Kaifeng case is a 34-year-old cook who is in a critical condition in intensive care. The other is a 65-year-old farmer who had frequent contact with poultry, and his condition is stable, the provincial health bureau said. Zhejiang province has 11 infections after two new victims were reported yesterday — a 65-year-old retiree and a 38-year- old worker, both men from Hangzhou who are in a critical condition, according to the provincial health bureau. The tally in Jiangsu rose to 14 after a 77-year-old woman and 72-yearold man were confirmed with the illness by the provincial health bureau. Anhui province has reported two cases. Shanghai has 21 confirmed cases after the government said yesterday a 56year-old man, the husband of a woman diagnosed on April 4, was found with the virus. “We can’t say yet,” if the latest Shanghai infection represents human-to-human transmission, WHO’s O’Leary said, adding that each case must be investigated very carefully. Not Easy “In cases where there might be two people in close proximity who both have the disease, it’s also difficult to determine whether that’s because of human-tohuman or because they were both exposed to the same source, for instance chickens,” he said. “That’s not so easy to sort out.”

The spread of the virus may negatively affect insurance, airlines, consumer staples and retailing, Hong Kong-based Citigroup Inc. analysts Shen Minggao and Ben Wei wrote in an April 8 report. It may also spur food-price inflation if supplies of poultry are cut, they said. Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM), said April 10 that publicity associated with bird flu has had a “significant, negative impact” on sales at its KFC restaurant chain in China “within the past week.” KFC offers chicken products including sandwiches, drumsticks and wings. Any negative impact from an epidemic “won’t last too long and ensuing pent-up demand could be strong, so there is no need for panic in the financial markets,” Lu Ting, chief Greater China economist at Bank of America Corp. in Hong Kong, wrote in an April 5 note. At the same time, if the situation deteriorates, Lu said he may lower his second-quarter economic growth estimate to below 8 percent from 8.1 percent. Trading Ban China’s statistics bureau will report first-quarter gross domestic product tomorrow in Beijing. The economy probably grew 8 percent from a year earlier, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 41 economists, after a 7.9 percent increase in the fourth quarter. Beijing has halted live-poultry trading as part of its measures to step up prevention of the disease, Zhong Dongbo, a spokesman with the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau, said in a news conference broadcast live on China Central Television yesterday. Shanghai and Nanjing are among other cities to ban such trade. Authorities have yet to order a mass slaughter of birds across the capital because no H7N9 infections have been detected in more than 5,600 samples collected from domestic and wild birds, Xinhua reported, citing Liu Yaqing, deputy director of the city’s agriculture bureau. Complex Situation “If we can determine that poultry are major sources of the infection to people then culling is one of the measures that can be taken,” WHO’s O’Leary said. “But this

is a complex situation because the virus does not appear to be very lethal or even serious in animal populations so it’s more difficult to detect.” In the Chinese capital, the child infected with H7N9 is recovering after treatment at Beijing Ditan Hospital Capital Medical University, Zhong said yesterday. Yao’s parents, who live and sell poultry in the Shunyi district of northeast Beijing, have been placed under medical surveillance and have not yet shown symptoms of infection, the official said. The recovery of the 7-year-old shows that early treatment with proper anti-viral medication can be effective, O’Leary said. “We know also that the virus when untreated is very serious,” he said, “so we advocate for early treatment and good medical care.” China has enough flu medication to fight the outbreak, and the government is also preparing a vaccine that it expects will be ready within seven months, Xinhua reported April 10. The Beijing Drug Administration has been ordered to stock up on medicines, including enough Tamiflu for 2 million people, Xinhua said yesterday. Schools in Beijing were told to increase daily temperature checks and report possible cases to the education authorities within an hour of their discovery, it said.‐flu‐infects‐60‐spreads‐to‐beijing/           

Warning aired over toxic crayons By Ferdinand Fabella | Posted on Apr. 15, 2013 at 12:01am | 588 views 1

Ecowaste Coalition aired a warning on Sunday against buying children’s crayon sets and pencils that contain high amounts of mercury. The EcoWaste Coalition said it bought 18 samples of crayons and 38 pencils from budget stores in Divisoria, Manila which when tested have mercury contents of up to 307 parts per million (ppm), way beyond the 20 ppm allowable limit under the Philippine National Standards for Safety of Toys. Of the 38 lead-containing pencil samples, while not exceeding the PNS, have mercury contents in the ferrules (the metal ring that holds the eraser) that children often bite that were above the regulatory limits for mercury in fish (0.5 ppm) and in cosmetics (1 ppm), said Aileen Lucero, acting national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition. “We find it disturbing that mercury, a potent neurotoxin, is present in crayons and pencils that children often put in their mouths, a most prevalent route for mercury intake,” she said.. Lucero said mercury tended to accumulate in the food chain and lodge in the brain, liver and kidneys, through ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption. “All products meant for use in learning or playing by children should be entirely safe from mercury and other hazards. It is important to eradicate all contributors to childhood exposure to mercury,” she said. Jeiel Guarino, the group’s in-house chemist, said state regulators should revise the threshold for mercury in toys and related children’s products to imposed stricter standards. “Children often bite into and chew on toys and related products such as crayons and pencils, so mercury as an additive or an impurity should not be present at all in articles that may get into their hands and mouths,” he said.

