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Low floor price stops smuggled rice auction By Mar S. Arguelles Inquirer Southern Luzon 11:08 pm | Saturday, June 15th, 2013 LEGAZPI CITY—The auction of 94,000 bags of rice smuggled into this city’s port from Vietnam has been suspended after Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon found the floor price to be too low, according to Bureau of Customs officials here. Leovigildo Dayoja, Legazpi district collector, said the auction was suspended after lawyers of the cooperatives that brought in the rice wrote a letter saying the floor price of P88 million for the shipment is too low. Biazon gave the suspension order on May 14 after he was told that the floor price should be at least P94 million. Mark Jon Palomar, lawyer for the cooperatives, said the floor price of P88 million was less than the shipment’s total landed cost of P138 million. Palomar said the government would lose P30 million to P40 million if it offered the shipment at P88 million. Dayoja said to resolve the issue on the floor price, Biazon requested the National Food Authority (NFA) to determine the correct floor price. Biazon also asked the NFA to conduct thorough laboratory tests on the condition of the commodity to dispel rumors that the rice shipment was rotting. The suspension also came amid reports that the notice of auction was “tailored fit” for one bidder. Dayoja, however, said the bureau held a prebidding conference and only one was found to be qualified. A customs source said the bidder was Purefeeds. The cooperatives involved in bringing the shipment in are automatically disqualified from the bidding. Dayoja said the bureau had spent P3 million so far on the rice shipment, which was seized on Sept. 2 last year. Danilo Lim, deputy customs commissioner for intelligence, in an inspection last March found that most of the consignees were “for hire” cooperatives being used by rice smuggling syndicates. Lim said the agency had been closely checking areas considered as “high-risk” countries for smuggling such as Vietnam, India and Thailand. auction#ixzz2WRGBMoWI

SRA to adjust US sugar export allocation Category: Economy   Published on Saturday, 15 June 2013 18:46   Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent   THE  Sugar  Regulatory  Administration  (SRA)  on  Friday  said  it  may  adjust  sugar  allocations  for  the  next  crop year in response to the slower shipments of the commodity to the US market.  SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista‐Martin said the Philippines still maintains its net sugar exporter  status but shipments to the US may decline next year due to the oversupply that led to lower prices of  “A” or US quota sugar.  “Right now, Philippine sugar is not attractive as compared to our Mexican counterparts, who enjoy zero  tariff and zero quota to sugar being sold to the US,” Martin said.  Manila has a regular US sugar quota of 138,827 metric tons (MT) this year but was only able to ship out  27,160 MT to the US, while another shipload of 23,600 MT tons is set to leave by the end of June.  A third and final shipload is being worked out by exporters, Martin revealed. “That is why we are now  considering various options we can take to dispose the remaining volume, which has been committed to  US sugar quota,” she noted.  Martin said SRA is considering an early shipment to Washington, while lowering allocation for US sugar  quota for the next crop year.  Another  option,  she  stressed,  is  to  allow  the  conversion  of  “D”  or  world  market  sugar  to  alternative  feedstock  for  biofuels.  “It  is  possible  that  the  ‘D’  sugar,  which  is  exported,  will  instead  be  bought  by  biofuel producers,” she said.  In another interview, SRA Board Member Jesus Barrera said the target export volume of 180,000 MT to  the world market would be attained this year, with 141,000 MT ready for shipment as of this month.  As of June 2, sugar domestic production reached 2.448 million  metric tons  (MMT), 0.6 percent higher  than SRA’s second production estimate of 2.434 MMT for crop year 2012‐2013.  “This will further increase as three mills are still grinding and some mills that earlier stopped milling are  set to restart by early August,” Barrera added.  The increase in sugar production may be attributed partly to the increase in area planted to sugarcane,  about  4,000  hectares,  and  by  favorable  weather  conditions  that  led  to  better  sugar  yield  and  cane  tonnage. 

Martin said the domestic consumption of raw and refined sugar have increased by 15 percent and 9.5  percent, respectively.  Thus,  the  raw  sugar  stock  balance  is  2.65  percent  lower,  while  refined  sugar  stock  balance  is  12.72  percent higher compared to the same period of the previous crop year.  “High  demand  of  sugar‐based  products  during  the  election  season,  stable  domestic  prices  and  the  intensified  anti‐smuggling  efforts  of  the  current  administration  in  partnership  with  the  private  sector  have triggered the increase in the domestic consumption of sugar,” Martin added. The average millsite  prices of “A” sugar in May 2013 is P643 per 50‐kilo bag compared to “D” sugar, which is P715 per 50‐kilo  bag,  while  “B,”  or  domestic  sugar,  is  P1,435  per  50‐kilo  bag,  which  translates  to  a  composite  price  of  P1,298.  SRA  classifies  sugar  into  “A”  for  sugar  for  export  to  the  US,  “B”  for  domestic  consumption,  “C”  for  reserves, “D” for export to countries other than the US and “E” for local food processors.

Calata, Argentinian partner set up fully mechanized Isabela corn farm By Melody M. Aguiba  Published: June 16, 2013  

Listed firm Calata Corp. has set up the country’s first fully-mechanized corn farm over a 300hectare land in Echague, Isabela in a P300 million partnership with Argentinian Siembra Directa Corp. (SDC). The farm seeks to transfer direct planting technology that has been observed in Argentina over the last 25 years. Argentina is world’s third largest corn producer, just next to the United States and Brazil. Argentina’s national average yield for corn is nine to 10 metric tons (MT) per hectare. The Echague farm expects a yield of just at least 20 percent higher than usual yield in the area of three MT per hectare. It puts under trial the technology that also uses the corn borer-resistant Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn. Given a successful trial period, Calata will replicate the 100 percent mechanized model all over the Philippines. “We will first expand it on 1,000 to 2,000 square meters. Then we can do it in other areas,” said Calata President Joseph Calata in a farm launch. The farm has brought in equipment from Argentina as customized for the Philippine condition. It employs a mechanical planter that can plant seeds and apply fertilizer at the same time. The planter has a capacity of 20 hectares per day. It ensures planting seeds for maximum land use. It uses a fumigator that stretches over 22 meters, spraying herbicide or pesticide. Direct planting contributes to land’s sustainability and environmentally-sound farming, according to SDC President Nico Bolzico. Tilling only happens once, and farrowing is no longer employed after this, enabling soil regeneration. “It is a zero tillage farming system. With tillage, soil nutrients are lost. You waste on water as you till (water evaporates),” said Calata. Harvesting will also be revolutionary. “When we start harvesting, the harvester will put back the corn stalks and cobs into the soil which will become organic fertilizer in the soil,” said Calata.

The other advantages of direct planting are reduction in soil erosion, use of virgin lands, higher and more stable yield, and higher use efficiency and storage of water. The product of the farm’s mechanized harvester will be corn in the form of kernels, rather than just cobs. Engr. Esteban De Lorenzi, SDC machine expert, said planting in the mechanized system cuts cost by 40 percent. Usual Philippine planting cost for corn is P7,000 per hectare with the use of labor and carabao as tractor. The SDC planting system consists machinery use, diesel, and labor. Its cost is only P4,216. Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Corn Coordinator (Region 2- Isabela, Cagayan Valley) Orlando J. Lorenzana said DA will look at how to adopt the Calata farm technology. “The government is acquiring tractors at P1.5 million each. This farm uses an even cheaper technology. We might as well look at it,� said Lorenzana. Lorenzana said expansion potential of a good technology is big in Isabela. The province contributes 25 percent to total national corn output. It has 246,000 hectares planted to corn, producing 1.86 million MT yearly or 900,000 MT per season. Bolzico said the Philippines may have the capacity to adopt to the technology that has made Argentina a top corn exporter. Its entire produce uses the genetically modified Bt corn. Its total production is more than 20 million metric tons (MT) per year of which more than 30 percent is exported.,_Argentinian_partner_set_up_fully_me chanized_Isabela_corn_farm#.Ub6eU9iveKE

Fertilizer prices fall in May By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 16, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The average dealers’ price of four fertilizer grades fell month-on-month and year-on-year in May, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) reported. Data released by BAS late Friday showed that this was caused by the reduction of prices in most regions. The monthly average dealers’ price of Urea in May was placed at P1,194.51 per sack, down 0.54 percent from the previous month’s price level and 8.68 percent from the price in the same period last year. In most regions, Urea prices were lower than the previous month’s levels. The biggest price cuts were recorded in Zamboanga Peninsula and SOCCSKSARGEN with respective price reductions of 3.54 percent and 3.22 percent. Urea prices in Davao Region and ARMM remained at the previous month’s price levels. The average dealers’ price of Complete in May was P1,238.16 per sack. Prices slid by 0.21 percentand 2.56 percent month-on-month and year-on-year respectively.

In most regions, prices went down by 2.0 percent from the previous month’s records. The biggest markdown was noted in Zamboanga Peninsula at 1.13 percent. Prices of Complete in ARMM remained at last month’s price levels. The monthly average dealers’ price of Ammosul was placed at 750.86 per sack in May, down by 0.44 percent and 2.27 percent against month-on-month and year-on-year. Month-on-month, prices in most regions fell - by 0.09 percent in Cagayan Valley and by as much as 2.08 percent in Zamboanga Peninsula. In ARMM, Ammosul retained April’s price of P760 per sack. The average dealers’ price of Ammophos in May 2013, meanwhile, was placed at P1,088.47 per sack. This was down by 0.21 percent mon-on-month and by 2.19 percent year-on-year. Ammophos prices were lower in most regions. Reductions ranged from 0.06 percent in Bicol Region to 2.40 percent in Zamboanga Peninsula. Prices in ARMM were unchanged.

