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DA asked to investigate ‘dumping’ of Turkish flour By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 16, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Small flour millers are asking the Department of Agriculture (DA) to investigate the alleged dumping of Turkish flour into the country. The Philippine Association of Flour Millers (PAFMIL) yesterday said it filed a petition before the DA in May seeking a public hearing on the issue and to coordinate with the Tariff Commission to institute safeguards against the supposed dumping of Turkish flour. “We asked the DA to look into the matter and conduct a public hearing. Afterwards, it can coordinate with the Tariff Commission to put in place the necessary safeguards,” said PAFMIL executive director Ric Pinca. “We hope to get a favorable ruling because we believe we have a strong case.” PAFMIL alleged that Turkish flour exportation to the Philippines at dumping prices violates World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

Dumping occurs when a country exports a commodity at prices lower than its domestic prices. “When a country exports products at dumping prices, it is engaged in unfair trade. Thus, we are up against a group of flour exporters engaging in unfair trade,” said Pinca. PAFMIL noted that in 2010, average export price of Turkish flour was $276 per metric ton while their domestic price was $600 per MT. In 2011, export price was at an average of $388 per MT against Turkish domestic price of $600 per MT. Last year, it was $340 against their domestic price of $470 per MT. PAFMIL said Turkish flour exports to the Philippines grew by 16 percent in 2011 and by 71 percent in 2012. In contrast, the local flour industry grew by only one to two percent during the same period. “If this trend continues, there will no longer be a flour milling industry in the Philippines in just a few years, and should this happen, the entire country will be left at the mercy of Turkey for our flour supply. One only needs to look at the trend to realize the danger to our food security from the threat of unimpeded Turkish flour entry brings,” said Pinca. PAFMIL said that while Indonesian, Vietnamese, Australian and Indian flour are being exported to the Philippines, flour from these countries are sold at “fair prices.” “Local flour millers can compete with them because the terms are even. Turkish flour, however, is not a fair competitor,” said Pinca. PAFMIL represents small flour mills in the country. Bigger mills belong to the Chamber of Philippine Flour Millers (Champflour).


Gov’t lines up PPP projects in agriculture By Ronnel W. Domingo Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:52 pm | Monday, July 15th, 2013 The Department of Agriculture has lined up two major public-private partnership projects that involve post-harvest facilities for corn and perishable produce. Zenaida M. Villegas, director of the DA’s Project Development Service, said in an interview that Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala had been apprised of and had accepted the proposal for a P298-million grains central project that was meant to rehabilitate and upgrade existing corn trading and processing centers across the nation. Villegas said the DA was expected to refer the corn depot project to the National Economic and Development Authority within the month. “We hope to have it approved by September,” she said. National Agribusiness Corp. is the intended implementing agency for the grains central while the Philippine Center for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization or PhilMech is the project proponent. There are 11 facilities proposed to be included in the project, for which Land Bank of the Philippines and International Financial Corp. have been engaged as transaction advisers. PhilMech has also presented a proposal for a P683-million cold chain system for perishable goods that, unlike the corn post-harvest system, would be a greenfield undertaking. Villegas said the cold chain plan might not be as fast-moving as that for the Grain Central because there were “issues that still need to be addressed.” Five routes have been identified for the proposed cold chain system, with Benguet-Manila as the pilot. The others are Cagayan-Manila, Manila-Cebu, Cebu-Manila and Visayas inter-island connections. Further, potential sites are still being considered for a fruits and vegetable facility in La Trinidad, Benguet, and for an abattoir project in Guiguinto, Bulacan. Last April, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said that potential PPP projects in agriculture, to be attractive to private investors, would need government subsidies, incentives or other means of assured funding or return on investment. Balisacan said this might be done through “take-or-pay” provisions which, unfortunately, were not popular in the Philippines because such arrangements were blamed for the high price of electricity in the country. Balisacan cited an economics maxim that a project might be viable economically, but might not be financially feasible. This means that incentives such as government subsidies—in the form of “viability gap funding”—are necessary for agricultural PPPs.‐lines‐up‐ppp‐projects‐in‐agriculture

Millers’, bakers’ fight may cause rise in bread prices By Amy R. Remo, Ronnel W. Domingo Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:47 am | Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Prices of bread may rise by as much as 15 percent if the tariff on imported Turkish flour is increased to 20 percent from the current 7 percent, bakery owners have warned. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Association of Flour Millers (Pafmil) renewed its push for a tariff increase on imported Turkish flour to 20 percent from 7 percent even as bakers warned that this would push up bread prices by as much as 15 percent. This impending price hike is equivalent to a P1 increase in the price of bread and around 50 centavos for the Pinoy Pandesal bringing it to P3.50 per piece. Produced by small neighborhood bakers, Pinoy Pandesal is the brand name of affordable bread products that use the cheaper Turkish flour. “When a country exports products at dumping (or lower than its domestic) prices, it is engaged in unfair trade,” said Pafmil executive director Ric M. Pinca. The country, he said, is therefore up against a group of flour exporters engaging in unfair trade. Pinca was alluding to the Filipino-Chinese Bakery Association Inc. (FCBA), which warned over the weekend that prices of bread products, biscuits and noodles will rise by 10 to 15 percent

“once the government gives in to the demand of an influential lobby group to restrict the entry of affordable flour from Turkey.” The FCBA was, in turn, alluding to Pafmil, which represents the country’s seven oldest but relatively smaller flour mills. Last May, Pafmil filed in the Department of Agriculture a petition for antidumping proceedings against Turkish flour millers exporting flour to the Philippines “at dumping prices which is in violation of World Trade Organization rules.” According to Pafmil, Turkey exported flour at $340 per metric ton against the domestic price of $470 in 2012. Similarly, in the previous two years, Turkish exports and local prices were at $388 against $600 and $276 against $600 in the Philippines. Pafmil said Philippine importation of Turkish flour grew by 16 percent in 2011 and by 71 percent in 2012. At the mercy of Turkey “In contrast, the local flour industry grew by only one to 2 percent during the same periods,” Pinca said. “If this trend continues, there will no longer be a flour milling industry in the Philippines in just a few years and should this happen, the entire country will be left at the mercy of Turkey for our flour supply.” He clarified that while Pafmil was against Turkish imports, the group welcomed flour shipments from Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia and India—all of which “are not dumping their flour, meaning their prices are based on verifiable market rates.” “Last year, the Indonesian Flour Millers Association filed a complaint against Turkish flour and sometime in October, the Indonesian government imposed a 20-percent duty on (such imports),” Pinca said. Ernesto Chua, chair of the Filipino-Chinese Business Council, said in a phone interview the impending price hike would depend on the decision of the Department of Agriculture on whether or not to increase the tariff slapped on imported Turkish flour to 20 percent from the current 7 percent. The decision is expected to be released by middle of September, he said. “We have already stopped importing Turkish flour because we don’t know what will happen. If the tariff on Turkish flour is increased, our products will no longer be competitive. So we are on a wait-and-see stance,” said Chua, who is also the president of flour importer Malabon Longlife Trading Corp.

Preferred by producers Currently, Turkish flour costs about 30 percent (P200) cheaper than locally milled flour and is preferred by bread and noodle makers, according to a statement issued by the FCBA. The group of bakery owners or producers of bread, noodles, cakes, pastries, pizza, siopao, pandesal, cookies and biscuits disclosed that hard flour or bread flour from Turkey was sold at P700 per 25-kilogram bag, while soft flour costs P620 per bag. In contrast, the price of locally milled flour is anywhere from P900 to P950 a bag. Since flour represented more than 50 percent of the cost of bread production, an increase in the price of flour would automatically translate into higher bread prices. “There are 25,000 bakeries operating in the Philippines and many small and medium-sized bakeries are using lower-priced flour for them to offer bread within the reach of the Filipino consumers,” FCBA said. The petition to slap higher tariffs on imported Turkish flour came from Pafmil which, the FCBA claimed, “has the monopoly of the local flour market [and] is using its influence on the government to push the Turkish flour out of the country, so that they can dictate the prices of flour.” Chua pointed out, however, that Turkish flour represented only 9 percent of total supply in the country, while the bulk of the volumes (89 percent) was still being supplied by Pafmil member companies, which include Liberty Flour Mills, San Miguel Purefoods and RFM Corp.‐bakers‐fight‐may‐cause‐rise‐in‐bread‐prices  


Only 35% of agri loans allotted for production needs Category: Top News   Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 21:22   Written by Cai U. Ordinario  

DESPITE efforts of the government to increase farm output, agriculture credit for production needs extended to Filipino farmers only accounted for a third of the total agriculture loans granted by public and private financial institutions in 2012. In the Agricultural Indicators System (AIS) Report, the Bureau of Agriculture Statistics (BAS) said production loans amounted to P247.3 billion in 2012. While this was an 8.4‐percent growth over the P125.57 billion posted in 2011, it only comprised  35.1 percent of total agriculture loans worth P705.11 billion in 2012.  “Indicators  of  agricultural  credit  provide  information  on  credit  needs  of  the  farmers  and  fishermen  in  financing  their  production  activities  and  the  extent  of  loans  provided  by  the  different financial institutions,” the BAS said.  Around 38.69 percent of these production loans were used to finance food‐production needs.  Data showed 16.33 percent of these loans were used for palay production.  Production loans were also used for livestock and poultry, which accounted for 14.18 percent.  Fruits, vegetables and root crops comprised 3.88 percent.  Around 8.29 percent of the loans used for food commodities were used for the production  of  export  and  commercial  commodities.  Of  this  amount,  around  4.62  percent  and  2.67  percent were for sugarcane and coconut, respectively.  Among the crops, sugarcane was the most financed crop indicating a ratio of 39.32 percent or  P0.39 of credit assistance for every peso of sugarcane output.  The credit support for palay was P0.14 while for corn, the BAS said it was P0.06. Further, BAS  data showed rubber had lower loan assistance with a ratio of 0.13 percent or P0.13 per peso.,  Livestock  and  poultry  continued  to  increase  utilization  of  loans  at  a  ratio  of  13.20  percent  in  2012. It was 2.85 percent for fisheries. 

Meanwhile, private banks accounted for the bulk of agriculture production loan sources in 2012.  Around 85.6 percent of these loans were extended by private banks, while government financial  institutions only extended 14.4 percent.  However, the share of private banks in agriculture credit has been on the decline. Similar loans  extended by government financial institutions, on the other hand, were on the rise.  “Among  the  sources  of  loans,  private  banks  continued  to  release  the  biggest  amount  of  production  loans.  However,  the  shares  of  loans  provided  by  the  private  banks  were  declining  over the five‐year period [2008 to 2012],” the BAS said.  Among private banks, the biggest sources were private commercial banks, which extended 27.3  percent of the agriculture production loans received by farmers.  Stock savings and loan associations, on the other hand, extended the least amount of credit. It  only accounted for 7.7 percent of the total agriculture production loans.  Among government financial institutions, the largest source of agriculture credit was the Land  Bank  of  the  Philippines,  which  accounted  for  20.11  percent  of  the  total  agriculture  credit  extended by the public sector. This is was higher than the 15.33 percent posted in 2011.  The  AIS,  a  publication  of  the  BAS,  provides  information  on  loans  for  agricultural  production  granted by private and government institutions. The reference years are from 2008 to 2012.‐news/16503‐only‐35‐of‐agri‐loans‐ allotted‐for‐production‐needs   


DA to spin off Jalaur project components into PPP Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 19:51   Written by Cai U. Ordinario  

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has decided to spin off the hydropower and domestic water‐ supply components of the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Stage 2 (JRMP 2) into a public private  partnership (PPP) scheme.  In  a  phone  interview  with  the  BUSINESSMIRROR,  DA  Project  Development  Service  Director  Zenaida M. Villegas added the agency may seek funding from the PPP Center to conduct the  feasibility study for the project.  Villegas  said  the  two  components  will  be  connected  to  the  dam  that  will  be  built  in  the  original P11.21 billion‐worth project that will be financed by the Export‐Import Bank of Korea‐ Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF).  “As  soon  as  we  complete  the  detailed  engineering  for  the  dam,  we  will  start  packaging  the  hydropower and domestic water‐supply components as a PPP,” Villegas said.  She  added  that  the  feasibility  study  for  the  hydropower  and  domestic  water‐supply  components can be funded by the Project Development and Monitoring Facility (PDMF).  The PDMF is the revolving government and multilateral agency financed fund for pre‐feasibility  studies and consultant procurement for PPP projects. It is funded by an $18‐million grant  from  AusAID  through  the  Asian  Development  Bank,  and  $23‐million  funding  from  the  national  government’s budget.  Villegas said other options for financing the feasibility study of the government for the project is a  technical assistance to be extended by South Korea’s EDCF.  The JRMP2 was signed in August 2012 and the loan became effective in November 2012. As of  March  2013,  data  from  the  National  Economic  and  Development  Authority  (Neda)  showed  the physical accomplishment of the project is 0.03 percent.  The total loan extended by EDCF for the project amounted to P8.95 billion, while the government  counterpart  is  P2.26  billion.  The  project  will  be  implemented  by  the  National  Irrigation  Administration and is targeted for completion in 2016. 

Documents showed that the project aims to provide year‐round irrigation water supply to 22,340  hectares from the improved five existing River Irrigation Systems (RIS) and 9,500 rain‐fed areas.  The total target irrigation service area is 31,840 hectares. This covers 7,000 hectares of farmland  devoted to palay and 2,500 hectares for sugarcane.  Apart  from  Jalaur,  there  are  two  other  agriculture‐related  PPPs.  These  two  projects,  however,  have yet to secure approval for the final PPP structure.  Agriculture Secretary Proceso  J. Alcala has not approved the P400‐million Grains Central Project  and  the  P693.4‐million  Establishment  of  Cold  Chain  Systems  Covering  Strategic  Areas  in  the  Philippines  Project.  The  projects  are  included  in  the  list  of  more  than  20  PPP  projects  in  the  pipeline.  PPP  Center  Executive  Director  Cosette  Canilao  said  Alcala’s  approval  of  the  project  is  a  requirement  before  the  projects  are  submitted  for  Investment  Coordination  Committee  evaluation and, eventually, Neda board approval.  Canilao previously said the actual construction of PPPs takes at least 18 months to begin. She said  feasibility studies take the most time and account for around four to five months, as well as due  diligence that is conducted between five to six months.  Without Alcala’s approval, the PPP Center could not give an assurance that the two projects  can be rolled out this year, according to Canilao.  Under the PPP Center’s definition, “project rollout” means the invitation to bid for a project has  been published in a paid ad by the government.‐commodities/16479‐da‐to‐spin‐off‐ jalaur‐project‐components‐into‐ppp           

‘PHL could lose its flour‐milling industry’ Category: Top News   Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 21:52   Written by Jennifer A. Ng, Marvyn N. Benaning and Lito U. Gagni   THOUSANDS  of workers employed  by local flour millers could join the ranks of the unemployed if the  government will continue to allow the “dumping” of cheap Turkish flour, the Philippine Association of  Flour Millers (Pafmil) said on Monday.  Pafmil Executive Director Ric M. Pinca said the entry of more Turkish flour in the domestic market has  already threatened the viability of the local flour milling industry.  “Turkish flour export to the Philippines grew by 16 percent in 2011 and a mind‐boggling 71 percent in  2012. In contrast, the local flour industry grew by only 1 percent to 2 percent during same periods,” said  Pinca.  “If this trend continues, there will no longer be a flour milling industry in the Philippines in just a few  years and should this happen, the entire country will be left at the mercy of Turkey for our flour supply,”  he added.  Pafmil  issued  the  warning  after  community  bakeries  belonging  to  the  Filipino‐Chinese  Bakery  Association (FCBA) said the price of pan de sal could go up if the government would impose additional  duty on Turkish flour.  The group warned that the price of Pinoy  pan de sal, other bread products, biscuits and noodles could  go up by 10 percent to 15 percent if additional duty is imposed on Turkish flour.  FCBA President Benito Lim said imposing a higher tariff on flour imported from Turkey will increase the  price of Pinoy  pan de sal by 50 centavos to P3.50 per piece from the current P3.  Pinoy  pan de sal is the brand of affordable bread products produced by bakers.  “Due  to  cheaper  Turkish  flour,  Filipino  consumers  enjoy  lower  priced  breads  and  other  flour‐based  products such as dry noodles, biscuits and fishballs,” the group said.  Pafmil,  for  its  part,  said  its  anti‐dumping  petition  is  only  against  Turkish  flour  because  exporters  of  the  commodity engage in “unfair trade practice.”  “There are Indonesian flour, Vietnamese flour, Australian flour and even Indian flour being exported to the  Philippines.  Why  is  Pafmil  not  complaining  about  these  flours?  Because  the  Indonesians,  Australians  and  Vietnamese flour  millers are  not  dumping  their flour, meaning  their  prices  are  based on verifiable  market  rates,” said Pinca. 

“They are  competing  with  us  fairly  and  on  even  terms.  That  is  fair  competition.  Local  flour  millers  can  compete with them because the terms are even. Turkish flour, however, is not a fair competitor,” he added.  Citing Pafmil data, Pinca said the average export price of Turkish flour was $276 per metric ton (MT), while  the domestic price was at $600 per MT in 2010. In 2011 he said, the export price was at an average of $388  per MT, while the domestic price was pegged at $600 per MT. Last year Turkish flour for export was priced at  $340 per MT while those sold in Turkey’s domestic price was priced at $470 per MT.  This, Pafmil alleged, violates World Trade Organization (WTO) rules to which most countries, including the  Philippines and Turkey, abide by under a global free‐trade regime.  The group filed its anti‐dumping petition against Turkish flour before the Department of Agriculture (DA) on  May 29.  Pafmil  hopes  the  government  would  take  its  cue  from  Indonesia,  which  imposed  a  20‐percent  duty  on  Turkish flour. Manila imposes a 7‐percent duty on the product.  Currently  there  are  12  local  flour  milling  companies,  of  which  7  belong  to  Pafmil.  Four  newer  and  mostly  bigger  mills  belong  to  the  Chamber  of  Philippine  Flour  Millers  (Champflour).  Another  flour  mill‐—Monde  Nissin  Flour  Mills—produces  flour  for  its  own  noodle  production  and  is  neither  a  member  of  Pafmil  nor  Champflour.  Meanwhile, the Philippine‐Turkish Business Council (PTBC) said importers of Turkish flour have suspended its  importation of the commodity in anticipation of higher tariff that may be imposed by the DA.  Ernesto  Chua,  chairman  of  PTBC, said  deliberations  on  Pafmil’s  petition  could  last  120  days  but  importers  belonging to the council do not want to risk shipping in Turkish flour and getting hit with safeguard duties  even before their cargoes are unloaded.  Turkish flour is 30‐percent cheaper than the flour produced by Pafmil and is preferred by bread and noodle  makers.  Chua said imposing higher duty on Turkish flour “will redound to the advantage of a group that is trying to  monopolize the flour industry,” in reference to Pafmil, which has been opposing the entry of cheaper flour  into the Philippine market.  For its part, the Philippine Baking Industry Group Inc. sent a four‐page position paper urging the DA to reject  Pafmil’s petition, saying 25,000 bakeries had been “at the mercy of Pafmil for more than 20 years.”  The group said the imposition of any safeguard duty or the requirement that importers place cash bonds,  while the case is being heard “will immediately cause serious injury to the baking industry and, ultimately,  the consuming public.” 

Bakers said  the  additional  tariff  threat  already  resulted  in  the  cancellation  of  future  flour  imports  from  Turkey, with the deliveries from August 15 already affected. This means that Turkish flour imports, which cost  about  P200  less  than  the  Pafmil  flour  for  every  25‐kilogram  bag,  would  no  longer  be  available  for  the  community bakeries situated all over the archipelago. 

Lim, whose bakery is located on Session Road in Baguio City, said the non-availability of Turkish flour would result in a substantial increase in the prices of bread and other bread product.‐news/16511‐phl‐could‐lose‐its‐flour‐ milling‐industry                                

Activists cite disjoint in rice price, robust harvest forecast Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 19:50   Written by Marvyn N. Benaning, Correspondent, and Jonathan Mayuga  

ACTIVISTS cited a disjoint as the price of rice spiked even as a government official said the  country expects ample supply of the grain.  “Even the DA [Department of Agriculture] is saying there’s a good harvest. The problem is  that  the  NFA  [National  Food  Authority]  has  limited  or  has  no  intervention  at  all.  It  is  not  buying a significant portion of the harvested palay,” one of the activists said in front of the  NFA where a rally was held on Monday.  Early  this  month,  Agriculture  Assistant  Secretary  Dante  de  Lima,  who  is  also  the  National  Rice Program coordinator, forecast palay harvest in the January‐to‐June period to increase  by 2 percent from the 7.892 million metric tons his office recorded in the same period last  year.  De  Lima  was  quoted  earlier  as  saying  that  a  simple  calculation  would  even  show  a  98‐ percent rice self‐sufficiency.  But,  despite  such  increase  in  palay  production,  the  price  of  commercial  rice  went  up  by  a  peso to P2 per kilo.  According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), regular milled rice retailed from P32  to P34 a kilo in Metro Manila as of July 9, up from P30 at end‐2012.  Activists have pointed to a “rice cartel” as involved in what they alleged as “manipulation in  the price of rice.”  Likewise, they say the government’s policy to import rice in addition to the current supply  compounds the bloating of its price per kilo.  Anakpawis  Party‐list  Rep.  Rafael  Mariano  said  he  will  resurrect  a  bill  that  stops  the  importation of rice. 

The measure  mandates  the  government  to  enhance  the  palay  procurement  capacity  of  the NFA to at least 25 percent of the total palay production,” Mariano was quoted in a  statement as saying.  Anakpawis and the activists are demanding that the government move to roll back the price  of rice.  The group, however, didn’t cite how much that should be.  Recent reports quoted Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala blaming the lean season from  June to August for the increase in prices.  “This  increase  in  the  prices  of  rice  is  not  normal.  It  is  greed,  profiteering,  opportunism  and  exploitation,” Antonio Flores, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas secretary‐general, was quoted in a  statement as saying.  Marvyn N. Benaning, Correspondent, and Jonathan Mayuga‐commodities/16478‐activists‐cite‐ disjoint‐in‐rice‐price‐robust‐harvest‐forecast                       

‘Luisita land distribution finished by September’ By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 16, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said yesterday it is ready to distribute Hacienda Luisita to the more than 6,000 qualified farmworker-beneficiaries in compliance with the Supreme Court (SC) decision. The agency hopes to complete the land distribution between August and September this year. The DAR said it has finished the most contentious stages in the acquisition of Hacienda Luisita under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). In a report submitted to the high tribunal, the DAR said it completed the screening and identification of the 6,212 farmworker-beneficiaries. A total of 4,099 hectares of farmland will be divided among the qualified beneficiaries, it said. The DAR said each beneficiary is expected to own farm lots with an area of roughly 6,600 square meters.