“While there really is no safe threshold, using the 0.5 ppm limit for mercury in fish or the 1 ppm limit for mercury in cosmetics, rather than 20 ppm, will be a Suspect crayon samples were also obtained at New Divisoria Mall, 1188 Mall and 168 Mall, according to EcoWaste.‐aired‐over‐toxic‐crayons/                                        

More women finish college By Dexter A. See | Posted on Apr. 15, 2013 at 12:01am | 66 views

At least 63 percent of 16,661 college graduates this year in the Cordillera Region were women and mostly in the fields of home economics, mass communications and education, the National Statistical Coordination Board in the Cordillera Administrative Region said on Sunday. Benjamin Navarro, Regional Director, said women were inclined to pursue college education because of their desire to be productive and live a better life as professionals. “Women are able to complete their respective courses and land decent jobs locally and internationally because they are more consistent in their goals in life,” Navarro said. A fact sheet released by the statistical coordination board showed the men who graduated this year outnumbered the women in the field of religion and theology, engineering, architecture and law. Navarro said a big number of graduates came from Baguio City at 67 percent and Benguet was a distant second with 11 percent. For the past five years, the number of college graduates has increased but the gap between men and women remained relatively the same, the statistical coordination board said.‐women‐finish‐college/           

Market likely to top 6,900 points this week By Jenniffer B. Austria | Posted on Apr. 15, 2013 at 12:01am | 190 views

Stocks are expected to test a new record level this week, after the index climbed above 6,800 points last week, according to analysts. analyst Freya May Natividad said the market’s ascent would be liquidity-driven and supported by growth and recovery prospects for 2013. “Although improvements will be validated by employment data and other economic indicators [e.g., manufacturing, trade, retail sales], the extra push will come from corporate and government spend, as both take advantage of the lowborrowing cost environment,” Natividad said. Investors, however, may also turn cautious, especially if geopolitical tensions between the US and North Korea escalate, she said. Natividad said in case of weakening, the immediate support would be 6,800 points and in case of rally, the resistance level would be 6,950 to 6,970 points. Accord Capital Equities Corp. trader Justino Calaycay said the improved forecast for the US economy and the temporary easing of concerns over Europe led to PSEi’s sustained upward momentum. Expectations of higher first-quarter earnings also heightened interest in top-tier and second-line counters. “Concern is raised mainly from a technical standpoint after the PSEI set its 25th record close for the year—that’s a pace of nearly once every three sessions, on average,” Calaycay said. Calaycay said the conventional view posited a slight easing off the top which should open the doors for the next round of buying to push the measure sustainably above the 7,000-mark en route to hitting the upper end of full-year forecast range of 7,200.

The PSEi advanced by 164 points or 2.4 percent over last week’s four-day market trading to settle at 6,891 on Friday, led by gains in mining/oil (4.5 percent) and holding companies (3 percent). Among the top gainers last week were DMCI Holdings Inc., which rose 9.2 percent to P60.40, after the company declared cash dividend of P2.20 per share; Globe Telecom, which added 9.1 percent to P1,374; and Semirara Mining Corp., which jumped 7.8 percent to P294. Decliners included Holcim Philippines Inc., First Philippine Holdings Corp. and Jollibee Foods Corp. Average turnover during the four-day trading week slipped 8 percent to P7.6 billion while net foreign buying was P682 million. The Philippine Stock Exchange index, the 30-company benchmark, was up 0.6 percent since the start of April trading.‐likely‐to‐top‐6900‐points‐this‐week/                       

Idiotizing our people, hijacking our democracy By Francisco S. Tatad | Posted on Apr. 15, 2013 at 12:01am | 948 views 8

As the current campaign heads toward the homestretch, and President B. S. Aquino III scales up his talk of a 12-0 sweep for the administration’s senatorial slate, his political agenda begins to unnerve. The agenda has three parts, each one as sinister and as ruinous as the others. First, idiotize the people. Second, hijack the electoral process. Third, get wellknown external parties to call it a huge democratic success. Idiotization entails exploiting the ignorance of the ignorant and the gullibility of the gullible, using bespoke propaganda surveys with spurious results, and delivered with amazing zeal and speed, which the conscript and complicit media compulsively propagate, for the ignorant and the gullible to ingest mechanically as gospel truth. In an archipelago like the Philippines, it should take at least a couple of months to do a quick, but honest-to-goodness nationwide survey, some experts say. The wonder of it, though, is that the most notorious propaganda pollsters are able to deliver a survey, measured to specifications, on demand, once a week, if not more frequently. Opinion polling is a market research activity used to read consumer response to certain issues. A company intending to launch a new product or service may run a survey just to test the market. Having no intention of deceiving itself, the company will want to conduct an honest survey with verifiable results, along scientific lines. This is not what Malacañang needs, or wants. Its “surveys,” whether actual or simulated, are run by partisan and power-driven operatives who use polling to direct public opinion, if not to manufacture it altogether, for partisan purposes. They are either real or bogus. “Real,” when there is an actual survey or some semblance of it, although rigged to come up with the “results” needed by those

paying for it. Or “bogus,” when false from beginning to end, and the public has no way of knowing it. The polled opinion of the 1,200 to 2000 “samples”, whether actually or only theoretically interviewed, is presented not simply as the opinion of 1,200 to 2,000 individuals, but rather as the opinion of the entire nation of over 95 million Filipinos. Thus, if 51 percent of the 1,200 to 2,000 individuals say they believe “black is white and white is black,” then the pollsters will say 51 percent of more than 95 million Filipinos believe “black is white and white is black.” Then the complicit media gloriously parrot it, and the helpless consumer naively swallows it hook, line and sinker. In many countries, polling firms are required to disclose all the relevant data about every survey. The media for their part try to satisfy themselves that the survey is real and its findings credible, before running the reported results. Before any “results” are disseminated, the polling firm must first disclose the following: Who commissioned and paid for the survey? Why was it done? Who actually did it? What questions were asked? In what sequence were they asked? Were any questions asked that should not have been asked, or vice versa? How many individuals (“samples”) were interviewed? How were they chosen? How were the interviews conducted—-by telephone or face-to-face.? What was the margin of error allowed? In the United States, UK, Europe, Scandinavia, Canada, Japan, Australia, where polling has acquired a reputation to uphold, full and prompt disclosure is no problem. This is not the case in the Philippines. Here the basic facts about propaganda surveys appear to be closely guarded secrets. Understandably so, since the surveys are not only instruments of idiotization but also instruments of corruption. Will a polling firm be prepared to disclose—to the nation and to the Bureau of Internal Revenue—how many candidates, both national and local, have bought into a survey, just to become part of the “rating” game? Will it be prepared to disclose the questions it asked in a particular survey, and risk exposing its crude way of making sure it gets the responses its sponsors have paid for?