Philippine eagle still ‘critically endangered,’ says DENR exec Category: Regions   Published on Saturday, 15 June 2013 18:37   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga  

THE Philippine eagle remains to be a critically-endangered species and the government needs the support of the public to ensure their survival, a senior official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said. Environment Undersecretary for Field Operations Demetrio Ignacio Jr. said hunting and the massive destruction of their natural habitat remain the biggest threats to the Philippine eagle. Ignacio said the recent discovery of their existence in Apayao and the rediscovery in the province of Leyte where the Philippine eagle was believed to have been extinct, offers a ray of hope for the majestic bird of prey. “Many still see the Philippine eagle as just a bird. Of course, we know it is a bird but the Philippine eagle is more than just a bird. It has a very high sociocultural value. It has been part of culture of indigenous peoples. It also has economic value because it helps regulate animal population. Politically, it is also important. It is one of the largest eagles in the world. It is big, very strong. It takes two to three persons to subdue it. It is a national symbol,” he said. Sadly, Ignacio said until now, the Philippine eagle is being hunted down by poachers. “The Philippine eagle is not a delicacy. They are being hunted not for food, but for trophy. We need public support to stop this kind of activity. We appeal to the public to help stop hunting of the Philippine eagle,” he said. The official underscored the need for all Filipinos to protect and conserve the Philippine eagle, it still being most endangered among endangered wildlife species in the country. Ignacio said while there is no evidence that the number of the Philippine eagle in the wild has increased over the past three decades, the fact that there have been sightings in Apayao, which is not known to be inhabited by such predatory bird, and in Leyte, where the last sighting was recorded more than 30 years ago, indicate the successful protection and conservation effort of the forests by all stakeholders in the areas. According to Ignacio, the flagship reforestation project of the Aquino administration, the National Greening Program (NGP) will help ensure the survival of the Philippine eagle.

Over the past two years, the government was able to plant more than 240 million trees in more than 350,000 hectares, surpassing the accomplishment of the government in the past two decades. Perry Ong, a professor of Biology at the University of the Philippines, said recent study conducted in Leyte revealed that the forests where the Philippine eagle was sighted early this year is inhabited by potential preys, like wild pig, monkeys and snakes. Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) said it is estimated that there are 340 pairs of Philippine eagles in the wild that need protection. She underscored the important role of the Philippine eagle in the ecosystem as “an ecological barometer on the state of the forest ecosystem.” “Their presence in the forests connotes a sustainable, rich and biodiverse environment,” she said. The hunting for Philippine eagle, Lim said, is prohibited by Republic Act 9147 of 2001, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. The law imposes a fine of imprisonment from six to 12 years and a fine of P100,000 to P1 million. The DENR-PAWB is implementing the Philippine Raptors Conservation Program (PRCP). Established in 1990, the program aims to raise the awareness, conserve and protect the Philippine eagle and other species of raptors through information campaigns. The government is in partnership with several environmental groups, including the Philippine Eagle Foundation, Haribon Foundation and the University of the Philippines-Institute of Biology in protecting and conserving the Philippine eagle. Through the PRCP, Lim reported that an average of 30 eagle pairs are recorded each year in identified Philippine eagle territories, especially during the breeding season. The program also promotes the establishment of community monitoring groups and created Regional Eagle Watch Teams to boost the government’s protection and conservation efforts.

Ilocos Sur mayors urged to help farmers By Teddy Molina (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 16, 2013 - 12:00am CANDON CITY, Philippines – Comebacking Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson yesterday called on the newly elected mayors in the province’s second district to help farmers by subsidizing their fertilizer and other farm input requirements for the next planting season. A former House deputy speaker, Singson said the fund subsidy could be appropriated from each municipality’s share from the tobacco excise tax revenues collected yearly by the national government. The national government is mandated by law to allocate 15 percent of tobacco tax proceeds to tobacco producing provinces which has reached about P30 billion last year. Singson said the farmers could no longer afford the rising costs of fertilizer, insecticides, fuel, and water needed for their farms. “It’s time for us to extend more extensive assistance to them. Let us all join hands for this cause,” he told the mayors who attended his birthday celebration yesterday at the Candon Civic Center.

Agri seminar By Nonoy E. Lacson  Published: June 16, 2013  

PAGADIAN CITY – The Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) of the Region-9 office of the Department of Agriculture (DA-9) recently conducted a seminar on Entrepreneurship for Food Terminal Project Operators. AMAD chief Ferdinand Gamorot said the seminar was attended by about 76 participants coming from the Barangay Food Terminal (BFT) in Zamboanga del Norte, and in Zamboanga del Sur, and was held at a resort in the Tuburan District of this city. Gamorot has kept the participants abreast with the food terminal project in the Zamboanga Peninsula, and stressed that the entrepreneurial skills of the BFT operators is a major problem. “Aside from management training, product development, and market linkage, the entrepreneurial seminar is one of the strengthening activities, which served as a high point of AMAD for the Zamboanga Peninsula BFT to be above ordinary, if not best,” Gamorot said. The event enhances the DA’s effort to develop food terminal as a competitive enterprise, and as a venue for agribusiness investment.

DENR asked to recall permit of Camarines mining firm By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 16, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been asked to recall the mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) it issued to a mining company earlier charged for violating environmental laws in Camarines Norte. The Yinlu Bicol Mining Corp. (YBMC) questioned the DENR for issuing an MPSA to the Investwell Group of Companies (Investwell), which was reportedly charged with illegal mining and theft of minerals by the agency itself. In a press conference in Manila last Tuesday, YBMC lawyer Jobbie Barte alleged that Investwell is an “illegal miner with a dubious record.” “The MPSA is no different from giving your house’s front door key to the same man that has been caught stealing from you. How this happened in the first place should be investigated,” Barte said.

Pinoy food exporters given tips on how to conquer Singapore Published: June 16, 2013  

Tips on how Philippine food manufacturers can successfully penetrate the lucrative Singapore market were recently given by celebrity chef and food writer Violet Oon, also known as Singapore food ambassador. “Perception is reality. Which reality of the Philippines and your products do you want to showcase for the perception that other people have of you?” This was the question that Oon asked her audience of Filipino entrepreneurs last May 16 at the International Food Exhibition (IFEX) Philippines, the country’s biggest food trade fair held at SMX Convention Center. The 63-year old Oon, “sometimes referred to as the Julia Child of Singapore” according to an article in The New York Times, was in Manila to talk about how Philippine food suppliers can successfully break into the mainstream Singapore food market with a presentation titled “Winning the Minds and Hearts of the Singapore Consumer and the F&B Industry – the Challenge and the Possibilities for the Philippines.” She stated that out of a population of over five million in Singapore, approximately 150,000 thousand are Filipinos; therefore, Philippine manufacturers who only cater to Filipinos in Singapore are missing out on the bigger slice of the pie. “Are you happy with that sector of the public in Singapore? It is an easy route to take.” She cited the successful opening of Jollibee in Singapore which, she said, closes at 2 a.m. – instead of 9 p.m. – every day, because of the great influx of Filipino customers. For food manufacturers that are interested in marketing to the non-Filipinos living in Singapore, Oon stated that the road to export success requires much more work than just “importing a Filipino concept and opening your doors for business.” Singaporeans, said Oon, are well educated, hold good jobs and spend a lot of money on food – both in restaurants and in supermarkets as well as in the “wet” markets of Singapore. The city state’s leading newspaper, The Straits Times, recently published an article with the headline “Dining out – Singaporeans are region’s top spenders,” which reported that Singaporeans spend a monthly average of US$262 (approximately P10,800) on dining out and are the biggest spenders in the Asia-Pacific, followed closely by the Japanese and the Chinese. The report also identifies food courts as the most popular venue in Singapore, followed by mid-range family restaurants and cafes, fast food restaurants, stand-alone fine dining restaurants, hotel restaurants and pubs. Singapore placed third in Forbes’ 2012 list of the World’s Richest Countries and Global Finance magazine’s 2012 ranking of the World’s Richest and Poorest Countries based on GDP per capita using purchasing power parity. It is the Philippines’ fourth top trade partner with US$9.7 billion and fifth top source of investments worth US$345 million. In a 2012 report on the global wealth management industry by international management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, Singapore occupied the top spot in having the highest

density of millionaire households in 2011 with 188,000 or 17 percent of households having private wealth of US$1 million or more, and was second to Switzerland in terms of ultra-high net worth households with 10 out of every 100,000 having more than US$100 million in private financial wealth. According to Oon, these wealthy and sophisticated consumers are turning away from “produced food” (products churned out with the use of modern techniques and machines) and are now more inclined to buy food items produced through old-fashioned farming techniques. She added that Philippine manufacturers are going in the right direction in producing goods for the international gourmet market – products that are “organic, natural, traditional.” Artisanal, she said, is the byword of the sophisticated consumer. “These old-fashioned techniques, combined with an educated, modern entrepreneur can only be a winning formula,” Oon said. _conquer_Singapore#.Ub6dydiveKE

