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Fishermen’s group hits Palace over Benham Rise Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Thursday, 30 May 2013 19:57 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter THE Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday criticized Malacañang for naming the 13-million-hectare Benham Rise as an alternative fishing ground for Filipino fishermen. “First and foremost, it is not new and it cannot even be considered an alternative fishing ground. In fact, foreign fishing vessels have been ‘invading’ Benham Rise for almost a decade. Aquino should stop acting like Christopher Columbus because we are no longer in the age of discovery,” said Gerry Albert Corpuz, information officer of Pamalakaya, referring to the Italian explorer who, until recently, was widely regarded as the first European to reach the Americas. According to him, fishermen from Aurora and Quezon provinces, as well as fishing vessels from as far as the Visayas and Mindanao, have been fishing in Benham Rise for a long time. “President Aquino was not even born yet when Filipino fishermen started fishing in that area,” Corpuz said. His statements came after the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) recently identified Benham Rise as an alternative fishing ground to waters of disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), where Chinese naval forces have barred Filipino fishermen from entering. BFAR Director Asis Perez earlier bared plans to set up postharvest facilities and equipment in Quezon and Aurora in anticipation of increased fishing activities in Benham Rise. He said the government will make initial fishing investments and announced that several fishing companies have expressed support for the plans. Operations of at least seven commercial-fishing vessels could yield an estimated 70 metric tons (MT) of fish per operation, Perez added. Pamalakaya, however, expressed skepticism that such plans would even work to address the woes of fishermen affected by the tensions in the West Philippine Sea. Corpuz said the least the Aquino administration could do is to make sure that Filipino fishermen are able to fish exclusively in Benham Rise. According to him, foreign fishing companies from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have already “invaded” the area.

Under the Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, Japanese fishing vessels are allowed to fish inside the country’s exclusive economic zone. The Philippines also has an existing agreement with Taiwan—the Republic of the Philippines-Taiwan Sealane Accord— which allows Taiwanese fishermen to fish in Benham Rise. South Korean fishermen, Corpuz said, can just enter Benham Rise “at will,” with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) simply “watching from a distance.” Foreign fishing vessels frequent Benham Rise, especially between January and July, to fish for tuna, he added. In a statement, Pamalakaya Vice Chairman Salvador France said the government has been tolerating Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese tuna-fishing expeditions in the area for the last five years. He added that the fishing vessels of those countries were even seen entering municipal fishing grounds and the PCG is not doing anything to stop what he described as the “foreign ocean grabbers.” A 3,000-ton tuna factory ship, accompanied by supporting fishing fleets, can catch as much as 150 MT of tuna within a 24-hour operation. By industry standards, a single factory ship could catch 50,000 MT of tuna a year. Pamalakaya said even Filipino-owned commercial-fishing vessels cannot compete against the foreign vessels, leaving behind small fishermen with nothing but scraps after a week of fishing. “What the Aquino administration should do is enhance the capacity of the PCG and make sure that they protect the county’s territories. The Aquino administration should also have the political will to do this. Unfortunately, the PCG has no capacity and the Aquino administration has no political will,” Corpuz said.‐commodities/14249‐fishermen‐s‐group‐hits‐ palace‐over‐benham‐rise                

Rehabilitate coco industry with P71‐billion coconut levy funds 9:33 pm | Thursday, May 30th, 2013  

This is a reaction to the letter of Joey Faustino, executive director of the Coconut Industry Reform (COIR) Movement Inc., titled “SC decision on coco levy: still unimplemented” (Inquirer, 5/14/13). As a small coconut farmer, I strongly suggest that the coco levy funds amounting to P71 billion in cash, as pointed out by Faustino in the letter, be used to rehabilitate the dying coconut industry. Precisely, the funds must be harnessed for large-scale replanting of coconut trees in all the coconut producing regions of our country, fertilization of old coconut trees, not to mention the control of the pests attacking the coconut trees particularly in Batangas. Finally, large-scale intercropping as well as livestock production must be pursued to augment the income of the coconut farmers especially the marginal ones. Then and only then can the plight of the coco farmers be alleviated. —CRISOSTOMO B. VILAR, vice mayor, Pagsanjan, Laguna, and chair, Cocofed, Pagsanjan Chapter Read more:‐coco‐industry‐with‐p71‐billion‐coconut‐levy‐ funds#ixzz2UpouqFiA    


People‐powered, government‐supported innovations By Ernesto M. Ordoñez  Philippine Daily Inquirer   7:55 pm | Thursday, May 30th, 2013  

Innovation means uncertainty, and is therefore often resisted. When innovation comes from the people, and not from government, the resistance may be even stronger. This is why government support for people-powered innovations is most welcome. When Agriwatch started in 2003, one of its board members was Professor Romulo Davide. Even then, he advocated the vision of “farmer as scientist.” He believes farmers can put discipline in evaluating their everyday experience and become scientists in their own right. In 2012, Davide became a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee because of this advocacy. The Magsaysay Award states: “farmers consequently multiplied their yields, created productive farming communities, and rediscovered the dignity of their labor.” Last May 22, following the same spirit and supporting Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala’s vision of rice self-sufficiency, Philrice Executive Director Eufemio Rasco launched “Palayabangan.” This is a nationwide rice production competition that highlights the “10-5 Challenge.” The Philrice website states: “Palayabangan aims to level up the rice production standards to 10-5 (10 tons/ha yield or 200 cavans) at only P5 input cost per kg of palay. The current average input cost is pegged at P11/kg.” The attractiveness of this program is that it opens competition not only to the traditional universities and research institutions, but also to non-government organizations and “farmerscientists,” as Davide advocates. In a Feb. 22 commentary, I described the gains made by Dante Dizon. He is a “farmer-scientist” who discovered a way to significantly increase productivity at lower cost and less environmental impact. Impressive though his alleged results were, I stated there was a need for official verification by a third party to validate the results. I had recommended that all such claims should go through these procedures so that false claims would not mislead and rob our already poor farmers.

Dizon took this suggestion constructively. He approached Philrice for such verification. However, because of limited funds, Philrice asked Dizon to contribute P170,000 for this verification. Dizon did not have this money and therefore declined the Philrice offer. But with the Palayabangan program, which has only a P10,000 registration fee, Dizon now has an opportunity to have his claims verified. Another farmer scientist who will benefit from this program is Roberto Versola, a former associate editor of the UP Collegian. In his search to help small farmers, he came upon the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). However, Philrice’s experiments showed that SRI results were not good enough to promote this technology. Thus, when I found out that 2012 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Yang Saing Koma was recognized precisely for the SRI technology he used to achieve Cambodia’s increased rice production, I personally brought Rasco to meet Koma. I then told Rasco that Versola disagreed with the methodology Philrice used during the SRI investigation. Rasco immediately said that Philrice would be glad to work with Versola on the methodology for future SRI studies. In both the Dizon and Versola instances, Rasco showed admirable openness in looking at innovations, even from small farmers like them. Rasco was Student Council president of UP Los Banos when I occupied the same position at Ateneo de Manila University. Seeing what Rasco has done through Palayabangan, I still see the same desire to contribute to the country that he had then. I am reminded of Doreen Yu’s quotation of AE Housman’s lines: “When summer’s end is nighing/ And skies at evening cloud/ I muse on change and fortune/ And all the feats I vowed/ When I was young and proud.” Rasco may be on the way to achieving one of the feats he vowed he would accomplish. Through Palayabangan and the 10-5 Challenge, achieving rice production changes may well bring fortune to small farmers. We will no longer hear a farmer-scientist likening the innovations he offers for government adaptation to the dreams in a Mona Liza song: “Many dreams have been left at your doorstep: they just lie there, and they die there.” It is hoped that this model of government support for people-powered innovations be duplicated in other areas. In agriculture, emphasis can also be given to upland rice as well as efficient cacao inter-cropping between coconut trees that is so badly needed. In this way, change and fortune will occur more systematically and achieve the elusive goal of inclusive growth. (The author is chair of Agriwatch, former secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, and former Undersecretary for Agriculture, Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail or telefax 8522112.)

Economy Posted on May 30, 2013 09:45:09 PM 

Davao turns to corn farming for jobs DAVAO CITY ‐‐ The Davao Oriental provincial government is looking at  developing 6,000 hectares of lands for livelihood projects in three towns  devastated by typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha).      "We need to implement livelihood programs that will provide better opportunities for our people who  have suffered so much during the typhoon," said Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon.    Corn farming is one of the activities eyed for the livelihood projects. She explained that corn, with its  short gestation period, could provide immediate income to those hard‐hit by the calamity in December  last year.    Rice and coconut, in comparison, were both considered sentimental crops, since they have provided  income to local residents for many decades.    The provincial government has already started rehabilitating farms in three municipalities: Boston,  Cateel and Baganga.    Rotchie M. Ravelo, assistant provincial agriculturist, said all the farm sites identified in the three sites are  ready for planting.    However, the province will still have to request the Department of Agriculture and other groups for  additional planting materials since it only has about 4,000 bags of corn seeds.    To help pick up the pace, the governor ordered Mr. Ravelo’s office to draft an inventory of the farm  equipment that could be used for clearing operations.    The corn project will start in Baganga where 40 teams with about 2,000 total members will  simultaneously start clearing operations in three villages.    Two United Nations agencies ‐‐ the World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture  Organization ‐‐ have signified their intent to help the provincial government in corn production.    Misael Q. Argonza, WFP’s local coordinator, said the fund for the cash‐for‐work program related to corn  planting is already available. WFP earlier set aside $1.2 million for cash‐for‐work in the areas affected by 

the typhoon.    Meanwhile, the provincial government and the Philippine Coconut Authority has started rehabilitating  the coconut industry in Davao, hoping to restore the its position as the top coconut producer in the  country.    Mindanao bore the brunt of Typhoon Pablo. Strong rains and winds wrecked plantations in the region,  with bananas, coconut, corn, rice high‐value crops, livestock and fisheries seeing significant production  losses.    Agricultural damage totaled P29.122 billion, covering 50,096 hectares, including 44,937 hectares with no  chance of recovery. ‐‐ C. Q. Francisco   ‐ See more at:‐turns‐to‐ corn‐farming‐for‐jobs&id=71089#sthash.5cR1qWMn.dpuf                               

P200‐m ‘pork’ missing — Audit By Merck Maguddayao | Posted on May. 31, 2013 at 12:01am | 775 views 

AROUND P200 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund released by the Department of Agriculture from 2007 to 2008 to a non-governmental organization could not be accounted for, state auditors said on Thursday. The 2012 Commission on Audit Annual Audit Report of the Zamboanga del Norte Agricultural College Rubber Estate Corporation showed that it did not carry out 24 recommendations of state auditors regarding the controversial PDAF allocation sourced from the offices of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, and Buhay party-list representative Rene Velarde. PDAF is also known as “pork barrel.” The 84-page report was signed by Corporate Government Sector supervising auditor Merle Valentin. COA said in its 2011 audit that the state-owned corporation transmitted the P199.68 million to its purportedly affiliate NGO Pangkabuhayan Foundation, Inc. contrary to section 4.4 of COA Circular 2007-001, which requires the legitimacy and eligibility of a PDAF-recipient NGO. COA stated that it prevented the transaction given the pending submission of ZREC of documentary requirements supporting the legitimacy of the fund transfer. It required ZREC to have PFI submit its audited financial statements from 2007 to 2008, quarterly income tax returns for said years, organizational profile, complete project proposals, and “proof that PFI had an equity of 20 per cent of the total cost used in the project.” The transferred PDAF was supposed to be used for the purchase of agricultural equipment and materials such as tractors, water pumps, composting facilities, and seedlings, COA explained. Auditors said that ZREC failed to justify the purchase of equipment and materials “from suppliers which were very far from the location of the projects.” They asked “why its corporate secretary was the one who prepared the disbursement voucher, purchase request, and abstract of bids and received the delivered items” contrary to Presidential Decree (PD) 1445. COA also noted that ZREC failed to prove, by way of pictures, fund utilization and inspection reports about the PFI’s project. “The current ZREC Audit Team issued a demand to [ZREC] management to comply/implement the recommendations and the information that non-compliance thereof may result in the disallowance of their transaction,” COA explained. COA also noted that ZREC understated P1.76 million in taxes from 2009 to 2012 because it failed to subject the sale of its pond coagulator to three percent tax as required by Republic Act 9337. Around 60 per cent of the sale of coagulators, or P7.2 million, was also paid to its partner tappers and small farmers instead of depositing it to its rural bank partners. ZREC also tallied P1.14 million in unliquidated cash advances as of 2012.‐m‐pork‐missing‐audit/

DAR scored over audit firm issue By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on May. 31, 2013 at 12:02am | 550 views 

A lawmaker and a farmers’ group on Thursday assailed the move of the Department of Agrarian Reform to seek the Supreme Court’s intervention on the impasse over the selection of an audit firm to scrutinize the financial records of companies owned by President Benigno Aquino III’s family. The move, they said, was meant to delay, if not evade the payment of P1.33 billion. The farmer-beneficiaries of the Hacienda Luisita and the President’s relatives, owners of Hacienda Luisita Inc. and Centenary Holdings Inc. failed to reach an agreement as to which accounting firm would be tapped to check the records on the sale of some 500 hectares worth P1.33 billion that the Supreme Court had ruled belongs to the farmers. “Obviously, HLI and CHI are the ones to be audited. Giving Cojuangco-Aquino companies the power to choose Cojuangco-friendly auditing firms smacks of conflict of interest,” said Antonio Flores, secretary general of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. “Aquino’s DAR cannot be trusted,” he added. Flores said DAR’s maneuver was not a simple case of indecisiveness and incompetence. “It concretely shows the DAR’s bias against the farm workers and puppetry to the President and the Cojuangco family,” Flores said. “We have all reasons to believe that DAR’s actions are deliberately meant to delay and even prevent the actual distribution of Luisita lands,” Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano said. DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes on Wednesday decided to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court to settle the deadlock between the farmers and the President’s relatives. “We wish to put on record that it is the disagreement among parties concerned, and not the DAR, that is the cause of the delay in the audit process,” he said. Three accounting firms have expressed interest in taking on the special audit, namely the Ocampo Mendoza Leung Lim & Co. (OMLL), Reyes Tacandong and Company and San Agustin and Company. The farmer-beneficiaries had picked the OMLL to perform the auditing of HLI and CHI, Mariano said. The DAR and the Cojuangco-Aquinos, however, want the Reyes Tacandong & Co. and KPMG to audit the two firms that were responsible for the disposal of the 500 hectares.

The farmer-beneficiaries rejected the Reyes Tacandong & Co., the choice of the President’s relatives. “Delos Reyes should stop covering his puppetry to the Cojuangcos by blaming the parties’ socalled disagreement. The farm workers are united in their choice of auditing firm,” said Flores, referring to the OMLL. The special audit on HLI and CHI would look into the gross proceeds from the conversion of two lots, with an area of 500 hectares, and the expropriation of a portion of Hacienda Luisita for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. The high court had ordered the engagement of the services of a reputable accounting firm acceptable to both sides to verify the P1,330,511,500 alleged proceeds from the sale of the three lots and determine if the amount was used for legitimate corporate expenses by the companies. Any unspent or unused balance and disallowed expenditure found in the special audit is to be distributed to the 6,296 beneficiaries of the hacienda, who will inherit the property as ordered by the Supreme Court. The KMP reiterated calls for the “zero compensation” of the Cojuangco-Aquino’s and “free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farm workers” noting that the President’s family enriched themselves for almost six decades of control over the lands and still owe the farm workers P1.33 billion. With Fred Villareal‐scored‐over‐audit‐firm‐issue/                      

Taking the pork barrel for a ride Published on Friday, 31 May 2013 00:00 0 Comments ‘For all intents and purposes, the PFI was a fake NGO.’ THE Priority Development Assistance Fund or “pork barrel” serves its purpose when it is used for the pet programs or projects of legislators in their districts but when a non-government organization gets its hands on P194.97 million of taxpayers’ money, something definitely is wrong somewhere. This NGO, which goes by the name of Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc., was the beneficiary of pork barrel funds from Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla and Rep. Rene Velarde (PL-Buhay) in 2009 and 2010, since according to the Department of Agriculture, it was their offices which nominated the PFI to implement their projects. This claim by the DA has been denied by the four lawmakers. The disbursements were earmarked for purchase of seedlings, fertilizers, hand tractors, water pumps and composting/organic fertilizer facilities as well as for the conduct of trainings and seminars for farmers. The 2011 audit report of Commission on Audit showed that Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and Velarde released P206 million from their PDAF to the DA which released P201 million to ZNAC Rubber Estates Corp (ZREC). ZREC, a government-owned and controlled corporation engaging in agricultural sector development including commercial crop production, specifically rubber, in Zamboanga del Norte, in turn, transferred P194.97 million to PFI. Of the P194.97 million, COA said P74.69 million came from Enrile’s pork barrel; P106.7 million from Estrada, P9.7 million from Revilla and P3.88 million from Velarde. Now here’s where it became interesting. Auditors discovered that documents submitted by PFI such as official receipts, sales invoices, and delivery receipts did not tally with those from the identified suppliers and they also established that two purported suppliers were non-existent.

