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Palace mum on allegations vs NIA chief By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang yesterday declined to comment on allegations against sacked National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Antonio Nangel, saying instead due process must be followed. Asked about reports that Nangel and his wife were jetsetters and that he and the NIA regional directors spent huge funds on renovations rather than irrigation, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said: “We are not in a position to comment as those are personal allegations against former administrator Nangel and his wife.” A NIA administrator receives the following compensation: monthly basic salary of P78,946 or P947,352 annually and P369,000 fixed expenses and other allowances. The basic monthly is authorized under Joint Resolution No. 4 of Congress on the Salary Standardization Law. “As for the allegation regarding renovations vis-a-vis irrigation, that will fall under the auditing purview of the Commission on Audit,” Valte said. At press time, Valte could not confirm if President Aquino had indeed asked Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to scout for a replacement for Nangel, who got the boot for failing to meet targets despite full disbursement of funds by the Department of Budget and Management to the agency. The President had ordered an investigation into the use of NIA funds to ensure they were spent properly up to the last centavo.

There were reports that Malacañang was not renewing the appointment of Nangel, whose term ended  last June 30, after the agency failed to meet its targets for the past years.  Meanwhile, Senators Cynthia Villa and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. have filed separate bills to improve the  national irrigation program of the government to counter the impact of climate change, particularly in  the agricultural sector.  Villar filed Senate Bill No. 34 to accelerate the irrigation program nationwide while Marcos filed Senate  Bill No. 14 that gives NIA the mandate to implement and expedite a massive national irrigation program,  with the goal of providing water to 95 percent of farmlands nationwide.  “The bill proposes to accelerate irrigation development in the country in order to address the  agricultural needs of our countrymen. It mandates the NIA to come up with programs and plans of  action to achieve this goal,” Marcos said.  The bill also directs NIA to provide technical and financial assistance to local government units,  cooperatives, farmers’ associations, as well as non‐government organizations with respect to irrigation  systems in their respective jurisdictions. 

Villar said her bill would mandate the NIA to undertake a six‐year accelerated irrigation plan to cover  unirrigated and unproductive land.  NIA shall conduct consultations with local planning and development councils, irrigators’ associations,  farmers, indigenous people, and concerned government agencies to identify priority areas.  Despite the criticism against Nangel, NIA employees reportedly dubbed him as the best administrator of  the agency.   NIA sources said Nangel was one of the most hardworking administrators who visited various provinces  and implemented several programs and projects that changed the face of NIA and the lives of farmers.  “President Aquino may have a different perspective of administrator Nangel but he must be looking  elsewhere. He does not know him personally. He just relied on some informants,” the source said.  Nangel is a Novo Ecijano who worked his way up the ladder. He became operations manager of the  Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems (UPRIIS), the country’s largest national irrigation  system that runs the Pantabangan Dam. – With Christina Mendez, Manny Galvez‐mum‐allegations‐vs‐nia‐chief                             

Phivolcs says Phl needs better earthquake preparedness ( | Updated July 3, 2013 - 5:56pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) on Wednesday underscored the need to strictly impose the regulations on buildings and structures to minimize the impact of earthquakes. PHIVOLCS chief Renato Solidum Jr. noted that weak structures are vulnerable to earthquake-related hazards such as ground shaking and liquefaction. “We need to have appropriate land use. We have to be serious towards construction of buildings. We have to implement the Building Code strictly,” Solidum said in a lecture organized by the New Zealand Embassy in Makati. Citing a previous study, Solidum said about 168,300 of residential buildings may be heavily damaged and about 339,800 others may be partly damaged if a magnitude 7.2 quake caused by the West Valley Fault hits the country. The West Valley Fault, also known as the Marikina fault line, starts from the Sierra Madre and runs through Bulacan, Rodriguez, Rizal, Quezon City, the eastern side of Metro Manila including Pasig, Taguig, Muntinlupa, San Pedro, and Sta. Rosa in Laguna and ends in Carmona, Cavite. Government scientists previously claimed that the fault can cause a magnitude 7.2 quake and “is ripe for another major movement.”

Solidum said under the same scenario, about eight to ten percent of public buildings may sustain heavy  damage while about 20 to 25 percent may be partly damaged.  A magnitude 7.2 quake, Solidum said, can also leave 33,500 persons dead and 113,600 others injured.  The temblor can also affect lifelines like water pipes, electricity, bridges and communication facilities.  “We don’t want this scenario to happen we have to do something so it won’t happen,” Solidum said.  Rob Johnston General Manager for Business Development of New Zealand’s Geological and Nuclear  Sciences said the Philippines should consider developing a plan to retrofit buildings that fail to meet  standards.  New Zealand has also experienced strong quakes, including the 2011 Christchurch earthquake that left  close to 200 persons dead and damaged about 100,000 buildings.  Johnston said the government should also identify resources that need to be functioning after an  earthquake like hospitals, disaster management centers, roads, broadcast media, fire and ambulance  stations, and telecommunication facilities 

Johnston also cited the importance of reviewing the engineering designs of buildings and roads to  determine if they are resilient to disasters.  “Do it now. Once the earthwuake strikes, it is too late,” Johnston’s presentation read.  Solidum enumerated six major strategies to reduce the impact of earthquakes in Greater Metro Manila  area. These are:  ‐          Enhance the legal framework and institutional capacity for effective disaster management system.  ‐          Build capacity for relief and recovery.  ‐          Strengthen community preparedness for disaster. He said communities not be too dependent on  government  ‐          Strengthen building and structures including power and water facilities  ‐          Enhance national government resistance to earthquakes.  ‐          Promote research and technology development for earthquake impact reduction measures  “Earthquake preparedness should be everyone’s business,” Solidum said. – Alexis Romero‐says‐phl‐needs‐better‐earthquake‐ preparedness                         

7.2 quake q e may y dam mage 1 168,300 buildings s in MM M – Phivo P olcs chief By Alexis Romero R (The Philippine P Star) | Updated July y 4, 2013 - 12:0 00am

MANILA, Philippines P - About A 168,300 residential bu uildings may b be heavily dam maged and 339 9,800 partly damaged if a magnitude e 7.2 earthqua ake from the West W Valley Fa ault hits the country, the Phillippine Institute of Volcanolog gy and Seismology (Phivolc cs) warned yes sterday. In a lecture e organized by y the New Zea aland embassy in Makati, P Phivolcs chief R Renato Solidum Jr. also said d government scientists have predicted that the fault, from which a powerful quake can emana ate, “is ripe forr another major movemen nt.” The West Valley Fault, or o the Marikina a fault line, sta arts from the S Sierra Madre a and runs throu ugh Bulacan; Rodriguez z, Rizal; Quezo on City; the ea astern side of Metro M Manila including Pasiig and Taguig; Muntinlupa; San Pedro and d Sta. Rosa in Laguna; and ends e in Carmo ona, Cavite. Solidum sa aid that underr this scenario,, eight to ten percent p of pub blic buildings m may sustain he eavy damage w while 20 to 25 percent may be e partly damag ged. A magnitude 7.2 quake can also leave e 33,500 peop ple dead and 1 113,600 injure ed, and the tem mblor can affect lifelines lik ke water pipes, electricity, brridges and com mmunication ffacilities.

“We don’t want this scenario to happen; we have to do something so it won’t happen,” Solidum said.

He stressed the need to strictly impose the regulations on buildings and structures to minimize the  impact of earthquakes, noting that weak structures are vulnerable to earthquake‐related hazards such  as ground shaking and liquefaction.  “We need to have appropriate land use. We have to be serious towards construction of buildings. We  have to implement the Building Code strictly,” he added.  Solidum also identified six major strategies to reduce the impact of earthquakes in the Greater Metro  Manila area.  These are enhancing the legal framework and institutional capacity for effective disaster management  system; building capacity for relief and recovery; strengthening community preparedness for disaster  because communities should not be too dependent on the government; strengthening building and  structures, including power and water facilities; enhancing national government resistance to  earthquakes; and promoting research and technology development for earthquake impact reduction  measures.  “Earthquake preparedness should be everyone’s business,” Solidum said.  For his part, Rob Johnston, general manager for business development of New Zealand’s Geological and  Nuclear Sciences, said the Philippines should consider developing a plan to retrofit buildings that fail to  meet standards.  The government, he added, should also identify resources that need to be functioning after an  earthquake like hospitals, disaster management centers, roads, broadcast media, fire and ambulance  stations, and telecommunication facilities.  He also cited the importance of reviewing the engineering designs of buildings and roads to determine if  they are resilient to disasters.  “Do it now. Once the earthquake strikes, it is too late,” he noted.  New Zealand has experienced strong quakes, including the 2011 Christchurch earthquake that left close  to 200 people dead and damaged about 100,000 buildings.‐quake‐may‐damage‐168300‐buildings‐ mm‐phivolcs‐chief         

France calls for 2-week delay in US-EU trade talks By Sylvie Corbet (Associated Press) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 5:45am

PARIS — The French government said yesterday it wants the start of major trade negotiations between the United States and the European Union suspended for two weeks amid anger over alleged US eavesdropping on its European allies. The country, whose Socialist government has never seemed hugely enthusiastic about the free trade deal, will try to get other EU members to agree to the request — but its chances looked slim. The European Commission, which negotiates for the 28 member states, and Germany showed no signs of agreeing to postpone the start of talks planned for the beginning of next week, which come after months of protracted and painful efforts to find a common European stance. France was at the heart of those difficulties, insisting on protections for its film and other cultural subsidies. Just Tuesday night, the Commission said the planned start of technical negotiations in Washington "should not be affected" by the surveillance scandal that has emerged in recent days. But France is again raising its voice in protest. "It seems wise to us to suspend (the talks) temporarily, for a period of 15 days," French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told reporters yesterday. After reports that the US National Security Agency bugged EU diplomatic offices in Washington and infiltrated its computer network, Vallaud-Belkacem said mutual trust is needed before launching talks on such a huge trade deal. The deal is expected to boost economies on both sides of the Atlantic by removing tariffs and other barriers to trade.

She said France will first "discuss with our European partners to take a joint decision."  Her boss, President Francois Hollande, had hinted at a threat to trade talks in unusually outraged  comments Monday demanding that the United States immediately stop any such eavesdropping.  French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius acknowledged to parliament yesterday that the free trade deal is  "very important for the United States and very important for Europe." But, he added that the two sides  needed negotiations "in a climate of trust."  "How can we have this genuine climate of trust when we don't even know if the delegations will be  spied upon or not? So I think we need to calm things down, ask our American friends as we have done  for precise answers, take a bit of time and afterward, Europe and France will make its decision," Fabius  said.  Hollande and his government are trying to appear tough internationally since his leadership is under  pressure at home, not only from the opposition conservatives but increasingly from the far‐left wing of 

his Socialist party. Hollande may be hoping that it's good for him and his popularity to show that he can  be strong against the free‐market United States.  In Berlin, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert suggested Germany is sticking to the plan for  talks, despite anger over the snooping allegations. Speaking to reporters earlier yesterday, he said that  "we support the Commission in its effort to begin the negotiations on July 8."  But Volker Treier, a senior official at the influential German trade association DIHK, told the Berlin daily  Tagesspiegel that he was concerned about the atmosphere.  "For a free trade agreement there needs to be transparency and trust between the potential partners.  The talks will get harder, the greater the distrust is," he told the newspaper in comments reported  yesterday. "If the United States knew in advance what our negotiating strategy was then we Europeans  would be fleeced."  Germany's top security official said bluntly that if his countrymen were worried about US intelligence  agencies snooping on their Internet traffic — as claimed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden — then they  should stop using American websites such as Google and Facebook.  "Whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don't go  through American servers," Interior Minister Hans‐Peter Friedrich said.  The European Commission, while planning to go ahead with the talks on time, has said the trans‐Atlantic  atmosphere needed to clear up for them to be successful.  "For such a comprehensive and ambitious negotiation to succeed, there needs to be confidence,  transparency and clarity among the negotiating partners," it said in Tuesday's statement.  It's unlikely that France could block the talks on its own. Last month, the European Commission was  given the mandate from all members to start the talks after striking a deal with France about keeping  the movie and television business out of the negotiations to shield Europe's audiovisual industry from  Hollywood.  EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said hinging the start of talks on such political issues as the  eavesdropping scandal would amount to the EU shooting itself in the foot. The EU, he said, was entering  talks out of self‐interest, not to be subservient to the United States.  A free trade pact would create a market with common standards and regulations across countries that  together account for nearly half the global economy. A recent EU‐commissioned study showed that a  trade pact could boost the EU's output by 119 billion euro ($159 billion) a year and the US economy by  95 billion euros ($127 billion). For Europe in particular, that extra growth could be crucial to help pay  high public debt and bring down unemployment, which is at record highs‐calls‐2‐week‐delay‐us‐eu‐trade‐talks   

Marrkets roiled r d by oil o pric ce sp pike, Porttugal woes s By Pan Pylas (Associated d Press) | Upda ated July 4, 2013 - 2:16am

Asia an stocks slid on yesterday as Egyypt's unfolding political crisiss push hed the price of oil to its hig ghest leve el in more than n a year, addin ng to an u uncertain global economic outlo ook. Hong Kong's Hang Seng drop pped 1.8 perce ent to 20,2 281.62. (AP Photo/Vincentt Yu) LON NDON — Fina ancial markets were roile ed yesterday a as Egypt's unfo olding polittical crisis pusshed the price of oil to itss highest level in more than na yearr and Portugal's governmen nt teetered on the ed dge of collapse. While the benchmark Ne ew York oil price rose above e $100 a barre el for the first ttime since Ma ay 2012, stockss around the e world were piling p up the lo osses, particula arly in Portuga al, where the m main PSI stock index was trrading 5.4 percen nt lower after two leading Ca abinet membe ers quit the govvernment. The intere est yield on the e country's ben nchmark 10-ye ear bond also spiked over a percentage p point higher to 7.70 percent at one point beffore dropping back b to 7.28 percent. p Even so, it's a clearr signal that investors are fre etting about the future of the bailed-out b coun ntry and its effforts to get a h handle on its d debts. There a are fears that o other Cabinet members m will qu uit over the go overnment's au usterity progra am and that m may signal early elections an nd ensuing un ncertainty. "It's all abo out Portugal midweek m where e political pres ssures are bre eaking investorr spirit around the world," sa aid Andrew Wilkinson, W chieff economic strrategist at Mille er Tabak & Co o. Among the e key indexes in Europe, the e FTSE 100 in ndex of leading g British share es was down 1 1.6 percent at 6,206 while Germ many's DAX fe ell 1.5 percentt to 7,792. The e CAC-40 in Frrance was 1.4 4 percent lowe er at 3,692. Investors, particularly in Europe, are clearly c worried d that Europe'ss debt crisis, w which has bee en dormant of llate, may be ab bout to erupt again. a Over rec cent months, it has barely b been a driver in n markets as tthe focus of attention turned toward monetary policy developme ents in the US and Japan.

"It looks aas if we could be headed fo or another su ummertime crrisis in the eu urozone," said d David Madd den,  market an nalyst at IG. 

In the US, trading was a lot calmer than in Europe — the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.1  percent at 14,923, while the broader S&P 500 index fell 0.3 percent to 1,609. Wall Street will close at 1  p.m. on yesterday ahead of the Independence Day holiday on Thursday and will re‐open Friday.  Helping to shore up sentiment in the US was the 188,000 increase in private sector jobs during June, as  reported by the ADP payroll services company. That was slightly better than expected and cemented  expectations that Friday's official figures will show a 175,000 improvement for the month. That's a solid  gain but not necessarily enough to make the US Federal Reserve start reining in its monetary stimulus  just yet.  For stocks, that may be the best of both worlds — though the US economy is growing, the liquidity  provided by the Fed is likely to remain in place at least through the summer.  Weekly jobless claims, which showed a 5,000 drop to 343,000, echoed the ADP's findings that the US  labor market continues to improve gradually.  Following the US, data, the dollar was trading steadily against the euro, which was flat at $1.2980.  Investors were also keeping a close watch on the oil price as Egypt's president, Mohammed Morsi,  defied calls to resign despite the demands of millions of protesters and a threat by military to suspend  the constitution, disband parliament and install a new leadership.  Egypt is not an oil producer but its control of the Suez canal — one of the world's busiest shipping lanes,  which links the Mediterranean with the Red Sea — gives it a crucial role in maintaining global energy  supplies.  As a result, the benchmark New York rate has edged up this week and was trading a further $2.04 at  $101.65 a barrel.  "The primary reason behind the rally is undoubtedly concerns that the ongoing political turmoil in Egypt  may disrupt oil supplies through the Suez Canal," said Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at GFT  Markets.  Earlier, Asian markets also closed lower with Japan's Nikkei 225 down 0.3 percent to 14,055.56 as the  yen rallied against the dollar — a rising yen is a sign investors are wary but it makes Japanese goods  more expensive in export markets. The dollar was 1.1 percent lower at 99.74 yen.  Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 2.5 percent to 20,147.31 while Seoul's Kospi fell 1.6  percent to 1824.66. In China, the Shanghai Composite lost 0.6 percent to 1,994.27 following  disappointing manufacturing data.‐roiled‐oil‐price‐spike‐portugal‐woes     

UNA A: Cha a-cha a a wa aste o of time e, mo oney By Jose Ro odel Clapano (The Philippine Star) | Update ed July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, P Philippines - Th he United Nationalist Alliance (UNA A) said yesterd day efforts to am mend the 1987 Constitution n should be d deferred, sayin ng these are contentiouss, divisive and a waste of money. UNA secretary-general T Toby Tiangco ssaid Congress sshould instead d focus on President A Aquino’s priority measures. “Why waste e time and ressources of the House whe en we should ffocus on the p priority measures o of the Aquino administration n which the P President will sspell out in hiss SONA (Sta ate of the Natio on Address),” Tiangco sa aid. Speaker Feliciano F Belmonte Jr. has said s he is push hing for amend dments to the restrictive eco onomic provisiions of the Con nstitution in the e incoming 16tth Congress. Tiangco ad dmitted that th he country nee eds social and d economic refforms, but said d investments would come iin if the govern nment would be b consistent with w its econom mic policies. “I simply don’t d understan nd why every time Congress s opens, the ‘C Cha-cha syndrome’ would h hug the House e leadership p. It has now become b a cycliical sickness that t affects the e productivity o of the legislatu ure,” Tiangco ssaid.

He said Ch harter change e initiatives have died a do ozen deaths aand should bee left buried in the archivees. – With Jess Diaz  http://ww om/headliness/2013/07/04 4/961411/unaa‐cha‐cha‐waaste‐time‐mo oney             

Com melec back ks SK K abolition By Sheila Crisostomo C (Th he Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA A, Philippines - Agreeing tha at the Sanggun niang Kabataa an (SK) does n not serve its p purpose, the Commisssion on Elections (Comelecc) yesterday backed calls for its ab bolition for exp posing the you uth to the darkk side of politiccs. Accordin ng to Comelecc Commission ner Lucenito Tagle, SK has not been bene eficial to the yyouth. The polll body is considering a form mal recommend dation to Cong gress to abolish the SK. The SK and barangayy elections are e held simultaneo ously during th he month of October every three t years. It covers youth aged 15 to 18 8. “We have many (protestt) cases where ein parents are e the ones inte ervening abou ut vote-buying (and other) irregularitie es. Imagine att a young age, those are the e charges thatt they throw ag gainst each otther,” he said. The other day, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal asked a Congresss to revisit SK K and scrap th he system.

He was co oncerned thatt the SK has b been exposingg the youth too the dark sid de of politics, and cautioneed  that SK is worsening th he problem on political dyn nasty.  Tagle said d that the children of baran ngay officials,, congressmeen, mayors an nd other locall officials are  usually the candidates running for SSK posts. “The ey are actuallly building them to run in the future (fo or  local electtive posts).”  The officiaal also maintaained that the e money spen nt in conductting SK is not w worth it.  ons is usuallyy low.  There are e only around two million SSK voters and d the turnout  during electio Comelec C Commissione er Christian Ro obert Lim said d SK should bbe abolished b because those elected to tthe  posts are minors and, ttherefore, no ot even allowe ed to sign leggal documents.  http://ww om/headliness/2013/07/04 4/961406/com melec‐backs‐sk‐abolition       

Chin nese ships s no lo ongerr in P Panata ag By Jaime Laude L (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 4 2013 - 12:00 0am

MANILA, Philippines P - Chinese C warsh hips left Panata ag Shoal the o other day. A senior security official said maritime e and aerial monitoring show wed no sign off any Chinese ship within the immediate e vicinity of Panatag nor with hin its 75-nautical-mile radiu us. “Since the other day, the ere have been n no Chinese vessels v monito ored in the are ea,” said the o official, who assked not to be named n becaus se he is not au uthorized to sp peak to the me edia. Col. Edgard Arevalo, Na avy spokesma an for the West Philippine Se ea, said his inquiries into the e matter have yet to be answ wered by conc cerned authoritties. Coast Gua ard spokesman Lt Cmdr. Armand Balilo sa aid he is still b blank on the m matter as of yesterday. Located 12 24 nautical miiles from Zamb bales, Panatag served as a n impact pointt during joint a air training exercises between Filipiino and US fig ghter pilots prio or to the shutt ing down of C Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base in De ecember 1991 1.

http://ww om/headliness/2013/07/04 4/961392/chiinese‐ships‐no‐longer‐pan natag  

Senators s seek k Pala ace clarific cation n on acce ess to o bases By Marvin Sy (The Philipp pine Star) | Upd dated July 4, 2013 2 - 12:00am m

MANILA, Philippines P - With W the disma antling of US bases b in the co ountry in 1991 still fresh in th he mind of ma any Filipinos, senators s are jo oining calls forr the administrration to clarifyy its plan to ag gain give foreig gn forces acce ess to Philippine air and naval facilities. Sen. Paolo o Benigno Aqu uino IV, a nephew of the Pre esident, said h he wants to fin nd out just wha at a temporaryy access to the bases wou uld mean espe ecially in the context c of the C Constitution a and the Visiting g Forces Agreemen nt (VFA) betwe een the Philipp pines and the US. “Temporarry is a complic cated word. ‘Te emporary’ cou uld be one yea ar, three, 10 orr 25 years,” Aq quino said in a an interview with w Senate re eporters yesterrday. Aquino said that the pre esence of the US U military or any other fore eign troops in tthe country sh hould only be allowed within the conte ext of the VFA and similar ag greements. Sen. Juan Edgardo Ang gara warned th hat any setup resembling r so ome degree off permanence would raise serious constitutional issues. He said the executive brranch should brief b the Sena ate regarding itts plan as soo on as plenary ssessions begin n on July 22.

“Whetherr it’s embodie ed in a treaty or an executive agreemennt, the Senatee would havee to play a rolee.  The details would dete ermine the exxtent of our in nvolvement,”” Angara said.. 