A private survey firm hired by DAR had completed the consolidation and subdivision survey on a total of 5,149 hectares in Hacienda Luisita. Of the area surveyed, 500 hectares of the converted area and 80.51 hectares covered by SCTEX were not subject to distribution based on the high court’s decision. The DAR said at least 468.49 hectares were excluded from distribution to qualified beneficiaries. Excluded from distribution are residential areas, canals, roads, a cemetery, buffer zones, lagoons, fishponds, eroded areas and legal easements. While non-farm lots such as roads, firebreaks, fishponds, lagoons, and canals were excluded from distribution, DAR officials explained that these would still be covered under the CARP for common use of qualified beneficiaries. “These areas will remain under RP title and will serve as common areas for beneficiaries,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said. The DAR has requested the Registry of Deeds to transfer the ownership of Hacienda Luisita lands to the Republic of the Philippines. These titles were registered and released to DAR from May 20 to June 17, 2013. The DAR is expecting the issuance of the remaining titles in the near future. The SC upheld with finality the decision to distribute Hacienda Luisita to farmers on April 22 last year.


P42‐M smuggled rice, sugar seized By Raymund F. Antonio  Published: July 16, 2013  

Manila, Philippines --- The Bureau of Customs (BOC) intercepted an illegal shipment of 16 containers of rice and eight containers of sugar worth P42 million in the Port of Manila, barely a week after the agency seized fakes medicines and used clothing. The latest seizure involved two alleged consignees - Highest Regard Enterprises and Victorious One Enterprises. The illegal rice shipment came from Vietnam, while the smuggled sugar came from Thailand. Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said the consignees sought to avoid payment of the right duties and taxes by declaring the shipment as steel frames, steel coils, and hinges. “This is a huge catch. The seizure of 16 containers of rice and eight containers of sugar showed that the BOC is doing its job,” said Biazon.In a separate interview, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Danilo Lim said that this was the first time that the two firms, Highest Regard and Victorious One Enterprises, were linked to illegal importations. “We checked the records of these consignees. They have no (bad) records in the past,” said Lim. The BOC is set to auction the rice and sugar after it is determined that they are not fit for human consumption.,_sugar_seized#.UeSdmqyveKE

3 major agri projects set By Ellalyn B. De Vera  Published: July 16, 2013  

Manila, Philipppines -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) is working on three major publicprivate partnership (PPP) projects to support the country’s agricultural and fisheries sectors. DA Project Development Service Director Zenaida Villegas said the projects for consideration under the PPP scheme include the construction of a multipurpose reservoir dam, improvement of existing postharvest processing and trading centers, and the establishment of a cold chain system. Villegas, who also heads the DA-PPP coordinating staff, said the P11.212-billion Jalaur River Muti-Purpose Project Stage II (JRMP II) to be implemented by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will be launched soon to provide year-round irrigation to agricultural areas in the province of Iloilo. “NIA targets to finish the JRMP II before the term of President Benigno S. Aquino III ends in 2016. JRMP II will benefit farmers and irrigators associations. The project will serve an estimated 21,227 farmer beneficiaries of which 14,893 for the new area and 6,334 for the rehabilitated area,” said NIA-Region VI Division Manager and concurrent Acting Project Manager of JRMP II Engr. Jesus Dato-on. Another project underway is the Grains Central Project, which seeks to rehabilitate, expand, and enhance existing corn trading and processing centers nationwide. The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) will be the project proponent while the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) will serve as the project’s implementing agency. Villegas said DA has engaged the assistance of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and International Financial Corporation (IFC) as transaction advisors. “The PPP Grains Central Project will be presented to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala by July 15, while the complete project documents will be submitted to the NEDA-ICC within the third quarter of this year,” Villegas said. There are 11 Corn Postharvest Processing and Trading Centers (PHPTC) proposed to be included in the project. A proposal for a third project under a different component was presented by PhilMech, which aims to reduce postharvest losses, maintain the quality of perishable goods, and promote direct marketing/online auctions.

DENR to use US spy drone to scan illegal‐ logging hot spots in Davao Category: Regions   Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 19:48   Written by Manuel T. Cayon   DAVAO CITY—The regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)  here said it would tap a US spy drone to scan any activity in and around the areas where identified  illegal‐logging  activities  have  been  going  on  despite  operations  by  the  government  anti‐illegal  logging task force.  But  the  announcement  was  frowned  upon  by  the  militant  sector,  suspecting  it  as  a  sly  counterinsurgency operation than an anti‐illegal logging action.  DENR  Regional  Director  Joselin  Marcus  E.  Fragada  said  his  office  already  made  an  aerial  reconnaissance last week of the areas where trees were felled by Supertyphoon Pablo in December  last year. It said it found several areas where the felled trees remained uncollected.  “There  are  still  a  lot  of  areas,  including  those  not  accessible  anymore  because  of  the  devastated  roads leading to them,” he told the regular Monday news conference here at the SM City. “We do  this before we conduct our operation.”  He said the DENR would pay for the hiring of the spy drones.  Lourdes  Wagan,  regional  technical  director  of  the  DENR  Forest  Management  Services,  said  the  illegal‐logging  hotspots  include  the  towns  of  Macambol  and  Baganga  in  Davao  Oriental,  Laak  in  Compostela Valley, and Kapalong and Talaingod in Davao del Norte.  She  said  119,000  hectares  of  forest  lands  have  been  destroyed  by  Typhoon  Pablo,  and  that  only  800,000 hectares remained of the region’s forest cover.  A  DENR  staff  said  the  aerial  reconnaissance  was  made  after  reports  from  their  communities  disclosed illegal loggers were using the devastation of Typhoon Pablo as a cover to continue cutting  hardwood. “There are still illegal‐logging activities going on there.”  The staff said a highly placed local government executive in Davao Oriental was among the known  illegal loggers but the influence of the politician has hindered any probe.  The  aerial  reconnaissance  would  soon  be  followed  by  a  ground  operation  to  retrieve  the  logs  and  prevent illegal loggers to continue operating, Fragada said. 

He said the DENR memorandum ordering a moratorium on logging has continued to trim down the  operation of sawmills and lumber yards and to clamp down on illegal logging.  There  were  only  16  hotspot  barangays  now  compared  to  66  last  year,  he  said,  and  from158  sawmills, the number went down to only 49.  He said the hotspots were identified due to continuing reports of illegal cutting, confiscation of cut  logs and arrest of persons involved in the transport of logs.  “There  is  an  organized  process  in  illegal  logging,  from  the  cutting  of  trees  to  bringing  them  down  and hiding them in rivers. There are reports of armed men involved,” he said.  He  would  not  confirm  if  local  government  executives  were  involved  “but  there  are  barangay  captains engaged in some of these activities.”  Sheena Duazo, secretary‐general of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, warned that the use  of the spy drone was likely a counter‐insurgency move rather than an illegal‐logging operation.  “Illegal logging has been there for a long time and we all know that the government has neglected  it. Now they are saying that they would use the drones,” she said.  “For what, illegal logging?”‐denr‐to‐use‐us‐spy‐drone‐to‐ scan‐illegal‐logging‐hot‐spots‐in‐davao   



For coco farmers only Philippine Daily Inquirer  10:36 pm | Monday, July 15th, 2013  

After nearly three decades and five presidents, the promised assistance to millions of coconut farmers remains elusive. Many of those years were spent—some were actually wasted—on tedious court litigations against private persons who had benefited from the controversial coconut levy funds. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled with finality on yet another case involving the money collected from the farmers during the Marcos regime. The high court ruled on Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco’s “commission” in the form of shares of stocks that he received after negotiating the acquisition by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) of First United Bank, the predecessor of United Coconut Planters Bank. The high court noted that Cojuangco, a known Marcos associate, had in effect received public assets then worth P10.88 million, given his admission that the PCA paid the entire acquisition price for the bank using levy funds. The high court also upheld the Sandiganbayan ruling on July 11, 2003, declaring the government the owner of 72.2 percent of UCBP, which the PCA bought using levy funds. The amount involved in last week’s ruling may run into the millions of pesos but will definitely pale vis-à-vis the value of the sequestered shares of San Miguel Corp. that the Supreme Court ruled in January 2012 as belonging to the coconut farmers, for being acquired using coconut levy funds. The shares, equivalent to 24 percent of SMC, were valued at P84 billion back then. On Oct. 5, 2012, a day after the high court ruled with finality that the shares belonged to the government on behalf of the coconut sector, SMC formally turned over P57.6 billion to the government-owned Coconut Industry Investment Fund, which is mandated to assist the more than three million coconut farmers nationwide, as payment for 700 million preferred shares redeemed in September. (The 24-percent stake in SMC that was the subject of the high court’s decision was converted into 700 million redeemable preferred shares.) No less than Cojuangco awarded the check to then CIIF president Jess Arranza. Despite the string of legal victories for the coconut sector, the pressing issue is how best to use the money to immediately help the coconut farmers. At the turnover of the funds to the CIIF in October 2012, Arranza said the amount would help fund programs benefiting the coconut industry and its farmers, adding that part of it would go to research and development (R&D) as well as livelihood programs for the farmers. Last January, the First Coconut Farmers and Industry Stakeholders’ Summit was held and industry groups expressed support for the government plan to create a trust fund to hold the coconut levy funds. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala raised a salient point: the investment of

the levy funds in safe instruments so that the interest could be used for projects with an “immediate impact” on the industry. Some groups have suggested that the fund be used for coconut planting and replanting, seed farm development, fertilization and pest control, provision of livelihood and credit for business capital, scholarships, R&D for technologies to benefit the industry, and provision of insurance and health coverage for farmers. The question now is: What is keeping the government from initiating these activities? The Presidential Task Force on the Coco Levy Fund, which is to determine where the recovered coconut levy funds should go, has been in place since 2010. It is composed of representatives of the Presidential Management Staff, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Presidential Commission on Good Government, PCA, and the departments of agriculture, agrarian reform, finance, and budget and management. There is not an iota of doubt that the money should be used to help only the coconut farmers. The Supreme Court has said so, and reiterated this fact in its order last week when it pointed out that the funds reconveyed to the government “shall be used only for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.” The high court’s ruling on the 24-percent block of SMC shares was issued with the same caveat. The Aquino administration must now make the right moves to benefit the coconut industry, in particular the small farmers who still account for a big portion of the rural poor. These farmers paid that levy. It’s time they benefited from it. Read more:‐coco‐farmers‐only#ixzz2ZAzAmfjm                        

P1-b irrigation to benefit 787 Isabela farmers By Jessica M. Bacud | Posted on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 163 views ILAGAN CITY—Isabela officials led by Governor Faustino Dy III and Mayor Jose Marie Diaz welcomed the Korean guests, Senator Grace Poe, Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat during the groundbreaking of the Pasa Small Reservoir Irrigation Project. The Korean International Cooperation Agency initiated a five-year program on East Asia Climate change partnership in 2008 to strengthen cooperation and development strategies. Korean Ambassador Lee Hyuk said the Korean government through KOICA allotted P1.029 billion for the construction of the irrigation facility. “Agriculture has been the backbone of our country and economy, in the same manner that we wanted this project to help alleviate the lives of the populace in the locality aside from addressing climate change impact through the construction of water impounding facilities,” he said in his keynote address. Poe praised the Korean assistance aimed at attaining rice self-sufficiency. National Irrigation Administration Regional Director Vicente Galvez said at least 787 farmers from the five barangays will benefit in Fuyo, Santa Victoria, Morado, Minabang, and Pasa. Dy lauded the Korean government for choosing Isabela to implement its climate change adaptation project, thanking the agriculture department and the National Economic and Development Authority for endorsing the province.‐b‐irrigation‐to‐benefit‐787‐isabela‐farmers/                  

Philippines sets limited rice imports July 15, 2013 8:22 pm 

by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ REPORTER Manila will no longer import rice outside its commitment to the international trade agreements with the country producing enough rice to meet domestic requirements, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Monday. “If ever we are going to import rice next year, it will be within our minimum access volume [MAV],” Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante Delima told reporters. MAV refers to the minimum volume of farm produce, such as rice, allowed to enter into the Philippines at reduced tariffs. At present, the Philippines is allowing 350,000 metric tons (MT) of rice to enter the country annually at reduced tariff rate of 40 percent, while shipments outside MAV pay higher rates. Delima, who is also the National Rice Program coordinator, said that sustained good harvest and increased rice procurement from local farmers has helped the National Food Authority (NFA) to increase buffer stocks, which in turn eliminated the country’s reliance on imported rice. Manila has reduced imports by more than half this year as the lean planting months become shorter as a result of the early cropping scheme implemented by the DA’s National Rice Program. At one point the world’s biggest rice importer, the Philippines imported 500,000 MT last year. Of the total, 120,000 MT was purchased by the National Food Authority to serve as buffer stock during the lean season. In 2011, the country imported 860,000 MT of rice, with the private sector importing 600,000 MT and farmers’ groups, 60,000 MT. The NFA imported 200,000 MT. For 2010, Manila imported a record 2.45 million MT. This year, the Philippines imported only 187,000 MT of rice, which was under the omnibus minimum access volume for rice. The balance of 163,000 MT shall be imported under the MAVcountry specific quota as specified under the World Trade Organization agreement. “To date, there are still no takers for the country specific quota,” Delima said, noting that traders are not keen on utilizing the MAV because of good local production. “The trade environment is not conducive for importation,” he added.

For buffer stocks Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala earlier said the department is studying the possibility of regularly purchasing the omnibus volume of the MAV to be used as buffer stocks and control prices of the grains. It will be recalled that from 2011 to 2012, the DA auctioned rice import permits under the private sector financed (PSF), wherein private traders and farmers cooperatives were allowed to import rice at zero tariff in exchange for service fees paid to the grains agency. For the past two years, the allocation for the PSF was done via an open bid on the service fees, as compared to the PSF allocation in 2010 wherein the same was done via a first-come first-served basis. In 2013, however, the government did not allow private sector participation in its rice importation requirement. “With the government taking over the omnibus MAV, we can control how we use the volume of rice that we import,” Alcala said. Meanwhile, Delima also expressed confidence that the NFA will fulfill its mandate to buy locally produced palay (unmilled rice), as the country continues to post record production figures, in line with the government’s self-sufficiency targets this year. Over the past three years, the country saw an unprecedented increase in palay production, from 15.77 million MT in 2010, to 16.68 MMT in 2011 and 18.03 million MT last year. This year, the 20.04 million MT production target for 2013 will translate to 13.03 million MT of milled rice to meet the 11.23 million MT of rice needed to feed the population. For its part, the NFA said that it has exceeded its palay procurement target—buying more than 5.616 million MT in January to June 2013, or 143 percent higher than the 3.920-million MT target. In 2012, the NFA was able to buy a total of 7.133 million MT of palay.‐sets‐limited‐rice‐imports/19324/            

DA says all rice imports within MAV Published on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 00:00   

The Philippines will no longer import rice outside the minimum access volume by next year, banking on good harvest in 2012, the Department of Agriculture said. “The country may attain zero importation next year, so all importations will be done within the MAV,” said Dante Delima, Department of Agriculture assistant secretary and rice program coordinator. MAV refers to the minimum access volume of farm produce allowed to enter into the Philippines at reduced tariffs, while shipments outside MAV pay higher rates. The Philippines is bound, under the World Trade Organization, to allow 350,000 metric tons of rice into the country under MAV, on which a 40 percent tariff would be imposed. Imports outside the MAV are slapped a tariff of 50 percent. The National Food Authority has began accepting applications and opened to all licensed grains businessmen (individual, entities, farmers’ organizations, associations and cooperatives) the importations of some 163,000 metric tons of rice under the MAV-country specific quota. This year, the Philippines imported 187,000 metric tons (MT) of rice under a government-togovernment agreement with Vietnam’s Southern Food Corporation for its buffer stock requirement. Interested businessmen can source the grains from Thailand (98,000 MT), China (25,000 MT), India (25,000 MT), and Australia (15,000 MT). The minimum volume to be applied is 2,000 MT and the maximum is 5,000 MT. Meanwhile, the Philippines intends to surpass the 2012 rice production of 18 million MT by producing 20 million MT this year. In 2014, the country intends to produce 21 million MT. Palay production in the first half of the year reached eight million MT, against 7.8 million MT in the same period last year.‐news/36012‐da‐says‐all‐rice‐imports‐within‐ mav    

Millers renew claim of Turkey dumping flour Published on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 00:00  

The Philippine Association of Flour Millers (PAFMIL) said exports of flour from Turkey has grown exponentially as the commodity is being brought here at dumped prices. This is contrast to the almost flat performance of the local flour milling industry. PAFMIL earlier filed at the Department of Agriculture (DA) an anti-dumping petition against flour imports from Turkey. The group seeks a 20-percent tariff on imports on the commodity from Turkey from the present 7 percent. Ric Pinca, executive director of PAFMIL, said dumping is a violation of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules to which most countries including the Philippines and Turkey abide by under a world free trade regime. “Dumping occurs when a country exports a commodity at prices lower than its domestic prices. When a country exports products at dumping prices, it is engaged in unfair trade. Thus, we are up against a group of flour exporters engaging in unfair trade,” he said. Data provided by PAMFIL show that in 2011, the average export price of Turkish flour was $388 per metric ton against Turkish domestic price of $600 per MT. Last year, the export price was $340 per mt against their domestic price of $470 per MT. “The numbers speak for themselves. Turkey is dumping flour in the Philippines. It is an unfair trade practice. PAFMIL’s anti-dumping petition is our reply to Turkey’s unfair trade activity,” said Pinca. Turkish flour exports to the Philippines also grew by 16 percent in 2011 and 71 percent in 2012. In contrast, the local flour industry grew by only 1 to 2 percent during the same period. “If this trend continues, there will no longer be a flour milling industry in the Philippines in just a few years and should this happen, the entire country will be left at the mercy of Turkey for our flour supply. One only needs to look at the trend to realize the danger to our food security the threat of unimpeded Turkish flour entry brings,” he added. Pinca said that PAFMIL’s anti -dumping petition is only against Turkish flour. “There are Indonesian flour, Vietnamese flour, Australian flour and even Indian flour being exported to the Philippines. Why is PAFMIL not complaining about these flours? Because the

Indonesians, Australians and Vietnamese flour millers are not dumping their flour, meaning their prices are based on verifiable market rates. Meaning they are competing with us fairly and on even terms. That is fair competition. Local flour millers can compete with them because the terms are even. Turkish flour, however, is not a fair competitor,” he added. PAFMIL represents only the seven oldest, smaller flour mills in the country. “Bread prices are determined by the price at which the bakers want to sell bread and the profit they want to get. Not by tariff rates. Bakers of course look for low cost flour they could use. We believe locally produced flour has the versatility and quality local consumers desire for their bread and our prices are competitive,” said Pinca, referring to a threat made by the FilipinoChinese Bakery Association, Inc. (FCBA) that prices of Pinoy Pandesal, other bread products, biscuits and noodles will increase by 10 to 15 percent, once the anti-dumping petition is approved. FCBA said higher tariff on flour imported from Turkey will increase the price of Pinoy Pandesal by 50 centavos to P3.50 per piece from the current P3 apiece.‐news/36016‐millers‐renew‐claim‐of‐turkey‐ dumping‐flour                            

Farmers give rice-price curb a failing grade By Fred Villareal | Posted on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 126 views THE Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Anakpawis party-list group on Monday hit the Department of Agriculture and the National Food Authority for failed to curb increasing rice prices and protecting the Filipino consumers. KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said “97 percent of the total of the country’s palay production was bought by private rice traders while the NFA only buys a dismal 2-3 percent of the total palay production.” He said the P1.00 to P2.00 increase in rice prices was due to price manipulations of rice cartels and the two food agencies failed to influence rice prices. Flores cited the statement early this month of DA assistant secretary Dante De Lima who is also the National Rice Program coordinator, that palay harvest may increase by 2 percent in January to June 2013, from 7.892 million metric tons a year ago. He said despite the claimed bumper harvest, NFA has limited or has no intervention at all. “It is not buying a significant portion of the harvested palay, is spending its budget for Aquino’s anti-farmer rice importation policy, and is contented with the 60-70 day buffer stock,” he said. But Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala blamed the ‘lean season’ from June to August for the increase in prices and that “It’s normal… however, the price increase should not be more than P1 to P2.” Flores disputed Alcala’s reasoning, saying the administration was yielding to the cartel. “This government already abandoned its obligation to ensure the people’s food security,” he said. “The people and our staple food are at the mercy of rice cartels.” Based on a report from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the price of regular milled rice ranged from P32 to P34 a kilo as of July 9, up from the P30 a kilo recorded since last year.‐give‐rice‐price‐curb‐a‐failing‐grade/        

Economy Posted on July 15, 2013 10:19:18 PM 

Palay production up in Q2 CONTRARY to projections that second‐quarter rice production would be lower  year‐on‐year, the country’s palay production rose 1‐2%, an Agriculture  department official said yesterday.  Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante S. Delima said in an interview that palay production in the second quarter this year is expected to total 3.96 to 4 million metric tons, compared with the 3.899 million MT recorded in the same period last year. According to a Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) forecast in May, cropping shift, inadequate water, intense heat and crop preference changes would lead to reduced harvest areas and yields of 3.709 million MT, down 4.9%. Mr. Delima said that the estimated increase in production instead is attributed to higher production output per hectare of farmers, good season, good placement of grains, and more access to loans offered to farmers. If the increase in production last year was due to renovation, rehabilitation, and restoration of existing irrigation in the country, Mr. Delima said there was no significant increase in irrigation in the country this year. The Agriculture official said that the target production for this year, 20 million MT, is enough for Filipinos’ consumption. He also said that the Agriculture department will retain the target production for this year because the agency expects typhoons in the second semester. Mr. Delima also said that the higher production of rice provided Filipinos at least 10 million jobs. He added that the country will attain rice self-sufficiency and zero importation by 2014 provided that there will be continuous increase in palay production in the coming months. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, meanwhile, said that rice price in the market rose by P1 to P2 per kilogram since the country has entered the lean months. Mr. Alcala said that the country’s supply of rice is enough and that rice price increase was normal. “Every year, during lean months, there is an expected one to two peso increase in the price of rice since farmers harvest lower rice,” he said. Mr. Alcala also noted that the National Food

Authority’s retail price of rice has been a constant P27/kilogram. The latest weekly BAS data showed that the average price of well-milled rice went up from P32.95/kilogram in the first week of June 2013 to P33.73/kg in the first week of July. -- Jomari D. Guillermo‐production‐up‐in‐ Q2&id=73421                                          

Contentious issues solved but Luisita distribution still delayed Category: Nation   Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 20:19   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga   THE Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has moved its self‐imposed deadline for the distribution of the  Hacienda Luisita to August or September.  This is not the first time that the DAR moved its self‐imposed deadline.  The  DAR’s  original  target  was  to  distribute  the  Cojuangco‐Aquino  sugar  estate  within  a  year  after  the  Supreme Court (SC) ordered Hacienda Luisita’s distribution to farmers on April 22, 2012.  Hacienda  Luisita,  owned  by  the  family  of  President  Aquino,  is  the  biggest  landholding  ever  to  be  distributed by the government under the 24‐year‐old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.  Because of the delay in the process of identifying the qualified farmer‐beneficiaries, the DAR has moved its  target distribution anew, this time, targeting to complete the distribution by the middle of this year.  In its third quarterly report to the SC, the DAR said it has wrapped up the most contentious stages in the  acquisition  of  Hacienda  Luisita  and  is  currently  preparing  for  the  sugar  estate’s  distribution  to  qualified  beneficiaries, “to be completed possibly between August and September this year.”  The  DAR  submits  quarterly  reports  to  the  SC  in  compliance  with  the  Court’s  order  to  distribute  the  sprawling sugar estate.  The DAR came up with the final list of 6,212 farmer‐beneficiaries.  Each of the qualified farmer‐beneficiaries is expected to be given a farm lots with an area of 6,600 square  meters, more or less, from the total area of 4,099 hectares up for distribution.  The 4,099 hectares up for distribution is considered as the “net distributable area.” Of the 5,149 hectares  surveyed,  the  500  hectares  of  the  converted  area  and  80.51  hectares  used  by  the  Subic‐Clark‐Tarlac  Expressway were not subject to distribution based on the Supreme Court’s final decision.  In  addition,  roughly  468.49  hectares  were  excluded  from  distribution  to  qualified  beneficiaries.  These  areas  cannot  be  distributed  to  individual  beneficiaries  because  of  their  current  use.  Excluded  from  distribution are residential areas, canals, roads, firebreaks, a cemetery, buffer zones, lagoons, fishponds,  eroded areas and legal easements. 

