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Fire NIA director ASAP Published on 21 May 2013 Hits: 50 Written by ERWIN TULFO

Here’s one government official who refuses to heed Pnoy’s call to travel the “tuwid na daan”. Region 11 National Irrigation Administrarion (NIA)Director Modesto Membreve was all over the newspapers Monday following a very serious complaint from a contractor. Based on the news reports, Membreve asked P3.5 million from a contractor, William Chu, as his commission from an irrigation project in Davao, and he wanted it in advance The poor contractor had to scrounge for cash here in Manila so he could give Membreve the amount or he wouldn’t be awarded the contract. The total cost of the contract is P40 million. But a few days after the cash was delivered, Mr. Chu was informed that the project was given to someone else. This is not the first time the official got himself in hot water. Last year, a lawmaker asked Malacanang that Membreve be removed from the Caraga region. But that’s another story. A friend told me yesterday that Membreve has returned the money for fear he might be sacked. Sources at NIA office inform us that Membreve is eyeing the position to be vacated by Administrator Tony Nangel when he retires in August. For heavens sake...anybody but Membreve for that post!!!!! This nincompoop has a string of complaints from contractors who were forced to make cash advance payments or they wouldn’t win the awards. Now, if thats not corruption, I don’t know is. Paging NIA Administrator Nangel and Agriculture Secretary Procy Alcala!

Farmers willing to mechanize operations Published on 21 May 2013 Hits: 72 Written by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ Farm mechanization in the Philippines is shifting to higher gear as more farmers show willingness to mechanize their farmlands, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Tuesday. Based on the latest survey conducted by the DA-Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), the level of mechanization in farms across the country has now reached 1.23 horsepower per hectare (hp/ha)—with rice and corn areas recording the highest level of available farm power at 2.31 hp/ha. “The recent years, especially the last two to three years, the developments have been significant in farm mechanization, mainly because one of the reasons is the Rice Mechanization Program, which has accelerated the adoption of farm machinery,” said PhilMech Executive Director Rex Bingabing. The survey to come up with the latest farm mechanization figure covered 2011 and 2012. Based on the survey of PhilMech field personnel, 70 percent of the total farm power is available for use in production operations while the remaining 30 percent is for postharvest operations. Bingabing expressed confidence that the Philippines will reach a farm mechanization target of at least 2 hp/ha by 2016, adding that the 3 hp/ha is “doable.” The last official figure on farm mechanization was released in the mid-1990s, where it was pegged at 0.52 hp/ha. In December last year, PhilMech, citing initial results of a survey on farm mechanization being undertaken, said that the farm mechanization level in the Philippines was at least 1 hp/ha, with rice and corn farms having around 1.60 hp/ha. Catching up with neighbors The PhilMech chief said that while the latest figure of 1.23 hp/ha shows that farm mechanization is gradually taking root in the Philippines, he admitted that the country is still behind some of its Asian neighbors. “We are still a little behind, because Thailand is still ahead of us. And developed countries like Japan and Korea are way, way ahead,” he said. “PhilMech observed during the past years, however, that more farmers are gaining interest toward mechanization. Every time we go around the country for field inspections, the farmers are the ones asking how to avail of the machineries. In the coming years, there would be a lot of

farmers acquiring machineries,” Bingabing said. He added that farmers now realize that they can recover their investments in farm machinery, since their production is enhanced and postharvest losses are reduced. “For example, a palay [unmilled rice] harvester costs from P1.5 to P2 million. According to those who invested in harvesters, they can recover their investment in two to four croppings,” Bingabing said. When it comes to farm mechanization in Asia, Japan remains the leader with 7hp/ha, followed by South Korea at 4.11 hp/ha, China with 4.10 hp/ha and Vietnam at 1.56 hp/ha. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s farm mechanization level was pegged at 1.02 hp/ha. and India 1 hp/ha. Thailand has a higher farm mechanization level than Vietnam. In line with this, Bingabing urged farmers to take advantage of the Department of Agriculture’s program, which allows farmers to gain more interest in mechanizing their farms the 85-15 cost sharing scheme—wherein the government shoulders 85 percent of the cost of a farm equipment and the qualified farmer organization shoulders the remaining 15 percent. Bingabing noted that there are still farmers who acquire farm machinery without going through that program. “The purpose of that program was to help show that farm machineries improved productivity. At first, there was apprehension. But now more farmers are getting interested in mechanization. This is a sign that the Philippine agriculture sector is modernizing,” he added.

More investments needed in agriculture Category: Opinion Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 20:11 Written by The BusinessMirror Editorial

AGRICULTURE Secretary Proceso J. Alcala is right: Big local and foreign corporations should invest in agriculture, not only to ensure food security, but also to accelerate countryside development. Alcala’s pitch for more investments in agriculture is timely and appropriate, given his department’s aggressive promotion and marketing of Filipino farm, fishery and food products to the rest of the world. If only Filipino corporations and multinational companies would pour investments into agriculture, fishery and agribusiness ventures, the country can attain sufficiency in rice and other staples, and increase production of non-traditional crops for export. The agriculture department’s efforts to encourage bigger investments in the rural sector have apparently begun to bear fruit. For instance, the Bank of the Philippine Islands now offers a loan package to borrowers wishing to secure millions of pesos to make their agribusiness operations move full blast. The bank, which now provides more loans to hog raisers in Central Luzon through its agribusiness unit, says it is serious in complying with requirements of the agri-agra law that mandates banks to devote 20 percent of their loan portfolio to agriculture. And as reported recently by this paper, Irish and French businessmen are interested in putting up organic poultry farms in Cagayan de Oro City in Misamis Oriental and nearby areas. The investors are willing to raise an initial 140,000 chickens and add another 90,000 if Northern Mindanao can supply the raw materials that would be processed into feeds for chicken. These are positive developments that augur well for the rural sector. Enhanced private-sector participation in agricultural development will definitely ensure food security. Findings of the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations show that almost 8 million families are food-poor at present. While there has been a decline in hunger incidence from 44

percent, or 8.9 million households, to 39 percent, or 7.9 million families, the situation is clearly unacceptable, as no Filipino should go hungry amid economic growth. We must intensify efforts to achieve food security, first by giving agriculture the priority it deserves and making enough food available to all at affordable prices. If more private corporations would invest in agriculture, rural incomes will rise, thus helping reduce the ranks of the poor. After all, it is in the rural areas where the poor people are concentrated. At the same time, the government should do its part and give ample support to agriculture through increased support services to farmers, such as credit, irrigation, post-harvest facilities and farm-to-market roads

Cooperative questions BOC auction guidelines By Raymund F. Antonio Published: May 22, 2013 Manila, Philippines --- A new controversy has spilled at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), pitting a farmer’s cooperative versus a regional port in connection to the new guidelines in the rice auction. Sili multi-purpose cooperative has filed complaints before the Office of Ombudsman against Leovigildo Dayoja, district collector of the Port of Legazpi in Albay province. Dajoya found himself facing a criminal and administrative case for the questionable bidding procedures on the 94,000 bags of Vietnamese rice scheduled for auction last May 15 by the BOC. “The acts of the respondent was clearly intended to give a private party an unwarranted benefit, advantage, or preference in purchasing the seized Vietnam rice,” Elpidio Mendoza, chairman of Sili multi-purpose cooperative in La Union, said. In his complaint, Mendoza questioned the integrity of the rice auction since the guidelines issued by the BOC favors only big-time rice traders. He cited one of the guidelines that “all interested bidders must be able to show that at least 20 percent of the amount reflected in their Official Receipt from previous bidding won by them shall not be less than the current floor price of P88 million.” The guidelines also said that “all interested bidders must be able to submit their respective audited financial statements submitted to the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) and/or certified true copies of their respective BIR income tax return (ITR) for the preceding fiscal year 2010, 2011 and 2012 showing that 10 percent of their gross sales declared in the financial statements or ITR is equivalent to or greater than the total amount of their tendered bid price.” Mendoza said these clearly violate Custom Administrative Order No. 10-2007, which provides for the conditions for registration and participation in public bidding. “These requirements were clearly included in order to favor a third party and exclude complainant,” he said. He explained that these guidelines not only prevented farmer’s cooperatives from participating in the bidding but also the P88-million floor price of the rice intended for auction.

Environment department allocates P55 million for coffee, bamboo plantations Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 20:01 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has set aside P55 million for the establishment of a coffee plantation inside Bukidnon province’s Camp Kibaritan and a bamboo plantation inside Nueva Ecija province’s Fort Magsaysay in support of the government’s National Greening Program (NGP). A memorandum of agreement on the establishment of these plantations was signed by Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, Secretary Voltaire Gazmin of the Department of National Defense (DND), Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Undersecretary Emerson Palad of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Assistant Secretary Rolando Acosta of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) at the DND Social Hall in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, on Monday. The agreement, dubbed the “DA, DAR, DENR and DILG National Convergence Initiative in Partnership with DND,” formalizes the defense department’s inclusion in the implementation of the government’s flagship reforestation program, which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of public lands nationwide within six years, ending in 2016. In a statement, Paje said the agreement is “an excellent affirmation of the NGP’s centrality to the core mandates of every key national agency like the DND.” Under the agreement, the DENR will provide a seed fund of P5 million to support a coffeeplantation pilot project covering 200 hectares inside Camp Kibaritan. It will also support the remaining 800 hectares that will comprise the 1,000-hectare plantation. The environment department will also release P50 million to the DND to fund a bamboo-plantation project covering 3,000 hectares inside Fort Magsaysay. In addition, the DENR will provide technical assistance, regularly monitor and evaluate, and identify with the defense department suitable areas for development under the NGP, including vulnerable and hazard-prone ones, within military reservations. For its part, the DND will establish in selected military reservations, nurseries and plantation sites where quality food crops and seedlings can be produced and native three species can be planted. For military reservations that can be developed into agricultural lands, the DA shall be the lead agency in boosting farmers’ income and reduce poverty in the rural sector. The DAR shall be the lead agency in providing direction to and coordination with the national agrarian reform program.‐commodities/13803‐environment‐department‐ allocates‐p55‐million‐for‐coffee‐bamboo‐plantations

Fisheries pacts eyed to prevent border rows Category: Top News Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 21:22 Written by Butch Fernandez President Aquino confirmed on Tuesday that the government is working on forging a joint fisheries agreement with neighboring countries to avert border conflicts similar to the incident that resulted in the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by an anti-poaching patrol off Batanes nearly two weeks ago. At the same time, Mr. Aquino prodded the Navy to predict, prepare and plan for the defense of Philippine territory even as the government remained locked in a raging row with Taipei over the May 9 shooting incident. Speaking at the Navy anniversary rites in Cavite, he also sought to boost soldiers’ morale to defend the country against internal and external threats. Amid continuing spats with its neighbors over maritime jurisdiction, the President said the Navy should keep tracking the risks to the country’s territorial rights. Interviewed after speaking at the anniversary rites, he affirmed that the government is moving toward crafting a joint fisheries agreement with other Asian countries as soon as Manila resolves its ongoing conflict with Taiwan. Mr. Aquino said, “guarding the national patrimony provisions of the Constitution will come into play” when the Philippine government starts negotiating with neighboring countries to sign the agreement. “So, after we finish this issue, we will talk to every neighbor that we have to ensure peaceful and equally prosperous relations with everybody.”

Farmers hope immigration bill favors foreign agriculture workers Category: World Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 19:42 Written by MCT

WASHINGTON—Walk the aisles of any neighborhood grocery store today and you’re as likely to find tomatoes picked in Sinaloa, Mexico, as Central California or oranges from São Paulo, Brazil, as Bradenton, Florida. Farmers across the country warn that shoppers will find even more imported food on their store shelves if Congress fails to pass immigration legislation that would guarantee them enough workers to milk their cows and harvest their fruits and vegetables. “The bottom line is people need to decide whether they’d rather import their labor or import their food,” said Randall Patterson, a China Grove, North Carolina, farmer who grows strawberries, cucumbers and watermelons among his crops. The 52-year-old third-generation farmer employs about 140 foreign-born workers on his 1,200acre farm legally through a federal system similar to the one a bipartisan team of senators want to overhaul and streamline. But crops are being left to rot in fields from Florida to California and Washington state because farmers can’t find enough workers willing to pick their crops. And many of their former workers no longer show up because they fear being stopped by police on their way to the fields and deported. Many already have. Of an estimated 2 million agriculture workers, according to United Farm Workers of America, some 70 percent are thought by union and agriculture officials to be working here illegally. Addressing the agriculture labor shortages has been one of the less controversial issues in the immigration debate taking place on Capitol Hill. Many Republicans and Democrats agree that the agriculture industry is suffering because of a broken immigration system. But resolving the matter for America’s farmers has been complicated because of opposition from those on the far ends of the debate. Many of those on the right oppose providing any legal path

for those here illegally, and many of those on the left argue that the agriculture component must be addressed only as part of a comprehensive package. A bipartisan proposal in the Senate that would create a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people living in the United States illegally would allow quicker legalization for agriculture workers. They would be granted a special “blue card” that provides them legal status. After five years (versus at least 10 for most other people here illegally), agriculture workers could apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship. The bill also calls for guest-worker visas to be issued by the US Agriculture Department, rather than the Department of Labor, to ensure a sufficient workforce. The main arguments against legalizing immigrant agriculture workers is that those jobs ought to be held by Americans rather than people who broke the country’s immigration laws, and that Americans would do farm work if growers paid a fair wage. One of the most outspoken opponents of the bipartisan Senate plan, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Republican-Alabama, raised those points at a recent Senate hearing, where he cited the April jobs report that showed millions remained unemployed and only 88,000 jobs being created. “I’m also dubious about the idea that there are jobs Americans won’t do,” Sessions said. “I worked construction in the Alabama sun, hauling lumber and stuff. I know Americans do that every single day, tough work that’s done every day. Where I was raised... we were told to respect people who did hard work and not to say it’s a job an American won’t do. Any honorable labor is good.” Yet, there are very few US-born farm workers toiling in the fields. Charles Conner, president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, a trade group, said the country can’t continue to produce food in the quantities it produces without its foreign-born workers. “If that labor was not available to us,” Conner said, “ would mean that we would get that food from somewhere else beyond the borders of the United States. And that’s just crazy to think that we would allow that to happen.” Citing a 2008 study by Texas A&M University, he said some 80,000 acres of fresh fruit and vegetable production in California alone has been moved overseas because of labor shortages, a trend counter to the desires of Americans who want more and more information about the food they eat and who want it locally grown. Many farmers say they’ve made multiple attempts to attract American workers to their farms.

