OCD D, Sm mart in nk parrtners ship o on dis sasterr info ormatiion drrive By Alexis Romero R (The Philippine P Star) | Updated July y 5, 2013 - 12:0 00am
MANILA, Philippines P - Local L officials in areas often affected by di sasters will so oon receive tim mely text messsages that would d enable them to craft preparedness plans s and save live es. The Office e of Civil Defen nse (OCD) and d Smart Comm munications In nc. yesterday ssigned an agreement on Infoboard, a web-based short messag ge service (SM MS) platform th hat would provvide a fast wayy to spread vittal information in times of disasters. d The agree ement will prov vide early warn ning and emerrgency alert to o disaster man nagement officcers and local executives s through text messaging. The system m will also let local governm ments report what w is happen ing in their resspective areass and to reque est for assistance e. The agree ement was sign ned by OCD administrator a Eduardo E del R Rosario and Sm mart Public Afffairs Group he ead Ramon Isb berto at the Na ational Disaste er Risk Reduc ction and Mana agement Coun ncil conferencce room in Que ezon City.
“The information exchange will enable the leaders to make the right decisions that will save the lives of our countrymen,” Del Rosario said in a press briefing.
“This simple technology will help us a lot in sending advanced, timely information to the right people,” he added. Isberto said they are looking forward to developing more communication tools for disaster preparedness. “This (Infoboard) is not a money‐making project for us. This has been an advocacy we are embracing for years,” he said. Infoboard will be operational on Oct. 1 and is part of the efforts to promote public‐private partnerships on disaster risk reduction and management. The system will provide advisories and announcements to pre‐registered Smart subscribers. It can also receive feedback and conduct surveys and provide real‐time results. Smart has offered the Infoboard service platform and monthly SMS allocation for free. The company has initially allotted 30,000 free text messages per month for the project but the number can be adjusted when necessary. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/05/961782/ocd‐smart‐ink‐partnership‐disaster‐ information‐drive
PPA A exec c nam med ne ew NIIA adm minis strator By Delon Porcalla P (The Philippine P Star) | Updated July y 5, 2013 - 12:0 00am
MANILA, Philippines P - Malacañang M an nnounced yestterday the app pointment of P Philippine Portts Authority assistant general g manag ger Claro Mara anan as the new administra ator of the Natiional Irrigation n Administratio on (NIA), repllacing Antonio o Nangel whom m President Aq quino recentlyy berated durin ng the agencyy’s anniversaryy. Presidential spokesman n Edwin Lacierrda furnished Palace P reporte ers a copy of M Maranan’s app pointment, sig gned by Aquino, who also end dorsed the appointment to Agriculture A Se cretary Processo Alcala, who ose departmen nt supervises s NIA. As per the e transmission letters sent by y Executive Se ecretary Paqu uito Ochoa Jr. to the Departm ment of Agricu ulture, Maranan’s s term of office e started July 1, 1 2013 and will w end on Jun e 30 next yea ar. Maranan was w also desig gnated membe er of NIA’s boa ard of directorrs. Prior to be eing PPA assis stant general manager m in 20 005, the 54-ye ear-old Marana an, a civil engineer, served a as acting man nager of PPA’s engineering services divis sion from Augu ust 2003 to Ja anuary 2005. The new NIA N chief got his h engineering g degree from the Luzonian University Fo oundation in Lu ucena City and obtained his h masters in public adminis stration from the Lyceum off the Philippine es in 1977.
Aquino scolded the former NIA chief during the recent 50th anniversary celebration of the agency, whose target along with the DA is rice self‐sufficiency and eventual export of the staple. Aquino also dismissed as unacceptable excuses for what he deemed was questionable fund misuse, where NIA spent all of its allocations but still fell short on its targets. Aquino said he could not understand why NIA never met its target to irrigate new areas of farmlands when they had been getting 100 percent of their allocation from the national budget every year. He has ordered an investigation into how NIA funds were disbursed and where it went, hinting that government funds allotted to them apparently went elsewhere, and not to the intended projects. Asked if he had plans to fire the NIA chief after being unhappy with his performance, Aquino said: “Unless I would suffer from amnesia from now until later, I have no plans to renew (Nangel’s appointment).” Aquino noted the report of the Department of Budget and Management covering about 23 years, which showed the budget allocated for NIA had all been obligated and disbursed. If this was the case, Aquino said NIA must be able to justify where it spent the money up to the last centavo. Non‐government organization Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) is urging the government to conduct a deeper investigation on NIA operations and to file charges against officials responsible for the agency’s poor performance. R1 said in a statement that based on its research, President Aquino has made a big investment on irrigation since his assumption to power in 2010. “While we are happy with the significant amount of government resources spent on irrigation, we have to make sure the people’s money will not be squandered and the long dream of achieving rice self‐ sufficiency will be attained,” said Jessica Reyes‐Cantos, co‐convenor of R1. Balog‐Balog Dam dilemma President Aquino reportedly got angry with Nangel because of the long delayed dam project to improve irrigation in Tarlac that was initiated during the term of the late President Corazon Aquino. The construction of Phase 1 of the Balog‐Balog Multi Purpose Dam (BBMP) was started during the administration of the incumbent President’s mother, according to officials of NIA‐Tarlac who held a press conference here last Tuesday. Balog‐Balog is the name of the river located in the uplands of Barangay Maamot in San Jose, Tarlac. President Aquino had ordered an investigation into the use of NIA funds after the agency failed to meet its targets for the past years to expand irrigated agricultural land area. “I think the President was misinformed that nothing is moving in the BBMP. With a little savings of P60 million in 2012 we were able to do much as what was expected from us. We were able to lay the
necessary groundwork for Phase 1 of BBMP. We were able to irrigate more than 12,000 hectares of farm. Without this maybe we will be at 19 percent only in term of food contribution in Central Luzon,” said Ross Esteban, chief of Public Affairs and Information of NIA‐Tarlac. NIA‐Tarlac officials said an Italian company had promised to help fund the project and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) approved the P2.712‐billion fund. However, the earthquake and the Mt. Pinatubo eruption that devastated Central Luzon, particularly the province of Tarlac, stopped the construction of the dam during the time of President Cory. During the term of President Fidel Ramos, he did not pay much attention to the BBMP project and instead focused on the San Roque Dam in Pangasinan. In 2010, when President Aquino was elected, Agriculture Secretary Proseso Alcala told the Chief Executive that the BBMP is a priority project in Tarlac. When Aquino visited Concepcion, Tarlac in November 2011, he said that the BBMP, which his mother started, would hopefully be completed by him rather than waiting for his grandchildren. The project was re‐evaluated and would now cost P19.326 billion. NIA‐Tarlac, however, was given a meager budget for the BBMP because of the strict policy of the Aquino administration when it comes to releasing funds to government agencies. NIA‐Tarlac said that in 2012 no budget was released to them. The P60‐million savings of NIA‐Tarlac was used to rehabilitate the lahar silted irrigation canals and divert the water from Bulusan River to irrigate some 12.475 hectares of farmland in several Tarlac towns. With Louella Desiderio, Ric Sapnu http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/05/961776/ppa‐exec‐named‐new‐nia‐administrator
Louis Vuitton buyin ng Ph hl croc c skin ns By Edith Regalado R (The Philippine P Star)) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12::00am 2
DAVAO CITY, Philippine es â€“ The first and a only croco odile slaughte erhouse in Mindanao finally sstarted operattion Wednesda ay in the town of Kapalong, Davao del No orte, with the sskins to be sold d to luxury bag g maker Louiss Vuitton. Vicente Mercado, chairm man of the boa ard of J.K. Mercado and So ns Agricultura al Enterprises, Inc. (JKMSAE E) that owns the crocodile c farm m and slaughte erhouse, said that t other prem mium bag makkers also buy tthe skins that they get from th he slaughtered d saltwater cro ocodiles or the e Crocodylus p porosus specie es. Quality cro ocodile skin co ommands a ve ery high price and is said to be sold per ce entimeter. Located in n Barangay Ne ew Katipunan in Kapalong, the t 10-hectare e JKMSAE farrm breeds ove er 6,000 crocod diles both for co onservation (C Crocodylus min ndorensis species) and trad e purposes. The crocodile slaughterh house is considered to be th he most mode ern and second d largest in the e country. Mercado said s that the JK KMSAE slaughters at least 24 crocodiles a day.
The reptiles first undergo an electric stunner and the coil is cut before their brains are picked to make sure that the crocodiles are dead. Mercado said that while the skin is sold to luxury bag makers, the crocodile meat, on the other hand, is sold in the local market and made into delicacies. Mercado stressed that crocodiles are very important to eco‐balance for the productivity of wetlands, hence the farm is also into conservation efforts. International trade in crocodile pelts is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which serves to “regulate trade in listed species, including hybrids and captive‐bred specimens, through a system of permits and certificates.” There are only three crocodile farms in the country that are said to be registered with CITES. The JKMSAE crocodile farm is open to tourists and other visitors who want to learn more about the crocodile industry. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/05/961763/louis‐vuitton‐buying‐phl‐croc‐skins
Singapore store is Jollibee’s top global branch (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Jollibee Foods Corp.’s first store in Singapore has become the fast food giant’s top outlet among its 884 stores worldwide. A report on Yahoo! Finance Singapore, quoting Jollibee’s vice-president for international operations Dennis Flores, said the Jollibee branch at Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road has become the chain’s top performer in terms of sales. “Sales performance exceeded expectations,” Flores said, noting that an estimated 35,000 customers visited the Singapore store on the first week of its operation alone. Yahoo! Finance Singapore interviewed Flores before the store’s formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, which was attended by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Temasek Holdings CEO Ho Ching and former Singapore president S. R. Nathan. Flores, citing point-of-sales data, was quoted as saying that not only Filipinos patronize the store, since 40 percent of the weekday lunch crowd is made up of Singaporeans. This was in spite of a Facebook page calling for a boycott of the outlet in protest over the alleged hiring of Filipinos over Singaporeans.
The company had earlier clarified that nearly 80 percent of its staff are Singapore residents and citizens. The Yahoo report also noted the company, encouraged by the long queues of customers that were seen since its soft opening in March, plans to open two more stores in Singapore, one of which is likely to be operational before the end of the year. The report also quoted Flores as saying that Jollibee is planning a take‐out counter at its Lucky Plaza store. Flores said Jollibee is targeting Indonesia as its next market within the next two years and plans to open more stores in Vietnam, where there are already 41 stores. “Vietnam is a priority country,” said Flores. An outlet in Macau and in the Middle East are also in the pipeline. “Europe is in the horizon but we have no plans yet,” Flores told Yahoo! Finance Singapore. Jollibee has a total of 97 Jollibee stores outside the country, including the United States. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/05/961786/singapore‐store‐jollibees‐top‐global‐branch
Chin na forreign minis ster in nvited d to M Manila a By Pia Lee e-Brago (The Philippine P Star) | Updated July y 5, 2013 - 12:0 00am
Foreign Afffairs Secretarry Albert del Rosario R MANILA, Philippines P - After A the reportted “testy exch hanges” during g a foreign ministers’ meetin ng amid tensio ons over the West W Philippine e Sea, Foreign n Affairs Secre etary Albert de el Rosario invitted Chinese F Foreign Ministe er Wang Yi to o visit the country. “I invited th he foreign min nister to come and visit Manila so we can have a full and constructive e discussion on all issues,” Del Rosario said yesterday. “I indicated d to him that perhaps p it is tim mely for him to o do this beca use I have been to Beijing tthree times sin nce I became fo oreign ministerr and all throug ghout that time we have had d no visit from m a Chinese fo oreign ministerr,” he said. He said Wang W told him he h “will consid der” the invitatiion. Del Rosario confirmed reports r that he e rebutted Wan ng after hearin ng him reel offf a list of comp plaints againstt Manila in his h speech at the t 46th Asso ociation of Sou utheast Asian N Nations (ASEA AN) Foreign M Ministers Meetting in Brunei on Sunday. Reports qu uoted the Sing gapore foreign n minister as saying that tho ose were “testyy exchanges.”
“I will not deny what has been reported but I feel there is no need to add to it,” Del Rosario said in a chance interview. He said three meetings with China and ASEAN over the sea dispute are underway. He said China agreed to a September meeting for official consultations with ASEAN on how to have a full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea. The discussions, to be held in China, were described as “consultations” rather than “negotiations.” China also called for a meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers in August also in China, Del Rosario said. Before this, another meeting between ASEAN and China set by Thailand will take place. ASEAN and China signed the DOC in 2002, outlining the most important principles in the management of disputes on the South China Sea. They achieved a consensus recently to push for consultations to develop a more detailed Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, warned on Saturday that a “counterstrike” against Manila was inevitable if it continues to provoke Beijing in the West Philippine Sea. In a commentary, the People’s Daily said the Philippines had committed “seven sins,” including “illegal occupation” of the Spratly Islands, inviting foreign capital to engage in oil and gas development in the disputed waters and promoting the “internationalization” of the waters. Del Rosario called China’s statement on a counterstrike “irresponsible,” saying the Philippines strongly condemns any threat of use of force. He said the persistence of destabilizing actions in the West Philippine Sea continues to pose serious challenges for the whole region and a violation of the DOC. Step forward Malacañang welcomed China’s willingness to host discussions on the possible crafting of a code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea with ASEAN amid continuing tensions in the area, saying it is a “step forward.” “This is a step in the right direction,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said at a press briefing. Lacierda said he could not speculate on China’s intention to spearhead low‐level discussions to resolve the dispute. “We already drafted the code of conduct and now we have asked them to discuss it with us, and China has already said that they are discussing with us,” he said.
Lacierda said the Philippines has always been for a rules‐based approach to settle territorial disputes and had precisely gone to the United Nations for arbitration. He said it was the right process while the government tries to find ways to help local fishermen affected by the presence of Chinese vessels in Panatag Shoal, such as providing alternative fishing grounds. “We have used the approach that is acceptable to the community of nations. We have tried not to exacerbate the situation,” he said. “What we are doing is defending what is rightfully ours.” Assault craft Meanwhile, diplomatic sources said China is deploying at least four naval assault hovercrafts in the West Philippine Sea as part of its medium‐ and long‐range naval plan in a bid to wrest total control of the islets and reefs. Each ship assault craft has a lift capability of four amphibious landing tanks and a battalion of Chinese marines, sources said. Unlike its navy’s frigates, destroyers and maritime surveillance vessels that can only operate in deep waters, China’s hovercrafts can mount simultaneous beachhead landings in shallow waters to unload the marines and tanks. The hovercrafts will reportedly be placed under the operational control of the Guangzhou Military Region. “If they will use the hover assault craft, they will not only be violating the code of conduct in the South China Sea but will also directly engage in the massive destruction of coral reefs in the region,” a source warned. The source said the hover assault craft program has long been conceived by Beijing’s military planners and is being implemented without taking into consideration its impact on the environment. – With Jaime Laude, Aurea Calica http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/05/961774/china‐foreign‐minister‐invited‐manila
Merralco rates r up ne ext m month By Iris Gon nzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 5 2013 - 12:00 0am
MANILA, Phillippines - Elecctricity prices w will increase again next month. The Manila E Electric Co. (Meralco), the co ountry’s biggesst power distribu utor, is set to iimpose higherr charges afterr the Energy Regu latory Commisssion (ERC) a approved adjustments iin its distributio on rates. The impact off the new rate es on Meralco’s residential customers wi ll vary, depending on the cu ustomer class.. For reside ential customerrs using up to 200 kilowatt-h hours, the incrrease will be P P1.2255 per kw wh from the existing P1 1.1945 per kw wh; those using g 201-300 kwh h, P1.5798 pe r kwh from the e existing P1.5 5518 per kwh; those cons suming 301-40 00 kwh, P1.91 170 per kwh from P1.8890 p per kwh; and th hose using 40 01 kwh and ab bove, P2.5043 per p kwh from P2.4763 P per kw wh. The ERC set s Meralco’s maximum ave erage price (M MAP) for 2014 at P1.6474 pe er kwh, up by 1.71 centavoss from the presen nt P1.6303 perr kwh. MAP is a formula f under the performan nce-based rate setting meth hodology prescribed by the ERC.
The increaase in distribu ution rates will go directly to Meralco, unlike generaation and tran nsmission chaarges. In turn, th he power disttributor can u use the tariff tto fund its cappital expenditures projectts and maintenance requirem ments for the 2014 regulato ory period orr from July 311, 2013 to Jun ne 30, 2014. Meralco h has allotted P13 billion for capital expen nditures this year, up from m P10.3 billion n last year. It also plans to refinance existing de ebts of P14 biillion to P15 bbillion this yeaar, officials eaarlier said. http://ww ww.philstar.co om/headliness/2013/07/05 5/961772/meeralco‐rates‐n next‐month
Bus siness s grou ups suppo ort Cha-cha a By Louella Desiderio (The e Philippine Sta ar) | Updated July J 5, 2013 - 1 2:00am
President Aquin no MANILA, M Philip ppines - Once e looked upon with distrust o or sc corned outrigh ht, efforts to introduce chang ges in the Constitution C ap ppear to be gaiining support, particularly fro om th he business se ector. At A least 13 majo or business grroups are calliing on Preside ent Aquino A to cons ider amending g the economic provisions o of the Constitution C an d reducing the e list of industrries where foreign pa articipation is limited. In a letter to the Preside ent dated June e 19, the busin ness groups sa aid their reque est, if granted, would make tthe country’s economic e grow wth more inclu usive. Several atttempts to ame end the Constitution during the t previous A Arroyo adminisstration were b blocked at eve ery turn due to o suspicion tha at they were in ntended to pro olong her stay in power. “We strong gly urge your administration a n to consider amending a the e economic provvisions in the 1987 Constitu ution, which resttrict greater private sector pa articipation,” th he letter read. The Constituttion sets a 40 percent limit o on foreign ow wnership of cerrtain industries s. “Pending such s constitutiional amendm ments, we sugg gest an initial a and immediate e course of acction: to revise e the Foreign Investment Neg gative List (FIN NL) by reducin ng the list of ind dustries where e foreign participation is limited,” they also said. s
The recom mmendationss, they said, are based on aa series of diaalogues amon ng business grroups and concerned d sectors. The FINL, updated every two years, identifies invvestment are as or activitiees reserved to o Filipinos. The 13 bu usiness organizations are the Makati Bu usiness Club, EEmployers Co onfederation of the Philipp pines, Philippine e Chamber of Commerce aand Industry, Alyansa Agrikkultura, Philip ppine Exporteers Confederaation, Managem ment Association of the Philippines, American Chambber of Commerce, Australian New Zealand Chamber of Commerce e, Canadian C Chamber of Co ommerce, Euuropean Cham mber of Comm merce, Japaneese Chamber of Commerce e, Korean Chaamber of Com mmerce and PPhilippine Asssociation of M Multinational es Regional Headquarters Inc. Companie Apart from m proposing cconstitutionaal amendments, the group s are also pusshing for an aaccelerated implemen ntation of straategic infrastrructure proje ects, especiall y those undeer the public‐p private partnersh hip program o or PPP.
They also said effective anti‐trust law and competition law should be put in place, especially now that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is getting closer to integration in 2015. “There are several laws and issuances which do not address the complexities of the current market conditions, and as well result in overlapping jurisdictions and conflicts. Thus, we see the need for a single comprehensive law,” the letter also read. Citing smuggling’s dire impact on revenue collection and job creation, the business groups said they are also pushing for a revamp in the Bureau of Customs as well as for the creation of a pertinent oversight body with private sector representation. The groups also urged the government to rationalize the existing incentive‐giving laws by subjecting them to periodic reviews. They are also batting for a system of coordination, reporting and monitoring for investment agencies. To take advantage of the country’s mineral resources, the groups said they want the government to retain the existing Philippine Mining Act. “Furthermore, we encourage ensuring conformity of local ordinances to national policies, as well as respect for vested rights under existing agreements,” the groups said. They also said it is now imperative for the government to boost power capacity to help bring down electricity costs. “Through these measures, the business community is of firm conviction that the Philippines will continue to be among Asia’s fast rising economies, while ensuring that such economic and governance gains benefit the majority of our people that are in need the most,” the groups said. Strong support seen A Charter change initiative is seen to easily gain traction in the 16th Congress, according to some lawmakers. Representatives Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro), Magtanggol Gunigundo (Valenzuela City), Romero Quimbo (Marikina City), Thelma Almario (Davao Oriental), and Joselito Atienza (Buhay party‐list), in separate statements, have expressed strong support for Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to implement charter reforms. Rodriguez, who launched last year a nationwide roadshow for Charter change under the auspices of the Centrist Democratic Party, said amending certain outdated provisions in the Constitution would result in fundamental political and economic reforms. He said now is the best time to amend the Constitution as there are no doubts on the sincerity of President Aquino to implement structural reforms. He said he would again file a bill calling for a constitutional convention to amend the Constitution.
“I concur with Speaker Sonny Belmonte’s position that there are certain provisions in our 1987 Constitution pertaining to the economy which need to be amended,” Atienza said in statement. “But I would like to add that interconnected with these economic provisions, we should also push for much‐needed reforms in the country’s peace and order condition,” he said. He said the Philippines recently ranked third to the last along with Myanmar and Cambodia among countries in the ASEAN region which attracted the least foreign direct investments (FDI). The ranking is shown in the World Investment Report 2013 released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). “Why should this be the case when the Philippines has so much to offer?” Atienza said. He also said amendments should include allowing city and town mayors to regain control of local police forces. “The experiment of having a national police force has been tried for the last 25 years, and I believe present conditions will show that it is time to return to our original, more efficient setup,” he said. Atienza proposed that Cha‐cha be done through a nationally elected constitutional convention, similar to the 1973 Con‐con. “The delegates to the constitutional convention would be elected by the people. This would remove any doubts that they might have about the whole process of amending the Constitution,” he said. Almario, for her part, said easing restrictions on investments is a move long overdue. “We’ve been lagging behind our neighbors in attracting genuine in‐depth and inclusive investments,” she said. She said it was “time for the government to wake up to the realities of what is best for the Filipino people.” In pushing for amendments to the Constitution, Belmonte earlier said “countries are like living creatures, which have to adapt to changing conditions to survive and develop.” “We are witnessing rapid and radical developments in digital and information technology. We cannot afford to lag far behind. Dramatic economic, political, and social upheavals all over the world have altered and redefined territorial boundaries and diplomatic relations,” he said in a previous address to lawmakers. Less distrust Some senators also believe a Cha‐cha initiative under the current administration is likely to take off, considering the generally high public trust enjoyed by the President. “This administration is very trusted as shown in the survey and results of midterm elections. A discussion/debate on liberalizing foreign investments is healthy for our democracy. Term extensions are not,” Sen. Ralph Recto said.