While non‐farm  lots  such  as  roads,  firebreaks,  fishponds,  lagoons  and  canals  were  excluded  from  distribution, DAR officials explained that these will still be covered for common use of the beneficiaries.  “These  areas  will  remain  under  government  title  and  will  serve  as  common  areas  for  beneficiaries,”  Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes explained.  The DAR also reported  that it  had just finished  finalizing  the  mechanics of allocating farm  lots for those  who qualified as beneficiaries in the country’s biggest sugar estate.  The  allocation  activity,  to  be  conducted  through  the  drawing  of  lots,  is  a  crucial  step  in  generating  the  Certificates of Land Ownership Award (Cloas) that will be given to qualified farmers.  Unlike in rice lands where tenants occupy specific farm lots, delos Reyes explained that hacienda workers  have no permanent farm lots, thus the drawing of lots.  The valuation work of Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) on the CARP‐covered area of Hacienda Luisita,  meanwhile, is near completion, with the release of almost all of the Memoranda of Valuation (MOV) on  the property.  After  receiving  the  initial  batch  of  MOV,  the  DAR  Provincial  Office  (Darpo)  in  Tarlac  issued  the  corresponding Notices of Land Valuation and Acquisition (NLVAs) to Hacienda Luisita Inc. starting on May  2, 2013, in accordance with the procedure governing the land acquisition and distribution of CARP‐covered  landholdings.  Subsequent MOV for the remaining areas subject of the segregation survey and their corresponding  NLVAs have likewise been issued and posted, respectively.  Consequently, the DAR had requested the Registry of Deeds to transfer the ownership of HLI lands to the  Republic  of  the  Philippines  (RP).  These  titles,  issued  in  the  name  of  the  republic,  were  registered  and  released to the DAR from May 20, 2013 to June 17, 2013. The issuance of the few remaining RP titles are  expected shortly.  It  will  be  recalled  that  the  Supreme  Court,  in  a  final  Resolution  on  April  22  last  year,  upheld  the  2006  decision  of  the  DAR  to  distribute  the  vast  landholding  to  farmers  who,  together  with  the  Tarlac  Development Corp., had agreed to own shares of stock in the Hacienda Luisita Inc. instead of lands under a  stock‐distribution arrangement.

3 of 4 Filipinos ‘satisfied’ with PH democracy Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:11 am | Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 MANILA, Philippines—Three out of four, or 74 percent, of Filipinos are “satisfied” with the way democracy works in the country, results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey indicated. “The record-high (rating) of 74 percent in March 2013 was achieved just before the May 2013 senatorial elections,” the SWS said in a statement released Monday. The SWS also noted that satisfaction with the way democracy works similarly “rose to peaks” of 70 percent in September 1992, 70 percent in July 1998, and 68 percent in June 2010, and the results were “obviously related to the successful process of the presidential elections of 1992, 1998 and 2010, respectively.” Conducted from March 19 to March 22 this year, the First Quarter 2013 Social Weather Survey asked respondents whether on the whole, they were “very satisfied, fairly satisfied, not very satisfied or not at all satisfied” with the way that democracy works in the Philippines. Seventy-four percent said they were satisfied, a rating nine points higher than the 65 percent of respondents who said they were satisfied in March 2012. The SWS said that “satisfaction with the way democracy works exceeded 50 percent in only three out of 30 surveys from October 1999 to June 2009.” But in June 2010, the satisfaction rating “recovered to 68 percent and has since then stayed above 60 percent.” The same survey found that a majority, or 59 percent, said that “democracy is always preferable to any other kind of government,” while 21 percent said “under some circumstances, an authoritarian government can be preferable to a democratic one.” Twenty percent, meanwhile, said it did not matter “whether we have a democratic or a nondemocratic regime.” The March 2013 Social Weather Survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,800 adults and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2 percentage points. Satisfaction with democracy exceeded 50 percent in March 2000 (51 percent), March 2002 (53 percent) and June 2007 (54 percent), SWS data showed. The rating reached a low of 28 percent in November 2003.—Inquirer Research

Next on peace agenda: Power sharing, arms By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 16, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - After agreeing on a wealth-sharing scheme last Saturday, the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are aiming for a final deal before the end of the year on the last two annexes in their framework agreement – power sharing and “normalization”or laying down of arms. “It’s fair to assume that the two annexes will be signed within the year. It will happen sooner than pessimists expect,” chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer told a news briefing at Malacañang yesterday. The last two annexes detail the remaining issues that the government and the MILF need to resolve before a formal peace pact can be signed, with “normalization” seen as the most contentious. The wealth-sharing scheme represented one of the approved annexes while the creation of a Transmission Commission – signed in February – was the other. President Aquino signed a framework peace deal with the MILF in October last year, allowing the creation of a Bangsamoro entity.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak witnessed the signing of the agreement along with some members of the diplomatic community. Ferrer, who took over from former law professor and now Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen, assured the public that the approval of the wealth-sharing annex was well thought of by the two parties, and that it could withstand legal scrutiny. “We can guarantee you and the rest of the country, as well as the Bangsamoro people, that this is a very good deal. It’s too good to let it pass to the next generation again to take up, or even the next administration to take up,” she said. Under the approved wealth-sharing deal, the Bangsamoro government gets 75 percent share in revenues from oil and other minerals extracted in the region while the central government is entitled to 25 percent. “The time is now. This is something that is viable. It is fair and it is something that shares the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people,” Ferrer added, noting that what is most important in peace negotiations is for concerned parties “to come to terms.” “Everything is within the parameters of the Constitution; also within the flexibility of the Constitution. We are confident that it will stand the test of legality and constitutionality,” she stressed. Compared to the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the Bangsamoro entity would be more beneficial to Muslims in Mindanao as it would empower them and give them more independence in managing their future, Ferrer said. “We will have a far better institution than what is being enjoyed by ARMM,” she said. She said the MILF had promised “deliverables on their part” regarding the disarming of its armed fighters. “This is the crunch time for the MILF. Of course they are combatants and they have weapons. That’s not going to be easy. There are private armed and criminal groups,” she said. Ferrer admitted that the matter is “still contentious as to how it’s going to be done.” “There will be an independent decommissioning body that will take care of the disposition of the weapons as well as the inventory and programming for the transition of former combatants into ex-combatants,” she added. “The timeframe is provided in the roadmap and the aim is to finish the full transition within the administration of President Aquino,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer also denied insinuations that the signing of the wealth-sharing agreement more favorable to the MILF was rushed in time for Aquino’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, when the 16th Congress opens session. “The process was driven by its own dynamics. SONA was not the only force. That’s something that’s very certain,” she told Palace reporters in a briefing. Greater scrutiny Senior House leaders said they were elated by the positive developments in the peace process but vowed to scrutinize the agreements to make sure they were advantageous to the people. Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who is expected to be reelected Speaker, said the implementation of a final peace agreement between the government and the MILF is likely to require new laws. He said South Cotabato Rep. Jesus Sacdalan, chairman of the House committee on peace, reconciliation and unity, briefed him yesterday on the signing of the wealth-sharing agreement. Sacdalan, also a member of the government negotiating panel, fully backed the agreement, he said. “I’m sure this matter (wealth sharing) will be discussed in the House, the pros and cons of it,” Belmonte said. “But I’m very confident that, as long as they can show us that this is a reasonable thing, that it would finally end decades of conflict and promote development, I think the House would support it,” he said. Senators also welcomed yesterday the new developments in the peace process. Senators Franklin Drilon and Teofisto Guingona III lauded the MILF and the government for what the lawmakers considered another breakthrough in the country’s long quest for lasting peace in Mindanao. Drilon said a lasting peace in Mindanao is now within reach, but warned parties against complacency. “We’ve still got a long way to go before we achieve our goals, more annexes to discuss, but, with the unyielding efforts being shown by both sides and the tremendous support this undertaking has been receiving from the people, there is no doubt this agreement is bound to be a success,” Drilon said. He said a just and lasting peace in Mindanao is “key to a successful implementation of socioeconomic programs and to addressing the high poverty incidence in the entire region.”

Guingona said it was heartening that the latest breakthrough in the peace effort coincided with the Ramadan. “Mindanao has suffered enough because of the conflict. Its people are now more hopeful of lasting peace,” he said. Meanwhile, security officials in Mindanao said members of the troublesome Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) – behind the series of attacks against military and police targets over the past weeks in Maguindanao – stand to get isolated and may even have to square off with their former comrades-in-arms once a final peace deal is reached. “If they will continue launching atrocities, soon they will find out that they are not only up against the government military and police forces but also with their MILF brothers and sisters,” a ranking military official, who asked not to be named, said. Another official said BIFF’s depredations were an exercise in futility as such were unlikely to derail the current peace effort. He said the people of Mindanao – Muslims and Christians alike – are now looking forward to a peaceful end to the decades-old conflict in the region. “They know they can’t win,” the official said. Last Saturday, five BIFF fighters and two soldiers were killed in heavy fighting following an ambush in Guindulungan town in Maguindanao. The BIFF, which broke away from the MILF due to ideological and political differences, was headed by MILF 105h Base Command chief Ameril Umbra Kato. Kato has since relinquished his command of the group after suffering a stroke. But Kato remains BIFF’s spiritual adviser. – With Paolo Romero, Christina Mendez, Jaime Laude‐peace‐agenda‐power‐sharing‐arms               

‘Isang’ signal No. 1 hoisted over parts of northern Luzon By Frances Mangosing 7:10 am | Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

MT Satellite image 6:32 AM July 16, 2013 taken from MANILA, Philippines—Signal No. 1 was raised over parts of northern Luzon Tuesday as the low pressure area spotted east of Luzon has intensified into tropical depression, which has been named “Isang.” Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, Ifugao, Cagayan (including Calayan and Babuyan group of islands,) Isabela, Quirino, Aurora, Mt. Province, Kalinga and Apayao were placed under signal No. 1 (45-60 kph winds), the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said. Isang will bring moderate to heavy rains within its 300-kilometer diameter. Residents in lowlying and mountainous areas under the storm signal were alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides. The tropical depression was last observed 300 kilometers east of Infanta, Quezon, packing maximum sustained winds of 45 km per hour near the center. It was moving west northwest at 19 kph. By Wednesday morning, Isang was forecast to be 20 km east of Tuguegarao City and by Thursday morning 230 km northwest of Itbayat, Batanes.

Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Babuyan and Calayan islands, the Cordilleras and the province of Aurora will have rains and gusty winds and moderate to rough seas, Paagasa said in a separate weather bulletin. Bicol Region will have cloudy skies with moderate to heavy rains and thunderstorms, which may trigger flashfloods and landslides. Meanwhile, Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and the Visayas will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms. Mindanao will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. Moderate to strong winds blowing from the southwest to southeast will prevail over the rest of Luzon and the coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough. Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the west to southwest with slight to moderate seas, Pagasa said.

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Govt agencies not fully utilizing ODAS– NEDA Category: Top News   Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 21:49   Written by Cai U. Ordinario  

THE country’s  performance  in  using  official  development  assistance  (ODA),  as  measured  by  disbursement  and  availment  rates,  weakened  last  year,  according  to  the  2012  ODA  Portfolio  Review recently released by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).  ODA  disbursement  rates  measure  the  annual  performance  of  the  portfolio  against  the  target  for  the  year,  while  availment  rates  measure  the  historical  performance  of  projects  since their effectivity dates.  The  country’s  ODA  loan  disbursement  rate  was  only  68.71  percent,  while  the  availment  rate  was at 72.45 percent.  “All financial indicators of the loans portfolio decline in CY [Calendar Year] 2012 in comparison  with  the  performance  in  CY  2011.  Portfolio‐wide  average  annual  and  historical  performance  decreased in CY 2012,” the Neda said. “Poor performance was observed in the start‐up stage of  project implementation.”  The Neda said the review of the country’s ODA projects in 2012 showed that the top 5 agencies that did  not meet their disbursement targets last year were the Department of Social Welfare and Development  (DSWD),  Department  of  Public  Works  and  Highways  (DPWH),  Department  of  Transportation  and  Communications (DOTC), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Land Bank of the Philippines  (LandBank).  These  agencies  produced  a  total  disbursement  shortfall  of  $686.95  million,  with  actual  disbursements only reaching $1.21 billion. The target for 2012 was $1.89 billion.  The agency that posted the largest disbursement shortfall was the DSWD, which had a backlog of  $201.44  million.  It  was  followed  by  the  DPWH,  which  had  a  disbursement  shortfall  of  $141.45  million.  In terms of availment rate, the five agencies that posted the highest shortfalls were the DOTC, the  DAR,  the  DPWH,  the  Development  Bank  of  the  Philippines  (DBP)  and  the  National  Irrigation  Administration (NIA). 

The Neda  said  these  agencies  produced  a  total  availment  deficit  of  $1.51  billion  by  only  availing  themselves of $3.97 billion. The scheduled availment was $5.48 billion.  Data also showed that on a per project loan basis, there were 20 project loans that had disbursement  and availment rates below 70 percent, higher than the 19 project loans identified in 2011.  The project loans that had zero disbursement and availment rates were the DAR’s loan from the  Opec Fund for International Development (Ofid) for the Agrarian Reform Communities Project 2   and  the  DA’s  Ofid  loan  for  the  Second  Cordillera  Highland  Agricultural  Resource  Management  Project.  Apart from these, other projects loans with below 5‐percent disbursement rates were the DAR’s  Asian  Development  Bank  (ADB)  loan  for  the  Agrarian  Reform  Communities  Project  2  with  a  disbursement rate of 1.2 percent, and the DOTC’s loan from the Japan International Cooperation  Agency  (Jica)  for  the  New  Communications,  Navigation  and  Surveillance/Air  Traffic  Management  (CNS/ATM) with a disbursement rate of 2.33 percent.  Project loans that have zero availment rates but have no disbursement rates were the LandBank’s loan  from Germany for the Credit Line for Energy Efficiency and Climate Protection in the Philippines and the  DOTC’s loan from South Korea for the Laguindingan Airport Air‐Navigation System and Support Facilities  Supply Project.‐news/16510‐govt‐agencies‐not‐fully‐ utilizing‐odas‐neda                     

Gov’t lists priorities for Congress By Paolo G. Montecillo Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:50 am | Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

House of Representatives. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Amendments to the antimoney laundering law, the removal of restrictions on foreign investments, and putting up monitoring and accountability mechanisms to track government incentives are among the nine priority measures the Aquino administration would push in the 16th Congress, a Cabinet member said on Monday. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the nine priority measures would be proposed to Congress “to answer key economic concerns of both the government and the private sector.” For legislative action The measures that would be put forward for legislative action at the start of the 16th Congress on July 22, which coincides with President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address, are: – Amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law, or RA 7718; – The Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime and the Rationalization of the Fiscal Incentives Law; – The Tax Incentives Monitoring and Transparency Act (TIMTA): – The Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA); – Amendments to the BSP Charter;

– Further Amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act; – The Removal of Investment Restrictions in Specific Laws cited in the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL); – Amendments to RA 8974, otherwise known as the Act to Facilitate the Acquisition of Rightof-Way, Site or Location for National Government Infrastructure Projects and for Other Purposes; – Amendments to the Cabotage Law. Cabotage refers to the exclusive right of a country to operate the air traffic within its territory. According to the finance secretary, amendments to the BOT law would accelerate the PublicPrivate Partnership (PPP) program by directly addressing obstacles and issues encountered in its implementation. “We propose to amend the inclusion of other PPP modalities such as joint ventures, concessions and management contracts as well as (enhance) provisions on unsolicited proposals, including the conduct of competitive challenge,” Purisima said. “We also need to make sure the PPP governing board is properly accounted for in legislation. These measures would make sure that the lessons we learned from our PPP experience are institutionalized,” he added. Repeal 26 laws The finance department and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said they would discuss with the Department of Trade and Industry how to make the country’s fiscal incentives system more efficient by repealing an initial 26 special laws that have provisions on tax incentives. These provisions may be contributing to wasteful tax incentives estimated at 1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a World Bank survey. Purisima said that a monitoring and accountability mechanism through the TIMTA bill would effectively account for the utilization of public monies, including those spent or used through the grant of tax incentives to businesses and activities. “The Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) and Other Government Agencies granting tax incentives should submit their annual tax expenditures to the Department of Finance (DOF),” the Cabinet official said. “The DOF will then prepare an Annual Tax Expenditure Report that will be part of the BESF (Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing) reported to the President and to Congress.”

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Barangay, SK voters’ registration set By Leslie Ann G. Aquino  Published: July 16, 2013  

Register early. This was the reminder of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to voters in view of the resumption of the voter registration for the October Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls on July 22. “In seven days voter registration will resume throughout the country,” Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said in his twitter account @jabjimenez. He said registration starts July 22 and ends July 31, 2013. To be able to register for the barangay polls, one must be a Filipino citizen, at least 18 years old or older on election day, a resident of the Philippines for at least one year before election day, a resident of the place where he intends to vote for at least six months immediately prior to election day, and not disqualified by law. For the SK elections, a voter must be a Filipino citizen, at least 15 years old but less than 18 years old on Election Day, residing in the barangay for at least six months on election day, and not otherwise disqualified by law. Applicants for the barangay polls are asked to present any document from among their current office, postal, student, senior citizen, SSS/GSIS, Integrated Bar of the Philippines’, as well as NBI clearance, driver’s license, passport, and Professional Regulation Commission license. SK registrants, on the other hand, may present any of their Certificate of Live Birth, Baptismal Certificate, School Records or any other document that will establish his identity and other qualifications, except for Community Tax Certificates (cedulas) or certification from the Barangay.,_SK_voters%E2%80%99_registration_set #.UeShLqyveKE

Gas prices expected to go up today By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 16, 2013 - 12:00am 1 12 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - Oil companies are expected to announce an oil price increase today, industry players said yesterday. Fernando Martinez, chairman emeritus of the Independent Philippine Petroleum Companies Association and chief executive officer of Eastern Petroleum, said oil companies are expected to increase prices of diesel by 80 centavos per liter and P1.20 per liter for gasoline. Industry giants Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Chevron Philippines have yet to issue their respective advisories on adjustments of press time. As of July 9, the prices of diesel ranged from P40 to P46.20 per liter and P48.50 to P56.20 per liter for gasoline, according to the energy department’s price monitoring report. It was also last July 9 when oil firms jacked up petroleum prices, marking the second price hike in July after an increase in LPG and auto-LPG products. The July 9 price hike also saw a 60-centavo per liter increase for gasoline, 45-centavo hike for diesel and a 40-centavo increase for kerosene. Meanwhile, the oil-pricing monitoring agency, Platts, said an increase in oil supply in the United States could benefit Asian countries, including the Philippines, as it would lessen their dependence on the Middle East and reduce local petroleum prices. “US dependence on OPEC members will decline,” Jorge Montepeque, Platts global director of market reporting, said, referring to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Montepeque noted that when the US increases its oil production, OPEC members would look for other markets such as Asia, which could lead to lower prices. “The Middle East will look less to the US and more to Asia to seal its (petroleum) goods,” Montepeque told The STAR on the sidelines of a recent forum. Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla assured the public that the energy department is monitoring the global crude market and if local oil firms are adjusting pump prices accordingly. “Our job is not to control prices but simply to see whether it’s moving together with the market forces; so far, it is moving with market forces,” he said. Petilla said unless the Philippines produces its own fuel, it would continue to import from oil exporting countries such as those in the Middle East.