Only seven US-born workers in North Carolina completed the entire growing season in 2011, according to a new study by The Partnership for a New American Economy and the Center for Global Development, groups that support an immigration overhaul. Looking at data compiled by the North Carolina Growers Association, the authors found that just 268 out of nearly 500,000 unemployed North Carolinians applied for some 6,500 available jobs. More than 90 percent (245 people) of those applying were hired, but just 163 showed up for the first day of work. Just over a handful stayed through the season. The Senate plan would cap the number of guest worker agriculture visas at 112,333 a year. A House proposal introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, would cap the number of guest worker visas at 500,000. (MCT)

In Photo: Guest workers harvest the strawberry crop at Patterson Farm in China Grove, North Carolina. (MCT)

Farm mechanization on upswing — DA By Ellalyn B. De Vera Published: May 22, 2013 More farms are adopting the use of machinery to increase productivity and the Department of Agriculture (DA) expects the trend to continue. DA- Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) Executive Director Rex Bingabing said the mechanization of Philippine farms is on an upswing with more farmers showing willingness to mechanize their farms. The DA measures farm mechanization in horsepower per hectare (hp/ha) and the latest survey conducted by PhilMech shows the average level reaching 1.23 hp/h, with some rice and corn farms at 2.31 hp/ha. The DA hopes to see the overall average level of farm mechanization reaching at least 2 hp/ha by 2016, while saying reaching the 3 hp/ha level is “doable.” “The recent years, especially the last two to three years, the developments have been significant in farm mechanization, mainly because one of the reasons is the Rice Mechanization Program, which has accelerated the adoption of farm machinery,” Bingabing said. In the mid-’90s, the official farm mechanization level was pegged at 0.52 hp/ha. In December last year, PhilMech said that the farm mechanization level in the Philippines was at least 1 hp/ha, with rice and corn farms having around 1.60 hp/ha. The figures were based on the initial results of a survey on farm mechanization undertaken by PhilMech. However, Bingabing said while the latest figure of 1.23 hp/ha shows that farm mechanization is taking root in the Philippines, he admitted that the country is still behind some of its Asian neighbors. In Asia, among the leaders in farm mechanization are Japan with 7hp/ha, South Korea 4.11 hp/ha, China 4.10 hp/ha, while Vietnam is at 1.56 hp/ha. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s farm mechanization level was pegged at 1.02 hp/ha, and India 1 hp/ha. Thailand has a higher farm mechanization level than Vietnam. “We are still a little behind, because Thailand is still ahead of us. And developed countries like Japan and Korea are way, way ahead,” he said. PhilMech observed during the past years, however, that more farmers are gaining interest in mechanization.

Investment opportunities in Philippine agriculture By Senator Manny B. Villar Published: May 22, 2013 The growing interest among investors and visitors toward the Philippines is not limited to opportunities in the financial, services, trade, and industrial sectors, or in our numerous tourist attractions. The developments I’ve seen in the past few months tell me that agriculture is also getting to be an exciting area of the economy, and it is up to us to turn such excitement into productive and income-generating activities. Last week, I mentioned the proposal of Hanjin Heavy Industry and Construction Co., Ltd., to go into commercial rice and corn production in Misamis Oriental in Mindanao. Late last March, local newspapers reported a P40-million planned investment of Bayer CropScience to expand production of its hybrid rice seeds facility in the province of Laguna. The project will increase the capacity of Bayer CropScience’s seed processing facility to 60 metric tons a day from the current 10 metric tons. The company also plans to establish a new breeding station to test new seed varieties not only for the Philippine market but for other countries in Southeast Asia as well. A company official said the seed business has been growing by double digits for four years. The expansion project is aimed at making the company in the hybrid seed market by next year. Another company, US Agriseeds, is expanding its operations in the country by building a breeding facility for hybrid yellow corn seeds in Mindanao. According to its website, US Agriseeds, based in San Luis Obispo, California, is a family-owned and managed company with an extensive international presence and an extensive line of high-quality vegetable seeds such as cucumbers, jalapenos, peppers, and tomatoes. It has established production and research facilities in various parts of the world such as China, Chile, Mexico, Middle East, and the United States. US Agriseeds, which conducts business in the Philippines through SeedWorks Philippines, Inc., plans to build its corn breeding facility in South Cotabato. It has also established a rice breeding station in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, to participate in the country’s efforts to become self-sufficient in rice. It is also looking at other rice-producing countries in Southeast Asia like Indonesia and Vietnam. I welcome these developments, given the need to increase agricultural production not only to satisfy domestic demand but also demand from global markets. According to the Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization (Philfoodex), the Philippines lags behind its Southeast Asian neighbors when it comes to food exports.

Philfoodex President Roberto Amores said the Philippines exported $3.55 billion worth of food products in 2012, reflecting a growth of 11.6 percent from 2011 figures. The amount, however, seems pitiful compared with the $20-billion annual food exports of Thailand. The expansion projects of Bayer CropScience and US Agriseeds indicate that the Philippines has a potential to attract foreign direct investments in the agriculture sector. We should encourage more companies to go into agricultural projects. Given that these projects will logically be located in the countryside, then the benefits will also go to the rural population, among which our poverty problem is more pronounced. As I have proposed before in this column, we can also offer incentives for agricultural research and development projects. The government can also finance research projects, probably through state-owned universities, and the resulting technologies made available to the public. In my view, these activities will also revive interest among the Filipino youth to take up courses on agriculture and eventually become the leaders in our agriculture renaissance. We cannot abandon agriculture. We must remember that the richest and most powerful nations are also the major food producers. Demand for food and other agricultural products will continue to grow, given the growing population of our country and the world. (For comments/feedback email to: Readers may view previous columns at

Of Trees And Forest Senator Manny B. Villar He is a Filipino businessman and politician. He was ranked as the fifth richest Filipino by Forbes Asia in their October 2007 issue. He is the President of Nacionalista Party and member of the Senate of the Philippines. He assumed the senate presidency at the start of the Third Regular Session of the 13th Congress along with Senator Franklin Drilon but was forced to resign from the post on 17 November 2008.

At least 105 LP members in House – Belmonte By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - More than 100 congressional candidates of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) have defeated their opponents in the May 13 elections. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday he expects at least 105 LP House members in the incoming 16th Congress, which convenes on July 22. Belmonte led the ruling party slate that won all six House seats in Quezon City. He and other key House leaders, including Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, will most likely keep their posts. Gonzales was reelected Mandaluyong City representative. Other LP leaders are claiming a higher number of party winners.Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, who has won a second term, said there were 110 LP congressional winners as of yesterday. On the other hand, Sen. Franklin Drilon, who is the ruling party’s chairman, said his count was 143. The Commission on Elections website as well as poll results monitored by television network GMA-7 reflect a number that is closer to Belmonte’s 105 and Evardone’s 110. The administration party won 19 of Metro Manila’s 32 congressional seats, with the other districts going mostly to its party-allies and only three going to the opposition United Nationalist Alliance. Aside from Quezon City, LP swept all seats in Caloocan City and Marikina City, and won four of six in Manila. Besides Belmonte and Gonzales, LP winners in the metropolis include Edgar Erice and Enrico Echiverri of Caloocan, Marcelino Teodoro and Miro Quimbo of Marikina, Roman Romulo of Pasig, Rodolfo Biazon of Muntinlupa, and Arnel Cerafica of Taguig. LP candidates won in at least four districts in the Cordillera region, two in the Ilocos, one in Cagayan Valley, eight in Central Luzon (including three in Bulacan and two in Nueva Ecija), nine in Calabarzon (including four in Cavite and three in Laguna), four in the Mimaropa region, seven in Bicol, 10 in Western Visayas (including five in Iloilo), seven in Central Visayas, another seven in Eastern Visayas, and 22 in Mindanao. In the Cordillera region, Ilocos provinces and Cagayan Valley, LP winners include Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao, Manuel Agyao of Kalinga, Eric Singson of Ilocos Sur, Henedina Abad of Batanes, Baby Arenas of Pangasinan, and Dakila Cua of Quirino.

DENR asks AFP battalion to run after illegal loggers in Visayas Category: Regions Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 19:20 Written by Zaff Solmerin THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has tapped the services of military battalions to go after illegal loggers who continue to denude the remaining forest cover in the Visayas. Lt. Col. Aldwine Almase, commanding officer of the 82nd Infantry Battalion, said the first to be tapped by the DENR’s Regional Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force-6 (RAILTF-6) was his battalion based in Miag-ao, Iloilo. On Monday Army field commanders from the 301st and 303rd Brigades joined the launch and signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) as members and counterparts of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officers of the provinces of Antique, Aklan, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental in the fight against illegal logging. “In essence, we’re now deputized for enforcement of environmental laws. We fully support the government’s programs and policies in protecting our environment and natural resources. The signing of MOA on anti-illegal logging task force manifests our common aspiration in securing our country and people putting premium on preserving and protecting our forests and resources that in the long run will promote ecological balance,” Almase said in a phone interview. Reports of rampant illegal-logging activities in some areas in the Visayas alarmed environment officials, leading them to tap the military to enforce environmental laws. Recently, the joint team of 61st IB based in Calinog, Iloilo, and environment officials apprehended lumber products equivalent to 5,547.51 board feet at Barangay Wright, Tapaz, Capiz. Authorities were investigating reported connivance among local and police officials, including environment officials to continue illegal-logging activities in the area. Almase said the MOA stipulated the duties and obligations of the military counterpart of the DENR in forest protection especially in the implementation of Executive Order 23 issued by President Aquino in February 2011.The order imposes a moratorium on logging operations from natural and residual forests which also creates, at the same time, the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force. “The MOA also stipulates that soldiers conduct information and education campaign and advocacy against illegal logging, kaingin [slash-and-burn farming] and other destructive activities in the natural and residual forests,” Almase said. “Environmental protection is everyone’s concern; hence, the success of our drive versus illegal logging hinges on the involvement of all stakeholders. Army forces in Panay as deputized by the DENR will continue to perform their duties and responsibilities in implementing environmental laws and help promote advocacy on environmental protection,” he said.

New rice contamination reported in China (Associated Press) | Updated May 22, 2013 ‐ 2:02am 

BEIJING — Authorities are investigating rice mills in southern China following tests that found almost half of the staple grain in one of the country's largest cities was contaminated with a toxic metal. The mills in Hunan province's Youxian county were ordered to suspend business and recall their products after samples showed excessive levels of cadmium, according to an official notice issued yesterday by the county government. It said the mills had been operating legally and sourced their rice from local farmers. The announcement followed reports over the weekend that government inspectors discovered that 44.4 percent of rice and rice products tested this year in the southern city of Guangzhou in Guangdong province showed high levels of cadmium. The carcinogenic metal can seriously damage the kidneys and cause other health problems. Hunan is a heavily agricultural province that borders on Guangdong, although it wasn't clear if there was a direct connection between the mills and Guangzhou's tainted rice. While investigations are continuing, cadmium is believed to have entered the rice from soil polluted with heavy metals. Air and soil pollution are chronic problems in China, caused by poor regulation of industrial emissions and heavy dependence on coal to generate electricity. China's food supply also suffers from deliberate faking or adulterating by unscrupulous operators, leading to occasional public panic over products from infant formula to cooking oil and a deep lack of trust in the government's ability to ensure food safety. In one of the worst scandals, at least six babies died and 300,000 became sick in 2008 after being fed milk powder tainted with the industrial chemical melamine, which was illegally added to watered-down dairy products to make their protein content appear normal.

MVP Group eyes Davao farm By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The group of businessmen Manuel V. Pangilinan is eyeing 30,000 hectares of land in Davao Oriental for palm oil production. Pangilinan, the managing director and chief executive officer of Hong Kong based First Pacific Co. Ltd. said the conglomerate’s agribusiness unit PT Indofood has sent a team to Davao Oriental to assess available areas suitable for palm oil production. “We’re still waiting for the assessment of Indofood with regards to a potential palm oil plantation,” he told reporters yesterday. “So far only palm oil has been assessed,” he added. The total hectarage is only 10 percent of what Indofood has secured in Indonesia. Indofood’s palm oil cultivation area in Indonesia is placed at around 240,000 hectares, making it the third largest palm oil producer in the world. “It is large in Philippine standards but not in global standards,” said Pangilinan. Pangilinan’s group is planning to put up an integrated palm oil production chain starting from palm cultivation to producing crude palm oil from palm branches. Crude palm oil could be processed further into cooking oil and other applications. “We will build not only a plantation but also factories,” said Pangilinan. He said the finished products could be used for domestic consumption or for export. Pangilinan earlier said that his group is looking at sizeable agricultural areas that could be leased for cultivation of palm oil, sugar, rubber, coffee and cacao. He said the conglomerate is more interested in palm oil production because palm trees are more resilient to typhoons.

He said that despite the attractiveness of the banana industry in the country, he is concerned about the impact of weather changes on banana plants. “Bananas are attractive to us because it is a commodity in which the Philippines has some degree of influence on the prices. We are one of the largest exporters in the world of fresh bananas. But I’m worried that with the typhoons hitting the eastern seaboard of Mindanao, we are concerned with the impact of the weather change on the industry itself. They’re quite fragile plants. So we are worried if these weather change continues. Palm oil is more sturdy,” he said.

Palm industry Published: May 22, 2013 Davao City(PNA) – Key stakeholders of Mindanao’s palm oil industry view the integrated effort between the private sector and the government as a crucial move in making Mindanao a more viable region for palm oil investments. The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) disclosed that out of the almost 900,000 hectares of land identified to be suitable for oil palm plantation, 177,000 hectares of it are already under negotiation for palm oil development. Majority of these areas are located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and Region-13 or the Caraga Region. “This calls for a better and stronger participation of our private sector, and more facilitative policies and programs from the government’s end,” said MinDA Chairperson Luwalhati Antonino. Under the MinDA’s investment program, various business-matching sessions were conducted with potential palm oil investors, in partnership with the Board of Investments (BOI) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which may translate into actual investment projects in a span of two years.

Mechanized harvesting By PNA Published: May 22, 2013 Zamboanga City – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is promoting the use of mechanized rice harvesters to increase production. “Using this machinery materializes our goal to produce more rice and saves time, money and effort,” said Agriculture Regional Director Eduardo B. Holoyohoy. According to Haloyohoy, the machine can harvest a one-hectare rice field in two hours, which would take two days when done manually by 10 farmers. It is very economical since it only consumes some 15 liters of fuel per hectare. With the technology, it only has two-percent harvest waste compared to 10 percent if done by field workers. For every 100 sacks, farmers can save 10 sacks of rice, said Virgilio G. Cordero, Jr., the area sales supervisor of Kubota. The DA is also helping farmers acquire their own rice harvester units. To avail of this farm machinery, recipient should be a legitimate member of irrigators’ association, farmers association or cooperative registered under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).

R-11 gets P7.4-B regular projects By Alexander D. Lopez Published: May 22, 2013 Tagum City – The government disclosed that Region-11 or the Davao Region is a recipient of some P7.4 billion worth of projects for this year. According to Region-11 office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-11) Director Mariano Alquiza, some P3.02 billion of the total fund that covers 29 projects are now being implemented by the regional office, while the other projects are being undertaken by the various DPWH engineering districts in the region. He added that since the start of the implementation of the projects, the region has already posted 10.74 percent in terms of accomplishment. Particularly in Davao del Norte, the district engineering office is implementing at least 56 projects worth P474 million from the total budget of the region. For his part, District Engineer Fernando Ongkingco Jr. said implementation of these projects is ongoing and will be completed as programmed. Ongkingco said they are currently completing the construction of 31 school buildings amounting to P84 million in Davao del Norte. “We will try our best to cope with the coming opening of classes,” Ongkingco said. For the whole region, Alquiza said his office is abiding with the standing order of DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson to complete all the one-storey school buildings by the end of June, this year. Region-11 currently has 149 school building projects, 34 of which were already completed, 114 are still being constructed, while one is to be implemented. The region has attained 31.14 percent rate in terms of accomplishments, and it is bent on completing all the one-story school buildings by the end of June this year, he added. DPWH-11 is also ranked No.2 in the whole country in terms of implementing the pre-construction stage of the 2013 current projects, and No. 4 in the stage of project construction, Alquiza disclosed. Pre-construction, he said, involves the activities from survey to preparations of plans, and the conduct of bidding, while the construction stage involves the actual or the ongoing implementation of the projects. Alquiza also disclosed that the DPWH-11 is ranked No. 3 nationwide in terms of completing the pre-construction stage of carry-over projects, and No. 1 in the construction stage.Carry-over projects include projects in 2011 and 2012 that are being implemented this year.

