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PH irrigation projects flawed, says gov’t think tank By Christian V. Esguerra  Philippine Daily Inquirer   6:56 am | Saturday, July 27th, 2013  

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), the government’s think tank, has warned legislators that irrigation “has not been found to be effective” among programs classified as public goods. “This places in question the current plan to ramp up investment on irrigation, making it, by far, the largest single item for public spending on agriculture,” said Dr. Roehlano Briones in a PIDS study presented before congressional staff members and agriculture officials earlier this week. “Such investment plans should be reviewed given that studies point to design flaws and other implementation problems in past irrigation projects,” he said in the 46-page study submitted to the Department of Budget and Management. P80B for agri The Department of Agriculture stands to receive P80.7 billion in the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for next year. “Irrigation network services” were allocated P21.1 billion while P12 billion was set aside for farm-to-market roads. In the 2013 budget, P23.1 billion was earmarked for the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to cover more than 80 “locally funded projects.” Former NIA chief Antonio Nangel lost his job following a public scolding from no less than the President during the agency’s 50th anniversary last June 25. Mr. Aquino blasted Nangel even as the President noted that NIA’s accomplishment rate for “new areas of irrigation” was only at 66 percent from 2001 to 2009. He said the “yearly failures” were persistent until 2012, or two years after he assumed office. Nangel and the rest of the NIA administration were also scolded over a delayed irrigation project in the President’s home province of Tarlac. Laggard growth In the PIDS study, Briones noted that “expenditures on agriculture have been rising over time, as expression of the state’s commitment to reduce poverty, raise rural incomes and household welfare and promote food security.”

“However, agriculture continues to exhibit disappointing performance, namely laggard growth, lack of diversification and competitiveness, tepid productivity growth and persistent poverty among farmers,” he said. “There is basis for attributing this performance at least in part to faulty design and execution of agricultural programs.” Instead of irrigation, the government was encouraged to focus on other programs such as roads and electrification, and research and development.   Read more:‐irrigation‐projects‐flawed‐says‐govt‐think‐ tank#ixzz2aOkHCOZL                                  

Arroyo solons move to save PH rattan industry By Ellson A. Quismorio Published: July 27, 2013 Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and her son, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo want to save the country’s ailing rattan industry by pushing for the creation of the National Rattan Development Program (NRDP). The Arroyos, representatives of the 2nd districts of their respective provinces, intends to sustainably increase rattan production and improve the competitiveness of rattan products through the said NRDP. To achieve this goal, the solons filed House Bill 1384, which seeks to establish the Philippine Rattan Development Office (PRDO) to ensure the expedient and effective implementation of the program. According to the younger Arroyo, some one million Filipinos are employed in the rattan industry in various capacities, mostly as gatherers and workers in the furniture and handicraft sectors. “For many marginalized people living in and on the fringes of the forest, particularly indigenous people, rattan provides an opportunity to earn cash,” he said. The Bicol solon said rattan has been a source of revenue both for the local and foreign market and added, “Despite the importance of rattan, the Philippines’ rattan industry is in decline.” The NRDP embodies core programs such as the Investment Promotion and Facilitation; Production Support and Extension; Research and Development; Market Promotion and Development; and the program on Infrastructure Development. Under the bill, the PRDO is designated to be the lead agency responsible for strengthening the collaboration of the various rattan industry players and engineering the development of the rattan sector with the objective of reducing poverty and alleviating living conditions at the community level. The measure directs the PRDO to maintain a Philippine Rattan Information Center, which shall principally serve as the museum, library and digital repository of all information pertaining to rattan. The PRDO is likewise mandated to create and maintain its own website that will feature the development of rattan in the Philippines, a periodic update and reports on the rattan project undertaken by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and information focusing on Philippine species of rattan and other relevant market information. ry#.UfXTKqyveKE

Gov’t think tank questions focus on irrigation By Christian V. Esguerra  Philippine Daily Inquirer   5:34 pm | Friday, July 26th, 2013  

MANILA—Before his State of the Nation Address, President Aquino fired a top agriculture official for failing to meet his administration’s target for “new areas of irrigation.” But is it prudent for the government to invest heavily in irrigation programs today considering flaws in design and implementation of previous irrigation projects? The government think tank, Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), has warned legislators that “irrigation has not been found to be effective” among programs classified as “goods with public good features.” “This places in question the current plan to ramp up investment on irrigation, making it far the largest single item for public spending on agriculture,” according to a PIDS study by Dr. Roehlano Briones, which was presented to congressional staff members and agriculture officials earlier this week. “Such investment plans should be reviewed given that studies [that] point to design flaws and other implementation problems in past irrigation projects,” he added in the 46-page study submitted to the Department of Budget and Management. The Department of Agriculture stands to get P80.7 billion in the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for next year. “Irrigation network services” were allocated P21.1 billion while P12 billion was set aside for farm-to-market roads. In the 2013 budget, P23.1 billion was earmarked for the National Irrigation Administration to cover more than 80 “locally funded projects.” Former NIA chief Antonio Nangel lost his job following a public scolding from no less than the President during the celebration of agency’s 50th anniversary last June 25. Mr. Aquino blasted Nangel, noting that NIA’s accomplishment rate for “new areas of irrigation” was only 66 percent from 2001 to 2009. He said the “yearly failures” persistent until 2012, or two years after he assumed office. Worse, Nangel and the rest of the NIA administration were scolded over a delayed irrigation project in the President’s home province of Tarlac. In the PIDS study, Briones noted that “expenditures on agriculture have been rising over time, as expression of the state’s commitment to reduce poverty, raise rural incomes and household welfare, and promote food security.”

