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PAFMIL urges confiscation of ‘illegally imported’ flour By Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 27, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Association of Flour Millers (PAFMIL) is urging the government to confiscate a brand of Indian wheat flour being sold in the market, saying these have illegally entered the country. The group is also advising the public not to purchase the product as it is not authorized to be sold here. PAFMIL is recommending the confiscation of the imported flour which was illegally brought in the country. “The public should not buy Indian wheat flour with the brand Queen Ivana should this be sold in the market,” the group said. “Better still, they should report the presence of this product to health authorities for inspection and confiscation if found that these are illegally imported,” it added. The flour brand is reportedly not authorized for sale in the Philippines. PAFMIL said it has already reported the arrival of the imported item to Director Kenneth Hartigan-Go of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Four containers of Indian wheat flour with the Queen Ivana brand arrived earlier this month. The four containers contain 3,680 bags of flour. The Indian wheat flour is not authorized for sale in the market as the importer and customs broker are still working out its release. The flour could not be released as the importer, Metro A-1 Merchandise Corp. and customs broker Robin D. Barbaren, allegedly could not present a License to Operate from the FDA as well as the certificate of fortification and certificate of product registration. These documents are required before any food item is released by Bureau of Customs.The importer Metro A-1 Merchandise Corporation, the group said, is not in the list of registered importers or food manufacturers in the FDA website.The FDA website lists importers and manufacturers with license as of January 2013.

PhilMech eyes 32 new tramlines By Melpha M. Abello Published: April 27, 2013 The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) is eyeing at least 32 agricultural tramline system (ATS) for completion all over the country this year to help increase farmers’ income. The use of tramline has been proven to help reduce transportation/hauling costs and to lower postharvest losses on agricultural products coming from mountainous areas. The completion of the new tramline systems is part of the ATS project which started last year and spearheaded by PhilMech. This will be undertaken in partnership with the DA Regional Field Units (DA-RFUs), farmers’ groups, and respective local government units. PhilMech Executive Director Rex L. Bingabing said that the Department of Agriculture has allotted a P96 million budget for the 32 tramlines based on a cost of P3 million per kilometer. An ATS, powered by a diesel engine at one end, usually stretches from 800 meters to one kilometer and has a capacity to transport between 350 and 400 kilograms of goods, or 5 to 6 persons. Bingabing said that the ATS project has significantly lowered transportation costs of agricultural products in the mountainous areas – from 50% to as much as 80 percent – helping the farmers in these areas become more productive. He said that current transportation cost in areas with existing ATS stands at P2 to P5 per kg. ATS also reduces postharvest losses from as high as 25% to only 5%. Bingabing said that farmers in mountainous areas usually transport their products manually or through horse-drawn carrier and jeepneys which usually takes hours. Whereas, it takes only 15 to 30 minutes to transport products using tramlines. Bingabing added that based on an initial assessment by PhilMech, there are instances of farmers expanding their production areas in areas where there are existing tramlines. It was also observed that the installation and operation of tramlines in some areas have contributed to the improvement of the overall socio-economic conditions of households as reduced postharvest losses has been translated into additional income. Vegetable farmer Tokias Wansay of Bagtangan Farmers’ Association in Bakun, Benguet said that the tramline is very useful to them. “Now we can deliver two trucks of vegetables compared to only one truckload before,” he said. Under the present ATS program, PhilMech’s will identify the area where the tramline will be established, and provide technical assistance for the design and construction. The agency also trains the farmer organization and cooperative designated to operate and maintain the tramline system. The organization will be the one to collect agreed fees for the maintenance of the system.

Ilocos garlic farmers seek markets By Riza T. Olchondra  Philippine Daily Inquirer   11:48 pm | Friday, April 26th, 2013  

Garlic farmers in Ilocos Sur are seeking supply contracts with Jollibee Foods Corp. and Splash Foods Corp. Reginald Yadao, project coordinator of the Sinait Garlic Center of the North Producers Cooperative (SGC-NPC), said Friday in a phone interview that his group had about 7 tons of garlic bulbs ready for transport. Since garlic bulbs still have their skin on, the cooperative will send them to trader-consolidator Nueva Segovia Consortium of Cooperatives (NSCC) for skinning and transport to Splash. Splash requires peeled garlic, for which the SGC-NPC needs equipment. Yadao said SCC would peel and ship the initial 7 metric tons of garlic bulbs to Splash Foods, which requires about 4 tons of peeled garlic per month. Yadao said Jollibee may source as much as 8 tons per month from the cooperative, though there are no firm talks yet. Yadao said the SGC-NPC was just waiting for assistance worth P400,000 from the Department of Labor and Employment to acquire the equipment needed for the peeled and powdered garlic. The cooperative needs a garlic separator, peeler and slicer. SGC-NPC has also urged the government to fund more research and development projects, specifically for garlic seeds. “Seeds have always been our problem. We keep on using the same seeds season after season. Garlic is the only crop that has no hybrid. Even onion has hybrid seeds,” Yadao said. The Sinait farmers will also need a program on expanding garlic production with the help of the Bureau of Agricultural Research.