It’s getting wetter, but it’s still summer By DJ Yap, Maricar Cinco, Shiena Barrameda  Inquirer Southern Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer   1:08 am | Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013  

Screengrab from It ain’t over yet. The days are becoming wetter and bits of ice as large as fingernails fell on a portion of Mt. Makiling in Los Baños, Laguna province, during a heavy downpour past noon on Tuesday. In addition, a tornado swept through a portion of a village in Tigaon, Camarines Sur province, damaging power lines and crops on Monday afternoon. But it’s still summer, the state weather bureau said. The onset of the rainy season may take place as early as the last two weeks of May or as late as mid-June, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said. “Right now, the conditions for the rainy season have not been met,” said Pagasa forecaster Manny Mendoza. One criterion for the declaration of the wet season is a rainfall level of at least 25 millimeters (mm) over five days, with three consecutive days of at least 1-mm rain.

This condition also has to be met by five climate stations all over the country. Citing 2000-2010 records, Mendoza said Pagasa typically declared the beginning of the rainy season from mid-May to early June, although it occasionally did so in the first half of May or the second half of June. Hail The hailstorm in Los Baños was felt around 1:10 p.m. and lasted for 15 to 20 minutes on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños. There were, however, no reports of hail on the lower campus and anywhere else in the town. Rolando Inciong, public affairs head of the Asean Center for Biodiversity, with an office in Mt. Makiling, said one of the members of his staff had noticed that what they thought were raindrops falling on the roof “sounded differently.”

“When we checked, we saw ice particles, each about as big as a pinky fingernail, everywhere,” Inciong said in a phone interview. He said strong rain and wind accompanied the hailstones. Inciong said it was his first time to experience hail in the last five years. Pagasa issued thunderstorm advisories over Paete, Kalayaan, Lumban, Calamba City and Los Baños in Laguna, around 12:45 p.m. and warned the public against “heavy rains, gusty winds, lightning and possible flooding.” Julie Mimes of Pagasa said a hailstorm was expected based on the agency’s weather monitoring. Tornado PO1 Maricel Agayo, public information officer of Tigaon Municipal Police, said the tornado, which was large enough to topple down a big narra tree, suddenly hit a part of Barangay San Rafael in Tigaon at 1:30 p.m.

The tornado, which caused an hourlong power outage, was preceded by a loud thunder. It appeared after the skies turned dark on a normally bright hot day. Agayo said the tornado also damaged crops like sweet potatoes, banana trees and corn, and uprooted small trees. Convergence zone In a bulletin, Pagasa said the intertropical convergence zone was still affecting southern Mindanao, bringing cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and thunderstorms over much of the island. The Zamboanga Peninsula and the provinces of Sarangani and Davao del Sur will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers and thunderstorms, it said. Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms, mostly over the western section. Light to moderate winds blowing from the south to southwest will prevail over Luzon and winds from the southeast to south will prevail over the rest of the country, Pagasa said. The coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be slight to moderate. Originally posted: 5:45 pm | Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 Read more:‐not‐gone‐yet‐pagasa#ixzz2TzY0D7CX    

Tuition hike for MM private schools OK’d Published: May 22, 2013 Manila, Philippines --- At least 260 private schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) will implement an increase in tuition and other fees, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced yesterday. DepEd NCR Director Luz Almeda said the petitions of 182 private kindergarten and elementary schools to increase tuition have been approved by the DepEd. “For these levels, 65 of which have applied for a five-percent increase, 93 asked increases between 6 or 10 percent and, 24 of them requested for increase between 11 to 15 percent,” she said. Almeda said the petitions for tuition increases of 78 private secondary schools in the NCR were also approved this school year. “A total of 29 private secondary schools have applied for a five-percent increase, while 49 asked for an increase between 6 to 10 percent,” she said. DepEd records showed that there are 933 schools in the secondary level and 2,118 kindergarten and elementary schools operating in Metro Manila. Almeda said that the amount of increase requested by the private schools “would range between 5 and 10 percent but the majority of which have asked for a six-percent increase.” Almeda said that schools, before applying for tuition increase, should conduct genuine consultations with the parents and the student government. “Applying schools should not fake their consultations with the parents and student leaders,” she said. “Aside from that, they should also submit other documents to us before February 28 of that year.” Unlike in public schools, Almeda said that DepEd “doesn’t have the power to regulate private schools.” However, “we can still impose sanctions on the abusive private schools.” Almeda reminded that in the manual of operation for private schools, DepEd assumes only minimum supervision. “But DepEd will be the one who give them the permit to operate,” she explained. “We will not allow them to increase their tuitions as high as 20 percent. It should be between 5 to 10 percent,” she said.

Based on the 2010 Manual of Regulations of DepEd, 70 percent of the any tuition hike should go to the upgrading of teachers salaries, 20 percent for the improvement of school facilities and equipment and, 10 percent as return on investment of the school owners. Schools violating these will be stripped off of their licenses to operate. In 2012-2013, DepEd allowed 117 private secondary schools and 128 private kindergarten and elementary schools to increase their school fees in NCR. In school year 2011-2012, 118 secondary schools and 136 kindergarten and elementary schools were allowed to increase tuition.                                    

P‐Noy tells world: What is ours is ours By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

Members of the Philippine Navy recite their pledge during their 115th anniversary celebration in  Cavite’s Fort San Felipe yesterday.(INSET)President Aquino chats with Vice President Jejomar Binay at  the Philippine Navy ceremonies yesterday. WILLY PEREZ 

MANILA, Philippines - With tensions escalating over maritime claims, President Aquino yesterday vowed that the country would repel any threat to its territorial integrity and sovereignty. “In the agenda of our good governance, our message to the world is clear: what is ours is ours, and we will repel any and all attempts to claim what is ours, and defend ourselves against any form of aggression, especially within our backyard,” Aquino said at the 115th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Navy at Fort San Felipe in Cavite. He challenged the Navy to rise to the challenges of the times not only in fulfilling its mandate as guardian of the seas, but also as protector of the sovereignty of the Philippines. “The challenge to protect our sovereignty and integrity as a nation has been continuing. There remain the internal and external threats, and the risks brought by calamities that endanger the lives and livelihood of our countrymen,” the President said. Aquino said he expected the Navy to defend the country’s territory and uphold its sovereignty against all enemies, whether foreign or domestic. “We want the Filipino to feel secure and safe, wherever he may be in any part of the world. That is why we expect security forces to curb illegal smuggling transactions, illegal drugs and trafficking-in-persons,” Aquino said.

He expressed confidence that the Navy can better perform its duties with the signing of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Act, which extends the program for another 15 years. Awarding ceremony The President led the awarding ceremony for those who contributed to the Navy’s mission accomplishments during yesterday’s anniversary celebration. Among the recipients were US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras. The event had for its theme “Navy: An Adventure of Honorable Service to our Maritime Nation.” The President was accorded military honors upon his arrival at the Commodore Posadas Wharf Headquarters in Fort San Felipe in Cavite. It was the first time that the Navy’s anniversary celebration was held in Fort San Felipe. The event was highlighted by the inauguration of a museum, which was built to showcase the Navy’s rich history and culture. Among those who attended the ceremony were Vice President Jejomar Binay, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, Navy flag officer in command Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano, Army Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes, Air Force Commanding General Lauro Catalino de la Cruz, Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima, and Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena. Also in attendance were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino, and members of the diplomatic corps. The Navy has conducted a series of pre-anniversary activities for this year’s founding anniversary, among them a football competition among the youth of Mindanao and advocacy biking for safe and fair elections.‐noy‐tells‐world‐what‐ours‐ours        

Aquino rejects charter change By Genalyn D. Kabiling Published: May 22, 2013 Manila, Philippines --- The country’s 1987 Constitution will remain as is for now. President Benigno S. Aquino III has thumbed down renewed proposals to amend the Constitution convinced that the country can attract investors and boost economic growth without having to tinker with the Charter. Some lawmakers had earlier renewed proposals to change the economic provisions of the Constitution, including the restrictions on foreign ownership of land and utilities, which they deemed a hindrance to investments. “I think my stand has been public for the longest time,” Aquino said, referring to an earlier declaration that Charter change is not a priority of his administration. “I don’t think they are a necessary detriment to getting foreign investors in this country,” he added. To support his cause against Charter change, the President highlighted the case of China, which posted high growth despite its restrictions to foreign ownership of land. “In China, you lease, you cannot own land but China’s economy grew for something like close to 10 percent for a decade so that I think that is empirical evidence that suggests that is not a main determinant,” he added. Aquino also noted that various chambers of commerce in the country have indicated that proposed changes in the economic provisions of the Charter rank “very low” in their priority concerns. The business community, Aquino added, was more concerned about the bureaucratic red tape, peace and order situation, lack of infrastructure that hinder investments. Some lawmakers are reportedly bent on pushing for amendments to the Constitution when the new session opens in July. Among the amendments proposed are easing restrictions on foreign ownership of lands, public utilities, and other services. At present, foreigners are permitted to invest up to 40 percent in public utilities in partnership with Filipinos. President Aquino has been opposed to Charter change, even if limited to changing economic provisions. Aquino has repeatedly said Charter change was not the solution to economic growth.

Shooting of Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters? By Pia Lee‐Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

A map sent to The STAR by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines supposedly shows  the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the Philippines (purple line) and Taiwan (green line). 

MANILA, Philippines - With the Philippines’ and Taiwan’s “overlapping” exclusive economic zones (EEZ), the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fishermen off Batanes last May 9 could be said to have taken place in disputed waters, according to Taipei officials. The Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in the Philippines (TECO) presented a map made by Taiwan Fisheries Agency purportedly showing the overlapping EEZ. David Chen, assistant to Taiwan’s representative in Manila, said on Monday that Taiwan could prove that the location of the shooting of the fisherman happened in disputed waters. “We have the preliminary report and our team is to present that to their counterparts. We have the evidence that this happened in overlapping EEZ. It happened 39 nautical miles away from Batanes,” Chen told reporters. “We are entitled to claim EEZ and we operate within our EEZ,” he added. The Taiwan investigating team said on Saturday in a press briefing that a video recording of the May 9 incident by the crew of Taiwanese fishing vessel Guang Ta Hsin 28, showed the vessel was within the EEZ of Taiwan and not in Philippine waters. But on Monday, TECO said Taiwan and the Philippines share overlapping EEZ.

Chen said yesterday that the Philippines’ EEZ reaches up to central Taiwan and that a negotiation to correct the matter is timely. “Yesterday I showed you another map. Actually the Philippine EEZ is up to central Taiwan. I think probably the two sides have to talk. The Philippines and Taiwan have claims, that is why the spirit of UNCLOS provides that if you have disputes you have to discuss it and reach an agreement,” Chen told The STAR. “As I explained to you, Taiwan is willing to have negotiation with the Philippine side and actually I think really now is the time and this incident provides an opportunity to settle the issue peacefully,” Chen said. “You have your EEZ all the way to central Taiwan. That is why this is the truth, this is your claim.”‐taiwanese‐fisherman‐disputed‐ waters                                  

Aquino assures PH can defend itself against external threats By Frances Mangosing   2:33 pm | Tuesday, May 21st, 2013  

President Benigno Aquino III. AP FILE PHOTO 

CAVITE CITY, Philippines–Faced with territorial disputes and worries of external and internal threats, President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday assured that the Philippines can defend itself within its bounds. “Sa ating agenda ng mabuting pamamahala, malinaw ang pahiwatig natin ngayon sa buong mundo: Ang sa Pilipinas ay sa Pilipinas, at kaya nating pumalag at ipagtanggol ang sarili tuwing may sisindak sa atin sa loob mismo ng ating bakuran,” he said in his speech at the Philippine Navy anniversary at Fort San Felipe in Cavite City. (In keeping with our agenda of good governance, we tell this to world loud and clear: what belongs to us belongs to us, and we can defend ourselves whenever faced with security threats.) Aquino, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, was the guest of honor and speaker at the anniversary rites. The President said citizens want to feel safe from external threats and the Armed Forces are expected to be proactive in calming the people’s fears. With illegal drugs, smuggling, human trafficking and natural calamities also threatening the country’s national security, Aquino said the AFP can be counted on to address those concerns. Aquino also broke the news that the government will buy three Multi-Purpose Attack Craft, eight Amphibious Assault Vehicle, two Frigate and Anti-Submarine Warfare-Capable Helicopter, among others, for the Navy under the revised AFP Modernization Act. For the soldiers, the President said that the Phase 1 of the housing program for police and soldiers has been completed, and 11,000 of the 21,800 housing units will go to AFP. Also, about 14,000 of 31,200 housing units will be distributed to soldiers in the Phase 2 of the housing program.

Stocks recover after three-day decline Published on 21 May 2013 Hits: 57 Written by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR REPORTER After idling in the red for the past three trading sessions, local stocks finally recovered on Tuesday as investors took cue on the current Philippine economic forecast, causing the index to inch up slightly. Astro del Castillo, First Grade Finance managing director, said that the market bounced from a technical rally that was basically brought about by the current Philippine economic outlook. “The technical bounce was triggered by strong collection of BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue] and positive news in upgraded outlook on the foreign economic forecast,” del Castillo said over a phone interview. He said, however, that the market is still in a consolidation mode which may last for the next few days. “It is better for the market to consolidate before the next run-up,” del Castillo added. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) recovered from a three-day decline, regaining 0.72 percent, or 52.20 points to 7,327.58, while the wider all-shares index rebounded by 0.38 percent, or 16.90 points to 4,506.74. Some improvements among the sectoral indices were also seen. Property went up 1.94 percent, or 57.89 points to 3,047.63, followed by holding firms, which gained 51.99 points, or 0.79 percent to 6,597.90. Industrial also registered an increase, rising 21.12 points, or 0.19 percent to 10,979.59, while financials went up by 3.57 percent, or 0.19 points to 1,891.56. Mining and oil, however, fell 0.80 percent, or 140.88 points to 17,453.59, while services erased 7.35 points, or 0.34 percent to 2,121.38.Decliners still dominated advancers, 100 to 70, while 49 shares were unchanged. For the third consecutive trading session on Monday, profit-taking prevailed over the local stock market and dragged the main index down. The PSEi welcomed the week in the red, losing 4.49 percent, or 0.06 percent to 7,275.38, while the broader all-shares index went down by 0.14 percent, or 6.37 points to 4,489.84. “Share prices edged lower on light volume as investors booked profits but stayed close to the market, selectively picking up shares ahead of a week full of economic numbers abroad,” Jun Calaycay of Accord Capital Equities Corp. said.‐business‐news/47996‐stocks‐recover‐after‐three‐ day‐decline

Fisheries deal with Taiwan eyed By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - A fisheries cooperation system or agreement with neighboring countries – including Taiwan – may be key to solving maritime disputes in the region without undermining the country’s sovereignty, President Aquino said yesterday. The President’s declaration came amid a diplomatic row with Taipei over the fatal shooting last May 9 of a suspected Taiwanese poacher off Batanes by Philippine Coast Guard personnel. Aquino said that while initial “dialogues” with Taiwan on the matter had already begun, he would rather see the May 9 incident resolved first. “But we are having the fisheries agreement studied, our limitations. The guarding of the national patrimony provisions of the Constitution will come into play. So, after we finish this issue, we will talk to every neighbor that we have to ensure peaceful and equally prosperous relations with everybody,” the President told reporters in an ambush interview after leading the rites commemorating the 115th anniversary of the Philippine Navy in Cavite City. The President also thanked Taiwanese leaders for promising to ensure the safety of Filipinos in Taiwan in the wake of reports of violent attacks on some Filipinos in the territory. “We heard the prime minister of Taiwan and their Ministry of Foreign Affairs have released (statements) that our fellowmen there must not be maltreated and anyone proven to have maltreated our fellowmen will be slapped appropriate penalties – we are thankful for that,” Aquino said. He said he does not have to explicitly direct the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) to ensure the safety of Filipinos, but that he would like the Taipei resident representative Antonio Basilio to clarify, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, if he had indeed promised Taiwan a joint investigation into the May 9 incident, contrary to the President’s wishes. “I want to make sure what he (Basilio) really said and check if he went beyond the limits of my directives,” Aquino said.

