NFA’s palay purchases exceed goal First time in 40 years, says NFA By Ronnel W. Domingo Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:49 pm | Sunday, June 23rd, 2013
The National Food Authority bought a total of 5.54 million bags of palay from January to June 16, exceeding its palay procurement target of 3.92 million bags for the period by 41 percent. In a statement, the NFA said it surpassed its goal “for the first time in 40 years” as it went on intensive palay procurement nationwide. Still, procurement volume as of mid-June was only 45 percent of the full-year target of 12.32 million bags or 615,985 metric tons. NFA Administrator Orlan A. Calayag said that at the onset of the rainy season, the agency had a sufficient supply of milled rice, which could ensure stable supply and price of the staple. Calayag said that as of last week, the NFA has 13,108,995 bags in its warehouses, which were good for at least 21 days, including 9,558,250 bags of palay.” The NFA has a standing agreement with local government units, where the state agency provides LGUs hit by calamities rice loans for relief operations. Last week, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the country had enough domestic supply of rice and corn, well before the government’s goal of achieving self-sufficiency sometime after this year. “Today, the Philippines is practically self-sufficient in rice and corn,” Alcala was quoted in a statement as saying during the 38th session of the Food and Agriculture Organization Conference in Italy. Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics showed that the nation’s total milled rice inventory as of May 1 was 2.61 million, up by 12.3 percent from the previous month’s stock level but down 2.2 percent year-on-year. As of May 1, the rice inventory was good to last for 77 days. This includes 35 days’ worth of household stocks, 24 days’ worth of inventory in commercial warehouses, and 18 days’ worth of stocks held by the NFA. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, the Philippines remains set for a record rice harvest in the crop year that runs up to the end of July 2014. In its June rice outlook report, the USDA ERS said Philippine harvest was expected to increase by 3 percent year-on-year to 11.7 million tons of milled rice during the 2013-2014 market year. http://business.inquirer.net/128625/nfas-palay-purchases-exceed-goal
Economy Posted on June 23, 2013 11:15:12 PM
Fisheries values grow in Q1 EXTENDED access to a high seas pocket has helped turn the tide for the fisheries sector, according to a report from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS).
The value of the sector’s production increased in the first quarter by 5.6%, an improvement from the 3.62% decline recorded in the same period last year, data in the BAS January‐March 2013 Fisheries Situationer showed. Of the sub‐sectors, commercial fisheries posted the biggest value increase at 18.67%, from P7.29 billion in the same period last year to P8.65 billion. This is compared with an 8.34% contraction in value recorded in the same period in 2012. The report attributed the change to the extension of the Philippine’s access to Pocket 1 of the high seas in the Western Pacific. This in turn boosted yellowfin tuna and skipjack tuna catches unloaded by foreign fishing vessels for canneries in General Santos City. Municipal fisheries’ output value grew 0.18%, from P9.39 billion to P9.40 billion and compared with the 4.45% decline recorded last year. Aquaculture output values increased by 2.69%, from P14.12 billion to P14.5 billion and compared with a 0.38% decline in 2012. Commercial fisheries thus brought in 26.58%; municipal fisheries, 28.88%; and aquaculture, 44.54% of the value of total fisheries production in the first quarter. The biggest contributors to the production volume of commercial fisheries were round scad (galunggong), with about 49,600 metric tons (MT); skipjack tuna, with about 46,000 MT; and yellowfin tuna, with about 21,600 MT. For marine municipal fisheries, the top three species caught were round scad, with about 19,200 MT; Indian sardines (tamban), with about 18,500 MT; and big‐eyed scad (matabangbaka), with about 17,000 MT.
For inland municipal fisheries, the highest volumes came from tilapia, with about 11,000 MT; carp, with about 4,400 MT; and milkfish, with about 2,600 MT. In aquaculture, seaweed production reached about 390,600 MT; tilapia, about 93,200 MT; and milkfish, about 76,100 MT. In 2009, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission imposed a ban on four pockets of high seas in the Pacific Ocean to allow tuna populations to recover. However, the Philippines lobbied for an exemption to the ban and was allowed access to Pocket 1, the high seas bounded by the exclusive economic zones of Micronesia, Palau, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. The exemption was supposed to end in February 2013, but in a bid to spur recovery in fisheries production, the Philippines asked the international fishing body for an extension and was subsequently allowed to fish in Pocket 1 until February 2014. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Fisheries‐values‐grow‐in‐ Q1&id=72275#sthash.qGN3pFgK.dpuf
Economy Posted on June 23, 2013 10:55:34 PM
Fish canneries owe workers P53M -- DoLE KORONADAL ‐‐ Several fish processing companies in Mindanao found to have violated labor standards were ordered to pay their workers benefits amounting to P52.9 million. TUNA cannery workers inspect cans in this 2006 photo. ‐‐ BW File Photo Labor Secretary Rosalinda D. Baldoz said in a statement released by the regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE‐12) that the agency has conducted a rapid audit on some fish canning companies on the island to ensure workers’ rights and safety. "A total of 14,635 workers of 17 fish canning companies in Mindanao, specifically in Regions 9 and 12, will benefit from the Department of Labor and Employment’s rapid audit," Ms. Baldoz was quoted as saying. The DoLE Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Center conducted the audit "recently." "We wanted to ensure that our workers receive the benefits due them and that no labor standards and occupational safety and health standards are being violated, and to ensure that the workers are safe while performing their tasks at work," Ms. Baldoz said. "Most importantly, we would also like to assist these companies on how to voluntarily comply with labor laws." Ms. Baldoz said that 10 fish canneries in Zamboanga City in Region 9 and seven others in General Santos City in Region 12 were audited to determine the companies’ level of compliance with general labor standards and occupational safety and health rules. The BWC initially reported that nine fish canning companies have committed labor standards violations such as non‐payment of holiday pay, overtime pay, rest day pay and service incentive leave pay; underpayment of cost of living allowance; unauthorized wage deductions; and inefficient recordkeeping of employment‐related documents, according to the statement. Two companies have also been identified as violating provisions on the wage of piece‐rate workers, the payment of night shift differential, child labor, and the coverage of social welfare benefits.
The initial audit report revealed that some fish canning companies also failed to comply with some of occupational safety and health requirements such as the establishment of safety and health committees at the workplace, employment of accredited safety and health personnel, provision of adequate personal protective equipment, and administrative reporting to the DoLE, the statement said. Ms. Baldoz did not identify the erring companies, however. She said that the DoLE offices in Regions 9 and 12 are helping the companies effect corrections and facilitate the award of the P52.9‐million benefits to the affected workers. Ms. Baldoz said that representatives of the fish canning companies, during the exit conference with the DoLE, have "signified their willingness to restitute their noted violations." She said they also committed to submit to the DoLE their respective action plans for the corrections. ‐‐ RSS http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Fish‐canneries‐owe‐workers‐ P53M‐‐‐‐DoLE&id=72271#sthash.kHP5O5l0.dpuf
Economy Posted on June 23, 2013 10:51:37 PM
DAR seeks project consultants THE DEPARTMENT of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is seeking product developers, staff trainers, and technical assistance for a contract worth P17.563 million for four programs under the agency’s Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development program, according to a request for expression of interest published in a newspaper yesterday. The first project, Promotion of Rural Micro‐Entrepreneurship through Community Retail Store Operations Program, is allotted P3.723 million and will run for 12 months in Aklan, Bulacan, Cagayan Valley, Cavite, and Zamboanga del Norte. For this project, DAR is looking for professional service providers (PSPs) to "consolidate the massive informal economic activities managed by Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) and/or rural women in Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs) as potential distribution channels for farm produce, and as subject[s] for business development... as profitable household micro‐enterprise." Conduct of a training course on social entrepreneurship project has been allotted P2.740 million. PSPs will be required to develop the training design, modules, and other learning materials; conduct six batches of a five‐day training course on social entrepreneurship; and conduct 40 on‐site technical assistance and follow‐through sessions in a span of eight months. The trainees will be DAR provincial staff and representatives of selected Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries’ Organizations (ARBOs) who operate community‐based enterprises. Another project, Up‐Valuing ARBs Products (Phase I), is allotted P4.2 million for PSPs to "develop market‐competitive ARB products and enhance enterprises and livelihood activities... that will enable the ARBOs... to enter into long‐term marketing arrangements." The 12‐month contract will involve the implementation of activities covering a minimum of 11 ARB/ARC products with Food and Drug Administration licenses and defined market systems and strategies. The fourth project, Micro‐Financing Institution’s (MFIs) Support to Agri‐Production and Enterprises of ARBs/ARBs Households and Rural Women in Program on Beneficiaries Development Model Areas, needs PSPs to provide "technical assistance and capacity development interventions to identified partner‐
MFIs" in designing a customized micro agri‐loan product (MALP) or in strengthening existing MALPs or microfinance operations. The project has been allotted P6.900 million and covers 24,000 ARB households and rural women with credit for agri‐related enterprises. The amount will also be used in "capacitating MFI in the provision of micro agri‐loan products." Eligibility documents will be available on Tuesday, June 25 at the DAR central office. Documents of interested PSPs must be submitted there on or before July 10. Only approved applications based on a non‐discretionary pass or fail criterion and in line with the Government Procurement Reform Act (RA 9184) will be short‐listed. ‐‐ KTDV http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=DAR‐seeks‐project‐ consultants&id=72269
DA vs foreign control of local rice industry Category: Top News Published on Sunday, 23 June 2013 21:13 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is against foreign control of the local rice industry, from the ownership of farms to harvesting, milling and distribution of the cereal. But it said it was amenable to limited foreign direct investments in postharvest and marketing activities, subject to consultations with farmers and other stakeholders in the industry. The department revealed its stand in a draft memorandum from the National Rice Program (NRP), which operates under the DA. It was issued in response to the National Economic and Development Authority’s (Neda) request for the DA’s reaction to calls by some foreign businessmen to remove limitations on “foreign participation” in the rice industry and other sectors. “In general, the NRP is of the view that rice, as the country’s food staple, is a political commodity and should not be left in the hands of foreign capital to control,” the draft memo read. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan sought the department’s opinion in a letter dated March 30. The NRP is headed by Assistant Agriculture Secretary Dante Delima. The NRP said, “rice remains an important crop as food and as a source of livelihood. More than 2 million households are engaged in rice‐based farming; millions more of farm laborers, and tens of thousands of merchants, depend on rice farming and trading for a living.” Also, the DA said realities in global rice trade make self‐sufficiency an imperative. “First, countries can be held hostage by any reason [economic, political or ideological] even in a highly globalized world. In particular, world rice trade is the subject of political decisions by governments, which are the biggest market players, and which consider rice a vital commodity,” the draft memo said. The DA also said rice is thinly traded and world trade is highly concentrated as only 7 percent of global production are sold outside national borders. The top five exporters, it said, account for 80 percent of total exports, making importing countries like the Philippines vulnerable to export bans or restrictions. “Third, in reality, the world rice market is vulnerable to destabilizing speculation and panic. Because millions of rice producers, consumers and traders, including governments, can hoard the commodity over fairly long periods of time, the rice market is vulnerable to herd behavior and panic,” the memo added.
But while the NRP is “strongly opposed” to the proposed 100‐percent foreign ownership of rice lands and 100‐percent foreign equity in rice production and supply, it is amenable to limited foreign direct investments in postharvest and marketing activities, subject to consultations with farmers and other stakeholders in the industry. “We support foreign direct investments in the areas of farm mechanization, post harvest facilities such as threshers, millers, dryers, packaging, trade, and exports,” the draft memo read. “The amount of investment may be designated with minimum and maximum amounts of capital to be determined by the government’s investment board. Joint‐venture agreements may be subject to mutually agreed upon ratio of investments. Tax holidays and tax relief may also be granted for a specific period [i.e., five years], while lease contracts may be subject to a 25‐year term, renewable every 10 years thereafter,” it added. The DA’s position is supported by farmers in the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, rice millers led by Herculano Co, longtime president of the Philippine Confederation of Grains Associations, and by wholesalers and retailers.
P6.2B worth of rice wasted yearly; PhilRice taps mothers in drive for responsible consumption By: Philippines News Agency June 23, 2013 9:22 AM
InterAksyon.com The online news portal of TV5 MANILA â€“ With Filipinos wasting an estimated P6.2 billion worth of rice yearly--or the consumption of nearly 2.6 million Filipinos--the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has tapped a private group to reach out to a key partner in espousing responsible consumption: mothers. Philrice has inked a one-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a social development organization with 2 million clients, to promote responsible rice consumption and good farming practices in keeping with the observance of National Year of Rice (NYR). The MOU stipulates that the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), Inc. will encourage its women-clients to be more responsible rice consumers. CARD Community Development Group head Marilyn Manila, said that reducing rice wastage and eating brown rice will be promoted during their meetings. Their clients will also be encouraged to share these practices among their families. Meanwhile, NYR 2013 campaign director Hazel V. Antonio, said that the partnership was unique because it involved mothers.
â€œMaking them aware on rice wastage and healthier forms of rice will help mold responsible rice consumers and healthy families,â€? Manila said. Moreover, CARD will provide loans to cooperatives that will venture into inbred and hybrid rice production to help increase seed and rice supplies. PhilRice will also be helped by CARD, which has 2 million clients in the country, in identifying technology demonstration project sites that will showcase practices for farmers to adopt. Antonio said NYR 2013 also promotes better inbred and hybrid varieties for different farm environments. Other than disseminating NYR 2013 advocacies, CARD with 1,451 offices nationwide, will also help PhilRice market its rice and rice-based products and farm machinery. According to PhilRice, Filipinos waste an average of two tablespoons of cooked rice every day, which is equivalent to P6.2 billion or the consumption of nearly 2.6 million Filipinos a year. Eating brown rice is being promoted as studies show that complete milling and polishing result in the preferred white rice. http://www.interaksyon.com/article/64682/p6-2b-worth-of-rice-wasted-yearly-philrice-tapsmothers-in-drive-for-responsible-consumption
DENR, DBP pact to boost tree farming Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:10 am | Monday, June 24th, 2013
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje: Promoting tree plantations. AFP PHOTO/Jay DIRECTO MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has teamed up with the Development Bank of the Philippines to boost the DENR’s National Greening Program through the DBP’s credit facility for tree farm owners. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje recently signed a cooperation agreement with DBP president and CEO Gil Buenaventura that would tap DENR technical experts who would evaluate the feasibility of proposed projects and make referrals of tree plantation owners and administrators eligible for loans under the Tree Plantation Financing Program (TPFP). In a statement, Paje said the TPFP was not only consistent with the objectives of the National Greening Program but also with the DENR’s millennium development goals on the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger and ensuring environmental sustainability. “We commend the DBP for its decision to make TPFP an integral part of its corporate social responsibility,” Paje said. The DBP-funded TPFP primarily promotes the development and maintenance of existing tree plantations and methods of harvesting that would boost wood-based industries. It also aims to improve the socioeconomic condition of communities, arrest rapid deforestation, and reduce the vulnerability of communities to natural calamities. The DBP credit facility applies to tree plantations—at least 500 hectares of open and contiguous area with existing and valid tenurial agreements with the DENR. One percent of the tree plantation area, either on public or private land, must have at least four-year-old trees growing on it.
Under the cooperation agreement, the two agencies would conduct joint site ocular inspections and verifications to validate the eligibility of the proposed projects. The inspection teams would primarily conduct a valuation of the tree plantation, assess its growth and yield projections, and make studies on estimated costs and the expected economic benefits and returns. The agencies are also tasked to periodically monitor the status of the project and conduct a performance review.â€”Jeannette I. Andrade http://business.inquirer.net/128679/denr-dbp-pact-to-boost-tree-farming
Imports hike dressed chicken, frozen pork inventory–NMIS Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Sunday, 23 June 2013 19:39 Written by Cai U. Ordinario MORE dressed chicken and frozen pork are currently stocked in cold storages nationwide as imports propped up supply, according to figures released by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS). Figures from the NMIS showed that as of June 3, the inventory of dressed chicken went up by 53.44 percent to 9,478.79 metric tons (MT) The attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said the increase in imported poultry meat propped up local supply. As of June 3, there were 4,954.25 MT of imported chicken meat compared to 1,857.42 MT registered last year. The NMIS said figures on dressed chicken inventory included only those from accredited cold-storage facilities. As for the inventory of frozen pork, the agency said there were 9,672.2 MT of the product in various coldstorage facilities nationwide. This is 4 percent higher than the 9,293.38 MT registered last year. Figures from the NMIS showed that imported frozen pork constituted the bulk of supply at 9,406.56 MT. Trade and agriculture officials said the retail price of poultry meat and pork has been relatively stable due to ample supply. The opening of classes is expected to drive up demand for meat products. Based on the June 22 monitor of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), the prevailing retail price of dressed chicken sold in Metro Manila markets was at P130 per kilogram. This was the same price registered a month ago. The BAS also said the prevailing retail price of pork kasim (ham) remained at P180 per kilo and pork liempo (belly) at P190 per kilo. The Philippines imports dressed chicken and frozen pork under the so-called mimum access volume (MAV) of the World Trade Organization. The MAV scheme allows foreign producers to export to the Philippines at lower tariffs.
PCA to tap E. Visayas farmers for processing of coco milk, cream Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Sunday, 23 June 2013 19:36 Written by PNA
TACLOBAN CITY—The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) in Eastern Visayas will conduct an inventory of active farmers’ cooperatives that will be tapped for the processing of two coconut-based products. PCA-8 Regional Manager Edilberto Nierva said coco cream and coco milk have huge potentials both in the local and foreign markets and could help farmers diversify from producing copra. “Copra price has been unstable these days, so it’s time to venture these two alternative products,” Nierva said. “We will assess the list of active farmers’ cooperatives and if found stable, they will be given funding assistance for processing coco milk and coco cream,” he added. Nierva revealed there are hundreds of coconut farmers’ groups in the region but only less than 50 of them are functional. Coconut milk is the milky white extract from freshly ground and testa pared matured nuts. It has a characteristics milky flavor and aroma of fresh, natural coconut. The product is processed using modern sanitary processing methods under strict quality. Coconut cream, on the other hand, is similar to coconut milk but contains less water. It has a thicker, more paste-like consistency, while coconut milk is generally a liquid. Coconut cream is used as an ingredient in cooking, having a mild non-sweet taste. The country has been shipping these two coco-based products abroad. Eastern Visayas, the second-largest coconut-producing region of the country, has average output volume of 1.7 billion nuts from 2009 to 2012. According to the PCA, 80 percent of the nuts harvested are processed into copra, which is vulnerable to unstable trading price. In a related development, the Visayas State University (VSU) based in Baybay City in Leyte and the PCA have entered into a memorandum of undertaking (MOU) for a joint venture on “Coconut Planting and Replanting Project.”
The MOU was signed VSU President Jose Bacusmo and PCA Administrator Euclides Forbes in the presence of Nierva and Maria Juliet Ceniza, director of the National Coconut Research Center Visayas (NCRC-V), at the VSU Office of the President. VSU and the PCA signified their interest to work together for the coconut planting and replanting program to increase coconut production and farm productivity in the province of Leyte for the benefit of the coconut farmers and other coconut industry stakeholders. As stipulated in the MOU, the PCA shall provide funds in the amount of P2.6 million to purchase 100,000 selected quality coconut seedlings at pick-up price of P26 per seedling from VSU. Likewise, it will coordinate with the VSU coconut plant breeders and nursery in-charge on mother tree and seed nut selection, and on establishment and maintenance of the coconut nursery; evaluate eligible coconut farmer-recipients including the farms to be planted or replanted; undertake the distribution of seedlings to eligible coconut farmer-recipients; provide technical assistance to farmers on farm establishment, field planting, care and maintenance and pest/disease management; and regularly monitor planted/replanted sites. PNA http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri-commodities/15411-pca-to-tap-evisayas-farmers-for-processing-of-coco-milk-cream
Cheaper fish, vegetables in Metro Manila due to ample supply–BAS Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Sunday, 23 June 2013 19:35 Written by Cai U. Ordinario THE Bureau of Agriculture Statistics (BAS) disclosed that prices of fish and vegetables posted significant decreases last week on the back of ample supply. The BAS said roundscad was cheaper by P70 per kilogram and groupers by P10. Prices of other seafood products like suaje were cheaper by P30 per kilogram and prawn by P50 per kilogram compared to their previous week’s price levels. Data also showed that prices of other seafood items remained stable and unchanged. Wholesale prices of select vegetables, meanwhile, declined by as much as 37.5 percent during the reference period. The BAS said declines in the wholesale prices of cabbage, habitchuelas, pechay Baguio and white potato were observed particularly in Divisoria markets. “The sizeable volume of deliveries of vegetables from different producing provinces in Luzon and in some parts of Mindanao effected significant cuts in the prices of most vegetables,” the BAS said. Vegetables which were quoted at higher prices during the week at wholesale counters were carrots, stringbeans, white onion, tomato and ginger. Price increments were placed at P4 up to P7 per kilogram compared to last week’s quotations. At retail trading, vegetable prices were either firm at last week’s asking prices or discounted. The recorded discounts ranged from P5 up to P20 per kilogram. Fruits were in abundance at affordable prices. Mangoes, despite of being off‐season, were available in Metro markets. This tropical fruit was sold at P60 to P80 per kilogram this week. Prices of all other basic commodities like rice, chicken, meat products sugar and cooking oil remained stable in all markets in the metropolis. Cai U. Ordinario
Mindanao Newsbits for June 24, 2013 Published: June 24, 2013
RICE EXPORTS Koronadal City, South Cotabato — More organic black, red, and brown rice produced by a local farmers’ cooperative were shipped to markets in Hong Kong this weekend. Angel Laurilla, a staff of Biosdynamis told Philippine Information Agency 12 last Friday that four metric tons of assorted certified organic rice were exported to Hong Kong on Saturday via Davao City port. Biosdynamis, is the marketing arm of the Don Bosco Multi-Purpose Cooperative based in M’lang, North Cotabato. Biosdynamis is also the distributor of the said products in the local market, including Mindanao and parts of Visayas and Metro Manila. (PIA) http://mb.com.ph/News/Provincial_News/18772/Mindanao_Newsbits_for_June_24,_2013#.UcfUjNiveK E
Economy Posted on June 23, 2013 10:48:35 PM
Food testing facility planned FOOD exporters will be able to check the safety of their products in a planned food testing facility to service Region 4A, the Philippine Exporters’ Confederation, Inc. (PhilExport) said in a statement over the weekend. PhilExport said the new food testing facility will boost Philippine food exports as it will ensure local products will meet international standards. Former PhilExport Cavite Chapter President Apolinar E. Aure and National College of Science and Technology President Emerson B. Atanacio signed a memorandum of agreement June 18 to allow a food testing facility to be set up within the NSCT campus in Cavite. The food testing facility will benefit food micro, small, and medium enterprises in the CALABARZON region. "Our main objective is that we wanted to calibrate the standard of quality of products they (enterprises) produce. We will come out with standards based on international ones," said Mr. Aure. He added the PhilExport will also assist companies in improving production capacity to meet product demand. Funding for the food testing facility is from the Trade department’s budget for shared services facilities. The food testing equipment will cost about P5 million. Cavite is the second PhilExport chapter that has been given funding for shared services facilities after General Santos City. PhilExport said it will work closely with NSCT and "will work for the finalization of the details concerning lease of the equipment until the project is undertaken." The group will also monitor the overall project implementation as well as provide financial, material and labor resources for the facility. Manuals and forms for laboratory results are currently being prepared. ‐‐ Emilia Narni J. David http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Food‐testing‐facility‐ planned&id=72267
EDC to start construction of 87-MW Burgos wind farm By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Energy Development Corp. (EDC), the Lopez-led geothermal energy, is set to start construction of its 87-megawatt wind farm in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. The company has already issued the Notice to Proceed (NTP) to its wind farm contractor, Vestas, marking the start of actual construction works at the site for the initial 87 MW of what is intended to become a 150 MW wind farm, officials said during the weekend. With the issuance of the NTP, the Lopez-led geothermal company would proceed with the construction of the farm in a 600-hectare site covering three barangays in Burgos: Saoit, Poblacion and Nagsurot. Vestas of Denmark is the wind turbine manufacturer tapped by EDC to construct the 87-MW wind farm and ancillary equipment and facilities. Under the agreement, Vestas would install 29 units of its V90-3.0MW turbines, with a 10-year operations and maintenance agreement that includes an energy-based availability guarantee. In May, the Department of Energy (DOE) granted the Burgos Wind Project a Certificate of Confirmation of Commerciality, paving the way for the construction of the $300 million project to proceed. EDC president and COO Richard Tantoco said the company is on track to achieve commercial operations by 2014. “The BWP is a major pillar of our P32 billion investment plan this year. We are proceeding as planned given our fully funded business plan and the proven Vestas technology. We are pleased to announce that the construction of the BWP will now commence and we are confident that BWP will be the first to achieve commercial operations by 2014,” he said. To cover the project’s investment cost of $300 million, EDC recently tapped an $80 million club loan facility and sold P7 billion fixed rate bonds. “It is deliberate that our P7 billion fixed rate bond is a single purpose facility meant solely for the funding of the BWP as this readily covers the spend on BWP this 2013,” Tantoco said. The Burgos Wind Project marks EDC’s foray into the wind energy business and once completed would be the largest wind farm in the Philippines.