Sen. JV Ejercito said that as long as access is temporary, then there should be no problem. But he said  the VFA may have to be reviewed in the light of recent threats to the country’s sovereignty.  He argued that despite the VFA, the US did not lift a finger to stop Chinese vessels from establishing a de  facto occupation of the Panatag Shoal off Zambales.  “One of the provisions or conditions of the VFA is that if one ally is in conflict with others, the other  would support. I did not see any support when we were being bullied by China,” Ejercito said.  Sen. Nancy Binay also said the Senate should pore over the terms of reference for the planned access  for foreign troops to Philippine bases.  “We have to watch this very carefully because there might be violations,” she said.  Bases ready  As officials prepare the mechanism for an access arrangement, improvements in existing military bases  are being readied with funds to be drawn from allocation for the new Armed Forces modernization law,  a defense official said yesterday.  Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said the facilities would be readied for the arrival of new  military assets, including ships and aircraft to be acquired through the same law.  “Included in the items to be funded by the P75 billion (modernization budget) are the facilities,” Manalo  said in a press conference. “That includes the hangar and the berthing facilities for the Navy.”  Manalo, who oversees the military’s modernization program, said the government would also set up  support facilities for naval bases in Cebu and Palawan.  Signed by President Aquino last December, the new Armed Forces modernization law allocates P75  billion for the next five years for defense upgrade. The law effectively extends the modernization  program enacted in 1995.  The law requires the military, as well as the defense and the budget departments to submit to the  President a list of equipment to be acquired.  The Department of National Defense (DND) plans to undertake a total of 24 modernization projects to  enhance the military’s capability.  Manalo declined to enumerate the projects for security reasons but revealed that these include the  acquisition of rocket launchers, hand‐held radios and night fighting equipment for the Army.  For the Air Force, the government aims to acquire radar system, close air support aircraft, combat utility  helicopters, and 12 fighter trainer jets. 

Manalo said the FA‐50 fighter jets would be acquired through government‐to‐government transaction  from the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI). The government has allotted P18.9 billion for the purchase  of the fighter jets.  For the Navy, the government will acquire two frigates worth P18 billion.  Manalo said at least five companies from South Korea, Spain, Australia, and Singapore have expressed  interest in bidding for the project.  He said four of the companies are South Korea’s Hyundai and Daewoo, Spain’s Navantiaa, and  Austrialia’s Austal.  Other equipment to be acquired for the Navy are amphibious assault vehicle, naval helicopters, multi  purpose attack craft, and base support facilities.   Supporters  In Angeles City, political and civic leaders have expressed strong support for President Aquino’s move to  allow foreign access to Philippine bases. Angeles City is home to Clark, once America’s biggest Air Force  base outside the continental US.  “It would be okay to accommodate the US military if only to protect ourselves from China’s bullying, but  this arrangement should only be temporary,” said Ruperto Cruz, whose Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement  (PGKM) had spearheaded the move to convert Clark into a premiere international airport after the  Americans left in 1991.  “Eventually, Clark should be made thoroughly civilian to pave the way for a full‐fledged international  airport. Even the Philippine Air Force should eventually move out of Clark,” he said in an interview.  The Philippine Air Force is still using more than 300 hectares of Clark, Cruz said.  City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan also said he is in favor of an access arrangement but in accordance with  the VFA.  “Even without the present problem between China and the Philippines as in the past, the US and the  Philippines have already been conducting military exercises in the base,” he said.  Mabalacat Mayor Marino Morales said the “greater interest of the country” must be in the President’s  mind when he made the decision.  He stressed that “any military trace at Clark should be removed to pave the way for its being fully  transformed into a civilian international airport.” – With Alexis Romero, Ding Cervantes, Paolo Romero,  Michelle Zoleta‐seek‐palace‐clarification‐access‐ bases 

The road to world-class Philippine education BREAKTHROUGH By Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

The Philippines is the ONLY country in the whole of Southeast Asia with only ten years of basic education and pre-university education. The other countries with their corresponding duration of basic education and preuniversity education are Cambodia (12 years of primary and secondary and 1 year pre-university or a total of 13 years); Laos (11 years primary and secondary and 1 year of pre-university or a total of 13 years); Myanmar (11 years of primary and secondary and 1 year of pre-university or a total of 12 years); Timor-Leste (12 years of primary and secondary); Indonesia (12 years of primary and secondary and 1 year of pre-university or a total of 13 years). The two advanced economies in SE Asia are Singapore (11 years of primary and secondary with 2-3 years of pre-university or a total of 13-14 years) and Malaysia (11 years of primary and secondary and 2 years of preuniversity or a total of 13 years). Whenever I hear people say that extending the number of years of basic education in our schools from 10 to 12 years is premature, I find this a tragic viewpoint. It means we have Filipinos who believe that we cannot even be capable of giving our young people the same duration of education as even countries poorer than ours such as Myanmar, Timor, Laos and Cambodia. The principal victims of this obviously inadequate duration are primarily the children of the poor and the middle class. The so-called “exclusive” schools like La Salle and Xavier have been historically offering 12 years starting with Prep to Grade 7 in elementary and 4 years in high school. The very rich send their children to foreign schools in the USA or Britain where 12 years is the basic duration. The idea of extending the duration of basic education is not new. As far back as July 28, 1949, a UNESCO Educational Commission to the Philippines released a report that included a conclusion that 6 years of elementary school and 4 years in the secondary is not adequate. The group proposed eventually this should be increased to 12 years. After almost 64 years, the 2-year extension, as proposed, finally became law. On May 15, 2013 President Benigno Aquino III signed into law Republic Act No. 10533 entitled “An Act Enhancing the Philippine Basic Education System by Strengthening the Curriculum and Increasing the Number of Years for Basic Education, Appropriating Funds Therefore and for Other Purposes.”

The improvement of the education program, through K to 12 will benefit not only the student but also  their families. The additional 2 years has allowed the curriculum to be revised and decongested. In the  old curriculum too much knowledge, skills and values were expected to be learned by students within a  limited period of time.  Under the new program, graduates will also be better prepared for higher studies. We have students  who are entering college at the age of 15 to 16 years. In most countries, the normal age for entering  college is 18 years. 

Under the new program, high school graduates will be better equipped to work and will, therefore, be  more employable. Under the present situation, two years of college or even a college degree is required  even for semi‐skilled jobs.  According to Secretary Luistro the implementation of the K to 12 has been carefully calibrated. When we  talk of the additional 2 years, Grade 11 will be implemented in school year 2016 and grade 12 will begin  in school year 2017. The change in curriculum was started two years ago and is being done grade by  grade.  Secretary Luistro explains: “The first graduates [of the K to 12 program] would actually be March of  2018. But if you look at the new curriculum.... those who will be graduating [grade 12] in 2018 entered  Grade 7 with the new curriculum. They never went through the new curriculum from kindergarten to  Grade 6. That’s what I mean by you needed a minimum of 7 years. But the real reform, the first fruits of  those, we will see in the grade 1 students who started using the new curriculum 2 years ago. They will  be the first graduates of the full new K to 12 curriculum.”  Together with the K to 12 program, the DepEd is also ensuring that by 2016 there will be no more  shortages in the five learning inputs — classrooms, teachers, learning materials, chairs and water and  sanitation facilities. The main reason is that there is now sufficient financial support. In the past, around  10,000 additional teachers a year were being hired. This year we needed 61,500 teachers and the DepEd  has already hired around 90% of this target.        The K to 12 program, the revision of the curriculum, addressing the shortages and the retraining of  teachers are all geared towards a world‐class educational system that will graduate globally competitive  Filipinos. Secretary Luistro says that his vision is a public school system whose quality will be as good as  our best private schools.  The program will take seven to twelve years before we see its full fruits. For the sake of a vision of a  country where every Filipino is given the means to live a life of human dignity by being given the  competencies to take advantage of all the opportunities available, I feel that it is only right that we have  already embarked on this bold and sorely needed education reform program.  Its inevitable success and  fruits will prove that the Philippines can be, and will be, a world‐class nation.   *    *    *‐world‐class‐philippine‐education           

Corruption — fighting the good fight AUSTRALIAN ANGLE By Bill Tweddell (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

President Aquino has made fighting corruption a central focus of his Admi-nistration. As a long-standing friend of the Philippines, the question for Australia is what experiences we can share in supporting President Aquino’s anti-corruption agenda. Of course, no country is immune to corruption. So the bar against which we measure ourselves should not be whether corruption arises, but how we respond when it does and what we do to prevent it. We have had our share of corruption in Australia, too. In 1987, investigative reporters in my home state of Queensland publicised the links between gambling, prostitution, and corruption in the state police. In response, the Queensland government ordered a commission of inquiry into police corruption. The Fitzgerald Commission eventually spent two years investigating long-term, systemic political corruption in the Queensland government. The Fitzgerald Commission was seminal in shaping Australia’s anti-corruption apparatus. The inquiry contributed to the removal of Queensland’s longest-serving premier and led directly to the jailing of three former Queensland ministers and the police commissioner. Most importantly, the Fitzgerald Commission resulted in institutional reform. It led to the establishment of independent corruption watchdogs across Australia. It also gave significant impetus to Freedom of Information legislation, since passed nationwide. It is this institutional response that has seen Australia, according to Transparency International, become one of the least corrupt countries in the world. A level playing field for business has supported Australia’s two decades of unbroken economic growth. For me, this experience demonstrates that the battle against corruption is a battle worth fighting. In the Philippines, the Australian Government is helping the Administration do just that, by providing support for practical steps that reduce opportunities for corruption. We have worked with the Government’s Public Private Partnership Centre to fund feasibility studies and preparatory work for 24 projects resulting in more costeffective, transparent and efficient infrastructure for all Filipinos. We have provided assistance to the Regional Government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to find and remove around 500 ‘ghost’ teachers from the region’s payrolls, resulting in huge savings in public funds. We have worked with Government and civil society partners to remove nearly half a million non-existent or ineligible voters from ARMM voters’ lists. Together with the Department of Interior and Local Government, we have helped ten provinces across the Visayas and Mindanao to build the engineering, audit and accounting capacity to maintain and extend provincial road networks. The business community is also playing its part. Domestic and international chambers of commerce, including the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, are supporting President Aquino’s anti-corruption agenda through the Integrity Initiative.

In short, Australia is here to make a difference. We realise from our own experience that tackling corruption is a difficult challenge, but are pleased to be able to help the Philippines to do so.‐fighting‐good‐fight                                          

Olongapo City gets reprieve from power cutoff By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Residents of Olongapo City got a reprieve from a total power outage yesterday when energy officials put off the city’s scheduled disconnection from the national grid. Zambales Rep. Jeffrey Khonghun and city officials led by Mayor Rolen Paulino met with Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp. president Emmanuel Ledesma Jr., who agreed to postpone cutting off the city’s power supply. Khonghun and Olongapo officials thanked Petilla and Ledesma for their “compassion and understanding.” Aside from agreeing to postpone disconnecting the city’s power supply, energy officials decided to meet again this week with Paulino and other Olongapo leaders to discuss how the city could pay more than P5 billion in electricity bills that have piled up over the past nine years. Khonghun said they have to come up with a debt restructuring-payment program acceptable to both parties so that Olongapo would continue enjoying its power supply. “Our meeting (with Petilla and Ledesma) presents an overwhelming leap that can be a source of optimism for the people of Olongapo,” he said. He blamed the administration of former three-term mayor James Gordon Jr. for the city’s unpaid electricity bills. He said Gordon and other former city officials have a lot of explaining to do. “We were able to convey to Secretary Petilla that Olongapo is not running away from this obligation, despite the glaring fact that the P5.08-billion debt was left behind by the previous administration,” he added. – With Paolo Romero‐city‐gets‐reprieve‐power‐cutoff            

Ilocos Norte town has 2 mayors By Teddy Molina (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MARCOS, Ilocos Norte, Philippines – The two rivals for the mayoral post here continued to hold office at the town hall for the third day yesterday as both awaited resolution of the conflict triggered by a disqualification case filed by the losing candidate in the May 13 polls against the proclaimed winner. Outgoing mayor Salvador Pillos and proclaimed winner Arsenio Agustin have been holding court at the mayor’s office and accounting office, respectively, since Monday, the first day of work for elected officials. Roger Daquioag, provincial director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, said they were awaiting orders from the DILG main office in Manila on how to resolve the issue on who should rightfully assume the mayoral post. Pillos, who lost to Agustin, is holding on to the mayoral post, claiming that the Commission on Elections has disqualified Agustin to run in the polls and that a writ of execution was supposedly issued to annul his proclamation. For his part, Agustin said it was he, not Pillos, who was elected by the people. He said he intends to question his reported disqualification before the Supreme Court even as Gov. Imee Marcos urged Pillos to step down. – With Charlie Lagasca‐norte‐town‐has‐2‐mayors    

Red tide alert up in Samar By Ricky Bautista (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

CATBALOGAN CITY, Philippines – Authorities have raised a red tide alert in Cambatutay Bay in Tarangnan town. This, after the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported on Monday that two villagers have died and 16 others have been hospitalized for shellfish poisoning in the barangays of Gallego and Bahay in Tarangnan. Local BFAR chief Rolando Ay-ay said most of the victims ate mussels (tahong) harvested from Cambatutay Bay which, together with Maqueda Bay, is a major source of seafood in Samar.‐tide‐alert‐samar

DOH H mon nitors s chik kungu unya c cases s in 23 3 area as By Sheila Crisostomo C (Th he Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippine es - The Depa artment of Hea alth (DOH) is n now invesstigating if chikkungunya is re eemerrging in the co ountry, as 23 a areas now h have cases off the mosquito oborne e disease. DOH Assistant Seccretary Dr. Eric Taya ag said there a are “23 events”” of chiku ungunya that they are monitoring this yyear, thus raising suspicion that the d disease has re-surfaced. Taya ag said the cou untry last saw a signifficant number of chikungunyya cases in th he 1960s until Tropical Storm m Sendong hit in 2011. “It’s happe ening and we traced t that it started s after Se endong. In 20 11, there were e outbreaks in n Cagayan de Oro and Davao o, and then in 2012, there were w cases in 12 1 areas,” he ssaid. Tayag cou uld not immediiately recall no ow many chiku ungunya casess were reporte ed to the DOH H this year, sayying though tha at there have been b no death hs. Among the e 23 areas beiing monitored are Sultan Ku udaran and Pa atnongon in An ntique where 3 313 cases havve been docu umented.

Tayag said d chikungunyya could have been brough ht to Patnong on by a 66‐yeear‐old infectted woman frrom  Taytay, Riizal who visite ed the town aa few monthss ago.  http://ww om/nation/20 013/07/04/96 61232/doh‐m monitors‐chikungunya‐casees‐23‐areas         

Inde ex gaiins, bucks b glob bal dow wntre end By Neil Jerrome C. Morale es (The Philipp pine Star) | Upd dated July 4, 20 013 - 12:00am

MANILA, M Philip ppines - Local share prices sslightly recove ered ye esterday desp pite continuouss investor apprehension, allo owing th he main index to buck the de ecline in Asian n and global markets. m The benchmarkk Philippine Sttock Exchange e index added d 0.5 pe ercent or 31.9 94 points to en nd at 6,480.12,, while the bro oader All Shares inde ex inched up 0.24 percent orr 9.57 points to o 3,,953.30. “Investors are obviously y moving tenta atively as they try to balance e the counterva ailing forces th hat have been n sentiments s to both extre emes,” said Ju ustino Calayca ay Jr., an analyyst at Accord C Capital Equitie es Corp. “Share pric ces walked the tightrope sw winging betwee en gains and lo osses as the d dollar gained a against a baskket of currencies s and investors s in Asia weighed in once more m on the pro ospects of the e US Fed pullin ng the stimulus rug,” he sa aid. Major Asia an equities sank as growth in i China’s servvice sector hitt its slowest pa ace in nine mo onths while political tensions in n Portugal worried the mark ket. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.31 0 percent or o 43.18 points s to 14,055.56 while Hong K Kong’s Hang S Seng index slip pped 2.48 perce ent or 511.34 points p to 20,14 47.31. Wall St. also posted loss ses despite stronger motor vehicle v sales a and factory da ata in US.

The Dow JJones industrrial average lo ost 0.28 perce ent or 42.55 ppoints to 14,9932.41 while the broader  Standard & Poor’s 500 0 index shed 0 0.05 percent o or 0.88 point  to 1,614.08. In the locaal bourse, mo ost sub‐indice es were in the e green, led bby the service  sector that ggained 0.57  percent o or 10.85 pointts to 1,925.33 3. But mining and oil defiedd the trend, eeasing 0.58 peercent or 79.4 46  points to 13,730.76.  http://ww om/business//2013/07/04//961241/indeex‐gains‐buckks‐global‐dow wntrend           

No room for a second flunk BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

Because the Philippines had flunked the first time, a second time would have dire consequences. We’re talking here about the second audit made by the European Maritime Safety Administration (EMSA) last April on the reported deficiencies of the Philippines on the international Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). The first audit was made last year, and there were harsh words in the report on the country’s non-conformance to the STCW. In August 2012, the Philippine government submitted documents that showed how it had been coping with the raised issues. Unfortunately, in the second EMSA, the auditors were not happy with what they saw. The three outstanding deficiencies that had been outlined in the first audit were still apparently outstanding. The ball, apparently, has not moved significantly over the period after the first audit. Caught with its pants down is the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), which is responsible for monitoring the performance of 93 maritime schools operating in the country. ‘Fairly simple’ problems

Responding to the EMSA audit seems fairly simple if you’re a first world bureaucrat. But this is the  Philippines, and responding to three basic requirements for compliance may seem like a mountain to  cross if you’re a government official.  The EMSA report firstly focused on the CHEd allocation of only a handful of people to monitor operating  maritime schools across the country. This was followed by the legitimate observation that there seems  to be no funds allocated or available to bankroll any monitoring activity.  Lastly, and most importantly, the report noted the lack of full time assessors to conduct the evaluation  of the schools. In addition, many of the part time assessors were connected with schools, thus impairing  their ability to render impartial reports.  These “fairly simple” problems, however, have not been dealt with since last year, and it’s easy to  understand why EMSA auditors are throwing up their hands in exasperation.  At risk  Some 90,000 Filipino seafaring workers on board European‐flagged vessels are at risk of losing their  jobs, and in addition, a potential loss of employment opportunities for other Filipinos arising from a EU‐ imposed ban. 

In terms of remittances, this will mean a reduction of about $1 billion in remittances since the seafarers  that could be affected by the EU ban comprise about a fourth of the total number of global shipping  industry Filipino workers.  Furthermore, the ban would bring the country down a notch or more in the competitive shipping  manpower market, which already is being meticulously attacked and eyed by graduates from populous  countries like China, Indonesia and India.  The deadline for real change is October when the EMSA team is expected to follow up on their earlier  audit this year. That’s barely four months to go. So far, only a national qua‐lity standard system on  maritime education, certification and training had been developed. But as for most things in the  Philippines, implementation is the bigger challenge.  Unfounded optimism  Our government officials have been declaring with optimism that the country will pass the forthcoming  EMSA audit, but with the progress made so far, things are far from looking like a walk in the park.  Still, with the limited time, the Philippines may hope to accomplish smaller steps, not entirely everything  that our European colleagues wish to see for now, but enough for them to be assured that steps are  being done that would ultimately and irrevocably lead to the desired compliance.  Revamp maritime education and training  For the longest time, this column has been harping on the need to improve maritime education and  training, being the key posts in bringing the competitiveness of Filipino shipping industry workers at par  to world standards.  This means not just regulating the number of students enrolling in maritime‐related courses, but also  the number of compliant maritime schools that offer courses and degrees. Many of the latter do not  have the clout to graduate students that have the ideal practicum hours.  To keep up with global standards, our maritine students must follow the 2‐1‐1 method, which translates  to two years of classroom education, one year of training as a cadet onboard a ship, and one more year  back to school before graduating.  The 2‐1‐1 system has been proven to be effective in getting graduates accepted in industry jobs not only  here but also abroad. If the Philippines were to hope for getting more jobs for its students, CHED should  shift its standards from three years of schooling and one year cadetship onboard to the 2‐1‐1 system.  Understandably, this is difficult to promulgate since most of maritime schools have difficulty getting  cadets onboard ships for cadetship training. Only a few good maritime schools have a tie‐up with foreign  principals for their cadets to train onboard their ships.  Yet, if there’s a will, there should be a way.    

Champions League (PCCL) National Collegiate Championship  The journey towards the 2013 National Collegiate Championship has started for the teams that are  currently playing in the two prestigious leagues in the country, the Universities Athletics Association of  the Philippines (UAAP) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).  The top four teams of UAAP and NCAA are seeded in the Sweet 16 Step‐ladder phase with the  respective champion teams automatically in the final four. For 2012, the final four were Ateneo Blue  Eagles, UAAP champion, San Beda Red Lions, NCAA champion, Southwestern University Cobras,  champion Southern Islands bracket and CESAFI (Cebu) and UST Growling Tigers, Luzon‐Metro Manila  bracket champion.  The Tigers won the 2012 National Collegiate title by beating the Blue Eagles in a thrilling best of three  championship series.  Visit for more details about the Champions League (PCCL) 2013  National Collegiate championship.  Facebook and Twitter  We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with  and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my  column. Please like us at and follow us at  Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero  Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e‐mail me at For a compilation  of previous articles, visit‐room‐second‐flunk                 

Puregold forms food retailing unit By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Grocery chain Puregold Price Club Inc. has created a new subsidiary to jumpstart its venture into food-retailing. In a regulatory filing, Puregold said it has formed Estenso Equities Inc. that will “house investments of Puregold to other food-retail related activities.” “Estenso Equities is just a shelf-ready subsidiary of Puregold for possible future joint ventures with third parties in food-related retail business,” Jimmy F. P. Perez, investor relationas officer of Puregold, said in a text message. Late in May, Puregold’s parent firm Cosco Capital Inc. raised P16.8 billion in fresh capital from the sale of existing and new shares to investors. Of the proceeds, 50 percent will be used to expand the selling area of Puregold-anchored commercial real estate properties and increase the oil and petroleum storage of Pure Petroleum. Around 20 percent is allotted for the acquisition of non-food retail businesses like hardware and pharmacies. Another 20 percent was allocated for debt payments and the remaining 10 percent to improve its distribution network.