The Department of Justice earlier ruled out a joint investigation with Taiwan but said it is open to a “parallel” probe. “We don’t need to tell MECO its obligations and duties that it’s already fulfilling,” he said. The President said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima informed him that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had finished its investigation into the incident “except for the physical examination of the subject boat.” “And it (boat) is in Taiwan, we are waiting for clearance for the team to go there to inspect mutually this boat, to complete the thorough investigation,” Aquino said. Earlier, Malacañang said MECO chairman Amadeo Perez’s message to Taipei supposedly covered only an assurance of an impartial probe, a public apology from the President, and possible financial assistance to the family of the slain fisherman. Taiwan, however, had accused the Philippines of being insincere in its apology. Phl jurisdiction After agreeing on a “parallel investigation” into the May 9 incident, De Lima made clear yesterday that local investigators have legal jurisdiction over the issue because the shooting happened in Philippine waters. “Insofar as we are concerned, it happened in Philippine waters,” she said in an interview. Based on an incident report submitted by the Philippine Coast Guard to the NBI, the incident took place off Balintang Island in Balintang Channel in Batanes. This was contrary to the reported pronouncement of Taiwanese officials that the incident where their compatriot Hung Shih-cheng was killed happened 170 miles or 315 kilometers south of Taiwan or within their 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. “Is that (issue) material or not? Let’s just wait and see the results of the NBI investigation,” she said. She said what’s important is that an investigation is being conducted to determine who should be held liable for the incident, if there is any. The issue on jurisdiction would determine where those found criminally liable would be prosecuted. In the case of the Quirino Grandstand hostage-taking incident on Aug. 23, 2010 where eight Hong Kong tourists were killed and seven others injured, the DOJ was involved in the investigation.

In the May 9 incident, Taiwan launched a separate probe but agreed to cooperate and share evidence with local authorities after the DOJ rejected a call for a joint investigation. But despite a commitment to cooperation, De Lima said it’s possible that separate probes would have contrasting findings. “There’s always that possibility. In that case, the people will decide and would know which one has more credible findings,” she said. As of yesterday afternoon, Philippine authorities were still waiting for approval from Taiwan of their request to send an NBI team to Taipei to examine the fishing vessel and interview the companions of the victim as agreed during a meeting last Monday in Manila. It was also agreed during the meeting that Taiwanese investigators who arrived in Manila last May 16 would be given access to evidence gathered by the NBI, including statements from the Coast Guard personnel involved as well as ballistic report on firearms used. Repercussions As the animosity between Manila and Taipei continues, Taiwanese tourists have started canceling their flights to the country. Percy Malonesio, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) at the Kalibo International Airport, confirmed that several airlines had notified them of cancellation of flights to Boracay from Taiwan.Taipei ordered a travel ban to the Philippines in the wake of the fatal shooting of the Taiwanese fisherman last May 9 off Batanes. “We have received information from the Mandarin Airlines that they will be canceling their flights coming from Taiwan beginning (today). We expect notifications from other airline companies such as Zest Airlines and Philippine Airlines to also follow through anytime today,” said Malonesio. Philippine Airlines, Zest Air, and Mandarin Airlines fly twice a week between Manila and Taipei. “We consider Taiwanese tourists important factor to our economy. We have stable flights coming from Korea and China right now,” Malonesio said.In an effort to find ways to ease the impact of tour cancellations, the Department of Tourism in Boracay is calling for a meeting with officers of the Boracay Foundation Inc., Boracay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and other stakeholders. In Vigan, Ilocos Sur, police rounded up 52 Taiwanese at a beach resort on suspicion they were engaged in cybersex operations. – With Edu Punay, Helen Flores, Ricky Bautista, Charlie Lagasca, Teddy Molina, Raymund Catindig‐deal‐taiwan‐eyed  

Army camps in Bukidnon, Nueva Ecija to grow coffee, bamboo By DJ Yap  Philippine Daily Inquirer   2:28 pm | Tuesday, May 21st, 2013  

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Some 4,000 hectares of land in two military camps in Bukidnon and Nueva Ecija will be converted into coffee and bamboo plantations under the government’s National Greening Program (NGP), environment officials said Tuesday. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will provide P55 million to the Department of National Defense for the project, which is part of the agreement it has signed with three other government agencies to hasten the implementation of the NGP. The other agencies are the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which comprise the National Convergence Initiative, a poverty-reduction strategy for countryside development. “This signing is an excellent affirmation of NGP’s centrality to the core mandates of every key national agency like the DND,” Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said in a news release. Paje signed the agreement along with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio De Los Reyes, Agriculture Undersecretary Emerson Palad, and Local Government Assistant Secretary Rolando Acosta in a ceremony at the DND Social Hall at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Monday. The agreement, called “DA, DAR, DENR and DILG National Convergence Initiative in Partnership with DND,” formalizes the inclusion of the DND in the implementation of the Aquino government’s flagship reforestation program. NGP seeks to grow 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares nationwide by 2016. It aims to contribute to poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Under the agreement, the DENR will provide a seed fund of P5 million to support the coffee plantation pilot project covering 200 hectares in Camp Kibaritan in Bukidnon province. The DENR will also support the remaining 800 hectares that will comprise the 1,000-hectare coffee plantation. The environment department will also release P50 million to the DND to finance the 3,000hectare bamboo plantation project at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija. The DENR will provide necessary technical assistance to ensure the success of the project, conduct regular monitoring and evaluation, and jointly identify with the DND suitable areas for development under the NGP, including vulnerable and hazard-prone areas within military reservations. For its part, the DND will establish in selected military reservations nurseries and plantation sites for the production of quality food crops, seedlings and planting of native tree species. For military reservations that can be developed into agricultural land, the agriculture department shall be the lead agency to boost farmers’ income and reduce poverty in the rural sector. On the other hand, the DAR shall be the lead agency in providing central direction and coordination to the national agrarian reform program. Read more:‐camps‐in‐bukidnon‐nueva‐ecija‐to‐grow‐coffee‐ bamboo#ixzz2TzHFSCmq                          

DTI issues caution to online shoppers Category: Economy Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 20:33 Written by Jennnifer A. Ng The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reminded local consumers to exercise caution when transacting online and to be conscious of their rights and responsibilities as consumers. While buying and selling products online is more convenient than going to stores, DTI-National Capital Region Consumer Welfare Division Chief Carolina Carbonell said it also has its disadvantages. “Online shopping is like a virtual mall. You don’t need to go outside your home, and you can buy products or services using your PC, laptop or mobile phones, less the hassle of queuing in department stores,” said Carbonell. “But there is a risk involved. You can’t see the people you’re transacting with. You don’t know if it’s really a legitimate or a bogus one. There is no permanent store you can visit in case you will complain about a product or service,” she added. Like online shopping, online payment of goods and services is considered a handy method of completing transactions made through the Web. The DTI, however, said this does not guarantee protection against unscrupulous sellers. The DTI made the warning after the release of a study conducted by Axon IT Consulting firm, which showed that in 2012, up to P50 billion was spent in online transactions in the Philippines. This, the study noted, was 40 percent higher than the level registered in 2011. In the same survey, about 43 percent of respondents claimed they had made a purchase after seeing the product or service online, either paying online or in person, while over 95 percent of the respondents said they were “satisfied” when buying or researching products and services online. The DTI advises the public to exercise their rights and responsibilities as consumers, which include the rights to information, where the consumer is protected against fraudulent promotion and the right to redress, which involve compensation for consumers for misrepresentation or unsatisfactory products and services. Before making transactions, Carbonell told consumers to see if the sellers have a business address and contact numbers. This will make it easier for consumers to go after sellers in case they have complaints over a product or service. Local consumers were also advised to check the terms and conditions which explains the provisions and limitations of transaction. Carbonell said there are third-party payment facilities that offer protection to consumers by storing personal information of the customer when paying through a credit card.‐dti‐issues‐caution‐to‐online‐shoppers

Osorio is new CSC chief Published: May 22, 2013 Manila, Philippines --- The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has a new commissioner. Nieves L. Osorio took her oath of office before Chairman Francisco T. Duque III Monday in a simple ceremony at the CSC’s Central Office in Diliman, Quezon City. The former chairperson of the Career Executive Service Board was appointed ad interim commissioner last March 20 by the Office of the President, replacing former Commissioner Mary Ann Z. Fernandez-Mendoza. Her term expires February 2020. As the new Commissioner, Osorio brings to the CSC her managerial and executive experience in government service, as well as her advocacy for good corporate governance. She holds a Career Executive Service Officer Rank I. She served as president and Chief Executive Officer of Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corporation from 2005 to 2007, and as Finance Undersecretary in 20012005. She also served as executive vice president of the Philippine National Oil Company (19962001), director IV in the Department of Budget and Management (1988-1995), and assistant national treasurer (1984-1988). She had experience in the academe as instructor, faculty member, and lecturer on statistics, public administration, tax policy, and business administration.


Oil firms hike prices anew By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Oil companies have jacked up pump prices again. Petron Corp., the country’s biggest oil refiner, announced the price adjustments on Monday night. “Petron will implement the following price increases effective 6 a.m., May 21: 35 centavos per liter for gasoline and 25 centavos per liter for diesel. This reflects movements in the international oil market,” Petron said. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. raised prices by 35 centavos per liter for gasoline and 25 centavos per liter for diesel effective 6 a.m. yesterday. The latest round of adjustment comes after oil firms last week also jacked up prices. It ended a series of oil price reductions from April to May. Last week, oil firms’ price hikes amounted to P0.45 per liter for gasoline, P0.50 per liter for kerosene and P0.60 per liter for diesel. The latest price hike also comes after Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest electricity distributor, announced a 12-centavo per kilowatt-hour (kwh) reduction in the May electricity bills. The reduction is due to lower transmission charges. A typical household using 200 kwh will experience a reduction of P24 in the electricity bill for May. Of the different components in electricity cost, the transmission charge registered the biggest decrease at around 12 centavos per kwh. It was mainly due to lower ancillary service charges from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the company that operates the country’s transmission highway. Other bill components that registered reductions include the system loss charge, lifeline rate subsidy, the value added tax (VAT) and local franchise tax, which had a cumulative reduction of 8 centavos per kwh.‐firms‐hike‐prices‐anew  

High fees, few rural outlets slash benefits of remittances–report Category: Banking & Finance Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 20:15 Written by Bianca Cuaresma / Reporter HIGH charges and few rural outlets cut the benefits of the billion-dollar remittances sent by Asian migrants to their families, a report by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (Ifad) and the World Bank said on Tuesday. Remittances account for about 10 percent of the Philippines’s gross domestic product. The country received remittances worth about $24.3 billion in 2012, making it the third-largest recipient of remittances in the world that year. That amount is over half of remittances in Southeast Asia. The report, “Sending Money Home to Asia,” said about 70 million families in Asia depend on migrant workers’ income. It added that 8.5 percent of this income is slashed due to the charges incurred in sending the money. The World Bank aims to introduce reforms, policy advice and technical assistance to Asian countries so that the 8.5-percent remittance fee will drop to only 5 percent. Migrant workers will save an estimated cumulative amount of $8.7 billion annually if such fee is reduced. “Remittances are a lifeline for migrant workers and their families, and reducing the average remittance price in Asia to 5 percent would put $8.7 billion per year more in [their] pockets,” said Janamitra Devan, vice president of the World Bank Private Sector Development. According to Devan, the government and private sector must develop a better environment to foster competition in the remittance sector. He also urged countries to develop a stronger system of payments in remittances. The report also said the rural sector’s limited access to remittance outlets curb the possibility of growth in that sector. According to the report, almost 38.5 percent of the $260 billion worth of Asian remittances are sent to rural areas in 2012. Since almost two-thirds of remittance payments in Asia are in urban areas, rural residents still have to travel long distances to collect these remittances. “If rural families are given more financial options to use the funds they receive, up to $30 billion could potentially be saved, invested and put back into communities,” Ifad Associate Vice President Kevin Cleaver said. “If this happens, migration for future generations could become a matter of choice rather than a necessity,” he added. The Ifad-World Bank report will be presented at the Global Forum on Remittances. The forum aims to gather global remittance-sector leaders to find ways to maximize the impact of remittance flows through policy and regulatory reforms.‐finance/13810‐high‐fees‐few‐rural‐ outlets‐slash‐benefits‐of‐remittances‐report

Peso rises only slightly as BSP restricts access to SDA By Michelle V. Remo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   8:22 pm | Tuesday, May 21st, 2013  


MANILA, Philippines — The peso moved sideways on Tuesday as the market weighed the impact of a central bank’s move to restrict access to its special deposit account (SDA) facility and favorable outlook on the domestic economy. The local currency closed at 41.17 against the US dollar, up by a mere 1.5 centavos from the previous day’s finish of 41.185:$1. Intraday high hit 41.12:$1, while intraday low settled at 41.205:$1. Volume of trade amounted to $717.1 million from $631.2 million. The movement of the peso came a day after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas announced it would restrict the entry of funds to the SDA facility. In particular, only money from unit investment trust funds (UITFs) and funds placed in trust accounts with banks will be allowed access to the SDA facility. This means, money placed in other investment outlets, such as mutual fund, will have to be withdrawn from the SDA. The BSP said banks could fully withdraw covered funds until Nov 30. The restricted entry to the SDA facility is seen to help temper foreign-exchange inflows, some of which were believed to be going to SDAs. Nonetheless, traders said rosy projections for the Philippine economy, including expectations that foreign direct investments might start to more significantly pick up, have been helping keep demand for peso-denominated securities. The likelihood of an increase in FDIs, according to government economists, is anchored on the country’s recent attainment of an investment grade.‐rises‐only‐slightly‐as‐bsp‐restricts‐access‐to‐sda  

SEC issues Market-friendly rules on foreign ownership in firms Published: May 22, 2013