National Newsbits for June 16,2013 Published: June 16, 2013  

SUGAR DEMAND SEEN TO INCREASE The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has seen an increase in the domestic consumption of sugar, citing as one of the reasons the high demand for sugar-based products last election. SRA Administrator Gina Martin said sugar production has reached 2.448 million metric tons (MT) as of June 2, which is 0.6 percent higher than SRA’s second production estimate of 2.434 million MT for crop year 2012-2013. “This will further increase as three mills are still grinding and some mills that earlier stopped milling are set to restart by early August,” Martin said. The agency cited that the increase in sugar production may be attributed partly to the increase in area planted to sugarcane, which is about 4,000 hectares more and by favorable weather conditions, which gave better sugar yield and cane tonnage. It was also noted that domestic consumption of raw and refined sugar has increased by 15 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively. This brings raw sugar stock balance 2.65 percent lower, while refined sugar stock balance 12.72 percent higher compared to the same period of the previous crop year. (Ellalyn B. de Vera),2013#.Ub6YCti veKE

CA rules against Bt eggplant By Edd K. Usman  Published: June 16, 2013  

Manila, Philippines --- As the global battle between “pro” and “anti” advocates of genetically modified organisms or GMOs continues, molecular biotechnology in the Philippines suffered a big blow with the Court of Appeals (CA) order for a permanent stop to genetic engineering of eggplant. The CA decision on the petition filed on April 26 with the Supreme Court by Greenpeace and a farmers' organization ordered the stop to the field testing of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) talong nationwide. “It is clear that there is no full scientific certainty yet as to the effects of the Bt talong field trials to the environment and the health of the people. Consequently, the field trials of Bt talong could not be declared by this Court as safe to human health and to our ecology, with full scientific certainty, being an alteration of an otherwise natural state of affairs in our ecology,” the CA’s Special 13th Division said in its ruling dated May 17, 2013. As such, the CA upheld what is called the “precautionary principle.”

Gov’t hit over high unemployment rate in rural areas By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 16, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - A group of militant farmers has criticized the government for not prioritizing rural development, which they said produced a huge number of unemployed Filipinos. The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said the Aquino government only promoted business assisted programs that produced low income for farmers and deprived lands to tillers. UMA chairperson Lito Bais said they are not expecting President Aquino to address the high unemployment rate in the countryside. “Agricultural workers together with the rest of the rural folks should not depend on the grace of the President. He had shown his true color in the Hacienda Luisita issue,” he said. The group also pointed out that landlessness in the countryside is still the main cause of massive unemployment. They said in an economy which is basically agricultural, the lack of lands to be distributed among the rural folks is equal to growing unemployment. “Yet even if a small percent of them find ways to hold jobs, they still face the problem of job security, decent wage and benefits,” Bais said. According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), rural workers are among the lowest salary earner and among the poorest in the countryside. “The entire agriculture sector posted the lowest labor productivity rate of only P56,728 in 2012, way below the industry and services sectors’ rates of P351,024 and P181,850, respectively, “the NSCB said. It said farmers were only paid an average of P156.8 a day in 2011 while fishermen took home P178.43. The same NSCB report said that agriculture employs more than a third of the country’s labor force and the high incidence rate of poverty in the sector is not a surprise. “Given the low labor productivity and wage rates, it is not surprising that across basic sectors, poverty incidence is highest among fishermen and farmers at 41.4 percent and 36.7 percent,

respectively, in 2009, way above the poverty incidence for the whole country at 26.5 percent in 2009,” the report said. Bais criticized the government’s plan of colla-borating with local and foreign agricultural companies to increase jobs in the countryside. “Selling our agricultural lands to the highest bidder will further decimate job opportunities in the countryside,” he said. He said the government should implement a genuine land reform that gives farmers enough support and power to make their land productive on their own way. “Only through a genuine land reform can the problem of unemployment be resolved particularly in the countryside,” Bais said.

Jinggoy expects continued probe on gov’t irregularities By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 16, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Jinggoy Estrada expects the Senate to continue conducting investigations into various irregularities in government in the 16th Congress as part of its oversight functions. Estrada, the acting Senate president until the opening of the 16th Congress on July 22, said that the inquiries conducted by the Senate, particularly by the committee on accountability of public officers and investigations or Blue Ribbon, remain relevant and are not a waste of time based on the observations of critics. In an interview over ANC yesterday, Estrada said that the Senate investigations have led to the prosecution and incarceration of various personalities involved in alleged misdeeds such as the plunder of public funds. He cited the cases of former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and his wife Erlinda, who were accused of stashing away millions from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). At the conclusion of the probe into the issue of corruption in the AFP, the Blue Ribbon committee recommended the filing of plunder charges against former AFP chiefs Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu, Ligot and another former comptroller, Carlos Garcia. Estrada lamented that the Ligots were eventually charged with tax evasion only, contrary to what the Senate recommended. “I wanted it to be plunder because they accumulated a lot of money during his stint as comptroller of the AFP. And the wife is always traveling together with the wife of the late Secretary Angie Reyes. They traveled 40 to 50 times in and out of the Philippines, and they went to the United States, Hong Kong, they went to Singapore, Europe. That’s very glaring. That’s why it was quite disappointing for me when I read in the papers that the Ombudsman dismissed the cases filed by (former AFP budget officer) Col. (George) Rabusa,” Estrada said. Senator Teofisto Guingona III, Blue Ribbon chairman, said that a lot of recommendations of the Senate were followed by the Ombudsman and that charges were filed against the concerned officials. Apart from the AFP corruption issue, the Blue Ribbon committee in the 15th Congress also looked into the irregular purchase of secondhand helicopters by the Philippine National Police, the misuse of funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, the questionable loans granted by the former board of the Development Bank of the Philippines to businessman Roberto Ongpin, and the fund scam over the Malampaya gas deposit in Palawan.

Guingona hopes the work he did as Blue Ribbon chair would be judged based on the impact it had on the lives of the people. Sen. Franklin Drilon, likely to be elected Senate President in the 16th Congress, has stated that the Senate would remain an independent body as it has been over the past decades. Drilon pointed out that the Senate is composed of 24 “independent republics,” referring to the senators, who he said will not be swayed by Malacañang regardless of their political affiliations. “We will exercise our independent judgment on any issue that is brought to us and as a body, we will exercise our collective judgment,” he said. Meanwhile, Estrada also disclosed that he would treat his half-brother incoming Sen. JV Ejercito without special preference once the 16th Congress convenes in July. “When the 16th Congress opens on July 22, I will treat him as a fellow colleague,” Estrada said. The two sons of former President and now Manila mayor-elect Joseph Estrada are expected to work together in the new Senate minority bloc after Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile resigned as Senate president before the adjournment of session last week. “It’s okay. No problem. If he asks for my opinion, guidance, I will be more that willing to guide him being a neophyte senator and I being a senior member of the chamber,” Estrada said. Estrada admitted that he could not recall the time when animosity between him and JV started since they used to play together during Sunday reunions at the house of their grandparents in San Juan when they were younger. Earlier, Estrada was said to be wary about having JV as his seatmate in the Senate. – With Christina Mendez


Traders seek more govt support to boost exports Category: Top News   Published on Saturday, 15 June 2013 19:49   Written by Jennifer A. Ng  

INCREASING receipts from exports by 10 percent this year may have already become a tall order for exporters, but they said they continue to pin their hopes on the possibility that the figures would improve in the coming months. The National Statistics Office (NSO) said in a report released on Tuesday that shipments of goods in terms of value went down by 12.8 percent, or $4.04 billion, because of lower shipments of machinery and transport equipment. Export performance  in  April  pulled  down  total  exports  in  the  first  four  months  of  the  year  to  $16.12  billion, or 8 percent lower than the value of shipments registered a year ago.  “Based on the figures registered from January to April, it appears that we will be hard‐pressed to meet  the  goal  of  growing  exports  by  10  percent  this  year,”  said  Philippine  Exporters  Confederation  Inc.  (Philexport) President Sergio Ortiz‐Luis Jr. in a telephone interview.  But  Ortiz‐Luis  said  improvement  in  the  foreign‐exchange  rate,  as  well  as  the  expected  recovery  of  electronics shipments, might reverse the trend in the coming months.  In  recent  weeks,  the  peso  has  been  depreciating  against  the  greenback.  As  of  June  14,  the  peso  weakened to P43.2 against the dollar, compared to P41 at the start of the year.  Exporters  have  tagged  the  appreciation  of  the  peso  as  a  major  factor  behind  the  decline  in  their  competitiveness.  Shipments of electronic products, which accounted for 40.3 percent of the total exports revenue in April,  registered a minimal decline of 0.4 percent. This raised hopes among government officials and exporters  that the sector would rebound in the coming months.  But former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno believes the prospects for increasing exports by a double‐ digit “are getting dimmer and dimmer every month.”  “The decline in electronic product exports, which account for close to 40 percent, down from about two‐ thirds  at  its  peak,  could  be  both  market  driven  [weak  global  demand]  and  structural  [the  electronic  products  that  the  Philippines  produce  are  not  what  new  markets  demand],”  said  Diokno,  now  a  University of the Philippines economist. 