“It is always good/healthy to have a public discussion on liberalizing foreign investments through constitutional amendments and whether or not it will create more jobs and greater wealth for Filipinos,” Recto said. Sen. Vicente Sotto III also expressed support for Charter amendments – at least to the economic provisions – but said the Aquino administration should be clear about how it intends to undertake such an endeavor. For Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, however, discussions on his and his father’s proposal for a shift to federalism should be given priority. He said efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution have “distinctively marked the national agenda” and may have to be given due course. He said making the country shift to a federal form of government “is most vigorously advocated by my father.” The younger Pimentel made the pronouncement before members of academe at Xavier University. He said resources are more equitably distributed under a federal system, with states receiving 70 percent and the federal government 30 percent. Of the 70 percent accruing to the states, 30 percent goes to state governments and 70 percent to the provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays. Using such formula, the share of the provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays would be bigger than what is provided for under the current local government code. Pimentel said proponents of federalism believe that such system of government would address the inequitable distribution of wealth, slow pace of development in the countryside, and the alarming law and order situation in Mindanao. Pimentel also cited his father’s proposal to consolidate the existing regions into 10 states, with Metro Manila becoming a Special Administrative Region. Luzon will have four “states” (Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Bicol, and Southern Tagalog), while Metro Manila will be converted into a Federal Administrative Region along the lines of a Washington, New Delhi or Kuala Lumpur. With Christina Mendez, Jess Diaz, Paolo Romero http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/05/961769/business‐groups‐support‐cha‐cha
2 lawmakers with pending cases assume office By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Two congresswomen with cases still pending with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) have assumed office and started doing their job as new members of Congress. The two are Regina Reyes of the lone district of Marinduque and Angelina Tan of Quezon’s fourth district. Reyes beat then incumbent Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, son of Supreme Court (SC) Justice Presbitero Velasco. The Comelec disqualified her but the decision became final after the provincial board of canvassers proclaimed her as the winning candidate. The SC later upheld the Comelec decision. Reyes has filed a manifestation with the SC that she has assumed office. She has been validly proclaimed, taken her oath of office, started her term, and will continue doing her job, Reyes’ husband, former Batangas Rep. Hermilando Mandanas, said yesterday. It is the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) that now has jurisdiction over her case, he said. Mandanas said his wife gave up her American citizenship, as the law required her to do, when she filed her certificate of candidacy.
In the case of Tan, she defeated Wigberto Tañada Jr., brother of then outgoing Rep. Erin Tañada. Last Saturday, a day before members of the 16th Congress started their term of office, the Comelec second division chaired by Commissioner Elias Yusoph canceled Tan’s proclamation. Yusoph and Commissioner Grace Padaca, a partymate of the Tañadas in the Liberal Party, also ordered the provincial board of canvassers to count 7,038 votes credited to disqualified candidate Alvin John Tañada in favor of Wigberto Tañada Jr. and then proclaim the rightful winner. The canvassing board had proclaimed Tan with 84,782 votes against the 80,698 votes for Tañada Jr. Instead of appealing the Yusoph division’s ruling, Tan filed a manifestation informing the Comelec that she has assumed office and therefore, questions about her election should now be within the HRET’s jurisdiction. She cited a string of SC rulings stating that when an elected House member has been proclaimed, taken his or her oath of office and started his or her term, issues about his/her qualification or election should be resolved by the HRET. Obviously recognizing the HRET’s authority over their cases, former Rep. Velasco and Tañada Jr. have filed election protests with the tribunal against Reyes and Tan, respectively. Incidentally, it is Velasco’s
SC justice‐father who chairs the tribunal that will decide their protests. Two other SC justices and six House members sit in the tribunal. Another House member with a disqualification case pending with the Comelec was Ronald Singson of Ilocos Sur. An opponent of Singson filed the case, arguing that the son of then Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis Singson was no longer qualified to seek public office since he was convicted by a Hong Kong court and spent time in jail for drug trafficking. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/05/961795/2‐lawmakers‐pending‐cases‐assume‐office
Comelec to convince Noy to postpone SK polls By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will ask President Aquino to convince Congress to postpone the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls on Oct. 28 and then completely abolish it. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said they have come to the consensus that the SK polls are not really that important, and that it should not be synchronized with the barangay elections. “If we postpone the SK elections, we can show that our country can do without the SK,” he said. “Ultimately, its abolition will follow.” Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the SK does not serve its purpose of providing the youth with political training. The SK had instead exposed the youth to the practice of many politicians of mishandling the budget and nonacceptance of defeat during elections, he added. Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle said the SK has become a breeding ground for political dynasties.
Many of those running for the SK are children of barangay and local officials, he added. Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV is, however, lukewarm to calls for the SK’s abolition. “I am one who wants to reform rather than abolish,” he said. “I think it’s high time we really look at the cases of the SK in the past years. Which areas were successful and which areas need to be addressed.” Aquino said he will file a bill seeking to reform the SK once he completes consultations with the representatives of the youth. “I believe that what it needs is a major overhaul,” he said. “The way funds are appropriated to them, how they are chosen, all of these should be discussed as part of the reforms.” – With Marvin Sy http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/05/961798/comelec‐convince‐noy‐postpone‐sk‐polls
Ayala Foundation, ULAP forge agreement on ‘Text2Teach’ program By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Ayala Foundation Inc. has forged an agreement with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) for the implementation of its mobile learning program ‘Text2Teach’ in various public elementary schools nationwide. Text2Teach allows teachers to download and choose educational videos on math, science, English and values specifically created for the project. Ayala Foundation, Inc. president Luli Heras-de Leon said the project provides a highly effective visual aid for teachers and creates an interactive, student-focused learning environment in the classroom. “There are today 11 countries all over the world that actually have a Text2Teach program under a mother program called Bridged IT. And the Philippines is one country that is a model country cited by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as among the best practices for mobile technology in education,” Heras-de Leon said. “So if we can mainstream this and make it happen to all of our public elementary schools, that would be a dream come true,” she said. The project was conceptualized in 2002 by Nokia, Pearson, the United Nations Development Program and the International Youth Foundation.
It was being implemented by Nokia, Globe Telecom, the Department of Education, Pearson Foundation and Ayala Foundation in the Philippines since 2003, covering 736 public schools nationwide. Under the partnership, interested local government units will share the cost of implementing the program at P46,000 per public school, covering 38 percent of the actual project cost. The Text2Teach program will shoulder P74,000 or 62 percent of the remaining project cost. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/05/961829/ayala‐foundation‐ulap‐forge‐agreement‐ text2teach‐program
DSWD seeks additional P500 million fund By Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is asking the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for an additional P500 million after the near depletion of their 2013 disaster fund with six months left in the year. Resty Macuto, chief of the DSWD’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Response Operations Office, said the department’s 2013 quick response fund worth P652.5 million has been almost used up. “We have already made a request with the DBM last April because it was already running low by the end of March,” Macuto said. He said that a big portion of the P652.5 million was used up by the DSWD’s disaster relief operations for victims of Typhoon Pablo, which caused massive destruction in the provinces of Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley and Davao City in December 2012. While the quick response fund was already low, Macuto said the DSWD was still able to release relief goods for victims of Tropical Storm Gorio last weekend in Albay, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon. Macuto said that the almost depleted quick response fund is a big problem if typhoons hit the country in the next few weeks.
Peace talks with MILF to proceed as scheduled By Aurea Calica, Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang said yesterday peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will proceed as scheduled on July 8. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said: “They’ve raised some concerns, but we are pushing through with the peace talks this coming... Monday. So there’s no issue with MILF on that point. We are still talking about the annexes.” MILF vice chairman Ghadzali Jaafar said the talks will likely last for five days. The talks will coincide with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, he added. Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat said he will play an active role in the formulation of the basic law for the proposed Bangsamoro region when Congress opens later this month. “The Bangsamoro basic law will not only affect the areas included within, but also the country as a whole,” he said. “Expect that in Congress I will be very active in the formulation of the Bangsamoro basic law, ensuring that the position and sentiments of Zamboanga City are respected.” The former mayor of Zamboanga City said he is out to ensure that the Bangsamoro basic law will be acceptable and would not face opposition. Zamboanga City remains committed to the peace process in Mindanao, he added. Government peace panel member Senen Bacani said only a few issues remain on the annexes, but that these are the most difficult. The comprehensive agreement that would be signed must pass legal and constitutional scrutiny, he added. Bacani said they wanted to ensure that the comprehensive agreement would not suffer the fate of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain that was declared unconstitutional in 2008. “We need a little patience and understanding for these delays as we have no control over the schedules of other people, but I am very hopeful that we will finish this comprehensive agreement in a month or two,” he said. “What is important is that we continue to be committed to settle these issues, and once and for all complete the comprehensive agreement so that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission can also start drafting the Bangsamoro Basic law.”
The contentious issues of wealth- and power-sharing within the proposed Bangsamoro region, as well as the normalization of the MILF, will be discussed in the peace talks. The government believes a peace agreement with the MILF to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will lead to peace and development in the region. Once the comprehensive agreement is signed, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission can start drafting the Bangsamoro basic law, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said.
No need to seek Senate nod on access agreement – Angara By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The defense department does not need to seek the nod of the Senate once it pursues the so-called access agreement with some of the Philippines’ military allies abroad, former Senate president Edgardo Angara said yesterday. Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Adolf Azcuna, for his part, said a defense treaty covers US access, and similar treaties are needed with other countries that will be given basing access here. Depending on the agreement, Angara said, Congress has the right to ask Malacañang for periodic reports on any arrangement with military allies like the United States. He pointed out that the Palace should let the Senate know of its plan in respect to the oversight function of Congress “because Congress provides the funding and appropriations to the executive branch, including government corporations such as Subic or Clark (economic zone).” With the sad state of our military forces, Angara said the advantage for Philippine military personnel if they get training from allied forces would be at par with international standards in modern warfare. “The idea in the modern world is that warfare is so advanced, so sophisticated, that one should coordinate and collaborate with your allies,” he said at the weekly Kapihan sa Senado yesterday.
Angara, a veteran lawyer, thinks neither the US nor Japan will be using the Philippine bases on a permanent basis if any of them will conduct trainings with Filipino soldiers. Only if the executive department will enter into any agreement with any of its allied countries will there be a need to consult the Senate, he said. “As long as it’s not permanent basing, that can be allowed. That’s permissible because our political situation has drastically changed since we passed the no foreign bases (policy) way back in 1986.” Since then, Angara noted that the territorial conflicts are “drastically increasing every other month,” especially in the region. He said security groupings are changing every year and there is enough justification for providing economic and security allies’ access to military bases. “I don’t think if I were the US or Japan, I will utilize the bases on permanent basis. That would violate Philippine laws. They will not receive a warm welcome in the country. So, it seems the purpose is negated on this (issue on) temporary basing,” he said. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/05/961812/no‐need‐seek‐senate‐nod‐access‐agreement‐angara
8 leftist rebels killed in clash in Sorsogon (philstar.com) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 7:00pm
MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Eight suspected members of the leftist New People's Army (NPA) were killed in an encounter with government troops in Sorsogon today, the military said. Armed Forces Spokesman Chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said a firefight ensued between the 31st Infantry Battalion and some 20 leftist rebels in Upper Calmayon village, Juban town. The clash lasted for about 35 minutes and resulted to eight casualties from the NPA side including two females. The soldiers recovered five M16 rifles and one improvised explosive device. Prior to the encounter, residents in the village reported the presence and extortion activities of the rebels, Zagala said, adding that pursuit operation has been ongoing against the other rebels. There was no reported casualty from the government side.
OCD, Smart ink deal on LGUs receiving SMS alerts on disaster preparedness By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 6:29pm MANILA, Philippines - Local officials in areas affected by disasters will soon receive timely text advisories that would enable them to craft preparedness plans and save lives. The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and Smart Communications Inc. on Thursday signed an agreement on Infoboard, a web-based short message service platform that would provide a fast way to spread vital information in times of disasters. The agreement will provide early warning and emergency alert to disaster management officers and local executives through text messaging. The system will also let local governments report what is happening on their respective areas and to request for assistance. The agreement was signed by OCD Administrator Eduardo del Rosario and Smart Public Affairs Group head Ramon Isberto at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council conference room in Quezon City. “The information exchange will enable the leaders to make the right decisions that will save the lives of our countrymen,” del Rosario said in a press briefing. “This simple technology will help us a lot in sending advanced, timely information to the right people,” he added. Isberto said they are looking forward to developing more communication tools for disaster preparedness. “This (Infoboard) is not a money-making project for us. This has been an advocacy we are embracing for years,” he said. Infoboard will be operational on Oct. 1 and is part of the efforts to promote public-private partnerships on disaster risk reduction and management. The system will provide advisories and announcements to pre-registered Smart subscribers. It can also receive feedback and conduct surveys and provide real-time results. Smart has offered the Infoboard service platform and monthly SMS allocation for free. The company has initially allotted 30,000 free text messages per month for the project but the number can be adjusted when necessary. Del Rosario said they would gather the mobile phone numbers of local officials and disaster management officers so they can subscribe to the system. There are about 100,000 local executives in the country. Smart is a subsidiary of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., whose multimedia arm Mediaquest Holdings Inc. has a 20 percent stake in The Philippine Star.
A network to watch local officials’ acts GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
The crash of the government’s lone police helicopter obliges its use once and for all of two extra civilian models in aerial patrols. Although second-hand when deceitfully sold as brand new to the Philippine National Police, the civilian units are in tip-top condition. They have been grounded ever since the overpricing-mislabeling fraud was exposed in 2011. But the PNP Air Unit weekly has been warming up the engines in preventive maintenance. The grounded aircraft are tied up in anti-graft litigation (against former first gentleman Mike Arroyo and cohorts). With its Robinson R-44 police special totaled by strong winds in the Cordilleras last month, the PNP is seeking the Ombudsman’s permission to use them. The police model was flown in searches for marijuana plantations and officer ferries in the mountains of northern Luzon. Its infrared night vision, high-intensity spotlight, and cockpit monitor were underutilized in the mostly daytime visual patrols. All intact from the crash, these can be transferred to one of the civilian spares. Both units will come in handy for city and mountain patrols. Too, for emergency flights and airlifts in the aftermath of typhoons, floods, and landslides. *
The Supreme Court’s temporary restraint of Gen. Carlos Garcia’s plea bargain has several implications. It upholds the Solicitor General’s right to intervene in court cases as “people’s tribune.” It frowns on secret deals between the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court and the Ombudsman. It affirms Congress’ finding of betrayal of public trust by the impeachable Ombudsman. Most important, it puts back on track the search for justice in the former military comptroller’s P303-million plundering. For a while there, the case looked dead. Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in 2010 secretly had schemed to downgrade Garcia’s no-bail, life-term offense of plunder to mere direct bribery (10 years max) and money laundering (12 years). The Sandiganbayan consented, nullifying the painstaking work of fraud investigators and auditors. By then Garcia had been behind bars for five-and-a-half years, on trial after exposure (in this column) of his repeated transfers of huge stolen sums to secret bank accounts in the US. The plea deal called for Garcia to return only P135 million in loot. It also excused his wife and three sons from indictment as cohorts, and let him post bail of mere P60,000. In effect, he became free to enjoy bulk of his loot with the family, under no pressure to implicate his fellow-generals or contemplate the deaths in combat of soldiers underequipped by his plundering. (No bullets, no radio communications, no boots even.) Congress consequently impeached Gutierrez, who resigned before Senate trial could commence. President Noynoy Aquino in 2011 pressed the Sol-Gen to oppose the plea deal and ordered Garcia re-imprisoned. The SC still has to hear the merits of the contested plea bargain. If it junks the deal, Garcia’s trial for plunder would have to resume. *
Analysts note three common features in demonstrations raging in Egypt, Turkey, Bulgaria, Brazil, and Indonesia. Same with those that rocked Greece, Sweden, and India in recent months, “occupied” 95 cities in the US and the west up to 2012, and burned England and France in 2011. One, they all were staged against democratic
governments. Two, middle-class youths marched against corruption or social inequalities. Three, online media effectively mobilized instant throngs into the streets. The analysts might add a fourth commonality: those democratic governments failed miserably to gauge the level of disaffection of the youths, via their very rallying social networks. Worldwide the youths have come to own the Internet. It is their source of news and views, and venue for communicating and socializing. They converge online for guides to life and living, from as light as beauty or travel tips, to as serious as job opportunities and quality of education. The Internet is where governments creatively should engage the youth. In the Philippines too the youth dominates the Internet. Three-fifths of the 104-million population consists of those aged 18 to 35. Thirty-four million Filipinos are wired, says social media activist Tonyo Cruz, and 30 million are on Facebook or Twitter. There are 100 million mobile SIMs, and 25 million youths have smartphones. Such devices will increase Internet penetration from nine percent in 2011 and 24 percent in 2012, to 64 percent in 2013. More Filipino traits, according to Cruz: nine in 10 have social networks, which they open first before checking e-mails and on which they spend about five-and-a-half hours a day. The Philippines ranks second in the world, next only to China, in online video consumption and sharing via social media. Clearly, says Cruz, the youth is ready to engage the government – via their mastered medium, the Internet. Is the government ready to engage them there as well? Cruz posed the question at the launching Tuesday of the Citizens Action Network for Accountability. CANA is a collaboration of media and civil society organizations to organize and teach citizens to monitor their local governments. Grounded on a fast growing website (citizenaction.net), it shares experiences of individuals and groups that dared to stand up to the local powers that be, and won. Migs Dominguez, the youngish former three-term governor of Sarangani, shared his experiences building the province’s website to speak with constituents. Most new young governors, mayors, board members, and councilors wish to convey their thoughts and see what people — especially youths — think. Opening a website reaches out to them, and to the world. Dominguez noted, however, that constituents visit official sites only for fun events — fiestas, sports meets, beauty tilts — not so much the heavy stuff like budget and project deliberations. Perhaps it’s a matter of livening up the websites with youthful elements, like games, quips, and dazzling visuals. Maybe it’s better to shift from strait-laced websites to let-your-hair-down social media. Whatever, there’s need to know the youth’s sentiments, and answer their grievances. CANA was organized not so much to forestall a youth upheaval in the Philippines, like in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. It aims to make local governments more transparent and accountable by letting them know they’re being watched. A youth revolt can and will erupt depending on how the local and national officials react. *
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109 endangered animals found in Tondo house By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - At least 109 endangered animals were found during a raid on a house in Tondo, Manila Wednesday, officials said yesterday. Only 14 Philippine forest or pond turtles (Siebenrockiella leytensis or pagong) were found alive, said Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau director Theresa Mundita Lim. The raiding team, led by Department of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo, found the bodies of 78 Palawan hill mynas (Gracula religiosa or kiyaw), an endangered endemic species; 12 blue-naped parrots (Tanygnathus lucionensis or pikoy), a vulnerable endemic species; five juvenile Indo-Pacific or saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), an endangered non-endemic species. Adobo, who heads the recently created Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade or POGI, said the illegal wildlife traders have been operating for five years. “We acted on a tip that a shipment of wildlife species from Palawan was loaded on a motorized banca that would be docking in Cavite, and would be transported to Manila. The shipment was said to consist of 310 Palawan hill mynas, 96 blue-naped parrots, two Palawan bearcats, two leopard cats, and a Palawan otter,” he said in a press briefing. Adobo said the mynas, parrots and crocodiles were killed, “presumably to stop the animals from making noise.” The bearcats, leopard cats and otter “were not in the house,” he added. He noted that a myna, which is priced at P150 in Palawan, can be sold for P2,500 in Metro Manila. Lim said the turtles will be returned to Palawan while the confiscated carcasses will be kept as evidence. She added they will coordinate with the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development with regards to these recovered wildlife species. House owner Baby Paclarin; Adelaida Roxas, whose name appears in billing statements for the house; Val delos Reyes and Victor Cascara will be charged with violating Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. They remain at large, officials said.
Grafft rap ps ord dered filed vs 2 fforme er Iloco os go ovs By Michael Punongbayan n (The Philippin ne Star) | Upda ated July 5, 201 13 - 12:00am
MANILA, P Philippines - T The Office of th he Ombudsma an yesterday ordered the filing of a P26-m million graft ch harge against forrmer Ilocos Su ur governors L Luis “Chavit” Singson an nd Deograciass Victor Savellano for the allleged misuse of public funds. Ombudsm man Conchita C Carpio Morales said both sh hould be indicted d for separate counts of viollating Section 3(e) of the Anti -Graft and Co orrupt Practices Act. Singson and a Savellano were being charged for actts committed d during their terrm from 1998 to 2001 and 2 2001 to 2003, re espectively. The charg ges stemmed from a compla aint filed by Es stelita Cordero o, chairperson for the Save Ilocos Sur Alliance (SISA) Foundation, on the alleged unlawful release of a total of P P26,060,500 to o Multi-Line Fo ood Processin ng Internation nal Inc. (MFPII). Singson had allegedly entered e into four agreements s with the firm in February, M May and June e of 2001 for th he release of financial assis stance in the amounts a of P9 9.18 million, P4 4 million, P3 m million, and P8 8 million to fina ance unspecified livelihood prrojects. The last ch heck was alleg gedly issued by b Savellano, who w assumed d office as governor following g the 2001 elections. He allegedly entered into another a agreem ment with MFP PII in Decemb ber 2001 for the grant of fina ancial assistance e worth P1,880 0,500 to fund a livelihood prroject. Records sh how that the money was sourrced from the province’s p share e of the procee eds of the tobacco excise tax. The Ombudsman said Singson and Sav vellano acted with w manifest pa artiality, eviden nt bad faith or g gross negligencce c and ap pproved the rele ease of public funds. when they repeatedly enttered into the contract
http://ww ww.philstar.co om/nation/20 013/07/05/96 61649/graft‐rraps‐ordered‐filed‐vs‐2‐former‐ilocos‐ggovs
Bank teller faces raps for withdrawing clients’ money By Danny Dangcalan (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – A teller at a Banco de Oro (BDO) branch in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental is facing charges for perjury and falsification of private documents for allegedly withdrawing the money of about 30 depositors without their knowledge. Among those accusing Alfonso Agravante is retired teacher Alfonso Pico Sr., 77, who said the teller withdrew more than P3 million from his account, according to an ABS-CBN report. Pico, who is based in Canada, said he found out that his two bank accounts containing nearly P3.7 million had only P5,000 left when he went home to Kabankalan last May to attend his sister’s burial. He discovered that Agravante, who used to live with them and to whom he entrusted his bankbooks, withdrew the money. When he filed a complaint before the bank management, Pico found out that the passbooks given to him by Agravante were fake. The report said Agravante has victimized 30 other depositors. Barcelisa Mellendez, 82, discovered that someone had been regularly withdrawing from the account of her daughter, who is based in the US. She said she entrusted the teller with her daughter’s account since he was close to her family. She said at least P1 million was withdrawn from her daughter’s account and the bankbook given to her by the suspect was fake. BDO officials promised to pay the complainants. BDO Manila media relations officer Marist Nagera said in a press statement last Tuesday that BDO is “currently investigating the matter.”