BoC challenged to name, shame, jail protectors of rice smugglers • •

Written by  Charlie V. Manalo   Saturday, 27 April 2013 00:00  

The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) yesterday dared the Aquino government and the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to “name, shame and charge with economic sabotage” the protectors of rice smugglers in the country. The KMP issued the statement after a P1.2 billion worth or an estimated 600,000 sacks of smuggled rice was seized by the BoC in Cebu. KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said “naming the so-called consignees is not enough. Their protectors in governments should also be named, shamed and charged with economic sabotage.” Customs deputy commissioner Danilo Lim said they had identified eight consignees of the smuggled rice, namely: JJM Global Trading, Rm 212 Crown Building, North Reclamation Area, Cebu; JM-ARS Trading, 308 3/F, Crown Building, North Reclamation Area, Cebu; Neon Gateway Trading, Sta. Rosa, Poblacion, Alegria, Cebu; Custans Enterprises, 3H Gemini Building, M.J. Cuenco Avenue, Cebu; Melma Enterprises, Rm 201, GK Chua Building, M.J. Cuenco Street, Cebu; NMW Enterprises, Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City; Ocean Park Enterprises and MMSM Trading. He said the bureau would investigate these companies and check their past importation record. “These rice smugglers seem to be ‘untouchables’ and enjoying protection from corrupt government officials. Heads should roll and people should be jailed for virtually ‘murdering’ rice farmers and the rice industry,” Flores said. “This clearly demonstrates what we are saying all along that the Aquino government’s policy of rice importation proliferates rice smuggling in the country. At the same time, state-backed rice cartels are masked with the so-called farmers as importers program and other NFA-issued licenses,” Flores said. Flores also called on the Aquino government to distribute the smuggled rice seized in Cebu to victims of typhoon “Pablo” in Mindanao and to the poorest of the poor “at no cost.” “Instead of bidding out the smuggled rice we demand the Aquino government distribute the confiscated rice to ‘Pablo’ survivors and to the poorest of the poor for free,” said Flores in anticipation of another auction of smuggled rice like what the BoC did in the 420,000 sacks of smuggled rice from India seized in Subic last year. “Putting the smuggled rice into auction will only fuel impunity. The rice smugglers will only laugh at government because the so-called auction will legitimize the illegal entry of the contraband rice. At the same time, releasing 30,000 metric tons of smuggled rice in the local market will definitely have a tremendous impact on the prices of our locally produced rice,” the peasant leader stressed.

Editorial: Philippine products at the Natural and Organic Products Europe Expo Published: April 27, 2013 The Philippines took part in the 2013 Natural and Organic Products Europe Expo, the leading European show for the natural and organic health, food, and beauty product sectors. Thousands visited the country’s booth and orders were placed for the many Philippine items on display in the course of the event held on April 7-8, 2013, at the Olympia in London, England. The Philippines’ participation in the Expo was a project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in coordination with the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC)-London and the Philippine Embassy in London. The DA organized a 16-man delegation from seven natural and organic companies that participated in the Expo. Among the Philippine products were various coconut products (coconut water, coconut cream, coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut sugar, desiccated coconut), organic rice, organic coffee, tea, cocoa, muscovado sugar, organic vinegar, fresh/frozen fruits such as pineapple and bananas, sweet preserves, jams and jellies from mangoes and guavas, sauces and condiments. Among the Philippine exhibitors were Castillejos Agri-Farms, Echostore, Flora Integrated Farms, Marigold Manufacturing Corporation, Tropicana Food Products, and RefmadV Enterprise. Organized by Diversified Business Communications-United Kingdom (UK), the 17th annual Natural & Organic Products Europe had a record breaking attendance of 8,810 industry professionals from 76 countries, confirming its position as the leading European show for both the natural and organic sectors. For over 15 years, the show has helped thousands of companies around the world set up distribution networks and retail trades in the UK, Europe, and the rest of the world. The Manila Bulletin, led by its Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Emilio T. Yap, President and Publisher Atty. Hermogenes P. Pobre, Executive Vice President Dr. Emilio C. Yap III, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Cris J. Icban Jr., Business Editor Loreto D. Cabañes, Officers and Employees, congratulate the Department of Agriculture headed by its Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and the Embassy of the Philippines in London headed by Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Enrique A. Manalo, in successfully showcasing the natural and organic products of the Republic of the Philippines. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!

Agusan Resurgent Published: April 27, 2013 Patin-Ay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur – The agricultural-rich landlocked province of Agusan del Sur is no longer included in the list of the top 16 poorest provinces in the country today, it was learned yesterday. This good news came out per report from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), cited that poverty incidence level of Filipinos almost remained unchanged between 2006 and 2012. Figures of the first semester last year show a national poverty incidence rate of 27.9 percent, slightly lower than 28.8 percent in 2006 and 28.6 in 2009. NSCB comes out with the report every three years. However, the province’s poverty incidence rate dropped from 51.3 percent in 2009 to 38.6 percent last year, a significant reduction of 12.9 percent which warranted it’s exclusion from the infamous roll. Agusan del Sur ranked 9th in 2006 and third in 2009 in NSCB surveys. Latest report stated that Agusan del Sur province was no longer in the list of poorest province in the country.(Mike U. Crismundo)

