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PHL rice export to hit more than 200 metric tons by year-end Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 20:00 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent

THE Philippines is expected to export more than 200 metric tons (MT) of premium rice by the end of 2013, officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Monday. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the Philippines has already breached the 100-MT target for the year when it shipped out 45 MT of aromatic rice to Singapore on July 22. Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante Delima said the rice export would partly satisfy the demand of 146,000 overseas Filipino workers in Singapore, Singaporeans and tourists. The latest shipment of premium rice consisted of 25 MT from farmer-members of Firmus Service Cooperative (FSC), in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and 20 MT from Magtutumana ng Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MSR-MPC) in Nueva Ecija. Delima, who is also coordinator of the government’s National Rice Program (NRP), said the rice was processed and exported by the Vegetable Importers, Exporters and Vendors Association (Vieva) and carried the brand “Golden Vieva aromatic white rice.” “With this shipment, and at the rate we are going, it is not far-fetched for our exports of premium and organic, colored Philippine rice will breach the 200-MT mark by the end of the year,” he said. Delima said the DA looks forward to exporting another batch of 97 MT until year-end to Russia, Italy, the Middle East and the United States. DA figures show that the country has already shipped out a total of 106.55 MT of premium and organic black rice varieties, including the 45 MT shipped to Singapore.

Previous rice shipments included 35 MT to Dubai, 15 MT to Kuwait and Hong Kong, and 11.55 MT to Germany, Hong Kong, Macau, Canada and the Netherlands. Delima said rice shipments to the Middle East would further increase as soon as the DA task force on rice export has completed and complied with the Halal certification for premium rice, including the establishment of a code for good agricultural standards for Philippine rice. The Philippines, a net importer of rice in previous years, is targeting to increase its shipments of premium rice to foreign markets in its bid to take advantage of higher prices.

In Photo: Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante Delima (fifth from left) leads the latest export of 45 metric tons (MT) of aromatic rice to Singapore, on July 22 at the Manila North Harbor. Also shown are farmer-members of Firmus Service Cooperative and Magtutumana ng Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Vegetable Importers, Exporters and Vendors Association President Leah Cruz (sixth from right), and DA officials led by Bureau of Plant Industry Director Clarito Barron (seventh from left), National Food Authority Marketing Operations Director Joseph de la Cruz (fourth from left) and National Capital Region Director Piolito Santos (fifth from right), and Santa Rosa Municipal Agriculturist Nicanora T. Bautista (sixth from left). (DA Information Service)‐commodities/16922‐phl‐rice‐export‐to‐ hit‐more‐than‐200‐metric‐tons‐by‐year‐end                         

DA urges Mindanao farmers to hike productivity Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 19:59 Written by Butch D. Enerio / Correspondent CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY —The Department of Agriculture (DA) has encouraged farmers in Mindanao to increase their productivity and consider planting other crops so they could improve their incomes. Assistant Agriculture Secretary Salvador Salacup said farmers in the region should take advantage of the benefits offerd by the impending economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). “Free flow of goods is one of the principal means by which the aims of a single market and production base can be achieved. A single market for goods and services will also facilitate the development of production networks in the region and enhance Asean’s capacity to serve as a global production center or as part of the global supply chain,” said Salacup. Salacup, who was the keynote speaker during the Mindanao Sustainable Agriculture and Cooperative Marketing Forum held here on Wednesday, also said the farm sector’s gain during the first quarter of the year should be sustained to prop up the country’s competitiveness. He noted that the DA provides the policy directions for the agriculture and fisheries sector and has been involved in discussions with the trade department and other agencies concerning Asean-related matters. Salacup said the department has also been actively supporting small farmers get required certifications and providing training to farmers. He said the DA promotes value-adding enterprises; provides postharvest facilities and related infrastructure; organizes and participates in local and international trade fairs, food and beverage exhibits and market matches and encounters; and puts up climate-change mitigating and adaptation measures. “Filipino farmers can be competitive given the challenges the agriculture sector is now facing and meet the demand for the Asean economic cooperation,” said Salacup.‐commodities/16921‐da‐urges‐ mindanao‐farmers‐to‐hike‐productivity       

Government agriculture budget biased toward rice, says PIDS study Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 19:57 Written by Cai U. Ordinario The national government’s spending for agriculture is skewed heavily toward the rice sector, according to a study released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). In a presentation at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, PIDS senior fellow Roehlano Briones said the government’s rice spending reached P37.44 billion in 2012, almost half of the government’s total agriculture spending for that year. Data showed that the government spent a total of P62.64 billion for agriculture-related programs and projects. This was significantly higher than the P14.38 billion spent in 2005. Data also revealed that government spending for other crops like corn only amounted to P951 million in 2012; high value crops, P1.63 billion; coconut, P2.08 billion; livestock, P2.72 billion; and 3.308 billion for fisheries. “The DA and its attached agencies have in recent years experienced a dramatic increase in public funding, growing by fourfold over the past seven years [or in 2005 to 2012],” Briones said in the study, titled “Impact Assessment of the Agricultural Production Support Services of the DA on the Income of Poor Farmers/Fisherfolk: Review of the Evidence.” “Spending on rice had already dwarfed the other major commodities even in 2005; the allocation increased over time, rising to 11 percent of rice output [by value] in 2010. Spending on corn and coconut also rose over time, but very erratically, compared to the steep and sustained ascent of public funding for rice,” he added. Briones noted that one of the possible reasons for this is that rice remains the biggest contributor to the country’s gross value-added in agriculture (GVA). He said rice pitched in about 23 percent in agriculture GVA in 2011. Further, Briones said that the support for the rice sector also includes the irrigation budget. This, he said, “is almost entirely a subsidy for rice growing areas.” Data showed that because of the higher amount of resources allocated to the rice sector, the government spent P1.68 per kilogram of rice in 2010 this was significantly higher than the P0.49 per kilogram spent in 2005. The main thrust of the government’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program is to be self-sufficient in rice, the country’s main staple. Rice provides 45 percent of Filipino’s calorie intake and its production is considered the main source of livelihood in rural areas.

The average rice consumption spending accounts for 20 percent of a household’s budget. This is higher at 30 percent for the bottom 30 percent of Filipino families. The government also said more than two million households are engaged in rice-based farming; millions more of farm laborers, and thousands are merchants, depend on rice farming and trading for a living.‐commodities/16920‐government‐ agriculture‐budget‐biased‐toward‐rice‐says‐pids‐study                                         

Quezon town gets P53.6-million farm infrastructure projects Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 19:56 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has turned over P53.6 million worth of basic infrastructure projects to farmers in Lopez, Quezon. The projects were implemented by the DAR in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and the local government unit of Lopez, Quezon, under the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project. Turned over to the MSS Agrarian Reform Community are the newly built 5.4-kilometer Cogorin-Mabanban farm-to-market road (FMR) with bridge and six units of potable water supply system. The occasion also paved the way for the groundbreaking of a pump irrigation project capable of irrigating around 50 hectares of farmlands. Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan said the P40.6-million Cogorin-Mabanban FMR now connects the MSS Agrarian Reform Community to the adjoining barangays of Lopez and is expected to boost economic activities in the area. “We hope this road network will pave the way for the delivery of other equally important basic services like health, technology, transportation and education facilities to these rural communities that were once inaccessible and sadly, cut off from mainstream development,” said Pacturan in a statement. Jica chief representative Takahiro Sasaki said, for his part, that Japan remains committed to help the Philippines, especially those living in the countryside. “The Lopez project is a giant step to make the country’s economic advancements inclusive, that should redound to a more peaceful and investment-friendly environment,” he said. Meanwhile, Col. Alex Capina, commanding officer of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, expressed elation over the project’s completion. The six potable water systems, which costs P513,374, are expected to provide safe and clean drinking water to some 150 households from barangays Santo Niño and Ilaya. DAR Region 4A Director and project manager Erlinda Pearl Armada said that in the past, residents have to go to the lowlands to buy drinking water that adds up to their daily expenses.‐commodities/16919‐quezon‐town‐ gets‐p53‐6‐million‐farm‐infrastructure‐projects 

Medical groups want total ban of e‐cigarettes By Perseus Echeminada (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 25, 2013 ‐ 12:00am  

MANILA, Philippines - Representatives of various medical associations called for a total ban on the manufacture and sale of electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, which allegedly deliver unwanted chemicals into the body and could cause cancer and other deadly diseases. The call was made during a public hearing on the safety of e-cigarettes held yesterday at the Food and Drug Association (FDA) central office in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. “We in the medical profession propose a total ban (on e-cigarettes), there is no middle ground,” said Ramon Severeno, president of the Philippine Pediatric Association, as he narrated the dangers of using e-cigarettes during the three-hour hearing. He said e-cigarettes, which they refer to as a nicotine delivery device, are now flooding the market and even sold by sidewalk vendors such that the government should take drastic action to protect non-smokers, particularly children. Also present during the hearing were the pro e-cigarette advocates, including distributor and makers of the controversial device. Kenneth Go, acting FDA director general, said the inputs of the public would be used as basis of their action on the controversial issue. A participant at the hearing who declined to be named told The STAR that the hearing was not necessary because e-cigarettes are illegal. “There is no need to regulate or ban the device, just confiscate it,” the participant said. But distributors and e-cigarette users want the FDA to provide them with legal status so that they could continue with their business, which is now growing into a multi-billion peso industry. Gilbert Mendoza, president of the Philippine E-cigarette Makers Association, said e-cigarette is an alternative to tobacco smoking and its vapors provide pleasure. He also assured the public that the device is not being sold to minors and they are open to government regulation of the industry. Mendoza said they would present expert findings that will prove that it’s safe to use e-cigarettes. Almost a hundred e-cigarette users, some even displaying their devices, have narrated their own stories to prove that e-cigarette could suppress tobacco smoking and could provide pleasure to the user.

Mendoza also said that the e-cigarette industry is booming and also becoming popular in other countries. Imelda Mateo, a lung disease expert, said the health of the people, particularly children, must not be compromised because of the boom in the e-cigarette business. “No amount of financial gains could compensate for the health of our children,” she said. Anthony Lechon, director of the UP Manila information and public affairs office, said ecigarettes have not yet been proven to be safe and, in fact, have been banned in many countries. He said the vapors emitted by the device go directly to the lungs and other vital organs. The FDA announced that all views received, either written or verbal, during the hearing would be considered in formulating the proposed regulations on e-cigarettes.‐groups‐want‐total‐ban‐e‐cigarettes                             

P27B pork in 2014 national budget But PDAF projects in NGOs to be scrutinized  By Christian V. Esguerra, Gil C. Cabacungan  Philippine Daily Inquirer   12:17 am | Thursday, July 25th, 2013  


Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO The pork stays and it’s a whopping P27 billion in the Aquino administration’s proposed P2.268trillion national budget for next year. Unfazed by the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam, the executive branch still opted to include the regular allocation for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). “Unlike in the past when only the ‘soft’ portion was in the budget and the ‘hard’ portion was tucked in” in government agencies, the new budget proposal shows the “whole and complete PDAF,” said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. Soft refers to projects involving social services; hard involves infrastructure projects. “The P27-billion PDAF is provided and that is a special line item for PDAF in this budget,” Abad said when he submitted the national expenditure program to the House of Representatives on Tuesday. However, Malacañang is considering measures that would subject nongovernment organizations (NGOs) implementing PDAF projects under closer scrutiny by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

NGOs accredited by DSWD “We are still in the process of determining whether our role will be limited only to registration or expanded to include accreditation and licensing (of NGOs),” Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said in a telephone interview, referring to talks with the Department of Budget and Management. President Aquino made no mention of the pork barrel scandal on Monday in his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona), which lasted nearly two hours and tackled other police and corruption scandals under his watch. The Makabayan bloc earlier filed a bill seeking to abolish the entire pork barrel system in government, including the President’s Social Fund. Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares urged Aquino to make the bill “irrelevant” by not including the PDAF in the 2014 national budget. Each senator usually gets P200 million in PDAF every year, while members of the House of Representatives receive P70 million each. The National Bureau of Investigation is currently looking into allegations by six whistle-blowers that P10 billion in pork barrel funds of five senators and 23 congressmen had been lost over the past decade in ghost projects implemented by dummy NGOs. P842B in social services The P27-billion PDAF allocation is no match for the P62.6 billion in cash doles under the conditional cash transfer program (CCT) in the national budget. The amount was raised from the existing P44-billion budget this year to cover “4.44 million households and 10.2 million children beneficiaries.” The new amount dwarfs the P21.1-billion budget set aside for the construction of irrigation systems, and the P12-billion allocation for building farm-to-market roads in the proposed national budget. “We’ve already witnessed the steady and consistent improvement of the country’s economic performance under the Aquino administration,” Abad said. “Now, we’re bringing these successes to bear on the lives of every Filipino.” In all, “social services” will corner the biggest portion of the proposed national budget at 37.2 percent, or P842.8 billion. The amount represents a 20.5-increase from the P699.4 billion set aside in the current budget. The CCT took off from the “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program” first introduced by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now on her second term as a Pampanga congresswoman.

Expanded CCT coverage The program has had its share of supporters and critics considering its mechanism that provides P300 or P500 to poor families with a maximum of three children up to age 14, or a total of P1,400 per month. As recommended by the government think tank, Philippine Institute for Development Studies, the administration expanded the CCT program to include “high school-aged children” from 15 to 18. “It clearly makes sense from a poverty reduction point of view to make that additional investment on the education of the child to ensure that he/she finishes high school,” according to the institute’s study by Celia Reyes. “A high school graduate will have more employment opportunities and higher pay. If the program aims only for graduation in the elementary level, and does not provide an effective exit strategy, the possible returns are very minimal to matter.” The DSWD has been conducting registration, accreditation and licensing of NGOs involved in social welfare services, Soliman said. The department has even accredited several NGOs as recipients for the “soft” projects of pork barrel funds and that the DSWD has the system in place to cover projects beyond social welfare, she said. In the registration process, Soliman said the DSWD would immediately filter out fake NGOs. She said the accreditation process was more stringent as NGOs would be required to have working program in place and good governance standards. Sen. Ralph Recto said he had no objection to the grant of NGO gatekeeper to the DSWD. “I am open to the idea. The DSWD has performed well. It is correct to have an accreditation process and adopt safeguards on the use of PDAF,” said Recto in a text message. Originally posted at 05:52 pm | Wednesday, July 24, 2013   Read more:‐barrel‐to‐get‐p27b‐in‐national‐ budget#ixzz2a1FSCtsM          

P25 MRT, LRT fare hike It’s Time To Swallow Bitter Pill, Palace Says Of Fare Hike By Genalyn D. Kabiling and Carlo S. Suerte Felipe Published: July 25, 2013 Manila, Philippines --- It is time to take the “bitter pill” of the planned P25 increase in Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit (MRT/LRT) fares as well as hike in Social Security System (SSS) contributions, a Palace official said yesterday. Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda urged the public to bear with the two rate adjustments proposed by President Aquino in his State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA), saying the people will be the ultimate beneficiaries anyway. “These are bitter pills to swallow but the President has laid down, these are the things that we are asking everyone, or the public, or the citizens to bear with us because, in the final run, in the end, it will be the citizens who would be benefiting from this,” Lacierda said in a Palace press briefing. On the proposed MRT/LRT fare hike, Lacierda assured that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will undertake “transparent” public consultations prior to its implementation. He said the transportation department is currently studying the amount of the increase in the train fares. Transport and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya said that the suggested P25 hike in LRT and MRT fares will not take effect immediately as it will still have to undergo public consultation. Abaya said that the amount suggested was based on the price difference of the current P15 MRT3 fare and the P40 bus fare from Trinoma to EDSA-Taft. “That’s what Secretary (Florencio) Abad had discussed with Congress. But this will not take effect immediately since it has to go (through) public consultation,” Abaya said. “The President laid out why we need to increase the MRT prices. We have been subsidizing the MRT for quite some time. In fact, if I remember it right, there was a time when we even lowered the MRT rates,” Lacierda said. The President had earlier said it was only reasonable to adjust the MRT and LRT fares closer to the fares of air-conditioned buses so government subsidy for the train services can be used for other social services. At present, the government shoulders P25 of the P40 passenger fare in LRT while P45 of the P60 for those riding the MRT. Abaya said that even if the P25 fare hike is approved, a portion of the MRT and LRT fares will still be subsidized by the government.

“Currently, the government is subsidizing P45 of each MRT passenger. If the P25 fare hike is approved, the new train fares will be P40. So there’s still P20 that the government has to subsidize,” he explained. On the other hand, Lacierda said that the proposed higher SSS contribution rate will improve the financial condition of the pension agency. “If we don’t increase the SSS pension, our unfunded liability will continue to increase. But if we do contribute a little to our SSS premiums, it will diminish the unfunded liability,” he said. The President earlier sought a 0.6 percent increase in the SSS contribution rate in order to reduce its unfunded liability P141 billion. He said since 1980, across-the-board pension increases occurred 21 times, but actual pension contribution increases only occurred twice. “As a result, the SSS has accumulated an estimated 1.1 trillion pesos in unfunded liability,” he said, adding the shortfall will likely increase by 8 percent every year.,_LRT_fare_hike#.UfCB3ayveKE                               

Recto: Senate to cut down budget By Christina Mendez ( | Updated July 24, 2013 ‐ 5:11pm 

MANILA, Philippines - Apparently stung by criticisms over recent reports on the misuse of pork barrel and the re-alignment of their savings, the Senate will be recommending the streamlining of the 35 oversight congressional committees, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto revealed Wednesday. Out of the 35 oversight committees, Recto said majority of the senators have agreed to provide a uniform budget each for oversight committees. There are currently 39 regular committees, which is different from the 35 oversight Senate committees. The chamber's leadership also plan to reduce the number to 20 up to 24, depending on the ongoing review by an adhoc committee created by Senate president Franklin Drilon. “In general terms… I can tell you this, we will cut down the budget of the Senate in terms of expenses. We will reduce it,” Recto said. In an interview, Recto said the senators have agreed to be “more prudent in spending people’s money.” “We have to show the way as well through streamlining,” Recto said. “We might fund only 20 or 24 of them so that one senator will just have one oversight committee. In principle that is what we are discussing so that every member will be given a committee with uniform budget,” Recto said. Recto explained that the senators “have to be sensitive to public sentiment.” “…That is basically it. We are representative of the people right?” He said that senators will continue to liquidate funds using the guidelines from the Commission on Audit (COA).‐senate‐cut‐down‐budget         

Time to take Filipino food mainstream GO NEGOSYO PILIPINAS NOW IS OUR TIME By Joey Concepcion (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 25,  2013 ‐ 12:00am   1  0 googleplus0  0  

  Evan and Gil with their Señor Sisig fusion food truck 

I have noticed that food trucks have been flourishing here in the San Francisco bay area while we were driving to attend our non- deal roadshow to meet investors which was organized by Maybank for five Filipino companies. I was happy to see for the first time a Filipino food truck serving the mainstream San Francisco people. I am always proud to see our Philippine products and services conquer the international stage. Seeing one of the two Señor Sisig fusion food trucks coincidentally in the street of San Francisco gives me a special sense of delight. Recognizing this special fusion food truck, I am going to share its story.

