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Aquino signs law on agriculture modernization ( | Updated June 17, 2013 - 7:00pm MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - President Benigno S. Aquino III has approved the law that will further modernize the agriculture and fisheries sector, the presidential palace said today. The Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Law mandates the state to promote the development and adoption of modern, appropriate and cost-effective and environmentally-safe agricultural and fisheries machinery and equipment to enhance farm productivity and efficiency in order to achieve food security and safety and increase farmers' income. The Department of Agriculture (DA) will craft a five-year National Agri-Fishery Program to promote a conducive-environment for the local assembling and manufacturing of equipment for agricultural and fisheries production, processing and marketing. Local government units, through an ordinance, shall also formulate in consultation with the DA and implement their respective provincial, city and municipal agricultural and fishery mechanization plans as a vital component of their respective local development plans. The use of renewable and nonconventional energy such as wind, solar, hydro, biomass and other farm-based energy sources shall be promoted as power sources for the operation and maintenance of agricultural and fisheries machinery, according to the law. All manufacturers, fabricators, assemblers and importers must register with the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering within six months upon enactment of the law.

Luisita land distribution to push through DAR ( | Updated June 18, 2013 - 9:54am MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agrarian Reform on Tuesday maintained that the scheduled distribution of land to farmworker-beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita will push through despite the deadlock on the special audit in the sugar estate. The DAR also described as “baseless and unfounded” the allegations that it has asked the Supreme Court to include two new parties in the “special audit” of Hacienda Luisita Inc. and the Centenary Holdings Inc. DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said the process of land distribution in Hacienda Luisita, a property owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III, is distinct and separate from the special purpose audit of pertinent financial records of HLI and CHI. “There is no truth to allegations by a farmers’ group in Hacienda Luisita that the impasse on the special purpose audit is delaying the land distribution schedule in the sugar estate,” Parungao said. Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita said the DAR’s urgent motion filed with the High Court last month was intended to delay the scheduled land distribution in Hacienda Luisita in the middle of the year. Parungao said DAR, through the Office of the Solicitor General, filed last May 27 the urgent motion to clarify various issues arising from the special purpose audit ordered by the latter of the pertinent financial records of HLI and CHI. The DAR’s move was prompted by the recent impasse in the process to select a reputable accounting firm to conduct the said special audit, and the disagreement among the parties in the Hacienda Luisita case on which firm should be selected, after a vote last May 17 was conducted on a motion to disqualify two of the three interested accounting firms. DAR officials maintained that the special audit on HLI and CHI, with respect to the gross proceeds arising from the conversion of two lots with an area of 500 hectares and the expropriation of a portion for SCTEX, cannot proceed unless all the parties involved in the case have agreed on the accounting firm that will undertake this task. Last year, the SC ordered DAR "to engage the services of a reputable accounting firm approved by the parties to audit the books of HLI and Centennary Holdings Inc. to determine if the P1.33million proceeds of the sale of the three aforementioned lots were actually used or spent for legitimate corporate expenses.

"Any unspent or unused balance and any disallowed expenditures, as determined by the audit, shall be distributed to the 6,296 original FWBs (farmworker-beneficiaries)." Based on the High Court’s ruling, Parungao said DAR’s role in the auditing is limited to facilitating the process that will lead to the engagement of the services of an accounting firm acceptable to and approved by all the parties involved in the Hacienda Luisita case. The parties concerned, he said, include Hacienda Luisita Inc. and the various farmers’ organizations representing the farmworkers of the country’s biggest sugar estate. “Nowhere in our pleading before the Supreme Court can you find DAR’s request to include new parties in the special audit. Such accusation from AMBALA is baseless and unfounded,” Parungao said. - Dennis Carcamo

Phl-Taiwan July meeting to discuss fisheries pact - report By Camille Diola ( | Updated June 17, 2013 - 5:02pm

File photo shows Taiwanese fishing vessel M/V Lung Yuin. COOLLOUD MANILA, Philippines - A Taiwanese foreign affairs official has echoed Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's agenda to forge a fisheries agreement with the Philippines as a follow-up to the first preparatory meeting last Saturday in Manila, a report said. Related story: Phl, Taiwan agree to avoid force in sea disputes Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs director-general Benjamin Ho, in an interview with Taipei Times, said his government wants well-defined coastal areas where fishermen from both countries can operate freely. "Our goal is to sign a fishery agreement with the Philippines ... We will continue to negotiate with the Philippines [on that issue]," the Times, a major newspaper in China and Taiwan, quoted Ho as saying.

Ho added that the next meeting will likely be held in July involving both countries' fishery, foreign affairs and maritime security officials. The report added that the second preparatory meeting to take place in Taipei will "pave the way for fishery talks between the two countries." "A fishery agreement will help prevent a recurrence of the shooting of 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (槭璈従) by Philippine Coast Guard personnel on May 9," the report said. Similarly, Ma expressed earlier this month that Taiwan is looking to pattern the potential deal with the Philippines after the Taiwan-Japan fisheries agreement. The Taiwan-Japan deal around the disputed Diaoyutai Islands signed last April allows Taiwanese vessels to extend fishing zones to 1,400 nautical miles from the country's enforcement line. Related story: Taiwan wants fishing deal with Philippines Deputy Director General Cai Yao of the Department of Fisheries for Taipei and Manila Economic and Cultural Office executive director Antonio Basilio for Manila signed the minutes of last Friday's meeting, reaching a consensus on four points most notable of which is to avoid the use of force and violence in fishery incidents. The agreement also set mechanisms on chases, boarding and inspection of each party's vessels as well as grounds for arrest and detention. The meeting followed a parallel investigation on the May 9 incident at Balintang Channel off Basilan Island. Some members of the Philippine Coast Guard might face criminal charges for the fatal shooting of the fisherman.

Pangasinan town issues ordinance for organic farming Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:31 pm | Monday, June 17th, 2013 1 41 29 LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—The agriculture town of Pozorrubio has taken steps toward promoting and developing organic farming, starting with the passage of an ordinance that mandates the local government to provide funds for the venture. The Pozorrubio town council has submitted the ordinance, titled “An ordinance institutionalizing, promoting and developing organic farming in Pozorrubio,” to the provincial board for approval. During a public hearing on the program, acting town agriculture officer Clarito Corpuz said the shift to organic farming would be gradual and pilot projects that would follow the municipal organic agriculture plan would be established. “We will establish pilot projects in new areas and not those already cultivated. The Department of Agriculture and the local government will help in terms of technical support,” he said. In the public hearing’s minutes submitted to the provincial board, Corpuz said that during the transition period, production should be expected to go down, that was why the productive areas would not be used for organic farming. “We will tap new areas for this project,” he said. Pozorrubio (pop: 66,111 as of 2010) is a rice-producing town. Farmers there also grow sugarcane, tobacco, mango, vegetables, legumes, coconut, corn and cotton. Local officials said the town’s organic farming program complied with the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 (Republic Act No. 10068), which urges local governments to support organic farming. Corpuz said everyone would benefit from the program because the town would promote the use of biodegradable materials as fertilizers to reduce local farmers’ dependence on imported inorganic fertilizers. “We will also use biological control of pests so that our harvests will be chemical-free,” he said. The town has engaged in vermiculture or the use of earthworms to produce fertilizer out of biodegradable materials such as rejected vegetables, dried leaves and twigs.

The local government would support farmers in marketing their organic produce, Corpuz said. Onofre Alvendia, barangay council member in the town, has started practicing organic farming and from a hectare of riceland, he has been harvesting 150 to 160 cavans of hybrid rice. “Before harvesting palay, I scatter mongo seeds in the rice fields and these will be stepped on and buried in the ground while we harvest. After five days, the seeds will have germinated. You can harvest the mongo seeds and the plants become fertilizer,� he said. He also urged other farmers not to burn hay and instead spread this over their fields so this could mix with the soil when the land is plowed. Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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DENR, DBP tie up to boost tree‐plantation projects Category: Nation   Published on Monday, 17 June 2013 20:15   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga    

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources  (DENR) and the state‐owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) recently forged ties to boost  the development of tree plantations in the country.  A  memorandum  of  agreement  signed  between  Environment  Secretary  Ramon  J.P.  Paje  and  DBP  President  Gil  A.  Buenaventura  aims  to  ensure  the  effectiveness  of  the  DBP  Tree  Plantation  Financing  Program (TPFP), a credit facility for owners and administrators of tree farms.  The  DENR  will  provide  the  DBP  the  much‐needed  technical  support  to  enhance  its  credit  facility  to  owners of tree plantation farms in the country.  The DENR is promoting the establishment of more tree plantations in the country as part of a strategy to  protect and conserve the country’s natural forests from illegal logging activities.  Wood is used for construction as well as furniture making. The harvesting of woods for such purpose in  the forests adds strain to the already depleted forest resources of the country.  TPFP  aims  to  promote  development  and  maintenance  of  tree  plantations,  and  a  planned  approach  in  harvesting  that  will  boost  the  country’s  wood‐based  industries,  assist  communities  improve  their  socioeconomic  conditions,  arrest  the  rapid  deforestation  and  reduce  susceptibility  of  communities  to  natural disasters such as flooding and landslides.  Paje said TPFP goes hand in hand with the general objectives of the National Greening Program (NGP)— the flagship reforestation program of the government—and the Millennium Development Goals on the  eradication of extreme poverty and hunger and ensuring environmental sustainability.  “We are only too happy that the DBP is with us in this endeavor,” Paje said. 

“We  commend  the  DBP  for  its  decision  to  make  TPFP  an  integral  part  of  its  corporate  social  responsibility,” he added.  The  program  applies  to  all  existing  tree  plantations—reforestation,  forest  or  industrial—with  at  least  four‐year‐old standing trees in at least 1 percent of the plantation area of qualified private and public  land  consisting  of  five  to  500  hectares  of  open,  contiguous  area  with  existing  and  valid  tenurial  agreements with the DENR.  Under the agreement, the DENR and the DBP will jointly conduct ocular site inspection and verification  in  order  to  assess  and  validate  the  eligibility  of  the  proposed  project  site;  provide  the  needed  information concerning the project, conduct valuation of tree plantations, growth and yield projections,  and  studies  on  estimated  costs,  expected  economic  benefits  and  returns  and  assess  the  extent  of  project accomplishments.  The  two  entities  are  also  tasked  to  periodically  monitor  the  status  of  the  project  and  conduct  performance review; address issues and concerns relative to the project; and promote and market the  program.  The DBP’s primary role is to provide funding for tree plantation projects covered by the program.  In providing assistance and technical support in the implementation of TPFP, the DENR will evaluate the  suitability of project site and species to be planted within public lands to be covered by the program.  The  DENR  can  also  make  referrals  to  the  DBP  of  interested  clients  and  assist  borrowers  for  tree  plantation projects in the regulatory requirements pertaining to the inventory of planted trees, survey of  the proposed project site, certification of stumpage value of trees and issuance of tree‐cutting permit.  It  can  also  issue  certificate  of  tree  plantation  ownership  and  self‐monitoring  form  to  credit  applicants  using private lands.    In  Photo:  Environment  Secretary  Ramon  J.P.  Paje  (second  from  right)  joins  Development  Bank  of  the  Philippines  (DBP)  President  Gil  Buenaventura  (second  from  left)  in  presenting  the  cooperation  agreement they have forged for the implementation of the Tree Plantation Financing Program (TPFP) in  Makati City. Also in photo are DENR‐Forest Management Bureau Director Ricardo Calderon (right) and  DBP Chief Development Officer Benel Lagua.

Lawmaker asks: Why destroy seized elephant tusks at all? By Leila B. Salaverria Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:19 am | Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 2 32 10 Why destroy something that can be very useful? This is the contention of Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe who wants the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to reconsider its decision to destroy confiscated elephant tusks worth P420 million, saying the ivory tusks should be preserved and used for educational purposes. Batocabe said that saving the tusks would give students and the public an opportunity to study the rare items up close. “Our children might not be able to see and touch an ivory tusk their whole lives, much less a live elephant. We have ivory tusks lying around the DENR premises. Why destroy them when they could teach so much to future generations?” Batocabe said in a statement. The DENR is scheduled to crush and pulverize the five tons of elephant tusks with a road roller on June 21. Earlier, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said that destroying the ivory tusks that had been brought into the country illegally was intended to send the message that the Philippines does not tolerate the illegal wildlife trade. Adherence to convention This is in line with the country’s adherence to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of flora and fauna, which prohibits the ivory trade to stem the decimation of the elephant population in Africa. Batocabe, vice chairman of the House committee on environment and natural resources, said the ivory tusks could be donated to schools, museums and nongovernment organizations (NGOs). They could be used to teach the public about caring for endangered animals and about the dangers of the ivory trade to the welfare of these animals, he said. “Schools and NGOs would have good use for them to teach the public, especially the young generations, why the ivory trade is banned,” he said.

Stronger campaign “Our museums and NGOs would be able to use these tusks to strengthen the world campaign against the international ivory trade,” he added. According to the lawmaker, ivory tusks should not be likened to other contraband such as illegal drugs or pirated CDs, since the latter two bring no benefit to the public and could not be used for educational purposes. “These are priceless treasures that will be put to waste if we destroy them,” he said. The DENR earlier planned to set some tusks on fire in a “ceremonial burning” but this plan was dropped after clean air advocates protested that it could send the wrong message to the public— that open burning was acceptable.

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DBP to offer lending facility to tree farmers By Rhodina J. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 18, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Owners and administrators of tree farms can take part in a lending program launched by a banking institution to help develop and sustain their tree plantations. DENR Secretary Ramon Paje and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) president and CEO Gil Buenaventura signed recently a cooperation agreement to ensure the effectiveness of the DBP Tree Plantation Financing Program (TPFP), a credit facility for tree farm owners. The DENR is lending its technical expertise to help the state-owned DBP in its lending program for the development of existing tree plantation projects. TPFP aims to promote development and maintenance of tree plantations, and a planned approach in harvesting that would boost the country’s wood-based industries, assist communities improve their socio-economic conditions, arrest the rapid deforestation and reduce susceptibility of communities to natural disasters such as flooding and landslides. “We commend the DBP for its decision to make TPFP an integral part of its corporate social responsibility,” Paje said.

The program applies to all existing tree plantations -reforestation, forest or industrial – with at least four-year-old standing trees in at least one percent of the plantation area of qualified private and public land consisting of five to 500 hectares of open, contiguous area with existing and valid tenurial agreements with the DENR. Under the agreement, the DENR and DBP would jointly conduct ocular site inspection and verification to assess and validate the eligibility of the proposed project site; provide the needed information concerning the project, conduct valuation of tree plantations, growth and yield projections, and studies on estimated costs, expected economic benefits and returns; and assess the extent of project accomplishments. Both the DENR and DBP would periodically monitor the status of the project and conduct performance review; address issues and concerns relative to the project; and promote and market the program. The DBP’s primary role is to provide funding for tree plantation projects covered by the program. “In providing assistance and technical support in the implementation of TPFP, the DENR will evaluate the suitability of project site and species to be planted within public lands to be covered by the program,” Paje said.

New law modernizes fisheries, agriculture sector Category: Top News   Published on Monday, 17 June 2013 21:09   Written by Butch Fernandez   Malacañang has moved to strengthen the government’s support for the agriculture and fisheries sector  through the enactment of the agricultural and fisheries mechanization Law.  The Palace disclosed on Monday that President Aquino signed into law two weeks ago Republic Act (RA)  10601, which also promotes the use of renewable and non‐conventional energy sources such as wind,  solar, hydro, biomass and other farm‐based power sources.  The  law  orders  government  agencies  to  “promote  the  development  and  adoption  of  modern,  appropriate  and  cost‐effective  and  environmentally  safe  agricultural  and  fisheries  machinery  and  equipment to enhance farm productivity and efficiency in order to achieve food security  and increase  farmers’ income,” a Palace statement quoted Mr. Aquino as saying.  The  new  law  also  requires  the  state  to  “strengthen  support  services  such  as  credit  facilities,  research,  training and extension programs, rural infrastructures, postharvest facilities and marketing services.    It  did  not  specify  the  amount  of  public  funds  needed  to  bankroll  the  awaited  modernization  of  the  agriculture and fisheries sector, but it imposed fines ranging from P1,000 to P10,000 plus a minimum of  two months jail term for violating “prohibited acts such as lease of agricultural and fisheries machinery  not registered” with the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Engineering.  Under  the  law,  all  manufacturers,  fabricators,  assemblers  and  importers  of  agricultural  and  fisheries  machinery must register with the Bafe within six months upon the enactment of RA 10601. It provides  that registrants must provide certification from an accredited certifying body for all products sold in the  market within the next three years.  Registrants must also submit a list of local and imported equipment within a year after the enactment of  the law, it added.‐news/15146‐new‐law‐modernizes‐ fisheries‐agriculture‐sector   

Philmaize continues to hope for government approval on corn grain export Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Monday, 17 June 2013 19:39   Written by Cai U. Ordinario   Corn farmers and traders belonging to the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (Philmaize) said they are still  awaiting the government’s decision to allow them to export corn grains to other countries.  In  a  phone  interview  with  the  BusinessMirror,  Philmaize  President  Roger  Navarro  said  exporting  corn  grains is one of the opportunities that the sector has been looking forward to.  In August 2012 Philmaize asked the government to allow farmers to export around 400,000 metric tons  (MT) of corn grains so they can take advantage of good prices abroad.  “We  hope  the  government  will  allow  us.  We  have  been  waiting  for  this,”  Navarro  said.  “Whether  we  have  a  surplus  or  not,  the  government  should  allow  us  to  export  because  we  already  have  the  WTO  [World Trade Organization] and Afta[Asean Free Trade Agreement].”  In May the Philippines exported 5,000 MT of corn feed silage to South Korea. Corn silage, said Navarro,  is “low quality feed” given to growing calves.  He said corn silage is composed of 70 percent to 80 percent corn and its stalk. Everything is chopped and  ground to a pulp before being exported by container to other countries.  Allowing  the  export  of  corn  grains,  said  Navarrro,  would  increase  market  opportunities  for  locally  produced corn. He said corn silage can only be fed to cattle, unlike corn grains which can be used for the  manufacture of feeds given to hogs and chicken.  Farmers could not ship out their corn grains until the National Food Authority (NFA) council certifies that  there is a surplus of corn.  The NFA cited Presidential Decree 4 as basis for deferring any decision on the request of corn farmers.  The NFA said a technical working group has been formed to study their request  Navarro said because of this policy, the Philippines  has already missed out on opportunities to export  corn grains. He said one of the possible export destinations for Philippine corn include South Korea.  Meanwhile, Navarro said despite this, the country’s corn production remained steady. He allayed fears  that the country’s corn production was at the level when it could create a glut in market prices. 