For all intents and purposes, the PFI was a fake NGO. COA had recommended that ZREC compel PFI to refund P161.914 million that was liquidated using “fabricated documents and forged signatures” and to study legal actions against the NGO. Once again, millions of taxpayers’ money went to the pockets of scrupulous individuals and obviously, we will never know if they would be accounted for.‐news‐flash/32438‐taking‐the‐pork‐barrel‐for‐a‐ride      

BFAR: Visayas, Mindanao bays affected by red tide Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Thursday, 30 May 2013 19:53 Written by Alvin I. Dacanay with Jennifer A. Ng

THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has reported that shellfish collected from three bays—one in the Visayas and two in Mindanao—have tested positive for red tide. In its Shellfish Bulletin 12, dated May 28, the BFAR said latest laboratory tests on shellfish caught in Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar province, Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur province and Murcielagos Bay in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental showed that the toxin in them is over the regulatory limit. Dumanquillas and Murcielagos have been plagued with red tide for at least a year. “All types of shellfish and alamang gathered from [these] areas are not safe for human consumption,” said the BFAR, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture. The bureau stressed, however, that fish, squid, shrimps and crabs are safe to eat, as long as they are fresh and washed thoroughly, and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking. According to the bulletin, red tide-free areas in Luzon are the coastal waters of Cavite, Bulacan and Bataan provinces and the cities of Las Piñas, Parañaque and Navotas; the coastal waters of Bolinao, Anda, Wawa and Bani towns and Alaminos City in Pangasinan province; Masinloc Bay in Zambales province; the coastal waters of Milagros and Mandaon towns in Masbate province; and Honda and Puerto bays in Puerto Princesa City and Inner Malampaya Sound in Taytay town, Palawan province. Safe areas in the Visayas are the coastal waters of Pilar, President Roxas, Panay, Ivisan and Sapian towns and Roxas City in Capiz province; coastal waters of the towns of E.B. Magalona, Pontevedra, Pulupandan, Valladolid, Hinigaran, Binalbagan and San Enrique, as well as the cities of Talisay, Silay, Bacolod, Cadiz, Victorias and Bago in Negros Occidental province;

Irong-irong, Maqueda and Villareal bays in Samar province; Ormoc, San Pedro, Cancabato and Carigara bays in Leyte province; and the waters of Biliran town, Biliran province. In Mindanao, the Hinatuan, Bislig and Lianga bays in Surigao del Sur province; and Taguines Lagoon in Benoni village, Mahinog town, Camiguin Island, remain free of red tide. Discolored ON its web site, the BFAR describes bodies of water with red tide as “discolored by high algal biomass or concentration of algae.” It stressed that “the discoloration may not necessarily be red, but it may also appear yellow, brown, green, blue or milky, depending on the organisms involved.” Eating shellfish affected by red tide can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, which can lead to death. Symptoms include tingling lips and tongue, which may begin within minutes or develop within two hours. Depending on how much a person has ingested the toxin, symptoms may progress to tingling of the fingers and toes and later to loss of control of the arms and legs, followed by difficulty in breathing. If a person has consumed enough of the poison, abdomen and chest muscles become paralyzed. Death can result in as little as two hours, as muscles used for breathing become paralyzed.

In Photo: In this file photo, a tahong (mussel) vendor waits for buyers at the public market in Obando town, Bulacan province. (ramil Bernardo)‐commodities/14248‐bfar‐visayas‐mindanao‐ bays‐affected‐by‐red‐tide                

Farmers hit DAR chief’s ‘bias’ for Luisita owners Category: Nation Published on Thursday, 30 May 2013 20:19 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter FARMERS on Thursday assailed Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes for his alleged “subservience” to the Cojuangco-Aquino family, owner of the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, which is now the subject of land distribution under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program-extesnion with reform (CARPer). Lito Bais, chairman of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), said de los Reyes’s bias for the Cojuangco-Aquino family became obvious in his decisions concerning the special audit of the financial records of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and Centenary Holdings Inc. (CHI) as ordered by the Supreme Court in its April 24, 2012 ruling on the Hacienda Luisita case. Bais condemned the decision of the DAR to seek clarification from the SC on the issue after a deadlock between the parties in the selection of the accounting firm that will do the special audit. The special audit is necessary to determine the legitimate corporate expenses of HLI and CHI deductible against the P1.33-billion proceeds of two land deals that carved out a total of 580 hectares from the original 3,916-hectare sugar estate covered by CARPer. Bais said it is only HLI, and in effect the DAR, that is not even a party to the case, that are against the manifesto signed by all other parties in support of Ocampo, Mendoza, Leung. Lim & Co. (OMLL) as the accounting firm to do the special audit. De los Reyes earlier denied the petition of the farmer-beneficiaries represented by various farmer-organizations to exclude the HLI from the selection process of the accounting firm. After that, the DAR chief also denied another petition, to disqualify Reyes Tacandong & Co. and KPMG, the fourth-largest accounting and auditing firm in the world. Bais maintains that HLI should never be a party in choosing the accounting firm since it is the party to be audited. “Now Secretary de los Reyes is speaking with a forked tongue by saying that there should be unanimity in choosing the auditing firm and disagreement among the parties caused the impasse in the auditing process. But now his office has raised this issue to the Supreme Court because they are not sure what the SC meant by ‘approved by the parties’, whether this meant unanimity, or a mere majority vote,” he added. Bais said there can never be unanimity between HLI and the farmer-beneficiaries in choosing the accounting firm that will do the special audit.

He said that HLI and farmer-beneficiaries have conflicting interest and that a majority vote by the parties should be the deciding factor in case of disagreement. UMA and its member-organization, the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), are worried that elevating the issue to the Supreme Court favors HLI. He noted that the present Chief Justice was one of the minority justices then who voted that the owner of the Hacienda Luisita should be paid P1 million for each hectare to be distributed to farmer-beneficiaries. “Secretary de los Reyes’s subservience to the President, whose family owns the Hacienda is not limited to the auditing process. This started with the over bloating of the list of farmerbeneficiaries by almost a thousand; announcing that the land to be distributed would be less than what the Supreme Court ruled; encouraging sugar-block farming to ensure the CojuangcoAquino’s control of the lands to be distributed; pegging a higher compensation package to the landlords as opposed to what the SC ruled; and elevating the auditing process to the SC for clarification,” he said. For its part, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng PIlipinas (KMP) challenged the SC not to dignify what it described as “DAR-Cojuangco maneuver to evade payment of the P1.3-billion debt of HLI to farmers.” KMP Secretary-General Antonio Flores said “the DAR’s move seeking intervention from the Supreme Court on the issue of selecting the account firm for the special audit is not a simple issue of indecisiveness and incompetence on the part of the DAR. “It concretely shows the DAR’s bias against the farmers and puppetry to the President and the Cojuangco family,” he said. Flores added that HLI and CHI are the ones to be audited and giving Cojuangco companies the power to choose Cojuangco-friendly auditing firms smacks of conflict of interest. The Court earlier ordered the engagement of the services of a reputable accounting firm to verify the P1,330,511,500 alleged proceeds from the sale of the three lots and determine if this was used for legitimate corporate expenses by the companies. Any unused balance and disallowed expenditure found in the special audit will then be distributed to farmer-beneficiaries.‐farmers‐hit‐dar‐chief‐s‐bias‐for‐ luisita‐owners    

Editorial: Growth in Philippine Agriculture sector Published: May 31, 2013 Philippine Agriculture grew by 3.3% to P352.5 billion in the first quarter of 2013. Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics of the Department of Agriculture (BAS-DA) showed that crops, fishery, poultry, and livestock subsectors expanded in January-March, 2013. Farmers harvested 4.17 million metric tons (MMT) of palay valued at P66 billion, and 2.25 MMT of corn valued at P27.8 billion, the BAS-DA data showed, attributing the bountiful yield to early planting, sufficient irrigation, increased use of hybrid and certified rice and corn seeds, and more cultivation areas. The government is on track to attain its sufficiency targets by yearend. Other major crops helped lift farm output in the first quarter of 2013, including pineapple, mango, tobacco, sugarcane, and onions. Fisheries grew by 5.6%, the poultry subsector 2.8 percent, and the hog industry by 0.36%. The country started this year with an export of 35 metric tons of aromatic and organic black rice to Dubai. Another batch of 80 metric tons of premium and organic, colored rice varieties are ready for shipment to other countries. The DA, in partnership with the private sector, also exported 24 metric tons of corn feed silage for cattle to South Korea. The National Economic Development Authority said the growth of agriculture exports may be sustained with the opening up of new markets for sugar and bananas. The Philippines could take advantage of demand in the United States of America (USA), Russia, China, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India, which are among major importers of raw cane sugar. We congratulate the Department of Agriculture headed by Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and Bureau of Agricultural Statistics Director and concurrent Assistant Secretary of Policy and Planning Romeo S. Recide, other Officers and Personnel, and wish them all the best and success in their endeavors to maintain the good and strong performance of the Philippine agriculture sector, thus assisting those in rural areas whose livelihoods are tied to farming, fishing, and forestry in the Republic of the Philippines. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!  

Celebration: Green Economy for Sustainable Development Published: May 31, 2013 In an increasingly interconnected world where trillions of dollars worth of goods and services are traded annually, the rapidly expanding market for low-carbon and environmentally friendly products will create new opportunities, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said in its recent report “Green Economy and Trade – Trends, Challenges and Opportunities.” Pushing for greening global trade which is vital for sustainable development, the UNEP’s 298page report finds that developing countries with abundant renewable resources are wellpositioned to capitalize on the opportunities provided by green products to increase their share in international markets for sustainable goods and services. It analyzes six economic sectors – agriculture, fisheries, forests, manufacturing, renewable energy, and tourism – where trade opportunities exist, and identifies measures that can help developing countries benefit from these markets. The Green Economy Report, compiled in together with economists and experts worldwide, demonstrates that the greening of economies is a new engine of growth, that it is a net generator of decent jobs, and that it is also a vital strategy for the elimination of persistent poverty. The report seeks to motivate policy makers to create the enabling conditions for increased investments in a transition to a green economy. It identifies areas where public and private actions can support developing countries’ efforts to access greener international markets. The global market in low-carbon and energy-efficient technologies, which include renewable energy supply products, is projected to nearly triple to $2.2 trillion by 2020. World environmental leaders at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (‘Rio+20’) in 2012 reaffirmed the role of international trade as an engine for development and sustained economic growth. We congratulate the United Nations Environment Programme headed by its Executive Director and United Nations Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner and its Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific Young-Woo Park, in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations of the Republic of the Philippines and all over the world. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!        

Imports of fatty acids needed to supply oleochemical players Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Thursday, 30 May 2013 19:50 Written by Dennis D. Estopace / Reporter THE Philippines, a longtime exporter of coconut products, may now need to import fatty acids to produce oleochemicals, as the facilities of a major manufacturer of such products remain closed. “We may need to do that [import fatty acids]—[albeit only] a small amount—maybe from Malaysia or Indonesia,” Evelina L. Patiño, executive vice president of United Coconut Chemicals Inc. (Cocochem), told reporters recently. According to her, the Philippines may need to import as much as a hundred tons of palm kernel monthly to supply some manufacturers that use oleochemicals. Most of these manufacturers are into soapmaking and rely on local oleochemical suppliers like Cocochem. However, the 32-year-old company remains shuttered after a fire hit its 42-hectare site in Bauan town, Batangas province, two years ago. In its heyday, Cocochem can produce 36,000 metric tons of fatty alcohol and 18,800 MT of fatty acids, among others. Patiño said global fatty-acid capacity is estimated at 9 million MT, while growth in demand is estimated at 4 percent. Malaysia and Indonesia collectively supply Philippines, much less than that.

42 percent of fatty acids in the market; the

“Indonesian and Malaysian oleochemical plants are integrated upstream [with] palm plantations,” the Cocochem official said, adding that the growth of the two countries could be credited to the encouragement of domestic production through an export tax scheme, which makes domestic prices of oils cheaper in those nations. She also said the company needs about $15 million to restart its production of fatty acids and fatty alcohol. These are used to produce detergents, personal-care items and cosmetics, among others. Patiño said global fatty-alcohol capacity is estimated at 3.7 million, with growth in demand estimated at 2.5 percent. She added that Malaysia and Indonesia supply 25 percent of fatty alcohol in the market, while the Philippines supplies less than 5 percent. Like Patiño, Dean Lao Jr. of the Philippine Oleochemical Manufacturers Association said the Philippines should also focus on coconut-oil by-products, especially glycerin.

This chemical, Lao said in his presentation to scientists on Tuesday, has a global market demand of about 37,500 tons annually. “The question here is what can the Philippines do about this,” he added. Patiño said a major challenge remains in this regard, since only Pilipinas Kao and PIDI are the only operational oleochemical plants in the country.‐commodities/14247‐imports‐of‐fatty‐acids‐ needed‐to‐supply‐oleochemical‐players

Del Monte firms up dual listing on PSE By Doris C. Dumlao  Philippine Daily Inquirer   6:24 pm | Thursday, May 30th, 2013  

MANILA, Philippines–Singapore-listed food and beverage firm Del Monte Pacific Ltd. has firmed up its dual listing on the Philippine Stock Exchange by way of introduction or without any public equity offering. In a memorandum dated May 30, the PSE said its board had approved the application of Del Monte to list 1.297 billion common shares on its first or main board. The initial listing price will be determined by using the closing price of company shares at the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Ltd. on the trading day immediately preceding the listing, the PSE said. The actual listing date has yet to be fixed and will instead be announced upon the company’s compliance with pre-listing requirements, according to the circular. Del Monte has an authorized capital of two billion shares with a par value of US$0.01 each, out of which 1.297 billion shares have been issued. Consequently, there will be no change in the total number of issued and outstanding shares after the listing. There will be no underwriter and no proceeds from the listing. This listing is seen potentially adding to high dividend-yielding companies in the PSE. Based on the prospectus, the company has a stated dividend policy of paying a minimum of 33 percent of prior year’s net profit, although this has been exceeded in the past years’ payouts at 75 percent. “There is, however, no guarantee that the company will pay any dividend in the future,” the prospectus said. Del Monte is a holding firm for companies engaged in growing, processing and selling of canned and fresh pineapples, pineapple juice concentrate, tropical mixed fruit, tomato-based products, beverage products and certain food products under the brand names Del Monte, S&W and Today’s.‐monte‐firms‐up‐dual‐listing‐on‐pse      

Thailand seeks FMD‐free status in 3‐5 years By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 31, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

NAKOMRATCHASIMA, Thailand – The Thai government is seen to complete within the next three to five years a foot-and-mouth- disease-free (FMD-free) livestock zone that isolates farms unscathed by the disease, according to Thai government veterinarians. The FMD-free zone is seen to be established in eastern Thailand. The Thai government is currently conducting legislative zoning of the provinces that would included in the control areas. The movement of animals within the zone would be restricted to prevent contamination. A registry of animals within the FMD free zone would also be created. The Thai government is also improving its mass vaccination program to support both small and large-scale farmers. This development could benefit the developing dairy industry in the Philippines because this would enable Filipino dairy farmers to purchase semen from Thailand for their breeding programs. The continued prevalence of FMD in some Thai livestock farms is preventing the Philippines from importing heifers and semen from the country, which would be cheaper than sourcing heifers from New Zealand and semen from the United States. Thailand is currently in stage three out of the five stages of controlling FMD. This means that the country is strengthening its veterinary tools to respond to the disease. “There is still no definite time frame for reaching stage five, but we are trying our best to reach the higher level. After this, an expert from the OIE will conduct an assessment on the vaccines,” Ratchanee Atthi, expert on bacterial Vaccine development of the Bureau of Veterinary Biologics told visiting Philippine dairy officials and dairy farmers. “The FMD-zone is not yet final but perhaps in three to five years it will be established,” she added. The Thai government charges farmers a small price for the vaccines but provide free veterinary services. Atti said the government veterinary service currently provides the vaccine needs of 80 percent of the Thai livestock industry. There are also private biological technology companies that sell vaccines to farmers.