It is part of the move of First Gen Corp., the affiliate firm of EDC to be the countryâ€™s leading renewable energy firm. The BWP is one of the largest investments to date in Ilocos Norte. Once operational, the BWP is expected to generate about 233 gwh of electricity a year, enough to power more than a million households and augment the Luzon gridâ€™s dependable capacity, which needs an additional 4,200MW in the next ten years, EDC said. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/06/24/957408/edc-start-construction-87-mw-burgoswind-farm
Critical 2015 seen for sugar Published: June 24, 2013
Bacolod City, Negros Occ.(PNA) — The former administrator of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) advised stakeholders to prepare for 2015 when cheap imported sugar gets into the local market. “The industry should prepare for lower prices of sugar unlike what it is enjoying today come 2015,” former SRA administrator Rafael Coscolluela said in an interview. Coscolluela, who was also a former governor of Negros Occidental, also advised sugar planters and millers to find ways to cut sugar production cost without sacrificing quality. The province is where over half of total Philippine sugar is produced. At present, Coscolluela said some sugar planters associations in Negros Occidental are thinking of ways on how to handle the surplus in class ‘A’ sugar or those considered as the country’s quota for the United States. Some options, he said, is to convert it from class ‘A’ to class ‘B,’ export it to other countries, or just store it for the next season. Coscolluela informed that there are sugar industry leaders who are thinking of holding a Sugar Summit to discuss mitigating measures for 2015. “The important thing to do is for all sugar planters to be prepared,” he said. http://mb.com.ph/News/Provincial_News/18775/Critical_2015_seen_for_sugar#.UcfVT9iveKE
Beach collapses in Zambales; Army securing shoreline By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 1:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The beach of Puerto del Mar in Candelaria, Zambales collapsed Saturday afternoon, possibly due to soil erosion caused by strong tidal waves, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said yesterday. MGB director Leo Jasareno said the incident occurred at around 4:30 p.m. Around 80 to 100 meters of shoreline slumped to a depth of two meters. As a result of the phenomenon, the sea moved about 10 meters facing land, Jasareno said in a telephone interview. There were no fatalities reported. â€œThis is a natural phenomenon. There may have been soil erosion because of the strength of the tidal waves or there may be a sinkhole,â€? Jasareno said. He said an eight-man team composed of MGB geologists was expected to arrive at site yesterday to determine the exact cause of the slump.
“We will also be determining if the same phenomenon is occurring in nearby areas,” he said. Jasareno noted that there are no magnetite mining operations in the area. Swimming is temporarily prohibited on the beach. Meanwhile, a shore protection project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in La Union saved the coastal village of Barangay Pilar from being totally wiped out. At least 15 hectares of the total land area of the village were submerged due to strong waves caused by storm surges and typhoons in the past, according to Councilor Protacio Cabueñas. But with the completion of the P36-million shore protection project of the DPWH, it is expected that portions of the village’s total area will be restored. Cabueñas said the sinking of Barangay Pilar started after a sand mining company left the area in the late 1970s. “Some of our constituents have transferred to nearby barangay Santiago because there’s no more space to build houses in Pilar,” he said. -With Jun Elias http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/06/24/957439/beach‐collapses‐zambales‐army‐securing‐ shoreline
31new House members to take crash course on lawmaking By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Thirty-one new members of the House of Representatives will take a four-day “executive course” on lawmaking and on their duties as lawmakers in general starting today. The orientation is a joint project of the House leadership under Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance. Today’s opening ceremonies, lectures and discussions will be held at UP Diliman, while the succeeding sessions will be conducted at the Andaya Hall of the Batasang Pambansa complex. The course aims to give new lawmakers “substantial working knowledge of the theories, concepts and dynamics of legislation that they need in performing their lawmaking role.” It would enable them to “appreciate the value of legislation in the context of Philippine development, in general, and the developing challenges of their legislative districts, in particular.”
The course also aims to make its participants “understand the dynamics of the legislative process and of the management of relationships with peers, executive agencies, civil society organizations, international development agencies, and their constituents.” Part of the sessions will focus on the “development value, uses, processes, limitation, and accountability requirements of the PDAF.” PDAF stands for Priority Development Assistance Fund. It is a P25-billion lump sum in the annual national budget. Incoming Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, who has signed up for the orientation course, has called for reforms in the use of PDAF. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/06/24/957446/31new-house-members-take-crashcourse-lawmaking
Facebook bug exposes users’ contact details By Associated Press (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am
Facebook says a bug in its system caused six million users’ contact information to be inadvertently exposed. The social media company said Friday that a bug led to users’ contact information, such as email addresses or phone numbers, to be accessed by other users who either had some contact information about that person or some connection to them. Facebook said in a blog post that the cause of the bug is “pretty technical” but that the problem is tied to its “Download Your Information” tool. The company uses the information that users upload to better tailor the friend suggestions it issues. The bug caused some of this information to be inadvertently stored in association with a person’s contact information as part of their Facebook account. As a result, if someone downloaded an archive of their Facebook account through the “Download Your Information” tool, they may have been provided with additional addresses or telephone numbers for their contacts or people with whom they have some connection. Because the contact information was provided by other people on Facebook, it was not necessarily accurate. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/06/24/957445/facebook‐bug‐exposes‐users‐contact‐details
No more drug test for driver’s license By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - A provision in the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 that requires mandatory drug testing for those applying for drivers’ licenses has been revoked under the AntiDrunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013. Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said Republic Act No. 10586 did not only remove a useless requirement for license applicants but also allowed motorists a respite from costly drug tests. The drug test costs more than P200. Sotto, principal author of RA 10586, stressed that there is no more mandatory drug testing when one applies for or renews a drivers’ license. “The new law expressly revoked Sec. 36 (a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which mandated the drug testing. The mandatory drug test has not served its purpose,” he added. Sotto made the statement to make sure that the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and its satellite offices will follow the provisions of the new law to the letter. “The conduct of drug tests should now be stopped by the LTO,” he added.
Sotto explained that the repealing clause in RA 10586 specifically stated that mandatory drug testing was among those deemed inconsistent with the new law, which President Aquino signed last May 30. Under RA 10586, drug testing will only be conducted for those driving under the influence (DUI) as determined by law enforcement authorities based on certain manifestations, like overspeeding, weaving, lane straddling, swerving and others. “If the driver fails in the sobriety tests, it shall be the duty of the law enforcement officer to implement the mandatory determination of the driver’s blood alcohol concentration level through the use of a breath analyzer or similar measuring instrument,” it read. It also provides mandatory tests for drivers involved in vehicular accidents to determine if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Such cases allow for a more effective way of apprehending motorists under the influence of drugs and alcohol, Sotto said. “We want a safer environment to everyone - drivers, pedestrians and the general public. Too many lives have been wasted and lost because of drunken driving or driving while under the influence of drugs,” Sotto said. The law also states that those who refuse to undergo tests would be charged and fined accordingly. Tasked to implement RA 10586 include the Philippine National Police, and those deputized by the LTO. Penalties for DUI range from three months in prison and a fine of P20,000 to perpetual revocation of the driver’s license, a fine of P500,000 and longer prison term. Sotto pointed out that the mandatory drug test for license applicants is an ineffective requirement, citing data from the Department of Health and the Dangerous Drugs Board. Records showed that out of millions a mere 0.06 percent tested positive in the drug tests conducted by the LTO from 2002 to 2010. The statistics showed that users tend to abstain from drugs for several weeks before they renew their driver’s license, Sotto said. “They are able to come clean during the drug test. It has led to a mockery of the drug test requirement,” he said. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/06/24/957440/no‐more‐drug‐test‐drivers‐license
2 weather systems to bring rains in PH— Pagasa By Frances Mangosing INQUIRER.net 8:50 am | Monday, June 24th, 2013
Source: Project Noah | 7:32 am, June 24, 2013 QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Two prevailing weather systems will bring rains in the country, the state weather bureau said on Monday. A weak southwest monsoon is affecting the western sections of Northern Luzon, while an Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is affecting Southern Mindanao, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said. “The regions of Ilocos, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Cagayan Valley, Western and Central Visayas, Palawan, Zamboanga Peninsula and SOCCSKSARGEN will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms,” it said. Meanwhile, Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening. Pagasa said moderate to strong winds blowing from the southwest to south will prevail over Northern Luzon and the coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough. Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the east to southeast over the rest of the country with slight to moderate seas, it added.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/431811/2-weather-disturbances-to-bring-rains-inph#ixzz2X5vc8TkA
H7N9 bird flu kills about 1/3 hospitalized patients – study Agence France-Presse 8:27 am | Monday, June 24th, 2013
Graphic showing the official toll of the H7N9 bird flu outbreak in mainland China where a total of 131 human cases have been confirmed with 39 people dying from the disease. AFP FILE PARIS – The H7N9 bird flu that hit China this year killed over a third of hospitalized patients, said researchers Monday who labelled the virus “less serious” but probably more widespread than previously thought. They warned watchdogs not to take comfort from a lull in new infections, as the virus may reappear in the autumn. In what they described as the most complete picture of the virus’ severity, researchers in Beijing and Hong Kong found that H7N9 proved fatal in 36 percent of patients admitted to hospital in mainland China. This was a lower fatality rate than H5N1-type bird flu which emerged in 2003 and killed about 60 percent of hospitalised patients. It was higher, though, than the H1N1 “swine flu” outbreak of 2009-10, which had a 21-percent death rate among people requiring hospitalisation. A total 131 human infections have been recorded on the Chinese mainland since the outbreak started in February, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said in its last monthly update.
Of these, 123 were admitted to hospital, and 39 died. One other case was recorded in Taiwan. The virus is believed to spread to humans from birds. The fear is that it could mutate into a form transmissible from human to human. Writing in The Lancet medical journal, the researchers estimated that between 0.16 percent and 2.8 percent of all people infected with H7N9, and who displayed symptoms of flu, were at statistical risk of dying. “Human infections with avian influenza A H7N9 virus seem to be less serious than has been previously reported,” they wrote. But many mild, unreported cases may have occurred— between 1,500 and 27,000— said the study, urging “continued vigilance and sustained intensive control efforts”. In a separate paper also published by The Lancet, the researchers said there was a possibility H7N9 could rebound within months. “The warm season has now begun in China, and only one new laboratory-confirmed case of H7N9 in human beings has been identified since May 8, 2013. If H7N9 follows a similar pattern to H5N1, the epidemic could reappear in the autumn,” they wrote. “This potential lull should be an opportunity for discussion of definitive preventive public health measures, optimization of clinical management, and capacity building in the region in view of the possibility that H7N9 could spread beyond China’s borders.” The team also estimated the virus’ incubation period— the time between infection and the onset of symptoms— at about three days, shorter than previous estimates. Last month, a study in The Lancet said laboratory tests had revealed resistance in some H7N9 patients to the only available treatment. And the results of a lab study published in the US journal Science showed the H7N9 strain can spread among mammals, specifically ferrets, and could do the same between humans under certain conditions. H7 influenza viruses comprise a group that normally circulate among birds, of which H7N9 forms a subgroup that had never been found in humans until the Chinese outbreak. In a comment on the studies, The Lancet said that while the number of new cases had stalled, probably in response to authorities closing live bird markets, the threat persisted. “Continued monitoring of infections, together with near-real-time estimation of case fatality risk and serological surveys, remains crucial,” it said.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/431783/h7n9-bird-flu-kills-about-13-hospitalizedpatients-study#ixzz2X5w0G2Zz
Noy signs law on good behavior for prisoners By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has signed a law that would cut short a prisoner’s sentence through good behavior. The new law, Republic Act 10592, lengthens the time that can be deducted from a prisoner’s sentence if he does good and behaves properly. Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, one of the authors of the measure in the House of Representatives, said the law would encourage prisoners throughout the country to reform themselves. He said if convicts and those undergoing or awaiting trial exhibit good behavior, they would earn increased time allowance that would be deducted from their prison term. This could result in faster decongestion of jails and other detention facilities, Rodriguez said. “The law basically provides that the good conduct of any offender or convicted prisoner in any detention center or jail entitles him to deductions from the period of his sentence,” he added. Under the new law, a prisoner earns 20 days, instead of five days, of time deduction from his sentence for each month of good behavior during his first two years of imprisonment. On the third to the fifth year, he is credited with 23 days, from the original eight days; 25 days, instead of 10 days, from the sixth to the 10th year; and 30 days, from the original 15, from the 11th year up to the end of his prison term. A prisoner will be given an additional deduction of 15 days for every month of study, teaching or mentoring service time rendered. The law also gives time deduction to prisoners who escape but later return, or stay in their cells during calamities. If a prisoner does not escape when there is a calamity, he earns time allowance equivalent to two-fifths of his sentence. If he escapes but returns within 48 hours after the catastrophe, his time deduction is one-fifth of his prison term. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/06/24/957450/noy‐signs‐law‐good‐behavior‐prisoners
Predatory pricing? Raps vs oil execs sought (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - In what could be a test case for its strengthened powers to prosecute cases of oil cartelization, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been asked to indict officials of oil giant Chevron Philippines Inc., producers of Caltex petroleum products, for alleged predatory pricing through its service stations in Metro Manila. In a petition filed with the office of Secretary Leila de Lima last week, the Petroleum Distributors and Services Corp. (PDSC) accused Chevron of creating and operating its own service stations in the metropolis called Caltex Coco supposedly to manipulate and control pump prices of fuel products that tended to aggravate the domestic oil price crisis. PDSC, a dealer of Caltex products for over 20 years, has been engaged in retailing fuel products for almost 50 years. The complaint filed by PDSC vice president Robert Conrad Limcaco is the first such case lodged by a local gas dealer against a foreign oil giant. He said he hopes their case would lead to other cases against Chevron and other oil giants engaged in similar business malpractices. Among those charged were former directors and officers of Chevron and Chevron Services: Timothy Leveille, Rebecca Alivio, Ramon Ortiz, Frumencio Deguito, Aner Anda, Randall Johnson, Steven Mulvaney, Armando Diaz, Carlito Lopez, Leo Vasco Dagamac, Glenn Lynch, Husain Shibly Latiff and Carol Bautista. Price scheme The PDSC alleged that Chevron has created a scheme that enabled it to substantially influence the drop or increase of fuel prices through its Coco stations by having the ability to set the prices of fuel on both ends, supply and retail.
Limcaco insisted that with Chevron acting as supplier, Chevron Services acting as operator of gasoline stations and retailer of Caltex fuel and lubricants, Chevron is placed in a position that effectively enabled it to control the street prices of fuel products, and unfairly compete with its own local Caltex dealers. The PDSC said that since Chevron basically controlled the street prices of the Coco stations, it can easily drop or increase the prices in one area, which local dealers, especially Caltex dealers, would be obligated to follow because Chevron does not allow its local dealers to determine its own pricing levels. The complaint was already dismissed by the Makati City prosecutor's office, which prompted PDSC to elevate the case to the DOJ through a petition for review. The PDSC questioned the local fiscal's finding of lack of proof showing prices were actually controlled, arguing that it was enough to prove that there was an apparent arrangement and that steps were taken to further the purpose to prosecute the respondents under the law. Paper trail? Records show that Chevron was previously limited to supplying fuel products to its local dealers for sale to the buying public. In 2003, however, it organized Chevron Services Philippines Inc. and amended its corporate papers so as to include the authority to engage in retail and operate Caltex Coco. These Caltex service stations are situated in the same areas where there are also existing Caltex stations, but are operated by local dealers owned by Filipinos, such as PDSC. In the papers submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it was discovered by that from 2003 to 2007, Chevron and Chevron Services are owned by the same foreign stockholders, and are run by the same individual directors and officers. De Lima had announced earlier the DOJ would prioritize cases of alleged predatory pricing in businesses with the creation of its new Office for Competition through Executive Order 45 signed by President Aquino in 2011. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/06/24/957438/predatory‐pricing‐raps‐vs‐oil‐execs‐sought
Aquino allies aim to control House By Gil C. Cabacungan Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:52 am | Monday, June 24th, 2013
San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora: Eyeing minority leadership MANILA, Philippines—Not content with just electing the Speaker of the House of Representatives, congressional allies of President Aquino are poised to take full control of the Lower House by snatching the minority leadership from the dwindling opposition. San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora is banking on the votes of some administration lawmakers to beat aspiring Minority Leader Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), the recognized opposition party in the House. “If the President’s allies take control of the majority and the minority, Congress will become a sham,” said outgoing Minority Leader Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez. “We already have about 20 (votes), halo-halo (from various parties),” said Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, one of Zamora’s staunch supporters, when asked how many had committed to Zamora less than a month before the voting on July 22. Suarez claimed Romualdez had secured the commitment of at least 20 lawmakers, less than half of them from Lakas-CMD which has only nine members in the 16th Congress. Without the backing of the administration allies in Congress, winning the post would be a breeze for Romualdez, said Suarez. Both Zamora and Romualdez are wooing the militant bloc of party-list group Makabayan, which has emerged as the swing vote in the battle for Minority Leader. Makabayan can’t decide Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said Makabayan, which would have at least seven seats in the next Congress (an eighth is still possible with Piston’s pending eligibility case) has not yet decided whom to back in the minority race.
Aside from Makabayan, Zamora is also courting the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) for support. But UNA spokesman Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco denied that the coalition formed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President Joseph Estrada would support Zamora. “UNA has no final decision yet, whether to join the majority or minority in the House. But definitely Zamora is not UNA’s bet for minority leader. Zamora’s group is asking for UNA’s support for his bid. But UNA did not make any commitment to him,” said Tiangco in a text message. “Zamora was for (Sen. Manuel) Villar in 2010, so my understanding is his last national party is the Nacionalista Party, which was in a coalition with the LP in 2013. His only association with UNA is by virtue of his joining the JV Estrada-Guia Gomez-led local party, Partido Magdiwang in San Juan. So has he resigned or is he still a member of the Nacionalista Party? I think that is a very important matter that has to be answered categorically, for the record.” Albano said Zamora was an “independent” member of the Nacionalista Party, which fielded three winning senatorial candidates (Cynthia Villar, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV) in the Team PNoy coalition. Labels don’t matter “Labels such as administration or opposition do not matter anymore in legislation. You are either part of the majority or minority depending on whom you vote for as Speaker (the one with the second highest votes becomes Minority Leader). You can be a minority without being opposed to the President,” said Albano in a phone interview. “We want a constructive opposition and not an obstructionist opposition.” Albano is with the Nationalist People’s Coalition, which is also part of the administration coalition. “We can be a part of the minority and yet remain with our party which belongs to the administration. There is no conflict, it’s not a heaven or hell situation,” said Albano.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/431635/aquino-allies-aim-to-controlhouse#ixzz2X5xCbB1s
Gov’t offers P18K per estero family Money to ‘allow’ them to relocate By TJ A. Burgonio Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:00 am | Monday, June 24th, 2013
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO The government is offering P18,000 to each of the 20,000 families of informal settlers living along waterways in Metro Manila so they can rent decent and safe homes elsewhere for 12 months while officials are looking for a place to resettle them permanently. But the NGO Urban Poor Associates (UPA) sees the government offer—its monthly equivalent of P1,500 is just enough to rent a room in a squatter colony—as a “band-aid solution” to the housing problem. “We did some pencil-pushing. It’s cheaper if we give them P18,000 to go to a safe place,” Interior Undersecretary Francisco Fernandez, the official in charge of relocating 100,000 families in the metropolis out of danger areas, said in an interview by phone. If the informal settlers choose to stay in their hovels along estuaries or under bridges, the government will end up shelling out more for their relief, rescue, rehabilitation and evacuation when the waterways flood during typhoons, Fernandez said. The relocation assistance for the 20,000 families runs up to P360 million, he said. “It ends up very expensive,” he added. Aquino’s plan In 2011, President Aquino unveiled a P50-billion relocation plan for the 100,000 families of informal settlers, or P10 billion a year until he steps down in 2016.