He said while corn production is on track to attaining the target of 8.45 million metric tons (MMT) this  year,  there  are  concerns  on  land  conversion  and  climate  change  that  are  making  corn  production  unpredictable.  Navarro  added  that  many  corn‐producing  areas  in  Mindanao  that  were  affected  by  typhoon  Pablo  in  December  2012  have  yet  to  be  rehabilitated.  He  said  around  20  to  23  hectares  devoted  to  corn  production were damaged due to Typhoon Pablo.  The government is targeting to produce 5.68 MMT yellow corn and 2.76 MMT white corn this year. The  Department of Agriculture also said corn sufficiency will be achieved by 2013 with a surplus of 234,000  MT.  The government’s 2013 budget for the corn program is P1.52 billion, an increase of 60.33 percent from  last year’s budget.‐commodities/15115‐philmaize‐ continues‐to‐hope‐for‐government‐approval‐on‐corn‐grain‐export                         

Government moves to address knife‐fish infestation in Laguna de Bay Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Monday, 17 June 2013 19:38   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga   The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) forged ties with various national government agencies  to  address  the  adverse  impact  of  knife  fish  infestation  at  the  Laguna  de  Bay,  the  country’s  largest  freshwater lake.  LLDA  General  Manager  Nerius  Acosta  said  the  problem  brought  about  by  the  dreaded  knife  fish  has  reached a “very alarming” level.  “We need the help and support of other national government agencies and the private sector to address  the problem,” he told the BusinessMirror in a telephone interview.  The LLDA is seeking the help and support of different national government agencies and institutions to  eradicate the “pesky” knife fish to the extent of “exterminating” them from the Laguna de Bay.  According to Acosta, a kilo of knife fish could consume up to 7 kilos of bangus or milkfish.  A big chunk of Metro Manila’s milkfish and tilapia supply comes from fish pens and fish cages within the  Laguna de Bay.  Small fishermen have complained of the diminishing fish catch in Laguna de Bay for several years now.  Instead of indigenous fish species which they use to catch, fishermen said what they often catch now  are the dreaded knife fish.  Also, they said the knife fish destroys their nets and even the fish cages and fish pens are not spared by  these  dreaded  fish  species  that  preys  on  smaller  fish  species,  particularly  bangus  and  tilapia  being  cultured in fish cages and fish pens within the 90,000‐hectare lake.  In  cooperation  with  several  concerned  agencies  and  various  fisheries  and  aquatic  resources  management  councils,  the  LLDA  organized  a  public  forum  on  Friday  to  discuss  the  dangers  of  the  presence of knife fish in the Laguna de Bay.  The forum titled “Panganib ng Knife fish, Sugpuin, Laguna de Bai Muling Pasiglahin,” held at Taguig City  University was led by experts who presented on the issues of the infestation at the Laguna de Bay. 

Acosta,  also  the  Presidential  Adviser  for  Environment  Protection,  said:  “It  is  important  to  contain  the  freshwater invasive species to preserve the Laguna Lake’s ecosystem and protect the livelihood of the  industries dependent on it, especially the fishing industry.”  He said the knifefish infestation has affected the livelihood of 5,768 open water capture fishermen as  well as those engaged in the production of milkfish and tilapia through fish cages and fish pens.  “What we want to do is eradicate the knife fish.  It is no longer a matter of knowing what it does, but to  act decisively to eradicate them from Laguna de Bay,” he said.‐commodities/15114‐government‐ moves‐to‐address‐knife‐fish‐infestation‐in‐laguna‐de‐bay                         


PHL bans livestock from Zimbabwe Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Monday, 17 June 2013 19:37   Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent   The Department of Agriculture (DA) has barred the entry of animals from Zimbabwe in the wake of an  outbreak of the dreaded foot‐and‐mouth (FMD) disease in a farm close to a wildlife preserve.  Through  Memorandum  Order  18,  Agriculture  Secretary  Proceso  Alcala  ordered  the  ban  on  imports  of  FMD‐susceptible animals and their by‐products from Zimbabwe.  The outbreak was reported by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) after a report was filed about  the incident by the Zimbabwe government.  Dr. Unesu hidah Ushewokunze‐Obatolu of the Division of Livestock and Veterinary Services Ministry of  Agriculture of Zimbabwe said there was a confirmed clinical case of FMD in the Province of Masvingo,  District of Chiredzi, Mkwasine, Zimbabwe.  The  clinical  manifestation  suggestive  of  FMD  was  noted  to  have  affected  a  herd  of  cattle  on  self‐ contained farm close to a wildlife conservancy with wild buffaloes, the official reported.  “The FMD virus serotype, which has not yet been identified, is believed to have been sourced from the  wild,” he added.  Alcala said he has ordered the ban to protect the health of the local livestock population.  “We need to��prevent the entry of FMD and maintain the freedom of the Philippines from this disease,”  he said.  Alcala  also  instructed  the  Bureau  of  Animal  Industry  to  suspend  the  processing,  evaluation  of  the  application  and  the  issuance  of  veterinary  quarantine  clearances  for  those  seeking  to  import  animal  products from Zimbabwe.  The Philippines does not usually import livestock and meat products from Zimbabwe.  Shipments of FMD‐susceptible animals and by‐products originating from the African country will also be  stopped  and  confiscated  in  all  major  ports  nationwide,  Alcala  said.  The  Philippines  is  one  of  the  few  countries  that  the  OIE  or  World  Organization  of  Animal  Health  has  certified  to  be  FMD‐free  without  vaccination.‐commodities/15113‐phl‐bans‐ livestock‐from‐zimbabwe 

Fishermen nix proposed PHL‐Taiwan fishery pact Category: Economy   Published on Monday, 17 June 2013 20:58   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga   Fishermen belonging to the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on  Monday rejected the proposed Philippines‐Taiwan fishery pact.  The leaders of the group said the agreement, if implemented, will be disadvantageous to the Philippines  and will adversely affect the livelihood of Filipino fishing companies and small fishermen.  Pamalakaya Vice Chairman Salvador France said the proposed fishery pact is lopsided in favor of Taipei,  as  it  would  grant  Taiwan’s  industrial  fishing  fleets  unlimited  access  to  the  fishing  grounds  of  the  Philippines.  “The  fishery  pact  which  the  Philippine  government  wants  to  clinch  with  Taiwan  will  put  us  in  an  extremely disadvantageous position. It is like serving the country’s marine wealth in a silver platter to  Taiwanese fishing giants at the expense of the patrimonial, sovereign and territorial rights of nearly 100  million Filipino people. It is a colossal excuse coming from a weak government who cannot depend and  assert sovereignty and independence,” France said.  France  said  only  a  handful  of  fishing  fleets  in  the  country  could  explore  the  country’s  ocean  waters  compared  to  the  vastly  improved  Taiwanese  fishing  fleets,  which  regularly  poach  inside  the  country’s  territorial waters to fish for tuna and other high‐value marine resources.  “Taiwan  wants  unlimited  fishing  access  in  the  Philippines  and  that  is  the  real  score,  and  the  Manila  government seems ready to give in to the request,” the Pamalakaya leader said.  The  proposed  fishery  pact  with  Taiwan  will  expand  the  coverage  of  the  existing  PHL‐Taiwan  Sea  Lane  Accord signed during the administration of former President Ferdinand Marcos and was updated by an  executive  order  (EO)  signed  by  former  President  Corazon  Aquino  and  former  Executive  Secretary  and  now Sen. Franklin Drilon on August 5, 1991.  EO 473 is entitled the “Establishment of Sea Lanes for the Use of Fishing Vessels in Proceeding to and  From Their Fishing Areas in the South Pacific Ocean Subject to Certain Conditions.”  According  to  France,  while  the  intention  of  the  EO  was  to  give  Taipei  sea  passage  rights,  the  order  inadvertently allowed Taiwanese fishing vessels to catch fish in the country’s fishing grounds using that  sea passage rights. 

France  said  in  entering  a  fishery  pact  with  Taipei  now,  President  Aquino  will  “legitimize”  Taiwan’s  “ocean‐grabbing spree.”  Pamalakaya said the Aquino administration is likely to approve the request of Taiwan’s Nan Tsan Aurora  Ltd. to invest in three different export‐oriented projects inside the controversial Aurora Pacific Economic  and Free Port (Apeco) zone in Casiguran, Aurora, as a sign of goodwill with Taipei prior to the discussion  and eventual approval of fishery cooperation pact.  Nan  Tsan  Aurora  Ltd.  Inc.  is  engaged  in  agriculture,  mariculture,  aquaculture,  and  fish  and  agri‐ processing.  According to Apeco President and CEO Malcolm I. Sarmiento Jr., the agribusiness group, the largest in  Asia,  submitted  its  proposal  through  a  Letter  of  Intent  sent  by  lawyer  Johannes  R.  Bernabe,  the  company’s legal representative.  Pamalakaya learned that Nan Tsan plans to engage initially in fish processing as its priority undertaking,  for which it will lease a seaside area of 1,000 square meters where it will build and install the required  facilities and equipment. This undertaking will kick off starting the second quarter of 2013.  Talks  of  fishery  cooperation  came  anew  after  Taiwan  and  the  Philippines  pledged  not  to  use  force  in  fishing  disputes  in  reference  to  the  May  9  fatal  shooting  of  a  65‐year‐old  Taiwanese  fisherman  by  members of the Philippine Coast Guard off Balintang Channel.‐fishermen‐nix‐proposed‐phl‐ taiwan‐fishery‐pact                   

Health benefits of seaweeds eyed Published: June 18, 2013  

Digos City (PNA) – An in-depth scientific research to be conducted by scientists of an aquatic technology school will try to validate a theory that processed foods using seaweed-based carrageenan powder as a blending agent can fight cancer and other ailments like heart disease. Scientists from the Southern Philippines Agri-Business Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST) are working closely with members of the seaweed industry cluster in developing value-added products that use seaweed-based carrageenan powder on foods such as cakes, pastries, and “cured meat products” like sausage, hotdog, and chorizo. “We are trying to make these products more nutritious by adding more vitamins – while blending them with carrageenan,” said Dra. Jesebel Besas, a food scientist at the SPAMAST. Recognizing that seaweeds also contain certain elements that are considered as “anti-oxidant,” the food scientists here are expected to conduct an intensive research on the beneficial effects of using carrageenan in blending it with meat products, including traditional meat like pork or beef and processed tuna products. “It is a real possibility that we’ll try to verify and validate at our laboratories – that blending seaweed powder in processed foods can fight cancer. We still need to validate this,” Besas told consultants of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) during a recent industry meeting at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regional office. According to Besas, the seaweed industry cluster will soon link up with the various tuna processors in General Santos City, and will try to introduce seaweed-based carrageenan as a binding agent in the production of tuna sausage, chorizo, hotdog, and siomai, among others. “This could lower the cost of processing meat into various products while boosting the nutritional and health benefits of their products,” Besas told the consultants and industry cluster members. Once tuna processors in General Santos City start recognizing the “health benefits” of seaweedbased carrageenan as a good binding agent in food processing, they could become a big domestic market for the seaweed industry, according to Besas.       

Quezon opens biggest fish hatchery By Danny J. Estacio  Published: June 18, 2013  

Unisan, Quezon — The biggest hatchery in Luzon is now fully operational in this town and with Bondoc Peninsula fishermen being the first recipient of the initial batches of dispersal of “bangus” or milkfish in the coming days. Quezon 3rd District Representative Danilo E. Suarez said the Unlad Foundation, through the assistance of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), established the hatchery at a one-hectare lot in Barangay Punta, here, as part of the Aquatic and Marine Program for Bondoc Peninsula a few years back. Some 700,000 fingerlings of milkfish are set to be distributed to qualified fishermen in the district as an additional source of livelihood. Aside from bangus, pampano (first class fish) and red sniper are already laid eggs at the said hatchery, said Suarez. He said the goal of the hatchery is to produce more fingerlings of a wide variety of fish for fishermen and fish operators of mariculture parks in Quezon. iveKE

Gov’t boosts DavSur seaweed industry Published: June 17, 2013  

Digos City (PNA) — The government has committed to pour a total of P11.4 million in Davao del Sur (DavSur) to boost the growth and development of the seaweed industry in the province. This was disclosed recently by provincial agriculture officer Araceli Exclamador, a regular member of the seaweed industry cluster who oversees projects and activities of the industry in the province. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), according to Exclamador, has set aside a budget of P6.4 million to be allotted to some 2,650 families living along the coastal villages of the province, covering 66.25 hectares of shoreline and coastal waters from Sta. Cruz to Sarangani. These families are members of the Bato Seaweed Growers Association. “We’re adopting the family-based module where the father is the president or head of the business enterprise,” Exclamador said. Each family received 0.125-hectare, and an initial capital of P12,000 to start seaweed growing and production in these areas of Davao del Sur. Some materials like floaters, and twines, among others, are expected to arrive by July, this year, and distributed by the town’s fishery coordinators, according to Exclamador. Facilities for these family-based seaweed production units are also expected to be built and installed this year to include solar dryers made of concrete and wood where newly harvested seaweeds are dried under the sun. Also to be built is a warehouse near the shore where dried seaweeds packed in sacks are stored, waiting for the container van of the seaweed buyer to load them for shipment to their processing plant in Cebu. Here, the dried seaweeds are processed into carageenan powder, a gelling agent used for both consumer and industrial products, highly in demand in global markets. These two facilities will be funded by the P5 million released by the Department of Agriculture (DA), which facilitated the fund from the World Bank’s Mindanao Rural Development Project (MRDP). In another development, the local government of Sta. Cruz, also in Davao del Sur, recently inked a Memorandum of Partnership Agreement with the Region 11 office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-11) for its Land Titling Program.

DENR Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus E. Fragada said this new partnership is expected to answer the manpower problem of the DENR as far as land titling of public lands in Sta. Cruz is concerned. The project is also aimed at expediting land titling process which has over the years been solely handled by the DENR through its Land Management Bureau. (With a report from PIA) ndustry#.Ub_eitiveKE

Bataan, Subic fisherfolk intensify anti‐ pollution drive By Mar T. Supnad  Published: June 18, 2013  

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — To support the clean environment program, fisherfolk in the Subic Bay Area joined the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in its advocacy against the use of plastics and other non-biodegradable products that pollute the environment. In the recent celebration of “Araw ng Mangingisda,” members of the Subic Bay Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (SBIFARMC) said they have rallied to the call by the SBMA for a ban on plastics as their contribution to the cause of environmental protection and sustainable development. The SBIFARMC is an organization representing fishermen from communities in Subic Bay — the town of Morong in Bataan, municipalities of San Antonio and Subic in Zambales, and Olongapo City. A big part of SBMA is under the political jurisdiction of Morong and Hermosa towns in Bataan. The SBMA enforced a “no plastic bag/no styrofoam” policy among retail establishments inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone starting last January 1, and put in place stiff penalties for repeated violations. SBMA policy has been adopted by other local government units in the region, noting its good effect on the environment. SBIFARMC Chairman Restituto Del Rosario said it is the IFARMC advocacy that they would like to convey to residents, especially those living by the riverside, adding that plastics thrown into the river kill a marine resource, the source of livelihood. He added that in conjunction with its advocacy project, the fishermen’s group will plant mangrove trees and undertake regular coastal clean-up drives along the coastlines and in the sea off Barangay Baraka in Subic, Zambales and Barangay Barretto in OlongapoCity. SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said the agency will continue to support SBIFARMC in its projects to prevent illegal fishing and to preserve marine biodiversity in Subic Bay. “The SBIFARMC is our major partner in securing and preserving marine biodiversity here. We are glad that we are together in this advocacy against the use of plastics and styrofoam materials that pollute the environment,” Garcia pointed out.