He also noted that the economic recovery of the country’s major trading partners—the United States and  Japan—continues to be weak while the euro zone is still in recession.  “In the meantime, Philippine‐China relations remain chilly,” said Diokno.  Philexport urged the government to give the sector more focus to make it more competitive.  For years, both the private sector and the government have been saying that “export diversification” was  a feasible solution to prop up earnings from exports.  “But export diversification is easier said than done,” said Ortiz‐Luis.  He said it also does not help that little funding is allocated by the government to assist exporters. If the  government is to go by the Export Development Plan jointly crafted by the government and the private  sector, Ortiz‐Luis said around P2 billion would be needed to bankroll initiatives under it.  But he said only around P500 million is allotted to government initiatives to help the sector. Of this amount, the  majority, or 80 percent, are set aside for salaries and other expenses of concerned government agencies.  “We have already been left behind by our neighbors such as Taiwan. Taiwan allocates around 4 percent of  export revenues to its exporters. Here, what [local exporters] usually get is mainly moral support,” he said.‐news/15043‐traders‐seek‐more‐govt‐ support‐to‐boost‐exports                       

Consumer confidence in Q2 hit all‐time high, BSP survey says Category: Top News   Published on Saturday, 15 June 2013 19:47   Written by Bianca A. Cuaresma  

CONSUMER optimism in the country has reached an all-time-high level as more Filipinos look forward to better employment opportunities, increased jobs from foreign investments and salary increases from April to June this year, the latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) survey showed. According to the central bank’s Consumer Expectations Survey (CES) for the second quarter of this year, consumer sentiment climbed to a confidence index (CI) of -5.7 percent—from -11.2 percent in the first three months of the year. This was the most upbeat index since the start of the nationwide survey in 2007. “The still  negative  CI  indicates  that  pessimists  continued  to  outnumber  optimists  but  the  margin  has  decreased to its lowest ever,” the central bank said in a statement.  Consumers attributed the more favorable outlook to their expectations on more job opportunities, wage  increases,  the  investment‐grade  credit  by  Fitch  and  strong  macroeconomic  fundamentals  like  the  low  inflation, stable peso‐dollar exchange rate and the growth in overseas Filipino remittances, according to  the BSP.  This upbeat outlook was seen across all three indicators of confidence in the central bank’s CES for the second  quarter of the year.  Consumer perceptions on the economic condition of the country hit its record‐high level of ‐4.4 percent  in the second quarter of this year, about 8 points higher than the outlook in the first three months of the  year at ‐12.2 percent and about 28 points higher than the ‐32.7 percent in the same period of last year.  The  BSP  said  the  consumers’  outlook  on  the  current  economic  condition  was  steady  but  will  be  more  upbeat in the year ahead.  “Consumer  outlook  on  the  country’s  economic  condition  was  broadly  steady  for  the  next  quarter  but  more  buoyant  in  the  year  ahead  as  respondents  expected  to  benefit  from  sustained  investments  in  infrastructure and social services, as well as from policy pronouncements of recently elected national and  government officials on employment generation,” the BSP said in a statement. 

Perception on the family financial situation also showed an all‐time‐high index at ‐9.6, about 6 points  higher than the first quarter of the year at ‐15.2 percent. This was also about 10 points higher than ‐ 19.1 confidence index in the same period last year.  The family‐income outlook of the Filipino consumers was also more upbeat from April to June this year,  with an index of ‐3 percent. This is the second‐highest reading since 2007, about 3 points higher than last  quarter’s ‐6.3 percent and from the ‐6.7 percent confidence index in the second quarter last year.  The outlook of family financial situation and family income, however, reported weaker confidence index  in the next quarter and in the year ahead.  “The outlook on family finances weakened in the near term and the year ahead due to the anticipated  increase  in  education  expenses  of  households  and  slowdown  in  economic  activity  during  the  rainy  season,” the BSP said.  Bianca A. Cuaresma‐news/15042‐consumer‐confidence‐in‐q2‐ hit‐all‐time‐high‐bsp‐survey‐says                             

SUNKEN FERRY: SEVEN MISSING By Joel E. Zurbano | Posted on Jun. 16, 2013 at 12:02am | 696 views 4

The Coast Guard on Saturday continued its efforts to locate and rescue the seven missing passengers of the ill-fated MV Lady of Mount Carmel that sank in the waters off Burias Island in Bicol on Friday resulting in the death of two other passengers. So far, 61 people had been rescued, 39 of whom were passengers and 22 were crew members, including the ship captain. The fatalities were identified as Carlota Singa, 50, and Erlinda Joviltado, 59, both residents of Pasig City.

A medical-team member attends to the survivors of the MV Lady of Mt. Carmel. Danny Pata The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) later identified four of the seven missing passengers as Abegail Barredo, Noan Manocan, Fe Rasping and Leticia Andaya. Coast Guard chief information officer Cdr. Armand Balilo said divers, medical and rescue teams on board BRP Pampanga, MCS-3006 and a helicopter had been instructed to check nearby towns for possible survivors of the tragedy which occurred three hours after the roll-on roll-off (RORO) vessel set sail from Pio Duran in Albay around 2:30 a.m.

The ship was en route to Aroroy, Masbate when it sank. “We requested even the commercial vessels that travel regularly to Masbate to divert their voyage and to assist in search and rescue operations,” he added. Balilo said the search and rescue teams also scoured the waters of Masbate near the site of the sinking for traces of a possible oil spill. “There is no worry about oil spill because the vessel ordinarily use diesel. But we expect to get reports immediately if our teams spot an oil spill,” he added. The 98.46-ton Carmel, owned and operated by Medallion Transport in Cebu, left Pio Duran in Bicol for Masbate with 48 passengers, 22 crew members, two passenger buses and two cargo trucks on board. Reports from Coast Guard office in Masbate said that four of the seven missing passengers were not in the official travel manifest. But Ensign Ere Mon Duruin, spokesman of the Naval Forces Southern Luzon, said the missing passengers are feared to be trapped inside the capsized ship. “There is a possibility that the 7 missing persons could have been trapped inside the ship,” Duruin said, even aerial search by the Air Force helicopters and a Navy Islander plane continue. In a television interview, ship captain Lauro Mateo said he was just a reliever for the regular captain and it had been his first trip on that route. Mateo said the vessel suddenly tilted before sinking about 14 kilometers from its destination of Aroroy, Masbate. “Tumagilid yung barko. Pagtagilid, dire-diretso kaagad. Malalim yung area dito eh. Napakalalim ng dagat.” (The boat listed on its side, and then it suddenly sank. This was a deep area, really very deep). Earlier reports said that one of the buses on board broke loose from its moorings and caused the boat to lose its balance, tilt and then sink.

But Mateo and Medallion Transport officials said this theory was unlikely, adding that everything on the ship was secured including the buses. The Coast Guard said it would form a special board of marine inquiry to conduct a probe of the sinking, which according to Balilo, happened despite the good weather condition in the area. Balilo, however, said the formation of the probe team may have to wait a few days as they are still concentrating on search and rescue operations. Accidents at sea are common in the Philippine seas because of frequent storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations. In 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker in the Philippines, killing more than 4,341 people in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster. With Florante S. Solmerin and The AP‐ferry‐seven‐missing/                            

Pinoys want line to PNoy By AFP | Posted on Jun. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 488 views 1

A local hacker on Friday posted online what he claimed to be President Aquino’s personal mobile telephone numbers, with the presidential spokesman denouncing the act as “cyber vandalism”. Aquino spokesman Ricky Carandang would not confirm if the numbers were really the President’s, or if their release on the internet had compromised the leader’s personal security or state secrets. “It’s cyber vandalism plain and simple,” Carandang told AFP. “We’re dealing with it. That’s all I can say for now.” The three “Personal Mobile Number(s)” were posted late Friday on the Facebook site of a user named “#pR.is0n3r”. The site owner urged his followers, who numbered more than 9,000 as of Saturday, to communicate directly with their president. All three phone numbers were apparently no longer working on Saturday morning when dialled by AFP. “The majority are not getting answers to so many issues. It is difficult to speak to a person through go-betweens. If we send him a letter we’re not even sure he will receive it,” the user wrote in Filipino. The author said he belonged to the hacker group “Anonymous Philippines”, which has vandalised a number of government websites in the past. The Facebook post was also linked to a Twitter micro-blog site with the same user name.‐want‐line‐to‐pnoy/      

Salceda: Look for new strategy By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Jun. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 812 views 9

Legazpi City — Solving the country’s nagging employment problem needs solutions far beyond the usual government development portfolio and fiscal policy, according to noted economist and Albay Gov. Joey Salceda. “It is time for the government to take risks, use its most potent weapon and strike hard at unemployment and poverty, the two-headed monster,” Salceda said after economic reports indicated increasing unemployment and decelerating exports. “The tool to use is institutional capacity as a binding force for wealth creation which means the administration should move beyond the usual (National Economic Development Authority) portfolio of solutions” he added. Salceda suggested that the government go after “business trophies,” especially in foreign investments by enticing major corporations from industrialized nations, like Japan, to relocate in the Philippines. The government should also “go for Miss Universe, not the 1st runner-up. This means really working on a possible visit of Pope Francis and other events that would constantly put the Philippines in the radar screen. The Albay governor also suggested that economic managers focus on sectors with the most potential like tourism, agriculture-agribusiness, mass housing and even education as an industry and not on highly contentious industries like mining. He urged the national government to “go for low-lying fruits, or where the growth is easy, because the base is lower—the countryside.” “How much growth be squeezed from the National Capital Region where in fact the solution is decongestion. This means promoting and focusing on growth areas such as Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon Tourism Development Area, among others,” he said. Finally, he urged the government to increase country’s absorptive capacity for investments through accelerated massive infrastructure implementation.

