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11 sued in sugar smuggle try By Tetch Torres‐Tupas  INQUIRER.net   5:52 pm | Thursday, April 25th, 2013  

MANILA, Philippines–The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Thursday filed smuggling complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against 11 against people including seven officers of a Cebu based Freight service company, two customs brokers, a port dispatcher and a warehouse for attempting to sneak into the country 10 twenty-footer container vans of smuggled sugar from Thailand worth P10 million at the Port of Cebu on November 22, 2012. Named in the complaint were Calorama Freight Services, Inc. (consignee) president Judith Escudero; Directors Democrito Rama, Carolina Rama, Christine Rama, Fatima Qui, Emeline Archival and Shiela Cecilia Ignacio; brokers Junrey Arreglo and Tita Austria, broker; Rodilin Solidarios, port dispatcher and Jesse Yu, warehouse owner. The importation, allegedly misdeclared as plastic parts for eye glasses, arrived at the Port of Cebu on Nov. 22, 2012. The shipment was seized by the bureau’s Enforcement and Security Service. In a statement, customs chief Ruffy Biazon said that the charges are also in relation to the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s Rules and Procedures.   Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/397461/11‐sued‐in‐sugar‐smuggle‐try#ixzz2RX3zQxmG   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 


Militant group renews call of defiance against 'galunggong' fishing ban Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Thursday, 25 April 2013 19:47   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter   THE Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday reiterated its  call  for  people  to  defy  a  proposed  fishing  ban  on  galunggong  (round  scad)  in  Region  4B  (Occidental  Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan provinces, or Mimaropa).  The  militant  group’s  call  came  after  the  Bureau  of  Fisheries  and  Aquatic  Resources  (BFAR)  said  it  is  considering imposing a closed season on the fish, following the success of a sardine‐fishing ban in the  Visayas  Sea  and  Zamboanga  that  was  lifted  last  month,  and  after  it  has  excluded  the  waters  off  Zamboanga from the proposed ban.  According to Pamalakaya Vice Chairman Salvador France, the ban has no legal, moral and political basis.  He suspects it is part of a plan to justify imports of round scad.  “Why ban galunggong fishing in Palawan? There’s enough galunggong in Palawan and other waters of  Mimaropa. Is it because the government wants to import 500,000 metric tons of round scad from China  and  other  [countries]?  Is  it  because  more  US  troops  will  conduct  naval  exercises  in  Palawan?”  France  asked.  He  said  small‐scale  fishermen  should  secure  their  livelihood,  adding  that  the  proposed  ban  would  gravely affect not only the right to livelihood, but also to food.  “The idea [of stopping] galunggong fishing in Palawan is highly unacceptable. There is no situation that  merits  the  ban.  The  [fishermen]  in  Palawan  fish  in  [a]  highly  sustainable  and  pro‐marine  environment  manner. How come officials of the [Department of Agriculture] and [BFAR] are insisting [on] this ban?”  France asked.  Earlier,  leaders  of  Pamalakaya  and  Anakpawis  party‐list  in  Palawan  appealed  to  Agriculture  Secretary  Proceso  J.  Alcala  and  BFAR  Director  Asis  G.  Perez  to  reconsider  the  ban  very  carefully,  saying  it  will  adversely impact tens of thousands of small‐scale fishermen in Palawan and the rest of Mimaropa.  Fishing for galunggong is the primary occupation of fishermen in the province, according to France.  “[Fishermen] can catch as much as 20 kilos of galunggong per fishing trip using simple and sustainable  fishing gear. And the bounty is enjoyed by the communities who are able to buy galunggong for P40 per 


kilo  in  Puerto  Princesa,  which  is  very  low  compared  to  the  P100  per  kilo  of  galunggong  sold  in  Metro  Manila,” the militant groups said.  “Imagine  the  huge  displacement  this  [proposed  ban]  would  bring  to  [fishermen]  and  ordinary  folks  of  Palawan…” they added.  In  Zamboanga  City,  BFAR  Regional  Director  Ahadulla  Sajili  said  the  proposed  ban  would  not  involve  Zamboanga, but will focus more on waters around or near Palawan.  He added that it is yet to be decided when the closed season would be imposed, but it will probably be  after a study on the spawning habits of round scad is conducted.  Sajili said Perez himself is leading the study for the proposed ban.  (With PNA)   http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/12593‐militant‐group‐renews‐call‐ of‐defiance‐against‐galunggong‐fishing‐ban                         


SRA hikes production target By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is raising its sugar production estimate for the year to 2.434 million metric tons (MT) from the inital projection of 2.356 (MT) made during the start of the cropping year. At the start of the crop year, the SRA determined crop production to range between 2.356 million MT to 2.434 million MT. It adopted the lower range of the production outlook as an intial estimate. “With good production figures being reported by our monitoring personnel, the SRA Board deemed it appropriate to adopt at this time the higher range of the estimate,” said SRA administrator Ma. Regina Martin. At the tail end of the current crop year which is expected to end in June, raw sugar sugar production as of April 14, 2013 was placed at 2.295 million MT, up 13.83 percent from 2.016 million MT in the same period last year. Refined sugar production also rose by 10.78 percent from 775,523 MT in April 2012 to 859,131 MT in April 2013.Sugar demand for the current crop year increased as well as expected during the election period. Domestic raw sugar demand as of April 14, 2013 rose 16.20 percent to 1.412 million MT from 1.215 million MT on April 15, 2012. Refined sugar demand also rose 11.65 percent from 551,248 MT in April 2012 to 615,496 MT as of April 14, 2013.Because of the good production, the SRA will not revise its sugar allocation for the current crop year. “With healthy production figures, the SRA Board decided not to adopt any advance swapping or sugar conversion program for the remaining months of the crop year,” said Martin. The SRA adopts sugar conversion programs when it needs to reallocate sugar from a particular classification to another to address supply concerns. In the previous crop year, for instance, the agency adopted the advance swapping of “D” or world market sugar to “A” sugar due to additional US quota volume given to the Philippines.The Philippines will keep its regular US sugar quota of 138,827 MT this year. Domestic demand is placed at 2.03 million MT, while world market requirement is placed at 247,000 MT. Martin is expected to leave for Washington next week to push for the country’s US sugar quota. The US Congress is currently deliberating on the 2013 Farm Bill, which includes provisions to the sugar program, which makes the United States a primary market for Philippine sugar exports. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/04/26/934918/sra‐hikes‐production‐target 


Distribute land now, Luisita farmers ask By Mark Anthony N. Manuel Published: April 25, 2013 Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac – One year after the historic Supreme Court decision ordering the distribution of the land here, farmer-beneficiaries of the agrarian reform program here are calling the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to pave the way for the immediate distribution of land inside this estate by scrapping the promissory note requirement of the agency. The Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) urged the government Wednesday to junk the order of Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes requiring farmer-beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita to sign a written commitment to compensate the owner of the Cojuangco Estate. “DAR should immediately stop putting roadblocks to the distribution of Hacienda Luisita,” the group said. The group said they are set to hold a caravan from San Fernando to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Quezon City on Friday. A march is also scheduled on Times Street in Quezon City, the private residence of President Aquino. Meanwhile, DAR said Tuesday that the distribution of land to farm workers in Hacienda Luisita remains on track. In a statement, the DAR said two crucial stages in the process have been completed – the identification of 6,212 qualified beneficiaries and the segregation survey in the country’s biggest sugar estate. The agency pointed out that with the finalization of the master list and the segregation survey, two of the most difficult steps in the acquisition process were already accomplished. It said that other activities required in the land distribution process, such as the valuation work by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), were right on schedule and near completion. “We remain confident that the Department, despite the inherent difficulties and challenges in the process, will meet its self-imposed deadline of distributing the land to qualified beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita by the middle of this year,” Delos Reyes stressed. The DAR secretary pointed out that the process of identifying the farmer-beneficiaries took up a significant amount of time and resources. They had to deploy additional personnel from various regional offices in order to accomplish this task.


He said that this was a difficult undertaking as they had to check and recheck records from 23 years ago to determine who would be awarded land in Hacienda Luisita. Secretary Delos Reyes explained that since the land is the single largest private landholding to be distributed by the DAR, the survey of the area needed to be given ample time. The DAR recently submitted a report to the Supreme Court detailing all the activities it had undertaken to comply with the Court’s directive to distribute farm lots in Hacienda Luisita to qualified beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=9195&sid=1&subid=1#.UXnZOkprqrE                                     


DAR targets planting of 1.5 million trees Category: Nation   Published on Thursday, 25 April 2013 20:42   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga   THE  Department  of  Agrarian  Reform  (DAR)  is  embarking  on  a  massive  tree‐planting  activity  to  cover  nearly a thousand hectares of public lands in support of the National Greening Program (NGP).  Undersecretary  Rosalina  Bistoyong  of  the  DAR  Special  Programs  and  Agrarian  Reform  Stakeholders  Relations  Office  (Sparsro)  said  the  target  is  to  plant  1.5  million  seedlings  which  farmer‐beneficiaries  themselves will produce.  Bistoyong  said  the  P8.5‐million  program  is  targeting  18  agrarian  reform  communities  (ARCs),  with  the  operations concentrating on at least 50 hectares of public lands within each of communities.  A total of 83,350 seedlings would be planted at each ARC, at a ratio of 1,667 seedlings per hectare, the  official said.          She said the estimated project cost for each ARC is P470,000, about P300,000 of this would go directly  to  the  agrarian  reform‐beneficiaries’  organization  (Arbo),  representing  payment  for  the  seedlings  that  the NGP has contracted the farmer to tend. The seedlings, each costing P3.60, will be planted within the  ARC from which the seedling producing Arbo stays.  “This  is  our  way  of  returning  the  favor  to  our  partner  Arbos  by  providing  them  sources  of  income  through  seedling  production  and  planting  of  fruit  and  other  tree  species  primarily  for  fuel  wood  purposes and other high value crops,” Bistoyong said in a statement.  Besides alleviating rural poverty, Bistoyong said, the project seeks to attain climate‐change resiliency by  encouraging our farmer‐beneficiaries to actively participate in the national greening program. Bistoyong  said the program has four phases.  It starts with the organizational and technical training of Arbos on business and technical aspect of the  NGP, which involves the production of seedlings and subsequent activities, such as the maintenance and  protection of planted seedlings.  Mapping  and  survey  of  proposed  plantation  sites  would  follow,  Bistoyong  said,  adding  that  it  is  important  in  delineating  the  areas  to  be  used  for  seedling  production.  She  said  the  third  phase  is  the  establishment of nursery and plantation sites, which shall be subjected to strict supervision, inspection  and evaluation to ensure the smooth sailing production of the required number of seedlings.   http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/nation/12612‐dar‐targets‐planting‐of‐1‐5‐million‐ trees 


