Phl, Chin na sta and firrm on n territoriall claim ms By Pia Lee e-Brago (The Philippine P Star) | Updated June e 19, 2013 - 12 2:00am
MANILA, Philippines - T The Philippine es and China a are standing ffirm on their re espective positions on marittime territorial d disputes but a are committed to keeping pe eace in the regiion and improving bilateral rrelations. This was stressed by de elegates of the e two countrie es to the 19th P Philippines-Ch hina Foreign M Ministry Consultattions (FMC) in Beijing held la ast June 14. In the mee eting, Philippin ne and Chinesse representattives discussed d developmentts in bilateral rrelations betw ween the two co ountries, and how h they could d further streng gthen coopera ation in trade, defense and ssecurity, socio ocultural an nd people-to-people exchang ges, among otthers. The officia als also witnes ssed the Excha ange of Instrum ments of Ratiffication of the Philippines-Ch hina Consularr Agreemen nt. This clarifies procedures and defines time frames to better protect and provide a assistance to Filipino an nd Chinese nattionals in each h other’s country. Foreign Afffairs Under-se ecretary for po olicy Evan Garrcia and Chine ese Vice Foreiign Minister Liiu Zhenmin led d the Philippine and Chinese delegations, respectively. r The foreign ministry con nsultations were followed by y a courtesy ca all by the Philip ppine delegatiion, led by Ga arcia, on Chinese Foreign Min nister Wang Yi. In the sam me event, the tw wo sides stres ssed the need to promote m mutual trust as well as coope eration in achie eving goals bene eficial to both countries. Manila also strongly ask ked China to re efrain from dic ctating what acctions the Phillippines can exxercise within its own maritiime domain. Last month, the Departm ment of Foreig gn Affairs (DFA A) said the rota ation as well a as positioning of soldiers in disputed areas a held by the t Philippines s - particularly y in Ayungin Sh hoal - should n not be questio oned by China a because such s moves we ere part of Ma anila’s sovereig gn and human nitarian duties. The DFA issued the stattement following Chinese am mbassador Ma a Keqing’s raising concernss before Defen nse Secretary Voltaire Gazm min over Manila’s setting up of structures in Ayungin Sh hoal. “The Philip ppines exercis ses jurisdiction n and sovereig gn rights over iits exclusive e economic zone e (EEZ) and continenta al shelf (CS) in n the West Philippine Sea an nd has all the right to underttake lawful acttivities within iits
maritime domain without any interference or objection by any other state,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said. “China is not in a position to dictate on what the Philippines can do within its maritime domain,” Hernandez said. The DFA also urged China to withdraw and leave the Philippines EEZ and continental shelf.
Noy y leads 11-h hour econo omic meetting By Aurea Calica C (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:0 00am
MANILA, Philippines P - For F almost 11 hours h on Monday, Presiden nt Aquino and members of th he economic ccluster of his Cabinet were hole ed up at Malac cañang for a midterm m review w of the Philipp pine Developm ment Plan. In a press briefing, Secrretary to the Cabinet C Jose Rene R Almendra as yesterday d dispelled rumo ors that there w was an emerge ency meeting because it las sted from 10 a.m. to around 9 p.m. He said the meeting too ok long becaus se they discussed what hap pened in the ffirst three yearrs of the Aquin no administra ation, the challenges they arre facing and how h to addresss them to susttain economicc growth. “The President ordered, as we are approaching the e middle of his term, a very d detailed and a full-blown revview of the pastt three years, looking at que estions about the t economy. We started with a lot of data gathering, ssome analysis th hat was done by b NEDA (Nattional Econom mic and Develo opment Authorrity), and then we shifted intto a review/planning mode sometime in Fe ebruary,” Alme endras said.
http://ww ww.philstar.co om/headliness/2013/06/19 9/955634/noyy‐leads‐11‐ho our‐economicc‐meeting
Pag gasa sees s more m rains s, floo oding this wee ek By Helen Flores F (The Phiilippine Star) | Updated U June 19, 2013 - 12:0 00am
MANILA, Ph hilippines - Prrepare for flood ds as heavy ra ains are predicte ed for today an nd tomorrow. The Philipp ine Atmosphe eric, Geophysiccal and Astronomica al Services Ad dministration ((PAGASA) saiid that Tropical De epression Emo ong intensified d into a storm yesterday. Although th e storm is stilll not expected d to directly hit any part of the ccountry, it could induce the ssouthwest monsoon and a bring mod derate to heav vy rains in man ny parts of the e country, inclu uding Metro M Manila, beginning today. â€œWe reitera ate our advice e to the public to prepare forr possible flood ding as rains w would be more e frequent and d intense by y Wednesday or o Thursday due to the enha anced southw west monsoon,â€? PAGASA we eather forecasster Alvin Pura a said. PAGASA issued thunde erstorm adviso ories over Metrro Manila and nearby provin nces as early a as 10 a.m. yesterday,, prompting se everal universities and local government u units in Metro Manila to susp pend classes and work in the e afternoon. As of 4 p.m m. yesterday, the center of Emong E was sp potted at 470 kkilometers easst of Tuguegarao City, Caga ayan with maxim mum sustained d winds of 65 kilometers per hour near ce enter and gusttiness of up to 80 kph.
Emong wa as expected to t move north h at 19 kph. Aside from m Metro Maniila, moderate to heavy rain ns are also likkely to prevail over central Luzon, Mima aropa, Calabarzo on, Bicol regio on and the Visayas which may trigger fllashfloods and landslides, PAGASA saiid. The rest of o the country y will be cloudy with light to o moderate ra ainshowers an nd thundersto orms. The storm m is expected to dump mod derate to heav vy rains (five to 15 millimetters per hour) in areas with hin its 400-km ra adius in the ne ext 24 hours. The weath her bureau ad dvised fisherm men, especially those usin g small seacrraft, not to venture into the e northern and a eastern seaboards s of Luzon and we estern seaboa ards of South hern Luzon du ue to big waves generated d by the storm m. Emong is expected to be 470 km ea ast of Basco, Batanes this morning and 830 km north heast of Bascco or out of the Philippine area of respons sibility by Thu ursday. NDRRMR R issues flood, landslide wa arning
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) also issued a general flood and landslide warning yesterday over three regions due to the prevailing bad weather system spawned by Emong. NDRRC executive director Eduardo del Rosario said there would be light to moderate rainfall over the Calabarzon region, Mimamorpa region and Eastern Visayas. The water levels at upper Marikina and Kaliwa rivers in Rizal are also expected to rise in the next 24 hours if the rains would not stop. “Rivers and its tributaries in Marinduque, Mindoro Occidental and Mindoro Oriental as well as those in Palawan and Romblon are also expected to be flooded due to the prevailing rains,” NDRRMC warned. The Department of Social Welfare and Development, meanwhile, said it has a standby fund of almost P2 million and a ready stockpile of relief goods worth P36.5 million for possible relief operations in Regions 5, 8 and 11 that might be hit by Emong. New low-pressure area PAGASA is also monitoring a potential cyclone off the West Philippine Sea. Pura said the system could also enhance the southwest monsoon, which could bring more rains over the western section of the country. Should it intensify into a cyclone, it will be named Feria. Pura also urged the public to monitor PAGASA’s thunderstorm and rainfall advisories. The weather agency started using its color-coded rainfall warning system last Monday evening. Under a yellow warning, the rainfall is expected between 7.5 mm and 15 mm, which means flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Under an orange warning, the rainfall is between 15 mm and 30 mm, which means residents should prepare for possible evacuation due to threat of flooding. Under a red warning, the observed rainfall is more than 30 mm and serious flooding is expected. Flood risk areas in Central Luzon At least 374 of 3,102 barangays in Central Luzon are considered high flood risk areas, according to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The DOST-Project Noah found that 187 barangays in Pampanga are at high risk to flooding, 105 in Bulacan, 47 in Nueva Ecija, 20 in Tarlac, 8 in Aurora and 7 in Bataan. Officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the region said they would focus their disaster management plan to high flood risk communities. Lerrie Hernandez, chief of the DILG’s monitoring and evaluation, said it is necessary for local government units to review their risk reduction and management programs, contingency plans, hazard maps and evacuation plans. The DILG is already conducting training on the application of multi-hazard maps in LGUs in Central Luzon as part of its disaster management plan. – with Ric Sapnu, Alexis Romero, Rainier Allan Ronda, Jaime Laude
DOST’s calamity food similar to ‘polvoron’ By Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The no-cook and nutritious “compressed food” developed by nutritionists from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) and recommended to be served at evacuation centers in times of disasters is a variation of the Filipino powdered milk delicacy “polvoron,” but of the healthier kind. Dr. Mario Capanzana, DOST-FNRI director, yesterday said the “compressed food” that the FNRI has formulated was a blend of vegetable flour, fat, sugar and other ingredients mixed and compressed to provide carbohydrates and protein. The vegetable flour could be squash, mongo or wheat flour. “It is similar to a traditional polvoron compressed by a compression machine to form a round or rectangular product,” Capanzana said in an e-mail to The STAR. “It has an estimated shelf life of six months to 12 months depending on the type of packaging materials used,” Capanzana added. Another unit of the DOST, the Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), has developed a machine for the mass production or preparation of the compressed food.
The machine can make as many as 600,000 packets of compressed food with four pieces in one packet.
Oil firms hike pump prices by more than P1 By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Oil firms implemented another round of increase in pump prices of fuel effective today. Chevron, Petron, and Shell announced last night they would increase their prices for gas by P1.05 per liter and diesel by P1.45 per liter due to price adjustments in the international market. They are also raising kerosene price by P1.30 per liter. The increase marked the third round of oil price adjustments this month and the sixth consecutive week of price increases, a ranking energy official said yesterday. Department of Energy-Oil Industry Management Bureau director Zenaida Monsada said based on their monitoring of global crude prices, oil firms also took into account foreign exchange adjustment, a factor that affects pump prices because oil is an imported commodity. Monsada said 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, she said. “The Philippines and the Department of Energy have no control over international market developments,” she 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 (kwh) 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 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.
Palace: MILF’s Bangsamoro region within reach By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang doused cold water yesterday on the misgivings of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ground commanders about the slow pace of negotiations for the establishment of a Bangsamoro region in Mindanao. Speaking to reporters, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said: “We understand their (MILF’s) frustration, but it’s within reach as per (Cabinet) Secretary (Jose Rene) Almendras.” Almendras told reporters the government is “still very eager” to implement the October 2012 framework agreement, including the Sajahatra Bangsamoro. The Bangsamoro Region is being eyed to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Both the MILF and government peace panels are aiming for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law before Aquino steps down in June 2016. “It will be implemented,” he said. “It’s not an impossible dream.” Scholarships to be granted to beneficiaries by the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority are already “partly moving,” Almendras said. In a phone interview with reporters, MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said they have formally informed the government about their concerns on the supposed delays in the peace talks. “We are not happy and many of our leaders on the ground are slowly losing their trust and hope that the Bangsamoro issue will be resolved through talks,” he said. “We also sent a message to the government through the facilitator, saying that the MILF is frustrated about what is happening to the peace talks now, and that the MILF is very much concerned about what is going on.” Jaafar said there have been sentiments that the government is deliberately delaying the signing of a comprehensive compact agreement. “We still believe in the [sincerity] of President Aquino in solving the issue, but he better check,” he said. “His objectives should take precedence so that there will be peace.” Jaafar said there had been arrangements that talks would resume in Kuala Lumpur immediately after the May 2013 polls. The meeting, which was supposed to thresh out the proposals between the two parties, did not happen as planned, he added.
Jaafar said the Bangsamoros have been waiting for a settlement for years. “We still believe that the most peaceful and civilized way of resolving the Bangsamoro issue is through the negotiation,” he said. “But the question is how long our people can wait.” Chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer has confirmed that an agreement was made to meet after the polls to thresh out the remaining issues on the annexes to the Bangsamoro framework agreement. “This exchange of notes has already commenced and through this process, we hope to come as close as possible to agreed language and return to Kuala Lumpur to be able to finalize the annexes on power and wealth-sharing very soon,” she said.
Gov't reviewing midterm development plan (philstar.com) | Updated June 18, 2013 - 10:30pm
MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The government has started a review of the country's medium-term development plan as the Aquino administration is now on its remaining three years in office, a senior government official said today. In a news briefing, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said that President Benigno Aquino III presided over a meeting with members of his cabinet on Monday to assess his administration's accomplishments and the work that still needs to be done to sustain the economic performance of the country. "The meeting was a midterm review of the economic considerations of the Republic of the Philippines...the president ordered that, as we are approaching the middle of his term, he wanted a very detailed and a fullblown review of the past three years, looking at questions about the economy," he said. He said that part of the discussions also was on how the country would move forward "here on and all the way to the end of 2016." Aquino's term will end in June 2016. Asked if the macroeconomic targets, including the gross domestic product (GDP), will be revised upward given the 7.8 percent economic growth during the first quarter of this year, Almendras said, "We're waiting for some numbers that will hopefully come in on the second quarter."
The government is currently targeting 6 percent to 7 percent GDP growth for this year.
Flooding displaces over 98,000 people in Mindanao (philstar.com) | Updated June 18, 2013 - 8:00pm
COTABATO, Philippines (Xinhua) - Flash floods brought about by a tropical depression displaced nearly 98,000 people in Mindanao, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said today. Eduardo del Rosario, executive director of NDRRMC, said low lying towns in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Davao del Norte were flooded due to continuous heavy downpour caused by Tropical Depression Emong. NDRRMC broke down the number of people affected to 335 people in Davao del Norte; 36,370 in Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato; and 61,947 in Maguindanao. "So far there were no reported deaths," he said. In the township of Braulio Dujali, Davao del Norte, the water level is high after a dam was destroyed. The NDRRMC said its operations centre is on red alert status and has been continuously monitoring and disseminating weather advisories.
Earlier, the US weather forecasters reported Tropical Depression Emong might become a strong tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours, citing the weather disturbance is likely to gain more strength as it tracks northward in the east coast of the Philippines.
Unsettled A LAW EACH DAY(KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 12:00am
Land disputes among the heirs usually arise if they do not immediately settle and divide the inherited properties upon the death of their parents or decedents like what happened in this case. The properties involved here consisted of two big parcels of land with an area of 359,000 square meters and 15, 000 square meters covered by tax declarations in the names of the spouses Mario and Maria. Mario and Maria died way back in 1919 and their sole surviving heirs were their legitimate children Lina and Mila and their granddaughter Ana. Mila, being the oldest, assumed administration of the properties but did not partition them. She just gave to her other co-heirs Lina and Ana their corresponding shares of the fruits thereof though not regularly and at times quite small depending on the amount of the harvest. Later on Mila transferred the 15,000 square meter land in favor of her daughter’s husband Lito without the knowledge of Lina and Ana. Subsequently Lito in turn sold the land to his friend Ben who was able to register and obtain a Torrens Certificate of Title in his name. But the estate remained unsettled and undivided until 1955 when Mila died. By that time the surviving heirs to the lands were Ana and the children of Mila and Lina who were both dead already. When Ana and the children of Lina demanded the settlement and partition of the estate of their grandparents, they found out that the 15,000 square meters land had already been sold and registered in Ben’s name. So, they asked for its reconveyance. Ben and Mila’s children however opposed the same contending that re-conveyance was no longer possible because of prescription or long lapse of time and that the property had already been sold in good faith and for value. Were they correct?
No. When the decedents Mario and Maria died way back in 1919, their heirs became co-owners of their undivided estate. And under Article 494 prescription generally does not run in favor of a co-heir or coowner as long as he or she expressly or impliedly recognizes the co-ownership. In this case, Mila recognized Lina and Ana as co-owners of the property by giving them their shares of the harvest. So Ben and Mila’s children cannot invoke prescription. They cannot likewise claim good faith because when Mila first sold the land, it was not yet registered under the Torrens system but was covered only by a tax declaration. The claim of good faith can be availed of or is relevant only when the subject of the sale is a land registered under the Torrens system and the purchaser is buying the same from a registered owner whose title is clean. Here the land was titled only after the sale to Ben (David vs. Bardin, 149 SCRA 140). Books containing compilation of my articles in Labor Law and Criminal Law. Vols. I and II, now available. Call 7249445. Email address:firstname.lastname@example.org
Working well past your prime INTROSPECTIVE By Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
One of the biggest problems I feel we have in the country, among many, is the discrimination of the government and the private sector towards employing citizens above a certain age. The strange thing is that we don’t seem to have a problem employing the very young; but the older you get the less chances you have of finding sustainable employment. Indeed, how often have we read in job-hunting descriptions that those above the age of 28 need not apply. I have often wondered why they would include such an age stipulation in their requirements. One would think that a person who is a bit older might have more experience and more knowledge and that that might be a good thing. But here in the Philippines, it seems that the older you get the less viable you are. In fact, in the AFP and the police, the retirement age is 56, which in all honestly I feel is still a young enough age and employees at 56 are still able-bodied and can still contribute much to the nation. It’s a pity that they are told they can no longer work at the job they have dedicated their lives to doing. This is actually one of the plus factors when it comes to employment in the United States. There they can work no matter how old they are, as long as you are healthy and willing. Whenever we are there we still see elderly employees in a plethora of jobs including janitors, salespeople, waiters, gas station attendants, and many more. And although of course we wonder how working hard can easily take its toll on the older population, it is still nice to know they have the option of working should they choose to. In the Philippines, people are somewhat forced to work as hard as they possibly can because they know there is a deadline in their working life. Retirement must be prepared for as early as possible since there is not much you can do past a certain age. You are forced to be smart with your money and make sure it will last you long past the time you stop working because there will still be many years of living ahead. In the Philippines, you will only see people of a certain age working in their later years if they own and run their own business. If not, they are usually headed to retirement by the age of 60 and above. There is a downside of course to the more flexible working requirements in the US. Even though you are allowed to work there for much longer, the problem is, most of the time all you do is work. There is hardly ever any time to relax and enjoy. Many of the employees in the States end up working their lives away without even realizing that their youth is gone.
Which brings me to another downside to working and living abroad. Once you reach a certain age and are perhaps done working, there is usually no one to take care of you in the golden years. In the States, families tend to put their elderly family members in retirement or “Old Folks’” homes once they reach a certain age. This can be for a wide plethora of reasons (i.e. health, income, etc). The main reason though is that there is just no one to care for them since the younger family members are usually already spending all their time working as well. I’ve seen this happen many times in the US and many of our friends and family have experienced this well. I guess it just goes to show that there is always a give and take. While some things may seem better there is usually something you have to give up as well. As they say, nothing is perfect. I guess it’s important to remember the good things. That way, you appreciate what you have without yearning for what you don’t have.
* * * I came across some disturbing news a few days ago about indirect foreign investments or “hot money” as some people like to call it. According to the news, foreign portfolio investments in the Philippines recorded a rarely high outflow in May as investors shied away from emerging markets. This could be an indication of possible slowdown of US stimulus measures. Much of this money is said to be leaving the country for markets abroad in the US and Europe. This type of fluctuation is disturbing but not unheard of. I must admit I have never been in favor of this type of investment, which makes up roughly 70% of the stock market with only about 30% being local funds. I feel the government should not boast about this influx of investment because it can go at any time. These types of investors are hard nosed businessmen and women who will go wherever they can get the best return on their investment and that might not always be in our country. The best way to attract direct foreign investments is for the country to improve our fiscal standing and incentives similar to our neighboring countries. That way, we are the attractive choice for foreign funds. This can help keep investments up as opposed to the sudden outflow of $640.84 million in May, the first recorded reversal of 2013. This is just another reminder that there is still much work to be done when it comes to rehabilitating our economy and getting us where we want to be. Despite the many glowing reports of the government that we are seeing growth in leaps and bounds in the economy, there is still a lot to be done before these changes can be fully enjoyed by the full percent of the population and not just the select few that belong to the higher income brackets. That’s actually something I feel is inherently problematic with our economy. The always-present imbalance when it comes to the rich and the poor. Even with a “bridge” middle class there is such a big divide between the rich and the poor. While those more affluent can begin to see the economic uptrend and positive changes, the poor are still struggling as much as they ever were and all the facts mean nothing to them when they are still trying to send their children to school and put food on the table. Hopefully given time and a lot of hard work, the changes will trickle down and be enjoyed by everyone.
Kidapawan disbursing officer disappears with over P6 M By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Audit (COA) has called for the filing of criminal, civil and administrative charges against a former disbursing officer of Kidapawan City in Cotabato who disappeared with more than P6 million in public funds last year. State auditors, in a report released on Monday, did not identify the disbursing officer but recommended his indictment hopefully to recover the amount he stole from government coffers. Records show that the money was intended for the payroll, honoraria, and clothing allowances of “various personnel, job order workers, teachers, barangay tanod, senior citizens, flash flood victims, etc.” of Kidapawan City from Jan. 3, 2012 to July 20, 2012. An examination of the city’s financial records reveals that the accountable officer incurred a total cash shortage of P6,097,533.22. In response to the COA findings, the Kidapawan City treasurer has informed the audit team that the disbursing officer has been charged with malversation of public funds and that the court has issued an arrest warrant. The COA audit team said administrative and civil cases should also be filed against the missing disbursing officer.
30 sacks of prohibited helmet shells confiscated By Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) intercepted and seized at least 30 sacks of fully grown helmet shells aboard a ferry in a wharf of the Philippine Ports Authority here yesterday morning. Lt. Commander Jomark Angue, PCG station commander, said the helmet shells were intercepted aboard M/V Kristel Jane II which arrived at the PPA port from Jolo, Sulu at around 8 a.m. yesterday. Fishery law enforcer Raffy Adelton Tan said the poaching of cassis cornuta or helmet shells, locally known as budyong, is prohibited under Republic Act 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, and Fisheries Administrative Order No. 208 s. 2001. Tan said anyone caught poaching and selling helmet shells faces a jail term of 10 to 20 years and P120,000 fine. Tan and Angue placed the value of the seized helmet shells at P200,000.
DPWH: Completion of 50 flood control projects underway By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am 0
MANILA, Philippines - Metro Manila residents will see “significant improvement” in flooding problem in the metropolis by September this year, an official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said yesterday. DPWH-National Capital Region director Reynaldo Tagudando said there are more than 50 flood control projects that are expected to be completed from July to September. The road closures due to the ongoing DPWH projects are blamed for flooding and vehicular traffic in the metropolis. But the DPWH said it has been working to address the flooding problem. Tagudando on Monday ordered contractors and DPWH engineers to finish the flood control projects in four months. He said most of the flood control systems are located in Quezon City and the northern part of Metro Manila. “These drainage improvements would help reduce flooding,” Tagudando added.
He said the DPWH is coordinating with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of the Interior and Local Government, and water concessionaires to address the flooding problem in the metropolis. QC eyes zero casualty Meanwhile, the Quezon City local government has ordered all rescue teams to stand-by for possible emergencies in flood-prone areas as part of its efforts to achieve zero-casualty target this rainy season. Mayor Herbert Bautista earlier called on barangay officials to implement disaster risk reduction plans to prevent any untoward incident during typhoons. Elmo San Diego, chief of the city’s department of public order and safety (DPOS), said their staff underwent training and skills enhancement programs to be able to effectively assist residents who will be affected by floods. At the height of the thunderstorm that affected parts of Metro Manila on Monday, a portion of Quezon Avenue in Biak na Bato was flooded, resulting in heavy traffic in the area. The city government earlier acquired crack-resistant and fiber glass rescue boats. The city also partnered with the Department of Science and Technology to install devices that will determine the water-level in the city’s waterways and rivers.
Five automated rain gauges are also placed across the city to measure the intensity of rainfall during typhoons. Personnel from barangays, the city engineering department, and the city’s task force waterways are also conducting clean-up activities to de-clog waterways and drainages. Noel Lansang of the DPOS disaster control division said they have 60 trained respondents and 15 certified water search and rescue personnel that are ready to be deployed during disasters. Evacuation, emergency centers San Diego said the city will construct three multi-level evacuation centers in Barangays Bagong Silangan, Tatalon, and Santo Domingo, which were among the areas previously affected by floods during heavy downpours. He said the centers will be funded using a part of the P50-billion Informal Settler Fund allocated by the Department of Budget and Management. San Diego, who also heads the city disaster risk reduction and management council, said the centers each have the capacity of around 500 to 600 families. The local government also allotted P200 million for the construction of a disaster risk reduction building that will feature a modern emergency operation center. San Diego said the construction of the new operation center is part of local government’s efforts to develop a more comprehensive and well-organized emergency response system. The center will be equipped with weather monitoring systems, surveillance cameras, and communication tools that will assist the DPOS in its disaster mitigation efforts. Classes suspended Meanwhile, classes in Manila and San Juan City were suspended yesterday in anticipation of heavy rains and flooding. Manila City Hall chief of staff Ric de Guzman said classes in all levels in the city’s public schools were suspended. The University of Sto. Tomas also announced suspension of classes at 3 p.m. San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez ordered the suspension of classes in private and public schools following an advisory from the MMDA and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration to allow the students to go home early due to bad weather. The southwest monsoon enhanced by Tropical Depression Emong spawned heavy rains, causing massive traffic in many areas in Metro Manila last Monday. – With Janvic Mateo, Rey Galupo, Jose Rodel Clapano
MMDA says flooding to ease upon completion of projects (philstar.com) | Updated June 18, 2013 - 8:51pm 1
MANILA, Philippines - Unless the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) finally completes its 70 ongoing drainage projects in Metro Manila, the metropolis should brace itself for floods, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino said Tuesday. Tolentino told reporters in Quezon City that it is extremely important that the DPWH wraps up its ongoing drainage projects. "Ang mahalaga, may 70 ongoing drainage improvement projects ang DPWH at ito ay makakakita lang tayo ng solution pag natapos ito," he said. For instance, Tolentino said flooding in the Espa単a Boulevard-Blumentritt St. area would be solved once a flood interceptor project by the DPWH is completed. The project is slated to be finished by next year, he said. "For instance, 'yung Blumentritt interceptor, pag natapos 'yun, mababawasan ang pagbaha sa Espa単a area, R.Papa and Blumentritt area. Kailan matatapos 'yun? Next year," he said. "Habang 'di natatapos 'yun, mayroon tayong pagdadaanang pagbaha. We also have 26 drainage improvement projects in Manila alone, two in EDSA, 13 in Pasay City, and 16 in Quezon City," he added.
However, despite the apparent slack in the completion of the drainage projects, Tolentino said the existence of these projects proves that the DPWH is doing its task as part of the overall anti-flood masterplan for Metro Manila. "Nagpapatunay lamang ito na may ginagawa ang DPWH. It is part of the master plan," said Tolentino. Tolentino meanwhile parried the DPWH's allegation that the MMDA is slow in releasing permits, causing the completion of the projects to be delayed. According to Tolentino, the contractors tapped by the DPWH to construct the projects should bear the blame for submitting incomplete requirements. "Sa permitting process, ang nag-aaply talaga ng permit ay 'yung contractor. Maaring kulang ang contractor sa supporting papers kaya hindi naaprubahan agad," he said. According to Tolentino, the MMDA even allows some projects, such as the drainage project on San Marcelino St. in Manila, to start despite the lack of a permit, to help in the anti-flood drive. "Mayrong mga projects na kahit wala panag permit, pinaumpisahan na para makatulong, gaya ng San Marcelino project," he said.