They are Evan Kidera and Gil Payumo who give the wonderful lift of a Filipino dish in the modern streets of San Francisco since 2009. Evan, who finished his Master in Business Administration at San Francisco State, used to be a manager of a restaurant while his partner Gil studied cooking from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy. They are good friends who love Filipino food, and were colleagues during high school. They really complement and do well in the business since Evan does the management while Gil cooks. They believe that adobo is not the only Filipino dish that should be well known abroad. Being creative, the two started their first business, Señor Sisig. This is a great manifestation that Filipinos are indeed ingenious in designing possible business opportunities. Exploring the road less travelled with their spirit to be successful, Evan and Gil introduce the recipe of Gil’s family from Pampanga – sisig. They have been offering different appetizing versions of sisig in taco, burrito, fries, nachos, rice, bread, and salad. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

Every day is a challenge for them. They are always grateful for each single day that they have room for improving Señor Sisig. They always believe in their uniqueness and they recognize that every area where their trucks visit is special. As Evan says, “We learn every day.” They work hand-in-hand on their business and it is good to know that they love what they do. Truly, their passion is the fuel of the fusion food truck. Around the world, Señor Sisig starts to leave a mark since its journey four years ago. As expected, it has received several recognitions in TV channels and other media. Even the Filipino channels has featured the humble and steadfast Evan and Gil. And for three consistent years, Señor Sisig has been awarded as San Francisco’s Weekly Best Food Truck. The two continue to deliver high quality in what they do, and they are eyeing to open a restaurant of Señor Sisig in the future. The two are always interested to share the story of their sisig. Someday, they want to come to our country to inspire people, especially our entrepreneurs. Evan believes that education is very important. For him, education is where it all starts. He says that with education, anything is possible. To be good entrepreneurs, everyone should have an education. It is good to see Filipino entrepreneurial abilities flourishing in other countries. It gives a sense of patriotic pride that Filipino brands can make it anywhere. One of these is the Manila Bay, owned by two Filipina siblings, which we found in Alaska that we featured last week. It is about time we show our wares in the mainstream markets and cities of the world. We see a lot of authentic Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, as well as Mediterranean food places in key cities around the world. I know we have a great opportunity to market our best tasting Filipino dishes in a way or in a place conducive to the local market in those cities of foreign countries with the same local and

happy Filipino ambience. While Jollibee, Max’s, Red Ribbon, and Chowking are seen in areas where there are huge Filipino communities, the challenge is how to make the Filipino cuisines capture the local mainstream the way the Japanese, Thais, Vietnamese and Chinese have done. *** We have organized a series of Magandang Business Advice (MBA) program on marketing and innopreneurship with our mentor Josiah Go, the marketing guru of the Philippines. The first three successful runs were conducted last July 6 in Cebu, July 13 in Davao, and July 18 in Naga. From the success of these three MBA runs, our next stop is Pampanga on Aug. 9 and Lipa on Aug. 30. After the seminar, participants would have the insights and practical strategies on marketing and the importance of innovation in any entrepreneurial endeavour which I think are very significant. Another successful launching of SME Roving Academy for Region III was done last July 16 at SACUP San Fernando, Pampanga in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry led by Assistant Secretary Blesila A. Lantayona and Provincial Director Elenita R. Ordonio of Pampanga. SME Roving Academy is a continuous learning program for the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to become competitive in the domestic and international markets. The goal of this program is to integrate the business development services for SMEs at national and local levels. It was attended by representatives from DTI Zambales, Tarlac, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Bataan, Aurora and selected MSMEs in the region. Go Negosyo invited Paulo Tibig (Vcargo), Carlo Calimon (Let’s Go Foundation), and Victor Malangbayan (Manok Mabuhay Inc.) for the short lectures on entrepreneurship topics like having the right enterprising mindset, opportunities-seeking, product development and marketing, business planning and basic financial concepts. This Sunday, July 28, we will visit Baguio for the North Luzon run of Young Entrepreneurship Summit. We are inviting you to attend this event. The venue will be St. Louis University. *** Contact me at‐take‐filipino‐food‐mainstream             

Climate change, stress keeping butanding away, say local officials By Mar S. Arguelles  Inquirer Southern Luzon   6:23 pm | Wednesday, July 24th, 2013  

DONSOL, Sorsogon—-They are sorely missed. Rising sea temperature due to climate change, stress and lack of food are keeping the whale shark, locally know as butanding, far from the coastal waters of this town and causing them to linger in other areas where plankton is abundant, a butanding interaction officer (BIO) said. Alan Amanse, chair of the BIO Board of Donsol, said sightings of butanding in waters here have dropped from eight last year to only two in the first half of this year, endangering the tourism industry of the town. Amanse said sea temperature has significantly increased from 26-27 degree Celsius last year to 29-30 degree Celsius this year. There are currently only two whale sharks swimming off Donsol waters. They are “Curly,” which has a curly dorsal fin, and “Lucky,” which has a nylon cord tied to its tail. “The bigger ones measuring 14 meters long are nowhere in sight,” said Amanse. He said gone are the likes of the famous “Putol,” which has no caudal or tail fin, and “Nognog,” thus named for its dark color. Amanse said the butanding are also suffering from stress because of the many interaction events conducted by the BIO during the butanding season from December to May.

He said there are at least 40 boats with six tourists each on board interacting with whale sharks in every event. Town councilor Rey Aquino said the rampant harvesting of plankton by fishermen and the presence of E. coli contamination in the Donsol River due to the presence of household toilets along riverbanks further contributed to the scarcity of food in the feeding grounds of the butanding. Amanse said the tourism industry of the town is hurting, losing millions of pesos in revenue. He said tourist arrivals dropped by 2,000 during the first half of this year, or close to 10 percent, from an average of 25,000 since 2007, Amanse said. Amabel de la Cruz, Donsol Tourism Council revenue collector, in an interview, said the town’s tourist arrivals translated into some P4 million in revenues in 2012. She said revenue collection for the past six months of this year reached only P2 million. De la Cruz, however, said she hoped revenues this year will match last year’s. Another environment issue confronting Donsol is the cutting of mangrove trees in Barangay Ogod by residents who use these as a parking area for boats. Aside from being tagged as the butanding capital of the country, Donsol has other tourist attractions like the “Firefly Watch” in Ogod River and an 800-square-kilometer fish sanctuary near the coastal villages of Sibago, Tinanogan and San Rafael. Donsol town is a third class town in Sorsogon with a population of more than 47,000.   Read more:‐change‐stress‐keeping‐butanding‐away‐say‐ local‐officials#ixzz2a1Jw0VbJ                  

Economy  Posted on July 24, 2013 11:07:33 PM 

45MT of rice shipped to Singapore  

THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) exported 45 metric tons (MT) of aromatic  rice to Singapore on Monday.    The country has shipped 106.55 metric tons of rice, just over the initial 100‐MT target. ‐‐ Jonathan L.  Cellona  DA Assistant Secretary and national rice program coordinator Dante S. Delima said in a statement  yesterday that the agency, through partnerships with farmers’ groups and the private sector, has  exceeded its 100‐MT rice export target this year. As of now, the country has exported a total 106.55 MT  of premium and organic black rice varieties.    The Golden Vieva aromatic white rice, which consisted of 25 MT from Firmus Service Cooperative in  Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and 20 MT from Magtutumana ng Sta. Rosa Multi‐Purpose Cooperative  in Nueva Ecija, was processed and exported by the Vegetable Importers, Exporters, and Vendor  Association of the Philippines, Inc. (VIEVA).    “With this shipment, and at the rate we are going, it is not far‐fetched our exports of premium and  organic colored Philippine rice will breach the 200‐MT mark by the end of the year,” Mr. Delima said in  the statement.    He added that the rice export would help satisfy the demand of 146,000 overseas Filipino workers in  Singapore, as well as Singaporeans and foreign tourists who consume rice.    Mr. Delima also said that the agency looks forward to exporting another batch of 97 MT to Russia, the  United States, Italy, and the Gulf region.He said that DA would be able to export to the Gulf region  provided that the agency has completed and complied with the Halal certification of premium rice.    The Philippines has already shipped 35 MT to Dubai, 15 MT to Kuwait and Hong Kong, and 11.55 MT to  Germany, Hong Kong, Macau, Canada, and the Netherlands. ‐‐ J.D. Guillermo‐of‐rice‐shipped‐to‐ Singapore&id=73922   

PAFMIL assures no flour price increase, if… By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 25, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - An organization of small flour millers petitioning for increased import duty on Turkish flour yesterday said it would not raise prices or restrict flour supply if the alleged dumping of Turkish flour in the country is addressed. The Philippine Association of Flour Millers (PAFMIL) is petitioning the Department of Agriculture (DA) for an increase in the import duty of flour imported from Turkey to 20 percent from the current seven percent, a move that is opposed by community bakeries who claim that they would not be able to cope with increased operating costs. Community bakers represented by the Filipino-Chinese Bakery Association (FCBA) said bakeries that cannot cope up with higher operating costs would eventually shed employees or close shop. Small bakers also said they may have to raise prices of bread and flour-based products if a higher duty is imposed on cheap Turkish flour. “We believe locally-produced flour has the versatility and quality local consumers desire for their bread and our prices are competitive in a trading condition,” said PAFMIL executive director Ric Pinca. PAFMIL said that if their petition before the DA is granted, small flour millers could increase their production capacity to cope with increased demand. “If the duty is imposed, we can increase the production capacity to meet enlarged demand,” Pinca told reporters yesterday.‐assures‐no‐flour‐price‐increase‐if...                 

Draft rules for microfinance NGOs out   Philippine Daily Inquirer   6:00 am | Thursday, July 25th, 2013  


Former Cooperative Development Authority Chairperson Lecira “Bing” Juarez talks at the 4th Annual National Microfinance Innovations in Cooperatives Forum at the Sarabia Manor Hotel in Iloilo City, July 8, 2011. The Securities and Exchange Commission has released the draft rules for nongovernment microfinance organizations as part of broader efforts to support businesses of low-income households. MANILA, Philippines—The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has released the draft rules for nongovernment microfinance organizations as part of broader efforts to support businesses of low-income households. The rules, posted on the website of the corporate regulator on Wednesday, are also seen to bolster consumer protection efforts and encourage these households to save. The SEC is seeking comments for the guidelines, which also outline the requirements needed to establish a microfinance-NGO, sets how their funds should be allocated and details the needed documentation, as well as the penalties for violations. It said covered microfinance organizations may grant loans from P2,000 to a maximum of P150,000 subject to “reasonable and conscionable imposable interest rates and charges.” The minimum “seed capital” was also set at P150,000 although the SEC has the discretion to require a larger amount. In terms of how funds will be allocated, the SEC said 70 percent should go to direct lending purposes. Moreover, its total investments in real estate, whether shares of publicly traded firms or “other real estate-based projects,” shall not exceed 25 percent of the organization’s net worth.

Majority of its members must also be Filipino citizens and foreigners will only be allowed to be a member of the said microfinance firm if the individual’s country “accords reciprocal rights to Filipinos.” For those microfinance firms already operating and currently non-compliant with this rule, the SEC will give them one year to do so after the rules become effective. Failure to comply means the microfinance organization will be suspended, after due notice and a hearing, for a period of 30 days. These organizations, which are non-stock and non-profit entities, make use of alternative credit schemes and simplified loan application procedures. The goal is to grant loans to the “poor and low-income households for their microenterprises and small businesses, to enable them to raise their living standards.—Miguel R. Camus‐rules‐for‐microfinance‐ngos‐out                                 

BSP warns against check scams By Jovan Cerda ( | Updated July 24, 2013 ‐ 6:38pm 

  MANILA, Philippines - The central bank on Wednesday warned the public against scams which ask money from victims in exchange of checks amounting to millions of pesos. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), in an advisory, said the checks were allegedly issued by BSP or the former Central Bank of the Philippines. “The BSP clarifies that it does not issue, secure or guarantee checks and other commercial documents in the name of individuals or private groups,” the central bank said. It added that as a financial regulator, the BSP transacts only with financial institutions under its supervision. BSP encourages the public to contact the Financial Consumer Affairs Group through, the direct line (02) 708-70-87 and the trunkline (02) 708-77-01 local 2584 for more information on the scam.‐warns‐against‐check‐scams   

Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa reels from ‘red tide’ menace July 24, 2013 9:02 pm PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the City Agriculturist Office (CAO) here are advising the public to temporarily avoid consuming shellfish from Honda Bay in Barangay Santa Lourdes because of red tide. The shellfish ban was announced on Wednesday morning by CAO officer Melissa Macasaet, who said that a laboratory examination conducted by the BFAR detected 108 microorganisms per 100 grams of shellfish meat because of red tide. Macasaet said they made the announcement to protect the public from possible harmful effects of the algal bloom. The public is being warned against consuming hard- and soft-shelled clams, oysters, mussels, seaweeds (lato) and small fishes that are prone to red tide contamination because they feed by sifting microscopic food out of the water. Macasaet said consuming toxic shellfishes may cause human paralytic shellfish poisoning. “Initial reaction is tingling in the tongue and lips that can spread to the face, neck, and fingertips. It may also cause headaches, can cause dizziness and eventual vomiting,” she said. “We are issuing the advisory to protect the residents of Puerto Princesa from consuming shellfish that have toxins from the red tide,” Macasaet said. She said they will also immediately inform the public if there is no more red tide in Honda Bay so residents can go back to patronizing shellfishes collected from the area. PNA‐bay‐in‐puerto‐princesa‐reels‐from‐red‐tide‐menace/22620/           

Farm equipment distributed in Pampanga By Franco G. Regala Published: July 25, 2013 City of San Fernando — Farmers associations from various towns recently received P10.4 million worth of farm equipment and machineries from the provincial government. Vice Gov. Dennis “Delta” Pineda said the distribution of equipment was part of the agriculture enhancement program of the provincial government, which is in line with the priority agenda of President Benigno Aquino III on Agriculture and Food Security. “Agriculture and food security are the top priority of the administration of Gov. Lilia G. Pineda — that is why we are closely working with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other concerned agencies that provide opportunity to agricultural sector,’’ the Vice Governor said during the distribution of the equipment. He cited the “counterparting” scheme of the DA, adding the provincial government is “very much willing to share funds as their counterpart in providing farm machineries to marginalized farmers.” Farm machineries distributed include, 14 shallow tube wells (STWs); 23 hand tractors with trailers; 4 reapers; 13 threshers and 3 mini tractors, he said. Crispin Guinto, Acting Provincial Agriculturist said that DA provided the 85 percent counterpart, which is P8,702,204.95 and the provincial government shared a total of P1,686,170.95, which composed the 15 percent share. Guinto explained that the 15% share was supposedly shouldered by the farmers. “But the instruction of Gov. Pineda was to give the farm equipment for free; that is why they shouldered the counterpart of the farmers share in the purchase of the equipment,” said Guinto. Meanwhile, Bong Bamba, a farmer from Barangay Pulung Masle, in Guagua town said the new equipment will lessen their production costs and will make their work easier. “One of the expenses in planting is the rental for equipment. Now with the hand tractors with trailers that we received we don’t need to rent the machine and also we don’t need to pay P7 to P10 per sack for the hauling,” he said in an interview. Maria David, president of municipal agriculturists lauded the initiatives of the provincial government in providing assistance to land tillers. yveKE 

NIA facility Published: July 25, 2013 San Manuel, Pangasinan — The new P4-billion facility of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) being managed by the Agno River Integrated Irrigation Project (ARIIP) started releasing water Tuesday to farmland of Central Pangasinan at the rate of 9.3 cubic meters of irrigation water per second. The volume of water was released through the ARIIP 50-hectare reservoir’s right bank gate to the delight of farmers of the 12 towns of central Pangasinan who had waited in vain for substantial rainfall during the past weeks. But farmer-beneficiaries in eastern Pangasinan who expected to also benefit from the opening of the facility built at a cost of P3.8 billion secured through a soft loan from the Export-Import Bank of China, raised protest against a recommendation of a technical panel of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to put on hold the release of the fund intended to complete ARIIP’s infrastructure facilities. (Liezle Basa Iñigo)                             

Greening program in Central Luzon By Jonas Reyes Published: July 25, 2013 Iba, Zambales — Around 10 million seedlings are ready for outplanting in various areas of Central Luzon as part of President Aquino’s National Greening Program (NGP). According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), these seedlings are mostly of forest and fruit trees, bamboo and rattan and will be planted in degraded forest land, watersheds, stream banks and urban areas. DENR Executive Director Maximo Dichoso said that 6.9 million of those seedlings were produced by 84 upland People’s Organizations (PO) who benefitted by the Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) program in the region. The remaining 2.7 million seedlings were supplied by DENR-accredited seedling producers whose accreditation process ensures that only robust and high-quality seedlings are used in the reforestation program. The massive seedling requirement of the NGP opens up alternative livelihood opportunities to poor Upland Communities, Dichoso explained, saying upland farmers are paid for raising the seedlings and planting them in NGP sites within or near their CBFM sites. Dr. Sofio Quintana, DENR deputy director for forestry, said Tarlac has the highest number of seedlings produced (1.9 million) followed by Zambales (1.5 million) and Bataan and Bulacan (1.4 million each). “The seedling requirement is proportional to the area targeted for rehabilitation, meaning the bigger the area for reforestation the more seedlings are needed,” he explained. The available seedlings for outplanting include 500,000 fruit trees, 2.5 million forest trees. 3.3 million fuelwood trees, 885,600 coffee saplings, 1.5 million cacao saplings, 488,400 bamboo saplings, and 361,000 rattan saplings, Quintana reported. The best time to plant trees is in July up to October when the rainy season is at its peak and abundant rainwater ensures that young plants take root and grow in the Upland Areas. Citing weather forecasts from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Dichoso said the weather systems that are likely to bring rain in the country are the Southwest monsoon, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), low pressure area (LPA), and the occurrence of an average of three or four tropical cyclones in the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).

“By this time, rainfall distribution is expected to be near normal in most parts of the country,” he explained adding that NGP must take advantage of this situation to grow more trees that will help mitigate the harsh impacts of climate change and global warming.                                             

SRA may allow sale of US quota sugar to world market Published on Thursday, 25 July 2013 00:00  

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The Sugar Regulatory Administration said that it is studying whether the Philippines should export to the world market to offset the slow down in shipments to the United States. In an interview, Butch Alisla, the chief of staff of SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin, said that the agency is set to release a Sugar Order by next week, which will allow traders and exporters to export the remaining “A sugar” or US quota sugar to the world market. “The agency wants to help our traders and exporters to dispose the remaining stocks that they have, which have been committed under US quota,” he said. The Philippines has a regular US sugar quota of 138,827 metric tons (MT) this year. However, as of July 23, local exporters were only able to ship about 53,000 MT of sugar to the US. Earlier, the country has temporarily stopped exports of the sweetener to Washington because of saturated US market that resulted to very low prices of sugar. For her part, Rosemarie Gumera, SRA manager for planning and policy, said they are also looking at other options like the conversion of “D” or world market sugar to alternative feedstock for biofuels. “We are going to reclassify D sugar, which are usually committed to exporters and sugar-based exports, to ethanol,” Gumera said, adding that the reclassification would increase the support price for farmers through diversification of sugarcane production. She said that they are now surveying various districts across the country to look for viable areas that can be opened up for ethanol production. “We are pushing for the expansion of sugar areas and improvement of productivity for us to meet the requirement for ethanol,” Gumera said.

Based on the data of the Department of Energy, the country consumes 306 million litters of ethanol annually. Of which, 248 million litters were imported and 32.4 million litters were local produced. “There’s some disparity with the tally, but nonetheless, we need about 50,000 hectares of additional areas to meet the annual requirement for ethanol,” Gumera said. The SRA officials said they expect to release by next month the new sugar allocation for crop year 2013-2014, saying that they expect production to slightly increase. At present, sugar production is now at 2.457 million MT, or 9.53 percent higher compared to the last crop year. It has also exceeded the 2.434 million MT target for crop year 2012-2013 by one percent. The SRA classifies sugar into “A” for sugar for export to the US, “B” for domestic consumption, “C” for reserves, “D” for export to countries other than the US, and “E” for food local processors.‐news/36858‐sra‐may‐allow‐sale‐of‐us‐quota‐ sugar‐to‐world‐market                             

Agribusiness  Posted on July 24, 2013 07:05:54 PM 

Basilan coconut farms struggle with scale insect infestation ZAMBOANGA CITY ‐‐ More than 6,000 coconut trees in at least 16 villages on the  island of Basilan have been infested with scale insect, threatening damage  similar to that seen in plantations in Batangas last year, a report last Monday of  the Philippine Information Agency quoted a Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA)  regional official as saying in a briefing here on Friday last week.    Coconut scale insect infestation is best treated the natural way ‐‐ using predators of these pests. ‐‐  Rudy B. Corsame, the coconut agency’s chief in Basilan, said PCA has begun leaf pruning of infested  coconut plants as well as release of coccinellid predators that feed on scale insects to arrest the latters’  spread.    According to PCA’s Web site, coconut scale insects ‐‐ scientifically known as Aspidiotus destructor  Signoret (Hemiptera: Diaspididae) ‐‐ are small pests that feed on plant sap, causing yellowing or  chlorosis, wilting, premature nut fall and low yield.    Moreover, thick molds grow on their waste which in turn interfere with photosynthesis.    These pests are particularly destructive in coconut nurseries, but can also spread to other plants.    “They were observed on the underside of the coconut leaves in young palms,” a statement quoted PCA  Administrator Euclides G. Forbes as saying.    “But in bearing palms, scale insects were found not only on the underside of coconut leaves but also on  the surface of the fruits and petioles.”    Mr. Corsame said in the briefing that quarantine measures have been adopted to prevent “the transport  of infested plants, coconut planting materials and other plants that may introduce the pest to other  non‐outbreak areas.”   

This pest also attacks ornamental plants and fruit trees like mango, lanzones, mango, mangosteen,  guava, papaya and avocado.    The same pest had infested plantations in 41 villages across seven towns in Batangas last year,  prompting PCA to earmark at least P1.4 million to address the problem.    Mr. Corsame attributed scale insect infection to “imbalance or loss of natural enemies” because of  excessive use of pesticides, or by natural causes such as prolonged dry spell.    Besides introduction of predators of these pests, PCA also recommends scraping them off or spraying  them off with a jet of soapy water, particularly in cases of minor infestation or young palms    Chemical insecticides may also be used, but these are effective only for the crawler stage of the pest,  and then only on young palms and seedlings. Moreover, use of such chemicals may also kill the pests’  natural enemies which are key to long‐term control.    Officials of the Department of Agriculture regional office here said they are checking if other areas in  Zamboanga Peninsula have been infested by the same pest.    Coconut products are a major source of income in the region aside from rubber and seaweed. ‐‐ DTW‐coconut‐farms‐struggle‐with‐scale‐ insect‐infestation&id=73877                       

Criticize erring officials not bureaucracy, Aquino told July 24, 2013 4:54 pm

by NEIL A. ALCOBER Reporter ANG Kapatiran leader and former presidential candidate John Carlos “JC” de los Reyes on Wednesday urged President Benigno Aquino 3rd not to criticize government agencies but the ones who are leading the agencies for its failure to perform the assigned tasks. Delos Reyes made this statement following the public admonition of President Aquino on some of his cabinet officials who failed to perform the mandated responsibilities and duties. “Kung ikaw presidente at may control ng supervision over the bureaucracy, ‘wag mo naman batikusin yung bureaucracy. Just mould the wrap and egg instead of shotgun approach in everybody because that is very destructive to the institution,” Delos Reyes told this reporter during the Fernandina media forum in Greenhills, San Juan City. Delos Reyes, who also ran for senator in the May elections but lost, said the president is doing the right track for sacking erring cabinet officials under his administration. “Sibakin nya kung sino ang dapat sibakin and put the right men in the right place,” he said. “He [Aquino] should also encourage them and be more positive kasi ang nangyayari masyadong negative sa bureaucracy in the guise of tuwid na daan (right path),” he added. Delos Reyes, however, stressed that a due process and a right to honor should still be given to these officials despite their negligence and failures. “Kahit kulokoy or corrupt ang mga ito, hindi rin maganda na ganun ang approach ng mga tao sa kanila, there will still have to be given due process and a right to honor kahit na alam na natin na ganun sila,” he said. “Kahit si GMA [former president and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga province] at former chief justice Renato Corona, all these people accused by this administration of malfeasance should still be given due process,” he added. The president criticized several underperforming government agencies such as the Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Immigration, and the National Irrigation Administration in his State of the Nation Address on Monday. Though he did not mention the Customs chief in particular, but he lashed out at the bureau’s officials and employees. Biazon offered to resign from the agency but Aquino did not accept his resignation. Share this:‐erring‐officials‐not‐bureaucracy‐aquino‐told/22469/      

DepEd-NCR tops in National Achievement Test July 24, 2013 4:46 pm

by NEIL A. ALCOBER Reporter THE Department of Education-National Capital Region (DepEd-NCR) bested among other regions in the National Achievement Test (NAT) administered on March 2013. According to DepEd-NCR Director Luz Almeda, results recently released by the National Education and Testing Resource Center (NETRC) showed a significant increase in NAT performance of the NCR in the secondary level; giving DepEd regional officials reason to flash a jubilant “high 5”. Almeda described the outcome of the NAT this year in which the premier region tops all the big regions in the country as “remarkable and unprecedented.” She pointed out that NCR excelled in the field of sports dominating the yearly Palarong Pambansa as undefeated champion; but lagged behind in NAT performance, edging only the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. “This is no longer true. We have completely turned this around as shown by the NAT results this year. Hindi na kami kulelat,”Almeda said. The NCR has topped all the big regions under Cluster I composed of Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Central Luzon, Bicol and Calabarzon. Netrc figures showed that NCR gained a Mean Percentage Score of 54.21 percent or an increase of 5.10 percent over NAT rating last year. Almeda said the NCR was once low in NAT performance both in elementary and secondary school levels. The NCR director, who was assigned barely a year ago, credited this remarkable result to “hardwork and teamwork” between the Regional Office and the various Divisions. The top three performing divisions in NCR include Makati City (54.77 percent in Grade 3, 64.78 percent in Grade 6, and 60.45 percent in 4th year high school); Parañaque City (58.32 percent in Grade 3, 70. 56 percent in Grade 6, and 54.74 percent in 4th year high school); and Taguig City and Pateros (43.36 percent in Grade 3, 62.91 percent in Grade 6, and 59.96 percent in 4th year high school). The regional scores of Cluster 1 with NCR on top, in terms of Mean Percentage Score ranking include Central Visayas (53.94 percent), Western Visayas (52. 93 percent), Cetral Luzon (51.85 percent), Bicol Region (49.66 percent), and Calabarzon (49.01 percent). NAT results also showed that NCR also performed well in elementary grades with Grade 3 notching a positive increase of 1.62 percent and Grade 6 with an increment of 2.19 percent despite some constraints, according to Almeda. NAT, however, has not been administered in Grade 3 for all private schools in NCR. Almeda noted that since her assignment to NCR, she has given priority attention to its NAT performance.

“We will continue to balance our NAT and Sports performance. We believe one complements the other; since one should have both healthy mind and healthy,” the regional director stressed.‐ncr‐tops‐in‐national‐achievement‐test/22466/ 


The next president will have an easier time in office – analyst July 24, 2013 3:49 pm

by KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO Reporter THE next in line to sit in Malacañang after President Benigno Aquino 3rd will have easier time in office as Aquino already laid and pointed out what the country needs to focus on and gathered the people’s trust and cooperation with the government as well, an economic analyst said. Harry Liu, Summit Securities Inc. president, told The Manila Times that Aquino set up the stage for the next administration as he puts effort in “arranging the government in order.” “[Aquino already established] the ground rules. I think he did a good 1 hour and 30 minutes speech to lay down the whole aspect of what the government has to do and what the people has to do to help,” Liu said, in reference to the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday. “The point is that he [Aquino] outlined already what the government has to do, what are the things they still have to do and the things he has done already,” Liu said. Liu added that the administration has done business friendly moves to advance the country’s economic growth. “As long as the market is [doing good] the it’s okay. Since his seat in 2010, up to now [the president’s performance] is good. And in the next three years, he’s saying we still have to be better,” Liu said. Meanwhile, former Trade and Industry undersecretary Cristino Panlilio of Industry and Investments Group said that Aquino’s Monday speech did not expound more on “industrial reporting” which is fundamental for the country’s economic movement at present. “My personal view: It was lacking in economic and industrial reporting. It is more a social and people-oriented report this time around,” Panlilio said in a text message. But given the lack of the president’s economic statements, Liu agreed that the entire countrymen should help the government to raise the country’s economic standpoint and that we still have “more agenda” to push until 2016 under Aquino administration. “We are already here in our way [to development], and we still have lots to do. [I agree with the president’s claim] that we need to join together and help each other,” Liu said. The president mentioned in his SONA that he will focus on manufacturing and infrastructure regarding his economic plans for the country. Aquino also said in his speech that the manufacturing sector contributed 28.5 percent to the 7.8 percent gross domestic product growth of the country in the first quarter of year, but did not expand on the administration’s move or directives about the matter. Share this:‐next‐president‐to‐aquino‐will‐have‐an‐easier‐time‐in‐office‐ analyst/22456/      

BSP warns public against fake checks July 24, 2013 1:26 pm

by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO Reporter THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Tuesday warned the public against fake checks. In a statement, the central bank said that the public should be cautious of “unscrupulous” persons who pass off fake checks as supposedly issued by the BSP or the former Central Bank of the Philippines. As modus operandi, the BSP said that the scammers would pretend to be authorized BSP representatives and would ask for money from victims in exchange for fraudulent checks that are made to appear to be worth millions of pesos each. The central bank also clarified that it does not issue, secure or guarantee checks and other commercial documents in the name of individuals or private groups. “As a financial regulator, the BSP transacts only with financial institutions under its supervision,” it said. In connection, the BSP said that the advisory is part of a series of advisories issued by its Financial Consumer Affairs Group to boost financial know-how of Filipino consumers and to protect the public against financial scams and frauds. Earlier, the central bank said that it is preparing to release a Consumer Protection Framework (CPF) that is applicable to its covered institutions. According to Johnny Noe Ravalo, managing director for Central Supervisory Support Sub-Sector of the BSP, the framework includes the rating of banks in terms of consumer protection. “We will rate them 1 to 4, with being the highest. There should be uniformity in the treatment of both. . . market behavior. . .as well as financial literacy from the banks and maintaining the rights and responsibilities of everyone,” he said.‐warns‐public‐against‐fake‐checks/22421/ 


The amazing longevity and robustness of bankrupt ideas July 23, 2013 9:51 pm


Marlen V. Ronquillo

THE country’s accession to the WTO in 1995 was the worst fate ever to befall small Filipino farmers in a generation. The rosy picture which the sponsors said would take place after the accession never happened. What took place was the reverse: lost farm jobs, reduced productivity, the loss of agriculture’s niche role as the main contributor to national employment and the GDP. As the shiploads of cheap agricultural products flooded the Philippine market, and tariffs were at levels that gave no protection to local farmers at all, , the countryside was transformed into a pitiful canvass of shattered lives. The carnage was such that many small farmers contemplated suicide. Left with nothing but a losing farm, what was there to do? I was just as desperate but forced myself to move on. I moved on because the harsh truth was this: Even as a part of the bludgeoned small farmers who bore the brunt of the accession backlash and whiplash, I cannot really complain. The impact of opting out of the WTO and out of the global trading mainstream, would have triggered a national catastrophe. Free trade, despite the many warts and the sufferings of countries unprepared for it, is still the best deal for countries outside of those working for the agenda of global jihad. As an importing nation, one can get the best deal for needs that range from food products to sophisticated machineries and tools. As an exporter, you can always scout for the best market under which you can earn the best buck for every item exported. Developed economies that need our help on defense and security often reciprocate in terms of preferential trade agreements . Were we proudly out of the WTO, what? Two scenarios, really. Our largest trading partners would not be the US, Japan and China. These would be North Korea, which is perennially plagued by famines. And whatever foreign trade the Taliban-control areas of Afghanistan do. But would you believe that many Filipinos still hold that having North Korea as the largest trading partner is a better choice than scaling down the country’s tariff levels and opening up our borders to global trade? And that isolation from the global trading mainstream would be a boon not a bane?

And that the national economy would still function normally even if all our borders were impenetrable and out of the WTO? And the belief that being a pariah in the global trade is a blessing and free trade is a curse, is not the only antiquity that many Filipinos revel in . The longest held orthodoxy is the belief that ownership of farm lands, whether it is one plot or two, is the key to snapping the chains of poverty and suffering . Here, the redistribution of Hacienda Luisita land, wherein each farmer-beneficiary will get close to 7,000 square meters each, is Exhibit A. An ideal development plan for Luisita lands would be two-fold. The portions suited for commercial and residential use should be used for commercial and residential use. A thousand hectares of flat land spread out in a booming par of Central Luzon and linked to the major roads and both Subic and Clark now exist only in the dream of developers. But if the Luisita land beneficiaries were to drop their obsession with land ownership and start seeing the long-term gains from entering into joint venture agreements with the major developers, this dream would be a reality . There is no land spread in a booming part of Luzon as strategically situated as Luisita and as vast as Luisita. And the major developers, given the chance, would just be too happy developing that. What would remain, after the property developers had taken their cut of the Luisita land, can be developed into well-developed agri-business zones. Poultry raising using tunnel ventilation can be done. Hog raising, again using the modern ventilation system, can be based at Luisita. The support infrastructure, from yellow corn plantations to sophisticated feed mills, can all be accommodated by the sheer vastness of the Luisita, and its strategic location. After that, there would be ample areas for food canning and processing. But all of these would not happen. The farmers want their land, not enough to feed a family of two by the way , so they can live in perpetual misery. The land use options that would guaranteed them better lives via better incomes are automatically out . Northeast of Luisita, a freeport zone being development in Casiguran, Aurora is being blocked by various NGOs, do-gooders, Makati villagers, supposed international activists, priests and bishops. The reason: farmers and indigenous people are being dislocated to please a so-called political dynasty. The truth is the Apeco is purely a government project and it is one of the noblest- and most ambitious—government intervention in that part of the country in over a century. The Apeco will usher Casiguran, a remote and poverty-stricken town with a dead mono economy, logging, out of under development, backwardness and misery. The freeport will be a game-changer. It will bring Internet broadband, satellite campuses of the major universities, tertiary hospitals, major hotels and recreational sites. Out of darkness and into the light. But the priests and the Villagers have other designs. Push the farmers into holding on to their lands so that the status quo of 19th century backwardness would reign eternal. Small land ownership, and all the ideals of emancipation/liberation attached to it, is easily the most catastrophic orthodoxy of the 21st century.‐amazing‐longevity‐and‐robustness‐of‐bankrupt‐ideas/22324/ 

Aquino’s fourth SONA: What’s the plan, Chief? July 23, 2013 9:49 pm


Ricardo Saludo

First of Two Parts THE best part of President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s fourth State of the Nation Address was his admission that the Bureau of Immigration, the National Irrigation Administration, and the Bureau of Customs have performed badly. For the first time in the SONA, Aquino acknowledged failure, and not just in one, but in three major agencies. BI and NIA had been castigated in recent weeks, and their heads shown the door. Immigration had allowed big-name crime suspects to flee abroad, while Irrigation had performed way below targets. But until Monday, the Chief Executive had refused to publicly acknowledge BoC’s failure, if not refusal to curb smuggling, repeatedly affirming his faith in Customs Commissioner Ruffy Blazon. No matter that trade data from the International Monetary Fund showed a fivefold jump in contraband under Aquino, prompting rice farmers, hog raisers, and foreign business chambers to complain. This column had also constantly warned that firearms and narcotics were coming in through the many thousands of unchecked containers. The presidential tune finally changed in his fourth address to Congress: “And here we have the Bureau of Customs, whose personnel are trying to outdo each other’s incompetence. Instead of collecting the proper taxes and preventing contraband from entering the country, they are heedlessly permitting the smuggling of goods, and even drugs, arms, and other items of a similar nature into our territory. The Department of Finance estimates that more than 200 billion pesos in revenue slips through our borders without going into public coffers. Where do these people get the gall?” Sadly, that was perhaps the one truthful admission of grave shortcomings in a SONA replete with excuses, evasion and exclusion of paramount concerns. In the nearly two-hour speech, for instance, not one nanosecond was found to mention the biggest challenge in the eyes of both Catholic bishops and 25 million poor Filipinos: despite Asia-leading economic growth, poverty, hunger and unemployment have all failed to improve much or have even worsened.

As expected, the speech trumpeted the 6.8 percent increase in gross domestic product last year, and the 7.8 percent in the first quarter this year, plus investment grade ratings and tourism gains. But nothing about the accompanying rise in joblessness to 7.5 percent in April from 6.9 percent a year before, the 19.9 percent mean hunger incidence and 52 percent self-rated poverty average last year, and the nil decline in the government’s own poverty figure between 2009 and 2012. Not to mention rise in poverty incidence as calculated by the National Statistical Coordination Board in nearly half the provinces since 2009, reversing gains from 2006, as noted by Rigoberto Tiglao’s must-read article on Monday and reported in the NSCB poverty statistics book ( While President Aquino can’t be expected to repeat criticisms against his administration, he is still duty-bound to present solutions to problems that he may not care to expound on. He didn’t do that in his last SONA. Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. found “nothing much new in the speech, so I wish there’d be more roadmaps on infrastructure and timetables.” The long-time PCCI stalwart probably got used to the Powerpoint SONAs of Gloria Arroyo. Her Super Regions framework focused on sectors of competitiveness in major regions, supported by massive infrastructure plans from north to south. She flashed maps, pictures, budgets, target completion dates, and clearly designated responsible officials and agencies. The detailed plans were drafted in marathon Cabinet meetings with each secretary offering department projects for the SONA and committing to deliver them according to specs and schedules to be cited in the speech. In his address, President Aquino could have outlined a broad plan to generate more investment and jobs, especially in regions of high poverty and unemployment, which are already identified by NSCB and its mother agency, the National Economic and Development Authority. The vision and framework could also have addressed point by point the most crucial recommendations to boost investment repeatedly offered by the PCCI and the Arangkada group of foreign business chambers. The SONA could have outlined initiatives to generate more investment and jobs in areas of proven growth and competitiveness for the Philippines, like business process outsourcing, shipbuilding, and mining, as well as new expansion sectors like retirement and medical tourism. And there was nil mention of programs to revitalize manufacturing—still among the biggest providers of quality full-time jobs in the economy. Aquino did mention coconut, fishing and tourism, but the initiatives he offered for these sectors were too small and sketchy to have significant impact. Take the intercropping program for coconut farmers. In a nationwide sector with more than 3 million mostly poor cultivators, Aquino spoke of plans to plant other crops between coconut palms, which would benefit fewer than 60,000 farmers— a minuscule two percent of farmers depending on the industry. Moreover, the SONA said nothing about the real and widely acknowledged solution to declining productivity and incomes of coconut farmers: harnessing the P200-billion coconut levy fund for massive replanting of trees to replace old palms well past their productive prime. For the past

quarter-century, the cocolevy has been contested by farmers and its Marcos-era czar, Aquino’s billionaire uncle Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. For fisherfolk, President Aquino floated the idea of cold storage facilities, so the day’s catch need not be dried and salted, reducing their volume and value drastically. Nice concept. But no details on how many freezers would be set up, where, when, and by which agency, plus the budget. From this former Cabinet Secretary and SONA drafter’s recollection, such a fuzzy plan would never have made into an Arroyo speech without all those key details spelled out and committed by the agencies involved and their heads. As for tourism, the President cited past gains and projected future ones, highlighting foreign media features citing Philippine destinations as prime must-see spots. But like the discourse on coconut intercropping, Aquino’s excitement over the overseas articles on local holiday sites missed the main issue in tourism development: sorely inadequate infrastructure and facilities. It’s not promotions that the Philippines needs more of to pack in the visitors, but better, plentiful, convenient and more affordable accommodations, flights, land and sea transport, and other facilities, which Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia now provide at higher quality and quantity, and lower or comparable cost. The Tourism Act of 2009 was precisely enacted to generate more investment for tourism infrastructure, but that may be another of those Arroyo-era measures which Aquino is loathe to mention. In sum, if the SONA were a term paper on what must be done to generate jobs to uplift poor Filipinos, Aquino would get at most a C-minus or a D. Sadly, the same poor grade awaits his discussion on the other half of his campaign promise—eradicating corruption. This will be covered on Friday.‐fourth‐sona‐whats‐the‐plan‐chief/22317/ 


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


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?‐sona‐lies‐deceptions‐and‐silly‐boasts/22314/ 


Honesty still the best policy? July 22, 2013 10:28 pm


Ernesto F. Herrera

I wrote this piece a few hours before President Noynoy Aquino delivered his 2013 State of the Nation Address so I don’t really know if he said anything about the pork barrel system. I am hoping he did. This is a true story which quite a few Senate insiders know about. There was this senator who won in the 2001 national elections. The chief of staff he hired resigned during his first week in office. You see, this senator asked his new chief of staff, a lawyer, if he knew how to get commissions from pork barrel allocations. The new chief of staff of the new senator told his boss the truth: he didn’t know anything about it and if, indeed, asked to facilitate commissions for the senator, he won’t. The senator told him bluntly that maybe he’s not the right guy for the job after all. And so the chief of staff promptly resigned, without regret, I heard, and with much satisfaction. Whatever he did after his short-lived Senate tenure, I hope he kept the same principles. May his tribe increase. On the other hand, I know of another senator who made it quite known that he is absolutely against getting commissions from his pork barrel, although he did not renounce his allocations as Senators Panfilo Lacson and Joker Arroyo did. This senator believed in the pork barrel system as a way of allocating much needed state resources on projects that would otherwise be neglected. He delegated a trusted friend and political officer to handle his pork barrel allocations, only to find out later that this ‘trusted’ staffer was very aggressively getting commissions using the name of his boss, the senator, without the latter’s knowledge. These stories emphasize the importance of hiring the right people in government or anywhere. The mid-term election is all over. We have new senators and congressmen. As expected, there would be some old faces in old positions, some old faces in new positions and some really new faces in politics. All of them would certainly need people to work in their offices and hiring the right people for the right jobs all depends on the kind of public servants or politicians they truly are. If they are honest and competent they should get honest and competent people.

Unfortunately, honest, competent people are hard to find. And unfortunately, the honest and competent people don’t always stay so after being exposed to the many opportunities for corruption in government. Either they get disillusioned and just do their jobs like zombies, or worse, they use their competence and efficiency to serve not the public interest but self-serving ones. The familiar adage of Lord Acton, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” applies not just to politicians but also to the people who work for them, who, at times, hold just as much power as their bosses. I’ve seen it happen many times. Early in their careers, many of these young, bright, idealistic people are eager to change the system from within so they join government service. They want to help the poor. They want to root out corruption. They get into positions of power, and for a while they are able to make a difference. They do what they set out to do. The very few are still doing what they set out to do. But for a lot of them, it’s now a different story. The old ideals have become distant memories. The institutions change them long before they have a chance to change the institutions. Just look at the former activists who are now working in government. They have become defenders of the establishment, of the status quo. At least, there are those who had the good sense to just get out before they become the people they swore they would never become. I recently ran into a long-time staffer of a politician who is still very much around. The guy is no longer working for his principal. “What happened,” I asked? “I thought you two were inseparable.” We ended up having a heart-to-heart conversation worthy of a whole course in public administration. The guy said he’s had enough of politics. He said he didn’t wake up one morning with this realization. It didn’t happen overnight. His ideals, he said, just died in bits and pieces, starting with the small compromises he made with himself. The line between right and wrong slowly became blurred by rationalizations that what he was doing served a purpose or that it was something everybody did to get the job done. I won’t go into the details because of space constraints. You probably know what I mean. Suffice it to say, this staffer started looking in the mirror to see less of the person he was and more of the person he swore he would never become. And so he just quit and walked away from it all. As Swiss author Madame de Stael once said, “The voice of conscience is so delicate that it is easy to stifle it, but it is also so clear it is impossible to mistake it.”‐still‐the‐best‐policy/21929/ 


Wanted: Congressional reform July 22, 2013 10:24 pm


Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

18-years ago, at the start of the 10th Congress, I wrote an article for one of the broadsheets on the same topic. At that time, I was assisting in setting up the office of then Sen. Marcelo B. Fernan. Interestingly, my article came out during the organizational meeting of the Ethics Committee, which he was chairing. I was asked to resign because of that article because Sen. Fernan didn’t want to “insult” his colleagues because of what I wrote. I stood by what I wrote and left his office by lunch promising to push for the reforms. Yesterday, the 16th Congress opened and the same reforms are still needed for the institution to grow root and mature because Congress is the only institution that is accountable to the people. The people elect members of both chambers. The sovereign wields power thru their representatives. That is why the institution should adjust with the times. Reforms cover institutional, procedural and substantive. Institutional refers to a permanent site for Congress. How can a bicameral body work together when they are roughly 30 kilometers apart? Even now as you read this, the House of Representatives (HOR) is going overtime to have rooms for 290 members ready by 22 July. In the Senate, the new members are still awaiting for their rooms too since the leadership failed to take into account the scenario when the previous majority steps down. Congress was revived in 1987 and 26 years after, Congress still meets in hotels and restaurants for committee hearings and bicameral meetings. The padlocked Congress opened in 1987 with the Senate occupying the now National Museum. The library then was at the boiler room and as technical staff then, we had to go up several steps to reach Mommy Llave’s domain. Then our offices were spread over the Port area. But we had the best plenary then, what with all the icons of history and mythology carved out of the high ceiling of the Senate. When I became chief of staff in the House of Representatives in the 1990s, we were like packed sardines in the congressional offices. At that time, there was 6 staff allowed per representative. The plenary was just a plain cavernous hall with the famous triangle shaped domes. Were it not for the huge Philippine flag, the place was just plain. Good thing previous speakers have placed some history on the photo wall in front of the session hall as well at the south side as a gallery.

The 16th Congress should show its political will in building the permanent site of the Legislative Branch. Where to get the money is easy; use the Pork. The total Pork for a single term is a staggering P75.720 Billion or P25.24 Billion a year. This amount is more than enough to build the Legislative Complex. Using the Pork for the permanent site is better since all the members of Congress are representatives of the people and what is more symbolical than the money of the people building the house of the people! Procedural reforms cover the rules. Steep in tradition, the rules of each chamber are the keys to understanding the legislative maze. Without knowledge of the rules, one cannot understand how a bill becomes a law. The rules can be invoked to delay (filibuster) or speed up (railroad) or logroll legislation. Either way, the public has the right to know what is happening inside Congress, whether in committees, oversights, bicameral or plenary. Procedural also means putting sunlight on the processes and the documents (SALN, among others) that the public can access. In the era of technological growth, it should be a lot easier to connect with members and make them responsive to the needs of their constituents. Procedural also means giving flesh to the campaign promise of “no work, no pay” so attendance must be known to the public. Voting record must also be accessible. The HOR had an electronic voting protocol set up in its chamber two congresses ago, whatever happened to that? It would be good if legislation were made online especially after a Committee Report is submitted to the Rules Committee. Getting the public involved in rule making online makes real democracy for all. Crowdsourcing can be part of the rules of the chambers. Fiscal discipline should also be part of the rules so that we lessen unfunded mandates or measures passed without budgets. The authorization process must be reviewed and absent authorization by the Appropriations Committee, no measure should pass any chamber. The unfunded mandates stand at Php500 Billion already. This is just plain irresponsibility on the part of Congress to pass laws that can’t be implemented since there are no budgets. And we are not talking of ridding our statute books with dead laws! Substantive reform refers to the organization of Congress. Before Congress was in session 100 continuous days. In the 8th Congress, they were in session for four days with Fridays for local bills. Today, Congress is just in session for 3 days (Mondays to Wednesdays) and the two remaining working days of the week are theoretically spent for district work. One regular year is equivalent to only 52 session days. In the 8th Congress, at least in the Senate, it was the policy to liquidate all funds. Today, certification became the norm. That’s why the more committees one has, the more funds at one’s disposal. There are 39 Standing committees in the Senate and 35 oversight committees. There are 58 Standing committees and 11 special committees in HOR. Before, each Senator had to submit a staffing plan and there were guidelines then. Today, the fund for office staff is given in lump sum and its up to the Senator to determine how many he will hire. Before, the 6 positions per Congressman had to pass the Civil Service. Today, this rule has been scrapped and each Member of the HOR can so choose to appoint without meeting the minimum requirements and the Member can decide to give the salary for the plantilla position or not.

The training of the new members is over and done with. The 16th Congress has the most engaged and prepared freshmen bloc. The elections of officials are done with and the super majorities of the LP are now in place. Can they walk their talk and reform Congress?‐congressional‐reform/21919/ 


Greenpeace crushes Filipino farmers’ hopes July 22, 2013 10:22 pm


Atty. Dodo Dulay

Is the foreign group Greenpeace out to kill Filipino farmers’ hopes to end their dependence on deadly and expensive pesticides? Not a few friends raised this question after the Europe-based pressure group appeared to have scored a significant legal victory in its long-running war against Filipino scientists. We learned that Greenpeace put one over the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB)-based researchers when it secured a resolution from the Court of Appeals (CA) stopping the field testing of a plant variety called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) talong (eggplant). Bt talong is a plant variety developed through biotechnology. It has a built-in ability to combat major eggplant pests. Because of this natural resistance, farmers who plant this variety no longer have to rely on toxic chemicals to produce more and better quality eggplants. Farmers are also able to increase their income because they can spend less on expensive pesticides. And since they are seldom exposed to these poisonous substances, farmers get sick less often. This translates to substantial savings on medical expenses for our already impoverished farmers. According to a study by a government research agency, our farmers normally apply frequent and heavy doses of pesticides in futile attempt to control eggplant pests. Many farmers spray their eggplant two or more times a week; some even spray 60 – 80 times during the production period. There’s so much pesticide being (bought and) used that the amount spent on these deadly chemicals adds up to almost one-third of a farmer’s production costs. Reducing pesticide use will spare ordinary consumers like us from having to eat vegetables varnished with unseen toxic chemicals, especially with recent scientific findings that washing removes only about 75 percent of the pesticide residue in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. We can only imagine how much of this synthetic poison are already in our internal organs. But the European pressure group sees things differently. Greenpeace believes plant varieties that are not sprayed with pesticides are bad for people and for the environment.

The way we see it, plant varieties that don’t have to be sprayed with chemical pesticides are bad for the business of those who make them. That many of them are Europe-based is probably just a matter of coincidence. Of course. Greenpeace has been waging war against the UPLB science community since time immemorial on the issue of biotechnology. Our Filipino scientists will have to live with the fact that Greenpeace’s operatives will never let them out of their sight. No matter how noble our scientists’ motives might be for advancing the cause of pesticide-free food, they have to realize that their initiatives are harmful to the environmen—to the European business environment, that is. Many observers note that Greenpeace—which promotes itself as a pro-environment group—has never said anything about the fatal effects that chemical pesticides bring about. Some say Greenpeace’s assault on the initiatives of Filipino scientists evokes images of radical left-leaning groups who howl against the occasional visit of United States warships to Subic but who turn a blind eye to the daily incursion of Chinese fishing and war vessels into Philippine waters. The observation may be valid after all. It likewise baffles us why a pressure group like Greenpeace could banner itself as a champion of the environment when it has never lifted a finger to oppose the use of toxic chemicals. We wonder if Greenpeace operatives here can look the Filipino farmer straight in the eye and tell him that the toxic pesticides he sprays on his crops is safer than planting non-pesticide dependent plant varieties. The other observation is that Greenpeace’s win at the CA is not really just against its nemesis, the Filipino science community. It is a victory against every Filipino’s freedom of choice. It’s against the Filipino farmers’ freedom to choose which plant variety they want to sow in their farms. It’s about their freedom to choose between pesticide-dependent plant varieties or those that have built-in natural resistance to pests such as Bt talong and other varieties developed through biotechnology. It’s against the Filipino consumers freedom to choose the kind of food they want to put into their bodies—either those laced with pesticides or those that are not. While we respect the CA’s decision, we believe the losing party, in this case the Filipino scientists of UPLB, should pursue other legal remedies such as a motion for reconsideration in order to uphold that very basic freedom—the right to choose. We also wish that we Filipinos would be free from the fear being planted in our hearts by well-funded pressure groups who have access to humongous funding, to media and to our courts.‐crushes‐filipino‐farmers‐hopes/21914/ 


So many words to say so little July 24, 2013 10:31 pm

by Ben D. Kritz

Ben D. Kritz

If the State of the Nation Address (SONA) was treated as it ought to be—as an address to accompany the annual report of a very large corporation—it would have two basic and equally important parts: A summary of the enterprise’s accomplishments and performance over the past year; and a clear description of objectives for the coming year. The traditional approach to the SONA, however, is anything but businesslike; true to form, President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s fourth SONA this past Monday was long on self-congratulations, excuses and blame for things that are not working out well, and feel-good stories (presented this year in video form) from inspiring regular folks. For those who enjoy trivia, that last feature of these kinds of speeches is a tradition started by US President Ronaldo Reagan, and an individual who is so highlighted by the President’s speech is called a “Lenny Skutnik.” Skutnik was a Federal employee, a regular guy on his way home from work, who on January 13, 1982, happened to be caught in rush-hour traffic in Washington, D.C.’s 14th Street Bridge when Air Florida Flight 90 fell out of the sky and crashed into the Potomac River. Stripping off his coat, Skutnik dove into the icy water to save the life of one of the injured passengers, and for his heroism was honored by Reagan in his second State of the Union Address a few days later; ever since then, every State of the Union Address has featured at least a few “Lenny Skutniks,” a routine that is copied here in the Philippines. The Lenny Skutniks of the world are entitled to their little moment in the spotlight, but the SONA, delivered to coincide with the opening of Congress, ought to balance the feel-good praise with discernible goals for the period marked by the upcoming legislative session. In its English translation, President Aquino’s one-hour and 44-minute speech is 13,408 words long; of that volume of text, only 680 words are devoted to plans and actions to be taken, a ratio of about 5 percent substance to 95 percent self-aggrandizing fluff. Self-aggrandizing fluff is an anticipated feature of the SONA, but President Aquino has overdone it this year. Complaining about that, however, would be as counterproductive as his taking nearly two hours to deliver a plan that could have been recited in about four minutes, so let’s focus instead on the initiatives. In terms of the legislative agenda, President Aquino revealed a few priorities. He called for a 0.6percent increase in the contribution rate to the Social Security System (SSS), saying that it will

immediately reduce the system’s unfunded liabilities by P141 billion, or a little more than 10 percent. That is not going to be popular with workers or labor groups, and it still leaves a large fiscal gap in the SSS to be closed, but it is a good start assuming the math has been done correctly. The 0.6 percent is a minimally invasive increase, and if managed properly, can indeed help to extend the life of SSS funds. Other specific legislation the President addressed are the repeal of the outdated Cabotage Law, which was first passed in 1920 as the Jones Act; the Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Bill and the Land Administration Reform Bill. These are smart, forward-thinking initiatives, and we can only hope the President follows up on them by exerting his influence to see them carried out. President Aquino also suggested raising the fares on Metro Manila’s light rail systems to reduce government subsidies; while this will certainly ignite a storm of protest, it is also a good idea, not only as a fiscal measure but as a means to potentially reduce the dangerous overcrowding of commuter trains. To deal with the capital’s paralyzing traffic, President Aquino ticked off a number of infrastructure projects to be completed in the near-term: two more transport terminals in Muntinlupa and Quezon City to reduce the number of buses on city roads, and three new expressways connecting the Circumferential Road 3 road in Caloocan, the Balintawak junction and Santa Mesa in Quezon City, and Buendia in Makati. For the rest of the country, however, the initiatives are a little less promising: A brief mention of otherwise unspecified intentions to build various kinds of infrastructure to benefit the fishing industry, a review of the same list of airport upgrades we’ve been hearing for the past couple of years, a description of the construction of a bridge in his home province of Tarlac, and a subtle assurance that the already painfully slow and problematic housing program for victims of 2011’s Typhoon Sendong and last year’s Typhoon Pablo will be nowhere near to being completed by 2014. In agriculture, President Aquino offered almost nothing, save for a goal to develop more sites for coconut intercropping this year, and to heap praise on his partymate Frank Drilon’s efforts to improve infrastructure for rice farmers in Iloilo. Indirectly referring to the recent shipment of 45 metric tons of fancy rice to Singapore—an amount that can be carried with room to spare in one 40-foot shipping container—President Aquino apparently considers the “rice problem” solved, despite numerous detailed studies that suggest the only possible reason the country might not be officially considered import dependent any time before 2025 is that so much rice continues to be smuggled into the Philippines. The most entertaining claim, however, was revealed during his description of his administration’s efforts to develop flood-control measures for Metro Manila. President Aquino pointed out that during Typhoon Ondoy, the water flow from the Sierra Madre mountains exceeded the existing system’s capacity by 2,600 cubic meters per second, leading to the disastrous flooding of the city. To solve this, the administration intends to complete the Blumentritt Interceptor Catchment Area by next year, which “will be able to catch the equivalent of 14 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water.” All well and good, except a standard-sized Olympic pool only contains 2,500 cubic meters of water—once

completed, the heralded Blumentritt project will provide exactly 14.56 seconds of flood protection for the metropolis. Apart from the solid legislative initiatives, there is little else to praise in these reactionary and haphazard plans, and what was left out of the speech is hugely disappointing. The administration clearly has not yet developed an energy policy, and is either unaware or unconcerned that it has paralyzed the country’s mining and mineral extraction industry—something that, given the gas and oil reserves in the South China Sea, is supposed to be a key justification for President Aquino’s continued antagonizing of the Big Red Neighbor to the North. Nor was any acknowledgement, even a negative one, offered for calls to revamp the Constitution or existing laws to loosen up the Philippines’ restrictive investment environment, apart from the mention of the Cabotage Law. “More of the same,” would have been a good enough report, and saved everyone a lot of time. But at least the speechwriters and fashion designers had something to do for a few days.‐many‐words‐to‐say‐so‐little‐2/22766/ 


BSP likely to keep policy rates unchanged July 24, 2013 9:09 pm

by Mayvelin U. Caraballo Reporter The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is seen to keep its key policy rates unchanged today, according to HSBC. “After beginning the year with bold policy changes, we expect the central bank to keep rates on hold at the upcoming monetary meeting,” the HSBC Global Research said in its latest research note. On its last meeting, the Monetary Board kept the interest rates for the overnight borrowing or reverse repurchase facility at 3.5 percent, while overnight lending or repurchase was kept at 5.5 percent. The reserve requirement ratios were held steady as well. It has also kept the interest rates on the special deposit accounts (SDA) at 2 percent. It also reduced the SDA rate three times since January by a total of 150 basis points. The board is also scheduled to announce its latest monetary policy stance today. Meanwhile, HSBC cited the Monetary Board’s decision to restrict SDA placements of trust department/entities. The new rules stipulates that investment management accounts (IMA) shall be reduced by at least 30 percent by July 30, while any remaining balance shall be phased out by November 30, 2013. “Most notable was the decision to ban nonpooled trust accounts by January 2014, of which 30 percent must liquidate the facility by the end of this month, and 100 percent by the end of November,” it stated. HSBC added that the effect of such policy adjustments, including the slashing of SDA rate from 3.5 percent to 2 percent are “gradually being felt.” It noted that the SDA facility declined form a peak of P1.9 trillion in February to P1.7 trillion in June. “We expect at least half of the total amount to liquidate the facility by the end of November 2013,” it said.‐likely‐to‐keep‐policy‐rates‐unchanged/22654/ 


Low prices slow down US sugar shipments July 24, 2013 9:04 pm

by James Konstantin Galvez Reporter The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is studying options, including the selling of sugar to the world market and reallocation of stocks to address the slow down in shipments of sugar to the United States. Butch Alisla, the chief of staff of SRA administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin, said that the agency will come up with a Sugar Order by next week, which would allow traders and exporters to ship the remaining volume of “A sugar” or US quota sugar to the world market. “We want to open a window for traders to dispose their remaining stocks, which have been committed under US quota,” Alisla said in an interview. The Philippines has a regular US sugar quota of 138,827 metric tons (MT) this year. However, as of July 23, local exporters were only able to ship about 53,000 MT of sugar to the US. To recall, Manila has temporarily halt exports of the sweetener to Washington because of saturated US market that resulted in very low prices of sugar. Rosemarie Gumera, SRA manager for planning and policy, said the agency is also looking at other options like the conversion of “D” or world market sugar to alternative feedstock for biofuels. “We are going to reclassify D sugar, which are usually committed to exporters and sugar-based exports to ethanol,” she said, adding that the reclassification would increase the support price for farmers through diversification of sugarcane production. Gumera added that the SRA is surveying various districts across the country to look for viable areas that can be opened up for ethanol production. “We are pushing for the expansion of sugar areas and improvement of productivity for us to meet the requirement for ethanol,” she further said. Based on the data of the Department of Energy, the country consumes 306 million litters of ethanol annually. About 248 million liters were imported and 32.4 million liters were locally produced. “There’s some disparity with the tally, but nonetheless, we need about 50,000 hectares of additional areas to meet the annual requirement for ethanol,” Gumera said. The SRA officials said they expect to release by next month the new sugar allocation for crop year 2012-2013, adding that they expect production to slightly increase. Sugar production is now at 2.457 million MT, or 9.53 percent higher compared to the last crop year. It also exceeded the 2.434 million MT target for crop year 2012-2013 by 1 percent. The SRA classifies sugar into “A” for sugar for export to the US, “B” for domestic consumption, “C” for reserves, “D” for export to countries other than the US and “E” for food local processors.‐prices‐slow‐down‐us‐sugar‐shipments/22632/ 


Japanese firms continue buying spree in Asean July 24, 2013 9:00 pm

TOKYO: Japanese firms have spent record amounts scooping up assets in Southeast Asia this year, part of a trend that has seen Tokyo moving to boost its presence in the fast-growing region and away from China. As Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves on Thursday for a three-day trip to some of the region’s biggest economies to tap an expanding middle class, figures show Japanese firms have this year spent more on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) than ever before. Rising wages in China and a Tokyo-Beijing territorial dispute that has infected bilateral trade has also taken the sheen off the world’s number-two economy as an investment destination, analysts said. Japanese firms have spent a staggering $8.2 billion on M&A in Southeast Asia so far in 2013, a record with five months to go and well above the $614 million at the same point in 2012, data provider Dealogic said. The figure easily outstrips the previous full-year best of $7.6 billion in 2006, it added. Two deals helped inflate this year’s figure: Mitsubishi UFJ’s $5.6-billion bid earlier this month for Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya; and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.’s agreement to buy a 40-percent stake in Indonesia’s PT Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional for about $1.5 billion. But Japan also took top spot in terms of the overall volume of such regional agreements, followed closely by Thai and Singaporean firms, said Dealogic, which counts deals in its data from the moment they are announced. The Thai bank tie-up comes after Japan’s largest lender said that it had agreed to buy a 20-percent stake in state-owned VietinBank for about $743 million, the largest-ever foreign investment in Vietnam’s banking sector. Toyota has said that a new $230-million plant in Indonesia will start producing vehicle engines by 2016, among a string of investments in the region by the world’s biggest automaker. “Japanese companies have been searching for places to invest in addition to China,” said Toru Nishihama, economist at Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute. “This trend is likely to continue for the next five to 10 years,” he added. The ramped-up shopping spree has come even as the yen has weakened against the dollar since late last year—owing to a big-spending plan by Abe to kickstart the economy—making overseas deals relatively more expensive for Japanese firms. The 58-year-old premier’s three-day tour to Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines is the latest of several trips he has made with business leaders since coming to power in December, that aim to drum up new deals. In May, Abe announced a development aid and loan package for Myanmar worth hundreds of millions of dollars as it boosts trade ties with the once-isolated nation, which has ushered in a raft of political reforms.‐firms‐continue‐buying‐spree‐in‐asean/22607/ 

Wells Fargo beats ICBC as world’s largest bank July 24, 2013 9:01 pm

SHANGHAI: The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), a symbol of the country’s financial might, has been deposed as the world’s largest bank by market capitalization by Wells Fargo, data showed on Wednesday. ICBC’s six-year reign as the world’s biggest bank began in July 2007, and its value peaked at $374 billion in November that year, thanks to China’s rapid economic expansion. But Wells Fargo and Co. of the United States is now worth $236 billion, according to the New York Stock Exchange, where it is listed, while Chinese figures show ICBC’s value has fallen to around $223 billion. “As the US economy recovered after the crisis, the rebound of the real estate sector supported the recovery of Wells Fargo,” said Lu Zhengwei, an economist with the Industrial Bank, which has no connection to ICBC. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo has retained the top spot since taking it over on July 12. The bank is the biggest retail mortgage lender in the United States, with 9,000 branches and 270,000 employees worldwide. The shift comes at a time when China, the world’s second-largest economy, is losing steam. China’s gross domestic product expanded 7.5 percent year-on-year in the April to June period, slowing from 7.7 percent in the previous three months. A liquidity crunch last month also exposed risks in the Chinese banking system, when a shortage of funds on China’s interbank market sent the interest rates banks charge to lend to each other to record highs. The development raised worries over the health of the financial sector and sent banking stocks into a tailspin. Chinese authorities had refused to pump fresh money into the financial markets in an effort to rein in risky lending practices. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index has fallen more than 10 percent this year on worries over the slowing domestic economy. Beijing last week also announced a long-awaited interest rate liberalization, removing a floor on banks’ lending rates, but the move sparked worries that narrower interest margins could erode earnings. “The slowdown in China’s economy, coupled with the pressure from China’s interest rate liberalization, has led to very low valuations of Chinese banks,” said Lu of the Industrial Bank. Last year, ICBC’s net profit rose 14.5 percent to 238.7 billion yuan ($38.9 billion), according to its website. ICBC has 17,125 domestic branches and claims nearly 400 million corporate and individual customers. A spokesman at the bank’s Beijing headquarters declined to comment to Agence France-Presse about the ranking. No representatives of Wells Fargo in China could be reached for comment.

On Wednesday, ICBC closed down 0.25 percent at 3.92 yuan ($0.64) in Shanghai but went up 0.78 percent at HK$5.14 ($0.66) in Hong Kong. Wells Fargo closed down 0.13 percent at $44.57 on Tuesday.‐fargo‐beats‐icbc‐as‐worlds‐largest‐bank/22609/ 


Posted on July 25, 2013 12:25:07 AM

No change expected PHILIPPINE economic growth will likely slow following a surprisingly strong first quarter, an economist said, a factor that will likely prompt monetary authorities to keep key rates steady for the rest of the year. “Coupled with uncertainty in the external environment, growth in the Philippines is expected to decelerate in 2H (the second half),” HSBC economist Trinh D. Nguyen said in a note forecasting no change to policy and special deposit account (SDA) rates in today’s Monetary Board meeting. “External headwinds are strong. The recent May remittance print disappointed, proving less support to private spending. May exports also continued to be a drag on growth. The slowing of the credit cycle added another blow,” Ms. Nguyen added. “Even with external demand likely to pick up towards yearend thanks to a recovery from the US, Japan and China (contingent on the government stepping in to help), the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) will not take any chances and keep rates low.” From the first quarter’s 7.8% expansion -- the highest in the region and surpassing the government’s fullyear 6-7% goal, HSBC expects gross domestic product (GDP) growth to have eased to 5.6% in the AprilJune period, results for which will be reported by the government on Aug. 29. The 5.6% pace is expected to be maintained in the third quarter and pick up to 6.7% in the last three months of the year, leading to a full-year result of 6.4% -- within the 6-7% target and down slightly from last year’s 6.8% result. Specifically, second-quarter growth was said to have been pulled down by “slowing remittances and contracting exports.” Ms. Nguyen, however, said the pace of this year’s expansion would “still [be] much higher than the trend growth thanks to resilient private consumption and a gradual rise in investment.” Public investment is unlikely to expand significantly, she noted, pointing out that President Benigno S. C. Aquino III, while declaring that he wanted to raise infrastructure spending to 5% of GDP by 2016 from 2.5% this year, “did not highlight specific plans to achieve this” last Monday. “Therefore, any substantial increase in the country’s investment will likely come from the private sector, and the BSP will facilitate by holding main policy rates low and forcing SDA funds to flow elsewhere,” she said. Inflation is expected to remain manageable -- it was at 2.8% in June and HSBC has a 3.1% forecast for the year -- and not breach the BSP’s 3-5% target, which will allow the central bank to “focus on other considerations when it meets late afternoon this Thursday.” “The foremost consideration at the upcoming meeting is likely the economy ... With uncertainty concerning China’s growth, the timing of the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) tapering and the eurozone recovery fragile, the BSP has room to keep policy rates low to boost domestic demand,” Ms. Nguyen said. “We expect main policy rates to be on hold for the rest of the year,” she added. The BSP’s overnight borrowing and lending rates have been kept at record lows of 3.5% and 5.5%, respectively, since October last year.

SDA rates, cut three times earlier this year, are expected to stay at 2%. “Any significant movement in the future is contingent on the central bank’s ability to see through the fog, which is unlikely to take place at the next meeting or even the 12 September meeting,” Ms. Nguyen said. In a related development, recent moves by other central banks to raise interest rates are also unlikely to pressure the Monetary Board to follow suit, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) representative to the Philippines said. “The moves of central banks are very country-specific. There should be no pressure on the BSP despite the moves of other emerging markets,” IMF Resident Representative Shanaka Jayanath Peiris said last Friday, referring to Indonesia and India. “Some of the countries [that raised interest rates] have current account deficits, some have rising inflation,” Mr. Peiris added. Analysts polled by BusinessWorld last week all said overnight borrowing and lending rates were likely to be kept at 3.5% and 5.5%, respectively. One forecast that SDA rates could be taken down by another 25 basis points to 1.75% across all tenors. Central bank Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr., has signalled that monetary policy will unlikely be tweaked given the manageable inflation outlook.‐change‐expected&id=73930              

Posted on July 25, 2013 12:23:23 AM

Vehicle import rule tightened VEHICLE IMPORTERS must now secure a release authority for each unit brought into the country, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said. Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) 21-2013, dated July 22 and published yesterday, amends provisions of RMO 35-2002 that prescribed guidelines and procedures for the processing and issuance of authorities to release imported goods (ATRIG) for value-added (VAT) and excise tax purposes. “This order is issued to implement the ‘one ATRIG-one automobile’ policy for purposes of ensuring that the importation of automobiles is fully accounted for with the end in view that revenue collections of the government are properly protected,” the order states. The BIR requires that importers of apply for an ATRIG for shipments. This allows the agency ensure that the tax due on the imported products have been paid or verify if the goods are tax-exempt or subject to any preferential tax regime under existing laws. Under bureau’s 2002 order, the ATRIG shall be issued for all importations of articles subject to excise tax, whether exempt or taxable. For VAT purposes, the ATRIG shall be issued on all importations of articles exempt from the sales tax. The 2002 issuance also states that each importation is covered by a separate ATRIG application. It also notes: “In cases where the importation involves articles of the same kind but are covered by two or more Bills Of Lading issued to the same importer under the same vessel, the consolidated application may be accepted and processed.” RMO 21-2013 adds to this, stating: “With respect to the importation of automobiles defined under Republic Act No. 9224, one ATRIG shall be issue for each unit ... with a net importer’s price of over P2,100,000.00... in cases of importation having a single Bill of Lading but consisting of several automobiles with importer’s selling prices of P2,100,000.00 or less and over P2,100,000.00, excluding value-added and excise taxes, one ATRIG shall still be issued for every unit of automobile, regardless of the net importer’s selling price.” “[A] separate notarized application for ATRIG shall be filed and signed by the importer or his duly authorized representative, with the prescribed documentary stamp affixed thereon, for each and every unit of automobile pursuant to this sub-paragraph.” Under RA 9224, taxation of vehicle imports is based on the manufacturer’s or importer’s selling price, net of excise and value-added taxes. Automobiles valued at less than P600,000 will be taxed at 2% of the price of the imported product, while those valued at over P2.1 million are levied P512,000 plus 60% of the value of the vehicle in excess of P2.1 million. Those priced between P600,000 to P1.1 million, meanwhile, are charged P12,000 plus 20% of the value of the vehicle in excess of P600,000; and those valued between P1.1 million to P2.1 million are charged P112,000 plus 40% of the vehicle’s price in excess of P1.1 million. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc‐import‐rule‐


Posted on July 25, 2013 12:22:58 AM

Country tagged in US trade investigation WASHINGTON -- The US Commerce Department on Tuesday launched one of its biggest trade investigations in years into charges that manufacturers in South Korea, India and seven other countries are selling steel pipe used by oil and natural gas producers at unfairly low prices. Imports of oil country tubular goods (OCTG) from the nine countries totaled nearly $1.8 billion in 2012, more than double their total in 2010, as rising US oil and natural gas production have increased demand for the pipe. In 2010, the US slapped duties on China’s OCTG imports after they hit about $2.8 billion in 2008. That created an opening for other suppliers. The latest case targets South Korea, which exported about $831 million worth of the pipe last year, as well as India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine. US producers are asking for anti-dumping duties as high as 240% on India, 158% on South Korea, 118% on Thailand and 111% on Vietnam to offset what they say is below market pricing, and lesser but still hefty duties on the other five countries. -- Reuters‐tagged‐in‐US‐trade‐ investigation&id=73928                           

Posted on July 24, 2013 09:30:10 PM

Strong peso seen this year BANKS HAVE BACKED the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) revision of its foreign exchange assumption, anticipating the peso’s appreciation this year, propelled by strong overseas remittances. Economic managers adjusted the foreign exchange assumption last week, based on the BSP’s recommendations, raising it to P41-43:$1 from P42-45:$1. “The P41-43:$1 range is within BPI’s (the Bank of the Philippine Islands) forecast,” Nicholas T. Mapa, market research officer of the Ayala-led bank, said in an e-mail toBusinessWorld. Mr. Mapa said the peso’s strength will be driven by healthy remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFW). OFWs sent home $8.783 billion as of May, 5.6% higher than the $8.317 billion posted in same period in 2012, within the BSP’s 5% growth forecast. Strong fundamentals will also “distinguish the Philippines above its peers,” luring foreign investors and fund managers as they return to Asia’s booming economies. These inflows will provide further support to the peso. The Philippine economy grew by 7.8% in the first quarter, outpacing the rest of Asia. Inflation has also been kept to 2.8% in June, below the BSP’s 3-5% target. Mr. Mapa said, “A consumption driven economy with a sizeable amount of purchasing power, funded by OFW remittances all point to robust growth.” BPI expects the peso to close the year at P41.50-42:$1. In 2012, the local currency finished at P41.05:$1. Meanwhile, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank) expects the BSP’s revised foreign exchange assumption to hold. “Our forecast for the yearend is P41.50:$1, well within the range,” said Ildemarc C. Bautista, Metrobank research head. Mr. Bautista said there is more dollar supply than demand in the country, as evidenced by the balance of payments (BoP) surplus. The BoP, which reflects the Philippines’ transactions with the rest of the world, showed a surplus of $692 million in June, higher than the $75 million in May and the $14 million a year earlier. Security Bank Corp. economist Patrick M. Ella had an even stronger target for the peso. “P40.80:$1 is our current yearend [forecast] but with volatility along the way.” The peso has been erratic so far, appreciating to as high as P40.57:$1 in January and depreciating to as low as P43.84:$1 in June. The volatility came as a result of the US Federal Reserve’s announcement it could taper off of its $85-billion monthly bond purchases. This sparked panic selling of emerging market assets as investors raced to move their portfolios back to the United States. Mr. Ella said Security Bank agrees with the BSP that “the peso will hold up its own against the dollar”

despite the recent turbulence, adding that he does not see the Fed tapering its stimulus within the year. However, BNP Paribas economist Philip McNicholas forecast the peso would settle at the low end of the BSP’s foreign exchange assumption, closing at P43:$1 by the yearend. “The Fed’s unwinding of its quantitative easing program is likely to apply depreciation pressure on the peso as the process reflects an improvement in US economic fundamentals which would imply a further narrowing of the growth and interest rate differentials between the Philippines and the US,” Mr. McNicholas said in an e-mail. Yesterday, the peso closed at P43.32:$1, nine centavos weaker than its P43.23:$1 finish on Monday. -Lloyd Edgar G. Reyes‐peso‐seen‐this‐ year&id=73900                           

Posted on July 24, 2013 09:27:37 PM

Retail bonds to be auctioned off next week THE GOVERNMENT will price this year’s first retail Treasury bond (RTB) sale next week. “The Department of Finance through the Bureau of the Treasury will issue peso-denominated 10-year fixed-rate retail Treasury bonds in a minimum aggregate nominal principal amount of P30 billion [on July 30],” a notice read yesterday. The RTBs due in 2023 will be offered from July 30 to August 13, but the Treasury may end the public offering at an earlier date, National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon said. The settlement date is on August 15. Ms. de Leon declined to say how much the Treasury would issue, saying in a text message: “It would depend on the market’s demand.” First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) President Roberto Juanchito T. Dispo earlier said “an economical size for the issuance is P100 billion” given the government’s strong cash position. The government’s deficit stood at P42.839 billion as of May, well below the P61.9 billion programmed for the period. The sale of RTBs aims to make government securities accessible to retail investors. Investors can buy the debt papers for a minimum of P5,000. The Treasury last issued RTBs in October 2012, from which it netted a record P188 billion from its sale of 25-year bonds. -- Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio‐bonds‐to‐be‐auctioned‐off‐ next‐week&id=73899                      

Posted on July 24, 2013 09:26:41 PM

Central bank tempers peso moves THE PESO weakened yesterday as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) intervened in the foreign exchange market, increasing dollar appetite. The local currency shed nine centavos to close at P43.32 against the dollar from its P43.23-per-dollar finish on Monday. “The BSP was present since the market opened,” a trader said. It was seen “capping the lows” at P43.10 per dollar. Another trader said, “The BSP was buying sporadically, keeping the peso weak.” It was estimated to have bought $100 million “sporadically” until the market closed. “They really kept the peso from gaining momentum today,” the trader said. Despite the central bank’s intervention yesterday, trading was said to be “relatively light” with only $776.50 million dealt, falling from the $810.88 million traded on Monday. Overseas, a trader said the market reacted negatively to the gloomy results of China’s flash purchasing managers’ index (PMI) -- a preliminary indicator of factory activity. China’s flash PMI fell to 47.7 in July from 48.2 the month prior, the third straight month it has failed to meet the 50 level, which indicates an expansion. It was also the lowest since August 2012. While Germany’s PMI rose to a five-month high of 52.8 this month from 50.4 in June, the data came in after the local markets closed. France’s PMI also surged to a 17-month high of 49.8 from 48.4. “Its impact will be seen [today],” a trader said. Today, the PMI of Europe and the United States will be released. The US’ PMI in June was the lowest since October 2012 but still showed an expansion at 51.9, while Europe’s PMI jumped to a 16-month high but still showed a contraction at 48.8. Traders see the peso moving within the P43.10-43.40:$1 band today. -- Lloyd Edgar G. Reyes‐bank‐tempers‐peso‐ moves&id=73898  

Posted on July 24, 2013 11:05:58 PM

Tawi-Tawi, Sabah trade to resume ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Trade between ports in Tawi-Tawi and in neighboring Sabah, Malaysia will resume early next week following the establishment of a Temporary Passport Enrollment Center (TPEC) under the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). The center will provide travel documents for Filipinos entering the Malaysian state. “We are only waiting for the release of our passports. Maybe next week, we can travel,” Redentor W. Lauddin, chairman of the Tawi-Tawi Boat Owners and Traders Association, toldBusinessWorld in a phone interview yesterday. Sabah is just a few hours by motor boat from the province. Traders and shippers have suspended their trips to Sabah since April after the Malaysian government imposed a new policy over foreign crewmen entering ports in Sabah. That month, the Malaysian Foreign Ministry sent a note verbale to the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur that, effective April 15, “all crews of barter trade ships or vessels will be required to produce valid travel documents, i.e. international passport or seaman book, at all entry ports in Sabah.” The policy was triggered by an armed conflict in mid-February, when more than 200 members of the socalled Royal Army of the Sulu Sultanate and North Borneo sailed to Sabah to reclaim the territory as their ancestral homeland. The incident triggered a standoff, eventually leading to a firefight, killing more than 60 Sultanate followers and eight members of Malaysian forces. In the past, barter traders and shippers in Tawi-Tawi only needed a seaman identification card from Malaysian authorities to get their supplies of goods from Sabah sources. But, this is no longer issued to the crews of barter trade ships or vessels without valid travel documentation. Shippers in Tawi-Tawi earlier complained that getting all the necessary permits, including passports, would entail huge costs since the shippers would have to travel to DFA offices outside the region. Hence, they asked for the government’s intervention. In a statement, the DFA regional office here said it established the TPEC at the One-Stop Processing Center (OSPC) in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, to cater not only to traders but also to Sabah deportees and displaced persons. Hassan Gabra Jumdain, regional director of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and head of the OSPC operations in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, said the establishment of the passport processing center was the result of meetings and consultations with different member-agencies involved the OSPC and a Memorandum of Agreement signed on April 30. “The undertaking was a joint effort of the Department of Labor and Employment, OWWA, Department of Social Welfare and Development, DFA, Crisis Management Committee, and the provincial government of Tawi-Tawi,” Mr. Jumdain said. Passport applicants being accommodated include deportees and displaced persons who plan to return to Sabah for re-employment, regular passport applicants, Hajj applicants, and crew members of sea vessels

engaged in barter trading. The statement said the processing center has already served more than 600 passport applicants. “Traders in Tawi-Tawi are optimistic because our trade with Sabah will be legal,” Mr. Lauddin said. In Bongao alone, there 200 crew members that regularly travel twice a week to Sabah. “We have more than 500 crews in the entire Tawi-Tawi,” Mr. Lauddin said. At least 80% of Tawi-Tawi’s commodities, such as rice and sugar, are sourced from Sabah due to proximity. -- Darwin T. Wee‐Tawi,‐Sabah‐trade‐to‐ resume&id=73920                         

Posted on July 24, 2013 11:06:41 PM

PCCI wants port operations privatized THE PHILIPPINE Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) is calling for changes to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Charter and for port operations to be left to the private sector, to level the playing field, the group said in a statement yesterday. PCCI said the government needs to “end the multiple conflicting roles of PPA as regulator, developer and competitor in maritime trade or port services.” “An amended PPA Charter would signal to investors that they could expect fair competition in developing and operating ports,” said PCCI President Miguel B. Varela in the statement. “[A] level playing field would be an incentive for large infrastructure projects because investors would feel predictability in their operations if the government regulator is not a competing developer of ports at the same time,” he added. PCCI said it has already asked the Transportation department to amend the charter and allow PPA to function solely as a regulator and not an operator of ports. Under the PPA Charter, the agency is allowed to develop ports and charge fees such as for access and docking and undocking. It also operates some ports in the country. Mr. Varela said the Transportation department needs to speed up the privatization of the operation and development of ports currently under the PPA, which regulates the use and development of Philippine ports. The PCCI president said in a separate interview with reporters that the modernization of the Bureau of Customs needs to be prioritized in order to remove the perception of corruption in the agency. “The modernization of customs should take effect immediately, as it makes all transactions computerized and limits the face-to-face interaction of people,” he said. --E.N.J. David‐wants‐port‐operations‐ privatized&id=73921   

Lim does a Biazon, quits BoC, stays on Written by  Tribune   Thursday, 25 July 2013 08:00  

‘Powerful forces’ intervene in Customs’ job — Lim It must be the “new normal” in resignations from government positions under the Aquino administration. The presidential appointees announce their resignations, and in less than a day, announce that they are no longer resigning, as President Aquino, who branded the Bureau of Customs (BoC) as a den of corruption, staffed with people who have the gall to wear thick faces during his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) just last Monday, has not accepted their resignations. Customs Chief Ruffino Biazon was first to announce his resignation immediately after President Aqino called those in the BoC “thick faced.” This was announced in his Twitter account. On the same day, Biazon tweeted that Aquino has not approved his resignation. Retired Gen. Danilo Lim, deputy chief, followed suit, saying that he has also resigned, explaining his resignation by saying in a radio interview yesterday that he cannot deliver what is expected of him because there are “powerful forces” intervening affecting his mandate to capture smugglers and institute reforms in the BoC. During a dzMM radio interview, Lim was quoted as stating that in the BoC, there are just too many powerful forces that interfere and intervene in his job of catching the smugglers.. Lim said he agrees with the President’s observation that BoC has not performed well, thus he filed his resignation, through Executive Secretary Ochoa, after hearing the Sona. “I agree with the President’s Sona observation that the Bureau has not performed in accordance with the expectations of the people,” said Lim, a former general of the Army. In his Sona on Monday, the President chided BoC for “trying to outdo each other’s incompetence”. The President said that instead of collecting the proper taxes and preventing contraband from entering the country, they are heedlessly permitting the smuggling of goods, and even drugs, arms, and other items of a similar nature into our territory. “The apprehension of smugglers as well as the guaranteeing of correct collections are continuing activities that need as much attention as the job of instituting reforms — a virtual guarantee that the latter activity will take time, much more time than the public would be willing to give us,” added Lim. “In view of this, I see no other recourse but to leave this office,” he also said. Lim, however, stressed that he continues to support the Aquino administration. Lim also claimed that he has asked Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa for him to quit his job in Customs

and to instead give him (Lim) an agency, even it is a small one, as long as he controls this agency—and that he can deliever on his job. Lim, just as his chief, Biazon, also tendered his resignation to Aquino Tuesday or a day after the Sona. He is however, like Biazon, staying on in his post, saying Aquino has rejected his resignation. Lim, who is graduate of the United States Military Academy in West Point, is one of the founding leaders of the Young Officers Union which figured in several coup d’etats against Aquino’s mother, the late President Cory Aquino in the 1990s. Lim said powerful forces would sometimes intervene even before the Customs bureau can make a move. He cited as example that there would be an alert on a job to do, which is to catch the smuggler. “You just leave the room, and there are already a lot of people who call me up, requesting me not to do it,” adding that some of the requests involve the entry of contraband goods. “I have difficulty in doing my job under such interventions and requests,” he said, adding that “sometimes, there is need for a balancing act and if you don’t give in to the requests, they may hartbor ill feelings against me, or they start sulking,” But Lim refused to name the “powerful forces” that intervene in Customs matter. However, a late report from GMA news Online said that Aquino did not accept BoC’s Lim’s resignation, as a Cabinet secretary yesterday informed him of the presidential rejection of Lim’s resignation. Lim was quoted as saying, “the way it was told to me, the President did not accept my resignation. If he has not accepted it, well, I am a soldier. Whatever is ordered by the boss, we have to follow,” The BoC missed its collection target for 2012 by P60 billion – it had set its target at P347 billion but collected only P287 billion. Customs Chief Biazon lauded the offer of Customs Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Lim and Deputy Commissioner for Internal Administration Group (IAG) Juan Lorenzo Tañada to resign, in light of Aquino’s fourth Sona where Aquino lashed at the BoC for its unabated corruption. “Perhaps they had the same feeling I had when I immediately filed my offer to resign as Customs Chief to the President after hearing his Sona. I find the offer of Lim and Tañada to resign very honorable,” Biazon said. Biazon, however, leaves it up to all Presidential appointees at the BoC to respond to the President’s Sona, according to their conscience and conviction. According to Biazon, Lim called by phone to inform him of his decision to file his resignation with the President. Tañada for his part, offered his resignation to the President yesterday, saying that he wants to give the President the free hand to choose his people for the Bureau of Customs. “As a presidential appointee myself, I felt the responsibility to give the President the free hand to choose his people of confidence for the BoC. Moreover, I believe I am not a “makapal ang mukha “ (thick faced), so immediately after my arrival from an out-of-town trip, I filed my resignation offer to the President.” Tañada said.

According to Biazon, it will now all be up to the President to decide on the resignation offers of Lim and Tañada. The Commissioner, however, hinted that while he is more comfortable working with Tañada and Lim, he will have no problem working with a new team should there be a new appointees by the President.

By Mario J. Mallariand Conrado Ching‐lim‐does‐a‐biazon‐quits‐boc‐stays‐on                                         

Luisita farmers seek SC help on discrepancies in estate’s allocation Written by  Benjamin B. Pulta   Thursday, 25 July 2013 08:00   Farmers who worked on the Tarlac sugar estate owned by the President’s family which has been placed under the government’s land reform program by the Supreme Court (SC) are pleading once again before the high court to question the procedure adopted by the government in implementing the court’s ruling. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has started to allocate specific lots to the farmer-beneficiaries using a “tambiolo” (lottery drum) system. Would-be beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita picketed in front of the high court while their lawyers asked the SC to “require the DAR to explain the discrepancy in the number of hectares for distribution to the farm worker-beneficiaries.” The farmers questioned the raffle system in distributing the land and also asked the high tribunal to “prevent the DAR from collecting amortization payments” and from “compelling the farm workers to sign the application to purchase and farmers’ undertaking.” The Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), in an urgent omnibus motion, said the DAR is imposing on over 6,200 farmworker beneficiaries a method of land allocation that is not acceptable to them. It also reiterated before the SC for the government to explain why the original allotment of 6,886.5 square meters per farmer beneficiary had been reduced. Ambala said the land to be distributed to the farmers should be at least 4,335.60 hectares. “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 on the beneficiaries a method of land allocation that is not acceptable to them and which violates their right to collective ownership,” the petition said. But the DAR stood pat on its position to push through with the process of land distribution. “The Supreme Court has directed us to distribute the land to qualified beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita and we, in the DAR, are following this instruction to the letter. Only the Supreme Court can stop us now

from doing our job,” DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes was quoted as saying. The DAR, according to him, is also ready to defend all the activities that it is conducting in connection with the land distribution process in Hacienda Luisita. President Aquino had earlier promised to divide his family’s giant sugar plantation among thousands of peasant farmers by September, ending a decades-long struggle for control. “The process to determine the beneficiaries’ lots began last week, and the turnover of these lots will begin in September,” Aquino said in his state-of-the-nation address (Sona) last Monday. The farm, one of the biggest in the country, has come to symbolize the failure of a land reform program begun by Aquino’s mother Corazon Aquino in 1988 when she was president. The program was launched to break the stranglehold of powerful political families on the agriculture sector, and to empower the tens of thousands of farmers who worked on the estates. But many elite families had been able to use legal and political maneuvers to hold on to their farms. In the Hacienda Luisita case, Aquino’s family was accused of trying to avoid giving up its land by converting parts of it to non-agricultural uses and giving its workers shares in a company controlling the farm instead. The Supreme Court finally ruled in November 2011 that the family must sell the land to the government, which would then sell it to the farmers on easy loan terms. With AFP‐luisita‐farmers‐seek‐sc‐help‐on‐ discrepancies‐in‐estate‐s‐allocation                     

Sona shows Noy’s total disconnect with poor Written by  Paul Atienza   Thursday, 25 July 2013 08:00   President Aquino’s rambling State of the Nation Address (Sona) last Monday that ran for nearly two hours but still failed to mention the most urgent problems facing millions of Filipinos only reflected Aquino’s detachment from the problems of the poor majority, think tank Ibon said yesterday. “The speech’s mention of rapid economic growth, rising world competitiveness rankings, investment grade ratings and praise from the World Bank was predictable, however, the Sona should have discussed how unemploy-ment, underemployment and poverty have risen in the last three years,” Ibon said. The calculated neglect is evident in how the Sona speech was delivered and its 103-page supporting technical report did not have anything on these vital indicators of the state of the nation and the people, it added. According to Ibon, ac-knowledging the existence of such problems would have been the first step to finding a solution for these. “Yet by being silent, 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,” it added. 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 said. Aquino continues to use anti-corruption rhetoric for personal image-building and promotion, Ibon added. “He continues to package himself as an individual anti-corruption crusader, even publicly shaming officials for maximum propaganda effect, while vital and more genuinely institutional anti-corruption measures like the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill fail to prosper,” it said. The president’s closing statement “Napakasarap maging Pilipino sa panahong ito” (It is great 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. The supposedly good economic news for the Philippines is familiar: supposedly the fastest economic growth among the major countries of East and Southeast Asia, consecutive record highs in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) index, record gross international reserves, investment grade ratings from two major international credit ratings agencies, and an incremental rise in world competitiveness ranking, according to Ibon.

It said, however, the counterpoint to the supposed good economic news is likewise familiar: the unchanged jobs and poverty crisis. “Despite rapid economic growth the number of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos increased by over one million from 10.9 million in April 2010 to 11.9 million in April 2013 – consisting of 4.6 million unemployed (an increase of 52,000, using IBON estimates on National Statistics Office or NSO data) and 7.3 million underemployed (an increase of 955,000). This is the most number of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos in the country’s history,” Ibon said. Despite rapid economic growth job creation has been falling drastically in these first three years of the Aquino administration. While 1.4 million jobs were reported created in April 2011 (from the year before) this fell to 1 million in April 2012 and then turned to a negative 21,000 in April 2013. These occurred while the corresponding first quarter GDP growth grew at 4.6 percent (2011), 6.5 percent (2012), and 7.8 percent (2013). “The poorest are clearly left behind by economic growth. Between April 2012 and April 2013, looking at employed persons by industry, the agriculture sector where the greatest concentration of poor is found lost 624,000 jobs. The situation is even starker in employment by occupation group: 822,000 farmers, fisherfolk, workers and unskilled laborers and 26,000 professionals, associate professionals and technicians lost their jobs,” it said. It added the steady erosion of the two most important productive sectors in the economy was also evident. “The share of agriculture in total employment has continued to fall from 32.5 percent in April 2010 to 31.3 percent in April 2013, and of manufacturing from 8.6 percent to 8.4 percent over the same period. The share of agriculture in gross domestic product (GDP) is already down to its smallest in the country’s history and of manufacturing to as small as in the 1950s,” Ibon said. Poverty has remained unchanged. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported official poverty incidence as statistically unchanged at 27.9 percent in the first semester of 2012 compared to 28.8 percent and 28.6 percent in the same periods in 2006 and 2009, respectively. Ibon estimated that the reported poverty incidence of 27.9 percent means around 26.8 million poor Filipinos – computed using a projected population of 96.2 million in 2012 – or an increase of some 3 million to 4 million Filipinos falling into poverty from 2009. Official figures however grossly underestimate poverty with the implied official daily poverty threshold in the first semester of 2012 for instance being just some P52. “This is unreasonably low and insufficient for meeting all a person’s daily food and non-food needs for decent living. Various corrections for the low official poverty threshold would instead show anywhere between 38 million to 68 million poor Filipinos which is the worst scale of poverty in the country’s history,” Ibon added. The first three years of the Aquino administration affirms how the government’s economic policies systematically create the conditions for increasing the profits and wealth of a few. These are not accidental outcomes – much less due merely to corruption or rent-seeking – but are rather the inevitable

result of economic policies aimed at creating favorable conditions for preferred foreign and domestic big business interests to profit and flourish, it said.‐sona‐shows‐noy‐s‐total‐disconnect‐with‐ poor                                         

HRET’s hands full early on second day of 16th Congress Written by  Gerry Baldo   Thursday, 25 July 2013 08:00   The members of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) have their hands full as early as the second day of the 16th Congress with 34 electoral protests filed. According to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. the 34 cases include the protests against the proclamation of Quezon (4th District) Rep. Angelina Tan and Marinduque Rep. Regina Reyes. “There are 34 electoral protests filed in the HRET, and that includes these two (Tan and Reyes). They remain in the official roster of the House pending the resolution of the protests against them in the HRET,” Belmonte said in an interview. “We do hope that that these will be judiciously acted upon by the HRET,” Belmonte added. The protest against Tan was filed by Wigberto “Toby” Tañada Jr., the brother of former Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III while Reyes’ was filed a taxpayer on the ground that she is an American citizen and not illegible to seat in Congress. Her opponent is former Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, the son of Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco. Velasco is reportedly going to be a member of the HRET the composition which include three associate justices of the Supreme Court and nine members of House of Representatives. Belmonte said that the House is yet to complete the names of those who are going to sit in the tribunal. “The members of the HRET are yet to be completed because various groups have to be there. We already have some people and we will announce them as soon as the roster is complete,” Belmonte said. The Commission on Elections (Comelec), in a ruling, has disqualified Tan and Reyes. It was affirmed by the Supreme Court. But House leaders, including Belmonte and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, maintained that the Comelec and the Supreme Court have no jurisdiction over Tan and Reyes’ cases. Belmonte and Gonzales maintained that the cases should be resolved by the HRET, a body created by the Constitution to exclusively hear cases involving members of the House of Representatives. The House leaders stressed that both Tan and Reyes have been proclaimed as members of the House and as such should be within the jurisdiction of the HRET. The lawmakers are of the belief that the Comelec and the Supreme Court had abused its powers in deciding on the cases of Tan and Reyes. The camp of Reyes, also said that the Supreme Court decision in her case was based on a mere blog alleging that she is an American citizen.‐hret‐s‐hands‐full‐early‐on‐second‐day‐of‐ 16th‐congress 

Poll body mulling MR vs Senior Citizens’ partylist Written by  Tribune   Thursday, 25 July 2013 08:00   The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is mulling to file a motion for reconsideration after the Supreme Court (SC) the other day ruled in favor of a partylist group that has been disqualified by the poll body. Last Tuesday, the SC ordered the Comelec to reverse its disqualification of two partylist groups, Coalition of Senior Citizens and Abang Lingkod. However, the poll body said that even if the SC has ruled in favor of the two partylist groups they cannot proclaim the nominees because both of them (partylists) have the same internal problems: they have two sets of nominees. The high court voted 15-0, to resolve one of the stickiest issues in the canvassing for congressional candidates in the May 13 elections. Because of the disqualification the two partylists that managed to win in the just concluded May 13 midterm elections, the proclamation of their respective nominees was delayed. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said they are inclined to file a motion for reconsideration once they get hold of the SC decision. He said he has yet to read the decision yet but hinted of his intention to file the MR. The poll chief pointed out that while the high tribunal voted unanimously in favor of the two groups, it doesn’t mean that they are being prevented from taking steps or filing an MR. Brillantes also claimed that even if the SC ruling becomes final and executory, the Comelec could still not proclaim the two groups because of their having two sets of nominees. He said the two winning groups also have two factions thus their nominees can’t be proclaimed or sit until after their internal problems are resolved or they have to determine which is the legitimate faction. The Senior Citizens party-list group urged the Comelec to immediately proclaim their victory in last May’s polls. Meanwhile, Benjo Basas, chairman of the Teachers Dignity Coalition and a nominee of the partylist group Ating Guro, in a text message said the SC decision favoring the two disqualified partylist groups is a clear sign that they no longer have a chance to be proclaimed. With this, Basas expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all those who voted , campaigned and helped Ating Guro in the last elections.

He said that these people’s effort will remain in their heart and minds and will work steadfast to attain its goal of serving even if it lost in the elections. Alvin Murcia‐poll‐body‐mulling‐mr‐vs‐senior‐citizens‐ partylist                                           

Solon says Noy’s justification for MRT/LRT fare hike sets dangerous precedent for other services Written by  Charlie V. Manalo   Thursday, 25 July 2013 08:00  

President Aquino’s justification for the planned fare increase in major elevated train system in Metro Manila sets a dangerous precedent for other social services subsidized by the government, Kabataan partylist Rep. Terry Ridon yesterday said. In Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) last Monday, he explained lengthily why there is a need to increase train fares. “Each trip that one passenger makes on the LRT is estimated to cost P40. What does each passenger pay? P15. This means that the government subsidizes the remaining P25. As for the MRT, the true cost of one trip is P60: P15 paid by passengers, P45 by the government — in the end, each and every Filipino pays a share of the subsidy. Whether you live in Mindanao or the Visayas, and not once have you ever stepped onto the LRT or MRT, you help to fund this,” Aquino explained in his fourth Sona. “Such reasoning sets a very dangerous precedent for other services subsidized by the government,” Ridon warned. “A regionalist view of government funding for social services poses unnecessary division of public opinion and puts several services in the line of fire. If we follow Aquino’s logic, then funding for tertiary hospitals in Metro Manila like PGH should also be slashed, along with state schools that cater to specific provinces,” Ridon explained. “Aquino is using flawed logic to justify fee increases that will only burden the working class that patronize and greatly benefit from our train systems. Why is the President pushing unjustified hikes even when studies have shown that it is not necessary? If the fare increase serves any purpose at all, it is to maximize guaranteed profits of corporations eyeing the train systems,” the youth solon added. According to a study made by RILES Network, a group composed of former employees and workers of the LRT and MRT, the operation and maintenance (O&M) cost of the MRT is actually lower than the current fare rate. Using what they call the “farebox method” or the proportion of fare revenues to the total operational costs of trains, the group found that the MRT O&M cost per passenger costs only P9.11, which is P0.89 to P5.89 more than the current fares that range from P10 to P15.

Bulk of the expenses that the government shoulders for the train systems goes to guaranteed profits of private counterparts and debt payment, RILES Network explained. Of the P8.52 billion spent by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) for the MRT in 2010, for instance, almost P5.3 billion went to guaranteed profits, P1.16 billion for guaranteed debt payments, and only P1.18 billion for maintenance costs, while the remaining P880 million covers other expenses. The government collects only P1.9 billion from passenger fares, and the government finances the remaining P6.6 billion through additional borrowings. “If we look at the data closely, O&M costs can already be covered by the current passenger rates. There is a shortage of funds due to the government’s onerous debts,” Ridon said. Various groups, including RILES Network and youth organizations, have continuously fought against MRT/LRT fare hikes in the past years, largely contributing to the derailment of the implementation of the proposed increases. “Clearly, the government wants to continue passing the burden of onerous debt and guaranteed profits to the people, even resorting to the use of twisted logic to defend its position. Following Aquino’s line of thinking, it would not be surprising if more baseline services grow even more expensive as the government intensifies its flagship PPP program,” Ridon said. Former Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano also slammed the Aquino government for giving a go-signal to the DoTC to railroad fare hikes on the LRT and MRT lines. The hike, Mariano said will add to the burden of ordinary train commuters as the fare increase will eat up 20 percent to 40 percent of their daily expenses. Mariano said that once the fare hike is imposed, minimum wage earners in the National Capital Region will spent 21 percent out of his P456 salary on train ride alone from P30 back and forth to P80 an additional of P50 per day per single ride. This would be far worst with workers receiving below minimum wage with an approximate earning receiving a roughly P250 in the lowest and P350 maximum rate. At least 40 percent up to 50 percent of his daily earning will go to train fare.‐section/item/17099‐solon‐says‐noy‐s‐justification‐for‐mrt‐ lrt‐fare‐hike‐sets‐dangerous‐precedent‐for‐other‐services           

Valenzuela 4Ps beneficiaries warned vs pawning cash cards Written by  Arlie O. Calalo   Thursday, 25 July 2013 08:00   The Valenzuela City government has warned local beneficiaries of the national government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to refrain from pawning their cash cards, otherwise they will be removed from the program. Informed about reports reaching the city’s Social Welfare and Development Office, Mayor Rex Gatchalian said he immediately directed SWDO officer-in-charge Dorothy Evangelista to conduct an investigation and, at the same time, remind the beneficiaries not to engage in such scheme because they are already going against what the program intends to do. He confirmed that the SWDO has received reports about beneficiaries borrowing money from “loan sharks” with their cash cards as collateral. As a consequence, they would become willing victims to the high interests charged against the small amount that they receive from the program, the mayor said. Gatchalian added he is expecting the SWDO to intensify efforts to instill on beneficiaries the purpose of the program to keep them from pawning their cash cards. The Pantawild Pamilya, also known as conditional cash transfer, begun in 2008 as a poverty-alleviation program of the national government. It chooses families that most need assistance and provides them with a minimum monthly stipend of P800: P500 for health and nutrition, and P300 for the education of children aged three to 14. Evangelista said that if they found a beneficiary guilty of it, they will not hesitate to exclude him/her from the program. At the same time, the city government has asked pawnbrokers not to entertain those who want to pawn their cash cards for quick money. Also, the SWDO told them not to accept the cash cards anymore. The Tribune was told that the Department of Social Welfare and Development disburses the stipend to beneficiaries through various means, the Land Bank cash card being the most common. To remain in the program, beneficiaries have to fulfill particular responsibilities, such as sending the children to daycare centers, elementary and high school, and having regular checkups at health centers. The DSWD report shows that around 3.9 million families across the country were enrolled in the program as of March 31. In Valenzuela City, beneficiary families are at 11,288. Around 3,000 families nationwide have been removed from the program due to fraudulent acts, none of them from the city, Evangelista said. She added the DWSD-national capital region office distributed the cash cards to newest batch of 7,454 beneficiary families in the city from July 11 to 18.‐section/item/17098‐valenzuela‐4ps‐beneficiaries‐warned‐vs‐pawning‐cash‐cards 

Rating upgrades didn’t affect RP business climate — economist Written by  Ed Velasco   Thursday, 25 July 2013 08:00   Former Budget and National Economic and Development Authority chief Romulo Neri dismissed claims of several individuals that the credit rating upgrades the country got recently will signal stronger appetite for investors to start businesses in the country. According to the former technocrat, there’s no much effect from the four rating upgrades obtained by the Philippines in May to June because they only signify the government’s ability to pay sovereign debts in the country or outside. “Rating upgrade is basically concerned with ability to pay, not whether an economy is improving,” Neri explained to the Daily Tribune. The Philippines got numerous rating upgrades due to various reasons — from having the best performing currency in Asia to allegedly having the sectors that investors want. The rating upgrades came from Fitch, Standard and Poor’s, Barclays and Moody’s. The ratings agencies were synonimous in finding the reason why rating of the Philippines was raise. What is necessary, according to Neri, is that the government should know what must be prioritized. He cited the urgency to complete the public-private partnership (PPP) projects that the government promised as early as July 2010. He admitted that the upgraded credit ratings are not good for PPP unless any of the numerous projects have been started. None among those mentioned by President Aquino during his first State of the Nation Address has been completed. “Not affected by PPP although it can reduce international financing costs for PPP,” he said. Earlier, Neri said government economic managers don’t have legal and technical expertise to proceed with the program. The official said one of the biggest problem why the PPP cannot takeoff is the indeciveness an officials supposed to implement the program. “One of them takes so long to decide; so indecisive,” he said.‐rating‐upgrades‐didn‐t‐affect‐rp‐business‐ climate‐economist

BAP exec agrees IT behind RP’s ideal interest rates Written by  Ed Velasco   Thursday, 25 July 2013 08:00   Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) president Lorenzo Tan said their organization is fully supporting the monetary policies of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), especially on the interest rates which are determined by market forces. The BAP president gave the statement following Gov. Amando Tetangco’s pronouncement that the almost perfect tempo of Philippine market interest rates are due to the inflation targeting policy (IT) of the central bank. “It is prudent to let market forces determine interest rates based on economic fundamentals, especially inflation rate which remains benign/low,” Tan explained to the Daily Tribune. Last week, the governor said had IT was not implemented by central bank monetary authorities, the BSP will not be able to foresee effectively how economic numbers will come, especially the inflation. Tetangco said the BSP’s Monetary Board (MB) ensures that its policy rate settings are based on accurate information-intensive studies, not on hollow methods like critics claim. Aside from accurate information, there are also several surveys that the central bank is implementing before coming out with any sensitive decision. “We are happy therefore that when we tracked the correlation between the results of our expectation surveys with actual data on the GDP, inflation, interest rates and foreign exchange, we found high overall convergence,” Tetangco was quoted as saying. The result of careful studies before deciding on any economic decision resulted in the country having record low level of average interest rates. The governor also said the battery of researchers and statisticians the BSP has contributed to why the country keeps on having good economic numbers. “It has also been functional of the BSP’s monetary policy settings, based on its IT mandate,” Tan added.‐bap‐exec‐agrees‐it‐behind‐rp‐s‐ideal‐ interest‐rates   

Erap suportado ng Kamara (Bernard Taguinod/Eralyn Prado) Share on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookShare on emailMore Sharing Services

Bagama’t pinutakti ng kaliwa’t kanang pambabatikos mula sa mga pasahero si Manila Mayor Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada, nakakuha naman ng suporta mula sa Mababang Kapulungan ng Kongreso at kay Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino ang naging desisyon nito na ipagbawal ang mga pampasaherong bus na pumasok sa lungsod kung walang garahe ang mga ito na naging dahilan kaya lumuwag ang mga lansangan.

Ayon kay Manila Congressman Amado Bagatsing, hindi lamang umano siya ang natutuwa kundi ang mga mamamayan sa Maynila sa political will na ipinakita ni Estrada para paluwagin ang mga lansangan.

Noong Martes ay hindi na pinapasok ang mga pampasaherong bus sa nasabing lungsod dahil walang garahe ang mga ito kaya hanggang sa Welcome Rotonda, Quezon City na lamang ang mga galing Fairview habang sa Vito Cruz, Pasay City naman ang mga galing ng Cavite.

Sa ngayon ay inuulan ng reklamo ang ordinansa ng lungsod subalit naniniwala si Bagatsing na masasanay din ang mga tao sa bagong sistemang ito.

“The intention is good, the solution is welcome but lack of preparation,” komento naman ni dating Manila mayor at ngayo’y Congressman Lito Atienza ng Buhay partylist sa programang ito ng lungsod ng Maynila subalit suportado umano nito ang nasabing programa.

“Nagkaroon ng chaos, akala ng mga tao may strike kasi binigla nila ang mga tao. Umulan pa naman kaya lalong nahirapan ang mga tao,” ayon pa kay Atienza sa panayam.

Ito rin ang naging pananaw ni Tolentino na nagsabi na kulang lang sa abiso kung kaya’t nagdulot ng malaking kalituhan sa publiko ang nasabing aksyon ni Estrada. 


Sedula ibasura na (Dindo Matining)

Share on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookShare on emailMore Sharing Services Wala nang “significance” at “value” o halaga ang paggamit ng sedula kaya’t dapat na itong alisin, ayon kay Senador Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero.

Dahil dito, naghain si Escudero ng Senate Bill No. 1082 na naglalayong ibasura na ang paggamit ng sedula o community tax certificate bilang uri ng identification o pagkikilanlan ng tao.

Sabi ni Escudero, “useless” na umano ang paggamit ng sedula dahil marami na aniyang mga regular na “proof of identifications” na ginagamit ngayon ang tao.

Halimbawa aniya rito ang passport, driver’s license at iba pang mga identification cards (IDs) na iniisyu ng gobyerno.

“The cedula now proves to be an unnecessary burden imposed on our people who are required to present it when doing public transactions,” ani Escudero.

Nakasaad pa sa panukala na ipawalang-bisa ang probisyon sa Republic Act 7160 o Local Government Code of 1991, na nagbibigay ng kapangyarihan sa local government units na magpatupad ng residence tax.

“Abolishing the cedula practice is also like scrapping a relic of our colonial past,” sabi pa ng mambabatas.

Ang sedula ay unang ipinatupad noong 19th Century sa panahon ng pananakop ng Kastila kung saan inoobliga ang mga Filipino na kumuha nito bago magbayad ng residence tax. 

Major committees sa Senado ‘kinamkam’ ng PNoy boys (Dindo Matining) Share on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookShare on emailMore Sharing Services

Hinakot ng mga kaalyadong senador ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III ang mga pangunahing committee chairmanships sa Senado.

Ilan sa mga malalaking komite na nakopo ng mga kaalyado ng administrasyon ay ang finance committee na napunta kay Sen. Francis Escudero.

Ang committee on ways and means naman ay nakuha ni Sen. Edgardo Angara habang napanatili ni Sen. Teofisto Guingona III ang committee of public officers and investigations o Blue Ribbon. Napunta kay Sen. Pia Cayetano ang committee on education, arts and culture; committee on cooperative kay Sen. Lito Lapid, committee on games and amusement kay Sen. Angara at committee on public service kay Sen. Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla, Jr. Dalawang komite ang napunta kay Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ang committee on local government na dati niyang hinawakan noong 15th Congress at committe on public works.

Napanatili naman ni Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III ang committee on electoral reform and people’s participation. Nakuha rin ni Guingona ang committee on peace, unification and reconcilliation.

Tatlong komite naman ang hahawakan ni Sen. Loren Legarda: Ang committees on environment and natural resources, climate change at cultural communities. 


Miriam sa SONA ni PNoy: Parang gawa ng estudyante (Dindo Matining) Share on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookShare on emailMore Sharing Services

Matapos nitong pagdiskitahan kamakalawa ang umano’y ‘gown show’ ng mga babaeng mambabatas na dumalo sa State of the Nation Address (SONA) ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III sa pagbubukas ng ika-16 Congress nitong Lunes, ang speech naman ng huli ang ‘tinira’ ni Senadora Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Para umanong gawa ng isang estudyante sa kolehiyo ang ika-apat na SONA ni Pangulong Aquino.

Ayon kay Santiago, sa mahabang SONA ni Pangulong Aquino noong Lunes ay hindi umano nito nabanggit ang mga isyu na nakakaapekto sa mga ordinaryong Filipino tulad ng kawalan ng trabaho at kahirapan.

“Kulang ang trabaho. Unemployment rate is very high. ‘Yan ang pinaka-importanteng problema na nakaharap ngayon sa taumbayan,” pahayag ni Santiago sa panayam sa isang himpilan ng telebisyon kahapon.

Ayon pa sa mambabatas na hindi nakadalo sa SONA ng Pangulo, dapat umanong gumamit ng “bullet points” ang mga speechwriter nito para ilahad ang mga nagawa nito sa nakalipas na mga taon.

“Nagkamali ang kanyang media adviser na ipaliwanag lahat ng detalye tungkol sa isang taon lang na buhay ng bansa,” sabi ni Santiago.

Ikinumpara pa ni Santiago ang SONA ng Pangulo na parang gawa ng isang estudyante sa kolehiyo na sinermunan ng kanyang professor.

“Kamukha ‘yan sa college na lahat na lang pati footnotes nilagay mo sa paper mo. Lagay mo sa likuran, sa end note,” ayon pa kay Santiago.

“Huwag mo ilalagay sa main page kundi magagalit propesor mo at maghihinala na wala kang masabi,” sabi pa nito.

Hindi rin umano nabanggit ni Pangulong Aquino sa SONA ang kontrobersya sa paggamit ng Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) o pork barrel. 

Papel ng Fil-Am sa PH-China dispute, kinuwestyon (Bernard Taguinod) Share on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookShare on emailMore Sharing Services

Kinuwestyon ni ACT Party-list Rep. Antonio Tino sa Mababang Kapulungan ng Kongreso ang papel ng isang Filipino-American (Fil-Am) businesswoman sa banggaan ng Pilipinas at China sa Spratly Island dahil sa pangambang imbes na makatulong ito ay lalong maging kumplikado ang problema sa dalawang nabanggit na bansa.

Ginawa ni Tinio ang pahayag kasabay ng Global protest ng mga Filipino laban sa China dahil sa pagaangkin ng mga ito sa teritoryo ng Pilipinas sa West Philippine Sea.

Kahapon ay naglunsad ng kilos protesta ang mga Filipino sa Amerika sa United Nation (UN) headquarters sa New York City para kondenahin ang China sa kanilang pananakot at pambu-bully sa Pilipinas.

Inorganisa ito ng US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4G) at sinabayan ng mga Filipino sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng mundo at maging sa tanggapan ng China Diplomatic Mission Office sa Makati City.

Ayon kay Tinio, ang chairperson ng USP4G ay isang nangangalang Loida Nicolas Lewis, na miyembro umano ng Democratic Party sa Filipino community sa Estados Unidos .

“She was a major contributor to and campaigner for the presidential bid of Pres. Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. She is also the sister of Imelda Nicolas, who served in various capacities in the Cabinet of Pres. Benigno Aquino, and is currently the chair of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas,” ani Tinio.

Dahil dito, posibleng makulayan ang motibo umano ni Nicolas-Lewis sa kanyang kampanya laban sa China dahil dikit ito at kapartido pa ni Obama. 


CAN’T LET GO OF PORK Published : Thursday, July 25, 2013 00:00  Written by : Jester Manalastas  DESPITE the controversy surrounding the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, Malacañang still included the outlay in the 2014 proposed national budget. In the National Expenditure Program (NEP) transmitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the House of Representatives, there is an allocation of P27 billion for the pork barrel of the senators and congressmen. “The P27-billion PDAF is provided for and there’s a special line item for PDAF in this budget,” DBM chief Florencio Abad said. Abad explained that starting 2014, the PDAF of the lawmakers will all be included in the national budget unlike in the previous years when only the soft item budgets were allocated. In the past, the hard portion of lawmaker’s budget was tucked under the budgets of the Department of Public Works and Highways; Department of Transportation and Communication and other agencies. The budget secretary said this is one reform instituted by the administration to avoid irregularities in the use of pork barrel. A non-government organization owned and founded by Joan Napoles has allegedly earned about P1 billion from the pork barrel of lawmakers in the past 10 years. Abad said that while Malacañang is waiting for the result of the investigation being conducted by National Bureau of Investigation into the controversy, it is already implementing reforms in the way the PDAF is being utilized. “The government will adopt some of those measures so that we can make sure that PDAF really goes to assist the constituencies or district of the Representatives,” Abad said. Every year, each senator receives P200 million while a House member gets P70 million.‐cant‐let‐go‐of‐pork       

Majority bloc in Senate hogs chairmanships Published : Thursday, July 25, 2013 00:00  Written by : Bernadette Tamayo  AFTER electing their officers Monday at the opening of the 16th Congress, the senators yesterday reorganized the chairmanship of committees needed to start their job of crafting laws — with members of the opposition bloc not given, so far, any panel to lead. Two of the neophyte senators belonging to the majority bloc were given two committees to head. Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara will chair the Committee on Ways and Means and Committee on Games, Amusement and Sports while Sen.Grace Poe will lead the Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs and the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media. Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona II, once again got the chairmanship of the powerful Blue Ribbon Committee or the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations tasked to investigate irregularities in government. He will again lead the Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation. Sen.Francis “Chiz” Escudero got the chairmanship of the Committee on Finance, which oversees the review and passage of the yearly national budget. Sen.Antonio Trillanes IV will head the Committee on National Defense and Security and the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises. Sen.Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will again chair the Committee on Local Government. He will also lead the Committee on Public Works, which is also considered as a major panel as it scrutinizes government infrastructure projects. Sen.Manuel “Lito” Lapid got the chairmanship of Tourism and Cooperatives Committees which he previously headed. Sen.Loren Legarda got the chairmanship of three panels which represent her advocacies — Environment and Natural Resources; Climate Change; Cultural Communities. Sen.Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III will head the Committee on Electoral Reform and the Committee on Justice and Human Rights which automatically makes him the Senate’s representative to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC). The following is the partial list of committee chairmanships: Sen.Bam Aquino (trade and commerce), Sen.Pia Cayetano (education), Sen.Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. (public services), and Sen.Cynthia Villar (agriculture). The members of the opposition bloc – Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II, and Vicente “Tito” Sotto III – are not sure whether they will be given any panel to chair as all important committees “are reserved” for the majority bloc. The senators have yet to elect the chairperson for the following committees: accounts; agrarian reform; banks, financial institutions and currencies; civil service and government reorganization; economic affairs; energy; ethics and privileges; foreign relations; health and demography; labor, employment and human resource development; science and technology; social justice, welfare and rural development; urban planning, housing and resettlement; and youth, women and family relations.‐stories/54976‐majority‐bloc‐in‐senate‐hogs‐chairmanships 


Transparent use of PDAF pressed Published : Thursday, July 25, 2013 00:00  Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco  THE House of Representatives is now working on various safeguards to ensure the transparent use of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as it eyes the transmittal to the Senate of Malacañang’s 2014 P2.268-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) by first week of October. Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, who chairs the House Committee on Appropriations, underscored the importance of imposing stricter rules in the use of pork barrel amid the alleged P10-billion ghost projects scandal. With P27 billion in pork barrel funds in next year’s budget, Ungab said stringent rules governing the disbursement of PDAF are very crucial to President Benigno Aquino’s good governance and transparency programs. “We had a long talk with the Speaker that safeguards should be provided. We do not want it to be a source of controversy,” Ungab told reporters. Ungab together with House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II backed the proposal of Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. not to allow the disbursement of pork barrel outside the district of a lawmaker. “I think we have to look at other possible safeguards na walang restriction masyado both on the part of congressmen and the implementing agencies,” he said. The chairman of the panel also supported the proposal of the Department of Budget and Management to tap the Department of Social Welfare and Development as the only agency to accredit non- government organizations (NGO’s) that will receive pork barrel funds. “We will study that as one possible safeguard. That would be taken into consideration. This is a very welcome provision,” Ungab said. “We will try to look at possible ways that this can be both helpful to the constituents and contribute to the overall efforts of the government to reduce poverty.” Nevertheless, Ungab said the proposed safeguards would not limit the implementation of projects funded by PDAF. “We have to work in line with the plan of the government to reduce poverty and help provide employment,” he said. Annually, each member of the House of Representatives and Senate is entitled to receive an annual pork barrel worth P70 million and P200 million, respectively. On Tuesday, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad Jr. submitted to the House of Representatives the 2014 GAA which contains an expanded P62.6 billion Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) under the P79-billion proposed budget of the DSWD to cover 4.44 million households and 10.2 million children beneficiaries, as well as provide additional support to high school students.

Next year’s 4Ps is P18.4-billion higher compared to P44.2 billion allocation this year. Abad also passed on to Belmonte the issue concerning withholding the pork barrel of each and every lawmaker. “We hope to also usher in new policies and the pork barrel releases is subject to the discretion of the leadership of the House of Representatives. We defer to the Speaker because this is his jurisdiction,” Abad told reporters. PhilHealth will also have an increased budget of P35.3 billion from P12.6 billion this year to provide preventive healthcare services and health insurance coverage to 14.7 million qualified families. The following are the leading departments and amount of their funds in next year’s budget, Departments of Education, P336.9 billion; Public Works and Highways, P213.5 billion; Interior and Local Government, P135.4 billion; National Defense, P123.1 billion; Health; P87.1 billion; Agriculture, P80.7 billion; Transportation and Communications, P48.7 billion; Environment and Natural Resources (, P23.9 billion; Agriculture, P20.4 billion; and state universities and colleges, P39.3-billion. The proposed P2.268-trillion National Budget for 2014, which is 13.1 percent higher than this year’s P2.006-trillion program, accounts for key expenditure requirements for social development and inclusive growth initiatives under the Aquino administration.‐stories/54958‐transparent‐use‐of‐pdaf‐pressed 


Danny Lim also stays Published : Thursday, July 25, 2013 00:00  Written by : Efren Montano  PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino has decided to keep deputy commissioner Danilo Lim at the Bureau of Customs even as he is set to bare shortly wide ranging reform measures to be implemented to combat corruption at the agency. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda however declined to discuss details about the “reform measures,” saying the plan will be announced by the President himself. “Abangan ang susunod na kabanata,” Lacierda told Palace reporters yesterday, adding that the corruption at the bureau is factual and has become institutionalized. He also said that the President saw the need to provide systematic solutions to the problem at BoC. Lacierda also said the fate of Lim, a retired military official, is in the hands of the President even as he confirmed that the Office of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. had received Lim’s resignation letter. He said the Palace welcomes any information that Lim could give on the role of some influential people meddling in Customs work. The Palace spokesman also said the Palace has not received the resignation letter of Deputy Commissioner Jose Lorenzo Tañada. The Palace stood by the figures that the President mentioned concerning money being lost to smuggling adding that the finance department vetted the figure. Lim tendered his resignation on Tuesday a day after President Aquino criticized the bureau for its failure to meet its revenue targets. The BoC had missed its collection target for 2012 by P60 billion – it had set its target at P347 billion but collected only P287 billion. Lim is a retired military general who had been involved in several coup attempts in the past, including one against Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino.‐stories/54951‐danny‐lim‐also‐stays           

English proficiency law among Pinoy studes sought Published : Thursday, July 25, 2013 00:00  A CONGRESSMAN has sought the passage of a proposed law seeking to make Filipino students more proficient in English language for them to have better job opportunities here and abroad. “Without English language proficiency, without the ability to communicate in the world of economic enterprise, it is difficult for a Filipino graduate to get jobs anywhere in the country and anywhere in the world,” Cebu Rep. Raul del Mar, author of House Bill (HB) No. 366, said. Del Mar said the objective of the measure is to have graduates equipped with English proficiency and have the ability to communicate in a simple, clear and descriptive manner. “This simply means that the teaching of English, both in written and oral form, must focus on the language or terminology of business and industries on written and oral communications commonly used in the diverse areas of trade and business, having in mind the specialization of the students,” Del Mar said. The measure requires the use of English, Filipino or the native language as the medium of instruction (MOI) in all subjects from preschool until Grade III; and English in all subjects from Grade IV to Grade VI and in all levels in the secondary. Under the bill, English and Filipino shall be taught as separate subjects in elementary and secondary levels. The measure shall also require all government examinations and entrance examinations to public schools, state colleges and universities at all levels to use English as the language of assessment. The Department of Education (DepEd) shall formulate, develop and provide all the requirements, devices and support facilities necessary to strengthen, enhance and promote English as the medium of instruction. Ryan Ponce Pacpaco‐english‐proficiency‐law‐among‐pinoy‐studes‐sought           

CSC chair supports passage of Civil Service Code Published : Thursday, July 25, 2013 00:00  THE passing of a Civil Service Code will put an end to confusion over the different sets of laws and rules currently implemented. This was the position of Civil Service Commission Chairman Francisco Duque as he throws full support to President Aquino’s call for its immediate passage. In his fourth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA), the country’s Chief Executive called on the legislature to prioritize the passage of the Civil Service Code which will put in a single comprehensive statute all laws governing the civil service. Duque said that currently, the Civil Service is governed by different sets of laws and rules contained in laws, decrees, letters of instruction, and executive orders. “This situation has caused confusion among civil servants as some of the laws overlap,” Chairman Duque said, adding that “some laws also have become obsolete.” Joel dela Torre‐csc‐chair‐supports‐passage‐of‐civil‐service‐code                             

Chiz files bill abolishing cedula   Published : Thursday, July 25, 2013 00:00  Written by : Marlon Purificacion  SENATOR Francis “Chiz” Escudero has filed a bill scrapping the use of cedula or the community tax certificate. Escudero filed Senate Bill 1082 abolishing the use of cedula as a form of identification saying it has long lost its significance and value in the present age. The cedula is required when one acknowledges a document before a notary public, takes an oath of office or is appointed to a government position. The senator said the cedula is already useless to people of today as several other regular proof of identifications are already available and are more competent evidence of identity such as passport, driver’s license and other government-issued identification cards. “The cedula now proves to be an unnecessary burden imposed on our people who are required to present it when doing public transactions. It was deemed useless by our forebears during the colonial times, it is more so today.” The cedula was first implemented as a 19th century tax reform in the Philippines during the Spanish rule. After the tribute system or head tax to Spain was abolished, the cedula was issued to all Filipinos upon payment of a residence tax. In 1896, Katipuneros led by Andres Bonifacio tore up their cedulas in defiance of the Spanish rule in Balintawak. It was what is now known as the “Cry of Pugad Lawin” that signaled the beginning of the Philippine Revolution. The bill seeks to repeal the provisions of the Republic Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991, giving powers to local government units to impose residence tax. The cedula serves as proof of one’s payment of community tax. “Abolishing the cedula practice is also like scrapping a relic of our colonial past. Yes, we must always look back at our past to know where we are going, but the cedula is a thing of the past that should already be buried for its obsolescence” Escudero said.‐chiz‐files‐bill‐abolishing‐cedula         


Senators agree to trim down their 2014 budget — Recto Published : Thursday, July 25, 2013 00:00  Written by : Bernadette Tamayo  THE senators are set to slash their budget for 2014 to address public clamor to be prudent in using government funds, Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said yesterday. “I cannot speak in detail. But I can tell you this: babawasan namin ang budget ng Senado. The idea is to be more prudent in spending people’s money. We have to show the way as well. We have to be sensitive to public sentiment. We’re representatives of the people,” Recto said in a briefing. “That is the direction. We’ve not approved it en toto. But ako tingin ko reasonable ‘yan. That is the direction — at least of the majority. Eventually we will present that to the minority (bloc),” he said. He said that the Senate leadership has decided to streamline the number of oversight committees which are all funded with public funds. “There are 35 oversight committees, each with its own funds. We might fund only 20 or 24 of them para one senator will have one oversight committee,” Recto said. “Initially, we will just fund 20 or 24 oversight (panels). Wala naman sa batas that you have to fund all of them. Some are created by law, some by resolution of lawmakers. But some by ‘force of law.’ You need another law to amend that law. So, the quickest thing to do is not to fund them,” he said. Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile had earlier pressed for reduction of the budget of oversight committees if found excessive or “abolish” those that are no longer relevant or needed. He raised the need to review the budgetary allocations for oversight committees under the laws that created them. Enrile noted that the Senate has 37 permanent committees but the number of oversight committees has swelled to 33 over the years. He made the call after he was blamed for the proliferation of oversight committees.‐senators‐agree‐to‐trim‐down‐their‐2014‐budget‐‐ recto   

2013 07 25 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor