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NFA defends offer to buy confiscated rice from BOC By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The National Food Authority (NFA), defending its proposal to buy the P1.2 billion worth rice seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Cebu, said releasing the rice to the market would prevent an artificial rise in prices during the lean season and would be the fastest way of disposing of the rice. In a statement issued yesterday, the NFA said the proposal sent to the BOC in July was meant to give the agency an option to expedite the disposal of the rice stocks and not to preempt the disposal process stipulated under the Tariff and Customs Code. Under the law, smuggled goods have to be auctioned and sold to the highest bidder. After two failed biddings, the confiscated commodities could either be donated or disposed through a negotiated sale. NFA administration Orlan A. Calayag said the NFA’s intentions to buy the seized rice was communicated to Customs commissioner Ruffy Biazon last July 9 and 17.

Calayag said the proposal was also meant “to strengthen the partnership” between NFA and the BOC. He noted that palay production during the lean months of July to September is traditionally low. Because of this, he said, traders may limit supply and create an artificial shortage, raising prices. “The rice stock held by BOC, if infused into the market, will counteract any attempt to distort the rice market,” said Calayag. He said the NFA’s legal team is currently re-evaluating the legal basis for the said proposal, particularly in connection with the Procurement Act in relation to the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines. It had been reported that the BOC suspended the auction for the seized commodity because it is considering the request of the NFA. In a related development, the NFA said that with the release of its well-milled rice to markets, prices of rice have stabilized. The NFA over the weekend released well-milled rice priced at P32 per kilogram to compete with commercial rice. After the release, commercial rice traders immediately released their own stocks priced at P31-33 per kilogram which were previously sold for P34 to 35 per kilogram. Calayag said the NFA would soon release the well-milled rice in Cebu for P32 per kilogram to stabilize rice prices in the province.


Luisita farmers want DAR execs cited for contempt By Rhodina Vilanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am     

MANILA, Philippines - Farmers of Hacienda Luisita asked the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday to hold the officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in contempt for allegedly planning to distribute land short of what the high tribunal has ordered. The farmers’ move was also aimed to belie the claims of President Aquino in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) that all is well in the land distribution process in the sugar estate. Farmers belonging to the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), through lawyer Jobert Pahilga, denounced DAR’s alleged plan to distribute only 4,099 of the 4,915 hectares as ordered by the SC. “Even if one deducts 580.51 hectares sold to RCBC, Centenary Holdings and SCTEX, this is still 236 hectares short of what should be distributed to the farmers,” said Florida Sibayan, acting chairman of AMBALA.

Sibayan said they asked the SC to require DAR to explain the so-called common areas, which the agency said were 468.49 hectares on July 16. But DAR reduced the figure to 400.87 hectares the next day. The farmers asked why these common areas should be removed from the 4,915 hectares even if these were already in existence when the SC ruling came out. AMBALA also wanted to know why only 5,149 hectares of land appeared on the result of a survey conducted by the DAR, when the whole hacienda is 6,435 hectares. “We also want that they provide us a copy of the recent survey and the one made in 1989 to compare both surveys,” Sibayan said, adding that AMBALA should be given the right to validate the survey through an independent firm. “Clearly P-Noy failed to mention this in his SONA when he said that ‘If there is a favorite topic I’d like my family name to be identified with, it is the Hacienda Luisita.’” AMBALA also decried the way DAR distributed the Lot Allocation Certificates (LAC ) in Barangay Cutcut last July 19. “This was carried out through lottery wherein DAR could have intentionally ignored a number of the farmers who already tilled and developed the land since 2005. DAR also does not allow collective ownership of the land through the lottery, and even deployed 200 police personnel, including SWAT during the activity,” Sibayan said.

Scare drive Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 60 Written by : People's Journal

In the old days mere talk of bread shortages sparked revolutions. Believe it or not, it was a serious national security issue. And it was plausible because bread was a main component of if not in itself the staple on the table of households. In this rice-eating country, bread and other flour-based products take second place in the hierarchy of dietary preferences. Thus, any announcement of an increase in bread prices, especially pandesal, would almost automatically set off public panic and outrage. Such announcement would have been justifiable if the increase is on account of an impending shortage due to a natural calamity or man-made events like war. But it would be an entirely different story if the threat of a price increase comes from an industry group employing a scare tactic. Importers of low-priced Turkish flour announced over the weekend that they have advised bakers that they would not be able to supply them with the flour starting September. This is a big concern to the bakers because this means that they would be forced to used the higher-priced local flour to produce breads, more particularly the Pinoy Tasty and Pinoy Pandesal. They said this would result in an increase in the prices of breads by P3 to P4 per loaf on Pinoy Tasty and P1.50 to P2 per pack of P10 pieces of Pinoy Pandesal starting September. But just how credible is the threat and how accurate are the calculations of a price increase ? “Bread prices are not dictated by tariffs. The bakers determine the price of bread based on the cost of their ingredients and other costs plus the margins they would like to have on their bread products,” said Ric Pinca, executive director of the Philippine Association of Flour Millers Inc. Pinca noted that “baking ingredients other than flour include shortenings, sugar, salt, yeasts and additives to keep the bread fresh. Other costs are fuel, packaging, labor, and rentals. The costs of these ingredients all combine to determine the cost of the finished products”.

“It is unfair and untruthful to cast the blame on flour alone. Certainly, consumers know better than to believe the price scare bogey!” he said. He said it is abhorrent that instead of engaging the government and flour millers in meaningful positive discussions, the bakers have chosen to take the negative route. PAFMIL data show that in 2010, average export price of Turkish flour was $276 per metric ton while their domestic price was $600 pmt. In 2011, export price was at an average of $388 pmt against Turkish domestic price of $600 pmt. Last year, it was $340 against their domestic price of $470 pmt. Thus, PAFMIL has filed an anti-dumping petition against flour imports from Turkey and asked the government to impose additional tariff on Turkish flour exports to the Philippines. The industry group said its opposition to Turkish flour is simply a “dumping issue”. “Turkish flour millers are exporting flour to the Philippines at dumping prices which is in violation of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules to which most countries (including the Philippines and Turkey) abide by under a world free trade regimen,” Pinca said. Dumping occurs when a country exports a commodity at prices lower than its domestic prices. When a country exports products at dumping prices, it is engaged in unfair trade. Thus, local flour millers are up against a group of flour exporters engaging in “unfair trade”, the PAFMIL executive said.

Aquino’s SONA: Lies, deceptions and silly boasts July 23, 2013 9:48 pm

by RIGOBERTO TIGLAO How can you respect a President who, in a speech that should discuss where we are as a nation, instead brags about his purported accomplishments by barraging us with claims which turn out to be downright false, deceptive, arguable as to its veracity, or puerile boasts? Given this newspaper’s deadline for column submissions, what follows is a preliminary list of such atrocious claims made by President Aquino in his 1.7-hour State of the Nation Address the other day. RICE IMPORTS. Aquino (translated from Pilipino) said in his SONA: “According to the NFA, in 2010, the country imported more than 2 million metric tons of rice. In 2011, this fell to 855,000 metric tons. In 2012: 500,000 metric tons. And now in 2013: the maximum we will import, including the private sector, will be the minimum access volume of 350,000 metric tons. “ Did Aquino think we forgot about the reports of massive rice smuggling that the National Food Authority obviously can’t report? What follows is the report from, the recognized global grains industry news site, quoting separate reports of the US Department of Agriculture, which is known to rely for its data even on CIA intelligence: “The USDA estimates that rice imports by the Philippines in MY2012?13 (May to April) are likely to reach around 1.5 million tons, while rice imports in 2013?14 are forecast at around 1.2 million tons. These figures are significantly higher than government figures of 500,000 tons of rice imports in 2012 and the targeted . . . rice imports in 2013. The USDA says that the continued entry of undocumented rice (estimated at around 400,000 to 600,000 tons in MY 2012?13) into the country is a serious challenge to the Philippine rice industry. It says that smuggled rice into the country increased in 2012 and hurt the profits of local rice producers and traders.” (Emphasis mine.) THE CONDITIONAL CASH TRANSFER PROGRAM. The rationale of the program—to prevent it from becoming merely a give-away—is that poor families receiving the funds are

required to keep their children in school. Thus, the argument goes, the cycle of poverty will be broken as educated or merely literate workers have higher wages. Aquino in effect claimed that the conditional cash transfer program is such a success in its major aim of getting children of poor people finish elementary that he would extend the program to include “families with children up to 18 years old …so that their children will be able to finish high school.” However, a comprehensive assessment by the World Bank (“Philippines Conditional Cash Transfer Program Impact Evaluation 2012) released this year had the following main conclusion: “The findings suggest that the program has not had a significant impact on increasing enrollment among older children aged 12-17 years old. . . . However, the program was unable to even improve enrollment of children 12- 14 years of age, who are currently covered under Pantawid Pamilya.” Why would Aquino extend coverage to families with children up to 18 years old, when the program is failing in getting poor families’ children finish even elementary school, which is the minimum requirement for them to crawl out of the poverty quagmire? COCONUT INDUSTRY. Aquino thought he had hit on a brilliant idea by claiming that if coconut farmers just intercrop their farms with coffee (or bananas and cacao), they will be rich, earning more than P150,000 a year. Wow! But somebody should tell Aquino that’s been tried even before the last world war in almost all coconut-producing countries in the world. The Philippine Coconut Authority during Marcos time (using the controversial coco levy) even made heroic efforts to introduce intercropping. Such programs were mostly failures, and proven to be unworkable, unless billions of pesos in funds support them. Small, poor coconut farmers (which dominate the industry) can’t afford the seedlings and fertilizers for the new crops, markets for the new crops (like cacao) are too far, and risks for incurring loans for these new ventures are too high. If they fail they’ll be losing their lands. Aquino bragged: “We were able to use 5,500 hectares of land for intercropping in 90 different locations throughout the country.” Didn’t someone tell him that there are 3.9 million hectares of land planted to coconuts? Isn’t it so silly that Aquino thinks it is such a big accomplishment to report to the nation in his SONA that after three years he succeeded in introducing intercropping in 0.1 percent of the Philippine coconut hectarage? A LIE SO HE COULD BOAST. Aquino said in his speech: “Let us take the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) as an example. In the thirteen years prior to our term, from 1996 to 2009, the dividends of the PRA amounted to a sum total of P676.8 million. Along the straight path: in 2012 alone, their dividends: P1 billion pesos. Is this not a complete transformation?”

Audited statements of the PRA show that its dividends from 2007 to 2009 amounted to P2.1 billion. If you include those for 2010, the total would be P2.6 billion. Aquino clearly lied on reporting the P678 million figures. There’s more. PRA’s income for 2012 has grown allowing it to remit P1 billion to the National Treasury thanks to you commuters, at least those regularly commuting from Cavite and Manila, who pay about P64 to use the R-1 Extension of the Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex), which opened in 2011. That stretch of Cavitex is owned and operated by the PEA Tollways Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of the PRA. And who shepherded this project, which involved massive funding from Malaysian companies? Presidents Ramos and Arroyo. Aquino claims its P1 billion is due to the PRA’s “complete transformation” under his administration. Of course Aquino didn’t mention that PRA’s president and chief executive officer is Peter Anthony Abaya, who had been one of Arroyo’s technocrat from 2001 to 2008, first as energy undersecretary, with his last post being CEO of PNOC Alternative Fuels Corp. from which he resigned because of health reasons. PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP. Aquino boasted: “(We) are seeing the effects of the honest, transparent, and clear way we have been going about our PPP Projects . . . Apart from the Laguindingan airport, which is already being utilized, we are upgrading and modernizing the Tacloban Airport, the Bicol International Airport, the New Bohol Airport, and the Mactan Airport, all at the same time. The Daang Hari-NLEX link road is the fastest PPP project that has been awarded in any administration, with no shortcuts in the processes.” The International Monetary Fund assessment of the PPP project, quoted from is Staff Report on its 2012 Article IV consultations: “The current government initiated a series of PPP projects, but these have been implemented slowly, with contracts for only two projects (road network and classroom construction) awarded so far to the private sector. While the PPP pipeline includes 22 projects across various sectors, the total cost of all projects is still small (less than 2 percent of GDP). “ DPWH AS THE MODEL OF A GRAFT-FREE AGENCY. Aquino said: “In the space of only three years, we have proven that agencies that were once cesspools of corruption can be transformed into examples of honest and efficient service. (Secretary Singson’s) kind of honest leadership has allowed the DPWH to save P18.4 billion, which has been allotted to other meaningful projects.” Both Aquino and Singson have been repeating again and again that the DPWH has been saving billions of pesos by reducing graft in its projects. They have, however, not given any details how this has been accomplished, so that they might as well claim P100 billion and we have no way of verifying it.

One case where the project cost significantly went up is the Ternate-Nasugbu road. Ricardo Ramos, head of the NGO InfraWatch that is monitoring the government, reported that the signage for the early 2010 for that project showed that it costs P600 million. Now the DPWH lists its cost in its reports at P820 million, Ramos said. Ramos, who has been in the construction industry, explained that a significant part of the corruption at the DPWH now involves contracts to repair roads that do not need to be repaired, but only to provide easy projects for DPWH officials’ favored contractors. The modus operandi Singson would have told contractors: “Incur savings on this project so we’d appear good in media, and I’ll give you easy projects to capture these savings.” Strangely, there have been no changes at all in the DPWH’s bureaucracy. Nor has there a single charge of graft filed in the Ombudsman under this administration for cases of corruption in the DPWH committed in the past or incumbent administrations. Are we to believe that personnel of the DPWH—in surveys always ranked in the top three most graft-ridden agencies in the past several administrations—have suddenly become saints? What is also shameless for this president is to claim that infrastructure projects that were“ started 20 years ago” such as the Ternate-Nasugbu road and the Aluling bridge in Ilocos are being constructed only under his term. As a former congressman and senator, Aquino knows full well the DPWH has master plans looking into decades in the future, renewed almost every year that includes just about any infrastructure project the country needs. These projects, however, actually get started only when Congress approves budgets for these, based on the assessment of their urgent needs. Why the heck is Aquino so obsessed with TESDA, a minor agency whose main activity— running training programs for blue-collar work—doesn’t require much brains and leadership, just enough funds to pay for trainors? If we can’t trust Aquino on information he claims in the most important speech he makes every year, why should we trust him at all? and

Farmers gear up for legal battle vs DAR over Luisita distribution Category: Nation Published on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 19:42 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga FARMERS belonging to the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) are gearing up for a legal battle against the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) over the distribution process of Hacienda Luisita. On Tuesday Ambala said it will ask the Supreme Court (SC) to cite the DAR “in contempt of court” for, among others, reducing the area to be distributed to qualified beneficiaries, denying their motion to award the contract to its favored accounting firm for the special audit of the books of Hacienda Luisita Inc. and Centenary Holdings Inc., and for adopting the raffle system to assign farm lots to farmer-beneficiaries. The filing of the petition, according to Ambala, will belie President Aquino’s declaration in his Fourth State of the Nation Address that “all is well” in the distribution of his family’s sugar estate, the biggest landholding ever to be distributed by the government under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Ambala through its lawyer, Jobert Pahilga of Sentro Para sa Tunay Na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra), said the DAR’s plan to distribute only 4,099 hectares out of the 4,915 hectares designated by the SC is in contempt of court. Even if one deducts 580.51 hectares of land sold to Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Centenary Holdings and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, Ambala said the area that the DAR will distribute is still short by 236 hectares. Ambala claimed Hacienda Luisita covers a total of 6,435 hectares and not 5,149 hectares, the area surveyed by the DAR for distribution to 6,212 qualified beneficiaries. The group demanded that the DAR provide it with a copy of the 1989 survey of the sugar estate, as well as the latest land survey conducted by the agency for comparison. The group wants to validate the surveys through an independent survey firm. In addition, the group wants the SC to designate Ocampo, Mendoza, Leong, Lim & Co. (OMLL) as the accounting firm to audit Hacienda Luisita Inc. and Centenary Holdings Inc. In addition, Ambala assailed the way the DAR raffled off lot allocation certificates in Barangay Cutcut, Tarlac City, on July 18, which allegedly ignored a number of the farmers who already cultivated and developed the land since 2005, contrary to the DAR’s claim that hacienda beneficiaries are workers, unlike tenants in rice and corn lands, who do not work on specific parcels of land.

The group is pushing for collective ownership by beneficiaries of the Hacienda Luista instead of parceling the land to smaller units for individual ownership by farmer-beneficiaries. Meanwhile, President Aquino’s “one-liner” on Hacienda Luisita in his State of the Nation Address also did not escape the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas’s (KMP) observation. “Aquino’s one paragraph on Hacienda Luisita in his Sona shows that the deception and coercion inside the hacienda enjoys the blessings of the President. It is enough proof that the deceptive tambiolo system and the forcible and coercive promissory note signing is a maneuver by the Cojuangcos and the DAR to circumvent the distribution of lands to the farmworkers,” KMP Chairman Rafael Mariano said in a press statement.

