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Commercial coffee, Cacao production advocated Published: June 9, 2013  

PILI, Camarines Sur (PNA) – The Regional Field Unit for Bicol of the Department of Agriculture (DA-RFU) is urging Bicolano farmers to engage in the commercial production of coffee and cacao for them to be able to reap the benefits of the growing demand for these highvalue crops in the country and abroad. In coffee, DA Region-5 Director Abelardo Bragas said 60 percent the country’s supply is imported from other countries, and only 40 percent is locally produced. “We need to enable local farmers to turn to this high-value crop, and eventually void of the need to import coffee beans, such as from Indonesia and Vietnam, to meet the local demand,” Bragas said. The Philippines used to be fourth largest coffee-producing nation, and noted as among the few countries in the world where leading coffee varieties like robusta, excels, and liberica exist. However, coffee plantations in the country have already decreased from 149,657 hectares to 138,830. The Philippines now accounts for only 0.12 percent of the world’s coffee supply. Rosita Imperial, the regional High-Value Crop Development Program (HVCDP) coordinator, said coffee is the world’s most consumed beverage, and most traded next to oil. Three decades ago, the Philippines is one of the top coffee exporters, but now a net importer as the country’s total demand for coffee reaches 70,350 metric tons (MT), while local production is only 47,838 MT. The country’s coffee yearly importation is 22,500 MT valued at P6.72 billion, and out of the 88,526 MT coffee production of the Philippines in 2011, Bicol was able to contribute only 327 MT. Sorsogon is Bicol’s top producer of coffee with its 171 MT, followed by Albay, 103.66 MT, Camarines Sur with 26.54 MT, Camarines Norte with 22.93 MT, and Catanduanes at 1.99 MT. Majority of the coffee plantation in the region is planted to the robusta variety, according to Imperial. In cacao, Bragas said, consumers’ interest in the reported health benefits of dark chocolate is the main driver in current market growth.

“The tropical weather and volcanic soil in Bicol is suitable for cacao farming but, unfortunately, this important high-value commercial crop – which in our neighboring countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand is considered an industrial crop that provides significant income to their farmers – have not been given due importance by our farmers,” he said. Cacao, inter-cropped with other crops such as pili and coconut, is projected to give a farmer additional income estimated at P60,000 per hectare by producing quality-grade Fermented Dry Cacao Beans at about 500 trees per hectare, Bragas said. To realize this, Bragas said his office is initiating activities to develop warm acceptance of the smallholder cacao production approach among farmers, and renew their interest and willingness to collaborate for the promotion of sustainable cacao production. Apart from these, he said, the DA is identifying more suitable areas in Bicol for cacao production, and maximizing the presence of markets that could be organized into workable production-market system.,_Cacao_production_advoc ated#.UbVTeNiveKE

Rice smuggling uncovered in Mindanao Int’l Port By Mike U. Crismundo  Published: June 9, 2013  

TAGOLO-AN, Misamis Oriental – Government agents uncovered an alleged multi-million technical rice smuggling at the Mindanao International Container Port in Tagolo-an town, Misamis Oriental town. The Bureau of Customs (BoC) is set to file charges to the company involved. The BoC temporarily withheld the identity of the trading firm as investigation and gathering of vital documents are still ongoing. The BoC had already identified the owner and the broker of the suspected contraband. “Please bear with us for a while, we’re still gathering more documents to support our cases against them (suspects),” said an official of the BoC-10 who requested anonymity as he is not authorize to issue any press statement. This development came after agents of the BoC busted four- 40-footer container vans with alleged smuggled rice at the Mindanao International Container Port here on Thursday. The Mindanao International Container Port is an industrial economic zone of the Philippine Veterans Development Authority in Misamis Oriental, almost 30 kilometers east of Cagayan de Oro City. The alleged smuggled rice valued at P7 million allegedly originated from Taiwan and Vietnam and was consigned to a trading firm in Cagayan de Oro City and the province of Misamis Oriental, report from the BoC here said. Meanwhile, District Customs Collector Lourdes Mangaoang requested the Police Regional Office 10 (PRO 10) and Misamis Oriental Provincial Police Office to secure the seized container vans and the port itself. Last year, the BoC-10 also aborted an attempt to smuggle in more than 28,000 bags of rice valued around P24 million. E2%80%99l_Port#.UbViTtiveKE

‘No pact on fishing for now’ By Cynthia D. Balana Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:49 am | Sunday, June 9th, 2013

President Aquino. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE NAYPYITAW—A fisheries agreement between the Philippines and Taiwan will not be forged anytime soon. In a press conference here Friday night at the close of the three-day World Economic Forum on East Asia, President Benigno Aquino III said much had yet to be done by both sides before such an agreement could be pursued. “From the start, they were saying that, but as I said, let’s finish this issue first before we talk about the fisheries agreement,” the President said. The opening of fishery talks is one of four demands Taiwan made to the Philippines following the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman, Hung Shih-chen, by Filipino coast guards on May 9. Hung was killed by gunfire from a Philippine vessel on May 9 when his fishing boat strayed into overlapping Philippine and Taiwanese waters. The incident sparked a heated diplomatic row. Reports quoted Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala as saying that a technical working group composed of fisheries officials from both countries would soon meet.

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SSS expands AlkanSSSya program to inmates, drivers By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Social Security System has expanded its AlkanSSSya program to include jail inmates and tricycle drivers in Southern Mindanao, AlkanSSSya, which derived its concept from a piggy bank, is a large metal safety box with secure individual compartments in which members can put their savings to pay for their monthly SSS contributions. The money generated will be picked up by an SSS-authorized collector at the end of the month to be credited as their monthly SSS contribution. Three new AlkanSSSya units have been put up for members of the San Isidro Transport Cooperative (SITRASCO) and Pensionado sa Bahay Bakasyonan (PBB) in Tagum City, and Kahit Preso Pensionado (KPP) in Panabo City. “The AlkanSSSya was initially conceptualized for tricycle drivers in Las Piñas City, but it has since spread nationwide after it was proven successful in adapting to any informal sector worker regardless of type of industry or location. We are happy that more members, especially in southern Philippines, are beginning to experience the benefits of this micro-savings program,” said Emilio de Quiros Jr., president and chief executive officer of SSS. According to the SSS, a total of 29 tricycle operators and drivers, including 13 associates who are non-SITRASCO members but wish to be part of the AlkanSSSya, stand to benefit from the program. KPP and PBB, which are both managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, offer livelihood training to inmates to enable them to become productive members of society and earn income even during imprisonment. In the pipeline is an AlkanSSSya partnership with the Davao Penal Colony, which houses over 5,000 inmates engaged in various cottage industry activities such as doing beadwork, making bags and rags, and creating ropes out of coco fiber. The AlkanSSSya program currently has more than 80 partner associations across the country that represent self-employed and informal sector workers ranging from tricycle and trisikad operators and drivers; market vendors; farmers and fisherfolk; garbage pickers; jail inmates; golf course workers and barangay employees and “tanods” from local government units.

P-Noy signs law vs illegal cutting of coconut trees By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has signed into law a measure strengthening the government’s drive against the illegal cutting of coconut trees. Republic Act 10593, signed by the President last May 29, authorizes the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to arrest those who cut coconut trees illegally as well as stop unauthorized transport of coconut lumber. The full text of the new law was published in The STAR last June 7. The new law amended Republic Act no. 8048 or the Coconut Preservation Act enacted in 1995. The PCA is also empowered under the law to investigate suspected violators, apprehend anyone possessing coconut lumber without the necessary permit, search and seize a vehicle with illegally cut or collected coconut lumber, and stop the transport of unauthorized coconut lumber. The PCA is now authorized to confiscate and forfeit in favor of the government illegally cut, collected or abandoned coconut lumber as well as the equipment or machinery used for gathering them. Violators face two to six years imprisonment as compared to the one- to six-year prison term provided for under the 1995 law. Under the new law, fines range from P100,000 to P500,000, from only P50,000 minimum fine set in the old law. If the offender is a corporation or a juridical entity, the official or officials involved are the ones to be held liable. Government personnel found in cahoots with illegal loggers also face dismissal. An applicant can only secure a permit to cut if he has secured from the barangay captain a certification under oath that he has planted the equivalent number of coconut trees he intends to cut. If no replanting is done as verified by the PCA, the barangay captain who issued the certification would face three to seven-year imprisonment or fines ranging from P100,000 to P1 million.The barangay captain will also be disqualified from holding public office upon conviction.The new law also raises the application fee for a permit to cut coconut trees to P100 for every