In 2007, a reelectionist lawmaker was told that he had a very poor chance of getting reelected because of his poor “ratings.” A polling firm was commissioned for a fat fee to “improve his ratings.” He did not have to improve his performance (it seemed beyond improving) in order to improve his “ratings;” he simply had to pay the pollster to improve his ratings. In the course of this campaign, how often has this happened? A candidate with all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications has no chance of “rating” in the propaganda surveys if he does not pay, or if he has offended the pollsters and their masters. On the other hand, a candidate who has all the disqualifications and none of the qualifications has all the chances of “rating” in the propaganda surveys if he pays; and a good chance of getting elected because of his rating. He is sure to get elected, according to his advertised rating, if the propaganda rating has become part and parcel of the “daya machine” or the cheating mechanism. Thus when Aquino announces—and Sen. Franklin Drilon echoes it—that his senatorial slate will shut out the competition 12 to 0, this is not because there are voters ready and willing to make sure this happens. This is simply because the gentlemen are confident they have gained full control of the PCOS machines. The attempt to portray B. S. III as a still popular and trusted president, and Filipino Catholics as losing interest in their church duties is but a part of the political portrait Malacañang wants to paint in preparation for its grand design for May 13. But the two initiatives are clearly misbegotten. Consider Aquino’s so-called “popularity.” Malacañang is prudent enough not to claim B.S. III is as popular and trusted as his hard-working Vice President, but—At a time when Filipinos are outraged by the absence of any acceptable presidential response to the slaughter of Filipino Muslims in Sabah by Malaysian authorities; at a time when they are pissed off with presidential impotence in the face of China’s renewed adventurism in the Spratlys; at a time when they are enraged by his lack of concern about the power outage that has cast Mindanao in darkness; at a time when they are scandalized by the open and unchecked

corruption and smuggling in our piers; at a time when they are dismayed over the return of illegal gambling in Luzon on a massive scale with obvious official consent; at a time when they feel forsaken and helpless in the face of rising unemployment and the continued lack of protection for the marginal, especially contractual, workers; at a time when they could not even speak out against the casual violations of the ban on presidential appointments during the campaign period; at a time when they feel personally trampled upon each time they see the President using official time and government funds in order to campaign for his chosen candidates—at a time when all these things are happening, there is no absolutely basis for B.S. III getting anything other than a failing grade. And yet the nation is told that its non-performing and hardly working president is rating high in the surveys! Now, at the time when Catholic churches everywhere are bursting at the seams, when new parishes are coming up in various dioceses, when the lines to the confessional and at communion are getting longer and longer, when not enough priests seem to be available to celebrate more masses, and when the laity have mobilized to junk Aquino’s anti-life, anti-family and pro-population control and Reproductive Health candidates, comes this latest bogus survey claim about Catholics dropping out of the Mass in great numbers. The facts do not support it, and it just doesn’t make sense. But B. S. III is determined to idiotize the nation, and hijack the May electoral process. At the Ateneo Rockwell last Wednesday, the Automated Election System (AES) Watch launched two books—“Hacking Our Democracy,” by Rene Azurin, on the “Conspiracy to Electronically Control Philippine Elections,” and “Was Your Voted Counted?” co-authored by 15 university-based IT experts on the myths about Philippine automated elections. At the launch, the authors expressed fear that what happened in 2010—which has never been adequately discussed in the social or mainstream media or anywhere else—could happen all over again. Transparency of the voting and verifiability of the results remain of paramount concern. Even if the voting and counting of votes were error-free or fraud-free, the public should be able to verify the integrity and accuracy of the results.

This is possible only if the necessary features were built into the system. These should include an audit trail which the voter can verify, an open source code, transparent testing and certification procedures, open audit processes, voter verification paper audit trail, randomly selected public recounts of audit trails, mock elections to test the voting machines, and full documentation of the system. In 2010, the Comelec illegally removed essential safety features of the precinct count optical scan machines. Its impact upon the results of the election remains within the realm of speculation. But the fact that those safety features have not been restored remains a major problem. The IT community is eager to help, but the Comelec is not inclined to let them. There are larger constitutional questions. The fact that Smartmatic, a foreign private firm, conducted the 2010 elections on behalf of the Comelec, and that it will do so again in May, raises a serious constitutional question that impinges on the fundamental dignity and sovereignty of the nation. It cannot be ignored forever. No one raised this issue in 2010, despite a variety of questions about the integrity of that election. The fear of throwing the whole country into chaos if the entire process were questioned and the stability of the presidency seriously threatened aborted any effort to launch a constitutional challenge. But nothing may be able to prevent such constitutional challenge should Smartmatic once again run the election on behalf of the Comelec on May 13, without reinstating the safety features on the PCOS machines to ensure the integrity and transparency of the elections. Still, it is not a dead end. Disaster can still be prevented by turning back just as Netherlands, Germany and Paraguay have turned back after a short experience with e-voting. Even Australia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Norway and the United Kingdom have decided not to continue after piloting evoting, for a short while. Only Brazil, India, and Venezuela use e-voting throughout the country. Argentina, Belgium, France, Japan, Mexico, Peru and the United States use e-voting only in certain parts of the country. In the US, more states appear to be moving away from the system.