BOC crackdown on Agri smuggling must include more products – Abono Published: April 27, 2013 Lingayen, Pangasinan — Agriculture industry stakeholders are urging the government to include other commodities to its campaign against smuggling as they welcomed the seizure of what was dubbed as “the mother lode” of smuggled grains in the Port of Cebu recently. “We welcome the effort of Customs Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim leading to the seizure of what the agency considers as its biggest haul ever. We have been right all along. We have been knocking on the doors of the bureau since November to complain about the rampant and unabated rice smuggling in various ports in the provinces,” said Abono Party-list Chairman Rosendo So yesterday. So said the Bureau of Customs (BOC) should not be complacent with this achievement. “Other agricultural products such as onions, pork and chicken are still being misdeclared and smuggled into the country,” he added. Cebu port authorities uncovered a total of 1,169 container vans of misdeclared rice shipments worth P1.2 billion from Vietnam. So, who is also a director of the Swine Development Council (SDC), said the BoC should not be inconsistent in running after smugglers. He also challenged the BOC to release to inward-forward manifest or IFM to the Department of Trade and Industry and to other concerned agencies such as the Department of Agriculture for the sake of transparency. “If the BoC gives the IFM ahead of time, this will equip our agencies to monitor incoming and outgoing shipments, and in the process curb smuggling activities,” said So.

Farmers march for free Luisita land Philippine Daily Inquirer   11:30 pm | Friday, April 26th, 2013  

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Lito Bais and Florida Sibayan, both 56, said they don’t find themselves too old to be marching on the street under the searing heat to demand land from the Aquino administration. Their patience, they said, has been honed since barely in their teens, when their parents took them along as they sought a piece of Hacienda Luisita, a 6,453-hectare tobacco plantation straddling the towns of Tarlac, Concepcion and La Paz. Jose Cojuangco bought the estate in 1957 on government loan and guarantee and turned it into a sugar plantation. Bais and Sibayan, now second generation farm workers, said they were very sad that although the Supreme Court, in its April 24, 2012, ruling, finally upheld the 2005 decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council to distribute 4,915 hectares of Hacienda Luisita, no land has been given. “Not even on a pot,” said Sibayan, vice president of the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala). Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said the lands would be given in May or June. On Thursday, Bais and Sibayan led 220 farm workers who made it to the final list of 6,212 beneficiaries that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) identified through a process De los Reyes described as “fair and transparent.” The farm workers marched more than 50 kilometers from Hacienda Luisita to the DAR Central Luzon office here, delivering this message as articulated by Sibayan: “We don’t want to compensate the Cojuangco family. We don’t want to amortize the land they will be distributing to us.” They are set to reach Mendiola (Plaza Chino Roces) in Manila on April 27 to press President Aquino to order the distribution of lands in Luisita. Bais said the Cojuangco family and its corporations—Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and Tarlac Development Corp.—should, as the high court ordered, pay the farm workers P1.3 billion from the proceeds of sales of 500 has to Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. and 81 has to the stateowned Bases Conversion and Development Authority for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

“We have not been able to get the P1.3 billion, which we wanted to use as capital for farming, because we have been at odds [with HLI] over who should audit [the corporate records of HLI],” said Bais, Ambala president. Rico Tabago, 34, marched for his departed parents, Victoriano and Julieta. He made it to the final list of beneficiaries on account of his and his parents’ employment. “I hope we are given the land at no cost,” Tabago said. Asked why, he replied: “Because the lands should have been ours 40 years ago. That was the government’s condition for the loan and guarantee [to Jose Cojuangco].” Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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Bird flu no cause for alarm, DoH says By Jenny F. Manongdo Published: April 27, 2013 An official of the Department of Health (DoH) reminded the public that there is no cause for alarm over the rise of H7N9 cases in China but travelers must keep a careful watch over their health and seek immediate medical consultation should they feel sick. Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, DoH program manager for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases also said there is no travel restriction against China but he said travelers must be on guard on all kinds of diseases. “If they feel sick, even if it’s just cough or colds, or they feel difficulty in breathing, they should immediately seek medical attention. Do not wait even if it is just an ordinary sickness. Take care of your immune system because this is our shield against diseases,” Lee Suy said. Last week, Chinese authorities reported the virus has infected 109 people and killed 23 in China. Chinese scientists have also confirmed that the virus was transmitted to humans from chickens. The World Health Organization (WHO) said the H7N9 is one of the most lethal influenza viruses that scientists have encountered in the past years. Symptoms of the disease, according to the WHO include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Most patients who were infected with H7N9 have had severe pneumonia. The world health experts said there is no restriction against eating chicken as influenza viruses are not transmitted through eating well-cooked food. “Because influenza viruses are inactivated by normal temperatures used for cooking (so that food reaches 70°C in all parts -"piping" hot - no "pink" parts), it is safe to eat properly prepared and cooked meat, including from poultry and game birds. Diseased animals and animals that have died of diseases should not be eaten. In areas experiencing outbreaks, meat products can be safely consumed provided that these items are properly cooked and properly handled during food preparation. The consumption of raw meat and uncooked blood-based dishes is a high-risk practice and should be discouraged,” WHO said.       

DAR beneficiaries planting 1.5-M trees By Chito A. Chavez Published: April 27, 2013 Manila, Philippines --- Some 1.5 million trees will be planted by the beneficiaries of the land reform program of the Department of Agrarian Reforms (DAR) under the agency’s “treeplanting campaign’’ inside the 900-hectare government lot. Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes said the aim is to ensure that the farmers are given other sources of livelihood while at the same time promote environment conservation measures. The project involves a funding of P8.5 million where the planting of 83,350 seedlings in selected communities will be done at a ratio of 1,667 seedlings per hectare. Delos Reyes the project will cost the government P470,000 per community with P300,000 going to the agrarian reform beneficiaries organizations (ARBO). “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,” Delos Reyes said. The program involves four phases: Organizational and technical training for the ARBO, mapping and survey of proposed sites, installation of nurseries and plantations and inspection and evaluation to ensure of a successful project.                   