Tolentino added that the flood problem in Metro Manila is not site-specific and should be addressed comprehensively. "Ang flood problem ay hindi isang site resolution alone. Integrated ito. Lahat ng drainage systems, drainage laterals, magkakadugtong 'yan. Karugtong sa waterways, papuntang Pasig River, papuntang Manila Bay. Kaya hindi pwedeng sabihin na itong area lang na ito ang gagawin. Magkakasama po lahat 'yan," he said. "When we treat flood control, we have to treat it in a holistic manner. And tere is no overnight cure," Tolentino added. Meanwhile, Tolentino assured motorists that some 440 MMDA traffic enforcers will be manning their posts along EDSA, C5 Road and along the other major Metro roads until 2 a.m. Tolentino also suggests that in order to decongest the streets during an expected heavy downpour in the late afternoons, offices and schools should allow employees and students to go home earlier. Tolentino suggests that students be allowed to go home immediately after the end of their classes while office workers be allowed to go home by 4 p.m. "This is just a suggestion. Nakikiusap ako sa mga tanggapan at eskuwelahan na pauwiin ng maaga bago mag-alas singko ng hapon kasi karaniwan namang bumabagsak ang malakas na ulan mula alas singko, ” Tolentino said. - Mike Frialde
‘Luisita distribution to proceed as scheduled’ By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) yesterday said the scheduled distribution of land to qualified farmworker-beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita would push through in the middle of the year despite the deadlock on the special audit process in the sugar estate. The DAR, meanwhile, dismissed as “baseless and unfounded” allegations that it has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to include two new parties in the “special audit” of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and the Centenary Holdings Inc. (CHI). DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said the process of land distribution in Hacienda Luisita is distinct and separate from the special purpose audit of pertinent financial records of HLI and CHI. “There is no truth to the 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. He was referring to the allegations by the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) that the urgent motion the DAR filed with the SC last month was intended to delay the scheduled land distribution in Hacienda Luisita. Parungao said the DAR, through the Office of the Solicitor General, filed last May 27 the urgent motion with the SC to clarify various issues arising from the special purpose audit the tribunal ordered on the 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 special audit, and the disagreement among the parties in the Hacienda Luisita case on which company should be selected, after a vote was made last May 17 on a motion to disqualify two of the three interested accounting firms. DAR officials argued that the special audit on HLI and CHI, with respect to the gross proceeds from the conversion of two lots with an area of 500 hectares and the expropriation of a portion for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, cannot proceed unless all the parties agree on the accounting firm that will undertake this task. The SC, in its order last year, said the DAR is “ordered to engage the services of a reputable accounting firm approved by the parties” to audit the books of HLI and CHI to determine if the P1,330,511,500 proceeds of the sale of the three 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),” the tribunal added. Based on the SC ruling, Parungao said the DAR’s role in the audit process is limited to facilitating the process that will lead to the selection of an accounting firm acceptable to and approved by all the parties involved. The parties concerned, according to Parungao, include HLI and the various farmers’ organizations representing the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita.
Dagupan Day declared special, nonworking day By Cesar Ramirez (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – Malacañang has declared June 20 a special non-working day here as the city celebrates its 66th Agew na Dagupan (Dagupan Day). According to Proclamation No. 591 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa on authority of President Aquino, it is fitting and proper for Dagupan folk to be given the full opportunity to celebrate the occasion and participate in the activities. Dagupan, known for its bangus (milkfish), became a city by virtue of Republic Act 170 authored by then Speaker Eugenio Perez and signed into law by President Manuel Roxas on June 20, 1947. Dagupan is the only chartered city among the four cities in Pangasinan. The cities of San Carlos, Alaminos and Urdaneta are component cities.
Stud dents s, teac chers complain of Ba aguio o's tras sh pro oblem m By Artemio o Dumlao (phils star.com) | Upd dated June 18, 2013 - 8:13pm m
Baguio's ga arbage problem m. Artemio Du umlao BAGUIO CITY, C Philippine es – The ugly head h of Baguio o’s garbage pro oblem sticks out anew a with more e than 300 stud dents, faculty members m and n non-teaching sttaff of the Philip ppine Science High School CA AR campus in Irrisan barangay y complaining th hey are virtuallyy within an ope en dump site. “Even you cannot endure e the stench,” Conrado C Rotorr Jr., Phil. Scien nce High Schoo ol director desccribed the air a around the newly built b four-storey y, 16-classroom building of th he governmentt-run secondarry school serviccing intellectuallygifted and talented t Filipino children in th he Cordillera an nd the rest of N Northern Luzon n. In several times t of the da ay, when classe es are on-going g, truckloads u upon truckloadss of garbage are dumped lesss than 30 meters from the schoo ol. "Buti kung everyday, inaa alis nila, pero hindi.” h Rotor sa aid, while rem inding that the virtually open dumpsite was supposedly y a “staging are ea” only of Bag guio’s garbage before it is bro ought to Capas, Tarlac. “A solution is in the pipeline,” said Engr.. Romeo Conciio of the Generral Services Offfice of the city,, adding that a chemical will w be used to douse d off the nauseating sten nch. “But imagin ne an open dum mp site right be eside a school? ?,” the school official said as he cites the scchool hosts 330 0 students from all over Cordillera and the e rest of Northe ern Luzon, 31 ffaculty members and 14 non--academic personnel. The virtual open dump sitte, which the ciity governmentt has been usin ng as “transfer facility”, still sitts along the 3.7 7 hectare lan nd appropriated d by the govern nment. “We alread dy moved our classes c opening g from June 10 0 to June 17 to accommodate e some adjustm ments like that o of the foul smell that t can affect the students an nd everyone,” Rotor said. A series off meetings betw ween Phil Scien nce High School officials and Maypr Mauriccio Domogan w were held. Benguet villagers had su ued Baguio via a Writ of Kalika asan after six w were killed in a mammoth trassh slide at the Irisan dumpsite in n August 2011. Domogan has h continuous sly vowed to find a solution to o the garbage p problem. The ccity, however, h has yet to find a suitable are ea to build a sanitary s landfill. Measures, according to th he city governm ment, have been instituted be efore the classses started. Th his includes a ccement barrier to prevent p garbage e employees frrom reaching th he school. Baguio chu urns out a minimum of 200 tons of garbage a day.
http://www w.philstar.com m/nation/2013//06/18/955533/students‐teaachers‐complaain‐baguios‐trash‐problem
Toxic gas kills miners inside Benguet tunnel (philstar.com) | Updated June 18, 2013 - 7:43pm
BENGUET, Philippines – Two small-scale miners died of poisonous gas inside a Benguet mine tunnel. Itogon town police said stay-in pocket miners Simeon Wakit Dulawan, 36, native of Lusod, Kabayan town and Roy Killas, 23 from Kabangsalan, Kayapa town in Nueva Vizcaya, together with other miners entered a mine tunnel owned by Paul Wakit Dulawan at Nagawa Bugayong Mine Portal in Ampucao barangay at around 1:30 p.m/ Monday to work. Miner Tony Sina-no said that while inside, he sensed poisonous gas has already accumulated prompting him to back off, but Dulawan and Killas already fainted. Sina-no and others tried to bring the fallen duo but the nauseating and choking odor prompted them to run outside and seek help. Itogon policemen and other rescuers from Philex Mines and Bureau of Fire Protection and police auxiliaries retrieved the bodies of the victims nine hours after the two fainted. - Artemio A. Dumlao
DOTC orders probe on Ro-Ro mishap in Masbate By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated June 18, 2013 - 1:42pm
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday has ordered to the Philippine Coast Guard to work with the Board of Marine Inquiry to immediately launch an investigation into the MV Lady of Carmel Roll-on Roll-off ship mishap in Masbate. "Now that the Office of Civil Defense, the Coast Guard, and the Philippine Navy have already exhausted their search and rescue efforts and begun retrieval operations, our immediate objective is to determine what circumstances led to this unfortunate incident," DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said. He added that result of the investigation will be use to formulate policies to prevent such incidents. "We want to find out what really happened and we will do whatever is necessary within the purview of the DOTC, to avoid such accidents in the future," Abaya said. The BMI is tasked to probe into the accident, for the purpose of identifying its cause, as well as liabilities, if there are any.
Barg gain huntin h ng bo oosts Phl s stocks s By Neil Jerrome C. Morale es (The Philipp pine Star) | Upd dated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, P Philippines - B Bargain hunting and optimism m over the co ontinuity of US S Federal Resserves’ stimulu us measures lifted local sha are prices for the third straig ght session ye esterday. The Philipp pine Stock Exxchange indexx (PSEi) rallied d 2.83 percent orr 179.36 pointss to settle at 6,518.77, while e the broader al l shares indexx jumped 2.26 percent or 88 8.99 points to 4 4,031.42. “Bargain h hunting on sele ected counterss helped push h shares hig gher,” said Jon nathan Ravela as, chief marke et strategist at a BDO Unibank Inc. Ravelas added that marrket players arre optimistic th hat the US Fed d will not yet p pull out its mon nthly bond buyying program. “Positive sentiment s in th he global mark ket continues to t influence uss,” said Astro C C. del Castillo, managing director of First Grade Finance Inc. On Monda ay, Wall Streett advanced am mid thin trading g as investors expect the co ontinuity of the e stimulus prog gram. The US Fe ed is holding a two-day polic cy meeting on Tuesday and d Wednesday.
Blue chip Dow Jones in ndustrial averrage added 0..7 percent or 109.67 pointts to 15,179.8 85 while the broader SStandard & Po oor’s 500 inde ex gained 0.8 percent or 1 2.31 points to o 1,639.04. Locally, alll counters clo osed in positivve territory, p paced by holdding firms thaat spiked 3.8 percent or 21 13.91 points to 5,845.23. “News on n strong oversseas Filipino rremittances contributed too the renewed confidencee,” del Castillo o said. http://ww ww.philstar.co om/business//2013/06/19//955526/barggain‐hunting‐‐boosts‐phl‐sttocks
BSP P urge es gov’t to addrress in nfra, powe er prob blems s By Prinz P. Magtulis (The e Philippine Sta ar) | Updated Ju une 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA , Philippines - Problems in infrastructure a and high pow wer rates shou uld be addresssed by the governm ment if it wants economic gro owth to be felt across th he country, the e Bangko Sen ntral ng Pilipina as (BSP) sa aid in a report.. “The govvernment’s varrious infrastructure improvement and deve elopment prog grams across tthe country arre expected d to invigorate e economic acttivities and revitalize e business in tthe regions,” th he central ban nk said. “A major challenge c that could hamperr regional deve elopment is th e lack of adeq quate supply o of electricity that threatens various econo omic activities,,” it said. The country should also o be prepared for weather diisturbances, w which could hitt agriculture-le ed regions thatt rely heavily on crops for livelihood, the rep port also noted d. The econo omy grew 6.8 percent last ye ear, one of the e fastest in As ia, driven mainly by domesttic demand an nd low interest en nvironment. Th he latest growtth figure was up u from 3.9 pe ercent in 2011. According to the report, agriculture, in ndustry and se ervices all postted growth rattes last year, w with different regions lea ading per each h sector.
Region III covering Cen ntral Luzon haad the biggestt agriculture ssector, follow wed by Region ns IV‐A (Calabarzo on) and VI (W Western Visayyas). The indusstry sector, meanwhile, waas led by the C Calabarzon reegion, which cornered mo ore than a thirrd of the segme ent. It was followed by the e National Capital Region ((NCR) and Central Luzon. For the se ervices sectorr, the NCR acccounted for m more than hallf, at 51.8 perrcent, of the ttotal service activity naationwide, BSSP said. Accordingg to the central bank, grow wth rate in palay productioon accelerated last year, w which offset a slowdown n in corn prod duction across the regions. Central Luzoon continued to lead in the two segments. Fisheries, on the otherr hand, was a major setbacck, with the seector contraccting 2.3 perccent last year led by a slump in activitiess in Cagayan V Valley Autono omous Regionn in Muslim M Mindanao (AR RMM), Region n IV‐B and Regio on VIII or Easttern Visayas.
Construction activity, meanwhile, remained resilient due to a hike in government spending. Top regions on this segment were Region IV‐A, NCR and Northern Mindanao. “The weak performance of some regions in Mindanao was attributed to the inadequate power supply leading to prolonged brownouts,” the BSP said. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/06/19/955525/bsp‐urges‐govt‐address‐infra‐power‐problems
Phl has highes h st gro owth poten ntial a among TIPs s By Prinz P. Magtulis (The e Philippine Sta ar) | Updated Ju une 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, M Philip ppines - The P Philippines hass the highest growth g potenti al among a ne ew group of na ations expecte ed to le ead global eco onomic growth h over the nexxt seven yearss, an economist e of a global investtment bank sa aid in a report. Singapore-bas S sed DBS Ltd. ssaid the so-ca alled TIPs – Thailand, T Indo onesia and the e Philippines – are increasingly becoming b a m ajor growth drriver as advanced economie es continued c to re eel from the de ebt crisis. “We argue e that optimism m in the TIP economies e is ju ustified, as GD DP (gross dom mestic product) growth is expected to t be elevated d relative to the e past decade e,” DBS econo omist Eugene L Leow said in the report. “The Philip ppines has the e highest grow wth potential am mong the TIP economies given minimal e economic constraints s,” he said. In particula ar, the country y, whose GDP P expanded by y a surprising 7 7.8 percent in the first quarter, could bene efit from the current adminis stration’s “prom mise” of reform m that could bo ode well for m more investmen nts. The consu umption-driven n economy, it said, s could gro ow between se even and eigh ht percent thro ough 2020 give en its healthy fiscal dynamics, manageable inflation outlook, and high liiquidity. Leow poin nted out that th he Philippines,, in contrast to o Indonesia, al so has a stron ng current acccount balance,, which implies it has morre than enough resources to o meet externa al trade obliga ations and fore eign debt. Indonesia,, according to the economis st, is facing “tw win deficits” in ccurrent account balance and in the state’s budget wh hich may consttrain its ability to respond to o external shoccks. As for Tha ailand, a “stretc ched” banking g sector that co ould slow inve estments and a ageing demog graphic profile – in contrast to o Indonesia an nd Philippines’ growing midd dle class – willl remain a cha allenge to econ nomic growth. “A lack of constraints (fo or the Philippin nes) does not imply that GD DP will grow at its potential a as attracting sufficient investment is a key challeng ge,” Leow expllained. “We believ ve a more conservative grow wth rate figure e of six to 6.5-p percent is reallistic in the com ming eight yea ars as we factor a gradual imprrovement in in nvestment rate es,” he added. Leow note ed, however, th hat at this earlly, investor perception in the e country has changed, with h the equity ma arkets rallying to record-highs and a bond yield ds dropping to o the floor follo owed by two in nvestment grade ratings thiss year.
The decision of Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services to raise the country’s rating to BBB will allow the Philippines to raise foreign direct investments (FDI) to three percent of GDP from the current one percent. FDI and domestic investments are also seen to benefit from large-scale infrastructure public-private partnership projects, three of which have been already awarded, while the rest are underway. By 2020, the middle-class sector in the country is seen to grow to 29 million, accounting for roughly 25 percent of the total population, adding additional “workforce” to business process outsourcing industry. The figure is lower than Indonesia’s 131 million and Thailand’s 36 million, but Leow noted that in the Philippines, “the peak of demographic dividend is still about a decade away.” “Conditions have fallen into place for the Philippines to reemerge as an investment destination of choice,” Leow said.
Under promise, over deliver DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
It is really frustrating to see the P-Noy administration falling for the same mistakes of the Arroyo administration: it over promises and under delivers. The reverse is what it should be. I guess that’s the sickness of politicians. They have this over eagerness to promise more than they can deliver. And when they fail to live up to the promise, they blame external factors. They are also prone to claim credit for good things happening even if their role is largely incidental. Both the Aquino and Arroyo administrations were quick to claim credit for good macroeconomic numbers or a bullish stock market and even for, strangely enough, a strong peso. But become eerily silent or mumbling excuses when the good trend reverses. And it isn’t just the politicians who are guilty of this fault. Even the technocrats, the economic technocrats who should know better are quick to claim credit where credit is not in honesty, totally due. During that bad Tuesday last week when the local stock market index went down the lowest since the 2008 financial crisis, our economic managers were at a loss for explanations. It was easy to blame international economic developments and indeed that’s what it was about. But people are wondering: what happened to everything they have said about how great our economic situation is? Actually, even market analysts were divided on how to explain the 318 point drop in the index June 11 and 442 point drop the next trading day June 13. Our own PhilStar columnist Valentino Sy explains “the indiscriminate selling which caused the market to drop and the peso to depreciate sharply has nothing to do with fundamental reasons, but because of the unwinding and indiscriminate selling by foreign funds which at some point will end. Fundamentals not only remain the same, but have actually improved.” Sy bravely predicts that “when deleveraging ends and normalcy returns – we believe that fundamentals will prevail.” Indeed, inflation is benign and our fiscal health is great. OFWs and BPOs are generating enough forex to help us withstand hot money outflow. But the administration can’t claim much credit for what OFWs and BPOs do for our economy. Business Mirror columnist John Mangun, who is also active in the local market, has this view: “Three pieces of information negatively impacted local investors’ stock-market sentiment. “Merchandise exports declined 12.8 percent year-on-year in April. While the export business is only a small contributor to the overall economic activity, a few million Filipinos depend on the income that exports provide. The key to the deal about our exports is that in two major markets, consumers are not buying. Shipments to the US fell 10.2 percent and those to China dropped 8.3 percent. One month of data does not make a trend. However, April exports fell 6.7 percent from March… “More depressing news came with the latest unemployment numbers. The National Statistics Office (NSO) Labor Force Survey reported that unemployment in April reached 7.5 percent, significantly higher than the 6.9
percent in the same period last year. Our current unemployment rate is the highest since the eight percent recorded in 2010… “While not the first time this has happened, the Philippines in March accomplished something that is usually expected of nations in a civil war or experiencing economic collapse: negative foreign direct investment (FDI). A year ago, FDI was a positive $178 million, which in itself is a grain of sand on the global beach of foreign investment. But this time, Philippine FDI actually lost $78 million, meaning foreigners took more investment money out of the country than they brought in. FDI is the ‘good’ kind of investment that is going to create jobs. In fact, total first-quarter net FDI is 8.5 percent lower than in 2012.” AFP, the French news agency explained that “investors have begun pulling money out of emerging economies mainly because they think that the US Federal Reserve may be about to wind down its easy-money policy which has supported the economy and pushed funds into the financial system. “This prospect has reduced the willingness of fund managers to take risks even though only a few months ago their focus was more on a rapid rise of stock markets and signs that maybe assets prices were overheating.” But our officials presented to us a raging bull market which they claimed was brought about by increased confidence in P-Noy’s Daang Matuwid program. It had been shown last week that the raging bull market was more because of factors in the world financial markets. All that money printing of western central banks were finding their way to our market and now they are mostly going back home. At that time, investors were turning a blind eye or discounting structural problems in our economy. Now, all those factors are important again as Mangun pointed out. This is why I have always said during Ate Glue’s watch, and also now during P-Noy’s, that there is a need to always tell the people what’s really happening. Painting a momentary positive development as a consequence of good Palace management has a way of reducing credibility when it turns out it wasn’t really just so. I will concede the point that P-Noy’s image as a clean, anti-corruption fighter contributed a good portion of the favorable economic news generated in recent years… maybe including the credit ratings upgrade. But there are still so many fundamental changes P-Noy has not acted on or refuse to act on before he can claim he is responsible for the good news. Rather than just the GDP number, we need to dramatically bring down the unemployment figure. To make that happen, the FDI rate will have to go up too. Constitutional changes in the economic provisions are needed to show the world we are no longer hopelessly protectionist… there is level playing field. Those are the easy ones. The more difficult one has to do with dramatically improving the investment climate. That includes bringing LGUs to agree to cut red tape and corruption. And an honest judiciary and a noticeably less corrupt Customs bureau would be nice. That will make even locals invest more here rather than keep their money in bank vaults. In short, job creation and cutting poverty and hunger rates are the most meaningful measures of economic progress for us.
In large part, the good news the Palace was claiming it generated was due to international economic developments that benefited emerging economies like ours. And what international economic developments gave, it also took back last week. Some cabinet members in the economic cluster must not play amateur PR. They don’t understand the making of public opinion and end up promising a lot and delivering little. The much ballyhooed PPP program is a good example of that. The drumbeating on the credit ratings upgrade and unusually high GDP numbers are other examples. Thus, when things don’t work out we have observers like Mr. Mangun validly pointing our: “On the way up, the government was saying how its economic policies were responsible for the PSE reaching record highs. Now there is silence about why the market was down on our very bad Tuesday. Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.” It also doesn’t help the Palace when they try to nitpick official statistics. It is probably true that changes in weather patterns resulted in a higher unemployment rate in the agricultural sector that affected the national figure. But the effect of weather is minimal and the fact remains our underemployment rate remains high. And that in itself is very bad. I am hoping to hear a truly realistic SONA from P-Noy next month that identifies in no uncertain terms the most important problems and what could be reasonably expected from him. If it is clear that DOTC will be unable to deliver any project before 2016, he should say that now and reduce expectations and frustrations. P-Noy effectively got a reaffirmation of his mandate in the last election when his senatorial ticket decisively trounced the opposition. It is only fair that he must tell the people, his bosses, what he is ready to deliver to them in return. Let us have a report card by which we can measure the success or failure of this administration. No one expects P-Noy to solve our long term problems but surely he must make a discernible dent before he leaves office. From now until 2016, P-Noy and his boys must under promise, but work like mad to over deliver. That’s how he can be remembered positively after he has gone back to Times street. SCAM A reader sent this one. Just got scammed. Bought Tiger Woods DVD entitled “My Favorite 18 Holes”. Turns out it’s about golf. Absolute waste of money! Pass this on so others don’t get scammed. Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco
Anti-GMO in Manila HIDDEN AGENDA By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
The National Consumer Affairs Council (NCAC), Consumer Rights for Safe Food (CRSF) and other members of No2GMO network welcome anti-GMO advocate Jeffrey Smith to Manila for a series of talks with legislators, businessmen, academe and consumers. Smith is the author of best-selling books Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, which document the harmful impact of genetically modified organisms or GMOs on health and the environment. In the past year, GMOs have been in both local and international news. Last May 17, 2013, the Court of Appeals ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to permanently stop the field trials of Bacillus thuriengensis (Bt) eggplants. As CA Associate Justice Isaias Dicdican asserted, the trials “could not be declared by this Court as safe to human health and to our ecology with full scientific certainty being an alteration of an otherwise natural state of affairs in our ecology.” Japan recently banned the importation of American Wheat after it was discovered that GM wheat which was field tested but abandoned 10 years ago was growing wild in an Oregon farm. China also recently rejected American GMO as they were not accompanied by the appropriate environmental and food safety tests conducted by Chinese institutions. Hungary burned 1000 acres of crops after it was found to be contaminated with GMO corn. According to Smith, “64 countries require labeling of genetically engineered foods or ban them out right. The state legislatures of Connecticut and Maine just passed labeling laws, and more than two dozen other states have introduced similar legislation. Nine out of 10 Americans want genetically engineered foods labeled, and 53 percent say they would avoid GMOs if they were labeled.” “Now thousands of US physicians are prescribing non-GMO diets to their patients. Without labels, it’s difficult for patients to follow their doctors’ advice. But when they do remove GMOs, we hear consistent reports of recoveries from of a wide variety of diseases and disorders. The characteristics of the GM crops —plants that produce a toxic insecticide or absorb toxic herbicide —are predisposed to create disorders such as autoimmune disease, allergies, and asthma; gastrointestinal disorders, infertility; and organ damage. We also hear numerous reports of cognitive and behavioral problems in children related to GMOs in their diets. Farmers and veterinarians also describe similar health improvements in livestock where GM soy and corn has been replaced by non-GM varieties,” Smith added. Consumer groups led by Consumer Rights for Safe Food (CRSF) has urged the government to require labeling for genetically modified crops and processed food with GM ingredients. Grace Chua of CRSF said, “genetically modified crops are being approved in the Philippines at such alarming rates. GMOs like the BT talong and Golden Rice are currently being field tested and developed. It is the first time GMOs will be fed directly to humans in spite of the growing scientific evidence of the ill effects of GMOs to health. Just like the GMOs which were initially developed to be used as animal feeds, no tests on its effect on our health will be done before it is commercialized. Like consumers all over the world, we are demanding our right to know if the food we are buying contains GMOs so we can have the option to avoid it.”
More big boys What does it say about the Philippines and Filipinos now that the “big boys” are in Manila? After the entry of British luxury carmaker Bentley comes another British high-end brand Rolls-Royce which would soon ply the streets of Manila through a dealership in the Philippines, the first ever in the country. Today will be the official dealer appointment ceremony for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manila which will also be graced by the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Asia Pacific team who will talk about their plans. The team includes Paul Harris, Asia-Pacific regional director, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars; Herfried Hasenoehrl, general manager for emerging markets-Asia; and Brenda Pek, head of marketing , Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. The appointment is part of the company’s Asia Pacific expansion plans and signals the growing demand for Rolls-Royce cars in the Southeast Asian region. In April, Harris was quoted as saying that the company would open the showroom facilities by the fourth quarter of the year. Recently, Bentley opened its very first showroom in the Philippines under a partnership with luxury car distributor PGA Automobile Inc. Bentley Manila is the British brand’s 52nd country and 183rd dealership worldwide. It is estimated that the luxury market in the Philippines sells between 2,000 and 3,000 units a year. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has just unveiled its latest model, Wraith, a two-door fastback coupé and the most powerful, dynamic car in the brand’s history at the Geneva Motor Show. More good news The market for printing devices in the Philippines grew 34.5 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2013, rendering the country the most upbeat market in Asia/Pacific which, in contrast, contracted for the sixth quarter in a row and dropped by 7.6 percent. According to the International Data Corp. (IDC), about 233,400 units of single and multifunction printers (MFP) and copiers were shipped in the first quarter compared with only 174,000 units in the same period last year. Of the quarter’s total, eight out of 10 were of inkjet technology while laser and serial dot matrix (SDM) accounted for the remaining 12.9 percent and seven percent, respectively. Further, total market revenue hit an all-time high of $48.2 million in the first quarter. Pamela Sumanga, market analyst for IDC, explains that this trend was made possible by healthy demand motivated by the bullish outlook of the economy. She said consumer and commercial products (i.e., inkjet and laser printing devices) have demonstrated doubledigit growth rates YoY and beat expectations due to the end-users’ receptiveness to vendors’ initiatives around PC bundling, price drops, and trade-in promotions to name a few.