Thailand currently has around 500,000 dairy animals against the 40,000 in the Philippines. The Philippine government is importing this year around 800 milking cattle from New Zealand for its breeding program. These are Holstein Friesian cows cross-bred with Sahiwal cattle which can more enduring a tropical climate. Each cattle would cost around P140,000 against the cost of 65,000 baht for Thai Friesian cows which are Holstein Friesian cows cross-bred with native Thai cattle. These cattle are lent to farmers for breeding and are eventually returned to the government either pregnant or with an offspring. National Dairy Authority (NDA) administrator Grace Cenas said it would be easier to conduct business with Thailand once the country is already FMD-free. “So you should hurry because we are interested in doing business with you,” Cenas said in jest during the forum with Thai veterinary officials. Filipino businessmen who are part of the delegation also recognize that the establishment of the FMD-free zone would also give the Philippines access to cheaper source of semen for breeding. Holstein Friesian semen imported from the US costs around P500 to P1,000 per straw, but the average price in Thailand is 300 baht per straw. “We can wait for this. We want to get the genetics and we cannot get this because they are still not FMD free,” said Juan Lozada, chairman of the Philippine Dairy Confederation. The Thai veterinary service currently produces cattle vaccines for foot and mouth disease, Hemmorhagic septicaemia, Anthrax spore, Brucellosis, and Backleg diseases. It also produces vaccines for swine and poultry diseases.‐seeks‐fmd‐free‐status‐3‐5‐years              

Economy grows 7.8% First Quarter Growth Makes PH Fastest Growing Economy In East, Southeast Asia By Chino S. Leyco Published: May 31, 2013

Manila, Philippines --- The Philippine economy grew by 7.8 percent in the first quarter of the year, defying the expectations of economists who forecast 5.1 to 6.4 percent growth and making the country the fastest growing economy among the major East and Southeast Asian Nations. Year-on-year, the country’s economy in the first three months grew from 6.5 percent, said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan. The economy, measured by its gross domestic product (GDP), expanded at the fastest pace in almost three years in the first-quarter of 2013. Data from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) showed that the development on the production side contributed positively to the country’s growth in the first-quarter. Services expanded by 7 percent, industry by 10.9 percent, and the agriculture sector by 3.3 percent. “Impressive performance of these sectors proves that the country is already reaping the benefits of strengthening priority sectors that are potential growth drivers and employment generators,” Balisacan said. Heightened domestic demand led to the local manufacturing sector growing by 9.7 percent. Also stirring the economy is the construction sector that grew 32.5 percent in the first quarter, indicating a good positioning toward an industry-led economy.

Retail trade remained strong as the spending capacity of Filipinos continued to grow due to the improving employment situation, higher overseas Filipinos workers (OFW) remittances, and stable inflation. The agriculture sector growth is also catching up with a 3.3 percent growth rate as the fisheries subsector bounced back from a series of contractions to a growth of 5.5 percent during the quarter. On the demand side, capital formation has primarily driven overall growth with its 47.7 percent expansion, surpassing the contribution of household consumption which grew by 5.1 percent. Government consumption also grew by 13.2 percent due to state support for social programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), agriculture development programs, and the rationalized MOOE for public elementary and high school under the Department of Education. “For the first time, expenditure in capital formation, including other private sector investments such as on durable equipment, contributed more to growth than household consumption expenditure,” said Balisacan. Net exports, however, contracted primarily due to a decrease in external demand for electronic components. “This growth figure is significant since it puts to rest the doubts cast on the 2012 figure as being due to base effects only. It also indicates to us that we may now be moving along a new growth trajectory. And by the way, GDP in 2012 actually grew by 6.8 percent,” Balisacan said in a briefing. From January to March this year, the Philippines exceeded the economic expansions of Indonesia (6 percent), Thailand (5.3 percent), Vietnam (4.9 percent), even higher than that of the People’s Republic of China (7.7 percent). “This growth rate of 7.8 percent exceeded market forecasts, including my own. But please note that I was the most optimistic of all,” he added. Balisacan explained the robust growth in the first three-months was fuelled by business confidence and consumer optimism, which boosted consumption, investment as well as government spending. The end-March GDP growth was the country’s highest expansion since the second-quarter in 2010 at 8.9 percent. “The first-quarter growth is the highest so far under the Aquino administration and also the third consecutive quarter of more than 7 percent GDP growth,” Jose Ramon A. Alber, NSCB secretary general, said.

Challenges Ahead Balisacan assured the government is committed to maintaining macroeconomic stability through low and stable inflation, and sustainable levels of the fiscal deficit and the external performance indicators. “While we recognize our robust performance in the first quarter, we will continue to be vigilant against downside risks and address critical constraints to maintaining this growth momentum,” said Balisacan. He stressed the importance of creating conditions for sustained growth in other sectors or areas with high growth potential and link-up the poor sector of society to these growth centers. “The faster this can be done, the better it will be for the greater number of our people,” said Balisacan. The government will put emphasis on innovation, technology and research and development as well as facilitate the improvement in labor productivity. “What all these demands is a greater sense of urgency among us in government as well as better coordination between and among the various agencies charged with implementing programs and projects in order to maximize efficiency and effectiveness,” Balisacan explained. The investment grade rating Fitch Rating and Standard and Poor’s accorded the country is an opportunity for the business sector to expand their interests and generate more employment, he said. “We remain positive in our outlook and we will translate this into positive action to achieve inclusive growth. We hope that the private sector will maintain a positive outlook as well, and translate this into greater participation in the growth process,” he concluded.              

WHO bats for comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising By Jenny F. Manongdo Published: May 31, 2013

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, including point-of-sale promotion and cultural or sports-related sponsorships, as it observes “World No Tobacco Day” today. “As called for in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, governments must comprehensively ban tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. We must halt the tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing of its products, which cause addiction, suffering and millions of deaths each year,” WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Shin Young-soo said. WHO said point-of-sale advertising must be eliminated because a study in Hong Kong found that despite the ban on tobacco advertising in all forms of media, brand recognition remained high at 30 percent to 64 percent among children whose families were non-smoking. Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death and it kills almost six million people worldwide every year. Of the six million, more than 600,000 are non-smokers who die from exposure to second-hand smoke. WHO warned that if tobacco use is not curbed, the annual death toll could increase to more than eight million by 2030. It is estimated that two people die in the Western Pacific Region every minute from tobaccorelated diseases such as lung cancer and diseases of the respiratory system. This is why WHO officials are calling for comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising including point-of-sale (PoS) advertising because it is still allowed in many countries where all other kinds of tobacco advertising have been banned. WHO officials said that children are exposed to point-of-sale advertising and some stores even sell cigarettes near candies or other products that appeal to children.

“To subvert marketing bans, the tobacco industry has shifted to forms of indirect advertising, such as sponsorship of sports or cultural events and viral marketing, including word-of-mouth marketing,” WHO said. WHO said comprehensive advertising bans lead to reductions in the number of people starting and continuing smoking and are effective in fighting the “deceptive” and “misleading” nature of tobacco marketing campaigns; the unavoidable exposure of young people to tobacco marketing; the failure of the tobacco industry to effectively self-regulate; and the ineffectiveness of partial bans. A big stride on health has been made after almost 80 percent of countries in the Western Pacific Region, including the Philippines, now ban direct advertising of tobacco on national television, and half of the Region’s countries and areas now ban one of the main forms of indirect advertising such as product placement of tobacco brands in television and films. The Philippines is a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). The WHO FCTC obliges its 176 Parties to take concrete actions to reduce demand and supply for tobacco products that also includes protecting people from exposure to tobacco smoke; counteracting illicit trade; banning advertising, promotion and sponsorship; banning sales to minors; putting large health warnings on packages of tobacco; increasing tobacco taxes and creating a national coordinating mechanism for tobacco control.                      

DepEd: No more shortage of classrooms, teachers By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 31, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - There will be no more shortage of classrooms, teachers and textbooks in public schools this coming school year, the Department of Education (DepEd) said yesterday. DepEd Assistant Secretary for Planning Jesus Mateo said the government is building 34, 131 classrooms, which is enough to erase the backlog this year. Mateo, however, said the government would continue to construct classrooms to accommodate the increase in enrollment every school year. He there will also be no shortage of teachers with the hiring of 61,510 additional teaching personnel this year. “As of last school year, the book-student ratio is 1:1 in both public elementary and secondary schools,” he said, adding that there is no more backlog in school seats. Mateo likewise assured the public that DepEd would complete the delivery of teaching materials nationwide for Grades 2 and 8 under the newly signed K to 12 program before the end of June. The education department expects some 23.8 million enrollees in both public and private elementary and high school this coming school year. Mateo reiterated the DepEd’s call for early registration to avoid overcrowding. “We will be able to plan and allocate resources properly. It also helps if teachers don’t get bogged down by administrative matters on June 3,” he said. What zero backlog? ACT Teachers’ party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, however, disputed DepEd’s claim of zero backlog in teachers and classrooms, saying public school children “will still be facing severe shortage” this school year. “Despite DepEd’s zero backlog claims, there will be a shortage of 46,567 teacher items and 32,844 classrooms when public schools open on Monday,” Tinio said. He said DepEd continues to rely on 35,449 volunteer kindergarten teachers, 4,828 mobile teachers and coordinators, and 49,530 teachers funded by local governments. “Government cannot claim that the teacher shortage has been addressed when it relies on 89,807 contractual and grossly exploited teachers, who are paid far below the minimum wage with no benefits and no job security,” Tinio said.

He said the Aquino administration’s public-private partnership program for School Infrastructure Project will not also be fully realized by end of 2013. He noted that Phase 1 of the project in Regions I, III, and IV-A was awarded to two companies just last year, while Phase II has yet to begin with the submission of bid documents on June 17. “These classrooms are still in the air,” he said. At least 201 new classrooms were built through the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor)’s Matuwid na Daan sa Silid-Aralan, a P1-billion project, which was completed last April. Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. said 577 other classrooms in 92 areas are under construction and 54 under procurement. Among those given priority by Pagcor’s school building program were those destroyed by Typhoon Sendong. Coast Guard on alert Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will place its personnel on heightened alert starting today in line with the Department of Transportation and Communication’s “Ligtas Byahe: Back-to-School Program.” “In anticipation of the school opening and the onset of the typhoon and rainy season, we would like to assure the public that all our units are ready to assist and respond to any emergencies that require our support,” PCG commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena said. The PCG, along with the Maritime Industry Authority and Philippine Ports Authority, reactivated passenger assistance centers in all seaports. – With Evelyn Macairan, Paolo Romero, Rainier Allan Ronda‐no‐more‐shortage‐classrooms‐teachers          

Many unhappy with conduct of May 13 elections – poll By Matikas Santos   3:29 pm | Thursday, May 30th, 2013  

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos were almost evenly split about the conduct of the May 13 midterm elections, an online poll on showed.

Posing the question, “Are you satisfied with the conduct of the May 13 polls by the Comelec?” those who voted “No” edged respondents who voted “Yes.” More than half or 52.55 percent (2,523 votes) voted “No” while 47.45 percent (2,278 votes) voted “Yes.” There were a total of 4,801 votes as of Thursday May 30, more than two weeks after the elections. Read more:‐unhappy‐with‐conduct‐of‐may‐13‐elections‐ inquiret‐net‐poll#ixzz2UpWGv6L6          

Inflation will remain on target Category: Top News Published on Thursday, 30 May 2013 21:24 Written by Bianca Cuaresma / Reporter Inflation rate will remain within the 3-percent to 5-percent target for the year despite the fasterthan-expected growth of the economy as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) in the January-to-March period. This, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr., after the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported a 7.8-percent growth in the first quarter this year. “The BSP will incorporate this new information in the update of our inflation forecasts. But given the current low baseline inflation projections, we do not foresee a breach of the target over the policy horizon,” Tetangco said in a text message to reporters. Tetangco earlier projected the inflation rate to settle within the range of 2.2 percent to 3.1 percent for May this year, well within the government’s target set at 3 percent to 5 percent for the year. The May inflation should prove well anchored, as the impact of downward adjustments in utility rates will temper the effect of price increases in petroleum, food items and tuition, Tetangco said. The BSP chief said the country’s strong showing in the first quarter, driven in part by accelerated government capital expenditures, should fortify further the country’s already strengthening fundamentals. “This is positive, as it should help form the base for more durable growth going forward,” he said. He also said the central bank will continue to monitor price developments in the coming months to ensure a steady, manageable inflation down the line. “The BSP remains watchful of price developments. We have ample policy space to address any immediate price pressures that may arise,” Tetangco said. Tetangco previously said the BSP would closely monitor price developments, particularly the pending petitions for power-rate adjustments, as well as the impact of foreign capital inflows in an economy already very liquid but with few options for deployment. The Philippines posted inflation averaging only 2.6 percent in April, slower than the inflation rate of 3.6 percent in March.‐news/14268‐inflation‐will‐remain‐on‐target

More trees By Fred M. Lobo Published: May 31, 2013 President Aquino III signs and orders the immediate implementation of Republic Act No. 10533, the “Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013” or the so-called K-to-12. That’s two more years to basic education-- to make the Philippines “at par with global standards.” *** The President also signs Republic At No 10575 to strengthen the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor). That’s improving the reformation program — to make our prisons and prisoners at par with those of other countries. He-he! *** The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) implements CARP Law- Phase III to cover and distribute more lands in various parts of the country. Yes, those who have less in life should have more in land. *** The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and environmental groups start planting 21 million tree seedlings in time for the rainy season. More trees to cover our mountains. And to hold on to during flooding. *** Manila Seedlings Bank and allied groups launch “Gulayan sa Barangay” program. Oh, my gulay! Let Gardening 101 give us more salad and viand. *** The DOT, BFAR, and the Iloilo province launch the “Pamunit” sports fishing festival to promote the protection and conservation of marine resources. Okay, teach them how to fish and live — and revive marine life.

*** DECS Sec. Armin Luistro orders the speedy repair of classrooms, especially in areas earlier ravaged by typhoons, in time for school opening. Hurry with “Brigada Eskwela”! Or tent schools are better than nothing at all. *** The Comelec declares more party-lists as “winners” in the recently held midterm elections. Okay, let them speak for the marginalized sectors — and not just snore in Congress. He-he!

Punchline Fred M. Lobo He is a columnist for the Manila Bulletin, under the title, “Punchline.” He has published notable books, all in English, the most famous of which is the 1998 book entitled, “Fidel Valdez Ramos, The Centennial President: Vision, Action & Statemanship.”                       

