NFA to buy seized rice worth P1B Category: Top News Published on Sunday, 30 June 2013 21:04 Written by Joel R. San Juan THE Department of Justice (DOJ) has cleared the proposal of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy without going through the bidding process the smuggled rice shipments worth P1 billion that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) confiscated in April. With no less than Justice Secretary Leila de Lima upholding the legality of the planned sale, the Customs bureau and the finance department can now approve the purchase of the confiscated cereal by the DA and the NFA. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, in a letter to de Lima, sought her opinion on the legality of the purchase of the seized rice shipments through an agency‐to‐agency agreement. Alcala said the purchase was necessary to augment the NFA’s buffer stock, protect the farmers and stabilize the price of rice in the market. In her legal opinion, de Lima noted that Republic Act (RA) 9184, or the Government Procurement Service Act, allows alternative methods of procurement, subject to compliance with several conditions. She noted that Section 48, Article 16 of RA 9184 specifically states that: “Subject to the prior approval of the head of the procuring entity or his duly authorized representative, and whenever justified by the conditions provided in this Act, the procuring entity may, in order to promote economy and efficiency, resort to any of the following alternative methods of procurement.” One of these alternative methods is through negotiated procurement. Section 53 of RA 9184 has defined negotiated procurement as a method of “procurement of goods, infrastructure projects and consulting services, whereby the procuring entity directly negotiates a contract with a technically, legally and financially capable supplier, contractor or consultant.” The provision also allows the procurement of projects, services and goods from another agency of the government. But de Lima noted that agency‐to‐agency agreements may only be used upon compliance with the conditions set by the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB).
Among the conditions is that the agreement should be more efficient and economical for the government, and that the total amount of all goods, consulting and infrastructure projects to be undertaken should not exceed 25 percent of the agency’s procurement budget. “Applied to the instant query, subject to the compliance of the conditions above‐stated and the observance of the procedural requirements…issued by the GPPB to govern agency‐to‐agency agreements, we find no legal objection to the implementation of the subject DA‐NFA management proposal to procure seized rice from the BOC of DOF,” de Lima said. In April, the Customs bureau seized 1,194 20‐foot container vans of smuggled rice from Vietnam worth P1.2 billion which arrived at the Port of Cebu from March 18 to April 2. The bureau said it was the biggest smuggled rice haul ever as it was estimated to contain around 500,000 sacks of rice. Earlier this month, the bureau bid out 26,000 sacks, with revenues expected to reach P35 million. It said it expects to earn around P1 billion once all the smuggled items are sold through auction.
The bureau is conducting further inventory of the “hot” rice. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top-news/15770-nfa-to-buy-seized-riceworth-p1b
New truck overloading rules seen raising price of goods By Ellalyn B. De Vera Published: July 1, 2013
Manila, Philippines -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) will discuss the impact of new regulations on overloaded trucks and trailers carrying agricultural products in a meeting with truckers and agriculture industry stakeholders on July 15. DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala set a meeting with trucking and freight industry leaders and stakeholders to tackle the effects of a new resolution amending the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act (RA) 8794, the Anti-Overloading Law, to the movement of rice and other agricultural products around the country. The dialogue was requested by DA Assistant Secretary and National Rice Program coordinator Dante Delima, after meeting with industry stakeholders who claimed that the price of rice and other agricultural commodities could go up by one peso per kilo as a result of the new guidelines. “We noted that the continued implementation of the new guidelines by the Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and the Interior and Local Government (DILG), will have an adverse effect on the supply and price of rice in the local market,” he said. The new guidelines, which took effect last June 1, were implemented by DPWH and DOTC. Stakeholders claim that as a result of the new overloading regulations, an ordinary 22-wheel truck that can carry about 700 to 800 sacks of rice before would now be limited to load only 480 to 530 sacks per trip. http://mb.com.ph/News/National_News/20046/New_truck_overloading_rules_seen_raising_pric e_of_goods#.UdDzWayveKE
Harsh and unfair A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 1, 2013 - 12:00am The President of our country is indeed very powerful. In fact, under our presidential form of government power is too centralized in the Chief Executive. Thus it is claimed that a Philippine president has more powers than any president of other countries including even the president of the USA. Hence there is a greater danger that a Philippine president may be intoxicated with such power as to be easily corrupted. This is a clear and present danger indeed in the light of the truism enunciated by English historian, Lord John Edward Acton who said that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. As commonly known and generally accepted, being “corrupted” here connotes being “dishonest or crooked”. So if we are to believe PNoy’s drumbeaters, it will not apply to PNoy because he is supposedly one of the honest Presidents we ever had. But actually another meaning of being corrupted is being “spoiled” or believing that he is always right and can do no wrong to the extent of invariably putting the blame for any mistake, fault, failure, or omission in governance to the officials and employees in the bureaucratic maze under his supervision and control. This other lesser known kind of corruption comes to mind after reading a recent news report about the public dressing down meted out by PNoy on the officials and employees of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) particularly on its Administrator Antonio Nangel during its 50th anniversary celebration. Of course, as the overall manager of the Executive branch, it is really the right or privilege of any President to take to task any government official or employee who is performing his job below par. But precisely because he is a powerful president, he must exercise this privilege at the right time, in the right place and in the right manner even if there are enough reasons for doing so. As the Good Book says, “there is an appointed time for everything…a time to be silent and a time to speak”. And looking at what happened during that occasion from any angle, an anniversary celebration especially the 50th, is simply not the proper time to speak out and publicly chastise the NIA officials and employees. Even with so many setbacks and failures, reaching such milestone somehow still calls for some cheerful and happy gathering where the positive rather than the negative should be stressed. Certainly, not all official and employees of that agency are rotten and ineffective as to have accomplished nothing. Like any government bureaucratic office, delays are bound to happen in executing plans and programs. The scolding may have been proper at another time in a meeting called for discussing the problems of the office.
Indeed PNoy must have already been apprised beforehand of the sub-par performance of the agency in fulfilling its mandate to help the farmers and to develop and rehabilitate the irrigation systems throughout the country so that the administrationâ€™s program of self-sufficiency in the production of rice and other agricultural crops could have been attained. In fact he even cited NIA data showing that since 2001, it has not met its target. And the best example he gave is the Balog-Balog irrigation in his home province of Tarlac which has remained unfinished for the past twenty one years. So even before the anniversary celebration he could have called the Administrator and other officials to Malacanang and there confronted them personally or even through his Executive Secretary about the dismal record of the agency. Malacanang is indeed the most appropriate and conducive place where the President should perform the duties and functions of his office.Concededly he has the right and duty to give a tongue-lashing to officials and employees who are sleeping on their jobs. While in this case, he really gave them time to improve, it is still quite harsh and unfair for him to do it in a public gathering to celebrate a heartwarming and cheerful event where media was present. Showing his dismay and scolding them publicly undoubtedly caused disappointment and embarrassment to those employees present some of whom even came from far flung provinces. And most adversely affected here is the head of the agency who was obviously the main target of the dressing down. PNoy perhaps should put himself into the shoes of these people especially of the NIA administrator, and feel what they feel. And he can easily find this out by simply recalling the same kind of performance he had in the Senate and see how he will feel if he receives the same treatment, he is now giving to this people. By so doing, maybe he will be more compassionate next time especially now that he is holding the most powerful position as President.Somehow, this incident created another public perception that PNoy is just grandstanding and using media again to earn more pogi points by projecting an image that he wants change and positive results; that he wants action and would not tolerate non-performing officials. This is the perception created because if he is really sincere in this regard, he should have done it without so much publicity and in the proper way. Up to now, PNoy seems to be still playing partisan politics and trying to be more popular. Indeed just a week ago, he also attended another 50th anniversary celebration but this time on a happier note. It was also the 50th anniversary celebration of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) when he also delivered a speech this time full of praises to its Secretary and employees despite the unsolved flooding and squatter problems. He even gave the employees a P10,000 monthly bonus. Apparently if the DPWH employees were given a P10,000 bonus, the NIA employees should have also been given such bonus considering that there is no big difference in their performance.And speaking of bonuses, our AFP soldiers seem to be the most deserving of them because they put their own lives at stake to protect our people and country. Yet during the AFP anniversary, they were reportedly not given any such bonus. With this kind of government and politics, our countryâ€™s future still looks dim. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2013/07/01/960203/harsh-and-unfair
MAPping the Future
Does the law serve development? By Rolando T. Dy Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:15 pm | Sunday, June 30th, 2013
National laws must support, rather than frustrate, national development. The laws shall act as catalysts for inclusive, rather than exclusive, economic growth so that “those who have less in life shall have more in law. ” Many in the business sector and academe, however, claim that some laws have violated market forces, trampled the right to private property, and discouraged investments, job creation and inclusive growth. Sadly, many of these laws were fruits of poor legislation made worse by bad implementation whose consequences remain a heavy burden for productivity and competitiveness, especially for Philippine agriculture and countryside development. This article highlights a few examples. The Cabotage Law, also known as the Jones Act of 1920 and the primary US maritime law, was passed by the US Congress when the Philippines was still a colony. It has prohibited foreign vessels from serving domestic shipment routes. Many sectors claim that the law has led to the high cost of inter-island transport. Meanwhile, the Philippine Inter-island Shipping Association opposed the repeal. It attributes the high cost of shipping to high taxes, lack of cargo volume, high interest rates and inadequate port facilities. Incidentally, a US International Trade Commission study in 2007 estimated that the Jones Act cost the US economy some US$ 3.6 billion to US$ 9.8 billion a year. Indeed, the costs of transport to Taiwan and Malaysia from Mindanao are cheaper than from Mindanao to Manila. Shipping dry cargo from Davao to Taiwan costs about US$450 per 20-foot equivalent unit (TEU), to West Malaysia US$480 per TEU as compared to Manila, $565 to $680 per TEU. General Banking Act (Republic Act (RA) 337 of 1948). Section 79 of the Act mandates that the maximum grace period for loans will be three years. This continued for several decades until it was amended by Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act in 1997, and implemented by a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) memorandum circular in late 1999, following incessant advocacies by the tree-crop alliance for decades. Section 79 states that: “… In the case of loans with maturities of more than three years, provision must be made for periodic amortization payments, but such payments must be made at least annually: Provided, however, that when the borrowed funds are to be used for purposes which do
not initially produce revenues adequate for regular amortization payments therefrom, the bank may permit the initial amortization payment to be deferred until such time as said revenues are sufficient for such purpose, but in no case shall the initial amortization date be later than three years from the date on which the loan is grantedâ€? (emphasis by the author). For over 40 years, the Act prohibited lending to long-gestating crops such as rubber (six years gestation), oil palm and coffee (more than three years with traditional clones), and mango (over five years). It is no wonder why, in part, the country lags in tree-crops development in Southeast Asia. Under the Malaysian land schemes in the early 1980s, the grace period for oil palm was five years and for rubber seven years, with interest capitalized. Sugar Act (RA 809 of 1952) provides for sharing of milled sugar with 60 to 70 percent to the planter, and 30 to 40 percent to the miller. Various analysts have questioned the law as it discourages investments by the mills that will fund 100 percent of an investment, say mill modernization, while the planter gets most of the benefits. In Thailand, when a planter delivers cane, he is immediately paid for the cane with quality premium or discount. The mill owns the sugar produced. This policy promotes mill investments and modernization. Banana Hectarage Law (Letter of Instruction (LOI) 58 of 1973 and LOI 790 of 1979). LOI 58 was issued in 1972 that limited Cavendish banana areas to 21,000 hectares for 19 farms of the eight exporter groups. This was amended by LOI 790 which extended the limit to 26,250 hectares for the same groups. These regulated the supply of banana exports. Over the years, the industry has expanded, and the total area eventually far exceeded the LOI limits. The government of Pres. Fidel Ramos turned a blind eye to the LOI and allowed expansion. Executive Order No. 807 of 2009 issued by President Macapagal-Arroyo finally lifted the cap on banana farms. The law gave preference to a group of investors and banned new investors. There was a concern that new entrants will destroy the banana market in Japan at that time. This was a case of regulatory capture. Happily, the law was ignored in later years and allowed the banana industry to expand and create jobs. The Agri-Agra Law or Presidential Decree (PD) 717 of 1975 provided for credit access to agriculture and agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB). It mandated that all banks allocate 25percent of their loans for agricultural credit in general, of which 10 percent of the loans shall be made available for ARB credit. Over the years, Congress and the BSP have expanded alternative compliance such as: (a) development loans to educational institutions, hospitals, socialized housing, and local government units (LGUs); (b) investment in commercial papers issued by agricultural firms; investment in LGU, agrarian reform and Pag-ibig bonds; and (c) loans for high-value commercial crops.
Critics argued that the PD failed to improve credit access for farmers. Since agricultural financing remains risky, the PD leaves banks with little flexibility in making optimal portfolio decisions. The situation forces them to pass on the cost of higher credit risk back to the farmers and other borrowers. RA 10000 of 2010 amended the law. The new law retains the mandatory credit allocation. The law rationalizes the modes of compliance. Apart from direct compliance, alternative compliance is also provided. They are: (a) wholesale lending to and/or investments in accredited rural financial institutions (RFIs); (b) bonds that are declared eligible by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in consultation with the Department of Agrarian Reform; (c) loans for construction of infrastructure that will benefit the agri-agra sector; as well as (d) loans to the National Food Authority (NFA) and NFA-registered warehousemen, millers and wholesalers. The BSP will accredit the bank-RFIs while the DA will accredit the non-bank RFIs such as cooperatives and others. There is no proof yet that the law has helped in rural poverty reduction. In many aspects, the important elements for lending are missing: viable market-driven projects, good infrastructure, research and development, extension services, well-organized producers and good governance. Coconut Preservation Act. Under RA 8048 of 1995, the cutting of coconut trees is banned except when permitted by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA). The exceptions include: (a) the tree is at least 60 years old; (b) the tree is not productive; (c) the tree is severely diseased or pestinfected; (d) the tree is damaged; (e) the coconut land shall have been approved for conversion to non-agricultural uses; (f) the coconut land shall be used for other agricultural-related activities; and (g) the tree would cause hazard to life and property. Another is the planting of the equivalent number of coconut seedlings. Landowners feel that the law actually violates the right to private property. If a landowner feels that he must cut the low-yielding trees for alternative agri investments, why should he need a permit from the government? Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). The issuance of a TRO has caused high economic costs due to delays in project implementation. A case in point is the connector between the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Tollway in Batangas, which was severely delayed due to right-of-way problems. This does not happen in China and Vietnam where infrastructure construction is faster as all the lands are owned by the government. Indonesia has also issued a decree on the subject to expedite infrastructure development. What happened to SLEX’s service level when a group of “enlightened” lawyers filed a case against the Philippine National Construction Corporation years ago? The toll fee was reduced and the SLEX maintenance deteriorated.