Zambo solon vows active involvement in drafting Bangsamoro law By Roel Pareño (philstar.com) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 5:49pm
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Rep. Celso Lobregat vowed to play an active role in the formulation of the Basic Laws for the proposed Bangsamoro homeland of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) when the Congress opens later this month. Lobregat, a known staunch but constructive critic on the ongoing peace talks between the Philippine government and MILF, said the participation is to ensure that the position and sentiments of the city, which opted out from the proposed Bangsamoro homeland, are respected. “The Bangsamoro Basic Law will not only affect the areas included within but also the country as a whole,” said Lobregat, a former mayor of the city. “Expect that in Congress I will be very active in the formulation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law— ensuring that the position and sentiments of Zamboanga City are respected”, the former mayor said. By playing an active role, Lobregat said that it is not to block the proposal but to ensure the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be acceptable and would not face opposition. Lobregat reiterated that the city remained committed to support the peace process in Mindanao. The former city executive was instrumental in the defense before the Supreme Court on the botched signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) which saw the high court from rejecting the agreement citing it as unconstitutional in 2008. The government and MILF peace panel will resume the next round of exploratory talks within this month to further discuss the annexes on wealth sharing, power sharing and normalization, salient issues that have remained as stumbling blocks in the comprehensive agreement. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process stated that once the comprehensive agreement will be arrived at, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission can now start drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Kenyan parents oppose laptop offer for children By Tom Odula (Associated Press) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:45am
NAIROBI, Kenya — An ambitious plan by Kenya's government to give laptops to schoolchildren has been opposed by parents who say the money for the computers should instead go toward raising teachers' salaries and feeding children. The program is bound to fail in a country that lacks enough teachers and where others strike regularly for better pay, Musau Ndunda of the Kenya National Association of Parents said Thursday. Kenya currently has a shortfall of 40,000 teachers, and more than 200,000 teachers in public schools across the country are currently striking over unpaid housing, transport and medical allowances promised 16 years ago. Currently teachers do not have the capacity to implement the laptop project because they have not been trained and the government has not developed a curriculum for the project, said Ndunda. He said loopholes that led to the recent loss of 70 million textbooks under a free primary-school education program had not been plugged. Under the circumstances, he said, laptops would be lost or stolen. "If they are able to lose such an amount of textbooks then with the laptops it might be worse," he said. He wondered how the laptops will be safe in households among the country's poor, saying "you cannot keep such a gadget in your house if you don't have something to eat." President Uhuru Kenyatta proposed while campaigning that his government would give laptops to 1.2 million children who start school every year, part of a wider plan to make the East African country an Internet hub. Details of the program, which will cost the government $615 million in three years, have not been made public. It is set to start later this year. Microsoft, through the Partners in Learning Schools program, has already trained 32,600 teachers who will then teach 1.8 million children, Louis Otieno of Microsoft Africa Initiatives said in a statement Thursday. He said the government has not reached a final agreement with Microsoft, which will implement the project. Muthui Kariuki, a government spokesman, defended the laptop project, saying it was crucial to Kenya's goal of training a digital-savvy workforce. "Anybody criticizing the idea is somebody who does not care about the future," he said. "We are in a digital age and from the young people we will train we will get the next managers of the 'silicon valley' spurring growth and creating jobs. Technology is the only remaining frontier."
Oil above a e $101 1 on US U su upply drop p, Egy ypt By Jonatha an Fahey (Asso ociated Press) | Updated July y 5, 2013 - 5:00 0am
Trader Peter Iocolano works w in the oil options pit at the New Yorkk Mercantile E Exchange. (AP P Photo/Richa ard Drew) NEW YOR RK â€” The pric ce of oil rose to t its highest le evel in 14 mon nths on conce erns about posssible disruptio ons to Middle East supplies and signs of an increase in U.S. demand fo or fuel. U.S. benchmark oil gain ned $1.64 to $101.24, its hig ghest close sin nce May 3, 2012. Brent crud de, which is us sed to price oil used by many U.S. refineriies to make ga asoline, rose $ $1.76 to finish at $105.76. Two eventts propelled th he price of oil above a $100 a barrel for the first time since e the middle o of September: unrest in Egypt, E and a big b drop in U.S S. oil supplies. Traders were worried that political uph heaval in Egyp pt could slow tthe flow of oil from the Midd dle East to worrld markets. Embattled E Egy yptian President Mohammed d Morsi vowed d not to give in n to protesters' demands forr his resignation n. But the hea ad of Egypt's military m announ nced late Wed dnesday night local time thatt Morsi will be replaced and a new elections will be held.
Egypt is not an oil producer but it control of one of the world's busiest shipping lanes gives it a crucial role in maintaining global energy supplies. The Middle East accounts for about a quarter of the world's crude oil output, or 23 million barrels per day. About 2 million barrels of that, or 2.2 percent of world demand, are transported daily through the Suez Canal, which links the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. Much of that oil is headed to Europe, but a supply drop anywhere in the world leads to higher prices everywhere. "Markets tend to advance sharply on uncertainty and will often price in a worst case scenario. This appears to be the case with the unfolding situation in Egypt," wrote Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates, in a note to clients. Some analysts suggested market reaction to the political crisis in Egypt was exaggerated. "If there is one thing that the military has control of in Egypt it is the Suez Canal. We therefore do not see a significant risk for free passage on the waterway," said Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix in Switzerland. In the U.S., the Energy Department reported Wednesday that crude supplies fell by 10.3 million barrels from the previous week, more than three times the drop that analysts had expected. The drop was likely the result of reduced supplies from Canada because of a temporary pipeline shutdown there, as well as increased demand from a BP refinery that restarted in Indiana. Gasoline supplies fell as well, while analysts expected an increase. The drop in oil and gas supplies could be an indication that U.S. demand is rising. The rising price of oil could end what has been a streak of 21 days of lower U.S. retail gasoline prices. The average U.S. pump price fell less than a penny Wednesday to $3.48 per gallon. Analysts do not think the spike in oil prices will lead to sharply higher gasoline prices, though, because U.S. crude supplies remain high and refineries are turning out plenty of gasoline. U.S. commodities markets are closed Thursday for the July Fourth holiday. In other energy futures trading on Nymex: — Wholesale gasoline rose 6 cents to end at $2.84 per gallon. — Heating oil was up 5 cents to finish at $2.95 per gallon. — Natural gas rose 4 cents to end at $3.69 per 1,000 cubic feet.
MRT 7 will ease relocation DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
Mayor Herbert Bautista is probably right about the professional squatters in the Agham area who are now being cleared to create a modern central business district for Quezon City. Indeed, many of the slum lords are powerful people in the local realm, including political ward leaders of city politicians. I think that’s why Bistek said as much because he knows. It is unfortunate there was violence last Monday after the deadline for the so-called informal settlers to leave had passed. Of course the self proclaimed militant left took advantage of the situation to make everything worse. Then again, the slum lords are able to survive attempts to relocate the squatters because government’s housing program for the poor had been ineffectual through the years. A lot of money had been spent for the effort, but corruption within the NHA and a lack of attention to the entirety of the problem wasted resources. Relocation areas have been set too far from where jobs or livelihoods can be had. Sapang Palay in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan had been there for about 50 years now but it will only become an attractive option if settlers have access to cheap public transportation back to the metropolis. Now, they are talking of Sapang Palay again for the Agham settlers, but I am sure the cost of transportation to the Trinoma area where their livelihoods likely are will be significant. This is why that stalled project to build MRT 7 that connects Sapang Palay to Trinoma is now more relevant and urgent as ever. One other area mentioned as a relocation site is somewhere in Novaliches, which is probably along the same MRT 7 route. If the bureaucrats at DOF, DOTC and NEDA can just get off their high horses and facilitate the MRT 7’s approval, it will be easier to convince informal settlers to move a little further away from the city. The other resettlement area mentioned is in Bocaue, Bulacan and two more are in Montalban, Rizal. The one in Bocaue will probably be more accessible and attractive if there is a commuter rail system in what is now the NorthRail line. The site in Montalban, Rizal is really going to be a pain as it is literally in the bundoks and no mass transit system to connect it to LRT 2 in Marikina seems viable for now. Indeed there are relocation sites in Cavite as well but the LRT 1 extension will probably become operational only after P-Noy’s term, if at all. The LRT 1 extension and the MRT 7 have been undergoing government’s approval process for more than a decade now through three or maybe even four administrations and we have yet to see the first shovel of dirt moved. It is to go through another NEDA approval, supposedly the last hurdle. In many other countries, people live far from the central city but they have an efficient mass transit system in place. I cannot understand why several generations of government planners and decision makers failed to see the relationship between effective mass transit and our futile effort to make sense of our current land use reality. Because we don’t have an affordable and reliable means of mass transport, all sorts of make shift solutions from jeepneys, those Tamaraw PUVs and colorum buses clog our streets and highways. Those who can afford buy cars and that’s also a big part of the traffic problem. Indeed, someone once said that a developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation. That’s how it is in New York where Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor takes the subway
to go to office. Maybe if those DOTC usecs were required to take the MRT to their office in Greenhills daily, improvements will happen. In any case, a mass transit system is a must for our metropolis. As transport infrastructure expert Rene Santiago puts it, “no large cities ever solved their congestion problems by relying on private cars. Urban mobility needs a good public transport system.” And we need to quickly expand the reach of whatever limited mass transit system we already have beyond the city limits to the adjoining provinces. That will enable people to live a little further where property prices are more reasonable and still keep their city jobs. Rene puts urban railway at the top of the public transport hierarchy. But for us, less than 10 percent of daily trips are carried by the four rail lines. Our problem, according to Rene lies in the inordinate amount of time it takes to expand the system. Indeed, our rail systems have not really expanded outside of the few kilometers from Balintawak to Trinoma. “Our weak institutions stretch execution to decades. Line 1 extension to Cavite should have been completed in 2004; Line 2 extension to Masinag in 2009; and Line 3 upgraded three years ago. These expensive assets are badly managed; maintenance is treated like a janitorial service. “Bills to reform the rail sector have languished in Congress in the last 15 years. Everyone opted ‘to kick the can down the road’ – including the necessity of adjusting fares. While many countries – developed and developing - have already changed their business models, our railway entities are still locked in the archaic ways of the past.” Rene believes “the solution is to privatize all the three rail lines, including the PNR commuter service – akin to what was done on water supply. If we want world-class rail transit, we have to professionalize their management. That will not happen under public sector management.” The other alternative, Rene suggests is putting up BRT (bus rapid transit) lines in the major roads of Metro Manila. Rene thinks the BRT will be the cost-effective solution to addressing urban mobility problems (as shown by many experiences in Latin America, Australia and Asia). “It also offers a platform for the existing bus operators to work together. BRT systems have the potential to deliver passenger capacities comparable to railway systems, at a fraction of the cost of rail. Well-planned and designed BRT systems also put a high premium on customer service. After all, passengers are a public transport system’s customers, and they deserve nothing less.” It is clear that we are not exactly out of options. The problem is government’s ability to make decisions. MRT, LRT, BRT… these options are all available. Having one or the other will expand the options of urban dwellers, not just the informal settlers, of where to live. In a sense, everything starts from a functioning mass transit system. That is like the veins and arteries that carry life sustaining blood throughout a body. The unfortunate thing is that we do not have enough time to get anything done at the rate DOTC is acting. That being the case, it is difficult to force the informal settlers to move out of the banks of esteros and rivers. It will also be too bloody to get them out of a prime area like Agham that could be made more economically productive for everyone. Why can’t the DOTC technocrats see how badly they are holding up the nation’s development? Worse, even if they are supposed to be topnotch lawyers, how come they can’t seem to conduct a successful bidding of any project? P-Noy has to act… have a tantrum if that is what it would take to get the attention of the DOTC lawyers holding up the show. Otherwise, P-Noy will also have to bear much of the blame for the failure of his administration to accomplish much beyond the press releases. What a letdown that would be. Algebra
Relationships are a lot like algebra... Ever looked at your X and wondered Y? Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco
Phl catch hing up u on FDI – Citi By Prinz P. Magtulis (The e Philippine Sta ar) | Updated Ju uly 5, 2013 - 12 2:00am
MANILA, M Philippines - The P Philippines still lagged behin nd Southeast Asian neighbors n in attracting a foreig gn direct invesstments (FDIss). But a reportt from global g banking g giant Citiban nk indicated th hat the Philippiines is cathing g up on o FDI, record ding the highe est growth rate e of 185 perce ent as against the 2.11-percent 2 average a expan nsion across tthe so-called A Asean-6 in 201 12. “The “ Philippines remains th e regional FDI laggard but iinterestingly sa aw the t sharpest year-on-year y riise in the Asea an (Associatio on of Southeasst Asian Natiions),” Citi said d in a report. The country, awarded in nvestment-gra ade status by tw wo credit ratin ng agencies th his year, attraccted a total of $ $2.8 billion in FDI last year, according a to da ata from the United U Nationss Conference o on Trade and Development (UNCTAD D) cited in the report. The figure e represented a notable incre ease of 185 pe ercent from $9 981 million in 2 2011, data showed. Philippiine FDI growth h rate was significantly higher than the 2.11-percent exxpansion recorrded across th he so-called Assean6. Asean-6 groups g Indones sia, Malaysia, the Philippine es, Singapore,, Thailand and d Vietnam. “The Philip ppines is catch hing up from a low base,” Citi said. It how wever did not ccite any reason n for the fast F FDI growth pos sted last year.. Regionally though, Citi sa aid Asean-6 is benefiting from m a shift in inve stor sentiment toward China, where rising la abor costs and an a appreciating g yuan have de ented competitiiveness of its m manufacturing iindustry. Last year, FDI to China decreased to $1 121 billion from m $124 billion, a according to UN NCTAD figuress, suggesting investmentt inflows “may be b finally peakiing.” “This corro oborates anecdotal evidence of o diversificatio on of FDI portfo olios…away fro om China towarrds Asean,” Citti said. For the Philippines, a dem mographic divid dend – charactterized by a bo oming work forrce – could also bode well forr an n FDI. Citi said the same is tru ue for the rest of o Asean-6, exccept Singapore e. increase in On nomina al value though, the Philippine es’ FDI accounts for less than n one percent o of what the region got during tthe similar periiod. A total of $111.3 $ billion in n FDI was share ed last year by y Asean-6, data a showed. Broken dow wn, Singapore got the highes st chunk of FDI inflows at $56 .7 billion, follow wed by Indonessia ($19.9 billio on), Malaysia ($ $10 billion), Thailand ($8.6 billion), and Vietnam ($8.3 billio on).
http://ww ww.philstar.co om/business//2013/07/05//961637/phl‐‐catching‐fdi‐cciti
Inde ex eas ses on lack k of m marke et mov ving lead ds By Neil Jerrome C. Morale es (The Philipp pine Star) | Upd dated July 5, 20 013 - 12:00am
MANILA A, Philippines - Lack of markket moving leads resulted in another lackluster and d seesaw perfo ormance for lo ocal share pricces. The Philippine Stock E Exchange inde ex shed 0.24 p percent or 15.8 86 points to o close at 6,46 64.26, reversin ng slight gains in the morning session. Trading range was tigh ht, with an intrraday high of 6 6,519.64 and a low point of 6,4 451.25 as inve estors lacked impetus to pursue major bu uying and sellin ng decisions. “Trades re emained soft yesterday y as in nvestors staye ed on the sidellines ahead off an all-importa ant employme ent numbers in the US on Friday,” F said Ju ustino Calayca ay Jr., analyst at Accord Cap pital Equities C Corp. Calaycay said s the main index slipped nearly 30 poin nts in the open ning bell beforre recovering at noon and th hen succumbin ng to selling prressures late in i the day. The local market m did nott follow the tre end overseas. For instanc ce, Wall Street ended a tad hiigher on a shorrtened trading session as inve estors were en ncouraged by increased private p sector hiring h and lowe er jobless claim ms. The Dow Jones industrial average close ed at 14,988.55 5 (+0.38 percen nt) while Stand dard & Poor’s 5 500 index finish hed at 1,615.41 (+ +0.08 percent). US marketts are closed on n July 4 for the e Independence e Day holiday. The market is waiting for the release of US nonfarm payro olls on Friday. Asian stock ks were mixed ahead of the European E Centtral Bank’s mon nthly meeting. JJapan’s Nikkeii 225 fell to 14,018.93 (-0.26 percent)) while Hong Kong’s K Hang Se eng index rose to 20,468.67 (+1.56 percent)).
http://ww ww.philstar.co om/business//2013/07/05//961638/indeex‐eases‐lack‐‐market‐movving‐leads
Gov v’t reta ains target t ts By Prinz P. Magtulis (The e Philippine Sta ar) | Updated Ju uly 5, 2013 - 12 2:00am
MANILA, Ph hilippines - Eco onomic growth h targets were retained yestterday after the Aqu uino administra ration decided to be “conserrvative” on its assumptions s despite the e economy’s stro ong performan nce in the first quarter. “I don’t think k that the (marrket) volatility h has already se ettled down an nd the position of th he DBCC (Devvelopment Bud dget Coordina ating Committe ee) was to take a conservative e approach,” B Budget Secrettary and DBCC C chairman Florencio Aba ad told reporters yesterday. Growth tarrgets have bee en kept at six to seven perc cent for this ye ear and 6.5 to 7 7.5 percent ne ext year. Thesse will be achieve ed against the e backdrop of stable s three to o five-percent iinflation. For the firs st quarter, eco onomic expans sion hit 7.8 percent, beating g market expecctations, as infflation settled at the low-end off the target at three percent.. “We are sttill trying to be conservative,,” Socioeconomic Planning S Secretary Arssenio Balisacan told reporterrs. He added though that he is “optimistic” th he governmentt will breach itts growth goals. On the trade front, merc chandise expo orts and importts are still targ geted to reach 10 and 12-pe ercent growth, respective ely. That is des spite the two sectors s contrac cting eight perrcent and 3.9 p percent as of A April. For 2014, export e growth goal g was set att 12 percent, while w that of imp ports was pegg ged at 15 perce ent. The foreign n exchange ass sumption has also a been kept at 42-45 to a d dollar. The pesso, Asia’s secon nd best perform mer last year, closed c at 43.48 against the grreenback yeste erday. On the gov vernment budget, Abad said the t Aquino adm ministration con ntinues to cap tthe deficit at tw wo percent of economic output. o As of March, M the defic cit accounted fo or 2.5 percent o of gross domesstic product. Abad said the two-percen nt budget gap targeted t for botth years will be e financed throu ugh borrowingss. National R de Leo on said the borrrowing program m for next yearr will be “slightlyy lower” than th his year. Treasurer Rosalia She did no ot cite any amount, but said th he bulk of the financing will stiill be sourced lo ocally to take a advantage of liq quidity going out of o the special deposit accountts (SDA). SDA deposits totale ed P1.799 trillio on as of June 1 14, central bank data showed. “One option for us is to prre-fund (financing for next yea ar) this year sin nce we have h igh liquidity,” D De Leon said, explaining the lower 2014 4 borrowing pro ogram.
http://ww ww.philstar.co om/business//2013/07/05//961639/govtt‐retains‐targgets
BSP not looking at a particular ‘safe level’ for SDAs By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is not looking at a particular “safe level” for trillions of parked money in special deposit accounts (SDA) as it reiterated funds flowing out of the facility remains far from being inflationary. “The reforms that we have implemented are basically aimed at making sure that the facility remains a monetary instrument rather than investment vehicle,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. told reporters yesterday. “Conditions may change, so you cannot really say if this (SDA level) is a safe level,” he said late Monday. SDA deposits – banks’ and trust departments’ money with the central bank – have started coming down since the beginning of the year, hitting a five-month low of P1.799 trillion as of June 14. According to BSP data, the current tally is about a tenth below idle funds peaked at P1.983 trillion in April 15, but remains more than seven percent up from P1.674 trillion at end of last year. For Tetangco, the current level of SDA deposits – which dwindled after the BSP cut the return the facility offers to two percent from 3.5 percent – could still be absorbed by the economy despite the money supply hitting sixyear high last May. “The amount of liquidity is not causing inflationary pressures,” he explained. At the same time, the BSP chief said current liquidity, which grew 16.3 percent in May, is “consistent with the requirements of the economy” for growth. Economic expansion hit 7.8 percent in the first quarter, beating market expectations, as the fastest growing economy in Asia rode into a stable inflation of three percent. Last week, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said the Philippines is far from overheating, a scenario characterized by skyrocketing inflation at a time of robust growth. The scenario worsens once for inflation cuts through the purchasing power of consumers and investors, thereby making growth unsustainable. Sought for comment, Emilio Neri Jr., lead economist at the Bank of the Philippine Islands, said the BSP is waiting how the market will respond to a number of measures imposed on the SDA facility. One of them is the prohibition against singular investment management accounts, 30 percent of which should be withdrawn by this month before a complete phase-out in November.
Phl making big pus sh to lift ag gri, otther secttors By Zinnia B. B Dela Peña (T The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines P - The T Aquino Ad dministration is s making a big g push to expa and its manufa acturing, agric culture, infrasttructure and to ourism sectorss as it works to oward achievin ng sustainable e, inclusive growth. g Budget an nd Managemen nt Secretary Florencio F Abad d said the gove ernment would d focus its effo orts on attractiing investmen nts into the cou untry as well as a creating jobs to keep the local economyy moving forw ward. “There’s going g to be a greater g push fo or expansion in i industries b because of the e challenge of inclusive grow wth, that’s why more investm ments are need ded to promote e poverty redu uction and job generation,” A Abad said. In particula ar, he said the e Aquino Admiinistration is lo ooking to get m more investme ents into the co ountry’s infrastructure development program as a it rolls out more m projects tto boost infrasstructure spend ding to five pe ercent of GDP by y 2016. Abad said d increased inffrastructure sp pending would d help spur the e growth of keyy industries likke agriculture and tourism wh hile at the sam me time getting g more people e into work.
Between now and 2016, the government must adopt measures to create a total of 14.6 million jobs. “We’re going to be rationalizing the infra program because unlike in the past, each agency was worrying about its own infra program. But since we’re very clear about economic targets, this time around we have to operate differently, meaning there has to be somebody who will oversee the government’s infra plan,” he said. In the five months ending May this year, government infrastructure spending reached P106.4 billion, up 35.6 percent from P77.1 billion in the same period in 2012. The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank earlier said the Philippines needs to jack up its spending on infrastructure to provide that fiscal spark to sustain the upward momentum of its economy. According to the World Bank, the Philippine government needs to pursue “productive investment, noting that the country’s investment efficiency has deteriorated in the last decade. National Economic and Development Authority director general Arsenio Balicasan said the government has prioritized some projects under its public-private partnership program that are aimed at further developing transportation, power and tourism in the country. Goldman Sachs earlier said the Philippines might need to shell out $110 billion to meet the growing demand for quality infrastructure, with power projects accounting for the biggest share of the total amount ($46 billion). Investments in road projects are seen to reach $24 billion, railways $23 billion, sea ports $$8 billion, water and sanitation $6 billion and airports $2 billion.
Gov’t borrowings down 11.5% in May By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Government borrowings declined by 11.5 percent to P26.77 billion in May as it pared down loans from the international market, according to the Bureau of Treasury (BTr). This brings total borrowings to P204.08 billion in the first five months of the year, down 46 percent from P377.85 billion a year ago. Gross domestic borrowings accounted for the bulk of to- tal loans with P195.11 billion, mostly comprising of Treasury bonds (T-bonds) (P174.88 billion) and Treasury bills (T-bills) (P20.22 billion). The amount was 31 percent higher than the previous year’s P282.6 billion. Foreign borrowings, on the other hand, amounted to P7.97 billion during the five-month period, a sharp decline from the P95.24 billion registered last year. Of the total external borrowings, the government tapped its project loan window for its P1.16 billion worth of financing requirement. It also secured program loans amounting to P691 million. In May alone, the government borrowed P24.92 billion from domestic sources, an increase of 33 percent from P18.73 billion in the same period a year ago. Borrowings from foreign sources, declined to P1.85 billion from P11.53 billion as the Aquino Administration continued to rely on domestic debt as part of a strategy to mop up excess liquidity and curb the peso appreciation. The government has programmed to borrow P150 billion from the local debt market in the third quarter, six percent higher than the borrowings made the previous year. Of the total, P90 billion will be made up of T-bonds while the balance of P60 billion will be in the form of T-bills. The Philippines raised around P141.8 billion in the second quarter, slightly lower than its programmed borrowing of P150 billion for the April to June period. The government has been ramping up borrowings from the domestic market to take advantage of the strong interest in the virtually risk-free debt papers. Investors have turned to peso-denominated instruments to capitalize on the country’s strong economic fundamentals.