DA bans Chinese poultry imports By Melody M. Aguiba Published: April 27, 2013 The Department of Agriculture has ordered a temporary ban on the importation of poultry from China after Chinese authorities confirmed the presence of the highly pathogenic H7N9 avian flu in poultry in Shanghai and neighboring regions. DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala issued last April 17 a memorandum ordering the temporary ban which was to take place immediately. “There is a possibility that some travelers may bring in birds and other poultry products from China. There is a need to prevent the entry of pathogenic virus causing avian flu to protect the health of local poultry,” said Alcala. The ban covers the importation of domestic and wild birds and their products including day-old chicks, eggs, and semen. Also suspended are the processing, evaluation, and issuance of veterinary quarantine clearance and international veterinary certificate import permit for applications for these products. Poultry products that may arrive into the country from China anytime now will be seized until the ban order is lifted, the DA said. Earlier the AFP reported that Asian countries 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.                   

Feature: Spring planting By Jean H. Lee Published: April 27, 2013 SASI-RI, North Korea (AP) — The North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone is a hive of activity – not of fighting, but of farming. Beyond the barbed wire, ruddy-faced North Korean soldiers put down their rifles Wednesday and stood shoulder to shoulder with farmers as they turned their focus to another battle: the spring planting. As neighboring nations remain on guard for a missile launch or nuclear test that South Korean and US officials say could take place at any time, the focus north of the border is on planting rice, cabbage, and soybeans. In hamlets all along the DMZ, soldiers were knee-deep in mud and water as they helped farmers with the spring planting. Inside the DMZ, hundreds of North Korean soldiers marched in a line with backpacks. On a hilltop above them in North Hwanghae province, Col. Kim Chang Jun said they were being dispatched to farms – but still prepared for war if need be. “From the outside, it looks peaceful: farmers are out in the fields, children are going to school,” he said. “But behind the scenes, they are getting ready for war. They’re working until midnight but come morning, if the call comes, they’ll be ready to go to battle.” To the west, inside the Joint Security Area that is the heart of the DMZ, a tense quiet hangs over the area that divides North from South. This is the spot that foreign tourists see, a stage where the observation decks, pavilions, pine trees, cherry blossoms, and azaleas belie the tanks and traps hidden from view along the 2.5-mile-wide (4-kilometer) buffer zone. South Korean soldiers stand with fists curled at their hips in a combat-ready mode borrowed from taekwondo. Across the way, a unit of North Korean soldiers goosesteps into position, rifles slung across their backs. Visitors on a tour bus from the South Korean side peer up at a North Korean building known as Panmungak. Because of the tensions, tourists are not allowed inside the three blue conference halls straddling the border, North Korean Lt. Col. Nam Dong Ho said. Typically, they are allowed to go into the meeting rooms as soldiers from both Koreas stand guard. “This is a place that the whole world is watching, so of course it seems quiet on the surface,” said Nam, who guides tours to Panmungak. But he said the prospect of war is always on the minds of soldiers manning the world’s most militarized border.

“Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t worry about war?” he told the AP on Tuesday. “We don’t want a war. But if the American imperialists provoke us unjustifiably, we will answer with a nuclear war.” Since early March, North Korea has steadily and dramatically ramped up the rhetoric warning of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula, though it has quieted in recent days. South Korean soldiers walk through smoke as they take part in an anti-terror and security drill at the Integrated Government Complex in Sejong, south of Seoul, April 17, 2013. North Korea issued new threats against South Korea on Tuesday, vowing “sledge-hammer blows” of retaliation if South Korea did not apologize for anti-North Korean protests the previous day when the North was celebrating the birth of its founding leader. Leader Kim Jong Un ordered soldiers in charge of North Korea’s arsenal of missiles on standby and North Korean officers at the front line severed communications with the South Korean military. North Korea takes issue with tightened UN sanctions punishing Pyongyang for carrying out a long-range rocket launch in December and conducting a nuclear test in February in violation of Security Council resolutions. Pyongyang also is incensed by joint US-South Korean military drills taking place now south of the border, annual exercises that this year have included nuclearcapable bombers and fighter jets.                       

PH has major responsibility in protecting oceans — Paje By DJ Yap  Philippine Daily Inquirer   2:41 pm | Friday, April 26th, 2013  


Environment Secretary Ramon Paje. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—As an archipelagic country rich in fish and other marine life, the Philippines has a major role to play in protecting oceans and ensuring the sustainable use of underwater resources, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said Friday. The official represented the Philippines at the second Sustainable Ocean Summit in Washington D.C. on April 22-24, which sought to strengthen cooperation and collaboration among countries in safeguarding the future of marine environments. “The Philippines, especially, is a major player in the sustainability of coastal and marine resources, being an archipelagic country with 240 million hectares of water, and being at the center of the world’s marine biodiversity,” Paje said in a news release issued by his office. The environment chief noted that the country was considered one of the world’s top producers of fish and aquaculture, accounting for 43 percent of marine aquarium fish, and 36 percent of marine invertebrates traded globally. Organized by the World Ocean Council, the SOS is an international conference attended by policy makers and executives from different parts of the world. It was first held in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2010, and brought together a wide range of industries involved in the use of marine space and resources. Paje said the country’s participation in the summit was significant in light of preparations being undertaken by the government prior to its hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in 2015.

The Office of the President has tasked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to host the Ministerial Meeting on Oceans or the Blue Environment, a side event at the APEC meeting. The Philippines, he noted, was also involved in several key collaborations with Southeast Asian neighbors for ocean conservation, including with Indonesia and Malaysia for the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Conservation Program with Indonesia and Malaysia. It is among six countries in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific found at the so-called Coral Triangle, which covers 5.7 million hectares of ocean and contains 75 percent of the world’s coral species. About 85 percent of the reefs in the Coral Triangle are in decline, with the Philippines leading in reef degradation, according to a recent study by the World Resources Institute called “Reefs at Risk.” Read more:‐has‐major‐responsibility‐in‐protecting‐oceans‐ paje#ixzz2Rp4fqRpK                                  

The farm wins international award By Jacky Lynne A. Oiga Published: April 27, 2013 Manila, Philippines --- The Farm in San Benito, Lipa City, Batangas, was named the Best Medical Wellness Resort worldwide at the International Tourismus Borse (ITB) held early March in Berlin, Germany. For two consecutive years, SENSES Wellness Awards, the most prestigious recognition in the spa industry, has cited The Farm’s commitment to its guests of empowering them towards optimum health and embracing conscious living. The only resort in the country that offers natural and holistic health programs focused on cancer care, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, The Farm promises to help guests attain improved quality of life through preventive health strategies, integrative medical services, and nourishing food. In 2002, the spa’s detoxification and cleansing retreats with raw, live cuisine were considered revolutionary. And in just a decade of operation, it has already boasted of a long list of international accolades. Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said that it brings great honor to the nation that Philippine destinations continue to reap highest international honors from prestigious travel and tourism fairs like ITB. “We are definitely delighted with all the accolades we have been receiving, but being honored for responsible tourism is the ultimate reward as it is a community effort,” Jimenez said. Moreover, Jimenez said the Department of Tourism will take advantage of the international media mileage because it is imperative for the government as well as tourism stakeholders to not only promote the country but responsibly share and prioritize tourism sustainability. “We must ensure that fun continues, for tourism to flourish side-by-side with the protection of our environment and community welfare,” he said. SENSES Wellness Awards acknowledges outstanding resorts and spas that adhere to and embody the award’s philosophy—offering comprehensive, holistic service that includes exemplary wellness standards, medical treatments and therapies, expertly administered by highly-trained staff at unique, serene and tranquil locations. ITB is one of the world’s largest tourism fairs in Berlin that gathers influential members of international hotel chains, lifestyle, and wellness industries to promote and support the premium lifestyle and wellness guide. 

Austria goes wild over mangoes By Roy C. Mabasa Published: April 27, 2013 Manila, Philippines --- The first shipment of fresh mangoes flown directly from the Philippines to Austria earlier this month were sold out within 48 hours, indicating that the Philippine mango, renowned the world over for its unique sweetness, fruity aroma and buttery flesh, has now captured the Austrian palate, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. The response was so overwhelming that orders were received from as far as the western Austrian states of Tirol and Vorarlberg, and half of the shipment was delivered to buyers outside Vienna, the DFA said. According to the DFA, the entry of the fresh mangoes directly into the Austrian market is considered a landmark achievement since Philippine food products normally enter through big distribution monopolies in other European countries. This marketing structure makes it extremely difficult to sell food products from the Philippines in a landlocked country like Austria at competitive prices. The success has been credited to the joint efforts of the Philippine Embassy in Vienna, the Austrian importer Maharlika Reisevermittlung GmbH, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Export Promotion and especially the Filipinos in various parts of Austria. The DFA said the Filipino communities in Vienna, Linz, Innsbruck and Bratislava, as well as the Filipinos working in the United Nations Office in Vienna, actively helped the Embassy and the importer in promoting the fresh mangoes to the greater Austrian market. The mangoes were promoted to hotels and restaurants in Vienna and Bratislava in neighboring Slovak Republic and samples were also given to Agrokor-Konzum, the largest food importer and distributor of food products in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro and the greater Balkan region. The mangoes were also promoted by the Honorary Consuls in St. Pölten (Austria), Zagreb (Croatia) and Bratislava (Slovak Republic).         

Philippine mangoes a hit in Austria - sold out in 48 hours By Roy C. Mabasa Published: April 26, 2013

MANGOES – This file photo shows a sales lady arranging her best selling yellow and green mangoes along the national highway at Barangay Bana, in Caba, La Union. Mangoes are the main product in Caba town. (Photo by: ERWIN G. BELEO) The Philippine mango, renowned the world over for its unique sweetness, fruity aroma and buttery flesh, has now captured the Austrian palate. The first shipment of fresh mangoes flown directly from the Philippines to Austria earlier this month were sold out within 48 hours. In fact, according the Departmentof Foreign Affairs (DFA), the response was so overwhelming that orders were received from as far as the western Austrian states of Tirol and Vorarlberg, and half of the shipment was delivered to buyers outside Vienna. According to the DFA, the entry of the fresh mangoes directly into the Austrian market is considered a landmark achievement since Philippine food products normally enter through big distribution monopolies in other European countries. This marketing structure makes it extremely difficult to sell food products from the Philippines in a landlocked country like Austria at competitive prices. The success has been credited to the joint efforts of the Philippine Embassy in Vienna, the Austrian importer Maharlika Reisevermittlung GmbH, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Export Promotion and especially the Filipinos in various parts of Austria.

The DFA said the Filipino communities in Vienna, Linz, Innsbruck and Bratislava, as well as the Filipinos working in the United Nations Office in Vienna, actively helped the Embassy and the importer in promoting the fresh mangoes to the greater Austrian market. The mangoes were promoted to hotels and restaurants in Vienna and Bratislava in neighboring Slovak Republic and samples were also given to Agrokor-Konzum, the largest food importer and distributor of food products in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro and the greater Balkan region. The mangoes were also promoted by the Honorary Consuls in St. Pölten (Austria), Zagreb (Croatia) and Bratislava (Slovak Republic). The DFA said the Austrian Federal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (“Wirtschaftskammer Österreich”) even congratulated the Embassy and Maharlika Reisenvermittlung GmbH on the success of the project. Due to the success of this initiative, Maharlika Reisenvermittlung GmbH is currently studying the possibility of bringing into the Austrian market other fresh fruits from the Philippines. The Philippine Embassy in Vienna is further planning to actively market, with a view to increasing demand, processed mango products and by-products including mango puree, mango jam, preserved mangoes, and enable their sale in more mainstream supermarkets and outlets.                         

Deadline for GSIS scholarship program set By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 27, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  GSIS president and general manager Robert Vergara 

MANILA, Philippines - Members of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) have until May 31 to file their applications for the state pension fund’s college scholarship program for their children this coming school year, a GSIS official said yesterday. GSIS president and general manager Robert Vergara said they extended the deadline to give more time to qualified GSIS members to prepare the requirements in applying for the program. The GSIS College Scholarship Program aims to help GSIS members, especially those with the lowest annual basic salary in the government pay scale, to send their children to colleges and universities that provide quality education. Under the GSP guidelines, children of GSIS members may be enrolled in the program if they are accepted as incoming college freshmen for academic year 2013-2014 in schools accredited by the Commission on Higher Education. The list of schools can be viewed at GSIS website, Active and regular GSIS members with a salary grade of 24 or below, or its equivalent job level, are qualified to join the program if they have at least three years of government service and upto-date premium payments for the last six months. Application forms are available at any GSIS branch office or downloadable from the GSIS website. Members are required to submit the following documents: certificate of employment and a certification from the school that the scholar-designee has passed the entrance examination/screening/evaluation and qualified to enroll as college freshman for academic year 2013-2014.Those who have questions about the scholarship program may contact the GSIS Human Resource Administration Department at 479-3600 (local 3414) or 976-4970.‐gsis‐scholarship‐program‐set 

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:

Bank lending rate up to 5.41% By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 27, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  MANILA, Philippines - Banks have started raising lending rates as the effect of previous policy rate cuts to the market dissipates but such could only be temporary and seasonal, officials and analysts said. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) last cut its key policy rate in October last year, bringing it down to new historic low of 3.5 percent for overnight borrowing. Rates were reduced by a total of 100 basis points last year and of these, 47.1 percent have been reflected on bank lending rates, down from about 60 to 70 percent in December, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said. “The pass-through has actually leveled off,” Guinigundo told reporters last Thursday. “It looks like the banks have started to increase their lending rates,” he added. According to BSP data, the average bank lending rate as of February was pegged at 5.41 percent. Lending rates range from a low of 4.86 percent to a high of 7.13 percent. The average figure however is near its October level of 5.59 percent, which went down to 5.29 percent in November, following the last 25-basis-point rate cut. Sought for comment, Bank of the Philippine Islands economist Emilio Neri Jr. said the rise in bank lending rates may be “temporary” and just driven by “seasonal factors.” For one, banks who built up their deposits before the end of last year may have had to struggle to lend this out to consumers and investors, hence the need to raise interest rates. “If you have deposits you have to look for outlets. First quarter is not too compelling. There’s really no urgency to look for outlets, particularly loans,” Neri said in a phone interview. Saying interest rates are still low, Neri said “certain segments” of the economy actually have “competitive” rates up to now. “It will return to that level,” he said.

Govt to try new approach to end Maoist rebellion By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Apr. 27, 2013 at 12:02am | 1,030 views 3

The Aquino Administration has dropped formal negotiations with communist rebels, but it is considering a new approach to end more than four decades of guerrilla war in the country, government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla said on Friday. “The government doesn’t want to return to the regular track [formal talks] because it has been going nowhere for the past 27 years,” Padilla said. He declined to give details about the “new approach,” but said the “mounting violence inflicted by the New People’s Army on civilians has eroded what little trust has been built over the years of trying to hammer out a peace agreement with the rebels.” The talks between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front were held in Norway for more than 20 years. The Norwegian government served as third-party facilitator. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda called the communist rebels bandits following Saturday’s ambush of Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona, who was seriously wounded and whose driver and bodyguard were killed. No more peace talks, he said. Padilla said the government scuttled the peace talks because the NDF “always comes up with new and unreasonable demands … and we cannot wait forever for the other side if they continually refuse to go back to the negotiating table without preconditions.” “We have always been open to resuming formal negotiations with them, but they keep on insisting on preconditions such as the release of their detained consultants,” Padilla said.