In the first quarter, Puregold more than doubled its earnings to P962 million from P469 million a year ago on the back of new stores and stronger sales. The growth was supported by P16.09 billion in consolidated net sales, up almost half from P10.74 billion last year. Puregold also opened nine new stores out of the initial target of 25 new branches for the entire 2013. Of the new stores, five were hypermarkets and four were supermarkets located in Southern Luzon, Northern Luzon and Metro Manila. Puregold targets to grow its consolidated net sales by 30 percent to roughly P75 billion this year from P57.5 billion in 2012. It intends to spend P3 billion this year to support its growth through new stores and continuous acquisition.‐forms‐food‐retailing‐unit    

BSP asks banks to prepare for US FATCA implementation By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Financial institutions were asked to prepare for the effectivity of a US order next year targeted at running after American tax evaders offshore and seen having an impact on their operations. Local and foreign firms transacting with “US persons” will be hit next year by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which orders the charging of taxes against any non-compliant financial institution engaged with US citizens. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), in a memorandum, said its supervised institutions – including commercial and investment banks – must “evaluate” if they are covered by FATCA and if applicable, must “establish a policy” to comply. “They are advised to study the potential effects of FATCA to their businesses and determine the necessary steps to take to avoid the unfavorable consequences of non-compliance with FATCA requirements,” said Memorandum 2013030 dated July 1. FATCA is part of the US’s Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act enacted into law in 2010 as part of stimulus measures to boost US economic activity and employment. According to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), firms may register between this month until Oct. 25 through its online portal to become “FATCA-compliant.” In doing so, they are agreeing to provide “certain information” to the IRS concerning US accounts they hold. In addition, US citizens who have foreign assets in excess of $50,000 must report their holdings to the IRS.  If they chose not to register though, FATCA orders individuals or entities engaging in business with the non‐compliant company  to withheld 30‐percent tax from US‐sourced payments.  In a chance interview yesterday, BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. told reporters the law’s “significant impact” may be  felt by local commercial banks, especially since they are the ones which have transactions with US nationals.  Filipinos who are naturalized US citizens holding bank accounts locally and abroad will also be affected, he added.  In the BSP memo, financial entities were also told to “carefully consider” the implications of FATCA to local and foreign deposit  secrecy laws, which prohibit the giving out of any bank account information to anyone.   “It’s not a matter of commitment...Our tone is a reminder. Any bank has an option,” Espenilla pointed out.  Bank officials were not immediately available for comment.‐asks‐banks‐prepare‐us‐fatca‐implementation

Hydro plant project gets P1.1-B loan By Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am 0

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MANILA, Philippines - State-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has granted a P1.1-billion loan to Ormin Power Inc. for the construction of a 10-megawatt mini-hydro power plant in San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro. DBP said the proposed mini-hydro power plant would harness the potential of the Inabasan River and is expected to become operational in 2015. Formed in April 2009, Ormin is based in Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro. It is a subsidiary of listed company Jolliville Holdings Corp. According to DBP, the power project would help augment power supply in the province, providing stable electricity to households and businesses and stimulate the local economy in the process. The loan assistance is in support of the government’s goal of achieving energy independence through the development of indigenous and renewable sources of energy. DBP also noted that the hydropower plant would also contribute to global efforts of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity generated by the power plant will be sold to the Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (ORMECO), the sole power distributor in the province. ORMECO distributes power to the entire province of Oriental Mindoro which consists of Calapan City and 14 municipalities including Puerto Galera, San Teodoro, Baco, Naujan, Victoria, Socorro, Pola, Pinamalayan, Gloria, Bansud, Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay and Bulalacao. Developing the country’s hydropower resources is essential to meeting energy demand over the next 10 years. The Department of Energy aims to double the current generating capacity from hydropower resources by 2013, as provided for under the Renewable Energy Policy Framework.‐plant‐project‐gets‐p1.1‐b‐loan          

BOI okays P476-M cold storage facility By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Cold storage facilities operator Royale Cold Storage North, Inc. has bagged tax perks for a proposed plant in Bulacan. “The Board of Investments (BOI) approved the P476.5 million project of Royale Cold Storage North, Inc., as a new operator of cold storage and blast freezing facilities,” the agency said in a statement yesterday. The proposed cold storage plant to be constructed in Marilao in Bulacan, will have a maximum capacity of 3.410 million pallets per year for cold storage and 9.720 million kilograms per year for blast freezing. The plant will serve agriculture, marine, and processed food companies based in Bulacan and other Northern Luzon provinces. The facility is designed to handle various unprocessed, semi-processed raw materials, finished products, perishable commodities such as fruits, vegetables, livestock and poultry products, as well as processed marine products. It is expected to start commercial operations in June next year. The plant is likewise seen to create 80 jobs. With the registration of the project approved by the BOI, Royale Cold Storage North can enjoy incentives such as income tax holidays as well as duty-free importation of equipment and other non-fiscal perks. The government provides incentives to firms that invest in preferred activities identified in the 2012 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP). The 2012 IPP which serves as the country’s investment promotions blueprint, has listed agriculture or agribusiness as a preferred activity. Agriculture activities cover commercial production and processing of agricultural and fishery products as well as related activities like irrigation, post-harvest, cold storage, blast freezing, and fertilizer production. Given the consumption-driven economy and rising population, the Cold Chain Association of the Philippines, Inc. said the country needs additional cold storage facilities to meet growing demand and maintain the safety and quality of food produced here. New cold storage facilities are being planned by the group in different parts of the country in the next few years.‐okays‐p476‐m‐cold‐storage‐facility  

PNOC-EC set to start CNG station in Laguna By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - State-run PNOC Exploration Corp. is scheduled to start in December the operations of its first compressed natural gas (CNG) service station in Laguna. The opening of the CNG service station is part of a government program to provide cheaper fuel and clean energy to the transport sector as an alternative to gasoline. “It will result in cutting the cost of transportation for both goods and passengers, thus easing the pressure from the rising costs of imported fuel,” PNOC-EC said. Furthermore, operations of the mother CNG station in Laguna are PNOC-EC’s participation in the government’s Natural Gas Vehicle Program for Public Transport program under the Department of Energy. The project will make use of the natural gas already being produced by the Malampaya deep water gas-topower project of PNOC-EC in partnership with Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. and Chevron Malampaya from offshore Palawan. “Another “daughter station” will also be established shortly in the North, effectively expanding the CNG transport system in Luzon. PNOC-EC chairman Gemiliano Lopez earlier said the prospects for the success of exploration for indigenous sources of energy in the Philippines are brightening. Lopez said the PNOC-EC board has approved a budget of P7.042 billion for operations this year, higher than the P6.568 billion appropriated last year. “The increased budget represents the commitment of PNOC-EC to conduct and intensify exploration and development of indigenous sources of energy in order to augment the energy supply of our country, bring down the cost of energy, ensure its steady and adequate supply and accelerate national economic development in all its aspects,” Lopez said.‐ec‐set‐start‐cng‐station‐laguna        

Filsyn in talks for dev’t of lots in Laguna, Cavite By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Former textile manufacturer Filsyn Corp. said it has entered into talks with property firms for the development of its lots in Laguna and Cavite. The development or sale of idle landbank is in line with Filsyn’s efforts to turn around its negative stockholders equity, it said. “Filsyn has ongoing discussions and negotiations with real estate companies for potential joint venture arrangement to develop the 30-hectare property located in Sta. Rosa, Laguna,” the firm said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). Filsyn is also conducting negotiations with interested parties for the sale of a property in Gen. Mariano Alvarez in Cavite, it added. As of end-March, the company had a capital deficiency of P993.18 million, slightly lower than the P994.01 million a year ago. In terms of existing debts, the listed firm has yet to transfer to creditors its Sta. Rosa property pending tax implications and restrictions on land ownership, Filsyn said. In November 2010, trustee Chinatrust informed Filsyn that creditors of the mortgage trust indenture have accepted Filsyn’s proposal to fully settle a P1.2-billion debt through the Sta. Rosa property as dacion. The PSE suspended the trading of Filsyn shares in 2002 following the revocation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of its permit to sell securities. However, Filsyn said despite the payment of its obligations to the SEC, corporate regulators have yet to lift the revocation order. Filsyn, controlled by the group of former PSE director Patricio L. Lim, was formed in 1968 for the manufacture of polyester fiber and yarn but later ventured into the production of polyester terephthalate bottles which are supplied to the mineral water, softdrinks and condiment industries. With the slump in the textile industry in the mid-90s, Filsyn’s operations have been severely affected, limiting the company to the disposal of old inventories, machineries and equipment as well as scrap metal and parts. In late 2000, the company’s board directed management to study a proposal to change the firm’s principal activity to that of real estate development in view of its planned joint venture with Fil-Estate Properties and the Manila Banking Corp. but since then, no definite moves have taken place.

GOCC subsidies hit P10B in JanuaryMay By Zinnia B. dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am 0

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MANILA, Philippines - The government extended P10 billion in subsidies to state-owned and controlled corporations in the first five months of the year, 19.5 percent lower than the previous year’s P11.95 billion. Data from the Bureau of Treasury showed that the National Housing Authority continued to be the top recipient of subsidies among state firms, accounting for P5.33 billion or more than half of the total for the review period. This as the government continued to set aside a large amount of funds for the relocation of informal sector families staying in Metro Manila’s danger zones. President Aquino had approved a P50 -billion budget for the relocation program which is expected to be completed by 2016. The relocation issue has been a perennial problem of the government. As of 2011, Metro Manila had 104,219 informal settler families living in dangerous areas, primarily waterways. In May alone, the government released P4.77 billion to state firms, down 35.5 percent from P3.52 billion a year ago. Also in the top five recipients were the National Kidney and Transplant Institute with P1.12 billion, National Irrigation Office (P911 million), Philippine Coconut Authority (P820 million); and Philippine Postal Corp. (P516 million).‐subsidies‐hit‐p10b‐january‐may                

Resiidentts vow w to in nstitutte refforms s in Cagayan de Or ro Category: Regions   Published d on Wednesd day, 03 July 2013 19:41   Written b by Bong D. Fab be / Correspo ondent  SIMULTANEO OUS with the e swearing off their duly e elected officials on Ju une 30, about 3 3,000 residentss of Cagayan d de Oro City scored a historic first when they the emselves pledg ged to do their fair sshare in helpin g their elected d officials institu ute six reforms they all agree the ccity direly needss. Reciting the “Pledge of Cooperation ffor an Orderly and Sustainable Governance and Development of the City,” Kagay-anonss and their eleccted leaders pledged unity “to o build a new Caga ayan de Oro C City that is 1) Orderly and clean, where peopl e are secure;; 2) Vigilant ffor the enviro onment where people are aware and a work for th he protection an nd developmen nt of the enviro onment; “3) Respec ct for the different culture an nd religions off the people, w where they givve due importa ance to their cculture, history and d faith in one God G amid dev velopment and modernization n; 4) strong an nd sustainable development where people, especially the poor and margina alized, are give en the chance to develop the eir economic status in a securre way through ho onest labor; and 5) Respect for f the law whe ere people the emselves prote ect democracy through coope eration with govern nment.” They also pledged “to work for the res storation of the e image of Cag gayan de Oro City: a city tha at is developed d, that respects human h rights, justice; and th hat is the cen nter of govern nment and eco onomic develo opment in the entire Mindanao.” During the e homily in a Mass he earlier officiated, Archbishop A Antonio J. Lede esma reminde ed everyone o of their responsibilities as citizen ns of Cagayan de Oro, that in nstituting chang ges is “not justt the work and d responsibility of the elected offiicials but the work w of everyone.” Prefacing the t pledge was s a collective recall r that the Kagay-anons’ victory at the polls was foun nded on the pe eople’s hunger for good governa ance and that Kagay-anons K th hemselves mu st work to makke their dream of good and o orderly governance become reality. Speaking for f the congreg gation, Ledesm ma said, “All th hese can be do one and achie eved through a and with the pe eople’s faith in and d blessing of the Almighty.”

In Photo: About A 3,000 re esidents of Cag gayan de Oro City, including lawyer Jamess Judith III (leftt, foreground, iin polo shirt), pledge to help the city’s c new offic cials institute the changes theyy all agree the city direly need ds. (Bong D. F Fabe)

http://ww ww.businessm h/index.php/e en/news/regiions/15911‐rresidents‐vow w‐to‐institute‐‐ reforms‐in n‐cagayan‐de e‐oro

Ecozone investments up 92% in 1st half of 2013 Category: Top News   Published on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 21:57   Written by Estrella Torres  The country’s economic zones attracted P83.692 billion worth of fresh investments in the first half of the year, mostly coming from Europe, Japan and the United States. The amount almost doubled the P43.61-billion new investments recorded by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) in the first six months of 2012. “The [92-percent] growth is mainly driven by electronics and manufacturing,” Peza Director General Lilia de Lima told reporters on Wednesday. She said five multinational companies are also inaugurating their new manufacturing plants in economic zones in Batangas and Laguna within the year. These are both expansion projects and new manufacturing facilities. These firms include Canon, Murata, Brother, Epson and Japan’s Funai Electric Co., which bought Lexmark’s inkjet technology. De Lima said more foreign investments are expected to be channeled to the different economic zones in the country in the coming months, based on the response she is getting from businessmen in her missions abroad. These include companies from Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Right now, de Lima said the country’s top source of foreign investments is still Japan. She joined officials of the European Union delegation in Manila in welcoming the latest $22-million investment of Danish company Sonion, a global manufacturer of advanced miniature components and solutions for hearing instruments and advanced acoustics. Sonion’s manufacturing plant in Batangas was inaugurated on Wednesday. This early the company said its goal is to expand the facility in the next two years. “We are now on the radar screen of European companies,” said de Lima at the inauguration of Sonion’s plant at the First Philippine Industrial Park in Santo Tomas, Batangas. She said economic zones continue to generate jobs particularly for highly skilled engineers and technicians. EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux said at least 289 European companies have already invested in the country’s economic zones.

These European investors in economic zones include 104 British firms, 71 Dutch companies and 36 German manufacturers. “European companies are very interested in the fast-expanding Filipino market and welcome the objectives of reducing all the existing red tapes, as well as encouraging local government units to be business-friendly and reduce the numerous permits that are often required,” said Ledoux. Peza is only targeting a 10-percent increase in investments, employment and exports this year. Historically, over 90 percent of the investment commitments that Peza approved were realized.‐news/15933‐ecozone‐investments‐up‐92‐ in‐1st‐half‐of‐2013                                  

Philippines continues to face bright prospects in rubber Category: Top News   Published on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 21:50  STATE-RUN ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC) is fertilizing a 500-hectare rubber plantation in Zamboanga del Norte that could raise productivity by 40 percent to 60 percent and exceed its P12.88-million revenue in 2012. For the first time in 15 years, ZREC is restoring fertilization in its sole rubber plantation in Tampilisan, Zamboanga, as the government aims to maximize revenue generation. The government has a 70:30 revenue-sharing commitment in the rubber farm. The 30-percent share goes to Tampilisan farmers as an assured source of livelihood. “We started fertilization this year. That is the way to properly increase harvest and income for the government and for our farmerpartners,” said ZREC President Allan Q. Umali. The Philippines continues to face bright prospects in rubber. Despite price volatilities, the outlook for natural rubber has remained positive due to new investments in tire manufacturing worth $10 billion by Hankook, Bridgestone, Continental, Michelin, Pirelli and Goodyear, among others in 2011 alone, according to Dr. Kamarul Baharain Basir in Rubber Asia. As of 2011, global natural rubber production was at 10.342 million metric tons (MMT). The world demand for natural rubber was previously estimated to reach to 12.4 MMT by 2020. “The price of rubber is expected to increase because of tight supply in the world market,” said Aldrin P. Mejares, ZREC plantation manager. China is foreseen to have a continuing demand for rubber as rising consumer income is propping up spending for more expensive goods, such as automotives that extensively use tires. There is currently an estimated 150,000 hectares of rubber land in the country. Rubber is also eyed as an erosion control, reforestation and environmental preservation crop as it is biodegradable and is not petroleum-based, unlike synthetic rubbers. Aside from income from sales of coagulated rubber, ZREC’s other income comes from interest income and miscellaneous income. Umali, also agriculture assistant secretary for administration, said the government has sustained net earnings from ZREC despite the fact that the company stopped receiving priority development assistance fund (PDAF), commonly referred to as “pork barrel,” in 2011. The Commission on Audit (COA) is currently looking into ZREC’s alleged turnover of PDAF fund to an allegedly nonexistent nongovernmental organization (NGO). Mejares said fertilization should help reverse any ongoing weakness in the price of rubber in the market.

The average selling price of rubber by ZREC went down from P78 per kilo in 2011 to P49 per kilo in 2011 and 2012, according to Marianne Ebio, ZREC finance officer. This primarily caused a decline in the net income of ZREC from P21.332 million to P12.875 million in the period. ZREC is further instituting reforms in operations in order to raise the quality of the rubber in Tampilisan. This should raise the company’s own rubber-selling price. “The poor quality of rubber at Tampilisan makes the selling price lower. Wrong practices have rendered the products unclean, so prices dropped,” said Mejares. “Asec Umali wanted us to be business-focused, so we’re working on improving production and rubber quality.” Selling price in Tampilisan decreased even if production of coagulated rubber increased to 184,089 kilos in 2012 from 131,287 kilos in 2011. ZREC’s buyers of coagulated rubber are Standard Rubber Corp., DCL Rubber and NJ Rubber. Among the reforms in cleaning up rubber operations is the use of formic acid, a cleaning and antibacterial agent in rubber. “In Cotabato they produce a cleaner rubber which commands a higher price from buyers. People in Tampilisan have been using battery solution [in coagulated rubber preparations]. The use of formic acid makes the product cleaner,” Mejares said. The use of a battery solution makes the raw rubber product retain water, bringing down the selling price, Mejares said. Poor-quality raw rubber makes finished products like tires become easily defective. Tires may become brittle, causing tires to explode easily. ZREC plans to implement a system that will use ethril on rubber trees. Ethril is an antibiotic that has an effect of raising rubber latex production from trees. It is appropriately applied when the trees are up for slaughter. The ZREC trees are at the tailend of their productive life as these are now around 30 to 35 years old. The fertilization program in Tampilisan is not expected to immediately raise production. It may have a minimal positive impact in 2013, perhaps a 10-percent increase in income. But the government hopes to reap the fertilization benefits for the rest of the rubber land in the next five to15 years. “We want to replant rubber. But the only option we have now is to fertilize to maximize yield. The land owner disapproved our request for extension in the usufruct [land lease],” Umali said. With fertilization, a higher yield may be achieved perhaps by 2014. “Maximum yield is 20,000 kilos,” Mejares said. Coagulated rubber, a raw form of rubber, is stocked up by buyers for several months. It is required to be stored in clean condition in order to retain good quality before milling. So far, only 5 percent of the ZREC’s rubber plantation has been fertilized. But a fertilization rate of 100 percent on the entire area covering 61,661 trees (of which 50,000 trees are productive) can raise yield to the maximum 20,000 kilos per month.‐news/15932‐philippines‐continues‐to‐face‐ bright‐prospects‐in‐rubber  

NHA gets lion’s share of P10-billion government subsidies Category: Top News Published on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 21:45 Written by Paul Anthony A. Isla MORE than half of the total subsidies released by the government for the first five months of the year went to the National Housing Authority (NHA). Data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed that the government disbursed 53.26 percent, or P5.327 billion, in subsidies to the NHA. The data also revealed that the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) ranked second, as it received P1.118 billion, or equivalent to 11.18 percent of the total. The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) was No.3, with P911 million. The total subsidies dropped by 16.32 percent to P10.002 billion for the first five months of the year from P11.953 billion during the same period last year. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier released P374.4 million for the resettlement program of squatters living in Metro Manila waterways marked for clearing. The department said the relocation was part of the government’s broader flood-control and management plan for the metropolis. It said the Department of Social Welfare and Development, through the Interim Shelter Fund for Informal Settler Families program, would distribute P18,000 to each of the 19,440 squatter families in Metro Manila danger zones that will voluntarily vacate their shanties along the waterways marked for clearing. The DBM said the fund release covers the necessary allocations for the subsidies, as well as the fund requirements for the mobilization cost of the project. “President Aquino’s disaster and flood-management strategy focuses on 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,” Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said. He added that the rental subsidy would be offered to families living along eight identified waterways in Metro Manila, including the San Juan River, Manggahan Floodway and Estero de Tripa de Gallina. Families by the Pasig River, Tullahan River, Maricaban Creek, Estero de Sunog Apog and Estero de Maypajo will also receive assistance. In March the budget department also released P978.4 million to NKTI for the acquisition of property under the NHA to jump-start the modernization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC).

The fund release forms part of the government’s commitment to invigorate its Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Program, the budget department said. The MPOC is a recently approved flagship PPP project under the Department of Health, and will be situated in the 58,599-square-meter lot that will be transferred from NHA to NKTI. The fund release will serve as initial payment for 24,460.40 sq m of the total NHA property occupied by NKTI in Quezon City, with 8,126 sq m allotted for the POC.

Water firms now in Senate crosshairs Category: Top News   Published on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 21:36 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez Sen. Ralph Recto on Wednesday filed a resolution seeking a Senate investigation to correct the “onerous” provisions in the concession agreements (CAs) with Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc. Recto took the stop following reports that the two concessionaires of the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) have been allowed to pass on to their consumers P15.5 billion in income taxes from 2008 to 2012. “An inquiry must be conducted to correct the onerous provisions in the CAs of the two water concessionaires, review and strengthen the regulatory powers of MWSS and protect the welfare of the consumers,” Recto said in his resolution. The proposed inquiry would cover the pass-on charges of the two water companies to consumers, which include their income-tax payments. In calling for a Senate probe to be conducted by the Senate Committee on Public Services, the senator cited the constitutional provision that “the State shall protect consumers from trade malpractices and from substandard or hazardous substances.” He also cited the Consumer Act of the Philippines, which implements a declared state policy to protect consumer interests and general welfare, and set standards of conduct for business and industry. The consumer advocacy group Water for the People Network had revealed that Maynilad and Manila Water have been passing on their income taxes to consumers, which totaled P15.5 billion from 2008 to 2012, or P3.1 billion a year. The incomes taxes are part of the companies’ operations expense (Opex) and tariff rate passed on to consumers in their monthly billing, which was authorized by the MWSS as part of the concession agreement during the previous administration. Recto said the two companies are again petitioning the MWSS to include the taxes as pass-on charges to all consumers from 2013 to 2037, which would mean that Manila Water consumers could shoulder as much as P64.1 billion, and Maynilad consumers P68.7 billion from 2008 to 2037 when the CAs expire. Other senators supported the proposed inquiry. Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino said the matter should be looked into since companies should shoulder their own income taxes and not pass it on to their clients. “I think that should not be charged. It’s something that can be looked into,” Aquino said. Sen. Nancy Binay said she supports Recto’s proposal so that consumers would be protected.

“At the end of the day, my priority is to protect consumers,” Binay said. When water distribution services for Metro Manila were privatized in 1997, Maynilad Water Services Inc. won the concession for the West zone, and Manila Water Co. Inc. for the East Zone. The concession agreements were originally set for 25 years from 1997, when the privatization of water distribution services in Metro Manila came into force, but were extended for another 15 years during the Arroyo administration.‐news/15928‐water‐firms‐now‐in‐senate‐ crosshairs                                    

Water woes: Aquino told to speak up for consumers By Kristine Felisse Mangunay Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:54 am | Thursday, July 4th, 2013

A consumer advocate group on Wednesday urged President Aquino to “send a clear political signal” that he was supporting consumers and not water concessionaires Maynilad Water Services and Manila Water Co., which it accused of passing on to consumers P15.3 billion in income taxes over the past five years and other expenses, and of overcharging them in foreign exchange adjustments. Sonny Africa, a lead convenor of the Water for the People Network (WPN), said consumers needed the assurance of “strong backing from the administration,” which he noted had “kept mum” on the issue. “(B)ecause these two firms have high-powered lawyers, have very good accountants, etc. .., we need the strong protection of the administration. (So the administration should) send a signal to the public that ‘we will protect your interest at all costs,’” Africa said on the sidelines of the weekly Fernandina forum in San Juan City. He issued the pronouncement after he announced his group’s “intent” to file a case against the two water concessionaires in Metro Manila before Aquino’s State of the Nation Address, for what he said were their “overstepping the boundaries of public responsibility” when they passed on to consumers expenses that he said should not have been passed on to them in the first place. Maynilad services Metro Manila’s west zone while Manila Water delivers water to consumers in the east zone. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the regulatory office, is still in the process of finalizing a study on the current practice of passing on to consumers the water firms’ income taxes. “According to Mr. Esquivel, they have yet to finish their study,” Lacierda said, referring to MWSS Administrator Gerardo Esquivel. Double-charging Apart from the P15.3 billion in combined income taxes that Manila Water and Maynilad “unjustly” charged consumers from 2008 to 2012, Africa said the two firms were “double-charging consumers” in foreign exchange adjustments through the currency exchange rate adjustment “on top of” the foreign currency deferential adjustment. Charges for donations, contributions and promotions, and P54 billion for projects which were supposed to be implemented in the last five years have also been passed on to consumers, Africa said. He said even the cost of arbitration in court could be passed on to consumers. “There’s a whole category of questionable passed-on charges—in terms of corporate social responsibility, operations in Vietnam—that has nothing to do with operations in Metro Manila (and that should not be charged) to consumers …. We should draw attention to the P54 billion that have been charged for projects being implemented supposedly in the last five years,” he added. Refund Africa said the projects were not implemented but consumers were made to pay for them. “At the very least, consumers should be paid interest …. At best, we should get a refund for paying for projects that were promised to be implemented but were not implemented,” he said. The WPN convenor said the issuance by Aquino of a “strong” statement in support of the consumers would also “clear the air,” considering that two high-ranking Cabinet secretaries—Rene Almendras and Rogelio Singson—are former executives of Manila Water and Maynilad, respectively. “(If Aquino issues the statement), he would ensure that no monkey business happens (behind the scenes),” he said. He was quick to add, however, that so far, there were no reports about Singson and Almendras intervening in behalf of the two companies.