Salceda noted that the P56-billion development of the Philippine National Railway South-line from Manila to Legazpi and extension to Matnog is not even a part of the national agenda. “Let us start with an international advertising budget that matches Vietnam’s at around US$150 million, from the current puny Php 1 billion,” he added. Salceda pointed out, however, that structural injustice cannot be corrected in 3 years. “We have a fresh and good start with the President who is honestly reformist and sincerely egalitarian but his intentions, no matter how pure, are invariably negated by the rest of the dominant players in our society,” he lamented.‐look‐for‐new‐strategy/                                

Dengue hotspot: Central Visayas By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Jun. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 380 views 1

Central Visayas has emerged as the national hotspot for dengue after the Department of Health recorded 6,023 cases, representing 14.2% of the 42,207 cases reported in the country from January 1 to June 8. According to data from the DOH National Epidemiology Center, other potential hotspots are the regions of Western Visayas, where the number of cases (4,444) increased by 102%, and SOCCKSARGEN where the increase hit 126% to 3,963 cases. The Calabarzon and Davao regions were also among the regions with the most number of dengues cases with Calabarzon posting 4,742 cases (17% increase) and Davao with 4,364 cases (30% increase). On the other hand, Metro Manila posted 6,208 fewer cases with 3,073 cases during the period with Quezon City having 617 cases, Manila with 542, Caloocan with 345, Parañaque with 188 and Valenzuela with 186. The DOH said the total figure was actually a one-percent decline, but 193 of them resulted in death and the agency reminded the public of the importance of early prevention and community action. “Dengue needs urgent action and we need it now. In the absence of the usual cures and vaccines, we have to rely on the basics of early prevention and community action,” Health Secretary Enrique Ona said in the department’s Facebook page on Friday. “The battle against dengue can be won right in our own backyards but this will not be easy for each one of us,” Ona said in urging the public to rid their backyards of places where mosquitoes can breed in stagnant water. Ona said dengue cases increase because people do not clean their houses and surroundings and reminded the public of the “Four S” of dengue prevention:

Search and destroy; Seek early treatment; Self-protection measures; and Say NO to indiscriminate fogging. Ona also called on local government units to intensify the information campaign on dengue emphasizing the importance of eliminating the breeding places of mosquitoes and to mobilize the community to actively participate in environmental sanitation activities. Meanwhile, drug company Sanofi Pasteur announced on Friday that a vaccine for the prevention of dengue may soon be released before 2016 after 20 years of clinical studies. “We are very excited to be in the last stage of clinical development,” said Sanofi Pasteur president Olivier Charmeil in a statement. “We are confident that we will be the first with a dengue vaccine within a few years. A dengue vaccine will fulfill an unmet medical need and change the lives of millions of people across the world,” Charmeil added. The dengue vaccine has been evaluated in clinical studies on adults and children in the United States, Asia and Latin America during phases 1 and 2 of the development. For Phase 3 they conducted the clinical study in two areas in the Philippines namely in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City, and San Pablo, Laguna. A total of 3,500 Filipinos aged between two to 14 years old were tested with the vaccine. The subjects have already received three doses of the vaccine and are now under surveillance phases, namely the school-based and the hospital-based surveillance phases. The five-year hospital surveillance phase, which started in June 2011, was initially intended for only two years, but it was extended so they will have complete information. Alain Bouckenooghe, the associate vice president for Clinical Research and Development and Medical Affairs of Sanofi Pasteur Asia-Pacific, said that an effective vaccine is the most effective means to fight dengue.‐hotspot‐central‐visayas/

Lady banker taps rich Filipino clients By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Jun. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 357 views

Bea Teh-Tan, the newly appointed consumer business manager for the Philippines of American banking giant Citi, sees a sustained growth of the credit card industry, on the back of expanding customer base, which now includes second and third generations of original clients. “We currently have a 20-percent market share [in the credit card industry] but we definitely see it increasing this year,” Tan says.

Prior to her appointment, Tan headed the bank’s credit payment products division and managed the consumer finance portfolio, including credit cards and personal loans. She joined Citi in 1998 and has held a variety of roles including strategic planning head as well as head for cards marketing, sales and distribution. A homegrown talent, Tan has been instrumental in driving the growth of Citi’s consumer banking business by retaining its top market position in credit cards. Under her leadership, Citi launched a number of award-winning products and forged key partnerships with other industry leaders. As a result, Citi has an enviable portfolio of credit card products as well as personal loans today.

Tan was earlier recognized as one of the most promising young talents in the financial services industry by The Asian Banker. She was awarded in 2008 as one of the best bankers under the age of 40 in Asia Pacific. She graduated from De La Salle University with a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce, majoring in Economics and Business Management. She joined Unilever as a Management trainee in 1993 holding a variety of product manager roles before building a career in Citi. Tan says to sustain the expansion of Citi in the Philippines, “we definitely must work hard this year across all industries.” “Financial education also helps, we continue to communicate with our markets and we try to improve our communication to target new clients,” she says. Citi is currently the largest wealth manager in Asia, serving over 696,000 clients. Citi has 570 retail centers in 12 countries in the region and has a third of Asia’s billionaires as clients. “For the first quarter, we did very, very well… we surpassed our target,” Tan says. She says even the second and third generations of their existing clients have high interest in tapping Citibank. “These are two distinct business segments,” she says. “Citigold is one of the most successful brands of Citi in Asia Pacific, where we are widely acknowledged as the financial partner of choice by the affluent market,” she says. “We attribute our continued success to our deep knowledge and expertise not only in financial management but also in anticipating and serving every need of our clients, however, unique they are. Wherever our clients are, we ensure that we are there to provide all their needs as only a trusted global financial institution can,” Tan says. Tan says more than seven of 10 respondents in the recent Citi financial quotient survey or Citi Fin-Q expressed preference for global and regional banks.

“This affinity increased with the amount of retirement savings as they have set aside,” Tan said. “A strong majority or 92 percent want to be able to access all their financing when travelling or out of the country, while 78 percent are keen to pursue global investment opportunities,” she says. Citi has been running the survey since 2007 through research firm Big Picture Qual and Quant Research. The survey covered 3,500 online respondents across seven countries including the Philippines. In March, Tan replaced Sergio Zanatti who has been appointed consumer business manager for Citi Malaysia. She reports to Anil Wadhwani, Citi Asia Pacific head for cards and personal loans and ASEAN head for Consumer Bank as well as to Sanjiv Vohra, Citi’s country officer for the Philippines.‐banker‐taps‐rich‐filipino‐clients/                            

PH bets on high-end casinos to become top gaming hub June 15, 2013 11:27 pm

by Jhoanna Ballaran, Reporter Special Report

The coming of world-class gaming facilities sets the stage for fierce marketing battles for customers And so the game begins. With the opening of the country’s first high-end casino-resort last March, the Philippines is set to be one of the top gaming hubs in Asia. The billion-dollar industry is expected to contribute largely in attracting 10 million tourists a year by 2016, double the projected inbound visitors for 2013. One-tenth of these tourists are expected to be lured by the Entertainment City, a gaming and entertainment complex currently under construction on a 100-hectare reclaimed portion of the Manila Bay. With four more world-class casinos expected to be put up in the near future, it will be like the Strip of Las Vegas and is seen as the rival of neighboring Macau. Among these are: the recently opened Solaire Resort and Casino by Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels headed by port magnate Enrique Razon Jr.; the Belle Grande Manila Bay by the SM Investment Corporation; Resorts World Bayshore by Genting Hong Kong; and Manila Bay Resorts by Universal Entertainment Corporation, owned by Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada. Solaire was opened to much fanfare in March of this year, and the three casinos that will follow are expected to give it a run for its money. The $15 billion-worth gaming and leisure hub is expected to be in full operation by 2016 but the competition among existing casinos in the country has already started to get tougher and more exciting.

The top two gaming corporations— Solaire and Resorts World—have started to boost the gaming and entertainment industries in the country. With its exciting games and machines, plus their classy ambiance, foreigners and locals alike have flocked to these establishments to experience the Las Vegas-type of night life right here in the Philippines. Not only that—even events and concerts are held at these prime locations. From plays to operas to concerts, these casino-resorts are also known to stage performances that could only be seen overseas a few years ago. Solaire and Resorts World have become go-to destinations not only for gambling, but also for general recreation. Good sign The fairly new industry of casino-resorts has slowly penetrated the Philippine market, especially among the middle class and above. Vicente Reyes, president of the Philippine Marketing Association, attributes this mainly to the increasing quality of lifestyle among Filipinos as they have more money to spend for leisure and gambling. “It’s actually mirroring the good economic performance of the country,” he told The Manila Times. “Actually the initial sprouting of the big ticket casinos are somewhat indicative of we have a viable economy now. Now we can now afford to go to the casinos… The lifestyle is getting more sophisticated, I would say.” Reyes also noted that there are a number of reasons why people go to newer and bigger casinos— it’s not just because they want to win money, but because of other factors like the ambiance and the overall atmosphere of the place. “People flock to casinos now because of the ambiance, the feel, there is this aspirational factor. Like if you go dream big, you might as well dream big,” he said. “It’s like a moth driven to bright light.” For example, Adrian Relato, 22, goes to casinos not only to win but to enjoy. Though an occasional player, he still allots some of his money to play games. “Of course the main reason why I go there is to win,” he said. “Even though we know that no one wins in the casino, I still do it because it feels good to bet in the games.” The sophisticated and more exciting games also lure people to go to casinos. Technology has greatly helped in advancing the features and kinds of games, particularly the slot machines. Add to that the free food and beverage that add to a casino’s appeal. Some casinos—particularly the bigger ones—often serve free snacks to customers, even to non-gamers, to lure them to start playing or to keep betting. Some serve free refreshments, like sandwiches and pastas, including juices and beers. The security of the place is also a factor in attracting customers. Tracy Nicomedes, 25, prefers the bigger and newer casinos than the older and smaller ones because of the total feeling of safety once he wins—he need not think about the possibility of being mugged once he steps out of the casino. “The people [in these casinos] are much more sensible and the place is much safer,” he said. “When you win, it’s not troubling when you go out of the area unlike in low-class casinos.” Entertainment is an element, too, as not all who frequent casinos go there to gamble.

Every night, there are shows and there are even performances in the gaming area itself to entertain habitues who just want to dine or stroll inside the establishment. “We are getting more exposed to things we were never aware before,” Reyes said. “Entertainment is more elaborate and more hyped productions… they feature singers. And these are not just singers, these are singers who already have names.” In fact, the perception towards casinos in the dominantly Roman Catholic nation is slowly changing. Casinos are now more associated with leisure and first-class entertainment than with the “evils” and dangers of gambling. If not the arts, the establishments are also linked to lifestyle and the good life, as an institution that is regarded as a “part of the community,” not just a place for gaming and gambling. A high-end casino “is not a center, it’s not an establishment, but it’s really a part of the community,” Reyes said. Still lacking? The Philippines is seen as the future gaming center of the region, not just by casino tycoons, but also by financial institutions like Standard & Poor and Credit Suisse. The latter projected that the country can beat Singapore’s $5.6-billion gaming market revenue by 2018. Lawrence Ho, CEO of Macau’s Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd., said that the country has a big potential especially with the opening of the Entertainment City. “If you extrapolate that farther down the road, the Philippines, in five to six years could be the size of Las Vegas or Singapore which is about $6 billion [in gaming revenues],” Ho said when he arrived in the country last March. The gaming industry definitely has the promise of earning huge revenues. Solaire, for example, posted P578 million revenues in its first 15 days of its operations, and a huge chunk of this—or P495.6 million—came from gaming, according to data disclosed by Bloomberry. However, despite the positive reception of the institutions and the general public to these gaming centers, the country still has a long way to go in terms of marketing and institutionalizing the modern leisure and gaming industry. Reyes sees that efforts are still lacking to create the necessary infrastructure especially if the government plans to be at par with other countries like Singapore and China’s Macau. “We lack in advertising, we lack in communication, we lack the consciousness to promote,” he said, referring to the lack of direct support given by the government to the industry. For example, in Macau, the government has its own shuttle services to entice tourists to play in casinos, apart from the shuttle services by the casinos themselves. “For example, the government and the gaming centers… dun pa lang, they lack communication between the departments,” he added. “So I think there should be cooperation between the Department of Tourism, the airport authorities, the private enterprises… the gaming centers. There should a holistic effort.” Sustainability Reyes also pointed out that for the casino-resorts to become viable and sustainable, the government

should play an active role to promote and market the business since it generates revenues and employment. The state should be the one which should tie the ends to meet the market’s demand, or else, it can lead to a failure like the failed casinos at the Subic Freeport Zone. On the other hand, he also warns that the longstanding issue of corruption and mishandled crises can also hinder and impede the growth of the emerging gaming industry. “I think if our aim is to become the [casino-resorts] hub in the region, this is very viable,” Reyes said. “Andun na yung we communicate better, our English is better, we’re very hospitable people… it’s there already. I think the only detriment to it is the mother of all evil, corruption.” Apparently, corruption is one of the main worries of U.S. casino operators and the cause of the rift between casino magnates Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts and Okada. Okada, according to an investigation by former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief Louis Freeh, allegedly violated U.S. anti-bribery laws after sponsoring the trip of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chief Efraim Genuino and his family to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. “It has great potential but if you are mired with political issues, like the hostage scenario in 2010, the more recent Taiwan case, if you don’t get to overcome the image outside, then you’ll fail in attracting them [tourists and investors].” Meanwhile, the casinos that have been sprouting all over the country, especially in Metro Manila, are waging a fierce battle to win the hearts and minds of customers. Like any business, casino-resorts exist to generate profits, and putting up a high-end facility can only be considered a big gamble. But with the right mix of a right product catering to the right market (high-end gamblers) and a little bit of luck, the profits can be enormous. Unfortunately for them, there is no sure-fire formula for success. Even Las Vegas has had to switch marketing strategies over the years. About a decade ago, the gambling capital of the world tried to bill itself as a family destination. More recently, the catchphrase for the city in the US state of Nevada has been, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” How the Philippines’ own Entertainment City will try to win the battle to become Asia’s top gaming hub should be an interesting marketing case study. Will the odds be for or against the Philippines? Let the game begin.‐bets‐on‐high‐end‐casinos‐to‐become‐top‐gaming‐hub/10179/        

352 dengue cases alarm Kalinga health officials June 15, 2013 7:34 pm

TABUK CITY, Kalinga: A total of 352 dengue suspect cases from January 1 to June 1 this year had been reported to the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESU) at the Kalinga Provincial Health Office . In response, Tabuk local officials ordered residents to conduct massive clean up in their surroundings to stop the spread of the dengue-carrier mosquito. PESU Officer Jose Pardito Jr. said that such recorded number of cases is the highest in the region, and this calls for immediate intervention to stop the spread of dengue in the province. The large number of cases he said could be attributed to the improvement of case reporting or the increase of infections. Either way the public he said should be aware of the existence of the disease and must take necessary precautionary measures to prevent their families from being infected. The office of the Philippine Information Agency here said that currently, there are four types of dengue strains lurking in the province. One of these is a strain where a patient could experience bleeding within three days after getting infected. Once infected with one strain, a person could develop immunity on that particular strain if he survives, but this, Pardito said, would also place the patient in higher risk situation once infected with another strain. It is vital, he said, for the people to cooperate in the various government programs to eliminate the disease especially in cleaning the surroundings- a basic household activity. “The government is spending millions on dengue prevention from the provision of IEC materials, treated bed nets and school curtains, ovicidal/larvicidal trap kits, and chemicals for the residual household spraying. So communities should also do their part and cleanup their surroundings,” he explained. Cleanliness, he underscored, is the only means to eliminate the Aedes aegypti which is the main type of mosquito that transmit dengue. Since the eggs of these mosquitoes only thrive in clean, stagnant water which are easily found in homes and backyard these could be eliminated with regular and everyday cleaning. To realize this, everyone he said should enjoin the daily habit to Stop, Look and Listen. Meaning to stop all activities at 4 o’clock, look and clean up the breeding places of mosquitoes, and listen to the authorities’ updates and advisories. Thom F. Picaña‐dengue‐cases‐alarm‐kalinga‐health‐officials/10076/  

PH among the least peaceful countries in the world- Global Peace Index June 15, 2013 9:55 am

The Philippines was among the least peaceful countries in the world, the recent survey from Global Peace Index revealed. According Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index (GPI) 2013 , the world became “less peaceful” compared to how it was five years ago. In the new index, 162 countries around the world were surveyed to determine the levels of securities in the socities, the extent of conflicts and the degree of militarization in the countries. Based on their findings, the GPI reported that the level of peace in the world have fallen by five percent since 2008. It added that internal conflicts in countries have risen over the years and it also showed that 110 countries became less peaceful over the years. Iceland, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Austria, Ireland, Slovenia, Finland and Switzerland were the top 10 peaceful countries, the index reported. It explained that Iceland’s political stability, low crime rate and small prison population made it the most peaceful country in the world. “Europe is the most peaceful region, with 13 of the top 20 most peaceful countries,” the index said and added that “the top three most peaceful countries [Iceland, Denmark and New Zealand]” made it to the top because of their “small and stable democracies.” Meanwhile, Japan, the only Asian country that made it to top 10, were ranked six because of its good relations with its neighboring countries and its strict laws on possession of firearms, GPI said. “The three least peaceful countries are Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria,” GPI report said. “Syria’s score dropped by the largest margin, with the biggest ever score deterioration in the history of the GPI,” it added. Afghanistan landed on the last spot because, the index said, it uses a political terror scale. It added that Afghanistan scored 3 out of 5 in military expenditures and 4.1 in terms of domestic and international conflict. Although there are less people killed in the country due to internal conflicts, the index said that the country failed to secure its people. The country scored 5 out of 5 in terms of society’s security. “Embroiled in conflict and instability for much of the past two decades, Afghanistan remained far from peaceful during 2012. While two GPI indicators registered improvements [fewer people killed as a result of internal conflict and a drop in the number of refugees and displaced people], four deteriorated and the country returned to the foot of the GPI, below an improving Somalia,” it said. Meanwhile, the Philippines is still among the less peaceful nations in the world based on the results of the index. The country ranked 129 in 162 countries surveyed. The index said that the country scored two out of 5 in terms of militarization, 3.1 in terms of society’s security and 3.2 out of five in terms of domestic and international conflict.

“Ranking among the least peaceful countries in AsiaPacific, Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar all face ongoing internal civil conflict. Last year saw improved prospects for peace between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (the main rebel group on the southern island of Mindanao), when a framework deal for a potential peace agreement was signed. There are many obstacles to lasting peace, but negotiations appear to be on-track in 2013,” the index said. PEACE Meanwhile, International Peace Advocate Lee Man Hee visited the Philippines to conduct a series of talks on how to achieve peace. In a press conference at the Manila Hotel on Thursday, Lee said that the youth plays a significant role in achieving peace in a society. He said that the youth’s desire to achieve it can make a lot of difference in terms of attaining peace in a society. Lee explained that the most common victims of war were the youth, especially the young children who are voiceless in turbulent times. “It is the youth, the young soldiers, who fight and die in wars not the politicians who want the war,” Lee said. Lee, now the Chairman of International Peace Youth Group, was a war veteran of the Korean war. Lee shared that as a young boy, he was forced to enter the military to fight for South Korea. He shared that upon seeing so many of his young comrade die in the battle, he promised himself that if he ever survive he will spend the rest of his life promoting peace. Lee has been meeting with different Presidents and leaders around the world talking about drafting an international peace covenant that aims to end domestic and international wars in countries around the world. “The whole world desires peace, even the people living in North Korea desires it,” Lee said. Lee came to the Philippines to conduct a series of talk about peace and to discuss the peace covenant he was pushing to President Benigno Aquino 3rd. FATIMA CIELO B. CANCEL‐among‐the‐least‐peaceful‐countries‐in‐the‐world‐global‐peace‐ index/9984/            

Posted on June 16, 2013 10:28:57 PM

Coast Guard penalizes sailing in storms THE PHILIPPINE Coast Guard (PCG) has set penalties for violators of new guidelines on vessel movements in bad weather. The Guidelines on Movement of Vessels during Heavy Weather (MCN 02-13), published in a newspaper on June 14 and approved on June 5, aim to prevent maritime accidents and damage to the marine environment. The circular covers vessel movements during tropical depressions, storms, or typhoons. It disallows vessels of any type or tonnage from sailing, except to take shelter as necessary, when the weather bureau has raised Public Storm Warning Signal No. 1 or higher. However, as the actual effects of the weather may vary according to geography, the circular does allow vessels and motorboats to make short-distance voyages of 4 km or less in PCG-declared "special areas" such as Iloilo Strait, Tañon Strait, and the Mukas-Ozamis Route. Effective June 30, the circular also rescinds two previous circulars and imposes new fines and sanctions. MCN 01-09 was released in 2009 and covered vessel movements in bad weather but did not state penalties for violations. The new circular’s guidelines and penalties now also replace those set forth in MCN 02-10, interim guidelines on vessels on "short-distance voyages" in PCG-declared special areas. Under the new guidelines, violation "shall be a ground for immediate detention," and after due notice and hearing, the ship owner or operator and the master of the vessel will be fined depending on the vessel’s weight. For violators with vessels of 1,000 gross tonnage and below, MCN 02-13 imposes fines of P50,000, P100,000 and P150,000 for the first, second, and third offenses, respectively. Violators with heavier vessels must pay fines of P200,000, P400,000 and P600,000 for the first, second, and third offenses, respectively. Despite the difference in the fines’ amounts, other penalties for each degree of offense are the same regardless of vessel weight. These penalties range from suspension of the Seafarers Identification and Record Book (SIRB) of the master and the patron, as well as of the ship’s franchise, to cancellation of the SIRB, ship’s franchise, company license to operate, and master’s license. The circular also imposes double the applicable fine upon any vessel that intentionally takes passengers or otherwise deviates from the plan to take shelter.‐Guard‐penalizes‐sailing‐in‐ storms&id=71909

Army joins nation in celebrating Father’s Day • •

Written by Tribune Sunday, 16 June 2013 08:00

The Philippine Army (PA) joins the rest of the nation in celebrating Father’s Day today. Fathers themselves, Army soldiers scattered all over the archipelago observe this day in the most unconventional way — no dinners with family, no hugs from children and no gifts to remind them of this special day. But PA spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang stressed that geographical restrictions do not pose any hindrance to the soldiers in their efforts to reach out to their families back home. He added this is when modern communications technology, like the Internet and camera-equipped cellular phones, comes in handy. Cabangbang cited the case of 31-year-old Capt. Frankjo Boral, who is the father of a baby girl, two years and seven months old. The latter is going to commemorate Father’s Day just like other soldiers in the field — away from his family. Since joining the military in 2004, Boral has been assigned to Mindanao, first as platoon leader of Charlie Company, 33rd Infantry Battalion, 1st Infantry Division in 2005 and now as commanding officer of the 10th Special Forces Company (Airborne), 5th Special Forces Battalion (Airborne), Special Forces Regiment (Airborne), Special Operations Command. Tasked with the greater responsibility of commanding his unit situated in Barangay Tawantawan, M’lang, North Cotabato, he seldom makes it home even during special occasions. “I was lucky if I could visit them every after six months. When my daughter celebrated her second birthday, I was already in North Cotabato and failed to make it home. When she was born, I only had about 10 hours to take a glimpse at her because I had to go back to Fort Magsaysay during my Special Forces Operations Course,” he narrated. Boral is also married to a military officer. “Our job is very challenging. As soldiers, duty comes first. Last year, when work became so demanding, we had to send our daughter, Sarah Eloisah, to my hometown in Bicol. My mother looks after her,” he added. “As much as I wanted to be a hands-on father, circumstances do not permit me to be such. But I know my daughter will understand this,” Boral stressed. For soldier-fathers, one of the greatest challenges is striking a balance between family and duty. “I wanted to be successful at both,” he added.

Just like other soldier-fathers in the field, Boral will spend his day away from the persons that he loved most. This day will not go by without a phone call or a video call. “Occasions such as this remind us that more than being soldiers, we are fathers. On Sunday, I’ll spend an hour or two in front of my computer, talking to my wife and daughter on Skype. I’m excited to see new tricks or dance moves from my Sarah Eloisah,” he said. PNA‐section/item/15427‐army‐joins‐nation‐in‐celebrating‐ father‐s‐day                                  


Published : Sunday, June 16, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 369  Written by : Efren Montano 

MALACAÑANG yesterday denounced “cyber vandalism” which victimized no less than President Benigno Aquino. “It’s cyber vandalism plain and simple,” declared presidential communications development and strategic planning office secretary Ricky Carandang. Carandang was denouncing a hacker who claimed to have posted online President Aquino’s personal mobile telephone numbers. Carandang, however, would not confirm if the numbers were indeed the President’s. “We’re dealing with it. That’s all I can say for now,” Carandang said. The hacker, who calls himself “#pR.is0n3r”, listed 3 mobile phone numbers allegedly belonging to the President. The hacker, who had been involved in attacking and defacing Chinese websites at the height of the row between Manila and Beijing over Scarborough Shoal, did not reveal how he got hold of the telephone numbers. The hacker, who is affiliated with the “Anonymous Philippines”, said he knows that what he did is wrong. However, he said revealing the phone numbers online is the only way for Filipinos to get in touch with the President directly even as he bared that he has sent messages to the phone numbers he listed online. The numbers were posted late Friday on the hacker’s facebook site “#pR.is0n3r,” but Agence France Presse tried to call the numbers yesterday and found they were apparently no longer working.‐pnoy‐phone‐hacked

Don’t hold opposition’s pork, Aquino implored Published : Sunday, June 16, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 251 

OUTGOING Minority Leader Danilo Suarez has appealed to President Benigno Aquino not to withhold the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of the would-be opposition lawmakers. In an interview, Suarez said the government is doing a disservice to the constituents of the lawmakers if their PDAF or pork barrel will not be released. “Wala naman reason this time na i-hold ng Presidente ang pork barrel ng mga nasa opposition ngayon,” Suarez said. Last Congress, the PDAF of at least four members of the opposition was not released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) simply because they were critical of the Aquino administration. While former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s PDAF was released last Congress, her two sons, Ang Galing Pinoy Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo and Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Arroyo and two allies, Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay and Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco remained porkless. According to Suarez, many of the lawmakers opted to join majority bloc rather than the minority because for fear of be denied pork barrel. Every year each lawmaker including party-list solons gets P70 million PDAF. “Personal siguro ang kanyang sentimento dun sa ginawa sa kanila ng dating administration. Wala na naman yun e. Siguro nakalimutan na n’ya yun. Baka naman this time makakuha na sila,” Suarez added. And to help the constituents of the porkless lawmakers, Rep. MacapagalArroyo shared her PDAF with Dato Arroyo and Magsaysay. Out of the P33.6 million that the DBM released to her, she has allocated P3.5 million for the second district of Camarines Sur, Dato’s district. Of the P3.5 million, P1 million have funded scholarships for 400 indigent student-residents of the district, P400,000 would be for indigent patients seeking treatment at the Bicol Sanitarium and P2.1 million also for poor

patients at the Bicol Medical Center. For Magsaysay who represents Zambales’ first district, the former president allocated P800,000 for scholarships for 160 students at Comteq College and P200,000 for 40 students at St. Joseph College. Mrs. Arroyo devoted the rest of her funds to her district, giving financial assistance ranging from P100,000 to P500,000 to “indigents or victims of calamities” in various barangay communities in her district. Her bigger projects involve the construction of school and multi-purpose buildings and rehabilitation of roads costing from P1 million to P1.5 million. Jester P. Manalastas‐stories/52377‐dont‐hold‐oppositions‐pork‐aquino‐ implored                            

DoH warns NCR against dengue Published : Sunday, June 16, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 92  THE Department of Health yesterday warned residents of the National Capital Region not to be complacent against dengue despite the recorded decrease in cases from Jan. 1 to June 8 this year compared to the same period last year. Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the dengue season peaks between August and September, that is why the DoH is conducting an intensified campaign against the disease despite the noted decrease in the latest dengue surveillance report. “We should remain vigilant and eradicate possible breeding grounds for denguecarrying mosquitoes. Dengue mosquitoes easily thrive in artificial containers that are found everywhere and sometimes where you least suspect them. Old tires, puddles and empty coconut shells are favorite breeding sites for these biting insects,” Ona said. In a report, the DoH-National Epidemiology Center said a total of 42,207 cases and 193 deaths were reported from Jan. 1- June 8, 2013, which was one percent lower or fewer by 456 cases compared to the same period last year. In the NCR, there were 3,073 cases registered (6,208 fewer cases or 67% decrease)-- Quezon City (617 cases or 77% decrease), Manila (542 cases or 65% decrease), Kalookan (345 cases or 67% decrease), Paranaque (188 cases or 67% decrease) and Valenzuela (186 cases or 62% decrease). Most dengue cases recorded in the country were from Central Visayas (6,023 or 51% increase), CALABARZON (4,742 or 17% decrease), Davao Region (4,364 or 30% increase), Western Visayas (4,444 or 102% increase), and SOCCKSARGEN (3,963 or 126% increase). Ona said the DoH has signed agreement with the Departments of Interior & Local Government, DOST, and DepEd to collaborate on dengue control efforts nationwide. The DILG will lead all LGUs to implement the AKSYON BARANGAY KONTRA DENGUE in high-risk communities; DOST and DepEd together with DOH will scale up the home-grown ovi-larva (OL)-trap technology in selected, priority schools. The new set of local chief executives can easily make dengue control one of their top priorities. Lee Ann P. Ducusin‐doh‐warns‐ncr‐against‐dengue     

Solons seek stiffer penalties for carnapping Published : Sunday, June 16, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 117

RE-ELECTED lawmakers who have been pushing for stiffer penalties for carnapping vowed to refile the measure for its passage. In a statement, the authors said it is about time to enact the bill imposing life imprisonment for carnapping irrespective of the value of the vehicle. House Bill 6909, which increases the penalty to life imprisonment, was only approved on third reading on the eve of the June 6 sine die adjournment of the 15th Congress. However, time limitation gave the measure no chance of passage by the Senate. Article 27 of the Revised Penal Code (RA 3815) qualifies under reclusion perpetua, “any person sentenced to any of the perpetual penalties shall be pardoned after undergoing the penalty for 30 years, unless such person by reason of his conduct or some other serious cause shall be considered by the Chief Executive as unworthy of pardon.” Some of the authors were Reps. Jorge Banal, Salvio Fortuno, Emmeline Aglipay, Rodolfo Fariñas, Karlo Alexei Nograles, Winston Castelo, Romero Quimbo, Ben Evardone, Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, and senator-elect Juan Edgardo Angara. “The growing incidence or prevalence of carnapping which, in many cases, result in death or serious injuries to victims and innocent persons calls for a commensurate penalty. In these cases, life imprisonment,” Angara said. One key provision of the proposed measure provides for the maximum penalty without the benefit of parole to any person found guilty of carnapping by means of violence against or intimidation of any person, or force upon things and the owner, driver or occupant of the carnapped motor vehicles killed or raped in the course of the commission of the crime of carnapping. Likewise, any person who violates any provision of the proposed act shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than prision mayor in its maximum period of 6 years and one day to 12 years and a fine equal in amount to the acquisition cost of the motor vehicle, motor vehicle engine or any other part involved in the violation. Jester P. Manalastas‐solons‐seek‐stiffer‐penalties‐for‐ carnapping

UN: End child labor Published : Sunday, June 16, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 90

With an estimated 10.5 million children worldwide working in people’s homes in hazardous and often slavery-like conditions, the United Nations labor agency has called for an end to child labor in domestic work and urged decent working conditions for adolescents who can be legally employed. Marking the World Day against Child Labor, UN International Labor Organization Director-General Guy Ryder, in his speech in Geneva, said “There is no place and no excuse for child labor in domestic or any other form of work.” According to the latest figures in ILO’s report, Ending child labor in domestic work, of the 10.5 million underage workers, an estimated 6.5 million are child laborers aged between five and 14 years of age. More than 71 percent are girls, some of whom work as a result of forced labor and trafficking. Child laborers who work in the homes of a third party or employer, carry out tasks such as cleaning, ironing, cooking, gardening, collecting water, looking after other children and caring for the elderly. ILO reports that these children are vulnerable to physical, psychological and sexual violence and abusive working conditions, they are often isolated from their families, hidden from the public eye and become highly dependent on their employers. Many might end up being commercially sexually exploited. “The situation of many child domestic workers not only constitutes a serious violation of child rights, but remains an obstacle to the achievement of many national and international development objectives,” said Constance Thomas, Director of the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). Cristina Lee-Pisco‐un‐end‐child‐labor      

Tax havens posted online Published : Sunday, June 16, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 108

WASHINGTON - A massive database of private offshore banking entities that could be used for tax evasion was posted online for public use Friday by the muckraking group that first reported the files. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists said anyone can now search the records of some 100,000 companies, trusts and funds located in leading tax havens to see who could be making use of them to skirt home-country taxes. The group said it was doing so in the name of public interest and also hoped that crowd-sourcing the files would lead to more revelations about public figures who hide their money. ”Secrecy creates an environment where fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and other forms of corruption thrive. The Offshore Leaks Database helps remove this secrecy,” said ICIJ director Gerard Ryle. ”Opening up the records serves the public interest by bringing accountability to an industry that has long operated in the shadows.”The ICIJ, which first revealed that it had the huge cache of computerized files last year, has already prompted investigations into tax dodging in a number of countries, including Greece, India, the Philippines and South Korea. “Entry to the secret world is now publicly available for the first time online,” said Ryle.”It may be that the best stories are still out there. ”The release comes ahead of the G8 summit next week, where leaders of the world’s top economies will discuss a pact on sharing banking data to allow countries to fight tax evasion. The ICIJ said it did not put all of the data it has online. It stripped out personal information like email addresses, bank account numbers and phone numbers.

Some of the information on the location of offshore entities has also been held back, it said.Nor is there any financial information in the records, such as capital of the entities or profit and loss data. The data is also heavily focused on Asia and Asians, and Singapore-based or linked entities, especially Singapore-based wealth manager Portcullis TrustNet. Most of the names are not known publicly. But a search for some prominent names shows some links to offshore companies. ”Mahathir” brings up Mokhzani Mahathir, the son of Malaysia’s former prime minister, and several companies linked to him that are based in Malaysia’s offshore banking center Labuan.A search for “Chearavanont”, the family that controls Thailand’s giant CP Group conglomerate, lists several names, all apparently the children of CP chief Dhanin Chearavanont. AFP‐tax‐havens‐posted‐online                          

Php4.8M Japanese grant for classrooms Published : Sunday, June 16, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 74

THE Japanese government signed the contract for the Php4.8 million grant for the construction of classrooms in Maguindanao. Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe and Mayor Datu Salaban Diocolano of Kabuntalan town signed the grant contract for “The Project for Construction of Classrooms for Gambar Elementary School” on June 13, 2013 at the Embassy of Japan. The project, amounting to US $119, 975 (approximately Php4.8 million), is funded through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP). Gambar Elementary School in the Municipality of Kabuntalan, Maguindanao was established in 1972. During the period under Martial Law, the school was burned down and soon closed. In 1974, the school was re-opened with makeshift classrooms, but ceased its educational activities again during the armed conflict between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) due to displacement of families. Classes resumed but only on a gradual basis in 2005. Later in 2009, school operations were once again interrupted due to rido (clan wars). It was not until 2011 that school operations normalized after the peace and order situation in the municipality stabilized. Through the GGP, Gambar Elementary School will be funded for the construction of six new classrooms. The new classrooms are expected to provide a more conducive learning environment and enable each grade to have an individual classroom instead of multi-grade classes being held in one classroom. It is also expected that the project contribute to uplifting the livelihood of conflict-ridden families by providing educational opportunities to their children. Cristina Lee-Pisco‐php48m‐japanese‐grant‐for‐classrooms    

2013 06 16 quedancor daily news monitor  
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