Livestock industry By Nonoy E. Lacson Published: April 26, 2013 Isabela City, Basilan — The provincial government of Basilan has distributed some 50 heads of livestock in an effort to provide the farmers with main source of draft animals to help them in their farming activities in the province. The distribution of livestock was implemented through the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian (OPV) as assistance to the farmers to boost their productivity, and the local livestock industry in the province. Dr. Surhayda T. Aguisanda of the OPV said they have dispersed 10 heads of cattle, 10 heads of carabao, and 30 heads of goat to livestock farmers of Hji. Muhtamad, Akbar, Unkaya Pukan, and Lantawan municipalities, and to the cities of Isabela and Lamitan. Aguisanda said the OPV had also distributed goats to support the development of the dairy goat industry, in an effort to alleviate malnutrition, and increase goat production in the province. The distribution of livestock in the province is part of the provincial government’s program to help improve the living condition of the people in the province. http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=9336&sid=1&subid=5#.UXnrCEprqrE                     


Study: New bird flu jumped directly from chickens By Associated Press (Associated Press) | Updated April 25, 2013 ‐ 11:15pm 

LONDON — Chinese scientists have for the first time found strong evidence of how humans got infected with a new strain of bird flu: from chickens at a live market. In a small study of four patients who caught the new H7N9 virus, Chinese scientists compared swabs from birds at live markets in eastern China to virus samples from patients. The scientists found the virus from one patient was nearly identical to one found in a chicken. The research was published online Thursday in the journal Lancet. Chinese authorities have shut down live poultry markets in many affected regions, which seems to have slowed down the virus. Still, Taiwan reported its first case earlier this week. So far, H7N9 has infected more than 100 people in China and killed more than 20. http://www.philstar.com/world/2013/04/25/935154/study‐new‐bird‐flu‐jumped‐directly‐chickens          ��        


DAR Benguet targets 2013 to finish land distribution Category: Regions   Published on Thursday, 25 April 2013 19:12   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter   LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—The Department of Agrarian Reform in  Benguet  (DAR Benguet) is stepping up  land  acquisition  and  distribution  (LAD)  to  complete  its  balance  of  362  hectares  under  the  Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) by the end of the year.  DAR  Benguet  Provincial  Agrarian  Reform  Officer  Robert  Ampaguey  said  of  the  total  21,000  hectares  public  and  private  agricultural  lands  covered  by  CARP  in  the  province,  only  362  hectares  remain  undistributed,  more  than  half  of  which  are  in  Kapangan  town,  a  fourth‐class  municipality  near  this  booming urban center.  “By 2013, we intend to be LAD‐free,” Ampaguey said.  CARP, he said, has so far benefited 20,000 agrarian‐reform beneficiaries in the province’s 13 towns with  lands and various support services ranging from infrastructure to trainings and seminars to enhance the  various agrarian‐reform communities and farmers’ cooperatives established with the help of the agency.  During the more than two decades of CARP implementation, the DAR was able to establish a total of 16  agrarian reform communities (ARCs) composed of 13 regular ARCs and three special ARCs, he said.  Benguet is one of the top vegetable‐producing provinces in Luzon.  It supplies Metro Manila with high‐ value vegetable crops such as cabbage, carrots and potatoes which are among its major products.  The  province is also known to be rice self‐sufficient.  Currently,  DAR  Benguet  is  focused  on  implementing  various  support  services,  including  the  foreign‐ assisted Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Program (Arisp‐III).  Under  the  program, three municipalities in Benguet, namely, Bacoun, Kibungan and Kapangan receive  support services.  “For Arisp‐III, we have completed two potable water systems already and we have two ongoing farm‐to‐ market roads [FMRs],” he said.  The  P28‐million,  5.2‐kilometer  Bacoun  FMR  is  nearly  complete,  while  the  P36‐million  Lumon‐Gadang  FMR in Kapangan is scheduled for bidding, Ampaguey said. 


CARP was instrumental in boosting the province’s agricultural production over the past two decades, he  said.  The irrigation system the DAR put in place allowed farmers to plant rice and vegetables even during the  dry season.  He  said  one  final  project  under  Arisp‐III  is  the  P10.8‐million  Gadang  Communal  Irrigation  System  rehabilitation  project,  which  aims  to  improve  irrigation  for  over  100  hectares  of  rice  and  vegetable  farms, is ongoing and scheduled to be completed by 2014.  He  said  currently,  DAR  Benguet  is  focused  on  identifying  more  sources  of  water  for  irrigation,  particularly in the town of Kapangan.  http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/regions/12579‐dar‐benguet‐targets‐2013‐to‐ finish‐land‐distribution                         


Noy: No Cabinet revamp, but there’s room for improvement By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – President Aquino has nixed plans to change members of his Cabinet but said that any improvement to make them more efficient was most welcome. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, Aquino said, “You start with a premise that you are all imperfect beings and you can always improve.” Aquino said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) under Secretary Rogelio Singson and the Department of Agriculture (DA) under Secretary Proceso Alcala are among the top performing agencies in his administration. Aquino recognized the DPWH for its ability to lower the bid prices on most of its projects and the DA for its successful production and domestic marketing of rice that enabled the country to be self-sufficient and a potential exporter of this particular commodity. “The bottom line, we’re really open to improving all of the processes that we need to have greater efficiency,” he said. “Sorry, I’m an economist by training, so maximum utility of each input is the mantra.” http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/04/26/935045/noy‐no‐cabinet‐revamp‐theres‐room‐ improvement     


President cites Singson, Alcala as top performers   Published on 25 April 2013   Hits: 169   Written by CATHERINE S. VALENTE     

President Benigno Aquino 3rd has no plans to change the members of his official family for now. “Unless somebody decided na ayaw ko na [Unless somebody decided to quit],” Mr. Aquino said, noting that he would rather welcome any improvement or evaluation of the accomplishments of the various departments and agencies in his government, that would make them more progressive. “Pero [But], bottom line, we’re really open to improving all of the processes that we need to have greater efficiency,” he said “Sorry, economist ako by training [I am economist by training], so maximum utility of each input is the mantra,” he added On one hand, the President said that the Cabinet officials continue to be efficient in their duties. However, he said that on the evaluation process, one should “start with a premise that you are all imperfect beings and you can always improve.” Mr. Aquino recognized in particular the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) headed by Secretary Rogelio Singson and Department of Agriculture (DA) led by Secretary Proceso Alcala as among the top performing agencies in his administration. He acknowledged the DPWH for its ability to lower the bid prices on most of its projects and the DA for its successful production and domestic marketing of rice that enabled the country to be self-sufficient and a potential exporter of this particular commodity. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/nation/46192‐president‐cites‐singson‐alcala‐as‐top‐ performers       


BPI inulan ng protesta  (Armida Rico)

Nagsagawa ng kilos-protesta ang iba’t ibang samahan ng mga magsasaka, importers, kooperatiba at consumers upang kondenahin ang umano’y patuloy na pagpapalawig sa mga paso o expired ng import permit sa harapan ng tanggapan ng Bureau of Plants Industry (BPI) kahapon ng umaga sa Malate, Manila. Hawak ang mga placards, nagpiket ang mga miyembro ng Kampilan (Kilusan ng Mamimiling Pilipino Laban sa Kahirapan) sa harapan ng Bureau of Plants Industry sa Maynila upang ipakita ang matinding pagtutol laban sa ipinaiiral na No Import Permit ng bawang. Tinuligsa rin ng naturang grupo ang diumano’y talamak na kurapsyon sa ahensya. (Mike Perez)

Ayon kay Ret. Commodore Ismael Aparri, pangulo ng Kilusan ng Mamimiling Pilipino Laban sa Kahirapan (KAMPILAN), inakala nila na ang ginawang pagbawi ni BPI Director Clarito Barron sa inilabas na memorandum na nagsususpinde sa pagkakaloob ng import permit ng bawang ay makatotohanan subalit mula Mayo ng taong 2012 ay halos walang import permit na inilabas ang tanggapan.

Ikinatuwiran umano ni Barron na ang makabagong pamamaraan sa pag-aapply ng import permit ay isang hakbang upang mabigyan ng proteksyon ang mga pobreng magsasaka na nagtatanim ng lokal na bawang.

Gayunman, sa kabila ng kawalan ng bagong import permit na inilabas ang BPI, sangkaterba namang mga expired o paso ng import permit ang pinalawig o binigyan ng extension na ipinagkaloob lamang sa isang grupo na pinapaborang importer.

http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/apr2613/crimes06.htm   


Catching of ‘galunggong’ allowed in Zambaoanga By Rio N. Araja | Posted on Apr. 26, 2013 at 12:01am | 276 views Zamboanga is spared the ban on catching galunggong, or round scad, this year. Ahadulla Sajili, regional director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said the government has excluded the seas off Zamboanga from its proposal to ban the catching of the popular table fish. “The ban against the fishing of galunggong will not involve Zamboanga, but will focus more on the waters around or near Palawan,” he said. The bureau earlier imposed restriction on sardines or tamban in the Sulu Sea and waters off the Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi Tawi. Palawan is the source of galunggong for the Visayan and Luzon market and canneries. Sajili said the period of the closed season “will be decided after a study on the spawning habits of galunggong” under executive director Asis Perez. While the ban against the fishing of sardines resulted in the suspension of work of 11 canneries and 14 fishing fleets based in this city, Sajili said the period allowed sardines to spawn and multiply. At least 30,000 workers in canneries and fishing fleets were jobless for three months. Sajili said canneries need herring aside from scad and sardines. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/04/26/catching‐of‐galunggong‐allowed‐in‐zambaoanga/             


Firm backs gov’t forestry program Published: April 25, 2013 Reforestation is an activity that is not undertaken only during “Earth Day” celebrations. This was stressed by Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) that advocates responsible minerals development and is committed to protecting the environment and rehabilitating the land that will be impacted by the mining project. SMI said it supports the government’s Community Based Forestry Management (CBFM) program by providing funds to reforest denuded or barren areas and improve forest cover in Regions 11 and 12. The mining firm established two plant nurseries that produced a total of 800,000 seedlings distributed and planted across the two regions. SMI said it will intensify its reforestation efforts to support the CBFM. Four CBFM areas in South Cotabato benefited from SMI assistance. The 82-hectare CBFM in Balasiao received P2.2M while Danlag was funded with P2.2 for its 80-hectare forestry area. Last year, SMI supported Barangays Buto and Palo in Tampakan by pouring in P3 million in Tampakan for reforesting a 100-hectare forestry area. SMI holds a government financial and technical contract to develop the $5.9-billion Tampakan Gold-Copper Project in Tampakan, South Cotabato. In November 2012, SMI received its 5th overall Presidential Mineral Industry Environment Award (PMIEA) for Mineral Exploration. The PMIEA is the highest award to a mining company in the Philippines. The award recognizes a mining company’s initiatives in health and safety, environmental management, community development, and stakeholder communication and engagement. http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=9144&sid=1&subid=7#.UXns_UprqrE             