The council, supported by SBMA through its Ecology Center, was deputized by Philippine Maritime Police and Philippine Coast Guard, and recognized by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as partner against illegal fishing. With financial assistance from the SBMA, the SBIFARMC was able to implement various projects, such as the manufacture and installation of 60 artificial reef modules in coastal areas of Morong, Subic Bay, and San Antonio, Zambales. The SBMA assistance provided livelihood projects to SBIFARMC members and benefited their children through a scholarship program. In the recent “Araw ng Mangingisda� celebration, the SBIFARMC organized a three-kilometer fun run to raise funds for its upcoming advocacy projects. The fun run helped raise awareness on environmental protection and marine resources conservation.,_Subic_fisherfolk_intensify_antipollution_drive#.Ub_fd9iveKE

‘Neo‐Ethnic’ PH textiles unveiled By Edd K. Usman  Published: June 18, 2013  

"Neo-ethnicism," a scientific intervention in making textiles for the Philippines' traditional weavers, is green and environment-friendly. While traditional weavers of ethnic fabrics and designs such as T'boli's "t'nalak;" Iloilo's "hablon;" Ilocos Region's "inabel:" Abra's "tiniri;" Bukidnon's "hinabol," and Maguindanao's "inaul" are using synthetic dyes for coloring, natural coloring from plants and trees is being introduced through "neo-ethnicism." It is an innovation born of the objective of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that products of research and development (R&D) should translate into a livelihood for Filipinos. DOST's Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) made the research on how to introduce innovations in the making of traditional fabrics a few years back. PTRI named the S&T intervention "neo-ethnic," an apparent reference to the balance between the traditional and the modern. Dr. Carlos C. Tomboc, PTRI director, discussed with select journalists the new way of producing traditional fabrics or designs without abandoning its roots. The occasion was the "2013 Neo-Ethnic Philippine Textiles Conference" on Tuesday at a hotel in Pasay City. Tribal communities, he said, have been weavers of the traditional fabrics, noting that the ethnic weavers are using synthetic dyes as their coloring materials. "What we did was to put in scientific intervention," said Tomboc. "Like for instance the dyes they are using. Some of them use synthetic dyes. So, we told them your practices are traditional, you might as well make it as total organic materials," the PTRI head said.Thus, he said, "instead of using synthetic coloring, we are teaching them now how to use natural dyes." He said green or natural coloring is just within the weavers' surrounding, such as from "duhat" (brown); "talisay" (yellow, black and grey); guava (black); sampaloc bark (brown); mahogany (brown, maroon); cogon (yellow); "mayama" ornamental (green), among others.

Innovative RB financing programs urged By Edu Lopez  Published: June 18, 2013  

The government has urged the country’s rural banks (RB) to implement innovative financing programs to serve more small farmers, fishermen, and rural entrepreneurs. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has called on RBAP to partner with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to implement the Agro-Industry Modernization Credit and Financing Program (AMCFP). Last year, loan releases under the AMCFP through cooperative rural banks totaled P1.12 billion, more than double the P446 million lent in 2011. This year, the DA has allotted an additional P1B under the AMCFP to be lent to small farmers, fishers, and rural entrepreneurs. “It’s high time that we consolidate efforts to further enhance growth and development for the benefit of our poor and small farmers, and I am optimistic that you will be part of it,” said Alcala. The amount of agricultural production loans has been increasing through the years, expanding by more than five-fold from P41 billion in 1990 to P231.8 billion in 2011, according to the DA’s Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC). Alcala said the DA aims to further increase the formal borrowing among small farmers and fishermen from 52% in 2007 to 61% by the year 2016. He also commended the RBAP for participating in the Agricultural Guarantee Fund Pool (AGFP), which was created in 2008 to encourage banks to lend to the agriculture sector. The AGFP provides guarantee coverage to unsecured loans extended by financial institutions and other lending conduits such as rural and cooperative banks to small farmers engaged in rice, corn and food production projects. Ub_gQ9iveKE

PDIC hosts IADI Council Meeting Published: June 18, 2013  

The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) is hosting 39th International Association of Deposit Insurers (IADI) Executive Council Meeting and International Conference on June 17 to 21, 2013 in Makati City. The hosting of the meeting coincides with the commemoration of PDIC’s 50th Founding Anniversary on June 22. PDIC President Valentin A. Araneta stated that hosting the IADI Executive Council Meeting and International Conference is an occasion where the economic progress of the Philippines based on a platform of good governance can be appreciated by delegates from deposit insurance agencies from 30 different countries and jurisdictions. IADI is a non-profit organization of deposit insurers established in May 2002 aimed at contributing to the enhancement of deposit insurance systems by promoting research and guidance based on best practices for deposit insurers, and for international cooperation. IADI currently has 68 member-countries/organizations, nine associates, and 12 partners. Mr. Jerzy Pruski (President, Management Board – Bank Guarantee Fund of Poland) is the President of IADI and Chairman of the Executive Council, the governing body of the IADI. The PDIC is a founding member of the IADI. PDIC President Araneta chairs the Audit Committee. The international conference is anchored on the theme, “Financial Inclusion: Challenges and Issues for the Deposit Insurer.” About 200 foreign and local delegates from different deposit insurance agencies around the world, multilateral organizations and Philippine-based institutions are expected to attend the event on June 20, 2013. Finance Secretary and PDIC Board Chairman Cesar V. Purisima will deliver the keynote address of the conference. The International Conference aims to highlight the relevance of financial inclusion to deposit insurance and financial stability. diveKE

Philippine, UK gov’ts, NGO join to boost mining transparency Published: June 18, 2013  

The Philippine and British Governments, along with non-governmental organization Bantay Kita, are embarking on a partnership that will push the Philippine agenda on strengthening transparency and accountability in extractive industries. The collaboration will help the Philippine Government fulfill its initiative as a candidate country to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) by working together with Bantay Kita, a civil society representative in the PH-EITI multi-stakeholder group (MSG), with support from the British Government. Among the project’s aims is to develop the first Philippine EITI Report, which is required of each candidate country to demonstrate that it fully complies with the globally developed standards that promote revenue transparency at the local level. It will also push for legislation institutionalizing EITI in the Philippines within the 16th Congress. The project will also mobilize civil society, industry players and local government to work on the implementation of EITI both at the national and sub-national level. A memorandum of understanding was signed on June 14 between the Philippine Government and Bantay Kita, which formalises the agreement between the two parties to carry out activities that will reinforce the country’s work plan to increase accountability and transparency in sectors such as mining and oil and gas. To this end, Bantay Kita has undertaken a separate agreement with the British Embassy that will provide funding for these activities through the British Government’s Prosperity Programme. President Benigno Aquino III recently announced its commitment to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative through Executive Order (EO) No. 79 on Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector. The Philippines was accepted as an EITI candidate country at the EITI’s global meeting in Sydney on 22 May. Secretary Elisea ‘Bebet’ Gozon, Presidential Adviser on Climate Change, said, “We thank the British Government for this invaluable support which will go a long way in institutionalizing and facilitating the EITI implementation in the Philippines. This funding will also support the activities that will be undertaken in the sub-national implementation of EITI and in the capacity building of the different stakeholders which is needed so that we can effectively implement EITI in the country. This is all in line with our President’s “Daang Matuwid” commitment to our people to promote good governance and fight corruption.” According to British Embassy Chargé d’ Affaires Trevor Lewis, the funding signifies the British Government’s continuing support for the transparency and anti-corruption program of the Aquino administration.

“Improving transparency in the Extractive Industries is one of the UK’s priorities for our Presidency of the G8 this year and it will be a subject of debate at the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, next week. We welcome the Philippines’ candidacy to EITI, which demonstrates President Aquino’s strong commitment to transparency and matches one of our G8 priorities. Our Prime Minister David Cameron explained recently that the purpose of EITI is to remove the “veil of secrecy” which surrounds the extractive industries, build confidence and reduce corruption. The Philippines has a wealth of natural resources that, if managed properly, can boost prosperity in the Philippines. This project will help contribute to this goal and we’re very happy to play our part in supporting the Philippines on this,” he said.,_UK_gov%E2%80%99ts,_NGO_jo in_to_boost_mining_transparency#.Ub_g4NiveKE

High‐yielding sugarcane eyed for AFTA 2015 By Melody M. Aguiba  Published: June 18, 2013  

The Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) is identifying molecular markers for superior sugarcane traits like disease resistance under a P51-million program that aims to raise sugar competitiveness in time for a regional free trade in 2015. IPB is tasked to deliver to the Philippine Sugar Research Institute (PSRI) within one year molecular markers, distinguishing marks through DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). The project is being financed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). “We’re pressured to deliver results in one year. We will need to acquire new equipment because it will be rather slow using what we have now. We’re preparing for AFTA which happens in 2015,” said IPB’s Dr. Antonio Laurena in an interview. AFTA (Asean Free Trade Agreement) will bring down tariff to 0 to five percent by 2015 from 18 percent as of 2013. The Philippines’ sugarcane production is only at average of 65 metric tons (MT) per hectare. “This ratio is very low when compared to the potential cane yields (120 to 150 tons/ha) achieved in Brazil, India, South Africa,” according to Netafim. Laurena said IPB, a research center of the University of the Philippines-Los Banos, is studying the acquisition of new PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machines that will speed up its molecular marker work. “Rapid PCR can raise our productivity from two to four times,” according to Laurena. With the PCR process just taking 30 minutes, analysis of a sample can turn around eight times a day.” Under the three-year project, IPB will turn over the DNA markers to PSRI and Sugar Regulatory Administration. PSRI will subsequently carry out breeding of sugarcane for desired traits, mainly leading to high yield arising from disease resistance. “We have already been able to find sugarcane varieties that yield higher than global standards. But we still have problems on their susceptibility to downy mildew and sugarcane smut,” said Laurena. There are already existing markers identified for sugarcane varieties that grow in Brazil.

“But those markers are specific to Brazil’s sugarcane varieties. We don’t know if they work the same way here,” he said. IPB will need to invest in equipment that are now considered state-of-the-art since it also has commitments to deliver gene discovery studies to other agriculture agencies. That includes the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) and private banana-pineapple producer Del Monte. It is developing bunchy top virus-resistant abaca varieties and high quality fiber varieties for FIDA. It will patent novel genes found in its studies. It is studying cost-effectiveness of whether to acquire its own gene sequencing facilities or send its DNA samples to South Korea.

BIR settles P2‐billion tax refunds By Bernie Cahiles‐Magkilat  Published: June 18, 2013  


The Bureau of Internal Revenue has issued notice of payment amounting to P2.07 billion to settle VAT refunds to 390 Japanese firms’ applications as part of the government’s compliance to the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA). This was contained in the minutes of the PJEPA Sub-Committee on Improvement of Business Environment that was submitted for the 4th PJEPA Joint Committee Meeting, which seeks to conduct a general review of the country’s first bilateral free trade agreement. The sub-committee on the improvement of business environment tackled three outstanding issues – tax related concerns, electricity and improvement of country logistics. On tax related concerns, the subcommittee reported on the BIR’s action on the applications by Japanese firms for the monetization of their certificate of tax credits (TCC) that Japanese firms have earned for zero-rated transactions. “The BIR already issued notice of payment schedule for the 390 applications amounting to P2.057 billion,” the report said. The BIR has received a total of 519 applications for VAT TCC Monetization amounting to P2.39 billion. With 309 applications being acted upon, there are only a total of 119 applications left. Of the remaining applications, the report said that a total of 49 applications amounting to P60.3 million were denied due to later filing or existence of delinquent amounts. The remaining 80 applications amounting to P252 million were subject for review of the BIR.

On the claims of San Roque Power Corp. for refunds amounting P114.191 million and Aichi Forging Co. of Asia for P3.792 million, the BIR has advised both claimants to follow up the requested certifications of “no pending claim� and delinquency verification with the concerned BIR offices. On the rationalization of fiscal incentives provided by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said it was agreed to maintain a status quo on the fiscal incentives granted by PEZA. On electricity issues, the Japanese side was assured that the stringent rules of the Open Access and Retail Competition (OARC), wherein the Distribution Utilities and Contestable Customers (CC) are given a six-month transition period, to shift their sources of power, are intended to create a fair and level playing field to all market participants. On the improvement of country logistics, the Manila International Airport Administration they are awaiting for instructions from the Department of Transportation and Communications but reiterated their position to promote the use of dual airport on the Greater Manila Capital Region. A study by the Japanese International Coordinating Agency (JICA) has been submitted to the DOTC planning department since it involves policy consideration.

BFAR: No red tide in Bataan   Published : Tuesday, June 18, 2013 00:00   Article Views : 58   Written by : Mamer Bañez  

BALANGA City, Bataan -- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) recently announced that three provinces in Region 3 are now red tide-free. BFAR said the provinces of Bataan, Zambales and Bulacan “continue to be free from toxic red tides.” Coastal waters of Bataan with towns Mariveles, Limay, Orion, Pilar, Orani, Abucay, Samal and City of Balanga, and Masinloc Bay in Zambales remain free from paralytic shellfish poison. Meanwhile, fisher folks in Subic Bay area have joined the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in its advocacy against the use of plastics and other non-biodegradable products that pollute the environment.

Opinion  Posted on June 17, 2013 09:34:07 PM 

Archipelagic economy II: Philippine guideposts AN EARLIER article on an archipelagic economy discussed Indonesia and the six pillars of growth, as cited by a McKinsey Report on output gains in agriculture and fisheries.  

Map Insights Rolando T. Dy

The so‐called pillars are: (1) increase smallholder yields; (2) shift to high‐value  crops; (3) increase commercial farm yields; (4) cultivate low‐carbon unused land;  (5) increase fisheries production; and (6) reduce food losses and wastes.    In terms of impact, increased productivity of smallholders, shift to high‐value  crops and reduction in food losses and wastes would account for about three‐ quarters of the total gain. Increased commercial farm yield will further add 11%.      A related report was published by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in November 2012  titled "ASEAN Dynamism: Agriculture Transformation and Food Security in 2040." The report focused on  Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, so‐called VIP countries. The JICA Report discussed several  strategic and policy constraints to agriculture growth.    Agriculture research and extension. Despite much evidence of high economic payoff, current funding  levels are inadequate. Shortcomings in research are acute in Indonesia and the Philippines. Global  private funding for research is commonplace, especially in high‐income countries, but only the tree‐ crops sector in Indonesia and a few fruits and vegetables in the Philippines have taken off.    Land‐related issues. Over the past 30 years, arable land per capita has declined. Related to the land  issue are the absence of secure land ownership titles and the slow rates of issuance. In the case of the  Philippines, it is also facing uncertainties on the future of agrarian reform as well as restrictions of  leasing and selling of lands.    Irrigation is crucial to increasing farm productivity. Throughout the VIP countries, irrigation systems are  not performing well. The reasons are: inadequate maintenance, improper designs, failure to complete  construction of some systems, inadequate storage capacities, failure to engage farmers in operation and  maintenance, and management and regulatory issues. With climate change, there is a need for water‐ saving techniques. In addition, there is also a need to enhance usage of water saving, micro‐irrigation 

systems.    Role of government. An effective and efficient government is key to rapid agriculture development.  Initially, the decentralization process in Indonesia and the Philippines were encouraging. However,  management of extension has not been a success. Research and extension agencies continue to suffer  from incomplete reform agenda, persistent confusion of lines of responsibilities between central and  local governments, inadequate capacity, and limited budget.    Approach to food security. In most ASEAN countries, food security is an important part of the national  agenda, and often equated with self‐sufficiency. Per capita rice consumption in many countries is  beginning to decline. The growing rice surplus in the ASEAN will likely allow governments to focus on  less than 100 percent rice sufficiency in the long term.    DRIVERS OF AGRICULTURE TRANSFORMATION  The JICA Report cited several drivers of agricultural transformation towards 2040.    Demographics and urbanization. First, majority of the people will reside in the urban areas and they will  demand food. Second, there will be a steady increase in rural wages as urban migration reduces rural  labor supply. The only way agriculture can be viable at higher wages will be through high productivity  and shift to high‐value crops.    Changing demand/higher value crops. Demand for food will shift as countries move to middle‐class  status. Consumers will move from basic staples to meats, fruits and vegetables and processed foods.  Farmers must shift production patterns.    Increasing competition for resources. The basic factors of agriculture production (land, water and labor)  will be strained following urbanization and industrialization. Managing and saving scarce water  resources must be part of the strategy.    Technological changes. Crop intensification, hybrid seeds, more efficient use of water and farm inputs,  and mechanization would present new opportunities to increase productivity, reduce cost, and at the  same time, produce high‐value crops.    Climate change will have an adverse impact on agriculture in varying degrees.    VISION 2040: THE PHILIPPINES  The Report projects a real agriculture growth of 3.5% a year for the whole country until 2040. The  country will enjoy substantial gains in tree crops such as rubber, coffee, cocoa and oil palm. The country  will continue to retain leadership in coconut but will move to "new" coconut products for local and  export markets. It will also retain a smaller but a globally competitive sugar industry.     The JICA Report appears conservative in its growth projections as compared to McKinsey’s ambitious 

target of seven percent agriculture growth a year for Indonesia. This is because across many crops,  Indonesia is already getting higher yields than the Philippines.    Meanwhile, food consumption will change. Yield gains in rice will be achieved. With land markets freed  gradually, land consolidation and mechanization will become common.    STRATEGIES FOR REALIZING THE VISION  The JICA Report listed strategies for Philippine agriculture that include diversifying into high‐value crops,  agro‐processing and value‐chain upgrading, and sustained productivity improvements. The latter covers  agriculture research and extension; capital investments and mechanization; land issues; irrigation;  private sector role; pricing and incentives; and climate change.    The McKinsey and JICA reports find relevance to charting the future of Philippine agriculture. Given the  archipelagic contours of the Philippines, marine fisheries and aquaculture have large potential. The  country has the second longest coastline after Indonesia in the tropical world. Resource management  must improve and the inadequate investments in aquaculture must be addressed.    There are many striking similarities between Indonesia and the Philippines. However, the latter has  catching up to do. Its poverty rate is about 26.5% in 2009 as compared to 14* in Indonesia. This is a  sobering food for thought for inclusive growth.      (The article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the  Management Association of the Philippines. The author is the executive director of the Center for Food  and AgriBusiness of the University of Asia & the Pacific. Feedback at and For previous articles, please visit   ‐ See more at:‐ economy‐II:‐Philippine‐guideposts&id=71942#sthash.jWpEOA4t.dpuf   

BIR collection falls short of target By Zinnia B. Dela Pe単a (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 18, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of International Revenue (BIR) fell short of its collection target in May, raising only P111.9 billion in tax revenues or 2.8 percent short of the P115.12billion target for the period in review. The May collection, however, was 18.35 percent or P17.35 billion higher than what it collected in May 2012. Collections from BIR operations reached P109.51 billion, up 18.69 percent from the previous year but 1.28 percent lower than the collection target of P110.93 billion for the month. Non-BIR operations, on the other hand, amounted to P2.39 billion, a decrease of P104 million or 4.57 percent from a year ago. The figure was also P1.8 billion or 42.9 percent lower than P4.19billion target for May. Collections by the regional offices rose 24.4 percent to P36.08 billion while collections from large taxpayers reached P73.42 billion, P10.17 billion or 16.07 more than the collections made in May 2012.