“We’re dependent. We’re about 97 percent importer of oil,” he said. PISTON to hold rally Meanwhile, transport group PISTON is set to hold a protest today against rising fuel prices and other transportation concerns. PISTON president George San Mateo said a caravan to be held from the Shell office in Makati would be preceded by an assembly outside the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board office in Quezon City. – With Reinir Padua


Bongbong: DBM should answer ‘pork’ anomalies By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 16, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. yesterday said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) should answer reports on alleged anomalies in the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) of lawmakers. Marcos, who previously denied having any dealings with businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles or the JLN Group of Companies, echoed the statement of Sen. Franklin Drilon about the process of appropriating the PDAF and the implementation of projects bankrolled by the fund. “The disbursement of PDAF funds as well as the implementation of PDAF-funded projects is a function and responsibility of the DBM and the implementing government agencies,” Marcos said in a statement. “A senator’s role in this process is merely to identify the projects to be funded, the amount allocated to these projects as well as the beneficiary LGUs,” he added. Marcos said that his office receives an average of 300 requests a month to fund projects from various local government units (LGUs). “From these requests, I generally choose which projects to fund based on my legislative agenda. The projects to be funded, the amounts allocated to these as well as the beneficiary LGUs are then compiled into a list which is submitted to the DBM for review and endorsement to the relevant government agencies for implementation,” he said. Meanwhile, the MOST law firm confirmed Napoles’ statement that the firm is not her lawyer. The firm said it was limited to collaborating with Napoles’ lawyer, Alfredo Villamor, in the preliminary investigation of a kidnapping case filed against her. The kidnapping case has been dismissed.‐dbm‐should‐answer‐pork‐ anomalies          

Intl mission gauges Apeco impact on Aurora rural folks Category: Economy   Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 20:24   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga  

SOME 50  human‐rights  advocates  from  the  United  States,  Europe  and  Asia  are  in  the  Philippines to take a deeper look into the impact of the controversial Aurora Pacific Economic  Zone  and  Freeport  Authority  (Apeco)  project  to  some  5,000  families  comprised  of  farmers,  fishermen and indigenous people in Aurora province.  Organized  by  the  International  Conference  on  Human  Rights  and  Peace  in  the  Philippines  (ICHRPP), the human‐rights alliance Karapatan and the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and  Peace in the Philippines, the international mission went to Casiguran, Aurora, on Monday to start  a three‐day fact‐finding investigation on the impact of Apeco.  The  mission  will  be  joined  by  leaders  from  Alyansa  ng  Magbubukid  ng  Gitnang  Luzon  (AMGL),  Panlalawigang  Alyansa  ng  Magbubukid  ng  Aurora  (Pamana)  and  Resist  Apeco,  Defend  Aurora  Movement  and  the  Pambansang  Lakas  ng  Kilusang  Mamamalakaya  ng  Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).  Pamalakaya Vice Chairman and Resist Apeco, Defend Aurora Movement convener Salvador  France  said  the  fact‐finding  team  will  go  to  different  villages  covered  and  affected  by  the  economic and free port zone project.  Among the barangays to be visited by the mission include Barangay Esteves and Barangay Dibet.  The mission is being conducted in time for an international conference on the situation of human  rights and peace in the Philippines to be held in Quezon City from June 19 to 21.  France said a particular workshop on the issue of “global land‐grabbing” will be organized by  Philippine‐based members of Asian Peasant Coalition and the Study Commission No. 6 of the  International  League  of  Peoples’  Struggle,  where  his  group  will  sponsor  a  resolution  urging  around  200  foreign  delegates  to  support  the  fight  against  Apeco  and  other  “land‐grabbing”  incidents across the country.  “The  international  community  across  North  and  South  America,  Europe  and  Asia  and  the  Pacific will be informed, agitated and moved on how human rights of Filipino rural people are 

[allegedly] being  systematically  violated  and  done  with  impunity  in  the  name  of  neo‐liberal  globalization, foreign monopoly capital and gross obsession to super profits,” France said.  France said he will also seek the support of foreign delegates to ICHRPP for House Bill (HB) 257  demanding the repeal of Republic Act 10083, or the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport  Act of 2010.  The repeal Apeco bill, authored by Anakpawis party‐list Rep. Fernando Hicap and co‐authored  by  representatives  Neri  Javier  Colmenares  (Bayan  Muna),  Emmy  de  Jesus  and  Luzviminda  Ilagan of Gabriela Women’s Party, Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and  James Mark Terry Riddon of Kabataan Party‐list.  According  to  HB  257,  the  Apeco  law,  which  established  the  freeport  zone  in  the  province,  allegedly  ushered  a  new  era  of  land‐grabbing  and  the  plunder  of  natural  resources  to  the  detriment of indigenous peoples, farmers and small fishermen in Casiguran. The bill blamed the  government,  the  ruling  elite  and  a  political  dynasty  for  the  alleged  landgrab,  which  it  said  was  done in the name of the public‐private partnership‐inspired ecozone project in Aurora.  A  petition  will  also  be  circulated  to  delegates  endorsing  HB  257,  authored  by  Rep.  Hicap  of  Anakpawis and other party‐list groups under the Makabayan coalition, said France.  HB 257 stated that affected farmers and rural folks in Casiguran, Aurora strongly oppose the entry  of foreign investors in Apeco.  The project, stakeholders in Casiguran stressed, will push them away from their cultivated areas  and communities.  In  2008  the  people  of  Casiguran  learned  that  Republic  Act  9490  creating  the  Aurora  Special  Economic Zone Authority (Aseza) on 500 hectares of public agricultural lands covering Barangays  Esteves, Dibet and Dibacong of the Municipality of Casiguran, Aurora, was passed into law.  HB   257  further  reads:  While  the  Aseza  law  provides  that  it  covers  500  hectares  of  public  agricultural lands, the survey on the community shows that private lands and farm lots awarded  to farmer‐beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program of the government  are among those included in Aseza’s coverage.  More important, no consultation was made on the affected sectors and communities prior to the  passage of Republic Act 9490. In fact, to show their vehement opposition to the passage of the  Aseza  law  that  covers  private  lands  and  farmlands,  resident  farmers,  fishermen  and  the  indigenous people in the affected barangays signed petitions for their opposition to Aseza. 

Likewise, concerned local government units were never informed, consulted and considered  before  the  approval  of  the  said  law.  As  a  result,  in  a  Resolution  dated  September  29,  2008,  the  Sangguniang  Barangay  of  Dibet  resolved  to  seek  the  help  of  the  municipal  mayor  of  Casiguran, Reyrraldo Bitong, to protect the farming industry in their barangay.  HB 257 maintained that confusion and fear spread among the farmer‐beneficiaries because of  inadequate if not total absence of information regarding the nature, scope and authority of  Aseza.  As  a  consequence,  the  Sangguniang  Barangay  of  Bianoan  also  passed  a  resolution,  dated November 6, 2008, in opposition to the establishment of Aseza.‐intl‐mission‐gauges‐apeco‐ impact‐on‐aurora‐rural‐folks                                   

Bottlenose dolphin gives birth at Subic marine park Category: Regions   Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 19:45   Written by Henry Empeño / Correspondent  

SUBIC BAY  FREEPORT—A  bottlenose  dolphin  at  the  Ocean  Adventure  marine  park  here  has  given  birth  to  a  healthy  calf  recently,  reportedly  the  first  live  birth of such marine mammal in “human care” in the Philippines.  The baby dolphin was born on July 6 to Vi, an 11‐year‐old first‐ time mother, with a little help from a  marine‐mammal veterinarian who induced true labor.  The calf measured less than a meter long and weighed about 12 kilos at birth, said Timothy Desmond,  chairman and CEO of the Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium Inc., operator of the marine park.  “Mother and calf are doing just fine,” Desmond said in a statement on Sunday. “From the moment of  birth, Vi has been a great mom.  She’s done everything right!”  Vi’s  pregnancy  was  discovered  in  February  during  a  routine  ultrasound,  Desmond  said.  Following  this,  the  park  built  a  special  birthing  pen  and  nursing  lagoon,  installed  cameras  and  observation  deck  to  enhance  monitoring,  while  Vi  herself  trained  with  a  special  dolphin  “puppet”  to  encourage  nursing  behavior.  Throughout  her  12‐month  pregnancy,  Vi  continued  to  participate  in  the  park’s  training  sessions  and  programs,  but  spent  the  nights  in  the  birthing  facility  with  her  best  friend  dolphin  Nala,  park  officials  said.  Like  her  pregnant  human  counterparts,  Vi  was  also  encouraged  to  continue  light  exercises  in  the  last  three months under the observation of animal experts. When the birth finally neared, Ocean Adventure  summoned  world‐renowned  marine  veterinarian  Dr.  Robert  Braun  to  lead  final  preparations  for  the  delivery.  But the birth of the first baby dolphin here was “not without drama,” Desmond said. 

In the  afternoon  of  July  3,  a  Wednesday,  Ocean  Adventure  went  into  full  alert  as  Vi  showed  signs  of  labor, he said.  However,  even  as  intermittent  contractions  were  observed  in  the  next  two  days,  there  was  no  hard  labor  seen.  This  led  Dr.  Braun,  in  consultation  with  other  international  marine  mammal  experts,  to  decide to intervene, said Desmond.  On  July  6,  after  Ocean  Adventure  trainers  gained  Vi’s  voluntary  cooperation  with  a  critical  ultrasound  exam that confirmed the baby was alive, Braun administered the human drug, Oxytocin, to induce labor.  At  5:30  p.m.  on  July  6,  Vi  went  into  true  labor  and  within  30  minutes,  a  tiny  tail  emerged.  After  90  minutes, Vi delivered the healthy baby calf.  Vi  then  pushed  the  baby  to  the  surface  for  its  first  breath,  then  took  it  for  progressively  longer  and  deeper swims underwater to help increase its lung capacity.  “Within five hours, the baby was nursing, an impressive short timeframe for most newborn dolphins,”  Desmond said.  Still,  baby  dolphins  are  very  vulnerable,  said  Carlo  Magno,  director  of  Ocean  Adventure’s  animal‐care  department.  Magno said that every scratch on the baby’s delicate skin is a potentially lethal source of infection until  its immune system fully develops. Meanwhile, it must swim continually to stay afloat with a soft tail that  takes hours to become rigid enough for efficient swimming. As of now, the park’s animal experts work  around the clock to assure optimal care for mother and baby.  Trained volunteers also record the baby’s  swimming patterns, respiration rates, and nursing bouts. Desmond said the baby dolphin will still be at  risk for the first 30 days.  “However, with a wonderful mother like Vi, we have high hopes that this little guy will survive.  We’ll continue doing everything humanly possible to insure a successful outcome,” he said.  In  Photo:  Vi,  the  new  mother  dolphin,  swims  on  July  12,  with  her  seven‐day‐old  calf  at  the  Ocean  Adventure marine park in the Subic Bay Freeport.  (Photo courtesy of ocean adventure)‐bottlenose‐dolphin‐gives‐birth‐ at‐subic‐marine‐park       

Luzon Newsbits for July 16, 2013 Published: July 16, 2013  

FARMERS AWAIT P7-B IRRIGATION Rosales, Pangasinan — The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) are highly anticipating the inauguration of the P7-billion irrigation facility, dubbed the Agno River Integrated Irrigation Project (ARIIP) that will benefit north Luzon farmers, particularly in this province. Engr. Reynaldo Mencias, project manager, said it is the biggest irrigation project in the country to date with 70,000 hectares of farmlands standing to benefit from its operation. Once completed, the ARIIP is expected to increase yield to 5.5 tons per hectare, representing a 40 percent increase in the income of farmers, said Mencias. He said the project will be inaugurated soon. (Liezle Basa Iñigo),_2013#.UeSndqy veKE

For Ifugao rice terraces, age should not matter By Vincent Cabreza Inquirer Northern Luzon 8:32 pm | Monday, July 15th, 2013 BAGUIO CITY—Age, as the romantic expression goes, should not matter in the enduring devotion to the Ifugao rice terraces. But this has been a love story predicated on these engineering wonders being 2,000 years old, and scholars fear how Filipinos will treat the latest scientific tests that reveal them to be less than 1,000 years old. That these rice terraces are ancient has always been accepted as gospel truth since this was declared by the late American anthropologist H. Otley Beyer in the early 20th century, said Dr. Stephen Acabado, assistant professor of anthropology and archaeology at the University of Guam who had spent years at Ifugao archaeological excavation sites. Beyer, credited as the Father of Philippine Archaeology, documented the history and culture of Ifugao, where he settled until his death in 1966. Acabado said the recent archaeological dig results and a comprehensive study of farming in the upland communities across centuries pointed to one inevitable conclusion: That the terraces were built close to 1565 or 1585 during the initial push of the Spaniards toward northern Luzon. He said this was based on carbon dating of the soil beneath the original stone wall foundations of a few riverside and inland terraces in Banaue, Ifugao. Data appear to validate theories set in the 1960s and 1970s that the people who built the terraces were Magat River settlers who migrated to the mountains to avoid Spanish colonizers, he said. These also suggest that the terrace people first cultivated taro (“gabi”) before rice farming was introduced by lowlanders who followed them to the rain-rich mountains after a weather shift left Cagayan Valley with drought. The details were the outcome of an ongoing Ifugao archaeological project, backed by local villages and the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (Sitmo), which Acabado presented at a University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio forum on July 5. He said the project would study new dig sites in Ifugao. Current findings would not be an easy truth to swallow, Acabado said, given their impact on politics, culture and commerce. Intense debate In Acabado’s early writings, particularly his 2010 doctoral dissertation for the University of Hawaii, he acknowledged that the debate about the rice terraces’ age “remains intense because of the implications that are attached to the antiquity of the terraces.”

“The failure of the Spanish to fully subjugate Cordillera groups presents the idea that the Igorots are ‘original’ Filipinos and a later date [for the shaping of the rice terraces] would strip this status away from the Ifugao and other Cordillera groups,” Acabado wrote in his dissertation. Placing the age of the terraces at between 600 and 800 years meant these relics “are still old,” and would not diminish ritual traditions and oral records which describe the Ifugao as ancient farmers, said Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr., who pushed the terraces conservation program. The archaeological evidence may actually be a blow to the tourism industry, not the community, Marlon Martin, Sitmo operations officer, said, citing the fact that most of the marketing brochures distributed internationally still speak of the 2,000-year-old “wonders of the world.” Baguilat said the terraces’ relatively young age should not diminish their status as a World Heritage Site because antiquity was not a factor when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization enshrined the ancient wonders in the villages of Batad and Bangaan in Banaue; Hapao, Dakkita, Maggok and Bakung in Hungduan town; Nagacadan and Julungan in Kiangan town; and in Mayoyao town. According to the 2008 book, “Impact: Sustainable Tourism and the Preservation of the World Heritage Site of the Ifugao Rice Terraces,” the Ifugao terraces were recognized for their “organically evolved cultural landscape that has been shaped by sacred traditions and the ingenuity of the Ifugao people.” Baguilat noted an attractive simplicity to the terracing system of Ifugao, which is essentially an ecological management system. The people carved out the stairway-like paddies, following the contours of the mountain, to trap water flowing down from woodlands preserved at the top, he said. The terraces also encase the humus-rich soil that rolls down the mountains. Each terrace forms ponds which irrigate crops and which hold most of the mountain stones that would otherwise cause landslides under normal conditions.

Ifugao mythology “I think it’s important to look at Ifugao mythology. The Ifugao epic, ‘Hudhud,’ seems to indicate that our rice culture was prevalent already in the olden times,” Baguilat said. The “Hudhud,” however, offers scholars, like the late Rev. Francis Hubert Lambrecht, clues that the terraces were shaped at the start of Spanish colonization, Acabado said. The concept of 2,000-year-old terraces was “a kind of received wisdom that finds its way into textbooks and national histories,” he said in his dissertation.

However, Lambrecht and the late American anthropologist Felix Keesing “were able to observe Ifugao communities building rice terraces … within a year or two, so they argue the terraces were built much, much later,” Acabado said at the UP Baguio forum. “The terraces are something to write home about. When you see it, you have [to write about it],” he said. Keesing, Acabado said, pored over early Spanish documents for “descriptions of rice terracing systems in Ifugao and was unable to find any mention of rice terracing tradition until 1801.” These scholars also observed that terracing was common to the Cordillera and many parts of the country, Acabado said. Terracing, he wrote earlier, was an ancient farming strategy “across the Philippine archipelago,” citing terraces in Quezon province in Southern Tagalog. “In Ifugao, rice seems to be the center of everything—rituals, social ranking. Rice would be almost always part of their social interactions,” Acabado said. However, isotope analyses of shards found in one of four excavation sites in Ifugao indicated that the area was “at least 1,000 years old, and the settlements there were at least 700 years old … [and] they were cultivating taro (gabi) instead of rice,” he said. Acabado cited different theories as to when rice was first planted in these terraces. One, suggested by historical records, is that between 1830 and 1851, “this part of Luzon may have been dry and rice production would have been difficult in Cagayan Valley.” “But because of [heavy] rainfall, the highlands of the Cordillera were wet … [which may be] one of the reasons for the propagation of wet rice in the mountains,” he said. Acabado said the most important discovery about ancient Filipinos was the genius of their complex, ritual-based rice farming cycle. The highlands are “marginal” for rice production, which is laborious and resource-intensive, so a ritual-based farming calendar makes sure village labor is always available, he said. Acabado first made this observation in his dissertation, arguing that “the cyclical nature of paddy-rice cultivation implies a need for synchronization and cooperation among farmers.” For example, he wrote, “a farmer’s attempt to reduce pests on a field without the coordination of other farmers will be futile because pests will simply migrate from field to another field.” “However, if all fields in the system are burned or flooded in coordination with the rest of the fields, pest populations can be reduced,” he said. Baguilat said reviving the rituals was the core objective of Sitmo’s conservation program, so the terraces are not abandoned and left idle.

Giant turtle lays eggs on Legazpi City shore By Mar S. Arguelles 8:28 pm | Monday, July 15th, 2013

BACK TO SEA Villagers and environment and Navy personnel release back to the sea a leatherback turtle, which had laid eggs on the shore of Barangay Rawis in Legazpi City. PHOTO COURTESY OF NAVFORSOL LEGAZPI CITY—A 2-meter-long leatherback turtle was released back to the sea on Sunday night after laying eggs on the shore of Barangay (village) Rawis, this city, the spokesperson for the Naval Forces for Southern Luzon (Navforsol) said on Monday. In a phone interview, Ensign John Duruin said coastal villagers and representatives from Navforsol and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) freed the endangered creature at 8 p.m. Duruin said the turtle was found laying eggs on the sand by villagers along Yawa River near the Navforsol headquarters. “We immediately sent a team of Navy personnel to look into the report and see if the giant turtle was not injured,” he said. Myrna Baylon, wildlife section chief of the DENR’s Protected Areas Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Services, in a phone interview, said the turtle (Deomchelys coriacea) measured 2 meters long and 1 meter wide, and weighed 250 to 300 kilograms.

It is the largest marine turtle found in the world and is now deemed an endangered species, Baylon said. She said her office had not yet counted the eggs that the turtle laid, as they did not want to disturb the place. Normally, she said, the leatherback would lay 50 to 110 eggs and that it would take 45 to 70 days to hatch. Baylon expected the mother turtle to return after two weeks and lay more eggs at the nesting site. She instructed the Navy to secure the area with a wired fence to protect the eggs from predators, such as dogs and other animals. Leatherbacks are the only sea turtles that do not have a hard bony shell and are somewhat flexible and almost rubbery to the touch. Their shells (carapace) are about 1.5 inches thick, consisting of leathery, oil-saturated connective tissues. Their front flippers don’t have claws or scales and are proportionally longer than those of other sea turtles. Their back flippers are paddle-shaped.

Environmentalists fear migratory birds to lose haven in Pampanga town Category: Regions   Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 19:43   Written by Joel P. Mapiles / Correspondent   CANDABA, Pampanga—The migrant birds have lost their main protector.  With the end of Jerry Pelayo’s nine‐year stint as this town’s mayor, hundreds of migratory birds that found  haven here may be at the mercy of bird hunters and killers from this town and from San Ildefonso and San  Rafael in Bulacan.  Rene  Maglanque,  the  present  local  chief  executive  has  no  interest  in  the  preservation  and  protection  of  migratory birds, its wildlife and ecosystem.  “These  hunters  should  now  fall  under  the  microscope  of  international  environmental  and  conservation  attention  due  to  the  indiscriminate and incessant  killing  of  migratory  birds  in  Candaba,” Albert  Manalili, a  resident of Barangay Paligui and local environmentalist here, said.  Under Pelayo’s administration, an existing Sangguniang Bayan ordinance bans the hunting and poaching of  any kind of bird in the town’s 32 hectares of land. In the same ordinance, Candaba was declared as home and  sanctuary of migratory birds.  Manalili said now, migratory birds are either shot or trapped on the swamp, which led to a gradual decline in  the number of birds visiting the area.  He  said  incumbent  officials  here,  led   by  Mayor  Rene  Maglanque,  have  relaxed  the  enforcement  of  the  ordinance on bird hunting. He urged the local government here to stop the violent, unnecessary hunting of  migratory birds and implement the existing ordinance.  “We also want the Maglanque administration to see the wisdom of protecting these birds for the ecosystem.                    The people of Candaba cannot remain silent,” he said.  Contrary  to  the  allegation,  Maglanque  vowed  to  advocate  for  the  strict  implementation  of  laws  involving  wildlife  protection  and  conservation,  and  the  enforcement  of  any  local  ordinance  which  prohibits  bird  hunting.  “I have already instructed the local police to verify the report regarding the slaughter of birds in the Candaba  swamp. If the report is found to be true, I have instructed the police to enforce the full force of the law and  stop the violent, unnecessary hunting of migratory birds and bring the suspects in jail,” Maglanque said. 

The Candaba swamp is a natural wilderness, home to an abundant wildlife of thousands of migratory birds.  Each year, migratory birds fly from one place to another all around the world to avoid winter and seek the  right climate for their survival.  Candaba has just the right weather and atmosphere that allows at least 80 species of birds to stay a while  before they move on. The migratory birds of Candaba are often from countries such as Russia, Alaska in the  US, China, South Korea and Japan.  Among the 80 known bird species in the swamp is the grey heron. This specie of bird regularly migrates to the  Candaba Swamp in October and often stays until March. Other birds that seek refuge in the Candaba Swamp  are tufted ducks, common pochards, Purle Swamphen, the black‐crowned night heron and the Chinese pond  night heron, whistling ducks, great egrets, Garganeys, Eurasian wigeons, Northern pintails, Northern shovelers,  coot, Great Bittern, the Shrenck’s Bittern, Eurasian Spoonbill and the Philippine mallard (ducks).

Ultimate in recycling: Pricey coffee from cat’s waste By Santiago R. Alcantara Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:45 pm | Monday, July 15th, 2013

KAPE alamid The aroma of the most expensive coffee in the world has perked up the chemistry department of De La Salle University on Taft Avenue. The department’s faculty members and students have been studying the properties of coffee beans eaten and excreted by the Philippine civet cat, alamid, to find out what makes it so special. Researchers visit farms in Batangas and Cavite and bring back samples of kape alamid, coffee produced from the cat’s waste, to the chemistry laboratory in Manila to try to find out the distinct characteristics that make it attractive to drinkers and sellers. Kape alamid sells from P250 to P500 per cup or P2,500 to P5,000 a kilo. “It’s kind of exotic. Tae ito, e (This is fecal matter),” Emmanuel Garcia, chemistry assistant professor, told the Inquirer. Garcia said that unlike cheaper brands that could be mass-produced and sold in large volumes, the supply of the exotic coffee was very limited. “You can’t pressure the animals to do more than what they can. They are so few and [are an] endangered species. The harvest of beans is seasonal,” he said.

The nocturnal civet cats, though carnivorous, like the sweet taste of red coffee cherries. In the morning, when the animals are asleep, farmers collect the beans in their waste and store them for a certain period. The beans are then washed thoroughly to remove the smell, then sun-dried, airdried and roasted. Garcia said the Indonesian kopi luwak was harvested from animals in captivity and did not get the thorough washing given to the Philippine variety. In the Philippines, animals that produced the beans were wild. The 41-year-old chemist said that since animals in captivity ate and lived under duress, their digestive matrix was different from that of an animal in the wild. The different circumstances and dietary systems affect the coffee, he said. High caffeine content “Our initial finding, although not yet conclusive, is that, if the coffee comes from alamid, the caffeine content is high and the vitamin E and mineral contents are low,” the professor said.

(clockwise from left) Ong, Chan, Garcia, Domingo and Tavera “If you are after antioxidants (believed to lower the risk of cancer, heart disease and memory loss), that is bad news.” But Garcia pointed out that “the primary reason for drinking coffee is the aroma, as it [provides] stimulation when working and studying, although it must be taken in moderation due to its caffeine content.” The La Salle study, which started in 2008, aimed to find out the chemical compositions of kape alamid, from the aroma to solubility, Garcia said. They were doing statistical analysis and sensory evaluation, he said, to see if there was really a difference between kape alamid and ordinary coffee.

Garcia said every study they completed raised more questions than answers, so their research was continuing. He said past and present students were participating in the studies. Stephanie Chan studied solubles; Adi Domingo, volatiles; Angie Tavera, overall aroma; and Ella Ong, protein analysis. Tavera found that the aroma actually consisted of two things—retronasal and orthonasal stimulations. In retronasal stimulation, odor compounds traveled through the internal nares or nostrils located inside the mouth, while in orthonasal, the odor passed through the external nares. “But while we are concerned with the chemical makeup of this coffee, we also want to see the psychological aspect—on the part of drinkers—[and check] satisfaction levels. Like, if I pay P500 [for coffee], is it worth it?” Garcia said. He admitted that, as far as aroma was concerned, there was not a lot of difference between ordinary coffee and kape alamid, except perhaps that the latter smelled soily or earthy and chocolatey. “I tasted it in 2005 in Tagaytay City and I have been a coffee drinker since then,” said the professor, who has been teaching chemistry for 19 years at De La Salle. Photos by Santiago R. Alcantara

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NGCP, DENR partner for national park preservation Category: Regions   Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 19:41   Written by Paul Anthony A. Isla  

THE National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the country’s sole power‐lines concessionaire,  said  on  Monday  it  recently  entered  into  a  memorandum  of  agreement  (MOA)  with  the  Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).  The  NGCP  said  the  agreement  with  the  DENR  is  for  the  joint  efforts  to  preserve  the  Northern  Luzon Heroes Hill National Park in Santa, Ilocos Sur.  It said its new San Esteban‐Laoag 230‐kilovolt (kV) transmission line project will pass through the  national park, a protected area.  The NGCP said six towers will be constructed inside the park’s premises.  Based  on  the  agreement,  the  NGCP  said  it  will  plant  100  trees  for  every  tree  cut  for  the  construction of their line.  The NGCP said the MOA signing was led  by Julia W. Echavez, NGCP Environment  Management  Division  head;  Giovanni  A.  Galang,  NGCP  Engineering  Project  Management  head;  Samuel  R.  Penafiel,  DENR  regional  director  for  the  Ilocos  region;  and  Policarpo  A.  Najera,  OIC  of  Regional  Technical Director for Protected Area, Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Services of DENR  Region 1.  The  NGCP is a privately  owned corporation in charge  of  operating, maintaining and developing  the  country’s  power  grid.  It  transmits  high‐voltage  electricity  through  “power  superhighways”  that  include  the  interconnected  system  of  transmission  lines,  towers,  substations,  and  related  assets.  As a corporation with a public service orientation, the NGCP partners with relevant institutions to  support the communities hosting its transmission facilities, which it considers as a true partner in  nation‐building.‐ngcp‐denr‐partner‐for‐national‐ park‐preservation   

BSP mandates priority lanes for older people in banks Category: Banking & Finance   Published on Monday, 15 July 2013 20:07   Written by Bianca Cuaresma   PHILIPPINE banks are now required to have priority lanes for senior citizens as mandated by the Bangko  Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).  This was learned late Friday after BSP Deputy Governor for Supervision and Examination Sector  Nestor Espenilla Jr. said the new requirement of banks is a way to further implement the senior  citizens’ law.  “The Monetary Board approved a policy to implement further the senior citizens’ law. Basically that  requires banks to have priority lanes for senior citizens,” Espenilla said.  As early as 2008 or years before the BSP issued this memorandum, BDO Unibank had already designated  special lanes for senior citizens in some of its branches.  According to the expanded senior citizens’ law, Republic Act 9994, Filipino residents who are 60 years  old and above are to be recognized as “an integral part of the Philippine society” and “take their proper  place in society and make it a concern of the family, community and the government.”  “This  act  shall  establish  mechanisms  whereby  the  contributions  of  the  senior  citizens  are  maximized,  adopt measures whereby our senior citizens are assisted and appreciated by the community as a whole  establish a program beneficial to the senior citizens, their families and the rest of the community they  serve:  and  establish  community‐based  health  and  rehabilitation  programs  for  senior  citizens  in  every  political unit of society,” the act said.  Espenilla said the new policy is just a way of the central bank to follow the law.  “This is to comply with the law. Basically, it is a circular for banks to comply with the law to give proper  affinity for senior citizens,” Espenilla said.The formal BSP circular has not been released to the public yet  as of Monday.  Bianca Cuaresma‐finance/16486‐bsp‐mandates‐ priority‐lanes‐for‐older‐people‐in‐banks   

Robots ease US farm labor Published: July 16, 2013  

SALINAS, California (AP) – Researchers are now designing robots for the last frontier of agricultural mechanization – fruits and vegetables destined for the US fresh market, which have resisted mechanization because they're sensitive to bruising. The robots are designed to handle these delicate crops by integrating advanced sensors, powerful computing, electronics, computer vision, robotic hardware and algorithms, as well as networking and high precision GPS localization technologies. On a windy morning in California's Salinas Valley, a tractor pulled a wheeled, metal contraption over rows of budding lettuce plants. Engineers from Silicon Valley tinkered with the software to ensure the machine was eliminating the right leafy buds. The Lettuce Bot can “thin'' a field of lettuce in the time it takes about 20 workers to do the job by hand. Most agricultural robots won't be commercially available for at least a few years. But in this region known as America's Salad Bowl, where for a century fruits and vegetables have been planted and harvested by migrant workers, the machines could prove revolutionary. ``There aren't enough workers to take the available jobs, so the robots can come and alleviate some of that problem,'' said Ron Yokota, a farming operations manager at Tanimura & Antle, the fresh produce company that owns the field where the Lettuce Bot was being tested. Research into fresh produce mechanization was dormant for years because of an over-abundance of workers and pressures from farmworker labor unions. In recent years, as the labor supply has tightened and competition from abroad has increased, growers have sought out machines to reduce labor costs and supplement the nation's unstable agricultural workforce. The federal government, venture capital companies and commodity boards have stepped up with funding. “We need to increase our efficiency, but nobody wants to work in the fields,'' said Stavros G. Vougioukas, professor of biological and agricultural engineering at the University of California, Davis. But farmworker advocates say mechanization would lead to workers losing jobs, growers using more pesticides and the food supply becoming less safe. Fresh fruit harvesting remains the biggest challenge. In addition to mistakes in deciphering color and feel, machines have a hard time distinguishing produce from leaves and branches. And most importantly, matching the dexterity and speed of farmworkers has proved elusive.  

GSIS mulls return to int’l financial markets next year By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 16, 2013 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - State pension fund Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) is reconsidering tapping the international financial markets next year with a placement of between $300-$400 million amid improving economic prospects for the United States and Japan. In a briefing yesterday, GSIS president Robert Vergara said the plan is hinged on several domestic factors such as the stock market’s performance by the end of the year. “We haven’t definitely decided whether we’re going international. It all depends on domestic valuations, how the market performs at the end of year but I think it’s time for us to reconsider whether deploying assets externally will help dampen the volatility,” Vergara said. Volatility in emerging markets has been rising as foreign investors pull out of the world’s most expensive equities given the US Federal Reserve’s moves to scale back its massive bond-buying program.

“If the market continues to correct, then why should we go outside and take foreign currency risk? At the moment investing abroad is not something in the cards, although we’ll look at it as the market progresses. It could be placements in stocks, bonds or private equity,” Vergara said. Vergara said the fund is looking to invest around $300 million to $400 million in the event it decides to go back to the overseas markets. This is roughly the same amount it shelled out for its first infrastructure project. “Like all things we do, we never go out there and take a big bet. Earliest we will do when we decide to make a go of it is 2014,” Vergara pointed out. Strong foreign inflows and record earnings helped propel the benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) to unprecedented heights, rising for four consecutive years to become the world’s best equity bull market. The four year-rally which started in 2009 has driven the PSEi’s valuation to 19 times estimated profits on strong confidence in President Aquino’s economic policies, turning the Philippines into Asia’s most expensive from the second cheapest four years ago.‐mulls‐return‐intl‐financial‐markets‐next‐ year                          

GSIS earns P33‐B in semester By Chino S. Leyco  Published: July 16, 2013  

State-run Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) posted a P33 billion in net income in the first six-months of the year, lower by 5.7 percent compared with P35 billion in the same period last year. In a briefing, Robert G. Vergara, GSIS President and General Manager said yesterday that the pension fund’s decline in profits was due to higher payments of pensions to government retirees. In January, GSIS raised its minimum basic pension for old-age and disability pensioners to P5,000. Vergara said that GSIS’ expenses, which include pension payments, in January to June 2013 increased by a hefty 21 percent year-on-year to P34 billion from P28 billion. At end-June, the pension fund incurred a 6 percent growth in revenues to P67 billion from P63 billion in the same period last year. In the first-semester of 2013, GSIS has disbursed P31 billion in loans to members. Meanwhile, Vergara also said that GSIS is at least $300 million to $400 million worth of overseas placement next year, or half the pension fund’s $600-million Global Investment Program launched in 2008, which was pulled out in 2012 due to favorable domestic economic condition. To date, GSIS has estimated investable funds of at least $17 billion.‐B_in_semester#.UeS04ayveKE              

Speaker hits water deals By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 320 views

Belmonte demands review of contracts INCOMING House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Monday vowed to mount a congressional review of the widely criticized water contracts between the government and two private concessionaires, saying their corporate income tax and expenditures should not be passed on to consumers. “It is not right,” Belmonte said of the pass-on charges that have totaled P15 billion over the last five years. “The income tax should be paid by the concessionaires, not the consumers.” Belmonte said he would not allow consumers to bear the burden of the concessionaires’ 30 percent corporate income tax for another 24 years, when the concession agreement expires. In a news conference, Belmonte said it puzzled him why Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Systems were allowed to pass on their income tax to 14.2 million consumers. Belmonte said the contracts gave the firms guaranteed profits at the expense of the consumers. “Why was the income tax included in the contract in the first place? Why was it there? We ought to look into this,” Belmonte said. Belmonte made the pronouncements after the seven-member leftwing bloc Makabayan filed House Resolution 14 directing the committee on government enterprises and privatization to conduct a “comprehensive review” of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s deals with the two water concessionaires. Pending the completion of the review, Reps. Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis, Neri Javier Colmenares of Bayan Muna, Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela, Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers and James Mark Terry Ridon of Kabataan) said the higher water rates being sought by the two private companies should be disallowed.

The lawmakers also hit “add-on” charges that would raise the increase sought by the two companies, from P8.58 to P11.41 per cubic meter for Maynilad and from P5.83 to P7.81 per cubic meter for Manila Water. These add-on charges – including a higher value added tax and foreign currency adjustments as a result of the higher base rate – would raise the water bills of consumers from P48 to P59.41 per cubic meter for Maynilad and from P38 to P45.81 for Manila Water. In the wake of these revelations, Belmonte said the two concessionaires will have to redefine what their “legitimate expenditures” are. These would be subtracted from the gross income in the computation of their profits, but the two concessionaires must pay their own income taxes, Belmonte said. “Consumers shouldn’t have to pay the companies’ income taxes because they are already paying their own income taxes,” Belmonte said. Belmonte said the House panel that would be tasked to review the contracts would immediately be convened to determine which provisions in the contracts needed to be deleted, redefined or amended. The Water for All Refund Movement led by Rodolfo Javellana and the Water for the People Network headed by Sonny Africa wanted the complete abrogation of the concession agreement, which will expire in 2037. The two groups also wanted the water firms to refund consumers some P15 billion in pass-on income taxes collected in the past five years. Javellana’s group sought the intervention of the Supreme Court and filed a petition for a temporary restraining order on water rate increases being sought by the two concessionaires. The new rates would have been imposed last July 1 but the MWSS Regulatory Office issued an order on June 7 that no income taxes should be passed on to consumers. MWSS-RO acting chief Emmanuel Caparas ruled that the two concessionaires should apply the principle used in the case of the Manila Electric Co., in which the Supreme Court said a public utility should not pass on its income taxes to its customers, and ordered the power firm to refund the amount collected.

The concessionaires are opposing Caparas’ order and said they would seek arbitration to settle the dispute, and pass on the costs of the legal process again to their customers. On Monday, Maynilad denied claims that it had collected funds from consumers for projects that had not yet been completed. “We are not collecting what we have not yet spent,” said Randy Estreallado, the company’s chief finance officer. Also on Monday, a former MWSS consultant, Felipe Medalla, said the 1998 concession agreement between government and the two water firms – Maynilad and Manila Water Co. Inc. – had guaranteed the pass-on income tax to consumers. It was the MWSS that allowed such a mechanism, he added. With Rio N. Araja‐hits‐water‐deals/                          

Peace pact allots P13b yearly for Moro areas By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:03am | 583 views

The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have agreed on annual appropriation of P13 billion for the Bangsamoro region, an automatic budget release that negotiators described as “jewel in the crown” on the wealth-sharing provision, government chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer said on Monday. Ferrer said the P13 billion was the current budget of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which will be replaced by the new Bangsamoro Juridical Entity after both sides have settled disagreements on remaining annexes to the Framework Agreement signed late last year. “Of all the provisions, the jewel in the crown is the provision that the Bangsamoro will enjoy automatic appropriation and regular release of its budget,” Ferrer said. The two sides signed a wealth-sharing agreement after extended negotiations in Kuala Lumpur at the weekend. The Bangsamoro will get the lion’s share of revenues from taxes it collected. To conclude a comprehensive peace agreement, the two sides have to finalize negotiations on two remaining annexes: normalization and power-sharing. The draft will be submitted to congress for enactment into law. Ferrer said unlike the ARMM, which rely on the central government for financial assistance, the Bangsamoro autonomous region will collect taxes and earn revenues from exploitation of natural resources. “”We will have a scenario where dependency will be increasingly lessened as development takes place throughout the next decades from the institution of the Bangsamoro government, so it is very significant in that sense,” she said. “We all know that if you don’t have your own money, you cannot really be autonomous… Revenues will increase over time as peace and development prevails in the region so that they will become less dependent and they stand on their own,” Ferrer said.

The annex on normalization, a euphemism for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of MILF combatants will the next difficult issue for both sides after several decades of war. “This is the part where we will be working on the decommissioning of combatants and weapons. And, as you can imagine, that is something that is not easy to give up for a group that has held on to its arms in order to pursue its cause,” Ferrer said. “And it is something that they cannot simply do when, in fact, there are so many other armed groups in the area. There are so many other criminal groups, private armed groups, and so on,” she said. On the power-sharing annex, the Framework Agreement has identified the powers reserved for the central government: foreign affairs, national defense, external security, coinage and monetary policy, citizenship, naturalization and postage, Ferrer said. “But we also have two other lists, which are quite long. We talk about concurrent powers that will have to redefine competencies, and then exclusive powers or powers that are being devolved basically to the Bangsamoro,” she said. The Bangsamoro was envisioned to be a “ministerial form of government,” which will have powers over the Shariah justice system. At the House of Representatives, incoming House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said the final peace agreement will require congressional approval, which means it will go through plenary deliberations and debate. “There will be pros and cons and I am confident that as long as it can be shown to us that it will be a reasonable thing that would end decades of conflict, it will be approved since the peace problem is one of the things that is setting back the development of the country,” Belmonte said. At the Senate, Sen. Franklin Drilon commended the MILF and government negotiators for making a breakthrough in the long quest for lasting peace in Mindanao and in putting an end to the armed conflict that hampered growth and development in southern Philippines. “We’ve still got a long way to go before we achieve our goals, more annexes to discuss, but, with the unyielding efforts being shown by both sides and the tremendous support

this undertaking has been receiving from the people, there is no doubt this agreement is bound to be a success,” Drilon said. The Sulu Sultanate, which is fighting a territorial dispute with Malaysia over Sabah, said the government should also consider the interest of non-Muslim groups who would be part of the future Muslim political entity. “The Sulu Sultanate, traditional leaders, the Christians, and the indigenous peoples of Mindanao and other stakeholders should be included in the resolution of the Mindanao conflict. But as we saw it, many were left out during the peace talks and negotiations,” said Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani. Idjirani said the peace agreement was a welcome development but it does not guarantee that other Muslim groups would lay down their arms, citing the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway faction of the MILF that vowed to sabotage the peace talks. Presidential Peace Adviser said the MILF has committed to help the military run after the BIFF, to share information on their movements, and to allow soldiers to pass through their strongholds to operate against the BIFF. With Christine Herrera, Maricel Cruz, Macon Ramos-Araneta and Ferdinand Fabella‐pact‐allots‐p13b‐yearly‐for‐moro‐areas/                  

SSS suspends controversial pension policy By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:02am | 1,046 views 5

The Social Security System (SSS) has suspended a management order to cut off lifetime pension for elderly members, who reached age 65 last April but short of the required 120 monthly contributions, a senior official said on Monday. SSS Vice-President Agenes San Jose said the suspension of circular issued by President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros will be reviewed following complaints from members who described it as “illegal” and “insensitive” to the plight of senior citizens. “We are not insensitive to the issues being raised, and the Commission together with management agreed to revisit the guidelines, which the System issued last April 2013,” San Jose said. San Jose was referring to the Social Security Commission (SSC), the policy-making body of the SSS. The Fund has 29 million members, who comprise more than half of the entire labor force in the country. Manila Standard Today exposed the onerous provisions of SSS circular 2013-003, which gave 65-year-old members 90 days to apply for voluntary payments to complete 120 contributions. After the grace period from April 1 to July 1, the 65-year-olds will only get refund of their contributions. In a previous interview with the Manila Standard, SSC member Diana Pardo-Aguilar said cutting off 65-year-old members would help extend the actuarial life of the Fund and broaden its number of paying members. “For every new member, we will incur unfunded liabilities because of structural defects. We are plugging the holes to the extent that we can today,” Pardo-Aguilar said. Pardo-Aguilar said the SSS has an estimated total unfunded liabilities of more than P1 trillion.

SSS retirement, death and funeral officer Zenaida Losarito had said the circular was based on a 1968 SSC resolution, which management sought to implement to protect the viability of the fund. Several members of the House of Representatives had expressed anger at the SSS circular, which disenfranchised almost two million elderly members, and they called for a congressional probe on the issue. DeQuiros should be summoned to answer questions during the question hour, one legislator said.‐suspends‐controversial‐pension‐policy/                                    

Senators debunk illegal ‘pork’ use with Napoles By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:02am | 956 views 1

THE five senators who were linked to the P10-billion pork barrel scam denied allegations of irregularities in the use of their priority development assistance fund on Monday, saying that they welcome any investigation on the matter. Aside from denying the charge against them, senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, acting Senate President Jinggoy Estrada and Gringo Honasan denied knowing Janet Napoles, the owner of JLN Group of Companies, an NGO which allegedly hatched the scam that channeled the PDAFs of the five senators and 23 congressmen into “ghost” or non-existing projects. Revilla, chairman and standard-bearer of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats in the 2016 presidential elections, branded the accusation against him as a “demolition job.” Benhur Luy, the whistleblower who exposed the alleged scam, said Revilla topped the list of legislators who allowed the use of his pork barrel by Napoles’ group. Napoles, owner of the JLN, is currently being investigated by the NBI. The JLN allegedly benefited from the PDAFs through the projects initiated by Napoles, which later turned out to be non-existent. The allegation, which was reported in major dailies, said that the funds from the ghost projects were split between Napoles’ firm and the legislators involved in the scam. But Revilla said the allegation was apparently linked to his reported plan to run for president in 2016. “Are they destroying my name because there were some who are pushing me in the 2016 (presidential elections?) Nonetheless, I am not surprised with this demolition job against me in the name of politics.” Revilla said the demolition job against him started during the May elections, when about 120 armed men, allegedly on orders of his political rivals allied with the administration, surrounded his house in Cavite and harassed his family.

Revilla also bared that he had already been warned by someone in Malacanang that he would be a target. “This is it. This controversy has been engineered by the administration for only one purpose – to demolish the opposition, especially those who enjoy the popular support of our people,” said Revilla, referring to himself and the four other accused senators, who all belong to the minority in the Senate. “Suspiciously, only non-allies of the administration are being dragged in this controversy,” he said. He challenged investigators to also scrutinize the records of the use of pork barrel of the President’s allies in the Senate. Revilla pointed out that the release of the funds of senators and congressmen are subject to existing government rules and regulations and handled by the implementing agencies and the executive branch. “Why are they destroying us with this trial by publicity? If it’s true that these allegations have been happening for the past 10 years, why did it come out only now and in the newspapers?” he asked. He said that he welcomes any investigation on the allegation, as long as it is fair and objective. Enrile, meanwhile, said he does not know Napoles and has no personal or business transactions with her and her company. He reiterated his call to the Commission on Audit to release the report of its Special Audit of the PDAF of all legislators in order to help the Department of Justice and the NBI in its probe. “From the bare allegations and claims of the affiants and the release documents provided, we now stand accused, tried and judged in the media and before the public of having pocketed public funds. Yet, we have not been given any opportunity at all by any official agency of the government to defend ourselves against these allegations in any manner consistent with justice and due process,” said Enrile. Marcos also denied knowing Napoles and said he has no dealing with Napole’s company. He added that he would fully cooperate in the investigation.

Estrada, meanwhile, said he would file a resolution for a senate inquiry on the “ghost” NGOs. “I will file a resolution on that because I am innocent.” Honasan, on the other hand, said that “allegations and insinuations must be backed up by evidence in the proper court of law subject to due process.” Meanwhile, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago urged the five senators to go on leave to erase any fear that they might use their power and resources to pressure investigators, even as Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero called for a “full blown inquiry” on the matter. “If they have delicadeza, they should go on leave immediately. This will not be investigated by the senators if they are there,” said Santiago. Escudero filed Senate Resolution Number 40, directing the blue ribbon committee to conduct an inquiry into the allegation, “not only for the representatives of the people to clarify their respective positions, if some may be involved, but to show to every Filipino as well that neither sacred cows nor the notion of an “old boys club” exists in a government working for change.” Senator Franklin Drilon, on the other hand, said that to avoid a similar incident, the pork barrel funds of congressmen and senators should either be scrapped or be limited as to its use and purpose. In a related development, the DOJ said it was placing Luy under the agency’s Witness Protection Program. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Lu and his family would be given security under WPP “as soon as possible” after he implicated five senators and 23 members of the alleged scam. De Lima, however, refused to confirm reports that several senators and congressmen were involved in the scam. “We don’t want to name names at this point. Whether these senators and congressmen were all involved or just some of them, that’s part of the investigation,” De Lima said. With Rey E. Requejo‐debunk‐illegal‐pork‐use‐with‐napoles/    

Tobacco trade’s ‘tax-dodging’ tricks bared By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 154 views 1

The tobacco industry continues to promote death, according to Health Justice Philippines, a non-government organization advocating a healthy body and environment. HealthJustice Philippines managing director Irene Reyes on Monday criticized the strategies being employed by tobacco companies to undermine the sin tax law. These strategies include “front-loading” their production in 2012 to avoid paying the higher tax rate in 2013 and conducting marketing campaigns that continue to target the youth, Reyes said in a press conference at a Quezon City restaurant. “Others have been selling their products at a loss or at a discounted price in order to introduce new products and gain foothold in the market. All these strategies are to the detriment of the Filipinos,” she said. Tobacco companies have continued to target the youth and the poor to counter the price increase from the sin tax law implementation. One example is a campaign that aggressively targets the youth, “inspiring” teens who are struggling with their identity to stand up for what they believe in, with the underlying message: if you want to smoke, just go for it. Reyes noted that the sin tax is an effort to protect the youth from tobacco and all the diseases it brings. She said recent strategies employed by the tobacco industry demonstrated its disregard for the well-being of the people, undermining the efforts of the Philippine government and civil society organizations. Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Project Director of Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) Initiative on Tobacco Tax, said the tobacco industry has been using smuggling as an issue to criticize the tobacco tax increase, especially with

the recent decrease in the government’s excise tax collections on sin products this March. But he insisted that raising taxes is not directly linked to increased smuggling. Illicit trade is a multi-factorial problem and not due primarily to higher tobacco taxes and prices, Dorotheo said. “Research shows that other factors such as the level of corruption in the country and lax implementation of laws are the true factors that affect cigarette smuggling. In fact, many countries with high tobacco taxes have low levels of smuggling, while many countries with low taxes have high levels of smuggling.” Engr. Emer Rojas, Global Cancer Ambassador and president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines, said smoking takes away the lives of 240 Filipinos.‐trades‐tax‐dodging‐tricks‐bared/                            

Luisita parceled out in August By Rio N. Araja | Posted on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 144 views 4

THE Department of Agrarian Reform on Monday said it had informed the Supreme Court of the plan to distribute 5,000 hectares of Hacienda Luisita Inc., controlled by the family of President Aquino. DAR will parcel out the land to Hacienda Luisita farmers between August and September. Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, in a third quarterly report to SC, said a private survey firm hired by DAR had completed the consolidation and subdivision survey of a total of 5,149 hectares in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac. Delos Reyes said each farmer-beneficiary may own a farm lot with an area of 6,600 square meters, more or less. Of the area surveyed, the 500 hectares of the converted area and 80.51 hectares covered by Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway were not subject to distribution based on the SC’s final decision, the report read. Roughly 468.49 hectares were excluded from distribution to qualified beneficiaries. De los Reyes said the areas cannot be distributed to individual beneficiaries because of their current use, adding excluded from distribution are residential areas, canals, roads, firebreaks, a cemetery, buffer zones, lagoons, fishponds, eroded areas and legal easements.‐parceled‐out‐in‐august/              

Barangay, youth elections registration set for July 22 to 31 By Joel E. Zurbano | Posted on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 156 views 1

The Commission on Elections called on the public to register early for the October 28 village and youth council polls. The 10-day registration period will be July 22 to 31 while the 30-day election period begins September 28. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said to be able to register for village polls, one must be a Filipino citizen; at least 18 years old or older on election day; a resident of the Philippines for at least one year before election day; a resident of the place where he intends to vote for at least 6 months immediately prior to election day; and not disqualified by law. For youth elections, one must be a Filipino citizen; at least 15 years old but less than 18 years old on election day; residing in the barangay for at least 6 months on election day and not otherwise disqualified by law. Applicants for the village polls are asked to present any document from among their current office, postal, student, senior citizen, SSS/GSIS, Integrated Bar of the Philippines’, as well as NBI clearance, driver’s license, passport, and Professional Regulation Commission license.‐youth‐elections‐registration‐set‐for‐july‐22‐to‐ 31/            

Batangas has a name for superior breeding By Cris A. Ibon | Posted on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:02am | 327 views 3

Along with the iconic balisong or fan knife, kapeng barako brew and tawilis freshwater sardine, Batangas is known for world-rated breeding of gamefowl.

Magtibay explains ranging and other conditioning phases suited to international derby matches. Author and Magtibay exchange views during a forum. Cris Ibon Engr. Sonnie Magtibay leads the flock with a feather in cap as 2010 World Slashers Championship titleholder. “I was born in in Pueto Princesa, Palawan,” he told Manila Standard at his Red Cobra Gamefowl Farm in Malvar town which is home to him, wife Presentacion Fernandez Kepti and children Michael Dwane, 9, and Sean Heinrich, 7. Nestled in a forested section of Barangay Bulihan, the property’s natural surroundings have served well for ranging and conditioning of his stocks. “Ranging starts when the chicken is about a month old,” Magtibay said, noting that gamecocks gain weight and develop muscles up to 6 months leading to the preparation for the arena. Aided by six handlers led by 42-year-old trainer, Allan Gamis of Maow, Bacolod City, he topped the World Slasher three years ago. Magtibay said he entered the week-long competition using his local breed sired with sweater crosses with yellow leg hatch and kelso.

“It was Goliath versus David and the odds were against me from the start of the elimination until the final stage of the tournament,” he said. During the 8-cock World Slasher Cup, he bested the finest fighting cocks of Liza Galore of Eddie Araneta, Engr. Medrano, the Hawaii Group of Roger Roberts, Pepeng Recafort, George Torres and Ricki Reyes. He dominated also the Bakbayan Derby of 2009 and the recent 5-cock Bohol Challenge. The 36-year-old licensed electrical engineer said he took to gamefowl as early as six years old from his father, Celso Magtibay, himself an aficionado. In 1994, they acquired a butcher brood cock from a Fil-Am US Navy serviceman to yield the winningest fighters in Puerto Princesa at the time. Magtibay said his parallel pursuit of studies went along well at Palawan State University later deciding to marry college sweetheart Precy before making a breakthrough in the gamefowl industry in 2007. “At the outset, I suffered defeat in my new found home as our Kababayan are known Number One breeder and cockers,” he said. “I took it as a challenge to refine my new breed and blood lines, most of them sweater crosses with imported brood cocks.” Magtibay said his teamup with friend Boy Tanyag of San Pablo City in the 10entry Bakbakan Derby banned RM Red Cobra and CRB Farm 2 to win in an arena of big names and top breeders. Supported by Thunderbird Power Vet, feeds producer and manufacturer of medicine and veterinary products, they hold seminars and forums, organized by Dr. Ali Flores, the company’s Regional Promotions Coordinator for Greater Manila Area, Southern Tagalog and Bicol Regions. The outreach to help aspiring breeders and cockers is spearheaded by Albert Uy, Thun‐has‐a‐name‐for‐superior‐breediderbird assistant brand manager and fellow executives.‐has‐a‐name‐for‐superior‐breeding/   

Women entrepreneurs’ program on By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 127 views

The United States Embassy and the Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran launched Monday a project that will provide more opportunities to young women entrepreneurs in the Philippines. The project, dubbed the Young Women Entrepreneurship Boot Camp 2013, aims to provide more opportunities for young women entrepreneurs through a series of lectures by successful businesswomen and other experts. The three-day seminar workshop will be held on Sept. 23 to 25 to help encourage more women to participate in the economic sector. “Countless studies have shown that countries that encourage economic participation and entrepreneurial activity from women tend to do better overall. We need to empower more women to do business,” said Spark Philippines president Mel Alonzo. A study by the Asia Foundation for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation showed the Asia-Pacific economy could grow by $89 billion annually if women reached their full economic potential. The study also showed that SMEs represent 96.6 percent of all registered businesses in the country, accounting for 32 percent of the GDP and employing 70 percent of the workforce. The study said while businesses run by Filipino women account for 40 percent of entrepreneurial activity, enterprises run by men tended to experience better growth. “Entrepreneurship is really taking off in the Philippines. Women need to be included in economic activities in order for countries to truly experience development and peace,” said US Embassy economic officer Katy Bondy. “Economically empowering women is something that President Barack Obama believes in. We believe that if we empower women we also empower the entire economy. These are exciting times for the Philippine with the economy doing well,” she added.‐entrepreneurs‐program‐on/

BIR tax take short by P31.7b in 1st half By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:01am | 80 views

The Bureau of Internal Revenue collected revenues of P593.71 million in the first six months of 2013, missing the first-half target of P625.379 billion by P31.67 billion, or 5 percent, due to lower tax collections from government securities. Collections from non-BIR operations amounted to P18.87 billion, P3.70 billion or 16.4 percent less year-on-year. Collections from BIR operations amounted to P574.84 billion, up P76.25 billion, or 15.29 percent, on year. BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said the bureau had a few months more to recover from the missed targets. “The target is a whole year target, the 12-month target distributed in 12 months,” Henares said. Collections of excise tax on sin products in the first semester of 2013 reached P38.54 billion, P12.15 billion higher on year. Excise tax collections from tobacco products amounted to P22.38 billion, up P7.77 billion or 53.14 percent, while those from alcohol products reached P16.16 billion, or an increase of P4.39 billion or 37.27 percent. “As we predicted, it came out that way. [It] confirmed the correctness of our assumption,” Henares said. The BIR in June collected P88.76 billion in tax revenues, up P7.42 billion or 9.12 percent on year. Collections from BIR operations in June amounted to P86.28 billion, up 9.34 percent on year. The tax haul from non-BIR operations reached P2.48 billion, P47.26 million or 1.94 percent more than the collections made in June last year.‐tax‐take‐short‐by‐p31‐7b‐in‐1st‐half/    

Water consumers cheated of P43B July 15, 2013 10:35 pm


The Water for All Refund Movement (WARM) on Monday claimed that the two water concessionaires in Metro Manila collected a whopping P43 billion from their customers for undelivered services. The group said Maynilad and Manila Water not only passed on to their consumers their corporate taxes, operational expenses and system loss or the cost of pilfered water, they also charged them environmental and sanitation fees. The Concession Agreement of the two firms also allows them to recover the cost of rate fluctuations through foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA) and currency exchange rate adjustment (CERA) from water consumers. “The environmental charges that started at 10 percent of the total water bills is now 20 percent. The environmental and sanitation fees that have been collected is about 15 percent of the total consumers’ water bills amounting to more or less P18 billion. But there is no environmental and sanitation services except their obsolete and below international standard na Malabanan style poso negro,” Rodolfo Javellana, WARM president, told The Manila Times. Javellana said an investigation of the questionable collections should include the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), because the agency allowed the water companies to collect these charges. “The average consumer bills collection by the two firms for the last six years or so is already P180 billion. The average environmental and sanitation fees is 15 percent but it was adjusted to 20 percent in 2010 so our water bill has reached P27 billion,” he said. Javellana noted that for a very long time, Maynilad and Manila Water were unable to provide sanitation services because they lacked the infrastructure. On top of these collections, the two companies also collected P7 billion for earthquake contingency, P732 million to cover the costs of projects in Wawa dam, P900 million for the Pinugay Sewerage project in Pinugay, Antipolo, and advanced collections for the Laiban dam and several irrigation projects. The Agta tribe in Sierra Madre had asked Congress to stop the construction of the Laiban dam. Ramcy Astoveza likened the dams to be built in their ancestral domain to a Damocles sword hanging over their heads, according to reports. The MWSS early this year allowed Manila Water and Maynilad to collect advance tariffs for the dam and 15 irrigation projects even if work on the projects had not started.

Javellana said it is possible the water companies may have passed on the high fees to pay their consultants. “ Maynilad, DMCI-MPIC Water Company, Philhydro, Metropac even took out an ad in the Philippine Daily Inquirer greeting MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan his birthday on Sunday. I would just want to ask, will they also charge the money used for the ad on water consumers?” he said. The two companies said their Concession Agreements (CA) allow them to pass on the charges to their customers. However, groups like WARM and Water for the People Network (WPN) consider the CA onerous.‐consumers‐cheated‐of‐p43b/19435/                                  

PH is now call center capital of the world July 15, 2013 10:34 pm


Business processing outsource (BPO) company Transcom Philippines recently declared the Philippines as the “Call Center Capital of the World.” In a press briefing, Transcom Country Manager Siva Subramaniam said the Philippines has overtaken India as the top destination hub for call center companies. According to a statement from the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry in India, the Philippines has a good supply of workers to fill job vacancies in call center companies. The group, as well as the IT-Business Processing Association of the Philippines through Genny Marcial, external affairs executive director, said that Filipinos have “excellent communication skills and possess a good command of English that draw very good BPO investments.” Subramaniam said that the added factor to the recognition is that the Philippines has training facilities, good support from the government and efforts to improve infrastructure programs to “better provide investors with viable reasons to do business in the country and expand whenever necessary.” According to Marcial, the Philippines is now the No.1 in the world when it comes to providing voice services, which make up most of the BPO industry. However, she said that although the Philippines is No.1 in the voice sector, the top provider of technical support is still India because labor is cheaper there. But Transcom remains optimistic that with the country being the new call center capital of the world, Filipino workers will continue to be hardworking and globally competitive. Last year, the Philippines had a total of 777,000 additional entrants into the BPO industry, making it one of the top employers in the country.‐is‐now‐call‐center‐capital‐of‐the‐world/19432/            

Miriam seeks Palace probe of ‘pork’ scam July 15, 2013 10:34 pm


SEN. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Monday urged President Benigno Aquino 3rd to immediately act on the alleged irregular use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of several lawmakers. She also called on the senators linked to the scam to go on leave. Santiago said President Aquino should appoint a panel of prosecutors that will lead the investigation. She said that although the Department of Justice (DOJ) has jurisdiction to investigate members of Congress, it is headed by a Cabinet member who has yet to be confirmed by the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) composed of members of the legislative department. Santiago was referring to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, whose appointment has been bypassed by the CA several times. She said the Senate committee on ethics and privileges can investigate the five Senators implicated in the P10-billion PDAF scam, but there are certain social constraints which could impede the panel from coming up with a sound decision. Santiago also ruled out the Office of the Ombudsman because the agency, under the law that created it, has no jurisdiction over members of the Senate. “So my proposal is the President must act now, must appoint a special panel of prosecutors and this panel must be given 30 days to issue a resolution on the matter,” she said. The feisty lawmaker suggested that the panel should be composed of former members of the judiciary who have no personal or political interests and with a reputation for integrity. Santiago gave two names of possible members of the panel—former Supreme Court justices Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera and Flerida Ruth Pineda-Romero. Herrera served as Supreme Court justice from 1979 to 1992 and is now 91 years old. Romero assumed office in 1991 until 1999 and is 83. Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and Gregorio Honasan were the five senators mentioned by a whistleblower who allegedly agreed to release funds to non-government organizations (NGOs) supposedly in exchange for a “cut”. According to the report, Revilla released more than P1 billion over 10 years. Enrile was second with P641 million, followed by Estrada who released P585 million of his PDAF. Marcos and Honasan released P100 million and P15 million, respectively, to dummy NGOs. Santiago, a former judge, said that although every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the fact that there is a whistleblower who issued a sworn affidavit and believed to have documents that could support his claim could show the existence of a prima facie case. “The presumption of innocence does not prevent our government from investigating the complaint as long as there is prima facie evidence,” she added.

The President, she said, should act on the issue decisively and with determination and “let the axe fall where it may.” Santiago urged her colleagues to go on leave as a courtesy to the Filipino public and in order for the investigation to proceed unhampered. Demolition Revilla vehemently denied the allegations and claimed that the controversy was the handiwork of Malacañang. “I have already been warned by someone in Malacañang that I will be targeted. This controversy has been engineered by the administration for only one purpose – to demolish the opposition, especially those who enjoy the popular support of our people,” Revilla said in a statement. He lamented that some senators are being faulted despite the fact that the so-called whistleblowers have admitted that they forged and falsified documents to carry out their scheme. Revilla welcomed the probe being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), noting that the allocation of their PDAF is subject to government rules and regulations. He also pointed out that even if the claims are true, the lawmakers should be considered as the victims and not as wrongdoers because the release of funds is solely handled by the implementing agencies and the Executive branch. “Suspiciously, only non-allies of the administration are being dragged into this controversy. They should also look into the transaction of others even the allies of this administration,” he said. Marcos said he is willing to cooperate fully in the investigation. “With regards to allegations or insinuations by some quarters reported in the media, I can only repeat that I don’t know Ms. (Janet Lim) Napoles. I have never spoken to her and so I have had no personal dealings with her,” he said. Napoles has been pointed to as the person who hatched the scam. Honasan rejected Santiago’s call that the senators linked to the scam quit, saying that any request for leave of absence, resignation or inhibition must only be considered after the NBI has released the initial results of its investigation. He said that the records of their special allotment release order (SARO) from the Department of Budget should also made public so that their names will be cleared. Honasan said the issue must be resolved through the proper process and not through trial by publicity. Sen. Francis Escudero on Monday filed a resolution directing the blue ribbon committee to conduct an inquiry into the scam. Escudero said that a full-blown Senate investigation would show to the people that the chamber does not have sacred cows or an “old boys club”. “It has become a painful misconception that the PDAF is a cash allocation given to congressmen and senators with unlimited discretion to disburse and spend with neither constraints nor accountability,” he said.

But in reality, Escudero said, legislators do not handle the funds nor implement the projects and their participation is limited to the designation of beneficiaries and identification of projects. Sen. Franklin Drilon believes the Senate is not the right agency to make an inquiry because it will not look good if the chamber investigates its own members. Drilon said the public may doubt the result of the investigation. “I have confidence in Secretary De Lima. What is more critical to me is the confidence of the President because regardless of whether she is confirmed or not, depends on the confidence of the President,” he said. Drilon on Monday also proposed to put a limitation in the use of their PDAF. ”The reality is, there would be some who legitimately need PDAF. I think, the reality is let us limit the use of the PDAF to certain activities,” Drilon said. The senator, who is being groomed as the next Senate president, said medical assistance and educational scholarships are among the legitimate activities that need to be supported by the PDAF. ”I’m not saying the reports are true but to avoid this kind of negative reports, if we cannot abolish PDAF, let us limit its use,” he said. At least 28 legislators, including five senators, have been linked to the alleged pork barrel scheme devised by Napoles. Drilon said he himself accepts PDAF but he made it sure that his P200-million pork barrel every year went to the right recipients through proper channels. He added that there is nothing with the Senate rule which would compel the involved senators to go on leave. ”Remember these are just media reports at this stage,” Drilon said. Denial Technical Director General Joel Villanueva on Monday also denied any knowledge on the pork barrel scam. “During the impeachment years, I don’t recall receiving a single cent from the Arroyo administration to CIBAC party-list,” he told reporters. Villanueva was a party-list representative of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) during the 12th, 13th and 14th Congress. He denied that this pork barrel funds worth P4.3 million were coursed through a dummy—NGO Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. owned by Napoles. According to the documents provided by the whistle-blowers, Villanueva released P3 million and P1.3 million on November 9, 2007. “They already admitted they are forging signatures so I hope the authorities will dig deeper and hold liable those who will be proven guilty,” Villanueva said. State witness De Lima said the whistle-blower, Benhur Luy, and members of his family can be admitted into the Witness Protection Program (WPP).

‘I have made that offer to them through a lawyer because it was them who forged the signatures,” De Lima said. She said Luy rejected her offer. However, because of the heat generated by the series of the exposes in leading newspapers, De Lima again advised the witness to be placed under WPP as soon as possible. In a motion for reconsideration before the DOJ through his counsel Levido Baligod, Luy said the agency erred in throwing out the complaint against Napoles and her brother Reynaldo Lim, both of JLN Group of Companies. The DOJ, in a resolution dated June 10, 2013, dismissed for lack of probable cause the complaint filed by the NBI and Arturo Luy, Gerturdes Luy, Annabelle Luy-Reario and Benhur against Reynald and Janet. Last March, NBI agents reported that they rescued Benhur after he was allegedly held captive for more than three months by Reynald and Janet in their condominium unit at Pacific Plaza Tower, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City. Reynald was supposedly arrested without warrant and was brought to Saint Luke’s Hospital due to chest pains. In the ruling, the DOJ found that Benhur was not detained against his will. The DOJ took into account the testimony of the security officers of the Pacific Plaza Towers Condominium who took the CCTV footage showing that Benhur refused to go with the NBI agents. WITH REPORTS FROM JOMAR CANLAS AND PNA‐seeks‐palace‐probe‐of‐pork‐scam/19429/                      

Aquino graces magazine cover July 15, 2013 10:32 pm


President Benigno Aquino 3rd has for the first time agreed to be the cover of a local magazine. The Manila Times was emailed on Monday a digital copy of Summit Media’s July issue of Esquire Philippines with President Aquino on the cover. The publishing company’s media relations associate, Jieneb Jamin Kho, said the men’s magazine is proud of the fact that Esquire’s latest edition is “the President’s first time to shoot for a magazine cover.” The cover, shot in black and white, is headlined How To Be A Man by Benigno S. Aquino, which is the magazine’s theme for the month. Esquire Philippines Editor-in-Chief Erwin Romulo said the magazine chose to put the President on the cover of the How to be a Man issue. “Who better teach every Filipino how to be a man than the most powerful person in the Philippines?” Romulo said. In the interview that accompanies the photo, the President talks about why he pushes for transformation, how he always remembers the bearer of false promises, which “perpetrators” he’ll be keenly watching, and where he’ll kick back after his 2016 reign. In an excerpt from the interview, President Aquino says: “My critics will insist that [I decide important matters hastily]. I’m tempted to challenge them to a debate Why don’t you ask me how I made my decision and show me where my reasoning was faulty? So, if I have a critic, and he makes sense, then I will seek him out. I will try to get his positive point and incorporate it.”‐graces‐magazine‐cover/19424/

Optimum coco levy fund utilization July 15, 2013 10:32 pm


The Supreme Court has spoken with finality after dribbling the coconut levy ball for decades to the detriment of the lowly coconut farmers who were thus deprived of the use of funds extracted from them by Marcos edicts. These levies coming from the blood, sweat and tears of alienated and impoverished coconut farmers were leveraged by its handlers to produce whopping fortunes for themselves without leaving any crumbs for its true owners. And now the industry is awash with money creating a mad scramble for its use among government entities acting like hungry dogs over a piece of meat. Unless properly managed this could easily produce a moral hazard—defined as the propensity of government to indulge in a spending orgy that will not redound to the interest of the beneficial owners of the fund—the coconut industry. Alternatively this bonanza could give way to the Dutch Disease, a situation occurring in the Netherlands upon the discovery of the North Sea gas which instead of favoring the economy led to negative consequences as the newly-discovered wealth was frittered away in less than economically productive undertakings. What is therefore a must at this time is to immediately preserve the integrity of the funds by creating an agency to manage the funds which are trust funds intended to benefit the coconut industry. As a special fund with fiduciary features, it cannot be part of the general fund or co-mingled with budgets of government agencies or instrumentalities, however related closely or remotely with the development of this agriculture sub-sector. Necessarily no less than an act of Congress is needed to determine the qualifications of the managers of the trust funds who should be tenured with recognized competence in such expertise as productivity, technology, marketing, finance and research. Since a few bills have already been filed along these lines it is suggested that this be consolidated into an omnibus bill. Since we are looking at a big amount—some P70 billion in financials assets and probably the same amount in fixed assets, a budgetary plan can be drawn up which will utilize the earnings of the fund for both operating and capital expenditures. The industry should be run like a corporation as in the case of the Malaysian palm oil industry. Perhaps this is an opportune time to revisit the development pattern; the copra culture has to go. This is a legacy of colonial policies that wanted to keep the archipelago as a supplier of raw materials so that multinationals could keep value added income to themselves. On this score it has been shown that the level of technology in this country enables it, with government support in terms of infrastructure and research to promote the agro-industrialization of the coconut sector. This will

surely create higher levels of productivity, income and employment in rural areas and alleviate the poverty situation now concentrated in coconut areas. Priority spending of levy funds is clearly in the productivity and marketing areas which will involve replanting and rehabilitation of coconut farms now in a menopausal state if not suspended animation. A more efficient input/output delivery system will make for more efficient supply chain, and remove the layers of middlemen—the leeches in the industry, who live off the backs of coconut farmers who are ground between the millstone of low productivity and the grindstone of low prices. Further processing of the products of the ‘tree of life” will give life to cottage and small scale industries producing anything from coco-fiber to coco-charcoal and from buko juice to coco sugar etc. A social fund to take care of farmer education, technical training and hospitalization, insurance etc. is a must. Last but not the least is a fund for social preparation to transform individual farmers into farm cooperatives so that they can enjoy the benefits of the economies of scale. The idea is to transform coconut farmers into “total” farmers who can manage intercropped farms which will optimize the use of sparsely developed coconut farms. Whereas these farmers only harvested coconut and processed them into copra, under a vertically and horizontally integrated system, they will also be growing such products as coffee, cacao, pineapple, vegetables and even go into cattle raising under coconut trees. What would be ideal is to develop Coconut Agro-industrial Estates under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to allow these to benefit from tax incentives and attract local as well as foreign investments. These could accommodate processing plants and produce employment and better incomes.‐coco‐levy‐fund‐utilization/19422/


No rice importation this year because of ample palay supply July 16, 2013 1:35 am

Because it is producing enough rough palay to meet domestic requirements, the country will no longer import rice, outside its commitment to the international trade agreements, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Monday. “If ever we are going to import rice next year, it will be within our minimum access volume (MAV),” DA Assistant Secretary Dante Delima told reporters. MAV refers to the minimum volume of farm produce, such as rice, allowed to enter into the Philippines at reduced tariffs. The Philippines is allowing 350,000 metric tons of rice to enter the country annually at the reduced tariff rate of 40 percent, while shipments outside MAV pay higher rates. Delima, who is also the National Rice Program coordinator, said that sustained good harvest and increased rice procurement from local farmers has helped the National Food Authority (NFA) to increase buffer stocks, which in turn eliminated the country’s reliance on imported rice. Manila has reduced imports by more than half this year as lean months become shorter as a result of early cropping implemented by the DA-National Rice Program. At one point the world’s biggest rice importer, the Philippines imported 500,000 MT last year. Of the total, 120,000 MT was purchased by the National Food Authority to serve as buffer stock during the lean season. In 2011, the country imported 860,000 MT of rice, with the private sector importing 600,000 MT and farmers’ groups, 60,000 MT. The NFA imported 200,000. For 2010, Manila imported a record 2.45 million MT. This year, the Philippines has imported only 187,000 MT of rice, which was under the omnibus minimum access volume for rice. The balance of 163,000 MT shall be imported under the MAVcountry specific quota (CSQ) as specified under the WTO agreement. “To date, there are still no takers for the country specific quota,” Delima said, noting that traders are not keen on utilizing the MAV because of good local production. “The trade environment is not conducive for importation,” he added. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala earlier said they are studying the possibility of regularly purchasing the omnibus volume of the MAV to be used as buffer stocks and control prices of the grains. From 2011 to 2012, the DA auctioned rice import permits under the Private Sector Financed (PSF) program, which allows private traders and farmers cooperatives to import rice at zero tariff in exchange for service fees paid to the grains agency.

For the past two years, the allocation for the PSF was done via open bidding on the service fees, as compared to the PSF allocation in 2010 wherein it was done on a first come-first served basis. In 2013, however, the government did not allow the private sector to participate in its rice importation requirement. “With the government taking over the omnibus MAV, we can control how we use the volume of rice that we import,” Alcala said. Delima is confident the NFA will fulfill its mandate to buy locally produced palay, as the country continues to post record production figures. Over the past three years, the country has seen a dramatic rise in rice production, from 15.77 million MT in 2010, to 16.68 MMT in 2011, and 18.03 MMT last year. This year, the 20.04 million MT production target for 2013 will translate to 13.03 MMT of milled rice to meet the 11.23 MMT of rice needed to feed the population. For its part, the National Food Authority said it has already exceeded its palay procurement target – buying more than 5.616 million MT in January to June 2013, or 143 percent higher than the 3.920 million MT target. In 2012, the NFA bought a total of 7.133 million MT of palay. JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ‐rice‐importation‐this‐year‐because‐of‐ample‐palay‐supply/19504/                          

Frenzy of pregnancy among young alarms officials July 15, 2013 8:57 pm

by PNA ILOILO CITY: Cases of teenage pregnancy in Western Visayas are still widespread and those who get pregnant are now much younger, according to the Commission on Population Region 6 (PopCom-6). PopCom-6 information officer II Maria Xenia Serio said the cases are alarming as they have even recorded the pregnancy of a girl as young as 12 years old in Iloilo province. She said they are coordinating with the Department of Education to integrate Population Education in all eight high school subject areas to help address the problem. “Every year, we conduct two skills trainings for young educators, and also for in-school youth so they can be aware on how to take good care of themselves while in adolescence,” Serio said. Although the PopCom-6 doesn’t have the actual figures on teenage pregnancy in the region, Serio noted that the Philippines ranks second in Southeast Asia in the incidence of teenage pregnancy. Based on the figures of the National Youth Commission, teenage pregnancies in the country doubled from 125,270 in 2000 to 206,574 in 2010. Of the 206,574 teenage girls who got pregnant in 2010, 132,000 were 14 years old. Last week, the Iloilo Provincial Population Office conducted a symposium attended by high school students in observance of the World Population Day on July 11.‐of‐pregnancy‐among‐young‐alarms‐officials/19370/                  

Rare sea turtle swims across globe, lays eggs in Bicol July 15, 2013 8:57 pm


Navy Ensign Mon Duruin of Naval Forces Southern Luzon covers sand on the eggs of a giant leatherback sea turtle. The rare sea turtle laid at least 100 eggs on a Legazpi City coast. Navy personnel and local residents closely guard the area to deter poachers and predators until such the eggs are hatched and released back to the sea. RHAYDZ B. BARCIA

LEGAZPI CITY: A female leather-back sea turtle swam the high seas down to Yawa village shore here to bury at least 100 eggs at the Naval Forces Southern Luzon premises on Sunday evening. Navy Ensign Mon Duruin, public information officer of Naval Forces Southern Luzon told The Manila Times that the leather-back sea turtle about two meters long laid its eggs on the sand and may likely hatch more than 80 eggs. The turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is primarily found in the open ocean as far as north Alaska and the southern tip of Africa though recent satellite tracking research indicates that leatherbacks feed in areas just offshore. “A rare type of sea turtle was uncovered by navy personnel together with the local residents right the premises of Philippine Navy headquarters at around 8 p.m. This huge sea turtle laid her eggs on the sand,� Duruin told The Manila Times. Study showed that a leather back sea turtle could nest at intervals of two to three years though recent research indicates they can nest every year.

Females lay an average of 80 fertilized eggs, the size of billiard balls and 30 smaller, unfertilized eggs in each nest. The eggs incubate for about 65 days. Unlike other species of sea turtles, leatherback females may change nesting beaches, though they tend to stay in the same region. The leatherback sea turtle, sometimes called the lute turtle, is the largest of all living turtles and is the fourth largest modern reptile behind three crocodilians. It is believed that female leatherback turtles often return to the same nesting areas where they were born to produce their own offspring. They can grow to over six feet in length and weigh up to 2,000 pounds. Leatherbacks are also unique among sea turtles in that instead of a hard carapace, a leather-like, oily “skin” covers their shell bones. Leatherbacks could swim alongside some of the deepest-diving whales—they are capable of diving at least 3,900 feet, the study said. This rare sea turtle is classified as endangered species because of uncontrolled egg harvest, catching and slaughtering, coastal development and highly variable food availability. “After nesting, the eggs were buried by navy personnel in the sand and will be monitored to ensure that no one could intrude until such time that these will be hatched,” the navy spokesman said. After the rare sea turtle laid her eggs on the shore, navy servicemen along with the local residents of Yawa village released the turtle back to her habitat.‐sea‐turtle‐swims‐across‐globe‐lays‐eggs‐in‐bicol/19366/


Nine priority economic bills identified July 15, 2013 8:30 pm


Nine priority bills that would address economic concerns of the government and private sector have been presented in a Cabinet meeting on Monday. The Department of Finance (DOF) in a statement said that Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima put forward a list of proposed bills during meeting to prioritize the Cabinet’s legislative proposals. “The meeting will result in a list of measures which the executive branch will propose for legislative action at the start of the 16th Congress on July 22, coinciding with President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s State of the Nation Address,” the DOF stated. One of the priority measures of the Cabinet’s Economic Development Cluster was the Amendments for the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, or Republic Act (RA) 7718, which according to Purisima, will accelerate the public-private partnership (PPP) program by directly addressing obstacles and issues encountered in implementation. “We propose to amend the inclusion of other PPP modalities such as joint ventures, concession and management contract and enhancing provisions on unsolicited proposals including the conduct of competitive challenge,” said Purisima. He added that there is also a need to make sure that the PPP governing board is properly accounted for in legislation. Other priority bills are the Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime; the Rationalization of the Fiscal Incentives Law; the Tax Incentives Monitoring and Transparency Act (Timta) and the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. “The Finance department and the National Economic Development Authority [NEDA] will also discuss together with the Department of Trade and Industry how to make the country’s fiscal incentives system more efficient, citing to repeal an initial of 26 special laws with tax incentives provisions that may be contributing to wasteful tax incentives estimated at 1 percent of GDP [gross domestic product], according to a World Bank survey,” the DOF said. Purisima also said that a monitoring and accountability mechanism through the Timta bill will effectively account for the utilization of public monies, including those that are “spent” through the grant of tax incentives to businesses and activities. “The investment promotion agencies and other government agencies granting tax incentives should submit their annual tax expenditures to the DOF, and DOF will prepare an Annual Tax Expenditure Report that will be part of the BESF and reported to the President and to Congress,” he added. The DOF chief noted that the measures will enhance the government’s ability to track the incentives that it gives out, and properly evaluate which incentives most effectively spur development.

Also included in the priority bills are the amendments to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Charter; and further amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act; the Removal of Investment Restrictions in Specific Laws cited in the Foreign Investment Negative List; Amendments to RA 8974, or the Act to Facilitate the Acquisition of Right-of-Way, Site or Location for National Government Infrastructure Projects and for Other Purposes and Amendments to the Cabotage Law.‐priority‐economic‐bills‐identified/19328/                                          

BIR misses June collection target July 15, 2013 8:29 pm


The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) missed its P100.51-billion collection target for June 2013. In a statement, the BIR said that it only collected P88.76 billion in tax revenues for the month, however, the said figure was higher by P7.42 billion, or 9.12 percent more than collections made a year ago. It added that collections from BIR operations amounted to P86.28 billion, P7.37 billion, or 9.34 percent more than collections made in June 2012. Meanwhile, collections from non-BIR operations increased by 1.94 percent to P2.48 billion, P47.26 million higher compared to the collections a year ago. The bureau also said that collections by the regional offices went up by 12.48 percent to P31.53 billion, or P3.50 billion more than the collections made in June 2012. Collections by the large taxpayers service were also up by 7.61 percent to P54.75 billion, P3.87 billion higher compared to the collections a year ago. First-half collection Furthermore, from January to June, the BIR collection also increased by 13.92 percent to P593.71 billion, or P72.55 billion more than the collection made in the same period in 2012. Collections from BIR operations went up by 15.29 percent to P574.84 billion, P76.25 billion higher compared to the collections made in the first half of 2012. However, collections from non-BIR operations amounted to P18.87 billion, P3.70 billion, or 16.4 percent less than collections made in the same period a year ago. On the other hand, the BIR said that its collections of excise tax on sin products for the first semester of 2013 reached P38.54 billion, higher by P12.15 billion, or 46.06 percent more than the collections made in the first semester of 2012. Excise tax collection from tobacco products amounted to P22.38 billion, or an increase of P7.77 billion, or 53.14 percent. Meanwhile, excise tax collection from alcohol products amounted to P16.16 billion or an increase of P4.39 billion, or 37.27 percent. Meanwhile, the BIR through a new rule amended the requirements for deductibility of certain income payments under Section 2.58.5 of Revenue Regulation (RR) 2-98. Issued on July 12, RR 11-2013 states that any income payment shall be allowed as a deduction from the payor’s gross income only, if it is shown that the income tax required to be withheld has been paid to the bureau in accordance with Sections 57 and 58 of the Tax Code. “In other words, payment of withholding tax was made on time. But as presently worded, Section 2.58.5 of RR 2-98 as amended, provides certain exceptions where a deduction will also be allowed

even if no withholding tax was made on time, that is, made only during audit and investigation,” the tax bureau stated. The BIR noted that the new regulation removes such exceptions, not being expressly provided for by the Tax Code. The RR 11-2013 also maintains the rule that any income payment shall be allowed as a deduction, only if it shown that the income tax required to be withheld has been paid to the bureau in accordance with Sections 57 and 58 of the Tax Code. It also said that the new regulation is an addition to the other requirements under the Tax Code.‐misses‐june‐collection‐target/19326/                                      

PNoy’s legacy is in reforming education, not fighting corruption July 15, 2013 10:38 pm


Tony Lopez

President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd’s Matuwid na Daan (Straight Path) platform is not exactly about fighting corruption where a modicum of success is a quixotic dream considering the genetic greed of politicians and the legendary vileness of bureaucrats. Matuwid na Daan is more appropriately reforming the Philippine educational system to produce good citizens who are broadly knowledgeable, equipped with skills for them to cope during the 21st century, and yes, morally upright and fearless in the face of adversity with no more powerful a weapon than their integrity. The man behind education reform is La Salle Brother Armin Luistro. He is one of the country’s finest visionaries in the field of education and one of the best in educational management. He probably will be the best Education secretary ever. The Aquino Presidency will make sure that graduates of senior high school—the equivalent in the past of a second year college education— will have such qualities. And that every Filipino will have access to that kind of education. In addition to Kinder, basic education will now be 12 years instead of 10–six years of elementary and six years of high school. Plus Kinder, the total is actually 13. Compare that in the past when a pupil had only six years of elementary and four years of high school, a total of 10. Twelve is the standard basic education in most countries. A better education for the Filipino teener—this ultimately will be the President’s legacy and the key measure of the success of his six-year presidency. Ironically, the first batch of graduates of Aquino’s K to 12 revolutionary program will come out of public and private secondary schools by 2018, two years after Aquino’s presidency. They would number close to 1.8 million in 2018 and by two million every year after that.

The program is actually Kindergarten plus 12 since it adds a year to elementary education by making Kinder mandatory by law and two years to what used to be four years of high school to make high school six years by Grade 12. That’s an additional three years. However, college, currently four years, can be reduced to three, since half of General Education units in college have been intercalated to senior high or Grade 11 and 12. So the net addition when one reaches Grade 12 is two years. Before K to 12, General Education courses in college had 51 to 63 units. With K to 12, GE courses will just be 36. The reduction of GE units may lead to abbreviating college by one year or enriching one’s degree programs. Curricular reform and innovation are the two main objectives of K to 12 Program, according to Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Luistro. Curriculum reform means reforming curriculum content and readying the teachers. This is done by improving the quality and volume of curriculum content in the expanded high school and by improving the quality of teachers – today, with at least P18,000 a month take-home pay, among the best paid civil servants. The new public school education starts with Kindergarten, which is now free to children who are five years old. This has been made possible by the Kindergarten Education Act. The General Education in college has been cut by half so that the first half is intercalated to senior high school, enabling the government to shorten college from four years to just three. The college curriculum will comprise of a year’s worth of general education subjects and at least two years of major subjects. Once they finish high school – four years of Junior High School and two years of Senior High School, Filipino students should have acquired basic skills and been educated enough to be able to find a job or put up a business of their own, or if they want to, pursue three years of college to become a professional. At present, laments Luistro, Philippine college graduates are not recognized as such overseas and are made to undergo additional two years of college when they go abroad for further studies. Hundreds of thousands of high school and college graduates are jobless, not because jobs are scarce, but because they lack the adequate education and training needed by the jobs market. The K to 12 program tries to solve this mismatch. In theory thus, high school graduates should be employable, while those who want to pursue college education will have the necessary knowledge and training to become professionals. The DepEd strategies include the elimination of classroom and teacher shortage, improving the quality of teachers, strengthening school-based management, reforming the curriculum and promoting good education governance. Luistro reports that all shortages would have been mainly eliminated in number of teachers, classrooms and textbooks by next year. That has required the investment of huge amounts of money. DepEd budget Between Fiscal Year 2010 and FY 2014, the DepEd budget will nearly double, from P174.8 billion to

a whopping P336.9 billion, an increase of 92.6 percent in four years or by more than 23 percent per year. Still, the additional allocation brings government spending for public elementary and high school education to barely 4% of the Gross Domestic Product. The ideal is 6 percent Between FY 2007 and FY FY 2010, the DepEd budget nudged up from P137.3 billion to P174.9 billion, a paltry 27.38 percent gain in four years per year. Where does the government get the money? “From the money collected from you by (Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner) Kim Henares,” laughs Luistro. So there – higher tax collections mean better human capital and more employable people, for local and foreign jobs. Pay your taxes and invest in the future of your children. DepEd budgeted P50 billion to build classrooms last year. That budget of P50 billion was transferred to the Department of Public Works beginning this year. DPWH promptly auctioned the job to build 9,000 63-sqm classrooms (for two million additional students) to the private sector under the so-called Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. “We would have built 66,800 classrooms by end-2013,” reckons Luistro, “that should cover the backlog since 2010.” The shortage came from the enrolment of almost 1.9 million students (including those entering private school) per year with the population growth rate of 1.9% per year and the need to cover students who stay longer in school because of lower dropout rate. He also hired 61,500 teachers this year. DepEd will bid out the printing of additional 20 million textbooks for the two additional years of high school, at the rate of five textbooks per student. Luistro is trying to validate recent findings showing an improvement in cohort survival rate (the opposite of dropout rate) with Kindergarten. For every 100 pupils who finish Kinder and go to Grade 1, 67 will finish Grade 6, a marked 45% improvement from the previous ratio of only 46 pupils finishing Grade 6 out of every 100 Grade 1 starters. “Ideally,” says Luistro, “we should aim for 100 percent completing Grade 6.”‐legacy‐is‐in‐reforming‐education‐not‐fighting‐corruption/19440/          

Posted on July 15, 2013 11:19:50 PM

Hacienda Luisita land distribution set Facebook Tweet LinkedIn Google + ShareThis  

LAND DISTRIBUTION to qualified farm workers in Hacienda Luisita, which is owned by the family of President Benigno S. C. Aquino III, under the land reform program is to be completed in the next two months.

“The government has wrapped up the most contentious stages in the acquisition of Hacienda Luisita under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), and is currently preparing for the sugar estate’s distribution to qualified beneficiaries, to be completed possible between August and September this year,” according to a statement released yesterday by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The agency said the scheduled land distribution was the gist of its third quarterly report submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday after the screening and identification of the Final Master List of Qualified Farmworker-Beneficiaries totalling 6,212 individuals. In a separate interview, Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Anthony N. Parungao said the drawing of lots to distribute land ownership certificates will be conducted for the beneficiaries. “Magkakaroon ng allocation activity kung saan gaganapin ang draw lots sa sampung barangay para malaman kung saan ibibigay yung CLOA (Certificate of Land Ownership Award) hanggang August 21 [There will be an allocation activity involving the drawing of lots in 10 villages to determine the recipients of CLOA until August 21],” he said. According to the statement, roughly 6,600 square meters of farm lots shall be distributed to each beneficiary out of a total area of 4,099 hectares. Lands up for distribution to the beneficiaries form part of the 5,149 hectares (ha) of total surveyed area, according to the DAR. Areas exempted from distribution are those sold by Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) covering roughly 500 ha and an additional 80.51 ha now occupied by the Subic-ClarkTarlac Expressway DAR said, however, that 468.49 ha comprised of residential areas, canals, roads, firebreaks, a cemetery, buffer zones, lagoons, fishponds, eroded areas, and legal easements will be covered under the CARP for common use of qualified beneficiaries. “These areas will remain under RP (Republic of the Philippines) title and will serve as common areas for beneficiaries,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio R. Delos Reyes was quoted as saying in the statement.

Meanwhile, DAR said the Land Bank of the Philippines is about to complete its valuation of CARP-covered areas that will be the basis of compensation to the previous landowner. The high court, in a final resolution on April 22, 2012, upheld DAR’s 2006 decision to distribute the land to farm workers who in 1989 agreed to own shares of stock in HLI instead of lands under a stock distribution arrangement provided for in the land reform law (Republic Act 6657) that has been declared as unconstitutional. -- JDG‐Luisita‐land‐distribution‐ set&id=73438                                        

Posted on July 15, 2013 11:19:18 PM

Gov’t debunks China claim on sea conflict THE GOVERNMENT yesterday maintained that, contrary to a recent claim by China, it has explored all political and diplomatic remedies to resolving the territorial conflict in the South China Sea, leaving the Philippines with no recourse but to seek arbitration.

“We had all along been indicating publicly our three-track approach of diplomatic, political, and legal tracks, including arbitration,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Raul S. Hernandez said in a statement yesterday, noting that the Chinese statement was “baseless.” Mr. Hernandez said the Philippines has consulted with China nearly 50 times since intrusions in Bajo de Masinloc, otherwise called Scarborough Shoal, off western Luzon started in April last year. China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was quoted as saying in a Chinese news agency report that Beijing has proposed to resume consultations on the issue but the Philippines has yet to respond. “The Philippines has closed the door on talks and consultations and at the same time remained keen on attacking China in the international arena,” Ms. Hua was quoted as saying in the report. Mr. Hernandez said the Philippines has been in talks with China since August 1995 but has not made any progress after 17 years of consultations. -- MFEF‐debunks‐China‐ claim‐on‐sea‐conflict&id=73437          

Posted on July 15, 2013 10:16:13 PM

S. Korea importers to visit SOUTH Korea’s largest importers organization is set to visit the country this week in a bid to strengthen its ties with the Philippines, the Trade department said in a statement yesterday.

The department said it will host the buying mission of Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) “to foster commercial and institutional linkages between the association and stakeholders in the Philippines.” Some 182 top executives and officers of KOIMA’s member firms will visit the country from July 17 to 20. The visit will focus on business and tourism programs which will be carried out by the Trade and Tourism departments. The Trade department will organize a trade and investment seminar, a business matchmaking session between Korean and Filipino businessmen, and a networking dinner. For its part, the Tourism department will take the delegates on a tour of a plantation resort. “We view the delegation’s visit as an opportunity to further improve our economic relations with South Korea. We also look at it as support of our efforts in raising awareness about the Philippines’ supply capabilities and sustaining the current momentum of tourism interest among Koreans,” Trade Undersecretary Ponciano C. Manalo said in the statement. The Trade department “also sees the opportunity to develop and expand the current inventory of Philippine exports by exposing the group of Korean importers to alternative products and services. Examples of these products are organic chemicals, oleo-chemicals, minerals other than copper, electronics, motorcycle parts,” Mr. Manalo added. KOIMA’s buying mission is one of the major activities being conducted by the group and is supported by South Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge and Economy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. “This year, the Philippines was selected over Thailand and Myanmar as the country to be visited by KOIMA’s summer buying mission,” Mr. Manalo said. The Trade department said KOIMA accounts for about 70% of Korea’s total imports, which reached $519 billion in 2012. KOIMA “is composed of more than 8,000 importers, serving Korea’s end-user principals, manufacturers and processors, distributors and retailers, as well as the government’s procurement agencies. KOIMA’s importation requirements cover a wide range of products, and include agricultural produce, food, industrial products, and consumer manufactures,” the statement also said. The Trade department cited Bureau of Export Trade Promotion (BETP) data showing that the Philippines’ trade with Korea has grown annually at roughly 9.53% to $7.4 billion last year from $5.5 billion in 2007. The country’s exports to South Korea jumped by 27.93% to $2.9 billion last year from $2.2 billion in 2011.

This makes South Korea the Philippines’ sixth top export market. South Korea is also the Philippines’ fifth top import source based on imports last year. These increased by 1.19% to $4.5 billion from $4.4 billion in 2011. The Philippines has a regional free trade agreement with Korea through the latter country’s FTA with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “While we have already lined up a number of local companies, we are still open for more participants from the business community to join us in the business matching session between Philippine companies and the KOIMA,” BETP Director Senen M. Perlada said in the statement. -- C.A.M.C. Feliciano‐Korea‐importers‐to‐ visit&id=73420                                

Posted on July 15, 2013 10:49:03 PM

Remittances up 5.3% in May to $1.86 billion MONEY SENT HOME by overseas Filipinos continued to rise in May, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) yesterday reported.

Remittances increased by 5.3% to $1.867 billion -- the highest monthly result so far for 2013 -- from a year earlier, the central bank said in a statement. The May figure brought the five-month total to $8.783 billion, 5.6% higher than the $8.317 billion posted in the comparable year-ago period. Broken down, money sent home by sea-based overseas Filipino workers rose by 9.2% to $2.1 billion, while that of land-based workers grew by 4.5% to $6.7 billion. “Remittances remained robust due to sustained strong demand for skilled Filipino manpower overseas,” the BSP said. “[E]fforts of bank and non-bank remittance service providers to expand their international and domestic market coverage has also supported the inflow of remittances,” it added. Overseas remittances reached $21.391 billion last year, up 6.3% from 2011’s $20.117 billion. The BSP expects remittances to grow by 5% this year. -- BFVR‐up‐5.3%‐in‐May‐to‐ $1.86‐billion&id=73427                  

Peasant group assails Noy gov’t for failing to curb rice price hikes • •

Written by Charlie V. Manalo Tuesday, 16 July 2013 08:00

The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the partylist group Anakpawis yesterday assailed President Aquino and the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) for failing to curb increasing prices of rice. “The Aquino government, the DA, and the NFA is an epic failure in stabilizing rice prices and protecting the Filipino consumers,” KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said. The KMP maintained that the P1- to P2-increase in rice prices was due to price manipulations rice cartels. He said the DA and the NFA failed to influence rice prices because 97 percent of the total palay production was bought by private rice traders while the NFA only buys a dismal two to three percent of the total palay production. “Even the DA has admitted the harvest is not sufficient. The problem is that the NFA has limited or has no intervention at all. It is not buying a significant portion of the harvested palay, is spending its budget for Aquino’s anti-farmer rice importation policy, and is contented with the 60 to 70 days buffer stock. This government already abandoned its obligation to ensure the people’s food security,” Flores said. “The Filipino people and our staple food are now at the mercy of rice cartels,” he averred. Flores was referring to DA Assistant Secretary Dante de Lima, who is also the National Rice Program coordinator, statement early this month that palay harvest may increase by two percent in January to June 2013 from 7.892 million metric tons a year ago. Recent reports quoted Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala blaming the lean season from June to August for the increase in prices and that “It’s normal. However, the price increase should not be more than P1 to P2.” “Alcala’s reasoning is highly unacceptable and only serves the interests of rice cartels. Worst, the Aquino government do not have any solution to the rice problem. This increase in the prices of rice is not normal,” the KMP leader said. “The arbitrary price manipulation by rice cartels and the government’s failure to

dismantle them is the main reason in the increase in rice prices,” he added. According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), regular milled rice retailed from P32 to P34 a kilo in Metro Manila as of July 9, up from P30 at end-2012. Based on a report from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the price of regular milled rice ranged from P32 to P34 a kilo as of July 9, up from the P30 a kilo recorded since last year. The KMP also pointed out that “the current manipulation in rice prices could be meant to justify the continuation of the policy of massive rice importation.”‐section/item/16698‐peasant‐group‐assails‐noy‐gov‐t‐for‐ failing‐to‐curb‐rice‐price‐hikes                                  

Week-long protest actions to greet Aquino’s Sona • •

Written by Charlie V. Manalo Tuesday, 16 July 2013 08:00

Not only the progressive bloc in the House of Representatives plan to manifest their intention of joining the opposition in the plenary of Congress. They also plan to take it the streets as well. Yesterday, exactly a week before President Aquino delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona), Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan, one of the party-list groups comprising the Makabayan bloc, along with other youth and student groups, announced a week-long nationally-coordinated strike to condemn the administration’s hand in worsening the education crisis in the country. At a press briefing held in UP Diliman, Ridon and other student leaders from various colleges and universities — both public and private — in Metro Manila, along with leaders of youth groups, including youth groups Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, the National Union of Students of the Philippines, Student Christian Movement and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines denounced Aquino’s failure to concretely address relentless tuition hikes, budget cuts, and privatization of student services. “A week from now, we’ll be hearing twisted facts and tons of lies from Aquino’s Sona. That is why this week, students from all over the country will walk out of their classes and hold simultaneous strikes to express outrage over the government’s whitewashing of the real state of education in the country,” Ridon said. Various strikes and protest actions will be held on a daily basis starting today, the youth leaders announced. The upcoming strike will feature a variety of activities and mass gatherings highlighting the unity of different campuses to assert their rights, condemn this regime and prepare for the upcoming People’s Sona protest. Published in Metro‐section/item/16696‐week‐long‐protest‐actions‐to‐greet‐ aquino‐s‐sona    

Transport group blasts Noy’s ‘fake promises’ • •

Written by Tribune Tuesday, 16 July 2013 08:00

A militant transport group yesterday branded as fake the promised development and “straight path” by President Aquino. In an e-mail statement to The Daily Tribune yesterday by Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston), the group revealed the launching of Protestang Bayan by combined drivers, laborers and common tao today to press their opposition to the continued rise in the prices of petroleum products, water, electricity, MRT-LRT fare and the demolition of shanties of squatter families in the metropolis. George San Mateo, Piston national president, said the so-called transport protest caravan in the metropolis will start at the head office of Pilipinas Shell on Salcedo Village, Makati. The group will condemn the overpricing and oil price increases and the planned implementation of another one peso increase in the prices of diesel and premium gasoline this week which will result to P2 for gasoline and P1 for diesel. The assembly time, according to San Mateo, will be 8 a.m. wherein the drivers with their passenger jeepneys will converge in front of the offices of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Land Transportation Office (LTO). The drivers will condemn the implementation of the year-model-phase-out of UV Express and its planned implementation for jeepneys which will mean another slapped in the economic situation of the lowly drivers and small operators. The group will also condemn the LTO for the implementation nationwide of illegal, excessive and moneymaking scheme of DoTC-LTO Department Order 2008-39 even it was already junked and declared illegal by a Baguio Regional Trial Court and Court of Appeals last year. Around 9:30 a.m., the program will end in front of the LTFRB and LTO wherein the group will start the caravan toward the head office of Shell on Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati. They will conduct a rally that will last around 12 noon before they will left toward their different routes to prepare for the coordinated noise barrage up to 4 p.m. By Alvin Murcia‐section/item/16694‐transport‐group‐blasts‐noy‐s‐fake‐ promises    

BCDA invests P33.8B for CL development • •

Written by Ed Velasco Tuesday, 16 July 2013 08:00

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) bared it has invested P33.8 billion in Central Luzon. The move is in line with BCDA’s mandate to convert the former Clark Air Base into a productive hub and create opportunities for investment and employment in the area. BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Casanova said BCDA has dramatically improved the investment landscape in Central Luzon by providing much needed funds for the development of the Clark Freeport Zone and its immediate environs. Of the P33.8 billion infused by the BCDA in the area, P30.68 billion was invested in the construction of the 94kilometer Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. This expressway is the most modern tollway connecting the Subic Bay Freeport Zone with its modern seaport and the Clark Freeport Zone where the Clark International Airport is found. BCDA infused P1.28 billion in Clark Development Corp. (CDC) and P1.53 billion in CDC’s 230-kv transmission project. Another P1.25 billion was invested in the Clark International Airport Corp. Further, some P342.2 million was used to fund the construction of roads in Bataan, Pampanga and Tarlac. Casanova said BCDA’s newest project in Central Luzon is the creation of a new urban area half the size of Metro Manila. He said BCDA is in the final stages of master planning the 35,000-hectare Clark Green City at the Clark Special Economic Zone which is expected to be launched next year. “Clark Green City will be environmentally sustainable, socially inclusive, economically competitive, culturally relevant, and technologically integrated. It will also generate billions of pesos in investments and generate thousands of jobs,” the BCDA president explained. The official said the investment for Central Luzon will also provide the catalyst for the economic development of surrounding local government units. He likened Clark Green City to Bonifacio Global City that is 100 times bigger. “BCDA, together with its subsidiaries CDC and CIAC, is committed to actively pursue the development of Central Luzon. The development of Central Luzon is not merely a local or regional concern, it is a matter of national interest,” the official said.‐bcda‐invests‐p33‐8b‐for‐cl‐development  

TOUGH TALKS AHEAD Published : Tuesday, July 16, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 101  Written by : Efren Montano 

THE Philippine panel is expecting another round of difficult negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on the decommissioning of the secessionist group’s combatants and weapons. In yesterday’s briefing at Malacañang, government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that in the normalization annex, “there are still contentions on the pacing and the process on how it will be done,” pointing out “it is not easy for a group to surrender arms which it had used to pursue its cause.” Ferrer added that the MILF “cannot easily” lay down their weapons “considering that there are many other armed groups” in parts of Mindanao. Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles said that the same “extreme rigor” used by the parties to finally come to terms and agree on the first two annexes would be employed once again in order to hurdle any obstacle in achieving peace.

“This has been a truly very difficult time in the negotiations but we come away with the affirmation, with the real strong sense and proof that indeed things can be as difficult, as we know they will, that the next annexes will also be difficult,” Deles said. “But, as has been shown—and we have the proof now—that it can be difficult: we go to the table, we talk about it; we, together, look for solutions where there are problems. We don’t find our solutions in the battlefield. We find it on the table,” she added Ferrer said that although it was one of the “toughest” rounds in the exploratory talks, perseverance and clarity of purpose of both panels made the signing of the wealth sharing annex possible. “It was one of the toughest rounds that we have been through since we signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro last October. It was a close call. Both sides made difficult but also constructive decisions. With perseverance and clarity of purpose, we returned home with the signed annex on revenue generation and wealth sharing,” Ferrer said. Comprising eight pages, the wealth sharing annex has 12 sections detailing the: taxation; other sources of revenue; fees, and charges; grants and donations; fund transfers from central government; contracting of loans and overseas development assistance; natural resources; additional fiscal powers; auditing body; intergovernmental fiscal policy board; Bangsamoro development plan; and, gender development. Ferrer said that “under the taxing powers, the parties have agreed that 25 percent of the central government taxes, fees, and charges collected in the Bangsamoro, except for tariff and

customs duties, will go to the central government while 75 percent of it, including the shares of the local government units, will go to the Bangsamoro government.” “The signing of the second annex is, indeed, a breakthrough. We expect the discussions on the power sharing and normalization annexes to be just as intense. But, when you’re halfway through, there is no reason to turn back. The only way to go is forward,” Ferrer said. She said the Philippine government is hoping the MILF’s “commitment” to forging a comprehensive peace agreement will enable both sides to resolve remaining contentious issues. “Alongside the political and economic deliverables is this deliverable on their part: a movement from an armed group into a sociopolitical movement, including a political party for the MILF to transition from that kind to one that is fully part of mainstream politics and society,” the government’s peace panel chair said.‐tough‐talks‐ahead                    

PNP pressing search for ‘Big 5’ -- Purisima Published : Tuesday, July 16, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 205 Written by : Alfred Dalizon

PHILIPPINE National Police chief Director General Alan LM Purisima said “special efforts” are being made to capture highprofile fugitives led by the so-called “Big 5.” “We have dedicated teams to go after these wanted fugitives from law,” the PNP chief said as he commended his men for arresting two of three Chinese drug lords who bolted the Cavite Provincial Jail and two other most wanted men led by a notorious robber who escaped from the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City. PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director Chief Superintendent Francisco A. Uyami Jr. said that on orders of Gen. Purisima they have stepped-up their campaign against wanted persons particularly high-profile fugitives. He earlier released the list of the Philippines’ most wanted persons and their updated photos and rewards as approved by the Department of the Interior and Local Government. However, officials have admitted that their success in arresting over 10,000 wanted criminals during the first six months of the year is being eclipsed by their continued failure to account for the “Big 5” led by retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan. Uyami talked about the CIDG’s intensified campaign to arrest fugitives from the law during a seminar on search, tracking and manhunt operations of Most Wanted Persons at the PNP

Training Service. He said that the seminar is aimed at pursuing the objectives of CIDG’s Oplan Pagtugis, the unit’s flagship project designed to find and arrest local and international fugitives through a comprehensive and integrated manhunt system. Uyami confirmed that arresting officers are now finding it more taxing and difficult to track their slippery quarry. He said that he came out with a program of instruction to revitalize the CIDG’s effort to bring to justice the country’s top criminals. Since July last year, PNP agents have mounted a futile search for Palparan and the other members of the “Big 5” — Globe Asiatique owner Delfin Lee, former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, his brother Mario Reyes and Dinagat Representative Ruben Ecleo. He said that his men are checking all information about the fugitives being sent by informants and other concerned citizens. “For some reason, they have been able to elude arrest. One of the factors is that they still have resources and loyal supporters who may be helping them in running away from the law,” Uyami said even though he emphasized that PNP tracker teams are working 24/7 to locate the “Big 5.” “We guarantee the public that we are relentless in our efforts to track down these five high-profile individuals,” he said. Lee went into hiding after a Pampanga regional trial court ordered his arrest in June last year for allegedly defrauding the government of some P6.65 billion in bogus housing loans. Palparan, called “The Butcher” by leftist activists, is wanted for allegedly ordering the abduction of two missing University of

the Philippines students. On the other hand, the Reyes brothers are accused of masterminding the killing of Palawan-based environmentalist and broadcaster Gerry Ortega in January 2011. Both are believed to have fled to Thailand. Ecleo, leader of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association religious cult, was recently sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for killing his wife. A senior police official said that of the five, only Ecleo may end up being arrested very soon.‐stories/54357‐pnp‐pressing‐search‐for‐big‐5‐purisima                                    

Go on leave, senators linked to scam urged Published : Tuesday, July 16, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 152

SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago has urged the legislators allegedly involved in the alleged Php10-billion pork barrel fund scam to “go on leave of absence” until after the agencies investigating the controversy have finished their job. Santiago made the remark when asked about her comment on the alleged connection of Senators Jinggoy Ejercito, Juan Ponce Enrile, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to the scandal. “Not only the senators but the also the representatives. They must go on leave of absence not as an admission of guilt but as a courtesy to Filipino public so that the process can proceed unhampered,” Santiago said in a chance interview. Sen.Francis “Chiz” Escudero, meanwhile, sought a “full blown” inquiry into the scam. He filed Senate Resolution Number 40 directing the Blue Ribbon Committee to conduct an inquiry into the controversy which stemmed from the alleged questionable release of government money to “dummy” nongovernment organizations through forgery, falsification and bribery. Escudero said the designation of PDAF beneficiaries and how it purportedly “mutated” into a multibillion-peso government racket or scam allegedly by the JLN Group of Companies must be scrutinized and must see an end where legislative and preventive measures are enacted to address this disturbing matter. Sought for his reaction to Santiago’s challenge, Honasan said: “In the light of justice, fairness, transparency and public interest, any call for leave of absence, resignation, or inhibition among public officials mentioned must be considered only after all records of SAROs (special allotment release orders) from the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) are made public whose initiative the LGUs (local government units) and beneficiaries, and after an initial report from the NBI.” “Accountability and transparency in government dictates that this report

must be quizzically looked into, not only for the representatives of the people to clarify their respective positions, if some may be involved, but to show to every Filipino as well that neither sacred cows nor the notion of an ‘old boys club’ exists in a government working for change” Escudero explained in his resolution. He lamented that the scam is damaging to the country as a whole and “besmirching” the names of all congressmen and senators in general. “It has become a painful misconception that the PDAF is a cash allocation given to congressmen and senators with unlimited discretion to disburse and spend with neither constraints nor accountability,” Escudero said. “But on the contrary, legislators do not handle the funds and implement the projects. Their participation is but limited to the designation of beneficiaries and identification of projects, and the implementation is undertaken by government agencies concerned,” he said. Enrile, Marcos Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile has challenged the Commission on Audit (CoA) to release “in full” its supposed findings on the alleged misuse of pork barrel fund or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) by some senators and representatives. “The CoA must officially release its findings in full and ‘without fear or favor,’ if it were to perform its Constitutional duty, lest it be accused of allowing the piece-meal or selective disclosure of parts of its report to serve political or partisan ends,” Enrile said in a statement. Marcos, on the other hand, stressed that the disbursement of PDAF funds as well as the implementation of PDAF – funded projects is “a function and responsibility” of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the implementing government agencies. “A Senator’s role in this process is merely to identify the projects to be funded, the amount allocated to these projects as well as the beneficiary LGUs (local government units). Any question relating to the disbursement, disposition and use of these funds can best be answered by the DBM and the implementing government agencies,” Marcos said. BT‐stories/54350‐go‐on‐leave‐senators‐linked‐to‐scam‐ urged  

Bong decries 'Palace plot' Published : Tuesday, July 16, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 278  Written by : Bernadette Tamayo 

SENATOR Ramon Revilla Jr. believes that the report of the National Bureau of Investigation on his alleged involvement in the Php10-billion pork barrel fund scandal was “engineered” by the administration to destroy the opposition — especially those seen eyeing the presidency in 2016. Aside from Revilla, Senators Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II, are being linked to the controversy. Some quarters were reportedly urging Revilla and Marcos to run “in tandem” for higher positions in the 2016 national elections while Enrile, Estrada, and Honasan are members of the so-called “macho bloc” or opposition group in the Senate. The scandal stemmed from the alleged admission to the NBI of a certain Benhur Luy, former technical assistant of Janet Lim-Napoles, president and chief executive officer of JLN Corp., that the latter “misused” the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, of senators and congressmen. Marcos, Honasan, and Revilla had already denied knowledge of the scam believing that the allegation against them was politicallymotivated. “This controversy has been engineered by the administration for only one purpose – to demolish the opposition, especially those who enjoy the popular support of our people,” Revilla said. “Hindi totoo ang mga akusasyon na nakinabang ako sa usaping ito. Porke ba may mga nagtutulak sa ating tumakbo sa 2016 ay wawasakin na nila ang aking pangalan? Ganunpaman, hindi na ako nasorpresa sa panggigiba na ginagawa nilang ito sa ngalan ng pulitika,” he said. Revilla added: “Bakit ginigiba kami sa trial by publicity na ito? Kung totoo na may sampung taon na raw nangyayari ang mga alegasyon, bakit ngayon lang lumabas ito, at sa pahayagan pa? Suspiciously, only non-allies of the administration are being dragged into this controversy. Bakit hindi nila buklatin at usisain din ang mga record ng paggamit ng PDAF ng lahat, pati ang mga kaalyado ng pangulo.”

Marcos said: “With regards to allegation or insinuation by some quarters reported in the media, I can only repeat that I don’t know Ms. Napoles. I have never spoken to her and so I have had no personal dealings with her. However, I am more than eager to fully cooperate in the investigation and in any other similar efforts that will reveal the truth on this matter.” “Noong nakaraang eleksyon nga ay sinugod at pinalibutan ng mahigit 120 armadong tauhan ng mga kalaban ko sa pulitika sa Cavite na kaalyado ng administrasyon ang bahay ko at nilagay pa sa panganib ang aking buhay at ng aking pamilya. Sa pamamagitan ng pananakot, pilit nilang pasukin ang bahay ko, kahit wala silang dahilan o warrant,” Revilla said. “And because they failed in what they executed in Cavite, naghahanap sila ngayon ng bagong paraan para gipitin ako. I have already been warned by someone in Malacanang that I will be targeted. Eto na ‘yun,” he said. He added: “It is surprising that mere allegations have been treated as fact in the public eye, especially since the so-called whistleblowers have openly admitted that it was they who forged and falsified documents to carry out their scheme. This demolition job is a sad commentary on the state of Philippine politics.” Honasan said that all records regarding use of development funds being managed by his office are subjected to accounting and auditing procedures according to law. “All allegations, or insinuations of irregularity must be backed up by evidence in the proper courts of law subjected to due process and not politically-motivated suspicious or malicious trial by publicity. The records of my office are transparent and open for public scrutiny. This underscores the urgent need for the FoI (Freedom of Information) law,” he said. Revilla stressed that he has always been “transparent and accountable” in his government actions. “I have nothing to hide. Malinis ang aking konsensiya at nalulungkot ako na dahil sa pulitika ay sinisira ang pangalan kong napakatagal kong binuo at pinangalagaan,” he said. “In the meantime, I am asking the NBI for the alleged affidavits that were made basis of the news reports. Napakahirap ng kinalalagyan ko dahil hindi ko alam kung ano-ano pa ang mga sasabihin nilang akusasyon in aid of persecution. Sino ang makakapagsabi kung ano pang mga kasinungalingan ang ilalabas nila?” he said.‐stories/54349‐bong‐decries‐palace‐plot

DepEd prioritizes DOST scholars in teaching jobs Published : Tuesday, July 16, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 30

THE government science scholars will be given priority in applying for teaching jobs in public secondary schools to address the need for teachers in mathematics and other science-related fields. This is contained in the Department of Education (DepEd) Memorandum 114 which enjoins all DepEd regional directors to prioritize in hiring scholars who graduated under the Department of Science and Technology –Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) program. DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said the department needs the expertise of these graduates to address the critical need for teachers in the said field. The DOST- SEI scholars have signed an agreement that upon completion of the courses, they are required to teach in public high schools in their home region for a period equivalent to the number of years they benefited from the scholarship. “These scholars must pass the Licensure Exam for Teachers (LET) within the year as a pre-requisite for a permanent position,” explained Luistro. It can be recalled that the DepEd are eyeing the professionals in technical fields to teach Science and Math in the upcoming senior high school due to the shortage of competent teachers in the subjects. Arlene Rivera‐deped‐prioritizes‐dost‐scholars‐in‐ teaching‐jobs        

Reforms needed to make bgy effective Published : Tuesday, July 16, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 26  Written by : Marlon Purificacion 

“Government reform should happen from the ground up.” Thus said Sen. Alan Cayetano, as he called for reforms to further enhance the capabilities of the barangay -- the most basic unit of government -- if the barangays are to be expected to effectively fulfill their mandate in addressing the basic needs of their respective communities. “Barangays are at the forefront of public service. However, it is unfortunate that they are still the most neglected sector in government. Many still lack the necessary funds and resources to make them responsive and productive,” said the senator. In his consultations with many barangay officials around the country during the campaign period through his PTK Listening Tours, he said many have complained of the severe lack of resources to improve their capabilities to serve the basic needs of their constituents. “For instance, barangay officials alone are not provided the necessary benefits such as health insurance and proper compensation. Our barangay tanods risk their lives on a daily basis in order to maintain peace and order without assurance of financial support in case of injuries or worse, death,” said the senator, stressing that government must provide them with increased benefits as incentives for accomplishing their duties properly. “Then, barangay day care workers in some provinces receive less than Php1,500 as honoraria for services rendered. This amount is not even sufficient to maintain a decent standard of living. In addition, they are expected to shell out some of their own personal resources to fund the operations of their respective offices because of lack of funding,” he added. The senator also urged Congress to work for policy reforms that will strengthen the capabilities of barangay units as frontliners in public service, safety, and peace and order.‐reforms‐needed‐to‐make‐bgy‐effective  

2013 07 16 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

Philippine Agriculture and Related News' Daily Monitor

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