P1.2-B worth of smuggled rice seized in Cebu By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs (BOC) announced yesterday the seizure of P1.2 billion worth of alleged smuggled rice in Cebu. In a statement, BOC deputy commissioner Danilo Lim said they netted 1,194 units of 20-footer container vans that came in through the Port of Cebu from March 18 until April 2. It was the biggest seizure of smuggled rice for the agency. The huge shipment was covered by 151 alert orders issued by Lim. The estimated 500,000 sacks of alleged smuggled rice, that came from Vietnam, was consigned to eight different companies: JJM Global Trading, JM-ARS Trading, Neon Gateway Trading, Ocean Park Enterprises, Custans Enterprises, Melma Enterprises, NMW Enterprises, and MMSM Trading. The illegal shipment were misdeclared as stone slabs, ceiling insulator slabs, granite slabs and wall insulator slabs. “This is the biggest smuggled rice hauled in the history of the bureau. This is the mother of all smuggled rice. We’ve hit the mother lode,” said Lim who inspected the shipment with Edward de la Cuesta, district collector of BOC Port of Cebu. The rice shipment in Cebu was bigger than the shipment also seized in Subic early this year. “Had these illegal rice shipments been able to get through Customs gates, the government could have lost P600 million in duties and taxes,” Lim said. They apprehended the shipment for reportedly violating provisions of the Tariffs and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP). – With Mitchelle Palaubsanon/Freeman http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/04/26/935052/p1.2‐b‐worth‐smuggled‐rice‐seized‐cebu             


Asia on guard as Taiwan reports first bird flu case Agence France‐Presse   6:04 am | Friday, April 26th, 2013  

 

A Taiwanese woman buys chicken at a market in Taipei, Taiwan, Thursday, April 25, 2013. Taiwan has confirmed its first case of a new deadly strain of bird flu. The Centers for Disease Control said Wednesday that a 53-year-old man became sick with the H7N9 bird flu virus after returning from a visit to the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu on April 9. AP PHOTO/CHIANG YING-YING TAIPEI—Asian countries on Thursday urged renewed vigilance against a spread of H7N9 bird flu after Taiwan reported a case of the deadly strain, the world’s first outside mainland China. The self-governing island urged its residents to take “enhanced precautions” when visiting China—placing Shanghai, Beijing and five Chinese provinces on particular alert for travelers after at least 22 deaths were confirmed there. Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed on Wednesday that a 53-year-old Taiwanese man, who had been working in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou, showed symptoms three days after returning home via Shanghai on April 9. The man, who was infected in China, has been hospitalized since April 16 and is in a serious but stable condition, it said. There have been 111 confirmed cases of human infection with H7N9 avian influenza in China, including the fatalities, figures from Chinese authorities and the World Health Organization show. The WHO maintained its global advisory for combating the bird flu, urging against contact with live poultry but not recommending any restrictions against travel to China.


The “enhanced precautions” urged by Taiwan’s CDC were in line with WHO advice, counseling people to avoid going to poultry markets, stay away from anyone with a fever and eat only thoroughly cooked bird meat and eggs. WHO experts said on Wednesday that H7N9 was a particularly lethal influenza virus but that there was no proof yet of sustained transmission between humans. Chinese researchers reporting in The Lancet on Thursday confirmed poultry as a source of the virus and also said they found no evidence of person-to-person transmission. Asian nations stressed they had measures in place, pioneered during a deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) a decade ago, but appealed to their citizens to heed the WHO guidelines in light of the Taiwan case. “Our healthcare institutions remain on heightened alert and are prepared for the eventuality of a possible case, especially given today’s globalized travel patterns,” Singapore’s health ministry said in a statement. Many Asian countries including China’s neighbors Japan and South Korea are anticipating an influx of Chinese tourists during next week over the Labor Day holiday. Japan’s foreign ministry reissued a travel advisory to citizens planning to visit China or Taiwan, warning them to stay away from bird farms and wear masks in crowded areas. Reviving a SARS-era precaution, Japan has been checking inbound travelers with body temperature monitors as it gears up for the “Golden Week” spring vacation starting next week. “We are taking every possible measure just in case,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Thursday. South Korea, Hong Kong and the Philippines have also resumed using thermal scanners at their main ports of entry to detect anyone arriving with a fever. Municipal authorities in South Korea have designated a network of clinics and hospitals to quickly test and treat potential patients. Teams of cleaners are ensuring that public venues are regularly wiped with disinfectant. Lyndon Leesuy, the Philippine health department’s manager for emerging diseases, said his own government’s precautions including a ban on Chinese poultry imports were routine. “We do not want to create panic,” he told AFP. Taiwan said it was bringing forward plans to ban the killing of live poultry in traditional markets by a month, to May 17.


Under the ban, market vendors will not be allowed to sell birds they have killed themselves, only poultry supplied from Taiwan’s 79 approved slaughterhouses. There are about 870,000 Taiwanese people living in China. Trade and cross-strait travel have soared in recent years after decades of tension since the two sides split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.—Amber Wang   Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/397623/asia‐on‐guard‐as‐taiwan‐reports‐first‐bird‐flu‐ case#ixzz2RX26Y2aF                                        


Bangko Sentral keeps policy rates   Category: Top News   Published on Thursday, 25 April 2013 21:22   Written by Dennis D. Estopace / Reporter   The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) kept its policy rates unchanged on Thursday but reduced the rates  on  its  special  deposit  accounts  (SDAs)  as  monetary  officials  remained  bullish  that  the  BSP  can  meet  inflation targets.  In a statement read after a Monetary Board (MB) meeting, BSP Officer in Charge Nestor A. Espenilla Jr.  said  the  officials  “decided  to  maintain  the  BSP’s  key  policy  interest  rates  at  3.50  percent  for  the  overnight  borrowing  or  reverse  repurchase  facility  and  5.50  percent  for  the  overnight  lending  or  repurchase facility.”  Espenilla added that the MB also decided to keep steady the reserve requirement ratios.  The board also reduced for the third time the interest rates on the SDAs by 50 basis points to 2 percent  “across all tenors, effective immediately.”  Espenilla explained that monetary authorities decided to maintain policy interest rates at current levels  because  “the  inflation  environment  is  likely  to  remain  manageable  over  the  policy  horizon,  with  expectations firmly anchored within the inflation target band.”  “The projected inflation path continues to track the lower half of the 4 ± 1 percent target range for 2013  and 2014. Moreover, the risks to the inflation outlook remain evenly balanced,” he said.  According to Espenilla, there are two downside risks to the broad outlook for prices: uncertainty over  the strength of the global economy and the relative firmness of the peso.  BSP  Deputy  Governor  Diwa  Guinigundo,  in  a  huddle  with  reporters  after  a  press  conference,  said  the  peso’s strength is driven by these externalities.  “It reacted to the problems of Cyprus, it reacted on the Boston bombings, however slightly,” Guinigundo  added, noting that the adjustment of the peso’s strength is still within the expected band.  He said they are monitoring the debates gripping France’s austerity program and its effect on the peso.  Aside  from  the  peso’s  upward  pressure  risks,  Espenilla  added  that  other  sources  might  come  from  “power  rate  adjustments  and  the  possibility  of  a  sustained  surge  in  liquidity  owing  to  strong  capital  inflows.” 


Still,  he  said,  the  MB  “noted  that  the  benign  inflation  environment  and  robust  domestic  growth  prospects provided scope for further enhancing the efficiency of the operations for absorbing liquidity  through the SDA facility.”  “The adjustment is in line with the BSP’s continuing efforts to fine‐tune its monetary policy instruments  and  thereby  gain  greater  flexibility  in  conducting  monetary  operations,  and  also  to  ensure  adequate  liquidity for economic activity.”  http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐news/12624‐bangko‐sentral‐keeps‐policy‐ rates                                       


Icao team sizes up PHL readiness vs bird flu   Category: Top News   Published on Thursday, 25 April 2013 21:14   Written by Recto Mercene / Reporter   Forty‐five members of the International Civil Aviation Organization headed by Dr. Anthony D.B. Evans,  chief  of  Icao’s  medicine  section,  visited  the  Ninoy  Aquino  International  Airport  (Naia)  on  Thursday  to  observe  how  the  Philippines’s  premier  airport  could  detect  and  respond  to  a  new  strain  of  the  novel  corona influenza A H7N9 virus.  The visit came as Taiwan confirmed, also on Thursday, an H7N9 bird‐flu infection in a traveler returning  to the island from China, the first incidence of the killer virus spreading outside the mainland.  An outbreak of high‐pathogenicity avian influenza H7N7 virus in 255 poultry farms in the Netherlands in  2003 has been used to provide clues about the current avian influenza H7N9 viruses in China.  There has been one fatal infection of the H7N9 virus in China.  The H7N9 virus supposedly is not spread from one person to another, but this observation suggests that  the virus is widespread in poultry in China and that there have been multiple introductions into humans.  The  Icao  team  wanted  to  find  out  if  Naia  can  easily  detect  infected  persons  arriving  from  abroad  and  what precautions are being taken by authorities to respond to apparent threat from the H7N9 virus.  Naia Terminal 1 Manager Dante Basante, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) flight surgeon  Dr.  Rolly  Bayaban,  Immigration  Operations  chief  Ben  Se,  Human  Quarantine  Officer  in  Charge  Dr.  Alexander  Oba  and  Customs  Deputy  Collector  Teresita  Roque  briefed  the  delegation.  The  visitors  also  toured the Manila Control Tower.  Basanta  said  Naia  has  always  been  prepared  for  any  medical  emergency  and  assistance  in  connection  with the spread of any virus from abroad. Oba showed the Icao team the thermal scanners that airport  authorities  have  deployed  since  the  outbreak  of  Severe  Acute  Respiratory  Syndrome  (SARS)  in  Hong  Kong and China some years back.  The team’s visit is part of the four‐day meeting of Icao highlighting activities in the other Icao regions,  recent  developments  and  implementation  of  World  Health  Organization  (WHO)‐International  Health  Regulations  (IHR)  2005,  Business  Continuity  Planning  for  airports  and  carriers,  country  experiences  in  preparedness planning and response and updates on the Novel corona influenza A H7N9 virus.  The traveler found to be infected with the H7N9 virus was identified as a 53‐year‐old Taiwanese man,  who  tested  positive  for  the  strain  of  avian  flu  after  a  business  trip  to  the  eastern  city  of  Suzhou  and  returning  to  the  island  via  Shanghai,  Minister  of  Health  Chiu  Wen‐ta  said  at  a  briefing  in  Taipei  on 