For the first five months of the year, revenue collections reached P504.99 billion or an increase of 14.82 percent from P439.82 billion a year ago. It was still short of the P524.86-billion target for the period. The BIR is tasked to raise P1.253 trillion this year, 17 percent more than the P1.06 trillion collected in 2012. The agency sees tax collections rising by 44 percent with the implementation of the new sin tax that imposes higher rates on tobacco and alcoholic beverages. The sin tax law, passed in December last year, is expected to raise P34 billion in additional revenues during the first year of its implementation and P184.31 billion over the next four years.

Postponement of barangay, SK polls sought By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 18, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - A senior lawmaker is pushing for the postponement of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections scheduled this October to 2014. Bohol Rep. Rene Relampagos said he intends to re-file in the 16th Congress House Bill 6198, which seeks to reset the date of the synchronized elections to October 2014. Relampagos said he is pushing for the postponement because the elections in the barangay level and SK will definitely need a substantial amount of government budgetary allocation. “The billions of pesos that will be saved in this barangay and SK elections can definitely be utilized by the state for various worthwhile projects and programs for the improvement of the quality of life of the Filipinos,” Relampagos said. “Furthermore, it has been argued that the present three-year term of the barangay official is not adequate to guarantee that the projects of the barangay are properly implemented, hence an extension would be practical to make certain that these programs and projects initiated by the barangay will be appropriately carried out and would come to its completion,” he added. Under the bill, the proposed term of office of all barangay and SK officials shall be five years and shall commence at noon of Nov. 30 following their election. The measure amends Republic Act 9340, otherwise known as “An Act Amending Republic Act 9164, Resetting the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, and for other Purposes.”Some 12 similar bills were also filed separately in the 15th Congress. The measures were referred to the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms. Meanwhile, Valenzuela City Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo has pushed for the passage of a bill abolishing the SK for its failure to achieve its main objectives.Gunigundo said that instead of molding the youth for meaningful governance, SK “has become a tool for their exploitation by unscrupulous politicians.” “(The government) cannot entrust power and public funds to teenagers aged 15 to 17 years old who are just beginning to learn what responsibility and accountability are all about,” Gunigundo added.He also noted that the youth should be given ample time to prepare and gradually realize what is behind the world they are entering. For his part, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said there is a need to introduce reform measures to the current SK system. Congress should amend the Local Government Code of 1991 that created the SK.

Enhanced monsoon to cause heavy rains, floods By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 18, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - State weathermen advised yesterday residents of Southern Luzon, including Metro Manila, to brace for heavy rains and floods by Wednesday or Thursday due to the southwest monsoon enhanced by Tropical Depression Emong. Leny Ruiz, weather forecaster at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said the enhanced southwest monsoon will bring moderate to heavy rains over Southern Luzon as well as the metropolis starting tomorrow. He said the agency may raise storm warning signals in areas along the eastern section of Luzon and the Visayas this morning as Emong is expected to intensify further in the next 24 to 48 hours as it moves closer to Virac, Catanduanes. “But by Wednesday or Thursday, floods could again hit parts of Metro Manila as rains would be more intense and frequent due to the enhanced southwest monsoon,” he said. As of 4 p.m. yesterday, Emong was spotted at 250 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes with maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center. Emong is predicted to be 230 km northeast of Virac this morning; 330 km east of Aparri, Cagayan tomorrow morning and 400 km northeast of Basco, Batanes by Thursday morning. The weather bureau said the rest of Luzon will experience partly cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms.           

Destruction of seized elephant tusks opposed By Leila B. Salaverria Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:10 pm | Monday, June 17th, 2013

AP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines–A party-list lawmaker wants the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to stop its decision to destroy seized elephant ivory tusks, amounting to P420 million, saying these items could be preserved and used for educational purposes. Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe said keeping the ivory tusks would give students in the country an opportunity to see and study these rare items up close. “Our children might not be able to see and touch an ivory tusk their whole life, much less a live elephant. We have ivory tusks lying around DENR premises. Why destroy them when they could teach so much to future generations?” Batocabe said in a statement. The DENR is scheduled to crush the five tons of confiscated elephant tusks using road rollers on June 21. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje earlier said the destruction of the items illegally brought into the country was intended to send the message that the Philippines would not tolerate illegal wildlife trade. This is in line with the Philippines’ adherence to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of flora and fauna, which prohibits ivory trade in order to stem the decimation of the elephant population in Africa. Batocabe, vice chair of the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said the ivory tusks could be donated to schools, universities, museums, or non-government organizations.

These could be used to teach the public about caring for endangered animals and about the dangers of ivory trade to the welfare of these animals, he said. “Schools and NGOs will have good use for it to teach the public, especially the young generations, why ivory trade is banned,” he said. “Our museums and NGOs will be able to use these tusks to strengthen the world campaign against international ivory trade,” he added. According to the lawmaker, ivory tusks should not be likened to other contraband such as illegal drugs and pirated CDs, since the latter bring no benefit to the public and could not be used for educational purposes. “These are priceless treasures that will be put to waste if we destroy them,” he said. The DENR earlier planned to subject some of the seized tusks to a “ceremonial burning,” but this plan was halted after clean air advocates contended that this could send the message to the public that open burning was acceptable.

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PHL seeks $684.5 million worth of fresh loans from ADB Category: Economy   Published on Monday, 17 June 2013 21:01   Written by Cai U. Ordinario   The national government is seeking some $684.5 million worth of fresh loans and technical assistance  (TA) from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).  The list, which is under the proposed projects list of the ADB as of June 17, is composed of five project  loans with a proposed ADB funding of $682.1 million and seven TAs worth $2.4 million.  The  biggest  loans  include  the  proposed  $372.1  million  worth  of  funding  for  the  community‐driven  development  support  project  (CDDSP)  and  the  $120  million  proposed  financing  for  the  Water  District  Development Sector Project.  Other  loans  include  the  $70  million  worth  of  financing  for  the  Urban  Water  Supply  and  Sanitation  Project,  $70 million  for  Solid  Waste  Management  Sector  Project,  and  $50  million  for  the  Angat  Water  Transmission Improvement Project.  The CDDSP aims to target poor municipalities and improve their access to services and participation in  local planning, budgeting and implementation.  The  total  cost  of  the  project  is  $663.66  million.  The  Philippines  proposed  that  the  ADB  finance  the  $372.1 million loan, while the remaining $291.56 million will be covered by counterpart financing.  The Water District Development Sector Project intends to increase access to water supply and sanitation  services in the communities served by participating water districts.  The  total  amount  needed  for  the  project  is  $143  million.  This  is  being  proposed  to  be  financed  by  a  $120‐million loan from the ADB and $23 million from counterpart funding from the government.  The  Urban  Water  Supply  and  Sanitation  Project  aims  to  reduce  the  occurrence  of  water‐borne  and  water washed diseases in the service areas of select water districts in Davao and Cebu cities. It is being  proposed to be entirely financed by the ADB.  The Solid Waste Management Sector Project, meanwhile, intends to help local government units create  solid waste‐management plans and investment programs for solid waste‐ management facilities.  The  project’s  total  cost  is  $108  million.  The  bulk  of  the  cost,  $70  million,  is  being  proposed  to  be  financed by the ADB, while the remaining $38 million will be the government’s counterpart funding. 

The  last  project  with  a  proposed  loan  financing,  Angat  Water  Transmission  Improvement  Project,  intends to secure raw water supply for the 13 million inhabitants in the Metropolitan Waterworks and  Sewerage System service area through the rehabilitation of the Angat transmission line.  The entire project costs $51 million but the government is proposing that $50 million of the amount be  financed by the ADB.  The  TAs  that  have  been  proposed  for  funding  from  the  ADB  are  the  Education  Improvement  Sector  Development  Program  worth  $1.5  million  and  the  Second  Road  Improvement  and  Institutional  Development Project, with a funding requirement of $900,000.‐phl‐seeks‐684‐5‐million‐ worth‐of‐fresh‐loans‐from‐adb                             

Palace: Senate, Ombudsman can probe corruption in gov’t By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 18, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is not getting in the way of investigations by the Senate and the Office of the Ombudsman into corruption and other irregularities in government. The Palace’s commitment was a departure from the previous Arroyo administration’s restriction on officials’ attending Senate hearings, particularly on corruption issues. “It’s up to the new senators what they want to investigate, or what they will continue to investigate. What will be on their agenda will be decided by the returning senators as well as the new senators,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said. She gave the assurance after acting Senate President Jinggoy Estrada, citing the Senate’s oversight functions, declared that senators would continue to hold inquiries in the incoming 16th Congress into alleged anomalies involving government officials. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. gave the same assurance to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, an appointee of President Aquino.

Ochoa’s assurance came after last Friday’s signing of a memorandum of agreement between the Office of the President and the Office of the Ombudsman on strengthening efforts against corruption in the bureaucracy. Ochoa said the MOA aims to “concretize the President’s vision for a government that treads the straight and narrow path, or Tuwid na Daan.” The signing of the MOA was also in accordance with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the Integrity Management Program. “In behalf of the OP, we would like to congratulate the people and organization behind this major initiative for successfully bringing together two important offices in order to strengthen and rationalize government initiatives against corruption,” he said. Morales described the partnership as “historic,” as it “further exudes inspiring hope for the Philippines to foster a culture that rejects corruption and embraces the values of integrity, rule of law, sustainable development and inclusive growth.” Under the MOA, the Office of the President and the Ombudsman shall form a joint technical working group to draft a multi-stakeholder mechanism for implementation and review of the UNCAC. A project management committee shall also be established to provide overall direction and technical support to agencies implementing the program. The Philippines is a signatory to the UNCAC, ratified by the Senate in November 2006. In December 2012, the OP and the Ombudsman jointly conducted a national dialogue and planning for UNCAC.‐senate‐ombudsman‐can‐probe‐ corruption‐govt                   

Tropical depression ‘Emong’ lingers in PH, to bring more rains—Pagasa By Frances Mangosing 7:34 am | Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Source: Project Noah | 06:01 am, June 18, 2013 MANILA, Philippines—Tropical depression Emong has maintained its strength as it moves north northwest with maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center, the state weather bureau said earlyTuesday. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said the cyclone was last observed 460 kilometers east of Baler, Aurora. It is forecast to move north northwest at 15 kph. Meanwhile, the heavy rains on Monday night in Metro Manila were caused by southwest monsoon, the prevailing weather system during rainy season, that was enhanced by Emong, Pagasa said. The rains caused heavy traffic and floods in several major Metro Manila thoroughfares. The Armed Forces of the Philippines had to deploy three M-35 trucks along EDSA and Fairview in Quezon City to provide transport to stranded commuters. Although it was earlier said that Emong is not likely to make a landfall throughout its stay, it will bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains in parts of the country, Pagasa said. It is expected to be out of the Philippine territory by Friday. “Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol Region, Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Caraga will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and

thunderstorms. The rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms,” Pagasa said. “Moderate to strong winds blowing from the southwest to west will prevail over Luzon and Visayas and coming from the southwest over Mindanao. The coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be moderate to rough,” it added.

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Water firms adjust rates By Rhodina Villanueva and Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 18, 2013 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Water bills are set to increase next month in some areas in Metro Manila and nearby provinces but will decline in others as water concessionaires prepare to adjust rates in reaction to movements in foreign exchange. West Zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services Inc. announced yesterday an increase of 17 centavos per cubic meter in its rates beginning July 3 due to the weakening of the peso against other foreign currencies, particularly the US dollar. The adjustment will reflect in August billings. From the average P46.56 per cubic meter, the rate will increase to P46.73. “In effect, households consuming 10 cubic meters or less every month will see their water bill increase by P0.39 from P119.12 to P119.51, while those consuming 20 cubic meters every month will see their water bill increase from P422.35 to P423.82, a difference of P1.47,� a Maynilad statement read.

In its statement, Maynilad also advised households consuming 30 cubic meters a month to expect an increase of P3.01 in their water bill from the current P847.42 to P850.43. Under its concession agreement with the government through the Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System (MWSS), Maynilad must pass on to customers its foreign exchange gains or losses arising from the payment of its foreign currency-denominated loans as well as concession fees to the government. The adjustment is revenue neutral and has no impact on the projected net income of Maynilad. Maynilad’s concession areas cover Manila except some portions of San Andres and Sta. Ana; Quezon City including west of San Juan River, West Avenue, EDSA, Congressional, Mindanao Avenue, and areas covering Holy Spirit and Batasan Hills. Also covered are areas in Makati west of South Luzon Expressway as well as Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon. Cavite City, Bacoor and Imus, as well as the towns of Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario are also Maynilad areas. East zone water concessionaire Manila Water Co. Inc., meanwhile, announced a reduction in rates in the third quarter as part of Foreign Currency Differential Adjustment (FCDA). FCDA is a tariff mechanism based on foreign exchange rate movements in loan payments of water concessionaires for a given year, and expressed as a percentage of the basic charge. Manila Water said it would cut rates by P0.54 per cubic meter based on the exchange rate of $1 to P41.14 and one yen per P0.4221. The FCDA component of the water bill will be adjusted from negative 0.37 percent for the second quarter of 2013 to negative 1.97 percent of the basic charge for the third quarter of 2013. Low-income households consuming 10 cubic meters per month or less will not be covered by the adjustment. The MWSS approved the adjustment in FCDA through a resolution dated June 13. The MWSS Regulatory Office reviews the FCDA quarterly and any adjustment is applied to the basic tariff for every month of the charging quarter. Water rates in the second quarter of the year were also reduced because of FCDA adjustment. The company’s concession areas include parts of Quezon City and Makati, southeastern part of Manila, Taguig, Pateros, Marikina, Pasig, San Juan, Mandaluyong, and Rizal province.‐firms‐adjust‐rates   

BSP: OFW remittances increased in April By Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 18, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Money from Filipinos abroad bounced back in April, accelerating from a four-year growth slump the previous month to hit $1.804 billion, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said yesterday. The month’s figure represented cash remittances coursed through banks which grew 6.1 percent year-on-year, preliminary figures showed. April’s growth rate was a recovery from a dismal three-percent expansion in March, the slowest in four years. From January to April, cash remittances already went up 5.7 percent to $6.916 billion, above the BSP’s five-percent growth forecast for the year. A separate gauge called personal remittances – which take into account hand carry money transfers – expanded at a faster pace of seven percent in April and 6.4 percent for the first four months. In a statement, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said the steady flow of remittances was due to the continued expansion of bank and non-bank services abroad that helped capture more of the remittance market. “Remittances remained robust on the back of sustained demand for skilled Filipino manpower in various countries worldwide,” he said. Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed a total of 367,738 workers were processed from January to May this year, 30 percent of whom are covered contracts for service, production and professional personnel. They are due to be deployed to countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Kuwait, Qatar and Hong Kong, BSP said citing POEA figures. By country, the BSP said bulk of the remittances, accounting for 75.9 percent of the total, came from the US, Saudi Arabia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Japan. Money from seafarers grew faster than that from land-based workers, BSP said. The former expanded 9.3 percent, while the latter went up 4.6 percent. Absolute amounts of money sent home by each segment were not immediately available. Remittances contribute to the country’s balance of payments (BOP), which measures our capacity to meet trade obligations and settle external debts. The BOP has steadily been on a surplus since 2005, indicating more than enough resources to cushion outflows, especially now with the volatility in the financial markets.‐ofw‐remittances‐increased‐april 

Ban on mercury-laced products pushed By Erika Sauler Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:39 am | Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 In an effort to stop the trade of mercury-laced beauty products, a Manila councilor has said he would file an ordinance that would ban these cosmetics and impose penalties on violators as soon as the new city council starts holding sessions. “This unlawful trade of dangerous cosmetics loaded with mercury has been embarrassingly going on for years and has to be stopped once and for all,” Councilor Numero Lim said in a statement issued on Sunday. His move was prompted by the latest test conducted by EcoWaste Coalition that showed that 15 whitening creams imported from Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China contained mercury, a toxin that targets the nervous system in levels above the allowable limit of one part per million (ppm). The products, which cost between P80 and P320, were bought on Saturday from drug stores in Binondo, Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz in Manila, and from a store in Cubao, Quezon City. The group detected mercury ranging from 286 ppm to 59,000 ppm in the 15 samples, 10 of which were earlier banned by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), the statement said. “I’m sure Mayor Erap [Joseph Estrada], Vice Mayor Isko [Moreno] and my fellow councilors will throw their unequivocal support behind such urgent action to curb mercury exposure from cosmetics and protect public health,” Lim said. “Consumers need to be wary of skin lightening products, particularly those which are not properly labeled and registered, as these often contain undisclosed quantities of mercury that can cause [poor] health,” said Aileen Lucero, acting national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition. Lucero added that exposure to mercury in skin-whitening products could damage the kidneys and also result in skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as reduce the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. The group appealed to the cosmetics industry to respect the rights of consumers to product information and product safety as it reported its latest findings to the FDA through its “Consumer eReport Facility on Cosmetic Products.” At the same time, Lucero called on the Department of Health to intensify post-market surveillance, sue violators and update the list of banned cosmetics for the guidance of importers, distributors, retailers and consumers. Among the 15 samples found laced with excessive levels of mercury were:

• Yudantang ginseng and green cucumber 10 days whitening speckles removed essence, 59,000 ppm. • Yudantang 10 specific eliminating freckle spot and double whitening sun block cream, 50,000 ppm. • Beauty Girl egg white and tomato 6 days specific eliminating freckle whitening cream, 39,400 ppm • Natural Orange whitening and antiaging package, 37,000 ppm • Hengxueqian whitening set, 25,300 ppm • S’Zitang 10 days eliminating freckle day and night set, 6,499 ppm • S’Zitang 7 days specific eliminating freckle AB set, 5,233 ppm • Bai Li Tou Hong cream, 4,463 ppm, and • Jiaoli 7 days eliminating freckle AB set, 3,764 ppm.