Prejudicial While the concessionaire agreement was agreed upon by both the government, through the MWSS, and the two concessionaires in 1997, the fact that it was used as a justification by the two firms for “overcharging” meant it was “prejudicial to the public interest,” Africa said. Apart from this, he said the original concessionaire agreement, which was supposed to last for only 25 years (19972022), was extended “without the benefit of a bidding process” in October 2009 and April 2010 to 15 more years, making it enforceable until 2037. Withdraw from contract Given this, he said the “best option” was for the government to “unilaterally withdraw” from the contract and face the consequences. The contract has a provision for arbitration. “Water is a service. It’s a vital public good. It should not be treated as a commodity to profit from,” he said. He said it was “alarming” that in 2011, based on income statements published at the Philippine Exchange Commission, Maynilad had registered a 48-percent return on equity, and Manila Water, 19 percent. These figures, he noted, were way beyond the return on equity registered by similar public service utilities, like telecommunications firms which posted a return of 16 percent in the same period. Senate probe In the Senate, Sen. Ralph Recto has filed a resolution directing the Senate public services committee to investigate reports that the water concessionaires were passing on to consumers their income tax payments and other expenses. Recto’s office said the probe would be scheduled after the opening of the 16th Congress on July 22. The resolution cited WPN’s claim that Maynilad and Manila Water were charging 14 million consumers padded fees that were used to pay a total of P15.5 billion in income taxes from 2008 to 2012. Previous administration Recto noted that the MWSS had already admitted that the two concessionaires’ income taxes and “other duties form part of what all consumers pay monthly.” He said it was the previous MWSS administration that approved the inclusion of income taxes as pass-on charges. The two companies are again petitioning the MWSS to include these taxes as pass-on charges to consumers from 2013 to 2037. Maynilad wants a P5.83 per cubic meter increase in its basic charge while Manila Water plans to raise its rate to P8.58 per cubic meter from 2013 to 2018. Recto said Maynilad and Manila Water had proposed a “rate rebasing” scheme based on a system imposed way back in 2008 that would require consumers to shoulder their operating expenses. The senator said that if the MWSS agreed to the plan, Manila Water customers would shoulder P64.1 billion while Maynilad customers would spend P68.7 billion from 2008 to 2037 when their concession agreements expire. Recto said WPN complained that a guaranteed rate of return called appropriate discount rate (ADR) was also applied on the pass-on charges of the two concessionaires as part of operation expenses. “(This) means that Manila Water and Maynilad, apart from not paying their tax obligations, would even profit from it,” the resolution quoted WPN. Recto said that during the last rate rebasing period from 2008 to 2012, the two companies were already given an ADR of 9.3 percent. “An inquiry must be conducted to correct the onerous provisions in the concession agreements of the two water concessionaires, review and strengthen the regulatory powers of the MWSS and protect the welfare of consumers,” the resolution said.

Earlier, Sen. Francis Escudero noted that no government agency was monitoring water distribution unlike power that is supervised by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). “Water has no equivalent agency unlike the ERC where (companies) could justify, explain and unbundle (proposed rates),” he said in Filipino in an ambush interview last month.—With reports from Michael Lim Ubac and Cathy Yamsuan Read more:

CDO ex-mayor Emano mismanaged ‘Sendong’ relief funds, says COA By Gil C. Cabacungan Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:50 am | Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Tropical Storm “Sendong” continues to haunt defeated Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano two years after he was widely blamed for the massive death toll and destruction in his hometown. In its 2012 report, the Commission on Audit (COA) accused Emano of mismanaging millions of pesos in rehabilitation and relief funds for his city and constituents, including the diversion of P11.5 million, which came from the pork barrel of President Aquino. The COA criticized Emano and his team for the undue delays in deploying the P123.94 million in cash donations that poured in after the public became aware of the high death toll from Sendong. Idle P50-million deposit The COA was stumped on why city hall spent only P73.94 million of the donated funds and left P50 million in its bank deposits idle while thousands of residents continued to suffer due to damaged homes and infrastructure. Under Republic Act No. 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, the COA said the city administrators should have acted quickly to save more lives, minimize health risks, ensure public safety and meet the basic needs of disaster victims. The COA also noted that city hall was supposed to spend P55 million for the construction of 500 units of permanent shelters for evacuees. But a year after Sendong ravaged the city, the mayor and his team only spent P8.8 million as mobilization fee for the contractor, SCV Construction, which the COA noted was not qualified to undertake the project on legal, technical and financial parameters. The COA said the city authorities trimmed the project size from 500 to 80 units due to their failure to acquire lots for relocation sites. “It is a sad thing to note that until now, the city government is unable to provide us concrete data on the actual completed permanent shelters already distributed to the typhoon victims,” the COA said. The President also allocated P50 million from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) for Cagayan de Oro City to bankroll the projects identified by the government in its special allotment release order dated December 19, 2011, for “the repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction of school buildings, irrigation systems, flood control and roads and bridges in areas affected by calamities.” Why a water system? The COA audit showed that Emano used P11.5 million of the President’s allocation to build the Indahag Water System Phase 2 without the consent of the President. “As noted, the construction of (the) water system is not among the projects or activities to be funded from the PDAF. Any proposed changes, modifications or revisions of the defined uses or purposes thereof require prior consent and/or approval of the grantor, in this case, the President of the Philippines or his authorized representative,” the COA said. For its part, the city administration argued that it considered the President’s PDAF release as a “lump-sum subsidy,” which did not require the President’s approval.

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DPWH awaits bulk of flood control funds By Jerry E. Esplanada Philippine Daily Inquirer 11:54 pm | Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Nearly a year after the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) came out with a P351.72-billion flood control master plan for Metro Manila and outlying provinces up to the year 2035, the government has released just P3.94 billion for the ambitious project. In its midterm accomplishment report, a copy of which was given to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the DPWH said at least P5 billion was needed for “several high-impact flood control projects, considering the need for immediate intervention to ease the flooding problems in the region.” In the National Capital Region, flood control funds went to the following projects: Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan River improvement, P820 million; Phase 1 of Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas River improvement, P380 million; Upper Marikina River improvement, P222.5 million; Manila Bay seawall rehabilitation, P211.05 million; East Manggahan Floodway dredging, P190 million; Mangahan Floodway dredging, P100 million; and Marikina River dredging, P50 million, among others. Early this year, the Department of Budget and Management authorized the release of P1.6 billion to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority for the rehabilitation of 12 pumping stations in the metropolis. In January, the DPWH disclosed that an initial P15.8 billion was allocated for the flood control master plan. The amount represented 10.9 percent of the department’s total infrastructure program funding of P144.3 billion and about five percent of its annual budget of P152.4 billion. The bulk of the P100 billion-plus infrastructure budget will go to the repair and maintenance of national roads and bridges nationwide, according to the DPWH. The master plan, which also aims to “develop a safe society that is resilient to floods,” was given the go-ahead on July 31 by the National Economic and Development Authority’s Sub-Committee on Water Resources. After getting Malacañang’s approval, the DPWH started processing requests for funding and preparatory talks for the design of the priority projects. Under the master plan, the DPWH shortlisted 11 structural flood mitigation measures (with their respective budget requirements): Pasig-Marikina River improvement and dam construction, P198.43 billion; Manila drainage improvement, P27.5 billion; Cainta-Taytay River improvement, P25.9 billion; West Laguna lakeshore land raising, P25.2 billion; Malabon-Tullahan River improvement, P21.6 billion; South Parañaque-Las Piñas River improvement, P17.3 billion; Meycauayan River improvement, P14.04 billion; Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan River improvement, P8.61 billion; land raising for small Laguna lakeshore towns, P7.15 billion; West Manggahan drainage improvement, P5.52 billion; and improvement of inflow rivers to Laguna lake, P637 million. “Each of these projects is independent but they form integral measures for mitigating floods in Metro Manila and surrounding areas,” the DPWH noted.

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Taclo oban City C airp port fe ee doub bled By Joey Gabieta Inquirer Vis sayas 10:54 pm | Wednesday, Ju uly 3rd, 2013

Photo from w webssite

TACLOBA AN CITY—Passsengers are protesting the m more than 100--percent increa ase in terminal fee at the biggest airport in Eastern Visaya as. Aside from m the lack of prior announcem ment, the passenge ers are complaiining that there e is barely any improvem ment in the Dan niel Z. Romuald dez (DZR) Airp port here that would justify a fee increase. ority of the Philiippines (CAAP P) has The Civil Aviation Autho d terminal fee a at the DZR from m P30 to P75, a an increased adjustmen nt of more than n 100 percent. The reaso on for the incre ease was not sttated in a noticce that was issued d by the CAAP in Manila last July J 1, which coincided c with tthe heavy traffic of passengerrs who attende ed the Tacloban City C fiesta on Ju une 30. But during a public consu ultation in Septe ember last yea ar, Antonio Alfo nso, CAAP are ea manager, sa aid it was time for the termina al fee to increas se since the las st increase was in 1997 yet, w which brought the rate to P30 0. ‘Not justifiiable’ man Go Tic Che eng, however, said s he was su urprised by the increase beca ause the local C CAAP didn’t isssue Businessm any prior notice about the e terminal fee in ncrease. Cheng said d that he only le earned about the t new rate on n July 1 when h he accompanie ed his daughterr who was leavving for Manila. “The increa ase is sudden. There was no public hearing or notice abou ut it,” said Chen ng, head of the e Tacloban Filip pinoChinese Chamber of Com mmerce and Industry (TFCCC CI). at the CAAP sh hould have firstt conducted an information ca ampaign before e it imposed the e new rate. He said tha Besides, he added that th he P75 fee is not justifiable given the presen nt condition of tthe airport. “The people will not oppo ose any increas se if they will im mprove the term minal building. But at this time e, to me, the increase is s not justifiable,,” Cheng said. ntiment of Chen ng, saying thatt the increase w would be accep ptable if the airrport Passengerr Leslie Young shared the sen had better facilities. “To me, it’s s not justifiable. They should first f improve th he airport beforre they introducce the new rate e,” Young said. Airport pas ssengers often complain that the t DZR termin nal lacks space e and seats forr passengers, h has poor ventila ation and lacks water w in its toile ets, among other inadequacie es. Alfonso said the public wa as informed ab bout the possib ble increase in tterminal fees w when a public cconsultation wa as conducted in September last year at the e VIP lounge off the airport. A a gatew way to Eastern Visayas, is con nsidered to be among the bussiest airports in n the country. It The DZR Airport, serves fligh hts to Manila, Cebu C and Iloilo. Last year, the e CAAP record ed 1.3 million p passenger arrivvals at the airp port and reporte ed collecting P39 million in terminal fees.

The CAAP first proposed to increase the terminal fee from P30 to P150. But it generated opposition not only from both the Tacloban City government but also from the business sector. The CAAP said there was a need to increase the terminal fees to finance the upgrading of airport facilities. The proposed upgrading of the DZR airport included the expansion of the terminal to accommodate more passengers. The Department of Transportation and Communications has proposed a P500-million rehabilitation plan for the DZR Airport.

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300 casuals casualty of politics in Cebu City By Doris Bongcac Inquirer Visayas 10:47 pm | Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

CEBU CITY—At least 300 casual employees of the Cebu City government lost their jobs for supporting defeated mayoral candidate Tomas Osmeña in his fight against Michael Rama, who won reelection. One of the employees, who asked that she not be identified, said she and many others were advised to stop reporting for work starting on Monday. “It pains me because our only fault is the support that we gave the Osmeñas. We did not campaign for them in the election. We are mere supporters,” said the employee. The employee said she could not help but feel anger toward Rama. When told that she could plead for reconsideration, the employee said she won’t go begging for her job with the mayor. Rama said the decision to remove casual employees was one made by his so-called core group. “I did not have a hand in looking at the list one by one,” said the mayor. The core group, he said, evaluated the performance of the city’s more than 3,000 casual employees. Dominic Dino, head of the city’s human resource office, said in a text message that some of the employees whose job contracts were not renewed may yet be rehired. Of 300 casual employees who were advised to stop working, at least 52 are from the Cebu City Traffic Management Board (Citom), according to Citom head Rafael Yap. Ironically, among those who lost their jobs is a parking aide who was named most outstanding employee in 2012. Yap said he was not consulted about the firing of Citom employees. He said it would take at least three months to train new traffic enforcers. Osmeña refused requests for interviews with media. But during last Saturday’s oath-taking ceremonies for his allies who won in the election, Osmeña said his supporters have sacrificed so much and continue to sacrifice after losing their jobs.

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Mayo or on Illoilo fe erry pro oject crritics: G Go sue e By Nestor P. Burgos Jr. Inquirer Vis sayas 10:24 pm | Wednesday, Ju uly 3rd, 2013 THE CU URRENT ferry termiinal in Iloilo City GU UIJO DUEÑAS / INQ QUIRER VISAYAS

ILOILO CITY—Iloilo o City Mayor Je ed Patrick Mabiilog will pursue ea contro oversial ferry te erminal project despite the withdrawal of sup pport for the e project by the e city council. “We will w continue witth the project b because we be elieve that it is legal, valid and a advantage eous to the cityy government,” Mabilog told th he Inquirrer. He sa aid scrapping th he project afterr the city signed d a contract with private developer Do ouble Dragon P Properties Inc. “would send a wrong g signal to the b business comm munity and inve estors.” Mabilog sa aid project critic cs “can go to co ourt”

and cha allenge the lega ality of the conttract.

The city co ouncil last Wednesday passed d a resolution withdrawing w the e authority it grranted to Mabilog to enter into oa contract wiith Double Drag gon. w its ratification n of the 25-yearr contract signe ed on Oct. 1, 2 2012. The council also withdrew ouncil cited prov visions in the re evenue sharing g scheme whicch a councilor ssaid was disadvantageous to the The city co city govern nment and favo orable to Double Dragon. The contract provid des that Doublle Dragon will g get 95 to 99 pe ercent of gross revenue while the city gets only y 1 to 5 percent. Double Dra agon is a joint venture v betwee en Injap Investments Inc., hea aded by Edgarr Sia II, founderr of the Mang Inasal food chain,, and Honeysta ar Holdings Corp., headed by Tony Tan Cakktiong, founderr and chair of Jo ollibee Foods C Corp. The firm su ubmitted an “unsolicited d proposal” to o the local gove ernment unit. The T project see eks to improve passenger and d cargo facilitie es and services fo or commuters and a tourists trav veling between n Iloilo and Guim maras. hich is open forr extension, Do ouble Dragon w will finance, con nstruct and ope erate the ferry Under the agreement, wh n a 1.3-hectare government la and near the po ort of Iloilo. The e terminal com mplex, which willl serve the Iloiloterminal on Guimaras route, r will be tu urned over to th he city governm ment after the e expiration of the agreement. Double Dra agon also insis sted that the pro oject is advanta ageous to the ccity because off the taxes and d other revenue es that it would ge enerate. P Zulueta and a other members of the city y council earlierr admitted thatt they failed to sscrutinize the d details Councilor Perla of the proje ect even if it wa as presented to o the council tw wice for approva al. The militan nt Bagong Alyansang Makaba ayan (Bayan) on o Panay Island d challenged th he city council tto pursue the termination n of the contrac ct. But the gro oup said oppos sition to the projject should also focus on the need to keep basic infrastruccture, like port terminals, out o of private businesses. b “It should be b the governm ment that contro ols and manage es it and not prrivate firms earrning profits fro om the people,”” said Hope Herv villa, Bayan-Pan nay chair. s said. “If it can c spend for b beautification p projects in the ccity, like the Iloilo “The goverrnment has suffficient funds,” she Esplanade, why not for a vital infrastruc cture?”

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Central Visayas posts rosy numbers By Aileen Garcia-Yap Cebu Daily News 7:47 am | Thursday, July 4th, 2013

International trading activities in Central Visayas showed growth in the first seven months of the year, figures released by the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) regional office show. According to the report, exporters turned in an impressive performance with sales growing by 84 percent. “This raised hopes that the export sector was finally on the road to recovery. The later part of the year however was slower,” said NEDA assistant regional director Efren B. Carreon. Furniture and furnishings were among the products that showed recovery. However, the industry was also challenged by the growing competition from neighboring countries and slow recovery of the US market. As of July last year, exports grew by 83.7 percent with $2.2 billion compared to only $1.2 billion in 2011. Volume likewise increased by 7.4 percent. Imports registered 62.9 percent growth with $1.6 billion compared to only $1.1 billion in the same period in 2011. “Given a higher export receipt, the region realized a trade surplus of $556.4 million from January to July last year,” said Carreon. Other key industries in Central Visayas, including IT/BPO, tourism, construction and real estate, also registered growth. Construction Construction remains upbeat with Negros Oriental having the most number of construction projects last year with 227. The National Statistics Office attributed the upsurge to the numerous reconstruction projects in the province following the devastation wrought by an earthquake last year. Cebu registered the second highest construction activities with 153 projects. Majority or 87 percent of the private sector projects were for residential purposes as supported by data from the Board of Investments. Real Estate Running parallel to increased construction activities is the surge in sales of real properties. Cebu alone posted an 18.8 percent growth. “Data from HLURB (Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board) showed that in 2012, 14 residential condominium projects involving 5,212 units valued at P5.17 billion were issued licenses to sell. All these units are located in Cebu,” the report said. The market for residential condominium is targeted to expand further in the next few years as additional 100 condominium buildings are projected to be completed by 2015 and another 170 to 200 buildings by 2017. Tourism Tourist arrivals posted a 14.6 percent growth. “Central Visayas benefited from sustained growth of international tourism. After recovering in 2010, international tourism gained momentum in the succeeding years, allowing the region to post accelerated growth in foreign visitor arrivals in 2012.”

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Spirit of cooperation Cebu Daily News 7:43 am | Thursday, July 4th, 2013

To his credit, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama did spell out clearly some of his programs during his inaugural address to the Cebu City Council last Monday and it looked quite promising. Among his priorities are building a retirement facility and hospital that offers among other services a world class geriatrics ward in the South Road Properties (SRP). This project as proposed by the SRP management dovetails with a proposal by Rama’s predecessor, Tomas Osmeña to build a world-class medical center in Cebu City’s prized reclamation project. He also mentioned Cebu City’s bid to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit and plans for Pope Francis’ visit to Cebu City for the 2016 International Eucharistic Congress. While also mentioning his commitment to fulfill some of the proposed talking points of the Mega Cebu 2050 vision which were spelled out more in broad strokes rather than actual nitty gritty details, Rama still managed to present some of his targets that include building two more hospitals through private sector partnership and expanding the current Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC). The bird’s eye view given by Mayor Rama looked good as explained by some of his key advisors like Rene Mercado during the mayor’s rounds with local media the past week. As again, the stumbling block remains the distrust and political animosity between the Rama administration and the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) bloc, spearheaded now by party chief Tomas Osmeña’s wife Councilor Margot. There is some truth to Councilor Osmeña’s contention that Mayor Rama should have prepared a financial assessment report to his inaugural address rather than a wish list of projects and programs which she admitted were quite good. The bottomline remains raising the funds for these ambitious programs which meant improving tax collection efforts, inviting investors and selling city government lots like those in SRP. The SRP will always remain a bone of contention between Rama and the BO-PK led council since it would probably be the biggest source of revenues for the city. To this end, Rama has extended a hand of friendship to the council and it would certainly be beneficial for Cebu City if the mayor, his allies and the BO-PK set aside their differences and work towards at least meeting each other’s goals halfway. This doesn’t mean having to demand a committee chairmanship immediately as Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos did on the inaugural City Council session. Councilor Osmeña did welcome Rama ally Councilor James Cuenco’s appointment as chairperson of the council’s tourism committee. Hopefully, the spirit of cooperation starts there and not in demanding committee chairmanships.

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There’s the Rub

Priorities By Conrado de Quiros Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:33 am | Thursday, July 4th, 2013

I was dumbstruck by a couple of stories last Tuesday. The first was that P-Noy would personally supervise the handing out of new guns to the police. Specifically, the President was all set to distribute 22,603 9-mm pistols to Philippine National Police personnel in Camp Crame. These are part of the 59,904 pistols acquired by the PNP last year with the aim of equipping every cop with a handgun. “This will be the biggest distribution of firearms,” Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac said proudly. He noted that the government was able to save a substantial amount of money with the procurement. One Glock 17 Gen4 costs P40,000 in the open market, but the PNP got it at P16,659 in a special deal with a local distributor. The government was able to save P200 million from an original P1.2-billion budget. The second story was P-Noy vowing to modernize the military, and in particular the air force. “While we look back at the rich history of the Philippine Air Force,” he said in a speech at Clark Air Base during the PAF’s 66th anniversary, “there is one thing that is noticeable: While we, in 1963, had the capability to help and send squadrons to other nations, why is it that in the last decades, it seemed that the wings of our Air Force had been clipped, and we rely only on old, rickety planes and equipment?” He swore to spend P75 billion over the next years to upgrade the Armed Forces, P43 billion going to the air force and the navy. He said the P28 billion he spent in the first 19 months of his term to modernize the AFP already came close to the P33 billion that the three previous administrations spent on the same program. “In celebrating the 66th anniversary of the PAF, the government shows a new face and our soldiers display a new face to the world. [We are] flying with a new strength toward a stable future,” he said. I don’t know how many people apart from the generals are going to be elated by these reports. Only a few weeks ago, several stories also came out that showed the following: One, Quacquarelli Symonds, a British organization specializing in education, noted that the quality of Philippine universities was falling. Only the University of the Philippines remained among the top 100 of 300 schools in Asia; Ateneo de Manila, De La Salle, and University of Santo Tomas, though still in the middle ranges, slipped during the past year. Specifically, UP improved from 68th to 67th while Ateneo fell from 86th to 109th, La Salle fell from 142th to 151th, and UST fell from 140th to 150th. Nine other Philippine universities who were among the top 300 in 2012 were no longer there this year, having fallen below the 300 mark. They were: Silliman University, Xavier University, Saint Louis University, University of San Carlos, Ateneo de Davao University, Adamson University, Central Mindanao University, Mapua Institute of Technology, and Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Two, the Freedom from Debt Coalition noted that last year the budget for debt payments was P739 billion, three times more than the budget for education, which was only P224.9 billion. The latter was only 2.2 percent of GNP, well below the world benchmark of 6 percent. Unesco notes that the Philippines has the lowest expenditure for education in proportion to total budget. Since 1955, education has dropped from 30.78 of the budget to 15 percent post-Edsa. This year’s education budget at 14.97 percent is lower than the post-Edsa average of 15 percent. In fact, this is lower than the average spending for education in Southeast Asia and the regional average for East and South Asia. No, I cannot see how other than the police and military chiefs, the rest of the country can greet the distribution of new guns and modernization of the military with much elation. While at this, what happens to the old handguns that will be replaced by the new Glocks? Given that some of the arms from the government armory have a way of finding themselves in unofficial, or private, or civilian, hands, indeed in less than savory unofficial, private, and civilian hands like the Ampatuans’, the question is worth asking. In 1963, we might have been sending squadrons of planes to other countries while today we’ve been reduced to making do with rickety airborne coffins, which is truly lamentable. But in 1963, we were still experiencing an economic boom with a thriving industry courtesy of import-substitution, which Diosdado Macapagal would soon demolish by a policy of decontrol, and could afford it. More to the point, in 1963, our universities were among the top 100 in Asia, if not in the world, and drew students from all over the region. UP, for one, particularly its school in Los Baños, drew

Thais in droves who learned the secrets of the “green revolution.” Now they are regularly producing jasmine rice, a hybrid of its own invention, while we, home of the International Rice Research Institute, are importing rice. That is an infinitely more lamentable pass. Economics, as we learn from school, top 100 or not, is the art or science of husbanding resources. Or less politically incorrectly, it is the art or science of efficiently using scant resources. I don’t know how efficient our use of scant resources is in allocating huge sums to supply cops with more guns and fighter pilots with more planes when our education is in a state that makes “rickety” a benign description. I don’t know how well we can protect ourselves from our enemies with these levels of expenditures for arms and defense. Indeed, I don’t know how well we can protect ourselves from our enemies with even much bigger expenditures for arms and defense. What I do know is this: We may know what it is we’re protecting ourselves from, but what are we protecting ourselves for? I’ve always thought ignorance was the greatest enemy of all.

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Cold storage plant to rise in Bulacan Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 00:00

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Royale Cold Storage North Inc. is investing P476.5 million in a project for cold storage and blast freezing facilities in Marilao, Bulacan. The cold storage plant will have a maximum capacity of 3,409,920 pallets per year for cold storage and 9,720,000 kilograms per year for blast freezing. The plant will provide these services to agriculture, marine and processed food companies based in Bulacan and Northern Luzon provinces. The storage facility is designed to handle various unprocessed and semi-processed raw materials, finished products, perishable commodities such as fruits, vegetables, livestock and poultry products, and processed marine products. The locally owned facility is expected to start commercial operations in June next year with a manpower requirement of 80 personnel. The project has been approved by the Board of Investments.

Relocation cost bloats gov’t subsidy in May Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 00:00

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The National Housing Authority (NHA) received the largest chunk out of the total subsidies given to governmentowned and -controlled corporations in May, as the government went through with its plan to relocate informal settler families living in danger zones in Metro Manila. Data from the Bureau of Treasury showed that the NHA received P3.721 billion in May, accounting for more than three-quarters of the total subsidies released to GOCCs for the month. Vice President Jejomar Binay, who also chairs the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, said the National Housing Authority is constructing 10 multi-level low-rise house projects that will be used for the relocation of informal settler families or squatters living in danger areas in Metro Manila. From the 10 home projects, 6,404 housing units will be built, worth P3.4 billion. The projects will be located in Smokey Mountain (Paradise Heights) in Tondo, Manila; Tala 2 and Camarin in Caloocan City; Pleasant Hills in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan; Tanza, Gulayan and Tanglaw, all in Navotas; MMDA Depot in Manggahan, Pasig City; National Government Center Housing Project in Quezon City; and Disiplina Village 2 in Valenzuela City. The national government released P4.766 billion in subsidies in May, 35.40 percent more than the P3.520 billion disbursed in the same month last year. After the NHA, the National Irrigation Administration was the second biggest subsidy recipient with P512 million. The third largest share went to the Philippine Development Insurance Corp. with P314 million, while other GOCCs received less than P100 million each. As of end May, subsidies disbursed to state-owned firms amounted to P10.002 billion, 16.32 percent lower than the P11.953 billion released in January to May last year. The NHA also accounts for the largest share for the first five months of the year with P5.327 billion. The second biggest chunk of P1.118 billion went to the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. The National Irrigation Administration took in P911 million, followed by the Philippine Coconut Authority and Philippine Postal Corporation with P820 million and P516 million, respectively. The national government spent more than it was able to generate in revenues for the first five months of the year, bringing the year-to-date deficit to P42.839 billion.

The Department of Finance earlier said the national government’s deficit for January to May was nearly twice the P22.745 billion in deficit registered in the same period last year. The deficit as of end-May is within the first semester program of P84.656 billion. Expenditures for the five-month period stood at P751.213 billion, 12.4 percent higher than the P668.39 billion spent in the same time in 2012. Revenues, on the other hand, amounted to P708.374 billion as of end-May, 9.7 percent higher than the P645.645 billion collected in January to May 2012. For the entire year, the government has set a deficit cap of P238 billion, equivalent to 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Social protection needed for ‘missing middle’ Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 00:00   Written by ANGELA CELIS  By A Web design Company 0 Comments

Spending for social protection programs in the Philippines only account for about 2.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, the Asian Development Bank said. In the study released by the ADB titled, The Social Protection Index: Assessing Results for Asia and the Pacific, the multilateral bank agency analyzed the 2009 data on government social protection programs in 35 countries in Asia and the Pacific. The ADB said that across income groups, social protection spending in high-income countries has an average share of 10.2 percent of GDP; for upper middle-income countries, 4 percent of GDP; for lower middle-income countries, 3.4 percent; and for low-income countries, 2.6 percent of GDP. The report also said that spending for social protection programs in most lower-middle-income countries, which include the Philippines, Armenia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Samoa, remains below three percent of GDP. “These countries should be able to mobilize more revenue for social protection,” the report said. The report said a few countries, particularly Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia and Uzbekistan, are already investing eight percent of their GDP on social protection programs. “There are many vulnerable groups, including women and informal sector workers, who can’t access unemployment, health or other social insurance but are also not poor enough to be eligible for social assistance such as cash transfers,” according to Bart Édes, director in ADB’s Regional and Sustainable Development Department. “Government social protection programs need to be expanded to cover this unprotected ‘missing middle,’ who are at risk of falling into poverty in the case of an economic, environmental, or health shock of some kind,” he added. For the entire Southeast Asian region, which includes the Philippines, spending on social protection as a share of GDP is only 2.6 percent. The report that the average GDP per capita of the eight countries in the region is $6,678, the second highest among the five regions. “At this income, one might expect this region to spend a significant proportion of GDP on social protection, but its average is only 2.6 percent,” the ADB said. “This low rate might be due to a relative lack of commitment to expanding social protection, the importance attached to other development priorities, or a historical legacy of past practices,” the report said. The ADB said expanding social protection coverage will require mobilization of additional public revenue that can be secured by broadening the tax base, improving tax collection, and improving public expenditure management.

“Governments should also encourage private firms to contribute more to social insurance programs. After many years of high growth, the Asia and Pacific region is in an excellent position to invest in better social protection systems that are attuned to the needs of its people,� the ADB said.

Driied mang m goes s ind dustr ry be eset by prob p blem ms; prosp pects s bright Published d on Thursdayy, 04 July 2013 3 00:00   Written b by ANTONIO D DELOS REYES  DRIED MANGO M PROCESSIN NG IS HAMPERED BY Y THE DISTANCE BE ETWEEN PLANTATIO ONS AND PROCESSORS MAKING THE IN NDUSTRY LESS COMPETITIVE.

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CEBU CITY Y- The Philippiine mango has s been touted as a the best man ngo in the world and its i processed derivatives d such as dried strip ps, juices and tthe like have been a perennial welcome w gift forr Filipinos working in many pa arts of the world. The dried mango m industry y, however, is facing f stiff com mpetition from itts ASEAN neighbors notably Thailan nd. The growth h of the local frruit processing industry, particcularly mangoe es is stymied by high production costs and short supply. Erwin Siao o of R&M prese erves, the pione eers of dried mango processin ng, said the hiigh acquisition cost of green mangos is forcing manufa acturers to sell Philippine drie ed mangos as a high end prod duct which makes it difficult to o compete with w similar prod ducts from othe er countries. “There is a big market tha at can be tappe ed as far as the e international m market is conccerned. There iss still much gro owth there but due to the numb ber of competittors, not just loc cally but intern ationally, the p price issue com mes into play,” h he said. Siao used Thailand as an n example, say ying that while Thailand’s T dried d mango produ ucts might be o of lesser qualityy than those produced in the Philippines, the more m attractive packaging and d lower prices m make Thai man ngoes more attractive to o the internatio onal market. “Thailand has the e edge over the e Philippines in n dried mango production nott just in packagin ng, but in terms s of price. If you were to look at how Thailan nd fruit processsors positions tthemselves, all the dried fruit processing p plan nts are situated d in an export zone z that is no more than 5 k ilometers from the plantation.. Therefore, your transportation and operational costs are low,” he e explained. This is in stark contrast to o how fruit proc cessors operate e in the Philipp pines. Cebu serrves as the drie ed mango capital of the Philippines but due to o the fact that th he province is an a island, there e is a lack of ag gricultural land d which can serrve as mango plantations to add dress the supply requirements s of processing g plants. This forces s a big majority y of the larger processed p fruit companies to ssource their ra w fruit supply ffrom different plantations s all over the co ountry, depending on the time e of the year sin nce different pa arts of the coun ntry have differrent harvesting months. The develo opment of bette er infrastructure e such as farm to market road ds would help iin lowering acq quisition costs. However, the t high inter-is sland shipping costs will contiinue to affect p production costts which will ressult in higher endproduct prices.

“We still need the infrastructure. We don’t have enough farms, farm to market access is difficult or non-existent. Our partner supplier’s farmers have to walk long distances to harvest the fruits. The fruits are then collected and brought by trucks to the city. From the city, they transport the fruits by boat to our plants here in Cebu. By the time the material reaches our plants transport costs alone have gone up so high leaving our product less competitive, he said. This means that Philippine-made dried mangos cannot compete with dried mangos from another country from a price standpoint,” Siao said. When asked if the construction of processing plants closer to plantations would help lower costs, Siao disagreed, saying that the cost of constructing a plant will not make the industry financially feasible. “A company would need to spend millions of pesos for the construction of the plant. Purchase of equipment is an even bigger cost item. On top of all that is the additional cost of training a staff and workers, Siao said. It is not feasible to invest so much money on just one processing plant just to offset the cost of transportation from one or two plantations in the area,” he said. Another issue that has hampered the growth of Philippine dried mango in the international market is the lackluster packaging compared to the country’s competitors. “Look at Vietnam right now. Its industry has grown so much, its packaging has improved tremendously at a very minimal cost. Here in the Philippines, if you want to have nice packaging, you pay the price. You have your design, your color separation done either locally or abroad, but when you have to print it, you go to expensive printing presses which can only be found in Manila,” Siao said. Despite these issues, Siao remains optimistic that Philippine dried mango industry can compete in the international market. “You just have to fight it out. You need to educate the buying public that yes, Philippines dried mango is more expensive than the competitor, but you pay for the quality,” Siao said.

European firms prefer economic zones Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 00:00

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Reducing red tape and business-friendly environment are key to attracting investments from the European Union (EU), according to Guy Ledoux, ambassador to the Philippines of the EU. Some 289 European companies have invested in the country’s economic zones citing these areas’ good regulatory environment. The latest one to invest is Danish firm Sonion which is employing 800 workers up to 2014 at its new factory at the First Philippine Industrial Park (FPIP) in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. Ledoux said at the Sonion factory’s inauguration yesterday that EU firms are interested to invest in zones administered by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) because “many of the red tapes often hampering business development are lifted.” “When looking at measures to be taken to attract more foreign investment in the Philippines, the regulatory environment offered in PEZA would provide a good guide,” he said. Ledoux said European companies are very interested in the fast expanding Philippines market and welcome the objectives of reducing all the existing red tapes as well as encouraging local government unit to be business friendly and reduce the numerous permit that are often required. The 289 EU firms in ecozones are in a wide variety of sectors including food products, textiles, chemicals, precision and optical instruments, etc.. Ledoux said European companies EU is the largest investor in the Philippines with a stock of 7.6 billion Euros. “The inauguration of this factory is a good illustration of the strong and growing economic relationship between the EU and the Philippines. The remarkable example we have today, is not hot money invested by stock broker which can be withdrawn in a few days, this is an investment with a brick and mortar factory that demonstrates the confidence of the investor in the Philippines government and the quality and reliability of the Philippines workers. We have here a state of the art factory in a high tech sector that will manufacture sophisticated equipment that will be exported all over the world,” Ledoux said.

BSP needs charter changed Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 00:00   Written by JIMMY CALAPATI  The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said yesterday cited anew the need to amend its charter to enable it to be more responsive to present conditions. Amando Tetangco, BSP governor said the charter needs to be revised to enable it to increase its capital, share gains and losses with the national government, restore the BSP’s ability to issue its own debt securities , set up its owns reserves and that it be exempted from taxes. “We will submit to Congress the proposed amendments and it will be assigned to a committee. The BSP will continue to work with Congress in this regard,” Tetangco assured during yesterday’s celebration of the BSP’s 20th anniversary. Tetangco said the passage of legislation amending the central bank’s charter as proposed will provide the BSP greater ability and flexibility to carry out its mandate to maintain macroeconomic stability that will sustain growth that is more balanced, more sustainable, and more inclusive. “The BSP looks forward therefore to engaging our lawmakers in addressing these concerns,” Tetangco said. The primary objective of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is to promote price and financial stability conducive to balanced and sustainable economic growth. It also seeks to maintain monetary stability and the convertibility of the peso. In this connection, the BSP performs a wide range of functions involving money, banking and credit in the performance of this mandate for stabilization. At present the BSP said, it is faced with the challenge of dealing with the consequences of strong foreign exchange inflows that have resulted in strengthening the Philippine peso against other currencies. In response to the heavy capital inflows, the BSP has been implementing various stabilization measures to moderate sharp currency movements. However, stability comes at a price. The BSP has been incurring heavy financial losses in its efforts to temper currency fluctuations which could be destabilizing. As the peso strengthens, the BSP incurs foreign exchange revaluation losses since the value of its foreign exchange holdings falls below their acquisition cost. To moderate the strong gains in the value of the peso, the BSP buys foreign exchange by participating in the currency trade. Also, when the BSP buys foreign exchange, it pays in pesos. This increases the amount of pesos circulating in the economy. To mop up excess liquidity, the BSP incurs interest expenses. The BSP incurred losses worth P95 billion in 2012 on falling revenues and foreign exchange fluctuations. The level is the biggest since 1993 when the BSP was created.

Revenues for the year stood at P65.73 billion, 44 percent lower than the previous year’s P118.74 billion. Interest income from investments also slowed down from P45.62 billion in 2011 to P40.92 billion last year. Because of the low interest rate environment in 2012 due to the record low key rate settings the central bank also paid lower interest payments amounting to P90.76 billion compared to P65.63 billion the previous year. But the central bank also lost P50.38 billion as it bought dollars to shield the peso from unwarranted appreciation. Tetangco said the BSP’s losses resulted from “the monetary authority’s conduct of its stabilization function in the face of strong foreign capital inflows and ample liquidity in the system.” The BSP has been incurring losses since 2010 when it also incurred losses amounting P59.04 billion. In 2011, the BSP’s losses slowed down to P33.69 billion. With the continuous losses that the BSP has been incurring, monetary officials are proposing additional capitalization from the national government When the BSP was created 20 years ago, the capitalization set by the government for the central bank was set at P50 billion. However, the BSP has only received P40 billion. The remaining P10 billion is supposed to be released this year. Tetangco said that times have changed since the New Central Bank Act. “The economy has expanded. The P50 billion was set two decades ago. During this period the economy has grown, the financial system has expanded. The requirements of the economy have increased,” Tetangco said. Tetangco, however, said they still have no fixed amount on how much additional capitalization they will ask for. He added that the extra capital will help the central bank adapt to speculative inflows that buoy the peso’s strength. Tetangco said the capital infusion will help aid in the agency’s recuperation from losses.


The Philipp pines will be the e fourth largestt producer of nickel metal in tthe world starting nex xt year when th he second refin nery of Nickel Asia A Corp. start rts operations in Surigao. The first re efinery was set up by Rio Tuba Nickel Mining g Corp. in Rio T Tuba, Bataraza a, Palawan a fe ew years ago w with total capac city of 24,000 to ons a year. The second refinery in Surigao is owne ed by Taganito Mining. Rio Tu uba and Tagan nito have comm mon stockholde ers. They are in n joint venture with w Sumitomo o Metals of Japan. The world’s s biggest produ ucer of nickel is s Russia, follow wed by Canada a and Indonesi a. Before Sum mitomo invested d in refineries here, h the Philippines is an unrrecognized sou urce of nickel m metal in the worrld market. The Philipp pines however is an establish hed supplier off low grade nickkel ore to China a. Together with w the two com mpanies, there e are small mine ers extracting n nickel. They are supposed to use e pick and shovel and produc ction is limited tto 50 tons a ye ear but the indu ustry has noted d that many “sma all nickel mines s” supposedly run r by poor peo ople use buck h hoes and tracto ors. The smalll man has beco ome a dummy of the t big boys. Rio Tuba started s mining nickel n in Batara aza about 40 years y ago and tthere was a tim me when stockholders though ht of giving up u on the projec ct. At that time e, nickel ore wa as selling at $2 per ton in Jap pan. Now it sells at $13,000 p per ton. The cost off removing the moisture from the ore which contain about two per cent nickel was expe ensive. The mo oisture had to be reduced r to abo out 15 per cent to reduce the cost c of shipping g. A Japanese technician fo ound a way of removing r the moisture m withou ut electricity. Th he ore was filed d in a way that solar heat takes away the mois sture. Millions of pesos were saved in electrricity cost. The ore bo ody in Bataraza a was discoverred by Atong Mamaclay, M a no oted geologist who died last w week at age 97 7. The idea of coming up with a refinery was prompted by the discoveryy of high-grade e nickel ore and d the slow but ssteady rise in the price p of nickel metal in the wo orld market. Ma anagement figu ured out that va alue added to rrefined nickel w will compensatte for the cost of o refining equiipment.

Low grade ore meanwhile are continuously exported to China. Quite by accident, Japanese metal scientists from Sumitomo discovered a by-product called scandium. It is sold at about $10,000 a pound. The by-product is largely used to further strengthen the alloy of nickel plated specialty steel products. It is an extremely scarce commodity in the mining industry. The company refused to tell Business Insight about whether or not Sumitomo has discovered commercial quantities of scandium. “We never stop working at it” says a Japanese official from Sumitomo Metals. Nickel Asia is listed in the stock market. It made an initial public offering about two years ago. It was 20 times oversubscribed. To avoid borrowing money for development and operational expenses, Nickel Asia shares its profits with stockholders by giving cash and stock dividends. The first stock dividend was 50 per cent made last year. Recently, it declared another 25 per cent stock. It keeps its policy cash dividends to its stockholders. The earnings are converted into capital stock. The stockholders benefit by seeing their shares multiply without paying additional cost. A Norwegian company is proposing to set up a nickel refinery in Mindoro. However, it cannot start operations pending the grant by the DENR of a permission to operate. The company has been lying in wait for about three years. Like Sagittarius, this company is prepared to wait it out. It continues to do community work. It is particularly interested in providing education and health care to the indigenous people of the two Mindoros particularly the Mangyans many of whom die of tuberculosis for lack of education on hygiene and sanitation. The first nickel refinery in the country was attempted by Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corp. largely owned and controlled by the late Jesus Cabarrus. It went as far as setting up a pilot plant in Saskatchewan, Canada, courtesy of either Sherrit Gordon or Le Nickel of France. In 1971, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries abruptly raised the price of crude oil. The production costs went up vertically. The problem was worsened by the fact the nickel grade of its ore was lower than iron content of the ore. In time, the company stopped the refinery and was practically taken over by creditors principally the financial institutions of the government. There are mountains and mountains of ore with high iron content in the abandoned plant of Marinduque. Nickel Asia’s ores have high nickel content.

Posted on July 03, 2013 11:07:05 PM  By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Reporter 

Targets maintained MACROECONOMIC ASSUMPTIONS and fiscal targets for this year and 2014 were retained yesterday by economic managers as they chose to keep a “conservative stance” on growth goals. “We’re keeping our 2013 and 2014 targets and assumptions. Basically all targets [were] not touched,” Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad told reporters at the sidelines of yesterday’s Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) meeting at the Budget department’s headquarters in Manila. “I don’t think the volatility has really settled, so the position of the DBCC is to take a conservative approach. Although of course the US and Japan are [our] top trading partners and while we are seeing improvements in their situation, we have not seen it stabilize to a point where we can be confident and make adjustments in our growth assumptions,” Mr. Abad said. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan told reporters separately that the global economic outlook is still “uncertain.” “Like for example, China -- I don’t know where China is headed. Although the US appears to be recovering, that’s still not very firm. The euro zone is still limping -- we don’t know how the problem there will get we’re still being conservative,” he said. In a meeting in November last year, the DBCC had set the country’s economic growth goals for 2013 and 2014 at 6-7% and 6.5%-7.5%, respectively. Economic growth ended well above the lower end of the target last year at 6.8%. The country was off to a good start this year, as gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 7.8% in the first quarter, beating market expectations and the government’s full-year goal. Mr. Balisacan said the government is “quite optimistic” on this year’s growth, with second-quarter expansion likely to be “good” in the absence of major storms. “It’s likely to be a continuation of the first quarter, where we saw the industry’s growth, particularly manufacturing, to be quite robust. Construction likely also remained robust. Private construction, consumption, remittances have continued to increase,” he said. DBCC’s other projections are: • industry growth of 6.6-7.6% this year and 7.4-8.6% next year; • service sector expansion of 6.3-7.3% this year and 6.5-7.4% for 2014; • 10% export and 12% import growth for this year; • a budget deficit cap of 2% of GDP for this year and next, nominally equivalent to P238 billion and P266.2 billion, respectively; • a $4.4-billion balance of payments surplus this year; and • a 5% increase in remittances from Filipinos abroad.

Asked on the 2014 budget, Mr. Balisacan said DBCC is still finalizing amounts, noting “it’s at P2.268 trillion as of today,” 13.1% more than this year’s P2.006 trillion. Mr. Abad said the 2014 budget will be presented to President Benigno S.C. Aquino III on Monday and submitted to Congress by July 23.