Foreign Ownership. The Constitution reserves to Filipino citizens the ownership of certain industries: education, media, utilities and exploitation of natural resources. The grant of exclusivity to nationals may look good to some sectors, but it has also led to fewer choices for the consumers. In some industries, the service standards of local firms are not as good compared to benchmarks, which are usually the foreign-run companies. Limiting ownerships to locals can also lead to elite capture. Squatting. Under RA 7279 (the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992) or the Lina Law, landowners must find a relocation site before they can ask squatters in their property to move out. Certainly, the law has many unintended consequences. First, private land owners who inherited lands or saved money to purchase the land are disenfranchised. Is it not that the right to private property is enshrined in the Constitution? Has anyone challenged this Law? Also, what have the local governments done to address the lingering squatters issue? Courts and legislators may not be all competent to judge in many cases the economic impact on society of legal decisions. They may favor a person or a group but their decisions affect the common good of society. To address these concerns, students of law must take courses on economics of regulation and cost-benefit analysis. For the courts, they must consult experts to help them understand the impact of law on economic development. This is already standard operating procedure in developed countries. But sadly, not here. Oversight committees set up to review these laws lose sight of public good intentions amidst conflicts of interests and self serving short term priorities. Somebody should be able to flesh out who benefits from these laws, and in like manner, indirectly show why they still exist despite their bad economic rationale. Are retrogressive laws our weakest links to forge ahead for inclusive growth and be able to catch up with the national progress earned by our Asean neighbors the past decades? Quo vadis? No doubt, lawmakers and the courts have the best intentions when they craft or interpret the laws that affect economic development. But sometimes in the past, the laws enacted or court judgments have had a negative impact on development and, as a consequence, the people. This is partly the reason we are now lagging behind our Asean neighbors. There needs to be a balance between good intentions and an awareness of potential negative practical consequences on development. The law must help boost development, not impede it. (The article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines. The author is the executive director of the Center for Food and AgriBusiness of the University of Asia and the Pacific. Feedback at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. For previous articles, please visit map.org.ph) http://business.inquirer.net/129639/does-the-law-serve-development
Gorio fails to save Isabela crops from drought By Charlie Lagasca (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 1, 2013 - 12:00am BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya , Philippines – While Tropical Storm Gorio may have brought floods to some areas over the weekend, its rains could have been a blessing for thousands of drought-hit farmlands in Isabela. This, as the country’s leading agricultural province continues to experience lack of enough rainfall as Gorio failed to bring the much needed volume of water to irrigate some 3,000 hectares of cornfields which have been reeling from the dry spell. As of Friday, Isabela, the country’s leading corn-producing province, had lost at least P33 million worth of corn crops as a result of the prolonged dry spell. In its latest crop damage assessment report, the provincial agriculture office said the drought has affected 2,815 hectares of cornfields. Crops in 283 hectares have been lost totally. Provincial agriculturist Danilo Tumamao said most of the affected corn plants were in their reproductive and vegetative stages.Although rains started to pour in most of Isabela’s southern areas, the northern part covering Ilagan City and the towns of Cabagan, San Mariano, Tumauini, Santo Tomas, Quirino and San Pablo still lacks water for irrigation. Tumamao, however, allayed fears of heavy agricultural losses as the affected cornfields, he said, represent only 2.7 percent of the 135,770 hectares of farmlands presently planted with corn. “We are hopeful that more rains would eventually fall on our drought-affected farmlands,” he said. Meanwhile, the water level at the Magat Dam along the Isabela-Ifugao border remains at normal level amid the intermittent rains brought by Gorio, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said.As of 1 p.m. yesterday, NIA engineer Saturnino Tenedor, the dam’s flood forecasting and warning section chief, said Magat’s water elevation remains within the normal level at 178.04 meters. The three-decade-old dam provides irrigation to at least 80,000 hectares of farmlands in Isabela and parts of Quirino and Cagayan. It also generates 380 megawatts of power, making it the second biggest power provider among hydro-power dams in Luzon. – With Raymund Catindig http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/07/01/960050/gorio-fails-save-isabela-crops-drought
Eels destroying rice fields in Nueva Vizcaya By Charlie Lagasca (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 1, 2013 - 12:00am BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya , Philippines – While northern Isabela is still reeling from a prolonged dry spell despite the onset of the rainy season, farmers in this landlocked province are coping with eels that have “invaded” their farmlands. Alexander Domingo, fisheries expert of the provincial agriculturist office, said eels have been destroying rice fields here which could result in poor palay production. The eels, according to Domingo, were especially monitored in six of Nueva Vizcaya’s 15 riceproducing towns, namely Bagabag, Villaverde, Solano, Quezon, Bambang, and Ambaguio. Reports said the eels invading farmlands here are capable of burrowing into mud or creating holes. “One way to contain this type of eels is to harvest them because we have a ready market for them,” said Domingo, adding that eels are being sold for at least P90 per kilo. Eels are catadromous snake-like fish with some 800 species worldwide. In exceptional cases, they can reach 1.5 meters long. Eels causing damage in farmlands here though are only 60 to 80 centimeters long. “This is the destructive type of eels, as these usually thrive in shallow ponds, irrigation canals and rice fields,” said Domingo, adding that this is not the eel species that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has classified as endangered. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/07/01/960051/eels-destroying-rice-fields-nueva-vizcaya
BDO helps fund $130‐M power project Category: Banking & Finance Published on Sunday, 30 June 2013 18:47 Written by Paul Anthony A. Isla ALTERNERGY Wind One Corp. said on Friday that BDO Capital & Investment Corp. (BDO Capital) led a syndicate of banks extending $130 million for the 67.5‐megawatt (MW) wind‐farm power project in Pililla, Rizal province. Alternergy, which focuses on tapping renewable energy, is the joint venture between Alternergy Viento Partners Corp., founded by former Energy Secretary Vincent Perez, and Korea East West Power, a subsidiary of Korea Electric Power Co. (Kepco). The company said the $130‐million financing is the first all—Filipino commercial bank syndicated term‐ loan facility for a wind‐power project in the country. It said the 67.5‐MW Pililla wind‐farm project is the first renewable‐power project that has received full project finance based on the feed‐in‐tariff (FIT) regime under the Renewable Energy Act of 2008. An FIT is a cost‐based compensation mechanism assuring certainty of price and designed to encourage renewable‐energy producers to invest for the long haul. Eduardo V. Francisco, BDO Capital president, said the fund extended to the project is a testament to the domestic banking industry’s growing awareness and confidence in helping the private sector develop power‐generation projects that harness renewable energy. He said the syndication of four all‐Filipino commercial banks demonstrates the technical and commercial viability of renewable‐power projects in the country, specifically for large‐scale wind projects. BDO Unibank Inc. leads the project lenders for the Pililla wind‐ farm project, together with the Philippine National Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. and China Banking Corp. BDO Capital is the lead arranger and sole book runner. The syndicated loan facility has a term of 12.5 years and is available in both Philippine pesos and US dollars. The Pililla wind‐farm project will involve the construction and installation of 27 wind turbines along the ridge of the mountainous Rizal province. Based on the Wind Atlas of the Philippines produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the United States, the Pililla wind site has a promising wind‐ resource potential.
Alternergy verified and confirmed the potential after more than three years of wind‐resource assessment by GL Garrad Hassan, the world’s leading wind‐consultancy firm. The Asian Development Bank partly financed the feasibility study under a technical‐assistance facility. The Pililla wind‐farm project received the Confirmation of Commerciality from the Department of Energy (DOE) on May 17. Under the renewable‐energy law, the first batch of wind‐power projects will receive an P8.53 per kilowatt‐hour FIT rate for the next 20 years. The Pililla wind‐farm project is expected to be ready for commissioning by late 2014. The groundbreaking ceremony of the Pililla wind‐farm project was held on June 18, led by Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/banking‐finance/15755‐bdo‐helps‐fund‐ 130‐m‐power‐project
New trucking, freight loading requirement could raise agri prices By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 1, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is meeting with players in the trucking and freight industry to determine the impact of new loading regulations on the transport and pricing of rice and other agricultural commodities. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is meeting with industry stakeholders on July 15 after they warned that prices of rice and other farm products could go up by one peso per kilo as a result of the new loading guidelines set by the Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and the Interior and Local Government (DILG). The said agencies started implementing on June 1 a resolution amending the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 8794, also known as the Anti Overloading Act of 2000. The government argues that overloaded trucks and trailers could cause tremendous damage to highway safety and traffic operations and take its toll on infrastructure investments. Present estimates place road rehabilitation cost at about P13.5 billion every year. The DPWH imposed starting June 1 a reduction on the prescribed gross vehicle weight (GVW) depending on configuration. The following are the new recommended maximum allowable GVW: trucks with two axles (six wheels) –18,000 kg; trucks with tandem rear axle/three axles (10 wheels) – 33,300 kg; trucks with tandem rear axle/four axles (14 wheels) – 35,600 kg; truck semi-trailer with three axles (10 wheels) – 34,000 kg; truck semi-trailer with four axles (14 wheels) – 40,600 kg; truck semitrailer with five axles (18 wheels) – 41,500 kg; truck trailer two axles at prime mover/three axles at trailer (18 wheels) – 41,000 kg; truck trailer two axles at prime mover/two axles at trailer (14 wheels) – 43,000 kg; truck trailer two axles at prime mover/three axles at trailer (18 wheels) – 43,500 kg; truck trailer three axles at prime movers/three axles at trailer (22 wheels) – 42,000 kg; truck trailer three axles at prime mover/two axles at trailer (18 wheels) – 43,500 kg; and truck trailer three axles at prime mover/three axles at trailer (22 wheels) – 45,000 kg. Section 6 of the original law provides that the government could impose an amount equivalent to 25 percent of the Motor Vehicles Users Charge (MVUC) for trucks and trailers exceeding their GVW. The prescribed load per axle remains at 13,500 kilograms. Agriculture assistant secretary and National Rice Program coordinator Dante Delima said the new load regulations would adversely affect rice cargo because it would reduce the volume transported.
He said that for instance, a 22-wheeler truck that could carry about 700 to 800 sacks of rice could now transport only 480 to 530 sacks per trip. This would lead to a P1 increase in the price of milled rice per kilo. â€œStrict implementation of the law will result in increasing the cost of freight, handling and storage, and worsen traffic conditions. There may not even be enough trailers and containers to move all the cargo because of the additional trips required to move them all,â€? he added. He said the matter was also brought to the attention of the DPWH. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/07/01/960106/new-trucking-freight-loading-requirementcould-raise-agri-prices
Taking endangered wildlife as pets against the law, says DENR chief By Jeannette I. Andrade Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:26 pm | Sunday, June 30th, 2013
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — Let’s not pet them. Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje urged the public on Sunday to refrain from keeping wildlife species as pets and taking them away from their natural habitats because they are highly vulnerable to stress. Paje made the call following last week’s death from pneumonia and cardiac arrest of a male tarsier, which had been rescued from the Manila Golf and Country Club in Makati City. In a statement Paje said, “We have very interesting wildlife species, such as the tarsier. Most of the time we are tempted to buy them and take them as pets. But these are very different from domesticated animals like dogs and cats. They are very sensitive and highly vulnerable to stress and diseases.” He added that the survival rate of wildlife animals kept as pets has been very low. The environment secretary stressed that the death of the tarsier should serve as a wake up call and said, “If we want our children to see our precious wildlife species alive, let us leave them alone in the wilds where they belong. Let’s not pet them.” Paje likewise warned that the collection of wildlife species, both flora and fauna, from the wild without a permit would be illegal. Mere possession, he said, of an endangered animal would be
punishable under the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act with a maximum of four years of imprisonment and a P300,000 fine. Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) director Mundita Lim said that based on the result of the necropsy, the tarsier died of pneumonia and cardiac arrest. She said that the cause of death was an indication of exposure to stress. The PAWB director said that the tarsier was found dead at around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday last week inside its cage at the intensive care section of the wildlife rescue center in Quezon City. Lim said that arrangements had previously been made with the Philippine Airlines last Tuesday for the tarsier’s flight back to Bohol for re-introduction into the wild. She explained that taking into consideration the frailty of the tarsier when taken out of its natural habitat, she had dispensed with the standard 90-day observation period and ordered the primate flown back to Bohol as soon as it showed signs of appetite improvement. Lim said, “To keep the tarsier from further stress, our veterinarians decided against subjecting the animal from outside contact. Getting blood samples to determine its condition was totally out of the question,” and stressed that the animal’s appetite was the only way to go by to determine its condition at the time. The tarsier showed signs of appetite improvement until Wednesday morning, when the caretaker noticed that the animal did not eat and was on the floor of the cage. It eventually died past noon. The Philippine tarsier (tarsius syrichta) is one of the smallest known primates in the world. Its size ranges from 118 to 149 millimeters (4.6 to 5.8 inches) while its average weight is between 113 and 142 grams. The Philippine tarsier is among “endangered” wildlife species listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Conservation Monitoring Center in 1986 and is now included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species of “near threatened” animals.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/435871/taking-endangered-wildlife-as-pets-against-thelaw-says-denr-chief#ixzz2XkpYADiX
Neda to keep an eye on irrigation projects Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Sunday, 30 June 2013 19:07 Written by Cai U. Ordinario THE National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) is now closely monitoring the performance of irrigation projects, particularly those funded under Official Development Assistance (ODA) in light of the President’s call for a probe on the National Irrigation Administration (NIA). At the sidelines of the third anniversary of the Philippines Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan told reporters that it will keep tabs on ODA projects, particularly irrigation projects. Balisacan, who was a former Agriculture undersecretary and whose academic studies have been focused on agriculture and rural development, believes irrigation holds the key in increasing labor productivity in agriculture. “The Neda is very much involved [in the investigation] because Neda approves major investments for irrigation. So we are also following up the developments there because, especially irrigation. If you look at the potential sources of growth in agriculture, in rice only, a third of potential increases in productivity that you could get from rice farming would have to come from irrigation development,” he said. “The other two third could come from other sources like new varieties, new cultural practices, infrastructure, marketing support. Malaki ’yung contribution ng irrigation,” Balisacan added. It can be noted that since the Neda created it’s ODA Alert Mechanism (AM) in the third quarter of 2009, irrigation projects have always been included in the list of problematic projects. The alert mechanism is a means by which the Neda can anticipate problems and issues of all foreign‐ assisted projects. Through the AM, solutions to implementation bottlenecks and other issues can be resolved through identification and facilitation. Some of the irrigation projects that have been included in the alert mechanism are the Southern Philippine Irrigation Sector Project, Banaoang Pump Irrigation Project and Help for Catubig Agricultural Advancement Project Stage I. “This time, we are closely monitoring, seriously [monitoring]. Neda has alerted the various departments about our performance in the ODA,” Balisacan said. The NIA recently came under fire for its failure to meet its irrigation targets for 2012. The President was the one who pointed out the failure of the agency in his recent speech at the NIA anniversary.
The President quoted NIA’s annual report to him in 2012, which stated that NIA only managed to irrigate 52,372 hectares of farm land or 65 percent of their target. Mr. Aquino also scolded NIA officials on the long‐delayed Balog‐Balog irrigation project in Tarlac. He said even after 21 years the Balog‐Balog project has yet to start. Earlier, the BusinessMirror reported that apart from the failure to meet its targets in 2012, NIA reported that 104,810 hecatres of rice lands were converted into non‐agricultural land rendering it “permanently non‐restorable.” This has caused the country’s firmed‐up service areas (Fusa) to decline to only 1.57 million hectares in 2012 from the 1.68 million hectares in 2011. The NIA report stated that the FUSA is composed of 712,790 hectares under the National Irrigation Systems; 496,442 hectares in communal irrigation systems; 193,814 hectares in private irrigation systems; and 167,880 hectares in Other Government Agencies‐assisted irrigation systems. The report stated that the remaining potential area that will be developed is 1.45 million hectares. The estimated potential irrigable areas are those devoted to rice and corn.
Removal of Dagupan illegal fish pens pushed Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Sunday, 30 June 2013 19:05 Written by PNA DAGUPAN CITY—The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said it is a must that all the illegal fish pens in Dagupan are removed sooner otherwise the fishkill that happened in Sual town is bound to happen in the city soon. Dr. Westly Rosario, chief of BFAR’s National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center, said this was also the recommendation of stakeholders who attended a workshop‐seminar conducted by her office who noted the fish pens in Dagupan are also a bane in adjacent Binmaley, Lingayen and San Carlos City. The Dagupan river system, with its mouth located in Binuan, Dagupan City, connects to the rivers in Binmaley, Lingayen and San Carlos and therefore this must always be kept clean. Tagged as the most critical part of the Dagupan river is the boundary between Lucao, Dagupan, and Naguilayan, Binmaley where there are now close to illegal 150 fish pens adjacent to each other, even obstructing navigation. “To me, it is always advisable to make the Dagupan river open since it is not a monopoly of Dagupan City after all,” he said. Rosario added that there is no fish kill in Dagupan City yet but the water, especially in the Dagupan‐ Binmaley boundary now looked blackish. Rosario said the fishkill that happened in Sual, timed in with the coming of neap tide, caused by oversupply of milkfish not only in Dagupan but in Metro Manila as well forced the price of the commodity to go down at P75 per kilo, the lowest ever this year. However, he hailed the ultimatum given by Dagupan City Mayor Belen Fernandez to all fish pen owners to remove their contraptions by August 31 this year or else they will face a case in court and their structures demolished at their own expense. PNA
KaWAWA NIA By Ambassador Jose A. Zaide Published: July 1, 2013
QUERY: Is it fair that media name the official(s) in Middle East sex scandal at this time? In the same manner that witnesses are masked and given fictitious names, isn’t the accused and the reputation of his family entitled to protection before he has aired his side? * * *
NO HAPPY BIRTHDAY. National Irrigation Administration (NIA) got no birthday cake on its 50th anniversary; instead, President Benigno Aquino III gave the kaWAWA Administrator Engr. Antonio Nangel a mind-blowing (in thunder, lighting, and in rain) dressing down. * * *
So different from the 115th anniversary of DPWH when the President showered the rank-andfile with P10,000 bonus for paving (literally) Daang Matuwid. * * *
Just hours before he vented his spleen on NIA, the President extolled the Department of Health as barometer and proof of government fulfilling “its mandate to the people.” *** HOME TOWN DECISION. Aquino said an irrigation project was long due for his “bosses” (Tarlac constituents) who rely heavily on rainwater. *** A private proponent had offered to build the putative dam, the “Balog-Balog Multipurpose Project,” to irrigate 39,150 hectares of farmlands, mitigate flooding in low-lying areas, and provide opportunity for fish production on the dam’s 2,004-ha. reservoir “at very minimal cost to government.” *** GIVE A DAM. The President is understandably impatient with the project conceived 21 years ago when his mother was President Corazon Aquino. “I am now (the President), we have yet to have a groundbreaking,” he fumed. ***
An even bigger multipurpose project is the Wawa $25-billion dam also waiting to see the light of day. It doesn’t even need government funding. *** DAM IF YOU DON’T. PNoy decried NIA’s consistent failure to meet its own annual targets. (Example: Only 10,539 ha. irrigated of 18,883 ha. target in 2005; only 8,989 ha of 22,639 ha. target in 2006… etc. Or averaging a failing grade of 66 percent accomplishment from 2001 to 2009.) *** He didn’t say that Engr. Nangel was appointed Administrator by former President Gloria Arroyo only in 2010. Or is it because Engr. Nangel was the former President’s appointee that he is PNoy’s punching bag? *** It may not be lost on the hapless NIA administrator that they let loose the dogs of war on former Chief Justice Arturo Corona after P-Noy’s broadside against the Supreme Court tribunal when he was guest speaker at the First National Criminal Justice Summit. *** NIA ANG NAGHAIN, NAPOCOR ANG KUMAIN. NIA builds dams for irrigation; but income from hydro-electric power generated by the dam goes to National Power Corporation, which sells at great profit to Meralco and power distributors. *** Poor NIA. Wala nang pera, na sabon pa. Did you know that NAPOCOR rank-and-file can even be better paid than NIA officials? *** The only exception where NIA will get a piece of the action is the $687-million Casecnan multipurpose irrigation and power project. When the franchise of Cal Energy expires in 2021, 60 percent of income on the power generated will go to NPC and 40 percent to NIA! *** Former Agriculture Secretary Roberto Sebastian made it a condition that 40% of the power revenue goes to NIA. ***
Like the Balog-Balog, the $25-billion Wawa multi-purpose project will: 1. Assure supply to the two water concessionaires of Metro Manila on No Take, No Pay basis. 2. Generate 500 MW of hydro-electric power to cover expected shortage. 3. Provide flood control for Metro Manila. *** TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE? The proponent, San Lorenzo Builders, the author and partner of the Casecan Dam project, does not ask for a single centavo from the government or advance payment from the public water consumers. *** Moreover, 40 percent of the power generated reverts to NIA when the franchise expires…so that NIA can build more dams in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. *** Maybe it’s not a bad thing for the President to get pissed off, and direct his rage on officials who get in the way of getting the job done. *** Daang Matuwid only needs takes political will to realize projects for the best interest of P-Noy’s “bosses”? Wouldn’t that be something to crow over in his next SONA? FEEDBACK: email@example.com
Below The Line Ambassador Jose A. Zaide He is a retired diplomat with nearly 40 years service home and abroad. He last served as Ambassador to France and Unesco. His two other missions were in Germany (our last Ambassador to Bonn and first to Berlin) and in Austria. He was DFA Chief of Protocol and on different times headed the European and Asian desks.