Awareness: Be more environmentally responsible consumers Published: July 24, 2013 The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) calls on Filipinos to help cut down food waste and its corresponding ecological impact by developing habits that reduce the amount of wasted food, as the country celebrates Environment Month this June, starting with World Environment Day on June 5, with the global theme “Think. Eat. Save.” The department stressed the need for every citizen to rethink his/her eating habits. Whenever possible, we should patronize food produced in an environmentally sound manner, packaged with recycled materials. Organic food and locally produced products require less emissionsproducing handling and transport to bring to our tables. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has said that 1.3 billion metric tons of food is wasted every year. Daily, a seventh of the world’s population goes to bed hungry, while more than 20,000 children under the age of five die from hunger. According to the DENR, humanity devotes 70 percent of its freshwater consumption to food production, which also accounts for 80 percent of deforestation and 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The department has lined up numerous activities for this year’s Environment Month celebration, including a week-long Organic/Eco-Friendly Products Festival featuring herbal, non-timber forest products, and items made from recycled, indigenous, or environment-friendly materials. A seminar will be held at the DENR on food waste reduction and food preservation techniques, dealers, retailers, and resellers of ozone-depleting substances will attend a workshop on the safe handling of refrigerants. Eight buses will carry an advertisement of “Usok Mo, Buhay Ko,” a public awareness campaign on the negative health effects of air pollution. Representatives of local government units (LGUs) in the Manila Bay area will attend a workshop on environmental sanitation and septage management. Shopping malls with the best practices in solid waste management will be recognized as “Solid Waste Management Champions.” Teachers and students of the National Service Training Program will conduct a simultaneous cleanup of more than 200 waterways nationwide, under the DENR’s “Adopt-an-Estero/Water Body” program. June was declared Environment Month by Proclamation No. 237, series of 1988, in support of World Environment Day, to instill environmental awareness and concern among various sectors of Philippine society. We congratulate the Department of Environment and Natural Resources headed by its Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Analiza R. Teh, Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries, in their protection, conservation, and management of the environment and natural resources for the present and future generations in the Republic of the Philippines. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY! nsible_consumers#.Ue9SpKyveKE

812 hectares of Luisita now parceled out; group wants SC to stop raffle system By Jo Martinez‐Clemente  Inquirer Central Luzon   8:07 am | Wednesday, July 24th, 2013  

Signages are displayed along a road inside the Hacienda Luisita announcing the collection of a service fee for the road’s upkeep and maintenance. The road links MacArthur Highway to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway in Tarlac City. PHOTO COURTESY OF BCDA/FILE PHOTO HACIENDA LUISITA, Philippines—About 812 hectares, or 20 percent, of the portion of this sugar estate covered by agrarian reform had been raffled off by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) through the “tambiolo” (raffle drum) system on the third day of its allocation activity covering two of the hacienda’s 10 villages. At least 1,231 farmer beneficiaries from the villages of Cutcut and Lourdes have been allocated lots in the sugar estate formerly owned by the family of President Aquino. But on Tuesday, the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) asked the Supreme Court to stop the tambiolo system of raffling off the lots. It also asked the DAR to explain why the individual allotment of 6,886.5 square meters per farmer beneficiary, as ruled by the high court in November 2009, had been reduced. The DAR completed the raffle of farm lots to 645 farmer beneficiaries in Barangay (village) Cutcut and another 586 in Barangay Lourdes.

Allocation completed Aug. 21 The allocation activity is expected to be completed by Aug. 21 and will cover a total of 4,099.91 ha, parceled out in lots of 6,600 square meters for each of the 6,212 beneficiaries. Much like the scenario in Barangay Cutcut last week, the process in Barangay Lourdes went through smoothly. After going through documentation, beneficiaries gathered in front of a map to see where their respective lots are located. Even as Estelita Bermudo was happy to have a lot that she can call her own, she was at a loss when asked what she would do with her property. “Hindi ko raw puwede ibenta hanggang sampung taon at saka dapat daw ako ang magbubungkal. Eh single lang ako at nagkasakit, hindi ko naman kaya magbungkal (I cannot sell my land within 10 years and they told me that I should till the land. I’m single and sickly and I cannot till the land on my own)” said the 65-year-old Bermudo. This instruction, she said, was clear when she signed the Application to Purchase and Farmer’s Undertaking (APFU) before DAR lawyers. But Bermudo’s nephew, Bernardo Pineda, also a beneficiary, came to her rescue. “Kami na ang magbubungkal para sa kanya (We will till the land for her),” he said. Pineda, 42, had worked at the hacienda since he was 15, starting out as a weed clearer, and later, as sugarcane planter. He said he and 16 of his relatives were given land and they chose to have adjacent lots near the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx). Thus, 17 names with respective lot assignments are in their common Lot Allocation Certificate (LAC). All told, Pineda’s group has 11.2 ha to till. As to what to plant, Pineda said he and his relatives would meet to discuss and decide on what to do with their land. Thankful for problem resolution Noel Pineda, Lourdes village chief, said he was thankful that the long-drawn-out problem in the sugar estate had been resolved. Pineda said they were hoping the government would give farm workers financial assistance to help them start anew. He said the barangay government would ask the National Irrigation Administration to reactivate irrigation in the area so farms will have steady supply of water. Irrigation canals are existing but water needs to be rediverted to the farms, according to Pineda.

Through lawyer Jobert Pahilga, Ambala on Tuesday filed an omnibus motion in the Supreme Court seeking to require the DAR to explain the discrepancy in the number of hectares for distribution to the beneficiaries. Ambala said the land to be distributed to the farmers should be 4,335.60 ha. Ambala also asked the high court to appoint a geodetic engineer to validate the survey conducted by the DAR and stop the use of the “tambiolo system” of land distribution. It asked the court to stop the DAR from collecting amortization payments from the beneficiaries and to stop the agency from requiring the beneficiaries to sign the APFU. Ambala petition Ambala asked the court to order the DAR to appoint the farmer’s accounting firm of choice to audit the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI), to determine the financial position of the company. In asking the Supreme Court to stop the raffle, Ambala said the most ideal way of distributing the land, given its size and the number of beneficiaries, would be through collective ownership. “The DAR had been informed of the choice of Ambala of collective ownership of the parcels of lands but it totally disregarded such choice. Ambala has likewise shown that the conditions for beneficiaries for collective ownership of the land are present and applicable to Hacienda Luisita,” Ambala said in its petition. “To the members of Ambala, the collective ownership of the land is the better way to make it productive. Sadly, the DAR neglected Ambala’s call for collective ownership of the land and is imposing to the beneficiaries a method of land allocation that is not acceptable to them and which violates their right to collective ownership,” the petition said. In a telephone interview, Lito Bais, Ambala and United Luisita Workers Union (Ulwu) chairman, said about 2,000 ha of the sugar estate had been planted by the farmer beneficiaries since 2005 and the area they have been tilling should be given them. Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said the DAR has been exercising its mandate and could not please everybody. ‘Fairest way to allocate’ “We have a mandate to perform and we are doing it. There are the organized and unorganized farmers in the hacienda and we have to go for the most transparent and fairest way to allocate the area. Hindi lang yung maingay ang dapat pakinggan (We should also listen to others, not just the noisy groups),” De los Reyes said. De los Reyes said he would face the court and answer the petition. “Should the high court set an oral argument, I am prepared to wear my robe. I’m ready to face the case,” he said.

Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Anthony Parungao said the DAR gave the beneficiaries options as to who they want to be with as they allocated the lots. “They were precisely given the choice of neighbors so they can work collectively while tending their respective farm lots. More than half of the beneficiaries opted for this,” Parungao said. “As owners, nothing prevents the beneficiaries from doing things collectively and the DAR actually facilitated this by allowing them to choose the people whose farm lots will be beside theirs,” he said. Parungao said the signing of the APFU was a requirement imposed by law and other guidelines for agrarian reform. As to why the land area that would be distributed was only 4,099.91 ha, Parungao said the total land area acquired by the government for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program was only 4,500.79 ha but certain portions of the land would be retained by the government, such as those no longer suitable for agricultural areas. These, he said, would be used as common areas. Of the 400 ha retained by government, 174 ha are firebreaks which can be used as roads to benefit farmers, according to Parungao. Parungao, who heads the DAR’s legal affairs division, disputed reports that ULWU and Ambala members refused to participate in the process. He said in Barangay Cutcut, 114 of 143 ULWU members signed the APFU and 20 of 21 Ambala members signed the same document. Parungao said 558 of 645 beneficiries signed the APFU and only 87 were absent last week for various reasons. In Barangay Lourdes, only eight of 586 beneficiaries were absent on Monday. Parungao said these beneficiaries could go to the Tarlac DAR Office to get their LACs.—With a report from Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon‐hectares‐of‐luisita‐now‐parceled‐out‐group‐wants‐sc‐to‐stop‐ raffle‐system#ixzz2ZvBSsJ7Y    

Use of sweet sorghum as alternative to corn in feeds eyed Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 19:16 Written by Cai U. Ordinario State-run Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC) has partnered with the private sector to pilot the use of sweet sorghum for feeds given to hogs and chicken. PAC said the development of sweet sorghum grains as complementary to corn grains could potentially lower feed cost to P20.49 per kilogram and raise net income to P18.49 per kilo of chicken live weight. In a cost and return analysis, PAC found experimental feeds from sweet sorghum to be cheaper at P20.49 per kilo compared to P21.86 per kilo using corn. The corn-sorghum mix experimental feed costs P20.7 per kilo. PAC has also found an advantage in sweet sorghum feeds with its ability to speed up fattening of chicken. Acceptability or palatability to animals of sweet sorghum feeds was similar compared to cornbased or other feeds. This was evidenced by the consumption rate. “The result would imply that sweet sorghum can replace corn without causing adverse effects on performance,” said PAC in a report. The Philippines still significantly imports corn feed ingredients, particularly feed wheat, at 1 million metric tons (MT) for 2013 as projected by the Philippine Association of Feed Millers Inc. (Pafmi). The United States Department of Agriculture estimated the country’s corn importation to reach 100,000 MT for market year 2012-2013. The entire feed-milling industry was estimated to be valued at P103.25 billion as of 2005, according to Pafmi. The Bureau of Agricultural Research (Bar) threw its support behind the PAC initiative. Bar Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar said the government has embarked on research and development (R&D) on feeds in its bid to make the local poultry and livestock sector more competitive. “We need to do more R&D on feeds since feeds account for a significant amount of our animalgrowing cost. Any competitiveness in cost will have an important impact in raising the standard of living, especially of our small farmers,” said Eleazar. The Bar noted that the cost of feeds may account for a significant 50 percent of the cost of raising poultry and livestock.

Entrepreneur Caleb Tan, who owns a 2000-head layer farm in Malabon, believes the government’s R&D investment in feeds will eventually pay off. “We’ve been importing a lot of feed ingredients like wheat. I think we should really push for feeds materials like sweet sorghum. I think there’s a potential for sweet sorghum as feed as you can just plant it in your backyard,” said Tan. The Bar noted that sweet sorghum has the primary advantage of being a climate smart crop—one that can be planted in marginal lands and in rain-fed (non-irrigated) areas. Tan found sweet sorghum feed as equivalent to corn-based feed when it was subjected to a study by PAC. He used this on his layer farm which is an organic farm. “I found that the quality of the eggs and the production [quantity] is the same [as that with corn], so I thought I can really use sorghum to replace corn feed,” he said. The Bar is also developing markets for other sweet sorghum products for food, particularly for highly nutritious grains and flour. Sweet sorghum grains are eyed as a main ingredient for the food of patients in a local hospital. It may be used for champorado or porridge (lugaw). The attached agency of the Department of Agriculture said sweet sorghum flour is gluten-free. It is suitable for those ill of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine. Glutenfree food is also advised on autism patients. Other products that can be derived from sweet sorghum as shown in the PAC study are hair remover, soap, spa salt, body scrub and liniment oil.‐commodities/16860‐use‐of‐sweet‐sorghum‐ as‐alternative‐to‐corn‐in‐feeds‐eyed                  

Visayas, Mindanao need more feed mills Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 19:15 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning To reduce the price of meat, an official of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) pushed for the establishment of more feed mills in the Visayas and Mindanao to end the dependence of those in the livestock and poultry sector on manufacturers in Luzon. Dr. Angel Mateo, officer in charge of the Animal Feeds Standards Division (AFSD) of the BAI, also urged hog growers and poultry raisers to import their own feed ingredients, arguing that they need not source these materials from importers based in the National Capital Region (NCR). Mateo said that since 75 percent of feeds ingredients is imported, hog growers, poultry and cattle raisers should buy their materials overseas if they want to reduce their costs. Even as the country is capable of achieving sufficiency in yellow corn, Mateo said the livestock industry would still have to import fish meal, protein additives and feed wheat. At the moment, he said there are very few feed mills in the Visayas and Mindanao, and this is the reason meat prices there are high. Mateo said there are 1,730 feed manufacturers in the country, and they are crammed in Central Luzon and the NCR. He said because of the concentration of feedmills in these areas, feed prices are naturally higher in Visayas and Mindanao because of transport costs. “There is a need for more feedmills in Region 8 [Eastern Visayas] and the ARMM [Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao],” said Mateo. “ARMM needs more investments for the production of halal feed or those with no pork component like lard.” Mateo noted that investments in the feed industry are hindered by the lack of land since large areas have been converted for other purposes and not for agricultural production.‐commodities/16859‐visayas‐mindanao‐need‐ more‐feed‐mills          

Zamboanga Sibugay farmers get certificates of land ownership awards By Jeannette I. Andrade  Philippine Daily Inquirer   6:08 pm | Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013  

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — Nearly a thousand farmers in Zamboanga Sibugay have received their certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) from the (DAR) in Payao town of the province. DAR region IX director Julita Ragandang has distributed the CLOAs, covering 1,489 hectares of agricultural lands in Barangays (villages) Binangonan, Calape, La Fortuna, Lumapanac, Nanan, Kulasian and Kima, to 989 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs). ARBs in Barangays Bulawan, Guiwan, Kulasian and La Fortuna will also be provided with some P22.2 million worth of farming machinery, including threshers, tractors and reapers, and implements for rice-duck farming. The provision, Ragandang said, would benefit over 800 farmers in Zamboanga Sibugay province. In a statement, Ragandang said that, aside from the lands awarded to the 989 farmers, the department would provide infrastructure projects DAR and the Asian Development Bank’s Agrarian Reform Community Project (ARCP) would also provide infrastructure projects to make the lands productive.

She said, “At present, farm-to-market roads and communal irrigation system are under construction and some roads are under rehabilitation. Agri-business development will also be introduced to farmers, like cacao production in Payao so that our ARB’s will have a ready market for their cacao produce.” She explained that the department has been encouraging the farmers to produce cacao, which could be bought by chocolate maker Kennemer Foods International directly from them. The chocolate manufacturer, she said, has been eyeing to seal a deal with the Payao town farmers. “The identified area for this project (cacao production) in the municipality of Payao is around 600 hectares. In the meantime, only 100 hectares will be utilized for cacao production for the initial implementation of the project,” she added. “The department will continue to help farmers to, one day, own the land they till as long as it is within the law. We also thank them for their patience and efforts to have these landholdings covered under CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program),” Ragandang said. Read more:‐sibugay‐farmers‐get‐certificates‐of‐land‐ ownership‐awards#ixzz2ZvXOgsCx                              

Illegal miners ordered to leave Agusan Del Sur By Mike U. Crismundo Published: July 24, 2013 PATIN-AY, Agusan del Sur – Agusan del Sur Governor Adolph Edward G. Plaza on Wednesday warned illegal miners to leave the province or he would have them arrested. The environment czar warned alleged illegal mining operators within the Mount Magdiwata Watershed Area ordered illegal miners to stop their illegitimate trade and leave the province immediately. “If they will not leave, I will order for their immediate arrest,” the province’s Chief Executive pointed out. “I don’t care who is behind these illegal miners," the governor said. The stern warning came after the governor learned he was being linked to illegal mining activities. This prompted him to order the arrest of illegal miners, including six Chinese nationals who were mining in the area. “Don’t drag my name and I want you (illegal miners) to immediately leave the area,” stressed Plaza. The governor also ordered the provincial and municipal police commanders and the anti-illegal mining and anti-illegal logging task forces to arrest those who violate the laws, rules and regulations on environment. Officials of San Francisco Water District said at least 50 alleged mining tunnels are illegally installed around the said watershed area which endanger the potable drinking water for residents. e9TYayveKE              

NFA clarifies proposal to buy seized smuggled rice Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 67

National Food Authority Administrator Orlan Calayag has explained to Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon the NFA’s proposal to buy the seized smuggled rice in Cebu City. In his letter to Biazon dated July 9 and 17, Calayag said the move was meant to give BoC an option “for an expeditious disposition of the stocks and not to interfere with its operations.” Calayag added that entering into an agency to agency arrangement with the Bureau of Customs on the confiscated smuggled rice stocks was made “with the end view of strengthening the partnership between the two agencies.” The clarification was issued amid insinuations that the NFA attempted to prevent the BoC from undertaking a scheduled auction of the seized rice. Calayag said he was concerned that during lean months (July to September) when harvest is very minimal, the situation may be taken advantaged of by some traders who would constrict market supply to create an artificial shortage and raise prices. He said the seized rice if infused into the market will counteract any attempt to disrupt the supply. Calayag also recommended the immediate disposal of the seized rice so the Bureau may help stabilize the price of rice in the market. Joel dela Torre‐nfa‐clarifies‐proposal‐to‐buy‐seized‐ smuggled‐rice            

Foreign group keen on buying 22-hectare property in Rizal Category: Top News Published on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 20:38 Written by Roderick L. Abad A GROUP of property developers in Asia has expressed interest in purchasing the 22-hectare property of IRC Properties Inc. in Binangonan, Rizal. In an interview with the BusinessMirror, a highly placed source from IRC said the negotiation is ongoing with the foreign property development firms that she declined to name; she also did not mention the acquisition price they offered. “But definitely they will buy from us,” said the company’s top executive. The IRC official revealed that talks started two months ago and a deal is expected soon. “They’re very serious. But there will be [a series of] meetings to firm up the price, terms, design and plan [for the project],” the executive said. The group initially bared to IRC its plan of a residential development for the soon-to-be purchased raw land, which is in Barangay Darangan, Binangonan, Rizal. Targeting the mid-tier market, this project will complement a planned garden community—also located in the area—comprised of residential and retail promenade with upscale shops and restaurants. The IRC property is adjacent to the Eastridge Golf Club, an 18-hole championship golf course in the mountains of Rizal. Also, it’s less than a kilometer away from the Thunderbird Casino and Resort. The IRC officer said proceeds of the purchase would bring in fresh funds to the company to be used for the development of additional road-bridge infrastructure within the vast IRC area in the fourth quarter of 2013. “It will open more opportunities for us. We’d like to be able to connect our landholdings so we can even go further out and develop more land and offer them to other buyers,” said the IRC executive.‐news/16881‐foreign‐group‐keen‐on‐buying‐22‐ hectare‐property‐in‐rizal      

Jica extends $7-million grant to help set up Bangsamoro Category: Top News Published on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 20:46 Written by Cai U. Ordinario The Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) is extending a $7-million grant to the Bangsamoro as they prepare to form their own government. The grant will finance the project Comprehensive Capacity Development for Bangsamoro, which aims to help provide administrative training such as budgeting and accounting, among other things, that will be useful when the Bangsamoro government is finally put in place. The project document will be signed between Jica Philippines Chief Representative Takahiro Sasaki and Bangsamoro Transition Committee Chairman Mohagher Iqbal on Thursday, July 25, in Cotabato City. “We are very confident in the development of Mindanao. Actually, there was one person from Cotabato City who told us once in our meeting, ‘I think it’s only Jica that believes this thing would work,’ so we said, yes, we believe in this because if we don’t, it’s useless to go into this,” Jica Mindanao Section Senior Program Officer Cristina Santiago told reporters in a briefing on Tuesday. The project, which will be implemented over a three-year period, also aims to help create the Development Plan for the Bangsamoro. This includes giving inputs on a parliamentary system of government for the Bangsamoro. Juro Chikaraishi, Jica senior adviser for Mindanao Peace Building and Development, told reporters the Bangsamoro wants to have a different structure from the presidential system used by the central government, so a single parliamentary system will be put in place. Chikaraishi said this is one of the areas that Japan could support the Bangsamoro. The Japanese government follows a parliamentary system that is similar to Malaysia’s and India’s. “They will try to design something similar to Japan’s. It’s not a republic system, it’s a parliamentary system. In order to create such government, you would need a new kind of arrangement, including laws and regulations and so forth. In that context, Japan could [provide] support,” Chikaraishi said. “Their original will [was] not to copy the central government’s system. Because the MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] said the ARMM [Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao] was a failure so they don’t want to repeat [it]. They want to have a different system,” he said. Jica data showed that its grant assistance to the Philippine government declined to $32.76 million in 2011 from $45.69 million in 2010. This was the lowest since grant assistance reached only $13.93 million in 2009. Data also showed that Jica’s technical cooperation assistance continued

to increase to $58.34 million in 2011, the highest since 2003 when technical assistance reached its peak since 2000 at $69.72 million. In terms of loans, Jica’s commitments increased to $68.263 billion in 2011. This was the highest since 2001 when Jica’s loan commitments reached $169.06 billion.‐news/16882‐jica‐extends‐7‐million‐grant‐to‐ help‐set‐up‐bangsamoro                                        

House starts deliberations on P2.3‐T 2014 budget By Paolo Romero and Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. yesterday vowed a speedy but thorough deliberation of the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014 so it could be approved and signed into law before the end of the year. Belmonte said the House of Representatives would do its best to approve the proposed spending program before the end of the year as it had done in the last three years of the 15th Congress. “For the past years, they (Malacañang) have endeavored to submit the budget one day after the opening (of Congress), and we appreciate that very much that we will also reciprocate it by giving preference to the approval of the budget so that by the time the new fiscal year starts, the budget is in place,” Belmonte said. “One thing we’re trying to avoid at all costs is a re-enacted budget, ” Belmonte said, referring to the practice of using the previous year’s approved budget in the new fiscal year. “Cuts are possible but as you can see, the budget department took pains to craft a budget that helps everybody while trying to make it lean as it could be,” Belmonte said when asked if the House could reduce certain allocations.

President Aquino yesterday urged Congress yesterday to approve the budget proposal, saying the proposed allocation would help shape the legacy he wanted to leave behind. In his budget message, Aquino said the proposal would lay down the foundations for progress, adding the government would push for the equalization of opportunities for all, regardless of their life circumstances. He added the goal of his administration was to have a national expenditure program that would build on the new prosperity created in the past three years. “We want to leave behind this legacy: a transformed government, a capacitated people, an inclusive economy, and a better nation. I cannot overemphasize my deep commitment to laying the foundation that will ensure the realization of this legacy,” Aquino said. He said it was consistent with the government’s macroeconomic and fiscal program for the medium term. More important, Aquino said the proposed 2014 budget was designed as a tool that should be maximized as they continued to fortify the foundations for inclusive development. The budget intensified investments in capacitating people through basic services, such as education and manpower development, adequate healthcare, and social protection services, and would enable them to sustain growth trajectory in a way that would promote growth that directly and substantially benefit the lowest of sectors, he added. The President said the proposed national budget has new “faces” to become more responsive to the people’s needs, including the “Performance-Informed Budget Structure,” where each peso was now presented alongside the results that they wanted to achieve. “Through this new budget structure, we are redefining accountability as a commitment to deliver the direct, immediate, and substantial dividends of good governance to our people,” Aquino said. And after introducing the zero-based budgeting approach to scale down funding for activities that were not aligned with the set priorities or were otherwise ineffective along with the program budgeting approach to further deepen the level of budgetary prioritization within each priority area of the administration by defining the strategic programs, Aquino explained the Budget Priorities Framework was also established to direct all departments and agencies to design their respective budget proposals along with program priorities in line with the social contract with the people and the midterm updating of the Philippine Development Plan.‐starts‐deliberations‐p2.3‐t‐2014‐ budget  

PH medical group questions PhilHealth data in Aquino Sona By Jocelyn R. Uy  Philippine Daily Inquirer   4:57 am | Wednesday, July 24th, 2013  

President Benigno Aquino III. EDWIN BACASMAS MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) on Tuesday expressed doubts over the claim of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) that 81 percent of Filipinos had so far been enrolled in the government’s universal healthcare program. PMA president Dr. Leo Olarte said state health insurance had long been having difficulties with its information and communication technology (ICT) system to come up with a scientific count. In his fourth State of the Nation Address on Monday, President Aquino reported that PhilHealth had been able to cover 81 percent of the country’s population so far. “If we assume that the total population of the Philippines is 100 million, then 81 percent of Filipinos who are supposedly enrolled in PhilHealth numbers to around 81 million,” Olarte said. “If we follow this kind of logic, a total of eight out of 10 hospital admissions across the country should be PhilHealth cases.” But reports from various hospitals nationwide did not support this claim, said the head of PMA, an umbrella organization of medical doctors in the country. “We are just curious and very interested to see the scientific basis of this particular PhilHealth declaration mainly because of some conflicting claims in the past,” Olarte said, pointing to the 2008 National Demographic Health Survey showing that only 38 percent of respondents were aware of at least one household member enrolled in PhilHealth.

He also stressed that PhilHealth’s ICT system was problematic that scientific data gathering would “definitely be affected.” “If you go and enroll yourself today at PhilHealth, chances are you will be given a piece of paper [and] not an electronic ID,” Olarte said, adding this made it difficult to accurately track down members’ data for enrollment and claims settlement. “The Aquino administration’s universal healthcare program, or Kalusugan Pangkalahatan, is largely linked to PhilHealth coverage. If proven that the data that PhilHealth extrapolated was not accurate due to a poor ICT system, then we may have a big problem in our hands,” said Olarte. PhilHealth president Alex Padilla admitted that the state insurance firm was having problems with its database and was currently cleaning up the system. He said that three years ago, data would show that 86 percent of Filipinos were enrolled with PhilHealth but with the ongoing cleansing of double entries on the list, the figure had been reduced to 81 percent. “That’s the best figure that we can give thus far. I am not saying that it’s not going to change but if it will, it won’t be that far,” he told reporters. Padilla said that while double entries of members were being deleted, dependents were also being added to the list, which was something that PhilHealth did not religiously do in the past.‐medical‐group‐questions‐philhealth‐data‐in‐aquino‐ sona#ixzz2ZvJxYIWq                      

Faster economic growth seen in Q3 Category: Top News Published on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 21:03 Written by Cai U. Ordinario The Philippine economy is expected to continue its winning streak as eight of the 11 leading economic indicators (LEIs) point to an uptrend in growth in the third quarter of 2013. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said this is the second consecutive quarter that the composite LEI is on the positive. The LEI was on the negative from the third quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013. The NSCB data showed the growth in the third quarter of 2013 could be stronger than the second quarter. This is because the LEI posted a positive 0.152 in the third quarter, higher than the 0.064 in the second quarter of 2013. “The composite LEI continued its upward trend in the third quarter of 2013, indicating a positive outlook for the country’s economy,” the NSCB said. “The latest LEI computations show the index in positive territory signifying firmly well for the domestic economy.” Of the 11 indicators that make up the composite LEI, eight contributed positively. These were total merchandise imports, visitor arrivals, money supply, electric-energy consumption, terms of trade index, hotel occupancy rate, number of new businesses and stock-price index. The NSCB said the combined share of the positive contributors for the third quarter accounted for 82.4 percent of the total contribution, up from 71.9 percent in the second quarter of 2013. Expected to contribute the most to the third-quarter growth is the total merchandise imports. On the other hand, the negative contributors were the foreign-exchange rate, wholesale price index and consumer price index. The negative contributors accounted for 17.6 percent of the total contribution. “For the third quarter 2013 LEI [Leading Economic Indicator System], four indicators shifted direction in contribution from the second quarter of 2013, namely, foreign exchange from positive to negative, and hotel occupancy rate, total merchandise imports, and terms of trade index from negative to positive,” NSCB said. The LEIS was developed by the NSCB and the National Economic and Development Authority to serve as basis for short-term forecasting of the macroeconomic activity in the country. The LEIS involves the study of the behavior of indicators that consistently move upward or downward before the actual expansion or contraction of overall economic activity.

The system is based on an empirical observation that the cycles of many economic data series are related to the cycles of total business activity, i.e., they expand in general when business is growing, and contract when business is shrinking. The LEIS was institutionalized to provide advance information on the direction of the country’s economic activity and performance in the short run.‐news/16886‐faster‐economic‐growth‐seen‐in‐q3                                        

'Phl to increase infrastructure spending to 5 pct of GDP' ( | Updated July 23, 2013 ‐ 10:00pm 

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - President Benigno Aquino III vowed Tuesday to increase infrastructure spending to 5 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), a level that will attract more foreign direct investments, before he steps down in 2016. Aquino, in his budget message for the proposed P2.27-trillion ($52.45 billion) budget for 2014, said that his administration is allocating P399.4 billion ($9.24 billion), which is equivalent to 3 percent of GDP, for infrastructure next year. "This allocation will pave the way for the increase in infrastructure spending to 5 percent of the GDP in 2016," he said. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, who submitted the proposed budget to Congress on behalf of the president, said investments in infrastructure will further rise to P587 billion ($13.57 billion) and P824 billion ($19.05 billion) in 2015 and 2016, respectively. International lending agencies, such as the World Bank, said that the Philippines has to improve expenditures on infrastructure to catch up with the neighboring countries so as to attract more investments. The World Bank has proposed that the Philippines should jack up its infrastructure investments to 5 percent of GDP by 2016.‐increase‐infrastructure‐spending‐5‐pct‐ gdp                    

Filipino scientists recognized July 23, 2013 5:05 pm

Three exceptional awards were given to Filipino scientists for their scientific contribution to food development. The awards were given on the 2013 National Science Week an annual celebration of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Amelia Tejada was given the “Discardo L. Umali Medal” for her contribution to the Food Development Center-National Food Authority (FDC-NFA). The Discardo Umali Medal, Outstanding Science Administration Award, is named after the Father of Plant Breeding. Umali is known for his plant breeding work that improved food grains, legumes, fruits and ornamental plants. Tejada has been in FDC-NFA as an Executive Director for five years, she was a Pesticide Residue Specialist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations from 1969 to 1999. “She was instrumental in the development of the Centralized Contaminants Laboratory at FDC-NFA, Her diligent and skillful of these and other equipment with her staff, for the detection and measurement of very low level of contaminants in food,” the DOST said in a statement. “Meeting the most stringent international standard of the Food and Agriculture Organization and Codex Alimentarius Commission has expanded the laboratory’s value and service to both government and industry,” they added. Scientists from the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology received the Gregorio Y. Zara Medal for the commercialization of the Salmonella DNA Amplification System (DASTM). Zara invented the Earth Induction Compass and Vapor Chamber to only name a few. He was also a pioneers of aeronautical engineering in the Philippines. The scientists – Teresita Ramirez, Susan Sedano, Arsenia BSapin, Maria Teresita Perez and Reynaldo Ebora – received awards named after the renowned Filipino Engineer and Inventor. DASTM is made for the rapid detection of Salmonella microorganism in foods and animal feeds. The department said that Salmonella is the most frequently reported cause of food-borne illness.

“Regularly monitoring of Salmonella using this kit by quality control laboratories was made faster, definite and with higher confidence ensuring product quality and consumer safety,” DOST added. Waren Baticados received the Eduardo Quisumbing Medal, Outstanding Research and Development Award for Basic Research for his research the “Molecular researches and diagnostics of national priority of protozoal and bacterial diseases of livestock and companion animals.” Baticados was given an award named after the Treasure Hunter of Green Gold, Quisumbing, who is also known as the Father of Philippine Orchidology and a conservationist of the Philippine Herbarium. Baticados is a senior author whose works were published in the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). “The findings of his research study is essential in constructing an accurate disease map which can serve as a scientific guide in the formulation of cost-effective disease intervention and control especially in disease endemic area,” the department stressed. “It will also provide up to date disease detection systems in the promotion and modernization of agricultural competitiveness to enhance food security, a significant contributory factor in poverty alleviation,” they added. PNA‐scientists‐recognized/22103/


Senator Miriam chides ‘bling’ SONA crowd July 23, 2013 3:58 pm

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Tuesday said she would file a resolution prescribing an official uniform for Congress members attending the annual State of the Nation Address (SONA). Santiago said her proposal would aim to prevent a repeat of last Monday’s SONA where male and female lawmakers took turns displaying “bling” clothes and jewelry, and acted as endorsers of expensive designers. Santiago reminded lawmakers that the law frowns on conspicuous consumption which she called “the obsession to bling.” The senator cited the Civil Code, Article 25: “Thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency may be stopped by order of the courts at the instance of any government or private charitable institution.” Santiago said the country is suffering from “acute public want, because of a high unemployment rate of 7.5 percent and a high underemployment rate of 19.2 percent.” She added the country also faces an emergency, because of our territorial disputes with China and Taiwan. The senator failed to attend the SONA event, because she continues to suffer from acute chronic fatigue and is on medical leave from the Senate. “I watched TV and could not stand it. The SONA event should be a serious time for the Congress to pick up policy directions indicated by the President. It should not be treated as Oscar night in Hollywood, with a red carpet, where peacocks spread their tails and turn around and around, as coached by media in a feeding frenzy,” she said. Santiago, for the last few years, has decried the expensive floor-length gowns worn by Congress members and even by their spouses, many produced by high-end designers. “I was once a clueless participant in those mindless events. Don’t get me wrong. I am very proud of our local fabrics and our local designers, some of whom are world-class. But the SONA event is not the proper venue for their talents,” she said. Santiago said that clothes should merely indicate membership in the Senate and House of Representatives, to separate them from those who are not members. “The highlight of the SONA is the President. It is not the flashy women. Now the flaky men are even getting into the act. They also parade, sometimes with photogenic arm candy, into the session hall and preen like their female counterparts. Enough!” she said. Santiago said that a historian with a sense of duty should act as consultant for SONA and other joint session events in Congress. “I respectfully nominate Gemma Cruz Araneta. Professionally, she is a brilliant historian, and was the country’s first Miss International. She is not a mannequin for a designer. She is just Gemma. In fact, come to think of it, she should be a senator,” Santiago said.

Santiago, although a UP corps sponsor for two times, described herself as lacking “any intelligent acquaintance with fashion.” But when pressed for a suggestion on what the uniform should be, she said: “For women, it should be a short pencil skirt, paired with a simple short-sleeved barong blouse. Jewelry should be a single strand of Philippine pearls. For men, it should be a plain long-sleeved barong. Both men and women could wear a ceremonial ribbon with the Congress logo. For the gallery, it should be office attire.” She added: “Most important of all, the attitude should not be frivolous and giggly. The attitude should be serious and businesslike.” PNA‐miriam‐chides‐bling‐sona‐crowd/22097/


SONA helps influence stock market rebound July 23, 2013 9:27 pm

by Kristyn Nika M. Lazo Reporter The State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino 3rd helped influence the local stock index to breach the 6,700-point barrier anew. There was also a massive “buying interest” on Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) shares that raised Monday’s trading activity. “For the SONA, the President has outlined things to do that will eventually improve the economic condition,” said Harry Liu, president of Summit Securities Inc. He said that foreign stock markets, particularly in the United States, Japan and China, and the “stabilizing the global market” helped fuel the rebound. “The foreign markets, US, Japan, China—they are all looking toward an improvement to do all they can do to improve the economy. [Such as] the recent election of [Shinzo] Abe of Japan and [US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben] Bernanke’s gratifying his stimulus of formula,” Liu said. Astro del Castillo, First Grade Finance managing director, said that the “transactions” and “buying interest” in Meralco and MPIC shares also contributed to the upward movement of Tuesday’s market session. The positive SONA outlook may also influence the market, “breaking into 6,800 to 7,000 area, with the medium term needing to consolidate and correct after,” he added. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gained 115.85 points, or 1.75 percent to 6,745.21, while the all-shares index added 67.04 points, or 1.66 percent to 4,096.48. All of the sectoral indices ended with gains, with industrial accumulating 137.91 points, or 1.41 percent to 9,901.72, and holding firms getting an additional 130.47 points, or 2.15 percent to 6,197.51. Services went up by 2.24 percent, or 45.29 points to 2,064.66, while mining and oil increased by 1.70 percent, or 250.33 points to 14,954.12. Meanwhile, financials went up slightly by 0.56 percent, or 8.88 points to 1,604, and property by 0.99 percent, or 26.14 points to 2,665.43. Total volume rose to more than one billion shares, while total value turnover reached P8.73 billion. For long term, Liu said that the market is “still intact” for an uptrend, and could reach the 7,000-point level by the end of the year. On Monday, the PSEi was in suspended animation over the content of President Aquino’s SONA and increased by 0.10 percent, or 6.34 points to 6,627.36, while broader all-shares index slid by 0.07 percent, or 0.78 points to 4,029.44. The SONA was delivered at 4 p.m. on Monday while trading closes at 3 p.m.‐helps‐influence‐stock‐market‐rebound/22262/


Aquino hit for silence on unemployment July 23, 2013 9:38 pm

President Benigno Aquino 3rd enumerated his government’s achievements but he failed to mention the unemployment problem in his State of the Nation Address (SONA), according to a University of the Philippines (UP) economist. Former Budget And Management secretary Benjamin Diokno said that if Aquino is truly keen on implementing reforms to spur economic development, he has to face the problem of unemployment. He noted that when the President took power in 2010, the unemployment rate was at 7.2 percent. “Three years after, unemployment was at 7.5 percent. It has deteriorated,” he said. He cited figures from the Labor Force Survey of the National Statistics Office showing that the number of jobless Filipinos spiked to 7.5 percent in April 2013 higher by 0.6 percentage points compared to the 6.9 percent rate in the same period last year. “Yet there was no concrete action plan on how he will address joblessness, (he had) lots of numbers but no specific grand plan to make growth inclusive,” he said. Research group IBON made the same observation, saying that the SONA “was full of details but intentionally did not mention the most important things that matter to millions of Filipinos.” In a statement, the group said the President should have mentioned how the government will address unemployment, underemployment and poverty which have worsened in the last three years. It said that by being silent on these problems, the President “affirmed that there will not be any real social and economic reforms and the remainder of his term will see more of the same policies that have caused the country’s unprecedented jobs and poverty crisis.” “The long list of supposed accomplishments the SONA dwelled on—spanning infrastructure, disaster response, revenue-generation and others—was a mechanical inventory of things that any government does and is a poor indicator of achievement,” it added. “The president’s closing statement “Napakasarap maging Pilipino sa panahong ito” (It is wonderful to be a Filipino in times like this)” only refers to the prosperity of a few and highlights the Aquino administration’s insensitivity to the plight of the majority of Filipinos,” the research group said. Sen. Jose ‘Jinggoy” Estrada said the President’s speech should have included having “clear directives” on creating jobs and focusing on industries and manufacturing. Estrada said that Aquino should have addressed issues on job opportunities. “Mas maganda kasi yung binibigyan natin ng trabaho ang mga tao kaysa sa binibigyan natin sila buwan-buwan ng sustento [It is better if we generate jobs for the people rather than give them monthly doleouts],” the senator said. Jose Luis Yulo, president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands (PCCI), said that SONA properly addressed the administration’s move to improving “peace and order, the investment grade of the country, and infrastructure” that will subsequently “attract investments.” Yulo added that Aquino did good in addressing the economic concerns in a simple and straight manner.

“[The president did mention] that we should all do our part, and I think that is important in helping fight corruption, and we ourselves should follow. It cannot be done by one man,” he said. In his speech on Monday, Aquino said the manufacturing sector contributed 28 percent to the 7.8 gross domestic product growth in the first quarter of the year. Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) meanwhile bewailed that the President did not mention human rights and the impunity with which these continue to be violated under his watch, as proven by the long list of slain journalists, activists, environmentalists, religious, lawyers, indigenous people. “And for all his lofty vows to weed out corruption, never did he mention that which would truly arm and empower the people to join the battle for genuinely good governance—the Freedom of Information, that which he, time and again promised when he sought our votes and then so conveniently forgot once he came to power,” the NUJP said.‐hit‐for‐silence‐on‐unemployment/22293/


Not all lawmakers to get ‘pork barrel’ July 23, 2013 9:32 pm

Not all members of the House of Representatives will get their share of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, according to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. Abad made the disclosure after the Budget department submitted the proposed P2.268 trillion 2014 budget before Congress. “This is a new Congress and we hope that it will also usher in new policies. But again, that will be subject to the leadership of the House and we will defer to the Speaker because this is his jurisdiction,” Abad said when asked if he will withhold PDAF for the 16th Congress. During the three-year-long 15th Congress, four opposition members did not get their ‘pork’—Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Romualdez, Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay, Camarines Sur. Rep. Diosdado Arroyo and Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco. Each lawmaker is entitled to P70 million PDAF every year. Of the P70 million, P40 million are for hard projects such as constriction and repair of roads, bridges or classrooms while the remaining P30 million is for education and health assistance. Llanesca T. Panti‐all‐lawmakers‐to‐get‐pork‐barrel/22280/


Family failure can drive 3,700 children to work July 23, 2013 9:31 pm

by JOHANNA M. SAMPAN The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday expressed concern for some 3,700 children that might work anew as child laborers after their families graduate from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said they worry that around 305,000 CCT beneficiaries could result in some 3,700 children forced to work if their families fail to become self-sufficient after the project. “DOLE will work hard to honor the commitments it has set for household beneficiaries, who are about to transition out of the government’s CCT program this year, and whose children are most likely to engage or revert to child labor,” the DOLE official said. In line with this, Baldoz said they already began their efforts in assisting the graduating CCT household beneficiaries by profiling their families. They will also be provided with livelihood assistance and employment facilitation for wage employment to help them become self-sustaining. The DOLE head also noted that a total of P11.9 million were already allocated to help the beneficiaries and their children with Special Program for the Employment of Students for qualified dependents and Training for Work Scholarship Program. In addition, DOLE related that the Departments of Agriculture, Health, Tourism (DOT), Interior and Local Government, Education (DepEd), and Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) also gave similar commitment to achieve the goal. DA committed the provision of training for farmers on vegetable and other high-value crops; provision of post-harvest facilities; construction of farm-to-market roads, and construction of irrigation system; while the DOH agreed to the sponsorship for PhilHealth membership; provision of medicines, drugs, and vaccines; delivery of health services through RNHeals. The DOT said it will create jobs and enterprise opportunities through sustainable, multi-program and community projects in identified tourism areas; while the DILG said it will support in the profiling of the CCT beneficiaries; mainstream interventions in local development plans; and forge memorandum of agreements with the local governments. Meanwhile, the DepEd said it will provide the continuing access to free basic education; provision of remedial instructions through the Alternative Learning System; while the DSWD will extend the subsidy to children aged 14-18, who are still in school and continue conduct of family development sessions.‐failure‐can‐drive‐3700‐children‐to‐work/22278/



The Civil Service Commission (CSC) announced on Tuesday that it fully supports President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s call for the passage of the Civil Service Code. “The civil service is currently governed by different sets of laws and rules contained in laws, decrees, letters of instruction, and executive orders,” CSC Chairman Francisco Duque 3rd in a statement in response to the call of the president. The CSC stated that it would put in a single comprehensive statute all laws and relevant issuances governing the civil service in adhering to the call made by President during his State of the Nation address on Monday.‐welcomes‐passage‐of‐civil‐service‐code/22273/


Gov’t approves Philex Mining’s proposed P74-million social program in Padcal Mine July 23, 2013 5:32 pm

by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ Reporter The government has approved Philex Mining Corp.’s proposed P74.04 million for social programs at its Padcal mine this year. In a statement, Libby Ricafort, Philex vice president and resident manager of Padcal, said that the company has allocated the amount for social projects, information campaign, and research to further develop the mining industry—as approved by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). “The amount set aside for this year was actually P65.79 million, but an additional P8.25 million was carried over from the previous year,” Ricafort said. The actual budget is already more than 1.5 percent of the total operating cost of P4.38 billion for 2012, as required by government regulation, according to Philex Mining’s 2013 Annual Social Development and Management Program (ASDMP). Michael Toledo, senior vice president for Corporate Affairs at Philex Mining, said, said that Padcal has adhered to its obligations with regard to the annual allotment of funds for SDMP, Information and Education Campaign (IEC), and Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences (DMTG). “This is part of our culture of responsible mining, as we have continued helping in the development of our host-towns—and even outlying communities,” Toledo said. The SDMP projects comprise 75 percent or P49.34 million of the 2013 ASDMP amounting to P65.788 million. This year’s total SDMP budget has been placed at P56.1 million, however, including the P6.76 million carried over from 2012. The biggest chunk of the SDMP fund has been set aside for livelihood activities at about P34 million (including the P5.3 million carried over from the previous year), followed by education at P17.07 million (including P1.46 million from 2012), and healthcare at P5.07 million. Fifteen percent of the ASDMP budget goes to IEC programs while 10 percent is for DMTG programs, which include research, trainings for industry professionals, and seminars on the development of the sector. In his report to Fay Apil, OIC-regional director of MGB-Cordillera Administrative Region, Mr. Ricafortsaid Philex Mining spent about P1.93 million for the first quarter of the year for its various social programs, including infrastructure projects. Feliciano Diso, Jr., manager for Community Relations at Padcal Mines, said his team conducts regular forums with local-government representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders on the implementation of SDMP projects.‐approves‐philex‐minings‐proposed‐p74‐million‐social‐program‐in‐ padcal‐mine/22111/

SC junks disqualification of Senior Citizens party-list July 23, 2013 3:42 pm

The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed the disqualification of the Senior Citizens party-list. During Tuesday’s en banc session, the SC granted the petition filed by the Senior Citizens party-list seeking to have their representations in the House of Representatives. The SC reversed the disqualification ruling of the Commission on Elections which disallowed the said party-list to have representations in the 16th Congress. Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, writer of the decision in the case, led the SC en banc in making the ruling. The SC en banc ruled to dismiss the findings of the Comelec that the Senior Citizens party-list must be disqualified in the May 13, 2013 elections for lack of merit. The Comelec en banc disqualified the said party-list group on the basis of the term-sharing agreement of their nominees. However, the SC ruled the term-sharing agreement is an internal agreement in the said party-list group and cannot be used by the Comelec as a ground for its disqualification since it has earned the mandate of the people. Because of the SC ruling, the Senior Citizens party-list is now entitled to two seats in the House of Representatives. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal Sereno earlier issued a temporary restraining order against the disqualification of the Senior Citizens party-list. However, the said TRO was later lifted by the SC en banc and instead a status quo ante order was issued based on the recommendation of De Castro. PNA‐junks‐disqualification‐of‐senior‐citizens‐party‐list/22094/


Rights group dismayed at Aquino for failing to tackle human rights in SONA July 23, 2013 2:00 pm

by NEIL A. ALCOBER Reporter THE New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday expressed disappointment toward President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s failure to tackle impunity and human rights violations in the Philippines in his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday. James Ross, legal and policy director at HRW, said President Aquino has failed to take significant measures to prosecute members of the military, police and militias implicated in extra judicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances since he assumed office in 2010. “We are dismayed that President Aquino, in his State of the Nation Address yesterday, chose not to talk about the continuing culture of impunity in the Philippines,” Ross said in a statement. “We are disappointed that he did not take the opportunity to communicate to the military and the police that they will be held accountable for human rights violations. President Aquino’s failure to denounce abuses against outspoken activists, environmentalists, clergy and journalists sends the wrong message to abusive security forces and corrupt politicians,” Ross added. The rights group earlier sent a letter to President Aquino asking to outline specific actions concerning impunity and rights abuses that he could mention in his SONA. The president’s failure to denounce abuses against outspoken activists, environmentalists, clergy and journalists, according to the HRW, sends the wrong message to abusive security forces and corrupt politicians.‐group‐dismayed‐at‐aquino‐for‐failing‐to‐tackle‐human‐rights‐in‐ sona/22068/


989 farmers receive land titles in Zambo Sibugay July 23, 2013 1:06 pm

Former farm workers in Zamboanga Sibugay are happy to have finally sealed ownership to various private landholdings after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) handed them their individual certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay. DAR Regional Director Julita Ragandang recently led the distribution of CLOAs to 989 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) with Director Herman Ongkiko of Agrarian Reform Community Project (ARCP), a foreign-assisted project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Ragandang said the properties distributed include 1,489 hectares of agricultural lands located in the barangays of Binangonan, Calape, La Fortuna, Lumapanac, Nanan, Kulasian and Kima. All of the 989 farmer-beneficiaries said they feel they are more secured now, knowing that food would be served on their table regularly because the farms they used to work on as laborers are now theirs. Ragandang said that aside from the lands awarded to the ARBs, DAR will also provide infrastructure projects in partnership with the ADB-ARCP, to make their lands productive. “At present, farm-to-market roads and communal irrigation system are under construction and some roads are under rehabilitation. Agri-business development will also be introduced to farmers, like cacao production in Payao so that our ARB’s will have a ready market for their cacao produce,” said Ragandang. Ragandang said Kennemer Foods International (KFI), makers of M&Ms chocolates, will soon have a contract with the agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organizations (ARBOs) in Payao to purchase the cacao products from them. “The identified area for this project in the municipality of Payao is around 600 hectares. In the meantime, only 100 hectares will be utilized for cacao production for the initial implementation of the project,” added Ragandang. Ragandang said that support services like provisions of farm machines like threshers, tractors and reapers, and rice-duck farming will be given to ARBOs in the barangays of Bulawan, Guiwan, Kulasian and La Fortuna. “These farm implements costs of P22.2 million and will benefit 808 ARBs of Zamboanga Sibugay,” said Ragandang. “The department will continue to help farmers to, one day, own the land they till as long as it is within the law. We also thank them for their patience and efforts to have these landholdings covered under CARP,” Ragandang said. PNA‐farmers‐receive‐land‐titles‐in‐zambo‐sibugay/22064/      

Oil prices higher in Asia July 23, 2013 11:41 am

Oil prices rose in Asian trade on Tuesday on robust US crude demand, analysts said, but buying enthusiasm was capped by weaker economic data from the world’s biggest economy. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in September, was up 22 cents at $107.16 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for September rose 15 cents to $108.30. WTI reached a 16-month high of $109.32 a barrel on Friday—topping the price of Brent for the first time since August 16, 2010. “US crude supplies are holding prices up with traders expecting inventories at a six-month low,” said Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore. But she added that weaker US economic data and corporate earnings missing their targets were limiting gains and keeping WTI prices at around $107 a barrel. The National Association of Realtors said US home sales fell 1.2 percent to an annual rate of 5.08 million in June, from a downwardly revised 5.15 million in May. The average analyst estimate was for a rise to a 5.28 million pace in June. On the corporate front McDonald’s became the latest to miss earnings expectations after last week’s unimpressive results from Coca-Cola, Google and Microsoft. Robust US fuel demand has been a key factor in supporting oil prices, with the country still in the summer driving season when Americans take to the roads for their holidays. AFP‐prices‐higher‐in‐asia/22052/


LandBank is ‘Outstanding Lending Bank’ awardee July 23, 2013 9:21 pm

The Bangko Sental ng Pilipinas (BSP) has recognized the role of the Land Bank of the Philippines in helping micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). In the recently concluded Awards Ceremony and Appreciation Lunch for BSP Stakeholders in the National Capital Region, the central bank awarded LandBank as the “Outstanding Lending Bank” under the Credit Surety Fund (CSF) category. The CSF Program (CSF) is a credit enhancement scheme developed by the central bank that aims to increase the credit worthiness of MSMEs that are experiencing difficulty in obtaining loans from banks due to lack of acceptable collaterals, credit knowledge and credit track records. The scheme aims to improve the bankability and credit worthiness of MSMEs, including cooperatives, which are short of collaterals and are often confronted with difficulties in obtaining loans from banks because of lack of collaterals, credit knowledge and credit track records. The CSF Program was created by pooling cash contributions from participating cooperatives, local government units and other partner institutions. “LandBank has always been supportive of the Credit Surety Fund program as we strongly share its objective of making bank credit more accessie to MSMEs, who are our important partners for progress and development,” said Gilda Pico, LandBank president and chief executive officer. Of the pledged amount of P65.2 million, the bank released P40.4 million to 16 CSFs as of end-June this year. Mayvelin U. Caraballo‐is‐outstanding‐lending‐bank‐awardee/22248/


Posted on July 23, 2013 11:12:08 PM

Dengue-like virus afflicts towns in the Visayas and Mindanao A DENGUE-LIKE disease has affected areas in the Visayas and Mindanao prompting some local officials to declare a state of calamity. More than 50 people in Negros Occidental have fallen ill with the Chikungunya fever while 10 have died from dengue as of this month. The Negros Occidental Provincial Health Office has recorded 56 cases of Chikungunya fever, which is caused by a virus that is also carried by Aedes mosquitoes, in the cities of Kabankalan and Cadiz as of July. Ernell J. Tumimbang, provincial health officer, said the cases were in Barangay Magballo, four in Barangay Bantayan, and one each in barangays Locotan and Balicotoc in Kabankalan and six in Barangay Jerusalem, Cadiz. “The illness resembles dengue fever and is often misdiagnosed,” Mr. Tumimbang said. Meanwhile, he said there have been 3,304 dengue cases recorded in Negros Occidental as of last week. Ten have succumbed to the illness since January. Talisay City topped the list with 336. The cities of Silay, Victorias, Bago and Kabankalan are also in the top five with 322, 273, 264 and 200 cases reported, respectively. In a related development, health officials in Koronadal City have alerted communities as the Chikungunya disease threatens to spread to other communities even as one village has been placed under a state of calamity. City Administrator Cyrus Jose J. Urbano said yesterday that Barangay San Roque’s Disaster Risk Reduction Council has put the village under a state of calamity following the rise of cases to 212 as of Monday. The barangay disaster council has also raised as similar declaration asking assistance from the city government, Mr. Urbano said. San Roque is the nearest to the town of Tampakan where the first cases of Chikungunya in the province were recorded last month.Barangay Kipalbig, Maltana and Poblacion were also hit by the mosquito-borne disease. The whole town of Tampakan was placed under a state of calamity on July 9 when the disease was reported to have affected more than 300 residents. Tampakan shares the boundary with this city through San Roque. City health officer Jean Genevieve G. Aturdido told media the local government is monitoring another village, Barangay Saravia, for the possible spread of the disease. Saravia is next to San Roque. Health teams have been dispatched to areas with reported cases of Chikungunya.The first line of defense is cleanup of possible breeding areas of mosquitoes, said the city health officer. -- Adrian P. Nemes III in Bacolod and Louie O. Pacardo in Koronadal

Posted on July 23, 2013 11:10:44 PM

Fuel prices raised anew FUEL PRICES have been raised for the third consecutive time this month to track price movements of refined petroleum products in the international market.

Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Chevron Corp., SEAOIL Philippines, Inc. and Total Philippines, Inc. announced price increases of 0.50 per liter on premium, unleaded and regular gasoline, 0.50/liter on kerosene and 0.35/liter on diesel effective 6:00 a.m. yesterday. Meanwhile, Eastern Petroleum Corp. implemented the same price adjustments at 12:01 a.m. today. Fernando L. Martinez, chairman emeritus of Independent Philippine Petroleum Companies Association and chief executive officer of Eastern Petroleum, reiterated that the price adjustments “reflect the world price movements [during last week’s trading].” “Local prices have always been aligned with international pricing, which is beyond our shore to be influenced domestically,” Mr. Martinez said in an interview with reporters at Sulo Riviera Hotel in Quezon City. For his part, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla said that global oil prices sustained surge as political turmoil in Egypt continues to raise concerns on supply disruptions at the Egyptian-controlled Suez Canal and the Suez-Mediterranean pipeline. “The world market is in a turmoil. A lot of things are happening in the Middle East. First, it was Syria and it escalated into war. Now, its actually Egypt. The issues there are happening very fast like a lightning,” Mr. Petilla told reporters in an interview at the National Electrification Administration office in Quezon City. “The biggest problem is if the Suez Canal becomes inaccessible. Because the oil passes there,” he added. The department, in its latest report, cited data from the United States Energy Information Administration inventory, which showed that the US oil stocks fell by about 10 million barrels for the second consecutive week. “This has added pressure on prices as it indicates that oil demand is trying to catch up with the economic recovery in the United States. Report also noted that refinery demand was at its strongest in six years,” the report read.Following the price adjustments, gasoline prices have already climbed by 11.60/liter while price cuts have totaled 7.70/liter or a net increase of 3.90, while diesel prices already increased by 9.08/liter and decreased by 6.50/liter for a net hike of 2.58. This week’s adjustments added to last week’s price increases of 1.60/liter gasoline, 1/liter on kerosene and 0.75/liter on diesel.Prices of Dubai crude, the benchmark used by most of Asia, are at $103.40 per barrel yesterday from $103.14 per barrel last week.Meanwhile, as of July 18, international prices of diesel were at $127/barrel from $125/barrel the previous week, while those of gasoline were at $125/barrel from $129/barrel. Data on the Energy department’s Web site showed that as of July 16, gasoline prices ranged from 50/liter to 57.75/liter, while those of diesel ranged from 41.15/liter to 44.35/liter. -- Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano

Posted on July 23, 2013 11:10:13 PM

Senate chairmen named THE SENATE yesterday started to fill in the roster of committee chairmanships mostly with administration coalition members. Initial positions were given to the following senators: • Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero, education, arts and culture; • Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid, who retained tourism; • Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV, national defense and security; • Ramon “Bong” B. Revilla, Jr., who retained public services; • Aquilino Martin “Koko” D. L. Pimentel III, justice and human rights; • Cynthia A. Villar, agriculture and food; • Paolo Benigno “Bam” A. Aquino IV, trade and commerce; and • Grace Poe-Llamanzares, public information and mass media, and public order and dangerous drugs. Meanwhile, Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile designated Senator Vicente C. Sotto III as assistant minority leader. There are 39 permanent committees in the chamber and more than 35 oversight committees. Meanwhile, the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) and the Senate will have “better coordination” in the 16th Congress, the Senate chief yesterday said. “We will have better coordination. I would like to seek out a better coordination with the PLLO,” Senate President Franklin M. Drilon told reporters in an ambush interview before the session, when asked on relations between the PLLO and Senate under his watch. Legislative liaison officer Manuel N. Mamba last month said a comprehensive plan to avoid presidential veto and promote smooth relations between Malacañang and Congress is up for approval of President Benigno S. C. Aquino III.The PLLO is proposing, among others, that agencies should have someone permanently stationed at the Senate and House to be involved in the Legislative process.Mr. Aquino has turned down 71 bills since assuming office in June 2010. Meanwhile, in a separate press release, Mr. Drilon said the amendments to the Cabotage Law on sea trade, mentioned by Mr. Aquino in his State of the Nation Address on Monday, will be pushed by the majority to be prioritized by the Senate. -- KMPT

Posted on July 23, 2013 11:09:22 PM

Religious freedom raised in RH case ORAL ARGUMENTS on the birth control law continued yesterday with discussions centering on whether the measure violates freedom of religion.

Luisito V. Liban, counsel for anti-reproductive health (RH) advocates, said the measure violates religious freedom as it promotes the use of contraceptives contrary to Catholic beliefs. Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P. A. Sereno voiced concern on “religious interference with a secular state policy.” Mr. Liban replied that the equal protection on religious beliefs is not at issue as it is the free exercise of religion. For his part, Associate Justice Mario Victor F. Leonen, who greeted Mr. Liban in Islam, said during his interpellation that the high court cannot declare the measure as unconstitutional for the Catholic Church or Islam, reiterating the separation of Church and state in the Constitution. Continuing his argument, Mr. Liban noted that, under the law, sex education is discriminatory as it is mandatory in public schools but optional in private institutions. Ms. Sereno pointed out, however, that the law’s provision on sex education states that consultations and the community’s consensus are needed before the subject is taught to students. The Chief Justice also disagreed with Mr. Liban when he said that the Department of Education will fail students who refuse to enter sex education classes. “I don’t see coerciveness here,” Ms. Sereno said. Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio asked whether the court can resolve technical issues concerning the safety of drugs.He also asked the petitioner whether the high court can resolve an appeal questioning a ruling by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that a drug is unsafe. “We cannot determine whether a drug is safe or unsafe. In the absence of fraud, we cannot overturn the FDA because we’re not competent,” Mr. Carpio said.Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad, for his part, described hormonal contraceptives as “essentially poison.” He pointed out that the RH Law “falsely declared” that contraceptives are safe. Ms. Sereno said oral arguments will continue on Aug. 3 at 2:00 p.m. with Luis Ma. Gil L. Gana arguing whether or not the RH Law violates the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao since the law encourages local government units to improve their reproductive health services.SC Spokesperson Theodore O. Te clarified after the oral arguments that the Chief Justice actually meant Aug. 6 as the next date of hearing.President Benigno S. C. Aquino III enacted Republic Act 10354 providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health on Dec. 21, 2012.The high court has issued an indefinite stay order on the law since July 16. -- Mikhail Franz E. Flores

Posted on July 23, 2013 10:12:51 PM

P3 billion earmarked for new LPG product EASTERN PETROLEUM Corp. is spending P3 billion for its new liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) product, which will be rolled out in September, a top company official told reporters in Quezon City.

“In September, we will be launching our LPG brand, called EC Gas,” said Fernando L. Martinez, Eastern Petroleum chief executive officer, adding this will cost “P3 billion… for the first year.”

Solon dares Aquino, Belmonte on transparent use of public funds • •

Written by Tribune Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:00

Abakada Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz yesterday dared President Aquino and Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte to act on their calls for transparency in the use of public funds, saying if the two leaders are dead serious in their statements, then they should lead the way, starting with being transparent on the national budget. But transparency may just be a matter of lip service in the upper chamber, as Senate President Franklin Drilon refuses to have the Senate conduct an investigation into the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scandal which, however, listed only the non-allies of the administration and despite calls from senators to have a Senate probe on the issue concerning all of the senators’ pork barrel. In an interview, De la Cruz said while the calls of both Aquino and Belmonte are laudable and timely in the wake of the allegations on the P10-bilion pork barrel scam, it would best be carried out if the Executive branch would also be transparent in terms of its projected and actual expenditure, starting with the proposed national budget. “The calls of both President Aquino and Speaker Belmonte are highly laudable,” said Dela Cruz. “But I think they should lead the way by making the national budget transparent and do away with the lump sum allocation,” the party-list solon stressed. In his state of the nation address Monday, Aquino asked all government officials and even lawmakers to be prudent in the use of public funds amid the government’s probe into the controversial P10-billion scam involving the diversion of lawmakers’ PDAF to fictitious non-government organizations. In his acceptance speech after being reelected Speaker, Belmonte also issued a similar plea to his colleagues, calling for a stricter and more transparent spending of their priority development assistance fund (Pdaf), or more popularly known as pork barrel, funds “Ambiguity must yield to specific, definite and verifiable development programs and projects for both district and party-list funded activities. A strict obedience to a much tightened guidelines in the use of public resources is the strongest guarantee of efficiency, ensuring that each peso spent generates exponential returns for our people,” Belmonte said as he challenged his colleagues, particularly party-list congressmen to devise a plan on how they will spend their P70-million annual pork. Dela Cruz bared he had already written Belmonte on the issue yesterday but disclosed that he will be also filing a resolution sometime today, Wednesday, on the said issue. “They have to put their words into practice starting with the proposed national budget, and do away with

the lump sum allocations and start implementing a line item budgeting,” said dela Cruz. “They have to identify the projects intended for the budget,” the solon stressed. Dela Cruz added he will also be proposing the scrapping of the automatic allocation on the budget particularly for the debt servicing. “If they really want to be transparent, then let’s be transparent. Let us also scrap the automatic allocation and start identifying where the budget will go up to the last centavo,” said dela Cruz. At the same time, the Abakda solon, who voted for Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez in the Speaker race last Monday, bared newly-installed Minority Leader, San Juan Rep. Ronaldo “Ronnie” Zamora has not yet advised them when he awill be meeting the new members of the House Minority bloc. “Practice dictates that whoever votes for the losing Speakership candidate or candidates would be relegated to the Minority bloc. Having been voted for Congressman Martin, then it should follow that I should be a member of the Minority bloc,” dela Cruz said. “But as of today, Congressman Zamora has yet to advise us on when he would be holding a meeting of our ranks,” the party-list solon said. Meanwhile, Senate President Drilon yesterday admitted to having strong reservations on the Senate probe on the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scandal by the blue ribbon committee. Drilon noted the possible “conflict of interest” arising from the conduct of an investigation as some of the PDAF, supposedly misused by non-existing non-government organizations (NGOs) and bogus foundations, happen to be named under some of the incumbent colleagues. “Clearly, there will be a conflict of interest and this will put us in a difficult situation in taking up the PDAF issue. Whatever will be the result of the investigation will be put under the cloud of doubt,” he said, adding that the public will put into question the matter of senators investigating themselves. The newly-elected upper chamber chief emphasized anew the matter of leaving the inquiry into the hands of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice (DoJ). “Why don’t we just let them do their job first, finish the investigation and then afterwards, if we think that it’s lacking in substance or that it requires remedial measure, then we will proceed with it. But we wil have to let the independent agencies look into this PDAF issue, especially the Office of the Ombudsman, being a constitutional body, as no one can prevail upon them,” he said. Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, one of those whose PDAF was alleged to be misused, admitted knowing the purported culprit, Janet Lim Napoles, but denied any knowledge as to the supposed irregularities. “Yes I know her. I will not deny that. (I met her) through a friend,” he said. Estrada, however, shared the position of Drilon on the matter of the NBI being on top of the probe on the issue, even as Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero already filed a resolution calling for an inquiry by the blue ribbon. “Well the NBI is conducting its own investigation. And I heard from the news that the Ombudsman is currently conducting a parallel investigation.

“I am willing to undergo any kind of investigation, I do not have anything to hide as I have told the members of the press when this first came out at the height of the campaign. I have already spoken. I am willing to face any investigation with regard to the alleged PDAF scam,” he said. Estrada said he does not see any problem on the matter of the abolition of the pork barrel. By Charlie V. Manalo and Angie M. Rosales‐solon‐dares‐aquino‐belmonte‐on‐ transparent‐use‐of‐public‐funds                                  

GSIS faces risks in Meralco shares reverse privatization • •

Written by Ed Velasco Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:00

The state-owned Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) may have put at risk P17.37 billion of government pension funds in its decision to reinvest in power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) without the conduct of a proper study on a reversal of a 2008 privatization of the Meralco shares. The GSIS sold its entire 27 percent stake in Meralco to San Miguel Corp. (SMC) at a total of P26 billion or P90 per share in 2008 but last July 19 it bought back around 64 million common shares worth P17.37 billion in Meralco from SMC. An analyst of a top security corporation sees the potential risk GSIS is facing when it abruptly bought the number of shares thrice the price of the amount when SMC bought them in October 2008. The analyst cited valuation metrics which is a valuation formula for companies that can be used to estimate the valuation of a security against its peers. In this valuation, the analyst said GSIS should have carefully studied Meralco’s earnings growth as well as its Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) as basis for the purchase. “Any investment in stock market is not a guarantee that the buyer will earn. GSIS is not exempted from that mantra,” the stockbroker, who requested not to be named, explained to the Tribune in a lengthy interview. The analyst said another reason GSIS is facing risk is when it decided to buy the shares at P270 each if SMC bought it for only P90 per share five years ago. “That’s another question but it can be reconsidered as the prospects in 2008 were different from the present prospects,” he added. He said technically all those who invest in the stock market are gambling except that most of the time most buys are being bet on right companies. “We all know that Meralco shares are profitable; in fact it went as high as P320 that day (of the purchase),” the analyst said. The question now is, will Meralco share prices always be good?” he said. The stockbroker said the biggest consideration he tells his clients is the careful reading of valuation metrics. He added that being a utility firm, Meralco share prices will be good “until the time it is exhausted.” He declined to say when will the utility’s share prices be exhausted. When asked if the state pension fund will lose surely if its reading of valuation metrics is wrong, the stockbroker said “of course, definitely.” Reached for comment, GSIS vice president for corporate communications Margie Jorillo didn’t confirm that the state pension fund bought around 64 million shares of Meralco worth over P17 billion. She also

didn’t comment why her firm bought back the shares at P270 each if SMC bought it for just P90 per share in 2008. “We confirmed that GSIS bought Meralco shares. We cannot disclose the value, volume and the amount but it’s nowhere near the majority of the block,” Jorillo told the Tribune in a cell phone call. She also denied that there was no strict valuation metric reading done prior to the buying of the shares. Jorillo added that the board of trustees was consulted before the shares were bought. “We have a specific fund management group that does all the necessary studies and research before venturing into any deal,” she added. Earlier, SMC independent director Margarito Teves said GSIS must have thoroughly studied if buying back the shares previously owned by SMC was a right move. “I don’t think they are that careless to spend billions without thinking it thoroughly. I hope it’s a good move for them,” Teves told the Tribune in an exclusive interview at his office in Alphaland building in Makati City. The unloading of Meralco shares led SMC to reduce its ownership of the giant utility firm by 5.7 percent. SMC still owns 27.1 percent of Meralco. The Metro Pacific Investments Corp. of Manuel Pangilinan also bought 10 million shares worth P2.7 billion last July 19. MPIC now owns 48.34 percent of Meralco though Beacon Electric Assets Holdings. The buying, which happened last Friday, July 19, led some analysts to think deeply as SMC spent P26 billion when it bought the 27 percent share of GSIS in Meralco in October 2008 at P90 per share. Last Friday’s price was P270 per share. Prior to the sale, SMC owned 32.8 percent of Meralco of which 21.46 percent is directly owned while 6.13 percent are held by subsidiary SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. and 5.24 percent owned by San Miguel Pure Foods Company, Inc. “They could possibly have appreciation of share prices. GSIS possibly saw a big potential that’s why it made a drastic move. It’s their judgment call. It thinks that it will prop up their financial status,” Teves, finance secretary from 2005-2010, explained further. He said there is a serious scenario that GSIS should have done before buying back the shares: consult its board of trustees. “For such a big entity it’s a must that the board of trustees be consulted. They should have declared to the board their intention for buying that shares,” he said. He added that if the board of trustees is consulted, the board has a say in the decision. The board will also be blamed if the buying results in loss whether in short or long term, he added. Asked if the board of trustees has been consulted, the former finance secretary replied “they should be.” The Tribune also asked former GSIS president Winston Garcia, also an SMC independent director, but he didn’t reply. Former Budget secretary Romulo Neri said the buyback involved “a generous price.”‐gsis‐faces‐risks‐in‐meralco‐shares‐reverse‐ privatization  

Sona ‘one-liner’ proves HLI land reform a sham • •

Written by Tribune Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:00

The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) yesterday said the “one-liner” on Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) in what it described as President Aquino’s “blame them all except me” State of the Nation Address (Sona) yesterday was enough proof that the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) raffle draw or “tambiolo” system is “a ploy by the President’s family to circumvent the distribution of the vast sugar estate.” In his Sona Monday, the President said, “If there is one topic my name is often associated with, that would have to be Hacienda Luisita. I would like to inform you that back in February, in compliance with the decision of the Supreme Court, the Department of Agrarian Reform has completed the list of qualified beneficiaries for the land in Luisita. According to Secretary Gil de los Reyes, the process to determine the beneficiaries’ lots began last week, and the turnover of these lots will begin in September of this year.” However, KMP chairman, former Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano said Aquino’s statement only validated allegations by the peasant groups that the deception and coercion inside the Cojuangco-Aquino estate enjoys his blessings. “Aquino’s one paragraph on Hacienda Luisita in his Sona shows that the deception and coercion inside the hacienda enjoys the blessings of the President. It is enough proof that the deceptive tambiolo system and the forcible and coercive promissory note signing is a maneuver by the Cojuangcos and DAR to circumvent the distribution of lands to the farmworkers,” Mariano said adding that “the DAR itself is threatening and blackmailing the farmworker beneficiaries with disqualification if they do not sign a promissory note.” He said “the DAR intentionally disregarded the farmworkers’ demand for collective ownership because it is against the will and interest of the Cojuangcos.” “Collective ownership could hinder the re-concentration of lands to the hands of the President’s family,” Mariano said. “Parceling out Hacienda Luisita into small farm lots or at a measly half-hectare each is easier for the Cojuangcos to reclaim. The DAR only preserved the backward and small-scale production that favors big landlords like the Cojuangcos,” Mariano said. “Hacienda Luisita farmworkers are not simple beneficiaries. They are already the owners of the lands. The hacienda’s distribution should be beyond the bounds of the sham comprehensive agrarian reform program,” Mariano said. KMP also assailed the President for having no solution to the increasing prices of rice and the small coconut farmers’ demand for the immediate return of the coco levy funds. Last July 9, rice prices in Metro Manila increased by P1 to P2 per kilogram. Recent reports also said that in Cebu, rice prices increased by P4 per kg and that even the price of broken rice has gone up from P30 to P34 per kilo while the National Food Authority sells its rice at P32 per kg and corn grits at P27 per kg.

“The absence of a concrete solution on the increasing prices of the Filipino people’s staple food is tantamount to approval to the illegal and arbitrary manipulation of prices by rice cartels,” the former Anakpawis lawmaker said. “The P32 well milled rice released by the NFA in the market did not influence the high prices of rice. Instead, the NFA only contributed to nailing the lowest price of rice to P32,” Mariano said. At the same time, the peasant leader said, “Aquino did not mention anything for the return of the multi-billion coconut levy funds.” “We are alarmed by the President’s continuing silence on the controversial coco levy funds. The absence of any policy on the multi-billion coco levy fund in his Sona strengthens our fears that the Aquino administration is scheming to use small coconut farmers’ money as a ‘pork barrel’ and to highly unacceptable and anti-small coconut farmer programs like the graft-ridden conditional cash transfer program,” he said. In a pastoral statement issued on Sona’s eve, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) expressed concerns over issues including the coco levy fund. DAR said that two crucial stages in the process have been completed: the identification of 6,212 qualified beneficiaries and the segregation survey in the country’ biggest sugar estate. DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes said that other activities required in the land distribution process, such as the valuation work by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), were right on schedule and near completion. “We remain confident that the Department, despite the inherent difficulties and challenges in the process, will meet its self-imposed deadline of distributing the land to qualified beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita by the middle of this year,” delos Reyes stressed. He pointed out that the process of identifying the farmer-beneficiaries took up a significant amount of time and resources. They had to deploy additional personnel from various regional offices to accomplish this task. He said that this was a difficult undertaking as they had to check and recheck records from 23 years ago to determine who would be awarded land in Hacienda Luisita. Secretary delos Reyes also added that since the land is the single largest private landholding to be distributed by the DAR, the survey of the area needed to be given ample time. By Charlie V. Manalo and Paul Atienza‐sona‐one‐liner‐proves‐hli‐land‐reform‐a‐ sham          

Noy allies secured most of plum Senate panels • •

Written by Tribune Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:00

President Aquino’s partymates in the Liberal Party (LP) in the Senate have managed to corner practically most of the much-coveted committee assignments in the upper chamber. Senate President Franklin Drilon yesterday acknowledged this as a fact, even before actual elections of committee chairmen were carried out on the second day of their plenary sessions, saying that it is but natural for them to take control of the significant posts to ensure that will be able to adhere to their legislative agenda. Under the current set up where members of the majority coalition in the Senate are comprised mostly by Palace allies, they will be held responsible if they fail to pursue the priority measures of the administration, he said. “That is why, it is only fitting that those who will lead the (major) committees are our (political) allies and whom we think can deliver the legislative agenda of our President. That has been the tradition here in the Senate and which is also observed by other legislative branches, even in other countries,” he explained. Drilon assured that the situation would be acceptable to the minority bloc as such “tradition” is often followed even under a parliamentary system, that those in the majority bloc call the shots on the matter of legislative agenda of the administration. The Senate chief said that it is understandable for those in the opposition bloc, who had been criticizing the policies and programs of the government to continue with their stance. “They’re with the opposition and they’re expected to be the fiscalizers and oversee if the programs laid down by the administration are properly implemented. That’s the essence of democracy,” he said in a radio interview. The Senate reorganization resumed in their afternoon plenary sessions, with eight of their members from the majority bloc getting elected as committee chairmen. Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano has named Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero as chairman of the committees on education, arts and culture and public order and dangerous drugs. Cayetano also mentioned the election by the minority bloc of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile as their leader, with the latter putting on record that former majority leader, Sen. Vicente Sotto III, will be his deputy minority floor leader. Sen. Cynthia Villar was elected chair of the committee on agriculture and food, while her fellow neophyte colleagues, Senators Grace Poe and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, were named chairmen of the committees on public information and mass media and trade and commerce, respectively.

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III took over the committee on justice and human rights which was formerly at the helm of Escudero and would concurrently be the Senate’s representative to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC). Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid managed to retain his committee on tourism, same with Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. on his committee on public services. Revilla’s other previous chairmanship, the committee on public works, is said to be set to be assigned to the Sen. Ralph Recto, the new Senate president pro tempore, it was gathered. Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV was elected chairman of the national defense and security committee. The remaining committees are set to be finalized before the end of the week, alongside the election of its respective members and the panel assignments that will be given to the minority bloc. Although Sen. Nancy Binay, a member of the minority bloc, mentioned last week the possibility of them not accepting any committee assignments as a matter of consensus within their group, such would not be followed after all. Sen. Jinggoy Estrada already admitted that he’s wishing for Drilon to give them not only committee assignments but also allow them to sit on some of the “significant” ones such as the committees on labor, games, amusement and sports, local government, youth, women and family relations. Estrada confessed on setting his sights on the labor committee, while Binay is eyeing to have the youth, women and family relations committee.‐noy‐allies‐secured‐most‐of‐plum‐senate‐ panels                  

Miriam wants flashy Sona outfits banned • •

Written by Tribune Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:00

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said she would file a resolution prescribing an official uniform for Congress members attending the annual State of the Nation Address (Sona), to prevent a repeat of last Monday’s event where, she said, male and female lawmakers took turns displaying “bling” clothes and jewelry, and acted as endorsers of expensive designers. Santiago reminded lawmakers that the law frowns on conspicuous consumption which she called “the obsession to bling.” The senator cited the Civil Code, Article 25: “Thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency may be stopped by order of the courts at the instance of any government or private charitable institution.” Santiago said that the country is suffering from “acute public want, because of a high unemployment rate of 7.5 percent and a high underemployment rate of 19.2 percent.” She added that the country also faces an emergency, because of our territorial disputes with China and Taiwan. The senator failed to attend the Sona event because she continues to suffer from acute chronic fatigue and is on medical leave from the Senate. “I watched TV and could not stand it. The Sona event should be a serious time for the Congress to pick up policy directions indicated by the President. It should not be treated as Oscar night in Hollywood, with a red carpet, where peacocks spread their tails and turn around and around, as coached by media in a feeding frenzy,” she said. Santiago, for the last few years, has decried the expensive floor-length gowns worn by Congress members and even by their spouses, many produced by high-end designers. “I was once a clueless participant in those mindless events. Don’t get me wrong. I am very proud of our local fabrics and our local designers, some of whom are world-class. But the Sona event is not the proper venue for their talents,” she said. Santiago said that clothes should merely indicate membership in the Senate and House of Representatives, to separate them from those who are not members. “The highlight of the Sona is the President. It is not the flashy women. Now the flaky men are even getting into the act. They also parade, sometimes with photogenic arm candy, into the session hall and preen like their female counterparts. Enough!” she said. Santiago said that a historian with a sense of duty should act as consultant for Sona and other joint

session events in Congress. “I respectfully nominate Gemma Cruz Araneta. Professionally, she is a brilliant historian, and was the country’s first Miss International. She is not a mannequin for a designer. She is just Gemma. In fact, come to think of it, she should be a senator,” Santiago said. Santiago, although a UP corps sponsor for two times, described herself as lacking “any intelligent acquaintance with fashion.” But when pressed for a suggestion on what the uniform should be, she said: “For women, it should be a short pencil skirt, paired with a simple short-sleeved barong blouse. Jewelry should be a single strand of Philippine pearls. For men, it should be a plain long-sleeved barong. Both men and women could wear a ceremonial ribbon with the Congress logo. For the gallery, it should be office attire.” She added: “Most important of all, the attitude should not be frivolous and giggly. The attitude should be serious and businesslike.”‐miriam‐wants‐flashy‐sona‐outfits‐banned                            

Senior Citizens partylist wins case before SC •

Written by Benjamin B. Pulta

Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:00

The Supreme Court (SC) has granted the petition filed by the Senior Citizens partylist which had earlier been disallowed to take seats in Congress by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). A status quo ante order (SQAO) issued by the high court in the case had earlier caused a tiff among magistrates, particulary Senior Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno over the extent of the coverage of the order. During the en banc’s deliberations, the SC ruled to grant the petition filed by Senior Citizens and reversed the ruling of the Comelec which disqualified it. The court en banc cited a lack of merit in the Comelec ruling against the group. The Comelec en banc has disqualified the partylist group on the basis of the term-sharing agreement of their nominees. The term-sharing agreement is an internal agreement in the partylist group and cannot be used by the Comelec as a ground for its disqualification since it has earned the mandate of the people.‐section/item/17058‐senior‐citizens‐partylist‐wins‐case‐ before‐sc                

Erap, Isko personally supervise implementation of bus ban in city • •

Written by Pat C. Santos Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:00

In an effort to improve traffic congestion, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada yesterday morning personally supervised the strict implementation of bus ban in entering the city at all entry point roads as part of a new traffic plan in decongesting the traffic volume. Following the newly approved Manila City Council Resolution 48, otherwise known as “Regulating the use of roads and streets by all public and city buses,” Estrada accompanied by his newly designated “traffic czar” Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso started directing traffic personnel from Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau not to allow entry of buses on Vito Cruz, boundary point of Pasay-Manila, then proceeded to Mabuhay (formerly Welcome ) Rotonda in Quezon City. At Welcome Rotonda at around 9 a.m., tension arose after some bus drivers blocked the road with their PUBs to dramatize their objection to the new scheme being enforced by the city, claiming it could decrease their daily earnings. But Estrada, who was at the site, stood firm and warned drivers not to block the roads with their buses again as they would not hesitate to arrest those who will defy the law. The council resolution was adopted last July 16 and was published in some major dailies as part of the legal process in informing the public before a law or city ordinance will take effect. The new traffic city ordinance aims to decongest traffic brought about by high volume of motor vehicles travelling the national and city roads. The city council formulated resolution aimed at regulating the use of roads by all kinds of public transport like tricycles, buses, jeepneys and other transport modes. “Whereas, based on the studies conducted by the UP National Center for Transportation Study, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Department of Transportation and Communications, one of the biggest factors of traffic congestion in the metropolis is the high volume of buses plying the streets of Metro Manila,” resolution said. “Whereas due to the ever-worsening traffic congestion being haplessly experienced by the general public in the city of Manila, it is high time and imperative to regulate the use of all roads and streets by all public utility provincial buses traversing the streets of the City of Manila by allowing only the provincial and city buses with existing terminals within the city the use of the same,” the resolution added. Estrada quickly appointed Moreno as “traffic czar” tasked to overhaul traffic situation in Manila being the hardest hit by a large volume of vehicles travelling daily as well as the presence of illegal terminals of public utility jeepneys (PUJs) and PUBs which contributes greatly to the constriction of vehicular flow

when they place their fleet of vehicles right in some intersection and loading and unloading points disregarding even the traffic lights to the detriment of passing motorists. As part of new traffic advisories for buses, here are the new guidelines: 1. All buses coming from the North shall observe the following turnaround routes: a. From A. Bonifacio right to Blumentritt right to Aurora Blvd. towards Rizal Avenue to Caloocan en route to C3 and onward to northbound destination. b. Unloading zone — along Aurora Boulevard in front of Mercury Drugstore. 2. All provincial buses with private terminals inside the city of Manila shall be allowed to traverse up to their designated private terminals as their final destination and vice versa. There shall be no unloading/loading along any street in the city en route to and from their repective terminals. 3. All city buses from Quezon City shall take the Mabuhay Rotonda thru a U-turn slot back to Quezon City. 4. Buses coming from the South using Osmeña Avenue shall go straight and right to Quirino Avenue then take left to Plaza Dilao Rotonda back to Quirino Avenue then left to Osmena Highway. 5. Buses coming from south vis Taft Avenue must turn right to Vito Cruz right turn to Estrada St. left to Zobel Roxas to Osmeña Avenue. Moreno expressed hope the city will get a share of the P6.2-billion budget that the national government had allocated for the flood control program which President Aquino mentioned in his Sona last Monday. As a gratitude, Moreno in an interview thanked President Aquino in mentioning the Blumentritt catchment project which was started last March that will serve as immediate remedy during flash floods, particularly the Espñna-University Belt area. According to Moreno, being the traffic czar in the city, the President showed his utmost concern to ease and decongest the traffic in Metro Manila. This is when he mentioned in his Sona the Integrated Transport System and the Nlex-Slex connector that will greatly help in widening the roads of Manila. Moreno called on the people, particularly residents of Manila, to support the effort of President Aquino in fulfilling his desire to ease traffic. “ Just like the call made by President Aquino, each one of us has his role in nation building and we must do our share to have a better living and a better life,” Moreno said.‐section/item/17057‐erap‐isko‐personally‐supervise‐ implementation‐of‐bus‐ban‐in‐city      

Foreigners from 151 countries may now enter RP even without visas • •

Written by Conrado Ching Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:00

Starting next month, nationals from 151 countries may now enter the country without a visa and stay here for 30 days, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) yesterday announced. BI acting Commissioner Siegfred Mison disclosed the visa-free entry privilege of the nationals was extended from 21 days to 30 days as part of government efforts to spur foreign tourist arrivals in the country. Mison said the new visa policy was adopted pursuant to a circular from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued last July 1. He added pursuant to existing bilateral agreements, nationals from Israel and Brazil shall continue to be admitted for an initial stay of 59 days. The BI chief, however, stressed that foreigners can only avail themselves of the visa-free privilege if their passports are valid for at least six months beyond their contemplated period of stay. “They should also present return tickets to their country of origin or onward tickets to their next country of destination,” he said. The bureau has finished updating its computerized travel control systems in the different ports of entry to implement the new visa scheme. Earlier, the government had announced that it was extending the visa-free entry privileges of foreign visitors to spur tourist arrivals in the country. The Department of Tourism said it aims to attract at least 10 million foreign tourists by 2016. DoT officials also foresee the tourism sector to generate up to seven million jobs for Filipinos if the target is achieved.‐section/item/17056‐foreigners‐from‐151‐countries‐may‐ now‐enter‐rp‐even‐without‐visas

Tetangco cites BSP mettle against global challenges • •

Written by Ed Velasco Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:00

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. told hundreds of bankers that the BSP is comparable to “porcelain,” an ancient precious stone as it is able to endure the heat of national and global challenges and even becoming stronger in the face of trials. “The story of porcelain as works of art started over 2,000 years ago. What is amazing is that some of these ancient pieces still exist; they have endured,” the governor said as he directly compared the entity to the precious stone. Speaking before various bankers, the 60-year-old govenor said like its predecessor, the Central Bank of the Philippines (CBP), the BSP values its legacy and traditions that connect it to the history of central banking in the country. “Indeed, we have the metrics to show the progress we have made in pursuing our mandate of providing stability to prices and the banking sector through our monetary and banking policies and programs,” Tetangco said. He said the banking system and the monetary policies of the government are easily managed since the old CBP charter was amended and renamed it BSP in July 1993. The most significant improvement is the easier way in managing inflation. Tetangco said had the charter of BSP wasn’t amended 20 years ago, the 9.3 percent inflation in 1998, the height of the Asian financial crisis, could have not been reduced to 2.8 percent in June 2013. Other benefits reaped from the new BSP charter is the ballooning of total banking resources to eight folds; the increasing of gross international reserves (GIR) by around 15 times; and the decreasing of nonperforming loans (NPLs) of banks from what used to be double digit to less than two percent at present. “Total resources of the banking system for instance increased from more than P1 trillion in 1993 to over P8 trillion in 2012; deposits from P649 billion to P5.8 trillion, and loans from P553 billion to P4.1 trillion,” Tetangco said. The governor said over the same period, the Philippines’ GIR, which are the assets of the BSP in different reserve currencies used to back liabilities, soared from $5.3 billion to $81.6 billion as of June 2013. “This gives us the ability to provide the foreign exchange needs of our growing economy and to minimize the possible impact of external shocks. Our healthy GIR levels also allowed us to prepay our debts to the IMF and end more than 40 years of our country’s dependence on IMF loans in 2006,” he added. NPLs of UKBs, on the other hand, dropped from double-digit levels to 1.87 percent in May 2013. The

figure was even better than the pre-Asian financial crisis figures, he said. “In other words, the sound and stable Philippine banking system that we see today is the dividend from our continuing reform agenda to clean up bank balance sheets, strengthen bank capitalization, improve governance structures, enhance risk management systems and align with international standards,” Tetangco said.‐tetangco‐cites‐bsp‐mettle‐against‐global‐ challenges                                    

Award inspires thrift bank to open 4 branches, 8 microfinance offices • •

Written by Ed Velasco Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:00

Rizal Microbank, the thrift bank of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), announced it will be opening four more branches and eight microfinance banking offices (MBOs) until first quarter of 2014. Bank president Lourdes Jocelyn Pineda said the recent award it bagged in Singapore inspired them more to serve the under-banked sector of the Philippines, especially those in the provinces. “Award has encouraged us to expand our breadth and depth of operations,” she said, referring to the Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Award (Area) the bank won in Singapore last June 29. Speaking before reporters at a press conference, Pineda said the eight MBOs Rizal Microbank is opening are different from regular branches usually opened by other banks. An MBO is the counterpart of overseas banking office of universal banks that open units in the Philippines. Pineda said the opening of 12 MBOs is a commitment of the bank to clients who strive hard to succeed. Rizal Microbank’s parent bank, RCBC, is known as “bank of aspiring sectors” as it holds the record of most small entrepreneurs who have gone super successful. “Our vision is to be the bank of choice of micro-entrepreneurs in the areas where we operate,” the banker, who was a rural and investment banker in her early profession, told the Daily Tribune. She said the MBOs to be opened will be only set on selected sites. “We intend to use a ‘hub-and-spoke’ approach in establishing our presence. We expect to open four branches this year and eight MBOs by first quarter of 2014,” she said. Rizal Microbank which has main office is in Davao City has a current assets of P900 million. It currently has 14 branches. The bank started to operate when RCBC used the license of Merchants Savings Bank after it acquired an RB in Batangas several years back.‐award‐inspires‐thrift‐bank‐to‐open‐4‐branches‐ 8‐microfinance‐offices  

RP stocks rally amid key plans bared in Noy’s Sona • •

Written by PNA Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:00

Philippine stocks joined a global rally yesterday as the market cheered the administration’s key plans and achievements spelled out by President Aquino in his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona). The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) zoomed 115.85 points to close at 6,743.21 from previous day’s 6,627.36. The barometer index rose 1.75 percent to its highest since June 7 when it finished 6,701.95. Jonathan Ravelas, Banco de Oro Unibank chief market strategist, said the market appears optimistic ahead of second-quarter earnings as well as positive sentiments arising from the Sona. ”As the Sona highlights pursuit of inclusive growth, the Philippines will boost spending on services and education,” he said. As the P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014 has been submitted to Congress, Jun Calaycay of Accord Capital Equities Corp. said the country should see increase in the outlay for education infrastructure. Calaycay said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) also merit taking a second look at the prospects for construction firms next year. ”The Sona news cycle will continue through the rest of the week with all stakeholders breaking it down to its components,” he said. Calaycay said the earnings cycle for the second quarter and first half of the year should also provide sufficient backdrop for Philippine share prices to continue to tread higher. ”The PSEi should test the 6,900-mark over the period, and given the sustained promising outlook for the overall economy, dips in prices should open buying opportunities,” he said. World stock prices also rose to their new highs yesterday on Japan’s plan to stimulate its economy. In Asia, the overall stock market is bolstered by optimism about China’s economic growth. In yesterday’s trading, the market rally was led mainly by holding firms and services that advanced 2.24 percent and 2.15 percent. The sub-indices of other counters gained 0.56 percent to 1.70 percent. Volume of transactions reached 1.37 billion shares valued at P8.73 billion. Gainers won decliners, 114 to 46, while 39 issues were unchanged. .‐rp‐stocks‐rally‐amid‐key‐plans‐bared‐in‐noy‐s‐


IBAWAL ANG ‘BACKER SYSTEM’ SA BOC -- BIAZON Nina Aries Cano, Boyet Jadulco at Noel Abuel

Matapos masabon ay tiniyak ni Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon na magpapatupad ito ng reporma para mawalis ang mga tiwaling empleyadong nagsisilbing anay sa ahensya.

Ang pahayag ay ginawa ni Biazon kasabay sa pagbawi nito sa kanyang alok na resignation matapos itong tanggihan ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III dahil sa nananatili pa umano ang tiwala nito sa opisyal kahit sinabon nito ang tanggapan ng Bureau of Customs (BOC), sa idinaos na ika-apat nitong State of the Nation Address (SONA) sa Kamara kamakalawa dahil sa talamak na katiwalian.

“Ang sabi naman ng Pangulo, nananatili ang kanyang kumpiyansa sa akin... Sabi niya, nauunawaan daw niya ang hirap ng trabaho ko, nananatili ang kanyang kumpiyansa,” pahayag ni Biazon.

Ayon kay Biazon, wake-up call para sa lahat ang pagsabon ng Pangulo hindi lamang sa pinuno ng BOC kundi sa lahat ng kawani nito.

“‘Yung mensahe ng Pangulo, sa aking pananaw ay directed sa lahat ng empleyado at opisyal ng BOC, dahil kung pagtutuunan lang ng pansin ‘yung commissioner ‘di tayo makakaasa ng long-lasting na pagbabago,” pahayag ni Biazon.

Kasabay nito umapela si Biazon sa Kamara na magpasa ng batas na kokontra sa mga political backer na nagsusubo ng mga tiwaling empleyado sa kanyang opisina.

“Tutal kahapon nu’ng binatikos ang Customs maraming mambabatas ang nagpalakpakan, ito siguro hihilingin ko ang suporta nila, number 1 na panukala, magkaroon ng resolution o batas na ipagbabawal ang pag-endorso sa BOC ng empleyado mula sa isang pulitiko,” mungkahi ni Biazon.

Binigyang-diin pa ng komisyuner na malalakas ang loob ng ilang mga empleyado na gumawa ng kabulastugan dahil may mga backer na pulitiko.

“Isa ‘yan sa nagiging problema sa bureau, ‘yung mga may lakas ng loob dahil meron silang political backers... makakatulong ‘yan sa ating laban para sa reporma,” dagdag ng opisyal.

Sinabi pa ni Biazon, ang masaklap ay laging napag-iinitan ang pinuno kapag sumasablay ang ahensya na nagbibigay-daan sa resignation subalit ang mga matatagal nang anay at nakakalusot sa mga katiwalian ay hindi naaalis sa puwesto.

Samantala, itinanggi ng Malacañang na “malakas” si Biazon sa Punong Ehekutibo kaya’t hindi niya ito

sinibak sa kabila ng ginawang pagkastigo sa talamak na kurakutan sa BOC.

Ayon kay deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, naniniwala ang Pangulo na matinong tao si Biazon, miyembro ng administration party Liberal Party (LP), subalit ang mga nakapaligid sa kanya ang hindi sumusunod sa adbokasiya ng “tuwid na daan”.

Ani Valte, hindi si Biazon ang puntirya ng Pangulo sa ginawang pagbatikos sa kurakutan sa BOC kundi ang mga taong nagtatrabaho sa ahensya na patuloy na nangungurakot sa trabaho.

Dahil dito ay inihahanda na ng Pangulo at ni Biazon ang kaukulang hakbang upang mabura ang mga buwitre sa BOC, kung saan P200 bilyon umano ang nawala sa kaban ng gobyerno dahil sa mga padulas.

Samantala, suportado naman ni Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) partylist Rep. Sherwin Tugna ang pananatili ni Biazon sa BOC.                        

Dagdag pension bago contribution hike sa SSS (Bernard Taguinod)

Papalagan, hindi lamang ng mga Social Security System (SSS) members kundi ng mga employer ang inuumang na dagdag na kontribusyon sa insurance ng mga empleyado sa pribadong sektor.

Ito ang tinitiyak ni Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares sa panayam kahapon dahil sa pagpapahaging ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III na dagdagan ang kontribusyon ng mga SSS member upang matakpan ang unfunded liabilities ng nasabing institusyon lalo na’t taun-taon ay parami nang parami ang nagreretiro.

Hindi matatanggap ng mga SSS member at maging ng mga employer ang dagdag na kontribusyon sa SSS kung hindi umano madadagdagan din ang pensyon ng mga miyembro nito.

“Nais niyang padagdagan ang SSS contribution pero hindi naman niya sinabi na madadagdagan din ang pension kaya papalagan iyan ng mga member,” ayon pa sa mambabatas.

Sa State of the Nation Address (SONA) ni Pangulong Aquino, iminungkahi nito ang 0.6% na dagdag sa SSS contribution para makalikom ng P141 bilyon kada taon at mabura ang P1.1 trillion unfunded obligation nito.‐dJvAqM                        

Luzon, Visayas pauulanin ng ITCZ (Joselito Perez)

Pinapayuhan ang mga mamamayan na kapag lumabas ng bahay ay huwag kalimutan na magdala ng payong o anumang panangga sa ulan dahil magdudulot umano ng mga pag-ulan ang inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ) sa bahagi ng Luzon at Visayas, ayon sa ulat ng Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) kahapon.

Sakop nito ang Metro Manila, Ilocos Region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal at Quezon, Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon at Palawan, Bicol Region, Visayas at Caraga.

Ang mga nabanggit na lugar ay makakaranas ng maulap na kalangitan na may katamtaman at bahagyang pag-ulan, pagkulog at pagkidlat.

Hanggang kahapon ay walang namamataan ang Pagasa na anumang bagyo na papasok sa Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) sa mga susunod na araw.                        


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Manila Bay: “One of the most polluted bays in the world” -- Greenpeace (Angely Ablay)

Share on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookShare on emailMore Sharing Services Hindi na lamang ang nakabibighaning paglubog ng araw ang matutunghayan natin sa Manila Bay, kasama na sa tanawin ang napakaraming tambak ng basura sa dalampasigan at ang dating kulay asul na tubig na ngayo’y kulay itim na.

Sanhi nito, isa na ngayon ang Manila Bay sa itinuturing na pinakamaruming dagat sa mundo. Isa na itong napakalaking tambakan ng basura para sa buong Metro Manila at mga kalapit probinsya ng Bataan Peninsula pababa ng Cavite, maging para sa mga barkong bumabaybay sa rutang ito.

Sa kabila ng pagkasira ng Manila Bay, isa pa rin ito sa pinagkukunan ng pagkain, kabuhayan, trabaho at nagsisilbing libangan ng tinatayang 23 milyong Pilipino. Patuloy pa rin itong nabubuhay at nagbibigay-buhay.

Ang polusyon ang pinakamatinding problema sa Manila Bay. Polusyon na ibinubunga ng mga basurang gawa sa plastik na ating basta na lamang itinatapon. Noong Agosto 2012, nakakolekta ang Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) ng humigit-kumulang sa 1,800 tonelada ng mga basura na karamihan ay plastik na inaagos kasama ng malakas na pag-ulan sa Roxas Boulevard. Na tumutugma sa pagtutuos ng kwenta na isinagawa ng Greenpeace at EcoWaste Coalition noong taong 2006 at 2010 na nagpakita ng halos 70 porsyento ng basura ay mula sa plastik.

Nabatid na Disyembre 18, 2008 nang mag-isyu ang Supreme Court (SC) ng Writ of Continuing Mandamus na nag-uutos sa 13 ahensya ng gobyerno na linisin, muling buhayin, i-preserba at panatilihing malinis ang Manila Bay. Ngunit dalawang taon matapos ang 2011 na palugit upang linisin ang Manila Bay, nanatili pa rin itong marumi dahil sa mga ilegal na mga dump site na patuloy na nakakalat sa mga dalampasigan.Binibigyang-pansin ng Greenpeace ang sitwasyon sa Manila Bay bilang representasyon kung paano dapat ang gobyerno na magpatupad ng polisiya sa bansa upang masiguradong protektado ang ating mga karagatan. Kailangan nating proteksyunan ang mga dagat laban sa mga pag-abuso upang mapanatiling masigla at balanse ang ating ekolohiya para sa mga tao nito.

BUDGET SCRUTINY Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 108 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco

LEYTE (1st District) Rep. Ferdinand Martin “FM” G. Romualdez yesterday vowed to put Malacañang’s 2014 P2.268-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) under close scrutiny even as he congratulated President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for a welldelivered State of the Nation Address (SONA) the other day. “I would like to congratulate the President for a well-delivered SONA. Maganda ang mga istorya niya, pero sana naman mararamdaman rin natin sa lalawigan natin sa Leyte,” Romualdez said, adding that the examination of next year’s budget will be part of his role in the minority bloc. Romualdez also said he wants to ensure that the proposed budget would help carry the reforms that President Aquino had outlined in his SONA for the next three years, including inclusive growth. “We look forward to seeing these (reforms) more in the budget and we would like to review that. Overall, it was a well-delivered SONA, it’s a great story but we would like to see more of it on the ground because we don’t necessarily feel all of it yet. The numbers are posted up there, but I guess the saying is to see is to believe,” Romualdez pointed out. “The budget is the most important piece of legislation in Congress that we have to look at. The budget for next year will be amounting to more than two trillion pesos, far larger than the budget before. Kailangang himayin

natin ito and look at the policy statements,” Romualdez stressed. The Leyte solon cited President Aquino’s good plans and programs to further improve the country, including investments for the education sector. “Obviously we are happy with the emphasis on education, about addressing the backlogs in buildings and school houses. Any program for education is critical, we hope that it continues. We would like to see more of that, so we’re glad that these are all in the pipeline, but in our respective areas we would like to feel it more than hear about it,” Romualdez said. Malacañang is also pushing Congress through its “policy recommendations” to tighten the rules on the disbursement of funds from the graft-tainted pork barrel. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said his department is eyeing to limit the menu of projects that can be funded by pork as well as the number of implementing agencies, and having the civil service organizations accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.‐budget‐scrutiny                            

Be objective, Drilon urges solons Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 70 Written by : Bernadette Tamayo

SENATE President Franklin Drilon has appealed to his colleagues – be they from the majority or the opposition – to scrutinize the proposed Php2.268-trillion 2014 national budget “objectively.” He is optimistic that next year’s capital outlay will pave the way for an inclusive and all-encompassing growth which President Benigno Aquino promised in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA). “I am confident that our fellow senators, whether from majority or minority blocs, will scrutinize the proposed outlay objectively, bearing in mind the greatest needs of our people, especially the poorest of the poor,” said Drilon. “As legislators, it is our duty to ensure that indeed no Filipino, regardless of economic status, will be left behind and that every Filipino will experience a remarkable improvement in his or her life,” said Drilon as he also gave assurances that, under his leadership, the 2014 budget will be passed before the year ends. Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has described the proposed 2014 expenditure program — which is 13.1 percent or Php262.1 billion higher than this year’s National Budget – as an important accompanying document to the SONA. “This is the state of the nation spelled out in peso terms. The visions spelled out in the SONA must be expressed in the proposed budget. If a program is not in the budget, it remains a political rhetoric,” he said.

“I am sure that the President, his Cabinet, and Secretary Abad have crafted a budget that funds not only the promises of the SONA but also the reforms needed to create growth that will benefit all. I am proposing that the Senate hold hearings parallel to what the House will be conducting to save time and maximize our evaluation of the spending document,” Recto said. Drilon is pleased with the government’s sustained priority being given to health and education systems. “I laud the highest budget increase of 45.5-percent budget given to the Department of Health making its 2014 budget Php87.1 billion to provide a wider health coverage,” said Drilon. He stressed that the excise tax collections from the Sin Tax Reform will augment the budget for health insurance of indigent families next year. Based on the submitted budget, Php35.3 billion is being proposed for the Premium Health Subsidy of 14.7 million indigent families. He hopes the highest budget being allocated for the Department of Education (DepEd) amounting toPhp336.9 billion for next year will finally enable the agency to put closure to the problems on classroom and school facilities, textbooks, and teachers.‐stories/54912‐be‐objective‐drilon‐urges‐solons              

Palace submits budget • • Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 48

MALACAÑANG submitted the proposed P2.268-trillion National Expenditure Program to the members of Congress yesterday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte announced yesterday. Valte said substantial portions of the budget will go to the Department of Education which is allocated P336.9-billion, the Department of Public Works and Highways, P213.5-billion and the Department of Interior and Local Government, P135.4billion. Valte added that the other three departments getting the biggest outlays are the Department of National Defense with 123.1-billion, Department of Health, P87.1-billion and the Department of Agriculture, P80.7-billion. The President is also set to submit his budget message. EMontano‐stories/54908‐palace‐submits‐budget              

Imelda better, advised to rest • Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 49

FORMER First Lady and re-elected Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos is now better after she met a small accident at the House of Representatives last Monday. In a statement released by her office, based on initial checkup, Mrs. Marcos suffered minor injury. “There is no reason to worry,” Mrs. Marcos told her colleagues and supporters. As of press time, Mrs. Marcos is still confined at the Philippine Heart Center but in a stable condition. She was advised by her doctor to immediately undergo an Xray scan and have her foot checked. Last Monday, Mrs. Marcos, 84, was making her way out of the Session Hall after the morning session when her right foot slipped, causing her to lose her balance and hit her left knee on the floor. Right after the accident, she was given first aid by Dr. Richard Dizon, head of the medical division of the House of Representatives. “Congresswoman would like to extend her message of thanks to all her colleagues, friends and supporters who expressed their concern regarding her condition,” the statement said. Jester P. Manalastas‐imelda‐better‐advised‐to‐rest

FoI bill to be pushed Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 24 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco

THE failure of President Benigno “Noynoy� Aquino III to mention the freedom of information (FoI) bill during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) would not stand in the way for the proponents to push the highly-divisive measure with dispatch. Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr. and DIWA party-list Rep. Emmeline Aglipay said they consider as a mere challenge rather than a setback the seeming lack of interest of President Aquino to push the pro-transparency measure aimed at giving public access to crucial and very important public documents. "Much as we wanted FOI prioritized in the SONA, it is not being mentioned in the SONA is not a major concern. I wasn't really expecting it to be mentioned. So I'm not really disappointed," Brawner, one of the authors of FOI bill, said in an interview. "I was just wishing during the middle of his talk when he was talking about fighting corruption and talking about Secretary (Jesse) Robredo that it would be nice to insert the FOI in his rhetoric. But as I said, it's not a major concern that it did not happen and it won't affect our timetable or our strategies," Brawner added. For her part, Aglipay, reportedly being eyed to lead the House committee on public information, said they will continue to remain steadfast in pushing the passage of the FOI bill. Aglipay expressed confidence that the House of

Representatives will push for the passage of FOI bill. "Although the FOI was not discussed in the SONA, it does not mean that it will not be passed by this Congress. The SONA does not endeavor to layout all the bills to be pursued for this Congress. We maintain our resolve in fighting to give life to our right to information on matters of public concern," Aglipay said. During the last 15th Congress the House committee on public information was led by Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone.‐foi‐bill‐to‐be‐pushed                                      

China CG to handle sea conflict Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 51 Written by : People's Tonight

Beijing (AFP) -- China’s new unified coast guard agency has gone into operation, state media reported yesterday amid maritime disputes with neighbors, and experts said more ships will be armed as a result. The China Coast Guard integrates the functions of marine surveillance, the existing coast guard which came under the police, fisheries law enforcement and Customs’ anti-smuggling maritime police. The divisions “that were not allowed to be equipped with weapons can be armed now,” Yang Mian, professor of international relations at the Communication University of China, was quoted as saying by the Global Times newspaper. “The new agency will also make our law enforcement more powerful.” The new agency will “have reasonable and legal law enforcement equipment” and “detect and rapidly handle in accordance with the law acts that harm China’s maritime rights and interests,” Zhang Junshe, a military researcher, wrote. The Philippines and Vietnam have accused Beijing of aggressively asserting its extensive claims in the South China Sea, although tensions have abated slightly with Hanoi in recent weeks. With an eye on the rows, the United States has strengthened military cooperation with Japan and the Philippines -- which are both treaty-bound allies -- as well as with former war adversary Vietnam.‐china‐cg‐to‐handle‐sea‐conflict        

Budget passage vowed Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 49 Written by : Marlon Purificacion

SENATE President Franklin Drilon expressed optimism that the 2014 national budget will pave the way for an inclusive and all-encompassing growth which President Aquino promised in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA). Drilon, who was chair of the Committee on Finance that hears the country’s expenditure program, likewise, gave assurance that, with him at the helm, the Php2.268-trillion 2014 budget will be passed before the year ends. The expenditure program for 2014 is 13.1 percent or Php262.1 billion higher than this year’s National Budget. “I am particularly pleased with the sustained priority being given to health and education systems. I laud the highest budget increase of 45.5-percent budget given to the Department of Health making its 2014 budget Php87.1 billion to provide a wider health coverage,” said Drilon. He stressed that the excise tax collections from the Sin Tax Reform Law will augment the budget for health insurance of indigent families next year. Based on the submitted budget, Php35.3 billion is being proposed for the Premium Health Subsidy of 14.7 million indigent families. Drilon also said he hopes the highest budget yearly being allocated for the Department of Education amounting to Php336.9 billion for next year will finally enable the agency to put closure to the problems on classroom and school facilities, textbooks, and teachers.‐budget‐passage‐vowed        

Drilon: No scam probe Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 94 Written by : Marlon Purificacion

SENATE President Franklin Drilon confirmed that he will not push for an investigation on the alleged Php10-billion pork barrel scam involving several lawmakers. • Drilon said the Senate will just let the National Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Ombudsman conduct the investigation. • “Mayroong basic conflict of interest. Hindi po natin pwedeng imbestigahan ang ating mga sarili, ang ating mga kasamahan. At ang pinakamabuti, ipaubaya na lamang muna natin sa investigating agencies -- NBI, Ombudsman,” he said. • President Benigno Aquino III, who wanted the scam thoroughly investigated, did not mention the allegations of anomalous allocations of pork barrel funds to fake NGOs in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday. • It was a glaring omission in the SONA that was pointed out by various critics. • Drilon, a member of Aquino’s Liberal Party, said whatever conclusion a Senate investigation will reach would not be credible to the public. • “Sa palagay ko, kahit ano pang resulta ng imbestigasyon sa Senado, medyo ang taongbayan magdadalawang-isip kung iyon nga ba ang nangyari,” he said. • Despite the controversy, Drilon said the abolition of the pork barrel is unlikely as there are lawmakers, particularly those in far-flung districts, who legitimately need these funds. • But Drilon, a veteran politician, said he is in favor of the controlled use of the allocation. • He pointed out that lawmakers would need the pork barrel to fund projects, such as education and health benefits, for the poor.

• “Halimbawa, in my case, I place a good portion of my pork barrel sa mga government hospital, para sa mga indigent, sa mga mahihirap na nangangailangan ng mga gamot, nangangailangan ng mga ospital,” Drilon said.‐drilon‐no‐scam‐probe                                                

Manila to ban toxic cosmetics Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 51

THE call for an end to the proliferation of dangerous cosmetics laced with mercury and other harmful substances has been heard. According to the EcoWaste Coalition, a Manila councilor filed an ordinance as pressure mounts on unscrupulous dealers in combating the illicit trade of poisonous cosmetics. Ordinance 7515 filed by District 2 Councilor Numero Lim, ensures strict business compliance to the national ban on mercury in cosmetics above the allowable limit of 1 part per million (ppm) in line with the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive. Fifteen samples of skin whitening products bought by the group from Chinese drug stores and health and beauty shops in Binondo, Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz were tested with high levels of mercury up to 59,000 ppm. Under the ordinance, violators of the ordinance shall, upon conviction, be fined for not less than P50,000 but not more than P500,000 or imprisoned from one year to 10 years, or both. Joel dela Torre‐manila‐to‐ban‐toxic‐cosmetics                  

Oil firms jack up prices for nth time • • Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 56 Written by : Edd Reyes

NO respite from higher oil prices. Major oil firms announced another round of price adjustment yesterday, the ninth in the past 10 weeks. The country’s biggest oil companies — Petron Corporation, Pilipinas Shell and Chevron Philippines — increased the prices of gasoline and kerosene by P0.50 per liter and diesel by P0.35 per liter at 6 a.m. yesterday. Small players Seaoil, Unioil and Eastern Petroleum Philippines as well as Total Philippines, the country’s fourth biggest oil company, also adjusted its pump prices by the same increments at 6 a.m. Other oil firms have yet to announce an adjustment as of press time, although they would likely follow suit if the past few weeks are any indication. Petron Strategic Communications chief Raffy Ledesma and Ina Soriano of Pilipinas Shell said the price adjustment reflects movements in the international oil market and the foreign exchange rate. Last week, oil companies implemented a hefty hike of P1.60 per liter of gasoline, P0.75 per liter of diesel and P1.00 per liter of kerosene.‐oil‐firms‐jack‐up‐prices‐for‐nth‐time                      

Traders hail SONA • • Published : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 61 Written by : People's Tonight

AN international business group yesterday lauded President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s “excellent” State of the Nation Address (SONA) speech which focused on good governance that further helped legitimize operating business in the country. “Yes we are happy with the speech, particularly on the legitimacy of doing business in the Philippines. That’s very, very important and critical to all legitimate companies operating in the country and companies willing to come in to the country. The first concern is if they can make a legitimate business in the Philippines? The President is aware and pushing all the initiatives toward this direction,” Manos Koukourakis, the Philippines general manager for Japan Tobacco International, who was invited to witness President Aquino’s SONA Monday representing the business sector, told reporters. Las Piñas City Rep. Mark Villar, incoming chairman of the House committee on trade and industry, cited President Aquino’s emphasis on the accomplishments of his government and programs that would ensure the continuity of inclusive economic growth. “It’s very complete. Lahat ng accomplishments at mga plano niya sa susunod na three years at least na-outlined sa kanyang speech kaya maganda,” Villar stressed in a separate ambush interview. At the same time, Koukourakis suggested that the Aquino administration should focus more on working the end results of inclusive economic growth so that positive benefits

would be felt by more Filipinos nationwide. “I think he’s (President Aquino) doing great so far and you can see the results around his presidency. What I would like to see in action is what he promised about inclusive growth, reduction on poverty and unemployment rates, increase in the disposable income of the average Filipino like all of you and me. That’s what I would like to see in practice. I wish the best of luck to the President,” Koukourakis stressed.‐traders‐hail‐sona                                        

2013 07 24 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

Philippine Agriculture and Related News' Daily Monitor

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