Thursday.  The  patient,  who  is  in  critical  condition  in  an  isolation  room,  didn’t  come  into  contact  with  birds and poultry, Chiu added.  The first discovery of the virus outside China, 10 years after an outbreak of SARS, may lead to increased  scrutiny  of  travelers  into  and  out  of  the  country.  Taiwan’s  largest  trade  partner  is  battling  to  control  spreading  of  the  virus,  which  has  killed  23,  according  to  data  compiled  by  Bloomberg  from  reports  released by the government and the WHO.  “With any new influenza virus that emerges, the concern is that it could genetically mutate to become  easily transmissible between human beings,” Raina MacIntyre, a professor of infectious diseases at the  University  of  New  South  Wales,  said  in  an  interview  before  the  announcement  of  Taiwan’s  confirmed  case.  “With  all  past  pandemics,  and  even  with  SARS,  they  were  spread  around  the  world  by  travel.”  Suzhou is in Jiangsu province, where more than 20 cases of the new bird flu strain have been reported.  China has tallied 109 infections since the virus was discovered in March.  Taiwan’s  Centers  for  Disease  Control  (CDC)  said  in  a  statement  that  the  infected  male  “had  not  been  exposed to birds and poultry during his stay in Suzhou and had not consumed undercooked poultry or  eggs.” He developed his illness three days after returning to Taiwan and came in contact with at least  139 people including 110 hospital workers, according to the CDC.  Authorities  are  monitoring  three  medical  personnel  who  exhibited  symptoms  of  upper  respiratory  infection  after  coming  in  contact  with  the  patient  wearing  protective  gear,  it  said.  Three  others  who  came  in  contact  without  wearing  protective  gear  have  shown  no  symptoms,  and  are  also  being  monitored.  On human‐to‐human transmission, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” said Ian Mackay,  an associate professor of clinical virology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, in an e‐mail late  Wednesday.  The  SARS  virus,  which  killed  more  than  770  worldwide,  arrived  in  Taiwan  from  China  in  February 2003 before infecting 346 people locally. There’s no evidence that H7N9 is easily transmitted  among people, the WHO has said.  Infection control in Taiwan works fast as a result of its previous experience with SARS, Minister of Health  Chiu  told  Bloomberg  News.  The  discovery  of  H7N9  comes  exactly  a  decade  after  SARS  forced  a  shutdown and quarantine of an entire Taipei hospital. Administrators at Hoping Hospital were tried in  court and found not guilty of an alleged cover‐up of infections that led to the spread of the virus, the  Taipei‐based Liberty Times reported.  Bloomberg News  http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐news/12620‐icao‐team‐sizes‐up‐phl‐ readiness‐vs‐bird‐flu   


New $100 bill out in October Published: April 26, 2013 Washington (AP) – The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it will begin circulating a redesigned $100 bill this fall, more than two years after its initial target. The Fed has set a new target date of Oct. 8. The redesigned note incorporates added security features, such as a blue, 3-D security ribbon and a disappearing Liberty Bell in an inkwell. The features are designed to thwart counterfeiters. The revamped bill had been expected to go into circulation in February, 2011. But in December, 2010, officials announced an indefinite delay. They said they needed more time to fix production issues that left unwanted creases in many of the notes. “We made numerous process changes to address the creasing issue and we are back in full production,'' said Dawn Haley, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Haley said those changes included modifying the paper feeder on the printing presses to accommodate variations in the paper associated with the 3-D security ribbon. The blue security ribbon is composed of thousands of tiny lenses. Those lenses magnify the objects underneath them to make them appear to be moving in the opposite direction from the way the bill is being moved. Benjamin Franklin portrait will remain on the $100 bill, the highest value denomination in general circulation. It is also the most frequent target of counterfeiters. The $100 bill is the last note to undergo an extensive redesign aimed at thwarting counterfeiters with ever-more sophisticated copying machines. The redesigns began in 2003 when the government added splashes of color to the $20 bill. That makeover was followed by redesigns for the $50, $10 and $5 bills. The $1 bill isn't getting a makeover. An extensive public education effort is planned for businesses and consumers around the world to raise awareness about the new design and provide information on how to use the new security features. Fed officials said information about the redesigned $100 can be found at www.newmoney.gov . http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=9310&sid=2&subid=9#.UXnyq0prqrE         


Discount on rice seed set Published: April 25, 2013 This coming wet season cropping, farmers in selected major rice-producing provinces in Luzon will enjoy a P300 per five-kilo (P1,200 per 20 kilos) hybrid rice seed discount which will enable them to help boost local rice production this year. The seed discount is extended by Philippine’s pioneer hybrid rice seed producer SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC) to the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac and the provinces in Ilocos Region. The said provinces have been identified for their potential to yield substantially more than what they used to harvest during the wet season. “They say hybrid rice is not good for wet season. But farmers that continue to use SL-8H during the wet season harvest higher than inbred, although of course you don’t expect to yield 200 to 250 cavans. But they will yield 120 to 150, so that’s still better than 60 to 80 cavans,” said SLAC Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong. Based from their experience, farmers have been veering away from planting hybrid seeds in the wet season due to bacterial leaf blight (BLB) disease. However, SLAC recommends a specific protocol in hybrid rice production for the wet season to minimize the occurrence of BLB. These include thorough land preparation and removal of weeds; transplanting of the seedlings 18 to 21 days after sowing; good drainage; reduced nitrogen fertilization at 80 to 115 kilos per hectare; and proper use of bactericides and fungicides. In line with its efforts in continuously developing technologies to help farmers maintain high yields in the wet season, SLAC has developed a new BLB-resistant hybrid variety, SL-18H . The variety yielded as much as 235 cavans (11.75 metric tons) per hectare in Bohol where it was planted in last year’s wet season cropping. Several technology demonstration areas in Cagayan Valley, Davao del Sur, and South Cotabato have also shown good performance of SL-18H in the wet season. The variety has finished two croppings of field tests – the wet season of 2012 and the dry season of 2103 – under the National Cooperative Testing (NCT), and is expected to receive certification for commercial planting from the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC) next year. — Melpha M. Abello http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=9099&sid=7&subid=45#.UXnz8EprqrE   


Sugar agency raises production estimate for crop year Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Thursday, 25 April 2013 19:46   Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent   THE Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has increased its sugar production estimate for the current  crop year in expectation of a bigger harvest.  In  a�� statement,  SRA  Administrator  Ma.  Regina  Bautista‐Martin  said  the  new  estimate  is  2.434  million  metric tons (MMT), much higher than the previous 2.356 MMT for the crop year ending in August.  “The latest production figure is still within the range of SRA’s crop estimate this year,” Martin said.  At the start of crop year 2012‐2013, the SRA set sugar production between  2.356 MMT and 2.434 MMT,  but decided to adopt the lower estimate.  “But with good production figures being reported by our monitoring personnel, the SRA board deemed  it appropriate to adopt at this time the higher range of the estimate,” Martin explained.  According  to  the  SRA  chief,  her  agency  will  not  adopt  an  advance  swapping  program  or  revise  its  allocation for sugar for the remaining months of the current crop year.   “We are at the tail‐end of the milling period. And records from our regulation department showed that  from the start of the crop year, out production and demand of sugar, both raw and refined, have been  consistently up from last year’s data,” she said.  As  of  April  14,  raw‐sugar  production  is  2.295  MMT,  13.83  percent  higher  than  last  year’s  output.  Refined‐sugar production is also up by 10.78 percent to 859,131 MT from last year’s 775,523 MT.  “With  healthy  production  figures,  the  SRA  board  has  decided  not  to  adopt  any  advance  swapping  or  sugar conversion program for the remaining months of the crop year 2012‐2013,” Martin said.  On  several  occasions,  the  SRA  resorted  to  advance  swapping  of  the  sweetener  since  it  needed  to  re‐ allocate sugar from one classification to another to address supply concerns.  In  the  previous  crop  year,  the  agency  adopted  the  advance  swapping  of  “D”  sugar  quedan  or  world‐ market sugar to “A” sugar quedan due to additional US quota volume.  Martin said sugar demand continues to increase because of next month’s midterm elections. 


Domestic  raw‐sugar  demand  jumped  16.20  percent  to  1.412  MMT  in  the  week  ending  April  14  from  1.215 MMT in the same period last year.  The  SRA  administrator  is  expected  to  leave  for  Washington  next  week  to  lobby  for  the  country’s  US  sugar quota.  The US Congress is currently deliberating on the 2013 Farm Bill, which includes provisions in the sugar  program.  One  of  the  topics  to  be  discussed  during  the  meeting  is  the  US  general  system  of  preferences  (GSP),  which will expire on July 31, 2013.  Under the GSP, select Philippine exports, including raw sugar, are allowed to enter the US duty‐free.  http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/12592‐sugar‐agency‐raises‐ production‐estimate‐for‐crop‐year                               


Luisita farmers protest By Wilfredo A. Villareal | Posted on Apr. 26, 2013 at 12:02am | 1,037 views City of San Fernando — Around 300 of the over 6,000 farmer beneficiaries of the Aquino-Cojuangco family’s Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, including their supporters, hit the road Thursday for the third day of their four-day caravan to Malacañang to press the Aquino administration to finally distribute the land to them as ordered by the Supreme Court. The farmers have called President Benigno Aquino Jr. a “locust” or pest to peasants for allegedly reneging on his promise in February to finally distribute the 4,915-hectare hacienda to its beneficiaries. “We regard Aquino as a pest for denying us our right to our land,” said Flor Sibayan, vice chairwoman of the group Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita. The farmers started their caravan in Capas, Tarlac, on April 24 and motored to Angeles City for a night of vigil and protest. They then motored to the City of San Fernando on April 25, made stops in Bulacan, and then headed for the Department of Agrarian Reform in the Quezon City for another night of vigil and protest. The farmers will March on Mendiola on the fourth and final day of their protest to bring their complaint to Malacañang. “There are many reasons why we need to denounce Aquino because we cannot expect anything from him,” Sibayan said. “He is also instrumental in land-grabbing and the disenfranchisement of peasants not only in Central Luzon but the whole country.” Lito Bais, chairman of the Lusisita Workers Union, said it had been a year since the Supreme Court ordered Hacienda Luisita to be distributed to its beneficiaries. “We cannot trust the DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform] to distribute the land as it is clearly an instrument of the Cojuangco-Aquinos to perpetuate their control over our lands,” he said. Joseph Canlas, chairman of the group Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, said the peasants could not expect Hacienda Luisita to be distributed because the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program was a sham. “The bogus CARP is the biggest stumbling block to Hacienda Luisita’s distribution,” said Willy Marbella, deputy secretary general of the group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

  http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/04/26/luisita‐farmers‐protest/ 


Govt studies 3 options for Naia By Lailany P. Gomez | Posted on Apr. 26, 2013 at 12:01am | 134 views