Greenpeace pushes ocean preservation By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Environmentalists led by Greenpeace urged the Aquino government to enact and enforce stronger policies for the preservation of the country’s oceans. This developed as World Ocean Day was observed yesterday. The event is a United Nationsdesignated celebration meant to remind the world how crucial the oceans are for human survival. Vince Cinches, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said the Aquino administration should immediately act against the crisis of overfishing and marine ecosystem degradation by ensuring that the protection, rehabilitation and conservation of Philippine seas are national priority. He said the government should create and implement a roadmap that eliminates overfishing and allows the recovery of the Philippine fish stocks. “This can be achieved with steps such as stronger vehicle registry systems, halting the issuance of commercial permits, and strict enforcement of the 15-kilometer zone for small-scale fishers.” “We need a wholesale change in how we currently manage our oceans. Overfishing must end, and more areas need to be protected and interconnected. This will require concerted effort from all sectors. All Filipinos are stakeholders of the seas – we must each be part of the solution. Greenpeace is asking all Filipinos to sign up at to join the movement of Ocean Defenders and help protect our seas,” he added. Marine experts joined Greenpeace in asking Filipinos to be part of efforts to revive the seas. Perry Aliño of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute said “all stakeholders must be involved in the rehabilitation of the Philippine seas.” “We need to strengthen our existing social and ecological networks. Government mechanisms must be set up, with concrete solutions such as increasing the number and effectiveness of marine protected areas,” he added. The Greenpeace report “Oceans in the Balance” is an overview of the worsening crisis in the Philippine seas. The report compiles data showing that as the country’s marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests are being destroyed, more and more fish are being extracted from the sea than it can sustainably provide. In short, Filipinos are not only emptying the oceans of fish but are also destroying vital habitats necessary for marine species to propagate. “Our seas are nearing their tipping point – overfishing, destructive and illegal fishing, poaching, pollution and climate change are sucking the life out of our waters. There is a very urgent need

for the government to elevate oceans protection as a matter of national priority. This needs to happen now before the country drowns in a sea of problems,” Cinches said. The report also noted that despite the Fisheries Code of 1998, which mandates the protection of 15 percent of fishing grounds as marine protected areas, legislation seems unable to ensure the sustainability of the seas due to pervasive illegal commercial fishing activities and the encroachment of foreign fishing vessels into the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone. Municipal fisherfolk, who are edged out by massive industrial fishing operations, are the ones who suffer most. And Greenpeace said that the high incidence of poverty in coastal fishing communities is reflective of the crisis attributed to the declining marine ecosystem and overfishing.‐pushes‐ocean‐preservation               

Bottled water, instant noodles to be covered by price control By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Bottled water, instant noodles, cooking gas and kerosene will soon be covered by price control during calamities, Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said yesterday. “Before the 15th Congress adjourned, positive eleventh-hour actions were taken. The Senate made slight changes to our bill, and the House agreed to the modifications. This paved the way for the measure to be sent to Malacañang for the President’s signature,” he said. He was referring to Bill 4801, which will add bottled water, instant noodles, fruits, household liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and kerosene to the list of “basic necessities” under Republic Act 7851 or the Price Control Law. Romulo said under the law, prices of goods listed as basic necessities are immediately frozen at their levels prior to the declaration of a state of calamity, based on the regular monitoring reports from the Department of Trade and Industry. Violators of the price freeze face up to 10 years in prison plus a fine of up to P1 million, he said. At present, the list of basic necessities is limited to rice, corn, root crops, bread; fresh, dried or canned fish and other marine products; fresh pork, beef and poultry meat; fresh eggs; fresh and processed milk; fresh vegetables; coffee; sugar; cooking oil; salt; laundry soap and detergents; firewood; charcoal; candles; and essential drugs. Unless sooner lifted by the President, the price freeze on basic necessities will “remain effective for the duration of the condition that brought it about, but not for more than 60 days.” Romulo said with respect to household LPG and kerosene, which are mostly imported, price control will “remain effective for not more than 15 days, taking into consideration the current inventory or supply levels thereof.” He said the government may procure, purchase, import or stockpile any basic necessity and devise ways to distribute them for sale at reasonable prices in areas where there is inadequate supply, or a need to effect changes in prevailing prices. “Profiteering during disasters is absolutely reprehensible and unacceptable. Our bill will provide greater protection to consumers, who tend to get the short end of the stick during emergencies,” he said.‐water‐instant‐noodles‐be‐covered‐ price‐control 

Luzon Newsbits for June 9 ,2013 Published: June 9, 2013  

FISHING VESSEL The Philippine Navy has dispatched a patrol gun boat to pursue a Vietnamese vessel spotted within the Tubbataha Marine Park Friday night, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command (WesCom) said. According to reports, a Vietnamese fishing vessel was spotted off the north atoll of the Tubbataha Reef in Palawan around 9 p.m. on Friday. The 50-60 gross tonnage Vietnamese fishing vessel was even said to be flying a Philippine flag when spotted by the Tubbataha Park Ranger Station radar some 3.4 nautical miles east of the North Atoll. WesCom spokesperson Marine 1Lt. Cheryl Tindog said when park rangers tried to approach the foreign vessel around 10 p.m., it sped off, prompting Philippine authorities to give a chase. “Hinabol ng park rangers... up to two nautical miles na habulan,” said Tindog, “Some of the park rangers are our Navy personnel also,” she added. “But yung humabol is a park boat so dahil masama ang sea condition, up to two nautical miles lang and naging pursuit,” she added. As soon as the Naval Forces West (NFW) was informed of the presence of the foreign vessel in the area, Tindog said a patrol gunboat was immediately deployed to the area. “Nagpapapunta ng patrol gun boat para mag-pursuit,” said Tindog. (Elena L. Aben),2013#.UbVHcNiveKE                           

US allocates $5.5 M for Phl disaster resilience program By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The United States has allocated another $5.5 million (P184.3 million) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in support of the Philippine government’s efforts to strengthen the resilience of disaster-prone communities. The new grant will support the third phase of WFP’s Disaster Preparedness and Response/Climate Change Adaptation (DPR/CCA) Program, which was piloted in 2011 in the four disaster-prone provinces of Benguet, Cagayan, Laguna, and Sorsogon. The third phase will expand the program to five new provinces such as Batangas, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Iloilo and Misamis Oriental. The US grant will be used to support projects to be identified and proposed by the communities. With the rainy season in the Philippines fast approaching, the WFP said the need to strengthen disaster preparedness and response efforts in the country is a top priority. The WFP said the situation is even more pressing considering that the country is a disaster-prone country visited by at least 20 typhoons annually.‐allocates‐5.5‐m‐phl‐disaster‐resilience‐ program                     

Small businesses gain access to financing By Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - An agreement to allow small businesses to secure financing using movable collaterals was signed last Friday by the public and private sectors. The document will oversee the establishment of a movable collateral registry by 2015 to “enhance transparency and accessibility” on collaterals such as vehicles and consumer goods and inventories. For the public sector, the agreement was signed by the Department of Finance (DOF), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Securities and Exchange Commission, Land Bank of the Philippines, Cooperative Development Authority, Credit Information Corp. and Development Bank of the Philippines. For the private sector, signatories include the umbrella bank groups, the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, PinoyME Foundation, Microfinance Council of the Philippines and the Philippine Finance Association. The International Finance Corp., the private sector arm of the World Bank, was also a signatory to the document. “The reluctance of banks to accept movable assets as collateral for loans is one of the main barriers to inclusive economic growth,” Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said in a statement. Joselito Almario, a DOF director, said only a third of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have access to bank credit. This is because banks usually require real estate as collateral for loans. According to DOF data, 73 percent of loans are financed with property collaterals.

In contrast, 78 percent of MSME assets are movable objects that do not match bank requirements. A total of 96 percent of local firms are MSMEs, based on DOF estimates. “But it is not the fault of the banks why they do not want to lend precisely because we do not have that environment that will allow them to feel secure when they lend,” Almario explained during the signing ceremony. Beltran, for his part, said credit is necessary to allow MSMEs “to grow.” “The opportunity for future growth is when you give (MSMEs) the opportunity to grow by giving them credit,” he explained. With MSMEs’ expansion, Beltran said, more jobs will be created which shall help in making growth more inclusive and sustainable. Funding for the registry was not revealed, though Almario said the government would look at “existing” systems to set up the necessary infrastructure at less cost. The target is to set this up “by 2015”. The establishment of a movable collateral registry is part of the Aquino administration’s Medium Term Development Plan.


Thrift bankers urged to tap data sharing system By Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Chamber of Thrift Banks (CTB) is urging its members to tap into the positive data sharing system (PoDS) of the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) to improve their capability to assess credit information of their borrowers. CTB president Jose Teodoro Limcaoco said various initiatives have been carried out to push for the utilization of the PoDS. “CTB members may now gain access to this PoDS system. The PoDS’ main objective is to provide collaborative loan information to individuals with personal or salary loans throughout the financial institutions,” Limcaoco, concurrently BPI Family Savings Bank president, said. “With that information to be provided by the system, thrift banks will be able to avoid borrowers’ delinquency or debt over burden and make them more equipped in providing credit decisions. Initially, PoDs will start out with personal and salary loans and credit cards data and eventually they hope to go to auto loans and housing loans,” he added. CTB is currently a stockholder of the Credit Information Corp. (CiC), the national credit information bureau formed by the government through the Credit Information System Act (CISA) in 2008. Recently, CiC tapped the International Finance Corp. of the World Bank Group to help in the development of an appropriate business model for establishing a credit information system, including the selection of the best technical partner to design and set up the information system. No money will be involved between the two entities, but IFC will pay for credit information bureau experts and information technology (IT) consultants. CiC officials and stakeholders admitted that collection and collation of positive and negative credit data would not be easy, given that the bureau must be fully operational by 2015. The bureau must create a database that will provide independent, up-to-date, reliable and accurate credit information to private sector credit bureaus, which will then sell the information to banks and other lenders. Such information will help lower payment defaults, reduce the risk of lending, and increase credit access for all borrowers. CiC is controlled by the National Government, with a 60-percent stake, and chaired by the Securities and Exchange Commission.‐bankers‐urged‐tap‐data‐sharing‐system 