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Gas prices may go up this week By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 18, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Oil companies are expected to raise gasoline and diesel prices again this week, which would mark the third round of oil price hikes this month and the sixth consecutive week of price increases, a ranking energy official yesterday said. While no oil firm has issued specific advisories as of yesterday, Department of Energy-Oil Industry Management Bureau director Zenaida Monsada said that based on their monitoring of global crude prices, local petroleum companies may jack up prices by more than P1 per liter for diesel and more than 80 centavos per liter for gasoline. Monsada said the computation takes into account foreign exchange adjustment, a factor that affects pump prices because oil is an imported commodity. She said that there is an apparent tightness in world crude supply because of political tensions in Syria, which can affect global economic conditions. On the back of relentless oil price increases, the government’s hands are tied on the matter, Monsada said. “The Philippines and the Department of Energy have no control over international market developments,” Monsada said. Oil companies announced last week an 80-centavo per liter increase for gasoline but also announced a rollback of 15 centavos per liter for kerosene. The oil firms kept diesel prices unchanged. Last week’s adjustment brought prices of gasoline to a range of P46.60 to P54.55 per liter. Prices of diesel stayed at P38.10 to P41.45 per liter. Last week’s price increase also followed an increase in electricity rates. The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest power distributor, announced a power rate increase of 22 centavos per kilowatt-hour to be reflected in the June electricity bills. The upward adjustment in electricity rates would translate to a P44 increase in the June statement of a typical household consuming 200 kilowatthours (kwh). Meralco, a company led by businessman Manuel Pangilinan, said the rate increase stemmed from higher generation charge for June, which increased by 19 centavos per kwh to P5.66 per kwh.‐prices‐may‐go‐week 

More than P1 oil price hike expected this week By Camille Diola ( | Updated June 17, 2013 - 10:24am

Stock photo of a gas station. JIM CROSSLEY MANILA, Philippines - Petroleum prices are expected to increase from P0.90 to P1.50 per liter this week as the dollar continues to strengthen, a Department of Energy (DOE) official said Monday. DOE-Oil Industry Management Bureau Zenaida Monsada said late on Sunday that the price for diesel may rise by P1.40 to P1.50 as price adjustment continue. The price for gasoline, meanwhile, is expected to jack up from P0.90 to P1.10 per liter as well. Once implemented, this new scheme in petroleum would be the fifth time oil prices have increased since May this year. Motorists, meanwhile, have already reacted to the expected oil price hike, saying that the government and industries should explore other sources of energy.‐p1‐oil‐price‐hike‐expected‐week 

Peso falls anew on weak trading By Paolo G. Montecillo Philippine Daily Inquirer 11:16 pm | Monday, June 17th, 2013 MANILA, Philippines — The peso closed weaker at the start of the week after thin trading on Monday tracking the movement of regional currencies as funds flow out of Asia. The local currency was already lower at opening, depreciating to 42.82 to $1, before closing at 42.875: $1, weaker than the close of 42.81: $1 last Friday. This was a result of a day of weak trading, which saw the peso reaching a low of 42.965: $1 and a high of 42.82: $1. Trading volume settled at $611 million, significantly lower than the $1.065 billion in the previous session. The recent decline in the peso, which saw the currency fall below the 43: $1 level last week, comes amid fears that the United States Federal Reserve would scale back its monetary easing as the world’s largest economy starts to recover. A stronger US economy will attract most investors that had previously taken shelter in emerging markets like the Philippines amid the financial crisis in developed economies. Last week, a report by Citi said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) would likely favor a weaker peso following the decline in the country’s exports receipts in April. A weaker local currency means more pesos for every dollar earned by exporters, improving their competitiveness in the region.‐falls‐anew‐on‐weak‐trading                   

Saudi Arabia: 4 more deaths from SARS-like virus (Associated Press) | Updated June 17, 2013 - 4:51pm RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia says four more people have died from a new respiratory virus related to SARS, bringing the total number of deaths to 32 in the kingdom at the center of the growing crisis. Overall, nearly 40 people have died from the virus since September, mostly in Europe and the Middle East. That's according to local officials and the World Health Organization. The Saudi Health Ministry also said on Monday that it confirmed three more cases of the virus, including in a 2-year-old child. Officials are still seeking clues on how easily it is spread between humans. The new virus is related to SARS, which killed some 800 people in a global epidemic in 2003, and belongs to a family of viruses that most often causes the common cold.‐arabia‐4‐more‐deaths‐sars‐virus                           

SSS pension rules cut off members By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:02am | 658 views

Workers lacking monthly payments excluded The Social Security System, breaking a long tradition as pension provider to workers, has announced new policies that cut off members who failed to meet the required 120 monthly contributions, or the equivalent of 10 years, when they reached age 65, officials said. SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros said workers who were 65 years old on April 1, 2013 but lacked the required 120 monthly contributions will no longer qualify for retirement pension. “Under the Social Security Law, members aged 60 and above must have at least 120 months of contributions to qualify for retirement pension. Those with less than 120 will be entitled to a lump sum retirement benefit equal to the total amount of paid SSS contributions plus interest,” De Quiros said in a statement. Lump sum retirement benefit means a refund of the contributions that a member has paid to the SSS. Many members reacted strongly at the late announcement of the new policy and the manner that they were cut off, including those who tried to beat the deadline, but they have to contend with numerous requirements. De Quiros said members who reached 65 last April 1 but lacked the required 120 contributions must file an application to continue to pay as voluntary member on or before July 1. “Members affected by the new policy must file an application for voluntary payment of contributions for members aged 65 or over within the prescribed period so they can complete their 120 contributions and be eligible for retirement pensions,” De Quiros said. “Otherwise, they can only receive a lump sum benefit instead of a lifetime SSS pension,” he said. De Quiros said those who applied for voluntary payment must have been covered by SSS at age 55 or earlier with at least 80 monthly contributions by age 65, and they must file their application within the month following their 65th birthday.

“With these new rules, members facing technical retirement can continue to pay contributions to be eligible for pension benefits. At the same time, this allows SSS to keep the fund viable by ensuring that retirement pensions are funded by the requisite contributions,” De Quiros said. In the past several months, the SSS has been actively recruiting so-called informal sector workers such as tricycle and jeepney drivers, sidewalk and market vendors and the only requirement provided by law was they should be below 60 years. “We never heard them say: Hindi ka pwede sapagkat 59 years old ka na,” a tricycle driver said. The new policy breaks a tradition of service and concern for workers in their old age. For many years, workers who reached age 65 but fell short of 120 contributions were allowed to continue paying as voluntary members until they filled the gap. Under the law, employers pay about 60 percent of employees’ contributions, which range from P104 to P1,560 depending on the monthly salary. Monthly pension range from a low of about P1,000 to a high of P21,000, depending on amount and number of contributions. De Quiros — who announced the new policy in a statement released on June 6, or more than one month after it took effect on April 1 — did not explain the reason for disqualification of members who lacked 120 contributions when they turned 65. But officials, who asked not to be named because they lacked authority to speak for the pension fund, quoted him as saying: “Para hindi malugi ang SSS.” At the House of Representatives, legislators reacted in anger when sought to comment on the issue and at least two members — Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone and Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan — said they will file a resolution in the 16th Congress to look into the SSS controversy. “Congress should look into it,” Evardone said. “It will be violative of the mandate of SSS and the rights of the members. Why is SSS going bankrupt? What had it been doing with the members’ contributions? Has it played with the money by investing it in stocks or in questionable business activities? Did they get the permission of the members?” Ilagan said. She said SSS management could not create a new policy without proper consultation with stakeholders. “It is money hard-earned and saved for a rainy day or old age. The SSS has no right to arbitrarily decide to deprive the members of their pensions,” Ilagan said.

Maguindano Rep. Simeon Datumanong, who is a former justice secretary, said the harsh attitude of SSS management was illegal and in violation of the Social Security law. “Going bankrupt is a matter of inefficiency in management, which ought to be looked into,” Datumanong said. Citizens Battle Against Corruption Rep. Sherwin Tugna said: “The non-giving of pensions to SSS members at their advanced and retirement years when their pension is their only means of subsistence is the height of injustice.” He said the SSS should find ways to address problems of bankruptcy like obtaining a loan or selling assets “but it should not be at the expense of pensioners.”‐pension‐rules‐cut‐off‐members/                                 

‘Fishing pact only favors Taiwan’ By Joel E. Zurbano | Posted on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:02am | 428 views An alliance of activist fisherfolk groups warned on Monday that the government’s fishing agreement with Taiwan would put the Philippines to an extremely disadvantage position. Pamalakaya (National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organization in the Philippines), an alliance of fisherfolks in the country with over 80,000 individual members and 43 provincial chapters, said the agreement would only favor Taiwan. “It is like serving the country’s marine wealth in a silver platter to Taiwanese fishing giants at the expense of the patrimonial, sovereign and territorial rights of nearly 100 million Filipino people,” said Pamalakaya vice chairman Salvador France. France said that only a handful of Philippine fishing boats could explore the country’s ocean waters compared to large Taiwanese fishing fleets that regularly poach inside the country’s territorial waters. France said the proposed agreement would also expand the coverage of the existing PhilippineTaiwan Sea Lane Accord signed by former President Ferdinand Marcos and was strengthened by Executive Order 473 signed by President Aquino’s mother, the late former President Corazon Aquino, in 1991. Malacañang had announced that the two countries agreed to avoid the use of force or violence in the implementation of their respective fisheries laws and other relevant regulations. In a television interview, Manila Economic and Cultural Office chairman Amadeo Perez said that, under the new agreement, the Philippines would impose a P2.16-million ($50,000) administrative penalty if no case was filed against the Taiwanese fishermen caught fishing in the waters off Balintang Chanel. Perez said the fishing agreement between both countries was meant to prevent an incident similar to the May 9 fatal shooting of 65-year old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng. “This was just an initial talk and Taiwan asked for it. In principle, we agreed that force or violence will not be used in the apprehension of fishermen in our territorial boundaries and also with Taiwan,” the MECO chief said.

“We will not discontinue arresting Taiwanese fishermen who will encroach into our territorial boundaries and in the same manner in their boundaries.” Perez said, however, that if the poachers used force in resisting arrest, authorities “will have no choice but to use force to impose the law.” He said the new agreement provided that Taiwan and the Philippines must notify each other of any arrests of fishermen in their territorial waters. He said the $50,000 fine only applied to poachers caught fishing and were not carrying contraband in their fishing vessels. He said the fine would be paid to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and that all fish caught would be confiscated. In case the fishermen were caught with illegal drugs or endangered animals, they would be slapped with the appropriate charges and a judge will determine if they will be allowed to post bail. Perez said Filipino and Taiwanese authorities had set aside for issue of delineation of territorial waters. He said Philippine authorities needed to consult the technical working group, including the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority and other agencies, on how to put up “demarcation lines on which areas Taiwanese and Filipino fishermen could be allowed to fish. Taiwan leader Ma Ying-Jeou earlier said his government wanted to thresh out a fishing agreement with the Philippines in an effort to ease ties severely strained last month when Philippine Coast Guard personnel fatally shot a 65-year old Taiwanese fisherman. Ma said he wanted to see the relations between Taiwan, and the bilateral fishing pact could be patterned after the one between Taiwan and Japan. On Thursday, investigators on Thursday said they had recommended the filing of criminal charges against the Coast Guard personnel involved in the fatal shooting of the fisherman.‐pact‐only‐favors‐taiwan/       

Maynilad, oil firms to hike rate, prices By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:02am | 197 views

Consumers will have to brace for higher oil prices of more than P1 per liter this week, and mainly as a result of the dollar’s strengthening against the peso, the Energy Department said Monday. The department made its statement even as Maynilad Water Services Inc., the concessionaire for Metro Manila’s West Zone, said it will increase its water charges by P0.17 per cubic meter starting July 3 because of the weakening of the peso against some foreign currencies. On the other hand, Manila Water Co., the concessionaire for Metro Manila’s East Zone, said it will reduce its rates by P0.54 per cubic meter starting next month as a result of a foreign currency differential adjustment. Zenaida Monsada, director of the Energy Department’s Oil and Industry Management Bureau, said the price of diesel could go up by more than P1 per liter and gasoline by about P1 per liter. “The dollar has strengthened a lot,” Monsada told reporters. “There is a huge impact on the dollar change versus the movement of oil in the international market.” The peso weakened to 43 against the dollar last week, making the country pay more for its oil imports. The Philippines imports over 90 percent of its oil requirements. Monsada said it would be difficult to predict whether oil prices would continue to go up in the next few weeks. “We have enough supply, but there are tensions like those in Syria because the US has announced it will provide military aid [to the Syrian rebels], Monsada said.

Under their Concession Agreement with the Philippine government, Maynilad and Manila Water could pass on to customers their foreign exchange gains or losses arising from the payment of their foreign-currency-denominated loans from banks and concession fees to the government. The adjustments arising from those gains or losses are revenue neutral and have no impact on the projected net income of Maynilad and Manila Water. Maynilad is the largest private water concessionaire in the Philippines in terms of customer base. It is the concessionaire for Metro Manila’s West Zone which is composed of the cities of Manila (all but portions of San Andres and Sta. Ana), Quezon City (west of the San Juan River, West Avenue, Edsa, Congressional, Mindanao Avenue, the northern part starting from the Districts of the Holy Spirit and Batasan Hills), Makati (west of South Super Highway), Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon, all in Metro Manila; the cities of Cavite, Bacoor and Imus, and the towns of Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario, all in Cavite Province. On the other hand, Manila Water provides water and wastewater to the more than 6.2 million residents of eastern Metro Manila and Rizal province. With Jennifer B. Austria‐oil‐firms‐to‐hike‐rate‐prices/                     

Govt okays 30-MW Leyte solar station By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:01am | 156 views

The Energy Department granted a certificate of commerciality to Philippine Solar Farm-Leyte Inc., allowing it to proceed with the construction of a 30-megawatt solar power project in Ormoc City, Leyte. Renewable Energy Management Bureau director Mario Marasigan said the agency issued a certificate confirming the declaration of commerciality of the Leyte solar project to be built by Philippine Solar Farm-Leyte, which is led by Korean investors. The certificate issued to Philippine Solar Farm-Leyte is the first to be granted to a solar project in the Philippines, Marasigan said. “DoE recently issued a certificate confirming the declaration of commerciality to a 30-MW solar project,” Marasigan said. The declaration of commerciality refers to a written declaration from the developer, confirmed by the Energy Secretary, stating that the project was commercially feasible. The department evaluates the declaration and completes the processing within 30 days from receipt of submission. It then issues the certificate of confirmation of commerciality as a sign of approval of the declaration, which serves as notice to proceed to the construction stage. A final approval by the Energy Department will allow Philippine Solar Farm to avail of the P9.68 per kilowatthour feed-in tariff for solar projects. “Based on the submission of the company to the DoE, by January 2015, the project will be in commercial operations already,” Marasigan said. Philippine Solar Farm plans to construct the plant on a 44-hectare area in Barangay Dolores in Ormoc that will cost P2.9 billion.

The company is 40-percent owned by DS Steel Co. Ltd. of Korea, which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of stainless steel pipe. Philippine Solar Farm is keen on tapping funding from Korea Development Bank Daewoo Security Co. Local investors own the remaining 60 percent of the solar project. Meanwhile, Marasigan said the department was also set to confirm the declaration of commerciality of another solar company, which owns a 30-MW solar farm in Luzon.‐okays‐30‐mw‐leyte‐solar‐station/                             

Infra projects to lift GDP until 2015 By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:01am | 155 views

Infrastructure projects under the public-private partnership scheme will boost the country’s economic growth until 2015, according to a report from Standard Chartered Monday. “We expect the PPP initiative to impact GDP growth significantly in the next three years, while other solid fundamentals–firm household consumption and remittance inflows, the recent upgrade to investment grade and a gradually improving global economy–support GDP growth in the medium term,” the report entitled “Philippines-Infrastructure Boom to Boost Growth” said. “In our core scenario, we expect investment growth to accelerate in the next three years as a result of more PPP projects moving into the construction phase, along with increased foreign interest and investment in the economy, and a gradually improving global economy in the medium term,” Standard Chartered said. Standard Chartered said it revised its GDP growth forecasts for the next three years to 6.9 percent this year (from 5.8 percent), 6.3 percent in 2014 (from 6.1 percent) and 7 percent in 2015 (from 5.5 percent). It said the strong progress in PPPs led by favorable local and global investor sentiment would ensure many would start construction in 2014. It said with more successful highquality bids, the government could move projects to the construction phase faster. “As a result, investment growth continues to increase by double digits over the next three years. Export growth accelerates due to increasing investment. This ensures that growth exceeds the 6-7 percent target set for this year and stays around the government’s long-term growth target of 7-8 percent over the medium term,” it said. It said PPP projects would probably be in the construction phase in 2014-15, adding a slight delay was likely due to the government’s scrutiny of the quality of the bids.‐projects‐to‐lift‐gdp‐until‐2015/ 

Good news, bad news By Danilo Suarez | Posted on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:01am | 320 views 1

We agree fully with President Aquino’s Independence Day speech when he said that we would take a non-aggressive stance in dealing with other countries challenging the Philippines’ sovereignty but that we would not easily yield to territorial challenges. Diplomacy is the way to go especially since it is no secret that our security forces can be easily overcome by our neighbors. As George Patton famously stated: “No b*stard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb b*stard die for his country.” It is high time we take serious steps in modernizing our Armed Forces. Last Thursday, another Cebu Pacific plane—Flight 5J-558 from Iloilo, sideswiped five lights along Runway 6 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 after it reportedly encountered a strong crosswind. This is the second Cebu Pacific plane this month failing to make a safe landing. Earlier, a Cebu Pacific flight skidded off the runway at the Davao International Airport which left about 3,000 passengers stranded for several days. Coincidence or not, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines should take this as a cue to investigate the possible accountability of the company and to avoid similar incidents in the future. It was just quite fortunate that on both incidents, no passenger injuries were incurred. Sadly we could not say the same for the tragic sinking of the M/V Our Lady of Mount Carmel off Burias Island early Saturday. According to the ship’s captain Mateo Gregorio, the vessel tilted and sank after one of the passenger buses on the ferry came loose from its chain and nylon mooring. As of this writing, 61 survivors have been rescued—39 of them passengers and 22 crewmembers, but two fatalities have also been recovered with seven passengers still missing. In situations like this, time is of the utmost essence. Hence, we welcome the President’s directive to give priority to search and rescue operations being conducted for the still missing passengers.