The Transportation Department will submit to President Benigno Aquino III three proposals to improve the airport system, including a plan to sell the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport and make Clark International Airport the main gateway in Luzon. “We are aware that the public needs us to make major policy decisions that not only have corresponding infrastructure requirements but impact the normal course of business,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said. Abaya said the department was studying three options. The first option involves a single airport system, in which the government would shut down and sell the congested Naia and develop the CIA in Pampanga. Abaya, however, conceded that the proposal to move all of Naia’s current operations to CIA within the next five to seven years had elicited various reactions from different stakeholders. He said the second option involved a twin or dual system, wherein the government would develop Clark and at the same time maximize the operations of Naia until 2025. “We will be seeking approval from the President to expand and promote Clark, while at the same time continuing the ongoing improvements and upgrades that will maximize Naia’s capacity. The studies we’ve been doing show that both can operate at the same time without compromising commercial viability,” he said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/04/26/govt‐studies‐3‐options‐for‐naia/         


Credit group meets By MST Business | Posted on Apr. 26, 2013 at 12:00am | 74 views

The Credit Management Association of the Philippines will hold the 32nd National Credit Congress today at the Makati Sports Club to coincide with the 81st Anniversary of CMAP. CMAP president Oscar Gumabay of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. and Luis Arriola, chairman of the National Credit Congress, announced this year’s theme is “CMAP As Partner in Sustaining Economic Growth.” The first part of the Congress is the annual election meeting at 10:30 a.m., followed by the launching of the CMAP Web site and the CMAP Online Search. The opening plenary session follows with the keynote address of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/04/26/credit‐group‐meets/                           


Senior citizens’ untapped vote By Horace Templo | Posted on Apr. 26, 2013 at 12:01am | 440 views 1

Instead of “elderly,” most of us 7 million Filipinos over 60 years old would rather be called “senior citizens” in accordance with the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010. As senior citizens, we can demand, as a matter of right, any of the numerous discounts and value-added tax exemptions that are enumerated in the ESCA. As elderly, we get respect and queuing priority in riding public transports but these are non-monetary courtesies. In our materialistic society, our senior citizen’s card has become an indispensable economic possession. But had we estimated beforehand the total discounts that well-off senior citizens would enjoy in medicine, food and travel purchases, and determined their total impact on business and government revenues, we might have hesitated expanding the definition of senior citizens. In the 1992 law, they must have less than P60,000 in annual income. These discounts are passed on to younger customers while the VAT exemptions are deducted from government tax remittances. ESCA’s reason for being seems to be its grant of discounts. ESCA’s main implementor, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, has relegated to the sideline the more essential P500 social pension for all indigent senior citizens. To begin with, the amount is way below the $1 a day universal threshold of extreme poverty, which is presently equivalent to P1,200 a month. Worse, in a sad case of age and bureaucratic discrimination, DSWD has disenfranchised the indigent senior citizens who are not yet 77 years old. As alibi for violating ESCA, it has cited the insufficient budget allocation – P1.532 billion in 2013. Yet it fights tirelessly for the budgetary allocation of the unlegislated conditional cash transfer. With a consenting President, it has for CCT forked out P44.255 billion from the current annual budget.


The President recently disappointed the country’s poor, now 28 percent of the population, by vetoing the Magna Carta of the Poor. According to him, “the government lacks sufficient funding to make the law a practical solution to the problem of poverty in the country.” Was he thinking of ESCA’s inadequately funded P500 social pension? He was a boy crying “Wolf!” when he warned that the government would be sued for unfulfilled promises. Indigent senior citizens were not even mentioned in this Magna Carta. Like a traditional politician, the President left a glimmer of hope by instructing his Cabinet to draft a Malacañang version. Did he mean his version? Did the bill authorship by non-administration legislators precipitate the veto? Conveniently, he required that his version should meet “the needs of the poor while sustaining the country’s economic growth.” Does he really believe that one stone can hit two birds? The needs of the poor are more important than economic growth. His statements looked like copies of the legal provisions concerning pension adjustments. ESCA mandates that the benefits of the “retirees from both the government and the private sector shall be regularly reviewed to ensure their continuing responsiveness and sustainability, and to the extent practicable and feasible, shall be upgraded to be at par with the current scale enjoyed by those in actual service.” The P500 social pension is “subject to a review every two (2) years by Congress, in consultation with the DSWD.” ESCA became effective in February 2010. Where is the review? The Social Security Law of 1997 mandates SSS “to provide for feasible increases in benefits every four (4) years, … subject to the approval of the President of the Philippines: Provided, That the actuarial soundness of the reserve fund shall be guaranteed: Provided, further, That such increases in benefits shall not require any increase in the rate of contribution.” If SSS must comply literally with these restrictive conditions, the pensioners would never get another increase after their last in September 2007. These provisions must be implemented by the pension administrators following the timelines of the laws that govern their programs. No new laws are needed. Ironically, senior citizens occupy most of the positions of influence that decide


pension increases. To their credit, they do not espouse openly their own sectoral interests. Instead, they balance the interests of all contending sectors. By the government’s estimate, senior citizens comprise about 7.2 percent of the total population and 11.7 percent of the voting population. Thus, the senior citizens’ vote is no longer insignificant. It would continue to grow. If only it is solid, then it can swing the outcome of any tightly contested election. Unfortunately, senior citizens remain unorganized despite the establishment in all cities and municipalities of an Office for Senior Citizens Affairs, the head of which is appointed by the mayor. The coming May elections would give a measure of their current political weight. The Roman Catholic Church, labor, environmentalists, women, and other sectors have been forced to fight in the electoral arena for their doctrines, rights and advocacies. Perhaps there has never been an issue that was sufficient to unify the senior citizens, their vote remains dispersed. But despite being an untapped political base, the senior citizens, or the elderly, deserve nonetheless to always receive caring service from our government. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/04/26/senior‐citizens‐untapped‐vote/                     


Phoenix head faces P5-B smuggling rap Published on 25 April 2013  Hits: 322  Written by Jomar Canlas Senior Reporter 

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the filing of a smuggling complaint against the president of Phoenix Petroleum and a customs broker for the fraudulent importation of gas, unleaded gasoline and petroleum products worth P5 billion at the Port of Davao and at the sub-port in Bauan, Batangas. The DOJ, through Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, found probable cause to file charges against Dennis Ang Uy, Phoenix Petroleum president and Jorlan Cabanes, custom broker for the illegal importation of petroleum products which supposedly occurred between June 2010 and April 2011. The DOJ is set to file the complaint before the Court of Tax Appeals. In the resolution dated April 24, the department said Uy and Cabanes had “personal knowledge and direct participation in the operations of Phoenix Petroleum, including the processing and release of shipments that were abandoned in favor of the government.” On January 14, 2012 and on November 16, 2012, the DOJ ruled in favor of Phoenix, dismissing the smuggling complaint filed against the company by the BOC. The customs bureau however filed a motion for reconsideration. The DOJ reversed its decision after the bureau submitted proof showing that the documents submitted by Phoenix last years contained “discrepancies and inconsistencies.” The DOJ held that the two officers should be charged for the offense as the “acts could not have been perpetrated without connivance of BOC officials and employees.” The resolution said Uy and Cabanes will be charged with violation of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines. Arellano directed DOJ prosecutors to expedite the filing of smuggling complaint


against the two. The panel handling the case was given 10 days to report on the action they have taken. Meanwhile, the BOC filed a complaint on Thursday with the DOJ against 11 suspected smugglers for attempting to smuggle 10 container vans of sugar from Thailand worth P10 million at the Port of Cebu on November 22, 2012. The Customs bureau said those behind the attempted smuggling should be imprisoned in line with their Run After The Smugglers (RATS) program. “This act is already considered as an economic sabotage,” Deputy Commissioner Peter Mansano said. Seven of those charged are officers of the Calorama Freight Services Inc., two are customs brokers, one is a port dispatcher, and another is a warehouse owner. They were identified as Judith Escuadro, president of the Calorama Freight Services, Directors Democrito Rama, Carolina Rama, Christine Rama, Fatima Qui, Emeline Archival, Sheila Cecilia Ignacio, together with customs brokers Junrey Arreglo and Tita Austria, port dispatcher Rodilin Solidarios, and warehouse owner Jesse Yu. They are facing charges for smuggling and declaring five container vans of imported sugar as marble and granite products and another five container vans as plastic parts of eyeglasses. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/top‐stories/46218‐phoenix‐head‐faces‐p5‐b‐smuggling‐ rap               


Posted on April 25, 2013 10:40:35 PM By Diane Claire J. Jiao, Senior Reporter

Growth support boosted   POLICY RATES were kept on hold while interest rates on special deposit accounts (SDA) were cut further in the Monetary Board meeting yesterday, aligned with market expectations.   The policy-making body of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) maintained key rates at record lows of 3.5% and 5.5% for overnight borrowing and lending, respectively. SDA rates were slashed anew by 50 basis points to 2% from 2.5% across all tenors. Following the cuts in January and March, SDA rates have been taken down by a total of 150 basis points this year. A BusinessWorld poll of nine analysts had forecast such outcome from yesterday’s policy meeting, although they were divided on whether this would be the last SDA rate cut in a while. BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo refused to rule out the possibility, but said authorities would first have to consider “all the data points.” As with the earlier SDA rate cuts, the latest one was enabled by a benign inflation environment. With price increases tame, there was room to push out funds from savings and into the financial system. This, in turn, would support consumption and investment, buoying the economy, Mr. Guinigundo said. INFLATION FORECAST CUT The BSP also revised its inflation forecast for this year to 3.2% from 3.3% to reflect the impact of lower oil prices in the international market. Inflation may climb to 3.4% in 2014 -- higher than the 3.3% initially projected -amid power rate increases. Nevertheless, both estimates fell at the lower end of the BSP’s 3-5% target range.