Be time‐conscious, Pinoys urged By Ellson A. Quismorio  Published: June 9, 2013  

Manila, Philippines --- It is about time that Filipinos treat time like gold, the principal author of the Philippine Standard Time (PST) Law said yesterday. “Filipinos should value time because our mortal lives have time limits. Time is gold,” said reelected Valenzuela City 2nd District Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo as he urged his countrymen to be more conscious of time. Gunigundo is principal author of House Bill (H.B.) 164 which was signed into law by President Aquino last May 15, 2013 as Republic Act (R.A.) 10535, setting the PST throughout the country, and declaring the first week of every year as National Time Consciousness Week. The PST Law took effect June 1. With its enactment, Gunigundo expressed hope that Filipinos will be more time-conscious, efficient and productive. “With synchronization of time-keeping devices, our nation will have symmetry, moving as one in economic, military, transportation, health, religious, cultural and other nation-building activities… Like all other first-world countries, we shall value punctuality and practice the use of our time wisely to be more productive at home, school and the workplace,” said Gunigundo. He added, “the notoriety of Filipinos for being negligent time managers will soon be a thing of the past.” Filipinos are said to be always being tardy on meetings or other commitments, hence the disparaging term “Filipino Time.” Gunigundo, Deputy Majority Leader during the 15th Congress, thanked President Benigno S. Aquino II for seeing the value of the PST bill and signing it into law. “We thank President Aquino for supporting our proposal which will positively and greatly impact on the lives of Filipinos and the development of our nation,” he said. Gunigundo originally filed his PST bill during the 14th Congress as H.B. 6905, which the House managed to pass on third reading on November 16, 2009. R.A.10535 is a consolidation of Gunigundo’s H.B. 165 that he filed on July 1, 2010 and Senate Bill 3284 filed by Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Edgardo Angara and Antonio Trillanes IV on Sept. 19, 2012. The law provides that all national and local government offices shall display the PST on their official time devices, including bundy clocks, in accordance with the official time provided by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) using its network time protocol.‐conscious,_Pinoys_urged#.UbVkFtiveKE 

Best practices for audit committees (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Did you know that the chairman of the board, the president, and the CFO of all corporations are now required to sign the financial report before it is submitted to SEC? Did you know that the corporation’s board is responsible to review all financial statements before these are submitted to the stockholders? With SECs mandatory requirement for corporations’ board of directors to practice good corporate governance, the importance of having a functioning audit committee headed by a member of the board is now a must. This is one of the reasons why corporations are now focused on strengthening the effectiveness of their audit committees. To address the clamour of board directors and management for a professional and formal training on this very important issue, the Center for Global Best Practices is launching a pioneering best practices program entitled, Board Directors’ Guide for Audit Committees to be held on Wednesday and Thursday July 3 & 4, 2013 at the Edsa Shangrila Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines This unique program is designed for board chairmen who must fully understand the functions and roles of audit committees to lead effectively, for the audit committee members and chair so they know what they must really do and not do, for the board directors and members of management including CEOs, CFOs, auditors, and accountants to learn how to craft a working program and agenda with audit committees to relate and align their working relationship more effectively. This once-a-year event is a very useful guide with practical applications to help audit committees work more effectively. The special event will feature the top 10 best practices for audit committees, reading and spotting key issues in audit reports, special investigation and financial reporting function, risk assessment protocols and tools, and solutions to challenges and problems faced by the board and audit committees. It will also feature PriceWaterhouseCoopers findings and valuable research on the global best practices of world-class audit committees. Attendees of this one-time event will get free templates and practical reference materials that they can use and apply immediately to simplify their work and save time in crafting an audit committee program. Participants are encouraged to avail of the group discounts. Full details and all other upcoming seminars are at For queries, please contact program officer Camille Jonas through email or at Manila telephone numbers 556-8968/ 69; Cebu lines (032) 512-3106/ 07 or Baguio number (074) 423-5148.

BPI sees further SDA rate cut this week By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) expects another cut on the rate of special deposit accounts (SDA) this week. Interest offered on the SDA-parked funds by banks and trust departments with the central bank-could be trimmed by another 50 basis points to 1.5 percent, BPI economists Emilio Neri Jr. and Nicholas Antonio Mapa said. Record-low policy rates, meanwhile, may be maintained at 3.5 percent for overnight borrowing and 5.5 percent for overnight lending. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will hold its next policy meeting on Thursday. “The BSP will decide to do this primarily to limit its losses stemming from sterilization costs,” the BPI economists said in a research note. Since its inception in 1998, the SDA has attracted trillions of funds due to the higher rate it offers versus other safe investment instruments. Interest payments amounting to P1.9 trillion of idle money have contributed to BSP’s losses that hit a record of P95.38 billion last year. Aside from this, Neri and Mapa said the BSP would likely take advantage of the low inflation environment alongside the strong economic growth in the first quarter. The country saw a 7.8 percent surge in its gross domestic product for the first quarter, surpassing market expectations. This was achieved against the backdrop of three percent inflation, which was the low-end of the BSP target. “While we acknowledge that the BSP does not react to instantaneous inflation prints, we foresee upward consumer price pressures in the medium term to remain limited given the fragile state of the global economy,” the economists pointed out. During its past three policy meetings, the BSP cut SDA rates by 50 basis points each to bring them down from 3.5 percent in a bid to boost economic activity and contain the peso’s strength. Since then though, Neri and Mapa said loan growth have been slowing, thus making the 7.8 percent growth as of March “unlikely to cause any immediate overheating concerns.” Overheating pertains to a scenario of very fast growth that results into skyrocketing inflation.

“Headline inflation has been way below the target range for two consecutive months,” the economists pointed out. In addition, BSP lowering the SDA rate would put into “full symmetry” the interest rate corridor mechanism. The central bank is planning to shift into an interest corridor, which involves the use of three interest rates: the deposit rate, which is the SDA (currently at two percent), the policy rate (3.5 percent) and lending rate (5.5 percent). The corridor, BPI analysts said, will give the BSP “flexibility” to deal with “sharp swings” in capital flows. “We note that any further macro-prudential measures will be well received by the markets as the BSP carries out its primary mandate,” Neri and Mapa said.‐sees‐further‐sda‐rate‐cut‐week                                 

Science: Space food By Mariette Le Roux   Published: June 9, 2013  

KOUROU, Guyana (AFP) - A special delivery of peanut butter, pyjamas, and parmesan cheese was blasted into the cosmos on Wednesday to bring some Earthly indulgences to the astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS). The items were in a cargo capsule launched on the European Space Agency’s Ariane 5 rocket to bring creature comforts like family photos and sweet treats to the six-person crew, but also bare essentials like oxygen, food, and drinking water. Perhaps the most anticipated among the record 1,400 items launched on the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) are the care packages put together for each of the astronauts with favorites they had requested and little surprises from home. “It’s quite small, but you can actually fit quite a lot in there,” ATV cargo engineer Kerstin MacDonnell of the agency’s ESTEC research center told AFP of the bread bin-sized container each crew member would receive. “Some birthday cards or drawings from their children, or if one of them has a craving for chewing gum or beef jerky or whatever kind of thing they like,” she said. “For the most part it’s just comfort thingsthat would help the morale – personal items and mementos from the family.” MacDonnell oversaw the loading of the ATV Albert Einstein, ESA’s fourth and penultimate cargo freighter to the ISS, launched from Kourou in French Guiana. Also among the ATV’s record dry cargo load of 2.5 tons were day-to-day necessities like printer paper, tools, toothbrushes and socks, and even a special diet put together by French-born chef Alain Ducasse for an experiment to test the minimum energy requirements of a human being in orbit. The total cargo weighs almost seven tons, and includes fuel for the ISS. “We are looking forward to it because it carries experiments, a lot of personal stuff, and all our food!” Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, who arrived on the space station last week, said in a video shown at the launch control center in Kourou. According to a cargo list, the crew will be dining for the next few months on everything from lasagna, beef stew, fajitas, and broccoli gratin to waffles, dried fruit, scrambled eggs, strawberries, and coffee... even cake icing in four different colours.

“They (the dieticians) try to make the food as tasty as possible and to have a variety,” explained MacDonnell. “A lot of astronauts say that after six months in orbit they start... craving stronger tastes, they get bored with what they’re eating. It’s a huge part of morale.” Nearly all the food items were carefully dry-frozen, dehydrated, or thermo-treated before being painstakingly packaged and then loaded onto the unmanned space freighter with military precision. Just a handful of the items, like jelly beans, strawberry yoghurt, and chocolate bars, travel in their original state. Because of the weightless conditions in which they live, the astronauts have to eat most of their meals from a can or aluminium envelope with a fork or spoon or risk their lunch flying all over the place. MacDonnell described the preparation of an ATV forlaunch, involving a crew of some 2,000 people, as “actually quite tricky.” Before loading can start, crews in full body suits spend almosta full day disinfecting the inside of the 10-meter (32-foot) long vehicle with hydrogen peroxide. “There are a lot of effects to being in space that cause the astronauts to have a slightly compromized immune system,” said the expert. “So we try to make sure that when we bring up a vehicle, it is as clean as possible at a microbial and fungal level so we don’t bring up anything else that may endanger their health.” The main cargo is loaded about five months before liftoff, which requires two days – a finetuned maneuvre that must ensure a perfectly balanced center of mass that won’t throw the rocket or its precious cargo off track while also stabilizing and containing the volatile pyrotechnics, pressurised gas, fuel, and batteries on board. The next phase is to load the late cargo – another two-day endeavor reserved for last-minute requests and perishables whose loading happens after the capsule is already perched vertically on top of the Ariane rocket. The 80-centimeter (31-inch) wide loading hatch is right on the vessel’s nose -- more than 10 stories high, through which a technician has to be lowered to load goods onto shelves that are now vertical. For Albert Einstein, new hardware has made the job easier with a mechanical arm that can carry heavier packages and a telescopic platform that allows easier access to the shelves, said MacDonnell. Total late cargo for the ATV-4 was more than ever before – at over 600 kilograms (1,300 pounds), it beat the previous record by over 200 kg. 