He said other than asking for the release of their consultants from military detention, the NDF was also demanding that the government abolish its programs like the Conditional Cash Transfer, which provides cash to indigents. “These demands are just preposterous. We don’t want to engage in a negotiation where the other party is clearly fooling us,” Padilla said. “The ball is now in their hands. They were the ones who initiated the special track and they were the ones who ended it,” he said. A palace official who asked not to be named said even the Norwegian government had expressed doubts about the sincerity of the NDF in holding the talks to attain peace in the country. “Since they do not want to talk peace and since they keep attacking civilians and extorting money in the form of their illegal revolutionary taxes and permit to campaign, I don’t think the public will begrudge us if we decide to let go of the peace negotiations and pursue peace through other means,” the official said. “We have done everything we can. We have even bent over backwards for some of their demands. But they keep on doing things to stall the talks,” he said. Some of the options under consideration were holding localized peace talks and strengthening efforts to convince the rebels to come down from the hills and return to their homes, the official said.‐to‐try‐new‐approach‐to‐end‐maoist‐rebellion/               

Bird-flu scare sets ban on Sino poultry By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Apr. 27, 2013 at 12:02am | 902 views

The Agriculture Department has temporarily stopped the entry of all poultry products, including day-old chicks and semen, from China following the incidences of the highly pathogenic avian influenza or HPAI in some Chinese farms. The Department announced the ban to prevent travelers from bringing in poultry and exotic birds as pets from China. The ban, issued on April 17, halts the processing, evaluation and issuance of veterinary quarantine certificates and international veterinary import permits. The Department also ordered the confiscation of all shipments carrying prohibited Chinese poultry products. In December 2012 the Office International des Epizooties reported the presence of a low pathogenic avian influenza or LPAI serotype H7N7 in free range chickens in some farms in Utrecht. It also confirmed the outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza in three farms in Jalisco, Mexico, in July 2012. Taiwan on Thursday confirmed 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. A 53-year-old Taiwanese man tested positive for the strain of avian flu after a business trip to the eastern city of Suzhou and returned to Taiwan via Shanghai, Minister of Health Chiu Wen-ta said at a briefing in Taipei. The patient, who is in critical condition in an isolation room, didn’t come into contact with birds and poultry, Chiu said.‐flu‐scare‐sets‐ban‐on‐sino‐poultry/   

Anti-heat stroke drive backed By Rio N. Araja | Posted on Apr. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 415 views

Chairman Francis Tolentino of the Metro Manila Development Authority has found an ally in his anti-heat stroke campaign. He thanked the Manila Water Co. Inc., East Zone concessionaire, for donating rehydration kits for the agency’s traffic enforcers and road maintenance staff “These are very helpful to our employees assigned to the different major thoroughfares such as EDSA, who brave the scorching heat of the sun and experience dehydration,” Tolentino said. Estrelita Orodio, of Manila Water, led the donation of 300 water jugs and 100 tumblers for distribution to the agency’s field posts. “In addition to the 2,000 foldable water containers that Manila Water has provided the agency last year, we are providing 300 units of six-gallon water jugs and tumblers for MMDA’s anti-heat stroke program,” she said.‐heat‐stroke‐drive‐backed/                     

Farmers: Scrap P45-b CCT By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Apr. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 696 views 1

AS THE calls to scrap the conditional cash transfer program or dole to the poor snowballed as a result of its failure to ease poverty in the country, farmers’ organizations on Friday demanded that P10 billion of the P45-billion dole be used to subsidize the farm-gate prices of unmilled rice to benefit two million farmers. “The farmers are threatening to skip planting rice this season as a result of the oversupply of imported and smuggled rice,” Abono chairman and Swine Development Council head Rosendo So said. So said the two million farmers were demanding that they be made recipients of the government dole to the poor, and that each of them be given P5,000 per hectare or P10,000 for two hectares. So made his statement even as the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas, the Anakpawis party-list group, the Save Laguna Lake Movement, and the Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay asked the government scrap its dole to the poor because it wasn’t working. “Malacanang and Congress should stop banking on the CCT program, which is both a dismal and v fatal failure,” Pamalakaya vice chairman Salvador France and Anakpawis vice chairman Fernando Hicap said in a joint statement. So said farmers were complaining that the prices of local rice could not compete with the prices of imported rice, which were lower. “The warehouses remain filled to the rafters with rice because there is an oversupply of smuggled imported rice in the local markets,” So said. The stakeholders have signed a manifesto that has been submitted to President Benigno Aquino III asking him to expand the dole program to include the farmers. The manifesto was signed by So, Herculano Co of the Philippine Confederation of Grains Associations, Jojo Soliman of the Alliance of Grains Industry Stakeholders of the Philippines, and Silvestre Boaxto of the Confederation of Irrigators Association.

“Allotting a fourth of the CCT budget or about P10 billion to farmers would allow them to sell [unmilled rice] at a discounted price of P14 per kilo from P17.50,” the manifesto says. “Doing so will ensure that market competition will kill smuggling operations as the discounted price per sack of P1,150 will be able to compete with the smuggled rice being sold at P1,200 per sack.” So on Friday also urged the Bureau of Customs to mount a nationwide crackdown not only on smuggled rice but also on imported meat, poultry, onions and other agricultural products after the Bureau confiscated600,000 bags of smuggled rice worth P1.2 billion in Cebu. The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas also demanded that the confiscated rice be distributed to the victims of typhoon Pablo at no cost. With Gigi Muñoz-David‐scrap‐p45‐b‐cct/                           

CP helps aquaculture By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Apr. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 466 views 2

Charoen Pokphand Inc., an agro-industrial company from Thailand, committed to help small aquaculture companies to develop the Pangasius fish culture industry to serve the growing domestic demand for the cream dory-like fish. Pangasius is a freshwater catfish belonging to the Pangasidae family. The Trade Department said in a statement it sought the assistance of a technical team from Bataan-based Charoen Pokphand to conduct capacity building trainings for interested stakeholders. Sattra Sinasathit, an executive of Charoen Pokphand led a team of fishpond operators in a recent visit to the province’s aquaculture centers. He said his company was eager to provide support and assistance for the development of the pangasius industry in the province. The team visited the Matias Farm in Liyang, Pilar town and David Farms in Dangkol, Balanga City. Charoen Pokphand also provides assistance and consultancy services to existing and interested Pangasius fishpond operators in the province. The Trade Department’s regional operations and development group also plans to bring Pangasius culture in Mindanao.‐helps‐aquaculture/             

Business climate critical to growth By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Apr. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 349 views 1

The government must improve the investment climate to motivate Filipinos to move their funds away from the special deposit account facility of the Bangko Sentral into more productive investments, Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. said Friday. HSBC’s statement came in the wake of the Bangko Sentral’s third rate cut on SDA accounts this year from the previous 2.5 percent to 2 percent Thursday. “Beyond the lowering of operational costs, the policy impact maybe limited since the main issue confronting the Philippine economy is not a lack of liquidity but limited investment opportunities,” HSBC economist Trinh Nguyen said. “The responsibility thus lies with the government to carry out reforms to improve the business environment… Thus, it is unclear whether the central bank’s actions would have much of an impact on growth,” she said. The British bank said the underlying problem facing the Philippines was not “a dearth of liquidity but limited investment opportunities.” “Ultimately, the government would need to improve the business environment and carry out necessary reforms to motivate Filipinos to channel funds away from the SDA facility,” it said. Data from the Bangko Sentral showed that total funds parked in the SDA facility reached P1.929 trillion as of March 8. The Bangko Sentral uses the facility to siphon off excess cash in the financial market and prevent them from feeding inflation. HSBC said the Bangko Sentral might be tempted to reduce the SDA rate further provided that inflation stayed benign and manageable. Interest rates on SDA hovered at 3.5 percent in January this year, before the Bangko Sentral cut them.‐climate‐critical‐to‐growth/ 

CHED approves 9 percent tuition hike   Published on 26 April 2013  Hits: 211  Written by Lydia C. Pendon   

ILOILO CITY: The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) gave the go-ahead for 30 private schools in Western Visayas to raise their tuition and other school fees by nine percent.

But state universities and colleges will not increase their fees through a recent moratorium imposed by the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (Pasuc). A total of 38 private universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning applied for increases in the school fees but only 30 were approved, according to CHED Regional Director Virginia Resurrecion. Covered by the Pasuc resolution in the region for tuition freeze are the University of the Philippines Visayas, Western Visayas College of Science and Technology (WVCST), West Visayas State University (WVSU), Guimaras State College, Antique National School, Aklan State University, Negros Occidental College of Agriculture and the many satellite campuses of WCVST and WVSU in the provinces of the region.‐ched‐approves‐9‐percent‐tuition‐hike             

DA bans bird imports from China Published on 26 April 2013  Hits: 239  Written by James Konstantin Galvez 

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has suspended the importation of poultry and other poultry products from China, a month after a bird flu strain was discovered in eastern province that has killed 22 people. In DA memorandum order 14, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala ordered the temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild birds— including poultry meat, day old chicks, eggs and semen—originating from China to protect the Philippines’ local poultry population, as well as human health. China’s Ministry of Health earlier confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza in poultry in Shanghai and neighboring regions on the eastern seaboard. To date, some 108 people in China have contracted the disease since the first deaths were reported last month. Many of the fatalities were working in poultry farms. Chinese authorities, meanwhile, have yet to determine human-to-human transmission of the virus. In line with the ban, Alcala ordered the immediate suspension of the processing and evaluation of the application and issuance of veterinary quarantine clearance on the importation of poultry products from China. The official also mandated the DA’s veterinary quarantine officers or inspectors in all major ports to halt and confiscate all shipments of poultry and poultry products (with the exception of heat treated products) from the regions. Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl,

etc.) as well as pet birds and wild birds. In its notifiable form, the disease can be divided into two categories—the high and low pathogenecity. Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus spreads rapidly, may cause serious disease and result in high mortality rates (up to 100 percent within 48 hours). The low pathogenic avian influenza can causes mild disease that may be undetected, or have no symptoms at all in some species of birds.‐business‐news/46243‐da‐bans‐bird‐imports‐from‐ china                             

2013 04 27 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor