Economy Posted on July 16, 2013 10:22:54 PM
Agri exports rise 42%, imports fall 7% in Q1 THE COUNTRY’S total agricultural export revenues for the first quarter climbed year‐on‐year by 41.50% while import expenditures decreased 6.62%, data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) showed.
According to the BAS quarterly report, agricultural exports in the first quarter climbed to $1.641 billion from $1.155 billion in the same period last year. The agricultural sector brought in 13.58% of the country’s total export earnings, which amounted to $12.081 billion. Meanwhile, total expenditures for agricultural imports, which comprised 11.50% of the country’s total import expenditures of $15.163 billion, dropped by 6.62% to $1.743 billion in the first quarter this year. The highest level of monthly agricultural exportation was pegged in March at $612.25 million while highest monthly importation was recorded in February at $596.94 million. Total earnings from the country’s top 10 agricultural exports registered 45.82% growth to $1.161 billion in the first quarter from $796.40 million in the same period of 2012. Except for desiccated coconut, whose first‐quarter revenues decreased by 33.32%, top export commodities posted revenue increments. Of the top five performing exports, copra oil cake brought in $62.50 million, a 404.04% surge from last year’s $12.50 million. Centrifugal sugar exports grew 143.16% to $98.12 million from $40.35 million; fresh bananas, 82.93% to $206.87 million from $113.09 million; tobacco (manufactured), 63.61% to $87.74 million from $53.63 million; tobacco (unmanufactured), 42.23% to $30.25 million from $42.23 million; and seaweeds and carrageenan, 41.31% to $69.34 million from $49.07 million.
Expenditures for the top ten agricultural imports this year fell to $847.20 million, 0.37% lower than year’s $850.37 million. Tuna, which is not usually among the country’s top agricultural imports, ranked ninth in the list with expenditures of $20.39 million, though this is lower by 4.26% from the $25.25 million recorded in the first quarter of 2012. On the other hand, regular top imports rice and corn did not make it to the list in the first quarter. Wheat and meslin remained the country’s top agricultural import, with first‐quarter expenditures of $238.93 million, up 14% from the $209.58 million of 2012. Soy bean oil or cake meal was the next top import in the first quarter, seeing a 51.11% increase in expenditures to $201.9 million from $133.61 million. Expenditures for the rest of the top imports decreased year‐on‐year, with urea seeing the biggest drop at %59.54, from $51.34 million in 2012 to $20.77 million this year. As for the balance of trade, the agricultural trade deficit softened by 85.53% from $707.22 million the first quarter last year to $102.34 million in 2013. The month of January saw the biggest deficit at $81.25 million while a trade surplus of $39.21 million was recorded in March. A wider trade deficit with the United States was recorded at $135.62 million this year from $44.79 million in 2012. However, the country’s first‐quarter trade deficits with Australia declined by 51.71%; with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, 59.09%; and with the rest of the world, 61.40%, compared with the same period last year. Agricultural trade with Japan and the European Union posted further trade surpluses of $211.52 million and $183.45 million, respectively. ‐‐ JDG http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Agri‐exports‐rise‐42%,‐imports‐ fall‐7%‐in‐Q1&id=73484
Chemrez backs hike in biodiesel blend By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 17, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Chemrez Technologies is supporting the recommendation of the National Biofuels Board (NBB) to increase the mandated biodiesel blend to five percent from two percent as required by the Biofuels Acts of 2006. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala announced over the weekend that the NBB, the interagency group tasked to implement the biofuels law, has approved the increase in the mandated biodiesel blend. Chemrez managing director Dean Lao Jr. said the NBB’s move is a significant step in accomplishing the company’s goal to develop and market sustainable products that will benefit the Philippines and the environment. “We hope that with commitment and urgency, the increase to B5 will be immediately implemented. We at Chemrez will not only fully support NBB, but as an active product innovator and advocate of green chemistry, we will constantly work on innovations that will help us continue to take steps towards cleaner energy, at the same time, uplift the lives of our fellow Filipinos,” Lao said. Lao said the blending of coco biodiesel into diesel would reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil, in accordance with the Philippine Energy Plan that aims to achieve energy independence within the next decade. Furthermore, Lao said simply blending five-percent coco biodiesel into diesel can save the Philippines an estimated P13 billion worth of imported crude oil every year. The NBB is set to conduct public consultations for the proposed five-percent biodiesel blend. Once approved, given existing capacity in the industry, local production can adequately meet the demand of the B5 mandate, Chemrez said, adding that at present, the company has the largest biodiesel capacity in the market. Under the law, the amount of coconut oil for fuel to be blended with diesel may be increased taking into account considerations such as domestic supply and availability of locally sourced biodiesel. However, since 2009, biodiesel has been blended at two percent with diesel fuel. The NBB is chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Energy and comprised by the heads of the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, Department of Finance, Department of Labor and Employment, Philippine Coconut Authority and the Sugar Regulatory Administration. The NBB aims to help the local coconut industry, which is currently facing challenges from cheaper palm oil competition. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/07/17/977911/chemrez‐backs‐hike‐biodiesel‐blend
DAR to start raffle of farmlands for Luisita beneficiaries By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 17, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The drawing of lots to determine the farmlands to be given to more than 6,000 qualified beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita will begin tomorrow, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) announced yesterday. DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said it is a crucial step in generating the Certificates of Land Ownership Award for qualified farm workers, the distribution of which would be completed by August or September. “The allocation of farm lots is necessary to identify the specific parcel of land that each qualified beneficiary will own,” he said. De los Reyes said the farm lot allocation would begin in Barangay Cut-Cut in Tarlac City and continue until all barangays in Hacienda Luisita are covered.The DAR office in Tarlac estimated that it would take them until Aug. 21 to complete the allocation.Hacienda Luisita is composed of 10 barangays in three municipalities in Tarlac – Barangays Cut-Cut, Bantog, Balete, Asturias, Lourdes and Mapalacsiao in Tarlac City; Parang, Pando and Mabilog in Concepcion; and Barangay Motrico in La Paz. De los Reyes said the drawing of lots will be open to the public to ensure fairness and transparency. The DAR has identified 6,212 beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita. Each beneficiary is expected to own about 6,600 square meters of farm lots of the total 4,099 hectares up for distribution. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/17/979501/dar-start-raffle-farmlands-luisitabeneficiaries
DENR mulls use of unmanned drone to monitor forests By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 17, 2013 - 12:00am DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) XI is considering the use of an unmanned drone to monitor forests in Southern Mindanao as part of efforts to eradicate illegal logging in the region. The drones can fly over remote forests and take pictures of the area if they detect illegal logging activities there. The drones could also confirm earlier aerial reconnaissance undertaken by the DENR in partnership with the Philippine Air Force. DENR-XI regional executive director Marcus Fragada said he requested that the SkyHigh drone project of the DENR be tested in the region, and personnel from DENR-XI would fly to Manila next week to be oriented about the project. “I volunteered that the project be piloted in the region because it will augment the systems we have been putting in place,” Fragada added. Intensified anti-illegal logging operations with the support of the military have drastically reduced illegal logging in the region. The number of illegal logging hotspots went down from 66 in the previous years to 16 in the first half of 2013. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/17/979581/denr-mulls-use-unmanned-dronemonitor-forests
Bakers warn of higher pandesal prices (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 17, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - A group of bakery owners and bread producers warned that prices of Pinoy pandesal, other bread products, biscuits and noodles would increase by 10 to 15 percent, if the government gives in to the demand of an influential lobby group to restrict the entry of affordable flour from Turkey. The Filipino-Chinese Bakery Association Inc. (FCBA), the group of bakery owners or producers of bread, noodles, cakes, pastries, pizza, siopao, pandesal, cookies, and biscuits from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, said imposing a higher tariff on flour imported from Turkey would increase the price of Pinoy pandesal by 50 centavos to P3.50 per piece from the current P3 apiece. Pinoy pandesal is the brand of affordable bread products produced by small community bakers. “Because of cheaper Turkish flour, Filipino consumers enjoy lower priced breads and other flour-based products such as dry noodles, biscuits and fishballs,” the FCBA said. The FCBA said flour represents more than 50 percent of the total cost of bread production, and an increase in the price of flour would automatically translate to higher prices of bread. “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 breads within the reach of the Filipino consumers,” the FCBA said. The FCBA said the Philippine Association of Flour Millers Inc. (PAFMIL), which has monopoly of the local flour market, is using its influence on the government to push the Turkish flour out of the country so that they could dictate the prices of flour. Turkish flour is about P200 or 30 percent cheaper than the locally milled flour and is preferred by bread and noodle makers. Hard flour or bread flour from Turkey is sold at P700 per 25kilogram bag while soft flour costs P620 per bag. On the other hand, locally-milled flour costs anywhere from P900 to P950 a bag. Flour prices in the Philippines are also among the highest in the world, with the hard flour costing more than $700 per metric ton at the mill. In comparison, mill prices of hard flour stand at only $580 per MT in Indonesia, $570 per MT in Korea and $570 per MT in Vietnam. According to FCBA, this is because PAFMIL controls 89 percent of the local flour market. To retain its monopoly, PAFMIL asked the government to increase its tariff duty on Turkish flour from seven percent to 20 percent. Turkish flour accounts for only nine percent of the flour supply in the Philippines, while the two-percent balance represents imports from other countries such as Indonesia and China. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/07/17/977941/bakers-warn-higher-pandesal-prices
Pampanga fishermen ask COA: Take our names off beneficiary list By Tonette Orejas Inquirer Central Luzon 5:40 am | Wednesday, July 17th, 2013
Several fishermen in Masantol, Pampanga, on Monday appealed to the Commission on Audit to take out their names of the list of beneficiaries of a nongovernment organization in their area as among those that implemented alleged ghost projects funded by proceeds from the Malampaya gas fields off Palawan and facilitated by Janet Lim-Napoles (shown in photo). CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—“Please take our names out of the list.” Arnel Cunanan, Teody Salarda, Gerry Viray and several fishermen in Masantol, Pampanga, on Monday aired this appeal to the Commission on Audit (COA). They made the appeal as whistle-blowers identified a nongovernment organization (NGO) in their area as among those that implemented alleged ghost projects funded by proceeds from the Malampaya gas fields off Palawan and facilitated by Janet Lim-Napoles. Cunanan’s group asked the COA to clear it of any criminal liability, saying it was not a beneficiary of the so-called Farming Yield Emergency Contingency Project in 2009 by the Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KMFI). KMFI was among 20 NGOs within the network of JLN Corp., the company of Napoles. JLN Corp. was also linked to the misuse of pork barrel funds of a number of senators and members of the House of Representatives. In Central Luzon, except in Zambales province, 17 NGOs were shown to have been paid P172 million for 22 projects. Several of them proposed 22 projects worth P172.5 million.
Four projects were supposedly implemented in Masantol, Macabebe and San Luis towns in the province’s fourth district and Guagua town in Pampanga’s second district. Each project was worth P7.5 million. Dr. Anna York Bondoc, former representative of the fourth district, said the projects did not pass through her office and were not requested by her office. Former Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo could not be reached for comment on Monday about the lone project in the second district. Forged signatures “We have not heard of this NGO or met their leaders. Other NGOs contact us and work with us, but KMFI did not,” Cunanan said on Monday. Cunanan said his group learned about the project only when the COA sent it a letter, dated July 13, 2012, for a “sectoral performance audit on the receipt and utilization of Malampaya funds during [calendar years] 2002-2011.” Cunanan said a page that COA had attached to the letter showed the names of the beneficiaries and the villages where they live. “But our signatures were forged. Those were not our signatures,” he said. Viray said he told COA officials in December last year that his group did not get any agricultural input package consisting of a heavy-duty sprayer, organized container, farming paraphernalia, gloves, seeds and seedlings worth a total of P35,781. “And if they were giving us those, we would have rejected them because we have no farmlands. We have no agrarian reform communities in Masantol. All that we have in the town are fishponds,” Viray said. Salarda said he feared that he and the others would be held liable for the ghost project. “We don’t want to be jailed. Our names were used. If we are thrown in jail for something we have no knowledge of, our families will surely suffer,” he said. Mayors’ denial Former Masantol Mayor Peter Flores said he did not know that such a project was implemented in the town. The whistle-blowers said the four ghost projects in Pampanga were paid on Dec. 23 and 29, 2012.
Aside from KMFI, the other NGOs involved were Gintong Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. and Agricultura para sa Magbubukid Foundation (AMFI). AMFI proposed a P5-million project for Guagua under a P1.5-billion package. In separate telephone interviews, former Mayors Leonardo Flores of Macabebe, Jay Sagum of San Luis and Ricardo Rivera of Guagua said they neither knew about the projects nor received anything for the farmers or for themselves. In Aurora, former Baler Mayor Arthur Angara said he would ask local officials to check the town government’s files to confirm if Micro Agri Foundation indeed implemented a P5-million project in the town. Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said the COA had not sent the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) a final report on its audit of the Malampaya funds allotted to the agency. Agrarian Reform Assistant Secretary Teofilo Inocencio, then director of DAR in Central Luzon, said the Masantol project was “not coordinated” with the regional office. In Pangasinan, Binmaley Mayor Simplicio Rosario denied receiving P10 million supposedly released by DAR, through an NGO, to his town in 2009. Rosario said the COA wrote him before his term ended in 2010 about the fund. But he said he was surprised to learn about it because he did not receive the amount, which was supposed to have been released through Tanglaw para sa Magsasaka, an NGO. He said he later found out that his signatures on the documents were forged. “How could I have signed a supposed memorandum of agreement without an authority from the Sangguniang Bayan?” Not official letterhead Rosario said the letterhead used in one of the documents was not the same as the official letterhead that he was using in his office. “I have submitted an affidavit to COA at that time, telling them that we did not receive that amount,” Rosario said by telephone on Monday. Former San Manuel Mayor Salvador Perez also denied receiving P10 million from an NGO called Kaupdanan para sa mga Mangunguma during his last term in 2009. Perez, now the town’s vice mayor, said the COA also sent him a letter inquiring about the fund. “When I saw the attachments, I found out that my signatures were forged,” Perez said by telephone.
But he said his town was a recipient of various farm inputs and implements from then Pangasinan Rep. Conrado Estrella III. In Ilocos Norte, former Dumalneg Mayor Francis Espiritu said he learned about the issue when the COA wrote him in 2009, asking him to explain if they had received funds from the pork barrel of former Ilocos Norte Rep. Roque Ablan Jr. Espiritu, now the vice mayor of Dumalneg, said that his town did not receive pork barrel funds and that his signatures were forged. More signatures forged In Bulacan, Sta. Maria Mayor Bartolome Ramos said representatives of several NGOs and foundations approached him on several occasions in 2009 offering the town agricultural grants but he rejected them. He said the Office of the Ombudsman called his attention after documents showed that he supposedly endorsed the fund requests. Ramos said his signature was forged. “What I know is that at least six towns in Bulacan faced the same problem, where the signatures of the mayors were forged to access the grant…. We have learned that our colleagues in Pampanga also faced a similar situation,” he said.—With reports from Yolanda Sotelo, Gabriel Cardinoza and Leilanie Adriano, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/446503/pampanga-fishermen-ask-coa-take-our-namesoff-beneficiary-list#ixzz2ZGcU582k
BOC rice auction on hold By Raymund F. Antonio Published: July 17, 2013
Manila, Philippines --- At the rate things are going, it may take some time before the Bureau of Customs (BOC) can proceed with the public auction of smuggled rice to raise revenues for the government. BOC Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said the government stands to incur revenue losses as the value of the confiscated rice will diminish if they remain in storage for a longer period of time.“The longer it takes for the mechanism to be finalized, the more these goods will deteriorate. These are perishable goods, so there is an urgency to dispose,” he said. Plagued by revenue shortfalls, the BOC has resorted to public auction of smuggled items such as rice, sugar, and other agricultural products to reverse the trend. The rice auction, however, came to a screeching halt because of the agency-to-agency negotiation over the disposition of these goods. The Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Food Authority (NFA) have offered to buy the seized rice directly from BOC at about P350 per bag compared to the auction price of about P800 per bag. “We have given due consideration to their requests, but if it will take longer then we will proceed with the auction,” Biazon said. The BOC chief said he has submitted a letter to the “higher-ups” to give him the go signal for the rice auction. “Last week, I sent a letter that we are recommending disposal by auction. I’m expecting a feedback within the week,” he said. Among those to be auctioned are the 1,200 container vans of Vietnamese rice worth P1.2 billion, which arrived at the Port of Cebu from March 18 to April 2. The rice shipments could reach 600,000 sacks. Included are the 94,000 bags of rice that the BOC intercepted last year from Vietnamese cargo vessel MV Minh Tuan 68 in Bicol province. http://mb.com.ph/News/Metro_News/22550/BOC_rice_auction_on_hold#.UeYWIqyveKE
Shared agri facilities seen to aid Davao Sur trade Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:22 am | Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Trade and Industry has approved six shared service facilities (SSFs) in Davao del Sur to increase the competitiveness of entrepreneurs in the province. The six SSFs, worth a combined P2 million, will be used for coco vinegar production enhancement of Benepisyaryo ng Repormang Agraryo ng Darong Multipurpose Cooperative (BREAD-MPC) of Sta. Cruz; kakanin production facility expansion of PCEC Kumassie Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. Multipurpose Cooperative (PKEARBAI-MPC) of Barangay Basiawan, Sta. Maria; and for the coco shellcraft production enhancement of Padada Cococraft Producers and Assemblers Association. Also approved were SSFs for the existing cacao beans fermentation facility expansion of Malita Rural Workers Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multipurpose Cooperative (Marwabempco); muscovado sugar production of Kooperatiba ng Kiblawan; and coco coir processing project of Bansalan Coconut Farmers and Workers Multipurpose Cooperative (BCMC). “It is our hope that they will improve their business especially in terms of profit by increasing their production volume and enhancing product quality. These we can easily achieve with the help of the SSFs,” said DTI-DS officer-in-charge Eulogio C. Orevillo, referring to the beneficiaries. “Right now, we are still finalizing three more project proposals which are targeted to be approved before the 2013 ends.” Orevillo is encouraging associations and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to contact the DTI should they be interested in availing of the SSF program of the government. “We would like to hear from them. We want to know if they need certain facilities that they can’t afford to buy. DTI may be of help to them,” he said. Under the P700-million SSF program, facilities can be shared by beneficiaries such as cooperatives, institutions and communities, to help them become more competitive in the local and foreign markets. This is expected to further spur the growth of MSMEs.—Amy R. Remo http://business.inquirer.net/132797/shared-agri-facilities-seen-to-aid-davao-sur-trade
PNoy: Best is yet to come By Aurea Calica, The Philippine Star Posted at 07/17/2013 1:48 AM | Updated as of 07/17/2013 1:48 AM MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino assured the nation Tuesday that his administration's services, especially for the most needy, would be accelerated in the next half of his term. “Wait for it. In a sense, the best is yet to come,” he said. Speaking at the 67th anniversary celebration of the University of the Philippines Beta Sigma fraternity at the Eastwood Richmonde Hotel in Quezon City Monday night, Aquino said he had been going over the draft of his State of the Nation Address (SONA) to be delivered on Monday and realized that so many things still have to be done. “First of all, I would like to apologize because we’re a bit late,” he said. “I can really feel the traffic in Metro Manila while on my way here. We are confident that in the second chapter of our term, our services will gain more speed. This is a good opportunity to further strengthen our cooperation in achieving our collective goal as a united country.” He had gone over the SONA and talked to his speechwriters for about three hours on Monday and told them they had a long way to go, he added. Aquino said his SONA would reflect the real status of the country, as well as his administration’s commitments and principles to achieve inclusive growth. It was important to lay down realities besetting the country to spur more active discourse and collective action among the citizenry, he added. Aquino expressed hope that the gathering would inspire the country’s fraternity members to participate more actively in nation-building while his administration continued efforts to widen the avenues towards far-reaching and sustainable opportunities for the Filipino people. He lauded Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, who belong to UP Beta Sigma Fraternity, for helping his administration revitalize the country. They were among the Cabinet members he could count on, he added. Aquino described his relationship with his Cabinet members as more of having “consultations” and “always with a smile.” He denied that he would lecture them everyday and make them feel like giving a dissertation when presenting their budgets or programs.
It did not mean, however, they were soft on those that must be caught and punished when people were complaining they were not doing enough, he added. Aquino said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was able to round up more than 400 trucks of illegal logs, while the Department of Agriculture contributed to the increase of the country’s gross domestic product last year. In discussing the budget, one of the things they tackled was the fisheries sector that had always been on the downtrend and which must be amply supported since of the many poor came from this industry, he aded. Aquino said they are looking at a place in Palawan where they would set up a port together with the necessary facilities like cold storage. There are many fishing grounds but the markets where the fishermen can sell their catch are too far away, and the government will address this, he added. Aquino said that should be the focus of the government. “Help them, they have the facilities, and they can improve their earning, their lives will be better and the whole nation will benefit,” he said. Aquino said they also have plans for the coconut industry, especially intercropping. “We would come to a point where the poorest Filipinos were no longer those involved in coconut and the fisheries sector,” he said. “And I have to give credit to Procy Alcala. He is the main man, he is an effective communicator. Procy is really ‘can do’.” – With Reinir Padua, Non Alquitran http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/07/16/13/pnoy-best-yet-come
Arbitration on sea dispute begins By Madel Sabater Namit Published: July 17, 2013
Manila, Philippines --- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) yesterday said the arbitration process on the case filed by the Philippines against China on the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea has begun. DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said the first meeting of the arbitral tribunal that was appointed to hear the case was held last July 11 at The Hague in the Netherlands. The Philippine government’s official representative would be the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and its lead counsel would be Paul Reichler of law firm Foley Hoag. Reichler is described as an experienced practitioner of public international law. “At their first meeting on July 11, the President and Members of the Tribunal designated The Hague as the seat of the arbitration and the Permanent Court of Arbitration as the Registry for the proceedings,” Hernandez said. The DFA official said that during the meeting, the arbitral tribunal approved a draft set of Rules of Procedure to govern the proceedings, and sent it to the parties for their comments. The deadline for the comments for both China and the Philippines is on August 5, 2013. “This request also called for the parties to propose a schedule for the submission of their written pleadings,” Hernandez said. http://mb.com.ph/News/Metro_News/22590/Arbitration_on_sea_dispute_begins#.UeYRrKyveK E
Manila to improve zoo, acquire two more elephants By Erika Sauler Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:03 pm | Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Mali. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — Coming soon: A bigger, better and modern Manila Zoo and possibly two more elephants to keep Mali, its most popular resident, company. This was confirmed by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada who told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, on Tuesday, that talks were ongoing for a public-private partnership program with investors from Singapore who would spend P2 billion for the project. “We will modernize the Manila Zoo,” Estrada said as he also announced that the city government had asked the Sri Lankan government for two more elephants. Estrada said the city government had requested two more elephants from Sri Lanka to serve as Mali’s companions. “She’s very smart and playful,” said volunteer caretaker John Chua, a veteran photographer who had taken care of the elephant for 12 years now. Mali was seen filling up her trunk as she was being sprayed with water by a caretaker. Then the 38-year-old elephant would drink the water or squirt it to her body, much to the delight of the visitors of Manila Zoo. If the water was trained to one of her feet, Mali would lift that foot and let you wash the underside. Chua said rumors have reached him that Manila Zoo would be bid out and that Mali has been “sold.”
“Mali is Manila’s property. I am not talking about a deed of sale. It means that whatever campaign a group makes about Mali, you will not object,” Chua said. He said a person from Manila City Hall had said, “Bakit may iba pa sa Peta na gustong bumili?” Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has been calling for Mali’s transfer to an elephant sanctuary, saying that she is sick and lonely at the zoo. Mali was brought to the Philippines in 1977 as a gift to then First Lady Imelda Marcos. Reached for comment, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada denied the rumored plan to bid out Manila Zoo and transfer Mali to a sanctuary. “The direct order from the mayor is to clean up and beautify the zoo to serve Manilans better,” said Albert Dichaves, the newly appointed director of the Manila Parks and Recreation Bureau, after feeding Mali with bananas upon Chua’s directions. Mali would take a banana using her trunk and when you say “Up!” and raise your arm, she would let you put another banana in her mouth. “We have plans to renovate and upgrade, to have better enclosures and more wildlife. But as far as privatization is concerned, I don’t think the government will allow that,” Dichaves said. Dichaves said a blood test has shown Mali in good health, “but she’s old, she is beyond the usual life span and a transfer might stress her out.” He added that Mali’s transfer depended on the mayor’s decision. Peta has disputed the findings of Thai elephant expert Dr. Nikorn Thongtip who said Mali was in the pink of health and reiterated its call for the elephant’s transfer. “You will send a person to take pictures when Mali is resting then claim she is lonely. Why not take pictures when she’s interacting? She’s lovable and friendly because she has grown comfortable with humans,” Chua said. He said Peta has been raising the issue every July, because it’s the end of their fiscal year. He said Mali was being used as a fundraiser, which was denied by Peta, saying only the zoo has been making money off Mali. “Where were you when she needed you? Have you put even a single banana to feed her?” Chua said, referring to Peta. He added, “Are you really for the welfare of Mali? Then let’s work together.” Chua said a Sri Lankan diplomat visited Manila Zoo early this year and promised to donate two more elephants if improvements were made on the enclosure. He added that in America, three elephants would be the minimum requirement for a zoo to maintain an elephant enclosure. Peta, however, blocked the donation of two more elephants by writing to the Sri Lankan government, Chua said. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/446283/manila-to-improve-zoo-acquire-two-moreelephants#ixzz2ZGqt1EpU
Healthy lifestyle for workers urged By Jenny F. Manongdo Published: July 17, 2013
Manila, Philippines --- Health officials encouraged office workers to adopt healthy lifestyle practices including eating healthy food and engaging in exercise to avoid acquiring NonCommunicable Diseases (NCD), now the leading causes of deaths worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), NCDs such as heart attack, stroke, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases like chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma, and diabetes kill 36 million people annually. Nearly 80 percent of these diseasesoccur in low and middle-income countries. Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke affect 17.3 million people annually followed by cancers, affecting 7.6 million people worldwide, respiratory diseases, affecting 4.2 million, and diabetes, affecting 1.3 million people worldwide. WHO experts pointed out that NCDs share four risk factors: Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets. Dr. Anthony Leachon, Department of Health (DOH) consultant for NCDs, stressed the need to “change the environment” to solve the problem of NCDs in the workplace. http://mb.com.ph/News/Metro_News/22548/Healthy_lifestyle_for_workers_urged#.UeYSn6yve KE
SSS suspends ruling on full retirement benefits for elderly By Zinnia B. Dela PeĂąa (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 17, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Social Security System (SSS) halted implementation of a ruling that would have allowed its members aged 65 and above to enjoy full retirement benefits if they meet the required 120 months of contributions to the agency. In a statement, SSS vice-president Agnes San Jose said the suspension of the new rule was intended to protect the state pension fund and ensure appropriate payment of benefits to members. San Jose said the SSS would re-evaluate the current process and institute procedural controls to ensure the exercise of diligence and prudence in benefit payments. â€œHowever, 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,â€? San Jose added.
Under the new ruling, a member who is 65 years old or older who is short of the required monthly contributions should file an application for voluntary payment no later than July 1 in order to be eligible for retirement pension. Failure to file the application would mean the member can only get a lump sump amount equivalent to the total amount remitted to SSS plus whatever interest the money had earned. The Social Security Law states that members aged 60 and above must have at least 120 months of contributions to qualify for retirement pension. De Quiros earlier said the new regulation would allow SSS to keep the fund viable by ensuring that retirement pensions are funded by the requisite contributions. The new rule required members with approved application to pay the contributions continuously every month or quarter based on their last monthly salary credit (MSC) bracket until they reach the required 120 contributions. A decrease in MSC bracket would result in the suspension of the contribution payments, while those who pay above the approved MSC would get a refund for their excess payments. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/17/979541/sss‐suspends‐ruling‐full‐retirement‐benefits‐ elderly
‘Isang’ lands over Isabela—Pagasa By Frances Mangosing INQUIRER.net 6:39 am | Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 1 193 12
Project NOAH MTSAT image as of 5:01 AM, July 17, 2013 MANILA, Philippines—Tropical depression Isang has made a landfall over Isabela Wednesday morning, the state weather bureau said. Isang was last observed 70 kilometers east of Tuguegarao City, as it made landfall over Estagno Point in Isabela, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said. Signal No. 1 remained hoisted in the following areas: – Aurora – Quirino – Isabela – Ifugao – Mt. Province – Abra
– Kalinga – Apayao – Ilocos Norte – Ilocos Sur – Cagayan – Calayan – Babuyan Group of Islands – Batanes Group of Islands Isang packed maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center, and continued to move northwest at 15 kph. It will enhance the southwest monsoon and will bring moderate rains and thunderstorms over Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon and Western Visayas. “Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, CAR and the province of Aurora will have rains and gusty winds with moderate to rough seas,” Pagasa’s weather bulletin said. Meanwhile, the rest of Luzon, western and central Visayas, northern Mindanao and Zamboanga peninsula will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms. The rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. “Moderate to strong winds blowing from the southwest 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 also said.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/446535/isang-lands-over-isabelapagasa#ixzz2ZGbRZbtU
‘RH’ stopped indefinitely SC Votes To Extend Status Quo Ante Order On Reproductive Health Law By Rey G. Panaligan Published: July 17, 2013
Manila, Philippines --- The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday extended indefinitely its 120-day status quo ante order (SQAO) issued on March 19 that stopped the government from implementing the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, popularly known as the RH Law. The March 19 SQAO will expire today. In its regular full court session, the SC granted the motions lodged by several groups which sought the extension of the SQAO considering that the oral arguments on the cases filed for and against the new law have not been terminated. After two rounds of oral arguments, the SC decided to continue with the debates on the RH Law on July 23. In a press briefing, SC Spokesman Theodore Te said the SC justice voted 8-7 for the extension of the SQAO “until further orders from the court.” Te, however, did not give the details of the voting. The writing of the SC decision on the RH Law petitions has been assigned through raffle to Justice Jose Catral Mendoza. Twenty-one cases – 15 against and six in favor – have been filed on the RH Law under Republic Act No. 10354. The petitioner-intervenors in favor of RA 1053 are the Catholics for Reproductive Health and Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood, Inc., former Akbayan Rep. Ana Theresia Hontiveros; former health secretaries Esperanza Cabral, Jaime Galvez Tan, and Alberto Romualdez Jr.; the group of 2005 Bar topnotcher Joan De Venecia; Sen. Pia Cayetano, sponsor of the measure in the Senate; and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, author of the law in the House of Representative. Aside from the new petition filed last week by Almarin Centi Tillah and Abdulhussein M. Kashim to stop the implementation of RA 10354 in ARMM, the other petitions against the law are those filed by spouses James and Lovely-Ann Imbong, non-profit group Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, Inc. (ALFI), Serve Life Cagayan de Oro City, Task Force for Family and Life Visayas Inc., lawyer Expedito Bugarin, Eduardo Olaguer of the Catholic Xybrspace Apostolate of the Philippines, Philippine Alliance of Ex-Seminarians, Inc., Dr. Reynaldo Echavez, former Sen. Francisco “Kit” Tatad, and his wife Ma. Fenny, a group of doctors represented by lawyer Howard Calleja, a group of Catholic students represented by the
legal office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and Catholic lay group Couples For Christ Foundation (CFC). Named respondents in almost all the petitions were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II. The respondents are expected to present their side in the July 23 oral arguments. “The extension is unfortunate. However, the extension will be respected by government,” Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte said. “To me, it sends the wrong message to the women of our country. As we debate this, ang mga kababaihan ang nagsasakripisyo, sila ang dinudugo, sila ang namamatay, sila ang nawawalan ng anak, sila ang nalalagay sa sitwasyon na nagpapa-abort sila,” said Sen. Pia Cayetano. “God is answering the prayers of the faithful!” Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said in a text message. (With reports from Genalyn D. Kabiling and Hannah L. Torregoza) http://mb.com.ph/News/Main_News/22589/%E2%80%98RH%E2%80%99_stopped_indefinitely#.UeYEk KyveKE
P200‐M Tungawan infra projects up By Nonoy E. Lacson Published: July 17, 2013
TUNGAWAN, Zamboanga Sibugay – The local government here has lined up major support infrastructure projects, and socio-economic development programs worth about P200 million in an objective to propel business, investment, and development for this municipality. According to Mayor Randy Climaco, the various projects they intend to prioritize are expected to boost the development of the municipality, and uplift the living condition of the poor constituents here. Climaco, however, said that the poverty incidence in this town is still high, and because of this, the local government is now exerting efforts to bring down the rate to a normal level. “Our poverty incidence here is still high, but we are confident that when all our programs for development will be in place, the rate will go down to normal, and that is our target,” he pointed out. “One of the major infrastructure projects that we are fast-tracking now is the completion of the P17 million integrated bus terminal here,” the mayor said. Adding that once completed, the operation of the terminal is expected to create job opportunities, income for those will engage into the fast food business, and eventually generate income for the municipal government in the form of taxes and business permit fees. According to Climaco, the local government here recently completed the construction of a fast food center, which is now becoming a major food center for the commuters, and other employees in this town. He also disclosed that the municipal government has designed an education program for the outof-school youth, adding that this is one of the solutions in reducing the illiteracy rate in this town. On the other hand, a new and more spacious police station has just been completed and inaugurated, he said. “Policemen can now have a conducive area to work, while performing their assigned tasks to make Tungawan a peaceful place to live in,” Climaco added. http://mb.com.ph/News/Provincial_News/22531/P200M_Tungawan_infra_projects_up#.UeYdYayveKE
Hardworking officials Posted by Online on Jul 17th, 2013 // No Comment President Benigno S. Aquino III has praised the performance of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, saying he was proud to have these hardworking officials in his cabinet. Aquino, during the 67th anniversary rites of the UP Beta Sigma Fraternity Alumni Association in Quezon City last Monday night, said these three cabinet members are â€œdoing what they are supposed to doâ€œ without his constant watch. Gazmin, Alcala and Paje, all alumni of the UP Beta Sigma Fraternity, were present in the event.(Genalyn D. Kabiling) http://www.tempo.com.ph/2013/07/hardworking-officials/#.UeYvCayveKE
6,212 Hacienda Luisita farmers to get lots through raffle By DJ Yap Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:28 pm | Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 2 88 5
Hacienda Luisita INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Like a raffle draw, a “tambiolo” will decide which farmland goes to whom among the former workers of Hacienda Luisita. The allocation of farmlands to more than 6,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries will be done through a literal drawing of lots beginning July 18, according to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). DAR personnel will commence on July 18 the allocation of farm lots to 6,212 farm workers identified by the agency as qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita, the sprawling sugar estate in Tarlac owned by the Cojuangco side of President Benigno Aquino’s family. In a news release, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio De Los Reyes said the allocation of farmlands would be conducted through a drawing of lots using a “tambiolo,” or a lottery drum. He said it would be a “crucial step” in generating the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) that would be given to qualified farm workers in Hacienda Luisita “possibly between August and September.” Unlike rice lands where tenants would occupy specific farm lots, De Los Reyes explained that farm workers in haciendas have had no permanent farm lots to claim as their own. Thus, the
allocation of farm lots would have to be done to identify the specific parcel of land that each qualified beneficiary would own, he said. The activity will begin in Barangay Cut-cut, Tarlac City, and will continue in the succeeding days until all villages of Hacienda Luisita are covered, according to the agency. The DAR Provincial Office in Tarlac estimated that it would take them until August 21 to complete all the lot allocation in the vast sugar estate. Hacienda Luisita is composed of 10 villages in three municipalities in the province of Tarlac, namely: Cut-Cut, Bantog, Balete, Asturias, Lourdes and Mapalacsiao in Tarlac City; Parang, Pando and Mabilog in the town of Concepcion; and Motrico in La Paz town. De Los Reyes said the public drawing of lots using the tambiolo would help ensure fairness and transparency in the proceedings. A portion of Hacienda Luisita, over 4,000 hectares, would be awarded to the 6,212 former tenants, with each beneficiary expected to own farm lots with an area of more or less 6,600 square meters, the DAR said. In addition, some 400.87 hectares of the landholding will also be covered under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for common use of the qualified beneficiaries. These include firebreaks (which will also serve as access roads to beneficiariesâ€™ farm lots), canals, fishponds, eroded areas, roads, creeks/irrigation, a lagoon, railroad tracks, legal easements, concrete structures, and a buffer zone. These areas could not be distributed to them because of their current use, the DAR said. All activities related to lot allocation in Hacienda Luisita will be open to the public, according to De Los Reyes. During the drawing of lots, the beneficiary whose name is drawn from the tambiolo will be given a Lot Allocation Certificate (LAC), which will indicate the farm workerâ€™s name as well as the lot number for the farm lot that will be allocated to him. The LAC of beneficiaries who are not present and who did not send a representative will be kept in the meantime by the DAR. The beneficiary concerned may later claim the certificate at the DAR-Tarlac office. The results of the lot allocation activities will be posted in each barangay and municipality covered by Hacienda Luisita as well as at the DAR-Tarlac Provincial Office.
In 1988, when the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program took effect, the owners of Hacienda Luisita gave the farmers an option to own shares of stock instead of land in what was seen as an attempt to circumvent the law. After a prolonged court battle, in 2012, the Supreme Court upheld with finality the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council in 2005 to scrap the stock distribution option of Hacienda Luisita. The court ordered the distribution of 4,915 hectares of the estate to 6,296 farm workers. The DAR later identified and released a final master list of 6,212 approved beneficiaries.
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BSP seen keeping rates at record lows By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 17, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) signaled yesterday it could maintain policy rates at their historic low levels as inflation remains manageable. “There is no urgency to change the policy because inflation remains under control,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. told reporters on the sidelines of central bank’s stakeholders’ awarding ceremony. Policy rates – which serve as banks’ benchmarks in charging their loans – have been kept at their record lows of 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent for overnight borrowing and lending, respectively. They have been at that level since October last year. So far this year, the BSP only chose to tweak the return it offers on special deposit accounts (SDA), parked funds by lenders and trust departments, by a total of 150 basis points to two percent from 3.5 percent. But for the next policy meeting slated on July 25, Tetangco said he also sees “no urgency to change the status” of the SDA rate, which when lowered thrice reduced idle money with the BSP from a high of P1.98 trillion to just P1.738 trillion as of June 28.
The central bank said efforts to push out funds of the SDA are meant to support economic growth amid a benign inflation environment that gives more capacity to boost money supply in the system. Economic expansion hit 7.8 percent in the first quarter, beating market expectations, as an inflation rate of three percent gave more capacity to consumers and investors to spend more. As of the first half, inflation slowed further to 2.9 percent, slightly falling below the central bank’s three to five-percent target range for the year. “What we want to emphasize (is that) while there is volatility, the fundamentals of the Philippine economy remains sound. That’s why the gyrations in financial markets, like the foreign exchange market, the equities market and the bond market, were short-lived,” Tetangco explained. “We have seen lately more normal movements in these markets because fundamentals are there,” he added. Aside from “strong growth and low inflation,” the BSP chief reiterated that the country’s external buffers remain at “comfortable levels” with reserves at $81.640 billion as of the first semester, still good for nearly a year worth of imports. The economy’s balance of payments, he said, is also in surplus amounting to $1.884 billion as of May, indicating more inflows than outflows despite the recent rattle in the financial markets across Asia. Nevertheless, Tetangco said the BSP would “assess” what is happening in the advanced economies, especially in the US where policymakers have signaled possible tapering of stimulus measures later this year. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/07/17/977791/bsp‐seen‐keeping‐rates‐record‐lows
Bank resources up nearly 12% By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 17, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Local banks continue to generate more resources for lending during the first four months of the year, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed. As of April, domestic lenders’ total assets reached P8.453 trillion, 11.9 percent higher than the previous year’s P7.558 trillion. The latest amount also marked a slight improvement from P8.415 trillion as of the first quarter. The BSP has repeatedly highlighted the strength of the local banking system as one of the pillars of a strong economy. For instance, the build-up of resources allows banks to lend more to consumers and investors to finance economic activity. This, in turn, is expected to result into faster economic growth and development. Broken down, the bulk of the banking system’s resources as of April remained with the universal and commercial banks. Big banks’ holdings rose 12.13 percent to P7.575 trillion from P6.755 trillion during the same period. Compared to previous month’s level, holdings of these banks also inched up 0.36 percent from P7.548 trillion, figures showed. Thrift banks, whose primary duty is to collect deposits, also boosted their holdings by 12.41 percent to P690.9 billion from a year ago. The latest figure was also up from P679.3 billion in the first three months of the year. Banks serving the countryside, or the rural banks, on the other hand, maintained their resources level at P187.6 billion. Their assets have been at that level since June last year. Meanwhile, aside from banks, non-bank financial institutions also hold a considerable amount of assets that reached P2.120 trillion during the first four months of the year. Their resources have been kept at that level since the end of last year, data showed. Non-bank financial firms, according to the BSP, pertained to pawnshops, loan associations, insurance companies, investment houses and brokers and publicly run social security institutions. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/07/17/977861/bank‐resources‐nearly‐12
LPA now Tropical Depression Isang; signal no. 1 up over N. Luzon July 16, 2013 10:18 am
NORTH Luzon will experience gusty winds and rains until Thursday as the low pressure area (LPA) off east of Infanta, Quezon has developed into a tropical depression. The state weather bureau has named Tuesday morning the ninth tropical cyclone to enter the country as Isang. Weather Forecaster Chris Perez said that at least 13 areas in Northern Luzon have been placed under public storm warning signal no. 1 (45-60 kph winds): Abra, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Ifugao, Cagayan including Calayan and Babuyan Group of Islands, Isabela, Quirino, Aurora, Mt. Province, Kalinga and Apayao. Residents living in low lying and mountainous areas under public storm warning signal 1 are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides. Perez said as of 4 a.m. Tuesday, tropical depression Isang was estimated at 300 km East of Infanta, Quezon packed with maximum winds of 45 kph near the center. He added that Isang is forecast to move west northwest at 19 kph. With this speed, it is expected to be out of Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) by Thursday and will move towards Southern China. Perez also said that Isang has small chance to intensify as it is expected to make a landfall in Casiguran, Aurora by 6 p.m. Wednesday. In the next six to 12 hours, the western section of Luzon including Metro Manila and the Visayas will experience light to moderate rains as the tropical depression Isang will enhance the southwest monsoon. In its advisory, Pagasa said that Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Babuyan and Calayan Islands, CAR and the Province of Aurora will have rains and gusty winds with moderate to rough seas. Bicol region will have cloudy skies with moderate to heavy rains and thunderstorms which may trigger flash floods and landslides. It added that Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Visayas will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers and thunderstorms. Mindanao will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms. Pagasa also said that 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. PNA
Sexually transmitted diseases expected to occur more frequently in future July 16, 2013 11:10 am
DESPITE a decline until the turn of the century, sexually transmitted diseases could occur more frequently in the future, experts said at a press conference for the STI and AIDS World Congress 2013 in Vienna on Monday. Bacterial diseases in this branch of medicine have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics — in particular “older” sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis as well as fungal and viral infections like HPV, Herpex simplex and HIV. According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, around 448 million new cases of curable sexually transmitted diseases occurred in the 19 to 49‐year‐old age bracket each year. Combined with HIV there is an even higher potential for frequency of transmission. Congress Chair Angelika Stary said in Austria the resistance in treatment efforts to gonorrhea could be observed, in particular with cephalosporin antibiotics, Austria Press Agency reported. Syphilis can be treated better, with normal penicillin still proving to be an effective treatment. Also positive was National Institutes of Health (NIH) HIV/STD International Chief Thomas Quinn. He said the success of the fight against HIV/AIDS, for which almost 10 million people are currently in treatment, makes the goal of a generation without the affliction possible, though more prevention is required, he added. PNA http://www.manilatimes.net/sexually‐transmitted‐diseases‐expected‐to‐occur‐more‐frequently‐in‐ future/19539/
Cagayan town mayor asks Aquino to remove CEZA chief July 16, 2013 8:13 pm
by LEANDER C. DOMINGO SANTA ANA, Cagayan: The town’s chief executive here asked President Benigno Aquino 3rd to replace the “slack” leadership of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) for a better working relationship. ”Anybody but Chelly,” Mayor Darwin Tobias told media men in case the President decides to replace the CEZA chief administrator referring to Jose Mari Ponce. Tobias said he has sent a letter via a Presidential adviser asking the President to replace Ponce “which is a matter of serious concern to our national interest.” Secretary Manuel Mamba, head of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, said his office has already forwarded the letter to the President for his “immediate and appropriate action.” Tobias said “our bridges have been burned and what is mostly affected here is the delivery of basic services to the people as well as the expected progress and development in this town which have long been delayed by the slack CEZA leadership.” During the recently held May 13 elections, Ponce’s son Alphonse Jean (AJ) Ponce, then a first termer board member, ran for mayor against Tobias, then incumbent mayor, but lost. Ponce’s wife Wilfreda also ran for Councilor of Santa Ana but also lost. In his letter to the President, the mayor said “Administrator Chelly has illegally and shamelessly used the resources and facilities of CEZA to support the candidacy of Ponce’s son and wife as UNA [United Nationalist Alliance] and NPC [National People’s Coalition] candidates for mayor and councilor respectively.” Tobias alleged in his letter that Ponce “had raised campaign funds for UNA candidates from the locators of CEZA [and that] the Ponces conducted rampant vote-buying, voters’ intimidation and acts of terrorism.” Criticizing the policies of Ponce, Tobias said “it is time we change the leadership for the sake of a better working relationship between the local government and CEZA administration.” However, CEZA Senior Deputy Administrator Nilo Aldeguer has denied accusations of a “slack” leadership by Ponce. “We love our administrator so much. We fully support him. He is responsible for what is CEZA now,” said Aldeguer in a telephone interview. Aldeguer said that under Ponce’s leadership, “we were able to generate business investments and employment as well as boosted tourism in the area.” ”In fact Santa Ana is now on its way to a first class municipality from a fifth to fourth class when Administrator Ponce took over the reins of CEZA in 1995, now generating millions of pesos for the national coffers,” he said.
”[Tobias’ accusations in his letter] are baloney and preposterous. Our administrator never utilized the resources of CEZA for the candidacy of his son and wife. I should know that because I am very much aware of the very details of the activities at CEZA,” Aldeguer said. He said: “It is all politics. The elections are over. Let’s leave politics behind us. We should now work to further advance the economic gains of CEZA and the municipality.” Recently, Tobias and the young Ponce, called AJ, have filed against each other charges of attempted murder, violation of election gun ban and obstruction of justice. AJ alleged that Tobias’ men fired at them in front of their campaign headquarters in Barangay Santa Cruz on May 12. But Tobias denied this saying his vehicle used by his campaign supporters was actually fired at and riddled with 16 bullets. ”My service vehicle Starex Van was even ambushed at 12:30 early morning of May 13, 2013 in front of Phoenix Gas Station owned by [Ponce],” Tobias said. Worst he said, his car was mistakenly reported by a national TV network as that of Ponce’s.
BSP sees no urgency to change policy July 16, 2013 8:06 pm
by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) believes that it sees no urgency to change its monetary policy stance, citing the country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals and benign inflation. “There’s no urgency for a change in policy coming from that end because inflation continues to be well undercontrol,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said on the sidelines of the 10th Awards Ceremony and Appreciation Lunch for BSP Stakeholders in the National Capital Region. Tetangco noted that the country’s inflation rate continue to be benign as it averaged 2.9 percent in the first semester. He added that the inflation rate is also lightly below the lower end of the 3-percent to 5-percent inflation target range. “As you know, inflation targeting is an inflation-intensive approach so while inflation is benign, we also need to look at other sources of pressures. Not now, not necessarily now, but maybe in the future so we have to make an assessment of that. Inflation targeting is also forward looking,” he said. The BSP governor also assured the public that the central bank will continue to monitor external developments. “Of course we will look at other related variables, other related indicators such as what is happening in the advance economies—the United States, Europe and Japan,” he said. Tetangco added that the BSP will look into the advanced economies to assess if these will eventually have an effect on the developments in the Philippines. “You’ve already seen that changes in policy, even only planned changes of policy, let’s say in the US can have significant impact on financial markets around the world including the Philippines,” he said. The Monetary Board has kept the interest rates for the overnight borrowing or reverse repurchase facility is at 3.5 percent, while overnight lending or repurchase is at 5.5 percent. The reserve requirement ratios were held steady as well. It has also kept the interest rates on the special deposit accounts (SDA) at 2 percent. It also reduced the SDA rate three times since January by a total of 150 basis points. The BSP is also scheduled to announce its latest monetary policy stance on July 25. http://www.manilatimes.net/bsp‐sees‐no‐urgency‐to‐change‐policy/19687/
Philippines ‘doing good’ in getting trade partners July 16, 2013 8:05 pm
by KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO The country has been “doing good” in encouraging trade missions and relations in the country with different nations interested in investing and helping the country. John Forbes, president of American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said that the government should sustain the “commitment to double the infrastructure spending” since that is the challenge of the country’s economic landscape at present. “Infrastructure makes the economy more efficient . . . Infrastructure are necessary to create jobs in the country,” he said. Forbes added that the Philippines has been doing good with high levels of growth and institutional reforms. For his part, Asia Pacific Regional Director Brett Heimburger of the State of Utah said that their recently held trade missions in the country aims to exchange business ties with the Philippines. “But after coming here and looking at the country, we realize that we would want to help the Philippines,” he said, referring to infrastructure and energy efficiency in the country. Some 12 business associations from Utah arrived in the Philippines to explore economic opportunities in the country. The firms and organizations included in the mission are TWODOG Wines, TestOut Inc., Nutranomics, School Improvement Network, Dr. Tim’s Juices, Albion Plant Nutrition, Summit National Products and call center organization In Contact, among others. Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ponciano Manalo Jr. said that the country is doing good in trade relations, and increased its trading volume with other nations by 70 percent in the first and second quarter of the year. “Our performance and macroeconomic factors are good. Our industries are also strong, especially business process management,” Manalo said in Filipino. Manalo said that there are more US trade missions arriving to the country in the future. Aside from Utah, South Korea will also conduct a buying mission in the country. http://www.manilatimes.net/philippines‐doing‐good‐in‐getting‐trade‐partners/19681/
Korean center ready to help PH rice farming July 16, 2013 8:02 pm
The Korean Project on International Agriculture (Kopia) Center in the Philippines, which is hosted by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), is expected to intensify its efforts to improve rice varieties and cultivation in the country with the appointment of its fourth director. Incoming Kopia Director Dr. Yang Wonha said that the goal of his stay in the Philippines is to help Filipino farmers increase their income, and he promised to do his best for the agency. “The Philippines has a good condition [for rice production]. We will help you achieve rice selfsufficiency,” Yang said during the ceremonies for the assumption of his position. Before joining Kopia, Yang was the head of the Chuncheon substation of the National Institute of Crop Science of Rural Development Association (RDA)-Korea. His main work involved research on rice cultivation technique in direct seeding and machine transplanting; rice stress physiology on effect of water temperature to rice plant and rice cultivation and production. South Korea, despite having limited lands to till for farming, is rice self-sufficient and exports many types of agricultural commodities. It has one of the most modernized agriculture sectors in Asia. Three directors preceded Yang since the establishment of Kopia-Philippines in September 2012 through a memorandum of agreement signed by RDA-Korea and the Department of Agriculture. They are Dr. Kim, Jae-Duk; Dr. Lee, Sang-Guie; and Dr. Lee, Jeong-Taek whose term ended this month.
Ping’s anti-corruption unit laughable — Miriam By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:02am | 585 views
Senator Miriam Defensor on Tuesday described as “laughable and ridiculous” ex-Senator Panfilo Lacson’s proposal to create a new Presidential Commission Against Corruption, adding he proposed the idea just to accommodate himself. “His plan is laughable and ridiculous. It is unconstitutional, illegal, immoral and egotistic,” said Santiago, an expert in constitutional law. “It is amazing that the former senator can be so brazen as to propose a plan that violates existing standards of law and ethics.” Santiago said she was scandalized that Lacson, who is not a lawyer, drafted a proposed executive order to be signed by President Aquino naming him head of a new “super anti-crime agency.” Lacson was not amused. “Only the corrupt and the corruptible will resent the creation of an anti-corruption body,” he said in a text message. Santiago said the President had no power to create a public office as Lacson was urging him to. “Lacson’s proposal is unintelligent. It is a basic principle of the tripartite system of democracy that the creation of a public office is primarily a legislative function,” Santiago said. “He should go to Congress and lobby for this self-serving, self-aggrandizing personal pet project of his.” Santiago said there was an existing Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force headed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. that Lacson wanted bumped off.
She said there was also an existing Philippine National Police under the supervision of Manuel Roxas II, the Interior Secretary that Lacson also wanted bumped off. “What gall!” Santiago said. She cited a series of Supreme Court decisions that she said would frustrate Lacson’s grand plan, including its ruling in the 2010 case Biraogo v. the Philippine Truth Commission in which it said the Administrative Code prohibited the President from creating an office under the guise of a reorganization. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/17/pings‐anti‐corruption‐unit‐laughable‐miriam/
Sex-for-flight: Labor staff sacked, 2 attaches recalled By Vito Barcelo | Posted on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:02am | 1,012 views
The Labor Department announced on Tuesday that it has terminated the services of a Philippine Overseas Labor Office staff and recalled two labor attaches’ linked to the “sex-for-repatriation” cases in the Middles East. Dismissed was POLO officer Blas Marquez, a local hired office staff in Kuwait, while Jordan assistant labor attaché Mario Antonio and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Assistant Labor Attaché Antonio Villafuerte were recalled from their posts after the DoLE fact-finding team completed its fact-finding mission abroad. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Villafuerte plans to get a private lawyer to defend himself against accusations from three female overseas Filipino workers that he had sexually abused them. The three labor officers were linked to the sex-for-repatriation scam where distressed female OFWs were allegedly given plane tickets to travel back to the Philippines in exchange for sex. “The fact-finding team that gathered information and pertinent documents from overseas Filipino workers, Filipino community leaders, and Philippine Embassy officials on the allegations about the ‘sex-for-flight’ issue, and to validate such information, arrived the other day from Jordan,” Baldoz said. “The team will recommend to the disciplining authority the filing of a formal charge. Should the recommendation be approved, the DOLE Hearing Panel chaired by Asst. Sec. Gloria Tango, earlier constituted to expedite the proceedings of the case, will
receive and evaluate the formal charge including all the supporting documents, statements and evidence. Should the respondents opt for a formal hearing, the Panel was instructed to conduct marathon hearings,” Baldoz said in a statement. “Under the DOLE Rules on Disposition of Administrative Complaints and Cases issued pursuant to the CSC Revised Rules in Administrative Cases, the Panel has 60 days to conclude its investigation. Within 15 days after the conclusion of the formal investigation, the Panel shall submit its report, recommendation and draft decision to the disciplining authority. The disciplining authority has 30 days from receipt of the formal investigation report to issue the decision,” she added. The fact-finding team is composed of Atty. Ophelia Almenario of OWWA, Atty. Rose G. Duquez of the POEA, Atty. Leah T. Fortuna of DOLE and Atty. Edna Yasay, an observer from the DFA. The team left for the Middle East on 28 June. Baldoz said the information-gathering and fact-finding mission in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, the team interviewed several OFWs and Filipino community leaders, including those who may have information and knowledge about the allegations. “They also interviewed Philippine Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labor Office officials and employees. They also received oral testimonies, letters, and e-mails related to the issue, and documented these submissions,” Baldoz said. She added that “the team also gathered information, pursuant to its expanded task, on the operational aspects of the POLO, to provide guidance on the institutional reforms that the DOLE has pursued.” http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/17/sex‐for‐flight‐labor‐staff‐sacked‐2‐attaches‐recalled/
‘Pork mess mere cover-up of Palace corruption’ By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:02am | 539 views
Former Davao del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas IV on Tuesday accused the Palace of covering up and diverting public attention from its own “monument of corruption” by making it appear that members of the opposition had allocated their pork barrel to fund ghost projects in return for kickbacks. Cagas, a member of the Nacionalista Party who chose to join the minority bloc in the House, denied having released funds to bogus non-government organizations and turned the tables on the Palace, which he said was behind a P2.8-billion road scam in Davao del Sur. “Since 2010, the Aquino government kept reporting that the 72-kilometer national highway had been completed, yet year-in and year-out, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad allocates taxpayers’ money for the same highway,” Cagas said. Cagas said every year during budget deliberations in the House, he has not failed to bring up the same issue to Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, who promised to have it investigated. Cagas said he was deliberately included in the list of lawmakers who were linked to a pork barrel scam allegedly run by Janet Lim-Napoles because the Palace had learned he was ready to expose the multi-billion-peso ghost road projects in Mindanao. He urged President Benigno Aquino III to investigate Abad, Singson and others who allegedly colluded in releasing money for the ghost projects. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. also said his inclusion in the Napoles list was “pure magic.” “My official records show that not a single centavo was released to any anomalous project, particularly on that NGO, whose leaders I haven’t even met,” Marcos said.
Marcos agreed with Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. that the attacks were part of a “demolition job” mounted by the administration against the opposition. Revilla and Marcos were considering a team-up for the 2016 presidential elections. Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who was also linked to the Napoles affair, said the allegations bore a resemblance to a case last year in which the signatures of his staff were faked. The Commission on Audit at the time had linked him, Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Revilla last year to a P195-million scam allegedly involving the Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc., but it was later discovered that the signatures of his staff members on the liquidation reports were forged, Enrile said. “This prompted me to support a full investigation. Sadly, the issue was soon drowned out by the last political campaign,” he said. Enrile also said he had met with COA Chairman Grace Pulido Tan, and Reps. Florencio Noel and Neptali Gonzales Jr. last year to address concerns that some congressmen were being singled out in the special audit. “But she clarified, in answer to congressman Gonzales’ concern, that the special audit was not directed at the lawmakers but at the implementing agencies. I said that for my part, I understood it was a job COA must do and I personally had no worries about the utilization of my own PDAF being scrutinized by the COA,” said Enrile. While Tan said a final report would be submitted to to the leaders of both chambers of Congress, Enrile said she has still not forwarded the findings of the special audit. In aid of the current investigation of the Napoles case, he urged the COA to release its full report, and not limit its revelations to the opposition. Incoming Senate President Franklin Drilon said there was no need for the five senators implicated in the latest controversy to go on leave. “There is nothing in our rules which would compel them to go on leave. Remember these are just media reports at this stage,” said Drilon. He said it would be better to let the National Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department conduct the investigation.
“We can’t investigate ourselves. The public will not believe whatever the results may be because there’s a conflict [of interest],” he said. Last week, Cagas uploaded his expose on “The Monument of Corruption” on the video sharing site YouTube detailing the P2.8-billion 72-kilometer highway that traverses the municipality of Jose Abad Santos in Davao del Sur up to Glan in Saranggani. He said he was ready to hold a news conference to expose the scam a few days before the President’s State-of-the-Nation Address on July 22. He said even if he had nothing to do with the pork barrel scam, he was included in the list of lawmakers who purportedly released funds to a bogus NGO to preempt his press conference and to undermine his credibility. Cagas said official records will bear him out that Abad had been allocating funds to the “never-ending” road project while Singson had been reporting that some portions of the 72-kilometer stretch had been cemented and finished. But Cagas said: “If we are to connect those parts that were cemented, they would run to three kilometers. That means the cemented roads cost the taxpayers P1 billion for every kilometer because the 72-kilometer project has already used up a total of P2.8 billion and only three kilometers were finished.” This year, he said, some P600 million has been allocated to continue the “completed project.” “I would have understood if the project was a result of a reenacted budget. However, since 2010, there has been no reenacted budget so this is a new budget allocation every year that has now accumulated to P2.8 billion,” Cagas said. He also said the Public Works Department had not declared any savings on the project. “My question now is, where is the money? Where is the project? Who released the money?” Cagas said. Cagas also said Abad can release funds to districts even if the projects there are not identified or endorsed by the congressmen of those districts. With Macon RamosAraneta http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/17/pork‐mess‐mere‐cover‐up‐of‐palace‐corruption/
Co-op shuns CDA, sticks to NEA control By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:00am | 98 views
The Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative in Calapan City, one of the best performing among the 119 electric cooperatives in the country, has affirmed to keep its 40-year registration with the National Electrification Administration as it thwarted attempts of some local businessmen to transfer registration of the cooperative for unknown reasons to the Cooperative Development Authority. Romeo Cuasay, ORMECO general manager, said: “We believe it is to the best interest of our member-consumers to stay with the NEA because we have been able to strengthen our electric cooperative and have significantly improved services and performance because of the comprehensive support system of the NEA.” Cuasay said the continuing ORMECO-NEA partnership has resulted in significant gains in the delivery of electricity to coop consumers especially the expanded sitio electrification program of President Aquino wherein ORMECO was able last year to electrify 274 sitios and received a Presidential Commendation for the achievement. Cuasay explained that ORMECO has been able to achieve this despite adverse weather conditions and the regulatory challenges of power supply in the island of Mindoro. . The National Electrification Administration provides administrative, financial and performance monitoring, institutional development, and technical and financial assistance to electric cooperatives under P.D. 269. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/17/co‐op‐shuns‐cda‐sticks‐to‐nea‐control/
Luisita lots soon to be raffled off By Rio N. Araja | Posted on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:00am | 49 views
Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said on Tuesday that they would start allocating Hacienda Luisita farm lots through a raffle draw using the conventional “tambiolo” (raffle drum). De los Reyes said that they decided to adopt this process to ensure fairness and transparency in the allocation of farm lots for the listed 6,212 farmerbeneficiaries. He said that starting tomorrow, July 18, the DAR would field its personnel to Hacienda Luisita’s 10 barangays in three municipalities to supervise the raffling process. Delos Reyes added that the allocation will begin in Barangay Cut-cut, and will continue until the other nine barangays are covered in the succeeding days. The other nine barangays are Bantog, Balete, Asturias, Lourdes, Mapalacsiao, Parang, Pando, Mabilog and Motrico. Delos Reyes said he expected to complete the raffle-draw on Aug. 21, which coincides with the assassination of President Aquino’s father in 1983. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/17/luisita‐lots‐soon‐to‐be‐raffled‐off/
Govt websites placed under SciTech agency By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:00am | 57 views
President Benigno Aquino III has tasked the Department of Science and Technology to host all government websites, some of which were hacked following bilateral rows with Taiwan and China as well as after the passage of the Anti-Cybercrime Law. “The government recognizes the need for greater security and robustness in the internet technologies it uses to deliver reliable information and provide state of the art online services, which are free from impairment and disruption,” Aquino said in Administrative Order No. 39. Under the new order, the DoST-Information and Communications Office will operate and maintain the government web-hosting service. Aquino said this will “ensure the government’s internet presence 24-hours a day, 7-days a week under all foreseeable conditions.” Websites of Constitutional bodies, local government units, and other autonomous branches of the government may also be hosted by the DoST-ICTO at the request of the said government entities. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/17/govt‐websites‐placed‐under‐sci‐tech‐agency/
Maranan sets 7-point irrigation program By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:01am | 94 views
National Irrigation Administration chief Engr. Claro V. Maranan presented his Seven Point Program to Department Heads and employees during his first flag raising ceremony on Monday at the NIA Central Office grounds in Diliman, Quezon City. He announced his action plan to improve the delivery of services to clients, increase productivity, create a good working environment for employees and ensure that projects are implemented on time. “Let us join together in meeting the challenges laid down by our Country and our President to achieve our goals in our irrigation programs,” he said. Maranan said his seven-point strategy is composed of rapid delivery of irrigation projects; reliable and credible statistics of data inputs; organizational reform; corporate financial stability; empowerment of NIAn’s, better working condition and environment; comprehensive climate change program for irrigation; stronger commitment to farmers for lasting cooperation and partnership. Welcoming suggestions from employees, he said the “Count Forward” system will be used gauge their performance. Upon assuming office last July 9, Maranan has met with directors in the provinces of Region 10. He said weekly Executive Committee meetings will he held for updates. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/17/maranan‐sets‐7‐point‐irrigation‐program/
NEA orders suspension of 7 power cooperative directors By Dexter A. See | Posted on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:01am | 77 views
La Trinidad — The National Electrification Administration slapped a 90-day suspension on seven members of the Board of Directors of the Benguet Electric Cooperative for violating the agency’s procurement policy following the award of security services. In a decision, Editha Bueno, NEA Administrator, said the board failed to comply with the requirement of holding a public bidding for purchases worth more than P500,000. “Since the security agencies involved in the case each deploy 32 security guards for BENECO, it is obvious the contract amount involves more than P500,000,” she said. The case stemmed from the complaint of Sidekick Force Investigation and Security Services Director Ronald Bahni who questioned the board’s award to GMT Interlink Management Inc. without public bidding. Bueno identified the suspended directors as Alfredo Santos, Peter Bosaing, Rocky Aliping, Michael Lawana, Erminio Suclad, Gaspar Leung and former director Jerry Marave, who is now a member of the provincial board of Benguet after having been elected as boardmember during the May 13, 2013 mid-term elections. Benguet Cooperative had both Sidekick and Interlink as security providers until the board Resolution 25-2012 awarded the contract solely to Interlink. The board justified its move saying that the 2008 contract with Interlink was merely renewed by the previous directors, who treated the same as repeat orders. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/17/nea‐orders‐suspension‐of‐7‐power‐cooperative‐ directors/
T-bond rates top 2%; govt sells P30b By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:01am | 129 views
The government sold P30 billion worth of three-year Treasury bonds Tuesday, with demand reaching P67.783 billion, the Bureau of Treasury said. Three-year bond rates rose to 2.054 percent, or 60.1 basis points higher than 1.453 percent during the last auction in April. National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said the result of the auction reflected the liquidity in the financial system. “Given the subscription is more than twice than the offered amount, so you can see that there’s still liquidity in the system. And of course there is appetite on the short end of the curve,” De Leon said. She said the anticipation that rates would go up soon pushed the demand for short-term securities. “Given the expectations that rates will go up, so they are more into the short end of curve rather than the long end of the curve,” De Leon said. She said the government was monitoring the market conditions ahead of the July 30 auction for retail treasury bonds. “We’re discussing with the issue managers the terms of the timetable. We’ll be making the announcement by next week,” De Leon said. De Leon said the bureau was looking at a 10-year tenor with Aug. 15 as the issuance date. She added the bureau had not obtained clearance from some government offices to sell the retail bond. The Bureau of Treasury has programmed to sell P750 billion worth of government securities this year. “So far we’ve done the auction, if ever we proceed with RTBs, so there would be a balance at the end of the last quarter. That would still be forming part of the borrowing program for 2013,” De Leon said. She stressed the government was not under pressure to borrow the full amount of P750 billion.
Energy approves 20-MW solar power project in Ilocos Norte By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:01am | 114 views
The Energy Department has issued a certificate of commerciality to the 20-megawatt solar power project of Mirae Asia Energy Corp. of Korea in Ilocos Norte province. The certificate allowed Mirae Asia to proceed with the construction of the solar project in the village of Paguludan in Currimao town and entitled it to avail of the feed-in tariff rate of P9.68 per kilowatt-hour. Mirae Asia vice president Lito Badua told reporters the Energy Department issued the certificate of commerciality for the P2.4-billion project and that the company would now process the remaining permits for the construction. “We are looking at starting construction around fourth quarter,” he said. This is the third solar project in the Philippines given the certificate of commerciality. The other solar projects are the 30-MW solar farm of Philippine Solar Farm-Leyte in Ormoc and the 30-MW project of ATN Philippines Solar Energy Group in Rodriguez, Rizal. Badua said Mirae Asia aimed to construct the project in nine to 12 months and start full commercial operations in the late part of 2014. “This is in response to the call of government to put up renewable and indigenous sources of energy,” Badua said. The solar project will cover 60 hectares. Mirae Asia has an existing but smaller solar project in Korea. “Funding will be equity and loans from local and foreign banks,” Badua said. Mirae Asia said in a recent presentation it concluded the topographic and geotechnical study of the plant site in Currimao. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/17/energy‐approves‐20‐mw‐solar‐power‐project‐in‐ilocos‐ norte/
BDO named ‘Best Bank’ By MST Business | Posted on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:01am | 92 views
Hong Kong-based financial publishing company FinanceAsia has named BDO Unibank Inc. the Best Bank in the Philippines for the fourth consecutive year. FinanceAsia in the recently concluded Country Awards 2013 cited BDO’s ability to stay ahead of its peers given its strong business franchise, low-cost funding, quality assets and extensive distribution network. “It has also diversified its business, expanding into consumer lending and middlemarket businesses to complement its strength in corporate banking,” FinanceAsia added. Aside from winning the most coveted award, BDO’s wholly-owned subsidiary, BDO Capital and Investment Corp., was also recognized by FinanceAsia as the country’s Best Investment Bank and Best Equity House. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/17/bdo‐named‐best‐bank/
Tetangco sees no change in interest rates By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:01am | 1 views
Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said Tuesday key policy interest rates will likely stay at record-low levels, given the manageable inflation rate. “Inflation rate continues to be benign and the first semestral average is 2.9 percent. So it’s slightly below the lower end of the inflation target range [of 3 percent to 5 percent]. There is no urgency for a change in policy coming from that end because inflation continues to be under control,” Tetangco, who is also the chairman of the Monetary Board, said at the sidelines of the 10th Awards Ceremony and Appreciation Lunch for BSP Stakeholders. The Monetary Board will meet on July 25 to review the key interest rates. It maintained the overnight borrowing rate at 3.5 percent and the overnight lending rate at 5.5 percent in its last meeting on June 13. The special deposit account rates were also kept steady at 2 percent across all tenors. Inflation rate in June reached 2.8 percent, slightly higher than 2.6 percent in May. This brought the average inflation in the first six months to 2.9 percent. Tetangco said aside from inflation, there was a need to look at other related variables and related indicators “such as what is happening in advanced economies like the US, Europe, Japan and assess if these will have effects on the developments in the Philippines.” “We have seen that changes in policy, even only planned changes in policy, let’s say in the US, can have significant impact in financial markets around the world including the Philippines. What we emphasize is that while there is volatility, the fundamentals of the Philippine economy remain sound,” he said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/17/tetangco‐sees‐no‐change‐in‐interest‐rates/
Posted on July 16, 2013 11:20:06 PM
2013 IPP finally up for Palace okay THE 2013 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) has finally been submitted to Malacañang, a Cabinet official yesterday said, with the government also looking to fast-track the issuance of the 2014 blueprint to make up for the delays that marked this year.
“We already submitted the  IPP,” Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said at the sidelines of a FUJIFILM Corp. plant launch. “There are minor changes there compared to last year. The major changes may be for 2014 ... [the IPP for] which we will try to issue by December,” he added. The IPP -- which is updated annually -- identifies industries and sectors that are eligible for incentives such as income tax holidays and duty-free importation of equipment. Mr. Domingo said the 2012 plan remained in effect while this year’s IPP remained unapproved. It was supposed to have been submitted last March; the plan’s release was subsequently moved to May and then to end-June. There was no word as to when Palace approval would be secured now that it had been submitted. Based on a draft, the 2013 list largely carries over the 2012 IPP that focused on the following areas: • agriculture/agribusiness and fishery; • creative/knowledge-based industries; • shipbuilding; • mass housing;; • iron and steel; • energy; • infrastructure; • research and development;
• “green” projects; • motor vehicles; • strategic projects; • hospital/medical services; and • disaster prevention, mitigation and recovery projects. Projects will only be granted pioneer status if completely new to the Philippines. Another proposed change is the need for an opinion from the Agriculture department before any farm project is given incentives. The draft removes toll ways and railways from the IPP, consolidating these under the publicprivate partnership project heading. Power projects in missionary or off-grid areas are no longer included. Income tax holidays for tourist accommodations in Cebu, Mactan, Metro Manila and Boracay were also removed. -- CAMCF
Posted on July 16, 2013 11:19:48 PM
Get ready to scrap your car’s license plates VEHICLE OWNERS will have to replace their license plates with new ones under a scheme the Land Transportation Office (LTO) wants to start implementing this September.
In a circular published yesterday, the agency said the standardization move would help in law enforcement, improve the country’s vehicle database and “enhance the institutional capability of the government”. It noted that eight license plate designs currently exist -- “some of which date back to 1981” -- along with the “proliferation” of illegible and dilapidated plates and owners’ “prevalent practice” of not replacing lost ones. These, it claimed, have “adversely affected law enforcement and national security”. LTO Memorandum Circular VPT-2013-1772 states that the new plates will bear three alphabetical and four numeric symbols for cars, two alphabetical and five numeric symbols for motorcycles and eight numeric symbols for diplomatic vehicles. The alphanumeric symbols for private cars will be black on a white background, while those for public utility vehicles (PUVs) will be black on yellow with the authorized route also to be indicated. Motorcycle plates will also be black on white, as will those for tricycles used for personal purposes. Tricycles used as PUVs will use the black on yellow scheme. Government plates, meanwhile, will sport red symbols on a white background, with the name of the agency/office to be indicated. Diplomatic plates will carry blue symbols on a white background, while Other Exempt Vehicles (OEV) will have black symbols on a light blue background. While the circular, issued July 1, states that the rules will “take effect 15 days after publication,” LTO Executive Director Alfonso V. Tan yesterday said actual implementation would start in September. “We are looking at Sept. 1 for new vehicles and Oct. 1 for cars that are for renewal [of registration],” Mr. Tan said. Vehicle owners will have to surrender their current plates. The new ones will have to be attached via LTO security locks and the use of license plate covers, frames “or any similar accessory” will be prohibited. The new plates for cars and motorcycles are expected to cost some P450 and P120, respectively, inclusive of the security locks. A final price will be determined once the supply contract is awarded to the winning bidder, Mr. Tan said. The new scheme does not take into account the use of vanity or commemorative plates, and Mr. Tan said: “That has to be discussed. But all commemorative plates that you see now are all illegal, since the last one had expired last January.”
Posted on July 16, 2013 09:47:47 PM
Bank breaks down IPO use Facebook Tweet LinkedIn Google + ShareThis
THE PHILIPPINE Business Bank (PBB) has broken down the use of the P3.01 billion it raised from its initial public offering (IPO) in February. In a disclosure on Monday, the bank said it met its target of raising between P3 billion and P4 billion in its IPO. Branch expansion, cited as the primary reason behind the IPO, was allotted P12.46 million. Of this, P9.9 million was allocated for bank premises, furniture, fixtures, and equipment, while P2.2 million was used for rental deposit. The remainder was used to advance rental on new branches. The bulk of IPO proceeds went to general corporate purposes with P2.6 billion to help finance loan growth. Available-for-sale financial assets were allocated P380.52 million, while investments in information technology infrastructure used up P15.65 million. PBB is the thrift bank of the Zest-O group, owned by businessman Alfredo M. Yao. Its IPO was the first in the Philippine Stock Exchange this year, with an introductory share price of P31.50 apiece. Share prices of PBB closed at P25.70 apiece yesterday, down by 1.15% from P26 notched the previous day. -- Kathleen T. de Villa
Posted on July 16, 2013 09:43:25 PM
T-bond rates up despite demand Facebook Tweet LinkedIn Google + ShareThis
RATES ON the re-issued three-year Treasury bonds rose at the auction yesterday but they still remained well below the levels in the secondary market amid strong demand. The debt papers, with a remaining life of two years and nine months, saw rates climb by 60.4 basis points to 2.054% at the auction yesterday from the 1.45% fetched when they were first issued on April 25. The bids for the T-bonds went as high as 2.125% and as low as 1.8% yesterday. The rate eventually fetched by the debt papers fell within the 2-2.25% forecast by traders. Total tenders for the T-bonds reached P67.78 billion, more than twice the government’s P30- billion offer. The Bureau of the Treasury sold as planned. “Given the subscription, which was more than double the offered amount, this just shows liquidity,” National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon told reporters after the auction. Ms. de Leon said the retail Treasury bond (RTB) sale, which will be launched on July 30 and issued on August 15, will help meet this demand. She added that the RTBs will not be used for pre-funding. The RTB sale is also expected to help absorb the cash that will leave special deposit accounts (SDAs), in light of the new rules of the central bank, Ms. de Leon said. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) limited the access of trust entities to SDAs in May, banning them from using the facility for fiduciary business and investment management accounts. SDAs could only be tapped for unit investment trust funds. Trust entities are required to withdraw 30% of their ineligible funds by the end of July and take out the balance completely by the end of November. A trader said in a telephone interview the SDA restrictions were the major force behind the auction yesterday. “SDA investors were looking for assets to put their placements in after the BSP memo.” The trader said the rate increase is a result of the market leaning towards negative territory after the US Federal Reserve hinted it could reduce its stimulus program amid signs of recovery in the world’s largest economy. This sparked fears of a rise in interest rates, hurting bond markets worldwide. -- LEGR
Posted on July 16, 2013 09:38:55 PM
BSP reopens Syrian currency facility Facebook Tweet LinkedIn Google + ShareThis
THE BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has reopened its Currency Exchange Facility (CEF) for Syrian pounds to allow overseas Filipinos to convert their money after being sent back home amid rising civilian tensions in the Middle East. The Monetary Board decided to reopen the CEF for six months “to assist the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were displaced by the conflict in Syria,” the BSP said in a statement yesterday. It said, “The facility allows returning OFWs and their families from Syria to exchange Syrian currency for Philippine pesos up to a maximum amount equivalent to not more than P10,000 per eligible person.” OFWs and their families must present proof of their travel from Syria, including their original passports or travel documents issued by the Philippine Embassy in Damascus City, stamped with an exit visa. The exchange can be done in the BSP’s main office, regional offices and branches, as well as with authorized agent banks. According to the Labor department, 864 Filipinos have been sent home as of May under the government’s mandatory repatriation program, with the civil war in Syria showing no sign of resolution. In 2012, 2,756 Filipinos left the war-torn country, while 548 fled in 2011 when fighting between government and opposition forces began. The Syrian pound CEF was introduced from January 30 to May 30 this year. Prior to this, the BSP did not allow for the exchange of pesos and Syrian pounds. Before this, the BSP opened its CEF for OFWs in light of the Kuwait-Iraq war in 1990, the US-Iraq war in 2003, the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006 and the Libyan conflict in 2011. -- Kathleen T. de Villa
Posted on July 16, 2013 10:51:54 PM
Sugar miller cites improved Q3 profits LISTED Victorias Milling Company, Inc. (VMC) -- currently undergoing rehabilitation and debt restructuring -- improved its bottom line in the third quarter of its fiscal year ending August on the back of higher revenues and lower costs, the sugar miller said in a financial report attached to a disclosure yesterday.
Unaudited interim consolidated statements of comprehensive income in the report showed Victorias grew its net income more than 17 times to P369.396 million in the third quarter from P20.928 million the previous year. In the same comparative three-month periods, revenue from operations -- consisting mainly of raw sugar sales and tolling revenues -- grew by 6.155% to P1.276 billion from P1.202 billion, while cost of goods sold and services fell by 25.314% to P746.066 million from P998.937 million. These made gross profit more than double to P529.919 million from P203.060 million. Victorias operates a raw sugar mill in Victorias City, Negros Occidental with a capacity of 15,000 metric tons a day and operates a refinery plant with a daily capacity of 25,000 50kilogram bags. “To ensure maximum utilization of the refinery, VMC also provides toll refinery services to traders and planters for their raw sugar milled by other sugar centrals,” the report explained. The three-month tally took the company’s net income to P617.475 million in the nine months to May, nearly double the P343.857 million recorded the same period the previous crop year. In the same comparative nine-month periods, revenue from operations dropped by 19.509% to P2.894 billion from P3.595 billion, while cost of goods sold and services fell by a bigger 37.809% to P1.584 billion from P2.547 billion. The bigger drop in costs enabled the company to grow its gross profit by a fourth to P1.309 billion from P1.048 billion. GROWING The report noted further that full-year net income grew 39% to P556 million in its fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2012 from P400 million a year ago. Profit in the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2011, in turn, was 29.032% more than the preceding year’s P310 million.
It also cited a “significant reduction of deficit for the past seven years and nine months by a total of P3.5 billion” to P300 million as of May 31 from P3.8 billion on Aug. 31, 2005. The company’s profile on the Philippine Stock Exchange Web site said it encountered financial difficulties in the mid-1990s in the face of rising costs, falling domestic sugar prices, and competition from both new and expanded sugar mills and refineries. The Securities and Exchange Commission approved its rehabilitation plan on Nov. 29, 2000. The company’s latest quarterly report said it has five subsidiaries, namely: property developer Canetown Development Corp.; Victorias Foods Corp.; Victorias Agricultural Land Corp.; Victorias Golf and Country Club, Inc.; and Victorias Industrial Gases Corp. A sixth, Victorias Quality Packaging Company, Inc., is undergoing liquidation. Victorias shares last ended trading on Monday at P1.86 apiece.
Posted on July 16, 2013 10:46:01 PM
By Claire A. M. C. Feliciano, Reporter
Max’s targets local, foreign sites for expansion by yearend HOMEGROWN diner chain Max’s Restaurant plans to open up to 12 outlets by yearend in a bid to expand its presence here and abroad, a top company official told reporters late on Monday.
Speaking at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Symposium: Workshop on International Franchising for Small and Medium Enterprises at the Asian Institute of Management Conference Center in Makati City, Robert F. Trota, president of Max’s Restaurant and Max’s Franchising, Inc., said the company plans to open four new branches abroad and six to eight branches more outlets in the Philippines. The company’s Web site showed it operates several outlets abroad: • In the United States -- Glendale, Milpitas, Puente Hills, South San Francisco and Vallejo in California; Jersey City in New Jersey; as well as Dillingham and Waipahu in Hawaii; • Toronto and Vancouver in Canada; as well as • Karama in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. “We’re looking at opening a third one in Canada, which is in Alberta; and then the one in United States will be in Las Vegas (Nevada),” Mr. Trota said. “The Las Vegas store is there and it’s ready to open. We’re targeting the first week of September for the opening,” he added. “In Alberta, we’re targeting by the end of the year. It really depends on the construction. The restaurant building exists -- it just needs to be renovated to fit Max’s standards.” Mr. Trota said the company will also open two more stores in the Middle East. “For the Middle East, we’re supposed to be opening in Qatar and Kuwait. The plan is within the year,” he said. “We’ve chosen the sites, they (franchisees) just haven’t signed the lease contracts… As soon as they get that signed, hopefully, we will make it also by December.” Of the planned outlets abroad, only the one in Las Vegas will be owned by Max’s. The rest will all be franchises, Mr. Trota said. RIDING ON MALLS In the Philippines, Mr. Trota said the company plans to add about six to eight more by yearend to the existing 135 stores nationwide.
“Locally, I think we’re hitting the usual six to eight in addition to the existing ones,” Mr. Trota said. “We’re just timing it to the entrance of new malls. One is in Butuan City. Most of them are provincials,” he added. “When you look at the malls, they are all now sprouting in the provinces. Where they sprout, we will be there.” Asked how much the company spends on new stores, Mr. Trota said those abroad cost between $600,000 to $1.2 million to build. “Its ranging from $600,000 to $1.2 million, depending on the size. The Las Vegas store -- our first there -that’s a big store. That’s about $1.2 million,” Mr. Trota noted. “Here in the Philippines, it ranges from a low of P12 million to P18 million.” Mr. Trota said the company is also considering expansion to markets much closer to home. “We’re exploring,” he said. “Our strategy is TIPS -- Thailand and Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore,” he added. “Everyone is looking here [within the region] because opportunity is here.”
Posted on July 16, 2013 10:05:02 PM
DENR-11 to check forests with drones DAVAO CITY -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in this region (DENR-11) will tap a Quezon City-based startup for the agency’s plan to use drones to assess damage by typhoon Pablo and to determine the remaining forest cover in the Davao Region. Joselin Marcus E. Fragada, DENR-11 executive director, said in a statement that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Skyeye, Inc. would be rented as he cited the potential of the drones to bolster the government’s campaign against illegal logging. Mr. Fragada did not yet reveal cost figures for the UAVs’ hourly rental since the agency has yet to get an approved budget for the project from the central office, which has acceded to the region’s request to pilot-test the UAVs here. However, the DENR-11 official did estimate that the agency might spend P10,000/hour for the drones. Based on the results of aerial reconnaissance by the Philippine Army and the Philippine Air Force on July 9, 2013, typhoon Pablo last December damaged a total 119,309 hectares, mostly of coconut trees that were felled. Mr. Fragada said the use of the drones against illegal logging is significant, especially since the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force has already reduced the number of “hotspots” -- areas with rampant illegal logging activity -- from 66 areas last year to just 16 villages this year. DENR-11 showed showed that six villages in Davao Oriental, seven in Compostela Valley and three in Davao del Norte are considered illegal logging havens. The task force is spearheaded by the DENR but counts the Army and the police as enforcing members. Mr. Fragada said the government recorded P3.232 million in total value of the 849 cubic meters of logs apprehended from January to June this year. “The operations in these areas need careful planning together with the military because of the risk involved,” Mr. Fragada said. “We cannot afford to lose any men up in the mountains during operations, but we cannot also allow illegal loggers to continue raping the forests.” -- Joel B. Escovilla
Posted on July 16, 2013 10:02:36 PM
Negros rice prices stable BACOLOD CITY -- Prices of rice are stable in Negros Occidental, the National Food Authority (NFA) here said.
The NFA reported that commercial regular milled rice averages P32/kilogram while well-milled rice is P37/kg, as of this week. In July last year, regular milled rice was priced at P31.75/kg while the well-milled variety was sold at P36.75/kg. Procopio B. Trabajo, NFA Negros Occidental manager, also assured ample supply of the staple in the province. “We still have 46,903 bags of rice purchased from Panay this year and 7,229 imported rice from Vietnam that we purchased last year,” he said. Some of these are being kept at the NFA warehouse in Iloilo City. “According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the total inventory of the province is good for 64 to 65 days,” Mr. Trabajo added. -- Adrian P. Nemes III
Posted on July 16, 2013 10:10:10 PM
By Claire-A. M. C. Feliciano, Reporter
Utah trade mission in country A DELEGATION from Utah has arrived in the Philippines to explore trade opportunities with local businessmen and promote the American state as an investment destination for Filipinos.
The United States Embassy on Monday night hosted the reception of the 12-member delegation during a networking dinner held at the US Ambassador’s Residence in Forbes Park, Makati City. The delegation includes representatives from eight companies based in Utah: Albion Plant Nutrition; Dr. Tim’s Juices; Nutranomics; School Improvement Network; Summit Medical Products; TestOut, Inc. and TWODOG Wine. The group is led by Brett W. Heimburger, director for Asia Pacific of the Utah Governor’s Office for Economic Development. The trade mission, which started on Monday and will end today, will market Utah as a good investment and tourist destination. Mr. Heimburger told reporters on Monday that the companies are “also seeking partnerships with traders in the Philippines” in various fields, like plant nutrition, nutritional supplements, educator effectiveness training, student-learner skills development, medical infusion pumps, and wine. Besides meeting with potential business partners, the delegation is also meeting local government officials and American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (AmCham) officers. “We already met with some like PCCI (Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry), United States -- Philippines Business, AmCham and private companies,” Mr. Heimburger said. “I think they were all very surprised at the presentation of the delegation. Some of them represent many different companies. So, I think the idea is for them to go back to their respective companies and offices and share what they learn from the delegation,” he said. “Sometimes, these processes take time, but this was a great first step in helping them (local businesses and officials) understand what opportunities are in Utah and how Utah is
very different from some other states in America,” Mr. Heimburger added. Asked why Utah is seen as one of the best locations for investments, Mr. Heimburger cited the state’s “highly educated and highly skilled workforce.” He also said, “Utah has the highest bilingual rate of any state in the country. There are about 180 languages spoken in Utah. When companies are looking for places to expand, Utah is a very obvious candidate.” “The innovative and entrepreneurial culture of Utah makes it unique. That’s why a lot of large companies, when they’re looking for other companies to partner or acquire, they come to Utah,” he added. Mr. Heimburger said that the delegation now in the country does not represent very huge companies, but the members offer very innovative products and services that suit different needs. “So we have these small and medium enterprises, and it’s a great place for businesses relocating and for foreign companies to find partners,” he added. According to the US Embassy, the Utah delegation is the third trade mission hosted by the embassy’s Commercial Service this year. Two more trade missions are expected to arrive this year: one in September, to focus on energy efficiency and the environment, and one in October, to focus on the academe. Data from the embassy showed that Utah’s exports to the Philippine grew about 16% annually to $132.4 million last year from $113.72 million in 2006. The country was Utah’s 17th largest export destination last year.
Posted on July 16, 2013 10:07:32 PM
Foreign property firms eye investments FOREIGN real estate developers expressed interest in investing in the country during an international urban development summit, the Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) said in a statement yesterday.
BCDA said that its president and chief executive officer, Arnel Paciano D. Casanova, said, “We got an overwhelming response from various international real estate firms on our properties, and we expect them to visit the country soon to see for themselves the investment opportunities in the country.” Mr. Casanova said. “The word is out in the global investment community that the Philippines has achieved investment grade status and has reached the highest GDP (growth domestic product) [growth] in the region,” the statement also quoted him as saying. This was during the 2nd Urban Land Institute Asia Pacific Summit, held in Shanghai, China from June 4 to 6. “With the recent investment upgrade, sound economic fundamentals and the good governance being carried out by the Aquino administration, the country is now being seriously considered as an investment haven,” Mr. Casanova said. The BCDA president also cited the current administration’s efforts to curb corruption for playing a key role in increasing investor confidence. He added, “Good governance is good economics.” “We are now going towards the direction that the Philippines treats every business with fairness and transparency in level playing field,” Mr. Casanova also said. BCDA said that during the summit, which gathered some 400 real estate developers in Asia-Pacific region, the agency was the only non-Chinese exhibitor. BCDA presented various properties under the BCDA Group, which is composed of BCDA Management & Holdings, Inc., Clark Development Corp., Clark International Airport Corp., Poro Point Management Corp., Bataan Technology Park, Inc., John Hay Management Corp., North Luzon Railways Corp. The agency, according to the Mr. Casanova, is now focusing on creating an environment that is friendly and open to foreign investors and tourists. The official emphasized that BCDA is also aggressively promoting the development of needed infrastructure such as airports and seaports because these are the gateways for international businesses to come to the country. BCDA is mandated by law to transform former US military bases for alternative productive civilian use. The agency has developed economic centers like Bonifacio Global City and Newport City, as well as the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. --C.A.M.C. Feliciano
Posted on July 16, 2013 10:56:18 PM
Aquino accepts BI chief resignation PRESIDENT BENIGNO S. C. Aquino III has accepted the resignation of Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Ricardo David, Jr., a Palace official said yesterday, amid a string of criticisms on lapses in the agency.
“Commissioner David tendered his resignation to the President and the resignation has been accepted. We would like to thank Commissioner David for his service to the country in all the years that he has served in the military,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail F. Valte said in a press briefing at the Palace yesterday. Mr. David submitted his letter of resignation last July 12. Asked on the reason for the official’s resignation, Ms. Valte said: “I have not seen the exact contents of the resignation letter. What was communicated to me was that Commissioner David felt that... it was but proper for him to take full responsibility for events that may have transpired under his leadership of the bureau.” The Immigration commissioner was under fire last year after his agency failed to prevent the escape of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother, Coron mayor Mario Reyes. The two former officials are the main suspects in the murder of environmentalist and broadcaster Gerardo “Gerry” Valeriano Ortega in January 2011. Mr. David’s replacement has yet to be named, Ms. Valte said. -- Noemi M. Gonzales
Comelec server shows more votes than voters • •
Written by Tribune Wednesday, 17 July 2013 08:00
By Alvin Murcia
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday came up with yet another excuse to explain away the poll body’s server showing a great discrepancy not only in the rankings of the senatorial winners, but also in the number of votes. Downplaying the observations of the Automated Elections watchdogs (AES watch) that the commission may be hiding something when the claim earlier posted stating that the new results of the senatorial votes in the last May 13 elections were based on the Comelec’s transparency server, has gone missing. Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc stated that AESwatch noted that the Comelec website had reduced the official number of senatorial votes in the last May 13 election. In the new “Philippines Election Results,” it shows that senatorial top-notcher Grace Poe Llamanzares had only 16 million-plus votes, which is four million less than her old official result of 20 million-plus. The new Website posting has all 33 senatorial candidates with less votes then previously announced. Their deductions range from four million to 100,000. Education and Information Department (EID) Director James Jimenez in an interview yesterday at his office in Intramuros, Manila admitted that he had read the article on the claim of AES Watch that the post of the Comelec website on the different result of the senatorial elections in its June 7 post greatly differing from the July 11 postings because the disclaimer has been missing. Jimenez said he understood the concern of the AESWatch about the missing disclaimer that might lead to the watcdogs’ fear of Comelec hiding the vote discrepancies from the public. The explanation given by the Jimenez was that he had asked the Comelec IT department about the missing disclaimer, and the IT department said it might have been lost due only to the coding but this thing is not being viewed as a big problem because the figures have not changed as far as the senatorial results are concerned. He said this is speculative because there might be some problem in the design of the Website and if there
will be a change in the ranking in the result of the senatorial results, it must be accompanied by an official declaration from the Comelec and not from its Website. The Comelec official said that obviously the web posting referred to the transparency server and the count of the transparency server was not complete, thus the figures are expected to be lower and were posted for purposes of transparency in the last election but that it was not the official number of the senatorial votes in the last elections. Jimenez said they are expecting the IT department of the Comelec to come up with a definitive explanation on the issue to clear the air and they will immediately issue a statement on it. The election watchdogs in their input to the medfia outfits noted that the senatorial top-notcher senatorelect Grace Poe Llamanzares has only 16 million-plus votes compared to the old official result of 20 million plus votes. The posting made by the Comelec showed all 33 senatorial candidates with less votes than was previously announced by the Comelec. It also noted that the 12 winners in the senatorial contest remained the winners but Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano who landed in the number 3 position slid to fourth next to Sen. Chiz Escudero in the new post of the Comelec. The new Comelec results contradict the June 5, 2013, resolution of the chairman and the six commissioners, acting as the national board of canvassers. Resolution No. 0010-13 showed the final tabulation of the 33 candidates’ votes, and the rankings of the 12 winners. The resolution was posted on the Comelec website on June 7 till the first week of July. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., and Commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, Christian Lim, Grace Padaca, Al Parreño, and Luie Guia were the ones who signed the resolution. Earlier, Augusto “Gus” Lagman, also of AES Watch noted the discrepancy in numerous number of precincts in Pasay City showing a discrepancy in the number of votes and voters. In an email message, Lagman stated that his group has called the attention of Comelec about how the voters exceed the number of actual registered voters in the said city in the last elections. Bondoc also pointed out that in the Comelec site, the voter turnout was now down to only 31,568,679, which is 8,330,313 lower than its previous posting of June 7 up to the first week of July: 39,898,992. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court acted on a petition filed by a poll watchdog against the Comelec by handing this over to the Court of Appeals (CA). SC Public Information Office chief Theodore Te, in a press briefing said the order was contained in a writ of habeas data issued to petitioner AES Watch. “The Court through a minute resolution issued a writ of habeas data and referred the case to the Court of Appeals,” Te said. It will be recalled that AES Watch filed a petition charhing the Comelec officials of spying on them using the P30-million intelligence fund that was given to Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes,. Jr. The poll wachers sought from the high court a habeas data order.
No Palace smear job, Valte says on PDAF scam •
Written by Paul Atienza
Wednesday, 17 July 2013 08:00
Malacañang washed its hands off on the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam in which priority development assistance funds (PDAF) of legislators were supposedly diverted to ghost projects but which mainly implicates potential political rivals of President Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP). Presidential deputy spokesman Abigail Valte denied the accusation of Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. that the scam is nothing but another Malacañang operations to derail emerging political alliances for the 2016 presidential race. The Palace was pinpointed as being behind the attacks against Revilla and other mainly opposition senators in the scam which is under investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Valte said Malacañang has a lot of better things to do than to engage in smear operations to counter the assertions of Revilla that the attacks against him were sponsored by President Aquino’s men. “We were actually discussing something with the President yesterday and, you know, at that point the President was giving us several things that we are currently facing at the moment,” Valte said. Valte said the discussions inside the Palace were matters affecting the informal settlers, the relocation sites, and getting them out of danger zones. “There are more pressing problems that the government is facing, aside from many others that are in immediate need of government’s attention,” Valte said. Valte said because of the focus on the social problems, they have no more time to engage in political intrigues. Valte instead challenged Revilla to share with the Palace the information which he claimed was given by his “source” regarding Malacañang’s involvement in the demolition job. “I understand that the Senator (Revilla) mentioned that he has a source. We would appreciate it if that information was given to us because, certainly, that is not the case—telling that the information came from us as demolition job,” Valte said. Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile also had submitted himself for an investigation regarding the scam after his name was included on the list of legislators who had participated in alleged P10 billion pork barrel scheme. But Valte evaded commenting on Enrile’s statements and instead pointed to the NBI investigations. “What is important now is that there is an ongoing investigation. The information coming out is only made up of reported allegations,” Valte said. “It is important for us to allow the investigation to take its course and for the investigation to answer the
questions that are necessary,” Valte said. “The President is always very strict and this is something that he has repeated to us that government should never accuse without evidence and that we should never proffer accusations without proof. The investigation will settle that,” Valte said. Valte took the same position similar to the recent statement of Aquino’s ally, Sen. Franklin Drilon to just let the NBI do its job in investigating the scam. “Let the NBI conduct the investigations. If you have any information, it is proper to go to the NBI and offer any evidence that you think may be necessary to help them in their investigation,” Valte said. Senator Miriam Santiago has also proposed to Aquino to form a team of special prosecutors to look into the scam, Valte has pointed to the NBI as the “impartial body” to do the investigation affecting the legislators. “At this point, let’s allow the NBI to work on its investigation first. What can be assured is that the investigation will be thorough and will be impartial,” Valte said. In light of recent reports about the scam, lawmakers affiliated with the Makabayan bloc expressed strong support for calls for the total abolition of the PDAF or pork barrel. “Since time immemorial, the pork barrel has been a source of corruption and a funding mechanism for patronage politics from the national to local level. To give justice to all Filipino taxpayers, the pork servings of all lawmakers must be stopped and the pork barrel fund must be totally abolished,” Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap said. Every fiscal year, each member of the House of Representatives is entitled to P70 million PDAF while each senator is entitled to P200 million fund for soft programs and infrastructure projects. For 2013, the total amount of PDAF accessible to all lawmakers is P24.790 billion. “Instead of allotting billions for the pork barrel of senators and congressmen, the national government must increase the annual budget for social services including budget for education, mass housing and public health care to give immediate and necessary frontline services and social benefits for the people,” said Hicap. “Transparency will not solve this P10-billion pork barrel ‘scam of the century.’ The pork and its perks must be abolished. All those who masterminded and benefited from this large-scale racketeering must be punished and held accountable for plunder,” the solon added. According to reports, in the past decade, some P10-billion PDAF funds were allegedly squandered to fake NGOs. Some P900 million from the Malampaya fund went to so-called agricultural packages for various farmers’ NGOs which turned out to be dummy organizations created and operated by Janet Lim Napoles. “Most of the squandered public funds went to so-called livelihood projects for farmers and the agriculture sector. We abhor this high-level, syndicated corruption. Poor farmers are in dire need of support services. It is unacceptable that their legitimate demands and interests are being used for corruption,” the Anakpawis solon said.
Hicap also demanded the abolition of the President’s discretionary fund or the ‘executive pork barrel’ which is also a major source of corruption. For 2013, the funds at the disposal of the President include the following: Calamity fund (P7.5 billion), Contingent fund (P1 billion), E-Government Fund (P1-billion), Support for Infrastructure Projects and Social Programs (P23 billion) and Intelligence funds (P2 billion). For his part, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said there should be no sacred cows in the ongoing investigation led by the Department of Justice (DoJ) regarding the P10-billion prok barrel scam. “The full force of the law should be meted out to those who plundered the nation’s coffers and enriched themselves at the people’s expense,” said Colmenares adding that pork barrel funds have long been recognized as a massive source of graft and corruption.
Drilon assures all senators to get post chairmanships • •
Written by Angie M. Rosales Wednesday, 17 July 2013 08:00
Each senator, including those who will join the minority bloc, will get committee chairmanships in the 16th Congress which opens on Monday, Senate President in-waiting Sen. Franklin Drilon said. “By tradition, the minority has committee chairmanships. We will observe the tradition,” Drilon told reporters. “Each senator regardless of affiliation will be able to serve and contribute in the work of the Senate and in the nation building,” he added. Drilon said he continues to talk with other senators about their preferred committees. “We will be consistent with the advocacy and agenda of each senator,” Drilon said. Drilon, however, refused to give details on the committee chairmanships which are expected to be announced on July 22, the Senate’s first regular session day for the 16th Congress. Drilon, who served as Senate president from 2001 to 2006, is also tight-lipped on the next Senate majority leader and Senate president pro-tempore. Resigned Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile has already expressed his intention to lead the minority bloc where he will be joined by his allies, all belonging to the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). Resigned Senate majority leader Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, reelected Gregorio Honasan II and Senators-elect Nancy Binay and JV Ejercito have already decided to join Enrile in the minority group. Sen. Pia Cayetano also refused to confirm reports that she will be appointed next Senate majority leader. “Nothing is definite yet at this time. Perhaps, all these reports will be finalized on Monday when we officially open the regular session,” Cayetano said. Drilon’s name started to crop up as the next Senate president right after nine of the Team PNoy’s 12 senatorial candidates won in the last May 13 mid-term polls. The nine include Senator-elect Grace Poe, reelected Senators Loren Legarda, Alan Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV and three other Senators-elect Bam Aquino, Sonny Angara and Cynthia Villar. Aside from nine election winners, Senators Teofisto Guingona III, Ralph Recto, Sergio Osmeña III, Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. are expected to complete the needed 13 votes for Drilon as next Senate president.
UN court convenes to look into RP case vs China • •
Written by Tribune Wednesday, 17 July 2013 08:00
A United Nations (UN) tribunal has been convened in The Netherlands to look into a complaint filed by the Philippines to question the legality of China’s massive territorial claim in the resource-rich South China Sea. The progress in the Philippines’s legal challenge against China comes amid increasing animosity between the two Asian neighbors due to their long-standing territorial conflict. Manila and Beijing recently traded diplomatic barbs over the Philippines’ decision to seek international arbitration — the latest manifestation of longstanding territorial feud between the two countries over South China Sea territories that have reignited in recent years by tense confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels in two disputed shoals — Scarborough and Ayungin — off Manila’s western coasts. At their first meeting on July 11, the President and members of the tribunal designated The Hague in Netherlands as the seat of the arbitration and the Permanent Court of Arbitration as the Registry for the proceedings, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said. “The Philippine government is pleased that the Arbitral Tribunal is now formally constituted, and that the arbitration process has begun,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez told a press briefing. Part of the process is to determine if Manila’s case has legal merit and if the tribunal has jurisdiction over it. “Whether they have decided jurisdiction, they will publicly announce this,” Hernandez said. In the meantime, Manila pledged its “fullest cooperation” with the tribunal “in order to assure a fair, impartial and efficient process that produces a final and binding judgment in conformity with international law.” The Philippines sought arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea last January to try to declare as “illegal” China’s nine-dash claim, which covers almost all of the South China Sea or also known as the West Philippine Sea.
Customs officials plan to adopt Internet-based system of bidding for disposal of seized goods •
Written by Benjamin B. Pulta
Wednesday, 17 July 2013 08:00
Customs officials are planning to adopt an Internet-based system of bidding for the disposal of confiscated goods as a means of ensuring transparency in the transactions. Bureau of Customs (BoC) Commissioner Rozzano “Ruffy” Biazon said his agency is eyeing a “web-based” bidding system or “e-bidding” in the hope of further boosting the government’s revenue from the disposal of seized and confiscated goods while also neutralizing “syndicates” allegedly rigging the present manual bidding process for their own ends. He earlier had announced that “outsourcing” or privatization of Customs bidding is another option under consideration to promote transparency in the process and generate more income for the government “at the fastest time possible.” The BoC chief also noted the urgency of reforming Customs bidding as the bureau’s inventory of seized goods has been on the increase in view of the “success” of its antismuggling operations. The agency confiscated smuggled goods worth more than P1 billion consisting of used clothing, fake medicines and supplements, rice and sugar even as the bidding for confiscated rice worth over P1 billion seized in ports during the election campaign period is yet to be completed. Biazon said he already tasked his subordinates to study the “best” way in effecting changes in Customs bidding and how these can be implemented at the soonest time possible. Under the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, seized, forfeited and abandoned articles can only be disposed by the BoC through public auction or destruction in case where the articles are already found “dangerous to public health.” Biazon explained the issue is whether changes in the bidding rules and the process itself can be made without resorting to the tedious process of legislation by Congress. He said delaying the disposal of confiscated goods, especially “perishable” commodities such as rice, is the current “policy differences” among the various government agencies and departments of the government.
The bidding for the seized rice in Cebu had to be stopped last month with only 50 containers having auctioned off after the National Food Authority said it should be allowed to purchase the rice in bulk. Biazon said the BoC should be allowed to dispose the rice the soonest time possible in order not to “devalue” it, being a perishable commodity. He also noted it (BoC) is paying for the cost of storage that is already eating up on the government’s potential revenue from its immediate auction. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro‐section/item/16742‐customs‐officials‐plan‐to‐adopt‐ internet‐based‐system‐of‐bidding‐for‐disposal‐of‐seized‐goods
Anakpawis solon asks BoC to impose stricter punishment on rice smugglers • •
Written by Charlie V. Manalo Wednesday, 17 July 2013 08:00
Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano yesterday asked the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to enforce stricter penalty and stiff punishment against rice smugglers, saying that confiscation and public auction of smuggled rice are just a slap on the wrist of syndicated smugglers and will not resolve rampant rice smuggling in the country. Mariano said Customs chief Ruffy Biazon should not only curb rice smuggling but also smuggling of other agricultural products. “It is the government’s duty to catch, persecute and jail rice smugglers,” Mariano said. “Smuggling kills the local rice industry and the agricultural sector in general,” said Mariano who pointed out that smuggling of basic food produce can be also considered as economic sabotage.” “Local farmers’ earnings were already reduced to pittance and most of them experience a lifetime of paying debts,” Mariano said. The Anakpawis leader added the Customs chief already revealed some of the companies involved in the rice smuggling — Highest Regard Enterprises together with the Cebu-based the JJM Global Trading, JM-ARS Trading, Neon Gateway Trading, Custans Enterprises, NMW Enterprises, Ocean Park Enterprises, Melma Enterprises and MMSM Trading. “The next logical thing to do is to immediately file charges against these consignees. Smugglers are emboldened because of the government’s failure to catch and punish them,” the solon said. “If the BoC will not persecute these consignees then the government’s rice smuggling expose will be only for show in time for President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address,” Mariano added. Mariano also assailed the government’s policy of deregulation, privatization and liberalization of rice importation that further worsened rice smuggling and dumping of imported agricultural products in the domestic market. “Both farmers and consumers do not benefit from these policies prescribed by the World Trade Organization. It only
further pushed down the farmgate prices of palay (unhusked rice).” Likewise, Mariano also blamed the lack of genuine agrarian reform as the root cause of the dismal state of the local agriculture sector. “Rural folks are bearing the brunt of these pro-foreign policies. While few landed families and groups continue to monopolize vast tracts of land through the existing land reform program, millions of farmers remain poor and landless, making them vulnerable to different exploitative forms of relationship in the countryside,” Mariano said. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro‐section/item/16740‐anakpawis‐solon‐asks‐boc‐to‐impose‐ stricter‐punishment‐on‐rice‐smugglers
Gov’t to continue relying on local financing in ’14 • •
Written by Ed Velasco Wednesday, 17 July 2013 08:00
The Bureau of Treasury (BTr) confirmed yesterday the government will continue to rely on local financing to finance next year’s expenditures as local bonds are still preferable than global ones. National Treasurer Lea de Leon said there is no much pressure to shift focus to global bonds despite the $2.2 bigger debt financing the country will launch next year. “Yes, bias is still local financing,” the national treasurer told The Tribune. Still, de Leon didn’t give specifics regarding the new debt instrument which the BTr will launch by the fourth quarter of this year. She said the new instrument will be inflation-linked as the Philippines’ inflation is at perfect rate for the past few years. “Inflation-linked bonds will allow us to lower our borrowing costs as we assure investors that we will meet our inflation target. We are looking to offer modest-sized global bonds as many investors seek them,” she was quoted as saying. A source at the Department of Finance (DoF) said global bonds are not an effective tool in finding government expenditure as many of them have high interest, thus local financing is a better option. “The interest outside the Philippines is so volatile. It changes from time-to-time unlike here that we can offer 90-, 180-, 360-day (treasury bills) so fast. That means intermediaries like the rate,” a source, who doesn’t want to be identified as his boss barred him from speaking to the press, explained. For his part, bidding committee vice chairman Undersecretary Gil Beltran said the biggest reason why the Philippines must always do local financing is its very high dollar reserves.
Umaray lahat sa P1.60, 75¢ oil hike (Armida Rico/Eralyn Prado)
Muling pinangunahan ng tatlong dambuhalang TOP STORIES kompanya ng langis ang pagpapatupad ng pagtaas ng presyo ng mga produktong petrolyo kahapon ng umaga.
Reaksyon naman ng mga ordinaryong tao sa kalsada, “Aray! Masakit ‘yang taas na ‘yan!”
Sabay-sabay na nagtaas ng kanilang produktong petrolyo ang Petron Corporation, Pilipinas Shell at Chevron ng P1.60 sa presyo ng kada litro ng gasolina, 75¢ sa diesel habang P1 naman sa kerosene na epektibo kahapon ng alas-sais ng umaga.
KAWAWA ANG MGA BABAE! Umaray lahat sa P1.60, 75¢ oil hike Wala kaming panahon sa’yo! Naka-impound na colorum buses isusubasta na Bigas overpriced ng P6? Partylist system lalong masisira kay Napoles BI chief nagbitiw SONA ni PNoy tatapatan ng SODA Caparas binawian ng National Artist title Gabay sa mga motorista
Sumunod agad ang kumpanyang Total Philippines at SeaOil sa pagtaas ng presyo ng kanilang mga produktong petrolyo na kahalintulad din ang halagang itinaas ng Big 3.
Sa ngayon ay naglalaro na sa pagitan ng P51-52 kada litro ang gasolina habang nasa P42-43 naman ang diesel.
Ang big-time price hike na ito ang lalong nagpainit sa protesta kahapon ng Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) na sumugod sa main office ng Pilipinas Shell sa Salcedo Village, Makati City.
Giit ni Piston president George San Mateo, hirap na hirap na umano ang mga namamasadang tsuper sa walang tigil na pagsirit ng presyo ng petrolyo at hindi na umano nararamdaman ang P6 diskwento sa krudo at maging ang Pantawid Pasada Program ng pamahalaang Aquino. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/jul1713/news02.htm#.UeX789JvAqM
Wala kaming panahon sa’yo! (Boyet Jadulco/Bernard Taguinod/Noel Abuel)
Mariing itinanggi ng palasyo ng Malacañang na tinatrabaho nila ang pagsira sa pangalan ni Sen. Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr. bago sumapit ang 2016 presidential elections.
Ito ang idiniin ni deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte matapos magakusa si Revilla na bahagi ng “demolition job” ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III ang pagkakadawit niya sa P10 bilyong “fund scam” hinggil sa paggamit ng Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) o pork barrel fund.
KAWAWA ANG MGA BABAE! Umaray lahat sa P1.60, 75¢ oil hike Wala kaming panahon sa’yo! Naka-impound na colorum buses isusubasta na Bigas overpriced ng P6? Partylist system lalong masisira kay Napoles BI chief nagbitiw SONA ni PNoy tatapatan ng SODA Caparas binawian ng National Artist title Gabay sa mga motorista
Ayon kay Valte, napakaraming problema ng bansa ang inaasikaso ni Pangulong Aquino kada araw para magkaroon pa ito ng panahon para lutuin ang diumano’y “demolition job” kay Revilla.
Kung mayroon mang “demolition job” na inaasikaso ang Pangulo, ito ay ang pag-demolish ng informal settlers na naninirahan sa walong pangunahing daanan ng tubig sa Metro Manila na siyang prayoridad ng kanyang administrasyon.
“Marami po tayong inaayos na problema: ‘yung pagdating sa informal settlers, pagdating po doon sa relocation nila, getting them out of danger zones. Marami pong problemang hinaharap ang pamahalaan at marami tayong sinusuong at pinagtutuunan ng pansin,” paliwanag ni Valte.
“And, as such, siguro po wala na rin po kaming… because of the focus on those problems, hindi na rin po kami nag-aatas pa or nagbibigay pa ng panahon para doon sa mga ganitong bagay,” diin pa ng tagapagsalita ng Pangulo.
Nakaladkad ang pangalan ni Revilla sa P10 bilyong fund scam kasama sina acting Senate President Jinggoy Estrada at Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. at Gregorio Honasan. May 11 kongresista ring isinasangkot sa anomalya.
Maging ang Liberal Party (LP), ang partidong pulitikal ng administrasyon, ay naghugas-kamay sa anumang kinalaman sa nabunyag na iregularidad sa pork barrel ng mga mambabatas na hindi lamang naman umano si Revilla ang isinasangkot.
“Walang alam ang LP d’yan. Hindi gawain ng LP ang demolition job,” paniniyak ni LP spokesman at Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone sabay hamon kay Revilla na sagutin nang may kongkretong basehan ang alegasyon.
Kahapon ay bumuo na ang Office of the Ombudsman ng special team na imbestigador para magsagawa ng pagsisiyasat sa umano’y “ghost projects” gamit ang PDAF ng ilang miyembro ng Kamara.
Ayon kay Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, anim na graft investigators ang magsasagawa ng parallel investigation katulong ang mga ahente ng National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Base sa inisyal na fact-finding investigation ng Ombudsman, lumabas sa ulat na tinalupan ng whistleblower na si Benhur Luy ang “pork barrel scam” sangkot ang paggamit ng malaking halaga ng PDAF sa pamamagitan ng “dummy” na non-government organizations (NGOs) ng negosyanteng si Janet Lim-Napoles ng JLN Corp.
Sa ilalim ng Republic Act (RA) No. 6770 o Ombudsman Act of 1989, maaaring magsagawa ito ng motu proprio kahit walang reklamong isinampa sa anti-graft court.
Ayon sa record ng Ombudsman, kapwa kasama sina Napoles, Luy at ilang opisyales ng NGO sa reklamong may kinalaman sa “fertilizer fund scam” na nakahain at dinidinig na rin sa Ombudsman.
Bigas overpriced ng P6? (BT)
Sa ginawang komputasyon ng Anakpawis partylist group, lumalabas umanong overpriced ng P6 ang presyo ng bigas sa merkado sa kasalukuyan.
Sa panayam ng Abante kay Anakpawis partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap, sinabi nito na binibili lamang ng mga rice trader ng P11 hanggang P14 kada kilo ang palay. Kung ipapatong ang gastos sa pakiskis ay P22 hanggang P28 lamang ang kanilang puhunan sa bawat kilo ng bigas.
KAWAWA ANG MGA BABAE! Umaray lahat sa P1.60, 75¢ oil hike Wala kaming panahon sa’yo! Naka-impound na colorum buses isusubasta na Bigas overpriced ng P6? Partylist system lalong masisira kay Napoles BI chief nagbitiw SONA ni PNoy tatapatan ng SODA Caparas binawian ng National Artist title Gabay sa mga motorista
Kaya sa presyong P34 kada kilo ng bigas ngayon, kumikita umano ang mga trader ng P4 habang P2 naman ang tubo ng mga retailer.
Partylist system lalong masisira kay Napoles (Bernard Taguinod/Noel Abuel)
Lalong masisira ang partylist system kapag naging partylist representative ang anak ni Janet Lim-Napoles na may-ari ng kumpanyang sangkot sa P10 billion pork barrel scam.
Ito ang babala ni Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares kaugnay ng anak ni Napoles na si Jo Christine Napoles na ipapalit umano kay Rep. Johnny Revilla bilang ikalawang kinatawan ng OFW Family Club Inc., sa Kamara.
“Matagal na naming sinasabi na ang partylist ay para sa marginalize at underrepresented, eh kung ang isang nominee mo ay nasasangkot sa isang isyu sa proyekto na para sa marginalize, eh hindi ka lang hindi marginalize, you’re also against the marginalize,” ayon pa kay Colmenares.
Pero idinepensa naman ni OFW Family Club partylist Rep. Roy Seneres Sr., na hangga’t walang kasong isinasampa at napapatunayan sa korte ay inosente sa lahat ng paratang si Lim-Napoles at lalong hindi tama na ang isyu laban sa magulang ay ikadawit ng anak.
BI chief nagbitiw (Boyet Jadulco/Aries Cano)
Nagbitiw bilang hepe ng Bureau of Immigration (BI) si retired Gen. Ricardo David Jr. matapos mabigo itong masawata ang mga iligal na gawain ng kanyang tauhan sa pagpapatakas sa mga kriminal palabas ng bansa.
Kinumpirma ni deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte na tinanggap na ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III ang resignation letter na isinumite ni David nitong Hulyo 12.
“Commissioner David tendered his resignation to the President and the resignation has been accepted. We would like to thank Commissioner David for his service to the country in all the years that he has served in the military,” ani Valte.
Hindi binanggit ni Valte ang dahilan ng pagbibitiw ni David, pero natural na umanong gawin ng isang hepe ng ahensya na magbitiw kung hindi niya makontrol ang mga nagaganap sa kanyang tanggapan.
Matatandaang sa panahon ng panunungkulan ni David tumakas palabas ng bansa si dating Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes at kapatid nitong si dating Coron, Palawan Mayor Mario Reyes, parehong nasasangkot sa murder case, nang tulungan sila ng dalawang immigration agent sa NAIA Terminal 3 noong Agosto 2012.
Nitong Abril naman ay isang South Korean fugitive ang nagawang makasakay ng eroplano palabas ng bansa matapos itong i-escort ng dalawang personnel ng immigration. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/jul1713/news07.htm#.UeX8P9JvAqM
SONA ni PNoy tatapatan ng SODA (Nonnie Ferriol/Amihan Sabillo)
Kung may SONA o State-of-the-Nation Address si Pangulong Benigno Aquino III, ang Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) naman ay mayroong SODA na ang ibig sabihin ay Stateof-the-Drivers Address.
Ayon kay George San Mateo, national president ng Piston, umaga pa lang ng Hulyo 22 ay ilalahad nila sa kanilang SODA ang tunay na kalagayan ng mga drayber at transport sector sa ilalim ng tatlong taon ni Aquino.
Pagkatapos nito ay tutuloy ang grupo na magsagawa ng transport-caravan patungong Commonwealth Avenue upang sumanib sa iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan para sa malaking MartsaProtesta ng Mamamayan sa pangunguna ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) patungong Kongreso sa Batasan Pambansa upang ipakita ang tunay na kalagayan ng bansa at mamamayan sa halip na puro pambobolang laman ng ika-4 na SONA ng Pangulo.
Bukod sa oil price hike ay binakbakan ng Piston ang nagtataasang presyo ng bilihin at serbisyo gaya ng langis, tubig, kuryente, MRT-LRT fare ganu’n ang patakarang pribatisasyon sa mga ospital ng gobyerno, at panghuli ay ang kaliwa’t kanang demolisyon.
Samantala, bukas pa lang ay ilalagay na sa ‘full alert’ status ang National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) bilang preparasyon sa mahigpit na seguridad na ilalatag ng pulisya para sa SONA ng Pangulo sa Lunes, Hulyo 22.
Ayon sa bagong talagang NCRPO director na si Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo Jr., “Mabuti na po ‘yong naging maagap tayo (PNP) bago pa mahuli ang lahat, normal na po kasi ‘yong mga rally at pagbabarikada o, napaghandaan na po natin ‘yan, ang importante na-deliver ng Pangulo ang ulat nito at ang kaligtasan ng lahat.”
OUCH! Published : Wednesday, July 17, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 80
MILITANT transport group Pagkakaisa ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) condemned anew oil companies after they implemented another round of price hikes yesterday morning. Following the hefty price hikes implemented by oil companies at exactly 6 a.m. yesterday, around 8:30 a.m. the group led by its national president George San Mateo proceeded to the main offices of Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and Land Transportation Office (LTFRB-LTO) in Diliman, Quezon City where they staged a noise barrage in protest of the skyrocketing cost of petroleum products. In separate text advisories, Petron Strategic Communications head Raffy Ledesma and Ina Soriano of Pilipinas Shell said they raised their prices of premium and unleaded gasoline by P1.60 per liter, diesel by P0.75 per liter and kerosene by P1.00 per liter effective 6 a.m. Tuesday. Major oil firm Chevron Philippines and Total Philippines, the
country’s considered fourth biggest company, as well as independent player Seaoil moved its pump prices by the same increments also at 6 a.m. Other independent oil firms have yet to announce their respective adjustment but sources said they are expected to follow suit. Ledesma said the continued spiking of international oil prices and the foreign exchange rate have caused the prices of local petroleum products to climb. Oil firms have now racked off nine consecutive price hikes since May. After a short program the group proceeded to the offices of giant oil companies. The group voluntarily dispersed after holding a protest program. Meanwhile Efren de Luna, national president of Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO), appealed to the LTFRB to grant the P2 fare increase petition pending before the board. ”Dapat na ibigay na ito ng (LTFRB) sa mga transport groups dahil kung ilang beses ng tumaas ang presyo ng diesel at gasolina,” De Luna said. Jun Icban-Legaspi, Edd Reyes http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/headlines/54436‐ouch
Palace respects SC ruling on RH Law Published : Wednesday, July 17, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 63 Written by : Hector Lawas
THE government will abide with the Supreme Court’s decision to indefinitely put on hold the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday. In a press briefing yesterday in Malacañang, Valte called the recent ruling of the High Court as “unfortunate.” She added that there will be no implementation of the provisions laid out by the RH Law while the status quo ante order is in effect. “The extension is unfortunate. However, the extension will be respected by government. The net effect (of the ruling) is that there will be no implementation while the status quo ante order is in effect. It essentially extends the non-implementation of the RH Law,” she added. The Supreme Court yesterday extended its Status Quo Ante (SQA) order stopping indefinitely the implementation of the controversial Reproductive Health Law. The extension was reached during the SC’s regular en banc hearing. The vote was 8-7 in favor of the extension. “Voting 8-7, the SC extends the SQA order against RH Law until further orders. Effective immediately,” the SC said in its Twitter account. An SQA is issued by a court to maintain the last and peaceable state before any controversy. Just recently, former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. disclosed before the SC that Republic Act 10354 or the Reproductive Health Law will be violating the autonomy of local government units (LGUs) as well as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). In his 29-page memorandum, Pimentel argued that R.A. 10354 has “devolved” its prescribed health services to the LGUs, which constitutes “invalid invasion on the autonomy of local and regional governments.”
Pimentel, who was one of the petitioners, specifically questioned the use of local and regional revenues and taxes in implementation of the law. He stressed the SC should “dumped into the garbage heap in Montalban, Rizal” the RH Law. Pimentel also said that R.A. 10354 violates the right to religion. He cited the position submitted by the Philippine Medical Association when the law was still in Congress. “The PMA condemns the RH Law for compelling them as medical practitioners... to service their patients who need abortifacients regardless of their religious scruples,” he said. But Pimentel could not help but join the debate when the discussion on oral arguments in the SC centered on the issue regarding where life begins. He questioned Paragraph 7 of Section 2 of the Declaration of Policy of the RH Law for stating that life begins not from conception but from implantation of a fertilized ovum at its mother’s womb. With a report from Efren Montano http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/54449‐palace‐respects‐sc‐ruling‐on‐rh‐law
Palace denies plot to destroy Revilla Published : Wednesday, July 17, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 135 Written by : Efren Montano
“NAME names!” Thus declared Malacañang as it dared Sen. Bong Revilla to reveal the name of the person behind the supposed “Palace plot” for his and other opposition lawmakers’ "demolition" in connection with the reported P10-billion scam involving pork barrel funds. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte wants Revilla—who is a possible presidential wannabe in 2016— to identify the Palace person who had previously warned him of a demolition job against him. “I understand that the senator mentioned that he has a source. We would appreciate it if that information was given to us because, certainly, that is not the case—na sinasabing sa amin po nanggagaling ‘yung sinasabi po niyang demolition job,” Valte said. Valte also brushed aside Revilla’s claim that the Palace was trying to destroy possible contenders for the presidency in 2016. The Palace official said that Malacañang has no time for entertaining such allegations. “Marami pong problemang hinaharap ang pamahalaan at marami tayong sinusuong at pinagtutuunan ng pansin... Because of the focus on those problems hindi na din po kami nag-aatas pa or nagbibigay pa ng panahon para doon sa mga ganitong bagay,” Valte said. Earlier Revilla charged that Malacañang had engineered the controversy allegedly involving 28 lawmakers whose pork barrel funds totaling about P10 billion allegedly went to bogus non-government organizations. He said that only non-allies of the administration are being “dragged” into the controversy, adding out that the supposed anomaly is rather “suspicious.” http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/54441‐palace‐denies‐plot‐to‐destroy‐revilla