She added that on the other hand, were more open to take in fresh stocks from vendors due to prospects of better sales on the retail front and corporate side as IT investments are projected to pick up, given the confidence on the economy. The manner at which the local printing market grew at the start of the year strengthened the earlier projections of growth after two successive years of decline. IDC said in a report that from 2011 to 2012, the local printing market was weighed down by the changes in the product line-ups, strategies of vendors, and usage behaviour of end-users. With that adjustment period behind and the indications of renewed end-user demand, IDC projects the Philippine HCP market to likely grow by 5.3 percent in 2013 to reach about 802,000 units, it said. For comments, email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent macroeconomic developments: the peso, local stocks, and US ‘quantitative easing’ CROSSROADS(Toward Philippine Economic and Social Progress) By Gerardo P. Sicat (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
We witnessed in the last week some macroeconomic directions that demonstrate how vulnerable we could be to what happens in the world beyond our borders. The changes do not alter the country’s economic fundamentals which remain essentially sound. I refer to the huge net withdrawals of short-term capital from the country’s equity market which reversed the net capital inflows we were enjoying for more than a year before. “Two immediate market impacts.” The depreciation of the peso from the neighborhood of 40 pesos per US dollar to 43 and the drastic movements of the stock price index of Philippine companies were indications of these macro developments. The depreciation of the peso is helpful to the fortunes of the export sector, but the high volatility of the stock market was unnerving to domestic investors. The main negative effect of this development is in the stock market. The market index dropped from the June 10, 2013 level of 6,875 to 6,114 by June 14, a fall amounting to 12.4 percent. Marked volatility remains even as the local market index seeks a new rising value. These changes reflected some market corrections but not all. The peso depreciation restores some competitiveness to the export sector that has lost much due to earlier peso appreciation. In fact, a further weakening of the peso would improve that competitive edge and stimulate new investments in the export sector. The recent run up to the stock market boom was too delirious and profit-taking was bound to lead to later downward corrections. However, the extent of withdrawals from the Philippine equity market made the index fall much harder. Philippine stock values will have to find their true values from the current levels after the drop in the market index. “How to build domestic policy defenses.” Still, these developments remind us about the fragile nature of the current state of affairs despite improving economic fundamentals that has earned for the country an investment credit rating. To build against these vulnerabilities is one major problem facing the country’s economic decision-makers. This requires additional reforms (not just the ones often touted in public). There is a need to reduce the destabilizing impact of short-term capital movements on the economy. It is now recognized even by the IMF that such measures to control the flow of short-term capital would help to shield the domestic economy. This was the main lesson of the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s.
Far more important in my view is the need to liberalize further the encouragement of foreign direct investments. Despite the rhetoric about the importance of foreign direct investments, President Aquino is not making a move to amend the constitutional restrictions on foreign direct investments. This is folly. If the investment grade is to attract more FDIs, then the constitutional restrictions to foreign investments would be essential. Only dealing with the economic provisions is needed. “International roots of the policy shifts.” The domestic economic changes that we observe are rooted in economic developments originating in the major economies, principally the US. Supplementary changes are the result of policy shifts also in Japan. The China factor becomes important if its domestic economy turns into the engine of its own growth. Europe is still heavily bogged down by the euro problem to be a major factor now. There are three major variables in US economic policy-making at the macro-front: fiscal policy, monetary policy, and the exchange rate. Since the management of the US dollar is through the floating exchange rate market with all the major currencies, only two active policy fronts are critical: fiscal and monetary. In recent years US macro policy-making has essentially bogged down to a political gridlock at the fiscal level. Nothing can be expected from the US fiscal front except a contractionary stance. That, however, could have led to further recession if the monetary sector did not come to the rescue. The US central bank under Ben Bernanke has taken all the initiative in pushing for the sustenance of measures to stimulate the economy. The solution was through “quantitative easing (QE)” to replace the early fiscal stimulus that has ended. Quantitative easing is a new term for the old solution: an expansionary monetary policy. The US central bank did this through massive buying of private bonds in the corporate sector, thus flushing the business sector with new money. (In the past, the main bond operation of the central bank was through open market operations on government debt. The innovation of the present QE was in applying the same method on private corporate debt.) By raising money supply, the measure raised credit use to stimulate aggregate spending in the economy, thereby fueling growth and recovery. New spending was the lifeblood of the recovery process. Because of the large impact of the US economy on the world, this policy on QE had also loosened money abroad. One consequence of this policy of reducing interest rates was that some savings in the US had to look for higher returns elsewhere. The money went to places where the interest rate was higher. “Yield fundamentals.” The improving macroeconomic position throughout this period which coincided with the coming in of the Aquino administration attracted quite a substantial amount of foreign funds because of higher yields. This was not unique to the Philippine market but throughout the regions whenever similar conditions prevailed. Foreign investment in Philippine equities was one of the most attractive for foreign funds and this helped fuel the recent Philippine stock market boom. Moreover, Philippine interest rates also represented a margin that was comfortable for attracting funds into the country, including those funds that parked in Special Deposit Account (SDA) instruments of the Philippine central bank.
Foreign asset managers moved investibles from the low interest regions to those offering good rates of return, the Philippine market being one of them. This was one major effect of QE – a minor impact as far as US monetary developments for this large economy were concerned. As long as QE continued, interest rates would be relatively unchanged from their low levels. Then, recently (last week), the Chairman of the US central bank, Ben Bernanke, announced that QE would be relaxed and he signalled that this would happen by the end of 2013. This was the game-changing signal for the capital markets. It provided the incentive to rebalance investment positions and to expect that interest rates would rise again in the US, thus increasing their yield prospects there. My email is: email@example.com. Visit this site for more information, feedback and commentary:http://econ.upd.edu.ph/gpsicat/
Rural banks’ NPL ratio hits 6-yr high of 11.57% By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Bad loan ratios of rural and cooperative banks hit a six-year high last year, but the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) was unperturbed, saying reserves to cover losses also rose during the period. Small lenders posted a non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of 11.57 percent, the highest since end-September 2006 when the figure hit 12.7 percent, BSP data showed. Last year’s ratio was also up from 10.14 percent in 2011. NPLs are loans that remain unpaid 30 days after due date. The NPL ratio is a gauge of how much of the total loans granted during a particular period were unpaid and had to be shouldered by banks. Broken down, rural banks’ NPL ratio rose to 10.65 percent from 10.32 percent year-on-year, while that of cooperative lenders jumped to 19.84 percent from just 8.58 percent. In comparison, universal and commercial banks — which are bigger in asset terms — improved their NPL ratio last year to a record-low of 1.87 percent. The BSP did not cite any reason for the rise in bad loans for rural banks, but said cooperative banks’ bad credit emanated from “fortuitous events such as typhoons Gener, Habagat and Helen.” According to the BSP, the total loan portfolio of both lenders hit P127.472 billion last year, up 5.38 percent from yearago levels. The increase, however, was offset by a 20-percent uptick in NPL to P14.476 billion during the same period. For cooperative banks alone, bad loans more than doubled to P2.535 billion from P1.085 billion in 2011. While the NPL ratio rose, the BSP said rural and cooperative banks also increased their buffer funds indicating “heightened prudence against credit losses” from these bad credit. The so-called NPL coverage ratio of both types of lenders increased to 61.74 percent in 2012 from 50.36 percent a year ago, figures showed. The increase was driven by increase in provisions by countryside lenders. Rural banks’ provisioning rose by nearly 10 percentage points to 59.47 percent, the central bank said. Coverage by cooperative banks, which suffered a higher rise in NPL, decreased to 72.70 percent from 75.30 percent. The BSP said higher NPL ratios of rural and cooperative banks are expected to have no significant impact on the industry as these lenders account for just a small pie of the whole banking system. “The (BSP) continues to proactively monitor the NPLs of the various segments of the banking sector to ensure that credit underwriting standards remain high in a low interest rate environment,” the central bank said.
PDIC C signs inffo sha aring, cooperation agre eement witth US S coun nterpa art By Prinz Magtulis M (The Philippine Star) | Updated June e 19, 2013 - 12 2:00am
MANILA, P Philippines - T The Philippine Deposit Insurrance Corp. (PD IC) has signed d an agreement with its counterpa rt in the US to o allow the sha aring of information and coope eration betwee en the two entiities related to o depositor p protection. In a statem ment, the PDIC C said it entere ed into a joint communiq qué with the Fe ederal Deposit Insurance Co orp. (FDIC) durring the meetings of the Inte ernational Associatio on of Deposit Insurers being held in Makatti City. The two ag gencies, it said d, agreed to exchange e inforrmation on pollicies, tool kitss and best pracctices as well as hold bilate eral meetings and a extend tec chnical assista ance, if necesssary, among e each other. “Possible assistance a on cross-border issues” was also a covered b by the agreement, the state deposit insure er said. It did d not elaborate e. “The comm muniqué is a response r to the need for coo operation and exchange of iinformation am mong financiall safety net players to add dress and mitigate systemic c risks in a glo bal financial ssystem with intterdependent economies s,” the PDIC said. s “The agen ncies are comm mitted to open cooperation and a communiccation to enha ance financial sstability,” it added. Under the law, the PDIC is tasked to rec ceive, rehabilita ate and/or liquiidate ailing ban nks closed dow wn by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP P). Their tasks also a include se ervicing deposittor and creditorr claims. So far this year, a total off seven banks, all based in the e countryside, were shut dow wn by the BSP for being illiquid. They are all a being manag ged by the PDIC C.
http://ww ww.philstar.co om/business//2013/06/19//955534/pdicc‐signs‐info‐sh haring‐coopeeration‐ agreemen nt‐us‐counterrpart
SM Group invests $300 M in geothermal project By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - APC Group Inc. expects to start commercial operations of a $300-million geothermal power project in the Cordilleras by 2018, ushering the entry of the SM Group into the energy production business. APC Group, a subsidiary of SM Group’s leisure and gaming unit Belle Corp., targets to achieve a generation capacity of as much as 300 megawatts (MW) in the long run, company executives said. “We will focus on the completion of the financial restructuring program and the exploration of our geothermal resources,” said APC Group president Frederic DyBuncio. “If all goes well, the company may start producing electricity by 2018. Future revenue streams will be coming from the geothermal power projects,” said chief Finance officer Bernardo Lim. The most advanced project of APC Group is in Kalinga province, which was already subjected to geophysical and geotechnical surveys. “By third quarter of 2014, we are going to drill exploration wells. If the exploration wells will prove the existence of a commercial source, we will start the construction of a power plant,” Lim said. APC Group will invest $300 million to put up the 100-MW power plant, which is a joint venture with Chevron Geothermal Philippines Holdings Inc. Belle owns around half of APC Group. Other geothermal service contracts of APC Group are the Mainit-Sadanfa geothermal project and Buguias-Tinoc geothermal prospect in Kalinga and Benguet province, respectively. The power generation potential of the two projects are 60-100 MW each, APC Group said. Lim said the company is in the process of securing the consent of indigenous people in the host communities prior to the project development. APC Group also owns APC Cement Corp., which is planning to build a cement plant with a capacity to produce 1.5million metric tons per year. “Based on previous studies, it will require $250 million to set up the plant, Lim said. However, APC Group is open to selling the project as it focuses on geothermal prospects. APC Group’s stockholders approved yesterday the company’s restructuring program, reducing the par value of its shares to 25 centavos from P1. It will reduce capital deficiency to P2 billion from P7 billion, Lim said.
In April, the market speculated that SM Group will consolidate all its energy-related assets into APC Group following the company’s restructuring program. “There is no decision yet,” DyBuncio said when asked about the possible consolidation program. The Sy family, which has interests in banking, property and tourism, aims to build a presence in the local energy market. The SM Group, through private firm All First Equity Holdings, is global oil giant Chevron’s partner for the latter’s geothermal power business in the Philippines. They formed Philippine Geothermal Power Production Co. Inc., a 6040 joint venture firm in favor of the Sys to comply with the Constitution which limits foreign equity ownership of entities engaged in the exploration of indigenous or renewable energy resources to only 40 percent.
Worrld loo oks to o Bernanke e to c clarify y stim mulus plans s (The Philip ppine Star) | Up pdated June 19 9, 2013 - 12:00 0am
Bernanke WASHINGT TON (AP) – Is the era of ultra a-low interest rates nearing an e end? When he takkes questions this week afte er a Federal Reserve me eeting, chairma an Ben Bernan nke will confro ont investors’ fe ears that rates are headed higher. Financial ma arkets have be een gyrating in n the 3½ weekks since Berna nke told Cong gress the Fed might scale ba ack its effort to ke eep long-term rates at record lows within “the “ next few m meetings” – earlier than ma any had assum med. Bernanke cautioned tha at the Fed wou uld slow its sup pport only if it ffelt confident tthe job market would show sustained improvement.. And earlier in n the day, he said s the Fed m must take care e not to prematurely reduce its stimulus fo or the still-subpar economy. Yet investo ors were left puzzled p and sp pooked by a mixed m message e. Fear spread d that the Fed would soon sslow its $85 billion-a-month in n bond purcha ases. Those pu urchases have e been intende ed to hold dow wn long-term borrowing rates to spur spending. Low w rates are cre edited with hellping fuel a ho ousing rebound d, sustain economic growth, drive stock prices to o record highs s and restore tthe wealth Am merica had lostt to the Great Recession n. Many fear that a pullbac ck in the Fed’s s bond purchas ses could boo ost long-term rrates, trigger a stock selloff a and perhaps weaken w the eco onomy. On Wedne esday, when th he Fed ends a two-day polic cy meeting witth a Bernanke e news confere ence, the finan ncial world will be b looking to the t chairman to t settle the co onfusion. Wha at, Bernanke w will likely be assked, would sh how sustained improvement in the job marrket? And whe en will the Fed d most likely slow the pace o of its bond purchases s? Some ana alysts think Bernanke will sig gnal to investo ors that the Fed d has no immediate plans to o curtail its stimulus. “The Fed has h worked ve ery hard to gett stock prices and home pricces rising to help the economy, and I don’t think they want to back away from tha at in any way,”” said Mark Za andi, chief eco onomist at Moo ody’s Analyticss. “I think Bernanke will deliv ver a strong message that th he Fed is not g going to taper until the job m market is impro oving in a consis stent way.” Last month, the US economy added a solid 175,000 0 jobs. But the e unemployme ent rate was 7.6 percent.
Economists tend to regard the job market as healthy when unemployment is between five percent and six percent. Since Bernanke’s vague public comments May 22, the Dow Jones industrial average has fluctuated sharply and shed about three percent of its value. But the bigger shock has been in the bond market. The rate on the benchmark 10-year Treasury has jumped from a low of 1.63 percent in early May to 2.13 percent. By historical measures, the rate on the 10-year Treasury is still extraordinarily low. It would have to rise dramatically, for example, to return to where it was during the 2000s, when it ranged mainly between four percent and six percent. Still, higher rates ripple through the economy by making mortgages and other loans costlier. The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage, which tends to track the 10-year Treasury yield, reached 3.98 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac. That’s its highest level since April 2012. Just as cheap mortgages have helped feed a housing recovery, higher rates might slow it. Refinancings have declined since Bernanke’s comments led to higher mortgage rates: Refinancings are 36 percent below their recent peak at the start of May, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Compounding the confusion stirred by Bernanke’s remarks have been comments from other members of the Fed’s policy committee.
Asian markets wobble on uncertainty over US stimulus (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
TOKYO (AP) – Shares were mixed in Asia on Tuesday as investors watched for signs of a possible change in US stimulus efforts by the Federal Reserve. Asia’s biggest benchmark, Japan’s Nikkei stock average, shed early gains to fall 0.2 percent by early afternoon, to 13,007.28. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.3 percent to 21,153.06, while South Korea’s KOSPI index recovered from early losses to gain 0.9 percent at 1,900.62. Japanese shares have tended to gain as the yen falls, on expectations a weaker currency will help heavyweight exporters like Toyota Motor Corp. and Sony. Shares advanced Monday on growing expectations that the US Federal Reserve will maintain its current policy stance when policymakers meet this week. But that optimism appears to be wavering. “There is still some selling pressure but overall the markets are sidelined. Investors are quite cautious about the Federal Reserve meeting,” said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong. “The market will wait.” Markets have gyrated in recent weeks on worries the Fed might choose to start cutting back on the volume of its financial asset purchases, which are intended to encourage spending and investment by helping to keep interest rates low. Investors were spooked when Fed chairman Ben Bernanke suggested the US central bank might ease its aggressive support for the US economy if indicators such as hiring improve. Markets across Asia were hit by sharp drops in share prices as investors pulled back from emerging markets. But on Tuesday, shares rose in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, mainland China and New Zealand. Benchmarks in India and Australia fell. A meeting of leaders from the Group of Eight top industrial countries in Northern Ireland appeared to have little impact on the markets given the gathering’s main focus on diplomatic issues such as Syria and North Korea. In the US, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.7 percent to 15,179.85 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.8 percent to 1,639.04. Oil prices fell ahead of the Fed’s meeting, with the benchmark New York rate down 20 cents at $97.57. The contract fell eight cents to finish at $97.77 a barrel on the Nymex on Monday.
NHM MFC doubl d les div viden nds in n 2013 3 (The Philip ppine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00 0am
NHMFC p president Felixxberto U. Busto os Jr. turns ovver P42 millio n in dividendss to President A Aquino during g the ‘GOCC Diividends Day 2 2013’ held in Malacaña ng. Looking o on are (from le eft) Budget Secretary Florencio Aba ad, Finance Secretary Cesa ar Purisima a and Sen. Fran nklin Drilon. MANILA, P Philippines - T The state-run N National Home e Mortgage Finance Corp p. (NHMFC) ha as more than doubled itss dividends th his year, Vice P President Jejo omar C. Binay ssaid. From P18 million in 2012, NHMFC ha as remitted P42 2 million divide ends to the Na ational Govern nment. This represents s partial payment of dividend ds for 2012 ne et earnings. “Through sound s manage ement and policy reforms, th he corporation n was able to o overcome sna ags and contin nue to contribute to the nationa al coffers,” said d Binay, who also a chairs the e NHMFC boa ard of directorss. NHMFC president Felixb berto U. Busto os Jr. turned over o the P42 m million check to o President Aq quino during th he “GOCC Diividends Day 2013” 2 held at the t Malacañan ng Palace. NHMFC has remitted to the National Government G a total of P158 8 million divide ends. “The NHM MFC, under the e leadership off Vice Preside ent Binay, has proven its abiility to rise abo ove financial challenges s to fulfill its se econdary morttgage market development,” d ” Bustos said. As the gov vernment’s pre emiere second dary mortgage e institution (S MI), the NHMF FC is tasked tto operate a viiable secondary y home mortga age market. Itt is also mandated to monito or the performance and imp plementation of the Communitty Mortgage Program (CMP) by its wholly--owned subsid diary, the Social Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC). The goverrnment sees th he potential an nd significance e of the role off all GOCCs a as tools for eco onomic developme ent. Under Sec ction 3 of the Dividends D Law w (R.A. 7657), all GOCCs an nd governmen nt financial insttitutions (GFIss) are required to o declare and remit at least 50 percent of their annual n net earnings as cash, stock, or property dividends to the Nationa al Governmentt . http://w www.philstar.ccom/businesss/2013/06/19 9/955560/nh mfc‐doubles‐‐dividends‐20 013
Prices of construction materials rise in May By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Retail prices of construction materials in Metro Manila grew at a faster rate in May on higher prices of carpentry and masonry materials, the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported yesterday. The construction materials retail price index (CMRPI) rose four percent in May, faster than 3.9 percent in April. Prices of carpentry materials grew by 0.1 percent in May from zero growth in April. The masonry materials index grew 17.8 percent from 16 percent in April. The electrical materials index eased to 6.6 percent in May from 6.7 percent in April; painting materials and related compounds index, 0.8 percent from 1.2 percent; plumbing materials index, 1.2 percent from 1.5 percent; and tinsmithry materials index, 5.8 percent from six percent. The miscellaneous construction materials index continued to post negative annual rate of 2.2 percent from -3.3 percent. Wholesale prices of construction materials in May in Metro Manila, on the other hand, also grew at a faster pace because of a higher uptick in the prices of cement, tileworks, G.I sheet concrete products and PVC pipes. The Construction Materials Wholesale Price Index (CMWPI) rose 1.1 percent in May from 0.6 percent in April. This resulted from a higher annual uptick in the cement index by 6.8 percent in May from 6.7 percent in April; tileworks index, 4.6 percent from 4.2 percent; G.I. sheet index, 3.7 percent from 2.1 percent; concrete products index, 2.2 percent from 1.2 percent; and PVC pipes index, 1.1 percent from 0.6 percent. The fuels and lubricants index, however, posted a negative growth of six percent in May from -6.7 percent in April. Slower annual gains were also seen in the indices of the following commodity groups: sand and gravel, 1.9 percent in May from 2.1 percent in April; plywood, 1.2 percent from 1.5 percent; lumber, 2.2 percent from 3.4 percent; reinforcing steel, 2.7 percent from 3.1 percent; structural steel, 1.3 percent from 2.2 percent; glass and glass products, 0.7 percent from 0.8 percent; and electrical works, 1.8 percent from 2.1 percent. The machinery and equipment rental index registered zero growth in May from April.
Basic Energy sets up Indonesian firm By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Grandway Group Ltd., a 70-30 joint venture between Basic Energy Corp. and Malaysian company Petrosolve Sdn Bhd, has received the endorsement of an Indonesian government agency for the establishment of a foreign investment company in Indonesia. In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange yesterday, Basic Energy said the Grandway Group has received the endorsement of Indonesia’s Ministry of Law and Human Rights on the establishment of PT Basic Energy Solusi, the foreign investment company of the Grandway Group. PT Basic Energy, based in Jakarta, Indonesia, will be the investment arm of the Grandway Group, for various business opportunities in the Southeast Asian country. The company aims to provide consultancy, management and supervision services in the management of oil wells. “It shall undertake certain aspects of the operations of oil wells, within the regulatory and social frameworks applicable in the identified oil field areas in Indonesia, using modern and chemical enhanced oil recovery technology to unlock oil resources and thereby increase oil production of these oil wells,” Basic Energy said. PT Basic Energy, which shall be owned up to 95 percent by the Grandway Group, in compliance with Indonesian laws, will pave the way for the identification of the various oil projects it will undertake in Indonesia, Basic Energy said. Furthermore, the company will be supported by the technical and operations experience of Basic Energy in the operation and management of oil wells and a chemical technology patent owned by Petrosolve Sdn Bhd for enhanced oil recovery and increased oil production. Basic Energy and Petrosolve announced their partnership in February, saying this would allow both companies to expand their respective operations globally. Basic Energy president Oscar de Venecia has said the partnership could be for projects within and outside the Philippines. Petrosolve is a company registered in Malaysia and is engaged in the business of oil field services, including application of chemicals for increased oil production and the development of oil and gas fields and wells. Basic Energy is a listed firm presently engaged in energy development, particularly oil exploration. It also has investments in petroleum projects including the exploration and development of contract areas situated in offshore and onshore Mindoro.
EDC inks deals for Chile, Peru geothermal projects By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines ‐ Lopez‐led Energy Development Corp. (EDC) has signed four shareholders’ agreements that would effectively implement its joint venture agreement with a Canada‐based energy company for geothermal projects in Chile and Peru. “Under the shareholders’ agreement for the Mariposa project in Chile, EDC will acquire 70‐percent interest in Compañía De Energia (Enerco),” EDC said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) yesterday. Enerco is a subsidiary of its partner of its partner Alterra Power Corp. in Chile that owns the Mariposa project. Alterra will continue to hold a 30‐percent interest in Enerco through its wholly‐owned subsidiary Magma Energy Chile Limitada, subject to the terms of the shareholders’ agreement for the Mariposa Project, EDC said. For the project in Peru, the shareholders’ agreement states that a new project company will be incorporated in Peru, which would also be 70 percent owned by EDC. This will be responsible for developing the relevant Peruvian project. “Each Peruvian project company will be 70 percent owned by EDC (through its wholly subsidiary in Peru) and 30 percent owned by Magma Energia Geotermica Peru S.A., a wholly‐owned subsidiary of Alterra,” EDC said. At the same time, EDC noted that its continued participation in the Peruvian projects and the Mariposa project is subject to EDC’s resource assessment of each of the projects in accordance with the terms of the project agreements. The joint venture partnership with Alterra strengthens EDC’s overseas presence, EDC president Richard Tantoco earlier said. Alterra is a leading global renewable energy company, which operates six power plants totaling 566 megawatts of capacity, including two geothermal facilities in Iceland, a geothermal plant in Nevada, British Columbia’s largest run‐of‐river hydro facilities and the province’s largest wind farm. Last month, EDC disclosed that it has partnered with Australian Hot Rock Ltd. for a joint venture development of the Quellaapacheta geothermal project in Peru. EDC said the two companies established Geotermica Quellaapacheta Peru SAC for the project. Similar to the Mariposa project in Chile, EDC owns 70 percent of the joint venture, which would develop the Quellaapacheta project. EDC, an integrated geothermal energy producer, has a portfolio of steam fields and power plants in the Philippines. It remains the largest producer of geothermal energy in the country, accounting for 62 percent of total installed geothermal capacity.
T-bonds yield drops to 2.9% By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The rate for the seven-year Treasury bonds (T-bonds) dropped to 2.953 percent in the auction held yesterday as demand for the virtually risk-free debt instruments outstripped supply. The latest rate for the bonds was 92.3 basis points lower than the 3.876 percent set during the previous auction by the Bureau of Treasury. The government raised P30 billion as planned. Investors tendered a total of P40.27 billion, 34.23 percent higher than the offered volume. National Treasurer Rosalia De Leon said ample liquidity, strong government cash position and a low inflation rate keep the attractiveness of the local bond market. The strong demand for T-bonds was earlier attributed to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ move to restrict banks’ access to its special deposit account and slash the rate on SDA facility by a cumulative 150 basis points so far this year. The huge inflow of portfolio investments has also contributed to the strong interest in the local debt market. De Leon said the issuance of the country’s first inflation linked bonds remains an option by the government as this would help lower borrowing costs. Inflation-linked securities typically have lower coupons than conventional debt because the principal increases annually at the rate of gains in the consumer-price index. These bonds pay a periodic coupon that is equal to the product of the inflation index and the nominal coupon rate. The country’s average inflation in 2012 eased to 3.2 percent from 4.6 percent recorded a year earlier. It was the lowest inflation rate posted since 2007 when the rate slowed to 2.9 percent due to the global financial crisis. As for retail treasury bonds, De Leon said everything is still under study including the size, market conditions, and market appetite. “It depends on how strong the demand would be and how much we need to fund. As I’ve said before, there isn’t so much pressure given where we are, given our liquid position right now,” De Leon said.
MPIC takes part in Deutsche Bank’s 1st Depositary Receipts conference (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Deutsche Bank Depositary Receipts is hosting today the first virtual investor conference in the depositary receipts industry aimed exclusively at introducing Asian companies to investors primarily in the US. The line-up of its virtual investor conference will include live presentations from several Asia-based companies. Investor relations officers from companies based in the Philippines, China, Hong Kong and other parts of Asia will respond to questions in real-time during formal presentations and will also interact with investors in virtual trade booths. The conference is primarily targeted to the individual retail investor but is also open to institutional investors and analysts. There is no fee for participants to log-in to attend the presentations and ask questions. To register, please use the following link: https://vts.inxpo.com/scripts/Server.nxp. Pre-registration is suggested to save time. Edwin Reyes, global head of Depositary Receipts, Deutsche Bank, said, “Deutsche Bank is pleased to be the first bank to hold a depositary receipts virtual investor event of this type with Asia-based companies. Individual investors in the United States are offered unique access to these companies that are based in a different time zone. Deutsche Bank continues to focus on offering innovative ways for our clients to reach new investors.”
Markets edge higher as Fed meeting starts By Pan Pylas (Associated Press) | Updated June 19, 2013 - 6:34am
LONDON — Stock markets edged higher yesterday as a two-day policy meeting of the US Federal Reserve got underway — a meeting that could have a huge influence on how investors see the future path of the country's monetary policy. For weeks now, markets have been gripped with uncertainty over whether the Fed will start reducing the amount of financial assets it is buying. For most of the past few years, the Fed's super-easy and cheap monetary policy has helped drive sentiment in the markets. Any reduction — so-called tapering — could spook investors who have become accustomed to seeing much of the money generated by the policy ending up in financial markets. The uncertainty was caused by comments made by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke in May and investors will be hoping for a clearer picture at the end of this month's meeting on Wednesday. Though no change is expected on Wednesday, investors will be looking for a clearer line in the accompanying Fed statement and in Bernanke's post-meeting press conference. The nervousness surrounding the Fed was evident Monday when an opinion piece in the Financial Times about the Fed's intentions spooked investors and prompted some selling in US markets. "At best the markets will be looking for reassurance from Bernanke that the Fed intends to keep rates low for some time to come and that it will be looking to manage any form of reduction of stimulus measures in a very gradual and orderly manner in a fashion that takes into account the state of the US economy," said Michael Hewson, senior market analyst at CMC Markets. In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares ended yesterday up 0.7 percent at 6,374, while Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 8,229. The CAC-40 in France was barely changed on the day, down 0.08 percent at 3,860. In the US, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.8 percent at 15,300 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.7 percent at 1,649. yesterday's batch of US data did little to add to the debate over the Fed's stance. The rise in inflation to 1.4 percent in the year to May from 1.1 percent in April was in line with predictions and largely due to base effects. Meanwhile, the 6.8 percent rise in housing starts during the month was a tad lower than anticipated. "No change in the outlook for the economy or inflation from these two data releases," said Steven Ricchuito, chief economist at Mizuho Securities. The dollar's near-term outlook, particularly against the euro, rests on the Fed too. Europe's single currency was up 0.35 percent at $1.3408. Against the yen, the dollar has been buffeted by Japan's own monetary stimulus. Following recent losses, the dollar is back in favor, trading 0.75 percent higher at 95.24 yen.
Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei stock average shed early gains to fall 0.2 percent to 13,007.28. Trading volume was the lowest for the year. Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was nearly flat at 21,225.88, while South Korea's KOSPI index gained 0.9 percent at 1,900.62. Oil prices tracked equities modestly higher, with the benchmark New York rate up 16 cents at $97.93.
Pow wer to o the peop ple Category: Opinion d on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 3 19:51 Published Written b by The BusinessMirror Editorial IT is crucial forr the Philippiines to accelerate infrastrructure deve elopment to fu urther boost e economic grow wth in the nextt three yearrs, according to economistss. And such d development sshould really prioritize po ower-generatio on projects, as the econom my will scre eech to a halt w without a stable e power supplyy. The lack of an ad dequate powerr supply, which h inevitably leads to high h power rates, is one of the reasons the P Philippines has yet to conv vince more fore eign investors to come in. We actually lag b behind our neighbors in te erms of attracting foreign direct investmentss. In fact, Mindanao is now w bearing the brunt of woeffully inadequatte power supp ply, with some e areas experie encing between tw wo and eight hours h of blacko outs daily, adve ersely affecting g productivity a and causing co onsiderable business losses. The bright spot in the power sector is s that a numbe er of power-ge eneration proje ects are in the e pipeline that would ensure suffficient power supply in the ye ears ahead. The Board of Investmentts has approve ed two power projects p of San n Miguel Conso olidated Powerr Corp. The projects, comprising g an aggregate capacity of 60 00 megawatts, are the P25.84 4-billion, 300-M MW coal-fired p power plant in Davao del Sur; an nd the P25.5-b billion, 300-MW W plant in Bata aan. The proje ects, which willl receive income-tax holidayys and duty-free im mportation of capital c equipm ment under the government’s Investment Priorities Plan, w will start comm mercial operations in 2015 and 20 016, respective ely, using coal from Indonesia a or Australia. Up for app proval by the Department D of Energy, mean nwhile, are new w wind- and ssolar-power pro ojects that will boost renewable--energy (RE) development d an nd curb the cou untry’s reliance e on imported o oil. New appliccations for sola ar- and wind-powe er generation co ould bring RE potential p capac city to 308.5 MW W for wind and d 60 MW for so olar. Among the e wind projects s are those of the Energy De evelopment Co orp. (87-MW w wind farm in Burgos, Ilocos N Norte), Alternergy Wind One Co orp. (67.5-MW Pililla wind power project in Rizal), Trans--Asia Oil and E Energy Develo opment Corp. (54-M MW wind farm in San Lorenz zo, Guimaras), and PetroEnerrgy Resourcess Corp. (50-MW W Nabas wind p project in Aklan). The solar-energy projectts, on the othe er hand, are the t Philippine Solar Farm-Le eyte Inc.’s 30--MW solar pro oject in Ormoc, Ley yte, and anothe er 30-MW sola ar project in Luz zon that may sttart commercia al operations byy January 2015 5. The private e sector deserv ves credit for in nitiating powerr-generation pro rojects aimed a at making the ccountry self-suffficient in energy. Mindanao’s cu urrent energy crunch c should be b a wake-up ccall for us to accelerate efforrts at ensuring ample power supp ply as the coun ntry tries to sus stain economic growth in the yyears ahead.
http://ww ww.businessm mirror.com.ph h/index.php/e en/news/opinnion/15184‐p power‐to‐the‐people
G-8 leaders see worst over for world economy Category: World Published on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 19:19 Written by Bloomberg News Leaders of the Group of Eight nations say that the worst has passed for the global economy, an aide to UK Prime Minister David Cameron said after summit talks on promoting employment and growth. European leaders said during the summit debate on the economy “that we have overcome the manifest crisis of confidence, but that a huge amount of work still lies ahead,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. Growth requires “sound finances” and structural change in EU economies, she told reporters. Merkel expressed concern about Japan’s effort to end two decades of economic stagnation, which includes bondbuying by the Bank of Japan and $102 billion in planned stimulus spending by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Merkel, who met Abe separately at the summit, said Japan’s budget deficit “surely has to be scaled back in the medium term.” Merkel, who leads Europe’s biggest economy, is running for a third term in Germany’s September 22 election on a platform of preserving the euro in return for economic overhauls and debt reduction throughout the 17-nation currency union. While economic prospects remain weak, downside risks have abated, thanks to actions taken by policy-makers in the US, euro area and Japan, and due to the resilience of emerging-market economies, Cameron said on Monday, following the first of a two-day meeting in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. G-8 leaders are under pressure to spur growth and reduce unemployment as the unexpected slowing of the Chinese economy in the first quarter sparked concerns of a weakening global expansion. The euro-area economy is shrinking for a second year and the UK is emerging from a double-dip recession amid investor concern that the US Federal Reserve is preparing to unwind stimulus. Undescoring the fragile outlook, the International Monetary Fund trimmed its 2013 global growth forecast in April to 3.3 percent from 3.5 percent. The estimate for 2014 is 4 percent as the US picks up and the euro area begins expanding again. In search of a recipe for growth while trimming budget deficits, leaders announced on Monday the start of talks next month on a trade deal between the US and the European Union, which Cameron said could be the biggest bilateral deal ever. Merkel said she envisioned an agreement within “a few years.” Reaching a deal “is going to be a priority of mine and my administration,” US President Barack Obama said.
PES chief: Stakeholders must grasp development issues Category: Economy Published on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 20:14 Written by Dennis D. Estopace STUDYING development issues becomes more effective in implementation if stakeholders understand its intricacies. This dictum was shared by one of two professors who won the top prize in an international competition on research on development. So far, Alvin P. Ang and Jeremaiah M. Opiniano, professors of Economics and Journalism, respectively, of the Royal Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, remain the only Filipinos with such achievement. “Technical concepts should be presented in a way that is laymanized but neither condescending nor patronizing. These should cut across all audience,” Ang, currently also president of the Philippine Economic Society (PES), said. Ang and Opiniano spoke during the preparatory meeting on Monday for the GDN 14th Annual Global Development Conference. The Global Development Network (GDN) is an international organization that builds research capacity in development. Ang and Opiniano represented the Philippines in 2011, the first time when the country won the top prize in the GDN Awards and Medals Competition. By pairing, Ang and Opiniano also set the trend of having a multi-disciplinary approach in development issues. The two professors won the 2011 contest with their research proposal, titled “Remittance Investment Climate Analysis for Rural Hometowns: Piloting a Tool to Determine where Overseas Filipinos from Two Rural Hometowns can Best Invest their Money.” Their paper was chosen from submissions from nearly 4,300 researchers representing more than 100 countries throughout the developing and transition world. “Development-oriented research such as ours must always see how research can make a difference in people’s lives,” Opiniano told about half of an expected 400 participants in the three-day conference that begins on Wednesday. Opiniano said that in their case, research focuses on “how remittances can lead to local development.” The award, Ang said, enhanced their confidence that development research is important. “And since it is also a recognition from our peers and network of researchers on migration, the award gives honor to a labor-sending country such as ours,” Ang told the BusinessMirror.
Ang and Opiniano were awarded during the 12th annual Global Development conference in Bogota, Colombia, in 2011. The GDN is being held in Manila with the theme “Inequality, Social Protection and Inclusive Growth.”
Government eyes $2-billion bond sale in 2014 Category: Top News Published on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 21:56 Written by Clarissa Batino Max Estayo and Lilian Karunungan / Bloomberg News The Philippines plans to sell its first inflation-linked bonds in the fourth quarter before returning to the global debt market in 2014 after a year’s absence, Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said. The Treasury will meet investors, including insurance companies, to gauge interest in peso-denominated linkers to be offered by year-end, de Leon said in an interview on Tuesday. The government may meet 10 percent of its funding needs overseas next year by selling $1 billion of notes and borrowing another $1 billion from lenders such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, she said. “Inflation-linked bonds will allow us to lower our borrowing costs as we assure investors that we will meet our inflation [PHC2II] target,”de Leon said. “We are looking to offer modest-sized global bonds as many investors seek them.” The Philippines will join nations from India to Thailand and South Korea in selling inflation-protected bonds, as President Aquino seeks more than $17 billion of investment in roads and ports to sustain expansion in Asia’s fastestgrowing economy. The notes will serve as a benchmark for local companies seeking to fund long-term infrastructure ventures, de Leon said. “The Philippines should see demand for its inflation-protected bonds, as well as its dollar bonds,” Rees Kam, a strategist at SJS Markets Ltd., a Hong Kong-based financial services company that specializes in fixed income, said by telephone. “The Philippines has an investment-grade rating, and it has one of the region’s highest growth rates.” Manage inflows The nation shunned the global bond market for the first time in a decade this year to help the central bank manage capital inflows that made the peso Asia’s second-best performer last year. “We continue to hold a positive view on the Philippines,” said Desmond Soon, a Singapore-based fund manager at Western Asset Management Co., which managed $459.5 billion as of March 31. “Unless there’s a significantly riskaverse environment, Philippine debt should see demand. The Philippines has not been in the market for quite some time.” The nation’s dollar bonds returned 4.9 percent in the past year, the third-best performance in Southeast Asia, according to indexes compiled by HSBC Holdings Plc. The 5-percent dollar note due January 2037 has gained 17 percent since it was issued in January 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sovereign upgrades The economy expanded 7.8 percent last quarter, the fastest pace in almost three years, helped by record-low interest rates and inflation near the lower end of the central bank’s 3-percent to 5-percent target. Consumer prices rose 2.6
percent from a year earlier in April and May, near the slowest pace in 13 months, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expects inflation to remain within its goal until 2015. Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s rewarded the Southeast Asian nation with investment-grade sovereign rankings this year after the government narrowed its budget deficit and spent $3.2 billion in 2011 and 2012 to buy back foreign-currency debt. BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said this month the Philippines might be closer to getting a favorable assessment from Moody’s Investors Service, which has kept the nation at the highest junk rating with a stable outlook. Moody’s said in a June 3 report the country’s economic growth last quarter and its fiscal surplus in April are “credit positive.” ‘Another upgrade’ “If we get another upgrade, it might be timely for us to go out again and price ourselves,” de Leon said. The government estimates overseas borrowing, including concessional loans, will help meet 6 percent of its funding needs this year, compared with 14 percent in 2012, she said. The funding plan is preliminary and the final numbers will be submitted to Congress, along with the 2014 budget proposal in late July, she said. The Treasury will probably buy about $2 billion from Bangko Sentral to pay offshore debt this year, according to de Leon. Five-year credit-default swaps on Philippine securities have risen four basis points this year to 110 basis points, according to data provider CMA, which is owned by McGraw-Hill Cos. and compiles prices quoted by dealers in the privately negotiated markets. The peso fell to a one-year low last week and was the region’s worst performer after the Indian rupee in the past three months. Overseas investors pulled a net $641 million from local stocks and bonds in May, compared with net inflows of $1.13 billion in April, central bank data show. “Inflation is under control, our fundamentals are there, growth is probably sustained in the second quarter,” de Leon said in the interview. “There’s continued source of stability in the domestic market.”
Government to expand organic farms in Region 12 Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 19:23 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent The Department of Agriculture (DA) has allocated P21.7 million to expand organic-farming activities in Region 12 as part of its efforts to expand organic farms in the country this year. The DA said the amount set aside is higher than the P16.52 million spent for the same initiative last year. Region 12 has a number of agricultural production cooperatives devoted to organic farming and the culture of black rice, and many of them are banking on support based on the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10068, otherwise known as the “Organic Agriculture Act of 2010,” to boost their share of the local and foreign rice markets. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala was the principal author of RA 10068, which mandates the government to convert 5 percent of the total agricultural land to organic farming. Region 12 Technical Director for Research and Regulations Enriqueto G. Natividad, who is also the Organic Agriculture Program (OAP) focal person, said his office has efficiently utilized the money to abide by the mandate of RA 10068. Natividad said DA 12 OAP Team conducted briefings and training sessions for the remaining 33 local government units (LGUs) that still need to organize their Municipal Organic Agriculture Boards. During the Farmers’ Heart Day and Ulat sa Bayan on February 11, OAP distributed three 1.5-ton-capacity shredders and three bag closers to the LGUs of Kidapawan City, General Santos City and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat. “We also provided funds to develop the frontage of stations such as those in Balindog and Tupi as organic techno demo sites,” he said. Four organic trading posts are also being set up in the towns of Midsayap and Tulunan in North Cotabato and Surallah in South Cotabato and Tacurong City. During Region 12’s Ulat sa Bayan on May 8 and 9, OAP also turned over four multicultivators with trailers to Koronadal, General Santos, Columbio and the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist of South Cotabato.
400 farmers graduate from ‘Universityon-the-Air’ in Eastern Visayas Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 19:21 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning Four hundred farmers in Eastern Visayas have won for themselves diplomas from the “University-on-the-Air” (UOA) training program devised by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (Philmech). Certificates were distributed to farmers who passed the course recently. Philmech, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), said the aim of the UOA is to provide training to farmers over a wider area using radio as a medium. “We plan to hold more UOAs in cooperation with regional offices to train more farmers on rice postharvest and mechanization,” said Philmech Executive Director Rex L. Bingabing. The agency said it is now coordinating with Regions 9 and 12 to craft a UOA for farmers in the two regions. A total of 100 UOA graduates came from Samar, while 300 hailed from Leyte. About 600 farmers enrolled in the UOA in Region 8 that started in April and ended in May. Philmech said 200 of them were not able to take the examinations and attend the graduation rites. Bingabing said with 600 enrolling in the UOA for Region 8, it is clear that many farmers are “eager to learn” about postharvest management and mechanization of rice farming. Under the UOA, farmers enroll at the DA regional field unit (RFU) offices and are required to listen for one hour per day, six days a week to a lecturer over a designated radio station. The training lasts for two months. An examination is then given to the farmer-trainees to determine who makes the grade and who should attend the graduation rites. “The examination is administered to determine who among the enrollees really learned rice postharvest and mechanization by listening to the designated radio stations for lectures,” said Bingabing. Aside from Region 8, UOAs have been held in the provinces of Pampanga, Pangasinan, Kalinga, Iloilo, Davao, Mindoro and Leyte, and in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) and Region 5 (Bicol region). The top five graduates of the UOA of DA-RFU8 were Felipe L. Agero of Barangay 89, San Jose, Tacloban City with a grade of 93.87; Ma. Isabel G. Dondoyano of Barangay Pagsulhugon, Babatngon, 89.53; Nemesio N. Legata Jr. of Barangay Dita, Julita, 87.73; Florencio M. Tobias of Barangay Tabuanon, Burauen, 87.67; and Victoriano C. Agujero of Barangay Candahug, Palo, 86.6.
Ene ergy now n a majo or con ncern of Fillipino os Category: Top News Published d on Monday, 10 June 2013 3 21:04 Written b by Joel R. San Juan THE country’’s energy situa ation in the future is now a major concern for n nine out of 10 0 Filipinos, acccording to a ssurvey commissione ed by Royal Duttch Shell Plc. The survey, cconducted by m market researcch company Ip psos in April, involve ed 600 individu uals from Metrro Manila, Ceb bu and Davao. It showed tha at 90 percent of Filipinos co onsider future e energy needs to be an important issue. According to Shell, the su urvey seeks to evaluate the views of Filipino os on the future e of energy. Aside from m energy needs, 97 percent of the respond dents mentione ed employmen nt as a major concern, 96 p percent identified public p education n and 95 perce ent cited the de egradation of th he environmentt. About 95 percent p of the respondents be elieve that higher unemployme ent would have e the biggest im mpact on them, while 93 percentt say it would be high energy prices. Also identiified as a major concern are e food shortag ge (91 percen t), water shorttage (88 perce ent) and geop political instability (82 percent). Citing the United U Nations s, Shell estimattes that by 2030, the world wo ould need 40 p percent to 50 p percent more e energy, water and food f to keep up with rising de emand and incrreased populattion growth. “This could d place signific cant stress on these t vital reso ources, which comprise a tig ghtly intertwined network: ene ergy is used to mo ove and treat water; w water is s required to produce energyy; and both ene ergy and wate er are required in the production of food,” the re eport said. “Survey res spondents in th he Philippines view future en nergy needs ass a high priorityy and are incre easingly aware of the inter-depen ndence of energy, water and d food resource es,” Shell Vice President for Communicatio ons and Goverrnment Relations Roberto R S. Kan napi said. Kanapi said in order to meet m growing ne eeds, the world d would have tto use innovatio on, technologyy and collabora ation to mobilize multiple m forms off energy in the coming decades. “But the ch hallenge of ens suring sufficient supplies of energy, e water a and food would d have to be ad ddressed intelligently and in unis son,” he noted. The “Futurre Energy Surrvey” showed that Filipinos favor a mix o of energy sou urces to help meet future e energy demand. Nearly thre ee quarters, or 74 percent, be elieve the counttry should derivve its future en nergy source frrom the sun, followed by hydro energy, wind po ower and natura al gas.
Interestingly, two-thirds, or 66 percent, of the respondents said they are willing to pay more for cleaner power and energy. The survey also revealed that nine out of 10 Filipinos consider it important to reduce carbon emissions, with many indicating they are already taking steps to do so. Nearly three quarters of the respondents said they use energy in a sustainable way by using less of it, while others practice waste disposal, use of energy-saving products and recycling. Respondents agree that collaboration among the government, the community and industry, and innovation and incentives for cleaner energy are the most important factors in shaping future energy needs. Based on the survey, majority consider the national government, followed by the local government units and the general public as having the biggest roles to play in developing future energy solutions.
In Photo: A survey commissioned by Shell companies in the Philippines (Shell) showed that nine out of 10 Filipinos are now concerned about future energy needs as they are with employment, public education and pollution of the environment. The “Future Energy Survey” was presented to the media by (from left) Ambassador Cesar Bautista, former trade secretary and National Competitiveness Council chairman; Elisea Gozun, presidential assistant on climate change; and Dr. Cho-Oon Khong, Shell International chief political analyst, during the Shell New Lens Scenarios forum on Monday. (Stephanie Tumampos)
San Migu uel to tap fo our banks for $3 3.3billiion Meralc M co sale e Category: Top News Published d on Saturday, 08 June 201 13 20:03 Written b by Joyce Koh & & Cecilia Yap / Bloomberg News SAN Miguel C Corp. is workin ng with four ba anks to help itt sell a $3.3-billion sttake in the Ma anila Electric C Co., the Philipp pines’s largest utility, said three peo ople with knowledge of the matter. Citigroup Incc., Deutsche B Bank AG, Stan ndard Chartere ed Plc. and UBS AG are helping Sa an Miguel explo ore how to dive est the holding, the people said, asking not to o be named a as the appointmentss are private. O Options include e selling a porrtion to another com mpany and the e remainder tto large institu utional investors, the ey said. San Miguel said this wee ek that unide entified partiess have expressed in nterest in its stake in Man nila Electric C Co., or Meralco as tthe company iis known, and proceeds from m any sale will fund d expansion in n oil and gas. The compan ny and units San Miguel Pure Foods Co. Inc. and SMC Glob bal Power Hold dings Corp. ow wn about a combined 32.8-p percent stake, wortth P140.2 billion ($3.3 billion), based on Meralco’s market value. A stake sa ale to anotherr company cou uld mark the third-biggest t a acquisition in th he Philippiness, data compilled by Bloomberg g show. An equ uity-market tra ansaction, such h as a private placement, wo ould be the co ountry’s biggesst of its kind, the da ata show. Mera alco shares hav ve rallied 45 pe ercent this yea r, giving it a ma arket value of P P427 billion. San Migue el President Ra amon S. Ang and a Chief Finan nce Officer Fe rdinand Consta antino didn’t re eply to mobile--phone calls and te ext messages seeking comm ment on the app pointments. Sp pokesmen for th he four banks d declined to com mment or weren’t immediately av vailable. Ang said this week that San Miguel, th he Philippines’s s biggest comp pany by sales,, might sell the Meralco stakke this year. San Miguel bought the bulk of the e shares at P9 90 each—less tthan a quarterr of Friday’s ma arket closing p price of P379. Meralco is the largest dis stribution utility in the Philippin nes, serving a q quarter of the ccountry’s popu ulation in an are ea that accounts fo or half of its grross domestic product, according to its web b site. The com mpany said in A April that first-q quarter net income e rose 19 perce ent to P4 billion n.
In Photo: San S Miguel Pre esident Ramon n S. Ang
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38 GOCCs G s remitt P28--B diviidend ds to tr reasur ry Category: Top News d on Monday, 03 June 2013 3 21:49 Published Written b by Paul Anthony A. Isla / Re eporter THIRTY-EIGHT goverrnment-owned and -co ontrolled corporation ns (GOCCs) have h remitted close to P28 8 billion representin ng the governm ment's share in their earnings.. Finance Secretary S Cesar V. Purisim ma, reporting on the remittances s on Monday, said the divide end earnings would w go directly to the Treasury, where they will help finan nce the delivery off government services such h as health ca are and security to millions of Filip pinos. Purisima said s eight of th he GOCCs belong to an elitte class of con ntributors that remitted P1 b billion or more to the national co offers. These included the Philip ppine Ports Au uthority with P1 1.034 billion; M Manila Internatiional Airport Authority, with P P1.547 billion; the Philippine Amusement and Gaming G Corp., which remitte d a total of P1.4 billion; the P Power Sector A Assets and Liabiliities Managem ment Corp., wiith P1 billion; the Bases C Conversion and d Developmen nt Authority (B BCDA), with P2.30 09 billion; the Development Bank of the Philippines P (DB BP), with P3.1 166 billion; and Land Bank of the Philippines s (LBP) which remitted r the big ggest amount this year, P6.24 41 billion. Under Rep public Act (RA)) 7656, the GO OCCs must rem mit a portion off their earningss to the nationa al government in the form of dividends made out o to the Treas sury. The traditio on of GOCC Dividends Day started s in 2011 under the Dep partment of Fin nance to give d due recognition to the GOCCs forr the dividends they remit to the t government in compliance e with the law. The finance department said s about P29 9 billion was rem mitted in 2012.. Upon the ena actment of RA 10149, or the G GOCC Governanc ce Act of 2011, the event wa as continued by y the Governa ance Commissiion for GOCCss (GCG) in Fe ebruary 2012, with the GOCCs re emitting a total of o P19.2 billion n. Though th his week mark ks only the se econd year off the passage e into law of the GOCC G Governance Acct, the governmen nt’s corporate sector s has alrea ady taken grea at strides since its enactment through the GC CG. The GOCC C Dividends Da ay not only reco ognizes the accomplishmentss of the GOCC Cs, but also the e determination of the Aquino administration to pursue the much-needed m re eform of the g government co orporate sectorr, to ensure th hat the GOCCs are financially via able and to sym mbolize that the e government iis its biggest sh hareholder, Purisima said. In Photo: President P Aquino is surround ded by officials of governmen nt-owned and -ccontrolled corp porations (GOC CCs) on the occa asion of this ye ear’s “GOCC Dividends D Day” at Malacañang g. Thirty-eight G GOCCs remitte ed close to P28 8 billion to th he National Treasury, surpass sing the dividen nds made last yyear. Eight GO OCCs belonging g to the so-calle ed Billionaire’s s Club remitted d at least P1 billlion each to the government. GOCC Divide ends Day was established tw wo years ago to t recognize th he government firms for their contributions c to o the Treasury. (Malacañang g photo)
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Loca al sto ocks cllimb back b tto 6,5 500 le evel Category: Top News Published d on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 3 21:13 Written b by VG Cabuag SHARE price es at the Philipp pine Stock Excchange (PSE) closed higher for th he third straight day on Tu uesday as invvestors rebalanced th heir portfolio o of funds and bought the ma arket’s oversold stoccks. Some investtors also starrted to place bets on wha at the decision of th he United Stattes Federal Reserve would be on Washington’ss stimulus packkage, allowing the PSE main n index to crawl backk to the 6,500 le evel. The bench hmark PSE index climbed 179 9.36 points, orr an increase o of 3 percent, to o close at 6,518.77. Last we eek the stock mark ket took a beating and fell to a low of 6,114.0 08. All other su ubindices also closed higher. The broade er All-Shares in ndex was up 88 8.99 points to 4,031.42; 4 the F Financials indexx climbed by 36.11 to 1,650.5 55; the Industrial in ndex gained 21 14.92 to 10,060 0.58; and the Mining M and Oil iindex increased by 173.04 to 15,667.93. Total volum me of trade was s still thin at 90 00 million share es worth P6.87 billion. Gainers ed dged losers 107 7 to 50, with 46 6 stocks unchanged. “Share pric ces extended their t run to a th hird day, urged d by a similar m move in US eq quities as investors began to o place bets on the e Federal Res serve’s meeting g, which begins on Tuesday. Asian markets have given up part of the e day’s gains as th he balancing off such bets play yed into trades,” Justino Cala aycay Jr. of Acccord Capital Eq quities Corp. sa aid. The other shares s in the re egion had mixe ed results. Japa an’s Nikkei 225 5 was slightly d down by 25.84 to 13,007.28 b but the Shanghai Composite C gain ned by 3 perce ent to 2,159.29,, while the Han ng Seng index w was flat at 21,2 225.88. Calaycay said s trades will remain “sensittive to perceive ed threats” to th he flow of liquid dity, which will be highly depe endent on the US Federal Reserve’s decision on o its quantitative easing mea asures. The day’s most actively traded t stock wa as Alliance Glo obal Group Incc., which was u up P0.90 to close at P23.50 a apiece. SM Prime Holdings Inc. gained P0.50 to P16.96, Un niversal Robina a Corp. increassed by P9 to P P119, and Philippine Long Dista ance Telephone e Co. was up by b P80 to P2,93 30.
In Photo: The T Philippine Stock Exchang ge (PSE) in Ma akati City at the e early hours o of trading. The P PSE expects to o start trading the first exchange e traded fund in n the third quarter as issuers rremain optimisstic despite rece ent market vola atility. (Nonie Rey yes)
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‘Emong,’ now a storm, to bring more rains By DJ Yap Philippine Daily Inquirer Tropical Depression “Emong” turned into a storm on Tuesday, enhancing the southwest monsoon and bringing moderate to heavy rains over large parts of the country, weathermen said Tuesday. Packing peak winds of 65 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 80 kph, the storm was located 470 km east of Tuguegarao City as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). The storm was too far to affect the country, but it intensified the southwest monsoon, or “habagat,” which caused the downpours. The storm was forecast to move northward at 19 kph and leave the country’s area of responsibility by Thursday. Emong would bring moderate to heavy rains (5 to 15 millimeters per hour) within its 400-km diameter, Pagasa said. Pagasa also issued a thunderstorm warning at 3:20 p.m. over Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon, prompting the suspension of classes in many cities. Due to the storm and the southwest monsoon, moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms were expected to prevail over southern Luzon, the Visayas and northern Mindanao. Pagasa advised fishermen, especially those using small seacraft, not to venture out into the northern and eastern seaboards of Luzon, and the western seaboards of southern Luzon, due to big waves generated by Emong. Pagasa said Metro Manila, Central Luzon, the Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions, and the Visayas, would experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers and thunderstorms on Wednesday. The rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms, it added. Moderate to strong winds blowing from the southwest to the west will prevail over Luzon and Visayas, and winds coming from the southwest will prevail over Mindanao. Coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be moderate to rough, Pagasa said. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/429089/emong-now-a-storm-to-bring-more-rains#ixzz2WcybkLSI Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Communists junk localized peace talks By Delfin T. Mallari Jr. Inquirer Southern Luzon 1:53 am | Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
LUCENA CITY—The National Democratic Front, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has ruled out “localized peace talks,” the government’s preferred method of negotiations to deal with the decades-old communist insurgency. Luis Jalandoni, the lead negotiator of the NDF peace panel, on Tuesday said the units of the New People’s Army (NPA)—the armed wing of the CPP—operating in different parts of the country “are not authorized to engage in peace negotiations.” The policy is observed by all local units of the communist movement, Jalandoni said in an e-mail interview from his base in Utrecht, the Netherlands. On May 8, the CPP declared its full support and recognition of the NDF peace negotiating panel which is representing the party in the peace talks with the government. “Not a single unit of the NPA or leadership committee of the CPP will fall for the Aquino regime’s localized peace talks scheme,” the CPP said in a statement. Jalandoni said localized peace talks “do not constitute a new approach.” “It is actually an old worn-out futile attempt of the reactionary government to split the revolutionary movement and deceive the people,” he said. Teresita Deles, the presidential peace adviser, earlier said the government was pursuing discussions to resume the negotiations using a new approach, which was taken to mean the “localized peace talks.” She said the new approach would not involve the government panel which had been dealing with the NDF in the onand-off talks. Deles said the shift in strategy would focus on the pivotal role of the affected communities and other peace stakeholders. Ramcey Astoveza, chief of the Agta tribe in the Sierra Madre mountains in northern Quezon province, declared support for the localized peace talks. But for it to succeed, all local officials and affected communities should be actively involved, he said. Finding a peaceful end to the conflict should not be left only to the military and NPA combatants, he said. Astoveza said the indigenous people should be actively involved in all forms of peace negotiations. “We want our voices to be heard. The armed protagonists have long been killing each other right inside our communities and oftentimes, we become their hapless victims and our inherent peaceful living is their collateral damage,” he said. Lt. Col. Neil Anthony Estrella, spokesman of the Southern Luzon Command, challenged all local chief executives in Southern Tagalog and Bicol to come forward and declare support for the peace talks. “In our common pursuit for peace, there should be no fence sitters. We’re all stakeholders here, particularly the local officials because they are representatives of their respective communities who have long been suffering from NPA atrocities,” Estrella said. The Inquirer asked several Quezon mayors by text if they would support localized peace talks, but no one had replied by press time.
Jalandoni maintained that pursuing peace talks at the local level was bound to fail, citing past failed attempts with communist splinter groups like the Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA), which he branded as “fake peace talks.” “They have become part of the AFP machinery, just like the Cafgus (Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit). It has meant the pocketing of the people’s tax money by corrupt civilian and military officials and the producing of so-called surrenderees,” Jalandoni said. He called on the Aquino administration to return to the negotiating table and resume the peace talks with the NDF. The talks hit another impasse after the two panels accused each other of reneging on agreements reached during the so-called “special track” that the rebel group had proposed to salvage the talks. The special track required that the communists give up their preconditions for the talks to resume. However, the NDF backtracked in February and demanded as a precondition the release of detained communist rebels. Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, meanwhile, said the military wanted to end the armed conflict now and not wait another three years before a peace agreement was reached with the communist rebels. “We want to end the armed struggle now and stop the killings and the extortion activities (by the NPA). Don’t we want to end the conflict now and not wait another three years (for peace)?” Bautista said in an interview. Bautista made the comment in reaction to Jalandoni’s statement that the insurgents would rather wait for the next administration to negotiate a peace deal since the prospects for peace with the Aquino administration had dimmed. Meanwhile, President Aquino has tapped the government’s chief negotiator with the communist rebels to head the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). Alexander Padilla, a health undersecretary, took over as president and CEO of PhilHealth effective June 13.—With reports from TJ Burgonio and Nikko Dizon Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/429085/communists-junk-localized-peace-talks#ixzz2WcynOWKn Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Storm m ‘Emong’ sllightly intens sifies, to o exit P PH Thurrsday night— n —Pagas sa By Francess Mangosing INQUIRER R.net 8:10 am | W Wednesday, Ju une 19th, 2013
Spurce: Projeect Noah | 07:14 aam, June19, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—T Tropical storm E Emong slightly d as it hovered over Batanes area, the state e intensified weather b bureau said earrly Wednesdayy. Emong wa as last plotted 4 420 kilometerss east of Basco o, Batanes, w with maximum sustained winds of 75 kilome eters per hour n near the centerr and gusts of u up to 90 kph, th he Philippine e Atmospheric G Geophysical an nd Astronomica al Services A Administration said. It maintain ned its speed a and continued tto move north a at 19 kph. Emong is expected to be e out of the Philippine area off responsibility by Thursday evening. nd landslides a as cloudy skiess with moderate e to heavy Residents in Luzon were also warned of flashfloods an rainshowerrs and thunders storms are fore ecast for Wedn nesday. Meanwhile e, Visayas, Zam mboanga Penin nsula, Northern Mindanao and d Caraga will h have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers r an nd thunderstorm ms. The rest off Mindanao will be partly cloud dy to cloudy with isolated rainshowerrs or thundersto orms, Pagasa said. Jori Loiz, weather w forecas ster from Pagasa, told INQUIRER.net that a low pressure area is likely to o form over the e southern part of the Westt Philippine Sea a. Moderate to t strong winds s blowing from the southwest will prevail thro oughout the arcchipelago and the coastal wa aters will be mod derate to rough h, Pagasa said..
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P10B in CCT aid for farmers sought Groups say tillers need to compete vs smuggling
By Niña P. Calleja Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:37 pm | Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
While government officials forecast food sufficiency this year, farmers’ groups alleged that rice tillers are reeling from an oversupply of rice stocks, a scenario that may lead to another food crisis. As a remedy, officials of party-list groups and nongovernment organizations are calling on the government to allocate P10 billion from the conditional cash transfer (CCT) fund for rice farmers hurt by continued smuggling of rice. At a press briefing, officials of Abono and Butil party-list groups, Confederation of Irrigators Association and Pangasinan-based Cherries Cons Cooperative and Caflorescan Multipurpose Cooperative claimed smuggling has been widespread in areas like Pangasinan, La Union, Nueva Ecija and Baguio. “If smuggling is widespread, who will buy our local farmers’ produce?” Abono chair Rosendo So said. He said the oversupply of rice stocks demoralizes farmers and discourages them from planting again in the next cropping season. This could lead to a rice crisis when the government would be forced to import more rice due to a shortage in local supply. “We are drowning in rice that can’t be sold in the market,” said Herculano Co, head of Philippine Confederation of Grains. Asked for proof, So said: “The proof is right inside the mills,” noting the irony that there is a shortage of darak or rice wastes when there is an oversupply of milled rice. “That is an indicator of a widespread smuggling,” he said. On Tuesday, industry stakeholders signed a manifesto asking the government to expand the CCT and provide subsidies to rice farmers. “We call on President Aquino to order the Department of Social Welfare and Development to include farmers in the government’s conditional cash transfer program or CCT,” the manifesto said. The industry stakeholders said allocating a fourth of the CCT budget, or about P10 billion, to farmers would allow them to sell palay at a price of P14 per kilo from P17.50, which is the expected price dip due to the flooding of the market with smuggled rice. “Doing so will ensure that market competition would kill smuggling operations as a discounted cavan price of P1,150 will be able to compete with smuggled rice being sold at P1,200 per cavan,” read the manifesto. Jojo Soliman, vice chair of Alliance of Grain Industry Stakeholders of the Philippines, called on the government to grant police power to the National Food Authority (NFA) to allow the agency to seize and confiscate smuggled rice. “The stakeholders are requesting the Office of the President to give police powers to the Department of Agriculture through the NFA to be able to monitor all incoming rice shipments,” Soliman said. The groups noted that the price of palay has already dropped from P18 per kilo last year to about P15.50 per kilo. Rice bran or darak prices, on the other hand, shot up to P14 per kilo from P10. The NFA allotted a P10.9-billion budget for the procurement of 615,985 metric tons of palay from farmers this year, only 3 percent of the total harvest of the farmers.
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Govt urged to seek refund of PCOS machine payment By Joel E. Zurbano | Posted on Jun. 19, 2013 at 12:02am | 313 views Election watchdog AES Watch on Tuesday asked President Aquino to compel Smartmatic International Corp. to refund the money it was paid for its defective voting machines that were used in the May 13 elections. The group said the foreign firm must return the money that was paid for the 18,000 precinct count optical scan or PCOS machines that malfunctioned and for the flash cards and modems that broke down. The group described the second automated elections in the country as a disaster, saying 1,432 monitored clustered precincts from all over the country had either PCOS or transmission problems, which were equivalent to 1.432 million compromised votes. The Commission on Elections bought the 80,000 PCOS machines from Smartmatic for P1.8 billion. AES Watch on Tuesday also filed a second complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman against the Comelec led by its chairman, Sixto Brillantes. The complainants, led by former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., asked the Ombudsman to investigate Brillantes and Commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph on their culpability for impeachment. Guingona asie, the complainants in the Joint Supplemental Request for Investigation and Complaint-Affidavit are Joe Dizon of Kontradaya, Mother Superior Mary John Mananzan, information technology professor Pablo Manalastas, lawyer Greg Fabros, Anna Leah Escresa of We Watch, AES Watch co-convener Evita L. Jimenez and Rodolfo Lozada. Dizon said Brillantes, Tagle and Yusoph were directly involved in dealing with Smartmatic to acquire the PCOS machines and in the conduct of the May elections. AES Watch spokesman Nelson Celis said the new complaint-affidavit accused the three Comelec officials of “supreme betrayal of public trust” by conspiring with Smartmatic for the purchase of the defective machines. The group said Comelec officials knew about the highly-questionable performance of the Smartmatic-supplied automated election system (or AES in the 2010 elections, and that the Venezuelan company, being a non-owner of the technology, could not correct the program errors in preparation for the 2013 mid-term elections. “Conspiring with one another, the respondents removed the safeguards provided by law in implementing the AES to the extreme prejudice of the electorate and made the same highly-questionable shortcuts taken by their
predecessors, thus placing under serious cloud the sanctity and integrity of the May 13, 2013 mid-term elections,” the complainants said. AES Watch said some 18,000 PCOS machines failed to transmit election returns during the May 13 elections. It said there were strong indications of program errors as the transmitted votes overshot the number of voters, forcing the Comelec to stop publicizing the canvassing of the results with just 40 percent of the certificates of canvass received. “The winning senators began to be proclaimed prematurely with just 20 percent of the [certificates of canvas counted], with Brillantes saying the election results will be decided not by actual votes but by the projected votes,” the complainants said. Dizon also repeated his call for an independent fact-finding body to look deeper into the irregularities surrounding the poll automation project, including the recent May 2013 questionable interference of Smartmatic technicians in the “fixing” of the tabulation of votes, which resulted in the highly erroneous counting of votes just a few hours after the voting. With Merck Maguddayao http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/19/govt‐urged‐to‐seek‐refund‐of‐pcos‐machine‐payment/
JV Ejercito hits Comelec over tag as ‘top spender’ By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Jun. 19, 2013 at 12:02am | 418 views Senator-elect Joseph Victor Ejercito on Tuesday slammed the Commission on Elections for tagging him as the top campaign spender from among the newly-elected senators with declared expenditures of P138.2 million. “It is impossible for me to be the top campaign spender given the volume of advertisements aired by Team PNoy during the campaign period. In television and radio ads alone, we were drowned by the number of Team PNoy’s ad placements,” Ejercito said. The Comelec had earlier announced that losing senatorial candidate Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile Jr., also an UNA candidate, was the biggest spender during the elections overall, based on his declared spending of P150.4 million. Ejercito admitted spending almost P140 million for his campaign but he doubted that that would qualify him to be the biggest spender because “my campaign fund got exhausted in April so I postponed the airing of advertisements for two weeks. I remember that is the same period when Team PNoy doubled the blasting of their television ads,” he said, estimating that the television ads of Team PNoy outgunned the United Nationalist Alliance by a ratio of 1:5. “So it’s really impossible for me to be the top campaign spender among the winners of this election,” he stressed. Ejercito said he also doubted the veracity of the statement of contributions and expenditures filed by other senatorial candidates and he challenged them to reveal how much was really spent in their behalf. “I challenge the candidates, especially of Team PNoy, to be honest in declaring the actual expenditures in their campaign,” Ejercito said. But Team PNoy campaign manager Senator Franklin Drilon said the expenses incurred by President Aquino in campaigning for Team PNoy were for presidential security. Drilon, who served as campaign manager of Team PNoy, was reacting to the poll watchdog Kontra Daya’s challenge that the President disclose his expenses during the May 2013 midterm elections.
Kontra Daya lead convenor Renato Reyes Jr. said Aquino’s presence in the ruling party’s slate were not connected to his functions as President and he should not have used government money for the purpose. But in a statement issued Monday night, Drilon pointed out the President’s expenses were not for the Team PNoy’s 90-day campaign sorties. Drilon explained the campaign sorties attended by the President were primarily based on his official functions. “The President’s official schedule is set weeks in advance, and I, as campaign manager, set the sorties where we asked for PNoy’s presence in accordance with the official schedule,” said Drilon. He cited as example when the President was scheduled to inspect the new airport for Cagayan de Oro in Languindingan when they took the opportunity to ask the Chief Executive to attend the Team PNoy rally. “We [also] had a rally in Samar when PNoy was there to inaugurate the newly-built port facilities of the [Philippine Ports Authority],” Drilon said. In Cebu, he said the President was the guest in the inauguration of Megaworld’s project. “Thus, we scheduled Team PNoy rallies in Cebu on said date,” further said Drilon who would likely be the next Senate president. Meanwhile, defeated Team Pnoy senatorial bet Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan said she failed to beat the deadline of submitting the expenditures because she made a detailed accounting of her expenses. Hontiveros, who wa late in submitting her sworn statement by two days, said she had to take into account the many supporters who contributed at least P500. With Macon Araneta http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/19/jv‐ejercito‐hits‐comelec‐over‐tag‐as‐top‐spender/
Pag-IBIG members may shell out more By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Jun. 19, 2013 at 12:02am | 562 views The Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund plans to increase the minimum monthly contribution of its members to P200 from P100 to double its annual fund to P50 billion starting next year, agency president Darlene Marie Berberabe said Tuesday. “This is a proposal that was approved in 2010 but was indefinitely postponed due to other concerns that were more pressing at the time,” Berberabe told reporters. “We plan to have this revived next year.” The housing fund aims to generate more funds to beef up its services and operations. Members contributed about P25 billion to the fund in 2012. Pag-IBIG now has 12.6 million members as of the end of 2012 including 200,000 employer-members. Last year’s total was up from nine million members in 2010. Migrant workers comprise about a quarter, or 3 million of the fund’s total membership base. Pag-IBIG, meanwhile, is gearing for cashless transactions within two years using the services of Visa and Mastercard for online remittances under a new mandatory savings program. “We hope to get as much as 20 percent of the self-employed and individual paying Pag-IBIG members to enroll in this system before the end of 2013,” Berberabe She said cashless transactions would save the agency at least P1 million worth of checkbooks, adding the agency could use the savings for manpower development and other development goals. Pag-IBIG is teaming up with Citibank’s online payment gateway using the services of credit card providers Visa and MasterCard, which individual payers and the self-employed can tap to remit their contributions hassle-free. Citibank’s credit payment products director David Stoughton said about 20 percent to 30 percent of the 6 million cards issued were held by the self-employed group. “We target half of this [self-employed segment] to use the online payment system since it will only cost them an additional P3.60 for every P100 contribution to Pag-IBIG,” he said.
Pag-IBIG said the online payment system would benefit employers of “kasambahay” and migrant Filipino workers. Berberabe said migrant workers had been asking for an alternative remittance mode apart from the usual centers that charge more than twice the membership contribution of $2.50. “They pay a remittance fee of $6 for every $2.50 contribution. So this online payment scheme is what we thought of as a way to help them,” Berberabe said. She said the agency had almost the same remittance system with Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. and Land Bank of the Philippines, except that payers must have an active account with Metrobank while LandBank accommodates contributions by employers only. The Pag-IBIG monthly mandatory savings is an easy and affordable way for a member to save for future needs. Filipino workers who maintain their Pag-IBIG membership through their monthly savings can have access to the fund’s benefit programs like savings, short-term and housing loan programs. The agency earlier introduced a cash card system for short-term loans and other transactions, its firststep toward cashless operations. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/19/pag‐ibig‐members‐may‐shell‐out‐more/
Aquino resets economic roadmap to be inclusive By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Jun. 19, 2013 at 12:02am | 599 views President Benigno Aquino III said Tuesday he wants the Philippine Development Plan for his remaining three years in office to focus on inclusive growth. The Cabinet’s economic cluster met from 10 a.m. to past 9 p.m. on Monday to fine-tune the roadmap that is expected to be approved before Mr. Aquino’s third State-of-the-Nation Address on July 22. “We are humble enough to admit that we are not perfect. The past three years, we have been successful in certain things. We have also learned where we can be very effective, where our effectivity was less, and where we can improve,” Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said. “There have been criticisms about gross domestic product numbers favoring only highly urban areas,” he added. Almendras said there will be “very definite efforts to maximize growth” during the remainder of Aquino’s term. “We have a little over a thousand days left in the administration…Within this period we should be effective as we can, more effective that we were in the past three years,” he said. “(Inclusive growth) will happen within the President’s term. The President’s guidance is how to make it happen at a greater magnitude and at a faster pace. The direction is toward sustainability,” Almendras added. For the first quarter, the Philippine economy grew 7.8 percent, outperforming other Asian economies, including China. Critics, however, said that economic growth did not trickle down to poor. They said the ranks of the jobless continued to swell, with unemployment hitting 7.5 percent in April, its highest level in three years. Economic growth also remained tenuous as the peso weakened and the stock market took a nosedive last week. Earlier, presidential deputy spokeswoman Abigail Valte acknowledged that the administration had more work to do.
“More than economic growth… the Aquino administration is focused on fostering inclusive growth,” she said. “Therefore, our administration will continue to promote and expand policies that lead to a Philippines where no one is left behind,” she added. “What is important for us is for everyone to feel and benefit from our strong economic performance and this is why we are after continually working for job generation,” Valte said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/19/aquino‐resets‐economic‐roadmap‐to‐be‐inclusive/
On Riza al’s 152 1 birth b h ann niverrsary y Farrmerrs lik ken their lot tto he ero’s s fam mily By Chris stine F. Herrera | Posted on Jun. 19, 2013 at 1 12:02am | 21 14 views Farm worrkers on Tuesday tagged President P Ben nigno Aquino III and his fam mily as the mo odern Spanissh conquista adores who, during Spanish h colonial times, grabbed lland and mad de the Filipino os, including tthe family of nattional hero Jo ose Rizal, theiir tenants. They made the t statemen t even as the e nation todayy celebrates th he 152nd birth anniversary a o of Rizal whose e execution b by firing squad d on Dec. 30, 189 96, ignited the e revolution a against Spain.. “The Dominiican Hacienda a of Calamba a is no different from Hacie enda Luisita,” said d Antonio Florres, secretaryy general of th he Kilusang Magbubukid d ng Pilipinas whose memb bers include tthe farm workkers of Hacienda Lu uisita. “The lands were w public la ands but the cconquistadore es-friars made e Jose Rizal’s family and otther families p pay the rent.”” Flores said Rizal’s R family was even lucckier because e they were able to keep their prrofits and werre only made to pay the re ent, while the Hacienda Luisita tenan nts were neve er allowed to do d so. “From 195 57, the tenantts of the Pres sident’s family y were made tto till the land ds that they rig ghtfully own a and made the Cojuangco-A Aquino very rich, hoping that after 10 ye ears the land tthey were tilling would be distributed d to them,” Flores said. Flores rec counted that in 1957, President Aquino’s grandfatherr, Jose Cojua angco Sr., who o was influential at the time, asked a the gov vernment to guarantee g a $5-million $ loan n from Chase e Manhattan b bank in New Y York to develop p Tarlac’s agrricultural land. He said th he governmen nt, through the GSIS, agreed to guaranttee the loan p provided the lland was distributed d for free after 10 years. But Jose Cojua angco Sr. cho ose to develo p the land an nd keep it for h his family.
Flores said the President’s father, the late Benigno Aquino Jr., the mayor of Tarlac, had facilitated the loan as then President Ramon Magsaysay was their wedding sponsor. He continued the Cojuangco patriarch’s plan to renege on the contract. He said that 1987 the late President Corazon Aquino made the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program as her government’s centerpiece, making the big landlords give up their haciendas and retain only up to five hectares. But the Hacienda Luisita was exempted from being covered by land reform. In 1989, instead of distributing the Hacienda Luisita, Corazon Aquino introduced the stock distribution option, a scheme that should accord the tenants some dividends. “But the SDO was nothing but a useless certificate because the Cojuangco-Aquinos merely told the tenants that the land did not make a profit as the sugar prices in the world market went down,” Flores said. In 2011 the Supreme Court ruled that Luisita be distributed to the farmers and full control of it be given to them. “Three years after assuming power, President Aquino has been blocking the distribution of the land and is now introducing bloc farming that is no different than SDO as the control remains with the President’s family,” Flores said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/19/on‐rizals‐152‐birth‐anniversary‐farmers‐liken‐their‐lot‐to‐heros‐ family/
‘Midnight appointments’ lawyer named insurance deputy By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Jun. 19, 2013 at 12:01am | 319 views The lawyer, who filed before the Supreme Court and won taxpayer’s suits against “midnight appointments”, has found himself appointed as Deputy Insurance Commissioner by President Benigno Aquino III. Lawyer Dennis Funa, a Dela Salle University law professor, will also sit as member of the Anti-Money Laundering Council. The Supreme Court had ruled on landmark constitutional cases in favor of Funa. Early this February, the Supreme Court, headed by another Aquino appointee Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, ruled that the concurrent positions of Alberto Agra as Justice Secretary and Solicitor General violated the Philippine constitution. Last year, the Supreme Court nullified for being unconstitutional the appointment of Reynaldo Villar as Commission on Audit chairman. These are some of the constitutional cases filed by Funa in his taxpayer’s suit. Funa also sought before the Supreme Court an order to have the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) audited by the COA, which has refused to audit MECO eversince MECO was created in 1973. The case is still pending before the Supreme Court. Under the Department of Finance, Funa will also sit as a member of the Anti-Money Laundering Council. Funa was recommended to President Aquino by Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel Dooc and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. Funa finished law at San Beda College and his undergraduate degree from De La Salle University. He had served in government during the term of President Fidel Ramos.http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/19/midnight‐appointments‐lawyer‐named‐insurance‐deputy/
Luzon danger zones mapped By Jess Malabanan | Posted on Jun. 19, 2013 at 12:01am | 155 views City of San Fernando — The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has charted places in Region 3 that are non-habitable to support government programs in mitigating disaster. Clarissa Villanueva, senior geologist, said the maps showed locations unfit for dwelling and should be avoided to prevent loss of life and property due to flooding, earthquake, liquefaction and other climate conditions. “Identified areas are danger zones and must be avoided by dwellers,” she told Maniula Standard in a phone interview. Geology Division chief Noel Lacadin said geohazard mapping covered the provinces of Aurora, Zambales, Pampanga and Bulacan, making it easy for local government units to warn residents during emergencies. He said the charts prepared along with the National Mapping Resource Information Authority are posted on the MGB links for access anytime. “We provide the data and it’s the obligation of the LGU’s to do their part to prevent casualties in the event of calamities and disaster,” Lacadin said, noting the maps also designed for siting evacuation and settlement centers. The central plains form a natural basin bounded by the Caraballo on the north, the Sierra Madre Range in the east and the Zambales mountains in the west. Almost all areas in Central Luzon are prone to flooding and landslides during heavy downpour, according to Lacadin. Regional director lawyer Danilo Uykieng said geohazard mapping on 1:50,000 scale has lined up 117 towns, 13 cities and 3,102 villages. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/19/luzon‐danger‐zones‐mapped/
Govt eyes inflation-linked bonds By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Jun. 19, 2013 at 12:02am | 192 views The Philippines plans to sell its first inflation-linked bonds in the fourth quarter before returning to the global debt market in 2014 after a year’s absence, Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said. De Leon said in an interview the Treasury would meet investors including insurance companies to gauge interest in peso-denominated linkers to be offered by year-end. Inflation-linked bonds or linkers refer to debt instruments whose principal is indexed to inflation. It was designed to minimize inflation risks. De Leon said the government might meet 10 percent of its funding needs overseas next year by selling $1 billion of notes and borrowing another $1 billion from lenders such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. “Inflation-linked bonds will allow us to lower our borrowing costs as we assure investors that we will meet our inflation target,” said De Leon. “We are looking to offer modest-sized global bonds as many investors seek them.” The Philippines will join nations from India to Thailand and South Korea in selling inflation-protected bonds as President Benigno Aquino seeks more than $17 billion of investment in roads and ports to sustain expansion in Asia’s fastest-growing economy. The notes will serve as a benchmark for local companies seeking to fund long-term infrastructure ventures, said De Leon. Meanwhile, De Leon said the issuance of onshore dollar bonds was still on the program but the government was studying the best time to offer them. “We are considering the current market conditions,” De Leon said. De Leon said the delay of the issuance of onshore dollar bonds would not have a major impact on overall government fiscal situation. “ODB is just an option for us,” De Leon said. She said given the substantial liquidity in the system, the offering of the ODB would be the government’s way of addressing different investment appetites, more than necessity. “It’s just part of the menu to serve the different needs of the investors,” De Leon said. “We are also monitoring the demand for the ODB,” De Leon added. With Bloomberg http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/19/govt‐eyes‐inflation‐linked‐bonds/
Rural banks’ bad loans rose in 2012 By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Jun. 19, 2013 at 12:01am | 79 views Non-performing loans of rural and cooperative banks increased to 11.6 percent of their total loan portfolio as of end-2012 from 10.1 percent a year ago, after many borrowers defaulted on loan payment because of the impact of typhoons, the Bangko Sentral said Tuesday. A non-performing loan is a debt that is in default or close to being in default. Many loans become nonperforming after being in default for 90 days, but this will depend on the contract terms. The Bangko Sentral said soured loans of rural banks represented 10.7 percent of their loan portfolio as of end-2012, higher than the 10.3-percent figure in 2011. Cooperative banks saw their NPL ratio climb to 19.84 percent as of end-2012, or more than twice the 8.6percent ratio a year earlier. The Bangko Sentral said the increase in NPL ratio was largely due to typhoons Gener, Habagat and Helen. The Bangko Sentral said while the NPL ratio of both banks climbed, their loan loss reserves improved. “The banks’ loan loss reserves for NPLs rose significantly to 61.74 percent as of the end of last year from 53.26 percent in June 2012,” the Bangko Sentral said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/19/rural‐banks‐bad‐loans‐rose‐in‐2012/
Power deficit stalls regional growth By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Jun. 19, 2013 at 12:01am | 88 views Inadequate power supply will remain a major problem that could stall regional growth, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said in a new report. “Going forward, a major challenge that could hamper regional development, particularly in Mindanao, is the lack of adequate supply of electricity that threatens various economic activities,” the central bank said in its latest “2012 Report on Regional Economic Developments.” It said the presence of different crop and livestock diseases and infestations in the regions also posed risks to the country’s food self-sufficiency plan and the livelihood of agriculture-dependent communities. It said extreme weather conditions as a result of climate change was a significant issue in the regions, especially those that are heavily reliant on agriculture. It said, though, that regional development was expected to benefit from the government’s various infrastructure improvement and development programs. “Tourism will remain a key factor in regional economic activity. Hotel and resort constructions and expansions, as well as improved transportation services are expected to boost further the tourism industry across the regions,” the report said. It also cited the earlier projection of the Philippine Constructors Association that the growth of the construction industry would accelerate to 8 percent this year on the back of sustained low inflation and interest rates. “The surge in public construction investment in 2012, which was supported by the government’s increased infrastructure expenditures, provided momentum to the industry for 2013,” the report said. It said the expansion of the business process outsourcing industry, sustained increase in emerging industries, remittances and the public-private partnership program would help propel the growth of the construction sector. The report attributed the increase in private construction projects to higher demand for real estate and housing by migrant Filipino workers, as well as expansions in tourism and business establishments.
“An uptick in the number of approved building permits were seen in Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, Central Mindanao and Bicol. Higher residential building construction starts were also observed in most of these regions,” it said. The report noted that the National Capital Region, in terms of bank service availability as of endDecember 2012, had the highest number of banks relative to the total number of cities/municipalities under its jurisdiction with a density ratio of 176.06. Following the NCR were Calabarzon and Central Luzon with density ratios of 9.90 and 7.50, respectively. The Bangko Sentral considers the analysis of regional trends and developments as valuable inputs in monetary policy formulation and financial supervision. The report tracks economic developments in the regions, focusing on demand and supply conditions, monetary and price developments as well as the emerging economic outlook. It also helps confirm the results of the business and consumer expectations surveys conducted by the central bank. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/19/power‐deficit‐stalls‐regional‐growth/
Neda: Ties with middle-income countries to boost growth By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Jun. 19, 2013 at 12:01am | 93 views The National Economic and Development Authority said Tuesday that deepening the relationship with middle-income countries can boost economic growth and reduce poverty. Neda director-general Arsenio Balisacan said lessons and best practices from other middle-income countries could help the Philippines improve its poverty reduction and infrastructure programs toward inclusive growth. He noted that substantial poverty reduction in the past two decades was achieved in developing countries as reflected by the rapid economic growth in MICs, especially in Asia. “The variety of experiences of the MICs in dealing with inequality offers a rare opportunity for learning lessons and sharing best practices toward scaling up of programs and activities that will help achieve inclusive growth, both nationally and globally,” said Balisacan during the High-Level Conference of Middle-Income Countries in San Jose, Costa Rica on June 12, 2013. He said the improvement was crucial in the area of market access, especially for exports of developing countries, and link to technology He cited India’s recent experience with the use of new technology to properly identify the deserving poor from the population, which reduced the leakage of program benefits to the non-poor. “This shows that targeting programs to the poor need not be fiscally prohibitive,” the Cabinet official said. He also noted that the conditional cash transfer schemes pioneered in Latin America, such as Brazil’s Bolsa Familia and Mexico’s Oportunidades, had helped those countries in virtually winning their war against acute poverty. “In Southeast Asia, informed by the Latin American experiences, the Philippines has embarked on a large-scale CCT program to complement its newly-acquired status as one of the fastest-growing Asian countries today. We hope to reap the same benefits from this program like what the Latin American countries have done,” said Balisacan. The World Bank recently commended the Philippines’ CCT program, saying its effect was slowly being felt by the grant holders. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/19/neda‐ties‐with‐middle‐income‐countries‐to‐boost‐growth/
VP Binay ignites Deutsch interest in PH By Boy P. | Posted on Jun. 19, 2013 at 12:01am | 230 views Well, stoolies! There’s more to Germany than beer and there’s more to Philippine-German relations than the progeny that graces Philippine TV with the likes of Piolo Pascual and Julia Montes – or for old fogeys who can still remember, that classic beauty Sigrid Sophia Agatha von Giese, more popularly known as Paraluman. Definitely, there’s a bit more to the Filipinos’ fascination for things Deutsch that go beyond Porsche, Volkswagen, Adidas, Puma, Hugo Boss, Escada and others. About 60 German companies operate in the Philippines as of 2012, and these include companies like BASF, Bayer, Bosch, Fritz & Macziol, Lufthansa Technik, Steag Power, among others. Also present in the Philippines are major German foundations such as Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Hanns Seidel Stiftung, as well as cultural and educational institutions like the Goethe Institut and the German Club. Certainly, trade between the two countries does not induce one to exclaim, “Gesundheit!” because it is nothing to sneeze at—with the bilateral trade between Germany and the Philippines placed at 3.8 billion euros in 2012. By all indications, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s recent—and many note, productive—visit to Germany underscores not only the importance and potential avenues of growth in Philippine-German bilateral relations, but also calls to mind the imperative need to improve these relations. After all, Germany is the Philippines’ biggest trading partner among all countries in the entire European Union. Binay’s visit to Germany is worthy of a hearty pint of Guinness and blutwurst for a number of key takeaways that will benefit our OFWs. One is the possible mutual recognition of academic qualifications of nurses with Germany, and two, the cooperation with German stakeholders in the maritime sector to enhance the capacity of maritime training centers in the Philippines. But in perhaps more concrete terms, the VP formalized a minor deal for the employment of several hundred Filipino nurses in Germany, and held a number of discussions with German shipping executives to help the Philippines achieve compliance with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). All is well (or so it would seem) for Philippine-German relations. That is, until the issue of Fraport inevitably comes up.
In the VP’s meeting with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, concern over the protracted issue involving German firm Fraport was noted. If you can remember, Fraport was the contractor for the construction of the NAIA-3 terminal. But, unglücklicherweise for our VP, all he could convey was the assurance that the Philippines is addressing the matter and is working towards the closure of the controversy surrounding the bungled transaction. Westerwelle wants an immediate resolution to the issue which continues to be a “minor irritant” as the vice president acknowledged, constraining the inflow of German investments to the Philippines. Word also has it that news of the highly perplexing “indecision” of the DOTC, which balked at awarding the P8.2-billion Road IT Infrastructure Project to the German bidder Fritz & Macziol, was brought up. The German IT system integration company was the recipient of the globally prestigious IBM Beacon Laureate Award given in recognition of a business partner that has consistently demonstrated exemplary achievement in a single Beacon Award category—the kind of award and recognition that is given only once every six years! In previous runs of this column, we pointed out that the reason that kept the DOTC from awarding the project to Fritz & Macziol—which submitted the second lowest bid—was the lack of a couple of nonessential requirements like equipment brochures, a couple of laptops, and if we heard it correctly, an alleged P25 million off-the-books fee for you-know-what being insisted on by a certain bad apple! Anyway, the last we heard about the DOTC-LTO Road IT Infrastructure Project is that it is going to be up for bidding again, or that the LTO may even consider a negotiated bid. This time around, we truly hope that there won’t be any whisper of tomfoolery or shenanigans. ### For comments, reactions, photos, stories and related concerns, readers may e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit and like our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/happyhourmanilastandard. We’d be very happy to hear from you. Cheers! http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/19/vp‐binay‐ignites‐deutsch‐interest‐in‐ph/
P21M set aside to bolster Region 12 organic farming June 18, 2013 9:09 pm
The Department of Agriculture (DA)-Region 12 has allotted P21.7 million for the continuous propagation and expansion of organic farming in Soccsksargen region. Enriqueto Natividad, DA’s regional technical director for Research and Regulations, said that they have increased this year’s budget for organic agriculture to P21.7 million from P16.52 million in 2012. Natividad said that, the mandate is in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 10068, or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, which institutionalized the adoption and propagation of organic agriculture in the country. The national government, through the DA aspires to convert 5 percent of the total agricultural land to organic. With the said budget allocation, Natividad, who at the same time is the Organic Agriculture Program (OAP) Focal Person, said the regional office had efficiently utilized the money to adhere to the mandates of the RA 10068. He said DA Region 12 OAP Team conducted series of briefings and orientation to the remaining 33 local government units aimed at helping them form a Municipal Organic Agriculture Board (MOAB). In the occasion of Farmers’ Heart Day and Ulat sa Bayan on February 11, OAP distributed three units of 1.5 ton capacity shredder and three units of bag closer to the local government units of Kidapawan City, General Santos City and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat. “We also provided funds to develop frontage of stations such as in Balindog and Tupi Roses as organic techno demo sites,” he added. In the region, there are four units of organic trading posts being established in the towns of Midsayap and Tulunan in North Cotabato; Surallah in South Cotabato and Tacurong City. Recently, in DA 12’s Ulat sa Bayan on May 8 to 9, 2013, OAP turned-over four units of multi-cultivator with trailer to the local government of Koronadal, GenSan, Columbio and Office of the Provincial Agriculturist-South Cotabato. The team is also set to provide livelihood assistance to organic practitioners in the region. James Konstantin Galvez http://www.manilatimes.net/p21m‐set‐aside‐to‐bolster‐region‐12‐organic‐farming/11035/
Negros farmers get P131M for crop production June 18, 2013 9:11 pm
by James Konstantin Galvez Reporter Agrarian reform beneficiaries belonging to 34 farmers’ organizations in Negros Occidental have secured more than P131 million in production loan for the first five months of the year, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) report. In a report submitted to the Land Bank of the Philippines, DAR said it has approved a total of P131,021,700 in loan applications from Negros Occidental farmers under the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP), covering the production requirements of 3,473 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program beneficiaries and their household members. Of the approved amount, a total of P34,075,802 has already been released as of June 7, 2013. Jeffrey Maningo, head of the LandBank’s Negros Occidental Lending Center, said that the balance would be released to the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries’ Organizations (ARBOs) upon submission of required documents. The biggest amount released went to the Negros Island Savings Coop (Nisco), which received P21.9 million of the P30-million approved loan. Nisco has another P72-million loan application pending at the LandBank. The ARBOs that received more than P1-million loans include Sta. Isabel ARB Farmers’ Organizations (P1.887 million), Hacienda Carmenchica ARB and FW Association (P1.80 million), Hacienda Bernardita ARB MPC (P1.504 million), Hacienda Malaga Cuenca AR Coop (P1.438 million), CASA Agrarian Reform Cooperative (P1.284 million), and Association of San German ARB (P1.062 million). DAR Undersecretary for Support Services Jerry Pacturan said they have endorsed to the LandBank the loan application of ARBOs in various parts of the country. The production loan would benefit farmers and farm workers who were awarded farm lots under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. The APCP, a joint program of the DAR, LandBank, and the Department of Agriculture, is a new credit program for agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) approved by President Benigno Aquino 3rd with a P1billion funding.
The APCP aims to provide credit support for crop production to newly organized as well as existing ARBOs and farmers’ organizations not qualified to avail themselves of loans under the regular credit windows of banks. The program’s specific objectives include providing credit assistance to ARBs or ARB household members through their respective organizations or other conduits to support their individual or communal crop production projects; ensure sustainable production of crops and increase the income of ARBs or their household members through other support services such as marketing, crop insurance, and farming facilities; and strengthen the ARBOs and improve the capabilities of ARBs through institutional capability building activities. The APCP has three components, including agricultural production credit; agricultural production and financial management support; and institutional capacity building. http://www.manilatimes.net/negros‐farmers‐get‐p131m‐for‐crop‐production/11037/
Peace negotiator is new PhilHealth head June 18, 2013 9:29 pm
by Catherine S. Valente Reporter President Benigno Aquino 3rd appointed the government’s chief peace negotiator with the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) as head of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). The President approved the nomination of Alexander Padilla as president and chief executive officer of PhilHealth on June 13. A former Health undersecretary, Padilla replaces Eduardo Banzon who resigned in January this year. Padilla served as head of the government panel negotiating with the communist rebels since November 2010. The talks, however, collapsed. Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said Padilla can manage PhilHealth and negotiate with communist rebels at the same time. “With the appointment, there should be no problem in how he manages to juggle his tasks. His records in the past will show that he has been able to do multiple tasks in different areas,” she added. Valte said Padilla’s frustration over the pace of the peace negotiations has been raised to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. Negotiations between both sides have been stalled since 2004, giving rise to continued human rights violations, according to human rights watchdog Karapatan. http://www.manilatimes.net/peace‐negotiator‐is‐new‐philhealth‐head/11063/
Brillantes charged, faces impeachment over PCOS use June 18, 2013 9:28 pm
by John Constantine G. Cordon Reporter MEMBERS of the Automated Elections System (AES) Watch and Kontra Daya have asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. and two poll commissioners in connection with the use of “flawed” precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in the May 2013 elections. Despite their immunity from criminal proceedings, Brillantes and Commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph were charged before the Ombudsman for purposes of impeachment. The AES Watch said the three poll officials should be investigated for their “abysmal failure to protect the sanctity of the ballot in their conduct of the May 2013 elections.” Through complainants Fr. Joe Dizon, Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, and Sr. Mary John Mananzan, the group asked the Ombudsman to probe the officials for any serious misconduct, which may be a ground for the filing of a verified complaint for impeachment. “The proceedings may later on turn into a criminal investigation, once the Comelec officers retire, resign or are removed from office,” they said. Squabble The group’s counsel, Harry Roque, said Brillantes and the two commissioners knew of the squabble between technology provider Smartmatic and its erstwhile partner, Dominion Voting Systems Inc. but they still decided to use buy the PCOS machines. They alleged that the corporate legal battle was already made known to the poll officials and that they already knew that no upgrade would be done to the PCOS machines because Dominion already announced that they would not cooperate with Smartmatic. In September 2012, Smartmatic filed a case for breach of contract against Dominion, the maker of the PCOS software “for failing to place in escrow the required source code, hardware design, and manufacturing information.”
“Pero bagaman na alam na nila ito ay pinilit pa nila na gamitin ang PCOS machines [Despite this, they still insisted the use of PCOS]. They already know that the PCOS machines won’t be used legally because this has been forbidden by Dominion. This is the reason why the use of PCOS failed,” Roque said. AES Watch and Kontra Daya said the advisory council of the Comelec recommended against the re-use of the PCOS machines for the mid-term elections. But Brillantes and his two commissioners rejected the recommendation. Instead, the Comelec issued in March 2012 three resolutions approving the purchase of the machines. Liable Roque said the three officials should be liable for their decision to purchase the PCOS machines when in fact acquisition was only optional. The lawyer added that Brillantes admitted that 18,000 PCOS machines failed to transmit and the failure in transmission was not on the part of the telecommunication companies. The group pointed out that Brillantes already knew that the machines had to be maintained but because of the Smartmatic-Dominion disputes, the upgrade of PCOS software could not push through. “What we are saying is that they already knew what happened [between Smartmatic and Dominion]. They already knew that they will use faulty machines and yet binuwis pa rin nila yung demokrasya natin dito [they messed with our democracy],” Roque said. The groups said that despite the Comelec officials’ immunity from criminal charges, the Ombudsman should investigate them and recommend the filing of impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives. Sought for comment, Tagle said that he could not still give a statement as he “has no copy yet of what they filed.” Refund The election watchdog also asked President Benigno Aquino 3rd to compel Smartmatic to refund the money paid by the Comelec due to the failure of thousands of PCOS machines to transmit election results, dysfunctional compact flash (CF) cards and other glitches.
The amount paid by the government for the questionable purchase of the machines in March 2012 for at least 23 percent of those that failed should be returned, AES Watch added. The refund, it added, should be on top of the costs of the machines that bogged down, faulty CF cards and modems and other system failures. http://www.manilatimes.net/brillantes‐charged‐faces‐impeachment‐over‐pcos‐use/11061/
PH joins G8 body June 18, 2013 9:23 pm
The Philippines became the 26th member of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction (GP), which facilitates the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 that concerns the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The GP is a subsidiary body of the G8, which includes eight of the world’s 11 richest economies such as Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, United States and the European Union. Not included are Brazil, India and China. As a body under the G8, the GP addresses “nuclear and radiological security, biosecurity, chemical security and scientist engagement.” It also facilitates the implementation of the UN Security Council 1540 on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction through cooperative projects. “The Philippines’ membership marks an important expansion of Southeast Asian representation in the GP,” the US Embassy in Manila said as it congratulated GP’s current chair, the United Kingdom, for welcoming the Philippines as the newest member. The Global Partnership began at the 2002 Kananaskis G8 Summit as a 10-year, $20 billion initiative to prevent terrorists or states that support them from acquiring or developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Since then, the Global Partnership has grown to include 26 members and has allocated more than $21 billion worldwide to enhance WMD security to include locking down vulnerable weapons and materials, destroying Russian nuclear submarines and chemical weapons, export controls and engaging with scientists and other technical experts with knowledge and experience dealing with these items. At the 2011 G8 Summit in Deauville, leaders agreed to extend the GP beyond 2012 and to make it truly global. “The membership of the Philippines is an important step in this progress,” the embassy said. Bernice Camille V. Bauzon http://www.manilatimes.net/ph‐joins‐g8‐body/11053/
BIR backs High Court decision on tax refund June 18, 2013 9:22 pm
THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) backed the reversal of the Supreme Court ruling on San Roque Power Corp.’s (SRPC) claim for P483.8 million tax refund. Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares, in a phone interview with The Manila Times on Tuesday, said a closed-door meeting was held last week between officials of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) and the Department of Finance to discuss the situation of SRPC. Henares explained that SRPC did not comply with the 120-day mandatory period for its claim for 2001 tax refund. “The rule is mandatory, they should have filed it within 120 days and within 30 days on the lapse . . . [of the mandatory period], they should go to court,” she said. Henares said SRPC filed its 2001 claim in 2003. “How do they try to circumvent the law by filing an amended return when it is no longer allowed?” she added. Section 112 of the 1997 National Internal Revenue Code gives the internal revenue commissioner 120 days from the date of submission of documents by the claimant to decide if the bureau would grant a refund or issue the tax-credit certificate for creditable input taxes. The claimant could file an appeal with the Court of Tax Appeal (CTA) within 30 days upon receipt of an unfavorable ruling. In February, the Supreme Court denied the tax refund claim of the SRPC, which poured in $1.2-billion worth of investments to build a hydroelectric power plant in Pangasinan province 10 years ago. The High Tribunal ruled that SRPC was ineligible to claim P483.8 million in refunds because the power plant did not comply with the mandatory procedures. The SPRC earlier got a favorable decision from the CTA and the High Court. However, the tribunal reversed its ruling after the BIR filed an appeal. Earlier, ECCP External Affairs Vice President Henry Schumacher told The Manila Times that the Supreme Court and the BIR were “ganging up on foreign investors” by making it difficult for them to receive fiscal incentives such as duty and tax-free imports for capital equipment of priority sectors. He added that the SRPC case could turn off investors looking to do business in the Philippines. This was denied by Henares. “We are not ganging up on them. If they are good investors and they have good faith in the Philippines, they should follow the law of this country,” the BIR chief said. Mayvelin U. Caraballo http://www.manilatimes.net/bir‐backs‐high‐court‐decision‐on‐tax‐refund/11051/
18 Vietnamese held after cargo ship rams into reef June 18, 2013 9:17 pm
Eighteen Vietnamese crew of a cargo ship have been detained after it ploughed into a coral reef in the central Philippines, the Coast Guard said on Tuesday. The Unicorn Logger, a Panama-flagged freighter, ran aground at a protected marine sanctuary off the tiny island of Sambawan on Friday, Coast Guard spokesman Armand Balilo said. “The crew are detained aboard their vessel as the damage to the reef is assessed,” he said. The ship was carrying logs from Malaysia to Japan when it hit the reef. A central Philippines coastguard spokesman, Ensign Jamaal Aceron, told AFP the ship will be towed for repairs to a shipyard in Cebu once the extent of the damage on the vessel is determined. It was the latest in a series of maritime incidents at protected Philippine reefs this year. A US Navy minesweeper ran aground at Tubbataha Reef, a World Heritage-listed marine sanctuary in the southern Philippines in January, leading to fines for reef damage and the dismantling of the ship. A Chinese fishing vessel also ran aground at Tubbataha in April, causing even more damage. The crew were arrested and charged for damaging the reef as well as for carrying endangered mammals. AFP http://www.manilatimes.net/18‐vietnamese‐held‐after‐cargo‐ship‐rams‐into‐reef/11042/
Farmer has P140,000 price tag on his head June 18, 2013 9:08 pm
CAMP BADO DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet: A notorious gang leader involved in a series of hold-up and robbery in Cordillera region and nearby Nueva Vizcaya province was arrested in his hideout in Cenral Balili, La Trinidad, Benguet on Thursday morning. Police Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, Regional Director of the Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCor), identified the arrested as leader of the “Loloy” Group, Lorenzo Binay-an Laoyan alias “Loloy,” 39, farmer of Tinoc, Ifugao. He carries a monetary reward of P140,000 cash reward for his arrest as prescribed under Department of the Interior and Local Government memorandum circular 2010-54. Laoyan was nabbed by joint elements of the Ifugao PPO and the Benguet PPO on June 13 at his hideout at No. FC 349 Central Balili, La Trinidad, Benguet. He was arrested by virtue of an arrest warrant issued by Judge Danilo Camacho, of the Regional Trial Court Branch 62 in La Trinidad, Benguet for the crime of murder. “The group was responsible in the series of robbery hold-up along Halsema Highway in 2007 where a victim was shot to death at close range after their vehicle was held up in Cagam-is, Madaymen, Kibungan, Benguet,” Magalong disclosed. On the other hand, records show that from January to May, PRO-Cor has accounted 522 wanted persons of which 80 are listed as “most wanted” and 442 are other wanted persons. They were all arrested by virtue of warrants of arrest issued by different courts for various crimes. Thom F. Picaña http://www.manilatimes.net/farmer‐has‐p140000‐price‐tag‐on‐his‐head/11033/
Barangay election list-up starts July 22 June 18, 2013 7:54 pm
by JOHANNA M. SAMPAN REPORTER
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday saidaz that the registration for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls will start from July 22 until 31. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said that such registration period is already enough to enlist all interested individuals. “It’s about 10 days and we think it’s already enough to have everyone registered since registration centers are spread nationwide,” Jimenez expressed. He added that, they are expecting around 740,000 voters for the barangay elections while two million registrants for the SK polls. “It’s just 740,000 for the barangay since we just had the May elections and we are just looking at a period of about 6-7 months of increase in the voting base,” the spokesperson explained. Meanwhile, the poll official admitted that the absence of the biometrics registration system for the SK polls makes the process less secure than the regular registration just like in the barangay level. “It’s basically just a list that will contain the name of voters from 15 to below 18 before Election Day. It will be scrapped after this SK election since it is particularly for the use of this election only,” Jimenez elaborated. Registratios will be held in all Offices of the Election Officer of the district/city/municipality where the applicant resides. “But we are working also on the possibility of registration at barangay levels so more can have opportunities to register,” the Comelec official added. Registration applicants for the barangay polls are asked to present any document from among their current office, postal, student, senior citizen, Social Security System or Government Service Insurance System IDs, Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ and National Bureau of Investigation clearance, driver’s license, passport, and Professional Regulation Commission license.
For SK registrants, they need to present any of their Certificate of Live Birth, Baptismal Certificate, School Records or any other document that will establish his identity and other qualifications, except for Community Tax Certificates (cedulas) or certification from the Barangay. The Barangay and SK elections is scheduled on October 28. http://www.manilatimes.net/barangay‐election‐list‐up‐starts‐july‐22/10997/
Barangay clearance becomes milking cow June 18, 2013 7:53 pm
by JING VILLAMENTE Some areas in the metropolis give away barangay clearance for free but in Quezon City villages, such clearance is a “milking cow.” A puzzled building contractor sought help of The Manila Times for clarification on how the barangay clearance is issued. He said his project in Barangay Kaunlaran (District 4) will cost him P11,000 for the clearance but nearby Barangay Santol (in the same district) charges him P1,500 for clearance. In Barangay Bahay Toro of the district headed by reelected councilor Victor “Jun” Ferrer, barangay clearance is a “fixed affordable” amount. Ferrer explained that every barangay in the city receive their share of the Internal Revenue Allotment. Barangay Kaunlaran treasurer Virginia Alfajor reasons that the clearance is based on their barangay council-drawn revenue code that slaps P30 for every square meter of project to be built in the barangay. Whether the city mayor or council approved the barangay revenue code, Alfajaro did not confirm. Ferrer, on the other hand, pointed out that the city government exacts business and projects permit based on a per square meter basis, and doubling or trebling a project’s cost in revenues for government would deter development. http://www.manilatimes.net/barangay‐clearance‐becomes‐milking‐cow/10994/
Rural, coop banks post NPL ratio of 11.57% June 18, 2013 7:37 pm
by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO Rural and cooperative banks in the Philippines recorded an 11.57 percent-combined non-performing loans (NPL) at end-2012, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Tuesday. In a statement, the BSP said that rural and cooperative banks had a total loan portfolio of P127.47 billion at end-2012. “Although the ratio is higher than the 10.14 percent figure as of December 2011, the banks’ loan loss reserves for NPLs rose significantly to 61.74 percent at the end of last year from 53.26 percent in June 2012,” the central bank stated. It noted that an increase in loan loss provisioning indicates heightened prudence against credit losses. Meanwhile, the BSP also reported that rural and cooperative bank loans represent 2.74 percent and 0.30 percent, respectively, of the Philippine banking system’s TLP at the end of last year. Rural banks (RB) alone posted a 10.65 percent NPL ratio at end-2012, higher than 10.32 percent figure as of December 2011. RBs’ loan loss reserves for NPLs, however, jumped to 59.47 percent at the end of last year from 50.98 percent in June 2012, it added. Cooperative banks, on the other hand, registered a 19.84 percent NPL ratio in December. “This figure is more than twice their 9.49 percent NPL ratio six months earlier,” the BSP stated. It added that the increase, however, was largely because of fortuitous events such as typhoons Gener, Habagat and Helen. Furthermore, the central bank said that it continues to proactively monitor the NPLs of the various segments of the banking sector, to ensure that credit underwriting standards remain high in a low-interest rate environment. http://www.manilatimes.net/rural‐coop‐banks‐post‐npl‐ratio‐of‐11‐57/10953/
DTI eyes facility for ‘pangasius’ processing June 18, 2013 7:31 pm
by ROSALIE C. PERIABRAS The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in cooperation with Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) recently held a convergence meeting of pangasius (Pangas catfish) stakeholders, primarily to discuss and plan the tapping of the department’s shared service facility (SSF) program. “The DTI intends to provide SSFs to priority industry clusters, including the pangasius industry, this year and in the succeeding years until 2016,” DTI Assistant Regional Director for Region 12 Dorecita Delima said during the pangasius industry stakeholders’ convergence meeting in Makati City. Delima is also the DTI national pangasius industry cluster manager. “We have initially identified areas that want to avail of these SSFs. Before informing the regions to request for these SSFs, we thought of studying them first to procure the right equipment,” Delima said. The SSFs are part of DTI’s flagship program for micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) development, where common service facilities are shared by a number of beneficiaries such as cooperatives, institutions and communities. The SSF sharing will help MSMEs become competitive in the local and foreign markets. Shared services facilities The SSF program has a budget allocation of P700 million. For 2013, the DTI is set to meet its targeted 800 SSFs nationwide to enable the growth of innovative and globally competitive MSMEs. During the convergence meeting, the DTI and stakeholders, with the assistance of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), worked on the establishment of a fish processing plant as the SSF for fish growers. ? The official said that the problem is that fish processors have been controlling prices locally, so the DTI thought of letting fish growers do their own processing. Besides considering the SSF program, the convergence meeting also assessed the accomplishments of the pangasius industry cluster from 2009 to 2012. Pangasius was introduced by BFAR in the Philippines in 1981. It belongs to the catfish family and known commonly then as an aquarium fish, named “hammer head shark.” The pangasius industry cluster is also one of the industry clusters that will be featured in the upcoming investment conference organized by the DTI through its Regional Operations Development Group in cooperation with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency. “During the conference, we will have breakout session on the pangasius [industry cluster]. We will also promote this conference to have a representation per region,” Delima said. http://www.manilatimes.net/dti‐eyes‐facility‐for‐pangasius‐processing/10933/
BIR fails to reach May target, collects P111.90 billion June 17, 2013 8:21 pm
by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) failed to reach its May 2013 collection target of P115.12 billion, as it only collected P111.90 billion in tax revenues for the said month. In a statement on Monday, the bureau said that its May collection was P3.22 billion, or 2.8 percent less than the goal set for the month. Compared to the collections made a year ago, the tax revenues for May 2013 was higher by P17.35 billion, or 18.35 percent. Moreover, collections from BIR operations amounted to P109.51 billion, higher by P17.24 billion, or 18.69 percent from the collections made in May 2012. It was P1.42 billion, or 1.28 percent less than the goal set for BIR operations for May 2013 of P110.93 billion. Meanwhile, collections from non-BIR operations amounted to only P2.39 billion, up by P104 million, or 4.57 percent compared to the collections made in May 2012. It was P1.80 billion, or 42.9 percent less than the goal set for non-BIR operations for May 2013 of P4.19 billion. On the other hand, collections by the regional offices amounted to P36.08 billion, or P7.08 billion, or 24.4 percent more than the collections made in May 2012, continuing with the regional offices’ double-digit growth performance. In addition, Large Taxpayer Service’s collections amounted to P73.42 Billion, up by P10.17 billion, or 16.07 percent more than collections made in May 2012. http://www.manilatimes.net/bir‐fails‐to‐reach‐may‐target‐collects‐p111‐90‐billion/10661/
Pag g-IBIG G goe es scr riplesss Published d on Wednesd day, 19 June 2 2013 00:00 Written b by IRMA ISIP By A Web design Compa any
BERBERA ABE: “DOUBLING CO ONTRIBUTION TO P2200 WOULD HIKE CO OLLECTIONS TO P500 BILLION.”
The Home Development Mutual Fund or o Pag-IBIG is lo ooking for wayys to expand by enticing more members and increasing con ntributions. One way to o do this is to go g scripless, sa aid Darlene Marie Berberabe, president and chief executive e office er of Pag-IBIG. Berberabe said yesterday y at the end of the formal ann nouncement of the fund’s partnership p with Visa and d Mastercard th he agency wou uld revive a pro oposal in 2010 to double the mandatory savings of o members to P200 from the e current P100, where it has stayed d the past three e decades. The propos sal was approv ved but overturned by the sam me board three e years ago so as not to burde en both employyees and employ yers during the e time when the e Social Secu urity System (S SS) and health h insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corp. were also increasing th heir required co ontributions. The increase would easily y double the co ollections of Pa ag-IBIG which sstood at P25 billion in 2012, u up from P23 billion in 2011. Berberabe said another option o is to ame end the implem menting rules an nd regulations of the fund’s ccharter to lift the e cap of salary P5,000 at which h the P100 conttribution would be fixed. She said she would propo ose that the am mount be based d on percentag ge of a member’s income, or h his ability, just like in SSS. Berberabe said she would d hold consulta ations with labo or and employe ers on how theyy can share the e higher contribution n. Berberabe said the partne ership with Visa and Mastercard would targ get individual p payors: the selff-employed, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and employers cov vered by the re ecently-passed Kasambahay Law. Berberabe said the conve enience of the online credit ca ard payment wo would entice mo ore individuals tto fold into the Fund. Berberabe said for the rest of the year, the t Fund hope es to capture 20 0 percent of the e 500,000 self--employed mem mbers and encourage them to use the new pay yment system. She said th he Fund also hopes to tap mo ore of the three e-million OFWss who have to pay high remitttance fees for ttheir Pag-IBIG monthly m contrib butions. Foreign n-based Filipino os pay the rem mittance fee of $6 for their contribution which is only $2.50 per month.
David Stoughton, director for credit payment product of Citibank, said the Visa and Mastercard payment facility only charges P3.60 per P100 worth of transaction under the scheme. Cristina Tan, consumer business manager of Citibank, said there are six-million credit cards of which , 20 to 30 percent is self-employed. If the payment system captures that portion, that would be another 120,000 to 180,000 additional members regularly contributing online. Tan said there is a huge opportunity particularly now that the Kasambahay Law has been passed. The new law allows employers who are e eVisa or Mastercard holders, to pay their employees’ contributions via credit card. Pag-IBIG has online payment facilities with Metrobank and Landbank but only a small percentage avail themselves of the service. There are over 200,000 employer-members of the Fund but most of them prefer to pay direct to branches, keeping printouts of official receipts. Another scheme aims to convert loan and benefit disbursements via the Pag-IBIG Cash Cards in partnership with banks to promote sans check transactions. Berberabe plans to migrate to compulsory Cash Card for short-term loans and provident benefits in a year or two. Berberabe said the Fund is encouraging members to voluntarily increase their savings by an average of P1,000 a month. She said the scheme which has attracted a big number of government employees, is beneficial to members: its yield is more than four times the banks’ -- at 4.17 percent in 2012 -- tax-free and government guaranteed. Pag-IBIG also has the so-called Modified Pag-IBIG 2 program which is a savings scheme, designed to provide members with another savings option that would grant them a yield higher than what is given under the Pag-IBIG 1 membership program. Locked in for a minimum of five years, MP2 carries an interest rate that is .5 percentage points higher than the membership program for a minimum investment of P500. According to Berberabe, Pag-IBIG now accounts for 50 percent of the mortgage industry. Although banks’ mortgage activities are also growing due to the boom in construction, Berberabe said Pag-IBIG has noted the increase in their housing loans following the imposition by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas of a 20-percent cap on real estate loans of banks. “Some of the developers are coming back to us,” said Berberabe. She said the Fund’s default rate, including some 400,000 accounts with outstanding obligations with the Fund, has gone down to 15 percent from 25 percent.
Asbestos-laden wire gauzes still being used in public schools Published on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 00:00 A labor group has discovered that asbestos-laden wire gauzes are still being used in Chemistry and Biology classes despite assurance from the Department of Education (DepEd) in 2011 to remove the cancer-causing mineral from the campuses. “We found this out after a series of ocular visits following the opening of classes in public and private schools on June 3 and 10,” said Alan Tanjusay, advocacy officer of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP). He said asbestos-laden wire gauzes were still being used in eight public and private schools in the National Capital Region. He declined to identify the eight schools. Tanjusay said their ocular visits showed that the wire gauze contains 3 percent of chrysotile asbestos during a testing and analysis conducted by a private laboratory with the use of polarized light and dispersion staining technique to check for the presence of asbestos. “We found out during these visits, that the wire gauzes were purchased by the schools in Avenida, Rizal at prices ranging from P15 to P25,” Tanjusay said. He said ceramic wire gauzes are the safest alternative that can be used in Chemistry and Biology classes. The labor group said when exposed to direct flame, wire gauzes become fragile and start to be crumbly. When the crumbly gauze is disturbed, first and second-hand exposure from its dust begins. Tanjusay said the dust is invisible to the naked eye as it is five thousand times smaller than a strand of hair in diameter. When ALU-TUCP and its partner, Building And Wood Workers International disclosed the problem in schools in 2011, Secretary Armin Luistro assured parents and students that the department’s Health and Nutrition Center has put in place an asbestos management plan which among others requires all schools to report to the Parents-Teachers Association once a year on the status of the school’s asbestos plan. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer said exposure to asbestos can cause cancer in the lungs, larynx, ovaries, asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs) and mesothelioma. A WHO study showed that at present about 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos in the workplace. The study said that in 2004, asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis from occupational exposures resulted in 107,000 deaths and 1,523,000 Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). In addition, thousands of deaths can be attributed to other asbestos-related diseases, as well as to non-occupational exposures to asbestos, the study said.
BIFM releases rice merchant Published on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 00:00 A RICE trader kidnapped last month by alleged members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement was freed Monday in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao. Kenneth Cabrera was released in front of the Mindanao State University in Dalican village around 2:30 p.m. Monday, said Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division. Hermoso said Ampatuan town Mayor Rasul Sangki received a phone call from a man telling him to proceed to Dalican village to pick up Cabrera. At around 3:30 a.m., Cabrera was found at a waiting shed along a national highway, in front of the MSU. Hermoso said Cabrera was subjected to medical check-up, after which he was turned over to his family. Cabrera was snatched on May 14 by armed men in front of his house in Kauran village, Ampatuan town. The kidnappers first fired several rounds before forcing Cabrera into a car. An earlier military report identified the leader of the kidnappers only through his alias, “Bots,” who it said is a member of the BIFM, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is negotiating a peace accord with government. – Victor Reyes http://www.malaya.com.ph/index.php/news/nation/33928‐bifm‐releases‐rice‐merchant
Binay goes to bat for senior citizens Published on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 00:00 VICE President Jejomar C. Binay has reminded business establishments that they cannot refuse to grant senior citizens the mandatory discounts should they fail to present their senior citizens ID card or the “white card.” Binay said senior citizens can present other ID cards to avail themselves of the 20 percent discounts. “It has been reported that some establishments refuse to grant senior citizens discount in the absence of a white card. There is no legal basis for such a policy,” Binay said in a letter to Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo. Binay said a senior citizen or his/her duly authorized representative may also present a Philippine passport or other valid documents that establish the senior citizen as a Filipino and at least 60 years old. The IRR said a driver’s license, voters ID, SSS/GSIS ID, PRC card, postal ID and other government-issued IDs indicating the cardholder’s age and birthday are also allowed. In a separate letter to Ramon Carlota, national president of the Federation of Senior Citizens’ Associations of the Philippines (FSCAP), Binay urged FSCAP to be more proactive against the practice of making the white card the only acceptable identification document for granting discounts to senior citizens.
Pad dilla name n ed Ph hilHea alth p presiident Published d on Wednesd day, 19 June 2 2013 00:00 ALEXANDE ER PADILLA
GOVERNM MENT chief neg gotiator with the National Dem mocratic Front Alexander Padilla has s been named by President Aquino A as a boa ard member of the Philippine Health H Insurance Corporation n and nominate ed as its presid ent and chief execu utive officer, de eputy presidenttial spokeswom man Abigail Vallte said yesterday. Valte said the t appointment papers of Pa adilla, who was s serving as he ealth undersecre etary and concurrent chairman of the govern nment peace p panel prior to hiis new task, we ere signed last June 13. PhilHealth president and CEO Eduardo Banzon resign ned last Januarry but his repla acement was no ot immediatelyy named bec cause the appo ointments ban was w in effect du uring the electiion period. Hea alth Secretary E Enrique Ona se erved as officer in n charge of PhilHealth. Valte said the t Office of th he Presidential Adviser on the e Peace Processs will determin ne if there is a need to replace e Padilla who o had expresse ed his frustratio ons over the sta atus of talks wiith the NDF. She said th his would not be b the first time that Padilla wo ould handle mu ultiple tasks. Valte said Padilla’s appointment to anotther position sh hould not be takken to mean th hat government is less interessted in the talks with w the NDF. Padilla, prior to his new ta ask, has alread dy been serving g as executive vice presidentt-CEO of PhilHe ealth.
http://ww ww.malaya.co om.ph/index.php/news/naation/33935‐ppadilla‐nameed‐philhealth‐‐president
… But B Gree G en So oy co omin ng so oon tto a mark m ket ne ear you y d on Wednesd day, 19 June 2 2013 00:00 Published The world’s s major users of o soy will be assessed by a major m wildlife conservatio on group if theiir products are “green”. The Worldw wide Fund for Nature N (WWF) will then publiicly highlight w whether or not companies have used d soy grown aw way from valuable habitats an nd that environmental and social safeguards ha ave been met during d productio on. All “in a bid d to speed up the sluggish performance” of soy s buyers, WW WF said in a press sta atement. That may mean m earth-frie endly soybeans s are coming to o your table. Sin nce the Round dtable on Respo onsible Soy (R RTRS) certification n scheme was established in 2010, 30 soy producers p and producer asso ociations repressenting over 16 6,000 small farme ers worldwide have certified soy s farms. Some 1.4 million m tons of responsibly r pro oduced soybea ans have been put on the marrket through the end of 2012. However, just over 800,000 tons of this s so-called resp ponsible soy – or only around d 40 percent – w was purchased d by buyers from m a limited num mber of countrie es. “What we need n to keep in n our mind is th hat halfway aro ound the world, forests and sa avannahs such h as the Amazo on, Cerrado an nd Chaco continue to be threa atened by soy expansion,” sa aid Cassio More eira of WWF w which helped se et up the RTRS to t develop stan ndards that are e capable of driiving sustainab bility for the ind ustry. Available since s early 2011, the standard ds assures cos sumers that hab bitats have nott been cleared and RTRS environmental and social standards werre followed in growing g soy. “While we need more com mmitment all ro ound, the evide ence is that the concept of ressponsible soy iss currently bein ng more embrraced by produ ucers than large e scale purchas sers and this iss the leading isssue that we ne eed to considerr,” said Moreirra. Of the certtified soy produ uced in Brazil, only 26 percen nt was purchassed. A similar d demand situatio on prevails for ssoy with other sustainability s la abeling. “This is jus st a drop in the bucket of an in ndustry that pro oduces 240 milllion tons per yyear, 80 percen nt of which is ussed for animal feed,” f said Moreira. Still, some leading compa anies have alre eady purchased d certified soy. These include e an initiative off the Dutch industry, encompass sing companies in the feed in ndustry and lea ading brands an nd retailers succh as Ahold, Frriesland Campiina and VION.
Forward thinking companies from other countries like Lantmannen (Sweden), Raisio (Finland), Waitrose (UK) and Unilever Brazil have also started buying RTRS certified soy certificates. The global airline company KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has just announced membership to the RTRS and has already purchased responsible soy for poultry used in their catering business. Many other companies and other countries need to follow suit. Meanwhile, a handful of other companies have started taking steps by becoming members of the RTRS, making commitments to responsible soy, collaborating on national commitments and/or funding projects to support the production of responsible soy in the field. The WWF is looking to companies in the soy supply chain to up their level of commitment to environmental and social sustainability as the RTRS convened its eighth annual conference in Beijing, China, in late May. “Many companies have not even started committing themselves,” said Moreira. “Only few have become members of RTRS and even less have set responsible purchasing policies to include responsible soy in the feed for the meat, fish and dairy products they sell to their buyers and consumers. “Consumers cannot be confident that the meat, fish, eggs or dairy they are eating or drinking is not based on soy feed that is grown on land where nature was recently destroyed.” WWF is asking all companies buying soy and animal products to become members of RTRS and make public commitments that they will use 100 percent certified responsible soy by 2015. Soy is mostly embedded in meat products as it is an important ingredient of animal feed. ScienceNewsPhilippines
Posted on June 18, 2013 11:36:03 PM By Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio, Reporter
2014 borrowing readied THE GOVERNMENT is eyeing to borrow some $1 billion from offshore markets next year, the National Treasurer said yesterday. Before turning to offshore markets, though, it could sell inflation-linked bonds locally in the fourth quarter. "When the DBCC (Development Budget Coordination Committee) meets this July, they [sic] will ask us to submit our financing program for 2014, so we have to provide them with a borrowing program for next year," National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon told reporters after the sale yesterday of re-issued seven-year bonds. "For next year, we are looking at a billion dollars for our commercial borrowings offshore. That is what we will propose." The Treasury chief noted, though, that implementation of next year’s borrowing plan would still "depend on market conditions and investors’ appetite." Moreover, for next year, the government plans to observe an 85-15 borrowing mix in favor of domestic sources, Ms. de Leon said. Currently, the government’s emerging borrowing mix is 94-16 as of April, according to data from the Bureau of the Treasury. Borrowings totaled P50.115 billion in the four months ending April, with domestic borrowings amounting to P47.229 billion and external borrowings -- from project and program loans -- at P2.886 billion. The government, which has been looking to cut its reliance on foreign debt, initially targeted a 2013 borrowing mix of 80-20 in favor of domestic sources. Last year, it ended with an 84:16 mix, compared to a 75:25 plan. It has programmed some P758 billion in total commercial borrowings this year. INFLATION-LINKED BONDS At the same time, Ms. de Leon said in a text message yesterday: "We have set the fourth quarter as a tentative timeline for our planned inflation-indexed bond issuance, but this is still subject to market conditions." The planned bonds -- the first of their kind for the country -- are designed to provide returns higher than the inflation rate, thus assuring investors of gains. "With inflation expected to remain benign, it would translate to a lower borrowing cost for the government," Ms. de Leon explained further. She did not disclose the tenor of the bonds, saying "we still have to assess the market’s appetite."
She added, however, that the Treasury has been meeting with market players like insurance companies as "part of the government’s education on the structure of the bonds." Asked on the planned amount to be offered, she replied: "The amount should be liquid enough in the market." A benchmark volume amounts to at least $500 million. Proceeds of the planned debt sale, she said, will be used to finance projects under the government’s publicprivate partnership program, among others. Sought for comment, however, one bond trader said: "Inflation is forecast to be manageable this year and next year; there is no need to issue inflation-linked bonds." "A better timing for the government to issue inflation-linked bonds is when inflation is on the upside of the central bank’s 3-5% target," he added. The central bank expects the country’s inflation rate to remain in check in the foreseeable future. It has set a 3-5% inflation target range for this year and the next, easing to 2-4% in 2015. It also forecasts the inflation rate to average 3.1% this year and 3.6% next year. Other debt instruments the government is considering to issue this year are retail Treasury bonds and onshore dollar bonds, Ms. de Leon said, without providing details.
Posted on June 18, 2013 10:13:26 PM
Maynilad to spend P42M on pipe replacement
MAYNILAD Water Services, Inc. has allotted about P42 million to replace seven kilometers of pipes in various parts of Quezon City, which is expected to be completed by the third quarter, the company said in a statement yesterday. Maynilad said that replacement of “old and leaky pipes” is intended to improve water services for almost 6,000 customers of the water utility. It added that the ongoing project will cost “some P42 million” and “targeted to be completed by the third quarter of 2013.” “The West Zone concessionaire has started replacing 4.7 kilometers of secondary pipes in Damar Village and the project is expected to increase water pressure from 16 pounds per square inch (psi) to 22 psi,” the statement read. It added that the company is also replacing 2.3 kilometers of secondary pipes -- which are located along barangays San Antonio, Paltok, San Jose, Doña Imelda, Masambong, and Apolonio Samson -- which will increase water pressure to 30 psi from 15 psi. “Deteriorated pipes are prone to leaks, breakages and intrusion of contaminants. We need to replace the old, leaky pipes we inherited to ensure the delivery of safe and reliable drinking water to our customers,” Maynilad President and Chief Executive Officer Victorico P. Vargas said in the statement. Maynilad also said that it is closely coordinating with the Department of Public Works and Highways, Metro Manila Development Authority, and local government units to lessen the inconvenience to motorists. “Aside from providing five additional traffic aides to manage the traffic flow along the project areas, Maynilad makes sure that the work sites are also properly barricaded, with appropriate lighting and traffic/warning signs,” the company said. Maynilad last month said it spent P124 million to replace 30-year-old water pipes in Caloocan City to improve water services to more than 85,000 residents in the area. The pipe replacement, which is expected to be completed this month, is seen to increase water pressure in 42 barangays in Caloocan City to 16 psi from seven psi. It will also allow Maynilad to connect around 1,400 people to its water distribution network and recover approximately 30 million liters of water per day. Maynilad services residents in most of Manila, parts of Quezon and Makati cities, the cities of Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, 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. Maynilad’s net income jumped by 6% to P1.765 billion in the first quarter from P1.664 billion the previous year on the back of higher revenues which increased by 8% to P4.064 billion from P3.749 billion.
Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and DMCI Holdings, Inc. hold 52.8% and 25.24% stake in Maynilad, respectively. Japanese firm Marubeni Corp. holds 20% stake in the water utility, while the remaining stake is held by other shareholders. Yesterday, shares of MPIC closed P5.55 apiece, up 12 centavos from P5.43 on Monday, while DMCI ended P52 each, P2 higher than Monday’s close of P50 apiece. MPIC is the local unit of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., part owner of 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. -- Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano
Posted on June 18, 2013 10:52:59 PM
Gov’t gives P34M in loans MORE than P34 million in loans under a joint credit program by the government have been released to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries’ Organizations (ARBOs) in Negros Occidental, as of early June. Under the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP) launched in a partnership of the Land Bank of the Philippines (Land Bank), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and the Department of Agriculture (DA), a total of P34,075,802 in approved loan applications out of more than P131 million were handed to 34 ARBOs, as of June 7. The secured total loan amount was approved by the Land Bank to cover the agricultural production and management expenses of 3,473 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) beneficiaries that were awarded farm lots in the region. The APCP has P1-billion budget approval from President Benigno S. C. Aquino III. Its primary component, Agricultural Product Credit, aims to provide credit support for a sustainable livelihood that will yield lucrative crop production for at least 224,036 agrarian reform beneficiaries nationwide. "The loan is not given directly. The Land Bank will dispense the loan to the ARBOs, who will in turn serve as the conduit to the individual beneficiaries," DAR Undersecretary for Support Services Jerry E. Pacturan said in a phone interview. Jeffrey Maningo, Head of the Land Bank Negros Occidental Lending Center, said in a statement that the remaining balance will be given to the organizations upon submission of required documents. According to Mr. Pacturan, ARBOs should be in operation for at least six months to qualify in the security of loans under the program. "The organizations must also have juridical entity, which means that they must possess one of the following: CDA (Cooperative Development Authority) registration; SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) registration; and DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment) registration," Mr. Pacturan noted. "Lastly, they must have a team of managers and officers." The Negros Island Savings and Credit Cooperative received the biggest portion, P21.9 million of a P30million loan approved for the cooperative. It has another P72 million loan application pending at the Land Bank. The ARBOs that received loans greater than P1-million include Sta. Isabel ARB Farmers’ Organizations, with P1.9 million; Hacienda Carmenchica ARB and FW Association, with P1.8 million; Hacienda Bernardita ARB MPC, with P1.5 million; Hacienda Malaga Cuenca AR Coop, with P1.4 million; CASA Agrarian Reform Cooperative, with P1.3 million; and Association of San German ARB, with P1.06 million. The remaining P3.2 million of the total P34 million released was divided into smaller amounts among other groups. The member-beneficiaries of the qualified ARBOs must also comply with certain requirements to secure a loan under the program. Members should hold a title -- either an emancipation patent or a certificate of land ownership award -- certified by the municipal agrarian reform officer. They must also provide a template of the farm plan to be rolled out by the organization as a business plan. The requirements, Mr. Pacturan said, are easier compared with other banks’ lending programs.
The APCP’s other components include agricultural production and financial management support, and institutional capacity building. The former provides for the financing processes of the organizations as well as for agricultural production management that will be headed by DA members, while the latter strengthens organizations by institutionalizing organizational vision, operational policies, systems, and procedures, among others. -Kathleen T. de Villa
Posted on June 18, 2013 11:11:16 PM
Middle-income nations: templates for programs THE PHILIPPINES can learn from the experiences of middle-income countries (MICs) in enhancing poverty-reduction and infrastructure programs, a Cabinet official said. "The variety of experiences of the MICs in dealing with inequality offers a rare opportunity for learning lessons and sharing best practices toward scaling up of programs and activities that will help achieve inclusive growth, both nationally and globally," said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan during the High-Level Conference of Middle-Income Countries in San Jose, Costa Rica on June 10-14. His statements were released yesterday by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Mr. Balisacan, concurrent NEDA director-general, noted that Malaysia’s experience in publicprivate partnerships (PPPs) "may prove useful for designing the policy and legal framework for PPPs and upscaling it in resource-scarce developing countries." Mr. Balisacan pointed out that PPPs have "the potential of augmenting the public sector’s fiscal resources and for efficiently managing facilities that have traditionally been reserved to the public sector." "If structured properly, PPPs can be an effective instrument for inclusive business," he added. On the conditional cash transfer (CCT), which has its roots in Latin America, Mr. Balisacan said the scheme has "helped those countries virtually win their war against acute poverty." "The Philippines has embarked on a large-scale CCT program… We hope to reap the same benefits from this program like what the Latin American countries have done," he said. -KMPT http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Middle‐income‐nations:‐templates‐for‐ programs&id=72038
SC justices release SALn Written by Benjamin B. Pulta Wednesday, 19 June 2013 08:00
For the second time in 22 years, the Supreme Court (SC) approved the release of magistrates’ statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALn). “After having complied with the requirements, the clerk of court recommended the approval of the requests of GMA 7 and Solar News, subject to conditions,” Public Information Office chief Theodore Te told reporters at a press conference. Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno declared a total networth of P18,029,000 for 2011 while Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo is the richest SC justice with a networth of P108,904,000.
Associate Justice Arturo Brion had the lowest net worth at P1,498,000.
Senior Justice Antonio Carpio has net worth of P79,895,025 in 2011; Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. with P7,264,064; Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro (P7,941,000); Justice Diosdado Peralta (P22,642,264); Justice Lucas Bersamin (P18,811,447); Justice Roberto Abad (P42,100,000); Justice Martin Villarama Jr. (P19,074,165); Justice Jose Perez (P9,380,000); Justice Jose Mendoza (P27,408,152), Justice Bienvenido Reyes (P75,146,199); and Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe with P67,101,327.
The SC official said the SALns would be released to the two networks “in the next few days.”
Te said a similar request was filed with the high tribunal by TV 5, but the SC deferred action on it pending completion of requirements.
Sereno’s predecessor, Chief Justice Renato Corona was removed through impeachment last year for his failure to disclose all the assets in his SALn.
Issues on West Phil Sea also tackled in Gazmin-Mabus meet — US envoy Written by Mario J. Mallari Wednesday, 19 June 2013 08:00
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin yesterday met with visiting United States Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, tackling regional security issues, including the ongoing dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
In a chance interview by Camp Aguinaldo reporters, US Ambassador Harry Thomas said that Mabus’ visit highlights the US Navy’s and US Marine Corps’ continuing commitment to the Philippines.
Thomas admitted that the issue on the dispute in the West Philippine Sea was discussed during the lessthan-hour meeting between Mabus and Gazmin, who was with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano. “On West Philippine Sea? Always we talk about… as Secretary (John) Kerry has said, as Secretary (Hillary) Clinton said before, we want to ensure freedom of navigation, no economic coercion and that these sea lanes are open,” Thomas said.
“That is what they talked about and that we need to adhere to the code of conduct. We discussed these things on the table,” the ambassador added.
Thomas was referring to the non-binding declaration of code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea among claimant-countries, namely, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.
Asked if the Philippines can invoke the existing Mutual Defense Treaty with the US should the dispute with China worsens, Thomas replied “we don’t deal with hypothetical in any way... but all secretaries have said we always stand by our treaty commitment.”
“Your question is hypothetical and I think nobody wants to go to war. We want peace,” Thomas stressed.
Aside from the West Philippine Sea issue, Thomas said the meeting also tackled the continuing US assistance and calls of US naval assets in the Philippines as part of the US rebalancing in the Pacific Region.
“We have over 70 ship visits a year. That we are repairing ships in Subic for the first time in over 20 years, that’s a multimillion-dollar injection into the Philippine economy and that we will continue to assist,” Thomas said.
In a statement, the Department of National Defense (DND) said the meeting also tackled the AFP modernization program.
“The representatives from the two departments discussed security issues in the Asia-Pacific region, modernization efforts and the US’s commitment to provide humanitarian assistance in times of disasters/calamities. Secretary Mabus further intimated the critical nature of the Philippines for the US rebalance in the Asia-Pacific,” it said.
LRTA plans to extend its operating hours this rainy season Written by Pat C. Santos Wednesday, 19 June 2013 08:00
After many commuters were stranded due to heavy rains that caused floods in many parts of the metropolis the past days, the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) is planning to extend its operating hours on a case-to-case basis.
LRTA spokesman Hernando Cabrera yesterday said they could extend the operations by an hour depending on the situation.
“Dalawa ang pwede gawin. One is outright extension of one hour, pero case-to-case basis ‘yan. Kung alanganin ang extension, magbibigay tayo ng extra trip. Kunwari kung marami ang nasa istasyon by 9:30 p.m., magpapadala tayo ng three to five extra trains pa para magsakay ng pasahero,” Cabrera said. He added the extension of the LRT’s operating hours will depend on the time that classes and office work will be suspended and the number of passengers still left at the station.
In case the LRTA decides not to extend its operation, Cabrera said they would just add more trips to ferry the waiting passengers.
Cabrera added they suspend the crowd control when rains are heavy so the passengers can come and seek refuge in their various stations but they will still implement platform control to avoid passenger accidents due to wet floor.
“Ang problema, basa ang platform, madulas. Maraming nagtutulakan at malaki ang posibilidad na may madapa o madulas,” Cabrera said.
RP won’t be penalized over missing deficit target — DoF Written by Ed Velasco Wednesday, 19 June 2013 08:00
The Department of Finance (DoF) said yesterday the Philippines will not face any sanction or punishment from any international creditor if it fails to meet the two percent deficit-to-gross domestic product ratio that the Development Budget Coordination Council (DBCC) set. “No punishment. We don’t borrow anymore from them,” Undersecretary Gil Beltran told the Daily Tribune in an interview recently. It can be recalled that the DBCC has set a two percent deficit to gross domestic product (GDP) deficit. DBCC, which is made up of DoF, Department of Budget and Management, National Economic and Development Authority and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, is a four-agency department that oversees and manages the economy. Earlier, Beltran said meeting the budget deficit hinges on the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s ability to meet its target collection. The government wants to limit the budget deficit to percent of GDP in 2013 until 2016. With an annual GDP between P6.7 trillion to P7.1 trillion for the last few years, a two percent deficit-toGDP will be around P240 billion or less. In recent history, it was Ireland that registered the highest deficit-GDP-ratio at over 14 percent in 2000, according to former Finance secretary and now Philippine Stock Exchange chairman of the board Jose Pardo. However, the DoF seems worried it will be able to meet the target deficit as the number for end-March of P66.47 billion was already more than double of how much was registered in same period last year. “Although there is no penalty from any entity, a huge deficit will mean that we lack fiscal discipline. We cannot push it to the limit if the DBCC number will not be met,” another source, who refused to be named, told The Tribune.
Non-performing loans of rural banks, coops climb to 11.57% Written by Tribune Wednesday, 19 June 2013 08:00
Combined non‐performing loans (NPLs) of rural banks (RB) and cooperative banks ballooned to 11.57 percent of their total loan portfolio (TLP) of P127.47 billion as of end‐2012, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) revealed. Latest data proved that the NPL of rural and coop banks grew a bit from 10.14 percent as of end‐2011. Banks’ loan loss reserves for NPLs rose significantly to 61.74 percent for end‐2012 compared to 53.26 percent as of June 2012. Rural and cooperative banks’ loans represent 2.74 percent and 0.30 percent, respectively, of banking system’s TLP as of end‐2012. RBs posted a 10.65 percent NPL ratio as of same period. This was higher than the 10.32 percent registered as of end‐2011, BSP data said. RBs’ loan loss reserves for NPLs increased to 59.47 percent as of end‐2012 from 50.98 percent in June 2012. For coop banks, the industry registered a 19.84 percent NPL ratio in December 2012. The figure is more than double the 9.49 percent NPL registered in June 2012. The BSP attributed the increase to powerful storms that hit the Philippines last year—Hener, Habagat and Helen. The BSP assured the public that it will continue monitoring strictly the NPLs of all bank classifications in the Philippines. The strict monitoring aims to ensure that credit underwriting standards remain high in a low interest rate environment of the country. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/business/item/15571‐non‐performing‐loans‐of‐rural‐banks‐ coops‐climb‐to‐11‐57
Further weakening of peso dollar sought Written by Ed Velasco Wednesday, 19 June 2013 08:00
Many local manufacturers remained in the survival mode despite the peso sliding back to 42 level, a letter to the Philippine Exporters Confederation (PhilExport) obtained by The Daily Tribune revealed. Oscar Barrera, who represents PhilExport in a recent competitive currency forum (CCF), believes that local businesses sell more products even at low prices to compensate for reduced earnings. “When a businessman is experiencing lower profits, his survival instinct is to sell more, as long as his revenue is greater than his cash costs of production or direct variable costs. And even if he is already losing cash, he will try to survive by borrowing until his bank finally forecloses on his properties. He will continue to pray and hope that things will turn around,” Barrera told PhilExport president Sergio Ortiz‐Luis. He said although the peso strength has tempered, the long appreciation of the peso against the dollar continued to hurt exporters even as the country’s exports revenues rose measly in March 2013. “Our major exports are on contracts, so volumes may still be going up even though exporters are already losing due to strength of peso,” he explained. Barrera, the PhilExport trustee for the chemicals sector, expressed concern that these manufacturers would find it increasingly difficult to survive given the peso value against the dollar. A source at the export sector said although impossible, it is ideal that the exchange rate should be around P43.20 to $1. The peso has been closing at 42‐level for the past two weeks. Last May 21, it reached its highest at P41.17 from P41.14 average rate in April. A survey conducted by PhilExport on the effects of the strong peso showed that a number of small and medium enterprises exporters and agriculture firms preferred higher range of foreign exchange at P42 to P44 to $1. To help stem the peso appreciation, Barrera underscored the need for the Philippines to impose capital controls on inflows similar to the one being planned by Thailand. He recommended imposing “tobin” tax on hot money used in speculative investments in the stock and currency markets or a holding period of foreigners’ remittances out of the country. Barrera said the removal of controls on outflows provides reassurance to the hot money speculators of complete freedom of entry and exit. Moreover, Barrera believes that foreign direct investments (FDIs) are bypassing the country because there are very few profitable projects.
Apart from scarce power, labor costs and lack of logistic public infrastructure, he said the overvalued peso discourages any local value added inputs because imported inputs are artificially cheaper. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/business/item/15570‐further‐weakening‐of‐peso‐dollar‐sought
Maagang uwian tuwing tag-ulan, itinutulak (Eralyn Prado/Juliet de Loza-Cudia)
Hinihirit ngayon ni Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino na magbigay ng konsiderasyon sa mga estudyante ang mga eskwelahan at sa mga empleyado ang mga pampubliko at pribadong opisina tuwing panahon ng tag-ulan sa pamamagitan ng pagpapauwi nang maaga.
Iminungkahi ni Tolentino na kung maari ay payagan na lamang ang mga empleyado at estudyante na pumasok nang maaga upang sa gayon makauwi rin nang maaga o bago mag-alas-singko ng hapon na siyang madalas na oras ng pagbasak ng malakas na ulan.
Partikular sa tinukoy ng opisyal ay ang kasalukuyang weather forecast, “Sabi ng PAGASA hanggang weekend ang malakas na ulan kaya nakikiusap ako sa ating kawani, kung papayagan ng kanilang tanggapan, pauwiin nang maaga. Hanggang Biyernes ang malakas na pag-ulan. Kung pumasok nang maaga, kung maaari pauwiin nang 4 p.m. Ang bagsak ng ulan 5 to 7 p.m. Ang eskwelahan kung maaari, pauwiin din nang maaga,” ayon pa kay Tolentino.
Dakong ala-una kahapon ay sinuspende ni Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim ang pasok sa Manila City Hall upang pauwiin ang mga empleyado dahil sa biglang pagdilim ng kalangitan.
Maging ang klase sa mga pampublikong paaralan sa elementarya at high school at sa City College of Manila at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) ay sinuspende rin ng alkalde.
Ang pamunuan ng Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) at University of Santo Thomas (UST) ay nag-abiso rin ng class suspension dakong hapon. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/jun1913/news02.htm#.UcESledvAqM
SEX X AND THE OFW WS Published d : Wednesday, Juune 19, 2013 00:000 Written b by : Efren Montanno, Lee Ann P. Ducusin, D Jester P. Manalastas MAL LACAÑANG v vowed yeste erday to look into accusationss that officia als from the e coun ntry’s embassy and labor offices arre sexu ually abusing female ov verseas Filip pino work kers (OFWs)) in the so-c called sex fo or fligh ht scheme in n the Middle e East. Depu uty presiden ntial spokes sperson Abig gail Valte e said the D Department of Foreign Affaiirs has alrea ady directed d heads of conccerned emba assies to ac ct on allegattions of “ssex-for-repa atriation” vic ctimizing female OFW Ws seeking tto returnhom me. Valte e however n noted that n no formal se exual hara assment com mplaint has been filed against any a Philippin ne embassy y or labor offficial in the Middle Eastt. “We enco ourage thos se victimized d to come fo orward and file a complaint. The D DFA is more than willing to o act on these,”Valte said. Earlier in n the day, Akbayan A Rep p. Walden Bello, who he eads the Ho ouse committtee on overrseas workers’’ affairs, said d two Philippine embas ssy and labo or officials in n Kuwait and d Jordan allegedly y demanded d sexual favo ors from OF FWs who sou ught repatriiation. Bello also urged the e governmen nt to dismiss s and prose ecute these officials. Some 2.3 million OF FWs are currently working in the M Middle East, mostly in S Saudi Arabia. DoLE se ets quiz The Department of Labor and Employment E t will investi gate the alleged “sex-ffor-flight” modus operandi o at the t Philippin ne Overseas s Labor Officce in Kuwaitt. Labor Se ecretary Ros salinda Dima apilis-Baldoz z issued Ad ministrative e Order No. 239, which ordered the creation n of a probe e team that will conductt an investig gation into tthe alleged activities s at the said d POLO. “I am resolved to ge et into the bottom b of an ny accusatio on of wrongdoing again nst our peop ple to uphold their credibility and inte egrity, wheth her or not th he allegations are malic cious or with basis,” she said. The inve estigative tea am that Baldoz ordered d to look intto the allega ation is com mposed of Attty. Leah Forrtuna of the Office of th he Secretary y as the Cha airperson, A Atty. Ophelia a Almenario of the Overrseas Worke ers Welfare Administrat A tion, and Attty. Rosemarrie G. Duquez of
the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. The team is tasked mainly to gather and validate information and pertinent documents, interview the concerned OFWs, interest groups, and POLO/Embassy officials, and if the allegations are proven as facts, assist in the filing of charges against erring individuals. The labor chief, who is in Geneva for the 102 International Labor Conference, was alerted of newspaper reports about the alleged “sex-for-fly” activities at the POLO in Kuwait and immediately directed the POLO to submit a report. “The DOLE does not condone any inappropriate act of any of its official and personnel, most especially if it involves the performance of their official duties. Integrity and sincerity in public service are among the core values that we in the DOLE have sworn to uphold and abide by in everything we do,” she said. The alleged “sex-for-fly” practice of officials and personnel in the POLO in Kuwait surfaced when an unidentified female OFW who was part of a group of 46 HSWs deported from the KuwaitiDeportation Center supposedly sought the help of radio station DZRH against an “embassy official” who allegedly demanded sexual favor to facilitate her repatriation. Labor Attache to Kuwait David Des Dicang reported that when this report came out, the Philippine Embassy, through Consul General Raul Dado created an investigation team that included him (Dicang). “After our investigation, we found out that only one of the 46 HSWs deported came from the Filipino Workers Resource Center. It would serve the interest of justice if the media name the complainant and the officials complained about,” Dicang said. Baldoz warned that she will file charges against any DoLE official or employee who will be proven to have violated their oath as public servants, whether they are in the Philippines or abroad. She also called on the victims and those who may have information on the alleged “modus operandi” to get in touch with the investigating team at telephone numbers (02) 527-3000 local 705, (02) 551-1560, (02) 551-6641, (02) 722-1144, (02) 722-1155. ”We take this kind of allegations very seriously. We believe that for us to be able to protect the rights and welfare of every Filipino worker here and abroad, it is a must that we keep ourselves clean; that we keep the Department graft- and corruption-free,” she said. The labor chief also made it clear that measures to deal with allegations of wrongdoing are well-established in the DoLE. ‘Predators’ in sheep’s clothing At least three government officials, who are supposed to protect OFWs, were involved in sexual abuses, prostitution and worse sex-for-hire, which higher officials allegedly continue to ignore. This was disclosed by Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, as he called on the attention of the DFA and DoLE secretaries to dismiss and file charges against these three labor officials. In a press conference, Bello denounced the three Middle East labor officials as “predators” involved in sexual solicitation, sex-for-hire and human trafficking activities.
“We are speaking of few bad eggs. Unfortunately, those few bad eggs are the people that give our Embassy officials a bad name, a reputation that most of them do not deserve,” Bello said. He lamented that top labor officials have chosen to ignore the complaints against the three – a DFA staffer, a topranking member of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and a contractual employee of the PLO. Bello enumerated the involvement of the three, whom he called “predators,” based on the reports and complaints gathered by House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/headlines/52565‐sex‐and‐the‐ofws
Parts of PH can turn into ‘waterworld’ Published : Wednesday, June 19, 2013 00:00
Written by : Bernadette E. Tamayo
SENATOR Loren Legarda has expressed fear that parts of the country may eventually become a “waterworld” if concerned government agencies and local officials do not “fully” implement laws on climate change prevention as well as solid waste management. She made the remark amid the perennial problem of flooding even in urban centers during the rainy season. “Tanggapin natin na intermittently tayo ay nagiging waterworld na. Kaya kailangang i-congest na ang mga esteros,” Legarda said in a briefing. Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, pointed up the need to conduct an “environmental audit” or the assessment of the state of implementation of the laws on environment, DRR (disaster risk reduction and CCA (climate change adaptation) that she authored. “We must implement our environmental and disaster preparedness laws such as the EcologicalSolid Waste Management Law, Climate Change Act, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, and the People’s Survival Fund Law. The strict enforcement of the Solid Waste Management Law is very important, most especially in flood-prone areas,” Legarda said. She intends to initiate programs that would promote the improvement of health emergency management system, and strengthen disaster research and evaluation as basis for sound policy, plan, and interventions in the country. She will allocate funds from her priority development assistance fund (PDAF) for the establishment of a model green campus and will engage concerned government agencies for the promotion of green jobs and green skills. She stressed the need to intensify information, education and communication campaigns ondisaster preparedness. She will continue to distribute geohazard maps nationwide and pushed for the monitoring of the strict enforcement of land use regulations. “As we experience the intensity of the changing climate through extreme weather events, our communities and citizens become more vulnerable to disaster risks. A 2013 World Bank report revealed that 74% of the country’s population is vulnerable to disasters caused by natural hazards. The Philippines recorded 2,630 disaster-related deaths in 2012, the highest data recorded worldwide for that year,” she said. “Disasters have strong effect in our economy even causing us budget deficits. In 2009, typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng caused economic damages equivalent to 2.7 percent of our GDP (gross domestic product),” Legarda added. She said that while the country has shown improvements in its disaster risk reduction and management efforts, particularly through increased budget allocations for DRR, there remains a lot of work to be done. “The DRR regional workshops will be done in the provincial, city, municipal and barangay levels and we will continue to conduct DRR lectures in state universities and colleges. Soon, I will also launch Ligtas, an instructional video on disaster preparedness that was directed by Direk Brillante Mendoza,” she said.
“Every natural hazard that hits the country reveals the risks and weaknesses that we must immediately address. Climate change and extreme weather events are among the greatest humanitarian challenges of our time. But these challenges we can overcome if our programs and mechanisms in place actually address the specific vulnerabilities present in each community inthe country,” Legarda said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/52575‐parts‐of‐ph‐can‐turn‐into‐waterworld
Save the kids Published : Wednesday, June 19, 2013 00:00 Written by : Bernadette E. Tamayo SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wants to punish armed groups, whether government forces or rebel groups, who will use children in armed conflicts. He intends to file a bill providing special protection for children in situations of armed conflict (CSAC) at the opening of the 16th Congress on July 22. Marcos raised the need to penalize groups that will violate child rights in armed conflict situation, including killing, torture, abduction and rape of children. Marcos cited a recent United Nations report that “tagged” the New People’s Army (NPA), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) as among 29 groups in the country that are “persistently perpetrators” of the use of children in armed conflicts. The same report also stated that even the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had utilized children in two military operations. “Government forces, as well as other non state armed groups shall be liable for violation of any provision of this proposed law,” Marcos said. Other prohibited acts under his proposed measure include the use of children as hostages or human shield, denial of humanitarian access and assistance to children, recruitment and involvement of children in armed conflict, and attack of schools, hospitals, places of worship,evacuation centers and settlement and other public places where children can usually be found. The bill seeks to impose a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Php2 million but not more than Php5 million for anyone found in violation of its provisions. Marcos said that children who are exposed to armed conflict “experience severe physical and psychological trauma and the innocence of the youth is violently robbed and replaced by the terrors of violence, hatred, and pain.” In 2012, the Council for the Welfare of Children had reported that 30,000 to 50,000 children were “displaced by armed conflict every year for the past 4 years.” The council got their date from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of National Defense, different non-government organizations (NGOs), and the AFP. “Children deserve utmost protection from all forms of danger. All efforts must, therefore, be exerted to ensure that they are sheltered and protected at all times. Under this proposal, there is a comprehensive treatment of children in armed conflict, including their rescue and demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration,” Marcos said. Meanwhile the Gabriela party-list said children will continue to be victims of armed conflict as long as the government does not junk its counter insurgency operation called Oplan Bayanihan. This is according to Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan as she urged government to resume peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF). In a statement, Ilagan called on the administration to pro-actively address the use of
children in armed conflict by initiating moves to resume peace negotiations. She also said it is about time to prosecute the violators of child rights. The United Nations recently denounced in a report the use of children in armed conflict. “Children will continue to become victims amid intensified clashes and military operations. Not only will they be used as shields or recruited as guides, worse, as Aquino’s AFP continues its implementation of Oplan Bayanihan, more children will fall victim to indiscriminate firing and community blockades,” Ilagan said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/52573‐save‐the‐kids
DBP’s tree planting programs get support from DENR Published : Wednesday, June 19, 2013 00:00 Written by : Cory Martinez To further boost the country's wood-based industries, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources decided to lend its technical expertise to help state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines’s lending program for the development of existing tree plantation projects. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and DBP president and CEO Gil A. Buenaventura recently signed a cooperation agreement to ensure the effectiveness of the DBP Tree Plantation Financing Program , a credit facility for owners and administrators of tree farms. 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 socio-economic conditions, arrest the rapid deforestation and reduce susceptibility of communities to natural disasters such as flooding and landslides. Paje explained that TPFP is consistent with the objectives of the National Greening Program -- the flagship reforestation program of the Aquino 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," Paje said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/52582‐dbps‐tree‐planting‐programs‐get‐support‐from‐denr
BI to grant long-stay visa Published : Wednesday, June 19, 2013 00:00 Written by : Lee Ann P. Ducusin THE Bureau of Immigration is set to launch a long-stay tourist visa next week which will allow foreigners who want to stay longer in the country to get of a six-month long visa. Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. also announced the introduction of a new visa sticker that will replace the wet stamp used by the bureau in implementing extensions of stay in the passports of foreign tourists. David said the Long Stay Visitor Visa Extension or LSVVE project will be launched to spur tourist arrivals in the country by giving foreigners the privilege to prolong their stay here without the need to frequent the BI office. Presently, the BI grants foreign tourists a maximum stay of two months each time they apply for visa extensions. “Through this long stay visa, we expect lesser crowding in our offices due to the decreased volume of visa extension applicants,” David said. As for the new visa sticker, he said it will prevent the proliferation of fake visa extension stamps that has victimized many foreigners. The BI chief disclosed the sticker has security and tracking features that cannot be copied. “It will also speed up transactions in our visa section, allow more efficient tracking of records and faster detection of forged and tampered stamps,” he added. David said the projects were initiated after meetings between the BI and Departments ofTourism and Foreign Affairs regarding policy reforms that can be initiated to further attract more foreign visitors to the country. The DoT said it is aiming to increase volume of tourist arrivals to 10 million by 2016. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/52579‐bi‐to‐grant‐long‐stay‐visa