New guidelines on overloading to affect prices of milled rice Category: Top News Published on Sunday, 30 June 2013 20:45 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent THE new rules against overloading could have adverse effects on the supply and price of milled rice in wet markets if not managed properly, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said. With this in mind, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala set a meeting with trucking and freight industry leaders on July 15 to study the effects of the guidelines on load limits for trucks and trailers that carry agricultural produce, which took effect on June 1. Agriculture Assistant Secretary and National Rice Program Coordinator Dante S. Delima sought the dialogue after he met with industry stakeholders, who claimed the price of rice and other agricultural commodities could go up by P1 per kilo as a result of the new guidelines. “We noted that the continued implementation of the new guidelines by the departments of Public Works and Highways [DPWH], Transportation and Communications [DOTC], and the Interior and Local Government [DILG], would have an adverse effect on the supply and price of rice in the local market,” said Delima On June 1, the DPWH and DOTC started implementing a resolution amending the Anti‐Overloading Act of 2000 or Republic Act 8794. The government argues that overloaded trucks and trailers have “tremendous damaging effects” on highway safety and traffic operations and cause a heavy toll on government investments on infrastructure. Officially, road rehabilitation costs about P13.5 billion every year. The original implementing rules were issued on August 16, 2000, but the DPWH, the DOTC and the DILG issued a Joint Circular in 2001 providing the mechanics of implementation and enforcement of the provisions on overloading. It came with an attachment called “Annex A,” which prescribes the maximum allowable gross vehicle weight (GVW) depending on the configuration of the trucks and trailers. Section 6 of the original law provides that the government shall impose an amount equivalent to 25 percent of the Motor Vehicles Users Charge for trucks and trailers exceeding their GVW for which the prescribed axle‐load is at 13,500 kilograms per axle.
The new resolution, approved on April 5, defines trucks and trailers as overloaded when they carry loads that exceed the GVW prescribed in Annex A, provided that the dual‐wheel single‐axle load does not exceed 13,500 kilograms. This general rule of 13,500‐kilogram per axle was set aside by the pre‐computed GVW in Annex A. As a result, in terms of rice cargo, an ordinary 22‐wheel truck that can carry about 700 to 800 sacks of rice before would now be limited to load only from 480 to 530 sacks per trip. This would amount to a P1 increase in price of milled rice per kilo, Delima said. “Strict implementation of the law will result in increasing the cost of freight, handling and storage, and worsen traffic conditions. There may not even be enough trailers and containers to move all the cargo because of the additional trips required to move them all,” he added. The matter was also brought to the attention of the DPWH, and the truckers were informed that the implementation of the new guidelines might be suspended temporarily. But Alcala and Delima want a more mutually beneficial solution to the problem.
Alternergy wind farm project gets $130 M loan By Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 1, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Four local banks led by BDO Unibank Inc. are extending a $130 million loan to Alternergy Wind One Corp., the developer of the 67.5 megawatt wind farm power project in Pililla, Rizal province. Alternergy Wind One is a partnership between Alternergy Viento Partners Corp, founded by former Energy Secretary Vincent Perez, and Korea East West Power, a generation subsidiary of Korea Electric Power Co. (KEPCO). The $130 million financing is the first all-Filipino commercial bank syndicated term loan facility for a wind power project. The 67.5 MW Pililla Wind Farm Project is the first renewable power project that has received full project financing on the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) regime under the Renewable Energy (RE) Law. “This is a testament to the domestic banking industry’s growing awareness and confidence in helping the private sector develop power generation projects that harness renewable energy,” BDO Capital & Investment Corp. president and BDO Unibank EVP Eduardo Francisco said. Francisco said the team up of four all-Filipino commercial banks demonstrates the technical and commercial viability of renewable power projects in the country, specifically for large-scale wind projects. Aside from BDO Unibank, the other banks that will lend to Alternergy are Philippine National Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. and China Banking Corp. BDO Capital is the lead arranger and sole bookrunner. The syndicated loan facility has a term of 12.5 years and is available in both Philippine pesos and US dollars.
The Pililla Wind Farm Project involves the construction and installation of 27 wind turbines along the ridge of the mountainous Rizal province. Based on the Wind Atlas of the Philippines conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the United States, the Pililla wind site has a promising wind resource. Alternergy Wind One verified and confirmed the potential after more than three years of wind resource assessment by GL Garrad Hassan, the worldâ€™s leading wind consultancy firm. The Asian Development Bank partly-financed the feasibility study under a technical assistance facility. The Pililla Wind Farm Project received the Confirmation of Commerciality from the Department of Energy (DOE) last May 17, 2013. Under the RE Law, the first batch of wind power projects would receive a P8.53 per kWh FIT rate for the next 20 years. The ground breaking ceremony of the Pililla Wind Farm Project was held last June 18. The project is expected to be ready for commissioning by late 2014. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/07/01/960104/alternergy-wind-farm-project-gets-130-mloan
Economy Posted on June 30, 2013 09:33:46 PM
Region 12 eyes pork exports anew KORONADAL CITY ‐‐ The departments of Agriculture (DA) and of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) are reviving efforts to land the area’s meat products in foreign markets. PORK LEGS hang from this Manila market vendor’s stall in this Nov. 4, 2011 photo. ‐‐ AFP DA and DTI representatives from different parts of the country recently conducted the two‐day National Meat (Fresh and Processed) Cluster Harmonization and Convergence Workshop in General Santos City to discuss strategies to penetrate the global meat market. Amalia J. Datukan, DA‐12 director, asked livestock growers, meat processors and other private organizations in the region to work closely with government agencies to reach markets abroad. "We need to reinvigorate the standing of our products to compete in the global market by offering fresh and processed meat products that are of high quality," Ms. Datukan said in a statement. Davinio Catbagan, DA assistant secretary for livestock, said the agency is still in the process of reviewing the national livestock road map that will guide the development of the country’s livestock and poultry industries. The DA regional office cited "huge export potential for pork products among Asian countries, and goat meat in Middle East countries and other Islamic states." Domestically, demand for beef and pork products is also increasing due to the country’s rising population, the office added. Dr. John B. Pascual, DA‐12 livestock coordinator, identified Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as a possible market for pork products. He said that consultations will be conducted with the region’s meat producers and processors in line with the agency’s meat export program. Last year, DA‐12 initially identified Dubai as the shipment destination of "pork‐in‐a‐box" products. The agency has already accredited some hog farms in Region 12 to supply the potential foreign shipment. These farms are located in the cities of General Santos and Koronadal, both in South Cotabato.
One farm was identified as Progressive Farms, Inc., one of the piggeries under the Lucio C. Tan Group of Companies. In December 2008, the country would have made its first foreign pork shipment to Singapore, if not for the detection of the Reston Ebola virus in a hog farm in Luzon. Hog raisers in Mindanao, though far from Luzon and shipping from the Makar wharf in General Santos City, were all set for that shipment when the Agriculture department ordered it stopped. Matutum Meat Packing Corp, which is based in Polomolok, South Cotabato, had been cleared by Singapore’s Agri‐Food and Veterinary Authority in April 2008 to ship the pork meat products to the island‐state. The company operates the only triple‐A slaughterhouse in the area. Domestically, hog farms in Region 12 supply the markets in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao, as well as the provinces of Samar and Leyte. ‐‐ Romer S. Sarmiento
Tilapia industry bubuhayin Ni Boy Cruz (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated July 1, 2013 - 12:00am PAMPANGA , Philippines - Nakatututok ngayon ang bagong alkalde ng Candaba, Pampanga na buhayin ang lumubog na industriya ng tilapia sa Gitnang Luzon bilang bahagi ng programa ng lokal na pamahalaan ng pagbibigay pagkain sa taumbayan. Ito ang inihayag ni Candaba, Pampanga Mayor Rene Estacio Maglanque sa ginanap na panunumpa kahapon sa Genuino Park sa harap ni Senator-elect Grace Poe. Ayon kay Maglanque, minsan nang itinuring ang bayan ng Candaba na nangunguna sa tilapia industry sa Gitnang Luzon subalit ngayon ay unti-unting namamatay sa paglipas ng mga taon. Naniniwala naman ang alkalde na hindi pa huli ang lahat at muling sisigla ang kabuhayan sa tilapia farming kung saan makikipag-ugnayan ang lokal na pamahalaan sa Bureau of Fisheries at Aquatic Resources (BFAR), at iba pang mga ahensya ng gobyerno. Plano ring magtayo ng national road na kokonekta sa Poblacion ng Candaba sa ibang barangay, pabahay sa mga kawani ng pamahalaan at pampublikong pagamutan. Si Maglanque ng Liberal Party ay naging miyembro ng Sangguniang Bayan ng Candaba noong 1992 at Sangguniang Panlalawigan noong 1998. http://www.philstar.com/probinsiya/2013/07/01/960070/tilapia-industry-bubuhayin
Environment groups call for end to ‘age of coal’ Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:16 pm | Sunday, June 30th, 2013
AN ENVIRONMENTAL activist unfurls a huge banner in Davao City on Friday as he joins environmentalists across the globe in the international protest to end the “age of coal.” A 300megawatt coal power plant of Aboitiz Power is being constructed in Davao City. KARLOS MANLUPIG/INQUIRER MINDANAO DAVAO CITY—Huddled under umbrellas, dripping wet and totally soaked by sudden rain on Friday, environmental activists unfurled a streamer calling for an end to the “age of coal,” as they blamed coal-fired power plants for the abnormal weather conditions fast becoming a new norm in Mindanao. The protesters wore masks emblazoned with words such as “end coal now.” “If we can ban smoking in Davao City, why do we allow coal?” one streamer read. Juland Suazo, spokesperson of the environmental group Panalipdan, said they wanted to send the message not only in Davao but in the entire world as well that the age of coal has to end because, though it’s the fault of rich countries, it’s the poor people in poor countries who bear the brunt of the abnormal weather conditions and climate change. Groups like the Network Opposed to Coal and the Dabawenyo Ayaw sa Coal, who fiercely opposed the Aboitiz Power Corp.-owned 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant Therma South Inc., joined the global action against coal by marching around Freedom Park here amid the sudden rain that flooded the nearby Bajada streets.
“Filipinos deserve to live in a coal-free environment,” Beau Baconguis, program manager for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said in a statement distributed during the rally. Baconguis said the country is obviously suffering from the effects of climate change and it was “simply illogical and immoral to pump more carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere” with more coal-fired plants. “This will only bring more destruction and jeopardize the health and security of the country,” she said. Baconguis said the aggressive development of coal-fired power plants in the country is “almost criminal,” as it contradicts the spirit of the Renewable Energy Law and other laws in the country that seek to mitigate greenhouse emissions. “We are experiencing abnormal weather and climate-related disasters because of the use of fossil-based energy like coal,” Suazo said, as he recounted the second anniversary of the worst flooding here that killed 30 people. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/435863/environment-groups-call-for-end-to-age-ofcoal#ixzz2Xl3ldcMv
BSP: Investors returning, worst is over for markets By Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 1, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The worst is over for the financial markets and investors are already beginning to realize that the Philippine economy remains safe and sound as they return to developing nations, a senior central bank official said recently. “The initial market reaction has started to subside. We can see that in the middle of June, investors have started coming back,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said in a speech last Friday. Fund managers have started re-positioning their portfolios back to the US from emerging countries after the Federal Reserve signaled it could wind down its stimulus measures “later this year.” As a result, regional stock markets have plummeted in value for weeks, with the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) losing as much as 6.5 percent to enter the “bear” territory last week.
The PSEi, one of the world’s best last year, has since bounced back, closing up 2.17 percent at 6,465.28 last Friday. Guinigundo attributed this development to the level of domestic participation in the local bourse. “Unlike in many stock markets in the region, that of the Philippines is supported by domestic investors with ratio at 50-50,” he said, adding that the recent correction was in fact “healthy.” “Many have become bear market in recent days but let me clarify that that is not the case in the Philippines,” he said. As for the foreign exchange market, Guinigundo said the BSP expects the peso’s depreciation versus the dollar “to be reversed in the next few months of 2013.” At the height of market volatility, the peso sank to P44 to a dollar from P41. The peso, Asia’s second best performer last year, has lost 5.24 percent of its value versus the greenback to end trading at 43.20 last Friday. Losses ballooned to as much as 6.7 percent two weeks ago. “Let me also assure you that we have buffers that are comfortable and that we will be able to supply the dollar needs of the market anytime,” Guinigundo said. “The BSP’s toolkit is also sufficient to ride up the turbulence,” he said. The bond market, meanwhile, has also been showing “stronger discipline,” with credit default swaps (CDS) of government securities already rebounding to stable levels, Guinigundo said. Local CDS spreads – which gauge insurance acquired by investors for holding Philippine bonds – have decreased to 139 basis points from 157 basis points against US Treasuries. “This means it is favorable to us... There is better trust and confidence in Philippine bonds,” he said. At the end of the day, Guinigundo said the volatility in the financial markets has amplified not only the government’s resilience, but also those of market participants. “Let me share with you a quote from Warren Buffett which said, ‘Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked,’” he said. “The tides have begun to recede and the Philippines was found to be wearing decent swimming trunks.” http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/01/960212/bsp‐investors‐returning‐worst‐over‐markets
Stronger ‘Gorio’ exits Philippine area of responsibility By Frances Mangosing INQUIRER.net 6:19 am | Monday, July 1st, 2013
MTSAT ENHANCED-IR Satellite Image 6 a.m., 01 July 2013
MANILA, Philippines—Tropical storm Gorio (international name: Rumbia) gained more strength and speed even as it made its way out of the Philippine territory early Monday, the state weather bureau said. Gorio exited the Philippine area of responsibility around 2 a.m. and headed for southern China, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said. The storm was last observed 560 km northwest of Dagupan City at 4 a.m., packing maximum sustained winds of 85 kilometers near the center and gusts of up to 100 kph. It moved northwest at 30 kph. Pagasa still warned fishermen, especially those using small seacraft, not to venture out into the western seaboard of Luzon due to big waves caused by Gorio. The regions of Ilocos, Mimaropa and the provinces of Zambales and Pangasinan will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms, Pagasa said. Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening. Moderate to strong winds blowing from the southeast will prevail over northern and central Luzon and coming from the southwest to south over southern Luzon and Visayas. The coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough. Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the southwest with slight to moderate seas, Pagasa said. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/436023/stronger-gorio-exits-philippine-area-ofresponsibility#ixzz2Xkn9evT4
Lawmaker threatens action vs water firms By Gil C. Cabacungan Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:55 am | Monday, July 1st, 2013
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares: Disappointed with MWSS. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—A party-list lawmaker is seeking to nullify the water concession contracts of Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. if they refuse to remove onerous provisions that allowed them to pass on their income taxes to consumers. Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) should also be penalized for agreeing to a “sweetheart deal” with Manila Water of Ayala Corp. and Maynilad of Metro Pacific Investments and DMCI Holdings, and failing in its mandate to protect the public interest. “The concessionaires should publicly declare the total amount collected and the amount paid, and refund (it). If not, the contract must be nullified on the ground that it is grossly disadvantageous to the government and is against public policy… (and the water companies) should be ordered by the court to refund the amount,” said Colmenares in a phone interview. ‘Defeatist attitude’ Colmenares said he was disappointed with the “defeatist” attitude of MWSS acting chief regulator Emmanuel Caparas who admitted that while the move of Manila Water and Maynilad to pass on their income taxes to consumers was “grossly unjust,” the two concessionaires might not be liable for any refund because this was allowed under their respective agreements. The Water for People Network (WPN) estimated that passed income tax payments which were inserted in their list of operating expenses from 2008 to 2012 could amount to P3.1 billion a year, or a total of P15.3 billion. Colmenares said Caparas and the rest of the MWSS officials “betrayed their bias” for Manila Water and Maynilad, despite the supposed transition to the “daang matuwid” (the straight path of the Aquino administration).