Alliance Select pushes back S’pore listing By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Tuna and salmon processor Alliance Select Foods International Inc. has pushed back its plan to list in the Singapore bourse pending a resolution of Philippine taxation issues. The homegrown seafood exporter is also focusing on integrating its fishing operations that will drive higher profits, its top executive said. Alliance Select president and CEO Jonathan Y. Dee said the debut in the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Ltd.’s Catalist or second board will likely be conducted early next year. “It could be early next year, It depends on how fast we can hear back from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR),” Dee said. Specifically, Alliance Select is required to notify the BIR of a share purchase or sale 15 days before the transaction. This will allow the transaction to be tax-exempt under the Philippines-Singapore tax treaty. However, Dee said stock transactions are hard to predict. Alliance Select is instead offering to make a posttrading application for the tax exemption. In September, Alliance Select secured approval from its board of directors for the plan to debut in the Singapore bourse. The board allowed the sale of up to 430.29 million Singapore Depository Shares (SDS), which are foreign shares held on deposit by a custodian bank. The underlying shares that represent the SDS will be listed in the local bourse. Dee said the sale of new shares will allow the seafood exporter to generate fresh funds for expansion projects. For this year, Alliance Select is spending $17 million for its Philippine operations and $4 million for Indonesia. “The key right now for us is to build up the fishing divisions that’s why the capital expenditures is all focused towards that,” Dee said. Dee also said that the integration of the fishing division will ensure cheaper raw materials for the canning operations. Indonesian subsidiary PT Van De Zee is building four new catchers that will be ready to sail late this year and in 2014. It will support the tuna cannery operations of P.T. International Alliance Food Indonesia. Last year, Alliance Select moved into aquaculture by acquiring 80 percent of Akaroa Salmon Ltd., a pioneer in king salmon fishing farming and an iconic brand in New Zealand, for P97 million. For this year, Alliance Select is targeting to grow its profits by 30-35 percent from $1.359 million in 2012, Dee said. “As we implement the integration, there will be more supply of fish and higher capacity utilization of factories so we will see more income in the future,” Dee said. The firm started engaging in tuna processing, canning, and export of canned tuna products through its plant in Gen. Santos City in 2004.
To date, the company produces more than 200 metric tons of processed seafood daily, supplying hundreds of successful brand name companies across 60 countries around the world. Alliance Select has factories in Gen. Santos City, Indonesia, US and Thailand.
QE E or high h inte erestt rate es Category: Opinion Published d on Thursdayy, 04 July 2013 3 20:05 Written b by John Mangun “Gold is mone ey. Everything g else is credit.” – John Pie erpont (J.P.) M Morgan (1912) DO you believ ve Morgan’s sttatement aboutt gold being the only real mo oney to be true? Maybe, maybe nott. If you ask 100 intelligent a and informed p people about it, it is unlikely u that evven a majority w would agree w with him. Yet, in n 1912 everyone wou uld say gold is tthe only true m money. That statemen nt was not, in the least bit, controversial o or subject to d debate back then, un nlike today, be ecause everyone believed it to be true. In n other words, it was w a “fact” because everybod dy believed it was w so. Through th he ages, there have been ma any ideas that were taken to be true, but w were actually fa alse. But that d did not matter, bec cause if we all believe someth hing, then we act a on it and, th herefore, it might as well be trrue. When a grroup of people believed that oce eans went on forever f and tha at there was n o land on the horizon, they never sailed b beyond where they y could see the eir own land. Common C know wledge or conve entional wisdom m, whatever you call it, is stronger than reality y, because we only act on what we believe to t be true. The globall financial mark kets are in gre eat confusion because b what has been hap ppening in the last five yearss goes against wh hat everyone believes. There has never bee en an example e in recorded h history where a country that p printed money and d debased its currency c did no ot experience hyperinflation. That is a fact. However, the ere has never b been a case in rec corded history where w every pa articipant in the e global financiial system wass printing mone ey. Therefore, w we are drawing co onclusions that seem to fit or match m conditions that are so different from a anything we ha ave seen beforre. The conclusions may be wron ng because wh hat we are bas sing these on is wrong. Garb bage in, garba age out, as com mputer people say y. Everyone believes b that pigs p cannot fly because no one o has ever sseen them do so. But maybe e for the last 1 10,000 years, pigs s have just be een keeping th heir flying abilitty a secret. So o if one pig de ecides to com me out and fly, every conclusion we have made e about pigs is now wrong be ecause conditio ons have chang ged. Never in hiistory has the power p to contro ol the financial markets been n so globally co oncentrated, in the way it is n now, in the central banks. Asset price bubbles have always been b the resultt of the particip pating buyers a and sellers’ irra ational exuberance. Eventually, one side blink ks or runs out of money and the bubbles e explode. Howe ever, this time, these bubbles are being fueled by the central banks, which can c never run o out of money. But what about a US Fed deral Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke e’s comments about the en nd or tapering off of quantitative e easing (QE)? ? Note what he had said. Th he Fed would llike to buy lesss US governm ment debt and, at the same time, intend to kee ep interest rate es low. Obviou usly, it is time for Bernanke to retire, beca ause what he ssaid is impossible. The Fed is s funding the US government and, therefore e, a major porti on of the US e economy, by pu urchasing its debt. In order to make m that debt affordable to the t governmen nt, the Fed is b buying it at alm most zero-interrest rate. The Fed is
directly buying (or loaning money to the banks to buy) virtually all the debt the US government issues. If the Fed stops or even reduces buying, who is going to buy the debt at zero-interest rate? I will gladly loan my sons’ money at such a rate, but I will not loan you money at zero interest. The Fed cannot stop buying US government debt and keep interest rates at zero. The choice is, therefore, between QE to infinity and seeing interest rates go up. If interest rates go higher, the debt service alone will bring down several of the economically weaker countries, such as Italy and Spain. But the world cannot afford to bail out major countries like these. There are some thoughtful people saying these debt-ridden economies need to stop borrowing and go back to the old way of working, saving and paying off the debt. That is not going to happen. Europe now has high unemployment. What would happen if governments stop borrowing money to support those economies? Complete social and economic collapse. QE to infinity carries its own serious long-term problems. But the short-term results of ending QE would be global financial Armageddon. **** E-mail me at email@example.com. My web site is www.mangunonmarkets.com. Follow me on Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by the COL Financial Group Inc.
PHL, Malaysia launch initiatives to ramp up sagging bilateral trade Category: Economy Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 20:19 The Philippines and Malaysia are coming up with fresh initiatives that would ramp up their bilateral trade, which dropped in 2012. According to the National Statistics Office, the Philippines exported a total of $1.017 billion worth of goods to Malaysia in 2012, down by 7.38 percent from 2011’s $1.099 billion. Electronic products remain as the country’s top exports to Malaysia. Malaysia, on the other hand, exported some $2.503 billion worth of goods to the Philippines, down by 5.17 percent from 2011’s $2.64 billion. Petroleum products remain its top export to the Philippines. With the drop in bilateral trade, the two countries have been conducting mutually beneficial activities, including trade meetings and information sessions for local exporters on both sides. The Philippines and Malaysia enjoy the benefits of trade with lower tariffs through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Free Trade Agreement (Afta), of which both are signatories. With the free-trade agreement (FTA), tariffs and other requirements of commerce that restrict trade between the two countries are reduced or eliminated. Just recently, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in cooperation with the Malaysia External Trade Development Corp., conducted an information session seeking to inform local exporters, manufacturers, government officials, members of academe and industry groups about the benefits they can derive from the Philippines’s freetrade agreements with its preferred trading partners, including Malaysia. On May 21 the DTI, through its “Doing Business in Free Trade Areas” outreach program, conducted an information session at Hotel del Rio in Iloilo City for 100 participants composed of small and medium enterprises, exporters and manufacturers, local government officials, officials of local government agencies and members of academe. Anthony Ballesteros Rivera, marketing manager of the Malaysian Embassy in Manila, spoke about the FTAs Malaysia uses to boost its export performance, as well its product interests, specific customs rules and regulations, packaging preferences and trade policies vis-à-vis its trading partners. The exchange of goods between the two countries is facilitated with mutually beneficial results from the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement, a trade bloc agreement among Asean member-countries. The Philippines exports semiconductor devices, electrical and electronic machinery, and machinery and mechanical appliances to Malaysia. Its main imports from Malaysia, on the other hand, are petroleum and petroleum products. The Philippines has seven existing FTAs. These are the Afta, Asean-China Free Trade Agreement, Asean-Korea Free Trade Agreement, Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, Asean-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, Asean-India Free Trade Agreement and the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement as its only bilateral agreement.
Malaysia’s eight regional FTAs include the same six FTAs of the Philippines plus the Developing Eight Preferential Trade Agreement and the Trade Preferential System among the Member States of the Organization of Islamic Conference. Its three bilateral agreements are Malaysia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, Malaysia-Pakistan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and the Malaysia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. Foreign direct investments from Malaysia are spread into construction, finance, real estate, manufacturing, mining, private services, trade and transportation. The Malaysian companies operating in the Philippines include Resorts World Hotel, Shangri-La Hotels, the Malayan Banking Corp. or Maybank, and MTD Capital Bhd, which upgraded the South Luzon Expressway.
Recto, Sotto renew support for Charter amendments on foreign investments Category: Economy Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 20:11 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez The high trust ratings being enjoyed by the Aquino administration can help dispel prevailing concerns over constitutional amendments, especially if limited to reforms that would liberalize foreign investments, an administration senator said on Thursday. Sen. Ralph Recto made the statement when asked about renewed moves in the House of Representatives to pursue amendments in the economic provisions in the Constitution. Asked if the Aquino administration can be trusted on Charter amendments, unlike previous administrations where such bids failed due to fears of term extensions, Recto said, “This administration is very trusted as shown in the survey and results of midterm elections.” He said “a discussion/debate on liberalizing foreign investments is healthy for our democracy” but “term extensions are not.” Recto said he supports discussions on amendments to the economic provisions in the Constitution to draw more jobgenerating investments to the country. “It is always good/healthy to have a public discussion on liberalizing foreign investments through constitutional amendments and whether or not it will create more jobs and greater wealth for Filipinos. I am in favor of having this discussion and have a public consensus,” he said. Sen. Vicente Sotto III said he supports amending the economic provisions of the Constitution, but nothing beyond that. “I want to know what procedure they favor [in amending the Constitution]. I am okay with economic provisions but how will this be done? I don’t want Charter changes, only amendments,” Sotto said. President Aquino had consistently thumbed down the need for constitutional amendments to further grow the economy, citing economic growth for the last three years under the 1987 Charter.
SBM MA signs s s ‘inte egritty ple edge’’ to boo ost bu usine ess in n Sub bic Category: Economy Published d on Thursdayy, 04 July 2013 3 19:58 Written b by Henry Empeño / Corresp pondent SUBIC BAY FREEPORT— —Subic Bay M Metropolitan Au uthority (SBMA) Cha airman Robe erto Garcia h has expresse ed his commitment to practice eth hical business and good corrporate governance b by signing the e integrity pledge, a formal vvow to prohibit bribe ery, maintain a code of cond duct, and impllement systems and controls. The signing o of the pledge iss expected to sset the tone fro om the top and comm mit the SBMA and all its offiicers and employees to also beh have with in ntegrity and to carry on their responsibilitie es ethically, G Garcia said in a stateme ent on Thursday. “This is in consonance with w the agency y’s corporate governance g inittiative and in line with the na ational governm ment’s platform off good corpora ate governance e,” Garcia said.. “We’d like to stress here th hat transparenccy and accountability make perfe ect business se ense.” Garcia sign ned the pledge e last week witth Makati Busin ness Club Exe ecutive Director Peter Perfectto, whose grou up has partnered with w the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippin nes (ECCP) in promoting the e Integrity Initia ative, a private sec ctor-led campaiign aiming to sttrengthen ethic cal standards in n society. The Integrrity Initiative as spires for a lev vel-playing field for businesss, where ethica al and complia ant companiess enjoy competitive e advantage in n both government and priv vate sector tra ansactions. Sig gnatories to the pact are billed as ethically co onscious busine ess leaders and executives who w aspire to crreate positive cchange in the ccountry. Garcia said after signing g the integrity pledge, he wo ould require S SBMA departm ments to come up with appro opriate internal sys stems and con ntrols to preven nt, detect and respond to an ny unethical co onduct by employees; ensure e good governance; and institutio onalize the valu ues of integrity and accountab bility in their bu usiness transacctions. The Integriity Initiative com mpliance frame ework presents s four control m measures derivved from how m management ru uns an enterprise: integrity governance and po olicy structure; risk assessme ent; documenta ation, communication and rep porting; and implem mentation and monitoring. m Garcia said d joining the Integrity Initiativ ves program is s the latest in a series of m moves by SBMA A officials to in nstill a culture of transparency and accountability in the Subic c Bay Freeport,, now a growing hub for busin ness and indusstry.
“This is a very important step,” the SBMA executive said. “Aside from seeking to strengthen the agency’s corporate governance initiatives, this is expected to create a more conducive investment climate in the Subic Freeport, which is what we’re after in the first place.” “We also hope that this would set the ball rolling and inspire companies and agencies in Subic to do the same. We aim to prove that transparency, honesty and fairness can produce good results,” Garcia added.
In Photo: Makati Business Club Executive Director Peter Perfecto (second from left) congratulates Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chairman Roberto Garcia who signed the integrity pledge as a sign of commitment to ethical business practices and good corporate governance. Also in photo are SBMA directors Joseph Khonghun (left) and Joven Reyes. (SBMA Photo)
National government’s cash balance rising Category: Top News Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 21:53 Written by Jun Vallecera The national government has exhibited a growing reluctance to spend not just in the past few months, when most economies were more than willing to front-load the disbursement of funds for maximum impact on local output, but also the past few years. That reluctance could slow the country’s growth momentum, which already accelerated to 7.8 percent in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter, given that government spending played a key role in that acceleration. Data obtained from the Department of Finance (DOF) show the government having accumulated a cash balance totaling P291 billion in the first five months this year, which was higher than the cash balance of only P283.84 billion in 2012. The accumulation of a growing cash balance is indicative of a government that is either unwilling or unable to spend for the various services it usually delivers or fund projects needed to support growth objectives over the medium or long horizon. The national government again did not follow a desired robust spending in the first half of the year to support stronger growth in the second semester. This is reminiscent of President Aquino’s reluctance to spend in the first three years of his term so the next half of his administration would reap the benefits of the front-loading. According to DOF data, the government posted a cash balance of P283.84 billion last year, which was a little over 50 percent higher than the year-ago balance of only P188.53 billion. A senior budget official said the numbers might mean the various agencies have not been optimizing the use of their budget allocations and have been forced as a consequence to return the money to the Treasury. The steady accumulation of such a balance could also mean a reluctance to spend as mandated in deference to the President’s daang matuwid or good government program. That program, officials said, stresses the importance of transparency and accountability in the implementation of growth-boosting projects and programs carried by the public-private partnership (PPP) banner. The budget official said the cash balance grew from only P188.20 billion in 2011 to P283.84 billion the following year, in part because of more rigorous bidding standards imposed on all public-spending programs since the President assumed leadership in 2011. More rigorous bidding rules, however, have, in certain cases, encouraged the various agencies to go slow on the disbursement of funds for fear of committing something that invites trouble later on.
As a result, most agencies would rather remit undisbursed funds to the Treasury as required by public guidelines, rather than risk the likelihood of a public inquiry into where the money went. “The good government program encouraged by President Aquino is a good program but it has also unfortunately encouraged some of them to play safe by not spending the money at all,” the official said. In a related development, the government borrowed far less funds in the first three months this year, totaling only P56.7 billion on net basis. This was substantially lower than targeted net borrowings reaching P171 billion for the period. Under the current borrowing program, the government is supposed to borrow a total of P228 billion on net basis, indicative of a government that continues to incur far more debts than it pays for. This compares with last year’s net-borrowing position when the government incurred actual net borrowings totaling P568 billion, instead of only P337 billion, as planned. This means the government was more aggressive last year in sourcing the necessary funds from domestic sources than they have displayed in the first five months this year. Treasury officials said total net borrowing was comparably lower thus far this year because the actual deficit has also been lower. The budget deficit stood at only P42.839 billion in the first five months, which essentially means the budget shortfall should approximately double in June, if the government were to catch up with a spending program designed to boost growth seen averaging up to seven percent this year. Domestic consumption and government spending were last year’s growth drivers.
5-month tourist arrivals topped 2 million Category: Top News Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 21:46 Written by Estrella Torres The Philippines attracted 2.011 million tourists from abroad from January to May, the highest five-month total ever, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT). The number covered both foreign tourists and overseas Filipino workers who visited their relatives here during the period. The DOT said arrivals grew by 10.54 percent from only 1.819 million in the same period last year. The Philippines’s traditional markets for tourists posted record growth, particularly the United States and Japan, whose economies are recovering from the global financial turmoil. Records from the DOT showed that South Korea remained the country’s main source of tourists, with 489,389 arrivals for the period, up 23.22 percent. Arrivals from the US increased by 2.58 percent to 306,056, the second-highest for the period. The other main sources of foreign tourists were China, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Germany. The number of Japanese tourists that visited the country in the first five months of the year reached 179,984, a growth of 7.51 percent. Tourist arrivals from Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia grew by more than 10 percent owing to the increase in the number of intraregional flights, mostly provided by budget airlines. Tourist arrivals from Singapore grew by 17.18 percent to 70,470; Hong Kong, by 14.25 percent to 55,811; and Malaysia, by 10.74 percent to 45,447. The United Kingdom contributed 52,379 tourists to the total, while Germany added 33,205. But Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said tourist arrivals from Taiwan suffered a temporary setback due to the tragic death of a Taiwanese fisherman in Philippine waters. Records showed a dramatic 15.51-percent decline in arrivals from Taiwan to only 79,297 in the January-to-May period.
‘We need more than just rice quantitative restriction’ Category: Top News Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 21:32 Written by Cai U. Ordinario While supporting the government’s appeal for the retention of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice importation, stakeholders in the rice-farming sector on Monday said the Aquino administration should be focusing more on longterm solutions instead of stopgap protectionist measures. Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) said this should be the last appeal of the government for the extension of the QR privilege before the World Trade Organization (WTO). In an interview on Thursday, R1, a member of the Task Force on WTO Agreement on Agriculture (Re) negotiations (TF-WAR), told reporters that the QR was only a stopgap measure that the government must eventually give up. The convenors of R1 said the government should instead focus on efforts that would develop the farm sector with the aim of making it globally competitive and attractive to the younger generation of Filipinos. “Food is a national security issue, we cannot just totally rely on other countries [for supply], except [if] we are a small country like Singapore with high income. But for us, we are a country of 97 million people, we have to produce our own food,” R1 co-convenor Au Regalado said. “If we remove the QR, we should make sure the farm sector is already competitive and developed,” she added. R1 co-convenor Jessica Reyes-Cantos said the government must now move toward a “tariffication” of the QR. This means that the country should now set a certain tariff rate for all imported rice entering the domestic market. This also means the government could no longer control the entry of imported rice in the domestic market as long as importers are able to pay for the tariff set by the government. R1 said the maximum tariff rate that the government could set is 40 percent, in compliance with its bilateral trade agreements. The QR has allowed the government to limit the volume of rice that can be imported by the Philippines every year, preventing a possible influx of cheap rice imports. To date, only South Korea and the Philippines have rice QRs. This is the third time the Philippines is appealing for an extension of the QR and this time, it is being proposed to be extended to 2017. Industry sources earlier told the BusinessMirror that in negotiating for the QR extension, the Philippines would be forced to give tradeoffs to rice-exporting countries that may negatively impact on the domestic livestock and poultry sectors. These concessions may come in the form of reduced tariffs for imported meats. TF-WAR is led by farmers, people’s organizations and industry groups. It aims for transparency and representation in the formulation of the Philippine negotiating position in the new round of WTO talks.
PSEi sheds as investors wait for fresh leads Category: Top News Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 21:28 Written by VG Cabuag The country’s benchmark index closed slightly lower after Thursday’s trade and remained below the 6,500 level as investors continued to consolidate their assets while generally remaining on the sidelines waiting for fresh leads. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) lost 15.86 points to close at 6,484.26; the other indices had mixed results. The main index briefly touched the 6,500 level during the day, but profit-taking set in before the end of the trade. Brokers said investors stayed on the sidelines as some were waiting for the release of the United States monthly employment report before making their trade. That report is scheduled for release by Friday. Other markets in the region rebounded following Wednesday’s drop. “For now, several might check for directions overseas, although the present liquidity in the local financial system should eventually find its way into equities owing to the lack of other better-yielding alternatives,” brokerage firm 2Tradeasia.com said. Performances of other subindices were mixed, although most were flat. The broader All Shares index gained 2.02 to 3,955.32, the Financials index increased by 5.08 to 1,641.95, the Services index was up by 8.02 to 1,933.35 and the Mining and Oil index jumped by 884.22 points to 14,614.98. The Industrial index lost 57.22 to 9,672.91 and the Holding Firms index shed 28.79 to 5,885.18. Total volume of trade reached 1.81 billion shares worth P5.43 billion. Gainers led losers 99 to 57 and 36 were unchanged. Firms under the SM Group were again the day’s most actively traded shares. Mall operator SM Prime Holdings Inc. gained P0.30 to P16.80 per share, but parent firm SM Investments Corp. shed P19 to P881 apiece. Ayala Land Inc. lost P0.40 to P30.10, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. shed P0.10 to P5.20 and Manila Electric Co. decreased by P5 to P319. Top gainers were Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. A and B, Highlands Prime Inc., Oriental Peninsula Resources Group Inc., Mariwasa Siam Holdings Inc., while top losers were Asian Terminals Inc., IP-Egame Ventures Inc., National Reinsurance Corp. of the Philippines, SPC Power Corp. and Philippine Savings Bank. Meanwhile, the peso weakened slightly to 43.418 versus the dollar on Thursday from 43.417.
Government will not meet irrigation targets in 2014 Category: Top News Published on Thursday, 04 July 2013 21:21 Written by Cai U. Ordinario, Butch Fernandez DESPITE billions of pesos poured by the Aquino administration into the government’s irrigation program, the Philippines will not be able to meet its targets by 2014. In a report released by the Rice Watch and Action Network (R1), which has a budget partnership with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), the government was only able to irrigate, restore and rehabilitate 751,973 hectares of land since 2010. Malacañang, meanwhile, promoted NIA Senior Deputy Administrator Claro Maranan to the top post of the stateowned corporation, which recently received a tongue-lashing from President Aquino for failing to meet its goals. Maranan will formally take the place of Antonio Nangel once the NIA Board of Directors has officially accepted his nomination. Nangel’s tenure as head of the government corporation tasked to oversee public irrigation projects expired on Sunday. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. confirmed Maranan’s new designation as NIA chief “to serve the term of office beginning July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.” Before joining NIA, Maranan, 54, served as acting manager of the engineering services division at the Philippine Ports Authority. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from Lyceum of the Philippines and took up his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at Luzonian University in Lucena City. R1 said that for the 2010-2014 period, the government aims to cover 1.41 million hectares of new, restored and rehabilitated irrigation systems to boost the country’s rice production and attain rice self-sufficiency status. “While we are happy with the significant amount of government resources spent on irrigation, we have to make sure the people’s money will not be squandered and the long dream of achieving rice self-sufficiency will be attained. Besides, NIA has to earn back the people’s trust with its record of being among the graft-ridden agencies in the government,” R1 co-convenor Jessica Reyes-Cantos said. The R1 report said that under the Food Self-Sufficiency Program (FSSP), the Department of Agriculture (DA) proposed a total of P76.39 billion for various irrigation projects between 2010 and 2014. But when it came to the actual budget of the government, the NIA is programmed to receive more with P123.18 billion until 2014. The actual spending of the NIA on irrigation facilities has reached P51.96 billion between 2010 and 2012, almost half the allocated budget for the NIA and more than half of what was proposed under the FSSP. R1 added that the total appropriation for irrigation for 2010-2013 is P90.6 billion. As of February 2013, the amount released to the NIA for 2010-2013 has reached P58.76 billion. “While we’re looking into the NIA’s accomplishment and financial report, it has no disaggregated data on expenditures for new irrigation systems, and those for restoration and rehabilitation. We are worried with the 2011
Commission on Audit [COA] report that around P80.5 billion worth of NIA assets could not be established due to incomplete subsidiary ledgers and another P61.6 billion worth of construction-in-progress [CIP] could not be ascertained owing to non-maintenance of subsidiary records for CIPs,” R1 co-convenor Au Regalado said. Regalado said they expect the COA to look deeper into the results of this study and conduct an honest-to-goodness evaluation of the roles of NIA officials in the dismal performance and should be held accountable under the civil service, civil and criminal laws. R1 also called for a deeper investigation of the agency’s low and substandard performance and get the responsible officials face the cases and penalties due them. When the Aquino administration assumed power in 2010, 51 percent of 3,126,340 hectares irrigable farmlands had yet to be provided with irrigation systems. The NIA’s accomplishment report indicate that in 2010, the agency was able to accomplish 50 percent of its target for new irrigated areas; 76 percent of areas for restoration of irrigation systems; and 78 percent of target for rehabilitation of irrigation systems. In 2011 the agency was able to achieve only 71 percent of new irrigated areas; 56 percent of restoration target; and 106 percent of those for rehabilitation. In 2012 only 55 percent of target new irrigated areas was achieved; 66 percent of restoration target; and 186 percent of rehabilitation target.
Frontier Oil resets IPO By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Local oil and gas explorer Frontier Oil Corp is proceeding with its planned initial public offering (IPO). before the end of the year instead of the original June schedule amid the financial turmoil that recently battered the local bourse. Frontier Oil chief executive officer Kristoffer Fellowes confirmed the company’s intentions to do an IPO this year. “The company has already sparked the interest of a number of known business individuals and is planning to further strengthen the company’s board ahead of a what promises to be successful float on the exchange prior to yearend,” he said. Originally, the company was aiming to do the IPO in May or June but remains optimistic this can be done within the year. It hopes to raise P1.6 billion from the IPO. Proceeds of the fundraising activity would focus on bringing its onshore gas project and offshore oil field into commercial operations within the next two years, Fellowes said. SC 52 is a 96,000-hectare onshore oil and gas block located in the Cagayan Valley while SC 50 is the offshore gas field in Northwestern Palawan. Fellowes said bulk of the estimated P1.6 billion in net proceeds would finance the development of the Northwestern Palawan gas field. Listed Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. of the Phinma Group has already confirmed the extension of its 10 percent option over SC 52. Under the terms of the extension, Trans-Asia will pay Frontier Oil an option fee that entitles them to a 10 percent participating interest post-drilling. The option fee will be offset against the cost of exploration, if the option is exercised. “Frontier Oil is now moving rapidly towards commercially exploiting both SC 52 and the second of its major projects, the Calauit oilfield, which lies in Service Contract 50 offshore Northwestern Palawan and is also operated by Frontier Oil,” the company said.
Aquino dashes NIA chief’s hopes to keep plum position By Michael Lim Ubac Philippine Daily Inquirer President Aquino has appointed the No. 2 man in the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Claro V. Maranan, as its new administrator. Aquino swiftly signed Maranan’s appointment on Wednesday, the same day Antonio Nangel—whose yearlong appointment as NIA chief officially ended on June 30—was telling the Inquirer that he wasn’t about to leave yet. Nangel said that although he had accepted the fact that he would be stepping down, he expected to remain in office in a “holdover” capacity for about a year, as the process of installing a new administrator could take that long. “The President will be reappointing a new member of the board and the board will have to elect a new [NIA head],” a confident Nangel said on Wednesday. But Aquino was in no mood to reconsider his decision to fire the beleaguered NIA boss over inefficiencies at the irrigation agency. “Unless I get amnesia… I don’t have a plan to renew” his appointment, the President told reporters in an ambush interview on Tuesday. Gone for good Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Thursday said Nangel was gone for good. “The President has already appointed his replacement—Claro Maranan,” Lacierda said in a phone interview. Maranan’s appointment papers showed that he would serve from July 1 to June 30, 2014. Asked why the President would appoint someone from Nangel’s own management team, Lacierda said, “He (Maranan) was in the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) prior to appointment, not NIA.” Maranan, 54, was assistant general manager of the PPA’s engineering office from January 2005 up to his appointment as NIA senior deputy administrator. Before that, he was acting manager of the PPA’s engineering services division from August 2003 to January 2005. He has a master’s degree in public administration from Lyceum of the Philippines University and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Luzonian University Foundation. Alcala’s choice A letter dated July 3 informing the Department of Agriculture of Maranan’s appointment was forwarded to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who has administrative supervision of the NIA. The Inquirer reported earlier that Aquino had tasked Alcala with looking for Nangel’s replacement soon after the latter received a public scolding for his agency’s poor performance. At the 50th anniversary of the NIA on June 25, Aquino devoted his entire speech to pointing out the lackluster performance of the agency. The NIA, he said, had only a 66-percent accomplishment rate for “new areas of irrigation” from 2001 to 2009, but these “yearly failures” continued through 2012 under Nangel’s watch. Aquino cited a long-delayed irrigation project in his home province to highlight the agency’s inefficiency. From 2001 through 2012, not once did the NIA accomplish its annual targets for new areas for irrigation, he said. Nangel was appointed by Aquino to the agency to serve from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013. The appointment of officials of government corporations is subject to renewal every year.
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2 dead, 20 ill in red tide poisoning in Samar bay By Joey Gabieta Inquirer Visayas 11:00 pm | Thursday, July 4th, 2013
TACLOBAN CITY—Two persons died while 20 others fell ill after eating tahong (green mussel) harvested from Cambatutay Bay in Samar province that were found to be positive of the red tide toxin. Junbert Malabusa, 3, resident of Barangay (village) Gallego, Taranganan town, died on July 1 while confined at the municipal hospital. His grandfather, Elpidio, 50, died the following day in the same hospital, said Samar provincial agriculturist Anita Taran. She said the boy’s parents—Giovanni, 34, and Mary Grace, 35—and 16 other residents from Barangay Gallego and two from the neighboring barangay of Bahay, were hospitalized after eating tahong gathered from Cambatutay Bay. Some of the victims were brought to the Taranganan municipal hospital while others were confined at Samar Provincial Hospital in Catbalogan City. They are now out of danger, said Taran. The victims suffered dizziness, a tingling sensation in their fingers, lips and tongue after eating the mussels. The Cambatutay Bay is the major body of water of Tarangnan, 36 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Catbalogan City. Taran said tests made by the provincial and municipal agriculture offices on July 2 found that Cambatutay Bay was positive of red tide with toxicity level reaching 2,158 cells per liter in the Gallego area and 1,815 cells per liter in the Bahay area. The toxicity level is much higher than the tolerable level of 1 to 10 cells per liter, said Taran. Taran said that while a ban on the gathering and eating of mussels, shellfish and fish from the Cambatutay Bay has yet to be imposed by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, people have been advised to thoroughly clean mussel shells before cooking these. It is better to refrain from eating mussels from the bay, however, said Taran. Taran said that it was the first time that red tide toxins were reported in Cambatutay Bay.
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Divers pree empt spread s of des structiv ve starf rfish By Joannaa Los Baños Inquirer So outhern Luzon 10:59 pm | Thursday, July 4th, 2013
A DIVER col lects crown of thorrns at the Pasig Ree ef in Legazpi City. NONOY ONTRIBUTOR NARVAEZ/CO
LEGAZPII CITY—At leasst 40 divers fro om the governm ment and privatte organization ns gathered forr a two-day underwate er cleanup to ssave the reefs o of this city, colllecting mostly cro own of thorns ((Cots), a breed d of starfish tha at destroys ccorals. Jose Rocco Jr., science rresearch specialist of the Departme ent of Environm ment and Naturral Resources (DENR), ssaid the diverss collected at le east 500 Cots. Their effortt, said Roco, sa aved at least 10.5 hectares off coral cover “w which could havve been damag ged in a year” had the Cots no ot been remove ed. The remov val of Cots, an undertaking u pu ut together by th he Albay provin ncial governme ent, was held JJune 26-27 in celebration n of Environment Month. e Pasig Reef lo ocated off the ccoast of Barang gay Arimbay in n this city and Roco said the Cots were gathered at the Denson Re eef off the coas st of villages lyiing “somewherre in the middle e of Albay Gulf..” A total of 414 4 Cots were removed r from the t Pasig Reeff and 58 from tthe Denson Re eef, according tto Roco, who a also heads the Bicol Scuba Diivers Foundatio on Inc. (BSDFI) A separate e dive was cond ducted in Hulug gan Reef in Ma anito town, Alba ay, where dive ers were able to o gather 10 Cots. The crown of thorns, loca ally called lapa--lapa, has razo or sharp spines that could cau use injuries to h humans. ed to the cente er called a disk and are covere ed by sharp sp pines They have a star-shaped body with tenttacles connecte about four to five centime eters long. nvasion by algae and worms. They eat tiny coral polyps s then leave co oral skeletons susceptible s to in he bamboo in between the C Divers used bamboo stick ks and sacks to o gather the Co ots. They slid th Cot and the cora al and d the stick so th he starfish wou uld automatically hold on it. gently lifted nator of the Fisheries and Coa astal Resource es Managemen nt in Albay, said d the cleanup w was Hilda Asis--Lopez, coordin organized to t prevent an outbreak o of Cotts, which could d later lead to lo oss of fish and loss of liveliho ood for fisherme en. “It is a big help h because crown c of thorns s destroy corals s quickly,” she said. She said d manually colle ecting the Cotss is one of the most effective ways of preven nting an outbre eak. The DENR R, Bureau of Fis sheries and Aquatic Resource es, Philippine C Coast Guard, P Philippine Navyy, BSDFI and P Pacific Blue Dive Center C pooled their efforts to gather the Cotts.
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Total truck ban in Metro opposed Truckers say plan allows only 7 hours to make 20K trips
By Niña P. Calleja Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:52 pm | Thursday, July 4th, 2013
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) could face a bumpy ride should it insist on imposing a total daytime truck ban on major thoroughfares. In a consultation meeting at the MMDA headquarters in Makati City on Wednesday, representatives of trucking organizations expressed their opposition to MMDA’s plan to allow cargo trucks on main roads only from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino announced two weeks ago that the agency was considering a total daytime truck ban after the “modified” version of the measure expires on July 6. Under the modified ban, cargo trucks are not allowed from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.; and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., except on Sundays and holidays. A 24-hour total truck ban is also currently in force on Edsa, from Magallanes Interchange to North Avenue, from Monday to Sunday. Past success Tolentino said the new regulation could be patterned after the one implemented in New York City’s Manhattan area. The MMDA chief earlier cited the success of the daytime truck ban that was imposed when the capital hosted the meeting of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Governors at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City in 2012. During the ADB meet, the MMDA allowed trucks on the roads only from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. In Wednesday’s meeting, Alberto Suansing, former Land Transportation Office chief and executive director of the Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership, warned that a stricter ban being pushed by the MMDA would result in a “logistical nightmare” for economic sectors dependent on trucking. Wrong target Suansing said trucking companies which collectively make 20,000 trips in Metro Manila a day, for example, would be forced to make all those deliveries in just seven hours. If the MMDA wants to alleviate heavy traffic, Suansing said, it should turn its attention to private vehicles illegally parked on the roadside and not to the trucks plying the main roads. Rodolfo de Ocampo of the Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines also warned the MMDA of heavy losses to be incurred by businesses. “Most of the truckers don’t want to make deliveries at night because of the rampant highjacking incidents… And the management of warehouses won’t operate at night because of the additional expenses,” De Ocampo said.
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PASEO DE CORO
Cebu today and some of its development challenges By Fernando Fajardo Cebu Daily News 7:35 am | Friday, July 5th, 2013
Fifty two percent of Cebu’s land has a higher than 18 percent slope. This leaves less than half of its land potentially arable. Less arable land, coupled with great demand for housing, commercial and other non-agriculture uses limits the ability of Cebu to supply its own food requirements. Likewise, the highly sloping nature of Cebu’s terrain makes it highly susceptible to soil erosion, landslides and flash floods which is also aggravated by climate change. This is the first challenge newly elected leaders in Cebu must consider. Cebu has three highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue and the Province of Cebu with its six component cities and 44 municipalities. What we know as Metro Cebu today consists of seven cities and six municipalities in the eastern side of Cebu starting from Danao City in the north to Carcar City in the south, including Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova in Mactan Island. Metro Cebu is not an official political government unit but merely an economic unit delineated for purposes of integrated planning and coordinated implementation of development projects as envisioned under the Mega Cebu concept of the Metro Cebu Development Coordination Board. In the 2010 census, Cebu counted a population of 4.167 million or 4.51 percent of the entire nation and 61.28 percent of Central Visayas. From 2000 to 2010, Cebu’s population grew by 2.19 percent annually. At this rate, the population of Cebu will reach 4.64 million in 2015 and 5.18 million in 2020. I ask our newly elected local government officials: Do we have the resources to meet the needs of our fast growing population? Metro Cebu’s population was counted in the 2010 Census at 2.551 million or 61.2 percent of the entire population of Cebu with an annual growth rate of 2.83 percent. While desirable from the economic point of view because of economies of scale, the rapid growth and high level of concentration of population in Metro Cebu can also create more social problems like lack of housing and the rise of slum areas, pollution, traffic snarls, mounting garbage and so forth. Globally, however, economic growth is seen as coming largely from fast growing metropolitan areas. The second challenge, therefore, is how to plan and make Metro Cebu grow faster without creating or compounding the ills of urbanization. Can our newly elected local government officials in Metro Cebu do this? The economy of Cebu is the largest in the south after Metro Manila in the north. Cebu’s economic growth is driven by the rapid increase in investments in business process outsourcing, tourism, and real estate development. As of last year, there were already 139 information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing firms located in Cebu which generated a total of 95,000 jobs. In 2011, foreign and domestic tourist arrivals reached 1.922 million. From 2006 to 2011, foreign tourist arrivals grew faster at 12 percent annually compared to domestic tourist arrivals which grew only by 7.0 percent annually. Six special economic zones (SEZs) operate in Cebu where most of the island’s exports are generated. In 2012, the six operating SEZs hosted 278 locators with a total employment of more than 100 thousand workers and over US$ 3.0 billion in exports. But are we to depend only in this type of activities for our future? I ask our newly elected local officials: What is our strategy to make Cebu competitive in attracting more and varied types of investments in the next three years and thereafter? In 2011, the gross regional domestic product (GRDP) of the Central Visayas region was estimated at P601.9 billion at current prices. This was 6.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the entire country. There is no government estimate of GDP below the regional level. However, applying its percentage share of the total population to the Central Visayas GRDP would give Cebu P373.2 billion in gross provincial domestic product (GPDP) in 2011. This is equivalent to 3.8 percent of the GDP for the entire country. Since most of the industrial, export and related service activities in the region are concentrated in Cebu, its GPDP is surely much higher than the above estimate. This, however, is not consoling enough. In 2009, for which latest data is available, Cebu’s average family income was still much lower at P207,0000 than that of Metro Manila’s P356,000 and barely surpassed the P206,000 national average. How can we make Cebu’s GPDP and average family income
higher than they are now? This is another challenge to our newly elected officials because more of the same BPO, tourism and real estate development may not be enough. Beginning in 2000, official government data on employment is broken down to the regional level only. Data from the April 1999 Quarterly Employment Survey, however, showed that Cebu had long ago achieved its transformation from being pre-dominantly agricultural to industrial and service activities when it reported that Cebu’s dependence on agriculture was already down to less than 30 percent of its employed workers. This is good because industrial and service activities give higher income per worker than agriculture. Given a 4.4 million projected population this year and assuming a working age group equivalent to 65 percent of the population and 65 percent labor force participation rate, Cebu will have a labor force of about 1.859 million this year. If the 7.4 percent unemployment rate of the region in January this year is also true in Cebu, about 137,000 workers are unemployed here, not to mention the underemployed which regionally reached 20 percent. Furthermore if Cebu’s labor force were to grow by 2.19 percent, similar to its population growth, Cebu’s labor force will increase by at least 40,000 annually. This, I am sure, is much greater than what the combined BPO, tourism and real estate development is presently generating. Lack of employment opportunities and the inability of the employed workers to get higher wages because of the high unemployment rate explains why the nation’s poverty incidence remains high at over a fourth of our population. Creating jobs, therefore, is another big challenge that our newly elected local government officials in Cebu must address.
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Chavit faces raps on use of leaf tax Published on Friday, 05 July 2013 00:00 Written by PETER TABINGO ILOCOS Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson will face criminal charges before the Sandiganbayan after the Office of the Ombudsman indicted him on three counts of graft for alleged fraudulent transactions involving P26 million in public funds for 12 years ago. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved the other day the recommendation of graft investigators to file the charges. Also facing prosecution for two additional graft cases is Singson’s successor, Deogracias Savellano, who served as governor from 2001 to 2003. The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Estelita Cordero, chair of the Save Ilocos Sur Alliance (SISA) Foundation who accused the respondents of unlawful financial assistance to Multi-Line Food Processing International Inc. (MFPII). Singson reportedly entered into four memoranda of agreement with MFPII between February and June 2001, under which the provincial government released four checks -- P9.18 million, P4 million, P3 million, and P8 million -- to fund unspecified livelihood projects. The first three amounts were released on Singson’s authority while the last one was disbursed under Savellano’s term. Savellano also authorized the grant of additional financial assistance worth P1.88 million in December 2001. The funds were sourced from the province’s share in the collections of tobacco excise taxes as provided under R.A. No. 7171 (An act to promote the development of the farmer in Virginia tobacco-producing provinces). Morales affirmed findings that both defendants acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence for entering into the agreements and approving the release of public funds giving unwarranted benefits to MFPII. Graft investigators said the recipient was not qualified to receive financial aid from government. Likewise the unspecified projects were never subjected to inspection or audit before and after government funds were released. “MFPII cannot be considered an NGO/PO (non-government organization/people’s organization) as to warrant the grant of financial assistance from the government,” the Ombudsman said, noting that it appeared to be a private corporation organized for profit. It also said MFPII ceased operations barely four months after the last release of funds in its favor, ironically, due to lack of funds.
Dis smiss sal Published d on Friday, 05 5 July 2013 00 0:00 Written b by AMADO P. MACASAET AMADO P. MAC CASAET
‘Mr. Aquino o is flesh and blood b like the re est of us. But as a president he should have d discernment in firing people he does not like and a keeping tho ose personally close to him.’ Previous presidents obvio ously did not closely watch the performance e of the heads o of the National Irrigation Administration. It took Pre esident Aquino o to take note of o the fact that, according to him, Antonio Na angel has been n consistently missing his ta argets. The Presid dent publicly sc colded Nangel on o Sunday. On n Tuesday, Mr. Aquino fired N Nangel, saying he was not extending Nangel’s N term. The Presid dent can fire an nybody - exceptt those whose terms are speccified under the e Constitution a and the few wh ho may be rem moved only by impeachment -- if he wakes up u on the wron ng side of the b bed. The Presid dent needs no reason to fire f anybody wh hose face he may m not like. This is one e prerogative, in n fact a right an ny president of the Philippine es hardly exerccised in the passt. This may well w be the reas son for the less s than desirable e performance of bureaucratss like Nangel. President Aquino A should order an investigation of how w Nangel perforrmed his job. M Maybe a good ffirst step is to fiind out the specific cations in the construction c of irrigation canals. I have long been informed d that canals arre supposed to be lined with concrete c to pre event water from m seeping into the soil. In most cas ses, I am told, only about 50 percent of the water reaches the field from tthe source. The rest is sucke ed in by the soil wall of the can nal. In a year orr two the canal collapses. So much water is lost. The supposedly irrigated land remains parched. So much m rice is misssed. Yet the re ecords of the N NIA may show many hundreds of o such canals having been co onstructed. If th here is a grain n of truth to thiss claim, we kno ow why this agricultural country is a perennial p net im mporter of the staple s cereal ffrom a neighbo or like Thailand which learned rice technology y from the International Rice Research R Institute and from th he UP College of Agriculture both in Los Ba años. If the Presiident is on a dis smissal mode, he might well look into the ca ause or reason ns on why the N Ninoy Aquino International Airport is still in Category II. Airline offic cials have told me that even th he computer sy ystem in the M anila Internatio onal Airport Authority is in shambles. MIAA does not have enough check pilots. NAIA is pro obably the only y international airport a in the world that has o nly one runwayy. The lone ru unway does no ot as yet affect the take offs and landings of foreign airliness.
already we are experiencing delays. If the tourism plan succeeds, we will have more flights. When that time comes, the NAIA will be a big mess. President Aquino has not been exactly lily white in getting rid of people with questionable performance or behavior. Virginia Torres, head of the Land Transportation Office is implicated in an alleged computer provider fraud. She has not been touched. The reason is Ms. Torres was or still is a target shooting partner of the Chief Executive. The fact that she was appointed by former President Aquino is not reason to dismiss her. The allegations of fraud is reason to dismiss. Gwen Garcia, former governor of Cebu, belongs to a family whose members are die-hard supporters of Gloria Arroyo. The administrative charge or charges against her have not been resolved. But she was suspended. and served only a few days of her term. What all these mean is that the President has three yardsticks for acting for or against a public official. One, which is completely valid and defensible, is the case of Nangel. The second reason for keeping Ms. Torres is clearly personal friendship. The President should go easy on ex-Governor Garcia. specially now that she is a member of Congress. Mr. Aquino is flesh and blood like the rest of us. But as president he should have discernment in firing people he does not like and keeping those personally close to him. He was absolutely right in firing Nangel. But keeping Virginia Torres and going after Garcia are remotely related to discernment. In his essay on Of Wisdom for a Man’s Self, Francis Bacon (1561-1626) said “ ... certainly men who are great lovers of themselves waste the public ..... Be so true to thyself as though be not false to others.” If President Aquino can take these words of England’s first essayist, he would profit immensely from them. The common sentiment among his own supporters, more pronounced among his political enemies is that the President has a weak cabinet. First among the weak ones is Ramon Paje, a forester who is now secretary of environment and natural resources. If the President must look at how the forest covers of the Philippine mountains have been made bald, Paje clearly did not do a fine job of being a forester. He must, with discernment, be similarly fired for failing to do his job even in his present position. It is becoming clearer by the day that many cabinet members are waiting for signals from the President on what pleases him most. The President has not indicated that he is in a hurry to resolve or finalize his government mining policy. Nobody has suggested to him to hurry up. I take exception in the case of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima although this space has not been kind to him in the matter of the new excise tax on sin products particularly cigarettes. Purisima acts. The President supports him.
By his own competence, he feels that he enjoys the confidence of the President. But he also knows that the President will fire him for no reason at all if he wants to. There are very few of Purisima’s kind in the Aquino government. They are probably fewer than the fingers of one hand. In my book the most efficient government functionaries, regardless of their rank, are those who are not afraid to lose their jobs. They are the people who make decisions quick. They serve the state, not always in accordance to what the President wants to see. A President makes mistakes but like the Supreme Court he is hardly ever wrong. It is the courage of a state functionary to tell the President he is wrong, or have the courage to tell him to act as a statesman who serves his country in his best lights. Again we remember Francis Bacon who said “ ...it is a greater extreme when a greater good of the servant shall carry things against a great good of the master’s.” *** email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Del Rosario pushes talks on sea issue with China By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Posted on Jul. 05, 2013 at 12:02am | 614 views Foreign Affairs Department Secretary Albert Del Rosario on Thursday said he has invited China Foreign Minister Wang Yi to visit Manila for a “full and constructive discussion on all issues” on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Del Rosario said that since he was appointed as Foreign Affairs chief in 2011, he has had no official visit from a Chinese Foreign Minister. The invitation was made amid the country’s ongoing political conflict on territorial claims with Beijing and came on the heels of the reported “testy exchanges” between the two envoys during the 46th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum held in Brunei. “I indicated to him that perhaps, it’s timely for him to do this because I have been to Beijing three times since I became foreign minister [in 2011] and all throughout that time, we had no visit from a Chinese foreign minister,” he said. When asked how Wang reacted to the invitation, Del Rosario said the Chinese envoy said that “he would think about it and will consider.” During the 46th Asean Regional Forum in Bandar Seri Bagawan, Wang and Del Rosario reportedly had a “testy” conversation after the Chinese envoy accused the Philippines of making aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea. Del Rosario reportedly raised his hand to answer Wang’s accusations even if he was not supposed to respond to the Chinese envoy’s remarks. The DFA chief did not deny the report, but refused to make any further comment on the incident. “I will not deny what has been reported, but I feel there’s no need to add to it,” he said. Del Rosario said that China has agreed to hold “consultations and not “negotiations”, in Beijing in September to discuss the “full and effective implementation of the DOC [Declaration on the Code of Conduct].” In all, China and ASEAN’s top envoys are scheduled to have three meetings this year: the first among ASEAN member-countries in Thailand; the second among ASEAN members and China in August and another ‘consultation’ meeting in September.
Thailand called for the first meeting to prepare the Asean for the August and September meeting in China. “Our hope is that we can have a discussion on a way forward on the COC [Code of Conduct],” Del Rosario said. The DFA chief added that he hopes that Beijing was sincere in starting consultations on the draft of a maritime code of conduct based on the non-binding but confidence-building DOC that was signed in 2002 by China and the Asean. In the past, Beijing had repeatedly refused to agree on multilateral negotiations on the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea. China had instead pushed for bilateral talks between China and claimant-countries, such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. Vietnam and the Philippines had been the most vocal in criticizing China’s aggressive stance over the oil-rich territory. Recently, however, Beijing and Hanoi had agreed to explore and share the resources on their disputed territories. Both countries even set up a hotline that would help prevent tensions between their fishermen. The Philippines, on the other hand, still has a pending case against China before the arbitral tribunal under the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, but Beijing had rejected Manila’s decision to “internationalize” the issue. Also yesterday, the DFA announced that the BRP Alcaraz, the second of two Hamilton-class cutters the Philippine government purchased from the United States, is slated to arrive on August 3. The BRP Alcaraz (PF-16), and the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), which arrived in Philippine shores in August 2011, were acquired by the Philippines under the Excess Defense Article and Military Assistance Program. The Alcaraz is named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Philippine Navy officer, who distinguished himself during the Second World War when the patrol boat he commanded reportedly shot down three Japanese aircrafts. DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez meanwhile, denied reports that the Chinese vessels had left the Panatag Shoal. Hernandez said that contrary to reports, Chinese vessels continue to intrude into Philippine maritime territories. “They leave. They come back. They come back and forth. The intrusions are continuing,” said Hernandez, wo added that the Philippines remained steadfast in its stand that the shoal is part of Philippine territory. “Our position remains the same that these areas are part of our national territory and China should respect that,” he said.
Hernandez made the statement following reports on Wednesday that a a senior security official had said that the Chinese vessels had sailed away from the Panatag Shoal. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/05/del-rosario-pushes-talks-on-sea-issue-with-china/
Meralco increases electricity charge By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Jul. 05, 2013 at 12:01am | 111 views The Energy Regulatory Commission approved the petition of Manila Electric Co. to raise distribution charges beginning July. The regulator provisionally granted a higher average distribution rate of P1.6474 per kilowatthour, representing an increase of P0.0254 per kWh. Distribution charges account for 16 percent of a consumer’s power bill. The ERC said the rate increase would vary per customers class. It approved a distribution rate of P1.5798 per kWh (excluding metering and supply charges) for residential customers consuming 201 to 300 kWh per month, representing an increase of P0.0280 per kwh. A straightforward computation of the new rate will translate into an increase of P8.40 in the monthly power bill of this customer segment. Meralco officials, however, said they were still checking the impact of the rate increase on consumers. “I was in a discussion earlier with some executives. On the rate impact, I still don’t have the simulations from our rates group,” said Lawrence Fernandez, head of Meralco’s utility economics. Fernandez said the actual impact would be different for residential, commercial and industrial power customers. The new distribution rate will take effect from July 1 this year to June 30, 2014. Meralco applies with the ERC for its annual revenue requirement under the performance-based regulation rate setting mandated required by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001. The ERC said it took into consideration the P0.0083 per kWh recovery of Meralco arising from the change in its sales mix. It said Meralco’s maximum average price gave a reasonable estimate of its sales mix and took into account its projected energy consumption. ERC executive director Francis Saturnino Juan told reporters Meralco’s forecasted sales mix pegged the maximum average price at P1.6303 per kWh, but the actual sales generated was only P1.6220 per kWh. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/05/meralco-increases-electricity-charge/
Govt confident of attaining rice sufficiency By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Jul. 05, 2013 at 12:01am | 85 views
An agriculture official said Thursday the country is set to become self-sufficient in rice for the first time this year. “Although it is hard to speculate because we are only in the third quarter of the year, we are confident that the country will be rice sufficient this year,” said Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante Delima, who is also the national rice program coordinator. Delima said local farmers were expected to produce 20 million metric tons of palay (unmilled rice), which would translate into 13.03 metric tons of milled rice. He said the production forecast was more than enough to meet the 11.23 metric tons needed to feed the whole population. The excess production will cover reasonable margins for seeds, processing, feeds and expected wastes as well as the 3.47 million metric tons ending stock good for 100 days. Delima said the rice self-sufficiency ratio was estimated by studying the relationship of rice supply, including beginning stock and net production in milled rice terms over demand, which consisted of per capita rice consumption multiplied by the population, plus provision for buffer stock. The simplified ratio also considered a portion of palay produced to be immediately set aside for seeds, processing, feeds and wastes, unlike the old practice of deducting these provisions from the milled rice produced. “We need a [simplified] rice self-sufficiency ratio that can depict actual key result areas being contemplated in the food staples sufficiency program such as managing demand, minimizing rice wastage, and easing the pressure on rice through the consumption of other food staples,” Delima said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/05/govt‐confident‐of‐attaining‐rice‐sufficiency/
Investment grade frees P147b By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Jul. 05, 2013 at 12:01am | 177 views
The Bangko Sentral said Thursday the successive investment grade ratings received by the country from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s early this year freed up around P147 billion for domestic lending. “The BSP simulations indicate that about P147.13 billion may effectively be released for loans and other expenses as a result of the upgrade to investment grade,” the Bangko Sentral said. It said the credit rating upgrade led to a reduction in the risk weights of Philippine sovereign issues denominated in foreign currencies. Credit risk weights for foreign currency-denominated sovereign issues were reduced from 100 percent to 50 percent. The capital charge for interest rate risks on bank holdings of foreign currency bonds issued by the government and the central bank was also reduced from 8 percent to a range of 0.25 to 1.60 percent of these assets, depending on the residual maturity of the debt securities or derivative contract. “These are the direct gains that accrue with the investment-grade rating,” Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a statement. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/05/investment‐grade‐frees‐p147b/
More water costs bared By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Jul. 05, 2013 at 12:02am | 302 views P140m passed on as mediation fees The two private water concessionaires have been passing on to consumers some P140 million in costs for arbitration to settle disputes in their contracts, a civil society group said Thursday. Even worse, said the Water for the People Network (WPN), the 2.2 million households they serve will also have to foot the bill when the two companies, Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Systems, Inc. contest a government bid to stop them from passing on their corporate income taxes and operating expenses to their customers. “As we speak, the two firms have hired consultants and lawyers, and like water, the meter is already running,” said Sonny Africa, WPN president. Africa said under the concessionaires’ contracts with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, all costs incurred related to arbitration begin during the preparation and even before the actual proceedings. The MWSS, which oversees the operations of the concessionaires, declared the pass-on charges “grossly unjust” on June 7, after the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel found them to be “illegal and without basis.” “The principle behind the inclusion of operating expenses in the determination of a just and reasonable rate is to allow the public utility to recoup the reasonable amount of expenses it has incurred in connection with the services they provide,” the MWSS resolution signed by chief regulator Raoul Creencia said. “It does not give the public utility the license to indiscriminately charge any and all types of expenses incurred without regard to the nature thereof, i.e., whether or not the expense is attributable to the production of services by the public utility,” Creencia said. The Palace, which has been silent on the water agreements, on Thursday declined to comment on the pass-on charges. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said it was best to wait for the new rates approved by the MWSS.
“The MWSS is still studying the rate rebasing, so I cannot comment on all those things because we do not know yet what the final report of the MWSS will be,” Lacierda said. The two firms rejected have rejected the MWSS resolution and have demanded that it be revoked because it was contrary to their contracts and would impair the viability of their operations. They maintained they were not a public utility but a contractor and agent of the MWSS. So far, the Manila Water had the biggest arbitration cost passed on to consumers at a total of P132.8 million while Maynilad has passed on P7.2 million, Africa said. Under Section 12.2 of the concession agreement, all disagreements, disputes, controversies or claims arising out of or relating to the agreement shall be settled through arbitration in accordance with the arbitration rules of the UN Commission on International Trade Law. The concessionaires’ share of such costs shall be treated as an “expenditure,” which, along with the corporate income taxes, can be passed on to consumers as provided for in the contract. Based on the agreement, a copy of which was obtained by the Manila Standard, the MWSS and the concessionaires are entitled to name a representative to the panel, which would be called “Appeals Panel” but the chairman would be the named by the International Chamber of Commerce. The Appeals Chairman will be given a per diem to be determined by the chamber, while the other members of the panel are entitled to P2,500 each per day or portion of a day while in session or whatever amount to be determined by the panel. The panel may also use the secretarial and administrative support services of the Regulatory Office free of charge, the contract says. All consultants and experts, local or international, and lawyers that would be hired by the panel would be considered as an “expenditure.” “That’s the sad part of this arbitration. The consumers and the public cannot participate in the hearings with the chairman to be named by the International Chamber of Commerce, composed of private businessmen, and with the two firms as members,” Africa said. “Where is transparency here when the representative from the MWSS is already outmanned and outvoted, with the Appeals Chairman being named by the two firms’ fellow businessman-group?” Africa said.
Africa said some P280 million in arbitration costs have already been incurred, with MWSS footing half the cost and the water concessionaires passing their half to the consumers. In 1999, he said, citing official documents, the arbitration cost P23.1 million over the dispute on the extraordinary price adjustment brought against Manila Water . Another dispute involving Manila Water occurred in 2003 over the notice of early termination that cost the consumers P109.7 million. Also in 2003, the Maynilad was involved in a dispute with MWSS over an extraordinary price adjustment that cost the consumers P7.2 million. Water consumers are expected to picket the MWSS office today along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City to demand that the government revoke its contracts with the two companies, Africa said. A source from the MWSS who spoke on condition of anonymity said Thursday that regulators under the Arroyo administration were responsible for the onerous contracts. “The incumbent regulator and other officials were even the ones who were able to discover the irregularities,” the source told the Manila Standard. The concession agreement between MWSS and the two water concessionaires allow them to pass on “business taxes” to consumers through their monthly water bills. Previous Regulatory Office regulators had interpreted the phrase “Philippine business taxes” to include the cost of corporate income taxes, a paper signed by chief regulator Emmanuel Caparas said. With Rio N. Araja, Joyce Pangco Pañares and Macon Ramos-Araneta http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/05/more-water-costs-bared/
House bills piling up: 1,903 so far By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Jul. 05, 2013 at 12:01am | 579 views
With his imminent re-election as Speaker of the House in the 16th Congress, Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Thursday vowed to act with dispatch on several measures at the lower chamber even as he expressed elation over the enthusiasm shown by congressmen in filing their pet measures. The 16th Congress opens on July and several congressmen have filed over a thousand bills on their first working day on Monday. “If the long queue was indicative of the enthusiasm of my peers to participate actively in quality legislation, it must be a very promising start,” Belmonte said. “Who knows, it may even make this 16th Congress surpass the achievements of its predecessor.” The House of Representatives Plenary Affairs Bureau on Monday began to accommodate bills and resolutions on various vital issues and policy reforms filed by lawmakers thru their congressional staff. As of Thursday, a total of 1,093 House Bills and 31 House Resolutions have been filed. During the first working day of the 16th Congress on Monday, some 826 bills of national and local scope, 25 House Resolutions, one Concurrent Resolution and one House Joint Resolution were officially received and numbered. The measures would be transmitted by the Office of the Secretary General headed by lawyer Marilyn Barua-Yap to the Committee on Rules following its reconstitution when Congress opens on the morning of July 22. Belmonte also lauded the involvement and determination of people’s organizations to participate actively in legislation and policy making. He was referring to the “Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition,” a convergence of about 18 people’s organizations, including media groups, which filed the “Petition for indirect initiative to enact a national legislation titled “An Act to Strengthen the People’s Right to Information.”
The leadership of the House of Representatives is now in the process of naming the heads of 58 standing committees and 11 special panels and its memberships. Belmonte, who is seeking a fresh mandate as Speaker, told his allies in the House that they have only until this week to submit the names of lawmakers whom they will recommend and support as head of committees. He said the process must be completed as soon as possible so that the House members can buckle down to work as soon as Congress opens. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/05/house‐bills‐piling‐up‐1903‐so‐far/
GSIS buys shares in casino operator By Jenniffer B. Austria | Posted on Jul. 05, 2013 at 12:02am | 297 views
State-run pension fund Government Service Insurance System has invested P800 million in Leisure & Resorts World Corp., which is building a new casino in ParaĂąaque City. Leisure & Resorts World said Thursday it raised P1.65 billion from the sale of preferred shares to investors, including GSIS. The casino operator said in a disclosure to the stock exchange the GSIS subscribed to P800 million worth of preferred shares, while Philippine Commercial Capital Inc. bought P200 million. The preferred shares have a coupon rate of 8.5 percent annually and are to be paid semi-annually. Leisure & Resorts World said the shares were cumulative, non-voting and nonparticipating. The company said subscribers to the preferred shares would be entitled to 1 warrant share for every 20 preferred shares acquired. Each warrant, if exercised at a price of P15, or the average weighted trading price for the three months prior (whichever is lower), will be converted into one common share. The option will be exercisable starting in the fifth year. Leisure & Resorts said it would use proceeds from the sale of preferred shares to finance its participation in the Belle Grande Integrated Resort and Casino project, the construction, renovation and capital expenditures of the Midas Hotel and Casino, the construction of the Techzone BPO building in Makati City, and the acquisition and rollout of additional bingo sites. The companyâ€™s wholly-owned unit AB Leisure Global Inc. signed a P3-billion loan agreement with BDO Unibank Inc. in May.
The amount partially funded the P4-billion payment to Belle Corp., which it would use for the Belle Grande Integrated Resort and Casino project that is expected to open by July next year. AB Leisure has economic interest in the casino project, which entitles it 30 percent of the fixed yearly income generated from the lease of all commercial spaces in the casino project. These spaces include hotel, retail, and casino premises. AB Leisure will be paid fees equivalent to 30 percent of the 50-percent share of Premium Leisure and Amusement Inc. from the casino operations, or 30 percent of PLAI’s 15-percent share of net wins. PLAI is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Belle Corp., which has obtained a license from state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to operate an integrated resort and casino project in the Pagcor Entertainment City complex. The $1.2-billion Belle Grande is located on a 6.2-hectare property with a gross floor area of 300,000 square meters. The project will contain 20,000 square meters of gaming space, six hotel towers with a total of 950 rooms and a number of high-end bars and restaurants. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/05/gsis‐buys‐shares‐in‐casino‐operator/
Metro footbridges will have washrooms, CCTV and 24-hour security July 5, 2013 12:53 am
Pedestrian footbridges in Metro Manila will soon have its own washroom facilities, 24-hour security, surveillance cameras and covered walkways. Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino revealed the improvements will be achieved through the agency’s “Adopt-A-Footbridge” program. The program was launched on Thursday at C-5 Libis, Eastwood, Quezon City, attended by Tolentino and representatives of private firms AMSI Builders and Illuminate Dynamic Media, Inc. (IDMI). Under the program, AMSI Builders and IDMI will finance the repair, rehabilitation and improvement of the footbridges. Part of the improvement will be the construction of Trellis and Polycarbonate covered walkway to protect pedestrians from extreme heat and rain. Proper lighting will also be installed, along with CCTVs and 24-hour roving security personnel. There will also be restrooms with water closets, lavatories and urinals, provisions for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and ornamental plants along the bridge span to reduce air pollution. “With all these amenities, using the pedestrian footbridges will be a more pleasant commuter experience,” Tolentino said. “The beauty in this Adopt-A-Footbridge program is that we will now be able to repair and rehabilitate our pedestrian footbridges at no expense, since this is a government-private sector partnership,” he said. RITCHIE A. HORARIO http://www.manilatimes.net/metro-footbridges-will-have-washrooms-cctv-and-24-hour-security/15911/
DA resorts to cloud seeding vs. drought July 4, 2013 7:12 pm
by LEANDER C. DOMINGO
DIFFUN, Quirino: Amid continued dry spell in the Cagayan Valley region and lack of rains brought by the recent Typhoon Gorio, the Department of Agriculture is resorting to cloud seeding to save corn plants from wilting.
“We will again conduct cloud seeding operation to induce rains as an alternative solution to the absence of rains to save the corn plants from wilting,” said Orlando Lorenzana, Assistant Regional Director of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Lorenzana said he is “saddened by the situation of Northern Isabela and Southern Cagayan farmers who only experienced drizzles in the past few weeks.”
Officials said the rains brought by Typhoon Gorio may have saved farmers in Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya provinces but not enough to save the corn plants from wilting in Isabela and Cagayan provinces.
Lorenzana said a downpour is badly needed “to sustain the growth of corn plants in Region 2 that are already at the vegetative stage, the very reason we need to conduct cloud seeding very soon.” Lorenzana, however, said he is thankful that Typhoon Gorio has brought more blessings than damages to farmers in southern Cagayan Valley region.
In his visit to Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya, Lorenzana said that the corn plants have already recovered from the mild drought.
“The rains [in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino] brought by Typhoon Gorio saved the corn plants from wilting,” he said.
“We are targeting 1.9 metric tons corn production this year. But with the two mild droughts in January and February, we are hoping that the region could maintain its 1.87 metric tons of corn production last year,” Lorenzana said.
He said that the DA had conducted cloud seeding operation in January and February and were able to save 80,000 metric tons from the expected production of 100,000 metric tons of corn with only P6 million as expenses.
Cloud seeding is the process of manually spreading either dry ice or salt into the upper part of the clouds to help stimulate the precipitation process and form rain. http://www.manilatimes.net/da-resorts-to-cloud-seeding-vs-drought/15711/
Philippines 98-percent self-sufficient in rice July 4, 2013 8:06 pm
by James Konstantin Galvez Reporter The Philippines is 98-percent self-sufficient in rice as of last year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday. In a memorandum to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Assistant Secretary Dante Delima, also the National Rice Program coordinator, said that the country’s improved rice sufficiency ratio was based on a study considering interplay of rice production, per capita consumption and population. Present statistics from other official sources show the country was only 94-percent sufficient in rice as of last year, based on a formula that considered palay (unmilled rice) production, imports and exports. Delima explained that the country’s rice self-sufficiency ratio was estimated by studying the relationship of rice supply, including beginning stock and net production in milled rice terms; over demand, which consisted of per capita rice consumption multiplied by the population, plus provision for buffer stock. The simplified ratio also considered a portion of palay produced to be immediately set aside for seeds, processing, feeds and wastes, unlike the old practice of deducting these provisions from the milled rice produced. “We need a simplified rice self-sufficiency ratio that can depict actual key result areas being contemplated in the Food Staples Sufficiency Program [FSSP] such as managing demand, minimizing rice wastage and easing the pressure on rice through the consumption of other food staples,” Delima explained in his memo to Alcala. For the year 2012, the country produced 18.03 million metric tons (MMT) of rice. In addition, the beginning inventory of rice was about 2.627MMT, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. Net palay production, after deducting a 10-percent allowance for other uses, was pegged at 16.227MMT. Of this number, milling recovery was computed at 65 percent, making the net production in milled rice terms equal to 10.547MMT.
On the other hand, demand for rice was computed by multiplying per capita consumption, pegged at a conservative 119 kilograms per person, to the population estimated at 95.86 million for the year. Thus the supply of 13.174MMT is nearly enough to cover the demand of about 13.447MMT. “With this simplified formula, the National Rice Program is confident that a more realistic rice selfsufficiency ratio, which can reflect the actual situation on the ground, and can incorporate the impact of our various programs, advocacies and interventions,” Delima said. He stressed that the achievements made in the irrigation sector brought the Philippines closer to its self-sufficiency targets not only in rice, but also in other food staples. Sustained increase Over the past three years, the country saw an unprecedented increase in rice production, from 15.77MMT in 2010, to 16.68 MMT in 2011 and 18.03MMT last year. All these are well within the targets earlier set out by the FSSP, when it was prepared in the latter part of 2010 up to the earlier part of 2011. This year, the 20.04MMT production target for 2013 will translate to 13.03MMT of milled rice to meet the 11.23MMT of rice needed to feed the population. Delima said that the country saw unprecedented increase in rice production because of massive development in the rice ecosystem, particularly in previously nonirrigated areas. “Because of strong development in irrigation, we have record increase in harvested areas as well as yield,” Delima said. To attain its rice production target for this year, the DA encouraged early cropping during the dry season to produce at least 47 percent of the target production for the year. The remaining volume was produced during the wet season and during the third cropping period. With the good results produced by this cropping scheme, the DA will gradually increase the volume of palay produced during the dry season to 60 percent of the production target, while the remaining 40 percent of the annual palay requirement would be produced during the wet season and the third cropping period.
BSP reduces risk weights on foreign currencies July 4, 2013 7:59 pm
Risk weights of Philippine sovereign issues denominated in foreign currencies have been reduced by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). In a statement on Thursday, the central bank said that the reduced risk weight cover two risk categories—foreign currency denominated sovereign and the capital charge for interest rate risk on bank holdings. Credit risk weights for foreign denominated sovereign issues are reduced from 100 percent to 50 percent. Meanwhile, the capital charge for interest rate risks on bank holdings of foreign currency bonds issued by the government and the BSP is reduced from 8 percent to a range of 0.25 percent to 1.60 percent of these assists, depending on the residual maturity of the debt securities or derivative contract. According to the BSP, the lower risk weights assets have the effect of making available more funds that may be potentially used for lending and other banking activities. It added that the reduction in risk weights is a direct result of the credit-rating upgrade of the Philippines into investment grade by two international rating agencies. “As part of its overall risk management framework, the BSP conservatively raised in July 2007 the risk weights of sovereign issues denominated in foreign currencies,” it said. Under the same guidelines, the central bank continued that the investment grade ratings recognized the stronger risk standing of the Philippines, which allowed the reduction in risk weights. Fitch Ratings as well as Standard and Poor’s upgraded the country from BBB- from BB+ category, which brought the country to investment grade. BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. pointed out that these are the direct gains that accrue with the investment grade rating.
“The impact is not only about the feel-good effects of a lower risk weights, but that there are balance sheet implications to consider as well,” he said. Furthermore, BSP simulations indicate that about P147.13 billion may effectively be released for loans and other expenses as a result of the upgrade to investment grade. The same central bank simulations showed that the calibrated risk weights will raise the capital adequacy ratio of universal and commercial banks from 17.28 percent to 17.83 percent using end2012 banking figures. The BSP also pointed out that the simulated effects are not insignificant. However, it also reminds that credit underwriting standards need to be sustained if the country are to sustain the benefit of such ratings upgrade. Mayvelin U. Caraballo http://www.manilatimes.net/bsp‐reduces‐risk‐weights‐on‐foreign‐currencies/15768/
GSIS, PCCI buy bulk of LRWC private offer July 4, 2013 7:55 pm
by Madelaine B. Miraflor Reporter Gaming firm Leisure and Resorts World Corp. (LRWC) has raised P1.65 billion through a share sale to 10 private investors, bulk of which came from state-run Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Philippine Commercial Capital Inc. (PCCI). LRWC disclosed through a filing with the Philippine Stock Exchange that GSIS, the country’s pension fund for public-sector employees, invested P800 million via its share sale of preferred shares where it raised P1.65 billion. PCCI, on the other hand, invested P200 million in LRWC. The fresh funds raised by LRWC will be used primarily for its participation in the Belle Grande Integrated Resort and Casino joint venture project of Belle Corp. and Hong Kong-based gaming firm Melco Crown Entertainment. The rest of the proceeds will be spent for the construction, renovation and capital expenditures for the Midas Hotel and Casino, the construction of the Techzone Business Process Outsourcing building in Makati City and the acquisition and roll-out of additional bingo sites, among others. “As part of LRWC’s commitment to its preferred share investors, LRWC is working to secure the necessary approvals from the Philippine Stock Exchange for the listing of the shares and the warrants,” the company said in its disclosure. According to the gaming firm, the preferred shares have a coupon rate of 8.5 percent per annum and are paid semi-annually. The preferred shares sold to the 10 investors are cumulative, nonvoting and nonparticipating. “Twenty preferred shares will entitle each investor to one warrant,” LRWC explained, adding that each warrant, if exercised at a price of P15 or the average weighted trading price for the three months prior, whichever is lower, will be converted to one common share. “This option will be exercisable starting on the fifth year,” the company further said.
LRWC’s wholly owned subsidiary, AB Leisure Global Inc., earlier signed an Omnibus Loan and Security Agreement with BDO Unibank Inc. for a P3-billion loan. This amount partially funded the P4-billion payment to Belle Corp., which the latter will in turn use for the Belle Grande project.
Government rubber firm eyeing production increase July 4, 2013 7:49 pm
State-run ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC) is fertilizing a 500-hectare rubber plantation in Zamboanga to raise productivity by 40 percent to 60 percent. For the first time in 15 years, ZREC President Allan Umali said that the company will restore fertilization activity in its sole rubber plantation in Tampilisan, Zamboanga, as the government aims to maximize revenue generation, which stood at P12.88 million in 2012. “We started fertilization this year. That is the way to properly increase harvest and income for the government and for our farmer-partners,” Umali said, who is also Department of Agriculture assistant secretary for administration. The government has a 70:30 revenue sharing commitment in the rubber farm. The 30 percent goes to Tampilisan farmers as an assured source of livelihood. Umali also said that the government has sustained net earnings from ZREC even if the company stopped receiving Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) support since 2011. This is amid current inquiry by the Commission on Audit (COA) into ZREC’s alleged turnover of PDAF, or more commonly referred to as “pork barrel” to an allegedly nonexistent nongovernment organization (NGO). “ZREC is self-sustaining. Its revenue even increased to P21 million in 2011 even if we withdrew from receiving PDAF since the new government took over. We’re complying with the recommendations of COA regarding its audit report,” he said. Umali said the alleged turnover of ZREC’s PDAF fund to an NGO named Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (PFI) occurred before his holding office at ZREC. The PDAF fund held by PFI, reported to be totaling P199.6 million, was identified to have come from the 2009-2010 PDAF of three senators. Aldrin Mejares, ZREC plantation manager, said that fertilization should help reverse any ongoing weakness in the price of rubber in the market.
Average selling price of rubber by ZREC declined from P78 a kilo in 2011 to P49 a kilo from 2011 to 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 from Tampilisan. This should raise the company’s own rubber selling price. “The poor quality of rubber at Tampilisan makes selling price lower. Wrong practices have rendered the products unclean, so prices dropped. Asec. [Assistant Secretary] Umali wanted us to be business-focused, so we’re working on improving production and rubber quality,” he said. 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. The use of battery solution makes the raw rubber product retain water, bringing down selling price, according to Mejares. Poor quality raw rubber makes finished products like tires become easily defective. Tires may become brittle, causing tires to explode easily. ZREC is eventually implementing 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. James Konstantin Galvez http://www.manilatimes.net/government‐rubber‐firm‐eyeing‐production‐increase/15748/
Small, medium firms are top adopters of Cloud computing in Asia July 4, 2013 7:47 pm
IP Converge Data Services Inc. said on Thursday that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the major adopters of Cloud computing in Asia. “It boils down to operating a technologically sound Cloud infrastructure, and acquiring the expertise to do so. IPC has already established these and currently provides Philippine enterprises with reliable infrastructure as a service and software as a service,” said Niño Valmonte, marketing director of IP Converge. According to Valmonte, the recently concluded Cloud Asia 2013 gave a good picture of Cloud adoption in Asia and mirrored the direction of IPC’s cloud advocacy that is to empower Philippine SMEs through the Cloud. “In parallel, education is key, and success in the Cloud also points to the role of government in helping entrepreneurs and SMEs understand and harness its benefits to hasten business growth,” he added. IPC enumerated Cloud drivers among SMEs as follows: ease of deployment, use and management; lower cost of ownership; value added for business; flexibility to meet business demands; having zero or low maintenance and being able to book the information technology initiatives as tax-deductible operating expenses versus the more burdensome capital expenditures. Valmonte also said that Asia Pacific governments also provide clear support for Cloud technology, like giving tax incentives, as is the case in Singapore, which has made Cloud computing more attractive to SMEs. Rosalie C. Periabras http://www.manilatimes.net/small‐medium‐firms‐are‐top‐adopters‐of‐cloud‐computing‐in‐asia/15743/
Posted on July 04, 2013 11:44:10 PM
Rising liquidity can be absorbed -BSP chief MONEY SUPPLY, which in May posted its fastest annual growth in nearly six years, will not be inflationary given the economy’s capacity to absorb liquidity, the central bank chief said yesterday. “Domestic liquidity grew around 16% in May, but inflation remains low...” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. noted in an e-mail, referring to the 3% inflation rate as of May -- at the lower end of BSP’s 3-5% full-year target for 2013. “The amount of liquidity that is out there is not causing inflationary pressures; it can be absorbed by the economy.” The National Statistics Office is scheduled to report the inflation rate for June today. Domestic liquidity grew 16.3% annually to P5.345 trillion in May, central bank data show. This is the fastest annual growth since July 2007, when it expanded by 19.2%. Mr. Tetangco said the rise of money in the financial system could be due partly to restrictions added in May to placements in its special deposit accounts (SDAs). Funds placed in SDAs totaled P1.799 trillion as of June 14, nearly 1% less than P1.817 trillion the preceding week. -- A. R. R. Gregorio
Posted on July 04, 2013 11:23:21 PM
State of calamity sought over spread of mosquito disease in S. Cotabato KORONADAL -- The provincial health office of South Cotabato is recommending the declaration of a state of calamity in Tampakan town over the rising number of cases involving mosquito-borne disease. A dengue Victim: Chikungunya cases have been described as having the same symptoms. -- AFP Dr. Rogelio B. Aturdido, provincial health officer, told media the declaration of a state of calamity will enable the municipal government to access more funds to assist victims of Chikungunya. Mr. Aturdido said his office has recorded 215 cases of Chikungunya as of last Monday, noting an abrupt rise from two when the occurrence of the disease was reported in Tampakan more than a week ago. The disease is concentrated in the villages of Maltana, Kipalbig and Poblacion, he said. The World Health Organization (WHO), in its Web site, describes Chikungunya as “a viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.” WHO said the disease has similar clinical indiction with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common. Although no cure has been discovered for the disease, “treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms,” the United Nations health agency noted in a briefer. Symptoms for the disease, Mr. Aturdido said, include rashes, vomiting, and weakening of the body of the carrier. Five of the patients are currently confined in the Provincial Hospital of South Cotabato for observation after severe symptoms were observed, he added. The mosquito Aedes aegypti, the same carrier of dengue virus, transmits Chikungunya, he said. Another species identified as Aedes albopictus is also a carrier. Mr. Aturdido said as a result of the disease, victims will feel arthritis-like symptoms in their joints for five to six months or even years. WHO said most patients recover fully but may cause death to older victims. The rising cases of Chikungunya are not the first in the country. In January this year, Villareal town in Samar recorded 250 individuals afflicted with the same disease. Mr. Aturdido said the carrier mosquitoes attack at daytime with higher risks early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Mr. Aturdido said prevention by cleaning up the surroundings is the first line of defense.
Part of the plan of the provincial health office is to launch massive information drive to affected areas and the rest of the province. -- Louie O. Pacardo
Posted on July 04, 2013 11:27:14 PM
Tagged money laundering deals soar in 2012: CoA
QUESTIONABLE DEALS flagged by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) last year soared by more than 500%, according to an audit report on the body released Tuesday. Reports on suspicious deals jumped by 509.38% to 59,408 as of yearend 2012 from 9,749 year on year, the Commission on Audit (CoA) stated in the executive summary of its report on the AMLC. The figure was culled from an AMLC report as of Dec. 31, 2012. Suspicious transactions are those that have no properly identified clients, that deviate from the client profile or past transactions, and are related to unlawful activities, the AMLC stated in its Web site. Meanwhile, the CoA report noted that covered transactions saw a 560.94% rise to 307.3 million last year from 46.49 million. The AMLC defined covered transactions as single transactions involving more than 500,000 in one banking day. Further, the audit report noted that frozen funds and other properties totaled to 3.33 billion, up from 2.85 billion. Of the amount, 1.56 billion were returned to the fund owners, the CoA report showed, while 1.77 billion remain frozen with “pending civil forfeiture and freeze order cases.” Money laundering cases with the courts, the Justice department and the Office of the Ombudsman also slightly rose to 101 last year from 97. Resolved cases, meanwhile, jumped to 170 from 129. Officials could not be immediately reached for comment. In the last Congress, lawmakers amended the Anti-Money Laundering Act (Republic Act 9160) by allowing the AMLC, through a court order, to review bank accounts without the knowledge of the owners, and expanding the list of predicate crimes and covered institutions. Changes in the law were key to shield the country’s blacklisting by international watchdog Financial Action Task Force which can result in transaction delays and higher costs. -- MJOC
Posted on July 04, 2013 11:22:29 PM
Businesses, countries welcome extended amnesty RIYADH -- Saudi businessmen, expatriates and several countries welcomed a fourmonth extension to an amnesty for foreign workers with visa violations on Wednesday, saying it allowed businesses to operate as usual in the world’s top oil exporter. Saudi Arabia has moved to crack down on its large expatriate worker population to try to improve unemployment figures among Saudis and a ban on tolerating workers with visa violations was due to come into force on Wednesday. But King Abdullah decided on Tuesday to postpone the crackdown until Nov. 3 because of requests from foreign embassies and Saudi businessmen, state media reported. “I was hoping for even one more month extension,” said an Egyptian worker who declined to be named. He, like many other people in Saudi Arabia, was working for companies which are not their official sponsor. Others do jobs not listed on their residence permit. “I have transferred my sponsorship but one last procedure remained that I couldn’t finish before the deadline, which is a change of profession... Thank God we have enough time now,” the worker said. The Labor Ministry said on Tuesday more than 1.6 million people had managed to rectify their status during the amnesty which began in April. Passport officials said 180,000 visa violators had left the country without having to pay fines. Saudi Arabia has turned a blind eye to minor violations of its strict labor regulations for decades, allowing a flood of cheap imported labour used by both local companies and as domestic workers in private households. The crackdown was intended to open jobs for Saudis in a country with an official unemployment rate of 12 percent. The labor ministry has said that 600,000 Saudis have found work as a result of sweeping labor reforms it introduced last year. But the ban overwhelmed government offices and foreign consulates called on to change the status of thousands of workers, who were forced to queue for hours in sweltering heat. Many had lost their passports or fallen off official records while others had not completed their paperwork in time. English-language daily Arab News quoted consuls from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia and the Philippines, which supply workers to the Gulf, welcoming the extension of the amnesty. “We had some problems transferring all the people working for us to our own sponsorship because it will affect our localization quota,” said the manager of an engineering company who declined to be named. “The decision is very positive. The queues seemed endless and you could see them everywhere in Riyadh, standing under this heat for days.” -- Reuters
Restrictions set for distressed workers DISTRESSED OVERSEAS Filipino workers (OFWs) will be banned from employment while under the custody of Labor officials abroad under an order issued by Labor Secretary Rosalinda D. Baldoz, issued amid a sex scandal case allegedly involving embassy personnel. The Department of Labor and Employment said in a statement yesterday that Administrative Order No. 262 was issued “with the aim of further enhancing and strengthening the operations of the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) and the Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipino Resource Center, otherwise known as Bahay Kalinga.” The workers will not be allowed to be employed in the households of embassy and POLO officers and staff, according to the order, while the labor center will be supervised only by a female officer. “POLOs and Bahay Kalinga... are the closest each OFW has for a home and therefore, should feel like a home for them while, at the same time, continue to observe the highest form of professionalism,” Ms. Baldoz was quoted as saying in the statement. Meanwhile, POLOs have instructed to hold weekly dialogue “for the purposes of case updating, and to address their needs and other concerns” and to submit highlights of the meeting to Ms. Baldoz. Complaints should also be reported and “if warranted, the head of the POLO shall place a local hire on preventive suspension.
Posted on July 04, 2013 10:20:38 PM
Dairy exports fall 98% in the first quarter
DAIRY exports dropped by almost 98.25% in the first quarter while imports decreased by 7% due to price increases in the world market. According to data posted on the National Dairy Authority’s (NDA) Web site, exports in the January-March period fell to 1,070 metric tons -- liquid milk equivalent from the 61,080 MT-LME exported in the same period last year. Dairy imports in the first quarter declined to 452,800 MT-LME from 487,520 MT-LME in the first quarter of 2012. “According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), international prices of dairy products have risen in the face of limited export supplies. Milk production continues to increase steadily in 2013 in many countries, especially in Asia, but growth in the main exporting countries is anticipated to be limited,” the NDA said in a statement. Despite the drop in volume, the total value of first-quarter exports fell by only 6.64% to $33.79 million from the $36.19 million recorded last year. First-quarter imports were valued at $184 million, a 10.01% decrease from last year’s $204 million. The NDA attributed the drop in exports to world market prices and suggested that exporters alter their product mix. “Since international prices are expected to remain at elevated levels until at least the latter part of 2013... maybe exporters have to exercise balance between maintaining core markets and pursuing long-term market development and adjusting their product mix to ensure maximum returns,” the statement read, adding that processors may use lower-value ingredients. “Export volume is expected to continue its decline since we have low produce,” Rene de Guzman, NDA planning department manager, noted in a telephone interview. First-quarter dairy production increased by 2.82%, with milk production in the first quarter pegged at a total 4,740 MT-LME, compared with the 4,610 MT-LME of 2012. -- KTDV
Posted on July 04, 2013 10:33:52 PM
Rice stocks up 14% THE NATIONAL Food Authority (NFA) increased its rice stocks by about 14% in the first half of 2013, buying aggressively from local farmers to keep prices stable and avoid further imports if crops are damaged in the coming typhoon season. The agency bought 5.6 million bags, or about 280,000 metric tons (MT), of local farmers’ unmilled output from January to June 25, NFA data showed on Thursday. That was 44% above its target volume of 3.9 million bags for the period. The purchases took the agency’s rice inventory to 13.66 million bags, about 683,000 MT, as of June 25, enough to cover 21 days of local consumption, the NFA said. Ample rice supply in the country, which enjoyed generally good weather in the first half, has helped keep prices down and inflation at manageable levels. The June headline figure is seen below the central bank’s 3%-5% target band for the year. The Philippines was the world’s biggest rice buyer in 2010 with record purchases totalling 2.45 million MT, when storms devastated crops. This year, the country decided to buy up to 350,000 MT, including 187,000 MT bought from Vietnam in a government-to-government deal. The Philippines imported 500,000 MT last year and 860,000 MT in 2011. To encourage farmers to plant more, the NFA is targeting a 70% increase in its local rice purchases this year to about 616,000 MT. Rice prices have fallen since last year due to thin demand from major rice buyers, including the Philippines, and bulging stocks in top producers such as Thailand, Vietnam and India. The typhoon season usually begins in May or June in the Philippines, which aims to produce a record 20 million MT of unmilled rice this year, an 11% increase from last year, to become self-sufficient in the grain. At least 19 cyclones hit the archipelago every year. -- Reuters
Â Posted on July 04, 2013 10:31:59 PM By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Senior Reporter
Government borrowings lower in May STATE borrowings dropped in May compared with the same month last year as the government reduced the external component of its debt, data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed.Â The government borrowed a total P24.772 billion in May, 11.52% lower than the P30.259 billion recorded in the same month in 2012. The bulk of the debt incurred during the month was sourced from local creditors. Domestic borrowings rose by 33.05% to P24.921 billion from the P18.73 billion recorded in May 2012. According to the breakdown, the government floated a total P11.845 billion in Treasury bills (T-bills), while fixed-rate Treasury bonds contributed P30.686 billion. However, P17.61-billion in T-bills were redeemed during the month, trimming the total amount of securities issued. External borrowings, meanwhile, totaled P1.851 billion during the month and plunged by 83.94% from P11.529 billion in May last year. Of this amount, P1.16 billion came from project loans, while the remaining P691 million were sourced from program loans. For the first five months of the year, the government borrowed a total P203.075 billion, down by almost half from the P377.859 billion recorded from January to May last year. External borrowings hit only P7.996 billion, falling by 91.64% from P95.254 billion in the same period in 2012. Of this amount, P5.395 billion were sourced from project loans and P2.571 billion, from program loans. Domestic borrowings also declined by 30.96% to P195.109 billion during the first five months from the P282.605 billion recorded in the same period in 2012. Based on the breakdown, the government raised P174.884 billion through fixed-rate Treasury bonds and P20.225 billion through Treasury bills. According to the 2013 national budget, the government has programmed gross domestic borrowings of P567.958 billion and gross foreign borrowings of P189.761 billion for this year. In 2012, the government borrowed a total P955.147 billion, up by 70.86% from the P559.017 billion recorded the year before. The total was also 35.62% higher than the P704.26-billion gross financing program detailed in last yearâ€™s national budget. Domestic borrowings last year amounted to P798.527 billion, while external borrowings totaled P156.62 billion. The government borrows from domestic and external markets to fund its fiscal deficit, which last year
amounted to P242.8 billion or 2.3% of the gross domestic product (GDP), well below the P279.1-billion ceiling, which is equivalent to 2.6% of GDP. The government aims to trim this year’s budget gap to 2% of the GDP or P238 billion. As of May, this year’s deficit stood at P42.839 billion, almost double the P22.745-billion gap recorded in the comparable year-ago period and below the P61.9-billion program for the first five months.
Ballsy, an Aquino, immune from anomaly, says Malacañang Written by Paul Atienza Friday, 05 July 2013 08:00
Malacañang has just canonized as saints the Aquinos, from the President down, including their parents, Ninoy and Cory. Since she’s an Aquino, Ballsy Cruz, the sister of President Aquino, is not capable of irregularity similar to the allegation that she and her husband tried to broker for a Czech supplier of train coaches to guarantee securing a government contract, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. “It is really malicious of people to impute involvement on the sisters when we know for a fact that they (the Aquino siblings) carry the legacy of the names of their parents,” Lacierda said. Lacierda stressed that the “legacy” of former Sen. Ninoy Aquino and former President Cory Aquino, parents of Ballsy and the president, preclude the Cruz’s capability of being involved in an anomalous deal. “It’s a very precious legacy that they have been holding. They are the bearers of this legacy and they will not, in any way, demean this legacy,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said that any attempt to besmirch the image of the Aquinos would only fail. “So, as to the author of this demolition job, I have no names, but I think it’s not working, and I think he better stop it,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said there would be no need for Aquino to be advised about his “friends” around him who may stab his back.
“The President should watch out among his friends? The President need not be told. The President knows what he does,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda asserted Ballsy and her husband Eldon Cruz are not involved in any government transaction much less securing a contract for the mass transit expansion project of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC).
The couple allegedly went to the Czech Republic with a group identified as the Aquino’s long-time allies and tried to extort money from railway contractor Inekon offering, in exchange, to facilitate the firm’s cornering of the contract to supply coaches for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) under an expansion plan. A member of the House of Representatives indicated plans to invite the Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar to shed light on the allegations since he was identified as having sent a letter to Aquino about the Inekon extorsion bid.
Last Tuesday night, Aquino also reportedly summoned Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya in Malacañang to explain the train projects.
“Let me just state this: The one being identified here is Ballsy (Aquino) Cruz and Eldon Cruz. They have never involved themselves in any government affairs,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda was asked to comment on a newspaper article defending the Cruz couple and attacking the supposed “friends” of Aquino along with a warning that Aquino should be wary of his friends in Malacañang.
Lacierda said the couple in only a few instances were present in Malacañang functions usually as a guest of the President.
“The only time that you will see them is when there is an event here in Malacañang Palace and that’s very rare. I can only think of two or three times, or four times in the whole three years since her (Ballsy’s) brother has assumed the presidency,” Lacierda said.
The high rating approval of Aquino would only show that attacks against his administration and performance have never any adverse effect.
“We have seen so many times over the three-year period the various attacks against the President and, in spite of all these attacks against the President, the President’s approval ratings have remained at a record high,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said the people remained satisfied with the performance of Aquino and “for as long as he treads the straight path, any attempt to attack Aquino would end up in futility.”
“It shows that the people believe in the integrity of the President and, as long as the President continues in his “straight path”, no amount of criticism, unfounded criticism, or demolition job against him will stick,” Lacierda said.
Malacañang last week said it will not dignify reports that a group led by presidential sister Ballsy AquinoCruz and husband Eldon Cruz tried to extort money from a company supposedly in exchange for the guarantee of the government contract.
Inekon Trams manufactures trams and railways, and is located in the Czech Republic. The company has supplied new trams to several cities in the Czech Republic and the United States. It has also been successful in getting contracts in Asia, according to its website.
Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte quickly trashed the allegations, and just as quickly absolved the presidential sister and brother in law, as well as their group.
Valte claimed that the story was made up, saying that the details were obscure and “murky.” A radio report earlier quoted an unidentified source saying that Czech company Inekon refused to give an “advance” to the group of Aquino-Cruz in exchange for a supply contract for MRT coaches. The Aquino-Cruz group is reportedly made up of Pete Prado, a former top official of the Department of Transportation Communications (DoTC) during the term of president Corazon Aquino, and Steve Psinakis.
It was alleged that between $2 million to $20 million had been asked by the group as advanced “facilitation fees” to ensure the award of the MRT-3 expansion to Inekon.
Allegedly, the government of the Czech Republic was to release a report of the alleged activities of the group who visited the country.
“You know that it started as a blind item. We’ve seen it also in our monitoring. It is obvious. One, everybody knows that the presidential sisters are very far removed from the affairs of government,” Valte said.
“The story was too murky, and obviously is a conjecture or fictionalized,” Valte said. Valte said that Aquino was already aware of the allegations.
Military downplays Australia, Canada terror warning Written by Mario J. Mallari
Friday, 05 July 2013 08:00 The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday downplayed the terror warning issued by Australia and Canada to their citizens in the country, maintaining that security measures are in‐placed to thwart any attempt to disrupt peace, particularly in some parts of Mindanao. Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP‐Public Affairs Office chief, said that the military respects the advisories of Australia and Canada to their citizens against traveling in Davao, Cotabato and Zamboanga. Zagala, however, said that the AFP, in coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP), is maintaining task groups in the said areas as part of the pro‐active security measures even without specific threat. “None so far,” replied Zagala when asked if there is specific threat monitored by the AFP. “Even without this warning, we continue our security operations in the area so that we can protect not only foreigners but Filipinos alike,” Zagala added. In fact, Zagala said that the AFP and PNP are maintain task forces in Davao, Zamboanga and Cotabato to serve as “deterrent” to possible attempts to disrupt peace. “The areas they are mentioning, they considered hotspots, we already have task groups and task forces in place. This is a joint effort between the PNP and the AFP. We recognize that these areas have threats and that’s the reason why task forces are created,” the AFP brass said. “They are there organized and serve as deterrent,” Zagala added. The travel advisories were issued a week after the kidnapping of two Filipino‐Algerian sisters in Sulu by suspected Abu Sayyaf Group. Also on Wednesday, a suspected Abu Sayyaf bomber was killed after the bomb he was carrying exploded, either accidentally or prematurely, in Basilan. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/nation/item/16253-military-downplays-australia-canada-terror-warning
Cha-cha approval on 1st regular session of Congress needed — House leader Written by Gerry Baldo Friday, 05 July 2013 08:00
The move to amend the Constitution, which is being pushed by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, would still be acceptable if it is passed during the first regular session of the 16th Congress, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said yesterday. Gonzales said that pushing Charter change (Cha‐cha) during the second and third regular sessions of the 16th Congress or from second half of 2014 until February of 2016 could be construed as an attempt to extend the term of President Aquino. “Any meaningful and important amendments will be affected by political noise because of the presidential elections. Tatakutin ang mga tao na may extension of terms or shift to parliamentary,” Gonzales pointed out. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, one of the main proponents of Cha‐cha, said that there is a need to amend the economic provisions of the Charter to lure foreign investments. Gonzales admitted that the success of the move would still depend on President Aquino’s support. “The success (of Cha‐cha) depends on President Aquino’s support. We will continue to persuade and explain to him its importance to further propel economic growth,” Gonzales said. Gonzales made his statement after at least 13 of the country’s biggest business organizations have sent letter to President Aquino urging him to support Cha‐cha, especially the removal of restrictions on full foreign ownership of land and public utilities. Gonzales reiterated that now is the best time to push Cha‐cha to attract investments by creating the “friendliest environment for the investors.” “We can further boost the country and shower our people with prosperity by relaxing our restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution. We have a very rigid Constitution and we should adopt flexible economic provisions,” Gonzales said. President Aquino has opposed Cha‐cha. Aquino maintained that economic success does not depend on the investors’ ownership of land or basic utilities even as he cited the case of China. Meanwhile, Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay) partylist Rep. Lito Atienza expressed his concurrence with the position of Belmonte that there are some provisions in the 1987 Constitution which need to be amended, particularly those pertaining to the country’s economy. “I concur with Speaker Sonny Belmonte’s position that there are certain provisions in our 1987
Constitution pertaining to the economy which need to be amended. But I would like to add that interconnected with these economic provisions, we should also push for much‐needed reforms in the country’s peace and order condition,” Atienza said. Atienza, however, said that a constitutional convention would be a better alternative to a constituent assembly. “The delegates to the constitutional convention would be elected by the people – this would remove any doubts that they might have about the whole process of amending the Constitution,” he said. Some of the restrictive economic provisions include restrictions on the ownership of land, the operation and ownership of public utilities and the exploitation of natural resources. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/nation/item/16252-cha-cha-approval-on-1st-regular-session-ofcongress-needed-house-leader
BoC files charges vs traders, broker in imported used vehicles smuggling Written by Conrado Ching Friday, 05 July 2013 08:00 The Bureau of Customs (BoC) filed charges against six traders and a Customs broker for the foiled attempt to smuggle in imported used vehicles worth P4.5 million.
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said that charged before the Department of Justice were officers of Philippine Genesis Freight Unlimited Inc. led by its chairman of the board and president Josefina Yap, treasurer Raymond Yap, vice president Pamela Bernal and directors Anthony Yap and Patrishia Anne Yap.
Smuggling charges were filed against them for attempting to bring into the country three units of used vehicles from Korea worth P3 million.
Biazon said the BoC discovered the tree vehicles inside a 40- footer van, a used Daewoo Rezzo, Kia Carens and a Hyundai Sonata.
“The Supreme Court has already ruled on the validity of Executive Order No. 156. Hence, the importation of used vehicles without the required import permits from concerned government agencies is illegal, and the BoC will strictly enforce this law,” Biazon said.
On the other hand, Gaspoint Mechanical Engineering Services owner Venecio Luterio of Mandaluyong City and his licensed Customs broker Benedicto Jamito are were also charged for attempting to slip into the country two units of used right-hand drive Mitsubishi Fuso Canter trucks worth P1.5 million from Japan at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).
“The essence of Republic Act 8506 is to keep our roads safe by not allowing right-hand drive vehicles to ply our streets. The BoC will, therefore, never allow the people’s interest and safety to be compromised in this regard,” Biazon said.
The seizure of the hot vehicles from Korea was facilitated by the discovery by Enforcement and Security Service operatives at the Port of Davao of the consignee’s violation of the TCCP while the seizure of the two used right-hand drive trucks was facilitated by the discovery by MICP Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service operatives led by Bienvenido Rubio of Gaspoint’s violation of RA 8506. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro-section/item/16225-boc-files-charges-vs-traders-broker-in-imported-usedvehicles-smuggling
UK energy adviser to visit Manila Written by Tribune Friday, 05 July 2013 08:00
A senior energy adviser of the UK Government is visiting Manila next week.
Angus Miller, a senior Energy Adviser at the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), will be here to meet key government officials and business leaders to discuss a range of energy issues in the Philippines and explore future engagement and collaboration of the UK Government with energy players in the country.
On July 9, Miller will speak at the fourth Philippine Energy Efficiency Forum organized by the European Chamber of Commerce Philippines and its partners to be held at the SMX Convention Centre. He will discuss energy efficiency and climate change, focusing on the UK’s perspective on the global geopolitics of energy.
As Caspian Energy Adviser at the FCO’s Climate Change and Energy Group, Miller’s role was expanded in 2011 to include direct involvement in energy security and energy geopolitical issues in The Americas, Asian sub-continent, Far East and Asia Pacific as well as Central Asia.
He has advised Ministers from the FCO and the Department of Energy and Climate Change and their teams on international energy security issues relating to policy formulation and relationship building.
Divo orce billl idede esenyo o para s sa pobrre at ginugu ulping misterr (Bernard Taguinod/Noel T Ab buel)
Hindi na kailangang k magtiis m sa bab baero, nananakitt, abusado att iresponsableng asawa ang sinum mang hikahoss na misis da ahil sa pamam magitan ng D Divorce Bill ayy hindi na ma agiging maha al ang inaassam na kalaya aan mula sa isang mala-impiyernong pagsasama.
Pero hindi lamang ang g mga pobren ng misis ang puntiryang m han ng Divorrce mapalaya at maprotektah Bill kundi pati na ang mga binubug gbog na mistter.
G parttylist Rep. Luzviminda Ilag gan, “Sino la ng ba ang m mga may kara apatan na Punto ni Gabriela maghiwalay ng legal? a mga may yayaman lang kasi mayro oon silang meeans na gum mastos sa ann nulment? Hindi ba ang Bakit hind di naman bigy yan ng pagka akataon ang mga mahihi rap na maka alaya at magiing masaya naman?”
Kung susu uriin aniya an ng mga annu ulment cases na naisampaa at pinabora an ng mga ko orte, walang mahirap sa s kanila kaya a para laman ng umano sa mga mayayyaman ang an nnulment.
“Marrami sa ating g mga mahihirap na kaba abaihan ang nagd dudusa, hind di makalaya d dahil walang panggastos. Sa kanila k ang Divvorce Bill,” ayyon pa kay IIlagan na nagssabing naghaahanda na sila para harap pin ang mga kalalakihang mam mbabatas na a haharang sa a kanilang panu ukalang bataas.
Fil-Am miliitary jeep --- Sa pagdiriwang p kaha apon ng 4th of July na isang maha alagang selebras syon sa Amerika at kinikilalang Filip pino-American Frriendship Day sa Pilip pinas, ipinarada ng n Collectors Club of the Philippine es ang 20 vintage e Fil-Am military jeep na gina amit noong World d War II. (Art Son n)
Pero o nilinaw din ni Ilagan na hindi lamang g mga babae e ang mak kikinabang saa naturang pa anukala oras na maging g ganap na batas b dahil ip papasakop ditto ang mga e esposong dum maranas din n ng abusong p pisikal sa kan nilang mga m misis.
“Alam nam man natin na a kahit may la alaking binub bugbog ay m maliit lamang na porsiyentto at kung ‘ya an din ang basehan, bakiit hindi,” ayon pa dito.
Noong na akaraang Kon ngreso, hindi nakausad an ng nasabing panukala dahil isang beses lamang ito ong
isinalang ng House committee on constitutional amendments sa pagdinig. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/jul0513/news03.htm#.UdYsxTtvAqM
Political dynasty sa lusaw SK?
Buwagin na rin ang Senado at Kamara (Boyet Jadulco/Noel Abuel)
Kung ang gagamiting basehan ng ipapanukalang paglusaw sa Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) ay dahil “breeding ground” ito ng mga political dynasty, tama lang na irekomenda na rin ang pagbuwag sa Senado at Kamara.
Ito ang iginiit ni Sen. Francis Escudero matapos sabihin ni Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle na irerekomenda nila sa Kongreso ang pagbuwag ng Sangguniang Kabataan.
Ikinatuwiran ni Tagle na ang SK ay nagiging “breeding ground” lamang ng political dynasty sa bansa dahil ang karaniwang naihahalal ay mga anak o apo ng barangay official, congressmen, mayor at iba pang lokal na opisyal.
Malaking pera din umano ang nasasayang sa SK elections pero nasa 2 milyon lamang ang bumoboto dito. Ang botohan ng SK ay isinasabay sa barangay elections.
Nanindigan naman si Escudero na kung isusulong ng Comelec ang pagbuwag ng SK, dapat ay isabay na rin nila ang pagbuwag ng Senado at Kamara.
“That is a double standard. If that is the case, then they should also push for the abolition of the House and the Senate,” giit ng senador.
Imbes na lusawin ang SK, sinabi ng senador na dapat resolbahin ng Comelec ang kinakaharap na problema ng SK.
“We should improve on the SK law and rationalize their use of the more than P20 billion per year that pass-through them like construction of school buildings,” dagdag pa ng senador.
Ganito rin ang hirit ni Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone na naniniwalang reporma at hindi pagbuwag ang solusyon para lubos na mapakinabangan ang SK, sang-ayon sa layon ng pagkakatatag nito.
Si CIBAC partylist Rep. Sherwin Tugna naman ay nagsabing, “Maganda ang layunin ng SK subalit kalimitan ay nagagamit lang ito ng mga tiwaling opisyal upang makapagsulong ng personal na interest.”
Kaya naman pinapaboran nito ang pagbuwag sa naturang konseho bitbit ang paniwalang maraming paraan para marinig at aktibong makalahok ang mga kabataan sa iba’t ibang usaping sumisentro o nakakaapekto sa kanila. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/jul0513/news05.htm#.UdYszDtvAqM
Bakit B ta ahimik ang pa alasyo sa watter scandal? (Berrnard Taguinod)
Kahit marumii ang creek sa Mo olino 2, Bacoor, Cavite dahil sa b basurang itinatap pon dito, matiyag ga pa ring namim mingwit ang isan ng ale na ito na umaasam na m makahuli ng isda upang mayroong pagkain na maih hahatag para sa kanyang pamily ya. (Mike Perez)
Pinapopossisyon ng mg ga militanteng kongresista a sa Kamara ang Malacañ ñang sa isyu ng water concessio onaires na um mano’y ipinap pataw sa kanilang mga co onsumers ang g binayarang g income tax na umaabot sa mahigit P15 bilyon sim mula noong 2008 2 hanggan ng 2011.
am kay ACT partylist Rep p. Antonio Tin nio, nakakabiingi ang kata ahimikan, aniya, ng Sa panaya Malacañang sa nasabing isyu na para sa kanya a ay isang es kandalo dahiil taumbayan n ang nagbab bayad ng buwis na dapat bay yaran ng Manila Water att Maynilad.
“Hanggan ng ngayon ay y ayaw magsalita ang Mallacañang. An no ba ang po osisyon nila d dito, kakampihan ba nila an ng mga consu umers na nag gluklok sa ka anila sa poweer o ang mga a water conce essionaire?” pahayag ni n Tinio.
“Kasi kung g hindi nagsa asalita ang Malacañang, M baka b isisipin ng mga tao na kakampi nila ang mga a concessio onaire,” ayon pa sa kongresista.
Sa panig naman ni Bayan Muna pa artylist Rep. Neri N Javier C Colmenares, h hindi umano papayag ang g mga ito na hindi magpatup pad ng rollbacck ang Manila a Water at M Maynilad sa kkanilang sinin ngil na income tax. http://ww ww.abante.co om.ph/issue/jjul0513/newss08.htm#.UdYYs4jtvAqM
Alan: FOI to curb graft, corruption Published : Friday, July 05, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 65 Written by : Marlon Purificacion SENATOR Alan Peter Cayetano filed his updated version of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill. “In order to address the problems of presyo, trabaho and kita, we must have a transparent and accountable government,” the senator said. According to the senator, the FOI bill will help the government in abolishing graft and corruption. “We lose several billions due to graft and corruption. The money lost should have been spent on programs which will help the people in their daily struggles," he said. Sen. Cayetano lamented the data released by the World Bank stating that 40 centavos out of every peso collected by the government goes to corruption. The senator was referring to the Comission on Audit's (COA) Audit Performance Summary Report of 2011 indicating that Php20.813 billion was lost to underassessment and undercollection, Php18.654 billion due to reckless spending, Php15.163 billion brought by questionable government contracts, Php13.584 billion because of 104 “unutilized and/or ineffective projects”, and an additional Php7.534 billion to 1,003 unliquidated cash advances. Sen. Cayetano, however, praised the Aquino administration's efforts in lessening graft and corruption in the country. According to the Transparency International Corruption Index cited by the senator, the country improved its ranking on the list of most corrupt countries from 129th to 105th out of 176 countries. “By passing the FOI, we can institutionalize the government's efforts in implementing Tuwid na Daan,” he said. The senator said that economic development for all families especially the poor can be achieved through a transparent and accountable government. “By passing the FOI Bill, we can boost investors' confidence. This will help in providing jobs for poor Filipinos.” “This is a necessary step in solving the country's problems of presyo trabaho and kita,” he added. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top-stories/53651-alan-foi-to-curb-graft-corruption
Biazon eyes ‘outsourcing’ bidding Published : Friday, July 05, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 67 Written by : Paul Gutierrez The Bureau of Customs is eyeing the ‘outsourcing’ or privatization of its bidding process to make it more transparent while generating more revenues for the government at the fastest time possible. In a talk with People’s Tonight, Customs Commissioner Rozzano “Ruffy” Biazon said he has also directed several of his subordinates “to make a study” on the issue and how it can be implemented the soonest time possible. Under the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP), seized, forfeited and abandoned articles can only be disposed by the BOC thru public auction or destruction in case the articles are already found “dangerous to public health.” Biazon said the issue is whether changes in the bidding rules can be made without resorting to the tedious process of legislation by Congress. He noted that privatizing the BOC bidding would also stop accusations that the process has fallen into the hands of “syndicates” who rig the result in their favor. Also, the Customs chief added that “policy differences” among the various government agencies and departments are getting in the way of the BOC immediately auctioning off seized articles such as rice, which is a perishable commodity. The BOC last month had to stop the bidding of some 1,200 containers of illegally-shipped rice at the Port of Cebu over a proposal by the National Food Authority (NFA) that it be allowed to purchase the rice in bulk as well as the 90,000 bags of rice also confiscated by the BOC at the Port of Legazpi. “There are merits to their arguments but then, is the NFA willing to join the bidding together with the private sector,” he asked, hinting that the NFA would definitely lose. “Our mandate is to generate (additional revenue) thru bidding based on a ‘reasonable’ floor price while the mandate of the NFA is to buy low,” he noted. In the case of the bidding in Cebu, Biazon noted that the floor price of Php800 per bag was way above the buying price of Php350 per bag by the NFA. Incidentally, Biazon noted, it was the NFA which set the Php800 per bag floor price. The BOC decided to stop the Cebu bidding after only 50 containers of rice have been auctioned off pending final decision by the government on the issue. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/53653-biazon-eyes-outsourcing-bidding
Gov’t assures safety of foreigners Published : Friday, July 05, 2013 00:00 MALACAÑANG yesterday said the government and concerned law enforcement agencies are taking active steps to ensure the safety of tourists and visitors from other countries, as well as its citizens. Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda gave the assurance in a press briefing in Malacañang after Canada and Australia issued separate travel advisories to its respective citizens against traveling to the Philippines, particularly to Mindanao, due to the peace and order situation there. Lacierda said these warnings were “normal advisories” given by countries in order to “protect and caution” their citizens as they travel to different parts of the world. “With respect to the advisory that was given, these are normal advisories. They have to protect and caution their citizens and we understand the situation,” Lacierda said. “We understand the reason for their doing so but we can assure them that our responsibility as a nation is to ensure the safety of our own citizens as well as the visitors who come here,” he added. EMontano http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/53643-govt-assures-safety-of-foreigners
QCPD ready for PNoy’s 4th SONA Published : Friday, July 05, 2013 00:00 THE Quezon City Police District has conducted security inspections on Commonwealth Avenue up to the House of Representatives yesterday morning in preparation for the coming fourth State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino. Describing it as “walk through” check, police officials led by QCPD director Senior Supt. Richard Albano started at the St. Peter’s church where protesters and militant groups usually converge during SONA. President Aquino will deliver his SONA on July 22. Albano said that more cops will also be deployed during that day. The QCPD will also hold dialogues with militant groups on July 16 to discuss important pointers of SONA particularly the conduct of demonstrations they are going to present. Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the President is finalizing his lengthy speech. Joel Dela Torre http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/metro/53627-qcpd-ready-for-pnoys-4th-sona
Hiring of UP student interns not anomalous - MWSS Published : Friday, July 05, 2013 00:00 Written by : People's Tonight METROPOLITAN Waterworks and Sewerage Systems (MWSS) Administrator Gerardo A. I. Esquivel dismissed the new graft charges filed by the MWSS Labor Association (MLA) as another one in a series of harassment actions being taken by disgruntled MWSS employees, maintaining that everything that is being done in the agency is transparent and above board. Esquivel reacted to the complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman earlier this week on the alleged anomalous hiring and overpayment of 21 students of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman under the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) last year. The labor union alleged that the student-interns were paid at the rate of 75 percent of the daily minimum wage instead of 60 percent authorized under SPES. The hiring of the students, said Esquivel, was done in support of the national government’s short-term employment programs including SPES which aims to provide short-term employment opportunities to poor but deserving students, and Government Internship Program (GIP) which introduces public service to students and young professionals to entice to pursue careers in government through internships in various government agencies. Esquivel said that procedural lapses have been pointed out by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its audit observations and have already been addressed and corrected in the implementation of the MWSS GIP Program. “We really want to encourage students from top schools to join the government, to recognize that there is value and honor in public service,’’ Esquivel said. Esquivel deplored the continuous and baseless criticism being thrown at him and his administration, particularly by disgruntled members of the MLA, but said he perfectly understands the unhappiness that is pervading among MWSS employees, considering the fact that the said employees used to enjoy at least 32 months in bonuses before he was appointed by President Aquino into office in February 2011. Among the 32 month-bonuses that MWSS employees used to enjoy from 2008 to 2010 were quarterly grocery allowances (Php15,526/quarter), mid-year financial assistance (one month gross salary plus Php20,000), enhanced mid-year assistance (one month gross salary), Family Day allowance, family week allowance, Traditional corporate Christmas bonus of Php30,000, traditional Christmas bonus (one month gross salary), traditional christmas incentive package (one month gross), productivity incentive bonus in February (one month gross), productivity incentive bonus (two months gross), enhanced productivity incentive bonus (one month gross), efficiency incentive benefit (Php30,000). http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/business/53612-hiring-of-up-student-interns-not-anomalous-mwss