Our 2010 e-voting experience was a leap in the dark, rather an outstanding achievement, as some propagandists would like us to believe. The problems were legion and none of them were sufficiently addressed. And before we could see what the PCOS machine has done to us and the nation, before Congress could finish opening all the electoral returns and proclaim the president-elect, the newly arrived U.S. Ambassador Harry Thomas came calling on B. S. III at his Quezon City residence to give Washington’s seal of recognition to the latter’s election. Other diplomats followed. Most, if not all, of the IT experts who monitored the elections thought the election had just been hijacked, and that what we had just gone through was pure Hocus PCOS. But we were assured on the highest imperial authority that we had just conducted a most successful democratic election. Now we are about to repeat the same terrible experience. When shall we ever learn?‐our‐people‐hijacking‐our‐democracy/                       

Palace welcomes return of US bases Published on 14 April 2013  Hits: 446  Written by CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA REPORTERS 

American soldiers chat in front of an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet on display at the former US base in Clark, Pampanga. The Air Operations and Aircraft Static Display is part of the Balikatan exercises this year. About 8,000 Filipino and American soldiers are participating in the military exercises that will run until April 17. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

BECAUSE of the developing security crisis in the Korean peninsula, the Philippine government on Sunday said it would allow the return of US military bases in the country but only in case of “extreme emergency.” Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte disclosed that no less than Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin broached the idea of allowing the US military to set up bases here again in the light of a nuclear threat by Pyongyang. In an interview aired over state-run Radyo ng Bayan, Valte said Gazmin clarified that the move is only one of the options that the country could take to strengthen its defense posture. “Nilatag po ni Secretary Gazmin ‘yung konteksto ng kanyang naging sagot at sinabi po niya [Gazmin presented the context of his reply and made it clear that it is only] ‘in cases of extreme emergency’,” she added. However, Valte explained that the return of the US bases does not refer to the “present situation.” “The Secretary was talking about a scenario at kasama po ‘yon sa trabaho niya bilang [and it’s part of his job as] Secretary of National Defense na tingnan lahat ng posibleng mangyari lalo ho [to consider all possibilities

especially] in matters relative to national defense,” she said. “Only in the case of extreme emergency, ‘yung katulad pong pinaguusapan na digmaan [like talks of war],” she added Valte explained that Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution bars US military bases in the Philippines. Allowing the US to set up military bases in the countrt would require a new treaty between the two countries and a nationwide referendum. However, there is an existing Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States which requires either of the countries to come to the aid of its ally if it is attacked by another country. Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Philippines would allow US forces to use military bases in the country if it went to war with North Korea. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the MDT “calls for joint action if either the Philippines or the United States is attacked.” “It would then be logical to assume that in the event of an attack on the Philippines or on our treaty ally, the US would be allowed to use our bases,” del Rosario said. Gazmin said the government would have to undertake “extreme measures” including allowing US bases in the country, if the situation in the Korean Peninsula worsens. “Right now our Constitution does not allow that but in cases of extreme emergency then there are extreme measures to be undertaken. Maybe this [setting up of US bases] is one of them,” he said. Gazmin, however, said the absence of US bases in the country is being compensated by joint training and exercises as well as increased rotational presence.

On one hand, Gazmin said that the defense department, in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs, has placed on standby two of its C-130 Hercules planes and three transport ships of the Philippine Navy, ready to depart for South Korea to pick up and transport home the 40,000 Filipinos working and living there in case war breaks out. Rejected However, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial candidates on Sunday rejected the idea of using the Philippines as a staging area for the US in case the tension in the Korean peninsula escalates. Senator Gregorio Honasan and former ambassador Ernestor Maceda said such moves may only put Filipinos in danger. Honasan said the Philippine government should study if the MDT is beneficial to the country. He noted that the Philippines could become a target of countries that are not in good terms with the US if the government allows the establishment of American military bases here. Maceda said the plan to use the Philippines for military action elsewhere is unconstitutional. Maceda was one of 12 senators who voted for the removal of American military bases in the Philippines. “We fought hard in 1991 to reject a treaty that would have allowed the Americans to stay. We did that to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity and we will do it again,” he stressed.‐mt/45479‐palace‐welcomes‐return‐of‐us‐bases   

De Lima again in hot water Published on 14 April 2013  Hits: 330  Written by JOMAR CANLAS SENIOR REPORTER   

The Court of Appeals (CA) was asked to cite Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in contempt for making public statements against the magistrates of the appellate court over their decision in the case of former Palawan gov. Joel Reyes. In a 12-page petition, the camp of Reyes, through legal counsels Demetrio Custodio Jr. and Love Joy Cecilia Brillantes, asked the CA to punish De Lima for indirect contempt. The petition was filed after the Justice chief accused Reyes of employing “foul tactics and illicit means” to get a favorable ruling from the CA. “In so doing, however, De Lima also smeared the reputation of the Honorable Court by insinuating that it could be influenced to decide a case in one way or another by a party’s “foul tactics and illicit means,” the petition said. The Reyes camp said De Lima may disagree with the Honorable Court’s decision of March 19, 2013 that cleared Reyes from charges that he was behind the killing of former broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega but she should not attack the integrity of the court. “Casting baseless aspersions on the dignity of the Honorable Court is certainly not an available remedy to Respondent. She has no right to attempt to degrade the court, destroy public confidence in it, and encourage the people to disregard and set naught its orders, judgments and decrees,” the petition read. Reyes’ counsels said de Lima ignored her “duty as an officer of the court, to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts and to promote confidence in the fair administration of justice.” The CA Special 10th Division last month castigated de Lima for creating a panel to conduct another preliminary investigation when the previous panel had dismissed the case against the Reyes brothers. The court, through a vote of 3-2, ruled that De Lima’s Department Order No. 710 which conducted the second preliminary investigation against Reyes was void from the beginning. The decision penned by Associate Justice Angelita Gacutan granted the petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Reyes. The court ordered the DOJ to reinstate its first findings through the first panel of prosecutors headed by State Prosecutor Edwin Dayog, which exonerated the Reyeses.‐stories/45476‐de‐lima‐again‐in‐hot‐water