Mr. Guinigundo played down concerns that, with interest rates at record lows, the economy would be flooded with money, triggering speculative investments in the stock market and real estate. “We are more careful in anticipating where the funds will be going. The first two SDA rate cuts did not result in significant outflows since there are limited options for them (banks) at this point,” he said. To date, SDA deposits have totaled P1.9 trillion, higher than the P1.7 trillion notched at the start of the year. According to Mr. Guinigundo, there were no signs of asset bubbles in the stock market with price-to-earnings ratios still reasonable. “In real estate, studies show that there is even a backlog of 3.9 million units in socialized, low-cost and medium-cost housing,” he added. “There is some surplus in the upper end of the market, but we are monitoring that.” The BSP also reported that the pass-through effect of the earlier policy rate cuts has fizzled out. Policy rates were cut by a total of 100 basis points in 2012, with the BSP hopeful that banks could pass on the reduction to their interest rates for the benefit of their customers. However, the pass-through rate fell to 47.1% as of April, down sharply from the 60-70% seen in the last few months of 2012, Mr. Guinigundo said. “It seems that banks are increasing their lending rates.” - See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=Growthsupport-boosted&id=69296#sthash.z9m9G0w8.dpuf


Posted on April 25, 2013 10:34:18 PM

‘Sustainable’ insurance pushed   THE PHILIPPINES has become one of the first countries to join a global initiative that promotes socially and environmentally sound insurance business.   The Insurance Commission, the Philippine Life Insurance Association, the Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association and the Insurance Institute for Asia and the Pacific submitted their applications to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI) yesterday. The initiative seeks to encourage the industry to integrate environmental, social and governance criteria in investment decision-making process. Principles of sustainable insurance have already been identified and the task at hand is to encourage observance among companies, industry associations and regulators, UNEPFI Program Head Butch Bacani said in a press conference in Makati City. The first phase of the initiative was completed in 2011, developing a global framework to better understand and manage risks to the environment, society and government, he explained. It covers all product lines and aspects of business, whether life, non-life or reinsurance. The framework was crafted after consultation with over 500 insurance industry stakeholders across the globe. The four main principles in the framework are: consideration of environmental, social and governance issues in decision-making; cooperation with clients and business partners to reduce risks; work with regulators to address these issues; and public disclosure of progress in adhering to the principles. More than 30 of the top insurers in the world -- accounting for more than 10% of world premium volume -have already signed the initiative. “The Philippines will have a big role since the Insurance Commission is the first regulator joining as a supporting institution,” Mr. Bacani said. -- DCJJ

- See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=%E2%80%98Sustainabl e%E2%80%99-insurance-pushed&id=69294#sthash.d4L4EXkG.dpuf


Posted on April 25, 2013 09:00:37 PM

Peso strengthens with most Asian peers   THE LOCAL CURRENCY slightly extended gains against the dollar yesterday, as investors sold the greenback to invest in local equities on expectations that the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) would slash interest rates of special deposit accounts (SDA) anew.   DOLLARS being exchanged for pesos are counted by a money changer in Manila, Apr. 1. -- Reuters

After gaining four-and-a-half centavos to P41.285 per dollar last Wednesday, the local currency strengthened further by two-and-a-half centavos to close at P41.26 to the dollar yesterday. The peso had actually opened yesterday weaker at P41.30 to the dollar. “The peso weakened against the dollar when trading began yesterday as investors dropped the peso as they remained cautious amid rumors that the central bank will cut SDA rates by more than 50 basis points,” a trader said in a phone interview yesterday. Market players expected the central bank to keep overnight borrowing and lending rates at record lows of 3.5% and 5.5%, respectively, while SDA rates were expected to be cut by 50 basis points to 2.0% across all tenors. These expectations were realized during the meeting yesterday of the central bank’s policymaking Monetary Board. In a separate phone interview, another trader noted that, “after the central bank’s announcement, investors purchased the peso and invested in local equities where they could get higher returns.” The Philippine Stock Exchange index yesterday rose by 23.01 points or 0.33% to close at 6,995.46. The local currency is expected to trade within the P41.10- to P41.35-per-dollar band today. Dollars traded yesterday totaled $686.70 million, nearly a third less than the $958.93 million traded last Wednesday.


Elsewhere in Asia and the Pacific, the South Korean won rose on Thursday after the country reported better-than-expected growth in the first quarter, while a record-high yuan helped drive regional units. Emerging Asian currencies were also supported by expectations that central banks in the world’s biggest economies will continue to keep or even expand their monetary stimulus after disappointing economic data from the United States and Germany. “Emerging Asian currencies have room to appreciate a little more on expectations of more monetary policy expansions by Japan and Europe,” said Jeong My-young, Samsung Futures’ research head in Seoul. Stronger momentum for the yuan which hit its highest against the dollar led to greater demand for the Malaysian ringgit and the Singapore dollar as a proxy trade. Still, it is hard to see further gains in emerging Asian currencies as long as the yen stayed weak, traders and analysts said. The yen’s weakness resulting from Bank of Japan’s bold monetary easing is seen hurting currencies of export rivals such as South Korea. Some countries such as Philippines have taken measures on concerns over hot money inflows. “It has been tough for Asian FX to rise as the yen sunk. There are also fears of capital controls,” said BNP Paribas currency strategist Thio Chin Loo in Singapore. Reflecting the views, the Thai baht fell and the Philippine peso’s gains were limited. The won gained as offshore funds bought the currency after Asia’s fourth-largest economy grew in the first quarter at its fastest pace in two years despite the yen’s weakness. Exporters joined the bids for month-end settlements and bond inflows also supported the won, traders said. But the foreign exchange authorities were spotted intervening, traders added, as the South Korean currency hit its strongest since October 2008. Investors maintained the dark outlook for the economy as both consumers and exporters struggle for confidence. “It became more difficult to expect the won’s weakness. But I doubt further stock gains and some investors appeared to hold dollar short positions. So, I don’t think the won can appreciate further,” said a foreign bank trader in Seoul. “Most of all, the authorities will do something, given the yen/won level,” the trader added. The ringgit rose as investors bought it to bet on a stronger yuan and on demand linked to


daily fixing, traders said. Some interbank traders cut long positions in the dollar to stop losses as the greenback were hit by weak US durable goods orders for March. Still, investors hesitated to add more bullish positions in the ringgit on sustained caution over the upcoming election on May 5. “Good dollar buyers will come out at 3.0300 which is still 100 pips away. People still want to short the ringgit ahead of the election,” said a foreign bank trader in Singapore. The Singapore dollar gained on the yuan proxy trading and as the city-state’s stocks rose. Investors are awaiting March factory output, which rose a seasonally adjusted 8.1% from the previous month, according to Reuters poll. The baht slid as the central bank was spotted intervening and on weaker bonds, traders said. The 10-year Thai government bond yield rose to 3.47% from Wednesday’s 3.36%, while the five-year yield advanced to 3.03% from 3.01%. Inflows to the country’s bonds were a major driver of the baht’s appreciation. -- A. R. R. Gregorio and Reuters - See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Finance&title=Peso-strengthenswith-most-Asian-peers&id=69272#sthash.szscNPV2.dpuf


Posted on April 25, 2013 08:54:55 PM

US bond prices edge up after weak data NEW YORK -- US Treasuries prices edged up on Wednesday as unexpectedly weak data on durable goods orders supported safe-haven demand for bonds and after solid demand for an auction of five-year notes. The US Treasury Department sold $35 billion in new five-year notes in the afternoon. Indirect bidders took a higher-than-average 43.6% of the auction, which investors viewed as an encouraging sign of demand from overseas central banks. That came on the heels of an average auction for two-year notes on Tuesday. INTEREST FROM JAPAN “We rallied nicely into the auction and we’ve managed to continue rallying afterward, even though it was only a moderate to good type of affair on the five-year,” said David Keeble, global head of interest rates strategy at Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Banking in New York. Investors speculated that the auction may have attracted interest from Japanese investors who seek higher yields abroad after the Bank of Japan launched a $1.4-trillion asset-buying program that has been expected to depress domestic yields. “The fact that the indirect bid turned up a little bit chunkier than usual gave the impression to some people that the Japanese are buying,” Mr. Keeble said. The Treasury was to complete this week’s debt offerings with a $29-billion seven-year debt auction on Thursday. “We think the seven-year part of the curve actually looks attractive. We’re anticipating that the auction will go fine tomorrow,” said Chris McReynolds, head of US Treasury trading at Barclays in New York. The bond market has remained locked in a tight trading range since early April, with benchmark yields hovering near their lowest levels since December last year. Recent disappointing data in the United States, Europe and China have fueled bets of a spring global slowdown for a third straight year, an occurrence that would force central banks to take action. “Poor economic data could lead to some enhanced action from central banks, which has been bullish for stocks and other risk assets” and limit a further decline in Treasury yields, said Mike Lorizio, head of Treasuries trading at Manulife Asset Management in Boston. DISAPPOINTING Wednesday’s report on durable goods orders that showed a 5.7% fall in March -- the biggest drop since August -- was the latest in a wave of disappointing data. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were up 2/32 in price at 102-23/32 to yield 1.698%. The 10-year yield was about 6 basis points above a four-month-plus low of 1.643% set on Tuesday after a false tweet from the Associated Press about explosions at the White House, which briefly sent stock prices


plunging and bond prices soaring. The 30-year Treasury bond were up 8/32 in price at 104-22/32 to yield 2.888%, down 1.3 basis points. News that Italian President Giorgio Napolitano had picked center-left leader Enrico Letta as the new premier and had asked him to form a new government pressured US bond prices downward and briefly lifted benchmark yields from their lowest levels of the year set on Tuesday. The move stoked hopes that national leaders would turn their focus toward solving the fiscal problems that have bogged down Italy, the euro zone’s third-biggest economy, though doubts persisted over whether Mr. Letta could cobble together a broad-based coalition for a confidence vote by next week. Uncertainties over the formation of an Italian government and the discouraging US durable goods report, however, were not enough to snuff out investors’ interest in stocks, which limited a rise in Treasuries prices, analysts said. -- Reuters

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Finance&title=US‐bond‐prices‐edge‐up‐after‐ weak‐data&id=69271                           


Posted on April 25, 2013 09:19:13 PM

SEC allows companies to adopt eight accounting benchmarks THE SECURITIES and Exchange Commission (SEC) has given the go signal for firms to adopt eight accounting benchmarks in the preparation of their financial reports beginning in the first semester this year.