Kayak eco tourney takes cause for Mother Earth (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Thanks to the Eskimos, the floating contraption called kayak reached Philippine waters in the 1990s, giving birth to the hottest emerging water sports in the country today. The humble boat has morphed into something sporty, capable of navigating any body of water in this 7,100-island archipelago. An enhanced version of its crude Alaskan ancestor, kayaks today are made up of polyplastic or fiberglass which are flotation devices. With its sleek and stable design, coupled with a doublebladed paddle, it is a user-friendly boat even for first-timers. With its narrow body, kayaks enable paddlers to reach narrow openings and shallow waters unreachable by motorized bancas or outrigger boats. “The Philippines is a big coastal community and is a natural playing field for water sports and nature adventure travel, which includes kayaking,” says Val Camara, exponent of recreational kayaking in the country. Together with his wife Didi, they founded the Philippine Kayaking Association in 1997 to popularize the emerging sport and introduced the Philippine Kayaking Series (PKS) which stands out today as the country’s longest-running kayaking tournament. Together with the growing legion of aficionados and hobbyists, the PKS group has paddled in touristic spots such as Taal Lake, Batangas, Ternate, Corregidor, Verde Island, Puerto Galera, Hundred Islands, Cebu, Bohol, Subic Bay, Camarines Norte, Bataan, and Zambales. “Kayaking is one of the most popular aquasports worldwide belonging to the paddling category, including canoeing, sculling, dragon boating and surf board paddling. It is also among the most watched sport at the Olympics,” Camara pointed out.

He added that with the growing healthy lifestyle consciousness among Filipinos, they look to the islands and beaches not just for leisure, but also for recreational sports, with kayaking as a very viable option. Because of the country’s archipelagic nature, every body of water, whether it be a river, white water, bay, lake, mangrove area, cove or the open sea can be a haven for kayaking. In addition to the usual paddling tourney, the kayaking series has also incorporated activities which help bring livelihood opportunities and environmental awareness in the venues of the communities. This unique combination of fun, sports and social outreach came alive once more as the PKS season for 2013 kicked off at the Anvaya Cove early this month. The two-day paddlefest consisted of a 25-km marathon from the posh Anvaya Cove Beach and Nature Club to Subic Bay Freeport and back, a 6-km beach run and kayak relay, as well as races for novice paddlers. Adding flavor was the galunggong fiesta where the townsfolk of Bgy. Sabang, Morong, Bataan prepared gourmet renditions of the native “poor man’s fish”. There were also eco-friendly activities such as coastal cleanups, water bonsai demo, and beach tree planting. The kayak fest is the third edition of the sporting event to be held in Anvaya Cove as part of its commitment to sustainable tourism in the greater Subic Bay area through the conduct of earthfriendly projects. Organized by Sun and Sea Sports Systems, The Lighthouse Marina Resort and Philippine Kayaking Association, the event brought together the major tourism stakeholders of Subic Bay such as the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Department of Tourism-Region 3, Ayala Land Premier, International School for Sustainable Tourism, Harbor Point, and Manila North Tollway Corp. For details, visit or add Philippine Kayaking Series on Facebook.‐eco‐tourney‐takes‐cause‐mother‐ earth         

Lopez Group gives P13 M for climate change research By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Lopez Group has set aside P13 million for research grants to seven projects aimed at mitigating climate change. The group channeled the grants through the Oscar M. Lopez Center for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management Foundation Inc. or the OML Center. The University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University received funding for project proposals submitted by their respective students. State-owned UP has three projects, combined into one program creatively called WHATSUP, which aims to develop weather and hazard alert and tracking system for urban areas in the Philippines through the use of mobile applications. Under the proposed project, everyone with a cellular phone will be able to forecast and monitor local weather, assess disaster risks and provide feedback to reduce forecasting errors. DLSU, meanwhile, received funding for three proposals. One is for a flood detector system in three chosen areas. The school will also develop a guidebook that will contain impacts of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures that are applicable to the agriculture sector. The second proposal is a car flotation system that will enable cars to float when floods strike. The third DLSU project involves the design of a mathematical model which can serve as a basis in predicting the economic consequences of man-made and natural disasters. The model can be used by government agencies, non-government organizations or the private sector. ADMU, meanwhile, received funding for its proposal to develop and set up of an evidence and space-based decision support for climate change adaptation-disaster risk reduction management. OML Center chairman Federico Lopez said with these grants, the center aims to be a leading catalyst for generating science-based solutions to climate-related risks and disasters in the developing world. “While billions of resources are being allocated to build the resilience of communities to climate related risks, there is less support for generating scientific information that could lead to longterm, practical and sustainable solutions to climate change. We will support applied research with practical outcomes to help the most vulnerable deal with the impacts of climate change and natural disasters,” he said. First Philippine Holdings Corp., the Lopez Group’s holding company for its investments in energy, real estate, manufacturing, construction, and energy services, provided the initial funds to put up the OML Center.‐group‐gives‐p13‐m‐climate‐change‐ research 

HSBC launches Rain Campaign By Donnabelle Gatdula (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - In an effort to safeguard rural water resources, the local unit of British banking giant HSBC has partnered with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to promote sustainable water sourcing, conservation and sanitation with the launch of the HSBC Rain Campaign. ৲৲ The program’s initiatives range from water ‘footprinting’, rainwater capture techniques, waterway rehabilitation drives and volunteer opportunities for both HSBC Philippines employees and WWF supporters. ৲ Last May 18, HSBC volunteers joined a team from WWF-Philippines in teaching students of Jaime Hilario Integrated School in Bataan viable ways to collect and conserve water- the element which brings life. The volunteers conducted a coastal cleanup, painted rainwater collectors, and created a waterthemed mural for the community. “Protecting the environment is central to HSBC’s sustainability strategy. Our volunteer work is only the beginning of a five-year commitment to address a growing global challenge – water. Through this partnership with WWF, we hope to provide water conservation education to public elementary school students nearby and eventually help make safe drinking water more accessible to communities,” HSBC president and CEO Wick Veloso said. “I am confident that with WWF’s expertise in water conservation and the dedication of HSBC’s volunteers we will create lasting impacts schools and barangays we will be working with this year.” The HSBC Rain Campaign echoes the objective of the five-year HSBC Water Program which aims to make a sustainable difference in communities by providing safe water and protecting natural water resources. The campaign is set to be formally launched in public elementary schools in Metro Manila this month.‐launches‐rain‐campaign         

Budget, reforms in House menu of options By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Jun. 09, 2013 at 12:02am | 389 views

Several economic measures like the ‘rationalization’ of revenue laws will be high on the congressional menu of options, with the 2014 proposed budget coming as the main course when the 16th Congress convenes next month. Re-elected Rep. Miro Quimbo of Marikina, a House deputy majority leader, said that the freedom of information bill will be taken up but not the Charter Change (Cha-Cha)which is considered low priority even if Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who is expected to retain the speakership, is determined to push for amendments to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. Congress is expected to work double time to work on the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2014 , being the legislative piece de resistance, which the Palace will submit to Congress in August. Quimbo said that the new Congress would focus on the passage of long-pending economic reform bills that were set aside to give way to the enactment of laws on sin tax and the reproductive health. “The rationalization of our revenue laws is a major priority in the 16th Congress,” Quimbo told the Manila Standard. “Particularly, we need to review tax incentives that have been given left and right in the past. It must be rationalized so that it can be given to industries that produce quality jobs, also mining taxes must be rationalized,” he added. Quimbo was referring to the proposed fiscal incentives bill that seeks “to rationalize and simplify the grant and administration of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to promote foreign and domestic investments in the country.” Apart from the rationalization of fiscal incentives, the Department of Finance (DoF) had earlier said it would for a number of economic bills in the next Congress that will spur more investments and sustain the 7.8 percent growth rate in the first quarter of 2013.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said among these bills include the proposed mining bill which seeks to promote the equitable sharing of mining revenues; the alternative fuel incentives bill granting tax breaks to manufacturers of so-called e-vehicles; the proposed amendment to the charter of the Bangko Sentral, and the proposed Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. “There’s [actually] a long list. We are in the process of preparing the list,” Purisima earlier said. Central bank officials, for their part, have wanted the New Central Bank Act of 1993 amended and pave the way for a capital increase in the Bangko Sentral. The law mandated that the government infuse Bangko Sentral with P50 billion in capital. Of the P50 billion, Central Bank officials have said, only P40 billion has so far been given to the central bank. Last year, the government gave it P20 billion. “Previous tranches each worth P10 billion were given to the bank in 2011 and 1993,” the Central Bank said. Customs modernization is being sought by Commissioner Rufino Biazon in his gamechanging bid to curb corruption and smuggling at the port and make it difficult for the prevailing system (“kalakaran” to continue. “The Tafiff and Customs code is an antiquated law that has left us in an outdated environment and affected our standing in terms of competitiveness,” Biazon said in an interview last month. The Customs bill seeks to modernize customs administration in the country by setting international standards in customs operations, and make import trade transactions “faster, predictable, efficient and transparent,” among others. Also among the salient features of the measure is that it seeks to empower the Bureau of Customs to have control over all persons and properties within its territory, and seeks coordination with other government agencies, including free zones authorities, and the customs stakeholders in general to enhance customs control. It mandates the Customs to use audit-based controls and risk management systems, and adopt a compliance measurement strategy to support risk management.