“We will not tolerate an onerous deal and it should be nullified if not revised immediately. The water concessionaires may say that this is a violation of the contract but what they are doing is detrimental to consumers and (they) should indeed stop this practice. The MWSS must be sanctioned for sleeping on the job and not defending consumers’ rights,” said Colmenares. Colmenares and Sen. Ralph Recto have announced separate plans to file a resolution in their respective chambers to investigate Manila Water and Maynilad’s billing practices. Aside from a congressional probe, Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy said the Ombudsman should also conduct an investigation into overcharging by Manila Water and Maynilad. “There are certain indications that government men have dipped their dirty fingers into these scams. The fact that nobody among the MWSS men had questioned the scam for over four years already shows collusion,” said Dy in a statement. What happened to dams? Dy said that aside from passing on their income taxes to consumers, the two concessionaires should be made to account for the P6 billion they collected for water and sewerage system improvement projects that never materialized. She claimed that these collections were supposed to have been used to fund the redevelopment of the Laiban and Angat dams that have been abandoned. “Manila Water and Maynilad have yet to submit to the public a direct and clear explanation about these issues which we first brought up at the start of the 15th Congress in 2010,” said Dy. Both Colmenares and Dy also cited the decision of MWSS to give the two concessionaires a 15year extension of their contracts without any bidding (their 25-year agreements will end in 2022) as proof of an “unholy alliance” between the watchdog and its subjects. The MWSS is also currently under fire from the Commission on Audit for continuing to approve huge bonuses and allowances for its officers and staff. In its 2011 report, the COA questioned the P142.3 million in allowances, bonuses and benefits given to MWSS officers and employees in 2011 on top of the P65.98 million in regular salaries that year. Colmenares and Dy said this showed that despite the change in its management, the MWSS has carried over its policy of excessive perks from the Arroyo administration to the current one— even though President Aquino himself slammed this practice in his State of the Nation Address in 2010. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/435977/lawmaker-threatens-action-vs-water-firms#ixzz2XknfVntR
Over 9 M voters face delisting By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 1, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Over nine million registered voters will likely not be allowed to vote in the 2016 presidential elections for not having biometrics data or automated identification. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday 9,018,256 registered voters do not meet the requirements under the Mandatory Biometrics Registration Act of 2013.Under the law, voters who failed to submit for validation prior to the May 2016 elections shall be deactivated from the voters’ list and shall not be allowed to vote. The Comelec issued a resolution in accordance with the law, urging voters without biometrics data to immediately report to the poll body for automated photograph, fingerprint and signature.Validation of registration records starts today. Voters may validate their records at the Office of the Election Officer of the city or municipality where they are registered. Comelec offices are open Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The poll body is also setting up satellite offices to accommodate the expected volume of voters who will come for validation. Voters are required to bring any proof of identification such as current employee’s identification card with the signature of the employer or authorized representative; Postal ID; Student ID or library card signed by the school authority; senior citizen’s ID; driver’s license; clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation or from the police; passport; SSS or GSIS ID; Integrated Bar of the Philippines ID; and license issued by the Professional Regulation Commission. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/01/960214/over‐9‐m‐voters‐face‐delisting
Pinoy youth urged to save money By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 1, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Education (DepEd) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reminded young Filipinos to make it a habit to save so they will have money to spend in times of need. The two agencies made the call over the weekend as the nation marks the National Savings Consciousness Week from June 30 to July 6. The National Savings Consciousness Week was aimed at inculcating the habit of saving among Filipino schoolchildren, according to Education Secretary Armin Luistro. “Our students should not underestimate the impact of saving loose change and excess coins from their daily allowance. If they make it a habit, without realizing it, they may have saved enough to buy what they want or need,” Luistro said. BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. urged Filipino children to deposit their savings in a bank where it is safer and can earn interest as well. In 2007, the DepEd, BSP, and the Ateneo de Manila University launched a financial literacy project in public elementary schools. The DepEd and BSP have earlier completed the “Tulong Barya Para sa Eskwela” project, where loose change were collected for school projects. The campaign has generated P15 million, DepEd said. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/01/960219/pinoy‐youth‐urged‐save‐money
Surigao City grapples with water shortage; illegal mining, deforestation blamed By Danilo V. Adorador Inquirer Mindanao 5:11 pm | Sunday, June 30th, 2013 SURIGAO CITY, Philippines – Water has become so scarce in this city that people joke that anybody would have difficulty distinguishing a faucet from an antique fixture. The water crisis, which started in March and peaked during the next two summer months and early part of June, is no joke for Surigaonons who must stay as late as 2 a.m. just to fill all available water receptacles for drinking and cooking. For resident John Rod Catoto, water has become so precious his family of three has to bathe and wash their clothes from a free-flowing underground well some 10 kilometers on the outskirts of the city. “Whatever is flowing in the faucet, if there’s any, is stored as drinking water,” said Catoto, a 25year-old father of one. Water got so scarce during the past two months that not a drop came out from the faucets for three to five days. For Catoto and the rest of the local water utility’s 20,500 subscribers, that meant not only finding new sources of water but willingness to spend more by replacing traditional sources with bottled mineral water for everyday use. Residents and public officials alike cast the blame on the 25-year-old Surigao Metropolitan Water District (SMWD) for failing to provide a long-term solution to the perennial water supply problem. In response, the SMWD said short and medium term solutions have been put in the pipeline to improve capacity. Some of these are the construction of new deep wells and the commissioning of new water sources outside the city, according to SMWD General Manager Benjamin Ensomo. However, Ensomo admitted that the long-term solution to address the water district’s increasing number of consumers lay in the 960-hectare Parang-Parang Watershed— the city’s only source of potable water —whose water capacity level has steadily decreased in the last decade. In the last two months, SMWD disclosed the water level at the watershed had gone down to a “critical level” —a major factor in the unprecedented water supply interruption that locals had complained during the period. At the heart of the problem is the decades-old problem of illegal mining at the watershed, SMWD and local officials admit.
SMWD has accused small-scale miners of illegally tapping into the water district pipelines for mining uses. Worse, small-scale miners resort to illegal logging within the watershed’s forest to secure timber required to stabilize their tunnels. When an SMWD-led team tried to enforce a long-running cease and desist order against the illegal small-scale miners in the watershed area in 2005, it resulted in the deaths of four policemen. Authorities have since identified the area as a flash point where armed small-scale miners are allegedly backed by communist insurgents. Faced by mounting pressures from SMWD and law enforcement authorities, the miners grouped themselves under the Nagkahiusang Gagmay’ng Minero (Nagami) and filed for a 20-hectare Minahang Bayan application to legalize their operations. SMWD and the local business chamber opposed the move, noting that the area sought by Nagami encroaches on the watershed’s one-kilometer buffer zone. Nagami countered that moving away from the buffer zone would serve their “Minahang Bayan” application meaningless, noting that the “high-grade” area has always been believed to be in the disputed area. Ensomo explained the that buffer zone— although located outside the formal boundaries covered by presidential order declaring the watershed —would ensure that mining activities would not affect the integrity of the water quality being supplied to consumers. That position has virtually placed the provincial government in dilemma. Governor Sol Matugas earlier supported Nagami’s application in order to bring the illegal miners’ operations under government regulation, noting that if left unregulated, the miners’ use of mercury and other accompanying illegal activities would pose more danger to the nearby water bodies and the environment. Due to local opposition, however, the Provincial Mines and Regulatory Board (PMRB) has decided to shelve Nagami’s application. This has effectively put everything back to standstill: Illegal small-scale miners continue their operations, thus severely affecting water capacity—and potentially, water quality as well—at the watershed even during normal wet season, and SMWD seasonally looking for short-term, band-aid solutions to appease suffering consumers. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/435789/surigao-city-grapples-with-water-shortage-illegal-miningdeforestation-blamed#ixzz2XkqrSyLA
‘Foreign investment inflow rests on LGUs’ By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 1, 2013 - 12:00am
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte MANILA, Philippines - Attracting foreign direct investments (FDI) to the country rests largely on the ability of local government units (LGUs) to cut red tape, according to Malacañang. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte made the comment after the Palace belatedly acknowledged that the Philippines lagged behind other Southeast Asian countries that got much of the investment pie. In the 2013 World Investment Report released last week by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Philippines posted only $2.79 billion FDI inflows last year, way behind Indonesia’s $19.8 billion and Thailand’s $8.6 billion. Vietnam drew in $8.3 billion while Malaysia lured $10 billion. “What is noteworthy is that Myanmar nearly equaled the Philippines’ FDI by tapping $2.24 billion, and Cambodia drew $1.55 billion,” said Norio Usui, senior country economist of the Philippine country office of the Asian Development Bank.Valte stressed that much needs to be done in the local level, noting that business permits, mayor’s permits, sanitation permits and many other requisites are secured from LGUs. “We have a big challenge ahead of us that we are currently facing because of what we call – in layman’s terms – the red tape. What are our efforts there? We have our law that prohibits red tape: the Anti-Red Tape Act,” Valte said. In a briefing last Friday, the Palace spokesperson disclosed that President Aquino imposed “very early on in the administration” several ways on how to expedite and simplify local and foreign business transactions with government.
This scheme has been dubbed as “Philippine Business Registry System,” a one-stop-shop where entrepreneurs can register their businesses with the Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Securities and Exchange Commission or even SSS online. With this system, “it would be much easier for small enterprises to do startups and for them not to transfer their shops from one place to another,” Valte explained. “What we’re doing now is we are encouraging our LGUs to streamline their processes and cut the number of their permits so that there will be more business in the country,” she added. This is why the national government has adopted a Performance Challenge Fund, because of which the LGUs have been competing with each other to win the “Seal of Good Housekeeping” prize, she said. “We are hoping that this is a continuing effort that will encourage LGUs to also streamline their procedures, because if it’s already okay with the national government, then this should follow suit in the local level,” Valte said. “This is for our investors, so that they can easily start up their businesses in whatever municipality they want to invest in,” she added. FDI in Southeast Asia The whole of Southeast Asia managed to attract a total of $111.3 billion in FDIs. Last year’s $2.79 billion FDIs to the Philippines, however, is 54 percent higher than the $1.81 billion in 2011. As a percentage of gross fixed capital formation, the FDI inflows were just 5.6 percent. This is higher than the 4.2 percent in 2011 but just half of the pre-crisis 2005-2007 annual average of 10.3 percent. In contrast, Indonesia’s inflows last year had more than twice the size of its pre-crisis average of $6.7 billion. The UNCTAD report said Southeast Asia experienced a modest two-percent increase in FDIs, with Singapore as biggest contributor, attracting $57 billion last year. Developing countries accounted for 52 percent of global FDI flows as developed nations took a beating and settled for just 42 percent, while the poorest states settled for the remaining six percent. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/01/960218/foreign‐investment‐inflow‐rests‐lgus
More oil firms announce price rollback By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 1, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Taking a cue from independent oil firm Flying V, Petron Corp. and Chevron Philippines yesterday announced a cut in local petroleum prices. Petron Corp., the country’s biggest oil refiner, said it would slash 55 centavos per liter for Blaze 100 Euro 4, XCS, Xtra Advance and Super Xtra; 45 centavos per liter for Turbo Diesel and DieselMax, and 65 centavos per liter for kerosene. “This reflects movements in the international oil market and the foreign exchange rate,” the oil giant said in an advisory. Chevron also announced a similar price cut. The price rollback took effect midnight today. Flying V was the first to announce a rollback after oil firms raised petroleum prices for seven consecutive weeks. The Department of Energy (DOE) said the rollback was expected given the downward adjustment in global crude prices.
Zenaida Monsada, director of DOE-Oil Industry Management Bureau, said the rollback was within expectations. The price rollback is a welcome reprieve for consumers and motorists as oil firms have so far raised prices for the past seven consecutive weeks and for four times last June alone. Last week, oil companies including Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell, Chevron Philippines, Seaoil Philippines and Total Philippines raised local pump prices by 45 centavos per liter and diesel and kerosene by 90 centavos per liter. The oil firms cited movements in the international oil market and foreign exchange rate. The week before, oil firms implemented a P1.05 per liter increase for gasoline prices, diesel by P1.45 per liter and kerosene by P1.30 per liter. The price increases came on top of rising electricity and water rates. Power rates went up in June because of higher generation charge partly pushed up by the May 8 Luzon-wide power outage, the Manila Electric Co. said. Meralco’s power rates increased by 22 centavos per kilowatt-hour, translating to a P44 increase in the June billing statement of a typical household consuming 22 kwh. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/01/960217/more‐oil‐firms‐announce‐price‐rollback
Feeding program tops Grace Poe’s priority bills By Tonette Orejas Inquirer Central Luzon 1:59 am | Monday, July 1st, 2013 CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Sen. Grace Poe, the junior politician who topped the senatorial election on May 13, on Sunday said she was thrilled about starting work in the Senate on Monday, her first day in office. To fulfill a campaign promise, Poe said she would give priority to a measure that would set a standard lunch program for elementary school pupils, which would be known as “Sustansya para sa bata (Nutrition for children).” Poe was here on Sunday and spoke at the oath-taking of Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, Mayor Edwin Santiago and city councilors. She described her presence at the Liberal Party event as her first official business as a senator. The proposed nutrition measure would provide free lunch to malnourished children in conflicttorn, poverty-stricken or highly congested areas of the country. The bill would task the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), National Nutrition Council, Department of Education and other agencies and groups to enforce the feeding program. “There’s a high percentage of children who drop out of school because they have nothing to eat or food to bring to school,” Poe said. The feeding program is encouraged by the success of the Nutribun, or nutrition-packed bread, which was given to the poor during the administration of strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Poe said. The proposed program takes off from a DSWD study that states that it takes P15 to provide a nutritious meal to a child and P5 for fare, Poe said. She said her share of the pork barrel could support the program. “Did you know that an elementary school in Basilan has only 200 students? Which is why the government can prioritize the areas where this feeding program can be started before the standard lunch is implemented,” Poe said.
She said that among the measures on her priority list is the film tourism bill, which would identify places in the Philippines that could be designated as preferred film locations for foreign movie productions. Poe said the countries where the Hollywood films “Lord of the Rings” and “The Beach” were shot enjoyed a boom in tourism and created jobs. She said she would also file resolutions to help copra farmers combat pests and would review laws relevant to migrant workers to protect them from exploitation. Poe said she was grateful for the wide mandate she received at the polls on May 13.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/435949/feeding-program-tops-grace-poes-prioritybills#ixzz2Xl34pibN
Website provides Metro weather info Published: July 1, 2013
Manila, Philippines -- With the onset of the rainy season, up-to-date information on the possibility of rainfall becomes vital especially to people who need to travel from one place to another and to those living in low lying areas where threat of flooding is always imminent. The Metro Weather website www.metroweather.com.ph, www.weatherlink.com, and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Traffic Navigator web application provides near real-time weather data for Metro Manila, Rizal, and Corregidor. Available data includes information on current rainfall, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, solar radiation and ultraviolet index, according to Globe Telecom which Globe partnered with MMDA, Chevron, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), and the Manila Observatory (MO) for the Metro Weather project to inform people on severe weather conditions such as tropical cyclones and heavy flooding, and to provide critical data for ongoing research on urban disaster risk due to extreme weather and variability. “Metro Weather is designed to provide information on significant weather events with the goal of ultimately helping Metro Manila residents survive disasters caused by severe weather. We hope that through Metro Weather, Globe can further promote awareness of environmental issues to increase readiness and disaster risk resilience. Globe is not only about business but is also about taking care of the community and the environment,” said Fernando Esguerra, OIC of Globe Corporate Social Responsibility. http://mb.com.ph/News/National_News/20045/Website_provides_Metro_weather_info#.UdDxa6yveK E
San Juan residents receive rice By Francis T. Wakefield Published: July 1, 2013
Manila, Philippines -- More than 3,700 poor residents from San Juan City received last week rice aid worth P4.8 million from Taiwan Buddhist charity organization Tzu Chi Foundation. No less than San Juan City Mayor Guia Gomez, outgoing San Juan Representative and Senatorelect Jayvee Ejercito, Vice Mayor Francis Zamora, members of the city council and other local officials, attended the rice distribution held at the FilOil Flying-V Arena in San Juan City. The activity was also attended by representatives from Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and barangay officials. In an interview, Gomez expressed her thanks to Tzu Chi’s rice distribution program which was held just two days after they celebrated their City Festival. Gomez also noted that the occasion is a way to be grateful for the blessings that pour in their city including the friendship now deeply-rooted with the generous foundation. http://mb.com.ph/News/Metro_News/20051/San_Juan_residents_receive_rice#.UdD5WKyveKE
Firm’s massive greening efforts lauded By Phoebe Jen Indino Published: July 1, 2013
Alcoy, Cebu — The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 7 (DENR-7) is lauding the Philippine Mining Service Corporation-Alcoy Plant and Dolomite Mining Corporation (PMSC-DMC) for its massive reforestation efforts. DENR-7 regional executive director Dr. Isabelo R. Montejo said the company has contributed in a major way to the government’s National Greening Program (NGP) by planting and growing indigenous and native seedlings and maintaining nurseries for this purpose. Most of the seedlings produced by the PMSC have been distributed to various offices and schools in Southern Cebu for planting by office workers and students,” Montejo added. The firm, which operates the country’s biggest dolomite quarry, and reputedly the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia, recently welcomed some 30 representatives from the academe, national government agencies, non-government organizations, local government units, religious groups, media and other stakeholders in its mining site in the town of Alcoy. The group took part in PMSC-DMC’s Mine Tour activity done annually in June, in line with Cebu province’s celebration of Environment Month. During the event, PMSC-DMC environment and community relations officer Chris de los Santos informed the visitors that this year, the company is looking at using 75 hectares out of a total approved 572 hectares within which it operates its mining claims, for greening activities aligned with the NGP. De los Santos told the group that PMSC-DMC currently maintains three nurseries for various tree species with a 95 percent survival rate. Meanwhile, PMSC-DMC resident manager Winston Eduard Bolo said the company has increased production this year by some two million metric tons. Bolo said the increase in production is attributed to the high-demand of dolomite in Japan and Taiwan, the company’s major export markets. “Three years ago we were operating at 1.4 metric tons per year,” he said. “In 2012 we reached 1.9 metric tons and currently, we are now producing at our maximum capacity.” The company has acquired seven mining claims covering 570 hectares with a proven dolomite deposit of up to 38 million metric tons in Alcoy town.
It is currently producing 340 metric tons per hour. Dolomite is a rare mineral deposit desired for its many construction and building product applications due to its hardness and density. Bolo said that the mineral’s primary use is for steel and glass making even as it is also used as a soil conditioner. Because of its strength and hardness, Dolomite is a preferred filler for asphalt and concrete applications. Dolomite is also used in the chemical industry for making magnesium salts, including magnesia and magnesium oxide, which are used in pharmaceuticals. http://mb.com.ph/News/Provincial_News/20025/Firm%E2%80%99s_massive_greening_efforts_lauded #.UdEGHKyveKE
ASEAN foreign ministers' meetings kick off in Brunei (philstar.com) | Updated June 30, 2013 - 2:00pm BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Xinhua) - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Meeting and a series of related meetings with the foreign ministers of its dialogue partners and related countries kicked off in Brunei on Sunday. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting began on Sunday morning, with a joint communique expected at the end of the meeting. "I think the main things will be, first, what our leaders asked to do at the last leaders' summit (in April), and secondly, to find ways to strengthen the region's overall peace and stability," Brunei's Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in his opening speech. The topics for discussion are expected to include those related to the Roadmap for an ASEAN community, ASEAN's future direction and ASEAN's external relations, according to the ASEAN secretariat. "We are working on efforts to build a resilient, dynamic and sustainable community by 2015 and the potentials for strengthening coordination and collaboration between ASEAN and dialogue partners in working towards mutual understanding, political dialogue and friendly cooperation," ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh said earlier. The ASEAN Foreign Minister's Meeting will be followed by Post Ministerial Conference, the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum and the Third East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting. The meetings are expected to be a platform for discussions involving the ASEAN foreign ministers as well as the foreign ministers of major powers, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. They are also expected to have bilateral and multilateral meetings on the sidelines of the meetings. Most of the meetings will be closed-door sessions, but statements can be expected. A wide range of topics are expected to be covered by the foreign ministers in their
discussions, such as regional integration and cooperation, regional security, the management of maritime disputes as well as transboundary haze. They might also touch upon the situation in Syria and the denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula. "The ASEAN Regional Forum is one of those forums where all participating countries are sitting around the table," Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told reporters on Saturday. Prince Mohamed Bolkiah said on Sunday that the ASEAN founding fathers' "idea of regionalism as a way forward to peace and stability is getting support." "I think the Association is now entering a new period, with growing interest from many countries. There is also a lot of international interest in what we are doing," he said. The 10-member ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The number of its dialogue countries have been expanding, with last two being the European Union and Canada. The prince also said he was hoping that the ASEAN foreign ministers will "stick to the idea of ASEAN centrality." The ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh last year failed to produce a joint communique as the Philippines tried to push for contents on its territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea to be included. ASEAN leaders have since called for the centrality of ASEAN in the regional cooperation to be respected. "Let's hope this time around we will have a more quiet meeting than we had last year, and I am not pessimistic," Marty said. http://www.philstar.com/world/2013/06/30/960013/asean‐foreign‐ministers‐meetings‐kick‐brunei
BIR won’t spare anyone in drive vs tax evasion By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 1, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue is not sparing anyone in its battle against tax evasion as it is also hunting down politicians and extremely wealthy individuals who fail to pay their fair share of taxes, according to the agency’s head. BIR commissioner Kim Henares said “no one is spared” in so far as the agency’s audits are concerned. “Rest assured we will do what needs to be done,” Henares pointed out amid criticism that the BIR is only going after small-time tax cheats and letting the super rich and corrupt politicians get away with their tax obligations. Last March, the Department of Finance, which oversees the BIR, declared war against professionals and the self-employed who have been underreporting their income intentionally to avoid taxes. According to the government, the incidence of tax evasion among professionals remained high.
While tax payments from self-employed and professionals increased to P1 billion in 2010 t 2012, the sector comprises only 6.8 percent of total individual income taxes, which is way below the 81.5 percent share of those whose taxes are automatically deducted from their salaries. Data from the Professional Regulation Commission show that there were some three million registered professionals in the country—190,000 are doctors and lawyers who earn more than salaried workers. Henares said the BIR continues to intensify its tax campaign to plug the revenue leakages that occur as some taxpayers do not comply with the law and circumvent it to avoid government taxes. She said investigations done by by the BIR are confidential until cases are filed with the Department of Justice. The government intends to shore up collections from the country’s over 2,000 large taxpayers through the adoption of technology and information-based solutions. It plans to enhance the audit process through statistical analysis using industry and economic benchmarks to identify taxpayers at high risk of non-compliance. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima earlier said the top taxpayers’ lists are valuable tools in the BIR’s drive to expand income tax net across the country and compel wealthy tax evaders to come to terms to boost revenue collection. The BIR also intends to improve information linkages with other government agencies to enhance collection payments and self-reported income tax filings. The Large Taxpayers Service accounts for the biggest share in BIR’s total revenues. Collections from the LTS amounted to P649.95 billion last year or 64 percent of the agency’s total collections from operations of P1.015 trillion. For this year, the BIR expects LTS collections to reach P768.3 billion or 62.7percent of the BIR’s total collection goal of P1.225 trillion for 2013. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/07/01/960076/bir‐wont‐spare‐anyone‐drive‐vs‐tax‐evasion
BSP: Economy safe from overheating Category: Top News Published on Sunday, 30 June 2013 21:01 Written by Jun Vallecera THE relationship between money supply and inflation waned the past 18 years so liquidity, which grew the fastest in six years to 16.3 percent in May, should not prove worrisome, monetary authorities said. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. has repeatedly given assurance that the acceleration of money‐supply growth in recent months was a welcome rather than a worrisome development. On Sunday Deputy BSP Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo said while the growth of M3, the technical term for money circulating in the financial system, accelerated from only 13.3 percent in April, its potential for overheating the economy has sharply diminished. That much growth translates to money supply totaling P5.3 trillion in an essentially P11‐trillion or P12‐ trillion economy. “Inflation used to be driven mainly by money supply. This relationship has weakened as early as the mid‐1990s. I don’t think an M3 growth [averaging 16.3 percent in May] could lead to higher inflation or overheating,” Guinigundo said. The fear of overheating, expressed in the form of high inflation, had been dismissed at various times in the past. On Sunday Guinigundo reiterated the fear of fast‐rising inflation over the near term is a remote possibility. “The double‐digit growth in M3 can actually provide greater support for economic activities in the context of the Philippines’s robust economic growth. We believe overheating is a remote issue because the potential capacity of the economy has gone up. In addition, productivity has improved while efficiency appears to have also climbed in recent years. Most important, there is no evidence yet that the economy is beginning to overexpand,” Guinigundo said. His assertion is based on latest data on bank lending, which grew at a faster pace in May to 13.1 percent, or to P3.523 trillion from only P3.111 trillion a year earlier. The deployment of bank funds into productive undertakings means the money has not been used for financial mischief, for instance, such as the unwarranted purchase of real estate for speculative purposes rather than for practical ends.
According to the BSP, so‐called production loans making up four‐fifths, or 80 percent, of the combined loans extended by banks during the period picked up speed in May, growing by 13.3 percent from only 12 percent in April. These are loans funding the acquisition of real estate, renting and businesses; wholesale and retail trade, financial intermediation, manufacturing and even loans benefiting agriculture, hunting and forestry, as well as fishing. “The continued brisk growth in bank lending suggests adequate funding for domestic economic activity in the months ahead. Going forward, the BSP will continue to monitor the domestic financial environment to ensure that liquidity and credit conditions remain supportive of the expanding domestic economy while remaining consistent with its price stability objective,” the BSP later said in a statement. Guinigundo also pointed to a related development at the local equities market, which has entered a phase that market players call a correction. It is essentially a period when foreign‐fund managers sell their peso asset purchases and repatriate their foreign currencies to overseas parents, while the locals wait and see for opportunities to present themselves also. “There has been the welcome correction in the equities market. The peso has shown some depreciation and the bond market has been showing stronger discipline,” Guinigundo said. Earlier, the BSP deliberately crafted rules effectively pushing out an estimated P1 trillion worth of idle money invested as the banks’ special deposit account (SDA) at a special window in an effort to redeploy them into more productive undertakings. Analysts at the First Metro Investment Corp., for instance, have calculated the redeployment effectively flushes out an estimated P200 billion to P300 billion. But the BSP has made it clear the entire batch of more or less P1 trillion worth of SDA accounts at its special window had to go by November this year, indicating confidence that even with this much money in the system, the economy would continue to expand by up to 7 percent this year in terms of the gross domestic product. Against that backdrop, the BSP effectively said for the nth time on Sunday that inflation, thus far averaging 2.6 percent in the first five months, would end the year within the 3‐percent to 5‐percent target range.
In more recent public pronouncements, the BSP said inflation would likely close at the low end of the 2013-target range. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/15769‐bsp‐economy‐safe‐from‐ overheating
Survey: Filipinos prefer starting a business over owning a house Category: Banking & Finance Published on Sunday, 30 June 2013 18:48 Written by Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz STARTING a business is a top financial priority among Filipinos, a sponsored local survey showed. In a recent survey titled “Solar FLARe,” insurer Sun Life Financial said that when asked “What are the things that Filipinos may want to prioritize buying within the next two years with their current financial capability?” 51 percent of the 1,100 respondents said they want to “open a business.” The survey said 45 percent of Filipinos next prioritize buying a residential land, with an equal number of 39 percent wanting to buy life insurance and educational plans. The survey then said 37 percent of Filipinos want to buy a car or a gadget as well as health insurance. The majority of the Filipino respondents also want to spend their money on house renovation and maintenance (35 percent), and buy a house or condominium, durables and appliances (27 percent). Launched in 2009, the Solar FLARe project was the first multi‐media financial literacy advocacy in the country. The survey also showed many Filipinos are not aware of other financial instruments that can help them achieve their priorities for future events. It said only one out of 10 would use investments and eight out of 10 would rely on bank savings for their needs. Among those who have insured themselves, 31 percent actually use their policy to accomplish their financial goals, while the rest still hold the traditional, even outdated, view that one can die without life insurance. In the Philippines, life insurance penetration, or the number of Filipinos owning insurance policies as percent of local output, is only 1.14 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). According to the 2011 Insurance Commission, life insurance coverage, which includes individually bought and group insurance provided by employers, equals only to 18.29 percent of the population.
Compared to other Asia‐Pacific countries, life insurance outlook in the Philippines is bleak and lags behind Southeast Asian nations like Malaysia and Indonesia. Taiwan boasts of a high life insurance penetration of 13.9 percent of its GDP. Riza Mantaring, president and chief executive officer of Sun Life, however, said there is now a growing trend of people who consider life insurance as essential. “Filipinos are also becoming more discerning, seeking as much information about life insurance before a purchase,” she said. But Mantaring said that Filipinos still need to be informed. “Filipinos must be taught about financial instruments beyond ATMs and bank accounts. As they are enlightened about insurance investments and other financial instruments, they would be more empowered and able to see the fulfillment of their goals,” she said. The study was conducted in the first quarter of 2013 with 1,100 respondents, ages ranging from 23 to 55 and coming from the middle‐ to upper‐income segments. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/banking‐finance/15756‐survey‐filipinos‐ prefer‐starting‐a‐business‐over‐owning‐a‐house
Hot money reverses to outflow of $309m By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Jul. 01, 2013 at 12:01am | 155 views
Foreign fund managers withdrew $309 million from the Philippines in the second week of June, following the announcement by the US Federal Reserve it may start scaling down economic stimulus measures. Data from the central bank showed foreign portfolio investments yielded a net outflow of $309 million in the trading week of June 10 to 14, a reversal of the $374-million net inflow recorded in the week of June 3 to 7. Foreign portfolio investments, also called hot money because of the ease they are invested in and taken out of local markets, are overseas funds that are temporarily invested in local stocks, government securities and money market. Concerns over the withdrawal of stimulus measures by the US prompted selling of emerging markets’ stocks last week, pulling down the Philippine Stock Exchange index from a peak of 7,392 on May 15. Data, however, showed that despite the recent slump, net inflows of foreign portfolio investments since the start of the year yielded $1.6 billion as of June 14, or double the $824 million recorded year-on-year. Gross inflows surged 92 percent to $14.6 billion from $7.6 billion last year while outflows climbed 91 percent to $12.9 billion from $6.8 billion during the period. Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said earlier the economic fundamentals remained strong, which would enable it to survive the current volatility in the financial markets. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/01/hot‐money‐reverses‐to‐outflow‐of‐309m/
Review overloading rules, DA asks By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Jul. 01, 2013 at 12:01am | 122 views
The Agriculture Department is studying the impact of the new rules on truck overloading on the country’s food security program due to fears they may increase the prices of rice and other farm produce. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala will meet with trucking and freight industry leaders and farmer groups to discuss the effects of the amendments on the rules of RA 8794, or the Anti-Overloading Law, to the movement of rice and other agricultural products around the country. The amendments took effect on June this year. Assistant Agriculture Secretary and National Rice Program Coordinator Dante Delima asked for the dialogue, after meeting with concerned sectors, which claimed that prices of rice and other agricultural commodities could go up by P1 a kilo as a result of the new guidelines. “We noted that the continued implementation of the new guidelines by the Departments of Public Works and Highways, Transportation and Communications and the Interior and Local Government will have an adverse effect on the supply and price of rice in the local market,” Delima said. The national government cited the “tremendous damaging effects” of overloaded trucks and trailers on highway safety and traffic operations, saying they could cause a heavy toll on state investments on infrastructure. Government estimates show that road rehabilitation cost about P13.5 billion every year. The original guidelines issued on Aug. 16, 2000 authorized the government to impose an amount equivalent to 25 percent of the motor vehicles users charge for trucks and trailers exceeding their gross vehicle weight, where the prescribed axle load is at 13,500 kilograms per axle.
The DA said Public Works, Transportation and the Interior in a joint circular in 2001 provided the mechanics in enforcing the provisions on overloading. Agriculture said a new directive approved in April this year came out with a new definition of overloaded trucks and trailers. The general rule of 13,500 kilograms per axle was set aside by the pre-computed gross vehicle weight in the new directive. As a result, an ordinary 22-wheeler truck that can carry about 700 to 800 sacks of rice before would now be limited to just 480 to 530 sacks per trip. The DA said this would amount to a P1 increase in price of milled rice per kilo per kilometer. “Strict implementation of the law will result in increasing the cost of freight, handling and storage and worsen traffic conditions. There may not even be enough trailers and containers to move all the cargo because of the additional trips required to move them all,” Delima said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/01/review‐overloading‐rules‐da‐asks/
BIR to bid out cigarette stamp tax project in July By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Jul. 01, 2013 at 12:01am | 186 views
Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares said the agency will bid out the long-delayed contract for the stamp tax project on cigarettes this month to raise more revenues. “We will bid it this July,” Henares said. Official estimates show that cigarette smuggling has cost the government P80 billion in foregone revenues. Henares said the bidding would proceed once the reference terms were finalized. “Hopefully, we can implement this early next year,” Henares said. British American Tobacco earlier said it would join the government in curbing smuggling in the country. Robert Eugenio, BAT Philippines corporate and regulatory affairs head, said the government and the local tobacco industry should unite in safeguarding the sector against unscrupulous groups. Lucio Tan Group president Michael Tan earlier identified underground domestic cigarette manufacturers and smugglers as behind the growing illegal trade in the country. He said the illegal cigarette trade had grown by “astronomical proportions.” BAT has not felt the effects of the illegal cigarette trade so far because of its small market share. “As a new player, BAT right now has a very small market share and, thus, we are not yet feeling any significant direct impact from these movements,” he said. Marlboro maker PMFTC Inc.,, the merged company of Philip Morris Inc. and Fortune Tobacco Corp., controls about 90 percent of the over P72-billion cigarette market. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/01/bir‐to‐bid‐out‐cigarette‐stamp‐tax‐project‐in‐july/
Putting the funds where they should be By Rita Linda V. Jimeno | Posted on Jul. 01, 2013 at 12:01am | 193 views 1
If you are a Filipino whoâ€™s on a temporary travel abroad, either for business or leisure, chances are you will not miss noticing the different way Filipinos are treated, especially our overseas workers. The discrimination actually starts right in our very own airport. Those who do not seem dressed well enough or have not had many travels go through a prolonged interview on the purpose of their travel, the means to support their trip, their education and marital status. If the immigration officials suspect that the traveler intends to seek job employment abroad without the proper employment visa, they can be denied the right to leave despite having airline tickets and having paid the travel tax and terminal fees. Although the objective of this exercise is good as it seeks to prevent from leaving those who might end up hiding in foreign lands as illegal aliens, and thus be exposed to abuse or imprisonment in jails abroad, the way our immigration officials go about it is not only arbitrary but demeaning and discriminatory as well. Even airline crew members do not treat Filipino travelers, especially those appearing to be blue-collared workers, the same way they do other nationalities. In their employment, our overseas Filipino workers, especially the women working as domestic help in the Middle East, Hong Kong and other countries, get abused in many ways. Many report that they have been raped and sexually or physically abused by their employers, but could not come home sooner as their passports are systematically withheld until the end of their contracts. Filipinos are (not unusually) the object of racial discrimination and bad treatment in foreign lands. Remember how our national football team, the Azkals, were recently booed, heckled, and hit with water bottles and other stuff by Hong Kong citizens when they won a friendly football match? The unruly Hong Kong crowd shouted at our players as coming from a nation of slaves. When the Philippine national anthem was played, the crowd booed.
My own family and I had a taste of discrimination ourselves. When we were in Copenhagen last May, checking in at the Norwegian Cruise Line’s check-in counters for our Baltic cruise took so much longer time than it took the Caucasians. When we asked what the problem was, we were told that our Schengen visas were being double-checked. Meanwhile, many others were passing us by after their quick check-ins. Having traveled some 17 hours just to join the cruise for which we had paid way in advance, our exasperation and embarrassment were beyond words. It is, therefore, extremely disturbing how the very persons designated by the government to help distressed Filipinos working abroad add to their misery. News reports last week, for instance, revealed how a Filipino assistant labor attaché himself sexually abused some female workers in the Middle East and suggested that they do part-time job as sex workers to raise money for their trip back home. We have coined the phrase “modern-day heroes” for our OFWs because they prop the Philippine economy with their foreign currency remittances. Yet, they are far from being treated as heroes. It is bad enough that they endure homesickness and physical separation from their families which often end up in broken marriages, all because they need to find jobs. It is heroic that they bear racial discrimination only to stay employed abroad. To be abused by a fellow Filipino, tasked to protect them, is the height of injustice and immorality. Must Filipinos workers continue their exodus? Our own weather bureau chief himself, Dr. Nathaniel Servando, resigned recently from his post to be employed at a better paying job as a teacher in Dubai. Reports had it that as a scientist heading an important government bureau he was receiving a salary just a little over the legislated minimum wage. The Secretary of Budget and Management, Florencio B. Abad, in his speech before the Philippine Bar Association admitted that while the government now has the funds it needs to carry out big infrastructure projects, the problem government now faces is the dearth of skilled technical workers. Hospitals, too, are feeling the crunch as they continue to lose their best nurses and health care workers, and even doctors, for that matter, to foreign employers.
Isn’t it disturbing that we are losing our people and are being called a nation of slaves in the process? Is there no solution for joblessness and the low wages for government workers? I cannot agree that the government has no money to increase the wages of government employees because there is so much money going around in the chambers of the legislative department. A senator, for instance, has at his disposal pork barrel funds of P200 million a year; an unaudited office budget of two million per month; travel allowances and additional millions in monthly allowances for chairing a committee. Is it not the legislators’ job to craft laws only? Truth is, we now have too many laws that many of them are mere duplications or minor modifications of existing ones. Too, there are laws that have not even been implemented at all. Not only are the legislators’ functions becoming marginalized, their holding of and control over pork barrel funds are completely misplaced. Should not these funds be managed instead by the executive branch for a holistic planning and implementation of job-generating projects that will benefit the entire population? Putting the government funds where they should be—in needed infrastructure, in the increase in pay of government workers and in enhancing education and social services—can altogether raise investor confidence in the country. It will result in the elimination of corruption too. In turn, as investors come and stay for the long haul, jobs will be created. No country should ever have the license to jeer at us as a nation of slaves. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit: www.jimenolaw.com.ph http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/01/putting‐the‐funds‐where‐they‐should‐be/
Albay chosen as UK local training center By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Jul. 01, 2013 at 12:01am | 154 views 1
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay—Save the Children UK, a humanitarian organization, has chosen the Albay Climate Change Academy here as a counterpart in its global network of five regional training centers around the world, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said on Sunday. He said ACCA, a pioneering institution in Asia on the study of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction management based at the Bicol University will also serve as information hub for other international humanitarian groups. Jeremy Stoner, director of the Humanitarian and Leadership Academy of Save the Children UK, in recent Email to ACCA, said they plan to put up the training centers in partnership with local organizations “to provide direction and coherence with other initiatives for those wanting to begin a career in the humanitarian sector. “The academy will gather and disseminate research and evidence of best practice in regional humanitarian action and make it more widely available to more practitioners,” Stoner said. Save the Children UK has seven major concerns, among them climate change, a role tailor fit for ACCA, which has recently been a constant hosts to national and international visitors, private and government officials, who are all advocates of the fight against global warming and its ill effects. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/01/albay‐chosen‐as‐uk‐local‐training‐center/
Malapitan pushing for education, healthcare By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Jul. 01, 2013 at 12:01am | 182 views Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan said education and healthcare will lead his flagship programs at his oath-taking before Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada in rites held Sunday at the Caloocan High School along 10th Avenue.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada administers the oath of office to Mayor-elect Oscar Malapitan of Caloocan City at rites held June 30, 3013 in Caloocan National High School joined by his wife Edna, children and relatives. MANNY PALMERO “I am directing my management committee to allocate whatever is left of the city budget for the construction of emergency classrooms to compensate for the demolished building of the University of Caloocan City,” he said. Malapitan, was referring to the UCC-Tandang Sora Integrated School campus on 7th Avenue which was tore down allegedly during the previous administration. He said the education sector’s needs will be aligned in the city’s annual investment plan to give priority to upgrading teaching and learning systems along with infrastructure. For the health sector, Malapitan said Caloocan North folk will have their own medical center even as the President Diosdado Macapagal Memorial Medical Center is being revived to serve Caloocan South. Showing his faith in an ally, Estrada said he was forking over P1 million for the rehabilitation to help add equipment, facilities and staff. Malapitan said Caloocan was 8th in 143 cities in expenditures without any outstanding healthcare to show amid records from the City Mayor’s Office indicating P4 billion taken out in loans. Since 2004, he served as Caloocan first district representative with at least 28 House bills authored and sponsored.
Erap inaugural goes ‘broom’ By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on Jul. 01, 2013 at 12:02am | 967 views 3
MANILA Mayor-elect former President Joseph Estrada on Sunday called on Manileños to start bringing ‘brooms’ to sweep the dirt in the fight against corruption will be the centerpiece of his administration.
Mayor Joseph Estrada and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno wave to the crowd at the Manila City Hall Quadrangle after being sworn into office on June 30, 2013. MANNY PALMERO In his inaugural speech after taking his oath of office before Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, he vowed to clean Manila not only of garbage, but also of crime syndicates and erring policemen. Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, who is on his last term of office, and the councilors took their oath before Acting Senate President Jinggoy Estrada. Councilor Nino Dela Cruz of Manila’s first district, grandson of former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim who lost to Estrada, was not seen at the Session Hall. In a jest, he said this would be the first time that Manila will have a convicted official as mayor. “If I am an ex-convict, it was due to my principle,” he said, referring to his plunder case. “And I feel that I am in good company with Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia, Aung San Sii Kyi of Myanmar and our own Senator
Ninoy Aquino who was convicted by a military court. We were all convicted. That is why we are now all men of conviction.” Estrada said many despised American author Daniel Brown for saying that the “gates of hell” were in the capital. “But for me and even, for all of us, this is a wake-up call. So our shout today is ‘Wake-up Manila! Rise Manila! Move on Manila!’” Estrada also vowed to clean the police force and see to it that they will truly “Manila’s Finest and not Manila’s Worst.” He likewise called for more revenues to sustain programs. “We will update and modernize real property tax collection, as well as the release and issuances of business permits and licenses. I will ensure that we will first launch a program of efficient and systematic tax collection before we even consider any increases or introduction of new taxes,” he said, underscoring transparency. “This is the commitment and conviction of your ex-convict mayor.” http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/01/erap‐inaugural‐goes‐broom/
Gorio leaves 13K stranded By Francisco Tuyay | Posted on Jul. 01, 2013 at 12:01am | 107 views TYPHOON “Gorio” spared Metro Manila as it changed its course on its way out of the country after developing into a storm, lashing Samar, Bicol, the Southern Tagalog provinces and Western Luzon and leaving more than 13,000 stranded at its height. Gorio changed its course and headed toward Zambales, weathermen said. Nevertheless, Gorio flooded seven areas in Mandaluyong City and Makati, particularly Del Pilar Street which was inundated by knee-deep floodwaters. The storm was expected to exit the country at dawn today, but weathermen said it might still not be safe for small vessels to venture out into the western seaboard as Gorio could still enhance the southwest monsoon. “If the storm had hit north of Metro Manila like Ondoy, it would have flooded many areas,” Vicente Malano, acting administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, said in a radio interview. Gorio made landfall seven times: In Eastern Samar, Sdorsogon, Burias Island, Marinduque, Calapan, Batangas and Lubang Island. Gorio, the third weather disturbance to hit the country, dumped heavy rain and tripped power lines in Samar, Laguna, portions of Quezon province, Romblon and Marinduque. Heavy rain enhanced by the southwest monsoon triggered landslides in Masbate, Daraga in Albay and Biliran in Leyte, making many roads impassable as Gorio hit the Bicol region Saturday night and whipped Quezon and Batangas before moving toward Zambales. At least 23 domestic flights were canceled. Officials had reported no casualties as of Sunday afternoon, but said 1,685 people in 10 villages in Albay were hit hardest by torrential rain. Some 13,000 passengers, 87 vessels, 1,086 rolling cargo ships and 30 outriggers were stranded in various ports in the Visayas, Bicol and Southern Tagalog, disaster officials said. The Department of Social Welfare and Development readied 138.25 million worth of relief. In Baguio City, commuters were warned of possible rock slides along Kenon Road, Marcos Highway and the Agoo Road.
‘Estero’ dwellers get P374m in subsidy By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Jul. 01, 2013 at 12:02am | 281 views
President Aquino has approved the release of P374.4 million for the interim shelter program for the squatter families living in eight priority waterways in Metro Manila.
Urban blight. Squatters and their garbage line both sides of the Pascual Casal creek in Manila. Lino Santos Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the amount will cover the P18,000 interim shelter subsidy per estero family until the government completes its relocation sites for the informal settlers. Abad said the Department of Social Welfare and Development will distribute the amount to each of the 19,440 estero families in Metro Manila who will voluntarily vacate their shanties. “The fund release covers the necessary allocations for the subsidies, as well as the fund requirements for the mobilization cost of the project,” he said. “Foremost in President Aquino’s disaster and flood management strategy is securing the safety of communities living in high-risk areas,” he said. By providing decent shelters in habitable environments to families living in esteros and other waterways, we not only account for the safety of these
communities—we also strike at one of the major causes of flooding in the metro,” Abad added. The relocation project has been criticized by the militant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, which claimed that the multi-billion peso undertaking will only benefit a crony of Aquino. KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said Jose Acuzar, through his Goldenville Realty and Development Corp., bagged a contract to build houses for the estero dwellers in an 85-hectare land occupied by agrarian reform farmer-beneficiaries in Bulacan. Acuzar denied he owned Goldenville Realty. “The Goldenville is set to convert more than 85 hectares of productive agricultural lands into a relocation site and evict farmers in Barangay (village) Kaybanban in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan by the National Housing Authority’s Towerville 7,” Flores said. The 19,440 families are those living in the following eight priority waterways: San Juan River, Manggahan Floodway, Estero de Tripa de Gallina, Pasig River, Tullahan River, Maricaban Creek, Estero de Sunog Apog, and Estero de Maypajo. Earlier, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said at least 4,000 estero families have already agreed to be relocated as part of the government’s flood control masterplan. President Benigno Aquino III also ordered the Department of Interior and Local Government to ensure that professional squatters do not take advantage of the P18,000 interim shelter subsidy. “This is not a band-aid solution. A band-aid solution is just giving them assistance and that’s it. The target is around 20,000 families living in esteros and the President’s primary concern is their safety,” Lacierda said. “We don’t want the casualties during the typhoon season to happen on a yearly basis. We want that eliminated totally and that’s the reason why we’re moving them away from the esteros or what we call the danger zones,” he said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/01/estero‐dwellers‐get‐p374m‐in‐subsidy/
‘Save kids from cigarettes’ By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on Jul. 01, 2013 at 12:02am | 221 views
A FORMER smoker on Sunday warned that children ran the risk of getting hooked on cigarettes if local government units continued to turn a blind eye on the proliferation of cigarette vendors and stalls selling cigarettes near schools. Emer Rojas, president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines, a group of laryngeal cancer patients and tobacco victims, urged the newly-elected local government officials to clear the campuses of cigarette vendors because they were violating the country’s anti-smoking law. “Unless you clear school premises of people selling tobacco, students will continue to have access to cigarettes that will feed their nicotine addiction,” Rojas said. “All these tobacco control measures that we are advocating will amount to nothing if our government will not impose the law.” Sections 10 and 17 of Republic Act 9211 prohibit the sale and advertising of tobacco products within a 100-meter perimeter of a school, public playground and other facilities frequented by minors. More than 28 million students returned to school when classes opened this month. “While selling cigarettes and smoking inside campuses are strictly prohibited by school officials, students can easily buy them right outside their school,” said Rojas who started smoking at the age of 17 and who now speaks through a voice box after losing his vocal cords to smoking. The Philippines is considered as the country having the most number of smoking youth aged 13 to 15 in Southeast Asia. According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, more than one in four Filipino children in this age group are smokers. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/01/save‐kids‐from‐cigarettes/
‘China action threat to peace’ By AFP | Posted on Jul. 01, 2013 at 12:01am | 356 views 1
DFA chief: Sino buildup violated ‘02 declaration THE Philippines accused China on Sunday of a massive military buildup in the disputed South China Sea, warning at a regional security forum that the Asian giant’s tactics were a threat to peace. The statement by Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario ensured that the growing row over rival claims to the strategically vital and potentially resource-rich sea would again be a key focus of the annual four-day ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). “Del Rosario today expressed serious concern over the increasing militarization of the South China Sea,” said a Philippine government statement released on the first day of the event in the Brunei capital. Del Rosario said there was a “massive presence of Chinese military and paramilitary ships” at two groups of islets within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, called Scarborough Shoal and Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal. Del Rosario described the Chinese presence at these islets as “threats to efforts to maintain maritime peace and stability in the region.” He said the persistence of destabilizing actions in the South China Sea posed serious challenges for the entire region. Del Rosario did not give details of the alleged buildup but said the Chinese actions violated a pact in 2002 in which rival claimants to the sea pledged not to take any actions that may increase tensions. The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by the 10-member ASEAN and China also committed claimants to settle their disputes “without resorting to the threat or use of force.” China claims nearly all of the sea, even waters approaching the coasts of neighboring countries.
ASEAN members the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia, as well as Taiwan, also have competing claims to parts of the sea. The rivalries have been a source of regional tension for decades, with China and Vietnam fighting battles in 1974 and 1988 for control of some islands in which dozens of Vietnamese soldiers died. Tensions have again grown in recent years with the Philippines, Vietnam and some other countries expressing concern at increasingly assertive Chinese military and diplomatic tactics to stress control of the sea. Setting the tone for the Brunei event, a powerful arm of China’s state-run media warned the Philippines on Saturday that its defiance could lead to aggressive Chinese action. “If the Philippines continues to provoke China… a counterstrike will be hard to avoid,” said a commentary run by the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party. Del Rosario on Sunday expressed alarm at such rhetoric. “The statement on counterstrike is an irresponsible one. We condemn any threats of use of force. We condemn that. And we continue to pursue the resolution of our disputes in a peaceful way,” he said. ASEAN has been trying for more than a decade to secure agreement from China on a legally binding code of conduct that would govern actions in the South China Sea. China has resisted agreeing to the code, wary of making any concessions that may weaken its claim to the sea. Nevertheless, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said ASEAN would continue to press its case with China in Brunei. “We will be really zeroing in on the need for the code of conduct,” Natalegawa told reporters on Saturday. The talks will expand on Monday and Tuesday to include the United States, China, Japan, Russia and other countries across the Asia-Pacific, providing the platform for face-to-face diplomacy on many of the world’s hot-button issues.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to hold a series of rapid-fire meetings with his counterparts from the world’s major powers, including Russia’s Sergei Lavrov and China’s Wang Yi. The United States has been frustrated in recent weeks by perceived Chinese and Russian help for fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, who is at Moscow’s airport after being allowed to leave the Chinese territory of Hong Kong. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-Se, are also set to hold direct talks in Brunei, the first ministerial meeting between the two countries under their new governments. With Macon RamosAraneta http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/01/china‐action‐threat‐to‐peace/
Binay calls off China trip to appeal for Filipina drug mule June 30, 2013 3:00 pm
Vice President Jejomar Binay called off a proposed visit to China Sunday to save a Filipina from being executed there for drug trafficking, saying Beijing had declined to receive him. Binay said he was to have left during on Sunday, carrying a letter from President Benigno Aquino to Chinese President Xi Jinping asking him to spare the woman. “This Saturday, I was informed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China has sent word that now would not be a convenient time for me to visit China,” Binay said in a statement. “I wanted to go to China to personally appeal for compassion. I am sad however that China has chosen to take this position regarding my visit,” he added. “Given this development, I am left with no option but to cancel my trip to China. I ask for prayers for our compatriot and her family.” The woman was one of two Filipinos arrested for smuggling more than 12 kilograms (26 pounds) of high-grade heroin into China in 2011. The execution is due to take place Tuesday, Binay’s office has said, while the man had his execution set back by two years. Chinese embassy spokesmen in Manila could not be reached for comment Sunday. Aquino had previously sent Binay to China in February 2011 to seek a reprieve for three Filipinos also convicted of drug trafficking, but the three were executed the following month. The executions triggered widespread condemnation in the Philippines, which abolished the death penalty in 2006. The latest case comes amid already rocky bilateral relations between the two countries soured by overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea. About a tenth of the Philippines’ 100 million population work abroad, many of them under harsh conditions where drug traffickers sometimes exploit them into becoming drug mules. The Department of Foreign Affairs says 213 Filipinos have been jailed in drug-related cases in China.
I am not Superman, but I will rebuild Manila – Erap June 30, 2013 5:43 pm
HE is not Superman and the problems of Manila will not “disappear like magic,” but newly installed Mayor Joseph Estrada promised to make it the country’s premiere city once again. Estrada made the vow at his oath-taking at the Manila City Hall on Sunday. “I’m appealing for a little more patience, a little more sacrifice and understanding. If I have to go down on my knees I will do so if only to make Manila great again,” the former president said, addressing the crowd in Filipino. Estrada said he will try to address most of the problems of the city during his first 100 days as mayor. Among the problems he mentioned are poor waste management that causes the flooding in the city, lack of affordable but quality health care for the poor residents, a high crime rate, corruption in City Hall and the police and poor tax collection. “I am not Superman and I cannot solve the problems with magic because they are the legacy of decades of neglect,” he said. The first thing he will do is sweep out not only the garbage, but corruption, syndicates and dishonest cops. He warned mulcting policemen and hoodlums: “Your days are numbered here in Manila. Your days are over in this city. Tapos na ang maliligayang araw nyo… tapos na… tapos na… tapos na (It’s over, over, over).” Estrada said he “will clean up the police force and see to it that they [Manila police] will truly be Manila’s finest and not Manila’s worst.” “This is a warning and a wake-up call to the police officers who engage in criminal activities—from ‘kotong’ to drug dealing… from extortion to protection of ‘rackets’ and other abuses—I ask you to reform because we will go after you…” the mayor said. Estrada said he will endorse an ordinance that will require the use of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in every business establishment in Manila. To address the flooding in the city, he said city government will work hand-in-hand with other government agencies like the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA). He said that Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is also chairman of the housing and urban development, promised to help in relocating the people living along the esteros. Estrada said he “will try to strengthen the primary healthcare especially at the barangay level so that there will be a strong system of quality but affordable healthcare for the citizens of Manila.” Estrada noted that all these projects needed funding. “May kasabihan po tayo na hindi tatakbo ang sasakyan kung walang gasolina. Marami po tayong kailangan iayos sa revenue generation and tax collection. (We have a saying, a car won’t run unless it has gasoline. We need to improve revenue generation and tax collection)…We will update and
modernize the real property tax collection as well as the release and issuances of business permits and licenses,” he said. “These are the challenges we face today in our city and we need your help by cooperating. If we are to redeem and rebuild what should be the premiere city of the Philippines, we must all lead by example. I will not ask you to do what I am not prepared to do. We will ensure full transparency in all revenue collection, disbursement and expenditures of the city. This is a commitment and conviction of your ex-convict mayor,” Estrada said. FATIMA CIELO B. CANCEL
TRANSPORT GROUPS CAN STILL MANDATE DRUG TESTS — SOTTO June 30, 2013 8:15 pm
by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd on Sunday challenged the leaders of different transport organizations to subject their members to mandatory drug testing imposed by the Land Transportation Office, despite the decision to remove drug testing on driver’s license applicants. This was in response to the transport leaders’ plan to file a temporary restraining order before the Supreme Court against the implementation of a provision in the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act that effectively removes the mandatory drug test for applicants of driver’s licenses. Sotto, the principal author of the law, explained that the reason why proponents of the law decided to repeal the mandatory drug test clause in the Dangerous Drug Act of 2002 is because the requirement has been proven ineffective.
DBM releases P374 million for govt’s shelter project June 30, 2013 8:19 pm
by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER
The resettlement program for informal sector families (ISFs) living in identified priority waterways in Metro Manila received P374.4-million fund from the government. In a statement issued over the weekend, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said that the release of the said fund was part of the government’s broader flood control and management plan for Metro Manila. “The Department of Social Welfare and Development, through the Interim Shelter Fund for Informal Settler Families program, will distribute P18,000 to each of the 19,440 ISFs in Metro Manila danger zones who will voluntary vacate their current residences along targeted waterways,” it stated. It added that the fund release covers the necessary allocations for the subsidies, as well as the fund requirements for the mobilization cost of the project. The DBM said that the rental subsidy would be offered to families living along eight identified waterways across Metro Manila. These include the San Juan River with P75.9 million, Manggahan Floodway with P53.9 million, Estero de Tripa de Gallina with P69.9 million, Pasig River with P25.8 million, Tullahan River with P66.2 million, Maricaban Creek with P24.4 million, Estero de Sunog Apog with P3 million, and Estero de Maypajo with P25.4 million. Moreover, the agency announced that the relocation effort kicks off the implementation of the government’s flood control master plan under the Department of Public Works and Highways, which was designed to address the severe flooding problem in Metro Manila and nearby provinces through long-term measures, such as watershed rehabilitation, river desiltation, and the construction of bigger drainage systems and dams. ”Foremost in President Aquino’s disaster and flood management strategy is securing the safety of communities living in high-risk areas. By providing decent shelters in habitable environments to families living in esteros and other waterways, we not only account for the safety of these communities—we also strike at one of the major causes of flooding in the metro,” DBM Secretary Florencio Abad said.
JBC votes today for next Sandiganbayan chief June 30, 2013 9:49 pm
THE Judicial an d Bar Council (JBC) will vote today for the top nominees for the next chief magistrate of the Sandiganbayan. The seven-man council led by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno meets today to cast their votes for the successor of Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Francisco Villaruz who retired on June 9. President Benigno Aquino 3rd has 90 days to choose the next presiding justice of the anti-graft court. Several associate justices and executive officials are contenders for the post. They are Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Gregory Ong, Efren Dela Cruz, Teresita Diaz-Baldoz, Alex Quiroz, and Amparo Cabotaje-Tang. Also vying for the position are CA Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas and Presiding Judge Arthur Abundiente of the Regional Trial Court Branch 25 of Misamis Oriental. Justice Undersecretary Leah Armamento from the executive department is likewise included in the shortlist. Other nominees are Provincial Prosecutor Nestor Tolentino of Bangued, Abra, and private lawyer Jasper Lucero. The Legal Management Council (LMPC) appealed to the JBC to set politics aside in its screening of candidates. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (SC) allowed Villaruz to receive his five-year lump sum retirement gratuity and terminal leave benefits. The court also granted Villaruz’s request “that his accumulated leave credits be tacked to his service in the judiciary to increase his longevity pay for purposes of retirement and his retirement benefits be adjusted accordingly.” However, SC defered Villaruz’s request that the Special Allowance for the Judiciary (SAJ) component of his salary be included in the computation of this lifetime pension and gratuity.
‘Gorio’ exits, leaves no casualties June 30, 2013 9:51 pm
by WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL, CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND RITCHIE A. HORARIO REPORTERS
Residents ride on a pedicab through a flooded street in Manila on Sunday, hours after Tropical storm “Gorio” lashed Manila and nearby provinces with 65-75 kph winds disrupting aviation and ferry services. AFP PHOTO
TROPICAL storm Gorio (international codename: Rubia) neither caused death nor injuries in areas it hit over the weekend, something that disaster mitigation officials said was a “record first” in recent history. National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario on Sunday said that Gorio was the first cyclone that inflicted no casualties in provinces it ravaged. “I think this is the first time that we have a zero casualty whenever a tropical storm hit our country. This is the first time,” he said. Del Rosario, who is also the concurrent administrator of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) attributed the zero casualty to the preparations made by various local government units and the NDRRMC as well as the accurate forecasting of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). “Pagasa was very accurate in their forecasting which is why we were able to give early forecast and warnings to places where the storm will be passing,” he added. In Malacañang, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has set aside P137.78 million worth of emergency relief resources consisting of standby funds and some 39,959 family food packs, other food and non-food items for the National Capital Region, Regions 3, 4-A/4-B, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 13 or the Caraga Region. The DSWD, Philippine Coast Guard, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the NDRRMC were alerted days before “Gorio” made landfall, she added Valte said that President Benigno Aquino 3rd is satisfied with disaster preparations.
“The President was monitoring the effects of the weather or the path of the storm until, I think, past midnight po [until] kaninang madaling araw at ina-update ng mga iba’t ibang ahensya ang Pangulo kung ano na po ang mga nagawa sa mga rehiyon na apektado,” she said. Minimal damage The storm made landfall on Saturday in Samar. It packed a maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometer per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph. According to Del Rosario, the storm caused minimal damage to properties and infrastructure, although it left several towns in Eastern Samar without power, triggered a landslide in Biliran province and washed away a Vietnam-registered ship in Bicol. The storm caused floodings in Metro Manila that subsided on Sunday morning. The storm affected 2,309 families or 11,691 people in Region 5 and stranded 9,439 passengers in Bicol and Eastern Visayas. Metro Manila was spared from threats of massive flooding as the storm changed course and headed towards the sea. However, Sunday remained a wet day for metro residents as it rained overnight and light rain continued over many parts of the city. Pagasa Acting Administrator Vicente Malano said Gorio was initially projected to affect northern Metro Manila but affected the south instead. “Kung naging north of Metro Manila ito, kagaya ng Ondoy, magbubuhos ng maraming tubig at magdudulot ng baha,” Malano said in a radio interview. Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino said that some areas in Metro Manila were hit by flood on Sunday. Nearly 12,0000 people from five towns in Albay province were evacuated on Saturday during the onslaught of typhoon Gorio. The NDRRMC identified the towns as Santo Domingo, Libon, Oas, Pio Duran and Jovellar where 11,691 people (2,309 families) were evacuated to centers and safe holding areas. The storm also left six towns in Bataan—Samal, Pilar, Orion, Limay, Bagac and Morong—and the City of Balanga, without electricity on Sunday. Before the power outage in Balanga City, fire broke out at the service line in barangay San Jose, burning portions of some electric wires. Residents said the Bureau of Fire Protection immediately responded using fire extinguishers. WITH REPORTS FROM FRANCIS EARL CUETO AND ERNIE B. ESCONDE
Facts on sea dispute June 30, 2013 9:54 pm
by AFP The West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) covers more than three million square kilometers), ringed by southern China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Borneo island, and mainland Southeast Asia. Most of its hundreds of small islands, islets and rocks are uninhabited. The Paracel and Spratly chains contain the biggest islands. The sea is the main maritime link between the Pacific and Indian oceans, giving it enormous trade and military value. Its shipping lanes connect East Asia with Europe and the Middle East. Major unexploited oil and gas deposits are believed to lie under the seabed. The sea is home to some of the world’s biggest coral reefs and, with marine life being depleted close to coasts, it is important as a source of fish to feed growing populations. China and Taiwan both claim nearly all of the sea, while Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei each have often-overlapping claims to parts of it. Beijing’s argument is based largely on a decades-old Chinese map with a “nine-dash line” that approaches the coasts of other countries and outlines its claim. Beijing and most other countries know it as the South China Sea. Hanoi calls it the East Sea and Manila officially refers to it as the West Philippine Sea. Occupation/Control China has held all of the Paracel islands since a conflict with South Vietnam in 1974 that left 53 Vietnamese troops dead. Vietnam is believed to occupy or control more than 20 of the Spratly islands and reefs, the most of any claimant. Taiwan has a garrison controlled by its coastguard on Itu Aba island, which is called Taiping in Chinese and is the largest in the Spratlys. The Philippines occupies nine of the Spratlys, including Thitu island, the second largest. The Philippines has a military presence and civilians living on Thitu, which it calls Pagasa. China occupies at least seven of the Spratlys including Johnson Reef, which it gained after a naval battle with Vietnam in 1988. Malaysia occupies three of the Spratlys. The most significant presence is on Swallow Reef, called Layang Layang Island in Malaysia, where it has a naval post and a diving resort. Brunei claims a submerged reef and a submerged bank in the Spratlys. Tensions: China-Vietnam Aside from the 1974 battle for the Paracels, the only other major conflict occurred when Vietnam and China fought a naval battle on Johnson Reef in the Spratlys in 1988 that left 70 Vietnamese military personnel dead. However, Chinese naval vessels have fired at other times on Vietnamese fishing boats in the area.
In June last year Vietnam passed a law proclaiming its jurisdiction over all of the Paracel and Spratly islands, triggering Chinese protests. At about the same time China announced it had created a new city, Sansha, on one of the Paracel islands, to administer Chinese rule over its South China Sea domain. China-Philippines In 1995, China began building structures on Mischief Reef, within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Tensions between the two nations rose in 2011 when Chinese vessels harassed a Philippinechartered gas exploration vessel at Reed Bank. The Philippines then accused Chinese military and paramilitary vessels of a campaign of intimidation within the country’s exclusive economic zone, including the occupation of Scarborough Shoal. In January this year Manila asked a United Nations tribunal to rule that China’s claims were invalid. China refused to participate in the legal proceedings, which could take years. In May, the Philippines said it had made an official protest at Chinese military vessels circling Filipino-occupied Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys. The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China adopted a non-binding “declaration of conduct” in 2002 to discourage hostile acts. All sides agreed not to use threats or force to assert claims. But China has since refused to turn it into a legally binding “code of conduct”. The dispute exposed divisions at a gathering of Asean foreign ministers last year when the meeting host Cambodia, a China ally, rejected a Philippine push for the bloc to take a tough line against the Chinese. With Brunei as host of Asean events in 2013, a sense of unity has been restored within the group. Asean foreign ministers issued a joint communique after their meeting on Sunday reaffirming their commitment to the 2002 declaration.
Standardization: Consumers are practical geniuses than manufacturers June 30, 2013 6:10 pm
by REYLITO A.H. ELBO BEYOND THE BUZZWORDS
IN my interaction with thousands of people and organizations, I discovered that many of them (to say it diplomatically) were a bit sloppy in their strategic thinking that they spend more than 50 percent of their time doing something that is destined to fail, simply because of inconsistency or lack of strict adhesion to certain prescribed standards. Let me tell you a story: A guest in a beach hotel called over a waiter one morning and said: “I want two boiled eggs, one of them undercooked and runny, and the other so overcooked like rubber, and also grilled bacon that has been left on the plate to get cold; burnt toast that crumbles right away as soon as you touch it with a knife; butter straight from deep-freeze so that it’s impossible to spread, and a pot of very weak coffee, lukewarm.” “Sir, I’m sorry to say that’s a complicated order,” said the bewildered waiter. “It might be a bit difficult.” The guest replied: “Why difficult? But that’s what you gave me yesterday!” This came to me when I bought a P39 tuna pimiento pan de sal (bread) and cold tea drink from 7-11 last week. But then you may be asking: “Why are you buying a cheap snack?” My simple answer is: “Because they have such a terrific selection for ordinary people like me.” The real truth of the matter is—“I’m on a diet.” Well, anyway, the dutiful crew placed the pan de sal inside a microwave oven and pressed “1” for the 10-second reheating process. In a little over 15 seconds, I completed the transaction and paid P39 for which I got my precious pan de sal pack and tea drink inside the Legaspi Village Makati store. That’s how I discovered the instruction on the pack: “Press 2 to reheat in microwave oven for 20 seconds.” Questions: Why does the 7-11 guy failed to observe the 20-seconds standard for reheating? What’s the point of short-circuiting the process? Why ignore the 20-second requisite, in the first place? And the most important question is—would the bacteria in my tuna sandwich survive 10 seconds of microwave exposure? I’m still alive and kicking as I write this piece. Apparently, the cheap snack did nothing to harm my body but it left an indelible mark for me to ask those questions similar in intensity to another
question: “Why do taxi drivers of Toyota Vios have their hood slightly open while driving?” You know what I mean. Check and see for yourself. I can imagine that seven out of 10 taxi Vios that you can see on the road are doing this. At one time, I had the opportunity to ask this question to one taxi driver who opines: “It helps a lot to air cool the engine.” I’m not sure if that’s true. But it raises another question: “Are you telling me that the average Filipino taxi driver is more intelligent than Toyota’s famed auto engineers, technicians and scientists?” I checked the Internet for a ready answer and found who saying: “I am a little uneasy with the cover retaining engine heat longer to deteriorate the rubber and important plastic components under the hood.” Sounds logical, isn’t it?
Majority of Filipinos optimistic about finances June 30, 2013 6:12 pm
by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO MAJORITY of the Filipinos are optimistic about their financial situation for the succeeding five years, according to a report released by an insurance company. In the report “Solar FLARe,” insurance firm Sun Life Financial said that of the 1,100 respondents they have surveyed, 60 percent were “very positive” when it comes to their financial situation. The report added that 27 percent responded that they are “quite positive,” while 12 percent are “not positive at all” on their financial situation. However, it also revealed that in terms of financial worries, Filipinos were most concerned on their children’s education at 33 percent, food at 20 percent and family health at 17 percent. The report also noted that Filipinos worry less on paying their utilities at 5 percent and saving money at 2 percent. Meanwhile, food emerged as the top priority of Filipinos when it comes to budgeting. In their monthly budget, Filipinos allocate majority of it to food at 37 percent, house at 13 percent, health at 9 percent, communication at 6 percent and children’s education at 11 percent. The report also showed that bank accounts, transportation, clothes, life insurance and others are the least priority of the respondents in their monthly budget. The report also disclosed that 80 percent of Filipino respondents are needed to be educated about their finances while only 20 percent claiming to be a financial expert. It also showed that when asked how they are preparing for anticipated life events, 8 out of 10 would rely on bank savings, overlooking other option such as life insurance and investments. Launched in 2009, the Solar FLARe was the first multimedia financial literacy advocacy in the country. The study was conducted during the first quarter of 2013 with 1,100 respondents with age ranging between 23 and 55 and coming from middle- to upper-income segments.
Manila, Switzerland sign Joint Economic Commission June 30, 2013 6:20 pm
by ROSALIE C. PERIABRAS REPORTER
THE Philippines and Switzerland recently mark an important milestone in their bilateral economic relations with the signing of the agreement establishing the Joint Economic Commission (JEC). The agreement establishing the JEC institutionalizes a mechanism for regular dialogue and exchanges between the two countries on issues related to, among others, the business environment to improve and facilitate bilateral trade and investment flows. The JEC will also serve as the platform to conclude other mutually beneficial economic agreements between the parties and provide the mechanism to organize consultations and official visits through delegations or missions to deal with specific economic and trade issues. It will also provide the opportunity for private sector participation and the development of initiatives with relevant business organizations. Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo who signed the agreement or the Philippine side stated that this agreement is among the priorities of President Benigno Aquino 3rd. Secretary Ineichen-Fleisch is the signatory for the Swiss side. Immediately after the signing, the two secretaries had a bilateral meeting to discuss the next steps toward operationalizing the JEC and other economic issues affecting bilateral relations. Domingo expressed his appreciation to the different line agencies for assisting the Department of Trade and Industry in negotiating and finalizing the agreement with SECO. He lauded the excellent coordination between the Philippine Embassy in Berne, Geneva Permanent Mission, Department of Foreign Affairs Manila and the Department of Trade and Industry for successfully concluding this initiative.
Pancake House not increasing public float June 30, 2013 6:15 pm
by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR REPORTER
PANCAKE House Inc. (PHI), the largest casual dining chain, hasn’t planned out yet to boost its public float despite low daily trading volume. This is amid the firm’s on-going expansion program. Martin Lorenzo, PHI chief executive officer, said that the company may not yet increase its public float even if the firm is “public but not yet fully traded.” “Our float is just a minimum as required and even the volume hasn’t moved much. It’s [the shares] held very closely by our stockholders. We’re happy with the dividends. We are happy with the growth moving forward,” Lorenzo specified. “The shares don’t change much. Our stocks price has gone up from P8 to P12 but the volume is very little,” he added. It was reported on Saturday that the listed casual dining group is beefing up its branch network for all of it store brands locally and globally this year with a target to end 2013 with 350 stores systemwide. Lorenzo then said that the firm is planning to put up 30 stores this year locally and 20 new branches in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. According to him, majority of the local stores that they are going to put up will be built outside Metro Manila such as in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Baguio, La Union and Palawan. Overseas, the group is set to open a Pancake House store in Brunei and one Yellow Cab in Singapore. PHI is also looking at a 45-percent to 50-percent growth in its profit for this year which would be driven by same store sales. The company has also earmarked P150 million for the roll out of new stores this year. This capital spending is higher than the P120 million the company spent in 2012.
Posted on June 30, 2013 09:26:53 PM
BIR finalizes terms for tobacco tax stamp THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) has finalized the terms of reference (TOR) for the procurement of the technology for its security tax stamp project to aid in monitoring the supply and sale of tobacco products.
"We’ve [BIR] finalized our part of the TOR as of last Friday," Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim S. JacintoHenares said in a phone interview yesterday. "We’ve passed it on to the APO [Production Unit, Inc.], which will add their part. Since they will manage the contract, they will be the ones to publish the terms of reference and conduct the bidding," Ms. JacintoHenares said. The BIR, said the official, is in charge of the technology’s security features while the APO will provide specifics on the printing of materials for the TOR. "Hopefully, we can finish the entire bidding process within the year and begin full implementation by early next year. Maybe by January or February, all tobacco products could already be equipped with the stamp," said Ms. Jacinto-Henares. As a signatory to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the Philippines committed to adopt an industry-independent track-and-trace system to monitor the movement of tobacco products in the local market. In January last year, the BIR said it would bid out a secure tobacco tax stamp scheme to help minimize smuggling of such products and plug revenue leaks. The target procurement date for the initiative was moved several times as the agency finalized the plans for the project’s implementation. Official tax stamps on products signify that all tax obligations of the manufacturer have been paid for. "We’ll be buying the stamp from the APO. The firms will then need to get the stamp from us," Ms. JacintoHenares explained. In April, the BIR said it tapped the APO, a state-run printing services firm under the Presidential Communication Operation Office, to run the project in its stead, as security stamps are considered "accountable forms." Under the government’s procurement law (RA 9184), agencies requiring any printing of accountable forms must avail of the services of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, National Printing Office, or the APO. Ms. Jacinto-Henares said that the APO will print the tax stamp. Security technology to ensure the stamp’s authenticity will be bid out.
The implementation of a tax stamp scheme for alcohol products, added the BIR chief, will also happen "after the APO bids out the technology." "That will just follow, as part of our ongoing efforts to supplement the ‘sin’ tax reform we put in place last year," said Ms. Jacinto-Henares. President Benigno S.C. Aquino III signed the Sin Tax Reform Act of 2012 (RA 10351 ) into law last December. The measure, which restructures the excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, took effect on Jan. 1. This is expected to generate P33.96 billion in fresh revenues this year, the bulk of which, or P23.4 billion, would come from tobacco products, while the remaining P4.5 billion and P6.06 billion would come from fermented liquor and distilled spirits, respectively. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc
Posted on June 30, 2013 09:22:44 PM
DA, truckers to talk overloading THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) will meet with trucking and freight leaders this month for possible measures to fend off anticipated price increases after the amended anti-overloading law took effect on June 1. According to a DA statement yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala set a meeting with trucking and freight industry leaders and stakeholders on July 15 to tackle the effects of the April 5 resolution that amended the Anti-Overloading Act of 2000 (RA 8794). In a previous dialogue with DA Assistant Secretary and National Rice Program Coordinator Dante S. Delima, industry stakeholders claimed that the price of rice as well as other agricultural products will expand by P1 per kilogram under the new guidelines. "The government argues that overloaded trucks and trailers have ‘tremendous damaging effects’ on highway safety and traffic operations, and cause a heavy toll on government investments in infrastructure," the statement read. Road rehabilitation is estimated to cost about P13.5 billion every year, the statement added. However, Mr. Delima said in the statement, "We noted that the continued implementation of the new guidelines ... will have an adverse effect on the supply and price of rice in the local market." Asked what proposals would likely be made at the July 15 meeting, Mr. Delima said in a text message that they would "find ways [on] how price will not be affected by this new set of regulations and how we prepare for a good alternative transport system." Under the new resolution, overloading is committed when trucks and trailers exceed the prescribed gross vehicle mass of 13,500 kg per axle. This means that an ordinary 22-wheeler truck with a previous loading capacity of 700 to 800 sacks of rice per trip would now be limited to only 480 to 530 sacks per trip. "Strict implementation of the law will result in increasing the cost of freight, handling and storage, and worsen traffic conditions. There may not even be enough trailers and containers to move all the cargo because of the additional trips required to move them all," Mr. Delima said in the statement. The price of wholesale commercial regular-milled rice on June 29 was P29/kg, 60 centavos higher than the P28.40/kg recorded on May 31. -- K.T. de Villa
Posted on June 30, 2013 10:40:28 PM
Century eyes return to beverage business FOOD PROCESSOR Century Pacific Group plans to return to the beverage business this year, a top company official said on Friday last week.
“We are expanding into some projects -- in beverage,” Century Pacific Chairman Ricardo S. Po said in an interview on the sidelines of the annual stockholders’ meeting in Taguig City of Arthaland Corp., where he holds the post of director. Century Pacific Group owns a third of the listed property developer. Century Pacific sold its Plus juice brand to the Zest-O group of Ambassador Alfredo M. Yao five years ago. Mr. Po said the “healthy drink” is expected to be launched “this year.” He declined to give details. The founder of Century Pacific said the drink will complement the food products the company now offers. “We are in food and we consider beverage as part of the overall food industry,” Mr. Po explained. The group, known for its canned good products, was established in 1978 initially as Century Canning Corp., which is now the company’s flagship unit. Aside from the flagship Century Tuna brand, the group also owns the Argentina corned beef, 555 sardines, and Blue Bay tuna, among other brands. The company also owns the Birch Tree and Angel milk brands and is the local franchise holder of Japanese fastfood restaurant Yoshinoya. The company is also expanding its meat products line after it acquired in October last year the Swift meat brand of listed RFM Corp. That deal, worth some P850 million, covered specific processed meat equipment, raw materials, and finished product inventories under the Swift brand, but excluded RFM’s meat facilities in Cabuyao, Laguna which is still being used for the manufacture of other food and beverage items. Neither did the deal involve listed Swift Foods, Inc., which is a separate entity spun off from RFM in 1994 and is now engaged solely in the production of Swift Sariwanok chicken products in Palawan. -- C. H. C. Venzon
DASAL NA LANG SA PINAY NA BIBITAYIN SA CHINA Nina Boyet Jadulco at Aries Cano Share on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookShare on emailMore Sharing Services
Isinara ng pamahalaan ng China ang kanilang pintuan para sa kinatawan ng Pilipinas na siyang personal na aapela sana para ipagpaliban ang pagbitay sa isang Pinay anumang oras mula ngayon hanggang Martes.
Tutulak sana patungong China si Vice President Jejomar Binay kahapon upang personal na iabot ang liham ni Pangulong Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III na humihiling na babaan ang parusa sa Pinay drug mule subalit naudlot ito matapos makatanggap ng abiso mula sa nasabing bansa ang presidential adviser on OFW concerns nitong Sabado na ‘hindi ito ang panahon para pumunta sa China’.
“This Saturday, I was informed that the ministry of foreign affairs of China has sent word that now would not be a convenient time for me to visit China. Sa madaling salita, hindi ito ang panahon para ako ay pumunta sa China,” paglalahad ni VP Binay.
Binanggit pa ng Bise Presidente na kinikilala ng Pilipinas ang pinataw na parusang kamatayan sa 35anyos na Pinay kung kaya’t labis ang kanyang kalungkutan na hindi pahintulutan ng China ang kanyang biyahe para personal na ipaabot ang mensahe ni Pangulong Aquino kay Chinese President Xi Jinping sa commutation ng death sentence sa ating kababayan na itinakda hanggang Hulyo 2 taong kasalukuyan.
“Inuulit ko lang na kinikilala natin ang batas ng China, hindi natin kinukuwestyon ang hatol sa ating kababayan. I wanted to go to China to personally appeal for compassion.
Dahil sa pagkansela ng kanyang biyahe, umapela na lamang ang Bise Presidente sa taumbayan na ipagdasal ang ating kababayan na nasa death row sa China.
Kaugnay nito, ikinalungkot naman ng Filipino migrants’ rights group (Migrante) ang desisyon ng China na huwag na munang papuntahin si Binay para iapela ang hatol sa Pinay drug mule.
Anila, bagama’t hindi nawawalan ng pag-asa ay tila napakanipis na umano ng tsansa na mabago pa ang hatol ng Supreme People’s Court sa Beijing.
“Nananawagan tayo ng dasal... talagang napakadilim ng daang tinatahak ng isa nating kababayan... malapit na ang Hulyo 2 at hindi malayong maisalang siya sa lethal injection chamber,” paghahayag
kahapon ni Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez sa isang panayam.
‘Di makontak ang pamilya
Sinabi pa ni Martinez na hindi pa nila nakakaugnayan ang pamilya ng Pinay.
“Ginawa na namin ang lahat ng paraan para makaugnayan ang pamilya ng ating kababayan pero nabigo kami.”
Sa kabila nito, umaasa pa rin si Pangulong Aquino na mapagbibigyan ng China ang kanyang kahilingan para makaligtas sa parusang kamatayan ang naturang Pinay.
Palasyo sa mga bagong halal na opisyal: ‘Wag biguin ang taumbayan (Boyet Jadulco) Share on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookShare on emailMore Sharing Services
Hinamon ng palasyo ng Malacañang ang higit sa 18,000 nahalal sa May 13, 2013 elections na huwag biguin ang taumbayan sa mandatong ipinagkaloob sa kanila sa nakaraang halalan. Ginawa ng Executive Department ang apela matapos na magsimula ang term of office kahapon ng alas-12:00 ng tanghali ang 12 nanalong senador, gayundin ang 18,041 na lokal na opisyal.
“Tandaan po natin na nasa inyo pong balikat at atang ninyo ang atas ng taumbayan,” panawagan ni deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.
Kahapon nagsimula ang six-year term nina Sens. Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara, Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino IV, Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV, Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito at Gregorio Honasan.
Nagsimula din kahapon ang three-year term ng mga kongresista, gobernador, bise gobernador, miyembro ng sangguniang panlalawigan, city mayor, city vice mayor, miyembro ng sangguniang panlungsod, municipal mayor, municipal vice mayor, miyembro ng sangguniang bayan at ng mga opisyal ng Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Same-sex marriage foes refuse to yield Published : Monday, July 01, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 57
LOS ANGELES - A group behind efforts to uphold California’s ban on same-sex marriage announced Saturday an emergency petition had been filed to the US Supreme Court to get the ban reinstated. On Friday, California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco lifted the ban on same-sex marriages, imposed under the so-called Prop 8 ballot measure, with immediate effect. The first weddings were held within hours, notably for the two couples who challenged the ban, in high-profile ceremonies in San Fransisco and Los Angeles.Just days earlier, the nation’s top court had ruled supporters of Prop 8 lacked the proper standing to appeal a lower-court judgment that declared the measure unconstitutional. The ruling essentially allowed the original federal court ruling to stand, striking down Prop 8. But supporters of the ban, including Protect-Marriage.com, which backed legal efforts to uphold it, said the reinstatement of same-sex marriages was too hasty. The Ninth Circuit court should have waited until at least 25 days after the Supreme Court ruling, ProtectMarriage.com said in a statement Saturday.It argued that the appeals court had originally promised to wait until “final disposition” before lifting its injunction on same-sex marriages. ”Under Supreme Court procedural rules, ‘final disposition’ comes when the Supreme Court issues a ‘mandate’ to the Ninth Circuit, at least 25 days after announcing its opinion in the case. ”The 25-day waiting period is provided to allow parties such as Prop 8’s proponents to petition the Supreme Court for a re-hearing of the case,” the statement said.”People on both sides of this debate should at least agree that the courts must follow their own rules,” said ProtectMarriage.com coalition lawyer Andy Pugno in the statement. ”This kind of lawlessness just further weakens the public’s confidence in the legitimacy of our legal system.” The group also called it suspicious that Friday’s decision came “without any warning or notice to Proposition 8’s official proponents”. Those challenging the ban, as well as LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the California Attorney general, “all happened to be in position to perform same-sex marriages just minutes after”, it added. Supporters of Prop 8 have vowed to pursue their efforts to have the ban — backed by 52 percent of Californians five years ago, with 48 percent against — re-enforced.But gay rights groups have cheered the Supreme Court ruling, as have many supporters of marriage equality. ”Thousands upon thousands of lives are about to change for the better, for good,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a statement Friday.In the United States, 12 states, and the capital, allow same-sex couples to marry. AFP
Long road ahead for PNoy Published : Monday, July 01, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 66 Written by : Efren Montano PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino faces a long road ahead as he starts his fourth year in office. Economic issues – including the recent slide in the stock and foreign exchange markets – have always dogged the Aquino administration since day one, even as his spokesmen have been insisting that fundamentals are better compared to the time of his predecessor. “Well, the President has always spoken about this — what are the challenges to economic growth? One, its sustainability; and, second, to continue to make it more inclusive so that everybody will have—will experience their share in economic growth. So those continue to be the challenges that we face for the next half of the term,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told radio dzRB. She said Aquino already has his hands full on Monday, the first day of his fourth year in office. Aquino will be attending to the 66th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force, where he is expected to talk anew about the military’s capability amid increasing threats from neighbors. Also yesterday, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario expressed serious concern over the increasing Chinese militarization in the West Philippine Sea. Talks have also started about allowing the United States and Japan the access to the Philippines’ military bases. Valte, however, did not give any further details. “At this point, we don’t want to discuss any details primarily because the details are still being studied,” she said. Aquino will also begin to face issues that have been put on the sidelines because of the May elections. One is the Reproductive Health Law, which was halted by the Supreme Court. “What is more important is that it should allow our Filipino families the information that they need to make their decision, that would apply to their family based on their own believed system and their valued system. While that has already been passed into law, I understand that the order from the Supreme Court is still in place,” Valte said. What is important is that Aquino will continue to get inputs from all stakeholders as to how he will run the country, she said. “You know, the President is always open to receiving inputs or suggestions from stakeholders on different issues—on different issues of the day that is being faced by the presidency,” she said.