Phl records double‐digit growth in foreign tourist arrivals ( | Updated May 30, 2013 ‐ 11:15pm 

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The Philippines has posted a double-digit growth in foreign tourist arrivals for the first four months of the year, hitting 1.649 million, a senior government official said today. Philippines' Department of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said that the foreign visitor arrivals from January to April in 2013 were 10.12 percent higher from the same period in 2012. The foreign tourist arrivals in the first four months represent 30 percent of the annual target of 5.5 million tourists, with the month of January yielding the largest volume of 436,079 visitors and February generating the highest growth of 15.52 percent, he said. "This growth is an affirmation of our various marketing and destination development activities, strengthened by partnerships with the various stakeholders," Jimenez said. For the first four months of the year, South Korea has contributed the largest arrivals with 406,595 visitors, followed by the United States with 246,011 visitors. Japan came in third with 148,950 and China has kept its position as the fourth biggest market with 132,307. Australia ranked fifth with 72,015 arrivals.‐records‐double‐digit‐growth‐foreign‐ tourist‐arrivals                    

Once tenant‐farmer begs Aquino: Help me get my land By DJ Yap  Philippine Daily Inquirer   1:50 am | Friday, May 31st, 2013  

President Benigno Aquino. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO More than three months after she was awarded a parcel of land in Negros Occidental, Dorita Vargas, a 63-year-old single mother of three, said she had yet to set foot on the property that was now legally hers. Vargas has written President Aquino, pleading that he intervene so that she and other agrarian reform beneficiaries could finally reap the benefits of owning a piece of land. “We have not yet been able to plant on the 5 hectares because we still cannot enter the land that is under our name. We have not been formally installed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) because this land is in the middle of undistributed lands,” Vargas told Aquino in the May 22 letter, a copy of which was given to the Inquirer by Task Force Mapalad (TFM). In June last year, Vargas marched with 300 other farmers belonging to TFM to Malacañang, where they were able to meet with President Aquino and some Cabinet members. At the meeting, Aquino personally promised Vargas the land she had been tilling would soon be hers. A certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) for the 5-hectare parcels was handed over to Vargas and 12 other beneficiaries on Feb. 13 this year in a ceremony at the DAR municipal office in Negros Occidental, about eight months after Aquino made his promise. But when Vargas and the other farmers attempted to stake their claim to the land, they were refused entry to the property by the security guards of their former landlord.

In her letter, Vargas reiterated her gratitude to Aquino for having directed the DAR to speed up the process of acquiring and awarding the land to Vargas and the others. “While it is not yet clear when the rest of the more than 120 hectares of Hacienda Canticbil Manalo in La Castellana, Negros Occidental, will be distributed, a 5-hectare portion has been acquired and a CLOA has been awarded to 13 beneficiaries, including myself,” she said. She said they were extremely pleased and looking forward to cultivating the land and availing themselves of financing from the Agrarian Production Credit Program. “But unfortunately, we have not been able to benefit from this land,” she said. “Our beloved President, what will we do with the CLOA when we are not yet installed to the land? We remain hungry and landless. Since the CLOA was awarded in February, Secretary [Virgilio] de los Reyes has taken no action to remove the stumbling blocks to our installation,” Vargas said. She said she believed De los Reyes “does not see the importance of hastening the actual land distribution to uplift the lives of small farmers like us.” Sought for reaction, De los Reyes said he would get to the bottom of Vargas’ problem. Teofilo Inocencio, officer in charge of the DAR’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Operations, said the beneficiaries could not yet be installed on the property as there was still sugar cane that needed to be harvested. He said an agreement was reached at a recent meeting where Vargas and her fellow beneficiaries agreed to be installed by October, after the harvest. Inocencio said a representative of the landowner, Victorino Manalo, did not voice any objection to the agreement. Read more:‐tenant‐farmer‐begs‐aquino‐help‐me‐get‐my‐ land#ixzz2UpZ9z4X8                

DENR classifies 42 caves in Southern Mindanao Category: Regions Published on Thursday, 30 May 2013 18:52 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has classified 42 out of 500 known caves in Southern Mindanao. The classification of the caves according to their best uses is part of the priority thrusts of the DENR under Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje. Of the 42 classified caves in Southern Mindanao, 12 were classified as Class 1 which include nine in Davao del Norte, one in Compostela Valley and two in Davao Oriental. Belonging to Class 1 caves in Davao del Norte are Kapunit Cave and GR Cave in the Kapalong town; Mangitngit Cave in San Isidro; Borja Cave in New Corella; Garcia Cave, Baong Cave, Taclobo Cave 1 and 2 and Santol Cave in Island Garden City of Samal. Sto. Nino Cave No. 5 is the only cave in Compostela Valley province to have passed the Class 1 requirements, along with two other caves in Davao Oriental, namely Mera Cave I and Mat-I Cave 3. Caves classified as Class 2 totaled 23, of which 17 are situated in Davao del Norte, four in Compostela Valley and two in Davao Oriental. Caves classified as Class 3 include four in Davao del Norte, namely Kambal Cave, Bandera Caves 1 and 2, and Linggasakan Cave; two in Compostela Valley (Sto. Niùo Caves 2 and 3) and Mat-I Cave 2 in Davao Oriental. Class 1 caves are those with archeological findings and are for scientific and educational purposes only. These caves can also be utilized for exploration, mapping and photography. Caves with wildlife that cannot be disturbed are classified as Class 2. Visitors, with cave guides, are allowed only to a certain point of the cave. Class 3 covers caves where the whole part is allowed for spelunking provided that they are accompanied by cave guides. These are the caves most appropriate for ecotourism purposes. Environment Regional Executive Director for the Davao region Joselin Marcus Fragada said the classification of caves aims to assess and determine the most appropriate sustainable use, protection and management of the country’s caves, including the resources found in the caves.

“Cave classification is a process of assessing and determining the appropriate sustainable use of caves with due consideration on the cave’s biodiversity as well as its archaeological, historical, cultural and potential socioeconomic values,” Fragada said. Republic Act 9072, also known as the National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act, mandates the DENR to develop and implement a national program for the management, protection and conservation of caves and cave resources, in coordination with other agencies of the government such as the National Museum, National Historical Institute, the Department of Tourism and concerned local government units.‐denr‐classifies‐42‐caves‐in‐southern‐ mindanao                                    

Taal Lake monitoring system pushed Published: May 31, 2013 The Taal Volcano Protected Landscape (TVPL) in Batangas – including the Volcano Island, lake water and peripheries, which span 13 municipalities and three cities – is a source of livelihood for around 2,000 fisherfolk. “We can’t underscore enough the importance of maintaining the water quality of the lake within Class B,” said Ann Hazel Javier, executive director of PUSOD, Inc., an environmental non-profit organization based in Lipa City, actively involved in ensuring that the TVPL Management Plan 2010-2020 is implemented. The TVPL Management Plan, approved by stakeholders in 2009, is the blueprint of what should be done by the TVPL Protected Area Management Board. The PUSOD, with the support from Globe Bridging Communities, the corporate social responsibility arm of Globe Telecom, is blazing trails in environment conservation initiatives by utilizing information and communication technology (ICT) tools in implementing an Egovernance plan that hopes to keep the lake and its peripheries solid waste-free. According to Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Director Remedios Manalang, “In 2010, the total production for the entire lake was 82,489 metric tons. In 2011, when there were incidents of fishkill, the lake only produced 78,077 metric tons.” Javier said that many lessons were learned during the fishkill in May, 2011, where there was no existing mechanism to rapidly disseminate information to the fisherfolk on the status of water quality. Similarly, there was no mechanism for update on the status of the implementation of the management plan. The incidence of fishkill, which occurred between May to September, 2011, proved to be a blow to the livelihood of local communities surrounding the lake.            

P‐Noy signs law amending Family Code By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 31, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has signed into law a bill amending Executive Order 209, the Family Code of the Philippines, to establish the liability of absolute community or conjugal partnership for the obligation of a spouse practicing a profession and the capability of either spouse to dispose of exclusive property. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Republic Act 10572 amends Articles 73 and 111 of the Family Code to designate the courts to determine the basis for any objection between spouses in exercising any legitimate occupation, business or activity and to discern whether any benefit from this exercise should accrue against community property or separate property; and allow either spouse to mortgage, encumber, alienate or otherwise dispose of his or her exclusive property. “So the spouse does not need the consent of her partner in practicing a legitimate occupation or profession,” she said. “But in cases of disagreement, the court can step in and decide if there is basis to the objection of the spouse,” she said. “Now, if the family benefits from the proceeds of that occupation or profession that is being objected to, then they can charge the benefit to the community property. If the spouse did not object but benefited first then objected later, then it should be charged to the separate property of the spouse,” she added.‐noy‐signs‐law‐amending‐family‐code                  

Gov't employees get rules of interaction with cigar firms By Artemio A. Dumlao ( | Updated May 30, 2013 ‐ 3:51pm 

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines -- The Civil Service Commission and the Department of Health have issued a memorandum, guiding government agencies and employees on handling their engagements with the tobacco industry. The Civil Service Commission said the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2010-01 on the “Protection of the Bureaucracy Against Tobacco Industry Intervention” with the DOH will provide specific guidelines for the bureaucracy’s interactions with the tobacco industry. According to the World Health Organization, nearly six million people die each year from tobacco effects, of whom more than five million were smokers or who used to smoke , while more than 600,000 were non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. The CSC, as the central human resource institution of the bureaucracy, took the initiative to implement smoking prohibitions such as in 1991 when the CSC issued Resolution No. 91-787 prohibiting smoking in government premises, except in designated smoking areas. Again in 2009, CSC released Memorandum Circular No. 17 reiterating its commitment to have a 100-percent smoke-free bureaucracy. Guided by these, the CSC initiated the project, Race Towards a Smoke-Free Civil Service: Implementation of CSC MC No. 17, s. 2009 and Salient Features of JMC 2010-01, which consisted of seminars and training for government workers around the country. Nation ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

With it, the CSC recently launched a project called “Race Towards Tobacco Industry-Free Civil Service” on April 26, aiming to evaluate the effectiveness of the established enforcement and monitoring mechanism in assessing compliance with policies on tobacco industry interference. Two tracks of monitoring will be put in place; one is the testing of standardized compliance monitoring systems in the field, and second is the conduct of regular and spot investigations or audits to assess the effectiveness of the established enforcement and monitoring mechanism, the CSC said.‐employees‐get‐rules‐interaction‐cigar‐firms    

Pamalakaya: Benham Rise infested with foreign poachers By Dennis Carcamo ( | Updated May 30, 2013 ‐ 2:21pm 

MANILA, Philippines - Militant group Pamalakaya on Thursday said that Benham Rise off the provinces of Aurora and Isabela, is infested with foreign poachers. "The fishing waters surrounding the 13-million hectare BenHam Rise is frequented by foreign large-scale industrial fishing fleets every year from January to July to fish for tuna. The government has been tolerating the tuna fishing expeditions of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan over the last five years," said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France. Pamalakaya made the statement in reaction to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources's (BFAR) announcement that the government will construct post-harvest facilities and equipment in Isabela and Aurora in anticipation of the increase in fishery production in Benham Rise. Benham Rise, a rich source of tuna, was confirmed by the United Nations as part of Philippine territory in April 2012. The BFAR said that its personnel have started putting up markers around Benham Rise, which it said could be a big source of fishery for Filipinos. It said that more than 60 fish-aggregating devices will be installed at Benham Rise starting May 30. France, meanwhile, said it is politically and literally impossible for Benham Rise to accommodate the livelihood needs of 1.3 million Filipino fishermen. He said that while the government is opening Benham Rise to Filipino fishermen, the fishing area is the current object of transnational poaching and resource grab of foreign large-scale factory ships from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. He said that Japanese, Taiwanese and South Korean industrial fleets are seen catching first rate tuna in the rise. "The same foreign fishing vessels have even entered the municipal fishing grounds and the Philippine Coast Guard is not doing anything to stop these foreign ocean grabbers exploring the fishery resources of BenHam Rise. And now President Aquino is offering Benham Rise to small Filipino fisherfolk even if the real score at the grassroots level reveals that foreign fishing monopolies have successfully invaded BenHam Rise long before this is offer of alternative fishing ground to 1.3 million fishermen," France said.

He said that a 3,000-ton tuna factory ship, accompanied by support fishing fleets, can catch as much as 150 metric tons of tuna on a 24-hour operation. By industry standard, a single factory ship could harvest 50,000 metric tons of tuna per year. France noted that if there are eight Japanese tuna fishing vessels that regularly poach in the waters of Aurora province daily from January to July, that means a total haul of 27,000 tons of tuna per factory ship during the period or 216,000 metric tons of tuna for all eight fishing vessels. According to Pamalakaya’s computation, the owners of the eight fishing vessels could have earned as much as $1.274 billion or $160 million per fishing vessel in just six months from tuna poaching in Aurora and other tuna-rich waters within Philippine territory. Benham Rise, located off the coast of Aurora province, opposite the disputed waters of South China Sea, is a 13-million hectare undersea region that has untapped potentially rich mineral and gas deposits.‐benham‐rise‐infested‐foreign‐ poachers                              

SEC warns public against 8 scams Published: May 31, 2013 The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued eight warnings to the public against firms suspected of conducting investment scams or otherwise unauthorized sale of securities. The SEC’s latest warnings were issued against Cardlinks Teleconn Insurance Agency Inc., Future Net- Networking Marketing Association of the Philippines Inc., JustBeenPaid, OK’s Global Wellness Inc., Evergreen Company, 1Riders Power Team Inc., Finance Global Marketing Services/Finasia Global Marketing Services, and an unknown group in Marinduque. Cardlink is engaged in the business of providing telemarketing services for credit cards, loans, non-life insurance, insurance and different types of business services “items of commercial value” but has not been licensed by the Insurance Commission (IC) to act as an Insurance agency. Future Net is reportedly engaged in networking, promising huge profits or sky-high returns; including direct and indirect referral commissions, net loan commission, and satellite referral commission; within a short period of time — depending on the number of recruits or level of participation. However, the SEC said that, since FutureNet is a non-stock and non-profit organization, it cannot engage in investment taking business, whether on its own or in conjunction with its affiliate. Meanwhile, the SEC said a group has been recruiting students from the Negros Oriental State University in Dumaguete City to join “JustBeenPaid,” an on-line activity that could be a possible investment scam. The students are allegedly enticed to initially invest P950.00 with a guaranteed earning between 10 to 20 percent of the initial investment per day, and to join a profit clicking activity by liking a certain page three times a day. OK’s Global employs a monolining scheme and while authorized by the SEC to sell goods, it is not a registered issuer of securities to the public. Evergreen is not registered with the SEC but is recruiting applicants for employment under a scheme that requires them to sell a product and pay certain fees. 1Riders is engaged in a multi-level marketing scheme to sell food, toiletries and automotive products but has no license from the Food and Drugs Administration to distribute food and cosmetic products.

Finance Global/ Finasia allegedly use a credit card company to apply/avail of their services offering lower package cost for any travel that may be desired. Once a customer agrees, he may no longer retract and recover the money paid. Meanwhile, a group of persons in Marinduque representing themselves to be a corporation with five branches, offers loans to barangay officials and employees to be paid through salary deduction. Said group or corporation is selling pre-need/memorial plans and insurance plans without the necessary license from the Insurance Commission or the SEC. They induce people to invest with a promise of high return on their investment. “As a precautionary measure, the public is advised to exercise due diligence before investing in a risky business venture. Investigate and check the personal background of the people behind the scheme,” the SEC said. It added that the public should “consider the value of the goods or products offered and whether there are real goods and sales involved in the deal. If the income depends on the number of recruits to the program, don’t invest, as it is likely a pyramiding scam bound to collapse.”                            