The Office of Civilian Defense said that four of the missing passengers were not listed in the passenger manifest of the ill-fated RORO vessel. The MV Lady of Carmel was supposedly carrying only 57 passengers when it sank but 70 of them have been accounted for after maritime authorities conducted search and rescue operations in the waters off Burias Island, Masbate. Although this was not a case of overloaded passenger cargo, unlisted passengers have been reported in the majority of maritime accidents in the past. Under current laws, every person on board a transport ship must be listed down in its manifest regardless of whether they are paying or non-paying passengers. This fact should be underscored in the ongoing investigations. The three incidents above should be a wakeup call for the Department of Transportation and Communication. It should not only determine if there was negligence on the part of the officers and crew of Carmel or if it was truly an accident. This move will be in line with the government’s policy of zero casualties in times of calamities, especially since our country experiences more than 20 typhoons annually. However, even with the current pronouncements of Malacañang that all concerned agencies are preparing pro-active measures and protocols to be followed when a typhoon enters the Philippine area of responsibility, the flooding that affected several parts of the metropolis last week reflects a poor index if it is to be taken as a portent of the preparations being done. On the positive end, it is good to hear that for the first quarter of the year, remittances from overseas Filipinos rose 5.6 percent. Analysts have long held the view that remittances give more purchasing power to Filipinos. This consequently helps promote more economic activity. This hopefully can be sustained beyond the vacation season and help government provide a more inclusive growth for our economy.‐news‐bad‐news‐2/       

Urban vegetable gardens By Pastor Apollo Quiboloy | Posted on Jun. 17, 2013 at 12:01am | 654 views 1

Over salabat, a friend told me that siling labuyo now costs P600 a kilo in Metro Manila—that is if you can find any. In some sari-sari stores, he said, the mouth-scorching match-size dynamite retails for a peso each. I replied that 20 years ago, for that price, one could have bought a drum of native chili pepper with a fire extinguisher free. This cued my friend to recite the supermarket prices of the vegetables in the Bahay Kubo ditty. Not one fell in the 30-peso-per-kilo bracket which is probably why he ended his report with an OMG—Oh my gulay! And take note, my hyperventilating friend added, we’re not yet deep into the monsoon season when veggie prices rise with flood water. As to the chili, there are cheaper and bigger options, like the Thai-developed variety, my friend said. But, he warned, that in the heat scale or what is called the kurat factor in Bisaya, nothing beats the compressed capsaicin in the bantam labuyo. *** The rising prices of chop suey and pinakbet ingredients should prompt the government to launch a grow-your-own vegetables campaign. If taken against the backdrop of hunger that stalks our nations—23 million Pinoys had nothing to eat at some point in March, according to one survey—the argument for home gardens assumes urgency. There are as many nutrients in vegetables as there are benefits in growing them. Saving money is one. About 45 centavos in every household peso is spent on food. And only four centavos further goes to buying vegetables and fruits. The culprit? Veggies are no longer that affordable for the minimum wage earner. So a family would rather buy rice and the de facto national food— instant noodles .

Never mind if the over-iodized noodle is rich in kidney stones for as long as it can keep the kids’ tummies full and stop them from baying in hunger. *** Tending our own vegetable patch —or pot—assures us of safe food. It is an open secret that the reason why vegetables glow with plastic-like sheen is that they’ve been showered with pesticide and soaked in weed killers. If we want carcinogens out of our salad, then home-growing our leafies is the way to go. If we want to go organic, then, like charity, it must begin at home. We can have vegetables that are self-certified as organic instead of paying an arm for labels that attest that they are. Another dividend of a home garden is that it doubles as a garbage-recycling facility. Instead of bagging biodegradables, or flushing food scraps down the drain, they can be composted in pots , and turned into

natural fertilizers.

*** For a city-dwelling family, a vegetable patch–or pot–will not be enough to meet all its daily vegetable needs. But it can lead to savings in the food budget and post some surplus in the nutritional scale. The next question is that is it feasible to have a small green patch if one lives, for example, in a mass housing tenement pretending to be a glitzy high-rise ? Or in a hovel with the railroad track as front porch? The answer of experts is yes. Pots do not occupy much space so having a milk can , or two, or better five, and planting each with pechay, eggplant , or tomato will allow one to whip up a pinakbet out of fresh produce . Needless to say, some crops are better produced in farms like the water-hungry rice, which would make Maynilad richer should you attempt to carve a paddy in your condo balcony . And , of course, it is impossible , not to mention illegal, to raise any one-ton milk-dispensing beast in your sala or let a mango tree shoot up through your loft. But growing a small shrub that soon yields P600 per kilo sili ? Anyone can pull it off even those whose thumbs are not green. By the way , to the ambitious looking for inspiration, the Dutch can coax 70 kilos of tomatoes out of a square meter of greenhouse lot.

In the Philippines, the national annual per capita production of eggplant is two kilos and five for camote. Any city slicker can beat that. *** The government likes to endlessly crow that the agriculture sector has a budget of P103 billion this year. Much of the amount, however, is earmarked for big-ticket items, like irrigation, or for crops that occupy a stellar role in the export column. Allocation for urban gardening, or home vegetable growing is given a budget footprint that is as a big as a sili. This bias probably stems from the policy that does not recognize urban families as potential food growers. But with the right incentives and correct examples, they can be. The career North Avenue farmers in the DA can start giving out packets of vegetables . Perhaps , Secretary Proceso Alcala can showcase a demonstration organic farm in that park in front his office , inside the QC Memorial Circle, instead of latter sprouting mechanical caterpillar rides. Its neighbor, the Philippine Information Agency can blitz the air with advertorials on the whys and hows of urban gardening like how it is better to grow an eggplant than a plant that attracts mosquito eggs. Instead of bermuda grass, road islands can be planted with a carpet of camote leaves, courtesy of MMDA. And our hardworking President can borrow a leaf from the handbook of presidential residence maintenance of the Obamas, when Michelle transformed a part of the White House garden into a vegetable patch. After all, it does not say that he must have a partner to have one in Bahay Pangarap.‐vegetable‐gardens/           

Posted on June 17, 2013 11:36:56 PM

SDA easing cycle over AN EASING CYCLE focused on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) special deposit accounts (SDA) is over after interest rates on the facility were kept unchanged last week, Citi said.

  SDA costs are said to be part of the reason why the Bangko Sentral ended last year in the red. -- BW File Photo

"We... interpret the Monetary Board’s decision as a signal that existing monetary accommodation is sufficient to mitigate downside growth risks with upbeat fiscal spending as the appropriate... catalyst in support of domestic demand and job creation," the bank said in a report released last Friday. The BSP’s policy-making body, which analysts expected would cut SDA rates for a fourth consecutive time, instead kept these at 2% across all tenors. Overnight borrowing and lending rates were also kept at 3.5% and 5.5%, respectively, as expected. Monetary officials claimed that existing policy settings were appropriate, with the economy posting strong growth and inflation staying low. The economy grew by a stronger-than-expected 7.8% in the first quarter, beating the government’s 6-7% target and outpacing the rest of Asia. Inflation has averaged 3% as of May, at the low end of the central bank’s 3-5% target. The decision to keep policy and SDA rates unchanged, Citi said, can also indicate that the central bank is under "less severe financial pressure." The BSP, in the red since 2010, booked a net loss of P86.3 billion last year. It was the highest on record and nearly three times the P32.4-billion shortfall registered in 2011. Monetary officials have said that it was due to foreign exchange operations and interest payments -- the latter among the reasons why SDA rates have been cut by 150 basis points. The end of the easing cycle for SDAs, meanwhile, could weigh on the peso. "The lack of any rate cut ... puts the burden on the weak peso as the market adjustment mechanism to absorb prevailing macro shocks, while easing demands on interest rates that may only court asset bubble risk rather than lift demand," Citi said. Bonds could also see increased demand as investors shift out of SDAs.

"The end to SDA easing reinforces short-duration exposure in the bond market. Since last week, we noted more offers of long duration that resulted in the 25-year yield drifting up near the 5% range from 4.75%," Citi noted, adding that "breaching 5% on the upside would start to make the long-end appealing." Inflation, meanwhile, could accelerate later on this year on the back of adjustments to power rates and sustained inflows of foreign capital. "In our updated monthly consumer price index extrapolation, inflation will remain soft, though upticks to 3% are expected late in the fourth quarter, straying within the lower half of the BSP’s annual inflation target range of 3-5% over the next 12 months," Citi said. -- A. R. R. Gregorio‐easing‐cycle‐over&id=71984                                 

Posted on June 17, 2013 11:35:01 PM

Water rate adjustments OK’d   CONSUMERS SHOULD expect changes to their water bills for next month after foreign currency-related adjustments were approved by regulators, who are also expected to soon rule on pending rate-rebasing petitions.   East zone concessionaire Manila Water Co. Inc. yesterday said its clients will have to pay P0.58 per cubic meter (cu m) less, while Maynilad Water Services, which services the west zone, said customers would have to fork out an added P0.17/cu m. Both involve foreign currency differential adjustments (FCDA) approved by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the firms said, adding that the changes take effect starting July 3 and will be reflected in bills sent out in August. Jeric T. Sevilla Jr., Manila Water corporate communications head, said: "customers who consume 30 cu m per month, our benchmark, will be charged P604.99 from the current P614.8". Those with a monthly consumption of 10 cu m will see their bills decrease to P136.76 from P136.94, while those using 20 cu m will have pay P297.08 from P301.90. Maynilad, meanwhile, said: "households consuming 10 cubic meters or less every month will see their water bills increase by P0.39 from P119.12 to P119.51, while those consuming 20 cubic meters every month will see their water bill increase from P422.35 to P423.82, a difference of P1.47." "[H]ouseholds consuming 30 cubic meters a month will note an increase of P3.01 in their water bill, from the current P847.42 to P850.43," it added. The firms’ concession agreements with the MWSS allow them to pass foreign exchange gains or losses to customers. Manila Water, in a disclosure, said: "the FCDA component of the water bill will be adjusted from negative 0.37% of the second quarter of 2013 to negative P1.97% of the basic charge for the third quarter of 2013." Maynilad corporate communications head Cherubim O. Mojica, meanwhile, said the FCDA component for the firm was changed "from negative 0.98% of the second quarter to negative 0.61% in the third quarter." Further rate changes will come courtesy of the rate-rebasing mechanism, with the MWSS currently reviewing petitions filed by the two concessionaires. Manila Water wants to raise its P28.29/cu m basic water charge by P5.83/cu m, while Maynilad wants its P30.28/cu m charge increased by P8.58/cu m. The proposed adjustments were included in business and investment plans submitted to the MWSS in March 2012 as part of the rate-rebasing process, which is done every five years. Acting MWSS chief Emmanuel L. Caparas last week said the regulator could issue a decision in July.

"We still hope to come out with the decision next month. So if we publish the decision, for example July 15, and it will be effective after 15 days, then it will be implemented on August 1," he said. Rate rebasing, Mr. Caparas explained, "determines the appropriate water rate adjustments to enable the two water companies to recover their investments and implement their planned projects for their concession areas." Manila Water provides water and wastewater services to the east zone concession area covering parts of Quezon City and Makati City, southeastern portions of Manila, Taguig, Pateros, Marikina, Pasig, San Juan, Mandaluyong, and parts of Rizal province. Maynilad, meanwhile, services most of Manila, parts of Quezon and Makati, the cities of Caloocan, Pasay, Para単aque, Las Pi単as, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon in Metro Manila, as well as the cities of Bacoor and Imus and municipalities of Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario in Cavite province. -- CAMCF

Posted on June 17, 2013 10:32:06 PM By Cliff Harvey C. Venzon, Reporter

PPP project retains interest  

TWO CONGLOMERATES -- Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and Ayala Corp. -- remain interested in Cavite-Laguna (CALA) Expressway project despite changes in the public-private partnership (PPP) deal’s bidding terms, senior officials of both firms said separately yesterday.   The planned four-lane, 47.02-kilometer Cavite-Laguna Expressway will connect South Luzon Expressway, a segment of which is shown in this file photo taken in November last year, with the Manila-Cavite Expressway. -- JLC

“Yes, we will pursue,” MPIC Chief Financial Officer David J. Nicol said in a text message when asked if the company would still bid despite changes. “We are interested in CALA and [we] will look into the details as soon as bid documents are finalized,” John Eric T. Francia, Ayala’s managing director and head for corporate strategy and development, said in a separate text. Public Works Undersecretary Rafael C. Yabut last week said deadline for submission of qualification documents for the P35.5-billion project, originally set last June 10, was moved to a still undetermined date as the government decided to remove the P15-billion official development assistance component that was to finance the state’s participation in the project. In a telephone interview yesterday, PPP Center Executive Director Cosette V. Canilao said the “government ‘could be out’ of the project as the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) is still finalizing bidding parameters.” The private sector will be the one undertaking the segment originally intended for the government, she explained. The CALA Expressway project involves construction of a 47-kilometer (km) highway that will connect the Manila-Cavite and South Luzon (SLEx) expressways. As originally planned, the private sector was to finance, design and build the P19.7-billion, 28.9-km Cavite section from Kawit to Aguinaldo Highway in Silang, while the government was to finance, design and build the P15.8-billion, 18.1-km Laguna section from the Aguinaldo Highway to the SLEx Mamplasan exit in Laguna. Ms. Canilao said the move was meant to avoid “integration risks.” “Some of the interested parties were concerned that their revenue projections might be affected if the government fails to deliver its part on time,” she explained. Officials of other parties earlier identified as being keen on the project -- San Miguel Corp. and the Villar Group. -- were not immediately available for comment. Ms. Canilao last week said revision of terms was encouraged by the success of the P15.8-billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Expressway project. San Miguel -- the winning bidder -- offered P11billion payment to the government on top of construction cost. San Miguel made the P11-billion payment early this month.

MPIC and Ayala Corp. have been active participants in the government’s flagship infrastructure program. Ayala in September 2011 bagged the P1.96-billion Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway Link, the first PPP project to be awarded by the Aquino administration. Ayala and MPIC have teamed up to bid for the P60-billion expansion and operation of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) and the P1.72-billion automated fare collection system (AFCS) for Metro Manila’s light railways. The Ayala-MPIC partnership was pre-qualified to bid for those projects. Ayala and MPIC, with their respective consortia, were also pre-qualified to bid for the P17.5-billion project to expand and operate Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Bidding for the LRT-1 project is set for next month while auction for AFCS and Mactan-Cebu airport projects will be in August. The second PPP project awarded by the government was the P16.42-billion PPP School Infrastructure Project Phase One that was bagged last year by the Citicore Holdings Investment, Inc.-Megawide Construction Corp., Inc. and BF Corp.-Riverbanks Development Corp. consortia; while the third one was the NAIA Expressway project that was awarded last month to San Miguel. Yesterday, shares of MPIC added five centavos or 0.93% to P5.43 apiece, while those of Ayala gained P13.50 or 2.35% to close at P587.50 each. MPIC is the local unit of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., which partly owns Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT). Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a minority stake in BusinessWorld.