  The commission issued Memorandum Circular No. 6 last Tuesday ordering companies to use the said benchmarks included in the Philippine Financial Reporting Standards (PFRS) and Philippine Accounting Standards (PAS). “The commission en banc, in its meeting on April 22, resolved to allow covered corporations to present the prescribed information and to recognize the impact of the following standards in their interim financial statements starting with the period ended June 30, 2013,” the SEC said in the memorandum. SEC officials were not immediately available to elaborate on the agency’s directive. However, in a table posted on the SEC Web site, the corporate regulator had previously only prescribed an “effective date” of Jan. 1, 2013 for the adoption of these eight standards, but with no definite date for the financial reporting period. The recently issued SEC directive covers: • PAS 27 (Separate Financial Statements), which prescribes accounting and disclosure requirements for investments in subsidiaries, joint ventures, and associates; • PAS 28 (Investments in Associates and Joint Ventures), which incorporates into a firm the accounting requirements for joint ventures; • Amendments to PFRS 1 (Government Loans); • Amendments to PFRS 7 (Disclosures-Offsetting Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities); • PFRS 10 (Consolidated Financial Statements), which removes perceived conflicts in the preparation of consolidated financial statements for firms under a parent (“based on control”), and the consolidated financial statements for special purpose entities (“based on risks and rewards”); • PFRS 11 (Joint Arrangements), which requires firms to account for joint arrangements based on rights and obligations from the arrangement, removing the option to account for joint arrangements using “proportionate consolidation” or “equity method”; • PFRS 12 (Disclosure of Interests in Other Entities), which requires the reporting of all disclosure requirements for subsidiaries, joint arrangements, associates and unconsolidated structured entities; and • PFRS 13 (Fair Value Measurement), which removes inconsistencies of fair value measurements in various PFRS, clarifies the definition of fair value, provides a single framework for fair value measurement, and


enhances fair value disclosures. In addition, the SEC said that the submitted interim financial statements for the period ended March 30 should contain disclosures noting whether the eight standards apply to the company. If the standards apply to the company, the SEC asked companies if they are evaluating the impact of the said standards based on end-2012 audited figures, the memorandum circular said. The Financial Reporting Standards Council, established in 2006 by the Board of Accountancy, now issues PFRS and PAS in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards and International Accounting Standards, respectively. These standards were adopted by the SEC in 2011 to align its rules with global reporting practices. -- FJGDLF

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Corporate&title=SEC‐allows‐companies‐to‐adopt‐ eight‐accounting‐benchmarks&id=69277                                     


Posted on April 25, 2013 11:36:31 PM

Cacao exports to SE Asia eyed   DAVAO CITY -- A local trading firm is hammering out a deal with chocolate manufacturers in Malaysia and Singapore for supply of cacao beans by the end of the year.   Dante R. Muyco, director of the CSI Tradelink, exclusive marketing arm of the “Chokolate de San Isidro” brand produced in Davao Oriental, said his group hopes to ship an initial 250 metric tons of cacao beans to neighboring Southeast Asian countries within the year. Chokolate de San Isidro, Inc. currently exports 250 metric tons of cacao beans to the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. “The target of 250 metric tons (for Malaysia and Singapore) is doable,” Mr. Muyco said, adding that Chokolate de San Pedro consolidates harvests from eight cacao farmers’ cooperatives. Mr. Muyco said the company is also trying to instill good farming practices to increase the average production of beans to an average of 1.5 to three metric tons per hectare from the present level of only 700 kilograms to one ton. -- Joel B. Escovilla

- See more at:   http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Cacao‐exports‐to‐SE‐Asia‐ eyed&id=69299                   


Posted on April 25, 2013 11:35:09 PM

Government eyes two main gateways to the Philippines   THE GOVERNMENT is inclined to develop two main aviation gateways -one in Clark, Pampanga and another in Metro Manila -- amid congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), a Cabinet official said yesterday.   “The President himself is now more open with a dual gateway system and not a single gateway system,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya said at the membership meeting of the Makati Business Club in Makati City yesterday where he was the guest speaker. Various options will be presented to President Benigno S. C. Aquino III next month, he said. Mr. Abaya said the plan is to develop the Clark International Airport while the aging NAIA will be either closed, sold or refurbished. But considering the distance between Metro Manila’s business districts and Clark, and the fact that NAIA has exceeded its 31-million annual passenger capacity and it has no more space to expand, NAIA must be relocated by 2025. Alternative locations for NAIA include reclaimed areas near Laguna Bay, Manila Bay and Sangley Point in Cavite, Mr. Abaya said. A dual gateway system has become ideal, he added. “Previously, the direction was to move all of NAIA’s current operations to the Clark International Airport within the next five to seven years,” Mr. Abaya said. “[But] that announcement understandably elicited a lot of various reactions, and we carefully considered all the feedback we got from different stakeholders,” he added, in reference to criticism that Clark is too far from the business districts. “Our planning team worked hard alongside international consultants to figure out what really is the best policy for us. The studies we’ve done showed that both [Clark and an airport in the capital] can operate at the same time without compromising commercial viability.” Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel A. Honrado opted not to comment on Mr. Abaya’s pronouncement but admitted that NAIA has reached its maximum passenger capacity. Clark International Airport Corp. Chief Executive Officer Victor Jose I. Luciano welcomed the announcement. “We are ready and prepared to absorb the new traffic coming from Luzon,” he said, adding he would meet with Mr. Abaya next week to discuss the matter.


Amid an anticipated rise in passenger volume, Clark will be undertaking a P360-million expansion project that will boost the airport’s capacity to up to 5 million annually from 2 million at present. Airline officials were not immediately available for comment yesterday. But PAL President Ramon S. Ang previously aired preference for a new airport near Metro Manila while Cebu Pacific Chief Executive Officer Lance Y. Gokongwei has expressed support for the development of Clark as the country’s main gateway. -Cliff Harvey C. Venzon

- See more at:

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Government‐eyes‐ two‐main‐gateways‐to‐the‐Philippines&id=69298                                         


Posted on April 25, 2013 11:34:25 PM

SRA adjusts estimate amid high sugar output   THE SUGAR Regulatory Administration (SRA) has raised its sugar production estimate for crop year 2012-2013 due to bountiful harvests.   In a statement, SRA said sugar output for the crop year ending August is expected at 2.434 million metric tons (MT), up from the original estimate of 2.356 million MT It clarified that it actually had made an estimate of 2.356 to 2.434 million MT at the start of the crop year, which began in September 2012, but decided to initially adopt the lower figure. With sugar production already 2.295 million MT as of April 14, the Sugar Board, which sets policy for the SRA and met yesterday, decided to shift to the higher estimate. “This [higher output estimate] was based on end-of-milling reports of sugar mills and monitoring reports of SRA field men on remaining areas to be harvested,” said Rosemarie S. Gumera, SRA manager for planning and policy, in a text message. Production of refined sugar was robust as well, rising by around 11% year-on-year to 859,131 MT as of April 14. Demand for both raw and refined sugar was thus easily met. Demand for raw sugar had risen by 16% to 1.412 million MT as of April 14, and for refined sugar, by around 12% to 615,496 MT. Given the abundant sugar harvests, the SRA also said it would not need to resort to “advance swapping” or the shifting of sugar from a certain classification to another to fulfill export commitments. It did so in the previous crop year, when “D” sugar destined for the world market was converted to “A” bound for the US to meet the US quota given to the Philippines. SRA officials will travel to the US next week to “push for the country’s US sugar quota” as the US Congress deliberates on the 2013 Farm Bill that includes provisions on the country’s Sugar Program. The Sugar Program “makes the United States a primary market for Philippine sugar exports,” SRA said. At the same time, officials will discuss the US General System of Preferences, which allows select Philippine exports, including sugar, to enter the US duty-free but will expire on July 31 this year.

- See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=SRA‐ adjusts‐estimate‐amid‐high‐sugar‐output&id=69297 


Posted on April 25, 2013 11:39:22 PM

Philippines, Netherlands to exchange info on valuations, illegal goods   THE PHILIPPINES has signed a customs agreement with the Netherlands, just a day after completing a similar deal with Russia.   The Customs Mutual Administrative Assistance Agreement was signed yesterday at the Port of Manila, with the Philippines represented by Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon and Hans Van Bodegraven, director for tax and customs policy legislation, signing on behalf of the Royal Kingdom of the Netherlands. The deal will open up communication lines between the Customs agencies of the two countries, Mr. Biazon said in a statement yesterday. Information and intelligence will be exchanged on such issues as the cross-border trafficking of illegal goods, ranging from drugs, hazardous substances, endangered species and other contraband commodities. The two will also institute measures to determine the accurate valuation and assessment of duties and taxes on all goods shipped between the Philippines and the Netherlands. On Wednesday, the country signed a Customs Mutual Administrative Assistance Agreement with Russia. Earlier, Mr. Biazon said the Bureau of Customs (BoC) was eyeing more deals, particularly with Chile, Peru, Turkey, Iran and Italy. There was no timeline for the agreements, though, since negotiations took time, he explained. The deal with Russia was one of the fastest to be closed, however, taking only seven months for the two parties to agree on a framework for the customs agreement. Last year, the Philippines signed a customs agreement with Mexico. It also has deals with the United States and the countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The BoC accounts contributes a fifth of government revenues through its collection of duties and taxes. As of February, it shored up P47.011 billion. It is tasked to collect a total of P340 billion this year. -- Diane Claire J. Jiao

- See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Philippines,‐Netherlands‐to‐ exchange‐info‐on‐valuations,‐illegal‐goods&id=69301 


Posted on April 25, 2013 10:14:18 PM

Listed firm facing fuel smuggling raps THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) has sided with the Bureau of Customs’ appeal on a multibillion-peso fuel smuggling case, finding probable cause to charge listed oil firm Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. (PNX).   In a nine-page resolution dated April 24, the Justice department reversed an earlier resolution signed by Prosecutor General Claro A. Arellano that dismissed the case in November 2012 and ordered the filing of charges against Dennis Ang Uy, PNX president and chief executive officer, and Customs broker Jorlan Capin Cabanes for violating the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines. The smuggled items totaled 6 billion, according to the complaint. “To be sure, these acts [smuggling] could not have been perpetrated without the connivance and conspiracy of officials or employees of the Bureau of Customs...,” read the resolution. According to DoJ records, Mr. Arellano dismissed the case based on submitted documents that “belied and negated complainant’s [BoC] allegations.” In granting the BoC’s motion for reconsideration, however, the DoJ noted that the documents submitted by PNX had “discrepancies, inconsistencies, and variance... vis-á-vis the documents submitted by the complainant relative to the shipments in question.” DoJ records show PNX allegedly engaged in “unlawful and fraudulent importations” of oil at the Port of Davao and Sub-Port of Bauan, Batangas from June 2010 to April 2011. In November 2010, PNX allegedly imported various fuel products with a combined dutiable value of 589,523,451.72 without supporting import entry declarations. Further, PNX from January to March 2011 brought in oil and unleaded gasoline with a combined dutiable value of 1,558,809,162 but failed to pay taxes on time. From June 2010 to April 2011, PNX imported various fuel products worth 1,962,839,557 but supporting documents showed a different shipment. Lastly, during the same period, PNX again imported various fuel products worth 1,336,569,393 and 533,471,269 but these were not covered by the required Load Port Surveys.