“However agriculture continues to exhibit disappointing performance, namely laggard growth, lack of diversification and competitiveness, tepid productivity growth, and persistent poverty among farmers,” he said. “There is basis for attributing this performance at least in part to faulty design and execution of agricultural programs.” Instead of irrigation, the government was encouraged to focus on other programs such as roads and electrification, and research and development.   Read more:‐think‐tank‐questions‐focus‐on‐ irrigation#ixzz2aOmtZgvM   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 


A dairy goat with potential By Zac B. Sarian  Published: July 27, 2013  

  OBERHASLI BUCK — This is the Oberhasli buck being used for breeding the female breeders at the  Alaminos Goat Farm in Alaminos, Laguna operated by Rene Almeda and his two sons Art and Toti. The  Oberhasli is a promising dairy breed for raising in the Philippines. Having a coat that is reddish brown, it  is believed to be more resistant under the tropical conditions of the Philippines. As observed by Rene  Almeda, the first time milkers of Oberhasli in their farm can produce about two liters of milk every day.  The milk is creamier, sweeter and with higher butter fat than the milk of Saanen, the dairy goat that has  been earlier popularized in the country.  

A recently introduced goat breed promises to be a highly suitable small animal for milk production in the Philippines. This is the Oberhasli which was introduced last year under the program called “Accelerating the Genetic Resource Improvement Program for Beef Cattle and Small Ruminants” or AGRIPBeS for short. The project is under the auspices of the Bureau of Animal Industry of the Department of Agriculture and the US PL480 program. One of the cooperators of the program for goats is Rene Almeda of the Alaminos Goat Farm in Laguna. On July 6 last year, Almeda received 18 doelings (young female) Oberhasli and a buck. After one year of closely monitoring the performance of the introduced animals, Almeda is excited about the possibilities of raising Oberhasli for commercial milk production.

Almeda reports that the 18 doelings have already given birth and are being milked now. Eight of the 18 does have been selected for monitoring their milk production. And what is his observation? The animals are producing about two liters of milk a day in their first lactation. Compared to the milk of Saanen, the goat dairy breed earlier popularized in the Philippines, the milk of Oberhasli, according to Rene, is creamier, sweeter and with a higher butterfat. The observation has prompted Almeda to invest more of his resources to further improve the goat’s milk production through good genetics and continuous selection. For this purpose, his company has imported at great cost two pedigreed bucks for upgrading their present stocks. The high-powered American Oberhasli bucks, according to Rene, came from the Ober-Boerd Farm in Ohio. One of them is called “Ober-Boerd Lead the Way” which has for its dam OberBoerd Lilly, the 2010 ADGA (American Dairy Goat Association) National Champion and Reserve Udder. It is also the 2011 ADGA Reserve National Champion. The two pedigreed bucks will spearhead the Oberhasli breed improvement program of the Alaminos Goat Farm starting in the last quarter of 2013. As observed by Almeda, Oberhasli is highly adapted to the tropical weather in the Philippines.They are performing very well under the nutrition regimen that uses pelleted feeds with Indigofera as the main ingredient. The animals also love to eat fresh forage of Indigofera and other green feeds given on a cut and carry basis.

  Agri Plain Talk  Zac B. Sarian   A veteran agriculture journalist who also runs a one‐hectare nursery of exotic fruit trees. I am currently  the Agriculture Editor of Manila Bulletin, a 113‐year‐old daily newspaper. My agriculture page appears  every Thursday and Saturday where I write my Agri Plain Talk column. This twice weekly column has  been running for more than 21 years now. eKE

New Philippine Hoyas book out Published: July 27, 2013

A new book titled “A Collection of Philippine Hoyas and their Culture� will be launched on August 17 at the Gancayco Hall at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City. The new book on this often-ignored ornamental plant is authored by Fernando B. Aurigue, senior science research specialist of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, an agency of the Department of Science and Technology. The book contains the latest updates on Philippine hoyas which have remained a minor commercial ornamental although interest is fast becoming keen. Hoyas, by the way, are mostly air plants that are often found perched on trees in their native habitat. There are some, however, that are bush-like with upright or pendent stems. They are valued for their flowers with different colors, coming in globose or ball-shaped umbels. The author started working on the book in 2007 when his research proposal on hoyas and other ornamental plants was approved by the old PCARRD. Nanding saw the need to come up with an updated book on the identification of available hoyas as well as how to culture them. That’s because a few local nursery people have discovered that many foreign gardening enthusiasts are interested in buying local hoya species. The problem then was the lack of references on the proper identification of the available plants. In this new book, 54 indigenous and endemic species are featured in full color for easy identification. Indigenous, by the way, are native hoyas but which are also found in other countries. Endemic, on the other hand, are species that are found only in the Philippines. It turns out that the Philippines is the center of hoya diversity in the world, meaning the country has the most number of indigenous and endemic species. The book has enumerated 22 indigenous species and 88 endemic species.

In an interview, Nanding revealed that 10 new endemic species have since been added to the list. This makes the number of endemic species to 98. This is not yet the end. Nanding expects that more new indigenous and endemic species will be discovered sooner or later. The good thing is that with the availability of molecular techniques in the identification of species, a more sciencebased revision of the Philippine hoyas would be forthcoming. He also hopes that more mutants and hybrids will be developed to add to the existing novelty and diversity for the greater appreciation of growers and collectors. Aside from providing easy identification of the featured hoyas, the book also discusses breeding techniques that include cross pollination, artificial pollination and natural pollination. Also featured are seed extraction and germination, seedling transplanting, flower induction, potting and repotting, clonal propagation, and many other cultural practices. JqyveKE

Thunderstorm alert up in Metro Manila, nearby provinces By Frances Mangosing   7:02 pm | Friday, July 26th, 2013  


MT Satellite image July 26, 2013 6:00 PM MANILA, Philippines—Metro Manila and nearby provinces were warned of thunderstorms by the state weather bureau Friday evening. “Thunderstorm is affecting Metro Manila, Bulacan, Tarlac, Zambales, Rizal, portions of Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bataan, Cavite, Quezon, Laguna, Batangas and nearby areas within two hours,” the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said in a thunderstorm advisory at 6:25p.m. Residents in these areas were also advised to take precautionary measures against heavy rains, strong winds, lightning and possible flashfloods. A low pressure area continued to hover General Santos City, Pagasa said in a separate weather bulletin. The LPA, was last observed 380 kilometers east of General Santos City, embedded along an intertropical convergence zone affecting Mindanao. The regions of Caraga, Davao and Soccksargen will experience cloudy skies with moderate to heavy rainshowers and thunderstorms which may trigger flashfloods and landslides, Pagasa said. Central and Eastern Visayas and the rest of Mindanao will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms, it added.

Meanwhile, Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. “Moderate to occasionally strong winds blowing from the southwest to south will prevail over the western section of Northern and Central Luzon and the coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to occasionally rough,” it said. “Light to moderate winds coming from the northeast to southeast will prevail over the rest of Luzon and Visayas and coming from the northeast to northwest over Mindanao. The coastal waters along these areas will be with slight to moderate,” it added.   Read more:‐alert‐up‐in‐metro‐manila‐nearby‐ provinces#ixzz2aOmCiXzk   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

PhilHealth upgrades its reporting system By Jenny F. Manongdo Published: July 27, 2013 Manila, Philippines --- After receiving flak for discrepancies in its reports on the number of Filipinos enrolled in the national health insurance program, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is set to make an important move to improve its registration and reporting system. On July 30, PhilHealth executives will meet with the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) as the latter will present its turnover of a P100 million worth of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment to improve the agency’s data gathering system. PMA President Dr. Leo Olarte, the ICT equipment includes machines for the electronic gathering of members’ biometrics, pictures, medical, dental, and other pertinent data required for enrollment procedures. The PMA said it hopes the new ICT system could jumpstart the enrollment of 14 million beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer program of the government in the 3,050 Rural Health Units of Department of Health (RHU-DOH) nationwide. PMA, being a crucial private stakeholder of the government’s universal healthcare program (UHC), is pushing for health-related reforms because we want to immediately address the basic health problems of our people most especially in rural areas. We need to correct immediately the lopsided delivery of healthcare services in this country favoring the rich urban areas to the detriment of the poor rural sector,” Olarte said. The other day, another medical group questioned the numbers given by PhilHealth in the fourth SONA of President Benigno Aquino III where it was reported that PhilHealth enrollment rate has increased from 62 percent to 81 percent in the past three years. The Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) is not convinced that 81 percent of the population are now PhilHealth members, citing the situation at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) where 30 percent of charity patients are reportedly not covered by PhilHealth. HEAD said that less than 20 out of the 700 patients in the charity wards are actually enrolled in the PhilHealth sponsored program. “In fact, in PGH, there are significantly more indigent patients using guarantee letters from their legislators rather than PhilHealth cards,” Dr. Geneve Rivera-Reyes, HEAD secretary-general said. The HEAD official disclosed that in the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC), less than 30 percent of patients are PhilHealth members. “In the municipality of Kananga in Leyte, PhilHealth’s regional office reports 100 percent coverage, accounting for 16,000 households. Yet that town only has a population of 53,000

individuals or roughly only 11,000 households. Where did the extra 5,000 households come from?” Rivera asked. Earlier, the PMA also asked PhilHealth how it arrived at its data after the doctors cited a 2010 report where PhilHealth trumpeted its achievement of reaching “universal coverage” when it reported 86 percent of the entire population is enrolled in PhilHealth. “If we assume that the total population of the Philippines is 100 million then 81 percent of all Filipinos who are supposedly enrolled at PhilHealth count to 81 million people. If we follow this kind of logic, a total of eight out of 10 hospital admissions across the country should be PhilHealth cases. However, reports reaching us from various hospitals nationwide does not support this presumption,” Olarte said SKyveKE


Congress budget cut by P400 M By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 27, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has reduced funding in the 2014 national budget for senators and congressmen by about P400 million. Budget documents submitted on Tuesday to leaders of Congress show that Aquino cut Senate funds by P300 million, and appropriations for the House of Representatives by P100 million. The Senate budget will go down from P3.294 billion this year to P2.998 billion in 2014, while the House outlay will be reduced from P6.357 billion to P6.248 billion. Of the senators’ P2.998 billion, P1.591 billion will be for salaries, while P1.407 billion will be for maintenance, operating and other expenses (MOOE). Newly elected Senate President Franklin Drilon has said his chamber would save on its spending by reducing the number of joint congressional oversight committees, and not giving Christmas bonus and extra MOOE funds to its members. The Senate has 39 standing committees and 35 oversight committees, or a total of 74, or at least three committees per senator.

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However, collapsing joint oversight committees would require the concurrence of the House. Last December, a scandal erupted over millions in bonuses and additional MOOE funds given to a select group of allies by then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. Of the congressmen’s P6.248 billion for next year, P3.060 billion will be for salaries, while P3.138 will be for MOOE and P50 million for capital outlay (procurement of equipment, building renovation and the like). Funding for the Commission on Appointments, Senate Electoral Tribunal and House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) will almost be the same as this year’s levels. For next year, these congressional bodies will have P501.1 million, P126.7 million and P148 million, respectively. While cutting their operational funds, Aquino increased the lawmakers’ pork barrel from P24.8 billion this year to P27 billion in 2014. He has also increased funds for his own office by P91 million, from P2.701 billion to P2.791 billion. The bulk of the P2.791 billion, about P2 billion, will be for MOOE, while P609 million will be for salaries and P183.4 million for capital outlay. The office of Vice President Jejomar Binay will have P417.3 million for next year, or an increase of less than P1 million from this year’s funding level. Of that amount, P200 million represents Binay’s PDAF, P69 million will be for other operating expenses, P100 million for capital outlay, and P48.2 million for salaries. Binay’s daughter Nancy will have another P200 million in PDAF as a senator. His younger daughter Abigail will have P70 million as a House member. ‘Congress no rubber stamp’ Malacañang defended yesterday the decision of the executive branch to limit the discretion of members of Congress on the use of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad announced the proposal as he turned over to the House of Representatives the P2.268-trillion proposed budget for next year amid allegations that some P10 billion in pork barrel funds were channeled by some lawmakers to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations.

In a press briefing, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said it was not the first time to specify or offer a menu of projects that lawmakers could choose from for their pork barrel funds. “From the time that the President (Aquino) assumed office, we have always been working with Congress on the projects that can be funded out of their PDAF. So I will defer to Secretary Abad on any additional changes or any stricter measures that can be implemented but, it’s not the first time that we have worked with them on a menu of sorts for funding out of their PDAF,” Valte said. She disputed claims that Congress would just become a rubber stamp of the Palace if the lawmakers’ discretion on the use of pork barrel funds would be limited. Judging from the relationship of the Palace as well as the Senate and the House of Representatives in the 15th Congress, Valte said it was clear that there was still check and balance. Meanwhile, House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II said the procedures for the release of the PDAF for regular congressmen are easier to tighten as they have specific districts. Earlier, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. suggested the PDAF projects of district representatives be limited to their respective jurisdiction or constituents to minimize corruption as they can be easily monitored. Party-list lawmakers, which number at 59 in the 16th Congress, however are considered to have nationwide constituencies as they are identified by their advocacies or the sectors they represent. “If we plan to limit the PDAF projects to districts in the case of district representatives, I suggest that in the case of party-list congressmen, we limit the releases or projects that are related to their causes,” Gonzales said in a telephone interview. For his part, Sen. Francis Escudero, new chairman of the Senate finance committee, vowed yesterday that the P2.268-trillion 2014 budget will be safeguarded from corruption. Escudero revealed that the executive branch has set targets for each agency in a bid to ensure the proper use of funds. - With Aurea Calica, Paolo Romero, Christina Mendez‐budget‐cut‐p400‐m         


Palace proposed P2.3 trillion budget includes agency work targets By Maila Ager   1:29 pm | Friday, July 26th, 2013  


Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero. EDWIN BACASMAS MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang has submitted for the first time a “unique” proposed national budget, which contains each agency’s target accomplishment rates, among others, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said on Friday. “For the first time, the executive presented a unique budget. I expect there will be some debates on it,” Escudero, head of the Senate committee on finance, said over a radio interview. He said the proposed P2.268 trillon national budget for 2014 now contains the mission, vision, and target accomplishment rates of each agency of government. The budget, he said, also contains the number of filled and unfilled positions of each agency and its allocation by region. “It’s good on one hand but some members may not still be used to this kind of presentation of budget,” said the senator. Escudero noted though that there are still lump sum items in the budget that he would propose to break down. “I intend to use this budget to fight corruption, ensure that this will be used properly and will not be abused,” he added.   Read more:‐proposed‐p2‐3‐trillion‐budget‐includes‐agency‐ work‐targets#ixzz2aOntdlEs    

Palace told: No pork, no budget By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Jul. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 1,347 views

Belmonte moves to appease solons Sixty-four new lawmakers and the minority bloc on Friday joined some House allies of President Benigno Aquino III in rejecting a bid by the Palace to seize control of their P27-billion in pork barrel next year, and threatened to block the passage of the P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014. The 64 first-time lawmakers also rejected the Palace-approved projects for their districts that were identified by their predecessors and incorporated into the budget for next year. The lawmakers also dismissed as an excuse Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s explanation that the new system would speed up development projects because they were “as good as approved.” The Palace on Friday said the inclusion of approved projects in the national budget was not aimed at stripping lawmakers of their power to decide where their pork would go. “This is not the first time that we have worked with Congress on the menu of sorts for funding of their PDAF,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte. “From the time that the President assumed office, we have always been working with Congress on the projects that can be funded out of their PDAF.” Valte also denied the allegation of former House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman that the menu of projects will make Congress a rubber stamp. To prevent a head-on collision with the Palace, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said “kinks” in the Palace plan needed to be straightened out. “This needs clarification. Certainly, I would not deprive congressmen of the right to designate their PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel) projects,” Belmonte said after members of the majority coalition protested the Palace’s move to limit their choice of projects in their own districts.

Belmonte said he was worried that the budget might be delayed after Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, who was among the 64 new lawmakers, vowed that the budget would not be approved “without cuts” as the speaker had promised. At best, Zamora said, the national budget would be passed “with modifications.” Zamora also said they would reject the Palace-identified projects for their districts for the whole year of 2014, all of which were already printed in the five volumes of the 2014 budget that was submitted to Congress by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on Tuesday. Zamora vowed to scrutinize every line-item in the Palace-proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014. He said the Palace’s plan of centralized control of the pork barrel clearly showed the Executive’s “lack of policy” in governing pork barrel allocations. Zamora accused the Palace of adding another layer of bureaucracy in monitoring the projects and beneficiaries nationwide of some 292 lawmakers and 24 senators. “We will not allow the Executive to strip us of the powers to identify our projects. The new House members will definitely reject the projects identified by their predecessors,” Zamora told the Manila Standard. Zamora cited the case of former Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano, who did not submit proposals in deference to his son, Rodito, who replaced him. In his case, Zamora said, his predecessor, San Juan City Rep.-turned Senator JV Ejercito had also deferred to him and did not submit proposals of projects to the Budget Department for the district. “That is because JV and I are good friends. But what about the new congressmen who have had a bitter fight in the recently concluded mid-term polls and defeated the former incumbent congressmen? The winner would definitely not allow that his predecessor-rival identified the projects on his behalf,” Zamora said.

“And what about the more than 10 newly-created districts? Who identified the projects for these districts when there are no predecessors to speak of? The Palace?” Zamora said. Zamora also asked what policy was governing the pork barrel allocations for some 58 party-list lawmakers, who did not have districts and whose constituencies were nationwide just like the senators’. Abad said there is no policy yet for the party-list lawmakers and senators as this still needed to be discussed. But Zamora said it was foolhardy for the Palace to add another layer of bureaucracy to monitor the projects for all the districts nationwide. “For example the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) already has millions of household-recipients of the controversial conditional cash transfer program and the Palace would burden them with the additional work of monitoring the projects and beneficiaries nationwide? Will the Executive engage in a hiring binge to do the monitoring? That is another bureaucratic level,” Zamora said. “If the President wanted transparency, he should institute the most stringent requirements in governing the PDAF. The national budget did not even have the details. Where are the details, the specifications? So where is transparency there?” Zamora said. Independent and opposition lawmakers led by Lakas-CMD president and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez have yet to say how they will deal with the Palace-proposed budget. Zamora and Romualdez are expected to deliver their responses to the President’s SONA on Monday. Romualdez, an opposition leader, said his speech would be a “counter-SONA,” but Zamora said his address would be be “contributions to the SONA.” With Joyce P. Pañares‐told‐no‐pork‐no‐budget/     

Almendras kin named to ERC By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Jul. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 593 views President Benigno Aquino III has appointed the niece of Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras as commissioner of the Energy Regulatory Commission. Josefina Magpale-Asirit, daughter of former acting Cebu Gov. Agnes Magpale, will serve a seven-year term ending on July 10, 2020. Asirit, a former provincial board member in Cebu, previously served as the chief of staff of Almendras when the latter still headed the Department of Energy. She was later appointed as Energy Undersecretary until April 30 this year. A lawyer by profession, Asirit also served as board member of the Northeastern Cebu Colleges. The President also appointed nine new ambassadors, led by Cecilia Rebong as the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva and expanded the jurisdictions of six ambassadors, including Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr., who will now have jurisdiction over Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Haiti.‐kin‐named‐to‐erc/ 


Makati’s land use plan is approved By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Jul. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 504 views The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board has granted its Certificate of Approval to Makati for its 10year Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which will take effect on August 8, 2013. Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay said board’s move would “promote sustainability and competitiveness of the city” as well. “The Makati Comprehensive Land Use Plan 2013-2023 and new Zoning Ordinance of Makati are the first land use plan and zoning ordinance in the country that mainstream disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaptation,” he said. Signed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, HLURB chairman, on June 28, 2013, the certificate was published in a national newspaper on July 18, 2013 together with the text of City Ordinance 2012-102 adopting the new zoning regulations. The new CLUP and ZO feature innovative and progressive concepts that include grant of bonus incentives, promotion of flexible and innovative planning developments, expansion of the Central Business District, promotion and mainstreaming of disaster resiliency, creation of livable environment/spaces, increasing mobility, designation of special development areas, and promotion of mixed and diverse land uses. Under the ordinance, a bonus incentive of one additional floor compliant with the mandated floor area ratio shall be given to buildings in commercial zones within 200-meter walking distance from an existing rail station. Bonus incentives shall also be granted for the development of network of green and open spaces, or iconic spaces and landmarks that would give the city a positive and distinct image. In promoting and mainstreaming disaster resiliency, developments within hazard zones (such as liquefaction and landslide prone areas) shall be required to submit an Engineering Geological and Geohazard Assessment Report. Medium density residential zones shall be allowed an increase in vertical height from 14 meters to 18 meters, provided that the ground floor should be designed as open area (no walls) with no permanent use.

Also highlighted are the reclamation of the three-meter easement on both sides of tributaries, and designation of five meters on both sides of the West Valley Fault Zone as open space (with no further construction or renovation on existing structures). For the designation of special development areas, a Government Center Zone will be delineated to be used primarily for local government activities, with supporting mixed use activities. The first Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Zoning Ordinance of Makati was approved by the City Council in 2000 and was ratified by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board Aug. 20, 2001 under Board Resolution 698 Series of 2001 with an implementation period of 10 years. In 2006, amendments to the Zoning Ordinance were implemented.‐land‐use‐plan‐is‐approved/ 


BI to probe foreigners who joined SONA rally By Vito Barcelo | Posted on Jul. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 405 views The Immigration Bureau is investigating a number of foreigners who took part in last Monday’s protest rally against President Aquino’s SONA to find out if they could be deported for violating the country’s immigration laws. Immigration Officer-in-Charge Siegfred Mison said the bureau was determining whether foreign activists who joined the demonstration near the Batasan committed acts which could be grounds for their deportation. “We are verifying their identities and visa status and if there is basis to initiate deportation proceedings against them,” Mison said. He explained that the alien demonstrators can be deported or ordered to leave if they commit acts that constitute “overthrowing the government, unlawful destruction of property and violation of the conditions of their stay.” Aside from deportation, he said the BI can also order the aliens to leave after which they will be blacklisted and banned from re-entering the country. Mison explained that temporary visitor visa holders have no business joining protest rallies as it is tantamount to meddling in the country’s internal political affairs. So far, the BI has identified only 30-year-old Thomas Van Beersum, a Dutch activist, who was photographed taunting a policeman at the rally’s dispersal line. Pictures of PO1 Joselito Sevilla who broke down and cried after he refused to strike back at the rallyists were published in newspapers and went viral on social media.‐to‐probe‐foreigners‐who‐joined‐sona‐rally/ 


P2B flood control project set By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Jul. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 262 views LEGAZPI CITY—Albay’s disaster risk reduction (DRR) program is slowly transforming vulnerable areas into resilient communities, led by this city, with an on-going P2-billion flood control project designed to save it from massive flooding. Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the project will reinvent Legazpi City as an all-weather community and live up to its role as regional center of Bicol politically, economically, and as a model of disaster resiliency. The governor, who chairs the Bicol Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC), endorsed the project and sought President Noynoy Aquino approval for it, during the President’s first visit here three years ago. Salceda said the project is a modern flood control facility, with giant pumping stations installed in three strategic locations around the city’s urban center – covering the entire commercial, industrial and residential areas – to flush out floodwaters to the Albay Gulf. The Department of Public Works and Highways has started work on the support structures with the initial P800 million earlier released by the Department of Budget and Management.‐flood‐control‐project‐set/ 


Bill vs illegal use of cops, military attire filed By Ferdinand Fabella | Posted on Jul. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 277 views The unauthorized wearing of military and police uniforms would soon be declared as a criminal act under a measure amending Republic Act 493, which regulates the use and production of uniforms of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police. House Bill 368, filed by Cebu City Rep. Raul Del Mar, imposes a jail term of 10 years and a fine of P20,000 for violators. At the same time, the bill imposes a five-year imprisonment and a fine of P10,000 for the unauthorized sale of military and police uniforms to civilian and the production of textile used for the production of the uniforms. Del Mar said the indiscriminate wearing of the AFP and PNP uniform by civilian is causing damage to the reputation of the military and the police, “especially by bad elements posing as good guys.� Unauthorized persons have taken advantage of the proliferation of imitations of uniforms bearing close resemblance to the official military and police uniforms to falsely represent themselves as members of the AFP or the PNP,� Del Mar said. He added that wearing of police and military uniforms became fashionable and were being sold in stores near military and police camps. In crafting the bill, Del Mar cited Republic Act 493 which regulates the wearing, using, manufacturing and selling of insignias, decorations and medals, badges, patches and identification cards prescribed for the military and police authorities by persons not in the service. However, he said the law has no prohibition imposing penalty against civilians who are caught wearing military and police uniforms. Del Mar also cited Article 177 of the revised Penal Code, which prohibits anyone from falsely representing himself as officer, agent or representative of any department or agency of the government. As this developed, the National Police Commission reminded policemen to wear proper uniform while serving as protective detail of top government officials and VIPs.

Napolcom Vice Chairman Eduardo Escueta said the commission recently approved Memorandum Circular No. 2013-006 which prescribes the proper set of uniforms to be worn by police security escorts while on duty. With Maricel V. Cruz‐vs‐illegal‐use‐of‐cops‐military‐attire‐filed/ 


Real estate tax share released By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Jul. 27, 2013 at 12:00am | 200 views Caloocan City Mayor Oca Malapitan has ordered the release of over P12.5 million to the city’s 188 barangays as part of their real property tax share for the second quarter of this year. This is the first time Mayor Malapitan turned over the RPT shares to the barangay chairmen and/or their treasurers regardless of their political affiliations after assuming the local chief executive post last June 30. “With the release, we urge all barangay officials to put these funds to good use and invest them in projects that will be most beneficial for their constituents,” Malapitan, who believes in the delivery of efficient barangay services, said. Under the Local Government Code, all barangays are entitled to 30 percent of all the RPTs collected within a particular quarter, wherein 50 percent is given to the barangay where the properties are located and 50 percent distributed equally among all of them. –Janna R. Uson‐estate‐tax‐share‐released/ 


Make-or-break Customs revamp July 26, 2013 10:59 pm

by William B. Depasupil Reporter

Customs chief Ruffy Biazon tells the media on Friday he has asked all port collectors to turn in their resignations to launch the bureau’s reorganization. Photo by Rene Dilan

CUSTOMS Commissioner Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon, in what could be his last big chance to cleanse the corruption-ridden bureau, on Friday ordered all district and sub-port collectors to submit their resignations not later than Monday. Biazon said that after the resignations are turned in, all the positions would be declared vacant. That would give him a free hand to reshuffle the heads of the Customs’ 15 collection districts, he said. Biazon issued the directive three days after President Benigno Aquino 3rd berated the bureau in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) for failing to uproot corruption. “It doesn’t mean the problem is solved but it will at least give a fresh start to institute reforms down the line,” he said. He made it clear that any Customs reorganization is subject to the approval of Department of Finance. Biazon said he was not blaming the port collectors for the shortcomings of the bureau, particularly in its flagging fight against corruption and perennial revenue collection shortfall. Among the country’s biggest ports are the Port of Manila, headed by Collector Rogel Gatchalian, Manila International Container Port of Collector Ricardo “Boysie” Belmonte, NAIA Collection District of Collector Ding So, Port of Cebu of Collector Edward dela Cuesta, and Port of Batangas Collector Adelina Molina.

Earlier, a well-placed source told The Manila Times that Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. were among the “padrinos” or godfathers protecting some ranking customs officials. The source mentioned Collector Belmonte, who is the younger brother of the Speaker, Gatchalian who is reportedly a protégée of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and So, who is being backed by an influential religious sect, among others. Belmonte, Gatchalian and So are dubbed as the “three kings” of customs because they have kept their posts for so long. Early this year, Biazon issued memorandum ordering the reshuffle of key customs officials, including Belmonte, Gatchalian and So. But revamp was carried out. Biazon texted his offer to resign to the President right after the SONA. The President told him to stay on. Deputy Commissioners Danilo Lim and Juan Lorenzo Tanada also turned in the resignations but Malacañang has not acted on them. As of Friday afternoon, only Edward James Dy Buco from the Port of Davao has submitted his resignation. With a report from Sheila Mañalac‐or‐break‐customs‐revamp/23439/ 


Malacañang clears Ochoa July 26, 2013 10:57 pm

by Catherine S. Valente Llanesca T. Panti and Jing Villamente Reporters MALACAÑANG on Friday defended Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. from allegations that he serves as backer or padrino of some ranking officials at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and that he interferes with its operations. Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte admitted that Ochoa had recommended Customs’ Deputy Commissioner Peter Manzano to his post, “but he has nothing to do with any transactions, illegal or otherwise, mentioned in the reports about anomalies in the bureau,” A report by The Manila Times identified Ochoa and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. as among those who prevent the transfer of Customs officials to other posts when a reshuffle of Customs personnel is undertaken. It is noted that these officials resist the transfer presumably because their present posts afforded them the opportunity to make money by conniving with smugglers. As to why Ochoa’s name cropped up in the report, Valte had a ready explanation. “It is not uncommon for people to name-drop the name of the Executive Secretary or any Cabinet official,” Valte said. Valte said Ochoa would like to know the people involved in smuggling activities, adding that” if Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim knows of them, the Executive Secretary is more than willing to listen.” Padrinos Lim had earlier said that he was willing to identify the padrinos, but he has since clammed up. [See related story] The resigned deputy commissioner also said the interference of high-ranking officials hampers the Aquino administration’s anti-corruption drive in the agency. For his part, the Speaker denied wielding influence to keep his brother, Ricardo, in his present post as collector of the Manila International container Terminal Collector, which is said to be a very lucrative position. “My brother Ricardo has been with Customs for 34 years,” Belmonte said in a text message. “He has an impeccable record, and he certainly doesn’t need me to back him. And I have never done so.” The Times story also said Ricardo may be appointed the next Customs chief, but the Palace belied the report, insisting the position is not vacant since Customs Commissioner Rozzaano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon still occupies the post.

It will be recalled that the commissioner had offered to resign from his post, but the President prevailed him to remain. Lim and Tanada had also resigned, but so far the appointing authority has yet to decide whether or not to retain them. On Friday, Biazon announced plans to reassign 17 port collectors as part of the ongoing reform in the agency, something that Valte said was within the powers of the commissioner to do. She added, however, that she did not know what kind of reforms are being contemplated or who among the high-ranking personnel will be affected. Irresistible Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, a former Customs deputy commissioner, said the temptation to make money in the agency is so great that very few could resist it. He said the delay in clearance of cargos and other shipment arising from legal questions is an invitation to corruption. “The businessmen [who own them] are willing to pay to facilitate the release, and the offer are are difficult to turn down,” he said. “If the cargo is worth P100 million, you can just imagine how much the importer is willing to spend just to get that out.” However, Umali hastened to add, he never heard of the Speaker’s brother being involved in corruption during his time in the agency President Benigno Aquino 3rd, in his fourth State of the Nation Address, castigated Customs officials, describing them as useless for their failure to meet tax collection targets and stop the shipment of illegal drugs and arms. Down often Meanwhile, a former Customs official, Jett Ariola, found it strange that computers at the agency are down twice a week. He said it seems even the X-ray machines are selective in their use. Ariola was special assistant to Customs Commissioner Alexander Padilla, who served during the time of late president Cory Aquino He explained that while the bureau had boasted of innovations such as one stop shop counter and single window transaction, the bureau failed to achieve its collection target. The reason is inefficiency, deliberate or otherwise. He said in other countries, the computation and payment of taxes are all done with computers, lessening human intervention by 12 to 15 percent. Thus, he explained, the transaction can be done in minutes, if not in seconds. Here, it takes days, even weeks or months to process the documents, and this is done to force the importer shell out grease money to speed up the process.‐clears‐ochoa/23437/ 


Palace not endorsing FOI passage July 26, 2013 10:50 pm

by Llanesca T. Panti Reporter DESPITE touting transparency and accountability as its core policy, the Aquino administration is not endorsing the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in the 16th Congress, an administration lawmaker said on Friday. Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, one of the FOI authors, made the disclosure in light of reports that Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe is likely to be named House Committee on Public Information chairman. The House Public Information panel is crucial in the passage or death of the FOI measure because its chairman can dictate the pace of the hearings on the bill en route to the plenary debate. “He [Batocabe] told me that he didn’t want to chair the Committee because it would be difficult. His feeling is that there is no clear endorsement coming from Malacañang,” said Baguilat, who has been named the chairman of the House Committee on Agrarian Reform. During the 15th Congress, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone chaired the Public Information panel. The substitute bill on the FOI was already done by February 2011, and yet the measure was only approved in the Committee level by November 2012. The measure was sponsored before the plenary, but it never progressed from thereon. The Palace submitted its position on the FOI before Evardone’s panel only by January 2012. Baguilat said their experience in the 15th Congress showed that waiting for Palace endorsement of the FOI can doom the bill so they might as well proceed without Malacañang’s inputs. “Our mistake in the last Congress was we got lax. We neglected it. We depended on the President’s pronouncements. For this Congress, let us not make the Palace endorsement as a prerequisite for action. Whether or not the President says that it is priority legislation, we should push for it and make it our own priority,” explained Baguilat, a member of the ruling Liberal Party chaired by President Benigno Aquino 3rd. “You don’t need Malacañang’s blessing to pursue the FOI bill,” he added. But Baguilat clarified that FOI advocates like him are not asking Batocabe to railroad the bill, saying that a Committee Chairman should not be biased for the measure. “As chairman, you just have to make sure to facilitate the discussions and avoid delays. That is what is asked of being the chairman, not exactly to be openly biased for the bill,” Baguilat concluded.‐not‐endorsing‐foi‐passage/23429/ 


Oil price rollback July 26, 2013 10:48 pm

AFTER a series of increases for two months, two oil companies on Friday announced that they would cut down prices. In an advisory at noontime, Pilipinas Shell and Petron Philippines said that they would roll back prices of gasoline products by P1.70 per liter and P.25 per liter on diesel. A few hours later, Chevron Philipines (formerly Caltex) and Seaoil also adjusted their gasoline and diesel prices. No movement was made regarding the price of kerosene. Other oil firms have yet to announced their adjustments. Oil companies increased their prices hours after President Benigno Aquino 3rd delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22. The latest across the board hike is P.50 per liter for gasoline and kerosene, and P35 per liter for diesel. Reports citing the Department of Energy (DoE) said that in Metro Manila, the average price of gasoline is P53.70 per liter while diesel is P43.75 per liter as of July 23. Ruben D. Manahan 4th‐price‐rollback/23427/ 



SOME 6,000 coconut trees in 15 barangays in Isabela City, Basilan province were destroyed after coconut scale insects recently infested the area, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) reported. Rudy Corsame, PCA head for Isabela City, said the insects must have originated from Batangas province and made its way to the province. PCA said that there were reports of infestation in Batangas and reports said that the insects has been destroying coconut trees in the province. PCA theorized that the scale insect outbreak was wrought by “imbalance or loss of natural enemies” because of excessive use of pesticides or by natural causes such as long drought and climate change.‐plague‐basilan‐coconuts/23311/ 



The Bureau of Customs (BOC) Port of Cebu will conduct a second public bidding of some of the P1.2-billion worth of confiscated smuggled Vietnam rice on August 7 to prevent further losses because of pilferage or decay. Port of Cebu Customs District Collector Edward dela Cuesta they were supposed to auction off some smuggled rice on June 25, but it was postponed. Dela Cuesta said that Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon ordered the postponement of the July 18-bidding because of an order from Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. Dela Cuesta said there are 1,169 container vans of rice worth P1.2 billion in the port, but they will only auction about 300 containers in the public bidding. Each container holds 520 sacks.‐customs‐bids‐out‐smuggled‐rice/23309/ 


9 new ambassadors, energy regulatory commissoner appointed July 26, 2013 4:22 pm

President Benigno Aquino 3rd has appointed nine new ambassadors to Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia, Presidential deputy spokesman Abigail Valte announced on Friday that Cecilia Rebong was appointed the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Maria Rowena Sanchez was named Ambassador to Turkey with concurrent jurisdiction over Georgia and Azerbaijan, Valte said. Victoriano Lecaros will be ambassador to the Czech Republic and Ma. Theresa Lazaro to France with concurrent jurisdiction over Monaco. The other ambassadorial postings: Jaime Victor Ledda to Netherlands, Catalino Dilem Jr. to Mexico with concurrent jurisdiction over Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela, Dominican Repubic and Cuba, Narciso Castañeda to Oman, Edsel Barba to Iraq and Vicente Bandillo to Bangladesh with concurrent jurisdiction over Sri Linka and Maldives. In other appointments, Energy Undersecretary Josefina Magpale-Asirit was named the new commissioner of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). Asirit, the niece of Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, will sit from July 11 this year to July 10, 2020. She was a former board member of the Northeastern Cebu Colleges and a former provincial board member of Cebu. CATHERINE S. VALENTE‐new‐ambassadors‐energy‐regulatory‐commissoner‐appointed/23186/ 


LPA in Mindanao has slim chance of intensifying into cyclone -PAGASA July 26, 2013 10:05 am

Flash floods and landslides threaten Mindanao as the cloud cluster spotted over east of Mindanao has intensified into a low pressure area (LPA), the state weather forecaster said on Friday. In an interview, PAGASA weather forecaster Alvin Pura said the LPA has a slim chance to become a cyclone based on their models. Pura said the LPA will be named “Jolina” once it turns into a tropical depression. It will be the third cyclone to visit the country this month and the tenth for this year. Based on its current track, Pura said the LPA, or if it becomes a cyclone, is expected to weaken and dissipate if it makes landfall over Mindanao. “Pero inaasahan na hihina ito at posibleng matunaw na rin after nito tumama sa lupa,” he said. As of 4:00 a.m. Friday, the LPA embedded along the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) was spotted 600 km east of General Santos City (6.0°N, 131.0°E). Due to extended clouds of the LPA and the ITCZ, Pura noted that parts of Mindanao will experience cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rainshowers and thunderstorms which may trigger flashfloods and landslides. Pura added the monsoon trough continues affecting Northern and Central Luzon as some parts of Visayas and the regions of Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan and Central Luzon will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms. The rest of the country including Metro Manila will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rains due to localized thunderstorms. In its advisory, PAGASA said that moderate to occasionally strong winds blowing from the southwest to southeast will prevail over the western section of Northern and Central Luzon and the coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to occasionally rough. Light to moderate winds coming from the northeast to southeast will prevail over the rest of Luzon and Visayas and coming from the northeast to northwest over Mindanao. The coastal waters along these areas will be with slight to moderate. PNA‐in‐mindanao‐has‐slim‐chance‐of‐intensifying‐into‐cyclone‐ pagasa/23134/ 


2013 07 27 quedancor daily news monitor