Posted on June 17, 2013 10:29:29 PM

South Korean firm to put up P20-B resort in Subic in four years   A SOUTH KOREAN-owned firm has signed a deal to build a P20-billion resort in the Subic Bay Freeport in the next four years, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said in a statement yesterday.   SBMA and Resom Resort Philippines signed a deal last June 13 to develop a “world-class resort complex” worth some P20 billion in the freeport. The project has two phases. The first phase of the project “involves development of a prime waterfront property previously known as the mini-golf course with a gross area of two hectares and a buildable area of 6,000 square meters.” The second phase will develop the 300-hectare Naval Magazine area. “Resom is committed to invest P1.2 billion for the construction in [the mini-golf course] area of a luxury hotel with around 300 rooms, convention facilities, pool, spa, restaurants and other support facilities,” SBMA said. The first phase is targeted to be ready for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November 2015. Resom will spend around P19 billion for the second phase of the project which is expected to be completed in four years. “This will include the construction of a world-class resort complex that will have hotels, condominiums, a theme park, luxury pool villas, casino and gaming operations, a waterpark and spa, health and wellness center, duty free shopping and a championship golf course,” SBMA said. The agency said it hopes the project “will contribute substantially to the country’s tourism campaign” by attracting both local and foreign visitors. Resom owns and operates three resorts in South Korea, according to the same statement, citing Ocean Castle, Resom Waterpark and Spa, and the Forest Villa Resort. It also runs a golf course and resort in Weihai, China, the statement added. -- ENJD

Posted on June 17, 2013 10:27:39 PM

Holding company reports public float now tops minimum requirement   LISTED Nextstage, Inc. has informed the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) that it has met the bourse’s 10% minimum public ownership (MPO) requirement.   In a June 13 letter to the bourse that was disclosed on Friday last week, the technology-oriented holding firm said it has raised its public ownership level to 10.15% from 1.2% as of last June 3. “We advise the PSE that Nextstage has taken the necessary steps to achieve full compliance with the public ownership requirement,” the company said in its letter. It recounted that the float level was raised in two phases: • reversion to public ownership of shares, equivalent to a 6.2% stake, formerly held by company director Rafael A. Morales who was not reelected during the annual stockholders’ meeting last April 30, thus initially raising the free float level to 7.4%; and • on June 6, transfer by shareholder Perfect Research Technology Corp. of shares equivalent to a 2.75% stake to a certain Brian Vincent L. Belen. The company said it “shall issue the corresponding secretary’s certificate of full compliance with the MPO requirement,” adding that the recent “transfer of shares will bring Nextstage, Inc’s public shareholdings to 10.15%.” It is now awaiting the bourse’s verification of its new public float level. Trading of the company’s shares -- last traded on April 26, 2006 at P3 apiece -- has been suspended since May 16, 2008 for having failed to comply with PSE’s “continuing listing requirements.” Besides Nextstage, PSE had identified in a June 3 memorandum four other public float-deficient firms: Southeast Asia Cement Holdings, Inc. (Seacem), with a former public ownership level of 2.41%; Philcomsat Holdings Corp., 9.60%; PAL Holdings, Inc., 0.55%; and PNOC-Exploration Corp. “A”, 0.21%. Trading of Seacem shares resumed on Thursday last week after the firm was verified as having raised its public ownership level to 10.13%. Seacem shares ended yesterday at P1.30 apiece, 30 centavos or 18.75% less than their closing price of P1.60 each last Friday.The other firms have until the end of this month to meet PSE’s public float requirement or be automatically delisted the next day. The bourse’s June 3 memorandum had also noted that, besides Seacem and Nextstage, Philcomsat and PAL Holdings had “signified their intent to comply with the MPO requirement prior to the lapse of the suspension period.”

Posted on June 17, 2013 10:19:57 PM

Leyte solar project gets green light   PHILIPPINE SOLAR Farm-Leyte, Inc. has been given the green light to proceed with construction of its 30-megawatt (MW) solar power project in Leyte after the Energy department declared the venture as commercially feasible.   “The Department of Energy (DoE) recently issued a certificate confirming the declaration of commerciality to a 30-MW solar project,” Mario C. Marasigan, DoE’s director for Renewable Energy Management Bureau, told reporters yesterday at the department’s headquarters in Taguig City. Mr. Marasigan identified the company as Philippine Solar Farm-Leyte, Inc., adding that “it is the first company to receive a confirmation from the Energy department for a solar project.” The company will build the plant in Barangay Dolores in Ormoc, Leyte. “They can now proceed with construction of their project. Based on the company’s submission with the DoE, by January 2015, the project will be in commercial operation already,” Mr. Marasigan said. He added that the DoE will confirm commerciality of another solar project “within the month.” “We are reviewing one more application for a solar project and we will confirm its declaration of commerciality next month,” he said, refusing to name the firm. Mr. Marasigan said the project also involves a 30-MW solar power plant, which will be built in Luzon. -Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano

Posted on June 17, 2013 11:15:18 PM

DoE to speed up RE application process   THE DEPARTMENT of Energy (DoE) will hasten the approval of applicants that are interested in developing renewable energy (RE).   "By December, no more pending projects on REs," Mario C. Marasigan, director of DoE’s Renewable Energy Management Bureau, told reporters attending a workshop on renewable energy in Manila on Monday. At present, about 150 RE project applications are pending at the DoE, the bulk of which involves hydropower. Mr. Marasigan said the department hopes to assess and study all the applications with regard to augmenting the country’s electricity supply as well as transportation that would reduce the emission of carbon dioxide gas. He said one of the measures is to streamline the number of signatories that are needed for companies applying for the approval of RE projects. In the current system, a company needs at least 100 signatories for it to have the green light to operate. However, Mr. Marasigan said that compared with companies that are into oil and coal, the process of REs’ approval is still faster. "REs are still fast in getting the requirement," he said, adding that with streamlining, RE applicants could get approval within a year. RE is derived from fossil fuel alternatives such as water, wind, solar power, and geothermal power, to name a few. In Mindanao, more than half of the grid’s supply comes from state-owned hydropower plants. For Mindanao alone, which suffered from long power shortages for much of the first half of the year, the DoE, the Mindanao Development Authority, and international donors are conducting an inventory study on hydropower. The study aims to identify other areas in the southern Philippines that are suitable for hydropower plants. Mr. Marasigan said his group is also coming up with a vulnerability assessment study on RE because availability is affected or influenced by human activities and climate change. "We are collaborating with the Climate Change Commission on this aspect," he said. The DoE’s new tack in focusing its programs on green energy has come amid complaints by environmentalist groups. Anna G. Abad, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, told BusinessWorld of impressions that the government’s RE promotion has been weak, while coal- and diesel-fed power plants are being allowed to come in. There is a "conflicting direction" within the government with regard to finding energy sources, she said.

"Because on one hand, you have the national renewable energy plan that seeks to increase the renewable energy supply by threefold or 15 MW by 2020. On the other hand, the Energy department is pushing for more coal-fired power plants in the country," she said. Greenpeace recently released a study on the benefits of RE. "Renewables -- as opposed to coal and other fossil fuel industries -- typically have a relatively high labor intensity, which means they spend more on hiring people; have a higher domestic content than conventional fossil fuel sectors in the Philippines; and often produce higher-value, better paying, cleaner, healthier jobs than the fossil fuel industry does," the study said. As for revenues, the report data showed that geothermal power -- considered a mature industry in the Philippines -- has saved the government over $7 billion since 1977. The report also said that the Philippines has the natural resources to propel itself as an RE leader in Southeast Asia. Ms. Abad said that although it is "a good sign" that the government approved the feed-in tariff rate for RE in July last year, there are still "mechanisms that have yet to be approved that is delaying the full enforcement and implementation of the RE law." "I believe there is a lot foot-dragging and bureaucratic process hindering the implementation of law. That is why they are using this opportunity in the pushing for coal because it is easier for them that way," she said. The present feed-in tariff rates approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission for RE are: P5.90 per kilowatt hour (kWh) for run-of-river hydro; P6.63 per kWh for biomass, P8.53 for wind; and P9.68 for solar. -- Darwin T. Wee

Posted on June 17, 2013 11:12:58 PM

NCR wage board talks next month PUBLIC consultations with various stakeholders will be held next month to assess if there is a need to adjust the daily minimum pay in Metro Manila, officials of the regional wage board yesterday said.   "We [Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board of the National Capital Region] have set the schedules of public consultations on July 5 and 10," German N. Pascua, Jr., Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) representative to the regional wage board, said in a phone interview. He said representatives from the government, the labor sector, and employers will be invited to discuss whether supervening conditions exist as to warrant any wage hike in Metro Manila. Asked if the wage hike petition filed by the group of former Senator Ernesto "Boy" F. Herrera was approved, Mr. Pascua said: "It [petition] will form part of our discussion during the public consultations.’ On June 7, Mr. Herrera, who has figured in a leadership dispute in the TUCP, filed a petition asking the Metro Manila wage board to raise daily minimum wages by P83 per day, citing "continuing increases in the prices of petroleum products, transport fares, and in basic goods and services." The proposed amount was lower than the P85 per day in a petition filed early April by the group of Raymond Democrito T. Mendoza. This petition was denied by the wage board as it was submitted within the one-year ban without supervening conditions to justify its filing. A Department of Labor and Employment decision late last month recognized Mr. Mendoza as head of TUCP, but the wage board will still consider the petition of Mr. Herrera’s group. "As long as there is a wage petition from any labor group, the wage board has to entertain the petition. The issue of leadership of the TUCP is sub judice, pending before the DoLE. It is not for us to decide on that," said Vicente R. Leogardo, Jr., Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines representative to the Metro Manila wage board. -- Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag


Posted on June 17, 2013 11:09:01 PM

Road Board seeks bids to light national roads THE ROAD Board yesterday called on investors to bid for a package under the National Road Lighting Program.

  "The Road Board now invites bidders to bid for the National Road Lighting Program (Supply and Installation of Luminaries) Package 5," a notice published in a newspaper yesterday read. Package 5 includes national roads within Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals 1, 2, and 3; in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija; and in Iloilo province, among other places. The Road Board, through the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge Special Support Fund 151 for 2013, has approved a budget of P102.11 million for payments under the contract. According to the notice, interested parties may obtain information and purchase bidding documents upon payment of a non-refundable fee of P50,000 from June 17 to July 29. A pre-bid conference will be held on July 1 for firms who have purchased bid documents. The Road Board set the opening of bids for July 29. Adolfo L. Escalona, Road Board executive director and chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee, yesterday said in a phone interview that "more or less one month" after the opening of bids, the Road Board will evaluate the offers and will award a contract. The board requires works to be completed "within 150 calendar days from the first day of contract." The Road Board is composed of the departments of Budget and Management, Finance, Public Works and Highways, Transportation and Communication, and a private sector representative. -- K.M.P. Tubadeza‐Board‐seeks‐bids‐to‐light‐ national‐roads&id=71976         

Solons to toe Belmonte’s line on Cha-cha revival •

Written by Charlie V. Manalo

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 08:00

With the opening of the 16th Congress only a few weeks away, the bid to amend the 1987 Constitution has been revived. At least two House members yesterday affirmed their commitment to help Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. in pushing Charter change (Cha-cha) to amend the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution to attract investments and capital that will create more employment and reduce the incidence of poverty in the country. Critics fear that once the congressional assembly opens the door to Cha-cha, there is no one that can stop a member of Congress from introducing other amendments or even propose the drafting of a new Charter. Reelected Representatives Magtanggol Gunigundo (Valenzuela City) and Romero Quimbo (Marikina City) both expressed support for the Cha-cha initiative of the Speaker who recently said he continues to believe in amending the economic restrictions in the Constitution. Gunigundo said while pushing the amendments of these restrictive provisions, there should be a guarantee for the smooth implementation of these changes by local government units (LGUs) to fully encourage investors. “Changes in the economic provisions of the Constitution have good intentions. But it will be handicapped by LGUs that fail to streamline procedures. The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) should focus on this and not limit itself on police and peace and order functions,” Gunigundo said. He added without the necessary LGU reforms, inflow of foreign investments would not reach forecast levels even if lawmakers succeed at changing economic constitutional provisions. “Following the Doing Business in Philippines Indicators, there should be a streamlining procedure in the issuance of business permits, building permits, transfer of real property and payment of real property taxes,” Gunigundo said.Quimbo also expressed support for the Speaker’s bid to amend the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. “We need to review these provisions. I will follow what the Speaker wants,” he added.‐solons‐to‐toe‐belmonte‐s‐line‐on‐cha‐cha‐ revival 

IT-BPM industry gets ready for int’l outsourcing summit • •

Written by Tribune Tuesday, 18 June 2013 08:00

The Philippines will host global industry leaders in the annual International Outsourcing Summit (IOS) in October, according to the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP). Themed “Unlocking Possibilities, Creating New Vistas,” this year’s summit will focus on the implications of the global power shift, and how developing economies are paving the way for innovation and expanding business opportunities. “For the past five years, IOS has played a significant role in supporting the development of the information technology and business process management industry and its various sectors by enhancing discourse, fostering partnerships and promoting knowledge-sharing on issues that matter to all of us,” said Jose Mari Mercado, IBPAP president and CEO. The summit will be held Oct. 6 to 8 at Makati Shangri-La. To stay competitive, companies are tapping highly-skilled global talent from various locations to deliver key services for segments such as animation, healthcare information management, contact center, software development and game development. International research firm Everest Group said the Philippines is gaining ground in the field of software development and information technology outsourcing. The Philippine healthcare information management sector also achieved highest growth among the sectors with $430 million in revenues for 2012. The country also leads in the voice or contact center sector, growing 21 percent last year. Game development, on the other hand, is becoming an integral component of Canada’s new digital economy with $2.3 billion in revenues in 2012, according to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada. In the animation sector, India’s growth is estimated at 15-20 percent per annum with revenues at $247 million and 80,000 in workforce. During the summit, high-level executives, analysts and domain experts will examine global issues from the perspective of the countries or regions which they represent. Panel discussions and executive briefings will highlight the role of emerging economies on the industry. Delegations will also gain networking opportunities and insights from business matching sessions and the exhibition. “This year’s IOS will be another milestone for Philippines. Industry stakeholders, both from developing

countries and economic giants, will lend their perspectives on the innovative services and niche areas that build on the global IT-BPM momentum. We will also consider culture and the transformation of work as well as the industry’s impact on specific locations,” Mercado said. Delegates attending the summit are encouraged to register early to take advantage of early bird rates until July 21.‐it‐bpm‐industry‐gets‐ready‐for‐int‐l‐ outsourcing‐summit                                   

Asean economic execs tour Covidien medical facility • •

Written by Tribune Tuesday, 18 June 2013 08:00

Visiting ministers and delegates to Covidien’s plant were briefed on advanced medical technology that will provide better access to life-saving devices for stroke patients. A delegation of trade and economic ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region recently toured Covidien’s state-of-the-art manufacturing, research and development facility in Irvine, California. Covidien, a leading global provider of healthcare products, manufactures neurovascular devices at the facility, which are used around the world as part of minimally-invasive surgical procedures to treat and save the lives of stroke victims. Following the tour at the facility, Lim Hong Hin, deputy secretary-general of Asean for Asean Economic Community said, “It was important to visit this facility in order to learn about some of the most advanced technologies in the medical device industry, and how these can contribute to bettering the health and lives of many people in our region.” Organized by the US-Asean Business Council of Washington, DC, the group is visiting several enterprises in the US, but Covidien’s plant is the only healthcare manufacturing facility visited by the delegation during their weeklong trip. Harry de Wit, President, Asia, Covidien said, “We are honored that this delegation of senior ministers from 10 markets in Asia chose to visit our facility to see first-hand the innovation and skill that goes into the production of these intricate medical devices. As part of the visit, we briefed the Ministers on some of our groundbreaking products, such as a device used to treat patients with complex brain aneurysms.” He said, “Several of the products manufactured at our facility are already used by neurointerventionalists in some markets in Asean. These products have the potential to limit or prevent the damage a stroke can have on the brain. Access to these products is a major shift in neurosurgery — it moves us from open surgery to minimally invasive techniques. I hope this visit will further open the door for these life-saving technologies in the Asian markets.” Published in Business‐asean‐economic‐execs‐tour‐covidien‐ medical‐facility 

Isang seryosong master plan ang kailangan! OPINION Indibidwal mang lungsod at ƒ munisipyo o pangkalahatan, walang master plan para sa flood system ang Metro Manila. Kaya ang sabi ni Manila Cong. Benjamin Asilo, malabo talagang masolusyunan ang problema sa baha ng kalungsuran.

Oo nga naman! Ano ba talaga ang master plan kung paano paaagusin sa mga estero at waterways ang tubig na pumupuno sa mga kalsada ng 16 na lungsod at nag-iisang munisipalidad ng Metro Manila tuwing umuulan?

Tama naman talaga ang punto ni Cong. Asilo. Hindi pwedeng maging indibidwal ang paggawa ng mga proyekto at paglalapat ng flood plan sa 17 lugar sa Metro Manila dahil magkakadugtong ang mga kalsada nito.

Hindi garantiya na kung aayusin halimbawa ng Makati City o ng Las Piñas City ang kanilang drainage system ay hindi na ito babahain. Ito ay sa kadahilanang kapitbahay nito ang mga bahaing lungsod ng Parañaque at Pasay.

Sa isang banda, kung sakaling ang maging solusyon naman halimbawa ng Quezon City ay magpataas ng mga kalsada, lalo naman nitong palulubugin ang mababang lugar ng Maynila na nakabungad sa Manila Bay at Ilog Pasig.

Sa kaso ng Camanava area (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas at Valenzuela Cities), hindi maaaring ipikit ang problema ng baha rito ng mga katabing lungsod dahil ang pumupondong tubig sa kanila ay tiyak na hahanap ng lagusan at dadaloy rin kalaunan sa mga katabi.

Patunay ito na magkakadugtong ang bituka ng 16 na lungsod at nag-iisang munisipalidad sa Metro Manila kaya kailangan talaga na sama-samang upuan at harapin ang problema ng baha bilang iisang lupon.

Tapusin na muna ang pagkakanya-kanya. Dito ngayon kailangang umentra ang national government sa pamamagitan ng Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) at Department of Public Works & Highways (DPWH).

Ang unang kailangang ilatag ay ang indibidwal na ‘existing’ flood plan ng bawat local government

unit (LGU) ng 17 lugar ng Metro Manila. Mula rito ay aaralin ang bawat isa habang tinutukoy kung aling mga bahagi at lansangan ang mayroong pinakamalaking problema sa baha. Sa ganitong paraan ay madedetermina kung aling flood plan ang epektibo, alin ang nangangailangan ng kaunting rebisyon at alin ang kailangan na talagang palitan nang buo at gawan ng panibagong plano.

Mula sa indibidwal na pag-aaral ay pagdudugtung-dugtungin ito para sa kinakailangang adjustments. Napakahalaga na ang flood plan ng isang lungsod ay sukat o tugma sa flood plan ng katabi para hindi ito makakaperwisyo at hindi makakapagpalala sa sitwasyon ng iba pa.

Panghuli, ang mababalangkas na master plan para sa buong Metro Manila ay kailangang aprubado at paninindigan ng bawat alkalde na kasalukuyang nakaupo at kailangang siguruhing ipagpapatuloy ng mga susunod sa kanyang puwesto.

Hindi ito dapat nababago, napuputol o ibabalik sa pagkakanya-kanya nang dahil lamang sa pulitika. Ang pagbabago lamang na tatanggapin sa hinaharap ay kung hinihingi na ng sitwasyon. Pero muli ay kailangan itong pag-usapan at sama-samang buuin ng indibidwal na gobyerno sa Metro Manila.                       

Kaligayahan o kagalakan? Alin ang mas maganda?   Habang isinusulat OPINION ƒ ko ito’y nakikinig ako sa isang kantang masaya. Sikat ito nu’ng mga 1980’s. ‘Yung isa kasi sa mga kabataan ng church namin, naaaliw du’n! “Walking on Sunshine” ang tawag. Sa pamagat pa lang ay talagang mag-iisip kang huminga nang malalim, ibato na lang sa labas ng bintana ang mga problema mo, at maglakad-lakad sa liwanag ng araw (‘yan ay kung hindi kasalukuyang binabaha sa lugar ninyo, hehehe).

Biglang ipinaalala sa akin ng Panginoong Diyos ang isang importanteng bagay. Napakahalagang matutong maging masayahin. Gusto kasi ng Banal na Espiritu na nagagamit natin nang husto ‘yung mga kaloob-espirituwal (o spiritual gifts sa Ingles) na ibinibigay Niya sa bawat nilalang na nagiging tunay na mananampalataya kay Jesus.

“Subalit ang bunga ng Espiritu ay pag-ibig, kagalakan, kapayapaan, pagtitiyaga, kagandahangloob, kabutihan, katapatan....” (Galacia 5:22)

Kagalakan. Parang ang hirap mabuhay araw-araw na “nagagalak” sa bawat sandali, hindi po ba? Tumingin ka lang sa internet, puro balita na ng mga pagsabog ng bomba, mga patayan, mga iringan ng nagkakainisang bansa ang makikita mo roon.

May isang nagpaliwanag tungkol sa kaibhan ng “kaligayahan” (happiness) sa “kagalakan” (joy). Mas mahalaga ‘yung huli kaysa du’n sa una.

‘Yung “happiness” kasi, nangyayari sa iyo ‘yan kapag nakukuha mo ‘yung gusto mong makuha o nangyayari ‘yung gusto mong mangyari. Halimbawa, nanalo ‘yung team ng anak mo sa laban ng basketball sa eskwela. O kaya, nakabili ka ng bagong kotse. O kaya naman, “Hay, salamaattt!!! Bayad na lahat ng mga utang ko!! Thank You, Lord!”

‘Yan. ‘Yang ganyang mga sitwasyon, ‘happiness’ ang tawag diyan. Kaya po, ‘yung mga taong importante sa kanila ang happiness, sinisikap nilang makamtan ang mga bagay na sa palagay nila’y talagang makapagdudulot sa kanila ng kaligayahan.

Kadalasan, ganito ang ibig sabihin: Kapag marami kang pera, masaya ka.

E, teka muna. Papa’no naman ‘yung mga taong walang-wala sa buhay? Ibig bang sabihin, wala na silang pagkakataong maging maligaya sa buhay?

‘Yung pagiging maligaya kasi, kanya-kanya tayo ng depinisyon niyan. Pero, may sinasabi ang Bibliya na higit na mahalaga, higit na importante kaysa kaligayahan.

Ito ‘yung tinatawag ng Banal na Espiritu na ‘kagalakan’ o ‘joy’ sa wikang Ingles.

Sadyang makapangyarihan ang espirituwal na kaloob na ito. Kasi, kapag mayroon kang ‘joy’ (‘yung mga pilosopo, sasabihin, “Joy Bathroom Tissue”?), medyo kaiba ka sa ordinaryong tao. Magiging ganito ka kasi:

Kahit nalampasan ka ng katrabaho mo sa promosyon sa opisina, nakangiti ka pa rin. Ikaw pa ‘yung isa sa mga makikipag-kamay sa bagong “promote” para batiin siya.

Kahit mabasa sa ulan ang lahat ng sinampay mo, hindi ka magmumura, hindi ka maninisi ng ibang tao. Okey lang. Tahimik mong hahanguin ang labada sa sampayan at hindi ka gaanong “affected”. May ibang bagay kasing nagpapasaya sa buhay mo.

Kapag dumaan sa iyo ang matinding problema at sa mata ng mga tao’y para bang talunan ka, hindi masyadong mabigat para sa iyo. Alam mong may Katuwang ka sa lahat ng bagay. Nangako Siyang hindi ka iiwanan. Panandalian lang ang mga bagay-bagay sa daigdig, at sinabi Niya sa iyo na sa takdang panahon ay personal ka Niyang susunduin upang iuwi sa permanente mong “mansiyon” sa langit.

Araw-araw, iyan ang minumuni-muni mo. Kasama mo Siya. Iniibig ka Niya, at ikaw din ay umiibig sa Kanya. Namatay Siya para pagbayaran ang lahat ng pagkukulang mo sa Ama. Abswelto ka na sa kasalanan. Malaya ka nang makakapamuhay nang may kapayapaan.

O, kabayan, hindi ba magandang kahulugan iyan ng ‘kagalakan’? Pag-isipan mong mabuti. Shalom and God bless!


Tarlac City eyes nat’l nutrition award anew Published : Tuesday, June 18, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 49  Written by : George Hubierna  TARLAC City -- From the bottom list during past administration, the city government has attained the highest rank for three consecutive years in the regional and national search for best in nutrition program among local government units and is now a contender again to the national award in October at the Philippine International Convention Center, city health officer Dr. Carmela Go said in an interview. In coordination with City Social Welfare and Development, the City Agriculture Office, the City Manpower and Development Office and others, the CHO, under the leadership of Go and a city nurse Evelyn Gamurot, the city was able to maintain its CROWN (Consistent Regional Outstanding Winner in Nutrition) as well as in the national level. The city government, through the leadership of Mayor Ace Manalang, was able to gather all resources to achieve its objective and that is to implement the comprehensive nutrition packageso residents will get proper nourishment. Gathering all data from every barangay, the city health office was able to identify areas with the highest record of malnourished residents. The city is now implementing a 120-day consecutive feeding programs for lactating mothers, pre-schoolers and elementary pupils. All the 76 barangays have Salter weighing scales, and all the 94 public schools in the city have a Delecto weighing scale to monitor if the proper weight of the residents and pupils is maintained. Quarterly Operation Timbang is executed properly. Cleanliness and sanitation should be maintained in all barangays. Households should abide by RA 9003, the segregation of their own waste from biodegradable to non-biodegradable.‐tarlac‐city‐eyes‐natl‐nutrition‐award‐ anew     

CC, UP magtutulungan Published : Tuesday, June 18, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 50 

NITONG nakaraang Huwebes, nalubog sa baha ang ilang parte ng Metro Manila noong umulan nang malakas. Sabi ng Pagasa, hindi bagyo ang dahilan ng malakas na ulan kundi ang paglakas ng habagat. Dahil sa ulan at baha, sinuspinde ang klase sa mga pampublikong paaralan, kolehiyo at unibersidad sa mga lugar na naapektuhan ng masamang panahon. May ilang opisina rin ng pamahalaan ang nagsuspinde ng trabaho at pinauwi na ang kanilang mga empleyado gaya sa Manila City Hall. Mukhang patikim o sampol pa lang ito nang darating na mas matinding pangyayari. Kung inyong natatandaan, isang habagat din ang nagpalubog sa maraming lugar sa Metro Manila noong Agosto nang nakaraang taon. Nariyan pa rin ang ating dasal na sana ay huwag mangyari ang mga ganito katinding sakuna sa atin. Pero dahil sa climate change, at sabi na rin ng Pagasa, asahan natin na magiging mas maulan ang mga tag-ulan at napakainit ng tagaraw. Kaya naman ang iba’t ibang ahensiya ng ating gobyerno at

mga lokal na pamahalaan ay puspusan ang ginagawang paghahanda para matiyak ang kaligtasan ng mga tao ngayong panahon ng tag-ulan. Ang paghahanda ay kinabibilangan ng pagkakaroon ng tamang mga kagamitan at pagsasanay para sa pagsaklolo o pagliligtas sa mga tao sa panganib. Kaugnay po nito, bukas (Hunyo 19), magkakaroon ng pirmahan ng kasunduan ang ClimateChange Commission at Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (UP) para lalong mapabuti ang kanilang pagtutulungan sa larangan ng capacity development at pagbibigay ng iba pang kaugnay na climate services and actions para sa iba’t ibang sektor ng ating lipunan. Sakop din ng kasunduan ang pagbuo at pagpapatupad ng mga polisiya at mga programang may kaugnayan sa climate change sa iba’t ibang sektor kung saan pag-aaralan ang mga program at polisiyang ito nang makapagbigay ng kaukulang payo para ang mga ito ay mas makatutugon sa umiiral na sitwasyon. Ilan lamang iyan sa nilalaman ng kasunduan. Ang capacity development ay isa sa mga mandato ng Commission sa ilalim ng batas at sang-ayon din sa National Strategic Framework on ClimateChange at National Climate Change Action Plan. Itinuturing natin na napakaganda ang pagtutulungang ito. Ang UP ang isa sa pangunahing unibersidad sa bansa. Kilala siya sa pagbibigay ng mataas na kalidad ng edukasyon at pananaliksik. Sa kanyang mga campus nagmula ang maraming Pilipino na nagbigay ng karangalan sa ating bansa sa iba’t ibang larangan gaya sa sining at kultura, siyensiya at pananaliksik, batas at pulitika. Kaya’t ikinatutuwa natin sa Commission ang kasunduan sa pagtutulungan dahil sa makakukuha tayo ng mga eksperto sa larangan ng siyensiya at pananaliksik na lubhang kailangan natin sa ating paglaban sa climate change.

Makikinabang nang malaki ang ating mga kababayan lalunglalo na iyung mas madaling maapektuhan ng climate change. Kasama po natin dito ang German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) sa ilalim ng kanilang International Climate Initiative at ito ay may suporta ng Parliyamento ng bansang Germany. *** Para sa inyong mga mungkahi o komento, maaari po ninyo akong sulatan sa aking email o ’di kaya ay iparating ang mga ito sa aming facebook account(climate change commission) at twitter account (@CCCommissionPh). Pwede rin ninyo kaming tawagan sa aming opisina sa 735-30-69 at 735-31-44.‐ccc‐up‐magtutulungan                       

‘Big-4’ sangkot sa pekeng prangkisa ng UV Express Published : Tuesday, June 18, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 72

ANG biglaang pagdami ng mga peke at walang prangkisang UV Express at mga taksi sa Metro Manila ay kagagawan pala ng apat katao na tinaguriang ‘Big-4’ ng Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). Ang ‘Big-4’ ay patuloy na nagtatamasa ng malaking halaga ng salapi mula sa mga tongpats na nakakamal nila sa mga pekeng operator ng public utilities. At napaka-simple lang po ang gawain ng apat na tiwaling tauhan ng LTFRB at iyon ay ang pagbabato o pagpi-feed ng Electronic Confirmation of Franchise (ECF) Authentication Code ng LTFRB na may pekeng prangkisa sa Land Transportation Office (LTO). Ibinabato ang ECF Authentication Code sa pamamagitan naman ng computer system ng Stradcom, ang Information Technology provider ng LTO, na siya namang magiging basehan upang irehistro at bigyan ng LTO ng plaka ang isang may-ari ng ECF kahit peke ang prangkisa o walang prangkisa.

Ang ECF na ibinabato ng mga taga LTFRB sa LTO sa pamamagitan ng Stradcom, ang tanging sistema na pinaiiral upang agad na mairehistro ang isang pampasaherong sasakyan tulad ng PUB, PUJ, UV Express at mga taxi. Ayon sa aking mga espiya, walang kinalaman at pinagmumukhang tanga ng ‘Big-4’ ng LTFRB na kinilala sa mga pangalang Nida, Joel, Jun at Rene, ang mga tauhan ng LTO na siyang nag-iisyu ng rehistro at plaka. Matapos matanggap ng LTO sa pamamagitan ng Stradcom computer system ang ECF-Authentication Code sa pamamagitan nina Nida, Joel, Jun at Rene ay mabilis na maiisyuhan ng plaka ang UV Express na nakasaad sa nasabing code. Sa madaling sabi, sa simpleng pindot lang ng button ng computer system mula sa LTFRB at pagtanggap naman dito ng LTO sa pamamagitan ng Stradcom computer scheme, ay mabilis na nabibigyan ng plaka ang UV Express kahit na peke o walang prangkisa. Ayon sa mga dokumento, peke umano ang prangkisa at walang record sa LTFRB ang UV Express Service ng isang Gil M. Gerarcas na biyaheng Paliparan-Park ‘n Ride via Coastal Road na dumaraan sa Molino Road, Bayanan, Molino Extension, Talaba Longos, Coastal Road, Buendia Extension, Taft Ave., Park ‘n Ride Lawton, C. Aguila, San Marcelino, Quirino Ave. at Taft Ave. pabalik. Ang nasabing UV Express ay naisyuhan ng plakang POQ-677 at certificate of registration11312522-4 ng LTO Manila North District Office, matapos matanggap ang ECF-Authentication Code number 1F7DA064935AAD nina Nida, Joel, Jun at Rene. Si Clemente Tigno ng Sta. Quiteria, Baesa, Quezon City, ay

nairehistro naman sa LTO ang kanyang taksi na Toyota Vios 1.3 matapos ibato nina Nida, Joel, Jun at Rene ang ECF Authentication Code 8A8B1E27AE17AC sa LTO sa pamamagitan ng Stradcom computer scheme kung kaya’t narehistro ito at na-isyuhan ng plakang TOG-659 kahit walang prangkisa. At tulad ng UV Express ni Gerarcas, peke din ang prangkisa ni Susan S. Blanco, nang siya ay maisyuhan ng rehistro at plakang TGO-542 ng LTO sa kanyang Nissan Urvan na UV Express na biyaheng Rodriguez (Montalban, Rizal) Cubao. ECF Authentication Code number 111CA822EFFE81 ang ginamit nina Nida, Joel, Jun at Rene. Pekeng prangkisa din ang ginamit para maibato ang ECF-AC ED6C817167D809 ng isang Remigio Llarenas Jr., para sa kanyang truck for hire na biyaheng Montalban, Rizal to any point of Luzon na nabigyan ng rehistro at plakang UWA-331. Ilan po lamang iyan sa libu-libong UV Express, taksi at mga truck-for-hire na naisyuhan ng rehistro at plaka ng LTO ang bumibiyahe na sa kasalukyan dahil sa mga malalakas ang loob na tiwaling tauhan ng LTFRB. Ayon sa aking mga espiya, mula Php100,000 pataas ang tongpats sa ‘Big-4’ sa bawat UV Express na maiparerehistro nila sa LTO. Natuklasan lang ng mga matino at magagaling na traffic enforcer mula sa PNP Traffic Management Group (TMG), LTO at maging mga taga Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) ang pekeng prangkisa nang mahuli nila at na-beripika sa LTFRB. Pero ayon sa aking mga espiya, pasok na rin sa mga ‘traffic enforcer’ ang mga may-ari ng mga PUB, PUJ, UV Express at mga taxi na may pekeng prangkisa.

Samantala nasa plano na ng papasok na administrasyon ni Manila Mayor-elect Joseph Ejercito “Erap” Estrada, na linisin ang Maynila ng mga bumibiyaheng kolorum na pampasaherong sasakyan sa Lungsod ng Maynila upang maging ganap na maluwag ang syudad sa daloy ng trapiko anumang araw at oras. At target ng mga magpapatupad ng paghuli sa mga kolorum na pumapasok sa Maynila ay ang panulukan ng Claro M. Recto at Quezon Boulevard kung saan naglipana ang mga kolorum na PUJ na galing Gasak, Malabon, Navotas, Blumentritt at La Loma na ginagamit ang lugar bilang kanilang mga terminal. Target din ang mga paradahan sa Pedro Gil St. ng biyaheng mula sa Makati at karatig at Plaza Miranda sa Quiapo na kung saan umiikot ang mga kolorum na PUJ na galing Dapitan at Loyola at Recto na kung saan ginagawang terminal ng mga kolorum na galing Balic-Balic ang nasabing kalye. Kung mai-eliminate ang mga kolorum na pampasaherong sasakyan sa Maynila ay tiyak umanong luluwag ang daloy ng trapiko sa lungsod. *** Sa mga nagnanais magpukol ng mga ’di kanais-nais na gawain ng mga kababayan nating naliligaw ng landas, mangyaring tumawag o mag-text sa akin sa mga telepono ko bilang 09995080777 at 09179993555 at sama-sama nating idulog sa mga kinauukulan ang kanilang ginagawang kabalbalan upang ’di pamarisan. MARAMING SALAMAT PO!!!‐big‐4‐sangkot‐sa‐pekeng‐prangkisa‐ng‐uv‐ express   

2013 06 18 quedancor daily news monitor