Philippine growth is sustainable – AIA Published: May 31, 2013 AIA Group, the largest independent publicly-listed pan Asian life insurance group and parent company of the Philippines’ leading premier life insurance company Philam Life, said the country’s strong economic growth is sustainable because it remained under leverage enabling the economy to absorb more capacity for further growth. John Chu, AIA Group Chief Investment Officer, said at a media roundtable for the AIA Group Investment Conference in Manila that based on its assessment the growth in the Philippines is sustainable in the long term. “This tells about the leadership of this country. More importantly, the Philippines is now on a very positive investment cycle and growth will be sustained in our assessment. Everything seen and read is going to be sustained for the long period of time,” he added. According to Chu, there are several factors working in favor of the Philippines. For one, he said, the Philippines has remained “undergear” or negative output gap enabling it to leverage more so it can take more growth. This is evident, he said, in low household complemented by a high liquidity system as show by the $50 billion in special deposit accounts. “Even if you release 50 percent of it or $25 billion to the system that is still very liquid so this is going to help the equity market,” he said. The strong liquidity in the local economy has fueled the country’s Philippine stock market to become the number one performer in Asia in 2012 and still holding on to that reputation year to date by outperforming the rest in the region. In addition, the recent credit upgrade to investment status would entice more capital inflow. Already AIA has placed the Philippines among its top overweights for investment destination in the 17 countries in the Asia Pacific region where it has presence. AIA has been very constructive in looking at the Philippines particularly on the investments side. “Everything looks very positive. We are here to see what we have been told and read, ” Chu said noting the strengths of the domestic economy as he cited the international reserves of $100 billion against the $64 billion total foreign debt making the domestic economy is a very strong position. Chu also said the strong confidence from all fronts – politics, business and consumers stressing “every area is on a rising trend” which he attributed to the respect that this government has earned from the people. In terms of regional allocation, Chu said, the Philippines holds an important position in the AIA Group’s investment portfolio in the past two years placing it among the overweights.

BSP closely watching price pressures Published: May 31, 2013 The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said yesterday that it was closely watching for price pressures that may arise after the surprisingly strong performance of the economy in the first quarter. Gross domestic product grew 7.8% on year in the first quarter, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board – its fastest growth in nearly three years and beating market forecasts of 6% growth. “The BSP will incorporate this new information in the update of our inflation forecasts. But given the current low baseline inflation projections, we do not foresee a breach of the inflation target over the policy horizon,” said BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. in a statement. Inflation in the first four months averaged 3.0%, the lower end of the central bank’s 3.0%-5.0% target for 2013.Tetangco said the strong first-quarter growth was driven by government capital expenditures and should form a durable base moving forward. “The BSP remains watchful of price developments. We have ample policy space to address any immediate price pressures that may arise,” he added. The BSP expects inflation in April to stay within the lower end of its 3%-5% target range for this year, with reductions in utility rates and the stronger peso offsetting increases in tuition fees and petroleum prices. The central bank next meets to review policy on June 13. It has kept its policy rate steady at a record low of 3.5 percent since December 2012, but has slashed the rate on its special deposit account (SDA) facility by more than 200 basis points since July 2012 to divert credit to more productive use. ‘’We think the BSP will continue to cut the SDA rate to lift domestic spending as well as save costs,’’ said Trinh Nguyen, economist at HSBC in Hong Kong. The central bank has incurred heavy losses as the SDA facility attracted huge liquidity. With the outlook on exports still murky, domestic consumption will remain as the main driver for economic growth this year. Manila is targeting growth of 6 percent to 7 percent in 2013 after an upwardly revised 6.8 percent expansion the prior year.Tetangco said in an earlier statement that the central bank “forecasts inflation in May to settle within the range of 2.2%-3.1%.” May inflation data are due June 5. Inflation in April was 2.6% and averaged 3.0% in the first four months of 2013. He said the trend reflects the manageable inflation pressure “and well anchored inflation expectations.” (Dow Jones-Reuters)  

BSP limits 3rd-quarter foreign loans By Lee C. Chipongian Published: May 31, 2013 The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has imposed a limit on foreign borrowings for the third quarter at $4 billion, higher than the cap on foreign loans for the first two quarters, but still considered a prudent limit to manage the country’s total foreign debt. The BSP’s full-year foreign borrowing ceiling is $5 billion, about $3.5 billion lower compared to the limit imposed in 2012 of $8.5 billion. Sources said setting quarterly foreign loans limit helps the BSP manage the government and private sector’s external loans. Usually, the ceiling is higher in the third quarter. The BSP also imposes sub-ceiling for government and corporate loans with one- to five-year maturities to better monitor bunching of maturities and avoid liquidity and refinancing problems later on. Public foreign loans generally are long-term in maturity ranging from 10 to 25 years. For this year, with the limit on foreign borrowing reduced to $5 billion, BSP officials said there was no requirement for a higher cap since both government and corporate sectors have indicated that they have no need for foreign financing. The central bank, which regularly reviews the effectiveness of imposing annual ceilings on foreign loans and its impact on controlling the size of Philippine debt, was implementing higher limits in 2010 and 2011 of $12.5 billion and $10.5 billion respectively, due to demand for foreign currency denominated loans to finance the government’s public-private partnership (PPP) program at the time. Of the $5 billion borrowing cap, while the public sector has the bigger share of the allowable external loans, any amount unutilized by the government would be made available for use by private corporations. The BSP has an ongoing review of its foreign borrowing policy in the context of its ceilings on medium and long-term loans. After a board resolution in 2011, the BSP assessed the effectiveness of implementing a ceiling on the foreign loans of both the public and private sectors. As of the end of 2012, the Philippines’ external debt totaled $60.3 billion, 0.2 percent lower compared to 2011. The country’s foreign debt is equivalent to 24.1 percent of GDP. Data from the central bank showed that public sector foreign debt amounted to $45.2 billion while private sector debt totaled $15.2 billion.

Only commercial fishers can exploit Benham Rise By Gigi Munoz-David | Posted on May. 31, 2013 at 12:02am | 802 views

The government said Thursday only commercial fishers, not small fishermen, will be allowed to fish in Benham Rise, even as a fishermen’s group said the government’s offer to them to fish in the area off Aurora province was the biggest mockery in the fisheries sector. “Yes, outrigger fishing boats can’t go to the sea of Benham,” said Asis de Perez, director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. “Only commercial fishing vessels are allowed.”

But the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas slammed the government’s offer made on Tuesday. “President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is not in touch with reality,” Pamalakaya vice chairman Salvador France said in a statement. “Please allow us to inform Aquino and his equally moronic fishery officials that the waters surrounding the 13-million-hectare Benham Rise is frequented by foreign largescale industrial fishing fleets every year from January to July to fish for tuna. “The government has been tolerating the tuna fishing expeditions of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan over the last five years.” Pamalakaya by implication suggested that big ships were necessary to fish in Benham Rise, which Filipino fishermen didn’t have. They would also have to compete with the giant ships being sent there by the poachers from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

The government on Tuesday said it will open a new fishing ground in Benham Rise in Luzon amid reports that commercial fishing operations are being hampered in the Ayungin and Panatag shoals due to the Chinese presence in those areas. Benham Rise or Benham Plateau is a seismically active undersea region and an extinct volcanic ridge in the Philippine Sea, and is about 250 kilometers east of the northern coastline of Dinapigue, Isabela. It is a rich spawning ground and is also potentially rich in mineral and natural gas deposits. “Benham Rise is not a new discovery,” Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz told the Manila Standard. “As far as I know it has been a fishing area even before the parents of the President were born.” France said Pamalakaya members from Aurora had been reporting that foreign factory ships from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were often seen in the waters off the province fishing for first-rate tuna. “The Coast Guard just allow the big foreign commercial and industrial fishing vessels to fish,” France said. “Now President Aquino is offering Benham Rise to the small Filipino fisherfolk even if the real score at the grassroots level reveals that foreign fishing monopolies have successfully invaded Benham Rise.” Pamalakaya says a 3,000-ton tuna factory ship, accompanied by support fishing fleets, can catch as much as 150 metric tons of tuna in 24 hours. A single factory ship can harvest 50,000 metric tons of tuna a year. With Rio N. Araja‐commercial‐fishers‐can‐exploit‐benham‐rise/

Drunk drivers face stiffer fine By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on May. 31, 2013 at 12:02am | 599 views President Aquino has signed a new law imposing maximum fine of up to P500,000 and revocation of license of persons driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, presidential deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Wednesday. She said drivers suspected of being drugged or drunk will be pulled to the side of the road by law enforcement officers to undergo sobriety tests, breath analyzer or drug testing. “A driver who refuses to undergo testing will be penalized. The license will be confiscated and revoked,” Valte said. Republic Act 10586, or the Anti-Drunk and Anti-Drugged Driving Act of 2013, cites the following as signs of drunk or drugged driving: overspeeding, weaving, lane straddling, sudden stops, swerving, and poor coordination. Law enforcers include the Land Transportation Office, the Philippine National Police and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. The LTO may also deputize traffic officers in towns and cities across the land. Valte said the minimum penalty for drugged or drunk drivers involved in accident will be three months imprisonment and fine ranging from P20,000 to P800,000, but if the accident resulted in physical injuries, the fine will be from P100,000 to P200,000. If the accident resulted in homicide the fine will go up from P300,000 to P500,000 in addition to imprisonment, Valte said. The license of non-professional drivers will be conrfiscated and suspended for 12 months for the first conviction and perpetually revoked after the second conviction, Valte said. She said the new law is strict on professional drivers and warned them that on their first conviction their license will be confiscated and immediately revoked and they will be perpetually banned from driving. Valte said owners of vehicles driven by offenders will also be held liable unless they can show that they “exercised extraordinary diligence in choosing the driver.” Applicants for driver’s license will be required to complete an instruction course that provides information on safe driving, including the effects of alcohol on the ability of a person to drive, Valte said. Professional drivers must take the course each time they renew their license, Valte said.‐drivers‐face‐stiffer‐fine/

Watchdog blocks deal among senior citizens By Joel E. Zurbano | Posted on May. 31, 2013 at 12:01am | 341 views A PARTY list seat in Congress is not a conjugal or family property that can be shared, election watchdog Kontra Daya said Thursday. The group warned the newly proclaimed party-list organizations not to engage in term-sharing agreements, saying they would be violating not only election laws but also the will of the electorate and the purpose of the party-list system. The group’s warning came on the heels of the Supreme Court decision ordering the Commission on Elections to stop proclaiming more winners in the party-list race following a petition by the disqualified group Senior Citizens protesting its disqualification by the Comelec. The Comelec disqualified the group, which had won in the May 10, 2010 elections, as a result of what it said was an illegal term-sharing agreement among its nominees. The case arose after David Kho resigned as a member of the House of Representatives on Dec. 31, 2011 to give way to Remedioz Arquiza, the Senior Citizens group’s fourth nominee. The group then petitioned the Comelec to have Arquiza replace Kho, but the Comelec dismissed the petition last year. In the House, Marikina Rep. Marcelino Teodoro said the Senior Citizens group’s placing 10th in the May 13 elections was enough proof that a clamor existed for the group to be represented in Congress. Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said the Senior Citizens group had all the right to sit in Congress if the votes it received in the last elections were to be used as a basis. But Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said the group must be disqualified as a result of its term-sharing agreements. Kontra Daya agreed. “A party list representative cannot just contract out his seat in congress as if the party list system [were] a business venture or a family affair,” Joe Dizon said. “A nominee must be elected through a convention after consultation with the sector he seeks to represent. It’s not something you can give in exchange for money or other benefits.” With Maricel V. Cruz‐blocks‐deal‐among‐senior‐citizens/

Health group pounces on ‘No Tobacco’ event By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on May. 31, 2013 at 12:00am | 277 views

AS the world observes the “World No Tobacco Day,” today (May 31), the World Health Organization called for a total ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Shin Young-soo said on Thursday that governments must prohibit these activities in line with the call of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. He said comprehensive bans should include point-of-sale (PoS) advertising, a type of advertising still allowed in most countries where all other kinds of tobacco advertising had been banned. “We must halt the tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing of its products, which cause addiction, suffering and millions of deaths each year,” said Shin. He noted that children are exposed to point-of-sale advertising, since cigarettes are often sold near candy and other items aimed at children. After Hong Kong (China) banned tobacco advertising in broadcast, billboards and print media, it was discovered that brand recognition remained high at 30% to 64% among children whose families were non-smokers because PoS advertising and sponsorship were not controlled. To counter the ban on marketing and promotion, tobacco firms had shifted to other forms of indirect advertising, such as sponsorship of sports or cultural events and viral marketing, including word-of-mouth.‐group‐pounces‐on‐no‐tobacco‐event/

Flood plan in place By Gigi Munoz-David | Posted on May. 31, 2013 at 12:00am | 83 views

City Mayor Del De Guzman has activated Marikina’s anti-flood plan under the disaster risk-reduction management office along with Rescue 161. He said teams are lined up for weekly drills to ensure quick response for any emergency 24 hours a day. “All disaster-related offices should be ready,” De Guzman said. The city’s inventory of safety gears include rubber and PVC boats, rescue boats, speed boats, rescue ram, life ring buoy, rescue cans, night-vision binoculars, vibrascope victim locator system, wet suits, among other equipment. In the first quarter of 2013, the city engineer’s office cleared the drainage system and waterways of debris mostly consisting of plastic waste.‐plan‐in‐ place/

Filipino cadet flies high at USAF Academy May 30, 2013 9:50 pm

by Jun Medina Correspondent inShare

The lone Filipino cadet who graduated with honors at the US Air Force Academy (Usafa) on Wednesday wants to serve the country well, help send his six younger siblings to school, and raise a Christ-centered family. Theodore Karl Quijano, the 16th cadet from the Philippines to graduate from the prestigious Usafa at Colorado Springs since 1956, was in the academy’s Superintendent’s List, having graduated with academic, military, and athletic distinctions. “God, family and country—it was clear to me that I was doing this for them, not for myself,” Quijano said of the hard work he put into his four years at Usafa. “I wanted to work for something bigger than myself. This drove me to work really hard and do the best I can.” Dream of flying The first son of working-class parents from Dipolog City, Quijano said he grew up at the fringes of the city’s airport, where he dreamed of some day flying an aircraft. After his graduation from the Usafa, Quijano was sworn in as second lieutenant in the Philippine Air Force by Col. Arnel Duco, the PAF’s Washington DC-based Military Attaché. Quijano’s parents and his girlfriend Connie Endrina of Dipolog flew to Colorado to attend his graduation on Wednesday afternoon. His father, Teodoro, said he is proud and thankful for what Karl has achieved so far, which he admits was beyond his expectations. “Because of our station in life, I thought I would be happy to see Karl finish college,” the elder Quijano said by phone in Filipino from Colorado Springs. “I thank God, because he not only finished his studies; he earned a college degree in America.” ‘Good, smart kid’ Mang Teodoro said Karl is a “very good and smart kid.” “When Karl was one or two years old, I noticed he was really a fast learner. He tinkered with his electronic toys and was very fond of his toy Armalite rifle,” he said.