DENR seeks increased 2014 budget for sustainability projects Published on 14 April 2013  Hits: 96  Written by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ   

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has hailed its first ever public budget consultation as a success, after drawing more than 70 representatives from various civil society organizations (CSOs). The DENR has set its initial spending plan for 2014 at P36.45 billion, or around P14.7 billion more than the indicative budget ceiling of P21.75 billion earlier set by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). “We are really pleased with the turnout of the public consultation,” Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said during the two-day budget consultation meeting held recently. For 2013, the agency’s budget is P23.7 billion, most of which goes to programs on reforestation, rehabilitation of coral reefs and mangrove areas, and land distribution. It is seeking a higher allocation for next year to enhance the country’s “environmental sustainability” in the face of climate change impacts. The DENR chief said the agency is looking forward to reviewing the ideas and suggestions put forward by civil society groups during the budget consultation meetings. Paje is confident this would institutionalize the process for public participation in the development of budget goals and priorities of the department as a means to promote transparency and accountability. “Public participation is one way for people to be heard. The DENR wants and needs to hear what our citizens are thinking, especially on the priority

services and projects that need to be pursued for the environment sector,” he said. Paje said the undertaking was in keeping with the Aquino administration’s reform agenda on participative governance. He cited National Budget Circular No. 536 issued by the Department of Budget and Management on January 31, 2012, which enjoins all government agencies to broaden citizen participation in the budget process, particularly in the preparation and submission of their respective budget proposals.‐denr‐seeks‐increased‐2014‐budget‐for‐ sustainability‐projects                               

Goodbye fluorescent bulb? Philips agrees Published on Sunday, 14 April 2013 23:00 Written by AP



AMSTERDAM — If you’ve worked in an office, you’re probably familiar with the soft glow of fluorescent tubes drifting from the ceiling. If Europe’s Philips brand is right, those lamps could soon be history. Royal Philips NV, the Dutch consumer appliances giant, said Thursday that it has developed an LED light that will soon be far more efficient than the best fluorescents on the market. That should make it cheaper and greener, as well. It’s a combination that will inevitably help the LED dominate the market for illuminating the world’s workplaces, according to the global leader in lighting sales. In an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the unveiling of the new light, a top executive said the prototype LED is headed to mass production and will hit the market in 2015. He claimed that in 10 years, LEDs will replace at least half of the world’s fluorescent bulbs, which have been the main source of workplace lighting since shortly after World War II. “This is a major step forward for the lighting world,” said Rene van Schooten, CEO of Philips’ light sources division. “It will bring an enormous savings in energy.” Experts outside the Dutch company say they have long expected LEDs to eclipse fluorescents. If Philips’ predictions are correct, however, the arrival of the LED in office spaces will come faster than expected. The potential impact in energy and cost savings, as well as pollution reduction, is significant — though toxic materials are used in manufacturing both fluorescents and LEDs. Lights suck up more than 15 percent of all energy produced globally, and fluorescent lights currently make up more than half of the total lighting market. In the United States alone, fluorescents consume about 200 terawatts annually, according to Philips’ estimates. Cutting that in half would save $12 billion in electricity costs and lessen carbon dioxide emissions by 60 million metric tons per year, the company said.

Dr. Eugenia Ellis, a professor of engineering and architecture at Drexel University, who works with LED installations, said an efficiency improvement at the level Philips forecasts would be impressive. Cost savings from using LEDs can already be significant: Ellis gave the example of a hospital recently saving $75,000 a year on energy bills by switching. In recent years, energy-efficient lights made by Philips, Siemens AG, General Electric Co., Cree Inc. and others using LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, have made significant inroads in the home market, replacing many incandescent and halogen bulbs. But because fluorescent bulbs are themselves highly efficient, LED lights have so far achieved only a small foothold in business and industry. LEDs are competitive in heavy use settings where their longer lifespans and a minor energy edge pay off. Philips says its new lamp will change all of that. The technical milestone the company claims to have achieved is the ability to produce 200 lumens of light per watt. A lumen is the standard measure of the amount of light a lamp casts in a given area. According to Mark Hand, a technology expert at Philips competitor Acuity Brands Inc., that’s about twice the output per watt of the best fluorescent tubes currently on the market; he estimated the best LED lamps may get up to 120 lumens per watt. Cree already advertises an LED lamp it says reaches 200 lumens per watt under some circumstances. Van Schooten said the Philips lamp is different. It will be the first on the market that reaches that level of efficiency and functions across a normal range of temperatures and is capable of consistently producing the same amount of warm white colored light as comparable fluorescent tubes. Related Articles‐goodbye‐fluorescent‐bulb‐philips‐ agrees                 

ROUNDUP Published on Sunday, 14 April 2013 23:00

Aquino still waiting for DA word on Manila Zoo elephant’s fate Malacañang yesterday said President Aquino is still waiting for the recommendations of the Department of Agriculture on the proposed transfer of Vishmawali or Mali, the elephant in the Manila Zoo, to a sanctuary in Thailand or somewhere in the Philippines where there are better living conditions. Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte acknowledged the concerns expressed for Mali by several groups and personalities, the last of which is singer Cat Stevens. Stevens, who now calls himself Yusuf Islam, hoped that the Manila Zoo would finally allow Mali to join other elephants in a sanctuary in Thailand. Valte said there are concerns that the elephant’s old age might prevent it from surviving the travel to Thailand. She said there are other recommendations like transferring the elephant to a sanctuary in Palawan instead. Stevens joins the ranks of renowned vetarinarians Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, Dr. Jane Goodall, and Dr. Henry Richardson and popular figures like French film actor Brigitte Bardot, British singer Morrissey of the 80s band The Smiths, and Nobel Prize–winning author J.M. Coetzee, who called for the release of Mali. In the Philippines, Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan had filed House Resolution 2937, which seeks to transfer Mali to Thailand but the Manila Zoo and the Manila local government had said the 38-year-old elephant may not survive the trip to Thailand given its advanced age of 38. Mali, which has been the main attraction at the Manila Zoo, stands lethargic-like in a solitary cage. Bus slams truck; one killed A conductor died after a public utility bus slammed a 10-wheeler truck in Makati City before dawn yesterday. He was identified as Ricky Monton, conductor of the JAC Liner bus. The 10-wheeler truck owned by ML Young Trading was parked at the side of the road at the corner of Osmeña Highway and Arnaiz ave. due to a flat tire. Two truck helpers identified as Marvin Penaverde and Harold Escalante and a passenger were brought to the Ospital ng Makati for treatment. Guillermo Ebane, the truck driver, told investigators he and his two helpers were changing a tire when the bus rammed them. He said they also placed an early warning device.