“Considering the amount and the number of shipments involved, we cannot simply accept respondent Dennis Ang Uy’s disclaimer that ‘the payment of Customs duties and taxes and the preparation and submission of the required documents are left to the officers and employees of Phoenix in charge of operations,” read the resolution. “Moreso, with respect to respondent Jorlan Cabanes who has direct participation in the processing and release of the questioned shipments,” the resolution further read. In response, PNX, in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, yesterday reiterated Mr. Uy’s innocence. “We stand on Mr. Uy’s contention that all the shipments and importations of the company [PNX] have been settled and paid as they are duly supported by documents and receipts,” read the disclosure. PNX also accused the BoC of misleading the public for using “wrong documents” to support its motion for reconsideration. “[T]he BoC presented new issues and documents which were not even presented in the original complaint which is highly irregular,” the company said. -- Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Listed‐firm‐facing‐fuel‐smuggling‐ raps&id=69288                       


Posted on April 25, 2013 10:19:45 PM

Human trafficking syndicates growing -- Philippines HUMAN TRAFFICKING syndicates are growing and becoming more organized helped by technology, Southeast Asian law enforcement experts heard yesterday as they sought ways to tackle the issue together.  Experts from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met in Manila to try to work out either a binding convention on human trafficking or a less stringent “regional plan of action” to enable ASEAN to act in unison. “Trafficking in persons used to be number three [crime]. Now, it has overtaken the [illegal] arms trade and it is number two globally,” Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente B. Salazar said as the talks got under way. Mr. Salazar, who heads Manila’s anti-trafficking task force, said human trafficking syndicates were expanding worldwide, helped by the Internet and other modern advances. “They are more organized. They have the resources. They have been using the advances in technology for themselves,” he said. While some countries want an ASEAN convention against human trafficking, there are also fears that such a convention could infringe on the laws of individual nations. Under the regional plan of action, members would not be obliged to follow all the provisions but would merely be asked to cooperate, he said. The recommendations of the experts in Manila will be presented to ASEAN senior officials meeting in Vietnam later this year, he added. The Philippines, which has almost 10 million citizens working overseas, was particularly vulnerable to human trafficking with many women going abroad for legitimate jobs only to be forced into prostitution, he said. Figures for the number of people trafficked in ASEAN were being compiled but were not immediately available, he added. He cited International Labor Organization figures putting the number of people worldwide in forced labor at 20.9 million -- 5.5 million of them children. Aside from the Philippines, ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ASEAN members have been criticized for not doing enough to fight human trafficking even though many of them send laborers overseas and some of them rely on imported workers. - AFP

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Human‐trafficking‐syndicates‐ growing‐‐‐‐Philippines&id=69290 


Posted on April 25, 2013 10:22:13 PM

Progress in ASEAN on sea code: Aquino PROGRESS HAS been made on efforts within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea, President Benigno S. C. Aquino III said yesterday.   “Sa unang pagpupulong pa lamang, agad nang tinalakay kung gaano kahalaga ang pagkakaroon ng mapayapang ugnayan at nagkakaisang tinig, lalo na sa mga paksang teritoryal [The importance of a peaceful and united voice in addressing territorial rows was immediately discussed during the first meeting],” Mr. Aquino said shortly after arriving in Manila from a two-day summit in host Brunei. The President said ASEAN leaders have agreed to strictly implement the Declaration on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (DoC), while vowing to work on the Code of Conduct (CoC). The CoC is a legally binding document that will serve as the implementing rules on the DoC that outlines activities in the disputed sea lane which Manila prefers to call West Philippine Sea covering the exclusive economic zone. The DoC was forged between ASEAN and China in 2002. For his part ASEAN Chairman and Brunei Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah said the leaders have agreed to explore all possible avenues to address the dispute. “We have agreed on what I see as a two-step approach. Firstly, the overlapping claims are for the claimant states to deal with. Secondly, both ASEAN and China wish to promote a calm and peaceful atmosphere and to urgently work on the Code of Conduct (CoC),” he said in a press conference after the summit, an official transcript was sent to media. It was a welcome development for the Philippines which failed last year to push for more definite positions on the progress of the CoC upon the instance of Cambodia, China’s ally and chairman of last year’s summit. Chinese officials have earlier rejected multilateral negotiations on the issue, saying that they would only agree to discussing the issue with all claimants at a bilateral level. ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have claimed in part the sea which is reportedly rich in oil and gas reserves. Taiwan is also claimant. The CoC dominated the talks even as leaders have expressed confidence that the regional bloc is on track towards achieving economic integration by 2015. Meanwhile, the leaders of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines (BIMP) have vowed to further strengthen economic ties during the ninth BIMP-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) summit. A joint statement signed on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit “reiterated the importance of sub-regional economic cooperation of BIMP-EAGA as a strategy in supporting the realization of the ASEAN community.” The document posted at the official gazette noted a 75% increase of trade within the economic sub-group to


$170 billion in 2011 from $100 billion the year prior. Leaders of the four nations have vowed to improve through greater coordination in connectivity, food, tourism and environment to further economic development. Also on the sidelines of the summit, Mr. Aquino met with Vietnam President Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to discuss the progress of economic relations. In a text message to reporters, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said: “Both leaders are happy with the progress of economic relations. Both countries acknowledged the improvement of maritime security between the two countries and Vietnam expressed support for the Philippines’ international initiatives on this matter.” Manila and Hanoi have been vocal on Chinese intrusions into their territorial waters. ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. -- Noemi M. Gonzales

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Progress‐in‐ASEAN‐on‐sea‐code:‐ Aquino&id=69291                                 


Next Senate chief to come from admin Published : Friday, April 26, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 82  Written by : Marlon Purificacion  SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago stressed that the recently released survey results might be “radically changed” after the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) releases its official list of approved senatorial candidates expected this month. Santiago also said that because of the numerical edge enjoyed by the administration coalition, the next Senate president will come from the senior members of the coalition, namely: Sergio Osmeña III, Franklin Drilon, Cynthia Villar, or Teofisto Guingona III. Santiago spoke at the annual national convention of the Philippine Masons with an audience of some 2,000 members, held at Iloilo City yesterday (April 25). There are over 25,000 Freemasons in the country. The senator said that senatorial candidates should not be complacent about their survey rankings, because the INC is now said to have 9 million voters who, following INC practice, will vote as a bloc. Santiago said that the INC ticket will be geared toward punishment of certain reelectionist senators who may have “doublecrossed” the INC. “INC, out of patriotism, took a strong position during a recent political controversy. Certain reelectionist senators reportedly promised to support the INC position; but out of opportunism, reneged on their promise when the hour came,” the senator said. She refused to divulge further details of this alleged incident, because it might violate the privacy of the INC. But

she

added:

“You

don’t

doublecross

the

INC

and

get

away

with

it.”

She also said that the next Senate president will definitely come from the administration coalition, because the administration will have 16 senators, the opposition 5 senators, and an independent bloc will have 3 senators, including herself. “With 16 senators more or less in the Senate, it is a no-brainer that the administration will get to pick the next Senate president from the most senior members of the coalition,” she said. The senator said that depending on the effect of the solid INC vote, the administration coalition will have 16 senators, including Senators Angara, Aquino, Alan Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Drilon, Escudero, Guingona III, Legarda, Marcos Jr., Osmeña III, Pimentel III, Poe, Recto, Sotto III, Trillanes IV and Villar.

http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/49278‐next‐senate‐chief‐to‐come‐from‐admin   


Comelec warns public vs signal jammers during polls Published : Friday, April 26, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 35  Written by : Zaida Delos Reyes- Palanca 

SAYING signal jammers may delay the transmission of vote returns, authorities yesterday warned and urged the public to report possible use of the said device on the day of midterm elections. In a press briefing held yesterday in Camp Crame, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the use of the said gadget is a criminal offense and punishable with at least eight years of imprisonment. Brillantes said using signal jammers near polling precinct may delay the transmission of vote returns which should be prevented. During the briefing, Brillantes stressed the importance of the speed of transmitting the vote returns adding that if it is disrupted any possibilities may occur. For his part, National Telecommunication Company (NTC) Commissioner Gamaliel A. Cordoba said these devices were smuggled and therefore buying, using and selling it is an offense. He said the device probably came from China and were smuggled into the country. “Wala pong importation permit na ini-issue and NTC therefore smuggled items ang mga ito,” Cordoba said. Cordoba explained that the gadget may affect the radius of 10 to 20 meters. The NTC commissioner added that aside from two years of imprisonment under the NTC memorandum, violators may face 12 years imprisonment under the Comelec election code. Cordoba explained that those proven guilty of the offense won’t be given parole and the individual involved will suffer perpetual disqualification for government office and lose his or her right to vote. Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas described the physical appearance of the device as having four antennas


which

looks

more

like

a

router

and

a

two-way

radio.

He said each antenna of the device blocks the frequency or signals of our cellular phones. In line with these, the DILG, NTC and Comelec sought the help of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to intensify operations against signal jammers. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/49277‐comelec‐warns‐public‐vs‐signal‐jammers‐ during‐polls                                       


Smuggling charges pressed vs oil boss Published : Friday, April 26, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 85  Written by : Hector Lawas 

THE Department of Justice yesterday recommended the indictment of the president/chief executive officer of independent oil player Phoenix Petroleum Philippines and its customs broker for alleged smuggling of gas and other petroleum products. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima reversed an earlier DoJ ruling dismissing the cases lodged against the Phoenix head and the customs broker. To be charged were Phoenix President-CEO Dennis Ang Uy and Customs Broker Jorlan Capin Cabanes for violations of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines in connection with the unlawful importation of gas oil, unleaded gas, and petroleum products at the Port of Davao and sub-port of Bauan, Batangas from 2010-2011. The suit, which was one of the alleged oil smuggling being investigated by the Bureau of Customs, deprived the government of lawful duties and taxes worth hundreds of millions of pesos. The DoJ said in a resolution that Uy and Cabanes were charged with direct participation and personal knowledge of oil smuggling. In May 2011, the BoC filed smuggling charges against Phoenix Petroleum for alleged fraudulent shipments worth P5.1 billion. The BoC claimed that Phoenix Petroleum did not pay excise and value-added taxes and failed to submit import documents for the shipments of petroleum products from June 2010 to April 2011. The DoJ stressed that the agency’s investigation into the case will be continuing as investigators believed that the respondents would not have committed the offense without the connivance of other BoC personnel. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/49264‐smuggling‐charges‐pressed‐vs‐oil‐boss     


3-hour brownouts set in Ecija, Aurora Published : Friday, April 26, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 53  Written by : Steve A. Gosuico 

CABANATUAN City -- The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines yesterday announced a scheduled power interruption in parts of Nueva Ecija and Aurora. Lilibeth P. Gaydowen, NGCP North Luzon Corporate Communication & Public Affairs officer, said a temporary shutdown of its transmission facilities will be on Friday at 8 a.m.-10 a.m. and 4 p.m.-5 p.m. due to repairs of selected line structure hardwares along the Cabanatuan-Talavera 69kV line 2. To be affected are the entire franchise area of NEECO II Area 1, SAJELCO, CLSU and LGU-PAMES, and parts of NEECO II Area 2, (Natividad and Bongabon substations) in Nueva Ecija, and AURELCO (San Luis substation) in Aurora. Normal operations will resume after work completion. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/provincial/49236‐3‐hour‐brownouts‐set‐in‐ecija‐aurora                     

 


2013 04 26 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor - gcm