After Karl became CMT (Citizen’s Military Training) corps commander at the Zamboanga del Norte National High School in Dipolog City, Mang Teodoro knew his son would soon be a military officer. Apart from being in the Superintendent’s List for overall excellence and the Dean’s List for academic excellence, Quijano also received the Outstanding Basic Cadet Award from the academy’s commandant for Military excellence. He also earned his Parachutist Badge, Space Wings (for completing the space operations program that taught him, among others, how to operate satellites), Glider Pilot Wings and the Powered Flight Wings. Quijano ranked second in athletics in his batch and is the only Filipino cadet (out of 15 who preceded him in the Usafa since 1956) to get a perfect physical fitness score in the academy’s 500 Club.


by Ritchie Horario and Catherine S. Valente Reporters inShare

THE Philippines moved up five places in the latest World Competitiveness Report of the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) said on Thursday. Guillermo Luz, who is the NCC’s Private Sector co-chairman, said the Philippines climbed from No. 43 in 2012 to No. 38 in 2013 in the review of 60 economies. The IMD looked at four major factors—economic efficiency, government efficiency, business efficiency, and infrastructure. “Our goal is to move from the bottom third of world rankings to the top third by 2016. The 2013 report now places the Philippines in the middle third of the list and out of the bottom third position in prior years,” Luz said. The United States regained the top spot thanks to a rebound of its financial sector, abundant technological innovation and successful companies, while Venezuela was at the bottom of the list. Last year’s frontrunner, Hong Kong, fell to third place in the 2013 ranking, while Switzerland moved up to second from third. China climbed to 21st from 23rd, and Russia to 42nd from 48th. But India slipped from 35th to 40th, Brazil from 46th to 51st, and South Africa from 50th to 53rd. “We base our study on 333 criteria, two-thirds of them statistics and the remaining third opinion polls,” Stephane Garelli, head of the IMD World Competitiveness Center, said. The Philippines is ranked 11th in Asia Pacific, up from 13th in 2011 and 2012, after overtaking Indonesia and India; and 4th out of five ASEAN economies reviewed in the report, but registered the largest gain over the last year. The country improved its ranking in three out of the four factors – economic performance (from 42nd to 31st), government efficiency (from 32nd to 31st), and business efficiency (from 26th to 19th). Luz attributed the double-digit improvement in economic performance to big gains in real Gross Domestic Products (GDP) growth (2nd, up 23), growth in exports of goods (6th, up 53), and international trade (30th, up 25). He said for government efficiency, gains in fiscal policy (9th, up two) and institutional framework (33rd, up three) were offset by drops in public finance (38th, down six) and business legislation (51st, down two). “While reform measures seem to have begun to take effect, they must be implemented with increasing urgency and scope,” he added.

Malacañang welcomed the report, saying it would lure more investors to the country. “It’s very good. For one, the agencies and the departments that are involved in the economic cluster have been undertaking discussions on how to improve our ranking, and we hope that this continues to go up, “ Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said. “We’ve been seeing good numbers. Of course, the investment grade is nothing to laugh at. When you take all these factors together, it gives you the picture and it is very encouraging also when foreign investors see that to come and give our country another shot,” she added.

Canadians warned against travelling to ARMM because of kidnap threat May 30, 2013 3:36 pm inShare

Canada on Thursday warned its citizens against traveling to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao [ARMM] because of a supposed kidnap threat. The advisory follows the travel warning issued by United Kingdom and the United States against areas in Mindanao that are considered risky to foreign travelers. “Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against all travel to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao [ARMM],” it said. ARMM covers Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Sharif Kabunsuan. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON


Government maintains 2013 growth target May 30, 2013 7:04 pm


The government is maintaining the 6-percent to 7-percent growth target for 2013, despite the robust expansion of the economy in the first quarter of the year. “While we recognize our robust performance in the first quarter, we will continue to be vigilant against downside risks and address critical constraints to maintaining this growth momentum,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan. Balisacan, also the National Economic and Development Authority director general, added that it is also important to create conditions for sustained growth in other sectors or areas with high growth potential and link the poor to these growth centers. “We need to get this economic momentum growing . . . so that we could have better job opportunities,” he stated. Balisacan added that the challenge is to take advantage of the growth, and make it more exclusive by generating more high quality jobs. “The faster this can be done, the better it will be for the greater number of our people,” he stated. The Cabinet official also said that the government will put emphasis on innovation, technology, and research and development as well as facilitate the improvement in labor productivity. “What all these demands is a greater sense of urgency among us in government, as well as better coordination between and among the various agencies charged with implementing programs and projects in order to maximize efficiency and effectiveness,” he explained. He also stressed that investment grade ratings from Fitch and Standard and Poor’s for the country is an opportunity for the business sector to expand their interests and generate more employment. “We remain positive in our outlook and we will translate this into positive action to achieve inclusive growth. We hope that the private sector will maintain a positive outlook as well, and translate this into greater participation in the growth process,” he concluded. In terms of inflation, Balisacan said that consumer prices are not expected to pick up this year as the country’s economy “is moving away increasingly in personal consumption expenditure.” He added that the determinant of the country’s economic stability is the macroeconomic environment, so the government is still committed to maintaining stability through low and manageable inflation, and sustainable levels of the fiscal deficit and the external performance indicators.

Meanwhile, in a in a text message, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco said that the central bank remains watchful of any price developments in the country. “Given the current low baseline inflation projections, we do not foresee a breach of the inflation target over the policy horizon,” Tetangco said. The BSP is projecting a 3.2-percent full year inflation for 2013. “The strong first quarter growth is reportedly due to sustained government capital expenditures. This is positive as it should help form the base for more durable growth going forward,” he added, noting that the central bank has ample policy space to address any immediate price pressure that may arise.


Posted on May 30, 2013 10:48:09 PM

Q1 better than expected FIRST-QUARTER Philippine economic growth came in at better-than-expected 7.8%, the government yesterday reported, exceeding market expectations as well as the government’s full-year target.

The result, National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) Secretary-General Jose Ramon G. Albert said, was due to "upbeat business and consumer sentiment as well as sustained government capital expenditure. The expansion was the fastest since the 8.9% seen in the second quarter of 2010. It was higher than the government’s forecast of 6-7% for the period, the revised 7.1% for the fourth quarter of 2012 and the 6.5% recorded a year earlier. Analysts and economists polled by BusinessWorld had a median forecast of 6%. By sector, industry -- which subsumes construction and manufacturing -- registered the highest growth of 10.9%, outperforming services that grew by 7%. Agriculture went up by 3.3%. On the demand side the major contributors were construction, government spending and personal consumption, which climbed by 33.7%, 13.2% and 5.1%, respectively. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said the 7.8% growth "put to rest the doubts cast on the 2012 figure as being due to base effects only." The country, he added, "may be moving along a new growth trajectory." Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by a revised 6.8% last year. "The Philippine economy was the best performer so far in Asia in the first quarter. Indonesia was up 6%, Thailand 5.7%, Vietnam 4.9% and China 7.7%," Mr. Balisacan pointed out. Full-year GDP growth might "breach 6% again," DBS Bank economist Eugene Leow yesterday said. Strong growth might also prompt debt watchers to issue fresh credit rating upgrades, which will attract long-term investments necessary to sustain high growth. "We remain optimistic of economic growth for the next few years. We still think that more credit rating agencies could upgrade the Philippines to investment grade this year," said Jeff Ng, economist at Standard Chartered Bank. "We see investment growth continuing over 2013, supported by corporate confidence and public spending," he added. Asked to comment, Mr. Balisacan said, "I’m sure with these numbers, they (the rating agencies)

would ... do that." Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s recently raised the Philippines to investment grade with a "BBB-" rating. Moody’s Rating Services, meanwhile, rates the country "Ba1," one notch below investment grade. A deeper look into the economy’s performance in the first three months of the year showed that manufacturing grew by 9.7% -- higher than the 6% last year -- due to strong domestic demand. Top contributors were food manufactures, household appliances, chemical and chemical products, basic metal industries, machinery and equipment, and rubber and plastic products. Agriculture, meanwhile, improved from the 1.1% seen in the first quarter of 2012 due to a recovery in fisheries. Public construction went up by 45.6% while private construction increased by 30.7%. Total construction grew by 33.7%, a vast improvement from the -1.2% recorded in the first quarter of 2012. While personal consumption growth eased to 5.1% from 6.2% in the fourth quarter of 2012 and 6.9% in the first quarter of that year, "government investment and spending picked up the slack, raising optimism that the Philippines’ infrastructure is getting the lift that is required to support sustainable growth," said Trinh D. Nguyen, HSBC regional economist. Government spending strengthened to 13.2% from 9.5% in the fourth quarter, but slowed from 21.3% in the first quarter of 2012. The country’s net exports, which declined by 4.3%, did not support first-quarter growth. "Net exports contracted primarily due to a decrease in external demand for electronic components," Mr. Balisacan said. "This situation is expected to hold until the rest of the year. For this reason, it is imperative that we diversify into other products and markets."

Posted on May 30, 2013 10:45:33 PM By Diane Claire J. Jiao, Senior Reporter

BSP allays inflation concerns

THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) does not expect inflation to spike despite economy’s surprise first-quarter expansion. Central bank Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. yesterday said the latest GDP data -- the 7.8% topped market expectations and the government’s 6-7% forecasts -- would be incorporated in the inflation outlooks for this year and the next when the Monetary Board meets on June 13. Analysts have expressed concerns that the economic activity could create price pressures but Mr. Tetangco allayed these fears, saying in a text message: "Given the current low baseline inflation projections, we do not foresee a breach of the inflation target over the policy horizon." The central bank expects the rise in consumer prices to average 3.2% this year and 3.4% in 2014, both at the low end of its 3-5% target. "The strong first quarter growth is reportedly due to sustained government capital expenditures. This is positive as it should help form the base for more durable growth going forward," Mr. Tetangco said. The BSP nevertheless remains watchful of price developments, reiterating its readiness to address any instability with appropriate monetary policies.

Posted on May 30, 2013 10:39:54 PM By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Reporter

Economic managers cite private sector’s role

ECONOMIC MANAGERS yesterday cited the private sector’s role in the first quarter’s better-than-expected growth, saying this was a sign of improving investor confidence amid continued reform efforts by the Aquino administration. "It is clear to us that private businesses and corporations have broadened their role in boosting the country’s fiscal growth, even as the administration continues to build on its previous economic successes," Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said. "We expect our partners in the private sector to intensify their investments further in the local market and become lead players in the Aquino administration’s growth agenda," he added. He noted that the manufacturing industry’s performance, which was mostly attributed to increased production by food manufacturers, also showed room for growth. "This translates not just to an increasing demand for local food products; it also indicates that there is now a growing need for unskilled laborers to support the industry’s demands, which may help create thousands of job opportunities for many Filipinos," Mr. Abad said. Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, for his part, said: "The growth in the manufacturing and construction sectors -- 9.7% and 32.5%, respectively -- shows that investors are truly putting their faith in the Philippines for the long term, and not merely speculating on our markets. "Our government’s goal from day one has been to restore confidence in the Philippines, and the numbers in this growth report show that it has, indeed, returned," Mr. Purisima added. The Finance chief noted an expansion in the agriculture and tourism sectors, saying "with the investments both from the private and public sector lined up, we believe we can further expand economic productivity in these two areas, which also have the greatest reach to

empower the poorest communities." "It is also interesting to note that the remarkable growth during the first quarter came despite contractions in mining and exports. As the global economy shows signs of recovery, we expect exports to pick up, and with the coming finalization of rules governing the mining sector we expect to unlock another highly potent growth driver," he added. Both officials pledged to continue fiscal and good governance reforms. "Altogether, these developments bode extremely well for the Philippines’ growth prospects in 2013. We intend to sustain and surpass the very standards we set over the succeeding quarters, supported as we are by a fast-growing and energetic private sector, as well as rising business confidence in the administration’s economic strategy," Mr. Abad said. "We are confident that our unremitting campaign for transparency, accountability, and good governance will indeed create an environment ripe for inclusive development, and more important, yield benefits that will redound to the Filipino people themselves." Mr. Purisima, for his part, said: "the Department of Finance remains committed to empowering a strong Philippine economy through efficient revenue creation, fiscal sustainability, and the creation of a beneficial and competitive business environment for all our partners."

Posted on May 30, 2013 10:37:22 PM By C. M. C. Feliciano, Reporter

Power market to ease Mindanao woes

MINDANAO could get its own electricity trading platform before the end of the year with Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) having sought regulatory approval for a pricing scheme. In a petition published yesterday, PEMC asked the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for authorization to implement a price determination methodology (PDM), which will allow the start of the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market’s (IMEM) commercial operations by Sept. 26. Establishment of the IMEM is expected to address the island’s power supply deficiency by mandating generators with excess capacities to offer these via a trading platform, subject to compensation based on market prices. PEMC said the PDM would involve "day-ahead" pricing where IMEM "resources" -- power generators with excess capacity -- submit their offers a day before the delivery of electricity. "The IMEM price will be determined a day ahead to provide certainty in pricing for the participants joining the market. The price shall correspond to the highest offer price scheduled during the trading interval," PEMC said. "The IMEM shall be a single-price market. As a single-price market, the IMEM shall have only one price that would apply to all IMEM resources," it added. Offers and bids will be subject to an offer cap to be agreed upon by the Energy department and ERC. "The IMEM aims to provide a venue for transparent and efficient utilization of all resources, through a market-driven environment," PEMC said.

"The IMEM, designed as a day-ahead market, is interim in nature because it is envisioned to transition into a real-time wholesale electricity spot market within the next two to three years, conditioned on the improvement of supply condition and the readiness of the industry participants," it added. Data from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines yesterday showed system peak demand for the Mindanao grid at 1,311 megawatts (MW) versus available capacity of 1,120 MW. The IMEM is expected to pool in additional 200 MW from power generators. Last month, the ERC allowed PEMC to spend P34.25 million to prepare for the IMEM’s establishment.

Posted on May 30, 2013 10:10:35 PM

Gov’t urged to spend ahead of integration

THE GOVERNMENT needs to increase its infrastructure spending if it wants to be able to compete in an integrated regional market, an economist said. With the global economy still sluggish, the Philippines should seize the opportunity and spend now so it can compete later on when other countries bounce back, University of the Philippines economist Benjamin E. Diokno said in a Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) forum yesterday. "The message is clear, the best way to prepare for the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) integration is by making the Philippines stronger domestically. We have to ramp up public infrastructure spending," Mr. Diokno said. He explained that the country needs to build airports, seaports, highways, an urban transit system, power plants, water systems and irrigation systems, among others. "Such massive infrastructure spending will have multiplier effects that may result in stronger and more inclusive growth," he said. Mr. Diokno stressed that the cost of financing is at historic lows. If projects are rolled out now, the Philippines can build more for cheaper. "We will be stronger and ready to march forward with the rest of the world. That’s when we will benefit fully from ASEAN integration," he said. Public spending on infrastructure has been robust in previous years, overturning the contraction in 2011. The Aquino administration had claimed that its reform of budget processes temporarily restricted the government’s ability to get projects off the ground. Infrastructure spending in the first quarter grew by 50.1% year-on-year to P58.1 billion and

exceeded its P55-billion program. Government capital formation was also one of the main pillars of the economy as it grew by a healthy 7.8% as of March. "CRAMMING" FOR 2015 The 10-member ASEAN economic community is set to integrate by 2015. Among those to be unified are tariffs, customs, financial systems and transportation. The integration is expected to provide freer flow of capital, services, goods and even labor. The Philippines, however, has to recognize that it is not yet ready to face integration, in order for the government and the private sector to hasten preparations, Mr. Diokno said. So far, the government has started implementing a National Single Window which simplifies customs procedures by allowing importers and exporters to transact with one entity for all government requirements. Tariffs are being harmonized as well through free-trade agreements within the region. The government is also in the process of studying potential transportation systems that will connect the Philippines with other countries in the region, like a planned roll on-roll off scheme from Davao to Indonesia. Other issues remain unresolved, though, such as the integration of taxation and capital markets. There has also been talk within the ASEAN of the 2015 deadline being deferred for a year. Donald G. Dee, governor of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, backed this assessment. "We need to move faster definitely because we are like students cramming for an exam. Integration will come and we will have to participate whether we are ready or not," he said. For his part, Bureau of Export Trade Promotion Director Senen M. Perlada said the government is already encouraging more businesses to trade with ASEAN neighbors, helping them recognize the benefits of integration. Electronics, for one, has been tagged as a success story of integration, opening up a larger market for the industry. Connected with Asia’s supply chain, it now comprises bulk of Philippine exports.

Posted on May 30, 2013 10:07:21 PM By Emilia Narni J. David, Senior Reporter

Filipino businesses call for wider tax base FILIPINO BUSINESSES feel the government is not taxing enough entities and are not including more people into the tax base, an international survey showed. The Grant Thornton International Business Report, released yesterday, polled 100 Filipino executives in the first quarter, seeking their comments on the tax policies of the country. "There are respondents who believe the current tax regime does not bring enough economic participants into the tax base: 62% of Filipinos polled [said] not enough people and entities are being taxed, compared to 49% globally," Grant Thornton, through its local partner Punongbayan & Araullo, said in a statement. This number was also higher than the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -45.5% of regional respondents felt governments were not expanding their tax base. Some 58% of Filipino businesses said tax policies are heavily against the redistribution of wealth, again surpassing levels in the ASEAN and the rest of the world, at 39.4% and 41.3%, respectively. The executives, however, are satisfied with most of the current tax regime of the Philippines, the survey showed. Around 76% said tax laws and policies "are taxing the correct taxpayers at the correct levels, compared to just 28% globally; 68% believe these same policies are geared to stimulate economic growth, compared to just 31% globally." Of those surveyed, 82% said current tax laws are working towards encouraging compliance. There are an estimated 18.95 million taxpayers in the country, based on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)’s 2011 annual report, up by 9.65% from the 17.289 million taxpayers in 2010. For its part, the BIR has been working to improve tax administration through a host of reforms. The self-employed and professionals have been a focal point for the bureau, especially, since they declare their own income and taxes.

Simpler registration, filing and payment procedures seek to bring in more taxpayers into the fold. Unregistered businesses have also been shuttered, while cases have been filed against tax evaders, including high-profile politicians, celebrities, lawyers and doctors. SALES TAXES BACKED Meanwhile, Filipino businesses were asked which type of tax should be the main source of revenue for the government. Majority of respondents, at 28%, said sales taxes should make up bulk of government revenues, followed by the value-added tax (VAT) with 26%, and personal taxes, 20%. Around 18% said corporate taxes must be the main source of income, while customs duties and taxes scored the least, at 8%. Currently, income taxes -- both corporate and personal -- make up bulk of the BIR’s collections. They are expected to bring in P759.187 billion this year. The VAT is estimated to add P268.631 billion, while excise taxes bring in P102.367 billion and percentage taxes, P60.732 billion. Other taxes top off the programmed collections this year with P62.762 billion. TAX GUIDANCE SOUGHT Almost all Filipino businesses, at 92%, also noted there is a need for the government to provide more guidance when filing taxes "even if this provided less opportunities to reduce tax liabilities across borders." This went above and beyond results elsewhere, with only 86% of ASEAN businesses and 68% of global respondents saying there is a need for more tax guidance. "The high percentage of Filipinos requesting for more tax guidance shows that taxpayers are at a loss when it comes to the various changes that are being implemented," Eleanor L. Roque, head of Punongbayan & Araullo’s tax division, said. "Taxpayers would welcome more dialogue and consultation with the regulators. Compliance becomes difficult when there is not enough guidance available." The government hopes to collect P1.746 trillion in revenues this year to help fund P1.98 trillion in expenditures. The BIR accounts for about 70% of the revenue haul. As of April, the bureau collected P393.09 billion, up 13.85% from P345.265 billion the year previous.

Posted on May 30, 2013 10:10:56 PM

Peso snaps slide on GDP surprise

THE PESO snapped up a three-day slide against the dollar yesterday after the country reported a stronger-thanexpected first-quarter growth. The local currency gained 12 centavos to settle at P42.32:$1 from Wednesday’s P42.44 -- the peso’s weakest close since June 26’s P42.47 per dollar. “The peso’s strong performance was in reaction to the country’s surprising growth in the first quarter,” a trader said. The National Statistics Coordination Board yesterday said the Philippine economy grew by 7.8% in the first three months of the year, faster than the 6% market expectation and the government’s 6-7% full-year target, on the back robust household consumption, state spending and construction. “Market players may have parked their funds in government securities as reflected by the decline in bond yields at the secondary market yesterday,” another trader said. Dollars traded yesterday totaled $1.11 billion, slightly higher than Wednesday’s $1.06 billion. The peso, meanwhile, is expected to trade within the P42.10- 42.50 band today. “The Philippine peso may see some appreciation pressure in the near term after its sharp slide in the past week as dealers were likely surprised the strong GDP print,” Bank of the Philippine Islands economists said in a research note. “External sentiment may weigh a bit more in 2Q2013, however as the dollar appears to be poised for further strengthening across most other currencies,” the economists added. Even after its slight bounce on Thursday, the peso has still fallen against the dollar over the past two weeks, as the dollar climbed on mounting speculation that the US Federal Reserve could slow the pace of its monetary stimulus. Such jitters have triggered a surge in US bond yields and dented the allure of riskier, higher-yielding assets, including Philippine bonds, which have been a popular destination for overseas investors. Some traders say overseas investors have trimmed their Philippine bond holdings this week, and that such flows have helped to weigh on the peso, which had hit a five-year high of 40.55 earlier this year on the strength of inflows. -- ARRG, Reuters Posted on May 30, 2013 09:53:39 PM

Additional baht measures may be imposed BANGKOK -- Thailand’s prime minister said the central bank could take more action to ensure stability in the baht after Wednesday’s interest rate cut, which the government had pushed for as a way of holding down the currency. “I strongly believe that the central bank will probably impose more measures to alleviate the impact of the baht on exporters,” Yingluck Shinawatra told reporters yesterday, adding that the Bank of Thailand might want to see the impact of the rate cut first. “The government has long wanted to see a rate cut. It wants to see the baht stable and competitive. The level the baht should be at is the job of the central bank and relevant agencies to consider,” she added. On Wednesday, the Bank of Thailand’s seven-member monetary policy committee (MPC) voted unanimously to cut the benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 2.50%. For months, Finance Minister Kittirat Na Ranong had called on the MPC to ease policy to deter capital inflows, which in April pushed the baht up to a 16-year high of 28.55 per dollar, and to help exporters. He kept up the pressure after data last week showed the economy contracted in the first quarter. He was not particularly pleased with the cut when it came, saying the quarter-point trim was too late and too small, but “better late than never.” Since the baht’s April peak -- when put it up 7% against the dollar this year -- the Thai currency has slipped back. Yesterday, it was trading at around 30.17, up just 1.5% against the dollar. Mr. Kittirat said on Wednesday that laws had been amended to allow speedy action on the currency if required, but he did not elaborate. Previously, he has said he reached agreement with the central bank on measures to hold

down the currency but these have not been announced. The finance minister and central bank officials have ruled out tough capital controls because that could hurt investors’ confidence in the country. Various sources have said the measures could include restrictions on foreigners’ buying of short-term central bank paper and minimum holding periods for government debt they buy. Heavy inflows into the bond market were a big factor behind the rise in the baht in the early months of this year. The prime minister said the government wanted to see less foreign money flowing into the bond market but more coming into the real economy. – Reuters

Congress blames PLLO for vetoed measures •

Written by By Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales

Friday, 31 May 2013 08:00

NOY’S PAL MAMBA NOT DOING HIS JOB The series of vetoes of President Aquino had applied on several enrolled bills was not taken lightly by Congress, saying that it shows lack of coordination between the Executive and Legislative branches of government in the crafting of laws. The Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) came under fire from senators following Aquino’s series of rejections of bills approved by Congress, the latest of which was the proposed Centenarians Act of 2012 which seeks to expand the benefits of senior citizens in the country. Palace allies in the Senate put to task the PLLO, saying the agency under the Office of the President which was created by law to liaise with Congress regarding all matters impinging on Executive-Legislative relations should be more proactive in its duties. At the House of Representatives, outgoing opposition lawmaker Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay also blamed PLLO for its failure to keep the lines open between the Executive and the Legislative. According to Magsaysay bills should not have been vetoed by the President if the PLLO has done its job. “It is due to the failure of the PLLO. They failed to brief Malacañang concerning such measures, as well as the rationale behind them,” Magsaysay pointed out. The PLLO is headed by Sec. Manuel Mamba, a stalwart of the Liberal Party (LP) and a close friend of President Aquino. Aquino, in a span of two months, has vetoed three bills including the Magna Carta for the Poor, Centenarians Bill and the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Act of 2013. Last March, Aquino vetoed the Magna Carta for the Poor saying the law may open the floodgate of suits for government offices and officials. Last April, Aquino also rejected the bill that lowers the height requirement for the police and last Tuesday, Aquino rejected the Centenarian bill primarily because of the proposed 75 percent discount for the elders. “There should be more better monitoring and coordination by the PLLO,” Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said. Trillanes’ statement was apparently in reference to the word war that erupted between the two authors of the vetoed Centenarians Act – Sen. Francis Pangilinan and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman – as both cast blame on each other as the supposed culprit for the junking of the bill by the President. Lagman claimed Pangilinan was responsible for the alleged “killer” provision, increasing to 75 percent the original proposed 50 percent discount on on good and services of covered beneficiaries.

The said provision was found by Malacanang to be “excessive” and “oppressive” to business establishments. Sen. Sergio Osmena III echoed the position of Trillanes saying that the PLLO should be more hands on to its task, despite claims made by Presidential deputy spokesman Abigail Valte that its head, Mamba, a former congressman has been doing his job well. But the senators were not easily convinced especially as some of the pieces of legislation that were passed by them happen to be among those approved by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC). “The Executive should be more consistent in prioritizing those up for legislation. Ang madalas mangyari, sinasabing priority sa LEDAC tapos nahaharang na or worse, it ends up being vetoed (by the President),” said Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III reiterated his call for the LEDAC to conduct regular meetings so as not to place the President in a predicament of exercising his veto powers on approved bills. This would also avoid wasting the time of Congress in deliberating on the proposed measures, he said. “My suggestion to Executive Sec. (Paquito) Ochoa should be accepted. I (earlier) told the LEDAC Execom (executive committee) that a regular meeting should be held so as not to place the President in a predicament if he dislikes a bill,” he said. According to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat cabinet secretaries should have briefed the President on the proposed bills even before these were approved by both Houses of Congress. The bills were not signed by the President on the ground that these were not feasible. “Of course, there is a need for better coordination. Cabinet secretaries should make their positions clear during the hearings at the House or Senate, and not at the Presidents level, or after the bills are passed by Congress,” Belmonte said yesterday. The Magna Carta for the Poor needs the entire national budget of P2-trillion to be implemented. It mandates the state to ensure the right of the poor to food, employment and livelihood, quality education, shelter and basic health services and medicines. The Centenarians bill, on the other hand, was vetoed by the President because it failed to provide for a way by which establishments could recover the huge discounts granted for centenarians. The measure provides Filipino 100-year-olds 75 percent discount on sales of goods and services without providing for any tax credit or deduction for establishments to recover the huge discount. In the case of the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Act of 2013, it was vetoed because it expanded the power of the Commission on Human Rights from being an investigative body to an entity that identifies the damages suffered and compensation due the IDPs. The bill would usurp the power of the judiciary. “There really should be better convergence of efforts between the executive and legislative on passing landmark bills like the Magna Carta and IDP bills,” Baguilat said in a text message.

Aquino had not called a LEDAC meeting on 2010 and 2012, up to present, save for one or two meetings. During the term of former President Fidel Ramos, the LEDAC met almost weekly, specifically every Wednesday mornings, averaging to 30 to 35 meetings a year while Congress was in session. Ramos had a total record of 83 Ledac meetings that started from May 19, 1993 and had a last on Dec. 9, 1997. Ramos ended his term in June 30, 1998. Former President Joseph Estrada had only four meetings conducted in Ledac. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, after assuming office by succession from Estrada in January 2001, she had first convened the Ledac on Feb. 6, 2001. Arroyo had numbered a total of 110 exhaustive Ledac meetings until October 15, 2009. Aquino assumed office in July 2010 as President after being elected. In 2011, Aquino had able to meet the Ledac on Feb. 28, 2011 and August 16, 2011. In the entire year of 2012, there was no record that Aquino had called to convene the LEDAC. In 2013, from January to May, Aquino had not called a single meeting for the Ledac. The Ledac as a mechanism for consultations and cooperation between the President, as chief executive, the legislature, and the private sector, is part of a longstanding tradition of institutionalizing the cooperative aspect of governance. Today’s Ledac involved the presentation of the President’s priority bills, organized into five clusters: human development, infrastructure development, economic development, sovereignty, security and rule of law, and good governance. By law, the Ledac meets once every quarter.


Murder raps by fisherman’s kin to complicate Taiwan issue — Meco • •

Written by PNA Friday, 31 May 2013 08:00

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco) yesterday said the filing of murder charges by the family of the Taiwanese fisherman who was shot dead by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) operatives last May 9 will complicate the issue. Meco Chairman Amadeo Perez, however, stressed they respect the decision even as he said that the Philippines has no right to deprive them of their right to file the appropriate case. “Filing it in Taiwan will complicate the issue because the defendants are here in the Philippines,” he lamented. Perez said he could not understand where the family of Hung Shih-chen will get their evidence, since the parallel investigations by Philippine and Taiwanese authorities on the incident are not yet terminated. He added he does not think that the filing of the case will affect the ongoing investigation. The PCG, meanwhile, is still awaiting the “green light” from the Taiwanese investigators whether it could be possible to resume the interrogation at the PCG headquarters. According to Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo, PCG spokesman, their personnel were not able to disembark from their vehicle after they were pursued by members of the media at the headquarters of the National Bureau of Investigation Thursday morning. Balilo said they have also asked permission from the NBI to conduct the investigation at the PCG headquarters for the continuation of the investigation on the Balintang Channel shooting incident last May 9. He added if the investigation will be conducted at the PCG headquarters, they are in control of the situation. The personnel of the PCG, who were not questioned Wednesday night, are set to be interviewed by the Taiwanese investigators on Thursday. The Philippines has insisted the fishing boat intruded into its waters and that Coast Guards were forced to open fire when it tried to ram their vessel. Taipei has rejected this account, insisting the fishing boat was within Taiwan’s exclusive economic zone. Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou has termed the killing “cold-blooded murder.”\

Farmers, CBCP urge Aquino to fully implement CARPer •

Written by Pat C. Santos

Friday, 31 May 2013 08:00

A farmers’ group and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA) had urged President Aquino to fully implement Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension (CARPer) with reform. A letter was made by CBCP-NASSA chairman Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo with Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, Association of Major Religiuos Superiors in the Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Marlon Lacal, lawyer Christian Monsod and representative of Task Force Mapalad stating that no action stand made by Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in the implementation of agrarian reform and the failing to fulfill promises to the farmers. According to Pabillo, once again they will ask President Aquino because of the slow performance made by the DAR even after the meeting held in June 2012 which include the President himself and another meeting which included some cabinet members last February. “This letter is a form of plea to the president to tell him that the DAR had been so slow in its performance, we had a meeting with him last year June 2012, he promised us, he had a promised, and there was also a meeting with the Cabinet members with the farmers and its group last February, they also gave promises but nothing happened to all their promises,” speaking in Filipino dialect during a radio interview by Pabillo. One of their requests for the government to do is for the DAR representative to act fast and foremost is the plea of 84 bishops to remove DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes. The group maintain that through the leadership of De los Reyes the implementation of CARPer law were slow and instead of the law being the sanctuary of the people it becomes hindrance to poor farmers. “Our appeal to revamp the DAR must be implemented because we notice that it is the obstacle in the implementation CARPer law, those people in the DAR, the leaders in the DAR, they make the laws to slow down the implementation of it, instead that the law would help the people, the enemy of the farmers is the law itself because it was made to slow paced the implementation of the law,” Pabillo said. Last June 14, 2012 President Aquino in a meeting with the farmers promised to fully implement the CARP up to 2014, the issuance of Notice of Coverage or the NoC before July 2013, and the allocation of P20 billion pesos as annual budget for CARO, the immediate release of P1 billion where P300 million from it is for the Negros farmers, the mobilization of soldiers, police to ensure peaceful installation of land to the farmers and for the review of Administrative Orders 7 and 9 of DAR which pertains to the acquisition and distribution of agricultural land in the country.

“We are renewing our call on the President to take note on the low performance for one year before the end of CARPer extension in 2014 which is very low,” Pabillio said. Meanwhile, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano yesterday said the DAR’s actions on Hacienda Luisita “We have all reasons to believe that DAR’s actions are deliberately meant to delay and even prevent the actual distribution of Luisita lands,” Mariano said. Farmer-beneficiaries are supporting the Ocampo, Mendoza, Leung, Lim and Co. (OMLL) as the accounting firm to render external services on the auditing of Hacienda Luisita (HLI) while DAR and the Cojuangco-Aquinos want the Reyes Tacandong & Co. and KPMG to audit HLI. Farmer-beneficiaries are rejecting the Reyes Tacandong & Co. and KPMG because of their close association to HLI. DAR is now seeking clarification from the Supreme Court on the deadlock concerning the selection of the auditing firm that will audit Hacienda Luisita Inc. and Centenary Holdings. “This is the latest in the series of grave offenses initiated by DAR that directly counters the Supreme Court decision that ruled on the distribution of Hacienda Luisita. DAR bloated the list of farmerbeneficiaries; it reduced the total hectarage of lands to be distributed; offered the Cojuangco-Aquinos lofty valuation of the lands; and instituted several rigorous obstacles to the land distribution,” the solon said. “Now, DAR is offering non-land distribution schemes, like the sugar block farming, to farmerbeneficiaries.” Mariano opposed the sugar block farming offered by DAR to farmer-beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita which he described as another non-land transfer scheme similar to the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) implemented by the Cojuangco-Aquinos in 1987 to evade the actual and real distribution of lands. “Under block farming, farmer-beneficiaries will not retain ownership of lands and are not guaranteed to receive support services. Farmers’ interests will not be protected simply because block farming will have DAR as the main project implementor and sugar planters associations, sugar mills, Land Bank and private sector as partners. There will be clear conflict of interests,” Mariano said. Mariano said Anakpawis partylist will file an inquiry into DAR’s sugar block farming scheme in the 16th Congress.

With Charlie V. Manalo

OCD turns over 26 rubber boats to 19 LGUs, other response units in preparation for storm season • •

Written by Mario J. Mallari Friday, 31 May 2013 08:00

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) yesterday turned over P20 million worth of rigid hull inflatable boats  (RHIBs) to 19 local government units (LGUs) and other disaster response units in preparation for the  onset of typhoon season.    Undersecretary Eduardo del Rosario, OCD administrator and concurrent executive officer of the National  Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said that 26 RHIBs were given to two  provinces, 17 municipalities, the military and other response units.    Del Rosario said that the provinces of Eastern Samar and La Union lead the LGU‐beneficiaries, along with  17 municipalities in various parts of the country. He said that the Army will receive three RHIBs while  two were allotted for the Air Force and two for the National Emergency Response Teams.    The recipient‐towns are Delfin Albano, Isabela; Enrile, Cagayan; Calumpit, Bulacan; Rodriguez, Rizal;  Victoria, Oriental Mindoro; Tinambac, Camarines Sur; Libon, Albay; Nabua and Bato, Camarines Sur;  Maribojoc, Bohol; Tudela, MIsamis Occidental; Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte; Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat;  Dolores and Bucay, Abra, and Jabonga and Kitcharao in Agusan del Norte.    In the Army, the 505th Search and Rescue Group and the 525th Engineering and Construction Battalion.  According to Del Rosario, the RHIBs were acquired brand new, costing about P750,000 each, complete  with rescue equipment like life vests, first aid and repair kits and even trailer.    Del Rosario declared that the NDRRMC is now ready for the onset of typhoon season in the country.  “We are ready nationwide. Not only the NDRRMC but all provincial and local government units, they  have been preparing as early as January,” Del Rosario said.    He urged the public to always be prepared in the coming rainy season, stressing that typhoons strike  anywhere.    “We’ll give focus on preparation and prevention and mitigation measures so that we will be ready with  this onset of the rainy season,” Del Rosario said.    The OCD chief said that the government will continue to target zero casualty during typhoons.‐ocd‐turns‐over‐26‐rubber‐boats‐to‐19‐lgus‐ other‐response‐units‐in‐preparation‐for‐storm‐season

More lawmakers support Belmonte’s call to proclaim Senior Citizens partylist •

Written by Charlie V. Manalo

Friday, 31 May 2013 08:00

With the recent granting by the Supreme Court of a temporary restraining order (TRO) to the Coalition of Association of Senior Citizens Inc. (Senior Citizens Party), more lawmakers are convinced that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should lift the party’s disqualification and supported the call of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to grant them representation in Congress. The TRO prohibits the Comelec from proclaiming the remaining five for the 58 partylist seats. The TRO signed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was in response to a petition filed by the Senior Citizens Party appealing its disqualification by the Comelec. The Senior Citizens placed 10th among the partylists, which garnered 677,976 votes, or about 2.3 percent of the total votes cast in the May 13 elections. Marikina Rep. Marcelino Teodoro supported Belmonte’s call for the reconsideration of the Senior Citizens partylist, stressing that their 10th spot in the recent elections is enough proof that there is a clamor for the Senior Citizens to be heard and represented in Congress. “The overwhelming votes that the party garnered are reason enough for Comelec to review their disqualification judgment. The senior citizens of the country deserve to be heard and be given their rightful place in Congress,” Teodoro said. Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said if the votes the Senior Citizens party-list group had in the last elections were the basis, that party-list group has all the right to sit in Congress. “Speaker Belmonte probably invoked the political question to favor the Senior Citizens party-list group. The people are the ultimate judge. A mere technicality should not prevail over the sovereign will of the people,” Castelo said. Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, on the other hand, disagreed with the lifting of their disqualification, stressing that the party committed a violation relative to its term-sharing agreement.

Too much bluster •

Written by Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Thursday, 30 May 2013 08:00

After all that bluster about the impossibility of dealing with the Taiwan government on the issue of the shooting of the fisherman by the Philippine coast guards without going against the One-China policy, the Aquino government once again had to backtrack and save face by claiming that the “reciprocal” or “parallel” probes conducted by both the Philippine and Taiwan governments are expected to mend the de facto ties between Taipei and Manila. A parallel probe, however, may just crack open more credibility problems of the Noynoy government. It all depends on the results of the probes, naturally, but with each probe coming off with different results could prove to be trouble for the Philippine government. Different results are likely to be obtained, given the fact that the science of Taiwan forensics applied on crimes is fairly sophisticated, compared to ours, which is fairly primitive still. In this country, for instance, the police, military, or even the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) crime units are hardly known to go into physical evidence and put such to forensic examinations, relying more on testimonial evidence which can be perjured testimony. Not so in Taiwan and other parts of Asia where physical evidence undergoes forensic tests, which result in either clearing or convicting the accused. That Justice chief Leila de Lima and her NBI agents aren’t that interested in getting to the bottom of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) shooting of the Taiwanese fisherman can be gleaned from the NBI agents’ visit in Taiwan for their probe. It was an almost in and out stay for the NBI team that flew to Taiwan to gather more details on the shooting incident. On the same day, a group of Taiwanese probers arrived in Manila on a similar mission. But the NBI probers have virtually wrapped up their quickie probe, while the Taiwanese probers in Manila don’t even know when they will be done with their investigation and the gathering of details. As a member of the Taiwan Interpol said: “We don’t know yet how long we are going to stay for the investigation. It up to our prosecutors to decide.” And to think, the Taiwanese already had issued trajectories of the Presidential Security Group bullets and the NBI never issued one in Manila while the Manila-Taiwan row was ongoing. But De Lima, who is again out to save her face, said: “With the mutual or reciprocal visits of the Philippines and Taiwanese teams, it is expected that their respective separate investigations will be concluded soon and hopefully put closure to the factual issues surrounding the incident.” She added that “what is being demonstrated is the spirit of cooperation and openness between Philippine and Taiwanese authorities which can contribute, to a significant degree, to the restoration of normalcy of

Philippine-Taiwan relations.” The problem with De Lima and her boss, Noynoy, is that prior to their being in power and position, our diplomatic and trade relations with countries were fairly normal and peaceful. But with Noynoy in Malacañang and De Lima in the Justice department, they have been so confrontational instead of using diplomacy which is the reason the country is now at odds with just too many, such as China, along with its autonomous government, Hong Kong and now Taiwan. What is puzzling is the fact that Noynoy and his Malacañang are too confrontational when it comes to countries or nations that are superior in military matters and are in better economic shape when compared with the Philippines, which reality always places the country and its government in a defeat corner. Why then be confrontational knowing that the Philippines can’t win against China or Taiwan in such issues?


Time to put things aright •

Written by Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Friday, 31 May 2013 08:00

Seriously, there is that urgent need for the nation not to have yet another election that would be run by the Smartmatic precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, given the fact that twice in an election row, poll results have not been seen as credible at all, and highly questionable, to the point of the Filipinos’ sovereign being thwarted again and again by the Palace tenant. The 2013 polls were clearly more marked with too many irregularities, along with the fact that all safety features were discarded, the PCOS machines malfunctioned too much, the compact flash (CF) cards were unreliable, all of which made the results doubly questionable. In about three years time, the nation will again go through a presidential election, and the way Noynoy, his allies and his appointees in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) show no concern over such blatant irregularities and massive fraud of the 60-30-10 kind through “vote batches,” suspicion is high that Noynoy and his Liberal Party mates precisely want to keep on with the PCOS polls and all their attendant irregularities and fraud, to ensure a victory for Noynoy’s anointed, Mar Roxas. Noynoy and his appointees in the Comelec, especially the poll Chairman Sixto Brillantes, and before him, Jose Melo, were quick in discarding all safety features, which are essential to ensuring clean and honest polls. Never once did Noynoy and his senatorial candidates question the way the Comelec was so cavalier in dismissing all those complaints, criticisms and warnings from the poll watchdogs, from the complete lack of safety features, to the no source code review, to the defective CF cards, voters listing, the defective PCOS, the transmission problems, the lack of digital signatures — and everything else which would ensure massive automated fraud. All that time, Noynoy and his aides kept on claiming that they trust the Comelec to conduct clean elections. At the same time, Noynoy handed the poll chairman some P30 million supposedly for intelligence funds, when evidently, the funds weren’t used for that purpose and Noynoy and Brillantes knew it. That was seen more as a Palace bribe to the Comelec to ensure the victory of Noynoy’s senatorial bets. Why else would Noynoy give Brillantes P30 million which he knows won’t be used for that purpose? The fact that Brillantes distributed the loot among the commissioners already proves that the funds weren’t for intel purposes. That money was in aid of corruption from Noynoy, who has the nerve to say he treads the straight path. It stands to reason that, if what is desired by the Noynoy administration and the Comelec, whoever are the chairman and the commissioners, are clean and honest polls, both Noynoy and the poll body would

have done all they could to ensure clean and honest polls, and to achieve this, the safeguards that had to be installed should have been installed and the source code reviewed as the law says it should be, at least six months prior to the polls. Yet there went Brillantes — with nary a complaint from Noynoy — purchasing the defective PCOS machines and naturally, with Smartmatic that has already screwed the Filipinos in 2010, again getting the bulk of the business of CF cards, transmission, distribution services and all other businesses that arise from using the PCOS machines by the government. Why still have Smartmatic and its defective PCOS machines for the 2013 polls, knowing that the polls would be worse than in 2010? This time around, the nation was witness to the blatant violation of proclamation rules and procedures, with the Commission en banc proclaiming the senatorial bets even when the official votes were not all in, and faxed copies of the “batched” votes, not even knowing where they came from, were used as basis for proclamation. The Supreme Court can help put to right the will of the sovereign people to choose their president honesty and cleanly. But will the high court bow to the people or to the Malacañang tenant who wants his anointed to be proclaimed president by hook and by crook in 2016?


‘Pinas umalerto sa ‘coronavirus’ (Juliet de Loza-Cudia)

Kahit wala pang naiuulat na kaso ng ‘coronavirus’, umalerto na rin ang Pilipinas sa nakamamatay na sakit kasunod ng babala ng World Health Organization (WHO) na maaaring magkaroon ng ‘outbreak’ nito kaugnay ng pinakahuling kasong naitala sa France gayong sa Middle East unang naiulat na kumakalat ang sakit.

Sa panayam kay Asst. Sec. Dr. Eric Tayag ng Department of Health (DOH), sinabi nito na matagal na silang nagpalabas ng alert kaugnay sa ‘coronavirus’ dahil may potensyal ang bansa na magkaroon ng maraming kaso nito dahil maraming Filipino ang nagpupunta sa Saudi Arabia.

“Yes we did, sa mga hospital namin sinasabi ito, na i-report sa amin kapag nagkaroon sila ng ganitong kaso, marami kasing OFW na nagpupunta sa Saudi Arabia, kung saan mayroong napaulat na coronavirus,” ayon kay Tayag.

“‘Pag may mga dumadating na galing sa Middle East pinaii-screen namin para malaman kung mayroon silang lagnat at ubo,” dagdag pa ni Tayag bilang bahagi ng preventive measure na isinasagawa ng DOH laban sa nakakamatay na virus.

Nabatid na partikular na mino-monitor ang mga pasyenteng galing sa ibang bansa na may lagnat at ubo. Inaabisuhan ang mga ito na magpahinga muna sa kanilang bahay at iwasang makihalubilo.


Yosi ban na sa lahat ng gov’t offices (Bernard Taguinod)

100% smoke-free na ang lahat ng government offices sa buong bansa.

Ito ay makaraang magkasundo ang Civil Service Commission (CSC) at Department of Health (DOH) sa kampanya laban sa paninigarilyo sa pamamagitan ng nilagdaang Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2010-01.

Nangangahulugan ito na hindi maaaring manigarilyo ang lahat ng mga empleyado ng gobyerno habang nasa trabaho bilang bahagi ng pangangalaga sa kanilang kalusugan.

Nabatid na noong 1991 pa ipinagbawal ang paninigarilyo sa mga government building sa pamamagitan ng CSC Resolution No. 91-787, maliban sa labas ng gusali na itinakda bilang smoking area.

Sa pagkakataong ito, sa ilalim ng JMC ng CSC at DOH, tatanggalin na ang mga smoking area sa labas ng gusali ng gobyerno para maipatupad ang 100% smoke-free na pagtatrabaho ng mga empleyado ng gobyerno.


SSS extends office hours for ‘kasambahay’ registration • Published : Friday, May 31, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 87

Social Security System branches nationwide will open for business on four consecutive Saturdays in June to accommodate the registration of household employers and domestic workers or “kasambahay,”such as maids, nursemaids or yaya, gardeners, cooks and laundry women. SSS president and chief executive officer Emilio de Quiros Jr. said they will be issuing social security numbers for domestic workers and household employer ID numbers on June 8, 15, 22 and 29 in line with the Kasambahay Law and the Social Security Law. The Kasambahay Law or Republic Act No. 10361 was signed into law last January 19 to ensure the social protection of household employees under various government agencies, which include the SSS, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and Pag-IBIG Fund. To get an SS number, domestic workers -- including family drivers who are considered household employees under the SSS charter -- must fill out and submit the Personal Record Form (SSS Form E-1) to any SSS branch, along with a photocopy of any of the primary documents such as the birth or baptismal certificate, driver’s license, passport, Professional Regulation Commissioncard or seaman’s book. Those without any primary document can give two secondary documents, both citing their name and at least one indicating their birthdate. SSS branches provide a comprehensive list of accepted secondary documents such as the ATM card, bank passbook, marriage contract, NBI or police clearance, voter’s ID or postal ID card. “Only the Form E-1 and a photocopy of the supporting documents need to be submitted, but they should present to us the original copy for authentication purposes,” De Quiros said. To secure a Household Employer ID Number, the employer only needs to fill out and submit the Employer Registration Form (SSS Form R-1). Existing household employers who still use their personal SS numbers in paying the contributions of their domestic workers will be given their Household Employer ID Number during their branch visit, via email or mail. Household employers reporting workers for SSS coverage must submit the Employment Report Form (SSS Form R1-A), the Specimen Signature Card (SSS Form L-501), and the SSS Form E-1 of household employees with no prior SSS coverage. Jun Icban Legaspi

2013 05 31 QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

Philippine Agriculture and Related Daily News Monitor

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