On 2014 Budget Bill Militant lawmakers have expected that Congress will provide additional funding for the education sector in the national budget for next year. One of them, Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan said that while the Department of Education got the lion’s share of the 2013 P2.006 trillion budget at P293.32 billion the problem of shortages of textbooks and school teachers in public schools persists. “The evident shortages in teachers, classrooms and textbooks betray the fact that we are not ready to impose and implement this very drastic change in our educational system,” she said. Ilagan cited data from the DepEd indicating that the teacher shortage was 145,000 in 2010, with 36,923 hired as of February and 61,510 others to be hired starting this month. Since 2010, government has constructed a total of 33,956 classrooms, which is still short of the total backlog of 66,800 classroom, she said. “Still no to Cha-cha; Yes to FOI” Quimbo hinted that the FOI will also be a priority in the 16th Congress. “Yes, the FOI bill will also be on the menu,” he said. Earlier, re-elected Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr. , main proponent of the proposed transparency bill, which seeks to promote the right of the people to access to public information and documents and government records of public concern, vowed to refile the measure in the incoming Congress. The Senate passed its version of the bill last December, but the House failed to do so as lawmakers opposing the FOI had wanted to insert controversial provisions such as the right-to-reply on issues raised against them. The RoR requires the media to allot newspaper spaces or air time for the reply of individuals who were allegedly aggrieved for being subjects of news stories. The Palace, through Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte had earlier said that Palace sees no reason not to support the FOI bill in the incoming 16th Congress. In fact, Valte said the Palace has its own version of the proposed measure which was submitted during the 15th Congress.‐reforms‐in‐house‐menu‐of‐options/ 

Now, it’s Vietnam poaching By Francisco Tuyay | Posted on Jun. 09, 2013 at 12:02am | 981 views

FOR the third time this year, rangers of the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park spotted a foreign vessel poaching off the protected area and rangers were forced fire warning shots to drive them away, officials reported on Saturday. According to state-run Philippines News Agency, the foreign vessel was flying a Philippine flag when it was spotted around 9 p.m. Friday about 3.4 nautical miles east of the reef’s North Atoll. When rangers noticed that the vessel, estimated to be about 60 gross tons, was only half a nautical mile away from the reef, they decided to inspect the vessel at around 10 p.m. and saw it had Vietnamese markings and was towing a line with bright lights. The foreign vessel fled to the northeast as the rangers approached and the park rangers fired several warning shots in an attempt to stop them. The vessel, however, raced out of the park’s boundary. Commodore Joseph Rustom Peña of the Naval Force West said Tubbataha Management Office chief Angelique Songco informed him of the incident on Saturday morning, but the naval command dispatched a patrol gun boat to the park anyway. It was the third time this year a foreign vessel was spotted at Tubbataha Reef. On January 17, the American minesweeper USS Guardian ran aground at the park and damaged 2,345.67 square meters of the reef. The US Navy concluded that towing the ship off the reef would cause more damage and decided to dismantle the ship in place and it was totally removed on March 30. The US government was fined P24,000 (about US$600) per square meter and the total came to about P60 million pesos (about $1.4 million). Last April 8, a Chinese fishing vessel with hull number 63168 also ran aground some 1.1 nautical miles east of the Tubbataha Reef ranger station. The fishing

vessel had 12 crew members and are suspected of illegal fishing. The case is being heard at the Puerto Princesa City Regional Trial Court. Before the USS Guardian, there were 11 grounding incidents at the reef, including two Philippine ships. In October 2005, the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior also ran aground Tubbataha, damaging about 100 square meters of the reef and they were fined about $7000. Tubbataha Reef, which has an area of 968.24 square kilometers, was declared a national marine park on August 11, 1988. The reef was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in December 1993.‐its‐vietnam‐poaching/                               

CL farmers lambast Aquino family anew By fredvillareal | Posted on Jun. 09, 2013 at 12:02am | 636 views

ANGELES CITY – Central Luzon farmers slammed the Department of Agrarian Reform for adopting tactics that would allegedly protect the interest of the family of President Aquino in Hacienda Luisita which the Supreme Court ordered to be distributed to tenant-farmers. The Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) and Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) also condemned the DAR’s employment of diversionary schemes and militarization to pressure farmers to cave in to the demands of the Aquino family. “We should learn from history that the Cojuangco family acquired Hacienda Luisita using public funds in 1957, consolidated their control by implementing the stock distribution option in 1989,” said Joseph Canlas, AMGL chairperson and vice-chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. “Now, even with the high court’s decision, the Cojuangco-Aquinos continue to devise new schemes to sustain t‐farmers‐lambast‐aquino‐family‐anew/                   

Lake Buhi, home of unique PH fish, gets attention By Francisco Tuyay | Posted on Jun. 09, 2013 at 12:01am | 252 views

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources has designated the Lake Buhi Watershed in Camarines Sur as a water quality management area in a bid to protect the lake that is home to the Mistichthys luzonensis, locally called sinarapan, the world’s smallest commercially harvested fish. The designation of the 15,511-hectare watershed in the town of Buhi was made through DENR Administrative Order No. 2013-16 issued by Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje last May 27, bringing the total number of WQMAs nationwide to 16. “The sheer number of WQMAs designated so far speaks well of the government’s resolve to improve the conditions for inclusive sustainable growth by establishing efficient resource-use policies that promote high employment economy with social and territorial cohesion,” Paje said in a statement. He said the administrative order aims to protect and improve the water quality of the lake—an important source of livelihood among local residents—pursuant to Republic Act No. 9275, or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004. Aside from the sinarapan, Lake Buhi is also inhabited by other marine organisms such as bigmouth goby (Redigobius bikolanus), snakehead murrel (Channa striata) or dalag, climbing perch (Anabas testudineus), garfish (Hemiramphus spp.) and the gangetic moray eel (Strophidon sathetekotnag). The forest surrounding the lake serves as a sanctuary to at least 25 bird species, including the endemic Philippine pygmy woodpecker, hanging parrot, blacknaped monarch, elegant tit, and white-eared brown dove. Other fauna found in the forest are flying lizards, skinks, monitor lizards, civet cats, bats, and the Philippine cynomolgus monkey. The lake is the main source of water for the National Power Corporation’s hydroelectric plant. It is also used by the National Irrigation Administration to wet farmlands in the surrounding areas.

Paje said designating WQMAs would enable concerned officials both in the national and local levels to take focused interventions on specific water quality issues relevant to a particular locality. Under the Clean Water Act, the DENR, in coordination with the National Water Resources Board, is mandated to designate certain areas as WQMAs using appropriate physiographic units such as watershed, river basins, or water resources regions to effectively enforce its provisions and improve the water quality of water bodies. The law seeks to provide a decentralized management system for water quality protection and improvement of river systems. The DENR is also tasked to create a governing board for each WQMA, which is chaired by a regional director of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau. Including the concerned mayor and governor and representatives of relevant national government agencies. Other WQMAs designated by the DENR include San Juan River River System which traverses Quezon City, Manila and San Juan; Imus-Ylang Ylang-Rio Grande River system, Cavite; Sinocalan-Dagupan River System, Pangasinan; Balili River, Benguet; Pinacanauan de Tuguegarao River, Cagayan province; Calapan River System, Oriental Mindoro; Davao River System, Davao City; Tumaga River, Zamboanga City; and Taguibo River, Butuan City; MarilaoMeycauayan-Obando river system and areas within the Laguna Lake Development Authority’s in Southern Tagalog; the Tigum-Aganan watershed and the Iloilo-Batiano river system in Iloilo province; Silway River and the Sarangani Bay in General Santos City in Sarangani province.‐buhi‐home‐of‐unique‐ph‐fish‐gets‐attention/             

Power of the sun By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Jun. 09, 2013 at 12:01am | 1,154 views

Filipinos living in remote islands and coastal communities stand to benefit the most from renewable energy, particularly ones supplied by solar PV (photovoltaic) systems. Proponents of renewable energy said the use of solar PVs poses a viable solution to the decades-old problem of electrification in far-flung rural communities that belong to the off-grid market, meaning areas which are not connected to the main transmission grid that powers the country’s main islands. At present, off-grid markets are either deprived of electricity or bear the cost of high power rates because their energy sources come from diesel-powered generators. Mario C. Marasigan, director of the Energy Department’s Renewable Energy Management Bureau, who was among the distinguished guests of the forum, said that with the use of diesel-powered generators, the country is actually providing the most expensive electricity in the poorest communities. He also noted that to address this, the DOE has started its National Renewable Energy Program, which is a 20-year-plan to increase the use of renewable energy by as much as 9,900 megawatts by 2030. Marasigan believes solar PV is the cheapest way of providing electricity to the countryside. “If you try to account everything, including the cost of transmission, administration, solar PV remain the cheapest form of electricity services in the rural area. Imagine a community composed of 50 households living 25 kilometers away. You have to connect the line to 25 kilometers to serve 50 households. You have to send personnel to go there to read the meters and after you read the meters you go to your office, calculate the bills, go back there to collect the bills. Just for administration alone, solar PV is already the cheapest,” he added.

According to Marasigan, to further promote investments in solar PV and other renewable energies, the government is offering incentives such as income tax holidays, ten percent corporate tax rates, duty-free importation of renewable energy machinery and equipment and other perks. To provide a realistic transition to renewable energy, solar PV expert Paul Bertheau of the Berlin-based Reiner Lemoine-Foundation proposed that energy contractors in the off-grid adopt a hybrid system that can combine dieselpowered and solar energy. His GIS based simulation model recommends a hybrid model, for example on Siquijor Island, whose power generation costs would not only decrease by more than 60 percent, the province would also realize savings of 2.8 million liters of fuel yearly. It would also significantly reduce its carbon emission. “The technology solutions are available. The demand is there. What is really necessary now is a regulatory framework to allow solar PVs in the off grid areas,” he said. Marasigan and Bertheau are among the group of Filipino and German experts who shared important information on solar energy in the 2nd Philippine-German Solar Energy Forum – Off-grid Solar Technologies and Solutions. The forum, which tackled the potential of and opportunities for solar energy in the Philippine off grid sector, is part of the “renewables—Made in Germany” initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) and undertaken in the Philippines by the Deutsche GesellschaftfürInternationaleZusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the GermanPhilippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI). Dr. Gunther Matschuck, GPCCI Executive Director, said the German government is sending their expertise in renewable energy to local shores because it can both solve the energy problem in Philippines and reduce the cost of electricity. Philippine Solar Power Alliance founder Tetchi Cruz-Capellan, who also spoke during the forum, said it is high time power contractors invest in off-grid using solar PVs.‐of‐the‐sun/ 

Filipino inventors showcase products in Quezon City shop By MST Business | Posted on Jun. 09, 2013 at 12:02am | 649 views

Francisco Pagayon meets fellow inventors. Filipino inventors have formed a cooperative and set up a showroom in Quezon City to put on display their best inventions and introduce them in the market. Francisco Pagayon, president of the Filipino Inventors’ Society, says the group established the Filipino Inventors’ Society Producer Cooperative to serve as the business arm of the organization. FISPC then set up a showroom at the ground floor of Delta Building at the corner of West Avenue and Quezon Avenue to put on public display many useful local inventions in a show of Filipino ingenuity and entrepreneurship. The showroom houses various innovative products that are designed for fuel and energy conservation, environmental protection, water purification, alternative medicine, personal care and recreation. It showcases the Filipino genius as it contains inventions on police patrol weaponry, car care, home protection, agriculture, food and health supplement, and many others that could not be found elsewhere, says Pagayon. Among these inventions are solar-powered postharvest facilities and converters, anti-car napping computerized security system, Anos firetrucks for narrow streets

in major cities, fire blanket, water-fueled flashlights, green engine oil products, anti-fungal soap, organic medicine and other organic products. Pagayon says the showroom is in response to the lack of government support and official indifference to the plight of many inventors, who have been frustrated by their inability to find a niche in the local market and obtain commercial success for their inventions. An inventor himself, Pagayon has mass produced the multipurpose Probaton truncheon for Filipino police personnel and village watchmen. He says the inventors grouped themselves together amid the lack of state support and indifference to Filipino inventors. “While inventors in other countries are held in awe and respect by their governments to obtain state support and patronage, Filipino inventors have to live with the frustration for the lack of support,” Pagayon says. “They hardly enjoy state subsidy, tax or credit incentives, and patronage for their invention products,” he says. Pagayon and other inventors then opted to find ways to alleviate the plight of many inventors. His answer: entrepreneurship. FIS, established on Oct. 14, 1943, is the oldest non-government group of Filipino inventors, researchers, technologists, scientists, industrial designers and engineers. The group aims to generate, produce and market indigenous inventions and technologies to help attain economic progress and industrial prosperity for the country.‐inventors‐showcase‐products‐in‐quezon‐city‐ shop/         

How Filipino freelancers earn dollars at home By MST Business | Posted on Jun. 09, 2013 at 12:01am | 211 views Some Filipino professionals working at home earn more than P300 an hour, equivalent to one-day net pay of other workers. Ron Cirujano, a 30-year-old business executive, says this is now possible through an online platform, which links freelance professionals to a variety of jobs available in many countries. Cirujano is the country manager of, a privately-held company with headquarters in Mountain View, California and Oslo, Norway that provides a global platform for online jobs. The company earns commissions from jobs completed by freelancers enrolled in the platform. “In many ways, you can say that all jobs that can be performed remotely are to be found on,” says Cirujano. He says Filipino freelancers earned an average of $8.30 per hour in 2012. “For experienced freelancers, the average hourly rate would be significantly higher,” he says, explaining that new freelancers tend to lower their hourly rates when bidding for jobs. Cirujano, who graduated from San Beda College in Manila with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and Entrepreneurship in 2003, now has more than nine years of experience in marketing, both online and offline. In 2012, he handled the global online campaign of an international firm with key executions on social media, pay per click and search engine optimization. As the new Elance country manager, Cirujano focuses on raising awareness and knowledge of online freelancing and Elance in Filipino talent communities. He works closely with Elance’s international teams in developing and executing marketing programs, trainings and workshops for Filipino freelancers. Globally, Elance links over 500,000 businesses and 2.3 million freelancers in more than 170 countries. Elance’s talent pool includes software engineers, application developers and web and graphic designers, copywriters, market researchers, data scientists, social media marketers, customer service agents and other business professionals. In 2012, more than 1 million freelance jobs were completed through Elance. The company earns an 8.75-percent service fee for every job completed.

The Philippines has one of the largest talent pool of freelancers that use Elance. It ranks fourth in terms of users with 95,490 and ninth in terms of freelancers’ earnings with $7.7 million or over P313 million. Cirujano says among the most popular services offered by Filipino freelancers are in the areas of information technology and programming, design and multimedia, writing and translation as well as administrative support. He says hourly rates received by Filipino freelancers vary, from $6.4 for administrative support, $7.9 for management and finance, $8.7 for sales and marketing and $8.9 for writing and translation to as high as $12 for graphic design and art, $12.2 for architecture and engineering and $14.4 for IT and programming. “The overall average hourly rate for all categories was $8.3. It is also worth to notice that the average hourly rates are deflated by the fact that there were so many first-time hired freelancers from Philippines last year. First-time hired freelancers very often use low price [hourly rates] to win their first job,” he says. Asked of his advice to make sure Filipino freelancers will have sustained earnings, he says it is important that freelancers ensure the quality of their work. Other important factors, he says, are responsiveness, professionalism, expertise, adherence to schedule and delivery of services. He says it is better to “overdeliver” than to “over-promise.” “A freelancer should really focus on an expertise and carve his or her own niche,” he adds. Cirujano says Elance Philippines is in the forefront of promoting freelance work in the country. “We promote the freelancing lifestyle by creating events and engaging the local freelancers,” he says. The company conducts summits and workshops that celebrate the freelancing lifestyle and serve as an opportunity for the local freelancers to meet their fellow freelancers, exchange lessons as well as best practices. “Almost every week, we have themed trainings and workshops for our freelancers and these events are designed to empower the freelancers,” he says. Elance has recently hosted Online Freelancing Tax 101, a workshop about tax laws in the Philippines. Freelancers and other self-employed individuals are also required to pay their taxes. Cirujano says as of end-March 2013, some 95,490 Filipinos have registered as freelancers on Elance, including 12,218 who signed up in the first quarter alone. “Some 4,642 jobs were awarded to Filipino freelancers in the first quarter 2013,” he says.

He says the Philippines is viewed as a prime destination for freelancers because of its skilled and hardworking workforce, technologically savvy population and accelerating entrepreneurial communities. A survey conducted by Elance shows that 59.2 percent of Filipino freelancers are female and 55.4 percent are 32 years old or younger. Nearly two-thirds or 67.7 percent have college degrees. Their primary skill sets are research, writing and content and online marketing. Results of the survey show that freelancers love the idea of having control over their own schedule, enjoy the idea of working wherever they please, and have the opportunity to pursue their passion. The platform also provides opportunities to those with full-time jobs to augment their income and to those that lost their jobs to find new ones. Results of the survey show 40.8 percent of Filipino freelancers started having a full-time job with freelance work on the side while 20.8 percent pursued freelance after being laid off. RTD‐filipino‐freelancers‐earn‐dollars‐at‐home/                             

Former senator slams DoLE over TUCP presidency row • •

Written by Ed Velasco Sunday, 09 June 2013 08:00

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-International Trade Union Congress (TUCP-ITUC) president Ernesto Herrera labelled as “very silly” the own interpretation of the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) of the Department of Labor and Employment of the Section 9 of the TUCP constitution that led the bureau to recognize resigned president Democrito “Kito” Mendoza as the legitimate president of the TUCP. In an exclusive interview, Herrera said it is very clear in the Section 9 of the TUCP constitution that said: “In the event of vacancy in the office of the president by reason of death, permanent disability, resignation or removal from office, the general secretary shall succeed the latter and shall serve for the unexpired term.” However, according to Herrera, a former senator, the bureau came out with its own bizzarre interpretation on belief that the resignation of the 90-year-old Mendoza must be approved by TUCP members. He added that this is the only argument of the TUCP-Mendoza wing for the bureau’s decision that came out last June 3. In a resolution released on June 3, the BLR-DoLE affirmed its Aug. 10, 2012 decision that Mendoza remains the president of the TUCP and dismissed the appeal of Herrera contesting the TUCP presidency. “I don’t know what’s on the mind of the bureau for coming out with that decision. It’s like saying that if President Aquino resigns the Filipinos should decide if the resignation is valid,” Herrera told The Daily Tribune in an exclusive interview. He said if TUCP members will be given power to validate the resignation, it will lead to instability and polarization of the organization. He added that the bureau came out with its decision even though none among the Herrera or Mendoza wing has submitted complained on them to resolve the tussle. “No complainant. The tussle is between us and them but here comes the decision,” the former senator added. Herrera added that Mendoza cannot serve as president anymore because all the elective officials of TUCP, including the professionals, have recognized Herrera as the real and legitimate president of the organization. Even the ITUC, which is considered as the mother of all trade unions, has recognized the former senator as the real TUCP president. “During our convention last March 16, 2012 over 350 delegates have attended while when they (Mendoza wing) did their own convention only less than 50 have attended,” he said. The objective of both conventions was to recognize who is the real president of TUCP, according to the

former senator. Herrera added that the bureau’s decision might affect the decision of the Commission on Elections who among the two wings of TUCP will be allowed to provide the nominee for TUCP partylist. TUCP got one seat for partylist during the last elections. Several text inquiries were sent to DoLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz but she didn’t reply.

Aquino has no plans to replace controversial PLLO Mamba – Valte • •

Written by Paul Atienza Saturday, 08 June 2013 08:00

President Aquino has no plans to replace the controversial Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer (PLLO)p Manuel Mamba, as his errand man to Congress, despite mounting complaints from the legislators about his tardiness. Presidential deputy spokesman Abigail Valte reiterated Aquino’s position that Mamba remains as the official errand man of the Executive Department to Congress. The President has already spoken on this matter. He has been in discussions with not just leaders of both Houses, but also of members of both Houses to work on coordination when it comes to legislative measures,” Valte said. Mamba, a doctor by profession before becoming a politician, had served as mayor in Cagayan and later elected as congressman of his province and served four terms. Valte pointed out that Aquino issued already his directive to the members of his Cabinet to spend some of their official time by being present in the deliberations of Congress affecting their respective departments. “The President has directed the members of his Cabinet to participate more thoroughly in the hearings where their presence may be required by our legislators,” Valte said. Valte added Aquino said “the coordination needs to be worked out,” so that an exercise of veto power on some pieces of legislations may be avoided. Valte admitted the Executive Department has not been present at the conferences or legislative hearings. “We are not present in some instances (of the) bicameral conferences, so that can also account for some of the vetoes that you’ve seen,” Valte said. The Tribune tried to have an interview with Mamba in his office, but he has already left for the visit to his province Cagayan, according to one of his staff. Valte neither confirmed nor denied that Mamba still has the trust and confidence of Aquino. “I’ve not heard anything to the contrary,” Valte said. Valte clarified that the PLLO remains to be the errand office of the Executive and not the Cabinet members to coordinate with Congress. “No, no, no. The President has asked the Cabinet members to participate more thoroughly in the hearings that are called by members of the House and of the Senate,” Valte said. Valte added “yes, certainly. Yes, yes” the PLLO remains to be coordinating office to do the functions of coordination with the members of Congress.

As to the reports that Mamba could not be seen in the halls of Senate and the House of Representatives in doing his official functions, “I think Secretary Mamba will be in a better position to respond to those allegations,” Valte said. Jimmie C. Policarpio, who served as PLLO chief during the term of former President Joseph Estrada, said foremost of his duties was to keep abreast of the current events, especially issues affecting the national politics of the country. “I have to read all the newspapers, from broadsheets to tabloids, the early morning news reports in television and broadcast radio, on a daily basis. That is early morning,” Policarpio said. Policarpio added it would be necessary for him to read the newspapers because the legislators are sensitive on public opinions. “I have to make it sure that when the President has asked me on certain issues, I must give a precise answer. That’s part of my duty,” Policarpio said. Policarpio added he was making an everyday summary of news items that needed the attention of the President, more so on legislative matters.

Makati starts distributing P74.8-M mid-year cash gift to 58,379 elderly • •

Written by Tribune Saturday, 08 June 2013 08:00

The city government of Makati last Wednesday started releasing the mid-year cash gift of some 58,379 senior citizens who are registered under its BLU Card program. Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay said the Cash Division has been designated to distribute the cash gift amounting to a total of P74,859,000 on scheduled dates for every barangay at its office on the third floor of city hall, and in barangay halls and covered courts. The mayor said senior citizens of Barangay Northside, Comembo, Carmona, Singkamas, Kasilawan and Pinagkaisahan comprised the first batch of claimants, receiving their cash gift, ranging from P1,000 to P2,000, last June 5. Other beneficiaries have also been scheduled to receive their cash gift in their own barangays on scheduled dates as follows: June 6— Dasmariñas Barangay Hall, La Paz Covered Court and Urdaneta Barangay Hall; June 7—Magallanes Barangay Hall, Valenzuela Covered Court and Forbes Park Barangay Hall. Binay said the rest of the beneficiaries can get in touch with their respective Chapter Chairmen or the Senior Citizens Section of the Makati Social Welfare Department to find out when they could claim their cash gift. Last year, the city council approved City Ordinance No. 2012-017 that increased the cash gift received by elderly residents aged 70 to 79 years from P2,000 per year to P3,000 and for those aged 80 and above, from P3,000 per year to P4,000. Meanwhile, those aged 60 to 69 years will continue to receive P2,000. The cash gift for all age groups is given in two equal instalments every June and December. Binay assured the city’s elderly citizens that the city government remains committed to promoting a “stress-free, untroubled and happy life” for them in every way possible. “It is the least we could do to thank them for their invaluable contributions to the city and to the country as a whole,” he said. Meanwhile, the MSWD Senior Citizens Section can be contacted at telephone numbers 870-1236 for inquiries about cash gift distribution schedule. For unclaimed cash gifts on the scheduled date, beneficiaries or their duly authorized representative whose name appears at the back of the BLU Card will be given four working days to claim theirs at the Cash Division on the 3rd floor of Makati City Hall. The first batch of beneficiaries includes those with BLU Card applications filed on or before April 16, 2013. On the other hand, those filed between April 17 and June 30, 2013 will be eligible to receive their mid-year allowance in July and August of this year.

In cases when a BLU Card holder-senior citizen is bedridden, disabled or confined in a hospital, an authorized representative whose name appears at the back of the BLU Card is allowed to claim the benefit on his o/her behalf with a medical certificate as proof of their condition. Authorization forms are available at the MSWD office on fifth floor of Makati City Hall. On the other hand, senior citizens who are out-of-town or abroad during the distribution of the cash gifts are not entitled to claim the said benefit, and authorization presented by a representative will not be honored by the Cash Division.‐section/item/15098‐makati‐starts‐distributing‐p74‐8‐m‐ mid‐year‐cash‐gift‐to‐58‐379‐elderly                                     

ARE CONDOS SAFE? Published : Sunday, June 09, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 491  Written by : Jester Manalastas 

THE Department of Energy as well as the local government engineers were urged to check condominium buildings that use underground Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) pipelines. LPGMA party-list Rep. Arnel Ty said the government should check if the LPG pipelines used in privately owned mixed-use complexes comply with strict safety standards. “Bonifacio Global City and other emerging mixed-use enclaves have built underground pipeline networks that provide centralized cooking gas distribution systems. Regulators should make sure these installations are absolutely safe,” Ty said Based on the result of the government’s investigation, the May 31 explosion at Two Serendra which killed three people and seriously injured a tenant was likely caused by an LPG blast. Ty said Bonifacio Global City has a centralized underground pipeline structure that delivers cooking fuel to residential, office and commercial buildings. He said the system was built by Fort Bonifacio Gas Corp., a subsidiary of Fort Bonifacio Development Corp., in joint venture with Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. “In view of the Serendra incident, the new Congress should pass posthaste the proposed LPG Regulation and Safety Act, which we will definitely

reintroduce in July,” Ty said. Approved by the 55-member House trade and industry committee during the 15th Congress, the bill sets comprehensive and rigorous standards for the safe storage, refilling, distribution, transportation and consumption of LPG. Under the bill, every LPG installation, including underground pipelines, must obtain a new standard compliance certificate before it can be put to use. Ty said the Serendra blast was actually the third potentially LPG-related incident at The Fort in recent years. He recalled an incident wherein construction equipment accidentally punctured an LPG pipeline, causing an explosion. He also cited a similar blast at the vicinity of Two Parkade. “There is nothing wrong with underground LPG piped installations as long as these are built according to adequate safety standards, and consumers are informed of the proper use of the gas,” Ty stressed. “Many world-class urban districts around the world already run on piped gas networks. In America, for instance, they use underground pipes to deliver natural gas to homes and offices,” he pointed out.‐are‐condos‐safe                       

Speaker sees smooth ties with Senate head Published : Sunday, June 09, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 112

SPEAKER Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is looking forward to another good relationship with the Senate under the leadership of incoming Senate President Franklin Drilon. Both Belmonte and Drilon, Liberal Party high ranking officials and known allies of President Benigno Aquino, are expected to lead the House of Representatives and Senate respectively on the 16th Congress. According to Belmonte, he is expecting camaraderie and easy passage of vital bills in the 16th Congress. “I look forward to my relationship with Senator Drilon that is equally good and I look forward to be able to work hard equally with him,” Belmonte said. Last week, President Aquino hosted a luncheon get-together of LP solons in Malacanang during which he endorsed Belmonte as the House Speaker for another term. Belmonte said he is accepting the challenge again and vowed to push for the important proposed laws that will benefit the majority of the people. In his closing remarks during sine die adjournment, Belmonte was happy to announce that the House of Representatives has redeemed the faith of the Filipino people in government. Through responsive legislation, Belmonte stressed, Congress succeeded in putting in place the “key policy pillars for good governance to achieve economic growth, people-centered political and administrative reforms, and social equity anchored on the imperative of securing the welfare of the poorest of the poor.” “Good governance by competent and upright leaders is the key to economic growth, poverty reduction and social peace. Good governance sets and implements right policies effectively, combats corruption, curbs abuse of power, and makes government and its officials accountable,” Belmonte stressed. The Speaker said the House passed the “most number of historic and game-changing laws without fanfare or grandstanding.” He particularly cited the first ever Reproductive Health Law and the controversial sin tax restructuring measure, and bills curbing the scandalous allowances and perks of GOCCs and granting just compensation to human rights victims. This is not to mention the prompt passage of the annual General Appropriations Act during the last three years, ending an era of re-enacted budgets and allowing government agencies to implement crucial projects and programs at the start of each fiscal year, Belmonte said. Jester P. Manalastas‐stories/51932‐speaker‐sees‐smooth‐ties‐with‐senate‐ head 

Getting ready for disasters Published : Sunday, June 09, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 172  Written by : Joel dela Torre 

INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas will meet officials of other government agencies tomorrow to discuss nationwide disaster preparations. To be held in Camp Crame, the meeting will touch on wet season topics. “It pays to be prepared,” Roxas said as he declared Monday as the start of a nationwide observance of disaster preparedness. The government is targeting a “zero casualty” during the so-called typhoon months. Roxas also declared June 10 to 17 as Disaster Preparedness Week wherein local government units are directed to step up programs related to the rainy days. The disaster preparedness program is focused on thousands of informal settler families (ISFs) living dangerously on or along major waterways and are usually the first casualties during disasters. The government has targeted at least 20,000 ISFs to be moved to on-site, in-city or near-site relocation areas this year. “Iba na ang handa. Kaya nga kailangang ma-harmonize natin ang mga plano ng iba’t ibang sangay ng pamahalaan upang maiwasan natin ang mga casualty lalo na’t paparating na ang tag-ulan at ang mga bagyo,” Roxas said. Along with other concerned agencies, Roxas will have some on-site inspections of identified barangays in six major waterways coupled with flood drills in 16 pilot areas in Metro Manila.‐stories/51933‐getting‐ready‐for‐disasters       

Palace checking China buildup in Panatag Shoal   Published : Sunday, June 09, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 170  Written by : Efren Montano 

NO confirmation yet of reports that China is allegedly building structures in the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, Malacanang said yesterday. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Palace and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continue to verify the information. ”We have not received confirmation on the structures in Panatag Shoal,” Lacierda said. The Palace spokesman said he had asked AFP chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista about the matter Friday, and was told the military was also still “verifying those reports.” The Panatag Shoal had been at the center of renewed tension between the Philippines and China since April 2012, when Philippine forces found Chinese vessels gathering species from the area. As the Philippine forces were about to arrest the Chinese fishermen, Chinese ships blocked their path. Meanwhile, Lacierda reiterated the government is working to achieve a “minimum credible defense position.” He indicated that lawmakers who wish to add to the budget of the AFP may take part in the budget deliberation process. ”But insofar as the executive branch is concerned, the President has already made substantial devotion of resources to ensure the modernization of the AFP,” he said.‐stories/51928‐palace‐checking‐china‐buildup‐in‐ panatag‐shoal     

Work on SONA ongoing Published : Sunday, June 09, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 64

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address for 2013 is in the making, with speechwriters still working on the outline as of Saturday. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras are collating data from concerned agencies. “Between now and SONA, apart from the daily briefings (and) the daily work the president will be engaging, there will be opportunities to meet with speechwriters, Cabinet members and the Cabinet Secretary to discuss the SONA,” Lacierda said. He added the PMS is responsible for tracking the promises Aquino had made when he assumed office in 2010. It will assess “what we delivered and what we still need to deliver,” he added. Citing updates from communications undersecretary Manuel Quezon III, he said this year’s SONA has undergone at least two outline revisions. “Wala pa ang talumpati (We have not started work on the speech itself),” he said. On July 22, Aquino is to deliver his SONA before members of the 16th Congress at the Batasan complex in Quezon City. The Official Gazette website said the SONA is a “constitutional obligation,” and stems from Article VII, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution. Under that provision, the President “shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session,” it said. “Moreover, Article VI, Section 15 prescribes that the Congress ‘shall convene once every year on the fourth Monday of July for its regular session’,” it added. EMontano‐work‐on‐sona‐ongoing 

BI: More foreigners staying longer in PH Published : Sunday, June 09, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 131  Written by : People's Journal 

THE Bureau of Immigration yesterday said tourists want to stay longer in the Philippines after noting a 16-percent increase in income from visa extension fees collected from foreign tourists who visited the country during the first five months of the year. Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. also said that applications for tourist visa extension rose by six percent from January to May, compared to the same period in 2012. David disclosed that the bureau’s main building in Manila and its extension offices in Makati and Pasay posted a combined five-month collection of P342.8 million, which is P47.4-million higher than last year’s take of P295.4 million. He added that applications for extension of stay received at the three BI offices from January to May totaled 87,986, compared to 82,930 that were filed in the same period last year. David said the increases mean more foreign tourists are opting to stay in the country beyond the period of their initial authorized stay. He noted that the statistics do not include the visa fees collected by the different BI field and satellite offices outside Metro Manila, which are authorized to process applications for visa extension. Julius Cortez, acting BI visa section chief, said South Koreans topped the list of visa extension applicants, followed by nationals from China, US, Japan, and India. Cortez said that his office at the BI main bldg. now processes an average of more than 14,000 applications for stay extension a month and 700 a day. He also attributed the high collections to the intensified campaign of his office in apprehending holders of passports fake extensions and other fraudulent immigration stamps, thus ensuring the fees due the government are accurately and exactly assessed and collected.‐bi‐more‐foreigners‐staying‐longer‐in‐ph 

Beef up lending schemes, skills training for OFWs — Cayetano Published : Sunday, June 09, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 102  Written by : Bernadette Tamayo  SENATOR Alan Peter Cayetano has urged concerned agencies handling the “reintegration program” for returning overseas Filipinos workers to beef up its lending schemes and skills training for OFWs who were displaced by political upheavals in their host countries. Cayetano addressed his appeal to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), through its National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO). “Displaced Filipino migrant workers should be allowed easy access to start-up funds for their small businesses and livelihood projects from rural banks and cooperatives and non government organizations (NGOs),” he said. He said that an expanded microfinance program that includes financial services like loans, payment services and insurance will help create jobs for OFWs families who generally belong to poor and low income households. “Our government must dedicate resources to creating jobs, lowering prices, and increasing wages to help our OFW community,” Cayetano said as renewed his call for an establishment of the Department of OFWs to help address the issues of job creation, lowering prices, and increased wages that affect the OFWs and their families. “The 10 million OFWs who have sacrificed to provide for their families and contributed back to our economy deserve our respect and our support. We must work tirelessly to create jobs, increase wages, and lower prices so that more Filipino workers can join their families and thrive in this growing economy,” he said. He added:”From Syria alone, already 4,305 OFWs have been repatriated since 2011 as a result of the escalating tensions in the area. We need to equip them with means to address our country’s pressing issues felt in the grassroots such as high prices, lack of jobs, and low income now that they’ve come home.”‐beef‐up‐lending‐schemes‐skills‐training‐ for‐ofws‐‐cayetano   

PH to host APEC in 2015 Published : Sunday, June 09, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 68 

The Philippines’ hosting of the World Economic Forum on East Asia next year would be preparatory to a bigger hosting event -- the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 2015. Thus President Benigno S. Aquino III said yesterday. President Aquino told Palace reporters that preparations for next year’s WEF East Asia Summit are already underway, and that he expects the country to be “very, very ready” by then. “Hindi ko naman sasabihing today we are ready, but by the time we will be hosting it, we will be very ready. And of course, that is only preparatory for the bigger hosting event, which is APEC in 2015,” the President said. The Philippines will play host to the 2015 APEC Summit. This year’s host is Indonesia, and in 2014, it would be China. “Continuous ang mga meeting, designation of people, ’yung estimated na expenses, ang mga kakulangan natin na pinupuno. So again, we expect to be very, very ready by the time we host it,” the President added. President Aquino on Friday attended the closing plenary of the WEF East Asia Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, and he personally invited the delegations who attended the forum here to come to the Philippines next year. Efren Montano‐ph‐to‐host‐apec‐in‐2015           

It’s not rainy season yet -- Pagasa Published : Sunday, June 09, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 73  Written by : People's Tonight 

THE Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) yesterday clarified that it’s not officially rainy season yet despite the entrance of Tropical Depression Dante into the country. A radio report quoted a PAGASA weather forecaster as saying that although southwest monsoon could already be felt, it doesn’t fit into the five criteria which would make weather authorities declare that the rainy season has started. One of the criteria is five consecutive days of rain. Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Dante is expected to bring rains to Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Dante was last spotted 800 kilometers east of Baler, Aurora, and is moving north-northwest at nine kilometers per hour. It is packing maximum winds of 45kph near the center and is expected to intensify within the next 24-36 hours, said PAGASA.‐its‐not‐rainy‐season‐yet‐pagasa                 

SSS bares new guidelines on retirement benefits Published : Sunday, June 09, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 262 

The Social Security System has announced its new guidelines on contribution payments of voluntary members aged 65 and above who lack the required 120 monthly SSS contributions mandated by law to qualify for retirement pensions. SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr. made the announcement and called on members who are 65 years old or over prior to April 1, 2013, but have not reached the required member contributions of 120 months to qualify for retirement pension, to continue paying the remaining months but they must first file an application on or before July 1, 2013. “Members affected by the new policy must file an ‘Application for Voluntary Payment of Contributions for Members Aged 65 and Over’ within the prescribed period so they can complete their 120 contributions and be eligible for retirement pension. Otherwise, they can only receive a lump sum benefit instead of the lifetime SSS pension,” De Quiros said. Under the Social Security Law, members aged 60 and above must have at least 120 months contributions to qualify for retirement pension. Those with less than 120 will be entitled to a lump sum retirement benefit equal to the total amount of paid SSS contributions plus interest. “With these new rules, members facing technical retirement can continue to pay contributions to be eligibile for pension benefits. At the same time, this allows SSS to keep the fund viable by ensuring that retirement pensions are funded by the requisite contributions,” he added. The new guidelines also state that members who will turn 65 years-old on or after April 1, 2013, shall be allowed to continue paying contributions to qualify for retirement pension, provided that the member must have been covered by SSS at age 55 or earlier, and must have at least 80 monthly contributions by age 65. De Quiros said those who have not been covered before age 55 cannot complete the 120 contributions.

Also, they must file the same application form within the month following their 65th birthday if they intend to complete the required 120 contributions before filing their retirement claim. “As an example, the deadline of application for a member who turns 65 on May 1, 2013 will fall on June 30, 2013. We want to emphasize that failure to file the application form on or before the deadline will bar the member from completing the 120 contributions,” De Quiros said. Joel dela Torre‐sss‐bares‐new‐guidelines‐on‐retirement‐ benefits                   


2013 06 09 quedancor daily news monitor