It has been two years since, but the program has not taken off yet, mainly because of the difficulty of finding a resettlement place that is not only safe, cheap and decent but also accessible so that the resettlers’ livelihood will not be disrupted. And then the government’s point man, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, died in a plane crash in August last year, and local officials requested that the clearing of waterways be put off in view of the elections in May this year. But with the prospect of massive flooding in the metropolis coming with the onset of the rainy season, officials are scrambling to implement the plan. The government aims to relocate 19,440 families to be able to clear eight major waterways that flow into Manila Bay, and ease flooding. Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson last week admitted that the clearing of the waterways could not be completed until yearend. But with the financial incentive for the informal settlers, the job could be hastened. The offer of P18,000, however, doesn’t appear enticing to the UPA, which argues that a poor family may be able to rent a room for a few months with that money, but it will still be in the slums somewhere in the city. “It’s the same,” UPA information officer Princess Asuncion said. “Their solutions are bad and a waste of money. How many urban poor are they planning to relocate, and you’ll give them P18,000 each? All are band-aid solutions.” DSWD help Fernandez acknowledged that with P1,500 a month, the families were likely to find rooms only in slums. But he gave assurance that they would not be fending for themselves, as they would be assisted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). “There will be counseling and social support from the DSWD. This is like a modified CCT (conditional cash transfer),” he said. As the families leave, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will dismantle their shanties and dredge the waterways, increasing their capacity to carry water during heavy rain. Also, the National Housing Authority (NHA) will double its efforts to build in-city or off-site permanent relocation areas. “We’re hitting many birds with one stone,” Fernandez said. UPA executive director Denis Murphy, a former Jesuit priest who has been working with the poor in the capital for years, said it would be more prudent to relocate the families when their permanent homes were ready. Proximity to jobs
Murphy conceded that informal settlers are clogging waterways, but said the ones he knew were moving. “They should make a real effort to develop near-city, in-city relocation and after a year the people will be very happy to move. The people know what’s best for them. If it’s a safe place where the children can play, enjoy fresh air, and it’s near the people’s work, they’ll rush to it,” he said by phone. “Living on esteros is not nice. How to deal with that, that’s where we differ,” he added. Murphy reminded officials about the Urban Development and Housing Act, which set limits on evictions, and the President’s “covenant with the poor,” which restricted resettlement to on-site, in-city and near-city areas. But Murphy did not rule out the possibility that the poor—and the public at large—are being taken for a spin whenever they are told that they are being relocated for their own good. He said most families were complying with the standard 3 meters away from the waterway, contrary to perceptions that they were blocking the waterways. “This idea that they’re saving lives by getting people out, I don’t know how many of them really believe that,” he said. Slow to build Sixty percent of the 100,000 families of informal settlers in the metropolis live along waterways. Of these, close to 20,000 are along major waterways: San Juan River, Tullahan River, Manggahan Floodway, Maricaban Creek, Estero Tripa de Gallina, Pasig River, Estero de Sunog Apog and Estero de Maypajo. The NHA has so far constructed 4,500 off-site housing units in Bulacan and Laguna, and is expected to add 3,500 in-city units in Manila, Caloocan and Mandaluyong by October, or a total of 8,000 units. But the job doesn’t stop there. Some 12,000 units more are needed to house all the 20,000 families. That’s why Social Housing Finance Corp. is offering financing for the families of informal settlers to build their own homes within the city, Fernandez said. Families who accept off-site homes, or opt to rent within the city while awaiting for a permanent house, will be given P18,000 each, he said. Originally posted: 9:32 pm | Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/431511/p18000‐offered‐to‐each‐squatter‐family‐to‐live‐away‐ from‐waterways#ixzz2X62aCxYN
Banks asked to submit statements of deceased By Zinnia Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is requiring banks to submit statement of accounts of deceased persons in the last five years as part of efforts to boost collections from estate taxes. BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said the move also aims to determine whether banks have been conniving with the heirs of the deceased to evade tax obligations.Henares pointed out that the bank secrecy law is automatically lifted once a person dies. “We’re asking banks to give us the bank statements of those who have died in the past several years. We want to know whether they are compliant or allowing the heirs of the deceased to withdraw money,” she said.The BIR chief said banks would be held criminally liable if found colluding with the heirs of the dead to circumvent the law. “We will require them to submit the statement of accounts, if they don’t, we will subpoena them,” Henares said. Under the law, the heirs of the deceased need to file an estate tax return where the gross value of the estate exceeds P200,000 and where the estate consists of registrable property, motor vehicle, share of stocks and other similar property as a precondition for the transfer of ownership. The estate tax return should be filed within six months from the decedent’s death. However, the BIR, may grant extension not exceeding 30 days.Some try to evade this provision by withdrawing the accounts of the deceased without first declaring to the banks the incident of death. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the agency is closely working with the BIR to help raise additional revenues for the government. Purisima said yearly collections from estate tax had been very low except in 2012, where the figure was 60 percent higher than what was collected the previous year. He said collections from estate taxes account for only less than one percent of the BIR’s total revenues.Purisima said the government’s goal is to increase estate tax collections amid a resurgent property market and low interest rate environment. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/06/24/957452/banks‐asked‐submit‐statements‐deceased
Skin whitening creams with high levels of mercury sold in QC stalls – EcoWaste By Jeannette I. Andrade Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:27 pm | Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 MANILA, Philippines — An environment group has alerted the public to imported beauty whitening creams, most of which have been banned by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), for causing mercury poisoning but are still being sold in Quezon City bargain shops. Ecowaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol found nine imported beauty products containing high levels of mercury sold in discount shops and stalls at malls in the Cubao, Commonwealth, Fairview and Novaliches areas and urged the government to immediately remove them from the market. While six of the products have been banned by the FDA, three whitening creams — one of which contains the highest level of mercury at 63,800 parts per million (ppm) — have not been included in the regulatory body’s list of 77 mercury-laden skin whitening products. In test buys conducted by Ecowaste from June 19 to June 21 at tiangge stalls selling food supplements, herbal medicine and personal care products around Quezon City, the group was able to purchase blemish removal creams, which exceeded the allowable limit of one ppm of mercury in cosmetics and were banned by the FDA in 2011 and 2012. Ecowaste was able to buy at prices ranging from P100 to P285 several of the banned products including: Yudantang Green Cucumber and Ginseng 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream; Pretty Model Whitening and Freckle Removing Day and Night Cream; S’Zitang 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set; Jiaoli Miraculous Cream; Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set; and Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream. Using an x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, the group detected 63,800 ppm of mercury in one product, which has not been included in the FDA’s banned items. Two other products, having mercury levels at 43,300 ppm and at 12,400 ppm, are also not on the list. In a statement, Ecowaste acting national coordinator Aileen Lucero said, “By all accounts, the illicit trade of mercury-laced cosmetics has gone rampant and dangerously out of control despite government efforts. National and local authorities undeniably need to flex their muscles, hold illegal importers, distributors and vendors criminally liable, and uphold the consumer right to product safety.” She added, “The violation of the people’s right to health under the guise of fairer complexion and flawless beauty, affecting mostly poor to middle-class women consumers, is intolerable.”
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), exposure to high levels of mercury in cosmetic products can cause skin rashes (contact dermatitis and acne venenata), skin discoloration and scarring (post inflammatory dyschromia), and can reduce the skin’s resistance to bacterial and mycotic skin disorders. The UNEP further warned, “Direct and prolonged exposure through the skin during repeated applications can cause damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys.”
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/431465/skin-whitening-creams-with-high-levels-ofmercury-sold-in-qc-stalls-ecowaste#ixzz2X63MoqWd
Morales moves to weed out erring GOCC execs By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is now in a crusade to weed out corrupt officials in government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs). Morales signed a memorandum of agreement with the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) with the goal of ensuring that all board members and corporate officers are qualified under the Fit and Proper Rule. Morales and GCG chairman Cesar Villanueva forged the partnership agreement in simple ceremonies at the Ombudsman Function Room on Friday. Under Section 16 of Republic Act No. 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011, the GCG shall ensure that all board members, chief executive officers and other officers of GOCC boards shall be subject to the Fit and Proper Rule where “due regard shall be given to one’s integrity, experience, education, training and competence.” The GCG was created to ensure that the governance of GOCCs is carried out in a transparent, responsible and accountable manner and that the governing boards of every GOCC and its subsidiaries are competent to carry out its functions. The agreement between the Office of the Ombudsman and GCG addresses the necessity for the GCG and the anti-graft agency to coordinate all their efforts in evaluating the pending cases against nominees for appointment as officers and members of the governing boards of GOCCs. Under the agreement, the GCG shall use the information to review and evaluate whether there are grounds to disqualify the nominee from being appointed to the recommended seat in the GOCC board. Morales said such mechanism shall “weed out the undesirables and, at the same time, protect deserving nominees who are merely vexed by baseless complaints.” The agreement also provides that “the Ombudsman shall immediately notify the GCG whenever a case is filed against any Director/Trustee of a GOCC when the same is pending preliminary investigation/administrative adjudication.” http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/06/24/957454/morales‐moves‐weed‐out‐erring‐gocc‐execs
Southwest monsoon to induce thunderstorms, big waves By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The state weather bureau yesterday warned fishermen in the western section of Luzon against venturing out to sea due to big waves generated by the southwest monsoon. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan, Cavite, Mindoro Occidental and the western coast of Batangas will experience rough to very rough seas with wave heights expected between 3.4 and 4.5 meters. Strong to gale-force winds associated with the southwest monsoon may affect the western seaboard of Luzon. “Fishing boats and other small seacraft are advised not to venture out into the sea while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves,” PAGASA said. The southwest monsoon or hanging habagat will also continue to bring cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms over Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon based on PAGASA’s 24-hour weather forecast. The rest of the country, meanwhile, will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening. PAGASA also said there was no weather disturbance spotted within the Philippine area of responsibility as of yesterday noon. PAGASA weather forecaster Gener Quitlong, however, said the weather bureau is monitoring a potential low-pressure area outside the Philippine area of responsibility but “it is still far away” to affect the country. Using color-coded rainfall warning PAGASA also advised the public, specifically local government executives, to effectively use the agency’s color-coded rainfall warning by taking note of the color not the amount. Esperanza Cayanan, head of PAGASA’s Regional Services Division, said the yellow advisory urges the public to “be aware” of the weather condition and indicates that flooding may be possible in low-lying areas. Rainfall amount is expected between 7.5 and 15 millimeters within one hour.
But under an orange alert, Cayanan said, the public should “be prepared” as “flooding is a definite threat in communities.” PAGASA raises an orange alert in areas where rainfall is between 15 mm and 30 mm within one hour. A red advisory, on the other hand, urges public to “take action.” PAGASA issues a red alert when downpour constitutes an emergency or when observed rainfall is more than 30 mm within one hour and has continued for the past three hours. PAGASA piloted the color-coded rainfall warning system in Metro Manila last year to address the perennial flood problems besetting the metropolis. These warnings are given a color depending on a combination of both the likelihood of the event happening and the impact the conditions may have. PAGASA has also started using the system in issuing rainfall warnings for Cavite, Bataan, Laguna, Batangas, Pampanga and Tarlac. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/06/24/957457/southwest‐monsoon‐induce‐thunderstorms‐ big‐waves
Obama to unveil climate plan in Tuesday speech Associated Press 8:42 am | Sunday, June 23rd, 2013
In this Jan. 19, 2012, file photo time exposure image smoke rises from the stacks of the La Cygne Generating Station coal-fired power plant in La Cygne, Kan. President Barack Obama says he’ll unveil a national plan to combat climate change in a speech Tuesday, June 25, 2013. AP WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says he’ll unveil a national plan to combat climate change in a speech Tuesday. Obama says in an online video that he’ll lay out his vision for reducing carbon pollution, preparing the U.S. for the effects of climate change and leading other nations in the global effort. Obama says no single step can reverse climate change. He says scientists must design new fuels and energy sources, and workers must prepare for a clean energy economy. Obama isn’t saying what specifics he’ll lay out. But White House aides have suggested the steps will include renewable energy and energy-efficient appliances and buildings. The plan is also expected to involve the Environmental Protection Agency using its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/431417/obama-to-unveil-climate-plan-in-tuesdayspeech#ixzz2X63z3Sir
Smart, Albay tap tech start-up for disaster preparedness app (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) is working with the provincial government of Albay and a tech start-up to customize a disaster and emergency mobile application to be used by the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) in its disaster management operations. Called Tudlo (Visayan and Bicolano which means “to teach, to guide, to point”), the mobile app is a multi-purpose communications platform for disaster and emergencies. The partnership to develop the app was announced at the sidelines of an ongoing Workshop on Disaster Response held here by the GSMA Disaster Response Committee in cooperation with Smart. Tudlo features relevant information on managing and dealing with emergencies and disasters; government bulletins and advisories; crowd-sourcing on on-ground situation; locator feature for evacuation sites; mapping for government agencies for easier coordination of aid and rescue efforts as well as emergency features that can be activated on the device. It can also generate situational analytics that can provide useful insights in future disasters and emergencies. Tudlo will include new features based on the requirements of the province of Albay, which is known for its disaster risk reduction. The developers of Tudlo will use APSEMO’s wealth of information on disaster preparedness as a resource for the application. An award-winning application, Tudlo was recognized as Best Community App during the Visayas leg of the Smart Developer Network (Smart DevNet) hackathon for social good last year and emerged as one of the twenty finalists in the first-ever national competition for the best tech start-up idea of the IdeaSpace Foundation, Inc. (IdeaSpace) which Smart is supporting. “Communication before, during and after disaster and emergency situations is very important. This is specially so for warning and evacuation. Without good tools for communications, the overall setup of our operations will fail. Communications save a lot of lives. We’re looking forward to using Tudlo to complement our disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation tools.” said Cedric Daep, APSEMO department head. “We’re basically connecting socially innovative mobile applications from the developer and start-up community to local governments, institutions and people who will benefit most in using these wireless technologies. It’s an excellent example of ‘apptivism’ or the use of mobile apps for social good.” said Ramon Isberto, Smart public affairs group head. “We’ve been working on our app for the past year and Albay will be the first live case where we can study, test and further improve it. We hope that this will be used by more provinces in the country.” said Vince Loremia, co-founder of Tudlo, which is based in Cebu City.
The announcement was made in Legazpi City where the international workshop is being held to help the various groups share global best practices in the mobile industry. The first of its series, the seminar’s topic is Preparing and Responding to Earthquakes: Best Practices for the Mobile Industry. Attending the event are mobile operators, device manufacturers, government agencies and groups involved in disaster preparedness and emergency response. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/06/24/957459/smart‐albay‐tap‐tech‐start‐disaster‐ preparedness‐app
Hundreds of provincial buses out of Metro by July By Jaymee T. Gamil Philippine Daily Inquirer 11:30 pm | Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) hopes to ease traffic on major Metro Manila roads when the first of three centralized provincial bus terminals begins operations in July. MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino inspected the ongoing construction of the 1.4-hectare transport facility at the Uniwide Coastal Mall compound in Parañaque City and said 972 buses, mostly from Cavite, would be using the hub and therefore no longer use up space in inner city roads. “They would only go up to here. They would no longer pass through Edsa or Taft Avenues; or go on to Cubao and Pasay [terminals]; no longer park on the side of the road near churches, hotels and fast food chains,” Tolentino told reporters. The terminal, which is scheduled to open on July 15, will be the first of three under an Integrated Provincial Transport System (IPTS) to cater to more than 7,000 provincial buses serving Metro Manila. The MMDA’s Coastal Mall station, also called the South-West IPTS terminal, will only be for buses plying the Cavite and Batangas routes, and which use the Coastal Road and the ManilaCavite Expressway. The South-East IPTS terminal, under the Department of Public Works and Highways, will be located at the Alabang South Station in Muntinlupa City. It will be for buses plying the South Luzon Expressway, mostly plying Bicol and some Batangas routes, Tolentino said. The North IPTS terminal, under the Department of Transportation and Communications, will be near the Trinoma mall in Quezon City, to service provincial buses that use the North Luzon Expressway, such as those plying routes to and from Baguio, Pangasinan, Pampanga and Bulacan, said the MMDA chairman. The two other IPTS terminals will start operations by year’s end, Tolentino said. Once the IPTS is up, bus companies would no longer be allowed to operate in other terminals in the Metro. MMDA is investing P24 million for the Coastal Mall terminal, which will include the first biometric bus dispatch system for provincial buses, and LED signage announcing departure and arrival schedules, Tolentino said.
The terminal, which will also act as a connecting hub for provincial and city buses, will also host city buses and UV Express vans. Tolentino admitted that the decrease in traffic flow might only be significantly felt once all three IPTS terminals began operating, and the MMDA’s biometric Bus Management and Dispatch System kicked in. He expressed hope that the common terminals would translate to savings for bus companies and commuters.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/431577/hundreds-of-provincial-buses-out-of-metro-byjuly#ixzz2X6KLanxO
Brightest, biggest full moon of the year Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:02 am | Monday, June 24th, 2013
‘SUPERMOON’ The moon rises behind a helicopter from the original Batman television show, which people may ride at the New Jersey State Fair in East Rutherford. A “supermoon” was expected to be 13.5-percent closer to earth on Sunday. AP Forget about the myths that swirl every time a “supermoon” appears. There’s no link to higher crime or bizarre behavior. Scientists say that’s just lunacy. The biggest and brightest full moon of the year—called the supermoon—graced the sky Sunday night. The moon came within 357,000 kilometers of earth and turned full at 7:32 p.m. over the Philippines. Over Metro Manila, the supermoon hid behind rain clouds, disappointing sky gazers. But weather bureau observers said the supermoon was seen in other parts of the country. “Provinces where there was no rain caught a glimpse of the supermoon,” weather bureau observer Rex Guerrero told the Inquirer. The earth’s celestial neighbor appeared Sunday night 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than normal. It loomed larger on the horizon next to trees and buildings. While most sky watchers may not have noticed the difference with the naked eye, astronomers said it was still worth looking up and appreciating the cosmos.
“It gets people out there looking at the moon, and might make a few more people aware that there’s interesting stuff going on in the night sky,” Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory said in an e-mail. As in any supermoon event, high tides were forecast because of the moon’s proximity, but the effect was expected to be small. The supermoon appears several times a year but on Sunday night it was at its nearest distance to earth, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). The average distance of the moon from the planet is about 386,000 kilometers, Pagasa Space Sciences and Astronomy Section observer Ed Lagoc told the Inquirer. Lagoc said that while the moon affected tides, there was no relation between a person’s behavior and the supermoon. “There is no scientific basis to say the moon affects a person’s mind in any way. It is just a myth,” he said. He described the effect of the supermoon on the tide as “negligible,” adding that if there was any effect at all, the tide would only be higher from the average by inches. Lagoc said a slightly higher tide as a result of the earth’s gravitational pull on the moon at its perigee would hardly be noticed. Lagoc also said there was nothing supernatural about a supermoon as it was a normal celestial event because of the moon’s orbit around the earth. “A supermoon happens several times in a year, the only difference this time is that the moon is at its nearest distance to the planet for the year and would appear much larger,” he explained. He said a similar phenomenon happened on May 6 last year. Those who missed Sunday night’s phenomenon can wait for the next supermoon—on Aug. 10 next year.—Reports from AP and Jeannette I. Andrade in Manila
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/431615/brightest-biggest-full-moon-of-theyear#ixzz2X6SbneyF Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Probe set for death of 3 politicians due to stem-cell therapy By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 10:40am
File photo shows doctors preparing stem cells to be injected into a man's retina. BRIAN JONES MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) will investigate the circumstances of the death of three unnamed "politicians" reportedly caused by stem-cell therapy. Refusing to name the said "high-ranking" government officials, PMA president Leo Olarte said in a radio interview that they underwent stem-cell intervention treatment in Germany and died after a year. "Complications (from the therapy) occurred when they returned (to Manila). They developed a late hypersensitivity graft-host reaction. They died here in the Philippines," Olarte said. The doctor explained that the politicians were grafted stem sells from sheep, rabbit as well as embryonic cells from aborted children or fetuses. Olarte admitted that the probe has "not been easy" as relatives of the deceased officials have been hesitant to give details. Germany, unlike in the Philippines, has policy in place allowing the use of stem cells from crocodiles, sheep, pigs, cows and rabbits -- a procedure that is complicated and risky, Olarte said. He added that in the Philippines, only stem cells sourced from human tissue are allowed. Medical facilities offering stem-cell treatment, moreover, have to be accredited and licensed. Olarte said that specialists from the Philippine Society for Stem Cell Medicine also offer safer and cheaper procedures in the country. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/06/24/957642/probe‐set‐death‐3‐politicians‐due‐stem‐cell‐ therapy
Entertainment City billed as next major central business district By Zinnia B. Dela PeĂąa (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.â€™s Las Vegas-style casino and tourism complex Entertainment City has the potential to become the next major central business district in Metro Manila and replicate the success of Bonifacio Global City where demand for real estate properties has gone up significantly, according to the head of the state gaming firm. Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Cristino Naguiat Jr. said Entertainment City, located on 100 hectares of reclaimed land along Manila Bay, is not only poised to become the countryâ€™s premier gambling destination but is also seen to lead the next wave of growth in the metropolis. Naguiat said real estate values in Manila have been on the uptrend especially with the ongoing development of the Entertainment City. Property consultancy firm Colliers International said developers have been stepping up construction in Manila and Pasay as demand for residential properties in the area spiked up with the opening of the first of four integrated resorts planned within the complex.
The demand is mainly driven by foreign expats who have moved to the Philippines to work in Entertainment City, which is touted to become the region’s next best bet for tourism and gaming. Foreigners are allowed to own condominium units in the Philippines. For this year alone, around 7,181 units from 18 new residential condominiums are expected to come online, 10 percent higher than the 2012 figure. Naguiat said Pagcor owns more than 50 hectares of land within Entertainment City. It acquired the lot in 2008 for around P23,000 per square meter which is already more than double the current market value of P47,000 per sqm. “Entertainment City may be the next Bonifacio Global City. Similar to Fort Bonifacio, lot prices in Manila are expected to go up further as new developments rise in the area. But the value will not rise without the casinos,” Naguiat said. Pagcor has leased some of its properties within Entertainment City to Bloomberry Resorts Corp., the owner of the $1.2-billion Solaire Manila Resort & Casino which opened its doors to the public last March 16, and Travellers International Hotel Group of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Group and real estate tycoon Andrew Tan. Apart from casinos and hotels, business process outsourcing (BPO) buildings and international schools have been sprouting in Manila to take advantage of the real estate boom being generated by Entertainment City. Entertainment City is seen to attain even greater momentum once all four gaming proponents are fully up and running by 2016 or 2017. In anticipation of the expected influx of new businesses in the area, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has sought the construction of a new P1.2 -billion substation to address the needed capacity of large load customers at Entertainment City. Alphaland Corp. of businessman Roberto V. Ongpin is building an exclusive marina club along the western coast of Alphaland Bay City, located between SM Mall of Asia and Solaire. The project is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2014. A short distance away from Makati and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Entertainment City’s strategic location is another prime attraction. The extension of the existing LRT Line 1 from Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite and the construction of an elevated expressway linking the South Luzon Expressway to NAIA Terminals I, II and III are also expected to boost commercial activity in the area. At full development, Entertainment City is expected to have the capacity to deliver up to $10 billion annually in gaming revenues as well as generate over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs. It is seen to attract at least a million tourists annually and capture 10 percent of the global gaming market.
“We are highly enthusiastic about Entertainment City and the impact it will have on Phiippine tourism. I believe the Philippine gaming industry has a long way to go in terms of revenue potential,” Naguiat said. Aside from Solaire and Travellers, other gaming proponents setting up shop in Entertainment City are the group of Macau casino giant Melco Crown and tycoon Henry Sy’s Belle Corp., and Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment Inc. of Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada. Melco-Belle is slated to open its casino venture in October next year while Okada’s is slated for opening in the first quarter of 2015. Travellers, on the other hand, is scheduled to open Manila Bayshore by 2016 or 2017. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/06/24/957399/entertainment‐city‐billed‐next‐major‐central‐ business‐district
Banks’ branches, ATMs expand in Q1 By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - A merger of two big banks and closures of several rural banks decreased the number of lenders in the country last quarter, but this was more than offset by the establishment of more branches and automated teller machines (ATMs). A total of 9,477 bank offices were registered from January to March, up 0.71 percent from 9,410 in end 2012, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) website showed. Compared to same period last year, bank outlets — which include head offices and branches — also rose 3.17 percent from 9,186. Of the bank offices during the review period, 687 were head offices, while 8,790 were “other offices” composed of branches, remittance centers, and microfinance offices, among others. Universal and commercial banks accounted for the bulk, cornering 5,182 head offices and branches, up from 5,145 by end of last year. It was also a 5.66 percent improvement year-onyear. A slight reduction in head offices — from 37 to 36 — was a result of the merger of Lucio Tanled lenders, Allied Banking Corp. and Philippine National Bank, with the latter as the surviving entity. The merger was finalized last February after it was approved by regulators. Nevertheless, the decrease in the actual number of big banks was more than offset by a rise in branches to 5,146 in March from 5,108 in December last year.Meanwhile, the existing 70 thrift banks expanded their reach, with 1,571 outlets nationwide, up 1.42 percent from 1,549 in end2012 and 1,522 in March last year. On the other hand, rural and cooperative banks — the smallest in asset terms — added eight offices from December last year to reach 2,654.Six rural banks went out of operation during the period, while two cooperative lenders entered the industry. Both type of lenders increased their branches and offices. In the first quarter, the BSP shut down the following countryside lenders for failing to service depositor claims: Cavite-based Capitol City Bank Inc. (A Rural Bank), Rural Bank of Gainza (Camarines Sur) Inc., Rural Bank of Majayjay (Laguna) Inc., Rural Bank of Buenavista (Agusan del Norte) Inc., La Consolacion Rural Bank (Laguna) Inc., and Rural Bank of Kinogitan (Misamis Oriental) Inc. Nevertheless, banks have broadened their reach through the expansion of their ATM network during the period, figures showed. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/06/24/957404/banks‐branches‐atms‐expand‐q1
300 more banks joined PHL banking system in Q1 Category: Banking & Finance Published on Sunday, 23 June 2013 20:45 Written by Bianca Cuaresma
MORE than 300 banks were added to the Philippine banking system’s physical network at end-March this year, latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed. The total number of bank offices grew to 9,477 at end-March, about 3 percent higher than the 9,186 banks nationwide recorded in the same period last year. A total of 67 banks were added to the system’s physical network on a quarterly basis as the number of offices in the first quarter this year grew from the 9,410 banks at end-December last year. However, rural and cooperative banks showed a slight decline in the number across the country, from 2,737 rural and cooperative banks at end‐March last year to a total of 2,654 banks in March this year. The decline in rural and cooperative bank offices was compensated for by the strong branch expansion of universal and commercial banks whose number grew from a total of 4,904 bank offices in March last year to 5,183 bank offices at end‐March this year. Thrift bank offices and branches also grew from 1,545 last year to 1,641 this year. The National Capital Region still has the most number of banks in the country with a total 3,016 offices. The Calabarzon region followed with 1,417 banks and Central Luzon with 982 banks. The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had the lowest number of bank offices with only 20 banks in the region as of end‐March this year. The Cordillera Administrative Region also ranked low, with only 148 banks in the area. In terms of rural and cooperative bank offices, the Calabarzon region has the most number of bank offices with a network of 538 offices, followed by Central Luzon with 367 offices and Western Visayas with about 200 rural and cooperative bank offices. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/banking‐finance/15433‐300‐more‐banks‐joined‐ phl‐banking‐system‐in‐q1
‘Pro-poor’ SSS law sought by 3 solons By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Jun. 24, 2013 at 12:02am | 228 views Three lawmakers on Sunday pushed for a review of Republic Act 8282, or the Social Security System Law, following the new policy on contributions implemented by the SSS management. Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said the new policy compelled Congress to revisit some of the provisions of the SSS law to make it “pro-poor.” “Passing a bill revising the SSS statutes will need serious study,” Ilagan said. “Gabriela will support any bill that will look after the welfare of the workers.” Almost two million SSS members who failed to complete 120 monthly contributions when they reached the age of 65 on April 1 this year will lose their pension if they fail to apply and get approval for voluntary membership payments, which anyway is no longer allowed under the new SSS policy. SSS retirement, death and funeral officer Zenaida Losarito said the new policy on delinquent 65-year-old members was based on a 1968 resolution that the Social Security Commission, the SSS’ policy-making body, wanted implemented. A 2003 actuarial valuation showed that about 13 million SSS members were “non-contributing,” which meant they were out of a job or in-between jobs. Actuarians estimate that about 10.97 percent of SSS’ members will need to contribute beyond the age of 65 to qualify for a pension. But under the new SSS policy, an estimated two million members will be disqualified to receive a lifetime pension, including a percentage of the 610,873 new entrants in 2002 who were 55 years old and could no longer meet the required number of contributions when they reach the age of 65. Ilagan said one possible amendment to the SSS law was to compel the SSS to grant pensions to members even if they failed to reach the required number of contributions. She said the new SSS policy was violative of the SSS’ mandate and the rights of the members.Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said he would push for a congressional inquiry on the matter so that Congress could come up with remedial measures that would help old workers get what they deserved. “Definitely, we will address those concerns,” Evadone said. Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano said the SSS’ new policy breaks the pension fund’s tradition of service.
Banking failures cost P3b By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Jun. 24, 2013 at 12:02am | 222 views A total of 84,873 depositors face losing some P3 billion in savings as a result of the collapse of nine banks from January 1 to June 15 this year, a congressman said on Sunday. The amount, however, pales in comparison with that in 2012, after more than 120,000 depositors lost P19.5 billion owing to the collapse of 24 banks, Rep. Arnel Ty said. A member of the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries, Ty said at least 40 former officers of failed banks are facing criminal charges filed this year by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. The state-run PDIC insures bank deposits up to P500,000 each depositor, which means the bank clients may eventually recover their savings. PDIC sued the 40 bank officers, with the charges ranging from economic sabotage and syndicated estafa to violations of banking laws, Ty said. â€œWe welcome the forceful legal actions taken by regulators against erring bank officers. We are hopeful these will help deter the embezzlement of deposits solicited from the public, and also serve to discourage the conduct of unsafe and sound banking practices,â€? he said. The nine lenders shut from January 1 to June 15 this year were Capitol City Rural Bank (Cavite) Inc., Rural Bank of Gainza (Camarines Sur) Inc., Rural Bank of Majayjay (Laguna) Inc., Rural Bank of Buenavista (Agusan del Norte) Inc., La Consolacion Rural Bank (Laguna) Inc., Rural Bank of Kinogitan (Misamis Oriental) Inc., Cooperative Rural Bank of Bulacan, Rural Bank of Naval (Leyte) Inc., and Rural Bank of Borongan (Eastern Samar) Inc. Under the General Banking Law of 2000, unsafe banking activities include the excessive reliance on large, high-cost or volatile deposits or borrowing, including the offering of interest rates on said funds that are 50 percent higher than current industry rates, Ty said. The weighted average interest rate offered by all commercial banks peso time deposits (for a term of 360 days) stood at 1.80 percent per annum as of April, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, he said. The undue dependence on solicitation and acceptance of brokered deposits and spending large sums on commissions and referral fees to generate deposits may also constitute unsound banking practices, Ty said.
Among those facing charges for banking law violations are the former chairman, two former presidents and three other former senior officers of the closed Export and Industry Bank (EIB), he said. EIB’s closure on April 26, 2012 distressed more than 50,000 depositors who lost a combined P15.9 billion, he said. Ty also said the former president and five borrowers of the closed LBC Development Bank are facing a P229.5-million syndicated estafa case. More than 320,000 depositors lost a total of P6 billion when LBC Bank was shut on Sept. 9, 2011. Ty is author of House Resolution 1749, seeking an inquiry into the banking industry’s condition, with a view to recommending remedial legislation meant to protect depositors, build up public confidence in banks, promote savings and support responsible credit. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/24/banking‐failures‐cost‐p3b/
3-way Minority row looms By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Jun. 24, 2013 at 12:01am | 232 views
Makabayan wants to be new ‘option’ after UNA, Lakas bets
The fight for the minority leadership in the House of Representatives is becoming intense with a third group considering it as an “option,” and lawmakers have declared it is the “race to watch.” Claiming they are the “real progressive and opposition” bloc, the seven-member Makabayan is considering taking the minority leadership with Bayan Muna Rep.-elect Neri Colmenares as a front runner, according to ACT Teachers Rep.-elect Antonio Tinio. Tinio, however, admitted they may not be able to muster enough numbers to get the second-highest vote in the speakership race. Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Lakas-CMD president, and Rep. Ronaldo Zamora of the United Nationalist Alliance have declared their intention to run against incumbent Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. The one who gets the second highest vote in the speakership race is automatically declared and elected the Minority Leader and those who voted for him automatically becomes a member of the minority bloc. On the other hand, with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. almost certain to retain his post, the members of the majority are now jockeying for the chairmanship of the various committees, according to a House leader who refused to be identified for lack of authority to speak on the matter. The source said Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, the secretary general of the ruling Liberal Party, was likely to assume the post of Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limcaichong, the chairman of the House committee on appropriations. Another source said Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupaz Jr., chairman of the House committee on justice, were both interested in Limcaichong’s position. “Congressman Sarmiento is the front runner and Congressman Ungab and Tupas may return to their present assignments,” the source said. House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II would remain in his post, the source said.
Quezon City Rep. Bolet Banal Jr. is eyeing the chairmanship of the committee on accounts, but Belmonte has decided to install Romblon Rep. Eleandro Madron, the source said. Meanwhile, even the lawmakers belonging to the majority say the election of the leader of the opposition is “the race to watch.” “Mas makulay ang minority leader fight than the Speaker fight,” Gonzales said. All eyes are on the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, the Makabayan bloc and the Lakas-CMD in the House as their alliance will decide who becomes the next voice of the opposition at the lower chamber. Makabayan and UNA were allied with the administration in the 15th Congress, but both groups have yet to decide whether or not to remain with the majority coalition. UNA, whose president is Vice President Jejomar Binay, is expected to be Binay’s vehicle for the presidency in the 2016 polls. But UNA fielded nine senatorial candidates with platform of governance critical to the administration and offered a “mas magandang daan” as against President Benigno Aquino III’s “tuwid na daan” in the last mid-term polls. UNA secretary general and Navotas Rep.-elect Toby Tiangco said the 10 UNA congressmen had yet to discuss and make public their official position. Sources, however, said that except for Tiangco, the UNA lawmakers had chosen to remain with the majority coalition in deference to Binay, who is still part of President Aquino’s cabinet. But Tiangco said he would not contest the minority leadership for as long as House Deputy Minority Leader and Leyte Rep.-elect Ferdinand Martin Romualdez was in the running. “Whatever happens, for as long as Martin is running for the speakership race, I will never run against him,” Tiangco said. Romualdez, Lakas-CMD president, and returning San Juan Rep.-elect Ronaldo Zamora have openly declared their intention to run against House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who has said he is confident he will retain his post. Makabayan is also in the period of “discerning things.” “The discussion is still ongoing, we are weighing our options,” Tinio said.
“But taking the lead in the minority leadership is one of the many options should we decide to leave the majority coalition.” While UNA remains quiet about their preference to remain with the majority, Gonzales, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, said he could not discount the possibility that UNA would go all out for the opposition. “Ayokong pangUNAhan ang UNA,” Gonzales said. Gonzales said if Zamora would not contest the speakership and instead backed Belmonte, then the shooin would be Romualdez, nephew of Ilocos Norte Rep.-elect Imelda Marcos and ally of former President and Pampanga Rep.-elect Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Marcos was a member of the majority coalition in the 15th Congress, and her son, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., was also a member of the majority in the Senate. This early, Gonzales has already counted Mrs. Marcos as a member of the minority bloc as she is expected to back Romualdez. Colmenares said they were in talks with both the Lakas and UNA for the minority leadership.
has allied himself with UNA. “Yes, it’s true na kinakausap kami nina [outgoing House Minority Leader Danilo] Suarez and Congressman Ronnie,” Colmenares said. “Kami naman sa Makabayan ay haharap sa kung sinong grupo na humihinging makipag usap sa amin. Pero di pa nag-uusap ang Makabayan para magdesisyon. Baka next week or so.”With Maricel V. Cruz
Phaseout of old vans upheld By Rey E. Requejo | Posted on Jun. 24, 2013 at 12:01am | 776 views The Court of Appeals rejected a petition to stop the Land Transportation and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) from phasing out 13-year-old passenger vans known as UV Express, Associate Justice Leoncia Dimagiba said on Sunday. She said the LTFRB has the authority to approve or deny applications for certificates of public conveyance, but it ordered the agency to quickly resolve pending applications of drivers and operators. “The Court may compel the LTFRB to exercise such discretion and resolve the matter, but it may not control the manner of exercising such discretion,” Dimagiba said in her 14-page decision. The LTFRB has issued a circular that banned 13-year-old vans know as UV Express from the road. It also allowed operators to substitute old vehicles with newer models of not more than three years old. The drivers and operators complained their application for franchise has been pending at the LTFRB for as long as five years, pointing to the delay as violation of their constitutional right to speedy disposition of their cases. But the Court supported the LTFRB and said it has administrative and quasi-judicial functions and has the authority to decide on the cases. “ In other words, the LTFRB may refuse to confirm or grant the application for conversion and legalization if the applicant fails to comply with the procedural and substantive requirements,” Dimagiba said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/24/phaseout‐of‐old‐vans‐upheld/
Pols fear losing pork barrel fund By Ferdinand Fabella | Posted on Jun. 24, 2013 at 12:01am | 129 views
Legislators from Mindanao support the territorial claim of the Sultanate of Sulu over the Malaysian state of Sabah, but they keep their stand on the issue secret to avoid displeasing Malacanang and risk losing their “pork barrel” funds, a sultanate spokesman said on Sunday. Abraham Idjirani said Sultan Jamalul Kiram had considered seeking the help of senators and members of the House or Representatives in pursuing their claim over Sabah but the politicians were keeping their distance. “If they would be identified with us, Malacanang would have the impression that they are supporting us. There is a possibility that they will lose their pork barrel,” Idjirani said. The Sultanate pushed its claim over Sabah last February 12 when Agbimuddin Kiram, the brother of the Sultan, sailed to Lahad Datu with 235 men and defied the order of Malaysian police to go home. At least 68 followers of the Sultanate and 10 policemen were killed in several clashes. President Aquino condemned the Sultanate’s intrusion into Sabah and called on the Sutan to recall his men. But Kiram had dig in and the Sultan vowed to pursue their claim to the end. Idjirani said a group of legislators called Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (MAKABAYAN) has pledged its support to the Sultlanate’s claim and said they will raise the issue in the 16th Congress. MAKABAYAN is composed dof Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan, Courage, Migrante, ACT-Teachers, Katribu, Akap Bata, Piston, Kalikasan and Aking Bikolnon. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/24/pols‐fear‐losing‐pork‐barrel‐fund/
Gun safety seminar for women By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Jun. 24, 2013 at 12:00am | 156 views
Lock and load. More Filipino women are getting interested in firearms either for self defense or sport shooting. The 21st Defense & Sporting Arms Show will offer a free seminar on gun safety and handling for females on July 18-22, 2013 at Megatrade Hall 1, 2, and 3, SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City. Speakers from the 5Zero, Center for Pro-Shooters Association of the Philippines will hold “Armed Women for Self Defense”, on July 18, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 pm. The gun handling and safety primer is one of the new lectures offered by the Association of Firearms and Ammunition Dealers for the DSAS this year which also include Learning from Boston Marathon & Connecticut Shooting by Ted Esguerra (July 22, 2:30 pm) that will focus on personal and home defense principles. The theme of the 21st DSAS this year is Bringing Pride to the Philippines: 2013 Australasia IPSC Handgun Champions to honor the country top guns led by world shooting champion Jethro Dionisio, also AFAD president, who put the country in the global sports shooting map. Other free seminars include Gun Safety and Responsible Gun Ownership by Eustacio Sinco—an accredited instructor of the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office, The Future of Sport Shooting by Rosey Labayog Steel Challenge Shooting Association, and a panel discussion on the new gun law by the A2S5 Coalition, a multi-sectoral group promoting a Constitutional provision on the right to live. Interested parties may call Tradeshow International Inc. (DSAS event manager) at 6713122 or 6718381-82. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/24/gun‐safety‐seminar‐for‐women/
San Miguel to keep Bank of Commerce By Jenniffer B. Austria | Posted on Jun. 24, 2013 at 12:01am | 324 views
Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. may keep Bank of Commerce after Malaysian banking giant CIMB Group Holdings Bhd scrapped a plan to buy a controlling interest in the bank. San Miguel president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang confirmed reports in a text message that talks between the two companies failed. CIMB said in a disclosure to the Malaysia Stock Exchange the two “have not been able to reach an agreement on new terms in relation to the proposed acquisition.” “As such, the parties will not proceed with the proposed acquisition,” it added. Ang this month said San Miguel would finalize the sale of a controlling interest in Bank of Commerce to CIMB within the next 30 days after both parties finally reached an agreement based on the terms reached a year ago. San Miguel earlier said it was selling 60 percent of the bank to Malaysia’s secondlargest lender. The valuation on the 60 percent is estimated at a little less than $300 million. San Miguel, through its property unit and retirement fund, secured a 51-percent stake in Bank of Commerce in 2009. San Miguel Properties Inc. in January 2011 bought an additional 7.16-percent stake in the bank. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/24/san‐miguel‐to‐keep‐bank‐of‐commerce/
Govt steps into Angat row By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Jun. 24, 2013 at 12:02am | 132 views The Energy Department will negotiate with Korea Water Resources Development Corp., the Korean company that won a state auction to operate the 218-megawatt Angat hydropower plant, to quickly resolve issues hounding the conclusion of the sale. “I am meeting [with K-water on] … how we can have a amicable settlement to make sure everybody is benefiting from it,” Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla told reporters over the weekend. “What we are looking for is something beneficial to all parties involved. If you satisfy K-water and you satisfy the government, it is a win-win situation, that’s what we are looking for,” the energy official said. K-water asked the government to resolve the P300-million unpaid municipality tax of the 218megawatt Angat hydro- power plant in Bulacan and adjust its $440.88-million bid offer to account for the deterioration of the plant since 2010. K-water also questioned the plan of Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. to revise an agreement on the Angat water protocol. The revised protocol, according to K-water, excluded the company from discussions on the reservoir operation. The Korean firm, in addition, questioned the planned bidding of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System to select a private investor to rehabilitate, maintain and operate Angat’s Auxiliary units 4 and 5. K-water, in a letter to PSALM president Emmanuel Ledesma Jr., said the winning investor would be entitled to a portion of Angat’s power generation revenues and undermine the company’s economic benefits under the water permit. “It’s one of the many topics involved. That’s one one topic, there are many others,” Petilla said, adding the government plans to turn over the Angat power plant to K-water within the year. Angat’s turnover to K-Power was delayed due to the case filed by the non-government organizations at the Supreme Court. The NGOs cited constitu-tionality issues due to K-water’s failure to get a local partner. The High Court, however, upheld the legality of the sale.
K-water director-general for overseas business development Won Cheol Park said the company’s request to PSALM to pay its and National Power Corp.’s unpaid municipal property taxes amounting to P300 million had not been acted upon. “The Angat HEPP deteriorated since the bid submission date mainly due to PSALM’s failure to operate it in the ordinary course of business… New and additional arrangements to adjust the purchase price should be agreed upon to compensate us for the deterioration of the Angat HEPP cause by failure to operate it in the ordinary course of business,” Park said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/24/govt‐steps‐into‐angat‐row/
Estate tax By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Jun. 24, 2013 at 12:00am | 93 views The Bureau of Internal Revenue will tap estate tax to generate more revenues for the government, commissioner Kim Henares said over the weekend. Henares said the government plans to look into the estate of those who died five years ago. “We want to see the deposit, so that we can also determine whether they are compliant, that they do not do withdrawal transactions using the name of the deceased,” Henares said. Henares said the BIR will write to the concerned parties and require them to submit bank records. “If they do not comply, we will subpoena,” Henares said. She said the government will assess all the accounts handed over to the government. She said banks might incur criminal liability once proven that withdrawal transactions were made under the name of the deceased account holders.
Bakers complain By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Jun. 24, 2013 at 12:00am | 35 views
Local bakers asked the government to dismiss the anti-dumping petition filed by a local flour milling group on Turkish flour, saying they failed to establish imminent or serious injury to the industry. “They cannot claim of any imminent or serious injury since all of the local four millers are raking profits, even the smaller ones. The only time they can claim serious injury is when they are already losing,” Filipino-Chinese Bakers Association Inc. president Benito Lim said over the weekend. Imported Turkish flour account for just 9 percent of the flour market, a volume insignificant enough to cause serious injury to the local flour industry, said Lim. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/24/bakers‐complain/
Flood control as a legacy By Rita Linda V. Jimeno | Posted on Jun. 24, 2013 at 12:01am | 183 views
Once more, nature drove home a point. If lives and property are to be saved, procrastination and inaction must end. At the onset of the rainy season, heavy downpours have been flooding many streets of Metro Manila nearly on an afternoon-after-afternoon frequency. And, as if meaning to play a bad joke, the rain always comes in time for the dismissal of office workers and school children. Thus, children and employees in Makati, Manila, Pasig and Taguig who live in Antipolo, in Quezon City, Caloocan, Navotas, Malabon, Bulacan or Pampanga would get home at one o’clock or so in the morning after traveling for some six to eight hours or more. This is clearly a bad investment of man hours and a sad waste of fuel as vehicles keep burning gas while stuck in traffic. A professorial chair study made by Jose Regin Regidor of the University of the Philippines’ College of Engineering revealed that ten years of traffic jams in Metro Manila, mostly in the rainy season, have cost motorists and workers some P1.513 trillion in terms of cost of fuel and man hours lost. This amount does not even include lives lost and trillions more of pesos in property and crop losses due to floods which happen year after year. Blame has once more been pointed to the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Department of Public Works and Highways which, in turn, have pointed to the negligence of local government units. On one hand, there is a bright side to this year’s early floods, if one chooses to light a candle than curse the darkness. The Department of Public Works announced that it would no longer allow any delay in the clearing of Metro Manila’s waterways and esteros and the construction of culverts where floodwaters could cascade. The department also said that it has all of 50 billion pesos available to complete the project of removing informal settler families from esteros and rivers and relocating them elsewhere to clear up the waterways. But if one calls a spade a spade, one would see the unfortunate reality that flooding could have been abated, or at least minimized, had the government undertaken the project way before the onset of the rainy season. Secretary Rogelio Singson, himself, said that the reason for the delay was not the lack of funds (because funds had been available since last year) but the request of several local officials to defer the project until after the May 2013 elections. Informal settlers are clearly encouraged by local politicians to live along waterways and esteros, despite a law prohibiting it, and despite the environmental degradation they cause, because they are a rich source of votes. Unwittingly, Secretary Singson’s candid admission has revealed that if the administration indeed had political will and, if it did not, itself, desire to coddle informal settlers for its own need to ensure its party’s win in the May 2013 polls, the
project to clear esteros and waterways would have been under way since last year or as soon as the funds became available. With three years still left in the term of President Benigno S. Aquino III, action must be seriously taken now to put in place legacies he will be remembered and thanked for. If freeing Metro Manila and all flood-prone areas in the country from perennial floods is all that the President could ever leave as a legacy, it will be more than enough to merit his taking a place in Philippine history as a good president. No other president, after all, has solved the problem of flooding. Clearing waterways in Metro Manila is, however, only one of the ways of permanently and completely addressing the problem of flooding. President Aquino must also now order the implementation of the Rain Water Collection Act (R.A. 6716) which came into force during the presidency of his mother, Corazon C. Aquino. Passed in March 1989, the law intended to solve the problem of flooding by allowing rain water to run to catchments in the low-lying areas of any city or municipality instead of accumulating and rising as floodwaters. The spirit of the law was also to collect rain water to serve as a source of fresh water during the dry months when water supply becomes a problem. The law directed the DPWH to construct rain water collectors but, unfortunately, the law was never implemented. In 1991 the law was amended by RA 7160 devolving the duty of constructing rain water catchments to the local government units. The next election is a good three years away. It is more than enough time to make a difference. And as the President is not allowed under the Constitution to run for re-election, he need not cater to the whims of any power or voting block to carry out significant programs he can leave as legacies. *** Travel by sea, the way 2GO in visiting the Philippines’ many islands. I did not realize until recently how comfortable, economical and convenient it is to travel by sea using the ships and ferries of 2GO which is now under new management. Our firm—with all its lawyers and staff—went to Coron, Palawan for its annual summer break in the first week of June. It was a delight to find that the ship’s staterooms and cabins were clean and adequately appointed with amenities such as a television, a refrigerator and toiletries. Our ferry left Manila at five o’clock in the afternoon of Friday and reached Coron at six in the morning of Saturday, giving us an early start in our island hopping and touring. The ship has a restaurant and a videoke room, as well as a top deck which offers entertainment and drinks. One could party and while the evening away listening to the music of the band and its able solo vocalist. It was not only economical and fun, it felt good to have avoided the waste of time waiting in the airport and the usual delay in the take off and landing caused by traffic congestion in the runway.
What the mayor did By Pastor Apollo Quiboloy | Posted on Jun. 24, 2013 at 12:01am | 121 views 2
The story about a one small kind act in the dead of the night has since gone viral. If it was done by a run-of-the-mill politico which this country churns out by the thousands every election year, such a good deed would have been dismissed by a skeptical public as a choreographed stunt. But because it was committed by a man whose concern for the common tao is legendary, no one has dared say it was contrived. It was in the character of the person, was even the unsurprised public’s common reaction. Neither was that act of kindness a random one. It was the sort that he does nightly, away from TV camera lights, one that borders on anonymity, in the tradition of the Good Samaritan . A Davao journalist, Jun Ledesma, first broke the story on how a distressed mother of four was rescued by a knight in an SUV . Here are the excerpts of his SunStar column: *** “Annelyn Pongase Paunon earlier went shopping at Gaisano Mall for the school needs of her kids. Because she cannot not leave her toddler child, she tucked the baby with her and off they went to the mall. “Night caught up with them at the mall not realizing that the light rain that come with dusk took a violent turn. When they decided it was time to go home they looked and waited for a taxi. But everyone else was looking for a cab which had become scarce as flood waters in most of the thoroughfares were no longer ‘navigable.’ “Annelyn started to be panicky. She had three small children in tow and a baby which she held close to provide warmth. By 11 p.m. there were no cabs in sight. The kids were jittery and Annelyn was as nervous. Tugging the children, she decided to make a dash to San Pedro Hospital hoping some patients might have taken a taxi to get to the hospital.
“They braved the rain and the rising water. Before they can make it across however, a black D’Max stopped right in front of them. The occupant on the front seat rolled down the tinted window. “Asa man mo?” The man on the front seat asked. “Annely replied: “Sa Skyline pa mi,” she replied to the stranger. “The man in the black pick-up then told her in a much louder voice: “Sakay na kay ihatud ta mo sa Skyline.” “Annelyn hesitated for a moment. She looked closer to the stranger who offered her the ride and recognizing who was the Good Samaritan she exclaimed: “Ay si Mayor diay!” “Annelyn and her children packed themselves on the back seat. She felt relieved she has a ride to take them home and safe and secured it was no less than incoming Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who will be conducting them all the way to Skyline. “The pick-up inched its way through the flooded street. But at the corner of Guerrero St. traffic was snarled and then went on a standstill. The Mayor and an aide alighted from the vehicle to man the traffic. He knew that it will take time to deal with the traffic jam, he directed his driver to take Annelyn and her kids to the doorsteps of their home at the Skyline.” *** If Duterte – Digong to friends and fans – had known in advance that Jun would “expose” his good deed – which to him is no big deal, one which falls under the “just another day in the office” category – he would have pleaded with the Jun to just keep it under wraps. You know, Duterte is allergic to publicity. He’d rather chase criminals than chase headlines. If the standard -issue politico of today lives by the dictum, “The price of incumbency is eternal publicity,” Digong swears by an opposite mantra, the one that probably states , “ Good deeds must be covered by an oath of anonymity.” He is a public servant of the old school, one who focuses on the “doing it good” aspect of governance and doesn’t fuss about the “telling it well” part. While other mayors would tweet every twitch of their bodies, and would Powerpoint themselves out of every problem with catchy buzzwords the likes of World Bank would love to hear, the results-oriented Digong would rather attack a problem sans fanfare.
In other cities, criminals are pursued by press releases, as if prose can do the work of police. In Davao, when Digong runs after a crime lord, it’s not business for him, it’s personal. But this doesn’t mean that His Honor eschews modern urban management tools for folksy smooching and backslapping . The guy has mobilized technology to make Davao the liveable city it is today. His style is a combination of streetsmarts and science. *** My only worry is that Jun’s piece would create a cottage industry of copycat Dutertes, especially in cities that turn into a Waterworld just because a water main has sprung a leak. My only advice to Duterte clones is that to make sure that they’ll do it nightly, and not a onetime gig with a tipped TV crew waiting in the wings .
Effective mayorship is neither a fad nor a passing fancy. Like the samurais of the old, it is a way of life, marked by the discipline of doing the right things again and again without expecting any reward, like 15 seconds in the evening news. Or being the subject of a column. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/24/what‐the‐mayor‐did/
Google gives Manila Times College a big hi-tech boost June 23, 2013 10:30 pm
by NEIL A. ALCOBER REPORTER
New technology has made teaching and communicating easier and faster at The Manila Times College (TMTC), which is now a Google-powered educational institution. Formerly known as The Manila Times School of Journalism, TMTC, which is owned by the country’s oldest newspaper, The Manila Times, is one of the first education institutions to adopt the newest instructional technology, Google Apps for Education. The University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and De La Salle University have already adopted the Google system. TMTC President Dr. Isagani Cruz said Google Apps for Education provides a new learning experience for TMTC students and teachers and help expand interactive and faster communication. “With Google Apps for Education, communication becomes faster and easier for the students, faculty and alumni,” Cruz said. He explained that students and teachers can send and receive e-mail, hold web-based video conferences and discussions, store data and share documents. “With this, we can now connect to our Subic campus so we can video conference discussions and lectures,” he said. The college has its main campus in Intramuros, Manila and provincial campuses in Olongapo City and Pampanga province. It offers Journalism and Mass Communication courses as well as short courses such as Film Production and Acting for Film and Television. Last year, Google Singapore, through a verbal agreement with the TMTC, vowed to provide the college at least 10,000 free emails. Cruz said the software is also perfect for students who are sent to Thailand and Germany with which the college have exchange study programs. Nigel Maranan, a TMTC graduate who is now an Online Reporter and Social Media officer for The Manila Times, said Google Apps for Education helps students finish their normal school work faster and more efficiently. Maranan was one of the TMTC student who participated in the Google Apps for Education seminar held at the Ateneo De Manila University on February 26, 2013. “We were introduced to many Google products such as Mail, Drive, and Calendar. We were also taught some useful tips such as un-sending a sent email or creating forms that can be used for surveys and census reports,” Maranan said. “With Google Apps for Education, students and teachers can maximize the use of technology to increase the knowledge being shared. Teachers can have more interaction with their students by
using Google products such as the Drive for editing articles and school work with each other simultaneously using a laptop, desktop computer or even a tablet,” he said. Maranan said applications offered by Google can help boost students’ knowledge on various topics. “With these applications, students will become more resourceful and updated, and they have access to the latest information on their fingertips. They can also make use of the applications to help improve the quality of their work and also make sure that they send their work on time,” he said. “In a classroom setup, the teacher normally shares her presentation using a projector, but with a Google Drive, a teacher can share a presentation using the Internet. They can also edit class work simultaneously,” Maranan explained. He noted that Google Apps can also be used in the office. “Office staff can now make use of the Google Calendar in planning and announcing school events. With the integrated chat feature, staff can chat with each other instead of on the local telephone,” he said. Dr. Cruz thanked Google Singapore “for helping the college modernize its learning system by adopting Google Apps for Education. Hopefully, Google Philippines will also extend their help to us.” Just recently, other colleges and universities have adopted Google Apps for Education. Other schools that have adopted the software include Adamson University, Asian Institute of Maritime Studies, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Berkeley School, Eastern Visayas State University, Educational Systems Technological Institute, Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology, Immaculate Conception Academy, La Salle University- Ozamiz, Miriam College, Rizal Technological University, Silliman, University, St. Paul University, St. Scholastica’s College and University of San Jose Recoletos. Even the Commission on Higher Education, Department of Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority have adopted the system.
GLOBAL WARMING PULLS NORWAY CLOSER TO ASIA June 23, 2013 10:29 pm
by AFP KIRKENES, Norway: The town of Kirkenes in northernmost Norway used to be further away from Asia than virtually any other European port, but it suddenly seems a lot closer. The reason: Global warming. Melting ice has opened up the Northern Sea Route along Russia’s Arctic coastline, changing international trade patterns in profound ways—even if so far it looks more like a sleepy county road than a busy, four-lane highway. In a change of potentially revolutionary significance, the travel time between the Japanese port of Yokohama and Hamburg in Germany has been cut by 40 percent, while fuel expenditure is down by 20 percent. “For the first time in history, we are witnessing a new ocean opening up in the high north which will have a major impact on both trade and provision of energy,” said Sturla Henriksen, the president of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association. In 2012, when the ice reached its lowest extent on record, 3.4 million square kilometers, 46 ships used the new route, compared with only four in 2010, according to Rosatomflot, a Russian operator of icebreakers. The traffic is still negligible compared with traditional routes. Ships transit the Panama Canal 15,000 times a year, while passing through the Suez 19,000 times. But the future looks promising. The volume of goods transported along the Northern Sea Route is likely to grow strongly in the coming years, from 1.26 million tons last year to 50 million tons in 2020, according to the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association. Kirkenes, whose 3,400 inhabitants live in nearly uninterrupted darkness during the winter months, is suddenly preparing frantically for the expected boom. The Tschudi Shipping Group plans to open a logistics hub measuring the equivalent of 200 football fields in a fjord nearby that is held ice-free all year by the warm Gulf Stream. The port’s location is extremely strategic. It is nine days’ travel from both the Pacific and the Mediterranean, and close to major oil and gas deposits in the Arctic as well as mines in northern Sweden and Finland. Twenty-six of the ships that traversed the Arctic Ocean between Europe and Asia last year were carrying hydrocarbons, while six were transporting iron ore or coal. The new route also opens up an interesting market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) extracted in the Barents Sea, especially after North America, the customer that local companies initially had in mind, has turned away following a decision to use its own shale gas. On the other hand, Asia’s appetite for gas has increased after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, and prices there are significantly higher than in Europe.
Adding to the lucrative nature of the trade, each ship transporting LNG by the northern route can do it close to $7 million cheaper than vessels going through the Suez. Traditional goods traffic, however, is not realistic in these latitudes, according to Tschudi Shipping. “The big trading routes in dry bulk shipping are located too far South for the Northern Sea Route to become relevant,” said Henrik Falck, the company’s project manager for Eastern Europe. And “we can forget about containers,” he added, noting that owners preferred traditional routes with stops at densely populated cities along the way. In a fragile ecosystem that is the source of immense worry among environmentalists, Russia plays a central role in assisting navigation with icebreakers. It has also decided to establish 10 bases along its coast to redress the current abject lack of infrastructure. Admitted last month as an observer in the Arctic Council, China also wants to be part of the game. After the first transit of its icebreaker Snow Dragon last year, the world’s second-largest economy now plans to send its first commercial shipment along the northern route this summer. Between 5 and 15 percent of Chinese international trade could take this new road by 2020, the director of the Polar Research Institute of China, Yang Huigeng, was quoted as saying in the media.
Chevron faces raps for price manipulation June 23, 2013 10:28 pm
by JOMAR CANLAS SENIOR REPORTER
The Petroleum Distributors and Services Corporation (PDSC) has filed criminal charges against Chevron for allegedly conspiring with the latter’s sister company to manipulate fuel prices. In a complaint filed before the Department of Justice, PDSC Vice President Robert Conrad Limcaco accused the directors and officers of Chevron of engaging in the retail business by creating and operating its own Caltex service stations called COCOs (company-owned and company-operated) in Metro Manila. Limcaco said Chevron’s officers and directors violated Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code, which prohibits monopolies and combinations in restraint of trade. The complaint alleged that Chevron supplied fuel products to Chevron Services, the operator of gasoline stations and also a retailer of Caltex fuel and lubricants. The PDSC argued that the conspiracy between the two companies to combine and control the distribution and pricing of fuel products in order to compete with Caltex dealers were acts punishable under Article 186, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code. Included in the charges were former directors and officers of Chevron and Chevron Services Timothy Leveille, Rebecca Alivio, Ramon Ortiz, Frumencio Deguito, Aner Anda, Randall Johnson, Steven Mulvaney, Armando Diaz, Carlito Lopez, Leo Vasco Dagamac, Glenn Lynch, Husain Shibly Latiff, Carol Bautista, and several others. Chevron was previously limited to supplying fuel products to its local dealers. However, it organized another company in 2003—Chevron Services Philippines, Inc., to engage in retail and operate Caltex COCOs. Based on the records from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Chevron and Chevron Services are owned by the same foreign stockholders and are run by the same directors and officers. The Caltex service stations operated by Chevron and Chevron Services are situated in the same areas where there exist Caltex stations owned and operated by Filipinos, such as PDSC. The PDSC has been engaged in the business of retailing fuel products for almost 50 years, and was a Caltex dealer for more than two decades. Share this:
Shadow banking alive and well in PH June 23, 2013 10:09 pm
by BETING LAYGO DOLOR JELLYBEANS
Beting Laygo Dolor
Conventional wisdom says that businesses should always resort to bank loans when they need funding, be it short, medium, or long-term. If not banks, then the funds they need should come from financial institutions that specialize in lending. Here, however, countless small and even medium-sized enterprises often turn to shadow financing when in need of quick cash. For many decades, at least since the post World War II years, small businesses could easily avail of the so-called 5-6 loans, often from Indian lenders. Back then, the turbaned ‘bumbay’ could easily lend out whatever sum an entrepreneur needed, as long as the borrower agreed to pay off the loan on a daily basis. The loans were called 5-6 because a P500 loan, for example, would result in P600 payable, or a 20 percent interest rate. That payment would depend on the agreement between borrower or lender. Would it be paid within 24 hours, one week, or one month? Paying P600 for a P500 loan is ridiculous, of course, but there are enough businesses which can earn big sums overnight to justify the usurious rates. Those ‘bumbay’ were called such on the mistaken notion that they were from Bombay, India. In fact, some of them were not even Indians at all, but were the mortal enemies of the Indians. They were actually Pakistanis. In the 50s and 60s, the shadow bankers rode in bicycles. By the 70s, 80s, and 90s, however, they had moved up and were going about their business of lending and collecting in motorcycles. I may be wrong, but more recently they seem to be moving about in owner-type jeeps. So the shadow banking industry has come a long way from its humble beginnings. And not only that. They have also moved up in the totem pole. No longer do they limit their lending activities to small enterprises. A friend who owns a business which qualifies as a medium-sized enterprise says that he occasionally gets emergency loans from such lenders. Since he owns a couple of gasoline stations,
one would expect that he would have a healthy cash flow, and would have easy access to bank loans. Not necessarily so. In the rare instances when he needs a hundred thousand or so, he calls on his friendly, neighbourhood ‘bumbay’ to provide the quick cash. Like all businesses, he experiences cash squeezes every now and then, such as these days of regular flooding. In theory, business should be good because heavy traffic means all vehicles are likely to load up, but this is not necessarily so. Still, he has a payroll to meet and suppliers to pay. He has cheques that need to be funded, rain or shine. So he turns to shadow banking to make ends meet. Incidentally, the turbanned lenders have competition coming from a variety of sources. Fast and easy loans are also available from Chinese lenders who charge similar rates. Supposedly, some of them come from China, and are here because the local market still prefers to go to informal channels, instead of to banks. Then there are the normal Pinoys who have excess liquidity. They, too, can provide short-term loans with no documentary requirements. All that’s needed is a handshake and the understanding that non-payment of loans can result in a broken leg or two.
Empower the super rich , screw those below June 22, 2013 9:22 pm
by MARLEN V. RONQUILLO SUNDAY STORIES
Is there an inspired program to make the super rich, richer? And fast track the whole process of shifting to the plutocracy the portion of the national wealth and income that is not yet in their possession? And wipe out in the process the fast-vanishing middle class? Then, this most crucial question: Is the government the abettor of this process of deepening the richpoor divide? Some say that the government, through its policies, cannot and would do this because its mandate is to protect the vulnerable. The Philippine Constitution and our laws are quite clear on the protection for the weak and the underclass. The central theme is justice and equity. But still evidence points out that if the government has any emancipation and amelioration policy at all, it is about making the super rich, richer. Empower the super rich and screw the rest of us. Why is the issue of income inequality re-emerging in the national consciousness? What are the intervening events that made the people aware ( and agitated) by the growing economic divide? It is not solely the global context and the realization that across the Atlantic, it is still the plutocracy that reaped the gains from the post-recession growth. And the hedge fund managers remain king, despite the harm they had inflicted on the broader world. Three reasons, and we hope that there is still some energy left in the tired, old body of the once fiery NEPA (National Economic Protectionism Association ), so it can look deeper into three policy areas of the state, namely investment priorities, tax and labor. On investment priorities, represented by the big-ticket projects under the PPP, or public private partnership, there is overwhelming evidence that these have been designed for the Top one per cent. Corporate entities that are out of the Top 200 corporations cannot even hope to file bid papers with the PPPâ€™s project management and bidding committees. Why? For the simple reason that they are not qualified financially to handle the projects as big as those under the PPP. And that the free-wheeling, anything-can-happen bidding process for the regular public works projects are taboo in the PPP bids and awards process.
Even the Class AAA contractors not allied with the corporate giants are out of the bidding process. There is no PPP bidder that is a contractor in the strictest definition of the term. One corporate giant that has qualified as a bidder indeed, started out as a contractor, but it is now in power generation, water generation, property development and mining, among many other concerns. In short, a contractor-turned-corporate big leaguer. The PPP projects can be summed up as “ for the top one percent, of the top one percent, by the top one percent.” Why every aspect of the PPP was designed to promote the corporate giants is beyond us. Because there are ways to involve the traditional construction companies in the PPP under fairer and more equitable bidding terms. Because there are ways to break the stranglehold of the plutocracy over these multi-million dollar projects, the choicest government awards, bar none. What about the tax holidays and tax breaks? What sectors enjoy the tax benefits/expenditures of government? Ok, a Thai agri-business giant that invested in a very competitive and crowded field got one. But the story on what sectors, supposedly pioneering in nature and with massive investments, have been getting tax breaks under the state tax incentives program mostly dispensed with by the BOI is more heart-rending than that. Because most of the “pioneering ventures” that applied for and had gotten tax breaks based on the benchmarks of the BOI have been “fresh and pioneering “ investment areas dominated by the corporate giants, the same entities that have cornered and about to corner 100 percent of the PPP awards. The plutocracy is always several steps ahead. It has, at its disposal, the best legal and financial minds that can prepare the documentation required by the BOI people, including the most current of tax-break seeking jargon. While running after tax-dodging pawnshop owners with Lamborghinis makes the headlines, the real area where the government is shafted of revenue due is in the massive grant of useless and unnecessary tax expenditures. On the labor front, there are many brutal realities. What are rising are low-paying jobs mostly in the service sector. There are job offerings, true, but the pay is barely enough for basic survival. It used to be that jobs are liberating and empowering. Now, the pay levels are barely enough to keep the workers’ body and soul together. Many of the growth sectors are not job generators. Finance, especially. The big companies thrive on unpaid internship, a global scourge. Free while collar work stints. The weakening of the labor unions has contributed immensely to the stagnant pay of workers. Workers are severely underpaid but there is no institution that would fight for their basic economic rights. The government has institutionalized contractual labor, temps, graveyard shift workers without the commensurate protection and benefits. Wage increase petitions get trumped by the inutility and indecisiveness of the tripartite bodies that have the mandate to decide on regional wage petitions.
The BPO sector is not covered by the Labor Code. As in the case of the PPP, today’s labor environment is suited to further prop up the rich and super rich and not empower a strong and a politically conscious salaried class. As we all know from history, an eviscerated middle class deprives a society of a vibrant center. And when the center cannot hold, the results are mostly ugly.
When authority is perverse, abuse is rife June 22, 2013 9:21 pm
by FR. SHAY CULLEN REFLECTIONS
It’s all about power and fear. Several impoverished, abused cheated and beaten Filipino female workers taking shelter in Middle Eastern Philippine embassies have been allegedly sexually assaulted and prostituted by some corrupt and depraved embassy officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), according to Walden Bello, the sociologist-turned-congressman, in a press conference in Manila recently. He named two of the officials and gave the nickname of a third. Yet many more have been involved in this despicable and criminal activity and dozens of young women have been violated. They are vulnerable, lonely, and isolated in a foreign country, victims of physical and sexual abuse by their foreign employers. They escaped and ran for help and shelter to the Philippine embassies in Jordan, Syria and Kuwait. These young women, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), are totally dependent on Embassy officials when they take them in to the shelter with promises that the Philippine Government would protect and repatriate them. Instead of being helped many of them were subjected to humiliating and shameful sexual exploitation by corrupt and depraved officials themselves. Not only were they forced to perform sexual acts with some officials but they were sold into sexual slavery in the city from which the embassy officials earned a lot of money. Rep. Bello told a news conference that his source is a high official of the DFA and he named names. The young victims were too scared and helpless to resist the power of the government officials. Just imagine what most likely went on in the embassy shelters to coerce and threaten them into submission and docility. They likely received threats of dire punishment if they told anyone about it. Imagine it might have happened like this to a fictional young woman named Rosa. Embassy Official in a closed embassy room: ” Rosa, I will help you get home to the Philippines, you can earn some money, just lets have a little fun first.” Rosa tries to resist: ”No. No, please don’t touch me, leave me alone, that’s what the evil employer did to me: he raped me, don’t, don’t.”
Official, pulling an angry stern face: “You are here under my power , if you don’t do as I say, I will send you back out to your employer and the authorities, you will be on the street without documents or passport, do you understand? You will be arrested and jailed.” Rosa: ”Please sir, don’t do that. I want to go home. I have not seen my family for years. I have nothing; no money, no job, no food. I have been cheated, robbed and raped. Please don’t cancel my air ticket.” She was by now crying and howling, tears streaming down her face but the official seemed to be aroused by her distress and moved to sexually exploit her. Most of the Embassy employees had to know about it, but remained silent or worse may have been involved, too. Why did they not blow the whistle and come to the rescue of the women? Their silence can only be understood as approval, or they were silenced by threats and fear. A culture of fear of higher authority can overpower the moral values of even the strongest and most spiritual person. Courage and belief in human dignity and rights and know how to get help is what is needed. The young women are silent also; fear has a paralyzing power to subjugate and render people unable to resist or speak against the exploiter or abuser. Some government authority figures have an arrogant sense of superiority that they tend to trivialize sexual crimes. The worst part of all this is that the suffering victims are treated as if they are an enemy, a hostile, ungrateful beneficiary out to hurt the man. We can imagine an arrogant rapist official scolding his abused victim. ”You are an ungrateful brat, no better than a prostitute. You should feel honored that I, an important official and your superior, would lower myself to have sex with the likes of you, an impoverished nonperson. You should be grateful for the help we have you here instead of protesting and complaining.” Such depravity and criminality leaves the normal person breathless, angry and bewildered. But for those in positions of power and ascendency—whether it be government, church or in the family—the abuse of power by threats of dire punishment against the weak and helpless creates deeply held fear. The poor know the rich and powerful can murder and rape with impunity. For the powerful it seems an entitlement, a privilege of power. The senior Philippine embassy officials in Jordan, Syria and Kuwait have been recalled to answer the complaints. Not before their time.
100% renewable energy eyed in 10 years June 23, 2013 7:16 pm
by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ REPORTER
The Climate Change Commission is set to lay groundwork for sustainable energy roadmap for the Philippines, which aims to shift the country’s current fuel system to 100-percent renewable energy capacity in 10 years. “Our government and its leadership is concerned with the latest scientific reports that global warming has accelerated, and believe the country must begin to program a path of low carbon to zero carbon along a broad partnership of the public interest and private sector,” CCC Commissioner Heherson Alvarez said. According to Alvarez, a sustainable energy system will require significant planning cooperation with private, government and international finance institutions. “The proposed roadmap will be designed to shift our fuel system and increase renewable energy by 100-percent capacity possibly in 10 years,” Alvarez said. He explained that over the long run, as the country’s growing renewable energy capacity displaces imported carbon-polluting fuels, Philippine products and services are bound to become more competitive and more jobs would be created. “The energy roadmap will unroll a ‘carbon war’ program of our determined government,” Alvarez added. Today, the CCC will launch the Philippine program from carbon fuel dependency to low carbon, and into zero carbon regime with renewable sources of energy. The launching will be held at Casa Roces, San Miguel, Manila. The CCC has invited Dr. Alexander Ochs of the Worldwatch Institute, a global leader in climatecompatible development and international renewable energy policy based in Washington, D.C., to introduce to local government units a sustainable energy roadmap based on the resource capability of each province. Ochs, head of the Climate and Energy Program of Worldwatch, will present the institute’s Sustainable Energy Roadmap that takes an integrated approach to examining the technical, financial and policy changes necessary for transitioning to a sustainable energy regime. Worldwatch Institute partners and collaborates with governments to ensure that roadmaps reflect national priorities. It is now developing sustainable energy roadmaps for the governments and energy stakeholders in Aruba, Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Southeast Asia and Central America.
Government to review estate tax declarations June 23, 2013 7:14 pm
by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER
The Department of Finance (DOF) is set to review estate tax declarations for the past five years to improve the tax collections. According to Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, the underdeclaration of taxes is one of the reasons why the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) failed to reach May 2013 collection target. The BIR collected P111.90 billion in tax revenue for the said month, lower than its P115.12-billion target. Purisima said that reviewing the declaration of estate taxes is an area of opportunity to improve the tax bureau’s collection. The estate tax is a tax levied on the privilege of transferring property upon the death of the owner. It is not a property tax. The estate tax accounts for only less than 1 percent of the BIR’s total revenues. Earlier, the government said that it is considering raising estate tax collections to P50 billion annually. Purisima said that the DOF and BIR will review estate tax filing from 2008 onward. The secretary said that based on records, property tax collection remained flat from 2008 to 2011. “[BIR] Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares and I have identified, and based on our review [that for] the past five years, the collection has been rather flat. Except for 2012 when I mentioned that it’s up 60 percent but given the increase in asset values, we believe that numbers [of collections] should be higher,” he said. He explained that first, the government will write to the banks nationwide for estate tax information. “One of the things that happen when you file an estate tax return is that you waive the secrecy of bank deposit, so we’ll be writing the banks, so that they can provide us information,” the DOF chief said. On the other hand, Purisima added that the government will also look into the tax collections from self-employed Filipinos. He said that of 1.8 million self-employed in the country, only 404,000 pay income tax return. “Our goal is to increase the number of collection to P300 billion,” he said.
BSP: PH banking system remains sound, stable June 23, 2013 7:13 pm
by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO The Philippine banking system continues to remain sound and stable despite the uncertainties in the global economy, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). “The Philippine banking system remained resilient amid the subdued global economic environment,” the BSP said in the latest “Report on Economic and Financial Developments.” The central bank also stated that banks’ core balance sheets were marked by steady growth in assets, deposit base and capital accounts. “Asset quality also continued to improve, while capital adequacy ratios remained above international standards,” it added. According to the report, the number of banking institutions fell to 696 as of end-December 2012 from the quarter- and year-ago levels of 705 and 726, respectively. The BSP attributed the decline to the continued consolidation of banks as well as the exit of weaker players in the banking system. By banking classification, banks consisted of 37 universal and commercial banks (U/KBs), 70 thrift banks (TBs) and 589 rural banks (RBs). Operating network of the banking system increased to 9,410 in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 9,301 in the third quarter of 2012 and 9,050 during the same period last year, because of the increase in the branches/agencies of U/KBs. On the other hand, the BSP report also said that the total resources of the banking system rose by 9.3 percent to P8.4 trillion as of end-December 2012 the quarter- and year-ago levels of P7.9 trillion and P7.6 trillion, respectively. “The increase could be traced to the growth in loans, securities and other equities indicative of the public’s continued trust in the banking system,” the central bank stated. U/KBs accounted for nearly 90 percent of the total resources of the banking system. Commercial banks’ outstanding loans continued to grow steadily at double-digit growth rate at 14.7 percent year-on-year by end-March 2013. Meanwhile, the report added that nonperforming loans (NPL) ratio of the banking system sustained its downward path, easing to 2.5 percent as of end-December 2012 from 2.8 percent in the same period in 2011. “Banks’ initiatives to improve asset quality along with prudent lending regulations helped bring the NPL ratio to below its pre-Asian crisis level of around 3.5 percent,” the BSP said. It added the Philippine banking system’s NPL ratio of 2.5 percent is higher compared to Indonesia’s 1.8 percent, Malaysia’s 2 percent, South Korea’s 0.5 percent and Thailand’s 2.2 percent.
“The lower NPL ratios of Malaysia and South Korea were attributed to the creation of publicly owned asset management companies in these countries, which purchased the bulk of their NPLs, a practice not resorted in the Philippines,” the BSP explained. On the other hand, the report said that banking system’s capital adequacy ratio remained above standards at 17.6 percent as of end-December 2011. The BSP noted that the industry raised its capital to support an increase in assumed risks, adding that banks either retained earnings or issued capital instruments to match the rise in their risk weighted assets.
Get that exact change June 23, 2013 7:11 pm
Dear DTI Consumer Power, What happens to those who do not give exact change to their customers? Is it really that grave if we do not get that peso or centavo as change? I usually just ignore it since it’s a very small amount. Kris, Marikina Dear Kris, Shortchanging is a violation against the law, because businesses who commit this are giving consumers less of what is due to them. Needless to say, it is a form of cheating. The law that is being implemented to address this problem is called the “Exact Change Act” which seeks to “(a) prohibit the giving of insufficient change or no change at all to consumers; (b) prohibit the giving of change in any form other than money; (c) require the posting of signs reminding consumers to ask for their exact change; and (d) require the use of price tags, when appropriate, that will reflect the exact price per unit or service, already incorporating the applicable tax or taxes.” Any person or business that violates the Exact Change Act shall be fined P500 for the first offense; P15,000 for the second offense and suspension for three months of their license to operate; and P25,000 for the fourth offense and their license to operate revoked. In addition to the amount of fines mentioned, the total amount of change that the establishment failed or refused to give, as determined from the audit of the Department of Trade and Industry, shall be paid by the said establishment to the government, unless it can be determined with reasonable certainty that the change is due and payable to a particular person or persons. Consumers tend to ignore it when a mere 10 centavos, 25 centavos, or P1 less of their change. What they don’t realize is the gravity and implications of committing shortchanging. Imagine a restaurant serving 500 customers a day and all of them get a change short of P1. If you do the math, the restaurant gets P500 a day, P2,000 a week, P8,000 a month and P96,000 a year. This amount could have bought their customers, whom they didn’t give exact change to, extra decent meals or other valuable products/services. Shortchanging is a trade malpractice. When tolerated by consumers, makes it seem acceptable by the society when it should be stopped. This also defeats the purpose of putting laws and policies in place to give order to the community. Consumers must realize the importance of asserting their rights. This is one way of achieving a balance between doing business and protecting the welfare of the consuming public. *** The Department of Trade and Industry welcomes all inquiries, complaints, comments and suggestions from consumers. Call DTI Direct at 751-3330 from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit the DTI website www.dti.gov.ph.
Energy department to meet K-Water to discuss Angat turnover June 23, 2013 7:10 pm
by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR The Department of Energy will be meeting Korea Water Resources Development Corp. (K-Water), the leading water resources and power firm in South Korea, to discuss the turnover of 218-megawatt component of the Angat hydroelectric power plant (HEPP). “I am meeting with them [K-Water], just about some issues of Angat, and how we can have an amicable settlement to make sure everybody is benefiting from it,” Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said. Petilla, however, did not give specific details on what really will be discussed. “Because I am about to negotiate, I cannot tell the details of what we are going to talk about, but what we are looking for is something beneficial to all parties involved,” he said, indicating that the discussion could be about the turnover of the Angat HEPP. In 2012, K-Water submitted the highest bid of $440.8 million in the auction for the Angat power plant, besting some of the major power industry players in the country. “All parties are involved. If you satisfy the K-Water and you satisfy the government, it is a win-win situation, that’s what we are looking for,” Petilla further said. As for the target turnover date, he specified that they haven’t agreed on a specific date yet. “It’s within the year but if you ask for a date, I don’t have a date yet, it has to be settled as quickly as possible. End of the year is a bit late. We have to settle it as quickly as we can,” he added. A few days ago, business mogul Manuel Pangilinan expressed his interest to partner with K-Water for the development of the Angat hydro power plant in Bulacan. Pangilinan earlier indicated that he is keen on having a partnership with K-Water for the Angat project. “We’ve spoken to them [K-Water]. We visited Daejeon, Korea, where their headquarters is. I don’t think they already made a decision which group they will partner with. At least we take a look at it,” he said.
Posted on June 23, 2013 11:31:08 PM By Diane Claire J. Jiao, Sub-Editor
New terms to boost PPP deal
NEW TERMS for the Cavite-Laguna (CALA) Expressway project will allow for faster implementation, a Cabinet official said in seeking to put to rest concerns over fresh delays in the government’s public-private partnership (PPP) program. Public Works Secretary Rogelio L. Singson said the removal of the project’s official development assistance (ODA) component, which involves the government’s building part of the expressway, was suggested by investors. "The bidders feel that the ODA component can possibly delay the project because the process of applying and securing ODA loans takes a long time," Mr. Singson said at the sidelines of a University of the Philippines (UP) Alumni Association event during the weekend. "This was an idea that was brought up by the private sector. In all our experiences, we always discuss with interested parties first," he added. Mr. Singson, who was given a lifetime achievement award by UP, said the new terms would ensure faster and simpler project completion. "Instead of one contractor being paid through ODA and another contractor relying on project finance, they will just use one method for everything," he said. The P35.58-bilion CALA Expressway project involves the construction of a four-lane, 47.02-kilometer highway that will connect the Manila-Cavite and South Luzon (SLEx) expressways. The private sector was originally supposed to finance, design and construct the P19.7-billion, 28.9-kilometer Cavite section stretching from Kawit to the Aguinaldo Highway in Silang. The government, meanwhile, was to finance, design and construct the P15.8-billion, 18.1-km Laguna section from the Aguinaldo Highway to the SLEx Mamplasan exit in Laguna. The project, scheduled for implementation this year and completion by 2017, was put on hold by the Public Works department two weeks ago. Prospective bidders were supposed to have submitted their qualification documents last June 10 but this was called off, with no new dates set. While the timeline has been pushed back, the new terms will likely shorten the implementation period in the long run, Mr. Singson claimed. "The bidders are confident they can finance [the project] with private resources. With interest rates low, they are now saying, ‘Don’t borrow money anymore. We will handle the financing’," he explained. "So, why not? Why assume a loan if the private sector does not need it?"
The Public Works department is looking to replicate the success of the last PPP auction, where San Miguel Corp. offered an P11-billion upfront payment on top of the P15.86-billion cost of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway project. "Now, there will be no more loan, no more guarantees, all private finances." Mr. Singson said. Ayala Corp., Metro Pacific Investments Corp., San Miguel and the Villar Group have been tagged as prospective bidders for the project. The PPP program, touted by the Aquino administration as a solution to the countryâ€™s infrastructure woes, has seen just three deals awarded since its launch in late 2010. The government claims the delay was due to extensive project reviews.
Posted on June 23, 2013 11:29:35 PM By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Reporter
Bank secrecy laws don’t apply to the dead -- BIR chief
THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) wants banks to provide the government with information on deceased clients’ assets as part of a drive to improve estate tax collections. "One of the exemptions from bank secrecy laws is if it’s regarding an estate. So when you die, there’s no more bank secrecy," BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares told reporters last week. "So we’re asking them (the banks) to give us the bank statements of those persons who died for the past years. Maybe five years," she added. The BIR chief said the agency wanted to see if estate tax payments corresponded with the actual assets of people who had passed away. "For example, if someone who has died had P10 million in the bank and this suddenly disappeared, where did it go? When was the money withdrawn? If the depositor had already died when the money was taken out of the bank, then there’s a liability there," Ms. Jacinto-Henares noted. She said the BIR would "require" banks to submit the statements, adding: "If they don’t, we will subpoena it." The agency wants to do this "within the year," Ms. Jacinto-Henares added. Estate taxes -- levied on inherited assets -- have been tagged as a target area that could be tapped by the BIR for additional revenues. Asset price hikes over the years should have led to higher estate tax collections, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima has said. Annual estate tax takes, however, have always ranged between P850 million and P1 billion.
Posted on June 23, 2013 11:32:50 PM
Country still ‘compelling’ SENTIMENT-LED volatility is expected to continue affecting markets, banks said, but investors will still see value in the Philippines given the country’s strong fundamentals. "[I]t is not surprising that volatility has shaken off most investors with a weak stomach for risk, resulting to the considerable amount of outflows," the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) said in a report released during the weekend. Sell-offs sparked by the US Federal Reserve’s announcement of an impending end to a stimulus program were "purely sentiment driven," the Ayala-led bank said, and are part of strategies to book continued gains. As advanced economies continued to struggle, foreign investors had turned to emerging markets like the Philippines in search of better returns. Sentiment and fund flows, however, have shifted amid reports that the US is gaining traction. Last week, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the US economy was recovering enough to warrant the start of a stimulus unwinding within the year, with a possible end by mid-2014. The Fed has been buying $85 billion worth of bonds and mortgage-backed securities each month and has kept interest rates at near-zero levels since December 2008 to spur consumption and investment. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) subsequently lost 186.53 points or 2.86% to end at 6,326.67 on Thursday. The plunge continued on Friday, with the PSEi shedding 144.50 points or 2.28% to close at 6,182.17. A little over a month earlier it had hit a record-high 7,392.2. The peso, meanwhile, dropped 57 centavos to finish at P43.80:$1 -- a near one-and-a-half-year low -- on Thursday. The currency, which earlier this year was trading in P40-41:$1 territory, on Friday gained eight centavos to settle at P43.72. Investment bank Barclays, in a separate report last week, said: "We acknowledge that the transition to higher US rates could be a volatile process but it is creating pockets of value." It noted that while there would be a "bumpy transition" for emerging markets, capital is still likely to flow to the Philippines with investors focused on fundamentals. "Solid and diverse economic growth, reform-orientated government, a large current account surplus, and its investment grade rating provide a positive backdrop for attracting flows," the bank claimed. BPI held a similar view: "While we do not expect this volatility to stabilize soon, we believe that liquidity will return to markets which are able to differentiate itself from the rest." "With its healthy fundamentals, the Philippines should remain a compelling investment story". First-quarter economic growth of 7.8% beat market expectations and the government’s 6-7% full-year goal.
Inflation, meanwhile, settled at 3% as of May, at the low end of the central bank’s 3-5% target range. Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s have also recently raised the country to investment grade, with Moody’s expected to follow suit. Given recent developments, BPI revised its peso and stock exchange forecasts. It now expects the pesodollar rate to hit P41.50-42:$1 by yearend from P40-40.50 previously, while the PSEi could hit 7,500-7,700 in the next "six to 12 months" instead of from "the end of the year." -- ARRG, BFVR
Posted on June 23, 2013 09:37:01 PM
Downward bias for peso
THE US FEDERAL Reserve’s plans to scale back its stimulus program within the year will continue to weigh on the peso this week, traders said. The peso is expected to trade within the P43.60- to P44.30-per-dollar band this week. It is also seen to move within the P43.60-to P44.00-per-dollar range today. It settled at P43.72 against the dollar last Friday, losing 9 centavos from its P42.81-a-dollar finish a week earlier. Fears over the end of the Fed’s quantitative easing caused the peso to weaken last week and will continue this week, a trader said. “There is still a downward bias as investors still wait for a more peaceful market,” the trader explained. Another trader added that a slight dip is expected as end-month approaches, noting: “BPO (business process outsourcing) firms may need more dollars to remit to their parent offices.” Meanwhile, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas might intervene this week by selling dollars to reduce the momentum of depreciation, traders said. Year-to-date, the peso has weakened by nearly 7% against the dollar. -- LEGR
Posted on June 23, 2013 09:35:57 PM
No crisis despite Fed move THE REGION will unlikely see a crisis following the US Federal Reserve’s pronouncements it could reduce its stimulus program, an official of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said. “The effects of the [end to the] stimulus will not cause a crisis. [Asia] is accelerating too much,” ADB Chief Economist Changyong Rhee said in a chance interview last week. Countries across Asia have seen robust economic growth in the first quarter, he noted, with the Philippines leading the way as it grew by 7.8%. The Fed’s plan to dial back its stimulus could hit currencies across Asia, though this may not be bad news, Mr. Rhee said. “Currencies will depreciate in general. As long as the Fed’s exit policy is orderly and modest, countries should welcome it,” he noted. “The Philippines should be happy that the peso will depreciate a little bit. You are worried about the peso weakening but many nations will find it beneficial.” A trader echoed the merits of a weak peso, adding, “The central bank will want to mellow down the dollar’s momentum but not aggressively because they want lower peso levels.” Mr. Rhee said the focus now for Asia will be the phaseout of the Fed’s bond-buying program. “If the Fed can control the speed, we can expect no crisis.” -- Lloyd Edgar G. Reyes
Posted on June 23, 2013 09:35:27 PM
Fed announcement hits bond market
Yield BOND yields at the secondary debt market Tracker continued to rise last week as more investors exited emerging markets in the wake of the US Federal Reserve’s announcement of a cutback in its stimulus program. Yields rose by an average of 36.79 basis points (bps) week-on-week and by 100.16 bps month-on-month, data from the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp. showed. Yields also climbed the previous week as market players speculated about the fate of the Fed’s quantitative easing or bond-buying program, then yet to be discussed in the Federal Open Market Committee meeting last June 18 and 19. The US central bank has been buying $85 billion worth of bonds a month to support the economy with money and drive down interest rates to encourage consumption and investment. It has also kept the key rate near zero since December 2008. “Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s ‘taper’ confirmation triggered a sell-off in emerging market assets,” a bond trader said, referring to Mr. Bernanke’s pronouncements that the Fed may slow its asset purchases within the year with the world’s largest economy on the mend. “EMs (emerging markets) had benefited from the Fed’s quantitative easing, with the excess cash pushing up asset prices. Now that the Fed is showing confidence in the US economy, investors are staying out and waiting for better levels,” he added. The sell-off also affected Philippine stocks, with the Philippine Stock Exchange index sliding last Thursday and Friday. The peso also plunged against the dollar. Moreover, Jonathan L. Ravelas, chief market strategist at BDO Unibank, Inc., said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ decision to maintain the special deposit account rate at 2% and key rate at 3.5% at the June 13 Monetary Board meeting, as well as the Treasury’s move to pay higher interest rates at its last two auctions signaled to the market that “we have already seen the low for interest rates.” At the secondary debt market last Friday, the five-year Treasury bond (T-bond) gave 3.2290%, gaining 144.48 bps week-on-week. The 91-day Treasury bill (T-bill) followed with 2.1500%, up by 65.00 bps, while the four-year T-bond fetched 3.3095%, higher by 46.45 bps. Debt papers at the long end of the curve also fetched higher yields, led by the 10-year T-bond, which got 3.6500%, an increase by 35.00 bps.
Yields on the 20-year and 25-year debt notes climbed by 24.51 bps and 18.14 bps, respectively, to 3.7500% and 5.1857%. The seven-year debt paper yielded 3.5000%, up by 37.50 bps. Giving his outlook, Mr. Ravelas said, “Bonds will find their support. The Philippine economic fundamentals are still intact. Unlike the other emerging markets, I think we are more ready to face such external factors.” The Philippines has seen its economy grow by 7.8% in the first quarter, outpacing the rest of Asia and beating the 6-7% goal, while keeping inflation at 3% as of May, at the low end of the 3-5% target. For his part, the bond trader said, “Expect bottom-pickers soon as investors will not hold on to their cash for too long. They will invest it.” -- Trishia P. Octaviano
Posted on June 23, 2013 09:34:15 PM
Charges pressed against bankers THE PHILIPPINE Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) has filed criminal charges against at least 40 former officers of shuttered banks, the LPG Marketer’s Association (LPG-MA) Party-list reported yesterday.
Charges of syndicated estafa, economic sabotage and violation of banking laws have been pressed against a former chairman, two presidents and three other senior officers of Export and Industry Bank, Inc. (Exportbank), LPG-MA Representative Arnel U. Ty said in a statement. He did not name the bank officers. Exportbank “distressed more than 50,000 depositors who lost a combined P15.9 billion,” said Mr. Ty, who is a member of the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries. The bank was closed last year and placed under the PDIC’s receivership for failing to service withdrawals. It was then ordered liquidated after no third-party investor submitted a letter of interest last March for the bidding of its assets and liabilities for its rehabilitation. Meanwhile, a criminal case was filed against LBC Development Bank’s former president Ma. Eliza G. Berenguer and five borrowers for their P229.5-million syndicated estafa scheme, which caused 320,000 depositors to lose P6 billion. The bank has been under receivership since 2011. “We welcome the forceful legal actions taken by regulators against erring bank officers. We are hopeful these will help deter the embezzlement of deposits solicited from the public, and also serve to discourage the conduct of unsafe and sound banking practices,” Mr. Ty said. He added that 84,873 depositors lost about P3 billion in savings after nine banks were shut down this year as of June 15. The data is part of the findings of House Resolution No. 1749, authored by Mr. Ty, which looks into the industry’s condition, in aid of legislation for the protection of depositors.
Posted on June 23, 2013 09:47:53 PM
Corporate regulator completes rules on ETFs
THE SECURITIES and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved rules on entities that will ensure liquidity of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), completing bourse regulations for this new product and clearing the way for their listing, an official of the corporate regulator said in an interview last Friday. SEC Secretary Gerard M. Lukban said the commission en banc approved in a meeting that day provisions on violations of traders employed by brokerages that will be appointed by ETF issuers to ensure liquidity of their products, namely: • Under Section 17 (d), all acts or violations of the designated specialist in the performance of its marketmaking obligations are binding on and considered acts and violations of the market maker, and; • Under Section 23, PSE (Philippine Stock Exchange) is not precluded from taking action against the designated specialist in his capacity as licensed salesman under PSE trading rules. While PSE noted the responsibility of the market maker in the rules it released last April, it did not make any reference to violations or sanctions. A “designated specialist” is the licensed salesman employed by a market maker to perform such trading, according to the rules, which also provided that a market maker should be a licensed dealer or broker and a registered trading participant of the PSE. PSE Chief Operating Officer Roel A. Refran said approval of the market making rules paves the way for listing of the new product. “This is the last leg of the rules after SEC approved the rules on listing and disclosure,” Mr. Refran said in a telephone interview on Friday. “Hopefully, we can launch... next month,” he added. “We are looking at July or August.” He cited some of the interested parties as First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). FMIC President Roberto Juanchito T. Dispo told reporters last Friday that the company was looking to list its ETF next month.
Theresa Marcial-Javier, BPI senior vice-president and group head of BPI Asset Management and Trust Group, told reporters last May that her company was also interested in launching ETFs. An ETF is similar to a mutual fund which allows a market player to invest in an entire basket of stocks through a single security, which then tracks and matches the yields of a market index. Under ETF listing and disclosure rules approved last March and released in April, only companies registered with the SEC as ETF issuers may list such products. An ETF should have an authorized capital stock and paid-up capital of at least P250 million. Underlying securities comprising the index the ETF aims to track must similarly be listed and “have sufficiently liquidity,” according to the rules. To remain listed, an ETF must comply with the bourse’s 10% minimum public ownership rule, maintain all applicable regulatory licenses and accreditation, as well as adhere to all reporting and disclosure policies of the PSE, including the submission of quarterly and annual reports. An ETF’s indicative net asset value -approximation of the value of the basket of securities it tracks on a per-share basis -- must also be disclosed every minute, together with other relevant information. ETF trading will be suspended if: • underlying securities accounting for at least 20% of the fund have been suspended; or • its market maker has been absent for a month. An ETF may be delisted due to: • failure to comply with continuing listing obligations, including failure to pay applicable fees; • revocation of SEC registration of the ETF; or • “such other grounds as may be determined by the exchange, where delisting of the ETF may be appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.” ETFs have been long anticipated by the market as an alternative investment product amid calls to diversify product offerings on the stock exchange, and are expected to contribute to the PSE’s capital-raising efforts this year. Capital raised on the stock exchange doubled to P219.07 billion last year from P107.50 billion in 2011, the PSE said early this year. -- C. H. C. Venzon
Posted on June 23, 2013 09:44:54 PM
Property developer defers fund raising
LISTED PROPERTY DEVELOPER Sta. Lucia Land, Inc. has moved its multibillion-peso fund-raising exercise -possibly to 2014 from later this year -- due to prevailing unfavorable market conditions, a senior company official said on Friday last week. The company’s projects include Sta. Lucia Residenze mixed-used condominium complex at the junction of Cainta and Marikina City that is shown in this undated artist’s rendering. -www.facebook.com/stalucialandph Sta. Lucia Land on Friday bagged the approval of its shareholders to raise P3 billion from a follow-on offering and P6 billion from the issuance of dollar-denominated bonds. “The timetable, now that the market behaved as it did -- maybe next year,” David M. Dela Cruz, the firm’s executive vice-president, told reporters following the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting in Rizal. “We were planning it late this year,” he added. “We will go only if market conditions permit. We might do either. We might do one. We might do both. We might do one after the other. We still don’t know yet.” The stock market has seen intermittent drops lately, largely in step with counterparts worldwide, ever since officials of the US Federal Reserve began hinting late in May of the need to scale back their massive bond-buying stimulus. Last Wednesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a news conference after a policy meeting that day that the US economy has been recovering fast enough to warrant a reduction in bond-buying within the year and a possible end by the middle of 2014. While markets worldwide have been bearish since May, when Fed officials started dropping hints of a gradual withdrawal of stimulus, Mr. Bernanke’s more specific timetable last Wednesday weighed further on trading.
At home, the Philippine Stock Exchange index closed at 6,182.17 last Friday, down 2.28% from the previous day though still 6.36% up from its end-2012 closing of 5,812.73. The main index has closed at 31 record highs since the year began, the last one at 7,392.20 on May 15. Mr. Dela Cruz said the company needs P4.1-4.3 billion to “fast-track existing projects and acquire land bank.” The company, he added, has as many as 25 ongoing projects -- bulk of which are residential -- located all over the country. In the meantime, the company has been in talks with banks to fund capital requirements. “We are currently opening up lines with banks. We have current dealings with BDO [Unibank], China Bank, BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) and Malayan Bank,” he said. “But I think we want to increase the lines with banks.” Last Friday, the company also informed its shareholders about a planned P1-billion buyback program to support value of the company’s shares amid the market’s fall. “We want to maintain the company at its fair value,” he said. “If the market dips further, we will do the buyback.” The company, he said, is looking to spend P8-10 billion in the next two years “depending on availability of funds.” In the last five months, the company has so far spent “around P2 billion for new and existing projects,” he said. Net income of Sta. Lucia Land grew by 4.16% to P40.04 million in the first quarter from P38.44 million in the same three months last year on higher real estate sales. Shares of Sta. Lucia Land lost four centavos or 6.06% to 62 centavos on Friday last week from 66 centavos last Thursday. -- C. H. C. Venzon http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Corporate&title=Property-developerdefers-fund-raising&id=72255#sthash.ebQxAts7.dpuf
Posted on June 23, 2013 09:42:17 PM
EDC starts work on its first wind project
LOPEZ-LED Energy Development Corp. (EDC) has started construction of its planned 87-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, which marks the company’s foray into this renewable energy source. In a statement last Friday, EDC said it “issued the notice to proceed (NTP) to its wind farm contractor, Vestas Wind Systems, on June 21, marking the start of actual construction works at the site” for the 87-MW wind project. “Since the project’s groundbreaking ceremony last April 19... certain preparatory early work had been undertaken at the site,” EDC said of the $300-million project. It noted that following issuance of the NTP, construction is now under way at the 600-hectare site that straddles barangays Saoit, Poblacion and Nagsurot in the municipality of Burgos. EDC said Vestas, which is a wind turbine manufacturer based in Denmark, will build the 87-MW wind farm, complete with ancillary equipment and facilities. The foreign firm -- as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor -- will install 29 turbines with capacity of 3 MW each. Vestas will also operate and maintain the power facility under a 10-year agreement with EDC. Last month, the Energy department granted EDC a certificate confirming commerciality of the project. “The Burgos wind project is a major pillar of our P32-billion investment plan this year,” the statement quoted EDC President and Chief Operating Officer Richard B. Tantoco as saying. “We are pleased to announce that the construction of the project has commenced and we are confident that it will be the first to achieve commercial operations by late 2014.” EDC shares shed 45 centavos to close at P5.45 apiece last Friday.
Posted on June 23, 2013 11:01:00 PM
BSP readies stability measures
SURGE in capital inflows will remain a risk to the country, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said, but the regulator assured that it will remain on guard against destabilizing financial market imbalances. BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas, Manila, Feb. 3, 2013. -- Jonathan L. Cellona In its Report on Economic and Financial Developments, released late Friday, the central bank said, "Of particular challenge moving forward is the continued surge in capital inflows to the country, which has pushed up the peso further against the US dollar." The peso strengthened in the first three months of the year with the country’s strong growth, while advanced economies continued to struggle. The Philippine economy expanded by 7.8% in the first quarter, surpassing the government’s 6-7% goal and growing faster than other Asian economies. The local currency gained 5.8% in the first quarter, averaging P40.70 to the dollar from its P43.05 average in the same period last year. Similarly, the Philippine Stock Exchange index climbed 33.5% to average 6,434 points yearon-year. It breached the 7,000-mark in March and recorded 24 all-time highs during the three-month period. The central bank also said that expectations of a credit rating upgrade and the investment grade status secured by the country during the quarter also attracted more foreign inflows, supporting the peso and the equities market. On March 27, international debt rater Fitch Ratings gave the country its first investmentgrade status, raising the country’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating one notch up, from "BB+" to "BBB-". These developments, the BSP said, and the second investment-grade rating assigned by Standard & Poor’s in May could "attract further foreign capital" that could pose risks to inflation and financial stability. "Against this backdrop, the BSP stands ready to employ, from its menu of policy
instruments measures that will help ensure that the benefits of capital flows are maximized while warding off the potential destabilizing impact of volatile capital flows on price and financial stability," the central bank said. The central bank also vowed to keep a "market-determined" exchange rate, while maintaining its presence in the market to curb peso’s volatility. It also assured that "contingency measures are in place to ensure adequate liquidity in the financial system" should a reversal of capital inflows take place. "The BSP will maintain a comfortable level of international reserves to serve as added insurance against external shocks," it said. The Philippines’ gross international reserves, which indicate a country’s capability to pay for imports and service foreign debts, stood at $82.892 billion. The central bank will also continue to push for various changes in the BSP charter to improve its capitalization. On bank supervision, the BSP said it will "enhance its monitoring of financial market developments as it continues to put in place measures to strengthen the capacity of the banking system." -- A.R.R. Gregorio http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=BSP-readies-stabilitymeasures&id=72273#sthash.vcxAunnR.dpuf
Posted on June 23, 2013 10:48:35 PM
Food testing facility planned FOOD exporters will be able to check the safety of their products in a planned food testing facility to service Region 4A, the Philippine Exporters’ Confederation, Inc. (PhilExport) said in a statement over the weekend.
PhilExport said the new food testing facility will boost Philippine food exports as it will ensure local products will meet international standards. Former PhilExport Cavite Chapter President Apolinar E. Aure and National College of Science and Technology President Emerson B. Atanacio signed a memorandum of agreement June 18 to allow a food testing facility to be set up within the NSCT campus in Cavite. The food testing facility will benefit food micro, small, and medium enterprises in the CALABARZON region. "Our main objective is that we wanted to calibrate the standard of quality of products they (enterprises) produce. We will come out with standards based on international ones," said Mr. Aure. He added the PhilExport will also assist companies in improving production capacity to meet product demand. Funding for the food testing facility is from the Trade department’s budget for shared services facilities. The food testing equipment will cost about P5 million. Cavite is the second PhilExport chapter that has been given funding for shared services facilities after General Santos City. PhilExport said it will work closely with NSCT and "will work for the finalization of the details concerning lease of the equipment until the project is undertaken." The group will also monitor the overall project implementation as well as provide financial, material and labor resources for the facility. Manuals and forms for laboratory results are currently being prepared. -- Emilia Narni J. David
Posted on June 23, 2013 09:18:45 PM
Markets stirred; economy to chug along
Introspective JUST TWO weeks after the government Romeo announced a much-better-than-expected Bernardo 7.8% GDP growth in 1Q2013 that bucked the regional growth slowdown, local stock prices grabbed headlines with the worst one-day dive since the Lehman crisis in October 2008. Many were stunned by the steep fall, especially following a new round of upgrades in analysts’ growth forecasts. Some feared that the much talked about asset bubble had finally burst. Still others, who had missed the amazing bull run, are wondering if now is a good time to buy. In truth, financial market volatility has greatly increased since the US Fed started hinting at slowing down its bond buying program with worries about a rapid rise in interest rates exacerbated by the Bank of Japan’s recent decision not to expand its monetary stimulus. Thursday’s 442-point drop (6.7%) in the Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi) followed a month-long downtrend that saw the PSEi losing a cumulative 15% since a 7,403 intra-day record high was reached last May 15. The losses extend to the bond and currency markets with local interest rates having risen by over 70bp on average since mid-May and the peso losing about 5% against the dollar over he same period. Rather than a change in internal fundamentals, we think that the drop in the equity, bond and peso markets are more a reflection of portfolio flows going back to the US with its emergent recovery and expectations of an end to the Fed’s quantitative easing. Compared with other emerging markets, local financial prices may have been affected more because Philippine assets are among the most overvalued (e.g., very high price-earnings ratios) due in large part to past capital inflows attracted to the country’s growth story and prospect of
investment grade ratings. With the upgrade to investment grade already achieved and no clear further upside play, foreign players appeared to have decided to cash in earnings, with recent data releases showing poor numbers for FDI and exports as well as the World Bank’s downward revision of world growth used as reasons for players to exit. In fact, we are looking at significant upward adjustments to our growth forecasts for this year (from 6.1% to 7.2%) and next (from 5.8% to 6.2%. But this is mostly based on the business cycle rather than a permanent structural shift that prospective investors, including a new class of players that can only invest in investment grade markets, may be waiting for. Our GDP revisions reflect largely the high current election-related spending growth, including likely frontloading in public infrastructure that may last only up to this quarter, and the ongoing private construction boom, a lagging indicator of past investment decisions in residential and business buildings that according to industry experts, take two to three years to complete. The maturing of this cycle and rising interest rates will bring growth back to more normal levels, perhaps as early as late 2014 or early 2015. The much-hoped for revival of investments in PPP or in industrial zones may not be significantly large to keep growth high beyond 2015. Meanwhile, the Monetary Board has kept its policy stance unchanged, with key borrowing and lending rates at 3.5% and 5.5%, respectively and the SDA rate at 2%. It had previously slashed the SDA rate by a cumulative 150bp and last month announced limits to trust accounts’ access to the facility which will be phased over the next six months. In light of the capital outflows, the monies expected to be pushed out of the SDA facility are not expected to be inflationary and given their conservative risk profile, will likely have limited impact on prices of risky assets. The peso’s depreciation is also welcome news. Both developments (SDA changes and weaker currency) will help to repair the BSP’s balance sheet and increase policy flexibility.
This column was culled from a recent GlobalSource report written by Christine Tang and the columnist. Romeo Bernardo is Philippine GlobalSource advisor and is a board director of IDEA. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Opinion&title=Markets-stirred;economy-to-chug-along&id=72244#sthash.CQuoO0ZX.dpuf
Marcos: Economy not okay • •
Written by Angie M. Rosales Monday, 24 June 2013 08:00
DUE TO POWER, INFRA LACK A dearth in infrastructure buildup under President Aquino, primarily the lack of power projects, will be the Achilles’ heel of the country despite President Aquino’s hype of a booming economy, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. yesterday said. Marcos questioned claims of the Aquino administration of an economic boom after the reported unprecedented 7.8 percent first quarter growth rate which supposedly makes the Philippines the fastest growing economy in Asia. The country is riding high, posting a 7.8 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter and having its credit rating raised to investment grade by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings but power supply is seen as the biggest infrastructure challenge for Aquino. Just one major power plant has been added in the past 10 years in the industrial and commercial heartland of Luzon where many were built during the last electricity crisis 20 years ago. “Accompanying that (economic growth figure) is the seven percent unemployment (rate). And if you look at the demographic, we have more younger individuals in the labor market for less than five years. It is fast approaching 30 to 35 percent. That’s a huge number,” Marcos said. He expressed concern over the possibility of the country suffering a similar crisis being experienced by Spain. “Spain is in crisis. We’re almost like there, in their situation. So that is a problem. We cannot just pluck figures and put them out of context,” he said. Marcos underscored that the high cost of power in the country which is discouraging potential investors should be addressed by the Aquino government. The senator, however, was quick in pointing out that he’s not pressing for the revival of the operations of the highly-controversial Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) project of his late father, former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. “It is not (just) worth looking at, it is absolutely necessary for the economy that we fix the problem of power. If you look at the experience of industrialized or industrializing economies anywhere in the world, you cannot move further into industrialization if you don’t have sufficient, cheap and reliable source of power, it’s that simple,” he said. “We refer to Mindanao as being the promised land (but) we have ten to 12 hours of brownout in Mindanao. Addressing the power (supply issue) is absolutely necessary. But that is what I have been saying for a while. The government has to have more public investment. It is still the same, it’s still
schools, it’s still roads, it’s still power, it’s still telecommunications that are needed. It’s even peace and order all of these things basic infrastructure that only the government can invest in, it’s the role of the government to invest in. and we haven’t been doing anything,” he said. “We are talking about floods and we haven’t done a thing. If you want to talk about the economy, I’m sure these floods cannot be good for anyone, our productivity necessarily decreased because of that,” Marcos added. “All of these impact one upon the other. Nobody can say that because we have seven and a half growth rate in one quarter, which if you look at it well it’s the campaign spending,” he explained. Marcos also noted lacking in the Aquino administration’s economic thrusts is pulling in foreign direct investments (FDI). “We cannot rest on our laurels and depend only on the development of the consumer side of our economy, which is what happening now because we are depending purely on remittances. We have to make public investments so that the economy will grow on its own and we are not dependent upon these very volatile investors that come in. We need foreign direct investment, we need capital investment, that’s the key to development,” he said. “And you start the discussion on power, that is the key element. And whenever you talk to the chambers of commerce, talk to individual investors, the issue of brownouts and the lack of power and the expensive, the high price of power in the Philippines is always a factor they will raise,” he said. The reason why the country’s economic growth has not trickled down to the poor is because it’s purely consumer driven, Marcos said. “Those benefitting are the malls, and some services but there is no new industries being put up, there is no capital investment coming to the Philippines, hardly any new businesses are put up,” he said. “You have to find a solution (for the power problem). Otherwise nothing happens. We will not get a significant amount of foreign investments which is what we need. We need direct foreign investments and investments in capital investments, starting businesses, in making present businesses global,” he said. “Investors are reluctant because of the high cost and shortage of power supply. So they usually decide to take their business where electricity supply is reliable. We are the last in that list in terms of preference,” he said. An electricity outage that blacked out large swathes of Luzon for up to eight hours last month highlighted the worries about a potential power crisis that could undermine the fast-growing economy. Predictions that electricity demand will outstrip government forecasts have raised fears over the impact on the expansion of industries such as call centers, tourism and gaming. A raft of private firms has rushed in recent months to put some $9 billion of new plants on the drawing board, but lead times for construction are around three years and environmental opposition to coal-fired plants is already sparking delays. “Power plants will be put up, the only question is will they be put up fast enough to meet the demand,” John Forbes, a consultant with the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said.
“We are talking about long-gestation projects. If no new power plants are built, by 2016 we are in for a big problem,” says Sergio Ortiz-Luis, president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation. The call center industry, which employs 600,000 workers, is aiming to grow at 15 percent a year for revenue of $15 billion by 2016, said the Philippines Contact Centre Association. “That will be difficult to meet if a power crisis hits us,” cautioned Jojo Uligan, the lobby group’s executive director. The total generating capacity in the country is projected to reach about 15,300 megawatts MW this year and the country needs additional capacity of 2,500 MW in the four years to 2017, according to the Department of Energy’s latest plans. Luzon, which accounts for about three-quarters of the country’s total capacity, will require an additional 1,600 MW by 2017, the DOE says, more than its own estimate of up to 1,130 MW due to come on stream from new projects. However, the Philippine Independent Power Producers Association industry group said Luzon will require some 3,280 MW by 2017 - double the government’s estimate. The association says the Philippines as a whole will require at least 3,860 MW, as the economy is growing faster than anticipated and demand is rising more quickly. The country’s biggest conglomerates such as Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc, Ayala Corp and San Miguel Corp are among those eager to build power plants or increase the capacity of existing facilities over the next five years. Projects currently on the drawing board or being touted by private companies total around 4,400 MW up to 2018, including some from new entrants to the industry. But many of these projects are likely to face delays, either from environmental opposition to coal generation - the quickest plants to build and the cheapest to operate - or as proponents wait for power consumers to commit to off-take agreements. Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s largest power utility, is leading a consortium that is building a $1.2 billion 600 MW coal-fired power project in Subic Freeport Zone northwest of Manila. It has delayed by a year its original 2016 target for the plant’s commercial operation because of a legal case relating to environmental concerns. Another coal-fired project in Luzon, a planned 400-MW capacity increase for a 735-MW plant owned by Aboitiz Power and partner Marubeni Corp of Japan, is also facing resistance. An upgrade announced in 2011 has yet to start. Companies looking to build new plants are also worried about committing to projects without guaranteed long-term industrial buyers. Users, however, are eyeing the rash of interest in the sector and are wary of signing fixed-price long-term agreements, further delaying any development. “If you notice, everyone’s planning to move into the power business,” Ramon Ang, president of San Miguel, the country’s biggest power producer, said recently. Government energy officials say Luzon should have sufficient power supply up to 2016, despite ongoing
blackouts in the southern Mindanao region. “Shortage, I don’t think so. Not in Luzon, not yet,” Energy Department undersecretary Ramon Allan Oca told Reuters, although he declined to comment past 2016. Power suppliers are not so sure. And they warn reliance on older plants that need more maintenance will simply mean even more outages. “Businessmen in Mindanao are suffering,” Ortiz-Luis SAID. “In Luzon, although there seems to be enough reserves, soon enough those reserves will be eaten up unless there are alternatives,” he said.
Gov’t limits movement of allies, says MILF • •
Written by Tribune Monday, 24 June 2013 08:00
Even as the government expressed confidence yesterday that contentious issues on the three remaining annexes of the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) would be resolved in the formal peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) early next month, the MILF expressed signs of insincerity emerging in the peace process due to government efforts to limit the movement of its allies. In its website, the MILF said some international groups associated with it and doing rehabilitation, humanitarian, and skills and capacity trainings for Moros in Mindanao have expressed apprehensions on their movement being restrained. “They also feel that their programs are unnecessarily looked into intensely,” according to the MILF. The group said that the reasons for efforts to restrain their movements and those associated with them were not clearly defined. “So, what then are the real reasons? If it is to prevent the MILF to become stronger, then it is not only a flawed thinking but a sign of insincerity,” it said. The MILF said it is time for the government to examine the wisdom of “the approach” since “it is driving away friends of the peace process.” “The Arroyo administration had tried this before but it backfired. It only courted irritation, which in no way shortchanged the MILF,” it added. Deputy Presidential spokesman Abigail Valte, nevertheless, said the Aquino administration is optimistic about the upcoming peace negotiation. “We hope that there will be a good resolution to the talks that are scheduled in July,” she said on radio. The last formal talks were held in April but ended without the signing of any of the three remaining annexes, power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization. The annex on transitional arrangements and modalities was inked in February. The government and the MILF, the largest Muslim rebel group in the country, have to complete first all the annexes of the FAB before they could forge a comprehensive agreement. While the government is fully committed in the peace process with the MILF, Valte said, the Aquino administration wants to ensure that the three annexes and the comprehensive compact will “pass legal muster.” That was why the government thoroughly evaluated and studied the draft annexes, which are now with the MILF, she said. Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer has announced that she and her counterpart with the
MILF, Mohagher Iqbal, agreed at the sidelines of a forum in Norway to resume the formal talks early next month to discuss the three remaining annexes. The MILF has been fighting government troops for decades to establish a self-rule Muslim state in southern Philippines. The Aquino government and the MILF formally signed on Oct. 15 of 2012 the framework agreement, a road map for final political settlement to end the decades-old armed struggle in southern Philippines.
PhilHealth revision will depoliticize health insurance coverage — Tañada • •
Written by Gerry Baldo Monday, 24 June 2013 08:00
Outgoing Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, who authored amendments to the PhilHealth Law, yesterday welcome the newly amended law saying that the move would “depoliticize once and for all the provision of health insurance “Under the new law, politicians will no longer have a say on who would enroll in PhilHealth,” Tañada explained. “Now everyone is enrolled, so the promise of PhilHealth coverage should no longer be a determining factor in their choice of who to vote or not vote for.” Last Thursday, June 19, President Aquino signed into law the bill amending the charter of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), which, among others, provides for the compulsory enrollment of absolutely every Filipino in PhilHealth, the government’s social health insurance program. “The system before was extremely politicized,” Tañada explained. “Politicians used PhilHealth coverage as a kind of bargaining chip with their constituents: they cover their supporters and exclude those who support their rivals. The whole question of having health insurance was a function of whether the candidate one voted for eventually won. That was the reason why we had PhilHealth cards with politician’s faces on it, and it became a standard campaign promise. That’s all been eliminated now with the new law.” Section 18 of the Republic Act 10606, which amends Section 28 of RA 7875, provides that the premiums of all those who qualify as indigents under the Means Test of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) shall be paid by the national government, while the premiums of those who are unable to pay but do not so qualify with the DSWD, will be provided for by their respective local government units. “This is a small effort on my part to leave government service a little better than when I found it,” the three-term congressman from Quezon, whose terms ends on June 30, said. “I used to worry what will happen to my sponsored PhilHealth beneficiaries after I leave office — because the standard practice was for the successor to stop paying for them and put in a new list of beneficiaries consisting of their own supporters. That is a moot consideration now, since it will not matter who is in office, everyone will be covered anyway.” Republic Act 10606 amends Republic Act 7875, the charter of the PhilHealth. It expands the minimum
services that the PHIC is mandated to provide, which includes out-patient services. Further, it makes several amendments with respect to the financial management of the corporation, particularly, lowering its administrative costs and the treatment of its reserve funds. It provides that the annual premiums of women who are about to give birth shall be borne by the national and local government, as well as sponsors, so that they need not worry about being deprived of medical service during that critical period. The premium contributions of orphans, abandoned and abused minors, out-of-school youths, street children, PWDs, senior citizens and battered women under the care of the DSWD, or any of its accredited institutions run by non-profit organizations shall be paid by the DSWD. Significantly, the law also mandates that the lack of a PhilHealth identification card will not be a reason to deny medical service to anyone.
13 Rizal municipalities asked to present traffic plans •
Written by Jason Faustino
Monday, 24 June 2013 08:00
In a bid to decongest the traffic situation in the Rizal province, Gov. Jun Ynares, now mayor-elect of Antipolo City, along with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), asked the 13 municipalities and the lone city to come up with a traffic plan that mitigates the everyday problem of motorists and helps likewise the flow of commerce. Ynares, who was represented by Vice Gov. Frisco San Juan Jr., said the perennial problem on vehicular traffic is being aggravated by illegal parking along major thoroughfares in the province. It was noted that clogging of vehicular traffic usually occurs along Ortigas Avenue Extension, particularly in Junction (Cainta) and Kaytikling (Taytay) areas, Masinag (Antipolo) Junction, and along Imelda Avenue (Cainta), especially during rush hours and heavy downpours. With the widening of major roads finished and some still ongoing, the additional lanes are being utilized as parking areas instead, defeating the purpose of easing traffic flow. Rizal provincial government and DPWH officials reminded local government executives on their responsibility to police their own jurisdiction and to deploy more traffic enforcers in traffic congested areas, as part of their mandates. Studies show that traffic congestion has much effect on the local economy due to wasted man hours and physical fatigue of workers resulting to slow paced work conditions. Meanwhile, the Rizal provincial government and several other municipal governments have shared with the national government, through the DPWH, in the funding of the ongoing construction of an elliptical road (rotonda) and pedestrian overpasses in the Kaytikling area in Taytay town where traffic congestion has been a headache to traffic enforcers and commuters alike. The multimillion-peso infrastructure project aimed at easing up traffic snarls in the area considered as gateway to Antipolo City and the eastern towns of the province, was the result from the counter-parting agreement between the national government and local governments of Rizal led by Ynares.
Angara awarded highest honor for contributions to arts and culture • •
Written by Tribune Monday, 24 June 2013 08:00
Sen. Edgardo Angara was honored last night by the different cultural agencies of the country for his invaluable contributions to the Philippine arts and culture sector. Angara was conferred by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) with the 2013 Dangal ng Haraya award as a Patron of the Arts and Culture (Tagapagtaguyod ng Sining at Kultura). The prestigious Dangal ng Haraya is the top distinction awarded by the NCCA to institutions or individuals with outstanding achievements that have made significant impact to the country’s culture and arts. The citation for Angara reads, “He has drawn upon his expertise, influence and stature to bring to light and attention one of the most neglected — but most important — fields in Philippine governance and society, creating a vital legacy that present and future generations of Filipinos will benefit from and look up to.” For all these things, we are indebted to Sen. Edgardo Angara, who is the foremost proponent in the uplifting of the Filipino spirit and champion in the forging of national identity through the nurturing of creativity, proving to be an ally and hero of arts and culture in legislation.” Angara was recognized for authoring the laws establishing the NCCA and other cultural bodies such as the National Museum and the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF). He was also credited for establishing the Gawad Manililikha ng Bayan or the National Living Treasures Award, which is given to outstanding traditional folk artists. Other pieces of landmark legislation in the arts and culture were mentioned as well, such as the observation of the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day every 30th of June and the National Cultural Heritage Act, which established a policy framework for the classification and protection of national treasures. In addition to the NCCA, the KWF and National Museum, leaders from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Cultural Center of the Philippines, the National Library and the National Archives each presented Angara with tokens of appreciation. In his short response, Angara said he was truly honored to have been able to work with brilliant and talented individuals, especially those from the arts and culture sector. He explained how he witnessed much of the Philippines’ turbulent history during the past decades, especially when government needed to revive a strong sense of nationhood and social cohesion.
Hungarians fume over revealing tobacco scandal • •
Written by AFP Monday, 24 June 2013 08:00
BUDAPEST — When Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban swept to power in 2010, one of the many things he promised was to clean up government and root out graft. But three years on, a shake-up of the sale of cigarettes, of all things, has turned into a scandal that has convinced many Hungarian voters that a culture of corruption remains very much alive. Originally, in 2012, the slashing of the number of outlets allowed to sell tobacco products from 42,000 — including petrol stations and supermarkets — to just 7,000 “National Tobacco Shops” run under a state monopoly was billed as a noble attempt to stub out teenage smoking. But when the list of winners, from a tender process, to own the licenses for the new state shops was revealed in April, it emerged that many not only had no experience in the business but had close ties to the ruling right-wing party Fidesz. In some cases they were even family members. Others were employees of cigarette manufacturer Continental, whose chief executive is a friend of Janos Lazar, Orban’s chief of staff and the author of the legislation creating the state monopoly on tobacco sales. Inflaming matters further, a recording was leaked to the press of the Fidesz mayor of one town telling party colleagues to check a list of bidders and saying “just as long as the (opposition) Socialists don’t win any”. Similar cases emerged in two other towns. Speaking at a demonstration against the monopoly, Katalin Szabone, one of the leaders of an angry protest group of tobacconists, told AFP that of 5,145 concessions granted so far, just 60 of Hungary’s current tobacconists had won their bids. Gabor Felkai, a 55-year-old who has run a shop since the 1990s, but who failed to win a concession, told AFP he can’t cover costs without selling cigarettes. “I am too old now to get another job, so I feel very bitter,” he said, holding a placard that read “Fidesz has taken away my living.” Several amendments to the legislation were made after the bidding process was closed. There would be a lucrative sales margin of 10 percent. Shops would sell not just cigarettes as originally planned but also ice cream, drinks and newspapers, and get cheap loans. Moreover, Fidesz — which enjoys a majority in parliament — then rushed through a Freedom of Information amendment as suspicions over the concessions grew, which critics said was to ensure that
compromising data on the scandal remained secret. The amendment was vetoed by the president for infringing civil rights, but made its way back into parliament to be approved in only a slightly modified format. “We’re on the road to full state control of public interest information,” Miklos Ligeti of Transparency International, one of several civil groups demanding access to bid data, told AFP. Gergely Karacsony, a lawmaker with the opposition Dialog for Hungary party, compares the scandal to the cronyism rampant during the communist era that ended in 1989. “Back then (the elite) got apartments from the party, now they get shops,” he told AFP. “It’s a mirage that they are trying to curb smoking, in reality it is centrally-organized theft.” And it is not the first time since Orban came to power that suspicions have been raised that those in the ruling party are out to line their own pockets and those of their family and friends. In the leasing of agricultural land, concession winners’ secret bids left local farmers furious at losing out to well-connected individuals and companies. The authorities are hotly denying accusations of dodgy dealings. Nor is corruption the only cause for criticism of Orban’s Hungary. Other accusations both at home and abroad are of creeping authoritarianism, a muzzling of the press and a soft approach to far-right extremism. Trust in the opposition is not much greater, however, and Orban’s party still holds a comfortable lead in opinion polls before the next elections slated for April or May 2014. The government insists that the procedure to award the tobacco concessions was fair, with Orban saying that media reports that some winners have ties to the left proves this. The combative Lazar, Orban’s chief of staff, went as far as accusing US tobacco giant Philip Morris — which has a plant in Hungary — of stirring up the outrage as they now stand to lose revenue. But the tobacconists’ group insists it will take its case to the European Union Court of Justice, while the Socialists have filed a case alleging criminal abuse of power nationwide with the chief prosecutor. “Losers understandably feel bitter,” Petra Legradi, from the National Tobacco Shops agency overseeing the process, told AFP.
PPP biggest challenge to gov’t, expert says • •
Written by Ed Velasco Monday, 24 June 2013 08:00
Government’s inaction on its public-private partnership (PPP) has caused a high ranking official of one of the Philippines’ top investment firms to warn about the serious repercussions of not pushing the construction of any of the mentioned projects way back three years ago. Reynaldo Montalbo Jr., First Metro Investment Corp. senior vice president and treasury group head, said the biggest setback from not pursuing any of the projects are the tourists whom the Philippines wants to multiply in the years to come. “The PPP is very important because these are the projects that will sustain the country’s economic gains. Without it, our strong growth could falter. For example the worst affected (for having no new infrastructure) are the airports. We want five-to-six million tourist arrivals,” Montalbo explained to the Daily Tribune in an ambush interview. The official echoed the warning of his boss, Juanchito Dispo, who said the absence of any PPP project is the biggest challenge for the Philippines. Aside from lack of new infrastructure, Dispo also said the recent election overspending and the unstable situation in the Asian region are just some of the concerns that must be survived in order for any positive forecast for the Philippines to come to reality. Montalbo explained that the lack of any new infrastructure is the biggest challenge for the government. “If we don’t upgrade our airports or build new ones, where will these tourists pass by? Don’t tell them they have to settle at NAIA,” the official said. Aside from losing the tourism income potentials, the severe lack in new infrastructure puts the very liquid state of Philippine market to waste. “In addition, we will also lose a good vehicle that could siphon off the strong liquidity in the market,” the he said. Several economists, led by former Budget and Management secretary Benjamin Diokno, said at least two to three percent growth can be expected if at least half of the 10 big ticket PPP projects worth P800 billion can be constructed and become operational.
Finance boss, DBM differ over DoF rationalization • •
Written by Ed Velasco Monday, 24 June 2013 08:00
The rationalization program of the Department of Finance (DoF) can’t be implemented because no less than the secretary of the department is against the program submitted by the Department of Budget of Management (DBM), a source privy to the issue revealed to the Daily Tribune. According to the source, who requested anonymity, Secretary Cesar Purisima’s version of the rationalization program is “quite unusual” because it hasn’t been tried in any branch of government before. Had the secretary approved the plan, the rationalization program of DoF should have started as early as March or April 2013. Rationalization aims to improve government efficiency by offering early retirement to government workers found out to be occupying repetitive positions. “The DBM proposal is not acceptable to SCVP (Secretary Purisima). SCVP wants a flatter organization with higher positions and less of the lower ranked assistants while DBM wants a hierarchical-type organization where supervisors have units with a certain number of technical and administrative positions.
Gov’t urged to make sure poor benefit from growth • •
Written by Tribune Monday, 24 June 2013 08:00
Former Economic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. sees a “relatively good growth” for the Philippines in the medium term given the reforms put in place by the Aquino administration. Guest speaker during the 40th anniversary celebration of the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) Friday night, Paderanga cited the statement of Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras that government has been successful in pushing for good governance and ensuring the continued strengthening of the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals. Paderanga said it is now ripe for the government to focus on ensuring that growth trickles down to the poor. “And so I think, over the medium term, we can expect relatively good growth unless there are extraneous external events that we really cannot control,” he said. In the first quarter of 2013, the Philippines’ output, as measured by gross domestic product (GPD), registered the highest growth in Asia at 7.8 percent, slightly higher than the 7.7 percent expansion of China, the world’s second largest economy. The growth was attributed to higher government and private expenditures and further increase in investments. It is also higher than the full-year target for this year of between six to seven percent. Paderanga, thus, urged fellow government workers to support the Administration’s bid to push for an inclusive growth in the country. “By and large, I look forward and expect us — the government workers, you and me, to be able to work hard for that,” he said. For his part, Almendras said the current administration is continuously looking for ways to improve things as it primarily focuses on good governance. “At the end of the day, the government should deliver its services to the people,” Almendras said.
Trade of manufactured goods growing rapidly among developing countries • •
Written by Ed Velasco Monday, 24 June 2013 08:00
Manufactured goods have been expanding as rapidly as commodities as crucial components of trade between developing countries which is projected to grow between 6.4 to 8.4 percent in the next three years, according to the World Bank (WB). “Excluding China, manufactured goods have been the fastest component of South-South trade, reflecting increased production chain inter linkages among developing countries, particularly in the East Asian region,” said the WB in its recently released Global Economic Prospects. The WB said growing trade in manufactured goods among developing countries has been solid as fast as petroleum imports and faster than agricultural raw material imports. This, while trade in natural resources, in particular ores and metals, has been the fastest growing commodity category of imports among developing countries. For the Philippines, manufactured goods by commodity group comprised 84 percent of its total export revenues in April this year. Top dollar earners also included total agro-based products, mineral, petroleum and forest products. The WB also said the faster projected trade growth for developing countries will be the key driver in the expansion of global trade until 2015. The so-called South-South trade is projected to grow between 6.4 to 8.4 percent over the three-year period compared to high-income countries at only 2.8 to 4.3 percent. More than 50 percent of developing country exports now go to other developing countries. “One significant element that has driven this South-South trade has been the growing role of East Asia as a major global trading bloc. Together, this region accounts for about half of the reorientation towards South-South trade, with China, being the most dynamic trading partner,” it said. “Indeed, without exception, every single developing region has increased its trade with China, while contemporaneously reducing their trade dependency on high-income markets,” it added. The WB projected global trade in goods and services to increase by four percent in 2013, before strengthening to five percent in 2014 and reaching 5.4 percent in 2015. “Despite this relatively strong growth projection, global trade volumes will remain below their pre crisis trend — potentially suggesting a slowing in the long-term trend for rapidly growing developing country market shares,” WB said.
SOLONS IN MAD SCRAMBLE Published : Monday, June 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 159 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
WHILE the speakership of the 16th Congress is virtually back in the hands of Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. with President Benigno Aquino’s solid support, a mad scramble for committee chairmanships and other Housepositions is now on. A House leader who refused to be identified for lack of authority to speak on the matter disclosed that lawmakers are now jostling for some major positions in the House of Representatives. The source said Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, who is the secretary general of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), is favored to get the post of Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limcaichong as chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations. Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the Committee on Justice, are apparently both interested in getting the position of Limcaichong. However, “Congressman Sarmiento is the frontrunner and Congressmen Ungab and Tupas may return to their present assignments,” the source said. House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II will remain in his post, the source said. Although Quezon City Rep. Bolet Banal Jr. of the LP is eyeing the chairmanship of the accountscommittee, the source said Belmonte is bent on giving it to Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus “Budoy” Madrona who used to head the panel during past Congresses.
“The Speaker should be comfortable with the chairman of the House Committee on Accounts. It’s his prerogative,” the source said. The source also disclosed that six LP members are eyeing three of six slots for deputy speaker. These include, according to the source, Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad, chairperson of the House Committee on Energy; Iloilo Rep. Jerry Trenas, chairman of the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability; Pampanga Representative-elect Oscar Rodriguez, Cebu Representative-elect Raul del Mar; Leyte Rep. Sergio Apostol, chairman of the Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries; and Lanao del Sur Rep. Pangalian Balindong. The source said that the Nacionalista Party (NP) will field Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla while the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and National Unity Party (NUP) will be given one slot each in six positions for deputy speaker. “In coming days, the committee posts will be completed and the party-list groups will be given chairmanships too,” the source said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/headlines/52880‐solons‐in‐mad‐scramble
Depositors lost Php3B in collapse of banks Published : Monday, June 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 282 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco A party-list lawmaker yesterday disclosed that a total of 84,873 depositors lost some P3 billion in savings with the collapse of nine banks from January 1 to June 15 this year. LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty, a member of the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, also said at least 40 former officers of failed banks are facing criminal charges filed this year by the state-run Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. The charges range from economic sabotage and syndicated estafa to violations of banking laws. Among those facing charges for banking law violations are the former chairman, two former presidents and three other former senior officers of the closed Export and Industry Bank (EIB). EIB’s closure on April 26, 2012 distressed more than 50,000 depositors who lost a combined P15.9 billion. Meanwhile, the former president and five borrowers of the closed LBC Development Bank are facing a P229.5-million syndicated estafa case. More than 320,000 depositors lost a total of P6 billion when LBC Bank was shut on Sept. 9, 2011. Ty is author of House Resolution 1749, seeking an inquiry into the banking industry’s condition, with a view to recommending remedial legislation meant to protect depositors, build up public confidence in banks, promote savings and support responsible credit. The nine lenders shut from January 1 to June 15 this year were Capitol City Rural Bank (Cavite) Inc., Rural Bank of Gainza (Camarines Sur) Inc., Rural Bank of Majayjay (Laguna) Inc., Rural Bank of Buenavista (Agusan del Norte) Inc., La Consolacion Rural Bank (Laguna) Inc., Rural Bank of Kinogitan (Misamis Oriental) Inc., Cooperative Rural Bank of Bulacan, Rural Bank of Naval (Leyte) Inc., and Rural Bank of Borongan (Eastern Samar) Inc. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/52881‐depositors‐lost‐php3b‐in‐collapse‐of‐ banks
Gov’t to implement PH fuel system shift Published : Monday, June 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 59 Written by : Cory Martinez
THE government is bent on implementing its “carbon war” program with plans of formulating a sustainable energy roadmap for the Philippines which will eventually shift the country's fuel system. This was disclosed yesterday by Climate Change Commissioner Heherson Alvarez, saying that the groundwork for said roadmap is expected to be achieved during today’s (Monday) conference at the Casa Roces, San Miguel, Manila. Alvarez added the event will launch the Philippine program from carbon fuel dependency to low carbon, and into zero carbon regime with renewable sources of energy. “Our government and its leadership is concerned with the latest scientific reports that global warming has accelerated, and believes the country must begin to program a path of low carbon to zero carbon along a broad partnership of the public interest and private sector,” Alvarez stressed. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/52901‐govt‐to‐implement‐ph‐fuel‐system‐shift
Ombudsman signs agreement to screen GOCC executives Published : Sunday, June 23, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 94
The Office of the Ombudsman has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Governance Commission to coordinate the screening of nominees for appointment as officers or members of the boards of Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations. The MOA was signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and GCG chairman Cesar Villanueva, will check potential GOCC officers through the “Fit and Proper Rule” for “integrity, experience, training and competence” as required by Section 16 of the GOCC Governance Act of 2011. Under the MOA, the GCG shall use the information to review and evaluate whether there are grounds to disqualify the nominee from being appointed to the recommended seat in the GOCC board. “The GC-GOCC shall use the information to review and evaluate whether there are grounds to disqualify the nominee from being appointed to the recommended seat in the GOCC board,” Morales said. Under the agreement “the Ombudsman shall immediately notify the GCG whenever a case is filed against any director/trustee of a GOCC when the same is pending preliminary investigation/administrative adjudication.” The process is expected to “weed out the undesirables and, at the same time, protect deserving nominees who are merely vexed by baseless complaints,” she added. Joel dela Torre http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/business/52848‐ombudsman‐signs‐agreement‐to‐screen‐gocc‐ executives