The bus driver, Policarpio Ilagan fled. - Christian Oineza Cop mauled in Pasig A policeman was mauled by two neighbors in Pasig City last Saturday due to an old grudge. He was identified as Police Officer 3 Celso Prudente, of the Eastern Police District-Public Safety Battalion. The suspects were identified as Raymund and Rommel Capining. - Christian Oineza Related Articles‐roundup34                                      

Posted on April 14, 2013 11:29:24 PM 

By Diane Claire J. Jiao, Senior Reporter 

Central bank to press for changes to its charter THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) will again be asking legislators to amend its charter when the 16th Congress takes office later this year. “We are timing the filing when Congress opens its session in July,” central bank Deputy Governor Juan de Zuñiga, Jr. said in a text message last week, adding: “We have to look at the possible reconstitution of the committees in both houses for the sponsors.” The 15th Congress -- currently on a break for the May midterm elections where all seats in the House of Representatives and half of those in Senate are up for grabs -- bows out in June. Its successor convenes on July 22. Amendments to Republic Act 7653 or the New Central Bank Act failed to make it through the outgoing Congress. House Bill 6205 was approved by the banks and financial intermediaries committee but never got to the plenary level for debates. Senate Bill 2742, meanwhile, languished at the banks, financial institutions and currencies committee, which completed only one hearing. Mr. de Zuñiga underlined the importance of updating the nearly 20-year-old central bank charter, saying: “The amendments have been years overdue. Due to rapid advancements and developments in financial systems, it becomes more imperative for the BSP to be attuned with the times.” One provision to be introduced involves an increase in the regulator’s capitalization, although Mr. de Zuñiga said the final figure was still being “refined.” Other planned amendments will be patterned from those proposed in the previous Congress. These include the authority to issue debt papers, authority to administer payment and settlement systems, and enhancements in bank supervision, he added. The central bank has a total authorized capitalization of P50 billion. The government made an initial contribution of P10 billion in 1996 didn’t follow up on this until 2011, when the Aquino administration put in P10 billion in 2011. Another P20 billion was forwarded in 2012 and both infusions were part of an effort to accelerate public spending. Finance and Budget officials have promised to grant the remaining P10 billion before the end of the year but central bank officials say the P50 billion is no longer enough. The central bank’s balance sheets have been bleeding since 2010. It posted a net loss of P86.31 billion as of November 2012, more than double the P32.29 billion recorded in the same period the year before and inching closer to 2007’s all-time high of P86.94 billion.

Among the biggest contributors to expenditures were foreign exchange fluctuations, which accounted for P46.34 billion, and interest payments worth P83.7 billion. The BSP maintains a presence in the foreign exchange market, buying and selling dollars to keep the peso’s movements smooth. With foreign investors swamping the country in search of higher returns, the central bank has had to make large dollar purchases to manage a sharp appreciation. The peso still managed to climb by 6.8% against the dollar in 2012, closing at P41.05 -- well above the P42-45 exchange rate assumed by the government. Interest payments, particularly for special deposit accounts (SDA), have also weighed on the central bank. SDA rates have been slashed by more than 100 basis points this year and are now at 2.5%. While monetary authorities maintain that their decisions are in no way influenced by the central bank’s losses, the SDA rate cuts have been estimated to yield P18 billion in savings. Think tanks have warned the net losses could limit the BSP’s firepower.

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Posted on April 14, 2013 11:28:39 PM By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Reporter

Tax bureau eyes increased compliance THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) is hopeful of increased voluntary compliance as taxpayers troop to payments centers today for the annual income tax filing deadline. “We’re hoping that compliance will really increase on the back of our intensive campaign to urge people to pay their taxes,” BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares said in a phone interview. She cited the bureau’s annual tax campaign kick-offs, held in various revenue regions in February, as well as the Finance department’s “No Pay, No Way” TV ads launched last month. “We’ve really stepped up our public awareness efforts. We also tried to help our taxpayers resolve compliance issues through our information campaigns,” Ms. Jacinto-Henares said. The BIR also released primers for the filing of income tax returns (ITRs), outlining the process for individual and corporate taxpayers. “We hope that people took to heart the message that we’ve been trying to convey, that being a member of this society, it’s part of everyone’s duty to pay taxes,” Ms. Jacinto-Henares said. The BIR chief said she expected people to again crowd filing offices today as they seek to beat the April 15 deadline. “Despite our repeated calls for people to file their ITRs early, we of course expect that there will be an influx of people on Monday,” Ms. Jacinto-Henares said.She claimed the BIR was “well prepared” for the expected crowds, adding that there would be no extension of the filing deadline. “[O]n Monday, we will serve everyone as long as there are still people in line at the offices. As long as our offices are open, people can file,” the BIR chief said. “If the offices are already closed, however, then the person will have to file the next day, and there will be a corresponding surcharge,” she added. The penalties for late filings are a 20% interest per annum and a 25% surcharge.The BIR, which accounts for about 70% of state revenues, has been tasked to collect P1.253 trillion this year. It is hoping to collect P759.187 billion from taxes on net income and profits of individuals and corporations.The bureau has recently launched several initiatives to improve its collections, one of which is a campaign to increase its take from the self-employed, small business owners and professionals, and increasing average payments across industries and professions.As of February, the BIR had collected P169.26 billion in revenues.

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Posted on April 14, 2013 09:42:58 PM

Peso seen range-bound this week THE PESO could be range-bound this week due to a lack of strong market leads. Â The local currency hit a near five-month low as it dropped 11 centavos to close at P41.27 per dollar last Friday from its P41.16-per-dollar close the previous week. "The peso is projected to be range-bound this week as we enter a light trading week. No huge economic data is expected to be released," a trader said in a phone interview last Friday. "Dealers will wait for further developments abroad. They will closely monitor events in Korea," he added. Negative events abroad -- the continued threat of war from North Korea against South Korea, as well as weak jobs data in the United States -- coupled with the corporate demand for dollars weighed on the peso last week. Another trader, in a separate phone interview, said the US retail sales data released last Friday may influence the peso's performance against the dollar when trading resumes today. The US Commerce department reported that retail and food services sales in the world's largest economy fell by 0.4% in March, following a 1.1% rise the previous month. It was the biggest contraction since June last year. The market had expected retail sales to remain unchanged. The peso is expected to trade within the P41- to P41.35-per-dollar band this week. -- Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio

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Posted on April 14, 2013 09:40:12 PM

Other Stories (04/15/13)

Exports growth target DESPITE the slump in exports in February, the Export Development Council (EDC) is still optimistic its target for the whole year will still be met. “It will be difficult to meet the [15%] target but we have to remember we were in the same position in 2010 in that we came from a low base and saw high growth when there was recovery. We still see that we will be growing,” said Senen M. Perlada, EDC executive director and Trade department Bureau of International Trade Promotions director, told reporters Friday. The service sector and “the gradual recovery we are seeing for electronics” will underpin the growth, Mr. Perlada added.

Outstanding debt papers OUTSTANDING government debt papers held by local investors reached P3.4 trillion as of end-March, Bureau of the Treasury data showed. The amount was 3.16% less than the P3.514 trillion in outstanding short- and long-term securities recorded as of end-February but 9.96% higher than the P3.095 trillion as of the same period last year. Of the total outstanding papers, the government issued P3.114-trillion worth of Treasury bonds with tenors ranging from four years, five years, 10 years, 20 years, and 25 years. Meanwhile, the government’s outstanding Treasury bills totaled P289.65 billion as of March this year.

GSP discussions THE GROUP that petitioned the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to remove the Philippines from the generalized system of preferences (GSP) program doubted the government’s tack to address extrajudicial killings of labor leaders. “...I just don’t understand how [an interagency committee is] going to be different from the last five... I feel like there is a new one every year,” said Brian Campbell, International Labor Rights Forum’s (ILRF) director for policy, according to a transcript of a hearing. The ILRF complained to the USTR in 2007 that the Philippines denied workers’ right to organize through the extra-judicial killings of labor leaders in free-trade zones.

Crop insurance coverage CROP INSURANCE coverage rose by nearly 9% as of the February as more farmers joined the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp.’s (PCIC) insurance programs. Coverage increased to P2.04 billion from P1.88 billion as of the same two-month period last year. Premiums rose by close to 14% to P90.19 million. Over 45,000 farmers availed of insurance, particularly the PCIC’s combined rice and corn insurance line, as they availed of financing. “Banks require farmers to insure their farms before they can apply for a loan,” explained Norman R. Cajucom, PCIC senior vice-president, in a telephone interview yesterday.

Fishpond fertilizer THE NATIONAL Tobacco Administration (NTA) wants tobacco companies to sell to it their tobacco sweepings, which it will use to produce fishpond fertilizer. According to Memorandum Circular No. 001 Series of 2013 dated Feb. 6, 2013 “tobacco sweepings from TCs (tobacco trading centers), WTDs (wholesale tobacco dealers), CMs (cigar/cigarette manufacturers) and FRs (field representatives) shall be exclusively disposed of in favor of the NTA to be used as raw materials in the production/processing of Tobacco Dust Plus as molluscicide cum fertilizer for aquaculture/fishpond application.”

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BAP supports BSP charter amendment • •

Written by Ed Velasco Monday, 15 April 2013 00:00

The Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) has expressed approval for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) aim to have its 19-year-old charter amended as it sees a danger for the BSP with negative equity. “Central banks can operate with negative equity but not for a long period of time as it can undermine its credibility and independence in the longer term,” BAP president Lorenzo Tan told The Daily Tribune yesterday. “In the interest of any country, capital of central banks must and can be rebuilt over time,” Tan added. The BSP has been longing that its charter be amended so it can prompt the national government to recapitalize it automatically every time its capital reaches precarious level, according to deputy governor Diwa Guinigundo in an earlier interview. BSP’s losses have been hitting all-time high due to extensive open market operations (OMO) to prevent the peso from strengthening further. Since end-2012, its losses pegged more than P86 billion. More than half of these losses were due to OMO. “Over time, that negative equity can be reversed from surplus income in the long term. BSP also needs excess capital to be able to absorb excess liquidity. If not, we face inflation risks or even hyperinflation if not addressed long term,” Tan warned. The BSP is also not exempted from paying taxes every time it is doing OMO. Recapitalization, exemption from taxes in OMO, naming two more deputy governors, floating own bonds and preventing regular courts from issuing temporary restraining orders when placing any bank under receivership are just some of the adjustments BSP wants enacted when its charter is amended. Tan said there is no problem with the central bank being recapitalized by national government as there are numerous central banks that have become problematic and its government provided the needed funding. “Swiss national bank got support from its government twice in the 70s to rebuild its balance sheet. They had foreign exchange losses also in 2010 and 2011. Central banks also enjoy funding advantage over private companies owing to its banknote issuing

privilege,” Tan, also president and CEO of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said. He said there is no other way for BSP to solve its problem unless the national government “bridges” the temporary impairment in its equity. “The BSP can amend its charter in order to allow the government to ‘bridge’ the temporary impairment in the BSP’s equity,” the top banker said.‐bap‐supports‐bsp‐charter‐amendment                                    

Exporters push incentives for banks lending to MSMEs • •

Written by Ed Velasco Monday, 15 April 2013 00:00

Export stakeholders are pushing incentives that will encourage banks to lend more to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), a report of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PhilExport) said. PhilExport said giving incentives to banks to make them comply to the magna carta for MSMEs is one of the measures identified by the Export Development Council and its executive committee and other industry leaders during their recent meeting on how the government can help mitigate the impact of peso appreciation on the export sector. As a way of giving incentives to banks, the Small Business Corp. recommended to pursue an initiative of the Department Trade and Industry (DTI) on the creation of a Portfolio Guarantee Support Fund that will give rewards to banks who can develop new lending portfolios. Such rewards will also be given to banks that can lend to the MSME sector in compliance to the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta for MSMEs or Republic Act enacted in 1991 as RA 6977, amended by Republic Act 8289 in 1997, and further amended by RA 9501 in 2008, mandates all lending institutions to set aside eight percent of their total loan portfolio for micro and small enterprises and two percent for medium firms. Apart from this measure, the EDC and industry leaders also asked the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to provide a regulatory relief on the provisioning rates it required to government financial institutions (GFIs) and lenders. They believed the suspension of some prudential measures like the loan loss provisions will allow the SMEs to use purchase orders (POs) from the country’s leading enterprises as collaterals to apply for loan with the GFIs and private banks. Under the Big Brother-Small Brother program, leading companies known as “big brothers” are committed to allocate a portion of their purchases to SMEs. Such is an industry chain program initiated by the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) where a large enterprise adopts one or two SMEs from its pool of suppliers with an overall objective of improving their performance. Likewise, exporters requested the allocation of part of the loan compliance penalty fund to be used for productivity enhancement program. The Magna Carta stipulates that the BSP imposes penalties for banks not complying with its mandatory

lending provisions for MSMEs. Meanwhile, as a measure to minimize or avoid losses from a strong peso, exporters using the hedging facilities of certain banks also called for the lowering of their minimum threshold from $100,000 to $10,000. The current criteria, they claim, is designed for big exporters since export shipments for hedging should be valued between $100,000 to $200,000. Other measures recommended to help exporters cope with the peso appreciation include the creation of a dollar bourse, waiving of various fees charged as import/export fees and refraining from speculating on future currency movements.‐exporters‐push‐incentives‐for‐banks‐ lending‐to‐msmes                                 

Bagong mukha, bagong kultura, bagong daan OPINION Masakit mang tanggapin pero mukhang nagbato na ng puting tuwalya si Commissioner Ruffy Biazon hinggil sa misyon niyang “ituwid ang daan” sa Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Sa kanilang pag-uusap daw ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino, naikokonsidera ang pagbuwag sa BOC o total overhaul nito na nangangahulugang papalitan ang lahat ng empleyado nito mula sa pinakababa hanggang sa pinakataas.

Ganun na nga kabaon ang matinding corruption sa ahensyang ito na hindi na kayang gamutin ng tapal-tapal lang o band aid solution.

Ipinuwesto na sa top 2 post nito ang mga opisyal na mayroong integridad (Biazon at retired Gen. Danilo Lim) pero hindi pa rin nakayanan ang nakabaong maduming kultura rito.

Siguro nga ay panahon na para walisin ang buong burukrasya ng BOC at palitan ang lahat ng nakapuwesto rito. Top to bottom na pagbibihis talaga. Naniniwala kami na ang mga bagong mukha sa ahensyang ito ang tanging solusyon para sa isang bagong kultura. Ang kultura ng paglilingkod sa bayan at pamahalaan, imbes na pagpapataba sa sariling bulsa.

Marami ang pumupula sa kabiguan ni Commissioner Biazon. Mayroon pang mga intriga na nagsasabing ‘graceful exit’ na lang daw ang ibinibigay ni PNoy kay Biazon para hindi naman ito masyadong mapahiya.

Maging ang pangalan ni Sen. Ping Lacson ay isinasawsaw na sa panloob na pulitika. Kesyo mas mapapatino raw ng senador ang BOC kapalit ni Biazon, kahit hindi na ito i-overhaul.

Palitan ni Ping o hindi? Ipasalo sa private sector ang BOC o kung anuman ang maging pinal na kapalaran ng BOC, ayos lang. Lahat ng pwedeng solusyon, gawin na. Malinis lang nang tuluyan ang napakabulok na kultura ng BOC.

Walang masama sa pag-amin ng kabiguan o pagsuko sa misyong iniatang sa kanya. Masasabi pa ngang kapuri-puri ang pagiging tapat ni Biazon, hindi lang sa Pangulo kundi higit sa sarili, nang aminin nitong mas malaking solusyon ang kailangan ng BOC. Solusyong hindi kaya ng pagiging pinuno niya ng ahensya.

Mayroong mga ahensya na napatino, kahit papano, ng simpleng pagpapalit lang ng pinuno. Isa na rito ang Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) at Department of Public Works & Highways (DPWH). Hindi man ganap ang pagkalinis at pagtuwid, may naramdaman namang improvement. Pero merong tulad ng BOC na nangangailangan ng mas mabangis na formula.

Gawin na ang nararapat sa BOC. Panahon na para kalusin ang lahat ng buwayang nabubundat sa ibinubulsang kita at sa mga lintang nakikisipsip sa kaban ng bayan.

I-overhaul ang buong burukrasya ng Customs para isilang ang mga bagong mukha ng tuwid na daan dito.                         

2013 04 15 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor - gcm