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Posted on July 03, 2013 11:05:22 PM  By Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio, Reporter 

Less borrowings planned THE FINANCE department has proposed a lower borrowing program for next year to the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) as the government eyes to “pre-fund” some of its 2014 requirements this year, the National Treasurer said yesterday. “Gross borrowings for next year will likely be lower than this year,” said National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon in an interview at the sidelines of a DBCC meeting, even as she declined to cite an amount since the committee is still finalizing the proposed budget for 2014. According to the 2013 national budget, the government has programmed gross borrowings of P757.719 billion for this year, with P567.958 billion of this sourced domestically and the remaining P189.761 billion from foreign creditors. Gross borrowings totaled P50.115 billion in the four months ending April, with domestic borrowings totaling P47.229 billion and external borrowings amounting to P2.886 billion. Ms. de Leon added that “the market is liquid and some of the funding this year could be carried over to 2014.” “If we see that rates are good, then we can opt to pre-fund for next year,” she said, adding that the government can “increase the volume of its bond issuances in auctions” to do this. The government plans to observe an 85-15 borrowing mix, in favor of domestic sources, next year, Ms. de Leon said.

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Posted on July 03, 2013 10:53:45 PM

State employee incentives taxexempt INCENTIVES granted to employees of state firms as part of collective negotiation agreements (CNAs) are exempt from taxes as long as they do not exceed the threshold amount, according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) 46-2013, dated May 26 but issued only on June 26, clarifies the taxability of CNA benefits granted to rank-and-file employees’ organizations that are approved or accredited by the Civil Service Commission (CSC). Under the Tax Code, there are specific exclusions from gross income, which are exempt from income and withholding tax. Among these are gross benefits received by officials and employees of public and private entities in the form of 13th-month pay and “other benefits,” defined as incentives granted under existing laws, like the annual Christmas bonus and productivity bonuses. The Tax Code specifies that only a total P30,000 in these incentives are tax-exempt. Any amount exceeding this threshold, it notes, will be included in the gross taxable income of individuals. The law, however, does not make any mention of incentives granted under CNAs. Hence, the BIR said in its recent issuance that CNA incentives qualify as “other benefits.” In a ruling dated Nov. 4, 2009, the BIR said, “A reading of the aforementioned Circular (DBM Circular No. 2006-1 dated Feb. 1, 2006) shows that the CNA incentive qualifies as ‘other benefits.’ Thus, the value of the ‘other benefits’ when added to the 13th-month pay must not exceed the threshold of P30,000 in order that it may be exempt from income tax and consequently from the withholding tax.” “If the value exceeds the P30,000 ceiling, then the excess of the ‘other benefits’ and the 13th-month pay is considered as part of compensation subject to income tax and consequently to the withholding tax,” the RMC quoted the BIR Ruling to have stated. Hence, the circular notes, CNA incentives are exempt from income tax and withholding tax provided that these benefits, when added to the 13th-month pay and other benefits, shall not exceed the threshold of P30,000. “Any excess in the threshold shall be taxable to the employee, whether rank and file or supervisory,” the RMC said. Pursuant to Executive Order No. 135, dated Dec. 27, 2005, employees of government agencies belonging to CSC-approved workers’ organizations were authorized to be granted incentives under CNAs. Such grants were likewise affirmed by the Budget department through Budget Circular (BC) 2006-1, date Feb. 1, 2006. Under the BC, incentives granted under CNAs are considered rationalized cash benefits and may only be granted to employees who contributed to agency productivity and implementation of cost-cutting measures.

“All existing cash incentives in the CNAs in the form of allowances and benefits... [and] bonuses other than the year-end benefit authorized under RA No. 6686... shall be consolidated into a single cash incentive and shall be referred to and collectively paid as the CNA Incentive.� Existing cash incentives provided for under other existing laws or administrative orders, among others, shall not be part of the CNA incentive to avoid double compensation. The amount of CNA incentives shall also not be predetermined in the agreements as this will depend on savings generated by the concerned agencies. CNAs are performance-based incentive schemes. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc

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Posted on July 03, 2013 10:51:44 PM

P477-M cold storage plant approved THE BOARD of Investments (BoI) has approved a P476.5-million cold storage facility in Bulacan, the Trade department said in a statement yesterday. The cold storage plant will be built and operated by Royale Cold Storage North, Inc. in Marilao, Bulacan. The plant will begin commercial operations in June 2014 and will have a manpower requirement of around 80 personnel. The facility will have a maximum capacity of 3,409,920 pallets per year for cold storage and 9,720,000 kilograms annually for blast freezing. It will provide cold storage services to agriculture, marine, and processed food companies based in Bulacan and the Northern Luzon provinces. It has also been granted registration for incentives. “The storage facility is designed to handle various unprocessed, semi-processed raw materials, finished products, perishable commodities such as fruits, vegetables, livestock and poultry products, and processed marine products,” BoI said in the statement. Cold storage facilities are considered support systems for agriculture and the agribusiness sector. The sector is one of the preferred activities under the Investment Priorities Plan of the Trade department. The sector covers related activities such as irrigation, post-harvest, cold storage, blast freezing and fertilizer production. The BoI said, “Investments in cold storage and other post-harvest facilities aim to meet the challenges of the growing demand of agricultural products.” According to the Cold Chain Association of the Philippines (CCAP), the country needs more cold storage facilities to meet the growing demand for food and to enhance competitiveness of the agriculture sector. The Trade department said CCAP is planning to put up facilities in the southern part of Mindanao and in Northern Luzon, Central Luzon and Central Visayas. -- E. N. J. David - See more at:

Posted on July 03, 2013 10:46:11 PM

Davao Oriental pushes cacao farming DAVAO CITY -- The provincial government of Davao Oriental is pushing to become the country’s top cacao producer within the next two years and is promoting the crop in typhoon Pablo-devastated agricultural areas. In her inaugural address, Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon said the provincial government has partnered with the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, Inc. to set up a cacao enterprise village. She noted that the group has already started the groundwork on the development of areas where the crop would be planted. Ms. Malanyaon said the industry shows a lot of potential and that it is “envisioned that within the next year or two, Davao Oriental will become the leading cacao producer in the country.” The Mindanao cacao association last year reported that 20,000 hectares of farms are producing cacao in the Davao Region alone. The latest national cacao situationer from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics was released in 2004, when the average area planted nationwide from 1999 to 2003 was only 12,292 hectares. Valente D. Turtur, executive officer of the association, said that Davao Oriental -- source of an estimated 80% of the country’s cacao output -- can boost its production not only by increasing the hectarage but by improving farm productivity as well. Based on data from the Agriculture department, cacao productivity in the country is about two kilograms per hectare, lower by a kilogram compared with the international production average. Mr. Turtur said the industry must enhance its productivity so it can slowly address the local demand of 55,000 metric tons (MT) a year. He noted that local growers are targeting about 100,000 MT produced by 2020. “While agriculture is one of the most damaged sectors by Pablo, we are confident we can overcome the stumbling block with more aggressive efforts,” Ms. Malanyaon said in her inaugural address. The province lost about six million coconut trees when strong winds destroyed crops in the Davao Oriental towns of Baganga, Cateel and Boston. Aside from cacao, the provincial government is also promoting oil palm in farming areas destroyed by Pablo. -- Carmelito Q. Francisco - See more at:

Posted on July 03, 2013 10 0:43:11 PM

Res scission of o a contr c ract to bu uy and d selll: Un ncove ering g tax imp plicattions s  T Taxwise Orr O Otherwise M Ma. Teresa a Ledesma

RELATI IONSHIPS S and agre eements may m at tim mes end o on a sour no ote. And more m often n, when nothing n mo ore can be e done, parties p have no bettter option n but to re elease eac ch other from fr their r obligations, pick up u the piec ces, and llook forward d to move e on with anticipati a ion at resttoring the e status quo. Legally, the right to rescind or to t nullify the agreemen nt is an avaiilable remed dy to the injjured party. Th he wronged party is enttitled to app ply with the court for a decree of re escission. Howeverr, the right proceeds p fro om a judicia al pronounce ement, and not from th he parties’ prerogattive to walk--away from the obligatiion. To enfo orce the resccission against the who ole world, a binding cou urt decision must be sec cured. Such is the t case of two t corpora ations that entered e into a contract to buy and sell real propertie es. For failure of one off the parties s to comply with its und dertakings, a judicial de ecree to declarre the contra act void (orr rescission of o contract) was secure ed by the wronged partty. Both parrties were directed by the court to return whattever they h had received d from each h other, with one partty returning the purchase price, an nd the otherr party recon nveying the e er the real properties. p titles ove Ordinarily, restoratio on would ha ave meant a mere hand ding over off wares. In a twist, title e and ownership over the disputed lan nds had alre eady been ttransferred tto the buyer. And ently, to retturn the disp puted lands to the selle er, a Certificcate Authorizing conseque Registrattion (CAR) must m be obttained from the Bureau of Internal Revenue fo or the cancellattion of titles s over the la ands and rettransfer of tthe registrattion to the s seller. For th he CAR to be b issued, th he correspon nding taxes, i.e. capital gains tax a and docume entary stamp tax, mus st be paid orr a tax exem mption ruling must be o obtained.

The gnawing question is whether the reconveyance of the parcels of land should be exempt from the payment of capital gains tax (CGT) and documentary stamp tax (DST). In the affirmative, the BIR favorably granted exemption from payment of CGT and DST over the reconveyance of the real properties in favor of the seller. The BIR’s position is underpinned by the principle that rescission of a contract is tantamount to declaring a contract void from its inception, as if no contract existed between the parties. In effect, rescission of a contract would not give rise to a taxable event. This principle is supported by the argument that first, no income is realized from a sale or exchange that has been declared void, and second, the return of the property is not for monetary consideration, but merely an acknowledgment of the title or ownership of the original owner of the property. However, the BIR went a step further to clarify the issue on payment of DST, and this is where the fine line of distinction is drawn. DST is levied on the exercise of certain privileges, regardless of the legal status of the transactions that gave rise to it -- that is, irrespective of whether the contract was declared void or unenforceable. The operative impact of the DST is that it is levied upon the issuance of the specific instrument or document, and not on the legal transaction or agreement evidenced by the document. Thus, DST previously paid on the initial transfer of title is no longer refundable by the BIR, a judicial rescission of the Contract to Buy and Sell notwithstanding. Perhaps a good lesson that can be culled from this common tale of relations gone wrong would be for the aggrieved party not to forget to seek the recovery of whatever taxes and costs that it had to pay to the BIR in carrying out the original transfer of the property to the defaulting buyer. This way the aggrieved party is fully restored to its former status. After all, life is full of uncertainties. The least that we can do is to plan ahead, strategize our backup plans, and identify our exit mechanisms to avoid falling into economic traps and to cushion potential detrimental effects. The author is a director at the tax services department of Isla Lipana & Co., the Philippine member firm of the PricewaterhouseCoopers global network. Readers may send feedback to - See more at:

‘Water rates immoral’ By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Jul. 04, 2013 at 12:02am | 404 views Maynilad, Manila Water hit for double-charging A civil society group has asked the Supreme Court to declare as “unconstitutional and immoral” and nullify the government’s contracts with private water concessionaires, and accused the two of charging consumers twice for foreign exchange fluctuations. The Water for All Refund Movement or WARM said for the last 16 years, Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. have been charging P1 per cubic meter because of the currency rate exchange adjustment (CERA) allowed under their contracts. At the same time, however, they also passed on to consumers a quarterly foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA) since 2002, every time the dollar rate fluctuated. The two private companies collected and kept the money from both funds without giving consumers any extra benefit, said the group’s president, Rodolfo Javellana. “The CERA fund, just like the then Oil Price Stabilization Fund was supposed to protect the concessionaires and the consumers from inflation and cushion the negative impact brought about by the foreign exchange fluctuations. The FCDA has the same purpose, so we are being made to pay twice by these two firms which keep the money to themselves,” Javellana said. “There are 2.2 million household-consumers that now pay P1 per cubic meter on top of the quarterly FCDA charges,” he said, adding that both companies have also been passing their corporate income taxes to their consumers. “They are milking the consumers dry. This is not only immoral but criminal,” Javellana told the Manila Standard. For this reason, the WARM also sought a temporary restraining order on the new round of rate increases to be imposed by Manila Water at P5.38 per cubic meter and Maynilad at P8.58 per cu.m. Under the concessionaire’s agreement, the two firms were allowed to seek an increase in water rates every five years due to the “water rate rebasing” provision. Sonny Africa, lead convenor of the Water for the People Network, said the rate increases were intended for the two firms’ “expansion projects.” Manila Water is currently charging P38 per cu.m while Maynilad charges P48 per cu.m.

In its June 7 ruling, MWSS chief regulator Raoul Creencia said the next round of increase will be computed at a zero-percent income tax to be passed on to consumers. He added that the June 7 resolution supersedes all other resolutions issued by the agency. But the two companies have refused to absorb the payment of their income taxes. In separate position papers submitted to Creencia, they demanded that the MWSS withdraw its ruling because they said these controversial terms were provided for in the contract and that the MWSS had “no sole right to revoke it.” MWCI corporate strategy and development director Virgilio Rivera Jr. said that since MWSS is exempted in its charter from paying income taxes, “MWCI could make the argument that it should not be paying income taxes as well.” Maynilad president Victorico Vargas said the MWSS set the bid price at P30.19 per cubic meter and that the contract allowed them “full recovery” of their costs that included the costly rehabilitation of facilities and assumption of MWSS loans. Rivera and Vargas claimed taking out these provisions would have an adverse impact on the viability of their firms’ operations. But Africa said the two firms had tapped the FCDA and since 2002 had been imposing steep water tariffs compared to its rollbacks when peso strengthens over the dollar. “The highest increase in quarterly adjustment by Manila Water was at P2.24 per cubic meter and the rollback was at only 54 centavos in over 30 quarters,” Africa said. “Maynilad’s highest increase was at P4.07 per cu m and the rollback at 62 centavos,” he said. “When the two firms increase the cost for adjustments, it is by the pesos. But if they are compelled to do a rollback, it is in the centavos,” Africa said. The two water consumer groups vowed not to stop putting pressure on government until the concession agreements are revoked. Senator Ralph Recto on Wednesday sought a Senate inquiry into the pass-on charges to consumers, filing a resolution asking the committee on public services to investigate the “onerous provisions” in the concession contracts. He also said there was a need to review the regulatory powers of the MWSS to ensure that consumer rights and welfare are protected.

Lawmakers in the House also sought a review of the concession agreements with the two private water companies. Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan said she was drafting a resolution seeking a review of the “onerous provisions” in the concession agreements as well as the regulatory powers of the MWSS. “It is a scandalous and immoral act on the part of the concessionaires,” Ilagan told the Manila Standard Today. “Imagine passing on to the consumers their obligation. This is the result of the privatization of basic services,” she added. “To further allow these water concessionaries to continue extorting from the already shallow pockets of our urban poor constituents with the consent of the Aquino administration is beyond unconscionable,” Ilagan added. Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III and Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone also underscored the need for Congress to look into the pass-on charges to consumers. With Maricel V. Cruz, Macon Ramos-Araneta, Rio N. Araja‐rates‐immoral/  

PH social security budget low By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Jul. 04, 2013 at 12:02am | 266 views The Philippines was among other middle-income countries in the Asia and Pacific region with low spending on social security, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in a study released on Wednesday. It said social security in the Philippines accounts for less than three percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), the market value of all products and services produced in the country in a given period of time. “Expanding social protection coverage requires mobilization of additional public revenue which can be secured by broadening the tax base, improving tax collection, and improving public expenditure management,” the ADB study said. Other countries such as Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, and Uzbekistan have been investing eight percent of the GDP on social protection programs. The government’s doleout to poor families known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program or PPP has reached 3.9 milion beneficiaries as of 2009, but the reforms were needed in pension schemes because of rapid aging and huge number of squatters. Preventive social protection programs such as micro-insurance schemes to cushion the impact of variable weather patterns and natural disaster should be explored, the bank said. The World Bank also said the earth’s water surface will be hotter in the next 20 years because of global warming, the sea will cover more beaches and at least eight out of 10 Filipinos will be affected by rising sea level. In a report titled “Turning Down the Heat,” the World Bank said the earth’s water surface will be hotter by two degrees celcius in the next 10 to 20 years and may increase to four degrees celsius by the year 2080. “Mostly poor families will receive sever impact from climate change as 40 percent of poor Filipinos live near water bodies,” the WB report said. The government has been waging a campaign to remove squatters living under the bridges and beside river banks. Thousands of families have been moved to relocation sites.

But a United Nations study estimate that the number of squatters worldwide would rise from one billion to three billion by 2050 unless governments implement a new “urbanization strategy.” Promoting economic and social wellbeing while protecting the environment has not been achieved because of rising inequality, gaps and shortfalls in development partnerships, rapid population growth, climate change and environmental degradation, according to the UN World Economic and Social Survey 2013.‐social‐security‐budget‐low/                        

Oil prices top $100 a barrel By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Jul. 04, 2013 at 12:02am | 209 views The price of oil rose above $100 a barrel for the first time since May 2012, as political uncertainty escalated in Egypt, raising the possibility of new round of local pump price hikes. A local oil industry source said consumers should be wary of “sustained oil price increases” and “price hikes” similar to what happened in 2008, when prices hit $120 to $140 per barrel. “Consumers should watch out for the price spikes and sustained increases. That’s what they should be worried about,” the source said. Local oil industry players said they were closely watching the renewed tension in Egypt, as this could affect prices in the coming days. “We will know tomorrow if this [price uptrend] will be sustained,” Phoenix Petroleum Philippines assistant vice president Raymond Zorilla said. Zorilla said crude prices topped $100 per barrel because of the “unrest in Egypt and decreased inventory of crude in the US.” Eastern Petroleum Corp. president Fernando Martinez, however, said crude prices were still below the peak recorded in 2008. “We’ve been there in 2008 hitting as much as $120 per barrel,” Martinez said. The higher crude prices in the international market, coupled with the peso depreciation against the US dollar, resulted in higher local oil prices at the pump in recent weeks. Oil industry players raised pump prices by P0.55 per liter of gasoline, P0.45 a liter of diesel and P0.65 a liter of kerosene on July 1. Cooking gas prices also went up by P2.50 per kilogram or P27.50 per 11-kilo tank to reflect the movement of oil prices and foreign exchange fluctuations Tuesday. Diesel currently sells at a range of P39.70 to P43.05 per liter, gasoline at P48.25 to P55.50 per liter and LPG at P611 to P710 per 11-kilo tank. West Texas Intermediate crude surged to $101.26, its highest price since May 1, 2012, as political uncertainty in Egypt escalated and an industry report showed US stockpiles shrank the most this year.

In Asia, benchmark crude for August delivery was up $2.07 to $101.65 a barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.61, or 1.6 percent, to close at $99.60 on Tuesday in New York. The new political crisis in Egypt raised the risk of fuel supply disruptions. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi defied protests calling for his resignation hours before a military-imposed deadline for him to end the political crisis or step down. Clashes between Morsi’s supporters and opponents intensified with at least 23 people killed over the past day, according to state-run media. Mursi’s group has vowed to stand firm against what it sees as a threat of a military coup. With Bloomberg, AP‐prices‐top‐100‐a‐barrel/                    

Danish company investing $30m By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Jul. 04, 2013 at 12:01am | 210 views Sonion Philippines Inc., a unit of Denmark’s Sonion, is investing $30 million to expand its operations and hire more employees in the Philippines. Sonion Philippines general director Niels Ole Jeppesen said the company planned to hire 800 employees by end of 2014. Sonion is a global leader in design of advanced miniature components and solutions for hearing instruments and advanced acoustics. “The employees to be hired would include product and process design engineers,” Jeppesen said. Sonion presently employs 130 people in its plant inside the First Philippine Industrial Park in Batangas. Jeppesen said the company made an initial investment of $22 million in the newly-launched facility in Batangas. European Union Ambassador Guy Ledoux and Philippine Economic Zone Authority director-general Lilia de Lima attended the launching of the Batangas plant Wednesday. Jeppesen said the company preferred the Philippines as its new site because of the high educational level of the Filipino workforce, reasonable infrastructure, competitive incentives for foreign investors and good cooperation with Peza. The entry of Sonion brought to 289 the total number of European companies operating within the economic zones. Ledoux said the legal environment offered by Peza was very attractive and could serve as a model for reducing red tapes and improving the overall investment climate in the country. “This factory is a good illustration of the strong and growing economic relationship between the EU and the Philippines. European companies are attracted by the skills and talents of Filipino workers,” said Ledoux. The European Union is the largest source of foreign investments in the Philippines, with total investments of 7.6 billion euros as of 2011, representing 28 percent of total foreign direct investment stocks in the country. The European Union is also the fifth largest trading partner of the Philippines, accounting for 9 percent of total trade in goods.‐company‐investing‐30m/  

Puregold creates holding firm By Jenniffer B. Austria | Posted on Jul. 04, 2013 at 12:01am | 139 views Supermarket chain Puregold Price Club Inc. said Wednesday it formed a new unit, Estenso Equities Inc., that will hold the company’s food retail-related businesses. “Estenso Equities Inc. will house investments of Puregold to other food retail-related activities,” Puregold said. No other details were provided by the company. Puregold, owned by businessman Lucio Co, is the second-largest retailer in the country. Co also has interests in hotels, wine distribution, real estate and oil exploration. Puregold registered a net income of P962 million in the first quarter of the year, up 105 percent from P469 million year-on-year, on acquisitions and aggressive rollout of new stores. Consolidated net sales reached P16.1 billion, up 50 percent from P10.7 billion on year. Stores opened in 2012 and in the first quarter of 2013 accounted for 11.4 percent of the consolidated net sales and contributed 33 percent to total increase. S&R accounted for 16 percent to the total increase in consolidated sales, while newly-acquired stores from Company E Corp. added 1 percent. Puregold’s gross profit increased 63 percent to P2.8 billion in the first three months of the year from P1.7 billion a year ago, while gross profit margin stood at 17.6 percent from 16.2 percent in 2012. The company opened nine new stores in the first three months out of the 25 new Puregold outlets programmed to be opened this year. This brought the total number of Puregold outlets to 180 as of endMarch 2013, including six S&R stores and 15 Company E outlets. The company as of end-March completed the rebranding of 10 former Parco stores into Puregold formats. Puregold also started rebranding the 15 Company E stores, which it acquired in January. Puregold expects sales this year to grow 30 percent to P74.7 billion from P57.5 billion in 2012. The company has allocated P3 billion in capital expenditures for this year to finance the construction of new outlets.‐creates‐holding‐firm/

Dea ath threa t at an nd re esortt to the writ of habe eas data d By Atty. Harry H Roque e Jr. | Posted on Jul. 04, 2013 2 at 12:01 1am | 249 vie ews

I was one of those who file ed yesterday a petition forr the issuance e of a writ of habeas da ata against Commission C on Elections Chairman C Sixto o Brilliantes a and Deputy P Presidential Mouth Abigal Va alte. I decided d to join the petition becaus se last Monda ay, my law offfice received a registered mail which con ntained a lette er threatening g my life. The letter asked m me not to “allo ow myself to be used ” and d to” refrain fro om wasting my y intelligence”. It was signe ed by the “Ro odante Untal C Command” w which purporte edly is part of the e New People e’s Army. I do not kn now who sent the letter. I can c think of no less than fo our sensitive ccases that I a am involved w with that could d have occasio oned the trea at. There’s the e Ampatuan m massacre casse, the Gerry Ortega murde er case, the Evangelista torture t case, and a the murd der case of Ma anolo Daza, b brother of form mer Deputy Speaker Raul R Daza. And yet, despitte the fact tha at the threat m may have com me from anyone connected d with any of the ese cases, I opted to join th he Habeas Da ata petition ag gainst the Co omelec, if onlyy to eliminate the poll body as being the source of this s latest threatt to my life an d security. The writ of o habeas data a was enacte ed by the Supreme Court u under then Ch hief Justice Reynato Puno as a means of utilizing the Court’s C rule-m making powers s to protect a nd promote th he right to life e. It was promulgatted by the Su upreme Court after it declared “all brancches of govern nment to be in breach of th he duty to pro otect and pro omote the righ ht to life”. This s right is undo oubtedly the m most importan nt of all rights since with hout it, no exe ercise of any other o human right could be e possible. It w was intended d “for people whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or th hreatened by an unlawful a act or omissio on of a public official o or employee, x x x engaged e in th he gathering, collecting or sstoring of datta or informatiion regarding the person, family, f home and correspo ondence of the e aggrieved p party”. The re elief that may be ordered when w the writ is issued includes: “updating, rectificatiion, suppresssion or destruction of the database or information or files keptt by the respo ondent. In casse of threats, the relief mayy include a prrayer for an order enjoining the t act complained of”. I suspect both Brilliante es and Valte as a among tho ose behind th e threat beca ause both havve made sta atements to th he media ackn nowledging th he use of no lless than P30 0 million in inttelligence fund ds to “surveil election sabote eurs” such as the AES Watch. I am a fo ounding conve enor of this grroup. Said Brillantes to the media : “Bakit sila matatakot m kun ng wala silang g ginawang m masama? Tala aga namang

ginagamit ang intel fund sa mga nagsasabotahe ng election” or only to those out to sabotage the polls. “Kapag natatakot sila, ibig sabihin meron sila sigurong ginagawang masama”. Later Brilliantes added: “They made our life difficult. Now, they should watch out how I get payback“. Valte for her part, confirmed that it was the President that gave Comelec the P30 million in intelligence fund: “The justification is supposed to be utilized for intelligence, counter-intelligence activities and gathering of information relative to the activities of certain groups, individuals and technology experts suspected of conducting overt and covert operations to sabotage the results of the elections.” I repeat, I do not have evidence on who was responsible for the latest threat on my life. But because I consider this as serious, lest I end up as part of the growing statistics of victims of extra-legal killings, I filed the petition to narrow down the possibilities. Under the writ, I hope to obtain the information gathered by the COMELEC, which prompted Brilliantes to label us in AES watch as a group of “saboteurs”. Note that Brilliantes has also said that he will expose the groups behind us. He has never made that disclosure. Meanwhile, I am entitled to know exactly what information the Comelec has to rule out the possibility that the COMELEC or Valte is responsible for the latest threat against me. In any case, I would like to assure everyone that since the time we filed our petition impugning the constitutionality of the use of the precinct count optical scan machines in 2009, we have been guided solely by the concern that the chosen automated election system, the PCOS, violates the constitutional right to secret voting and public counting. Our concern currently is unless the safeguards provided by law are complied with, to wit: examination of the source code, use of digital signatures, and enabling vote verification, are implemented by the Comelec; the right of the people to a clean elections would be the subject of continuing violation. For what it is worth, the contractor, Smartmatic, had already earned its profit. Presumably, all those who made money from the use of the PCOS have also already cashed in. Isn’t it time now that the voters are accorded their right to public counting of their ballots? I do not know how the Supreme Court will resolve the petition. All that I can do as one whose life and security is under threat is to avail of all legal remedies to protect my rights. I leave the rest to God.‐threat‐and‐resort‐to‐the‐writ‐of‐habeas‐data/  

Cha allen nge to t Manila a Ma ayor Esttrada a By Emil Jurado J | Postted on Jul. 04, 0 2013 at 12 2:01am | 703 views

The City of Manila M has become clinical ly dead because of neglecct. But we do on’t need a Su uperman or any a other supe erhero to resttore it to its fo ormer glory—o one that I kne ew in my youth when I lived in the Sampa aloc district. Former President Jose eph Estrada has h been elec cted mayor of Manila and h he could well be the answe er to the collective prayer off Manila’s residents. Estrad da has occup ied many leadership postss in governme ent— he was Sa an Juan mayo or, senator, vice president and presiden nt. And now h he is in a position to implem ment plans whic ch have been n there for dec cades but hav ve somehow gotten stalled d because of the greed of past leaders. Former Manila M Mayor Lito L Atienza certainly c tried.. He put up pa arks for the people. But th he next mayorr, Alfredo Lim, aborted th hese projects.. Manila ha as so many prroblems. It is in deep financial trouble. T There are tho ousands of sq quatters along g waterways. Criminality is on the rise e and corrupt law enforcerss break the la aw with impun nity. You also have illegal drugs and graft and a corruption among city hall officials. I believe Estrada E can do d it. I truly ho ope so, because as a form mer Manilan m myself, my heart bleeds wh hen I read all th hose derogato ory things said d about the city. *** I have rea ad Dan Brown n’s “Inferno” depicting d Man nila through hiis fictional cha aracter Dr. Siienna Brooks. Allow me to quote: Through her h acts of pu ublic service, Sienna S came in contact wiith seven mem mbers of a loccal humanitarrian group. Wh hen they invitted her to join n them for a month m long trip p to the Philip ppines, she ju umped at the chance. Sienna im magined they were going to o feed poor fis shermen or fa armers in the countryside, which she ha ad read was a wonderland d of geologica al beauty, with h vibrant seab beds and dazzzling plains. A And when the e

group settled in another throngs of the city of Manila-the most densely populated city on earth-Sienna could only gape in horror. She had never seen poverty on this scale. How can one person possibly make a difference? For every one person Sienna fed, there were hundreds more who gaze at her with desolate eyes. Manila had six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution, and a horrifying sex trade, whose workers consist primarily of young children, many of whom had been sold to pimps by parents who find solace in knowing that at least their children would be fed. Amid this chaos of child prostitution, panhandlers, pickpockets and worse, Sienna found herself paralyzed. All around her, she could see humanity overrun by its primal instinct for survival. When they face desperation, human beings become animals. For Sienna, all the dark depression came flooding back. She had suddenly understood mankind for what it was…I was wrong, she thought, I can’t save the world. Overwhelmed by a rash of frantic mania, Sienna broke into a sprint through the city streets, thrusting her way through the masses of people, knocking them over, pressing on, searching for open space. “I am being suffocated by human flesh.” As she ran, she could feel the eyes upon her again. She no longer blended in. She was tall and fairskinned with a blond ponytail waving behind her. Men stared at her as if she were naked. When her legs finally gave out, she had no idea how far she had ran or where she had gone. She cleared the tears and grime from her eyes and saw that she was standing in a kind of shantytown —a city made of pieces of corrugated metal and cardboard propped up and held together. All around her were wails of crying babies and the stench of human excrement hung in the air. I’ve run through the gates of hell. “Turista,” a deep voice sneered behind her. “Magkano?” “How much?” Sienna spun to see three young men approaching, salivating like wolves. She instantly knew she was in danger and she tried to back away… Sienna shouted for help, but nobody paid attention to her cries. Only fifteen feet away, she saw an old woman sitting on a tire, carving the rot of an old onion with a rusty knife. The woman did not even glance up when Sienna shouted. When the men seized her and dragged her inside a little shack, Sienna had no illusions about what was going to happen, and the terror was all-consuming. She fought with everything she had, but they were strong, quickly pinning her down on an old, soiled mattress. They tore open her shirt, clawing at her soft skin. When she screamed, they stuffed her torn shirt so deep into her mouth that she thought she could choke. Then they flipped her onto her stomach, forcing her face into the putrid bed. Sienna Brooks had always felt pity for the ignorant souls who believe in God amid world of such suffering, and yet now she herself was praying… praying with all her heart. Please, God, deliver me from evil.

Even as she prayed, she could hear the men laughing, taunting her as their filthy hands hauled her jeans down over her flailing legs. One of them climbed onto her back, sweaty and heavy, his perspiration dipping onto her skin. I am a virgin, Sienna thought. This is how it is going to happen for me. Suddenly, the man on her back leaped off her, and taunting jeers turned to shouts of anger and fear. The warm sweat rolling onto Sienna’s back from abuse suddenly began gushing…spilling onto the mattress in a splatter of red. When Sienna rolled over to see what was happening, she saw the old woman with the half-peeled onion and the rusty knife standing over her attacker, who was now bleeding profusely from his back. The old woman glared threateningly at the others, whipping her bloody knife through the air until the three men scampered off. Without a word, the old woman helped Sienna gather her clothes and get dressed. “Salamat,” Sienna whispered tearfully. “Thank you.” The old woman tapped her ear, indicating she was deaf. *** I don’t know why some of us Filipinos get sensitive with what Brown wrote. It is true…a foreigner can get raped if she ever entered the gates of hell that is Manila. The novel may just be a work of fiction, but Brown’s depiction of Manila’s squatter hovels and shantytowns is accurate. In a way, Dan Brown did Manila a big favor by depicting Manila as it is today. It’s a place that needs a lot of work. And if there’s anybody who can do it, that has got to be Mayor Estrada—my former student at the Ateneo.‐to‐manila‐mayor‐estrada/

‘Drrunk k with h the e trappin ngs o of pow wer’ By Floren ncio Fianza | Posted on Jul. J 04, 2013 at 12:01am | 542 views

In the e speech of th he President marking the 6 66th anniverssary of the Philippine e Air Force in Clark, Pampa anga, he blam med his prede ecessors for tthe sorry state e of the Philip ppine Air Force.. Their neglec ct as he put it was because e they were “d drunk with the e trappings off power”. This is an unfortunate choice c of worrds which doe es not corresp pond with the facts. It is un nfair to his predecess sors. National security con ncerns are not static. It cha anges from tim me to time. De efense capab bility is also a question q of afffordability. During Co ory Aquino’s presidency, p her chief conce ern was to pu ut down all tho ose several ccoup attemptss against he er governmen nt with military y personnel who w remained d loyal to her g government ((which include ed myself). During the e time of Pres sident Fidel Ramos, R he too ok the position n that econom mic progress ccould help so olve the interna al security pro oblem. This is i a position that is not enttirely unrealisttic. He also sttarted to purssue in earnest pe eace negotiattions with the e New people’’s Army, Moro o Islamic Libe eration Front a and Moro Nattional Liberation n Front but co onducted aggrressive militarry operations against the A Abu Sayyaf. T This was also the time that the t governme ent realized th hat terrorists from f other co untries were slowly making the countryy their base of op perations. President Joseph Estra ada took a diffferent approa ach. He relied d mainly on fo orce to resolve the issue w with the MILF. He succeede ed to a large degree d in deg grading the m military capabiility of the MIL LF but his term m was cut short. President Gloria Arroyo o also pursue ed peace talks s with both th e MILF and th he NPA but w was preoccup pied with effortts to stay in office because e of serious effforts to oust her from the p presidency. Itt was towardss the second ha alf of her term m that the eco onomy started d to improve a and governme ent finances g grew due to th he financial reforms r institu uted by the go overnment. Basically therefore, the e threats to ou ur national se ecurity up to 2 2010 were perrceived to be more interna al. The President seems to t have forgottten that before him, the co ountry was no ot embroiled iin serious

diplomatic rows with China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Now, there are both external and internal threats to our national security. Necessarily therefore, we will have to build and upgrade our external defense capability. Fortunately for Mr. Aquino, the finances of the government are in better shape. Thus, he could set aside funds for the upgrade of our military equipment. To be fair to President Aquino, though, he is a president more willing to spend in order to modernize our defense capability. *** The handling by this administration of the different security issues has not also been consistent. On the one hand, the government has basically allowed the Department of Foreign Affairs to navigate government responses with regard to our problem with the Chinese. On the other hand, peace talks with the MILF/MNLF are directly handled by the Palace. The government must be careful in crafting government responses to the China issue. In earlier times, it was customary for small countries to form alliances with stronger countries in order to protect themselves from threats coming from much bigger countries. But those were the times where the resolution of conflicts in most cases was decided by war. Times have changed. Diplomacy now is the way to go. Conflicts do not necessarily end in armed conflict. If we are thinking that the Unites States would simply go to war with us because of our territorial dispute with China, we might be greatly disappointed. The US has already publicly stated that it would remain neutral on the conflict. And as far as our Mutual Defense Treaty with the Americans is concerned, it does not provide for automatic response in case of conflict in the disputed area. This is unlike their pronouncement about Japan’s conflict with China. The US does recognize that the disputed islands are covered under their defense pact with Japan. The US, I am sorry to say, will only go to war to defend her vital interest —as it should be. It might therefore do well for our current leaders not to put all their marbles in one basket. We must explore other avenues while building up a modest defense capability. In the end, this is our problem. What the Chinese are doing is a flagrant display of raw power. But if you are an emerging superpower, you can afford to do that. It will not of course enhance China’s reputation with its neighbors and the world but the Chinese do not probably give a damn. China’s basis for its claim it seems to me is based on an obscure ancient document. One wonders how those ancient Chinese mariners spotted those underwater shoals and made the claim. Never mind if records and documents regarding sea exploration by the Chinese during the early part of the 15th century were all destroyed on orders of the Chinese emperor at that time. Never mind also that

there is United Nations protocol on how to resolve territorial conflicts wherein China is a signatory. Napoleon once warned the world about what the sleeping giant which is China will do when it wakes up. Now, we know. China is flexing its muscles and we are at the receiving end. China wants to control all surrounding areas close to its shores. The South China Sea most especially because it is where almost 100 percent of the Asian trade passes and let us not forget oil. We have a long problem ahead of us. We expect our leaders to think this through carefully and not rush on a course that we will regret later. We have to be more flexible. This does not mean we are being weak or giving up our claims because we must not. It simply means that we should be smarter.‐with‐the‐trappings‐of‐power/

Irrigation agency chief to resign after his successor is named July 3, 2013 5:12 pm

National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Administrator Antonio Nangel on Wednesday said he will resign once President Benigno Aquino 3rd appoints his replacement.

In an interview, Nangel said he would step down following Aquino’s announcement that his term as NIA chief will not be renewed because of the agency’s “dismal” performance. “I serve at the pleasure of the President. I don’t see any problem with that [service extension],” Nangel said.

Nangel retired from government service last February 14 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65, but his term was extended until last June 30.

But under the provision of the Commission on Good Governance, he is in a holdover position until such time that Aquino names his successor.

It may take another year before the new chief takes over the agency. At the NIA’s 50th anniversary last week, Aquino publicly berated Nangel, pointing out during his speech the lackluster performance of the NIA.

The President said that from 2011 to 2009, NIA had only a 66-percent accomplishment rate for “new areas of irrigation.”

In 2011, the NIA set 37,759 hectares of farmland for irrigation, but only 87 percent, or 32,824 ha, was actually irrigated.

The President noted that the agency aimed to irrigate 81,170 ha in 2012, but watered only 65 percent, or 52,372 ha. Nangel said he has discussed the issue with the President at a meeting with the National Economic and Development Authority in Malacanang.

“We, together with Agriculture Secretary (Proceso) Alcala, met with the President and explained the issue,” he said. Nangel said he is “happy” with his performance over the last three years, particularly the agency’s contribution in achieving the government’s rice self sufficiency targets.

“To date, less than 4,000 hectares are needed for us to meet our targets for the rice self-sufficiency program,” he said.

“In fact, by July 2013, we are confident that we will complete our irrigation target of 190,000 hectares under the rice self-sufficiency program,” Nangel said.

He said that they would be able to complete by September the targets for new, restored and rehabilitated irrigation facilities.

For 2013, NIA was 80 percent on target or 43,096 hectares out of 53,870-hectare for restored areas; 72 percent (58,854 ha) out of 81,170-hectare target for newly irrigated areas; and even exceeded rehabilitation target of 88,580 ha with the completion of 108,600 hectares.

“If ever there were delays for the implementation of the projects, these were that result of several factors that were beyond our control,” Nangel admitted, noting that there were 11 typhoons that hit the country in 2012. Nangel stressed that achievements made in the irrigation sector has brought the Philippines closure to its selfsufficiency targets not only in rice, but also in other food staples.

Over the past three years, the country saw an unprecedented increase in rice production, from 15.77 million MT in 2010, to 16.68 MMT in 2011, and 18.03 MMT last year. All these are well within targets set by the Food Staples Sufficiency Program,

This year, the 20.04-million MT production target will translate to 13.03 MMT of milled rice, more than enough to meet the 11.23 MMT of rice needed to feed the population.

“Because of the massive increase in our rice ecosystems, particularly in the previous non-irrigated areas, we are now self-sufficient,” he said.

Besides the accomplishments in irrigation, the NIA chief also boasted that they were able to establish various convergence programs with the Department of Agriculture, Philippine Rice Research Institute, Land Bank of the Philippines and local government units for the implementation of projects designed to further boost rice production in the country.

JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ‐agency‐chief‐to‐resign‐after‐his‐successor‐is‐named/15303/      

Cooking gas price hiked for first time this year July 3, 2013 5:59 pm

Prices of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) were increased early Tuesday by P2.50 per kilogram, or an P27.50 for an 11-kilogram tank. The price hike for cooking gas is the first this year. Petron Corp. raised the prices of its cooking gas brands Fiesta and Gasul by P2.50 per kilogram and their Xtend brand for auto-LPG products by P1.56 per liter. Isla LPG Corp’s Solane and Total Philippines also raised its price by P2.50 per kilo. The hike has been going on for the month of June because of the rising civil war in Syria, and speculations of the involvement of other oil-producing Middle East countries. Other countries which increased cooking gas prices include Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO‐gas‐price‐hiked‐for‐first‐time‐this‐year/15306/                    

Binay to drug mules: Don’t gamble with your life July 3, 2013 7:26 pm

China put to death a Filipina drug trafficker Wednesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said, after Beijing ignored Manila’s request to spare her life. The woman was put to death two days after briefly seeing her family on Monday, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said. She was arrested in 2011. “It is with profound sadness that we confirm that our Filipina (compatriot) was executed in China this morning,” a somber Hernandez told a news conference. “The Department of Foreign Affairs would like to express its deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of the Filipina as they mourn the loss of their loved one,” he added, declining to name the woman at her family’s request. “The life of every Filipino is valuable and we pray that this is the last time that a tragedy like this befalls any of our countrymen.” Vice President Jejomar Binay and a spokeswoman for President Benigno Aquino 3rd used their messages of condolence to appeal to Filipinos to resist the temptation to serve as drug mules into China. “It’s not worth it. You are gambling with your life here. There is no amount that is worth your life,” Binay said in a statement. “However unfortunate, we hope that this will serve as a continuing lesson to our citizens not to allow themselves to be victimized and to fall prey to these (drug) syndicates,” Aquino spokeswoman Abigail Valte said in a statement. About a tenth of the Philippines’ 100 million people work abroad, many of them under harsh conditions. Drug traffickers sometimes exploit them into becoming drug mules. The woman was arrested along with her male cousin for heroin-smuggling in 2011 and both were later sentenced to death. But the cousin won a two-year reprieve, according to the Philippine government.

The woman was the fifth convicted drug smuggler from the Philippines to be executed by China since March 2011, when two women and a man were put to death for the crime. A second Filipino was executed in December 2011. All five executions were carried out despite intense lobbying by the Philippine president to have the sentences commuted to life imprisonment. On Sunday Binay aborted a planned trip to China to personally deliver Aquino’s appeal to Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying he had been advised by Beijing that it was not the right time to visit. A total of 213 other Filipinos are in Chinese jails on drug offences, the foreign department said. Some 28 of them — apart from the woman executed Wednesday — have already been sentenced to death but have been granted two-year reprieves, it said. The mainly Catholic Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006, and the 2011 executions of the four Filipino drug smugglers were met with widespread condemnation. The latest execution comes amid already rocky relations between the two countries, soured by overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea. AFP‐to‐drug‐mules‐dont‐gamble‐with‐your‐life/15369/                  

NIA chief’s million-peso salary July 3, 2013 8:59 pm

Antonio Nangel is one of the most corrupt government officials. The Manila Times didn’t realize that Nangel is the main stockholder of Novo Ecijaco Lending Corporation in Gapan, Nueva Ecija and in Cabanatuan. And a lot of farmers and schoolteachers invest their money in this lending institution. It’s about time he got the bad karma! And remember, karma may not happen to you but it will definitely happen to your loved ones!! Mabel Cruz‐chiefs‐million‐peso‐salary/15467/                                  

China executes Pinay drug mule July 3, 2013 9:57 pm


China on Wednesday executed the unnamed Filipina convicted of trafficking six kilos of heroin in Shanghai, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the woman was put to death yesterday morning. The Philippine Consulate in Shanghai is working for the repatriation of her remains. “It is with profound sadness that we confirm our fellow Filipino was executed in China this morning. We send our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of the Filipino as they mourn the lost of their loved one,” Hernandez said. He refused to identify the woman in deference to her family’s request. “The life of every Filipino is valuable and we hope that something like this won’t happen again,” Hernandez added as he reiterated the department’s appeal to Filipinos working or travelling abroad not to get involved with drug syndicates. “Drug trafficking is a criminal act in the Philippines and all over the world,” the Foreign Affairs official emphasized. Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday said the family of the Filipina expressed the wish to cremate the woman’s remains immediately after her execution. There were no reports if the body was cremated. The family also requested that a news blackout be imposed but Philippine Consul General to Shanghai Charles Jose explained to the Filipina’s mother that “we cannot withhold from the public the fact of the execution when it happens.” However, the department promised that it will not name the victim. Aside from the Filipina, her male cousin was also convicted for the same crime. However, he was given a two-year reprieve.

In March 2011, China also put to death Ramon Credo, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva and Elizabeth Batain for smuggling drugs. There are 213 other Filipinos jailed in China on drugs offenses. About 28 of them—apart from the woman executed Wednesday — have already been sentenced to death but have been granted two-year reprieves, the DFA said. The woman executed yesterday was arrested along with her male cousin in 2011. She was the fifth convicted drug smuggler from the Philippines to be out to death by China since the execution of Credo, Ordinario and Batain. A Filipino man was executed in December 2011. All five executions were carried out despite intense lobbying by President Benigno Aquino to have the sentences commuted to life imprisonment. Malacañang also extended its condolences to the family of the 35-year-old Filipino executed on Wednesday. ”However unfortunate, we hope that this will serve as a continuing lesson to our citizens not to allow themselves to be victimized and to fall prey to these (drug) syndicates,” Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said. Migrants group Migrante reiterated its call on the government to step up efforts to protect Filipinos abroad from being victimized by drug syndicates. “She may have been proven a drug trafficker by the Chinese court, but let us not ignore the fact that she and other Filipinos who were previously executed in China were victims, first of their dire economic situation who were forced to migrate to earn a living, and secondly, by the international drug syndicates,” Migrante vice chairman John Leonard Monterona, also the group’s coordinator in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), said. ‘We have no other options left than to fight back and intensify our campaign versus drug syndicates victimizing OFWs and Filipinos abroad. Let’s make real concerted efforts in this fight,” he added. “Let’s report and voluntarily give information about drug syndicates recruiting drug mules to the concerned authorities.”

He called on the DFA and diplomatic posts abroad to launch an intensive information and education drive to warn Filipinos on drug syndicates that prey on Overseas Filipino Workers. He said Filipinos leaving to work abroad should also be given pre-departure warnings about the operations of international drug rings. WITH CATHERINE VALENTE AND AFP‐executes‐pinay‐drug‐mule/15552/                                      

PH to buy 2 Italian frigates July 3, 2013 9:48 pm

by AFP The Philippines is set to buy two Maestrale-class frigates from Italy, a defense official said on Wednesday, as the Asian nation races to upgrade its military amid mounting territorial disputes with China. The frigates, along with 12 FA-50 fighter aircraft, are the most significant items on the government’s P75 billion ($1.7-billion) military modernization budget over the next five years, Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said. “We are modernizing not because we want to go to war with China,” he told reporters. He said the government had a sworn obligation to defend the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). “We are not saying that this is part of our preparations to assert our sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea. What we are saying is that we cannot just give them up,” Manalo said. The frigates would add to two refurbished Hamilton-class cutters formerly used by the US Coast Guard that the Philippines acquired from its US ally to upgrade its ageing navy fleet, which includes some vessels that first saw action in World War II. Manalo said the navy had already decided to acquire two new Maestrale-class frigates instead of buying used ones from the Italian navy, and had budgeted P18 billion for them. The Philippines could be ready to tender by the end of the year, he added. Meanwhile, the government had alloted P18.9 billion to acquire the fighter aircraft, which are built by South Korea, he added. The modernization budget also provides for building or improving facilities to berth and provide maintenance to the vessels on the military’s shopping list, Manalo said. President Benigno Aquino 3rd vowed on Monday to rebuild the air force by 2016.‐to‐buy‐2‐italian‐frigates/15533/

Liquor ban in public places eyed July 3, 2013 8:26 pm

CABARROGUIS, Quirino: Drinking in public places may soon become illegal as the regional development and peace and order councils are collaborating to pass a resolution urging local governments to strengthen liquor regulations. The ban was considered following reports that majority of crime incidents in Region 2, which include physical injuries, are caused by intoxication. Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) Chairman and Gov. Junie Cua of Quirino has called on local governments to craft strict measures to address the increasing number of crimes caused by “excessive drinking in public places.” n a report, Police Sr. Supt. Alexander Santos of the Philippine National Police Region 2 office said that of the 1,482 total crime volume recorded in the region for the second quarter of this year, 784 were index crimes, mostly physical injury with 435 cases caused by drunken perpetrators. The report also included barangay blotters which showed that most of the liquor-related crimes occurred during fiestas where drinking is usually done in public places. Santos said that this has caused the increase of cases from more than 600 last year of the same period to 784 cases this year. “The resolution seeks the LGU commitment in curbing criminalities caused by unregulated drinking in public places,” Cua said. Leander C. Domingo‐ban‐in‐public‐places‐eyed/15432/          

Archbishop Cruz dares Erap to stop ‘jueteng’ in Manila July 3, 2013 8:19 pm


STAUNCH jueteng critic archbishop emeritus Oscar Cruz on Wednesday challenged Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada to eradicate the illegal numbers game in Manila. “My only hope and prayer is that he would really put down his foot on jueteng primarily because it’s illegal,” Cruz, head of the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng (KBLJ) said. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) official also urged the former president to save the poor from abuses of jueteng operators. “The first victims of jueteng are the ignorant poor because they are being milked by jueteng operators, lords and protectors,” Cruz lamented. Back in 2001, Estrada was impeached as president after he was accused of receiving over P500 million proceeds from the illegal numbers game as claimed by Gov. Luis Chavit Singson of Ilocos Sur. Cruz expressed hope that after being pardoned in 2007, Estrada will turn his back from jueteng. Meanwhile, the retired bishop expressed dismay that the Malacañang Palace doesn’t prioritize the elimination of the aforementioned game. “It has never been the priority of Malacañang to take out jueteng [Paano hindi naman priority ng Malacañang ang alisin ang jueteng]. When President PNoy took over, at once, I raised up the question of jueteng because it’s not only corrupt but also very corrupting and the biggest victims are the poor who are ignorant and the great beneficiaries are the jueteng protectors,” Cruz said.‐cruz‐dares‐erap‐to‐stop‐jueteng‐in‐manila/15422/    

Rural-urban migration threatens food security July 3, 2013 8:18 pm

by RHAYDZ B. BARCIA LEGAZPI CITY: By 2030 key cities in Asia will be having a runaway population growth that threatens food security of Asian countries, more so in the Philippines, Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras said. “By 2030 they estimate that there are hyper growths in the cities of Asia because people from the countryside will be migrating to the key cities. This is not good because if the people will be staying in key cities, all of us will be suffer famine because no one will plant to feed the people,” Almendras told the academe, law enforcers, mayors and media men attending the launch of Master in Rural Development and Diploma in Local Government Management courses held at Bicol University of Legazpi Amphitheatre. With the looming food supply debacle in the country in the next decades, Almendras reiterated the need to develop the countryside to provide rural employment. “We have to do something for agriculture because rural employment is very crucial in Philippines. We need to work together to push rural development as this is the only key to feed the nation,” he said. Rural development according to Almendras does not only fix rural location but promote better livelihood, tourism and community development. “Gov. Joey Salceda always reminds the President to invest in rural development. The President is putting more money to infrastructure development as we’re really pushing countryside development and agriculture growth that’s why we’re constructing more airports and bridges throughout the country,” the Malacañang official said. The Aquino administration will also increase infrastructure spending from 2.4 percent in 2012 to 5 percent of gross domestic product starting in 2014, he said. The President according to Almendras recently approved the P27-billion funding for a new circumferential highway for Southern Luzon that can touch off rural and tourism development in Bicol.

He explained that, the idea of rural development is to bring the resources to the grassroots to generate jobs in partnership with the private sector and for government to put up more infrastructures to encourage businessmen to put up more business in the countryside. The Philippines should take advantage of the situation since by 2017 the productivity years of Filipinos (18 to 60 years) would be younger compared to Japan and Europe whose populations are almost aging. “We can take advantage of this position. The world finally sees us as investment haven because our population is very young and within the productive demographic stage compared to other countries like Japan and Europe. We will be having more profit in agriculture, that’s why the next President should follow or sustain the growth for the next two decades,” Almendras said. “We need the support of all LGUs and the Filipinos for us to work together for rural development through rural governance to attain economic growth,” he said. Fay Lea Patria Lauraya, Bicol University of Legazpi president, for her part, said that the country’s growth is in the hands of the Filipino people through the so-called bakas way, which means to put shares together.‐urban‐migration‐threatens‐food‐security/15420/                          

PCSO releases checks for 2 govt agencies July 3, 2013 8:17 pm The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) released checks to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Congressional Migrant Workers Scholarship Program (CMWSP) in compliance with laws that mandate PCSO to provide funding for various government agencies. PCSO General Manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas 2nd gave P10-million funding to PSC Executive Director Guillermo Iroy Jr. on July 2. Philippine Olympic Committee chairman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. attended the turnover. PCSO has been supporting sports and development programs since its creation in 1934. The agency was the main source of funding for the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation until it was transformed into the PSC. From 1997 to 2010, PCSO has given sports body over P241 million to support Filipino athletes in their various activities including competitions such as three Olympic Games, four Asian Games, and seven Southeast Asian Games, where the Philippines won the overall championship victory in 2005. Also released on July 2 was a check for P20 million for CMWSP, which was received in their behalf by Nora Palad of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. Also ready for release are the mandatory contributions for five other agencies: P5 million for the Department of Justice’s Juvenile Justice and Welfare program, P10 million for the National Book Development Board, P25 million for the National Museum, P15 million for the National Council for Children’s Television, and P50 million for the Commission on Higher Education. Another P8.5 million for the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center’s purchase of ultrasound equipment is also ready for turnover. PCSO revenues from lottery and other games are, by law, allotted as follows: 55 percent for prizes, 15 percent for agency operations, and 30 percent for the Charity Fund, from which funding for medical and healthcare related assistance as well as mandatory contributions are taken. In 2012, P4 billion or roughly half of the total P8.11 billion Charity Fund was earmarked for mandatory contributions.‐releases‐checks‐for‐2‐govt‐agencies/15418/

Too high or just right July 3, 2013 8:06 pm

Rural banks have mixed opinions on whether the capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of 10 percent imposed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is too punitive or just good enough to provide a safety net for rural banks and their clients. As the measure of a bank’s financial strength expressed by the ratio of its capital (net worth and subordinated debt) to its risk-weighted credit exposure (loans), CAR is basically the benchmark that determines a bank’s capacity to meet time liabilities and risks. In light of the financial crises that confronted the global financial markets over the last couple of decades, regulators may have deemed it necessary to prescribe a minimum ratio that banks should maintain should another crunch arise. By meeting this threshold, rural banks are provided with a cushion to negate any potential losses, while their clients are secured about their deposits. On one side of the coin, some rural banks opine that the required 10-percent CAR for rural banks is just right, and already proportional to the collective assets held by the industry in general. The thinking here is that the minimum ratio was imposed to help banks absorb potential losses in times of financial contingencies, thus protecting their depositors. It is also a sign of confidence by the BSP on the rural banking industry, in particular, to maintain the threshold. It is worth noting that the 10-percent CAR is even higher than the global standard of 8-percent CAR. Is this confidence justified? Over the last five to seven years, the CAR for rural banks has been treading way above the threshold, at an impressive 17-percent level. This mark has given the industry a very strong buffer against any potential risks, whether domestically or globally, and enabled rural banks as a whole to withstand the 2008 financial crisis and a number of closures. On the other hand, there are rural banks that find the current CAR requirement too high. For them, with more money allotted for risk management, (in meeting the 10-percent limit) fewer money are circulated that could have been used to drive countryside economic development. Some rural banks want the threshold to be lowered to 8 percent, just at par with global standards, especially amid the gradual imposition of more and increasing risk weights by the BSP, including the recent increased weight risk for real and other properties acquired. To retain the competitiveness of rural banks, other “compensating” measures must be introduced for rural banks, they pointed out, such as the lowering of the CAR requirement.

Others are suggesting that the CAR should be adjusted based on the class of the municipality or city where the rural bank operates, as well as the asset size of the bank. Rural banks that either belong in lower class municipalities or have smaller assets should have a lower CAR requirement, some rural banks reasoned. For small single unit rural banks located in a 3rd or even 4th class municipality, having a CAR of 10 percent creates a challenge on whether to lend and stimulate business in the area or to keep the capital as the buffer. The 2-percent difference if one is talking about financial business lifelines, can make a huge difference. Maybe, given that the global CAR requirement is 8 percent, categories can be set on which rural banks can be determined to have lower CARs, taking into consideration the economic viability of their respective areas. Otherwise, if the smallest rural banks close in the poorest municipalities, the small and medium enterprises located in that area would just become victims of loan sharks and unofficial lenders that mostly belong to the underground economy. Whatever the case may be, one thing is certain: rural banks, as a whole industry, have no problem meeting the 10-percent CAR requirement imposed by the BSP. Hopefully, this dutiful compliance will be enough for the regulator to give the industry an audience should rural banks request for a dialogue on what threshold is right, not only for the banks but for their clients as well. The new limit, if there will be one, should be carefully deliberated upon.‐high‐or‐just‐right/15410/                      

PhilHealth board selects Padilla as new president, chief executive July 3, 2013 8:01 pm

THE board of directors of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has unanimously elected Alexander Padilla as its president and chief executive officer.

In its recent meeting, the board elected Padilla, who was earlier given a board seat representing the employer sector and at the same time nominated by President Benigno Aquino 3rd himself to the highest executive position in the state-run health insurance agency.

Under the new rules set by the Governance Commission for Government-Owned or -Controlled Corporations, heads of governmentrun corporations are chosen from among and by the members of their respective boards.

Since 2010, Padilla served as PhilHealth executive vice president and chief operating officer. He is taking over from Health Secretary and PhilHealth Board Chairman Enrique Ona, who served as officer-in-charge of the corporation from January to June of this year.

The move was seen to further boost the implementation of Universal Health Care (UHC), or “Kalusugang Pangkalahatan,” wherein PhilHealth plays an active role as provider of financial risk protection through social health insurance. The UHC aims to provide all Filipinos, regardless of creed and station in life, with access to quality health care.

“With Alex Padilla at the helm of PhilHealth, we are assured of continued reforms to make sure that the corporation achieves its mandate, that all Filipinos are provided with affordable, adequate, available and accessible health care financed through a sustainable National Health Insurance Program,” Ona said.

Padilla graduated cum laude from De La Salle University with Bachelor of Arts in History, major in Political Science and minor in Philosophy. He was president of the Law Student Government and chairman of the UP Law Students Rights and Welfare Party during his post-graduate studies, where he also finished eighth of Batch 1981. He subsequently passed and was accepted in the Rolls and the Bar on the same year.

Before joining PhilHealth, he also served in different capacities such as undersecretary at the Department of Health, senior state prosecutor at the Department of Justice, special prosecutor at the Office of the Ombudsman, assistant secretary at the Department of the Interior and Local Government, commissioner at the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board and commissioner of the Bureau of Customs, among others.‐board‐selects‐padilla‐as‐new‐president‐chief‐executive/15399/

Canada, Australia ban travel to south By AFP | Posted on Jul. 04, 2013 at 12:02am | 309 views Australia and Canada warned Wednesday about fresh threats of terrorism and kidnapping in the southern Philippines, and Canberra barred its diplomats from travelling to three cities in the area. Both urged their citizens not to travel to large parts of the Mindanao region, with the Australian government specifically barring its diplomats from the cities of Davao, Cotabato and Zamboanga. An Australian embassy spokeswoman told AFP the travel ban went into effect from Monday and until further notice. “We have a duty of care to ensure the safety of staff overseas,” she said. The embassy declined to discuss any specific threats. The Canadian embassy advised its citizens to avoid all travel to most parts of Mindanao “due to the serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping”. It said the advisory was issued Tuesday and was still valid Wednesday. Embassy spokesmen could not be reached for comment. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website said the new advisory for the Philippines concerned terrorism and serious crime. On May 29, Australia joined the Uniteed States and the United Kingdom in advising its citizens not to travel to Zamboanga and US government personnel were relocated due to a “credible threat” of a kidnap for ransom plot against foreigners. In late 2002 Australia and Canada closed their Manila embassies for more than a month due to an unspecified terrorist threat. Both missions later moved to a new building. Mindanao is the hotbed of a decades-old Muslim insurgency. President Benigno Aquino is aiming to sign a peace treaty with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest guerrilla force there, before 2016. The island is also the stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, Islamic militants with links to Al Qaeda who have staged deadly bombings and kidnappings of foreigners for ransom.

In March, Abu Sayyaf militants released Australian Warren Rodwell after holding him for 15 months. An undisclosed ransom was paid. Other Abu Sayyaf factions are believed to be holding other hostages, including two European bird watchers. US troops have been based in the southern Philippines for more than a decade to help train local troops in hunting down members of the group.‐australia‐ban‐travel‐to‐south/                                    

Sex-for-flight update: Jobs ban on runaways By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Jul. 04, 2013 at 12:01am | 372 views President Aquino has ordered Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to coordinate with the Department of Justice and the Office of the Executive Secretary on the filing of criminal charges against labor officials who allegedly figured in the sex-for-repatriation scheme. In a related move, the Labor chief banned runaway workers from engaging in any employment while still under the custody of labor officials in the Middle East. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that Baldoz submitted an updated report to Aquino on the sex-for-flight allegations and the measures the department has taken in the aftermath of the controversy. “I reiterated my earlier statement that no one in the DoLE will be spared if any official or employee is found to have violated our laws after a thorough and impartial investigation,” the Labor chief added. The labor department has issued a memorandum order for the deployment of 13 female and one male personnel to augment Philippine overseas labor offices in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait. “These personnel will leave as soon as accreditation by the respective host governments is obtained,” Baldoz said. She said the department will also install the Foreign Labor Operations Information System in all 37 labor offices overseas, with the Middle East as a priority to monitor the number of wards being accommodated in Bahay Kalinga or workers’ refuge. Baldoz said the team tasked to probe the allegations will submit its report on or before July 12 to the President. Her administrative order 262 prohibited distress workers from working part time or full time in any Philippine embassies or consulates to shield them from potential abuses committed by labor or embassy personnel. Under the new order, only a designated female center supervisor, not to include any member of her family, shall be allowed to live at the center. With Vito Barcelo‐for‐flight‐update‐jobs‐ban‐on‐runaways/

Youth council abolition pushed By Joel E. Zurbano | Posted on Jul. 04, 2013 at 12:01am | 154 views 1 An elections commissioner is in favor of abolishing the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council), saying it’s just a waste of time and money, and does not serve its purpose. Comelec commissioner Lucenito Tagle thus joins veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal and Henrietta de Villa of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting in calling for the abolition or at least a review of the youth council. Still, the Comelec said it was preparing for the conduct of the October elections where more than 300,000 seats for youth and village councils are up for grabs. Macalintal for his part said the SK has not served its purpose to provide political training to the youth. Two weeks ago, de Villa said lawmakers should review the SK law, saying the youth council polls in the barangay are being exploited by political dynasties. “That’s what we’re saying a long time ago. What Macalintal is saying is true,” said Tagle. Tagle said the Comelec is yet to decide on the matter but members of the commission en banc are considering scrapping the youth council. “First, we’re spending big money for conducting SK elections. The (average) number of those participating is only two million. There’s always low turnout.” Tagle said the budget for the Village and Youth Council elections is around P3.4 billion. He added that the Comelec is proposing that the barangay should instead maintain the youth representative in the Village Council. The SK was created by the Local Government Code of 1991. In an SK election, youths aged 15 to 18 elect a chairman and seven council members. Some 43,000 posts for barangay and SK chairman as well as 293,965 for Sangguniang Barangay and SK council will be contested in the October polls. Voters are to choose one chairman and six barangay council members while young voters will elect their SK chief and six council members.‐council‐abolition‐pushed/

Marcos eyes massive irrigation program By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on Jul. 04, 2013 at 12:00am | 306 views

SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wants to make the country’s agriculture sector more resilient to climate change through massive irrigation of farms. Marcos’ proposal gained significance following Malacanang’s ouster of the National Irrigation Administration administrator Antonio Nangel for perennial failure to meet its targets. Marcos filed Senate Bill No. 14, which mandates the NIA to carry out a massive national irrigation program with the goal of providing water to 95 percent of irrigable lands all over the country within three years once the enabling law takes effect. His bill calls for a performance audit of NIA which will be required to submit to Congress after the lapse of the three-year period a detailed report and satisfactory proof of meeting at least 95 percent of its target.‐eyes‐massive‐irrigation‐program/                    

Posted on July 03, 2013 10:29:43 PM

Australia, Canada issue terror alert AUSTRALIA AND Canada warned yesterday about fresh threats of terrorism and kidnapping in Mindanao, and Canberra barred its diplomats from traveling to three cities in the area. Both urged their citizens not to travel to large parts of the South, with the Australian government specifically citing the cities of Davao, Cotabato and Zamboanga. An Australian embassy spokeswoman told AFP the travel ban went into effect from Monday and until further notice. “We have a duty of care to ensure the safety of staff overseas,” she said. The embassy declined to discuss any specific threats. The Canadian embassy advised its citizens to avoid all travel to most parts of Mindanao “due to the serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping.” It said the advisory was issued Tuesday and was still valid yesterday. Embassy spokesmen could not be reached for comment. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Web site said the new advisory for the Philippines concerned terrorism and serious crime. The United States embassy in Manila had already warned its citizens on May 29 of a “credible kidnap threat against foreigners in Zamboanga,” it added. In late 2002, Australia and Canada closed their Manila embassies for more than a month due to an unspecified terrorist threat. Both missions later moved to a new building. Mindanao is the hotbed of a decades-old Muslim insurgency. President Benigno S. C. Aquino III is aiming to sign a peace treaty with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest guerrilla force there, before 2016. The island is also the stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, Islamic militants with links to al Qaeda who have staged deadly bombings and kidnappings of foreigners for ransom. -- AFP,‐Canada‐issue‐terror‐alert&id=72814  

Posted on July 03, 2013 10:07:39 PM

Approval of P4.25-B NGCP substation project sought THE NATIONAL Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has sought the regulator’s approval for its P4.25-billion substation project to better serve electricity consumers in Metro Manila. In a petition published yesterday, NGCP asked the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to approve its Manila (Navotas) 230-kilovolt (kV) substation project. The grid operator said Metro Manila is the load center of the Luzon grid, and its power demand accounts to about 40% of the total demand in the country. Metro Manila, it added, is currently served by seven substations including the Marilao (Duhat) substation in Bulacan. “Among the common issue in the substation serving Metro Manila are space limitations and heavy loading condition of the existing transformers. With the demand of Metro Manila continuously increasing, the capacities of the existing… substations would no longer be adequate in the coming years,” the petition read. “In order to meet the transmission capacity requirements of the load center, the installation of additional transformers or development of new substations are project options,” it added. NGCP said the implementation of the substation project will be the long-term solution, as this will provide a better room for expansion of capacity for future load growth as well as the improvement of voltage regulation to the underlying substations of Manila Electric Co. “The estimated cost of the project is P4,250,550,760.65 and the time of completion is the first quarter of 2016,” the petition read. “Pre-construction activities are needed to be undertaken in 2013 in order to meet the target completion in 2016.” NGCP said the project will involve development of a new substation, which will be built in Barangay 129 in Tondo, Manila. The substation, with two 300-megavolt-ampere capacity, will cut-in along the existing Marilao-Quezon 230-kV transmission line. “Considering the necessity to construct the project in order to ensure the adequacy of the substations serving the electricity consumers in the load center; and to relieve the overloading of existing transformers serving Metro Manila, the implementation of the project must commence as scheduled,” the petition read.

NGCP is private firm that operates, maintains and develops the country’s transmission network. It acquired the 25-year concession of National Transmission Corp. in 2009. NGCP is in charge of the transmission of high-voltage electricity. -- CAMCF‐of‐P4.25‐B‐NGCP‐substation‐ project‐sought&id=72803                                        

Huwag umasa sa US -- solon (Bernard Taguinod) Share on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookShare on emailMore Sharing Services

Duda ang isang mambabatas na idedepensa ng United States (US) ang Pilipinas laban sa China dahil malaki umano ang mawawala sa mga Amerikano kapag kumampi sa mga Filipino.

Ayon kay Gabriela partylist Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, hindi man direkta ay kontrolado ng China ang ekonomiya ng bansa kaya hindi ito naniniwala na isasakripisyo ang kapakanan ng kanilang bansa para sa Pilipinas.

Sinabi ng mambabatas na sa ngayon ay ang China umano ang may hawak sa malaking bahagi ng utang ng Amerika na umaabot sa $1.3 trillion at sa nasabing bansa nakasalalay ang merkado ng mga Amerikano.

“It is very unlikely that the US government will come to the Philippines’ defense should China make good on its threat to retaliate,” pahayag ni Ilagan dahil sa mga nabanggit na bagay.

Dahil dito, pinayuhan ng kongresista ang gobyernong Aquino na huwag umasa sa Amerika, bagkus ay paigtingin ang kampanya na resolbahin ang territorial dispute sa diplomatikong paraan.

Ito lamang ang pag-asa lalo na’t bukas na umano ang China sa pakikipag-dayalogo sa mga bansang umaangkin sa Spratly Islands, kabilang na ang Pilipinas, upang hindi maiwasan ang komprontasyon.

Sa ngayon ay nangangamba si Ilagan sa mga aksyon ng gobyerno tulad ng pagbubukas nang tuluyan sa mga military base ng Pilipinas sa Amerika at maging sa Japan.  

2013 07 04 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

Philippine Agriculture and Related News' Daily Monitor

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