The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued a memorandum circular containing its guidelines on foreign ownership for firms engaged in nationalized and partly nationalized activities after several consultations with stakeholders. Under the final rules, computation of the percentage of Filipino ownership will be applied to both the total number of outstanding shares of stock entitled to vote in the election of directors and the total number of all outstanding shares, whether or not entitled to vote in the election of directors. The proposed rules are seen to be more market friendly and less restrictive compared to the previous proposal that compliance with foreign ownership limits will be computed in each class of shares. “The memo circular attempts to reconcile the Supreme Court decision in the PLDT case and the need to attract more foreign investments into the country. It should be acceptable to the business community,” said former Philippine Stock Exchange president and top corporate lawyer Francis Lim. In case the law requiring a certain percentage of ownership of shares belong to Filipinos specifically refers to voting stock, the rules provide that this statutory requirement must be complied with. The final rules are seen to allow companies that are in danger of breaching their foreign ownership limits comply with the nationality requirement by issuing voting preferred shares since these will be counted in the computation of voting stocks.The rules require all covered firms to observe the constitutional or statutory ownership requirement “at all times.” All covered firms are required to adopt a system of internal controls that will allow them to monitor and observe compliance with the provisions on ownership requirements. The guidelines will take effect after publication but a grace period has been provided, with all existing covered corporations which are non-compliant being given a period of one year to comply with the ownership requirement. An extension may be given in “meritorious and exceptional cases upon proper petition.”(James A. Loyola)

Farmers question bidding of imported rice By Joel E. Zurbano | Posted on May. 22, 2013 at 12:01am | 371 views 

A group of farmers on Tuesday filed a complaint against a customs official in Bicol in connection with the questionable bidding of 94,000 bags of rice imported from Vietnam a week ago. The Sili Multi-purpose Cooperative filed the complaint before the Office of Ombudsman against Leovigildo Dayoja, district collector of the Port of Legazpi in Albay province. “The acts of the respondent were clearly intended to give a private party an unwarranted benefit, advantage, or preference in purchasing the seized Vietnam rice,” said Elpidio Mendoza, chairman of Sili multi-purpose cooperative in La Union. The group questioned the integrity of the rice auction since the guidelines issued by the Bureau of Customs allegedly favored only big-time rice traders. Mendoza described as one-sided one of the guidelines that states that “all interested bidders must be able to show that at least 20 percent of the amount reflected in their Official Receipt from previous bidding won by them shall not be less than the current floor price of P88 million.” Another guideline said that “all interested bidders must be able to submit their respective audited financial statements submitted to the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) and/or certified true copies of their respective BIR income tax return (ITR) for the preceding fiscal year 2010, 2011 and 2012 showing that 10 percent of their gross sales declared in the financial statements or ITR is equivalent to or greater than the total amount of their tendered bid price.” These, Mendoza said, clearly violated Custom Administrative Order No. 10-2007, which provides for the conditions for registration and participation in public bidding. “These requirements were clearly included in order to favor a third party and exclude complainant,” he said. Mendoza said these guidelines not only prevented farmer’s cooperatives from participating in the bidding but also violated the P88-million floor price of the rice intended for auction. The rice shipment arrived at the Port of Legazpi on board cargo ship Minh Tuan 68. Customs agents seized the shipment last year after the consignees failed to show proof of payments of the corresponding duties and other required documents. Customs authorities identified a number of farmer’s cooperatives under National Food Authority (NFA) as its consignees. Among these are Ugnayan Magbubukid ng San Pedro Inc., Kapatirang Takusa multi-purpose cooperative, Malipampang Concerned Citizens multi-purpose cooperative, and the Samahan ng Magsasakang Kapampangan at Katagalogan multi-purpose cooperative.‐question‐bidding‐of‐imported‐rice/

Poor fisherfolk feel Published : Wednesday, May 22, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 47

ALING Minda Moriles worked most of her life at sea in Manila Bay area. She was able to feed her family of seven and to send her children to school. But times have become difficult for her and her family. With limited catch due to overfishing, Aling Minda joined several other fisher folk at the office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to demand government’s support. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) released its report citing that poverty incidence in the country remained the same in 2006 and 2009. The report indicated that fisherfolk are the poorest of the poor, with 41.4 percent poverty incidence. ‘We are actually left out to fend for ourselves. Fewer fish catch means lower income from fishing. We expect from our government to support us in augmenting our income to feed our families,’ said Ka Minda. The problem is that overfishing is only the tip of the iceberg. There are other critical issues that the government needs to address in order to alleviate fisherfolk from poverty. Fishery habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves and sea grass are already in critical conditions. Weak capacities of local government units and national government agencies to respond to a crisis like overfishing exacerbate the problem. The Save the Fisheries Now Network has urged the government to develop its Roadmap to Recovery for Philippine Oceans. The Roadmap contains recommendations on how to improve income from fishing. ‘President Noynoy Aquino plays a significant role in the transition to sustainable fisheries. His remaining three years will define his legacy in securing food security of our country. We challenge President Aquino that if he is truly serious in his inclusive growth, include the poor

fisherfolk in his development agenda,’ said Ruperto ‘Ka Uper’ Aleroza of the Save the Fisheries Now Network. ‘For the longest time, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has been relegated under the Department of Agriculture. With limited resources and limited personnel, it could no longer respond to the challenges of our times. We urge Congress to pass a bill to establish a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to respond to problems like overfishing,’ Pablo ‘Ka Pabs’ Rosales of the Save the Fisheries Now Network cited. ‘The government should also rehabilitate important fishery habitats. It needs to protect and improve the conditions of remaining coral reefs through the establishment of Marine Protected Areas. It needs to reforest mangrove areas especially those areas that are abandoned, undeveloped and underutilized. It needs to protect remaining sea grass beds,’ added Ka Uper. On May 31, 2013, fisherfolk including Aling Minda will commemorate National Fisher Folk Day. ‘But there is nothing to celebrate. Fishing is a dying industry. We’ll go down in history as the most neglected sector in the country,’ lamented Aling Minda. (For feedback: email (Dennis F. Calvan is the Executive Director of NGOs for Fisheries Reform, Inc. He can be reached at or‐poor‐fisherfolk‐feel                        

Grade 8 added to basic school starting this year By Gigi Munoz-David | Posted on May. 22, 2013 at 12:02am | 585 views Schools will implement new curriculum this year as part of the government’s K-12 program that added two more years to the previous 10 years of basic education to make Filipinos more competitive with students in other countries, the Department of Education (DepEd) said on Tuesday. DepEd Assistant Secretary Tomasito Umali said new curriculum for Grades 1 and 7 were implemented last year and the curriculum for Grades 2 and 8 will be introduced this school year. “Training for mentors have been undertaken,” Umali said. Before implementation of the K-12 program, the Philippines was one of few countries that provide only 10 years of basic education, six years of elementary and four years secondary. Educators claimed the short period made it difficult for Filipinos to be competitive with other countries such as Japan and South Korea. The extra years will be spent to tackle in more details subjects such as mathematics and science. Umali said shortage of classrooms, teachers, books, chairs and toilets remain as the main challenge for educators and they hope assistance from government and private sectors would continue. “We are trying to address the shortages before we face new needs when we get to implement new curriculum for Grades 7-12 in 2016 to 2018,” Umali said. “Some private stakeholders have pooled their resources to build comfort rooms in far-flung areas,” he said. The Department of Budget and Management has approved 61,510 openings for teachers this year as demand for their services grew because of growing enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide. Umali said almost 24 million students, including three million in private schools, will return to school on June 3, but he expected a smooth opening of classes.He said that those allowed to increase tuition were 78 of 933 private high schools and only 182 of 2,118 private pre-school and elementary schools.‐8‐added‐to‐basic‐school‐starting‐this‐year/

Aquino should lead poll reforms By Francisco S. Tatad | Posted on May. 22, 2013 at 12:01am | 484 views

Like a forest fire that could not be controlled, questions about last week’s midterm elections continued to swamp us even as the 12 newly proclaimed senators and the other 12 incumbents began to mull over the possible reorganization of the Senate. While I was in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, attending an important conference of the Centrist Asia-Pacific Democrats International from Monday until yesterday, I received a text message suggesting that an IT expert has cracked the secret behind Team Pinoy’s 9-3 senatorial win in the election. Purportedly passed-on from the former head of the Commission on Elections’ IT department Ernie del Rosario, the message read: “I sampled the quick count ‘manufactured’ by the transparency server ‘kuno’ and found that the vote shares are consistently 59.50 percent for the administration, 30.93 percent for the opposition and 5.77 percent for underdogs (pardon the term). This is statistically impossible! The 9-3 outcome is driven by a linear equation embedded in the PCOS, not how the people voted.” You don’t have to agree with this at all, but it is clear that the IT community, of which Del Rosario is a respected member, has not quite accepted the election as “untainted,” and will likely not rest until it is able to confirm its worst fears about the election. That is bad news for the Team PNoy senators, especially those aspiring to become Senate President when the 16th Congress opens, or presidential candidates in 2016. I hope B. S. Aquino III and the 16th Congress would waste no time to work on electoral reform as early as now. We need a new or at least a modified voting system as badly as we need a new breed of politicians without the bad habits of both our old and our young politicians. It is hard to grow or culture a new crop of politicians, especially after government has become a virtual criminal syndicate, but perhaps we could at least have a new and credible voting system. The ideal, if we can talk of an ideal, is one where there is secret voting and public counting of the votes, rather than the opposite, which is what we had in the last two elections, with the precinct count optical scan machines. I support the proposal that the ballots should be counted at the precincts manually, and the results transmitted to the canvassing centers electronically.

It would be extremely desirable if the Comelec could exert greater effort to make sure that its entire manpower complement should have some reasonable familiarity with digital technology. It is simply absurd to have a technologically challenged Comelec trying to substitute the jargon of the law for the language of the operating manual of the voting machine. It would be most desirable to have a Comelec that is fully competent to operate the automated voting system, if we stay automated, or a voting system that is wholly appropriate to the Comelec’s technological and administrative competence. But the electoral reform should not stop there. Given the rampant and open vote-buying by local candidates, which implicates even the President himself and his reported misuse of the P40-billion conditional cash transfer to the poor, and the excessive use of TV and other forms of media advertising to promote the false image of candidates, there is urgent need to drive way “money-driven” politics from the system. One could think of several measures. First, limit the legal expenses of candidates to not more than the full amount they would legally earn from the position they are seeking for one full term if elected. Second, restore the ban on political advertising and infomercials, and let the Comelec assume full responsibility for informing the public about the candidates. Third, increase the penalty for vote-buying— for both the vote-buyer and the vote-seller in any election—to include not only a jail sentence but also permanent disqualification from public office. Fourth, regulate the use of opinion surveys; require opinion polling firms to disclose vital information about every survey they conduct before the media publish its results. Travel notes. I flew to Makassar, South Sulawesi on Sunday with former President FVR and former Speaker Joe de Venecia on Ramon Ang’s Challenger 300 (Bombardier) with Ramon Ang playing the perfect host. It was a smooth, fast and restful three-hour ride at 36,000 feet. At the second general assembly of CAPDI in Makassar, I saw how Asian political party leaders deferred to FVR and JDV, who were both in their best elements. Indeed no prophet is without honor except in his own hometown. At the same conference, where I had the privilege of reading Vice President Binay’s message, I met some delegates from Taiwan who expressed sincere hopes that the present irritation between the Philippines and Taiwan over the May 9 shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by a Philippine Coast Guard personnel in Philippine waters would quickly ride away. In my email, I was assured by a senior civil servant in Taiwan, whom I met at a senior executive program on national and international security at Harvard’s Kennedy School in 2011, that the Filipinos in Taiwan were under no threat from harm whatsoever and will continue to be protected by the Taiwanese government. That is a hopeful sign.‐should‐lead‐poll‐reforms/

Mar marginalized Published on 21 May 2013  Hits: 467  Written by RIGOBERTO TIGLAO   

At Aquino’s right-hand side: Somebody and then an empty chair.

Mar who? Mar Roxas, remember him? He pompously took a leave of absence—as if anybody care—as Liberal Party president in September last year to focus, according to him, on his job as DILG secretary In terms of political visibility, he might as well have taken a vacation abroad while the May 2013 election battle raged. I’m beginning to suspect that his boss, President Aquino, believes Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa’s analysis that Mar is damaged goods they cannot trust to win the presidency in 2016. The president has to find a more viable candidate, or he’d be at the receiving end of the precedent he created–ruthlessly persecuting his predecessor. Mar was more of a furniture in Team PNoy rallies, rarely even being given the mike. Hardly ever any news stories mentioned him in the past several months. It is his main responsibility as DILG head and by law as chairman of the National Police Commission to ensure peaceful and orderly elections, and yet you heard practically nothing from him on this matter. It was rather PNP chief Alan Purisima who was put in the limelight and given credit for the relatively peaceful elections. It may have been—to Mar’s credit—a matter of delicadeza. More probably campaign manager and Liberal Party leader Franklin Drilon told him to keep quiet so that Team PNoy candidates wouldn’t be accused of having the police and the DILG bureaucracy unfairly supporting them. So it was a big blunder for Mar to have taken on the DILG post, since the job prevented him from taking a high-profile role in the election period. It was Drilon who has taken credit, deservedly or not, for “winning the elections. “

OOps, his spin-meisters recently realized that their boss has been marginalized in year’s major political battle, dropping under public radar. He couldn’t even get anybody to interview him on ABS-CBN, where wife Korina is a star broadcaster. They scrambled to have puff pieces on him in the last week, pieces that bordered on the ridiculous. “I congratulate the nation,” an Internet news site quoted him as saying, “as it is very clear that the nation is the clear winner.” That’s the kind of platitude a President could utter, and it would be the basis for a news article simply because he is the President. It is a ridiculous quote, especially when made by somebody deludes himself that he is the President. Roxas’ and even Aquino’s delusion over the elections was obvious when he referred to the nine senators who won under Team PNoy as “LP bets.” Were they really? Top-notcher Grace Poe was an independent whom opposition leader, former President Estrada, openly claimed to support politically and financially. The LP was with former President Gloria Arroyo when she beat Poe’s father in 2010, remember? The other three top-notchers in the senatorial race were Loren Legarda of the Nationalist People’s Coalition; independent Chiz Escudero; Sonny Angara of the Lakas ng Demokratikong Pilipino; Koko Pimentel of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino; the Nacionalista Party’s Alan Cayetano, Sonny Trillianes, and Cynthia Villar. Even with the offer of overflowing campaign funds, none of these bolted their mostly ghostly parties to join the LP. The Villars have no reason to love President Aquino. They spent nearly a billion pesos for the 2010 elections, only to be foiled by such cheap smear jobs as the Liberal Party’s “Villarroyo” campaign? Nearly all of these people ran Team P-Noy only for convenience. After all, the LP, one way or another, could use government resources. It also had a campaign war chest filled to the brim by big businessmen, something they always do for the party of the incumbent president. And how many candidates of the Roxas’ Liberal Party win in the Senate race? One, Bam Aquino, and he won not because of his being a Liberal, but a simulacrum of the martyred hero of democracy. The two other Liberal candidates, Jun Magsaysay and Jamby Madrigal, despite their name-recall, being both former senators, lost, maybe because they ran under the LP. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a tenet in Philippine politics, especially in a period such as elections when new political stars emerge. Any opinion poll survey now asking the question who would likely be the possible presidential winner in 2016 would rank Roxas in the basement, eclipsed by any of the twelve winning senators—yes, even by Bam and Trillianes. When did Gloria Macapagal Arroyo emerge as “presidentiable”? When she topped the 1995 senatorial elections, which catapulted her to the vice-presidency in the 1998 elections. When did Mar? In the 2004 senatorial elections, the impact of which could have been in the 2010 elections. The shelf life of a spectacular senatorial poll victory lasts only until the next elections. And in the just-concluded elections, Mar didn’t run, so in the public psyche, he got zero votes.

In one writer’s bumbling effort to extricate Mar from the black hole the recent elections threw him into, he wrote: “Mayor-elect Erap Estrada of Manila may still come to his side. Roxas served Estrada very well as the latter’s Secretary of Trade and Industry.” Nonsense. It was Jose Pardo who became Estrada’s reliable Trade secretary when Estrada assumed office in 1998. Mar replaced Pardo in January 2000 when the latter was moved to finance. The writer obviously didn’t hear Estrada cursing Mar for abandoning him in November 2000. Mar’s move cost Estrada dearly, according to sources, since he allegedly had to give out P20 million to each Cabinet member so they won’t ape Mar’s defection. That writer also claimed: “President Noynoy Aquino will not forget the “heroic” act of Mar Roxas in sacrificing his 2010 presidential ambition that catapulted President Aquino to the presidency and almost destroyed Mar Roxas’ political career.” I don’t have to explain how much of a joke that statement really is. The writer obviously missed the power of Philippine “necropolitics” at that time: that Cory Aquino’s death in August 2009 triggered a tsunami of condolence votes for her son. Gratitude? From an Aquino? In Philippine politics? That pro-Mar writer claimed: “And if Mar Roxas plays his cards right . . . the Filipinos may indeed be in for another great surprise or “comeback” in the 2016 presidential election. This narrative may be the “rise of the phoenix” in Philippine politics.” What a bumbling sycophant. In his effort to prettify Roxas, he assumed as fact what I’ve spent so many words to explain: This kid is gone, and that makes a comeback necessary. This political bird is dead, and phoenixes are only for the birds.

Order to snag Phoenix smuggle case hit Published on 21 May 2013  Hits: 82  Written by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER    The Department of Finance (DOF) on Tuesday questioned the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Court of Appeals that blocked the smuggling case against the head of Phoenix Petroleum Philippines. Earlier, the Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered the filing of charges for violation of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP) against Dennis Ang Uy, Phoenix president and chief executive officer, and customs broker Jorlan Cabanes. “TROs like this one effectively prevent the government from prosecuting smuggling. Our courts and court processes should not be used by a few to block our progress in enforcing customs laws, and creating a level playing field for all,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a statement. According to the DOF, the petition for certiorari with application for TRO of Phoenix customs broker Cabanes was filed before the appellate court, and assigned to its 10th division composed of Justices Romeo Barza, Francisco Acosta and Angelita Gacutan. On May 9, 2013, the appellate court issued a TRO for a period of 60 days, enjoining the enforcement of the DOJ’s resolution finding probable cause to charge Phoenix and Cabanes with smuggling. Further, a hearing is set on June 27, 2013, for the application of Cabanes for a writ of preliminary injunction. The department added that Cabanes obtained the TRO to prevent the justice department from filing the information in the smuggling case against himself and Phoenix. Cabanes alleged that he was denied due process because the reply filed by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) before the DOJ introduced new allegations against him and Phoenix. This, according to Cabanes, led the DOJ to reverse its previous resolution and resolve instead to charge him and Phoenix with oil smuggling. However, the finance department noted that the reply filed by the BOC only restated previous allegations. In its resolution, it was the BOC, not the DOJ, that was directed by the appellate court to comment on the petition, the DOF said. It further noted that the appellate court’s directive to the BOC appeared to be highly unusual because the DOJ, the agency whose action Cabanes is questioning, was not directed to comment. “This unnecessarily slows down the process but nevertheless, we will not allow anyone to distract us from our continuing drive against smuggling,” Purisima said. “We look forward to working with the leadership of the judiciary to prevent the manipulation of legal

processes which effectively frustrate our quest for justice,” he added. Prosecution on hold A resolution of the CA 10th Division, dated and promulgated May 9, 2013, penned by Associate Justice Francisco Acosta, has stopped the indictment of Phoenix trader Jorlan Capiin Cabanes. Other Magistrates who concurred in the ruling are Justices Angelita Gacutan and Romeo Barza. The order effective for 60 days stops the prosecution against Phoenix officials. However, a CA insider said that the TRO covers only Cabanes and not the officials of Phoenix since the Justices do not have jurisdiction over the other respondents including Phoenix Petroleum President Dennis Ang Uy. Smuggling charges were ordered filed against Uy and Cabanes for unlawful and fraudulent importation of gasoil, unleaded gasoline, and petroleum products at Port of Davao and Sub-Port of Bauan, Batangas. The DOJ, through Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, found probable cause to file charges against Uy and Cabanes after they were tagged in the illegal importation of petroleum products that supposedly occurred between June 2010 and April 2011. In the order, the department opined that Uy and Cabanes had “personal knowledge and direct participation in the operations of Phoenix Petroleum, including the processing and release of shipments that were already abandoned in favor of the government.” On January 14, 2012 and on November 16, 2012, the DOJ ruled in favor of Phoenix after the agency dismissed the smuggling complaint filed by the Bureau of Customs (BOC). The customs bureau, however, filed a motion for reconsideration that prompted the agency to reverse its decisions. The DOJ held that they should be charged for the offense as the “acts could not have been perpetrated without connivance of BOC officials and employees.” However, the camp of Uy believes that he is covered by the TRO as pointed out by Atty. Raymond Zorilla, Phoenix Petroleum Vice President for External Affairs and Business Development. WITH A REPORT FROM JOMAR CANLAS

Remittances to Asean increasing Published on 21 May 2013  Hits: 65  Written by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO   

Remittance inflows every Southeast Asian country from 2000 to 2012 significantly increased, particularly in the Philippines, according to a new report from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank. “Southeast Asia is probably the world’s most dynamic and diverse remittance market,” the Sending Money Home to Asia report said. It added that remittances sent by Filipino migrants to the country in 2012 accounts for over half of all remittances to Southeast Asia. The report continued that accounting 10 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), remittances for the Philippines is the third largest in the world at $24.3 billion in 2012. Furthermore, with almost 13 million migrants living abroad, the report emphasized that both the outflow and inflow of migrants increased in almost every country over the past decade, with the largest outflow from the Philippines at 4.28 million and the largest inflow to Malaysia at 2.36 million. In the whole Asia region, the report said that Asian migrants sent about $260 billion to their families in 2012. However, it noted that high fees and limited financial services outside of urban areas are reducing the benefits of those remittances for millions of rural residents. The report explained that migrants pay an average of 8.35 percent of GDP to send money home to Asia, which means that less money is going to reducing poverty and boosting prosperity for their families. “In many senses, Asia cannot be described as a single market, as there are significant differences among subregions, and even between urban and rural markets in the same country,” it stated. The report also pointed out that India, China and the Philippines account for 75 percent of all payment points in the region. “Even though the average costs of sending money to Asian markets are below the global average, remittances to rural areas are still much more expensive,” it added. The report further said that as a result, recipients of these remittances such as households have limited access to savings accounts and other financial instruments that can help build assets. Lastly, the World Bank urged governments and the private sector to create a better regulatory environment, foster competition among remittance providers and develop a stronger payments system infrastructure in reducing the prices of sending money.

Don’t defer barangay elections yet again Published on 21 May 2013  Hits: 65  

It seems the barangay elections will take place in October after all, with President Aquino  turning down suggestions that the exercise be postponed yet again.  It was Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. who made the suggestion. We understand his reluctance to hold the polls. We have just emerged from a bruising political exercise, where we elected senators, congressmen, governors and board members, mayors and councilors. The number of candidates, great as they may be, pale in comparison with that of those who will vie for the positions at stake in the barangay elections. There are more than 42,000 barangays. Each of these barangays will have to elect a barangay captain and a number of kagawads. Don’t forget the Kabataang Barangay chair and members of the Sanguniang Kabataan that must be elected at the same time. For each position, there may be five or more candidates. Ballots will have to be printed containing their names and distributed in every barangay. The administrative requirement is great, to say the least. The elections are supposed to be non-partisan, but they are fought with as much viciousness as those held at the town or city, provincial, and national levels. That’s because, despite the barangays supposed non-partisan nature, the mayors under whom officials of these political units serve try to ensure that only their chosen bets win. Naturally, those who plan to run in the next mayoralty race get their own candidates into the fray. No wonder, blood is sometimes spilt. As noted, there will be tens of thousands of candidates who would vie for the positions. That is a daunting prospect. But for once President Aquino is right. A government official’s mandate is of utmost importance. We must ensure that those who hold elective positions continue to enjoy the support of the people, and the only way to find out is to subject them to election, after the expiration of their prescribed term of office. So the barangay elections must be held as scheduled, and the Comelec should prepare itself accordingly. Mr. Brillanes will oversee an election once more. The recently concluded mid-term elections were marred by vote-buying and possibly electronic cheating on a massive scale. The opposition claimed the cheating occurred because of incompetence, if not outright corruption. Of course, the chairman vehemently denied it, but as people say there is fire where there is smoke. It is hoped that the poll body and its chairman would acquit themselves well in October.

Posted on May 22, 2013 01:01:33 AM

Hunger again on the rise HUNGER among Filipino families has worsened, a first quarter Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey found, despite a drop in poverty claims during the same period.  The March 19-22 poll put the number of respondents who said they experienced having nothing to eat at 19.2%, equivalent to an estimated 3.9 million families and up from December’s 16.3%. The increase contrasted with the same survey recording a decline in self-rated poverty to 52%, or some 10.6 million families, from 54% three months earlier. "Hunger rose significantly between the two quarters," the SWS said, noting that it increased among both the poor and the non-poor. The March result, still, was well below the record 23.8% recorded a year earlier. A Malacaùang official said the government was working to address poverty, particularly in Mindanao where the SWS said hunger had worsened the most. Economists, meanwhile, said the focus should be on job generation if gains were to be made. A nearly three-point rise in moderate hunger -- experiencing having nothing to eat once or a few times in the last three months -- to 15.6% (3.2 million families) from 12.7% was behind the first quarter rise. Severe hunger -- which refers to experiencing it often or always -- was unchanged at 3.6% or 726,000 families. Overall hunger increased in all regions except Metro Manila, where it fell by almost four points to 21.7% (615,000 families) from 25.3%. It climbed sharply in Mindanao to 29.2% (1.4 million families) from 20%, gained two points to 14.7% (1.3 million families) in Balance Luzon and inched up to 15% (580,000 families) from 13.3% in the Visayas. Moderate hunger increased by almost seven points 22.7% in Mindanao from 16%. The rise was slower in the Visayas (13.7% from 10.7%) and Balance Luzon (12% from 9.7%). It fell by two points in Metro Manila, easing to 17.3% in March from 19.3% in December.

The latest moderate hunger rates are higher than their 14-year averages in all areas, the SWS said. Severe hunger, meanwhile, was also highest in Mindanao where it rose by nearly three points to 6.7%. It slipped by less than a point in Balance Luzon, to 2.7% and by over a point in the Visayas and Metro Manila at 1.3% and 4.3%, respectively. Severe hunger rates are lower than the 14-year averages in Balance Luzon and the Visayas but are higher in Mindanao and Metro Manila, the SWS said. Considered in relation to the period’s poverty findings, the SWS said overall hunger rose to 25.5% from 22.7% among the self-rated poor and to 12.2% from 9% among the non-poor. Among the self-rated food poor, hunger climbed sharply to 33.1% from 25.8%. It also rose to 10.4% from 8.8% among those who claimed to be not food poor. Self-rated food poverty improved to 39% (7.9 million families) in March from 44% in December. Sought for comment, Sec. Ramon "Ricky" A. Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office said ending the long-standing conflict in Mindanao was crucial. "This (the higher hunger incidence) validates our decision to launch Sajahatra early. We needed to address hunger and poverty there and the absence of armed conflict have us a chance to do that," he said in a text message. The Sajahatra Bangsamoro social welfare package, launched in January in Sultan Kudarat province, will be expanded to other Moro communities as part of a planned peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. University of Asia and the Pacific economist Victor A. Abola, meanwhile, said: "We are not going to make a headway in hunger and poverty unless we create more jobs." University of the Philippines economist Benjamin E. Diokno expressed the same sentiment, saying structural reforms were needed to "sustain strong and inclusive growth and in the process create a lot of decent jobs." "This (new survey) means poverty remains high and is persistent. It means the problem is structural. More decent, repeat, decent jobs have to be created every year...," Mr. Diokno said. The second quarter SWS survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide. The error margins are ¹3% for national and ¹6% for area percentages. -- N. M. Gonzales

Posted on May 22, 2013 12:59:43 AM By Diane Claire J. Jiao, Senior Reporter

‘Quantitative easing’ by BSP THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) attempt to "collapse" special deposit accounts (SDAs) is its version of an unconventional monetary policy approach aimed at supporting the economy, Citi said. With the central bank having reduced interest rates and on Monday further limiting access to the facility, it is intent on flushing out the P1.859 trillion in SDA deposits into the economy, the global bank said in a report. "An SDA collapse that unleashes all that liquidity is BSP’s version of quantitative easing, in our view," Citi said. Developed countries have been relying on quantitative easing to bring their economies out of the rut created by the 2008 global economic crisis. Central banks, among others, have resorted to buying assets from banks, instead of bonds from government, to manage interest rates and money supply. "Like in the United States, Japan, and other countries that pursued unconventional monetary policies to shore up their economies and weaken their local currencies, we suspect the BSP wants to do the same but with the focus on stalling the likelihood of peso appreciation," Citi said. The peso in recent years has become one of the world’s strongest-performing currencies. It was the third-biggest gainer as of April, having appreciated by 25% since 2007. Only the Chinese renminbi and the Singapore dollar saw sharper gains at 29% and 26%, respectively, over the same period. The BSP has been working to temper the appreciation, but the influx of foreign investors moving to emerging markets for better yields have been supporting the peso’s strength. One of the investment outlets favored were SDAs given the higher interest rates on offer. Looking to stem the rush of funds and prevent speculation, the BSP last year barred non-residents from placing money in SDAs. This year it slashed SDA rates by a total of 150 basis points, taking these down to 2% from 3.5%.

On Monday, the central limited SDA access for trust entities, which will now only be allowed to make placements for fund management activities, specifically unit investment trust funds (UITFs). Other fiduciary business and investment management accounts (IMAs) were banned from SDAs. According to Citi, other fiduciary business totaled P1.49 trillion last year, dwarfing UITFs of P970 billion. IMAs are estimated at about P1.9 trillion. Investors may move their money from IMAs to UITFs as a result, which may be more acceptable to the BSP. "Since UITF exposure to SDA would also be diluted by exposures to other asset classes, it won’t have the same ‘devil we know’ familiarity," it said. UITFs pool funds from numerous investors and invest them in various instruments. IMAs, meanwhile, are for singular investors and their sole underlying instrument tends to be the SDA. If the BSP succeeds in its quantitative easing, Citi said the peso should remain at P41.50 versus the dollar in the near term. This forecast was supported by ING in a separate report yesterday where it estimated that the local currency would "remain bearish" and move in the P4141.50 band. ve-easing%E2%80%99-by-BSP&id=70598#sthash.bnCP6udf.dpuf    

Posted on May 22, 2013 12:57:29 AM By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Reporter

April surplus seen given revenue gains THE GOVERNMENT’S budget balance likely swung to a surplus last month as income tax collections buoyed revenues. APRIL 15 marked the annual deadline for the submission of income tax returns. -- BW file photo "Given the April collection of the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue), I think we will be able to post a surplus," National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon said. The government typically records a surplus every April "given historical trends," Ms. de Leon noted, as the BIR -- responsible for roughly 70% of state revenues -- collects annual income taxes that month. The bureau on Monday reported April collections of P148.99 billion, surpassing the month’s P142.66-billion goal. The month’s take was also 28.19% higher than the P116.221 billion recorded in April last year. The Bureau of Customs, which accounts for about a fifth of state revenues, last week said it netted P27.141 billion in April, short of the P27.503-billion target. It was, however, still up by 7% from the P25.362 billion collected a year earlier. An April surplus would trim the fiscal deficit, which hit P66.478 billion in the first quarter -lower than the P73.875-billion ceiling set for the period. The first quarter shortfall was also almost twice as wide as the P33.909-billion deficit in January to March last year as the government continued to ramp up spending. Budget Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua also noted that public spending also likely kept pace with the expected revenue growth even with an election ban. The government has set a 2013 deficit cap of P238 billion, equivalent to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP). Last year’s shortfall was P242.8 billion or 2.3% of GDP.

Posted on May 21, 2013 09:25:01 PM

Peso trades flat as investors seek leads LACK of compelling market leads caused the peso to barely change against the dollar yesterday.   The local currency appreciated by only one-and-a-half centavos to end at P41.17 to the dollar against its P41.185-per-dollar close the day before. “The peso tracked the movement of other Asian and major currencies yesterday due to absence of news and strong market leads,” a trader said in a phone interview yesterday. “The absence of news translated to good news for the peso yesterday, causing it to slightly appreciate against the dollar.” The euro, which the peso tracks, was also flat against the dollar yesterday, finishing at $1.2860 against its $1.2867 close last Monday. In a separate phone interview, another trader noted: “The peso traded within a tight range yesterday and trading volume was not that significant given the lack of leads from the market.” The local unit traded within the P41.12- to-P41.205-per-dollar band yesterday. It is expected to trade within the P41.10-to-P41.30-per-dollar range today. Dollars traded yesterday totaled $717.1 million, higher than the $631.2 million traded last Monday. Reuters reported from Seoul yesterday that the Taiwan dollar and the South Korean won led gains among many emerging Asian currencies on Tuesday, as investors covered short positions in regional units before Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s congressional testimony and on a strong Chinese yuan. Offshore funds and exporters lifted the won, while the Taiwan dollar rose on demand from foreign financial institutions and corporate bids. The Thai baht also gained on inflows and as investors reduced bearish positions, although expectations of measures to curb the currency’s strength, including a rate cut limited its upside. Still, investors stayed cautious, focusing on whether Mr. Bernanke will suggest in his testimony on Wednesday that the Fed will soon start scaling back its stimulus, as hinted at by a Fed regional president last week. “[Mr.] Bernanke may or may not signal the Fed will taper its quantitative easing. But if expectations of the shift grows with more solid data in the second half, that is not positive to emerging Asian currencies,” said Yuna Park, a currency and bond analyst at Dongbu Securities in Seoul. -- ARRG and Reuters

Posted on May 21, 2013 09:38:21 PM

Task force created to improve ease of doing business in the Philippines A TASK FORCE that will implement an action plan to improve the business climate in the country was created by President Benigno S. C. Aquino III in a bid to boost the global competitiveness of the Philippines.   Administrative Order (AO) 38 created the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) task force that will implement and review the Game plan for Competitiveness designed by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC). Among others, the game plan is a strategy which sets reform targets for concerned government agencies based on indicators that determine the country’s world ranking in the Doing Business Survey (DBS) of the World Bank. It seeks to standardize and streamline business processes in local government units (LGU) to shorten the process procedures usually muddled in the bureaucracy. The Philippines currently ranks 138th out of 185 countries in the world in the World Bank business survey. The business survey measures and tracks business regulations across 10 indicators, namely: starting businesses; dealing with construction permits; getting electricity; registering property; getting credit; protecting investors; paying taxes; trading across borders; enforcing contracts; and resolving insolvency. "The EoDB Task Force is seen to significantly help improve our ranking in the survey since it is tasked to ensure the full implementation of the Game plan for Competitiveness designed by the National Competitiveness Council and endorsed by the National Economic Development Cluster," Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr. said in a statement. The task force is led by the Secretary of Trade and Industry with the NCC; the Departments of Finance, the Interior and Local Government, and Justice; Bureaus of Internal Revenue and Customs; Land Registration Authority; Credit Information Corp.; Securities and Exchange Commission; Social Security System; Home Development Mutual Fund; and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. as members. Crisanto S. Frianeza, executive director of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said the AO is a welcome development as it paves the way for "investors to see everything is working here." -- Noemi M. Gonzales

Posted on May 21, 2013 09:29:29 PM

Onshore issue for dollar bonds THE GOVERNMENT plans to raise $500-750 million from the sale of 10-year dollardenominated bonds to local investors to meet borrowing requirements and spur demand for dollars, the National Treasurer told reporters yesterday. “We’re still working with regulators… Most likely, we will be issuing onshore dollar bonds in the fourth quarter,” National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon said after the auction yesterday of five-year treasury bonds. “We have not sought the central bank’s approval for it,” she added, noting that the Bureau of the Treasury needs to obtain the approval of the central bank’s Monetary Board before issuing dollar bonds. She added that the government is looking at either re-issuing the dollar bonds offered to the local market in November last year to increase those debt papers’ liquidity or issue fresh dollar bonds. “If we would top the issuance last year, we would likely issue another $500 million, but if we opt to issue new dollar bonds, the issue size will likely be increased to $750 million,” Ms. de Leon said. The debt papers, she said, will have a life of 10 years. “We are looking at the 10-year papers because of the government’s maturity profile,” she explained. In November last year, the Philippines raised $500 million from the sale to local investors of US dollardenominated bonds that will mature in 2032. The offering attracted strong demand, with bids totalling $1.742 billion. Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima and Ms. de Leon earlier said that the government will be sourcing all its 2013 borrowing requirements locally to support the central bank efforts to temper the peso’s sharp appreciation against the dollar. The government, which has been looking to reduce its reliance on foreign debt, had initially targeted a borrowing mix of 80%-20% in favor of domestic sources this year. -- Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio

Posted on May 21, 2013 09:38:21 PM

Task force created to improve ease of doing business in the Philippines A TASK FORCE that will implement an action plan to improve the business climate in the country was created by President Benigno S. C. Aquino III in a bid to boost the global competitiveness of the Philippines.   Administrative Order (AO) 38 created the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) task force that will implement and review the Game plan for Competitiveness designed by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC). Among others, the game plan is a strategy which sets reform targets for concerned government agencies based on indicators that determine the country’s world ranking in the Doing Business Survey (DBS) of the World Bank. It seeks to standardize and streamline business processes in local government units (LGU) to shorten the process procedures usually muddled in the bureaucracy. The Philippines currently ranks 138th out of 185 countries in the world in the World Bank business survey. The business survey measures and tracks business regulations across 10 indicators, namely: starting businesses; dealing with construction permits; getting electricity; registering property; getting credit; protecting investors; paying taxes; trading across borders; enforcing contracts; and resolving insolvency. "The EoDB Task Force is seen to significantly help improve our ranking in the survey since it is tasked to ensure the full implementation of the Game plan for Competitiveness designed by the National Competitiveness Council and endorsed by the National Economic Development Cluster," Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr. said in a statement. The task force is led by the Secretary of Trade and Industry with the NCC; the Departments of Finance, the Interior and Local Government, and Justice; Bureaus of Internal Revenue and Customs; Land Registration Authority; Credit Information Corp.; Securities and Exchange Commission; Social Security System; Home Development Mutual Fund; and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. as members. Crisanto S. Frianeza, executive director of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said the AO is a welcome development as it paves the way for "investors to see everything is working here." -- Noemi M. Gonzales

Posted on May 21, 2013 09:32:49 PM

Other stories (05/22/13)

Meeting scheduled THE AGRICULTURE Department is set to meet with a private Saudi-Arabian company over the weekend for a joint venture on rice production in the country, Assistant Secretary Dante S. Delima said. The department will meet with Me Zulaiman Al-Assaf, general manager of East Asia Development Co. (EADACO). Mr. Delima said the company is interested to invest in the production of rice in the Philippines. The meeting has been scheduled for May 26 to 27, 2013. Mr. Delima said EADACO is willing to invest US$90,000 to conduct a prefeasibility study on a possible basmati rice agribusiness venture for export to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

Financing bared THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will provide financing to the Department of National Defense (DND) for the construction of coffee and bamboo plantations, it said in a press release yesterday. A total of P55 million will be given to DND for the establishment of the said plantations covering 4,000 hectares of land inside two military camps. The agreement is in partnership with three other government agencies, namely: The Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Posted on May 21, 2013 08:54:51 PM

Freedom of Information Act: Quo vadis? WHAT’S THE future of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill? During the 2010 presidential campaign, then presidential candidate Benigno Aquino III was in favor of the FOI measure. Yet halfway in his presidency, the FOI bill has remained a promise. Moving forward, will Mr. Aquino honor or renege on his solemn promise?  

Core Benjamin E. Diokno

To date, Mr. Aquino has conveniently avoided the issue. During the final days of the outgoing Congress (2010-2013), he refused to certify the FOI bill as urgent. The Philippine Senate passed the bill before Christmas of 2012. Yet, Mr. Aquino’s allies in the House of Representatives successfully derailed the passage of the FOI bill. The signal from the Palace then was crystal clear: do not allow the FOI bill to see the light of day. Today, there has been no policy shift, hence the future of the FOI bill is uncertain. People asks: if Mr. Aquino is truly a reformist President, why isn’t he pushing for the early approval of the FOI bill? The freedom of information is mandated in the Philippine Constitution. It is institutionalized in most developed countries. A good government that is open, accountable and responsible should embrace, not resist, an act that would subject itself to closer public scrutiny. With a new Congress, the FOI bill has to be reintroduced as a new piece of legislation. But the reintroduction of the FOI bill will be as sure as sunrise; the bill will be re-filed in both Houses. The question is: Will the FOI bill pass? It’s passage will be hailed as a major step toward transparency, public accountability and good governance. It’s demise will be a major tragedy for Mr. Aquino’s good governance crusade, however. It’s failure to pass will be seen as proof of Mr. Aquino’s insincerity in his war against corruption. No doubt, the pressure for the passage of the FOI bill will continue to mount. Advocates for good government and citizen participation will continue to ask the following questions: How can the Aquino administration which is committed to good governance, transparency, control of corruption, and citizen participation be opposed to freedom of information? Why is the FOI bill not even included in the emerging legislative agenda being prepared by Mr. Aquino’s men? SENATORIAL WINNERS ARE UNANIMOUS Interestingly, all the winners in the senatorial race are unanimous in their support for the FOI bill based on their statements during the senatorial campaign.

If the reelected and freshly elected Senate members were to vote with their conscience, there is near certainty that the FOI bill will pass. The reelected senators -- Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Alan Cayetano, Koko Pimentel, Antonio Trillanes, and Gregorio Honasan -- voted for the FOI bill in the 15th Congress. Their commitment to support the FOI bill were reaffirmed during the campaign period. Legarda was one of the authors of the FOI bill. "Transparency is an indispensable feature of our drive against corruption," said Legarda. Escudero favored the FOI bill. He said: "Transparency is a key factor in our fight against corruption." In his support for the FOI bill, Cayetano argued: "Transparency and accountability should be institutionalized. They can’t depend on the leader or the leadership." Pimentel was more emphatic in his support for the FOI bill. He said: "We need the law to comply with the Constitution and not make on our right to information in matters of public concern an illusory one." Trillanes supported the FOI in the 15th Congress. He said: "It promotes transparency in government which is essential to any anti-corruption drive." Honasan lamented the FOI’s lack of support from the House in the outgoing Congress. He promised, if reelected, " to push for it at every opportunity." The three senatorial "rookies" -- Grace Poe, Nancy Binay and Bam Aquino -- promised to support the FOI bill subject to some qualifications. Poe does not agree with the right of reply provision. She said "it borders on dictating how the media should do its job." Both Binay and Aquino expressed concern that national security matters should not be compromised in giving people access to information. The three former members of the House of Representatives -- Sonny Angara, Cynthia Villar, and JV Ejercito Estrada -- promised to support the FOI bill. Angara said: "It would greatly advance good governance in the country and foster democratic participation of our citizens." Villar supports the bill " so there will transparency in government transactions. Finally, Estrada lamented Mr. Aquino’s failure to certify the bill as urgent in the 15th Congress. It is with near certainty that the Senate would reintroduce, and approve, the freedom of information bill. But what about the House? I think if the members of the House were allowed to vote with their conscience, it would pass the Lower House too. But the political reality is that President Aquino’s allies in the House will look at Malacañang for clear marching orders. If the President says go, the FOI bill will be done; if he says "freeze the ball," it will be stalled until the appropriate time for approval comes; and if he says kill, it will be dead.

Benjamin Diokno served as Secretary of Budget and Management from 1998 to 2001. He teaches Public Economics at the University of the Philippines School of Economics.

Magsaysay dares winning senators to serve country • •

Written by Gerry Baldo Wednesday, 22 May 2013 08:00

Losing Team PNoy senatorial candidates Ramon Magsaysay Jr. yesterday dared the 12 winning senatorial candidates to serve the country and the people well even as he congratulated them for winning the trust and confidence of the electorate. “I congratulate the 12 men and women in whom our countrymen have placed their trust as senators of the Republic. I wish them well as they take on their role as servant-leaders. I have high hopes that each of them will adhere to the highest standards of integrity, accountability and public service, which their critical office demands and the Filipino people deserve,” Magsaysay said a day after Team PNoy celebrated their victory with a party at its Polaris headquarters in Makati City last Monday. It was attended by Sen. Franklin Drilon, Team PNoy campaign manager; Senators-elect Koko Pimentel, Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara, Bam Aquino. Former Sen. Jamby Madrigal, who, like Magsaysay, lost the race attended the victory party. Magsaysay thanked those who supported his senatorial bid. “I sincerely thank everyone who helped in my campaign, whose faith, dynamism and generosity have sustained me every step of the way. I also thank the countless others who expressed support and confidence in me personally, through mail and even electronically. Every smile, handshake and encouraging word is truly appreciated,” he said in a statement yesterday. Magsaysay was one of the three Team PNoy candidates who did not win in the elections. The other two were Madrigal and former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros who was the target of a campaign by the Catholic Church for championing the Reproductive Health bill which was against the teaching of the church.

Keep their dirty hands off… •

Written by Herman Tiu Laurel

Wednesday, 22 May 2013 08:00

For 27 years the country’s three million or so coconut farmers and advocates have fought to get the billions of pesos of the Coconut Levy Fund for the use of, for and by the coconut industry sector to develop highest value-added products and grow incomes in the sector. It has not succeeded. the Philippine coconut industry sector may be losing the levy funds to the dirty hands of the Yellow President’s corrupt cronies. On May 20 this year, in the midst of the distraction of the election ado and the Taiwan-RP imbroglio spilled over, news of BS Aquino and his budget Rasputin Butch Abad’s memorandum to divert the remaining “P120-billion coco levy fund” to “farm-to-market roads” — code name for pork barrel feasting. For a year now the country’s coconut industry sector, farmers and advocates, have been monitoring the BS Aquino’s underlings’ maneuverings. He let the hyenas lose with the Finance and the Akbayan (Rocamora-NGO) mafias competing to get their dirty hands on the remaining billions. The incumbent Department of Agriculture secretary was supposed to be making the pitch for the genuine coconut farmers and advocates to dedicate the remaining billions to a permanent fund for the continuing development and advancement of the coconut industry with grassroots multi-product, mini processing centers that can service 300 hectares clusters of coconut farmlands where farmers can bring their coconuts for processing to various high value products. Eighty five percent to 95 percent of Philippine coconuts are processed only into copra, throwing or burning away four billion liters of coconut water, husks and shells, billions of liters of coconut milk and virgin coconut oil, and many other potential byproducts. Copra exported to other countries are pressed and processed there and we lose the massive downstream incomes. The coconut producing areas do not need more farm-to-market roads, they need processing facilities. The farm-to-market roads fixation assumes that the best approach to bring goods to big, industrial centers; this is a great big mistake. For example, today coconuts from Mindanao are still transported to Laguna, in Luzon, where most of the giant copra and coconut processing plants are concentrating incomes in a few companies while the province remain impoverished. The KMU and Coco Levy Fund Ibalik sa Amin said, “We don’t want so-called road projects that only benefit corrupt local officials…. The dire poverty (in coconut areas) exists mainly due to high land rent, the imposition of resicada, low prices of copra and other semi-feudal forms of exploitation and not due to lack of access roads,…” Other coconut farmer and advocacy groups are gearing to take action too, such as the Philippine Coconut Society (PCS) , COIR, and even members of the Philippine Coconut Authority

(PCA) leadership who will be joining the street actions. Taking the struggle one level higher, the PCS presents crystal clear grassroots based development plan for the coconut industry sector, called Freshco, versus copra, processing with the multi-product processing centers for every 300-hectare coconut lands cluster — a national coconut industry development road map. For the coconut farmers, the just concluded general election is a totally irrelevancy, none of the candidates and winners talk about these substantive issues. The farmers’ and the country’s problem is how we can keep BS Aquino’s, Abad’s and the politico’s hands off the coconut levy. When the new and young pols are inaugurated in June, the vast majority of them will start to take action protecting their family’s legislative or local government fiefdom and the share of the pork barrel. Some are making a big show of how they will still be learning the ropes and how they will respectfully, “magalang,” learn from the elders in the institutions. I don’t know how many Filipinos are still taken in by such shallow posturings but I do know that many even among the masa are already tired of the comedia. Despite my distaste for the concluded political exercise, I do find some gems in it. One example is Johnny Chang of Quezon City who garnered 10 percent of QC’s votes representing the thinking portion of that population. Chang educated the public on the taxation and pork barrel issues of Quezon City. Chang got just over 3,000 votes in 2010; now it’s 51,000. Next time around he may be mayor of Quezon City already. Of course, Estrada in Manila was an absolute necessity; Lim was already a cancer that needed to be excised. Manila will see its old glory back. To the Kapatiran, the party-lists Magdalo and Append, congratulations. To Sanlakas, Kaakbay, maybe a miracle can still put one of yours in. In the meantime, we continue preparing for the revolution. (Tune to 1098AM, 5 to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Friday; Destiny Cable, Channel 8, Saturday 8 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.; visit: http//‐keep‐their‐dirty‐hands‐off


Aquino forms TF on ease of doing business in RP • •

Written by Tribune Wednesday, 22 May 2013 08:00

In a bid to boost the country’s competitiveness ranking in the world and improve the business climate in the country, President Aquino signed an Administrative Order (AO) for the creation of an inter-agency task force that will implement reforms making it easier to do business in the Philippines. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. yesterday said Aquino signed AO 38 for the creation of Task Force on Ease of Doing Business (EoDB Task Force) in order to implement an action plan drafted by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) to enhance the business competitiveness of the country. “The EoDB Task Force is seen to significantly help improve our ranking in the survey since it is tasked to ensure the full implementation of the Game plan for Competitiveness designed by the NCC and endorsed by the Economic Development Cluster,” Ochoa said. Currently, the Philippines ranks 138th out of 185 countries in the world, and is 8th out of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) in the Doing Business Survey (DBS) of the World Bank International Finance Corp. (IFC). The Game plan for Competitiveness is a strategy which sets reform targets for concerned government agencies based on 10 indicators that determine the country’s world ranking in the DBS. It also identifies key areas for public and private sector participation to boost the global business competitiveness ranking of the Philippines. The business survey of the IFC measures and tracks business regulations across 10 indicators, namely: starting businesses, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. Under Administrative Order (AO) 38, the task force will be led by the secretary of Trade and Industry. Its members include representatives of the NCC, the Departments of Finance, the Interior and Local Government , the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs , the Land Registration Authority, Credit Information Corp., the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Social Security System, the Home Development Mutual Fund and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. Aquino calls for the participation and assistance of concerned local government units, as well private and public institutions, including government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), in the implementation and accomplishment of targets provided in the Game plan for Competitiveness. Among others, AO 38 specifically directs the task force to review and develop policies, programs and

guidelines to ensure appropriate implementation of the game plan for competitiveness, re-evaluate and adopt measures to achieve goals set for 2013 and finalize the goals for 2014 onwards, and coordinate with the proper agencies for the inclusion of the targets in the performance goals of concerned departments in their respective performance-based incentive systems. The EoDB Task Force is likewise to recommend to the President the issuance of proper measures to promote transparency and efficiency in business practices in the country. It is also directed to submit a report to the Office of the President through the Economic Development Cluster within 60 days from the issuance of the AO and every six months thereafter. The funding requirements of the task force will be taken from the respective budgets of memberagencies, with subsequent funding requirements to be incorporated in the annual budget proposals of each of the member-agencies.‐aquino‐forms‐tf‐on‐ease‐of‐doing‐ business‐in‐rp


Asean attracts most investors — BAC study • •

Written by Ed Velasco Tuesday, 21 May 2013 08:00

The Association of Souteast Asian Nations (Asean) that include the Philippines, holds good prospects for attracting investments, as most of the businesses across the Region are planning to invest or expand investments in these countries over the next few years. These were the key findings from the 2011-2012 survey on Asean competitiveness conducted by the Asean Business Advisory Council (BAC) in collaboration with Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of National University of Singapore. Asst. Prof. Dr. Marn-Heong Wong prepared the report of the findings and e-mailed it to select business reporters. More than a third of surveyed businesses also identified an Asean country as the most attractive location for their investments globally. However, while businesses view Asean countries’ attractiveness for investments favorably, the 20112012 survey showed a lower proportion of businesses that selected an Asean country as their top-ranked investment destination compared with the 2010 survey in favor of a mix of developed and developing countries in the “others” category. “Others” included a mix of developed and developing countries such as Australia, Brazil, France,Germany, Japan, Qatar, Russia, South Korea and United Kingdom. Other surveys also said that investor sentiments towards China remain strong. “This underscores the continual competition that Asean faces in attracting foreign direct investments and emphasizes the need for Asean member countries to redouble their collective efforts to strengthen the region’s policy environment so that Asean remains competitive for investments,” it said. The survey stressed the importance of implementing the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint. Since 2008, the Region has been undertaking a broad range of measures to realize an AEC by 2015, which will establish Asean as a single market and production base. “To this end, Asean needs to not only ensure the continuous effective implementation of measures toward an AEC but also raise awareness among businesses of the measures being undertaken so that they can better exploit the opportunities that arise,” it noted. Asean in particular should strengthen its implementation in areas of the AEC Blueprint that businesses found among the least satisfactory or where the gaps between importance and satisfaction level were the widest.

The areas of AEC Blueprint implementation that businesses identified as being among the least satisfactory were related to increasing foreign equity participation in services sectors, consultation with businesses, development and implementation of mutual recognition of professional qualifications, development or enhancement of national competition policies and dissemination of information. On the other hand, the areas where the gap between importance and satisfaction was widest were investment protection, simplification of customs procedures and enhancing the transparency of non-tariff barriers, according to Heong.‐asean‐attracts‐most‐investors‐bac‐ study


Battle for top Senate post looms Published : Tuesday, May 21, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 325  Written by : Bernadette Tamayo 

ANYONE who will aspire for the Senate presidency in the coming 16th Congress have to “woo” the so-called “macho bloc” in the Upper Chamber whose collective vote is crucial in electing the new Senate head. The macho bloc is composed of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, and reelected Sen.Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II. A senator needs only 13 votes to be elected Senate chief. Estrada yesterday said that the victory of nine senators in the senatorial race allied with the Aquino administration indicates that it will be inevitable to have a change in leadership in the Senate when the 16th Congress opens on July 22. He made the remark when asked about the possibility of major changes in the Senate leadership as Team PNoy grabbed nine out of the 12 slots in the senatorial polls. The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) got the three remaining posts. “Given the 9-3 in favor of Team PNoy, a change of leadership might be inevitable. I will request a meeting among the ‘macho bloc’ and possibly Nancy (Binay), JV (Ejercito) and (Ramon) Bong Revilla (Jr.). Pero, not now kasi maaga pa,” Estrada said. Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, a close ally, is always ready to vacate his post as Senate chief. “Although in legal contemplation the Senate is a continuing body, it’s technically a new 16th Congress. Therefore, we will be electing a new Senate President whether it’s still JPE (Juan Ponce Enrile) or a new one,” Sotto said. Sotto, however, said that it is wrong to say that Enrile will be replaced. “The detractors of JPE just like the sound of the word replaced. Mali ‘yun in parliamentary language,” he said. Sen.Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes that the frontrunners for the Senate

presidency areSenators Franklin Drilon and Serge Osmeña as well as reelected Sen.Alan Peter Cayetano. Drilon dismissed reports that he was eyeing the Senate leadership. “I don’t want to be presumptuous. Certainly, I will wait for the will of my colleagues. Iyan po ay regalo ng 13 kasamahan natin sa Senado at hindi po natin malalaman hanggang sa pagbukas ng session kung sino ang kanilang mapupusuan,” he said in a chance interview. He added:”Iyung 24 na senador ay qualified to become a president of the Senate. Hindi lang si Senator Drilon, Senator Cayetano. Hindi natin alam kung sino ang mapupusuan ng 13 senator.” Osmena said:”The new majority coalition will decide who the Senate President will be byconsensus.” Reelected Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, this early, said that he will nominate Drilon “because he has competence, seniority, and experience to lead the Senate.”

Pagsuspinde sa loan privilege ng GSIS members, inalis na Published : Wednesday, May 22, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 72  Written by : People's Tonight  IPINAHAYAG ng Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) na simula sa Hulyo 2013, hindi na masususpinde ang pribilehiyo ng mga miyembro na makautang sa GSIS kung ang kanilang ahensya ay atrasado o kulang sa pagbabayad ng mga primang kontribusyon. Nakapaloob din sa bagong patakarang inisyu ng GSIS ang ilang mung kahing paraan upang mapanumbalik ng suspendidong ahensya ang pribilehiyo sa GSIS ng kanilang mga empleyado. Pinagtibay ng GSIS Board noong Abril 25 ang bagong patakarang ito bilang solusyon sa ’di pagbabayad ng ilang ahensya ng gobyerno ng primang kontribusyon ng kanilang mga empleyado, na madalas mauwi sa pagkasuspinde ng loan privileges ng mga empleyadong apektado. Ayon kay GSIS President and General Manager Robert Vergara, hindi tamang alisan ng karapatan ang empleyado na gamitin ang GSIS loan windows at tumanggap ng dividendo dahil patuloy namang kinakaltas sa sahod nila ang kanilang social insurance contributions. Natutuwang tinanggap ni Benjie Valbuena, pangulo ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers at ManilaPublic School Teachers’ Association, ang nasabing polisiya. Aniya, “isa itong magandang balita, lalo pa nga’t umaasa sa pautang ng GSIS ang mga guro sa mga publikong paaralan para sa pag-aaral ng kanilang mga anak. Natutuwa kami sa mga bagong patakarang ipinatutupad ng GSIS Board upang matulungan ang mga kawani ng pamahalaan, lalo na ang mga may pinakamababang sahod.” Gayon din ang pahayag ni Benjo Basas, chairperson ng Teachers’ Dignity Coalition. Pinuri niya ang bagong GSIS management sa pakikinig nito sa hinaing ng mga miyembro, lalo nga’t kapag sila ang ’di maiiwasang pumasan sa pagkukulang ng kanilang employers. “Maraming salamat dahil mas maganda na ang pagturing sa mga miyembro. Nakikinig na ngayon ang GSIS sa mga miyembro at isinasaalang-alang na ang aming mungkahi. Magpatuloy pa sana ito,” ani Basas. Sa Section 6 ng Republic Act 8291 (GSIS Act of 1997), itinatakda na “...the employer shall deduct each month from the monthly salary or compensation of each employee the contributionpayable by him...”

May tatlong paraan upang maalis ang suspensyon ng ahensya. Una, maaari nitong bayaran ang buong halaga ng kulang na mga prima. Ikalawa, maaari nitong ipaayos ang arrears at mangakong babayaran ito sa pamamagitan ng kasunduan o memorandum of agreement (MOA) sa GSIS. Ikatlo, maaaring pumirma ng MOA pagkatapos mabayaran ang hindi bababa sa 90 porsyento ng premium obligations sa loob ng tatlong magkakasunod na buwan mula Hulyo 2013. May 200 ahensya na ang lumagda ng kasunduan sa GSIS, na nagpanumbalik ng buong benepisyo ng may 800,000 empleyado, kabilang na ang Department of Education. Sinabi ni PGM Vergara na kung hindi mababayaran ng suspendidong ahensya ang buong arrears nito, o kung hindi matutupad ang obligasyong magbayad ayon sa kasunduan, ibabatay ang computation ng retirement benefits ng mga empleyado sa mga taon lamang na may kaukulang bayad na prima. Gayunman, para naman malaman kung kwalipikado ang miyembro sa retirement benefit, ang titingnan ng GSIS ay total length of service, na hindi dapat bababa sa 15 taon. Samantala, itinuturing na delingkwente ang isang ahensya kung hindi ito nakapagremit sa GSIS ng 90 porsyento o higit pang mandatory premium contributions para sa kaukulang buwan (na isinusumite sa ika-10 araw ng kasunod na buwan). Delingkwente rin ang ahensyang hindi tumutupad sa mga obligasyon nito sa kasunduan. Makatatanggap ng demand letter mula sa GSIS ang nasabing mga ahensya, at pagkatapos ay notice of default kung hindi pa rin nababayaran ang kakulangang prima. Ipaaalala ng notices na ito na hindi pa natatanggap ng GSIS ang tamang halagang dapat i-remit sa kaukulang buwan, at ang hindi nila pagbabayad ay makakaapekto sa halagang maaaring utangin ng empleyado o sa kanila mismong retirement benefits. Ipaaalam din ng GSIS sa agency authorized officers, mga pinuno ng unyon ng mga empleyado, at personnel offices kung hindi nakababayad ang kanilang ahensya. “Hinihikayat namin ang pakikipagtulungan ng mga miyembro upang matiyak na naire-remit sa GSIS ang kanilang mandatory premium obligations at iba pang kabayaran, at nang sa gayo’y matanggap nila sa tamang panahon ang tamang halaga ng benepisyong para sa kanila.” Ang huling patakarang ito ay bahagi ng patuloy na pagrerebisa ng Board at pamunuan ng GSIS tungo sa layuning makapagbigay ng serbisyong nakatutok at tumutugon sa mga pangangailangan ng 1.4 milyong aktibong miyembro ng GSIS.

2013 05 22 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

News monitor for 2013 05 22

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