BIR’s inc come tax drive targetts 1.5 M proffessio onals By Jess Diaz (The Philipp pine Star) | Upd dated August 8, 8 2013 - 12:00 am
MANILA, Philippines P - The T Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is ta argeting 1.5 m million professionals includin ng topearning law wyers and doc ctors in its cam mpaign to mak ke more incom me earners payy taxes, Finan nce Secretary Cesar Purisima said s yesterday y. “We have a total of 1.8 million m profess sionals. Of this s number, onlyy 400,000 are paying taxes,, reporting an average in ncome of P33,000, which is about the mon nthly minimum m wage,” he to old the House appropriationss committee e. He said the ongoing cam mpaign of the BIR is to make at least 1.5 million professsionals pay taxes averaging g P200,000 each. “If we can collect that av verage, we will be raising a total t of P300 b billion from this group of inccome earners. If you have seen n the recent ne ewspaper adve ertisements, th hose are part of our campaiign,” he said, rreferring to ad d placementts in which the e BIR informed d the public tha at tens of thou usands of proffessionals registered in afflu uent Makati City paid less tha an the income e tax payments s of public sch hool teachers.
During the hearing, Purisima gave congressmen a glimpse of why President Aquino scolded the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on national television during his fourth State of the Nation Address two weeks ago and spared the BIR. His report showed that BOC has been lagging behind BIR in collection performance.
Collections of the Customs bureau jumped from P265.1 billion in 2011 to P289.9 billion in 2012, or by 9.3 percent, against a target of P347.1 billion, for a shortfall of P57.2 billion. In contrast, BIR’s take improved by 14.5 percent, from P924.1 billion in 2011 to P1.058 trillion in 2012 against a goal of P1.066 trillion, for a shortfall of P8 billion. For the first six months of 2013, BOC registered an even poorer performance. Collections increased by just 1.2 percent, from P143.4 billion for the same period in 2012 to P145.1 billion against a target of P163.9 billion, or P18.8 billion short of target. On the other hand, BIR revenues jumped by 13.9 percent, from P521.2 billion to P593.7 billion against a target of P620.3 billion, for a shortfall of P26.6 billion. Purisima said for the entire 2013, the BIR should collect a total of P1.254 trillion or 18.5 percent more than its 2012 collections, while Customs should meet its adjusted target of P340 billion, which represents a 17.3 percent improvement over last year. For 2014, BIR’s collection target is P1.456 trillion (16.2 percent higher than this year’s level), while Customs’ goal is P408.1 billion (20 percent more). Asked by reporters after the hearing if he could meet his collection targets this year and next year, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon gave a negative answer. He admitted that his agency has not been collecting what the administration wants it to collect but stressed, “we have been posting an increase in our collections every year. Our collections have been the highest in the history of the bureau.” Responding to another question, he said he does not know why his bureau is expected to raise 17.3 percent more this year and 20 percent more next year. “It’s beyond me,” he said, indicating that part of the blame for his agency’s failure to meet its collection goals should go to the Development Budget Coordination Committee, which sets such targets. Among the members of the committee are Purisima, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. Purisima said revenue agencies have to improve their performance so they can raise more money to support a national budget that is increasing every year.
He also reported that collections from sin taxes jumped by 46.1 percent to P38.5 billion for the first six months of this year, from P26.4 billion over the same period in 2012. “This despite a 50‐percent drop in withdrawals (of sin products from factories) due to overstocking before the sin tax law took effect. We will see the full impact of the law next year,” he said. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/08/08/1064641/birs‐income‐tax‐drive‐targets‐1.5‐m‐ professionals
Biaz zon welcom w mes deput d ties’ re etention By Paolo Romero R (The Philippine P Star) | Updated Aug gust 8, 2013 - 1 2:00am
MANILA, Philippines P - Customs C Comm missioner Rufiino Biazon asssured the peo ople yesterday that Presiden nt Aquino’s move m to retain two deputy co ommissioners in their posts would help in the ongoing e efforts to imple ement reforms in the bureau. Biazon said Deputy Com mmissioners Danilo D Lim and d Juan Lorenzo o Tañada, wh ose courtesy resignations w were reportedly rejected by Aquino, A “alread dy know Custo oms, its proble ems, and our p proposed soluttions… and wo ould at least su ustain our mom mentum.” “Although I’m open to working w with ne ew team memb bers if ever the ere are new a appointments,”” he told The S STAR. He said he e had nothing to do with the previous offer of Lim and T Tañada to resig gn nor with the e President’s move to retain th hem despite th he controversie es hounding th heir respective e offices. He said the decision of Lim L and Tañada to file their respective ressignations wa as entirely theirr own. And since they are presidential appoin ntees, Aquino is the only on ne who can de ecide on their ffate, he said.
“I don’t want to intervene for or against anyone who files a resignation because it is an act arrived at by an individual for reasons that are personal to him,” Biazon said. Aquino in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 22 lashed out at the rampant corruption at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), citing the unabated smuggling that included weapons and drugs, which many thought would trigger a major overhaul. Biazon tendered his resignation immediately after the President’s tirade but it was rejected, prompting opposition lawmakers to state that Aquino was sending confusing signals in his anti‐corruption campaign. Meanwhile, Malacañang yesterday did not categorically deny The STAR’s report that President Aquino is keeping Lim and Tañada amid allegations of widespread corruption in the agency. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda announced in a news briefing that he was not privy to what was discussed in Aquino’s meeting with Lim last Tuesday afternoon. “I have not met with the President, first, regarding to what he said that he will be meeting with deputy commissioner Lim,” he told Palace reporters, assuring them that he will seek confirmation about the reported retention of Lim and Tañada. “We’ll have a meeting, I can ask him. If we’re able (to meet the President), yes we’ll inform you. We’re discussing another matter but we’ll try to get an answer from the President,” Lacierda promised. Palace insiders disclosed that Lim and Tañada would have to stay on since Aquino didn’t accept their resignations, and that no names for their replacements have been mentioned. Several names have been floated as possible replacements for Lim, Tañada or even their boss Biazon, but Malacañang has confirmed none of these and officials remain mum on the issue. Some quarters have been in a quandary as to why Aquino has decided to keep all of the Customs officials who tendered their resignations – including Biazon – when he himself made an outburst and warned that his patience was running out on the agency. Sources revealed that Lim and Tañada would have to stay and help Biazon implement the reforms that he already started by way of a major revamp of Customs officials and personnel. “That is the way it is now. Of course we can do nothing about it,” an insider related, noting there have in fact been attempts to “withdraw” the resignation letters, but this was too late because these were already made public. The STAR learned from sources as early as July 19 – the Friday before Aquino delivered his SONA the following Monday – about the resignation of Lim, but chose not to write about it since no official confirmed it.
Reporters nevertheless got wind of the development the following week, or after Aquino delivered his SONA, where no less than Lim himself confirmed having submitted his resignation letter, which was not irrevocable. Tañada, cousin of ex‐House deputy speaker Lorenzo Tañada III, followed suit. Biazon said if Lim and Tañada are retained then that would allow the Customs bureau to proceed with momentum toward the goal of running after smugglers. “I have no problem working with them. Both are familiar with the government’s program,” he added. The BOC is implementing the reorganization as part of the government’s efforts to rid the agency of unscrupulous elements and stop smuggling. Biazon earlier ordered all district heads and sub‐port collectors to relinquish their posts in a bid to reform the agency. The BOC failed to hit its revenue collection target for the seventh consecutive month, raising only P27.8 billion in July or P1.83 billion short of the agency’s goal of P29.63 billion for the same month. The amount, however, was 14 percent higher than the amount collected in July 2012. This year, the BOC is tasked to collect P340 billion in revenues, P57 billion less than the P397‐billion target originally set by the Department of Finance. In the six months ending June this year, the BOC has collected P145.17 billion. With Delon Porcalla, Zinnia dela Peña http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/08/08/1064621/biazon‐welcomes‐deputies‐retention
Noy y to DBM chief: Plug PDAF F leak ks By Jess Diaz (The Philipp pine Star) | Upd dated August 8, 8 2013 - 12:00 am
MANILA, Philippines P - President P Aquino has ordere ed Budget Seccretary Florenccio Abad to plu ug leaks in the e use of the P25 5-billion annual Priority Deve elopment Assis stance Fund ((PDAF) to prevvent further wa aste of taxpayyers’ money. Abad reve ealed Aquino’s s directive yestterday before the House com mmittee on ap ppropriations cchaired by Davvao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, which opened d public hearin ngs on the Pre esident’s propo osed P2.268-ttrillion 2014 na ational budget. The PDAF F is the official name of the congressional c pork barrel. Itt allocates P20 00 million a ye ear for each se enator and P70 million m for each h House memb ber. “The President’s directiv ve is for us to review the enttire system of using the PDA AF to stop leakages and abuses,” Abad said. He said the review would cover projec cts qualified to o be funded byy senators and d congressme en, the processs of releasing funds f from the e budget depa artment to impllementing age encies and from m these agenccies to the eve entual fund beneficiaries, which h could either be local government units ((LGUs) or non n-government organizations (NGOs), and a the actual implementatio on and evaluattion of projectss.
“We will come up with recommendations on how to tighten the use of the PDAF. These recommendations will be submitted to the President, who would consult the Senate President and the Speaker on the proposed changes,” he said.
Abad said since Aquino assumed office in June 2010, the administration has introduced reforms in the use of pork barrel. He lamented that based on the recent revelations of whistleblowers, leakages continue to happen. He was apparently referring to allegations that a syndicate led by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles has pocketed nearly P10 billion in pork barrel funds using bogus foundations and with the connivance of lawmakers who were allocated those funds. Napoles has denied any wrongdoing. Abad said there has been no accusation that anyone in his department was involved in the newest scam. He said his department’s role in the use of the PDAF is only to review the lawmaker’s project list to verify if it conforms with the menu specified in the national budget and to release the needed funds. He said his agency does not meddle with project implementation, evaluation and audit. Asked who has responsibility for the wastage of funds and the choice of bogus NGOs, Abad said it is the implementing agency and the lawmakers providing the funds. In the Napoles and other scams involving pork barrel allocations, government auditors have discovered that senators and congressmen who provided the funds identified the beneficiary NGOs and LGUs. Responding to another question, the budget chief said Aquino is for retaining the pork barrel in the national budget. “My understanding is that he feels that the greater majority of the members of Congress who seem to be using their PDAF prudently should not be punished for the infractions committed by a few,” he said. He said the decision on the proposed abolition of the pork barrel rests with Congress, principally the House of Representatives, where the national budget originates. Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that P39 million in “pork” of lawmakers that passed through his department went to the group of Napoles, even as he denied any hand in the irregularities. Alcala said he had explained the issue to President Aquino and noted that his conscience is clear. “Actually I want you to know that P83 million in funds for the Napoles group passed through the department, but P44 million of that had not been released because one of the safety nets we put up was to release by tranches,” Alcala told reporters yesterday at the sidelines of the Livestock Philippines 2013 Expo and Conference in Pasay City attended by the President.
He said by releasing funds in tranches, those who could not liquidate would automatically not get any more funds. – With Aurea Calica, Paolo Romero, Czeriza Valencia, Ric Sapnu, Edu Punay http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/08/08/1064601/noy‐dbm‐chief‐plug‐pdaf‐leaks
TUCP slams foreign investors for antiwage hike stand By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The country’s largest labor group debunked yesterday the claim of foreign and local businessmen that increasing the minimum wage would result in mass layoffs and closure of companies. “This will not happen in the Philippines because those who cannot afford the minimum wage rate can be exempted by law from applying the rate,” TUCP executive vice president Gerard Seno said yesterday in reaction to the warning issued by the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP). Seno said employers are heartless for ignoring the condition of workers. The ECOP and the JFC urged the wage boards to dismiss TUCP’s petition for wage increase. The TUCP filed separate petitions for an increase in the daily minimum wage of workers in Metro Manila by P85 and from P80 to P88 for workers in other regions. Seno said workers are suffering from rising electricity rates and gas prices. He also cited the impending hike in Social Security System premiums and the Metrorail Transit and Light Railway Transit fares. “The response to dismiss the petition outright tends to show the top leadership of ECOP and JFC is losing touch with reality and utterly disregarding the economic difficulties being experienced by thousands of Filipino minimum wage earners,” Seno said.
He said it is also unfair to compare the wage rate in the Philippines with those in other countries in Southeast Asia since workers operate in varying political and economic circumstances and procedures. He said the P456 daily minimum wage in Metro Manila has significantly eroded and is way below the living wage needed to survive in the highly urbanized region. Seno said JFC and ECOP’s claim would not discourage workers from seeking a wage increase. TUCP president Democrito Mendoza said they support the business groups’ campaign against smuggling and red tape and the call to bring down the cost of electricity. However, Mendoza said, the group remains firm in its position to seek an immediate wage hike. TUCP also called on the different wage boards to objectively focus on efforts to restore the workers’ lost purchasing power and ignore the call of the employers to dismiss the petition for wage hike. The wage board in Metro Manila is set to hold today a public hearing on the TUCP’s petition for wage increase.
Meanwhile, workers belonging to the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno staged a mass action to push for a P125 legislated wage increase and to abolish the wage boards. — With Michelle Zoleta http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/08/08/1064851/tucp‐slams‐foreign‐investors‐anti‐wage‐hike‐ stand
Ex-DFA chief cleared of double compensation charge By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the Office of the Ombudsman’s dismissal of an administrative case against former foreign affairs secretary Delia Albert for allegedly receiving double compensation. The SC dismissed the petition of one Hermenegildo Cruz questioning the anti-graft agency’s resolution dismissing his complaint against Albert, according to the SC public information office. The SC said the post of foreign secretary is a political position different from a rank in the career service like Chief of Mission I. “Albert, at the time, received only compensation and remunerations as ad interim foreign affairs secretary,” the SC said. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dismissed the complaint of Cruz to hold Albert liable for conduct prejudicial to the service for holding two government positions at the same time. Albert was ad interim secretary of foreign affairs from December 2003 to August 2004 while retaining her rank as Chief of Mission I.
Random tests conducted on Fonterra milk products By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is conducting tests on random samples of Fonterra milk products that may possibly be contaminated with botulism-causing bacteria. “We coordinated with the FDA and they said that even if we are not among the affected countries, they will be conducting a random sampling to check if there is a possibility (of contamination). They are also going over their data to check if these products are really not in the product registry,” National Dairy administrator Grace Cenas said yesterday. Fonterra Philippines, the local arm of New Zealand’s Fonterra, has assured the public that dairy product exports to the Philippines have not been contaminated. Among the Fonterra-branded products being sold in the country are Anchor, Anmum, Anlene, Perfect Italiano and Mainland. “All of our consumer branded products in the Philippines are safe for consumption and unaffected by this issue,” said Fonterra Brands Philippines general manager Carlo Mendoza. The New Zealand government warned over the weekend that some Fonterra products exported to Australia, China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Vietnam contained contaminated whey protein.
EDIT TORIA AL - Beyon B nd the e goo od new ws (The Philip ppine Star) | Up pdated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
Standard & Poor’s says the Philippine es is now leading growth in S Southeast Asiia, a region tha at is “outperform ming” others this year. S&P, which recenttly upgraded th he Philippiness to investmen nt grade, sees 6.9 percent grrowth for the country c in 2013 3 – above the projected 5.5 percent for the 10-member Association o of Southeastt Asian Nations s. The Austra alia and New Zealand Z Bank king Group Ltd d. is even more e bullish, proje ecting 7.1 perccent growth for the Philippines s this year. Mo oody’s Investo ors Service is also a expected to raise its ra ating for the Ph hilippines to investmen nt grade. All that positive news must not go to waste. w With the opening of tthe 16th Congress, the execcutive and legislative branches mus st work togeth her to pass me easures that w will create a be etter environme ent for local businessm men and make e the country more m competitiive in attractin g foreign direcct investment. The Philippin nes may be lea ading Southea ast Asia in eco onomic growth h, but it’s still a laggard among ASEAN’s ffounding mem mbers in FDI leve els. The counttry also continu ues to rank low w in internatio onal surveys on n ease of doin ng business. The admin nistration know ws what’s miss sing from all th he rosy reportss: the trickle-d down effect. Prresident Aquin no has acknowled dged that his government g ne eeds to work harder h to achie eve inclusive g growth and liftt the 40 percen nt of the popula ation from poverty. According to official go overnment stattistics, povertyy levels have rremained unchanged d from 2006 until the first qu uarter of 2012.
Generating jobs, and not the contractual or seasonal type, should narrow the yawning income gap and allow more Filipinos to enjoy the benefits of robust economic growth. The President has said this is his thrust in the second half of his term. The results will be much awaited.
Pork by any other name BREAKTHROUGH By Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
In the Philippines, it is known as PDAF, but “pork barrel” funding exists under other names in almost every country of the world. The practice is often called patronage politics. I am skeptical about the moves to abolish PDAF because in other countries whenever pork barrel funds are abolished it resurfaces in some other form. It seems that politics, whether it is played in a democratic or dictatorial form of government, leads to some form of patronage. While this is not ideal, this type of politics should not automatically mean corrupt or undesirable conduct. A quick research on the internet yielded some very interesting information on pork barrel worldwide. In Finland, the term used is siltarumpupolitiikka or “culvert politics” in reference to national politicians concentrating on small local matters, such as construction of culverts and other public works in the politician’s home municipality. The process of diverting budget funds in favor of a project in a particular constituency is called porcovani or “portioning the bear” in the Czech Republic. In Serbia, podela kolaca or “cutting the cake” refers to postelectoral distribution of state-funded positions for the loyal members of the winning party. In Germany, there are two different terms. Wahlgeschenke or “election gifts” refers to campaign goodies distributed around election dates. Kirchturmpolitik or “church tower politics” refers to concentrating funding and reliefs to the home county of a politician. While the former is a technical term, the latter is derogatory which means that the scope of funding actions is limited to an area where the church steeple of the politician’s village can still be seen. The term pork barrel originated in the United States during the 1870s. It has surfaced under different formulas. The last one was when it was called “earmarks” until this was abolished in 2011. There are now serious attempts to bring it back.
According to one study, directing money to a particular purpose is a core constitutional function of Congress. Moreover, if Congress does not make a specific allocation, the task falls on the executive branch and there is no guarantee that the allocation of funds by executive agencies will be fairer or more superior to that of Congress. But the United States has had its own share of pork barrel similar to our own Napoles P10‐billion fake NGO scam. One example was the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska pushed for by Senator Ted Stevens, which provided $398 million. It would connect the island’s 50 residents to the Alaskan mainland. There are several criteria by which spending, under any name, can be classified as “pork.” It is requested by a specific member of Congress for a specific location or entity. It is not specifically authorized, like an education or defense budgetary allocation. It is not competitively awarded. It is not specifically requested by the President and the executive branch. It is not the subject of congressional budget hearings like all other budgetary requests.
There is a need to reform the PFAF process. The objective is to eliminate fraud, waste and abuse. One immediate reform is to ensure greater transparency. Senators and congressmen should be required to publicly list, on their websites, the specific funding request at least 30 days before release of funds. The request should include the agency or the name of the recipient, the amount of fund allocated, and the specific purpose. This will allow legitimate NGOs and other watch groups to monitor all these pork barrel requests. Second, all these PDAF requests should be subject to hearings. In this case I propose that the review should be conducted by the relevant executive branch. So funding for scholarships and classrooms should be reviewed by the Department of Education. Pork barrel requests having to do with medicine and other health care benefits should be done by the Department of Health. Perhaps, this will prevent another incident where Senator Sotto sent anti‐dengue medicine to a town where there was no dengue outbreak. All pork barrel benefits, including those for NGOs should be subject to competitive bidding and audit by the Commission on Audit. For example, the EMP medicine sent by Senator Sotto to cure dengue (where there was no dengue) should have been procured through competitive bidding. I am sure the Senators and the House can think of other ways to make the PDAF process more transparent and protected from abuses by its members. But the more immediate call is to address the present scandal. The group called Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO) has issued a statement on this issue drafted by Fulgencio Factoran, Isagani Cruz and Edilberto de Jesus. Here are excerpts: “Alleged operators like Napoles may have devised the blueprint for raiding the PDAF, but the greater accountability rests with the Senators and Representatives to whom the funds were entrusted. It was their responsibility to ensure that the PDAF went only to reputable NGOs proposing priority projects and that these projects produced the promised benefits. The Senators and Representatives who channelled funds to fake NGOs were not political neophytes. They, and we, were not born yesterday. Patronage of fake NGOs, particularly when repeated, provides ground for charging culpable negligence, if not complicity in corruption.” The Napoles pork barrel scandal allegedly involves several senators including Enrile, Honasan, Revilla, Estrada, Marcos, Sotto and Lapid. Understandably, this poses a big challenge for the Senate. I have been waiting to find out who will be appointed as the Chair of the Senate ethics committee. It is this body that should assume the challenge and provide the opportunity for the Senators to show they are not good only for investigating the executive branch or other citizens, but that they possess the same passion, courage and integrity to investigate fellow members of the Senate. * * * Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2013/08/08/1064721/pork‐any‐other‐name
Fore ex res serves clim mb to $82.9 9B By Prinz P. Magtulis (The e Philippine Sta ar) | Updated August A 8, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines P - The T country’s foreign f exchan nge reserves cclimbed in Julyy after three sttraight monthss of decline on n higher gold prices p and continued inflow of o dollars, the Bangko Sentrral ng Pilipinass (BSP) reportted yesterday.. Citing preliminary data, BSP Governo or Amando M. Tetangco Jr. ssaid the counttry’s gross inte ernational rese erves (GIR) rose e 2.08 percentt to $82.942 billion in July fro om $81.255 biillion in June. The latest figure was a recovery r from a 10-month lo ow in June, bu ut still below th he record-high h of $85.274 biillion recorded in January this s year. “The incre ease was due to t BSP’s foreig gn exchange operations o and d some revalu uation gains att least for last month,” Te etangco told re eporters on the sidelines of a budget brieffing in Congre ess. According to the central bank, reserve es are now good to meet on ne year of impo orts of goods and services. They are also eq quivalent to 8..5 times the co ountry’s short--term debt bassed on original maturity and 5.8 times on residual maturity. m Broken do own, gold holdings posted th he highest incrrease of 7.27 p percent after itt slumped to a two-year low w the previous month. m As of July, the value of gold reserv ves totaled $8..221 billion.
This was followed by foreign investments, where the bulk of the GIR is placed. A total of $71.760 billion were invested offshore, 1.58 percent up from end‐June’s $70.645 billion. Foreign exchange coffers ‐ composed mainly of major currencies such as the dollar, euro and Japanese yen – inched up 0.84 percent to $1.155 billion for the first seven months. Tetangco said the BSP’s foreign exchange was boosted by “foreign currency deposits from the Treasurer of the Philippines” as well as the “revaluation” of current holdings, primarily to account for stronger foreign currencies. “These inflows were partially offset by the payments for maturing foreign exchange obligations of the national government,” he explained. GIR is also composed of special drawing rights (SDR) – the currency used by the International Monetary Fund – as well as those funds actually lent to the multilateral agency. Based on official figures, SDR holdings kept steady as of July at $1.261 billion, but the amount with the IMF increased 0.9 percent to $545.01 million. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/08/1063491/forex‐reserves‐climb‐82.9‐b
Phl set to o exce eed th his ye ear’s grow wth targ gets By Zinnia B. B Dela Peña (T The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 20 013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines P - The T government’s economic c team is confid dent that the ccountry could exceed growth h targets this s year with the e economy seen expanding more than se even percent o on the back of robust consum mer spending and a an improv ving global investment clima ate. “Our goal is to sustain, if not surpass our growth pe erformance. W We are positive e that we can ttake advantag ge of available opportunities o such s as improv ving global ec conomic enviro onment, particcularly the susttained growth in emerging markets, imprrovement in de emographic co onditions, incre eased econom mic integration n of the Asean member countries, and the availability y of more finan ncial resource s,” Socioecon nomic Planning g Secretary Arrsenio Balisacan said during th he congression nal hearing on n the proposed d 2014 nationa al budget. Balisacan said while the e country’s eco onomic manag gers are optim mistic the Philip ppines could g grow beyond th he real GDP (gross ( domesttic product) as ssumption of six s to seven pe ercent this yea ar, they decide ed to maintain their official targ get given external risks. “We opted d to be more conservative c as a global uncertainties lingerr,” he said. The Philippines posted the t fastest ann nual growth in n Southeast Assia during the first quarter, e expanding 7.8 percent du ue to upbeat business b sentim ment and susttained governm ment capital e expenditure.
The growth was the highest so far under the Aquino Administration and also the third consecutive quarter of more than seven percent GDP growth.
“The manufacturing industry is expected to be more vibrant this year, buoyed by food manufacturing, and the recovery of the semiconductor and electronics industry as the world economy recovers between 2013 and 2014,” he said. Balisacan said construction would continue to grow at a fast pace given the string of construction projects from both the government and the private sector. “The continued inflow of remittances from overseas workers as well as the rising number of domestic and foreign tourists would also help boost the economy,” Balisacan said. According to Balisacan, the Aquino Administration would continue to undertake agriculture programs and projects aimed at boosting productivity and farm incomes particularly those of small farmers. Investments in road infrastructure, irrigation, research and development and security of land rights would likewise be made, he added. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/08/1063501/phl‐set‐exceed‐years‐growth‐targets
Roadmap disappointments BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
If there’s any big disappointment that we can expect this month, it’s the announcement that the Department of Trade and Industry will be releasing the much awaited industry roadmaps, a task that had been set in motion even as early as 2004. Why a disappointment? First, it’s the qualifier that this will be a partial release covering just some of the sectors that should have been covered. Thus, it’s not going to be an all-encompassing economic plan that takes into account a macro view of the economy. According to reports, the first sectors that will present their roadmaps will be the automotive and copper industries, the former keen on capitalizing on the phenomenal rise in automotive sales by promoting local parts manufacture and assembly. The copper industry’s need for assistance partly stems from the auto industry’s current boom. The country has an abundance of copper, but there are no processing plants that would produce the form of metal that the industry requires. All copper ores are exported, and although the country has a copper smelting facility, it imports 100 percent of its copper ore requirements and exports 100 percent of its output due to the absence of a copper rod facility. Wiring harness, a component that many industries including the vehicle parts manufacturing sector needs, utilizes a lot of these imported copper rods.
The rest of the ragtag sectors that are expected to form the whole “plan” are scheduled for presentation next year. Those mentioned in previous discussions are sectors in Business Process Outsourcing, electronics, chemicals, motorcycle parts, and furniture. There are other sectors mentioned, like air logistics for cargo, copper and copper products, fine jewelry, rubber and rubber products, tool and die, metal casting, coconut and coconut products, hogs, poultry, coffee, medical travel/medical tourism (cancer treatment), retirement industry, flat glass, plastics, paints and coatings, printing ink and garments and textiles, iron and steel, petrochemicals, handicrafts, hotels, mass housing, engineered bamboo and biodiesel. Yes, they come up to a hodge‐podge of sectors that had perhaps raised their hand for assistance during those big powwows organized by the trade industry when making announcements about the plan to come up with an industry roadmap. First come, first served Obviously, there’s no master plan here. And it looks more and more like a first‐come, first‐served policy that does not even appear to be relying on free market forces but rather to the “very‐busy” (read: super‐lazy) bureaucrat syndrome.
In other words, there is no plan here, thanks to all those government agencies including the National Economic Development Authority. And yet we wish to capitalize on gains so far made largely from the continued influx of salary remittances of our overseas contract workers. Perhaps, the DTI is waiting for all sectors to submit their roadmaps, and from there, review and debate on which proposal is worth hearing out and deserving of fiscal and non‐fiscal incentives. Major disconnect But the biggest disappointment in the DTI’s announcement is its obvious disconnect to the vaunted objectives of adopting a roadmap, which are to promote inclusive growth and employment generation in the country. By limiting support to industries and sectors that only show the biggest potential for export opportunities is to close the doors on others that promise the bigger potential for new jobs and wealth creation for the majority of Filipinos who have not skills for industry or manufacturing. Again, we’re talking here of agriculture, even of tourism in its many variant forms (i.e., medical, retirement, ecology). This is the sector that can immediately bring food to the table, and that can chip away at the massive wall of poverty that prevents the country from making that leap frog to sustainable economic growth. Perhaps agriculture and tourism may not be the best sectors to bring about inclusive growth and more employment opportunities, but there must be a process, logical and coherent, that must be observed and practiced that will deliver the desired objectives. Logical steps At the rate our bureaucrats are handling this planning activity, there is very little chance that something worthwhile will come out, just as what had happened during the first (2004‐2005), second (2005‐2007, third (2007‐2009), fourth (2009‐2011) and fifth (2011‐2013) planning calls. Soon the sixth (2013‐2015) roadmap will be up for discussion and what will still be up for public debate will still be the motherhood statements about objectives and principles about how government plans to achieve the economic roadmap. Let’s cut to the chase and, after deciding which sectors will be able to deliver the best results, start working in earnest to grow the industries belonging to these prioritized sectors. This way, the bargaining position will be stronger for these sectors to get the kind of incentives that they need. Let’s set a time frame and periodically monitor their progress. And when the job is done, only then should other sectors/industries clamoring for assistance be entertained. By having a well‐defined system of work, we’ll feel more fulfilled that our bureaucrats are doing the kind of work that really matters.
“The true nature of bureaucracy may be nowhere more obvious to the observer than in a developing country, for only there will it still be made manifest by the full complement of documents, files, veneered desks and cabinets ‐ which convey the strict and inverse relationship between productivity and paperwork.” Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work Collegiate basketball ongoings Visit www.CollegiateChampionsLeague.net for the latest news about the ongoing tournaments at different provinces nationwide as “mother leagues” search for their respective champions that will advance to the regional conference. Winners in the regional conference will qualify to the Sweet 16 step‐ladder phase of the Champions League (PCCL) 2013 National Collegiate Championship. Facebook and Twitter We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us at www.facebook.com and follow us at www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa. Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e‐mail me at email@example.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/08/1063711/roadmap‐disappointments
Meg ga sen nator – farm mer GO NEGO OSYO By Joey Concepcion C (T The Philippine Star) S | Updated d August 8, 201 13 - 12:00am
Our Senattor-Farmer Kik ko Pangilinan Just recen ntly, as our cou untry welcome es the new sett of senators, o other senatorss conclude the eir terms and m move on to a new chapter in th heir lives. Adding now to the population of farme ers in the Philippines is our fformer Philipp pine Senator a and chairman o of the Senate Ag griculture Com mmittee Francis s “Kiko” Pangiilinan. After ta king off from tthe hectic worlld of political a affairs, Kiko is bus sy growing his s Sweet Spring g Country Farm m, a nearly th ree-hectare fa arm in Alfonso, Cavite. The spous se of Megastar Sharon Cune eta — Pangilin nan finished h is comparative e literature course from University of the Philippines (UP) and his master’s degree d in pub blic administrattion from Harvvard Universityy. With his whole w family, Sen. S Kiko now lives in Silang g, a municipalitty near Alfonsso. For him, it h has cool air an nd there are three t seasons s in Silang — wet, w dry and windy. w This hass a high terrain n and the said d farm is 1,300 0 feet above sea a level. Sweet Sprring is the hom me for Sen. Kik ko’s fauna like e Parawakan lo ocal breed of chickens, native pigs, rabbitts, carabao named Berky, and a others. Ba anana, mango o and cacao tre ees are some of the flaura b being seen on n it. It also has organic o food prroducts like he erbs. Right now w, the farm se erves as a farm m field school for 50 local fa armers which is a program in afffiliation with th he Departmen nt of Agriculture e (DA).
Exceptionally, he exerts some hard work to uplift the morale of farmers because it is said that Filipino farmers have an annual average income of P23,000, and the average educational attainment of farmers nationwide is fourth grade. It shows that our farmers are being ignored and eaten by the system of those influential leaders. Aiming to assist farmers, Sen. Kiko and his Agriculture committee added P1 billion to last year’s budget for crop insurance.
Despite the fact that our farmers here are the most abused — living in an oppressive colonial past where farmers are treated as poor people since the Spanish times, Sen. Kiko is positive and hopeful about our farmers. He abides by the principle that the three main engines of Philippine economic growth identified by our President are: infrastructure, agriculture and tourism. According to him, some foreign governments heavily subsidize their farmers, because farming affects other sector and those countries understand that food security is their top priority. For now, the area planted is 6,000 square meters of the almost three‐hectare farm. Currently, Sweet Spring Country Farm has a service agreement with Ernest Escaler’s Gourmet Farms when it comes to being the supplier of organic products. I am glad that he strengthens his advocacy in agriculture by serving as a living example. We will never forget him and his Sagip Saka program that have been the excellent partners of Go Negosyo in spreading entrepreneurial values and knowhow to farmers and in helping publish our latest book about the inspiring stories of our Filipino agri‐entrepreneurs. Sagip Saka achieves a sustainable modern agriculture and food security by preserving the Ifugao rice terraces, improvement of onion production in Nueva Ecija and others. Our country needs more Senator‐farmer Kiko, a leader who genuinely gives his service for the benefit of those who are really underprivileged Filipinos like our farmers. We wish him good luck in his journey as an agri‐entrepreneur! * * * Let me recognize as well our newest partner in our eight‐year crusade in building an entrepreneurial nation with empowered and prosperous Filipinos. We formalized the other day our partnership with DHL Express Philippines, which is headed by their country manager Yati Abdullah, together with DHL marketing manager Hope Atienza, sales director Andy Lim, and sales manager Eric Queppet. During the signing, we got the chance to know more about DHL Express’ vision to help SME’s in improving their logistics efficiencies and effectively cut operating cost. Similar to Go Negosyo, DHL has been enabling the SMEs to level‐up in their competencies to compete in the market. We learned that they have been trying to teach entrepreneurs in the past two years on how they can improve their distribution capabilities and even learn how to service better the export markets. We understand that DHL is the industry leader that can service the international market.
During the meeting, DHL’s country manager Yati relayed some inspiring entrepreneur stories that caught my attention. One was a story on how DHL helped SME entrepreneur Marie Lou Eviota Aizon expand her businesses here and abroad. Starting her business aspiration in her own living room five years ago, Marie used kukui nuts to produce fashion accessories, selling her masterpieces to the local market and then expanding her scope to the United States. With DHL as her logistics partner, Marie Lou focused on her product development and operations. From the production line down to delivery, she ensures uncompromising quality. From small beginnings, the Isabella Trani Fashion Jewelry Co is now an established firm, having a fully operational factory which is now catering to huge clients such as NFL teams, NBA teams, Democrats as well as Republican. Her example was truly inspiring. Business operations today have now become more efficient and wide spread through the aid of technology. I believe DHL has helped a lot of SMEs to expand their operations all over the world. This proves that many aspiring entrepreneurs can follow the same example as Marie Lou did. * * * We will have our next sessions of Magandang Business Advice (MBA) on marketing & innopreneurship with our marketing guru and Go Negosyo advocate Josiah Go in Pampanga on August 9 and Lipa on August 30. In partnership with DTI, we are also conducting the SME Roving Academy session on entrepreneurship on August 14 at Poblacion, Calamba City, Laguna. * * * Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/08/1063701/mega‐senator‐farmer
NGC CP ne ears compl c letion n of crriticall tran nsmission projects (The Philip ppine Star) | Up pdated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines P - The T National Grid G Corp. of th he Philippines (NGCP) assu ured yesterdayy that some off its transmission line projectts, including th hose being upgraded, are in n the final stag ges of complettion to addresss load growth in many m areas arround the country. NGCP Pre esident Henry T. Sy Jr. told the 34th Annu ual General Me embership Me eeting of Philip ppine Rural Electric Cooperativ ves Associatio on, Inc. (PHILR RECA) at PICC C yesterday th hat some criticcal transmissio on lines and upgrading projects are expected e to be e completed by y end of 2013 3. Sy, in a sp peech read forr him by his as ssistant Joseph Ferdinand M M. Dechavez, ssaid that NGC CP is pursuing the implementtation of projec cts like the Co olon-Cebu 138 8-kV Transmisssion to mitigatte the impact o of line rental charges on customers in n Bohol and Panay. P â€œThis will reinforce the Cebu C backbon ne which is transmitting the 2 246 MW of CE EDC Coal and d the 200 MW of KSPC Coa al Power Plantts to electric cooperatives c in n Cebu and in Bohol,â€? addin ng that the Visa ayan Electric Company,, BOHECO I, Mactan M Enerzo one Corporation, General M Milling Corpora ation and the W Waterfront Hottel and Casino would beneffit from the pro oject once com mpleted in Deccember 2013.
In Mindanao, Sy said that the Balo-i-Villanueva-Maramag transmission project would also be finished in December, completing the Mindanao 230-kV transmission backbone which links northern and southern Mindanao. Also, Sy added, the second circuit of the Butuan-Placer 138-kV transmission project that would provide power supply to mining operations in northeastern Mindanao would soon be implemented.
More transmission lines and upgrading are also due for completion in 2014, he said, citing the Lumban‐ Bay 230‐kV transmission line and the Opol Substation Project as among them. The Lumban Bay 230‐kV transmission line in Laguna is being upgraded from 600 MVA to 2,400 MVA. Started in December 2011 and targeted for completion in June 2014, the project would provide an alternate highway to the more than 2,000 MW capacity presently connected to the 230‐kV system in the Batangas area, he said. “Once completed, the Calaca Substation will no longer be the single merging node in the area, therefore, major grid disturbances affecting the Luzon Grid can be averted,” Sy, Jr. said. In Mindanao, the Opol Substation Project would be completed by November 2014, he said. Strategically located near the load centers of CEPALCO and MORESCO I, the project is expected to improve the reliability of transmission services for the newly opened Laguindingan International Airport. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/08/1063521/ngcp‐nears‐completion‐critical‐transmission‐ projects
DOT sets employment target at 7.4 M by 2016 By Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Tourism (DOT) has set a higher tourism employment target of 7.4 million by 2016 from earlier target of 6.8 million due to the projected improvement in the country’s domestic tourism in the near-term, official documents showed. DOT data indicated that the new 2016 tourism employment target will represent an 18.8 percent share of the country’s national employment figure. The 7.4 million employment target is also a steady growth from 6.3 million in 2015, 5.4 million in 2014 and 4.9 million in 2013. In 2012, actual tourism employment stood at 4.2 million. “That means 18.8 percent of all employment will be in tourism. What does this mean? It means one of every five Filipinos will be employed in tourism. We hope to achieve this. We see tourism sector growth to be stable,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. told The STAR. The DOT also adjusted the domestic travelers target for 2016 to 56.1 million from an earlier projected 35.5 million as it intensifies efforts in promoting inclusive growth which is expected to positively affect the tourism sector. Domestic travelers reached 37.5 million in 2011, surpassing the original target of 29.1 million for the year. This prompted the DOT to raise the 2016 domestic tourism target to 56.1 million travelers. The tourism sector directly employed an estimated 3.8 million individuals in 2011, a 3.5 percent increase from 3.7 million in 2010.
It also contributed P571.3 billion or 5.9 percent of GDP in 2011, 10.2 percent higher than the P518.5 billion or 5.8 percent contribution to GDP in 2010. The industry targets an 8.7 percent share of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016. This target, however, is still below the average share of tourism to the global economy of 9.3 percent and South East Asian economy of 11 percent in 2012. The industry surpassed the four‐million international tourist arrival mark for the first time with 4.3 million visitors in 2012, 21.4 percent higher than the 3.5 million visitors in 2010. As of end‐June 2013, Jimenez said foreign tourist arrivals reached 2.4 million, 11 percent higher than the same period last year. The DOT targets to reach 5.5 million international tourist arrivals in 2013 and 10 million in 2016. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/08/1063541/dot‐sets‐employment‐target‐7.4‐m‐2016
8 groups express interest in bidding for 4 power barges (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Eight firms have signified interest to bid for the four power barges that would be auctioned off by the government on Oct. 9, the state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) said. PSALM president and chief executive officer Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. said the eight entities have asked for the revised terms of bidding for the sale of Power Barges (PBs) 101, 102, 103 and 104. PSALM has required interested parties to submit a letter of interest not later than Aug. 1, 2013, pay a nonrefundable participation fee of P120,000, and execute and submit a confidentiality agreement and undertaking not later than Aug. 2. Ledesma said the eight prospective bidders consist of one foreign and seven local firms. During the pre-bid conference held yesterday at its Makati City office, PSALM said all eight bidders were present to discuss the bidding procedures as well as salient features of the sale. PSALM has set the deadline for the submission of bids on Oct. 9 at 12 noon, after which the opening and evaluation of bids would follow.
Ledesma earlier reported that significant changes have been incorporated in the sale of PBs 101‐104 to address bidders’ previous concerns. “We are selling the Iloilo‐based PBs 101‐103 as one package and the Davao‐based PB 104 as another package. Transfer to Mindanao will no longer be a requirement for PBs 101‐103, but the winning bidder for PB 104 will be required to operate the barge in Mindanao for at least five years,” he said. The PSALM board has also agreed to sell the power barges on an “as is, where is” basis. “This means that no purchase request or purchase order will be attached to the sale agreement,” Ledesma added. PBs 101, 102, 103 and 104 are nominal 32‐megawatt (MW) barge‐mounted bunker‐fired diesel generating power stations that consist of four identical Hitachi‐Sulzer diesel generator units rated at eight MW each. PBs 101 and 102 are currently stationed at Bo. Obrero in Iloilo City. PBs 103 and 104 are moored in Estancia, Iloilo, and at the Holcim Compound, Davao City, respectively. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/08/1063561/8‐groups‐express‐interest‐bidding‐4‐power‐ barges
Coco exports up in July By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Philippine coconut oil exports rose year-on-year in July as stock requirements in traditional markets rose, the United Coconut Association of the Philippines Inc. (UCAP) said yesterday. UCAP executive director Yvonne Agustin said CNO exports in July reached 115,104 metric tons (MT), up 14.4 percent from 100,658 MT in the same period last year. In June, CNO exports fell 22.5 percent to 63,408 MT from 81,787 MT in the same period a year ago because of slow down in the delivery of copra. “The majority of our buyers started to fill up their inventory,” she said. In the first seven months of the year, CNO exports rose 51.7 percent to 746,759 MT from 492,129 MT during the same period last year. Agustin said demand for CNO in the world market – particularly in Europe and the United States – is expected to pick up for the rest of the year.
Exports to these destinations account for 80 percent of the total CNO exports.
Buy Pinoy Exporters Fair starts Aug 15 (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Locally-made products will be showcased during the Buy Pinoy Exporters Fair (BPEF) to be held at SM Megamall on Aug. 15-18. Marlane Villa-Real, president of the Buy Pinoy Movement Foundation Inc. (BPMFI), said Filipino entrepreneurs and manufacturers will get to promote and sell their products directly to consumers in the biggest BPEF. As BPEF celebrates its 25th edition, the organizer has invited consumers, institutional buyers, and local government officials and employees to participate in the event so they could appreciate first-hand what local entrepreneurship can do to their respective localities. More Filipinos, especially those in the countryside, are encouraged to be entrepreneurs to create additional jobs and thus help reduce poverty in the country. There will be no imported products or imported products camouflaging as locally-made during the fair. For the past 10 years, BPEF has been providing beacons of hope to the poor by showing them tangible proofs of products of Filipino originality, artistry, craftsmanship and industry that has been in ever-growing demand in the world market. BPMFI believes that by creating public awareness through actual exposure with export products that are in demand worldwide, Filipinos through entrepreneurship can have a brighter future if every one works together. Leonor D. Abella, vice president for promotions of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) and trustee of the BPMFI, said apart from job generation, the keys to a sustainable anti-poverty program are skills upgrading, training and continuing practice provided by the small and medium enterprises. Cecilia Ramos, secretary and assistant treasurer of BPMFI, said the biannual fair had been subscribing to this anti-poor formula with “Buy Pinoy Save Jobs!”
The organizer offers free admission for all teachers, students, Department of Education, DILG employees as well as local government personnel and senior citizens. They must present their identification card to gain this privilege. For more information, BPMFI can be contacted at tel. 834‐2712 or email email@example.com. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/08/1063661/buy‐pinoy‐exporters‐fair‐starts‐aug‐15
Energy summit set (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - With the Philippines requiring fresh investments of P774 billion to assure energy security for a fast-growing economy until at least 2016, policymakers, project owners, and experts in energy security and technologies will converge with corporate executives to explore business opportunities in the upstream, midstream, and downstream energy sectors during PowerTrends 2013 on September 25 to 27 at the SMX Convention Center. As in the prior eight biennial editions of PowerTrends, the business potentials are in power generation, construction, finance, insurance, management and technical recruitment, infrastructures, equipment and materials supply, and consultancy services. Policies and projects will be discussed during a two-day forum by speakers from government and the private sector for a first-hand understanding by participating executives in-charge with initiating and aligning strategic investments of their enterprises. An international exhibition will showcase modern technologies and equipment required in energy projects. Interested parties may contact Leverage International at 813-2472 or 818-6828. The event website ishttp://powertrends.leverageinternational.com. Email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Major sponsors include the Malampaya Joint Venture Partners of the Department of Energy, Shell Philippines Exploration, Chevron Malampaya and PNOC-Exploration Corp.
Other major sponsors are Alstom, Andritz Hydro GmbH, and Trans‐Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/08/1063641/energy‐summit‐set
Turkish Flour Group denies subsidy By Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Turkish Flour Yeast & Ingredients (TFYI) Promotion Group has denied claims of American group US Wheat Associates (USWA) that the Turkish government’s subsidy has allowed the sale of Turkish flour at lower prices in the Philippine than in their domestic market, amid an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Philippine government. “The US through its Department of Trade has previously ruled that the Turkish Inward Processing Regime is not a form of subsidy. It is practiced and known globally as the duty-drawback system, and complies with the rules established by the World Trade Organization (WTO),” TYFI chairman Turgay Unlu said in a statement yesterday. He also said that as USWA is neither a party to the investigation nor a WTO representative, and should not be making definitive opinions on the issue. The USWA said earlier that it supports the imposition of an anti-dumping duty on imported Turkish flour noting that the Turkish government has allowed the sale of their flour, shipments here at prices lower than in their domestic market. The USWA made the statement as the Philippine Association of Flour Millers Inc. filed a petition before the Department of Agriculture seeking to raise the duty on imported flour to 20 percent from the current seven percent, on claims that Turkish flour millers are bringing their flour here at dumping prices or prices lower than in Turkey’s local market. Unlu reiterated that there is no truth to the claims that Turkish flour is being sold at dumping prices as their flour shipments here are made specifically for the Philippine market and are not being sold in Turkey.
He said their group is in the process of preparing a detailed report on the matter. TFYI board member Hakan Esen said Turkish flour is reasonably priced because of economies of scale at Turkish mills, the country’s strategic location, accessibility to wheat, and the practice of the duty‐ drawback system. Esen also said the use of Turkish flour enables bakers and manufacturers of flour‐based products here to pass on to consumers the cost savings it generates, thus maintaining the affordability of food products. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/08/1063621/turkish‐flour‐group‐denies‐subsidy
Agri sector grows 1.44% By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The agriculture sector grew 1.44 percent in the first semester of the year grossing at P697.2 billion at current prices, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced yesterday. Growth in the first half of the year was faster than the growth of 0.99 percent in the first semester of 2012, a revision from the earlier pronouncement of a growth rate of 0.93 percent Growth for the period was driven by gains in the fisheries, poultry, livestock and palay subsectors. Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) director Romero Recide said in a briefing yesterday said that growth for the second quarter of the year alone was placed at negative .02 percent, dragged down by the crops sector. The growth rate in the first quarter of the year was also revised to 2.99 percent from the 3.3 percent earlier announced because of downward adjustments in several commodities. In the first semester of the year, BAS said the fisheries sector, which comprised 18.10 percent of the total farm output for the period, posted a 4.44 percent growth against a negative growth of 3.17 percent during the first semester of 2012.
This was attributed to the increase in spawning areas for several species such as sardines and herring following the implementation of a closed season late in 2012. The livestock subsector posted a growth rate of 2.2 percent against a growth rate of 0.52 percent in the same period in 2012. The poultry subsector registered a growth of 4.39 percent, down from 5.53 percent in the same period last year. The crops subsector suffered a negative 0.54 growth in the first semester against a growth rate of 1.41 percent in the same period. Corn, coconut, sugarcane and banana posted lower production. Palay production, however, grew 1.34 percent to reach eight million metric tons against last year’s harvest of 7.89 million MT because of increase in cultivation areas. Corn production volume fell 4.19 percent year‐on‐year in the first half of the year to 3.3 million metric tons because of moisture stress in Cagayan Valley. In ARMM, farmers shifted to cassava and oil palm. Coconut production contracted 1.26 percent because some plantations are still reeling from the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo which leveled coconut lands in December 2012. Low copra prices also resulted to low production in Aurora. Plantations in Batangas are still beleaguered by scale insect infestation.
Lower sugarcane yield was seen in Sultan Kudarat because of ratooning. Sugarcane farmers in Mindanao and Camarines Sur also shifted to palm oil. This was attributed to the increase in spawning areas for several species such as sardines and herring following the implementation of a closed season late in 2012. The livestock subsector posted a growth rate of 2.2 percent against a growth rate of 0.52 percent in the same period in 2012. The poultry subsector registered a growth of 4.39 percent, down from 5.53 percent in the same period last year. The crops subsector suffered a negative 0.54 growth in the first semester against a growth rate of 1.41 percent in the same period. Corn, coconut, sugarcane and banana posted lower production. Palay production, however, grew 1.34 percent to reach eight million metric tons against last year’s harvest of 7.89 million MT because of increase in cultivation areas. Corn production volume fell 4.19 percent year‐on‐year in the first half of the year to 3.3 million metric tons because of moisture stress in Cagayan Valley. In ARMM, farmers shifted to cassava and oil palm. Coconut production contracted 1.26 percent because some plantations are still reeling from the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo which leveled coconut lands in December 2012. Low copra prices also resulted to low production in Aurora. Plantations in Batangas are still beleaguered by scale insect infestation. Lower sugarcane yield was seen in Sultan Kudarat because of ratooning. Sugarcane farmers in Mindanao and Camarines Sur also shifted to palm oil. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/08/1063611/agri‐sector‐grows‐1.44
Reta ailers s see susta s ained grow wth By Louella Desiderio (The e Philippine Sta ar) | Updated August A 8, 2013 3 - 12:00am
THE RETA AIL CONNECT TION: The 22nd National Re etail Conferen nce sponsored d by the Philipp pine Retailers Associatio on opened yes sterday at the SMX S Conventtion Center in Pasay City. Photo shows (frrom left) Cinde erella president and a CEO Arth hur G. Coronell, Sen. Cynthia a Villar and Pa aul A. Santos of the PRA at the Starmall booth.MIK KE AMOROSO O MANILA, Philippines P - The T Philippine Retailers Association (PRA A) sees sustain ned growth in retail sales thiis year amid the country’s positive econo omic performa ance as well a as strong conssumption spending. Speaking at the 22nd National Retail Conference held at the SMX X Convention Center in Passay City yesterrday, PRA chairrman Frederick k Go said thatt while the reta ail industry had d a good yearr last year in te erms of its sale es, it is poised to t see sustaine ed growth this s year on expe ectations that tthe economy w would continue e its strong performan nce. Go noted that t according g to Business Monitor M International which provides conssultancy and in ndustry analyssis, Philippine retail sales arre expected to o hit P1.5 trillion this year an d even increa ase further to P P2 trillion by 20 017. The country’s total retaill sector was estimated by th he consultancyy firm at P1.42 2 trillion last ye ear. The country’s positive economic perfo ormance is see en to allow the e retail sector to achieve sustained growth h this year with consumption c spending s expe ected to remain strong.
“The Philippine economy remains robust buoyed by strong consumption spending and investments supported by overseas Filipino worker remittances,” Go said.
He also said that several research conducted by different organizations indicate that the country would continue to see strong consumption spending this year. He cited that the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Globe Shopper Index has placed Manila in the 11th spot in the list of top 25 places to shop in Asia Pacific, which compares countries according to their shopping advantages and disadvantages. A recent survey from market research company Nielsen has also shown that Filipino consumers are the second most optimistic in the world as of the second quarter of this year. According to the National Statistical Coordination Board, revenues from tourists who shop in the country have risen 16.8 percent to P131 billion in 2011 from the previous year. “All these indicate we are going to see further upswing this year,” Go said. The opening of over 40 malls in the next two years, he added, would likewise support sustained growth in sales of the retail sector. But while the PRA expects retail sales to grow this year, PRA chairman emeritus Samie Lim reiterated that the sector still faces challenges such as competition from foreign brands entering the country. “The next wave is the entry of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) brands,” he said. Lim said that as more foreign brands enter the local market, it would be better if the government provides a roadmap for the retail and franchise industry which would have strategies to allow businesses to expand here and overseas. Lim plans to speak with the PRA board on how a roadmap for the retail and franchise industry could be pushed. Apart from a road map, he also intends to discuss with the PRA board how mall owners could improve the traffic situation as many malls are located along main roads. Malls owners, he said, could consider opening later than the usual at least twice a week to contribute to better traffic flow. The National Retail Conference organized by the PRA, is being held to inform retailers of the latest trends and provide tips on how they can become more competitive. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/08/1063601/retailers‐see‐sustained‐growth
Retail in ndusttry ex xpectss 20113 salles to o reac ch P11.5 triillion n Category: Top News Published d on Wednesd day, 07 Augusst 2013 21:31 1 Written b by Jennifer A. Ng onditions, cou upled with strrong FAVORABLEE economic co consumer coonfidence, will enable locaal retail sales to reach P1.5 ttrillion this yeear, the Philip ppine Retailerrs Association (PRA) said on n Wednesdayy. And with the e opening of more malls in n the country, PRA Chairman Frrederick D. Go o said retail sa ales would inccrease further to alm most P2 trillion by 2017, bassed on data fro om the Business Mon nitor Internatio nal. “The countryy’s leading devvelopers are sset to open ovver 40 new malls in n the next two o years. This augurs well ffor the economy,” G o said in his sspeech at the opening of the e 22nd National Rettail Conference e and Stores Asia Expo (N NRCE) 2013 in Pa asay City on We ednesday. He said the e local retail industry is being g bolstered by the t credit upgrrade received b by the Philippin nes from three of the world’s ma ajor credit-rating g agencies--Fittch, Standard & Poor’s and Ja apan Credit Ra ating Agency. Also, Go sa aid, the country y’s economy co ontinues to be robust despite e the global slo owdown over th he past year. H He said the Philipp pine economy is being buoy yed by strong g domestic con nsumption and d investments, as well as ssteady remittances s from oversea as Filipino work kers (OFWs). He H said these a are boosting th he confidence o of Filipino conssumers and are major m reasons the t retail secto or is expected to do well th is year. “In the e latest Nielse en Global Con nsumer Confidence e Survey, the Philippines P ran nked No. 2, ne ext to Indonesia a as Southeasst Asia’s most confident conssumer. This was attributed a to a dynamic d and ex xpanding middlle class and ovverall optimism on their econo omic prospectss,” said Go. “At the sam me time, the National N Statisttical Coordination Board [NS SCB] reported tthat shopping is the top perfformer among tou urism industries s. The NSCB data d revealed that t value gen nerated from sh hopping grew by 16.8 percen nt to a total of P13 30.5 billion in 2011,” 2 he added d. Go urged retailers to take ffull advantage of these positivve developmen nts. Meanwhile e, SM Superma alls was cited by b the brands consultancy c firrm Interbrand o of Singapore a as one of the to op five retailers in Southeast As sia. The Interbrand study said SM Superm malls is worth $ $924 million. O Other top retailers in Southeast Asia, accordin ng to Interbrand d, were Singap pore’s FairPricce ($1.5 billion)), Malaysia’s P Parkson Retail Group ($1.17 billion), Indonesia an department store chain Matahari M ($868 8) million, and the Big C Su upermarket Ch hain in Thailand ($ $569 million).
In Photo: Sen. Cynthia Villar led the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the opening of the 22nd National Retail Conference and Stores Asia Expo (NRCE) 2013 organized by the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. Also in the photo are (from left) lawyer Paul Santos, NRCE chairman and president of Picture City; Arthur Cormel, PRA vice president and chief executive officer of Cinderella Marketing Corp.; and Ian Wade, former chairman of A.S. Watsons Group (Hong Kong). (Roy Domingo)
‘Em mpow wering g the Coun ntrys side, Nur rturin ng Pr rogre ess Co ountr rywid de’ Category: Banking & Finaance Published d on Wednesd day, 07 Augusst 2013 20:09 9 TODAY is the e beginning of a new life for tthe Land Bankk of the Philippines. E Exactly 50 yea ars ago, LAND DBANK was ccreated with the en nactment of R Republic Act No. 3844, o or the Agricultural L Land Reform C Code of the P Philippines. In March this year, Pre esident Benign no S. Aquino III signed into la aw RA 10374 which extends the legal existence e of LANDBAN NK for another 50 ye ears. Fueled by the lessons and gains o of a glorious past, LANDBANK ssets its eyes on doing greate er and being be etter. A feat not for the faint of heart, as its achievements and triumphs are not that easy tto replicate, let alone surpasss. After all, LAN NDBANK is now w the single largest lender to o small farmers and fisherfolk natiionwide. The Bank is also at the frontline of ssupporting the e MSMEs, wh hich constitute e 99.7 percent of the e total number of establishme ents in the coun ntry. It is the bigg gest credit provvider to the LG GU sector, fina ancing projects in ag gri-infrastructurre, , schools an nd hospitals, fa arm-tomarket roa ads, housing and livelihood, and other developmenta al projects. It is the depo ository bank of 97 percent of the country’s LGUs, while half of o the country’s s provinces, citiies, and municipalities are loa an clients. Institution nal Viability It has acco omplished all these and more e while maintaining its rank a among the besst performing b banks in the co ountry, with consis stent growth in n net income, and assets, ca apital, depositss and loans. A As of March this year, LAND DBANK ranks fourtth in the industrry, and remains s the biggest government ban nk in the counttry. The Bank’s s net income for f the first half of 2013 amo ounted to P 8. 5 billion, repre esenting a retu urn on equity o of 17.6 percent. Its s net income grew by 49 perc cent from P5.7 7 billion of the ssame period la ast year. Capita al also grew to P74.5 billion from m P72 billion in June 2012 while total assets increased by 14 percent to P P681.1 billion ffrom P599.2 billion in June 2012. Since 2010 0, the Bank wa as consistently rated by the Bangko Sentra al ng Pilipinas (BSP) with a C CAMELS rating g of 4, the highes st rating given by BSP to a Philippine ban nk. CAMELS serves as a sscorecard that measures a bank’s capital, ass set quality, man nagement, liqu uidity and sensitivity to markett risk.
LANDBANK was also recognized by the Government Quality Management Committee for its successful attainment of ISO 90001 Quality Management Systems certification in three of its core banking processes, namely, lending and financial services operations of the Public Sector Department, loan operations of the Pampanga Lending Center, and branch banking operations of the PEZA-Roxas Boulevard Branch. LANDBANK successfully expanded the scope of the ISO QMS program to cover all 77 branches in the National Capital Region, which are now ISO 19001:2008 certified. The Bank is moving towards making all bank units nationwide QMS ready. Indeed, it can be said that LANDBANK has found its rhythm and can comfortably dance to the beat of success for the next 50 years. The 7,137-strong institution, however, is not one to rest on its laurels. “To succeed is one thing; to bring it to a higher plane where it fuels the success of others—that is what truly defines success. You only need to look out there and realize that there is so much more to be done,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Gilda E. Pico. Pursuit of Mandate ON its 50th year, LANDBANK pledges anew to be at the forefront of “empowering the countryside, nurturing progress countrywide” as it marches onward with a single and determined purpose. With no less than President Aquino setting the momentum for large-scale transformation, LANDBANK stands proud in the thick of things—more determined than ever to do its part in the achievement of the National Government’s goals. LANDBANK’s primary commitment is to direct its efforts towards a more intensified rural engagement that supports priority programs on poverty alleviation, inclusive growth, food security, and agricultural productivity. It remains aggressive in channeling financial and technical support to its mandated and priority sectors, which include small farmers and fisherfolk and their associations; agri- and aqua-businesses, agri-aqua related projects of local government units and government-owned-and-controlled corporations; micro, small and medium enterprises and microenterprises, communications, transportation, housing, education, healthcare, environment-related projects, and tourism. As of end-June 2013, LANDBANK’s total loans to priority sectors reached P206.2 billion, representing 75.3 percent of its total regular loan portfolio of P273.7 billion. Outstanding loans to small farmers and fisherfolk (SFF) reached P28.3 billion as of the first semester of the year, with loan releases from January to June this year reaching P18.3 billion. This benefited more than 400,000 small farmers and fisherfolk nationwide. Loans to micro enterprises and SMEs reached P34.7 billion while outstanding loans to LGUs reached P44.6 billion. As a premier government bank, LANDBANK also plays a key role in major government programs including the CCT Program where LANDBANK is the disbursing bank. The CCT provides conditional cash grants to extremely poor Filipino households for their health, nutrition and education expenses.
The Bank also supports other government programs such as the Food Supply Chain Program which it implements in partnership with the Department of Finance and the Department of Agriculture (DA); the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Reintegration Program of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration; the Agrarian Production Credit Program implemented with the DA and DAR; and the DA’s Sikat Saka program. Customer Service TO better serve these sectors and its growing depositors, LANDBANK continuously expands its physical network nationwide to make banking services more accessible to sectors that otherwise have limited access to financial services. At present, LANDBANK has 337 branches in 80 provinces, and 1,122 ATMs nationwide. Also consistent with its financial inclusion agenda, the Bank will open a branch in Dinagat Island within the year to complete its presence in all 81 provinces of the country. This will make LANDBANK the first universal bank to cover all provinces. LANDBANK is an institutional member of the BancNet ATM Network, further extending its reach by interfacing with the largest inter-bank network in the country connecting more than 6,000 ATMs of 91 member banks. LANDBANK continuously steps up its products and services to adapt to the changing times, shifting channels, and evolving business patterns. Recent Recognitions IN recognition of its development efforts, LANDBANK was recently conferred with a Certificate of Merit under the Outstanding Sustainable Project Financing Category in the recently concluded Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Awards 2013. LANDBANK was recognized for a loan facility extended to the Municipal Government of Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi, which involved integrated projects for the construction andrehabilitation of wooden foot bridges and rock causeway, construction of the municipal stage, concreting of farm-to-market roads, and repair and rehabilitation of the town’s multi-purpose gym. LANDBANK was also recognized by the BSP as “Outstanding Lending Bank” under the Credit Surety Fund (CSF) category. The CSF is a BSP-initiated credit enhancement, which pools cash contributions from participating cooperatives, LGUs and partner institutions such as LANDBANK to help improve the bankability and credit worthiness of MSMEs, including cooperatives, which lack collaterals, credit knowledge and credit track records. Earlier this year, LANDBANK also bagged a Merit Award in the Environmental Development category of the recentlyconcluded Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific Awards 2013 held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The winning entry, “Carbon Finance Support Facility—Program of Activities for Piggery Farm & Sanitary Landfill Projects” is LANDBANK’s flagship program for the promotion of climate change-mitigation projects through the Clean Development Mechanism. The LANDBANK 2011 Sustainability Report (SR) was conferred with an Anvil Award of Merit during the 48th Anvil Awards organized by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines. With the theme, “Creating positive handprints for the future today,” LANDBANK’s 2011 SR contains the Bank’s accomplishments under the five Sustainability Cornerstones: Enterprise Development, Community Development, Environmental Protection and Management, Customer Service and Employee Development.
Moving Forward Today, on its 50th anniversary, LANDBANK sets its eyes on an expansive horizon, looking beyond where it has gone, aiming higher than it has flown. “As we give thanks to those who toiled the land and planted the seeds before us, we take stock of the lessons and gains harvested from the past and gear up for a new growing season. These are indeed exciting times as LANDBANK steps up amid an evolving business landscape,” Pico said. More than celebrating its accomplishments, LANDBANK responds to the clarion call to make a bigger mark as the nation strides towards a dawning era of economic growth. Onward and forward it shall march, bigger, bolder and stronger. Farther and deeper it shall plant new seeds of progress for the nation to harvest in the years ahead.
DBM eyes faster funds releases under next year’s budget program Category: Banking & Finance Published on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 19:26 Budget officials have abandoned the use of outmoded means of releasing funds for government operations and adopted a system recognizing the law itself, or the General Appropriations Act (GAA) in this case, as its primary fund release document starting next year. Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said on Wednesday that beginning fiscal year 2014 a new system considered superior to the existing mechanism will be in place that should substantially speed up the release of government funds for the delivery of critical government service. Under the new system, the use of so-called agency budget matrices (ABMs) and special allotment release orders (Saros) will have been abandoned and the use of the GAA itself as the trigger document will take their place instead. The reform, Abad said in a statement, should help speed up the release of public funds and ensure a faster delivery of the various socioeconomic projects and programs of the government. Abad said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will begin to phase out the ABMs and Saros from the budget process next year to facilitate the swift and efficient implementation of the 2014 expenditure program. “We crafted the proposed 2014 budget so that it will also stand as the national government’s fund release document, where agency budgets are practically released the moment the national budget is enacted. This eliminates the need to prepare ABMs early in the fiscal year, besides abolishing the lengthy and elaborate process of releasing allotments to departments and agencies. “More important, however, this transition toward a GAA-as-release-document regime will enhance the operational efficiency of all agencies across the bureaucracy, allowing us to speed up government disbursements and fast-track the implementation of programs and projects set for the year,” Abad said. In the past, the DBM would prepare ABMs together with other departments and agencies once the national budget was enacted. The matrix disaggregated all programmed agency appropriations into various expenditure categories, also serving as the basis for the timing, composition and magnitude of budget releases. Saros, on the other hand, are official documents that authorize the release of an agency allocation for specific programs and projects, containing as well the conditions set for the use of these funds. The DBM issues Saros to the head of the agency when the requesting party has satisfied all the requirements for the fund release. Abad clarified that while the DBM will do away with Saros and ABMs for most fund releases, certain items in the budget will still need DBM issuances to support their release, including funds that require Presidential approval and remaining lump-sum allocations in the national budget, such as the calamity fund. He also highlighted the new output- and outcome-based presentation of the 2014 Budget through the PerformanceInformed Budget structure, alongside other Administration-led budget reforms—including the disaggregation of lump-
sum funds, the one-year validity of appropriations, and zero-based budgeting—all of which were designed to increase predictability in the budget execution and compel agencies to fast-track the implementation of programs. “We are institutionalizing these budget reforms to simplify the budget document, shorten the processing of budgetary requests, and push for increased transparency and accountability in public expenditure. Ultimately, we will bring the positive impact of these measures to bear on our campaign for socioeconomic growth and inclusive development, so that the benefits of good governance will produce real and immediate benefits to the ordinary Filipino, particularly the poor and disadvantaged,” Abad said.
RCBC focuses on high-yielding SMEs Category: Banking & Finance Published on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 19:25 Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) said it will focus its lending activities on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and intensify the sale of a full range of products and services to this sector this year. It aims to build up its client base by 1 million every year through the expansion of its distribution and electronic banking channels and also by brand building and the introduction of innovative products and services. “The bank will target SME clients as the lead relationship in intensifying the selling of the Bank’s full range of products and services, including leasing as an alternative form of financing,” it told regulators on Wednesday. Recognized as growth engines for the economy, SMEs have provided much needed employment in various sectors such as wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, storage and communications. “Revenue generation is programmed to be driven by the increase in low cost current account, savings account [Casa] and build up in loans from the SME and consumer segments,” the lender said. RCBC also vowed to continue to strengthen its core business through improved synergy among its business units. It will also expand and diversify its revenue streams by growing the non-interest income from the bank’s fee-based businesses such as trust, investment banking, remittance, credit card, wealth management, cash management, bancassurance and retail banking. Revenue growth through prudent asset and deposit build up, operational efficiency, distribution network and electronic banking expansion and maximization of total customer relationship through cross selling will again be the main performance drivers. The bank also vowed to grow its client base through continued branch, ATM and electronic network expansions in tandem with product innovation. It hopes to improve the 2.5 ATM per branch ratio and will vigorously promote the electronic banking channels and cash management service of the bank especially in the SMEs. The bank’s thrust in expanding its consumer clientele will be carried out through its savings bank and microfinance arms.
Government eyes early passage of next year’s spending program Category: Banking & Finance Published on Tuesday, 06 August 2013 19:51 Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad on Tuesday expressed confidence on the timely passage of the proposed P2.268-trillion budget for next year aimed at sustaining the country’s fiscal momentum and promote inclusive growth. The deliberations on next year’s spending program kicks off at the Lower House on Wednesday. “We look forward to discussing the finer details of the 2014 national budget with our colleagues in Congress and are, likewise, confident that the Lower House will pass the expenditure program within schedule, as instructed by President Aquino. The timely passage of the budget will be critical in ensuring the swift implementation of the administration’s priority programs and projects next year, especially as we intensify our efforts at enhancing the expenditure process to bring rapid, inclusive and sustainable growth to the country,” Abad said. The budget hearings of the House Committee on Appropriations will cover the period from August 7 to September 9, starting with a budget briefing led by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC). The DBCC is composed of the DBM, the National and Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Finance and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The budget chief said the DBM expects the proposed expenditure plan to undergo careful scrutiny during deliberations, particularly with respect to the administration’s budgetary support for anti-corruption and good governance, social development, economic services, national peace and security, and climate-change response and mitigation. The Committee on Appropriations is also expected to pay particular attention to the new performance-informed budget structure that defines the government’s spending program for 2014. “We designed the 2014 budget so that it is decidedly output- and outcome-based. We’re no longer looking at a budget document that merely lists allocations and budgets; instead, we’re looking at an expenditure program that very clearly shows the country’s own development goals, as well as the administration’s strategy for achieving those same objectives. “We trust that the new face of the national budget will encourage efficient and fruitful discussions during budget deliberations, in addition to helping our lawmakers approve President Aquino’s spending program in record time,” Abad said.
SEC papers tie NGOs to JLN Corp. By Gil C. Cabacungan Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:31 am | Thursday, August 8th, 2013
Janet Lim-Napoles’ business empire is intricately linked with the bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that her former employees, Benhur Luy and Merlina P. Suñas, claim were used to steal P10 billion in state funds in schemes involving ghost projects, senators, House representatives, Cabinet secretaries and other top government officials. This is based on the incorporation papers and financial records, secured by the Inquirer, of two affiliates of JLN Corp. and 17 NGOs which showed interlocking incorporators and shared common auditors, the same notary public attorneys, and practically the same wordings and fonts used in the records covering 1990 to 2011. “I certainly was not involved in any of the high-profile scams which occurred during the previous administration. JLN Corp. has never transacted business or closed deals with the government or any of its agencies or instrumentalities, much less the government offices,” Napoles said in her blanket denial of the charges against her by Luy and Suñas. “She has nothing to do with these NGOs and the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund). We have a statement as early as three weeks ago. Only you and PDI ignored it. Why are you asking only now after you have consistently maligned her in your articles and your reports?” said Lorna Kapunan, Napoles’ lawyer. But the documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed that Napoles trusted the heads of these dummy NGOs enough to assign them as one of her fellow incorporators. Vanessa A. Eman, the president of Abundant Harvest for People’s Foundation Inc. (AHPI), is listed as one of the incorporators of JLN Construction formed by Napoles in 2008. AHPI is one of 12 dummy NGOs that Suñas identified as conduits for ghost projects in 2009 undertaken by then Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and his deputy, Undersecretary Narciso Nieto, using P900 million from the Malampaya funds. JLN Construction also listed as a stockholder Andres B. Atan who Luy claimed was a relative of a barangay (village) captain named Bruce Atan from Toril District in Davao City. Bruce Atan was the middleman between Napoles and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chair of the powerful House appropriations committee who tapped Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc., to access P13 million of his pork barrel funds in 2011. Kaupdanan is said to be controlled by Napoles. Another Napoles company, Jo-Chris Communications Inc., had a president of a bogus NGO in its 2002 incorporation papers. SEC documents showed that Luy’s mother, Gertrudes K. Luy, president of Bukirin Tanglaw Foundation Inc. (BTFI), was the fifth incorporator of Jo-Chris. Gertrudes listed as her address Theresa St., South City Homes, Biñan, Laguna, the original home of the Napoles family before they moved to their Forbes Park mansion. The same documents showed that two other fake NGO presidents signed as witnesses to the incorporation papers of Jo-Chris—Evelyn de Leon of Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. and Marina C. Sula of Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. The two NGOs are under investigation by a five-member Ombudsman panel into the misuse of P200 million in funds under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in 2007 and 2008 allegedly masterminded by Pangandaman and Nieto.
Accountant Mario C. de la Cruz prepared the 2011 financial statements of both Jo-Chris and JLN Construction. The notary public for Jo-Chris is Joel Gordola and Mark Olivero for JLN Construction. Interestingly, De la Cruz prepared the 2011 financial statements for nine of the 17 NGOs while another accountant, Susan Victorino, handled four. Editha P. Talaboc notarized the incorporation papers of 11 of the 17 NGOs while Olivero served as notary public for three NGOs and Gordola for one.
Same wordings, fonts Placed side by side, the SEC documents for the 17 NGOs and Jo-Chris and JLN Construction showed similar wordings and fonts. The first NGO in the Napoles group, Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc., was established in Taguig in 1990 but was taken over a few years later by Napoles’ aide, Evelyn de Leon (a Napoles coaccused in the Kevlar helmet scam). Other incorporators were Maria Fe Escabarte, Jose Ardias, Gertrudes Kilapkilap, Annabelle Luy, Luzviminda Bucalin and Henry Bucalin. Napoles formed her second NGO, People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc., in Taguig in 2003 headed by Suñas with Jun-Jun Manlingan, Benhur Luy, Ireneo Perater, Jocelyn Deiparine, Jesus Castillo and Vicente Cacananta. In 2004, Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. was formed with Pasig City as its address and John Lim as president. His fellow incorporators were Edwin Bernardo, Lyn Morales, Marie de la Rosa, Agot Espinillo, Eugenio Perez and Joseph Marcelo. In 2005, Gintong Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. was set up in Laguna with Eulogio Rodriguez as president and Rheah Rodriguez, Emma Salatan, Katherine Rodriguez and Dante Honra as incorporators. In 2006, Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation Inc. was formed with Malabon City as its address. Its president was Simonette Briones with Roman Briones, Amparo Fernando, Aileen Palama, John Raymond de Asis and Mylene Encarnacion as incorporators Agricultura para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc. was also formed the same year with Parañaque City as its office. Its head was Jocelyn Piorato and its other incorporators were Hernani Ditchon, Neonita Ditchon, Gloria Salamanca and Dorilyn Fabian. Another NGO, Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc., was also formed in Taguig City in 2006. Nemesio Pablo Jr. was the head with Melody Miguel, Myla Ogerio, Jun Damaso and Lorenz Suñas as incorporators. Philippine Agri and Social Economic Development Foundation Inc. was established in Caloocan City in the same year with Mae-Ann Kilapkilap as president. Her fellow stockholders were Janice Tan, Rommie Rachella, Rose Quinto and Erlinda Ang. In 2008, Tanglaw para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. was formed in North Cotabato. Nova Kay Dulay was originally its head until she was replaced by Mary Arlene Baltazar. The original incorporators were Magdalena Loboon, Cristina Cariño, Julia Nava and Silverio Penoy. That same year, Masaganang Buhay Foundation Inc. was formed with San Juan, Batangas, as its address. Lorna Ramirez was its president with Sylvia Manalo, Precioso Ramirez, Aunice Hedalgo and Manolito Lakian as stockholders. Kasaganahan para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. was established in 2008 in Quezon City with Genevieve Uy as president and Christopher Sitjar, Honey Amador, Jeannily Gonzales and Danilo Pitogo completing the initial stockholders’ list.
Dalangpan Sang Amon Utod Kag Kasimanwa Foundation Inc. in Negros Occidental was also formed in 2008. Its president was Jesus Castillo with Rodina Jalandoon, Rodelyn Flores, Marilou Tomandao and Floriceta Bargola as incorporators. Another NGO formed in 2008 was Abundant Harvest for Peopleâ€™s Foundation Inc. in Laguna. Led by Eman, its original incorporators were Rosa Casio, Poblia Limbaga, Charlito Ajos and Roselle Gallito. In 2009, Karangyaan para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc. was established in Bulacan. Its head was Simplicio Gumafelix. The other incorporators were Clemente Formentos, Romeo Cera Jr., Victor Bernardo and Celestino Tolentino Jr. Micro Agri Business Citizens Initiative Foundation Inc. was also formed in Taguig City that year with Ronald Francisco Lim as chief and Isabelo San Miguel, Grace Bangayan, Angie Fernandez and Edna Bernardo as incorporators. In North Cotabato, Saganang Buhay sa Atin Foundation Inc. was formed in 2009 with Lilian EspaĂąol as boss and Evelyn Camoro, Concepcion Lasaga, Efren Sidemo and Lolitov Abarquez as incorporators. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/461031/sec-papers-tie-ngos-to-jln-corp#ixzz2bL3E1nuB Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Lawmakers grill Abad on ‘pork’ in budget By Christian V. Esguerra Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:38 am | Thursday, August 8th, 2013
The alleged pork barrel scam on Wednesday cast a dark cloud over the House of Representatives, which began deliberations on the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for next year. Caught in the eye of the storm was Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, who walked members of the committee on appropriations through highlights of the administration’s new “performance-informed budget.” ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio confronted Abad over the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the proposed national budget, including a purported P400-million “pork barrel” for the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). The pork barrel is officially called PDAF. During the budget hearing, Tinio asked Abad if the administration was in favor of keeping or abolishing the pork barrel, saying “retaining PDAF at this point would be incompatible with (the administration’s) daang matuwid (straight path).” Abad later turned the tables on the militant congressman and told the committee: “Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to abolish or continue on with the PDAF rests with you, with the House of Representatives. So, I think it’s better for us to await the wisdom of this chamber and proceed accordingly, Mr. Chairman.” Taking his cue from Aquino, Abad added: “The President, he feels that the greater majority of legislators, who have been using their PDAF rather prudently and well, should not be punished for the possible infraction committed by some.” Tinio also questioned an alleged pork barrel allocation for Neda, which was included in the proposed national budget under “special purpose funds.” Turning to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, he said: “Congratulations, Mr. Balisacan. You now have a P400-million pork barrel.” Balisacan’s face registered no reaction, but he later explained that the amount was intended for “feasibility studies” to be presented to “different funding agencies.” Abad told reporters it was “unfair” to label the allocation as pork barrel, noting that the government was unable “to put together feasibility studies that can guide and implement those big projects.” The head of the appropriations committee, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, was earlier implicated in the alleged pork barrel scam. But he maintained that the allegation would not affect his committee’s deliberations on the budget. “My conscience is clear and I know not a single centavo was lost. All projects were implemented. I’ll present [all documents] in the proper forum,” Ungab told reporters during a break in the budget presentation. “[The PDAF scandal] looms over the discussion and people are awaiting the results of the investigation. Subsequent to that, the executive, through the President, as well as Congress will take action [based on] those findings,” Abad said in a separate interview.
Five senators and 23 members of the House have been reported to have funneled P10 billion of their PDAF in 10 years to a network of bogus nongovernment organizations reportedly set up by Janet LimNapoles. The National Bureau of Investigation is looking into the alleged scam in which lawmakers reportedly pocketed up to 60 percent of the public funds. Aquino’s pork barrel Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares called attention to President Aquino’s own pork barrel, citing a Department of Budget Management (DBM) circular that supposedly allowed Malacañang to “realign” unspent PDAF for projects, including those “not even considered in the (national) budget.” “The other issue here is why focus on Congress? There is a presidential pork barrel,” Colmenares said in a press conference. Colmenares and other members of the militant Makabayan bloc earlier filed a measure seeking to abolish the entire pork barrel system. Stung by criticism for accepting PDAF allocations in the past, the bloc promised not to touch its pork barrel this year. Based on DBM documents, five former and current Makabayan members of the House received at least P481 million in combined PDAF since Aquino took office in 2010.
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Pork scam pits congressman vs congressman By Christian V. Esguerra Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:26 am | Thursday, August 8th, 2013
A congressman is in hot water over an allegation that 98 legislators were involved in a supposed pork barrel scam. Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga on Tuesday filed a resolution asking the House committee on ethics and privileges to investigate his colleague, Abakada Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, who floated the allegation in a press conference last week. In Resolution No. 169, Barzaga noted that the allegation was based only on a “one-page photocopied document” purportedly coming from De la Cruz’s source at the Commission on Audit (COA). The document was labeled as “draft.” Barzaga said the allegation “added to the already clouded public perception of the legislature and undoubtedly constituted an attack on the integrity of the members of the House of Representatives and the institution itself.” He said House members should be “circumspect in giving out statements which may affect” his colleagues. Told about the resolution, De la Cruz said he would face the investigation, insisting that the allegation did not come from him but from the COA. “I will definitely attend the (ethics committee) hearing. I’m prepared because I did not do anything wrong,” he told the Inquirer. “What I was saying was that we should all work together and look at this (COA allegation).” In a separate interview, Barzaga said his resolution was meant, not only to clarify De la Cruz’s allegation, but also to allow other members of the House to clear their names. “Nothing personal (with De la Cruz). Trabaho lang (It’s just work),” he said.
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Agri exec in n NGO O deals s relieve ved Alcala conffirms P83M pork went to Nap poles group
By Ronnel W. Domingo, Michael Lim Ubbac Philippine Daily D Inquirer 12:12 am | Thursday, Augu ust 8th, 2013
PORK LOWD DOWN President Aq quino and Agricultu ure Secretary Proce eso Alcala take tthe escalator during g the opening of a livestock expo at tthe SMX Convention C Center in Pasay Citty on Wednesday. T The President had asked Alcala to exp plain how agricultu re funds ended up in bogus NGOs. (IInset) DA Assistantt Secretary Opheliaa Agawin. MALACAÑ ÑANG PHOTO/EDW WIN BACASMAS
Agriculturre Secretary Prroceso J. Alcala on Wednesd day relieved h his controversia al assistant seccretary, Ophelia a P. Agawin, o of her duties acccrediting nong government organizat ions (NGOs) a amid an interna al investigation of allegation ns pork barrel fu unds were cha anneled into Janet Lim-Napo oles’ ghost proj ects. nder orders from m President Aq quino to look in nto Alcala, un allegation ns by whistle-bllowers of shenanigans, told reporters he was still aw waiting Agawin’’s explanation o on why the D Department of A Agriculture (DA A) was being implicated in illicit activitie es of bogus NG GOs. In a TV new ws interview on n Monday, Aga awin said that based b on the D DA’s proceduress, Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation n Inc. (KMFI), was w a duly accredited NGO. K Kaupdanan wa as reportedly on ne of the 20 NG GOs N set up by Napoles. d that P83.2 million had been allotted to KMF FI, not P89.2 m million as reportted earlier in th he media. Of th he Alcala said amount, P3 38.25 million ha ad been releas sed and should d now be accou unted for. w them ab bout this. If they y can’t liquidate e the funds, the ere will be no m more additiona al releases,” Alccala “We have written told reporte ers. “That is als so what I have explained to President P Aquin no.” He said a ccheck for an un nspecified amo ount had been written w out to KMFI, K but was being b withheld. e out of my min nd if we would release r more fu unds to this NG GO without takiing precautionss,” Alcala said. “They “I would be have to pro ove that they are truly legitima ate and that wh hat they have a already receive ed has been fully liquidated.” Alcala said d Agawin had been b replaced as a head of the accreditation p panel to ensure e that she would not have und due influence on o the ongoing investigation. “We have not n ascertained d whether she is indeed involv ved (in the porrk barrel scam) but she will no o longer handle e the approval off new NGOs an nd projects tha at may come in,” he added. ncy, we have appointed a Assis stant Secretaryy Edilberto de L Luna, effective August 2, as in nterim “In the spirrit of transparen chair of the e committee forr the accreditattion of NGOs and a peoples org ganizations,” sa aid the departm ment’s spokespers son, Salvador Salacup. S owever, will con ntinue to perforrm her tasks as s assistant seccretary for finan nce, Salacup ad dded. A week h has Agawin, ho passed since Alcala issue ed a memo ask king Agawin for an explanatio on. Alcala, him mself a former congressman, c said s the DA under the Aquino o administration n had initially re efrained from implementiing PDAF-fund ded projects. ntil August 2012—before we allowed a the DA A to again be a conduit of PDAF releases,” A Alcala “It took us 25 months—un said. “Thatt means the administration is not interested in PDAF going g through the D DA.”
“But during a budget deliberation, we were told in Congress that we could not refuse,” he said. “Even the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) told us that we have to line up programs.” Six former employees said Napoles had fleeced the government of some P10 billion over the last 10 years through dummy NGOs. Napoles has denied any wrongdoing. Salacup said the department’s internal audit service (IAS) was looking into the alleged channeling of funds from lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, through “the alleged fictitious NGOs.” “The IAS is conducting a more in-depth study into the fund releases and the liquidation reports submitted by NGOs that implemented PDAF projects,” he said. The IAS is expected to submit by Thursday an initial audit report on the NGO accreditation process and compliance. Promoted to Asec A Palace official told the Inquirer that Alcala was ordered to submit a formal explanation to the President after the latter learned of the suspicious presence of Agawin in the DA. Agawin, the public accountant at the heart of an alleged P432-million fertilizer fund scam in 2003 under the Arroyo presidency, was quietly absorbed by Alcala when he was appointed secretary in 2010. The scam, which later ballooned to P728-million, was allegedly engineered by then Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante. Agawin was subsequently cleared in that case and has since been promoted assistant secretary for finance in the DA. Agawin’s name has returned to public consciousness when pork barrel scam whistle-blower Merlina P. Suñas tagged her as a conduit and gatekeeper of a web of fake of NGOs sanctioned to accept state money for livelihood projects for the last two years. Safeguards Alcala said that in accepting PDAF-funded projects, the DA had set up “stringent measures and safeguards.” These include the preaccreditation of NGOs and the release of funds in four installments for projects worth more than P300,000, instead of a lump sum release. Of 26 DA-accredited NGOs, seven are involved in PDAF-funded projects and all seven are now being audited. This involves ocular inspections. Alcala said that he had submitted his report to President Aquino on the pork barrel fund releases of eight House representatives to Kaupdanan for 11 livelihood projects. “Just give the President time to read (the report),” Alcala said in an ambush interview at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, where he and Aquino led the opening ceremonies of the “Livestock Philippines 2013” Expo and Conference. Alcala said his report would show that it was “not in DA’s interest to have (state funds) pass through it” only to end up in unintended hands. Alcala said he believed he still had the trust of the President. He complained that news reports on the alleged scam had been “very twisted” and suspected that some personalities with “bad intentions” were behind what appeared to be a smear campaign “against the DA and me.” The President said on Tuesday there were flaws in releases of pork allocations and that allegations implicating Alcala were being looked into by the National Bureau of Investigation. Precursor of fertilizer scam Agawin and Bolante were among 11 DA officials and businessmen who were sued by the late Marlene Esperat in 2003 for buying overpriced fertilizer without any bidding from Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corp. (Philphos) worth P432 million.
The two and their codefendantsâ€”former Agriculture Secretaries Luis Lorenzo Jr. and Arthur Yap; DA officials Edmund Sana, Ibarra Poliquit, Belinda Gonzales, Eduardo Garcia; and businessmen Jesus Varela, Benjamin Tabios and Pepito Alvarez of Philphosâ€”were absolved by the Ombudsman in 2008. The scam was believed to be the precursor of the P728-million fertilizer fund scandal that also involved Bolante and Napoles, whose Jo-Chris Trading (named after her daughter Jo-Christine) was the second-biggest supplier of the liquid fertilizer distributed to allies of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.
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Hous se min nority presses p s pork scam probe e By Christiaan V. Esguerra Philippine Daily D Inquirer 1:42 am | Wednesday, W Aug gust 7th, 2013
Minority M Leader Ro onaldo Zamora. Pho oto from congress.g gov.ph
Saying S the porrk barrel scanda al “must not be e swept into ob blivion,” minorityy congressmen n want to t proceed with h a House inve estigation despiite the absence e of any catego orical support ffrom the t chamber’s leadership. The T bloc led by y Minority Lead der Ronaldo Za amora on Tuessday filed a resolution seeking g an investigation in nto the alleged misuse of Prio ority Developme ent Assistance e Fund (PDAF) allocations. a nitude and the destructive d effe ects of the PDA AF scam must n not be swept in nto oblivion, ass the issue is “The magn destroying the trust that members m of the e Philippine Co ongress should enjoy from the e people they represent,” the group use Resolution No. 160. said in Hou nd his colleague es maintained that “legislation n to correct ma any processes and procedure es involved in th he Zamora an identificatio on, monitoring, auditing and public p accounta ability was clea arly needed.” This, they argued, a would be “among the e final results of a true and faiithful inquiry intto this scam.” House leaders cool to probe p p seemed cool to the idea of a parallel inquirry, noting that tthe Departmen nt of Justice and d the But the House leadership National Bu ureau of Investtigation were already investigating the allege ed PDAF scam m. “Congress does not have e a good record d in terms of inv vestigating itse elf and it’s natural,” said Marikkina Rep. Miro Quimbo, ch hair of the ways and means committee. c “I th hink the Speake er is cognizantt that even if we e come up with h the most truthfful, exhaustive investigation, it will always be e perceived by the public thatt we could not investigate ourselves because b we are covering for one another.” w, there is a sing gular direction,,” he added. “T The investigatio on is being und ertaken. Let uss listen and if th here “Right now would be re ecommendatio ons, that’s when n the leadership would act on n it.” In the meantime, Quimbo o cited “safegua ards” in the 201 14 national exp penditure progrram that would purportedly he elp ensure that pork barrel allocations would be spent properly. Each Ho ouse member iss allotted P70 million in PDAF F yearly, while senators gett P200 million each. e Western Samar Rep. Mel Sarmiento, se ecretary genera al of President Aquino’s Liberral Party, said m measures were e now in place “to o avoid the controversies expe erienced in the e past.” w, (the pork barrrel system) has s been tightene ed and we hea rd that it would d be tightened e even further byy “Right now coming up with a shorter menu (of proje ects),” he said in a press confference with Qu uimbo. One safegu uard in the proposed 2014 na ational budget requires r that no ongovernmentt organizations tapped to implement a project shou uld be accredite ed by the Depa artment of Socia al Welfare and d Development,, said Quimbo. He said pro ojects to be implemented thro ough local gove ernment units w would be limite ed to P10 million each. Anothe er safeguard encourages “p public participattion” on how PD DAF would be spent by indiviidual memberss of Congress, he added. Originally posted: p 6:14 pm m | Tuesday, August A 6th, 2013 Read more e: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net//459815/house e-minority-pressses-for-probe-into-pork-barrelscandal#ix xzz2bL5yZnEe Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Help ping co oral ree efs with h beads s of faiith By Mar S. Arguelles Philippine Daily D Inquirer 9:01 pm | Wednesday, W Aug gust 7th, 2013
A SCUBA diver helps put in place e the coral rosary in n the waters off Ba arangays San Vicen nte and Pandayan in n Sto. Domingo, Albay. MARTIN REYNOSO/CO ONTRIBUTOR
In what cou uld be the first of its kind in th he world, a 65-m meter-long artifficial reef shaped like a rosaryy was dropped d into the Albay Gulf G off the coa astal town of Stto. Domingo in Albay. ure symbolizes the “Our Lady y of the Most Ho oly Rosary,” pa atroness of Sto o. Domingo parrish, said Martin The structu Reynoso, executive e vice president of the Junior Cham mber Internation nal (JCI)-Legazzpi and project officer of the C Coral Genesis prroject initiated by b the JCI. d the project ma anifested the people’s p commiitment to enviro onmental prote ection and was Mayor Herbie Aguas said o draw more to ourists, particularly divers and d snorkeling en nthusiasts, into his town, whicch is known for its expected to scenic long g stretch of blac ck-sand beach hes. Mysteries p in place the e rosary reef in a 20-foot deep p site in the wa aters off Barang gays San Vicen nte At least 20 scuba divers put ayan, about a kilometer k from the t town prope er, on Aug. 3. T The divers belong to Bicol Scu uba Divers and Panda Foundation n, Philippine Na avy, Philippine Coast Guard and a JCI.
It took them m five hours to lay the 60 cora al beads and a five-meter cro oss over a 300--square-meter a area in the sea a bottom, Re eynoso said. Th he beads repre esented the my ysteries of the H Holy Rosary—JJoyful, Sorrowfful, Glorious an nd the Mysteries of o Light.
MICRO solarr panels are implan nted on the concrette structure at the sea bottom. MAR RTIN REYNOSO/CO ONTRIBUTOR
Reynoso said a test surv rvey conducted d in the waters off Sto. Dom ingo found the e area “not so sshallow, not so deep e for the coral rosary. and still cclean,” making it a perfect site It was alsso observed tha at only patchess of corals were e and signs of corral bleaching, w which is sometimes present a han normal tem mperature of th he caused byy the warmer th water. Acccording to Reyynoso, the cora al reef condition n was not that b bad, but “it need ds help.” With the ccoral rosary, R eynoso said m members of the Bantay Da agat would havve something ““concrete” to prrotect as the sollar-powered arrtificial reefs wo ould enhance ccoral growth, thu us making it a breeding b site fo or fishes. els Solar pane b were “im mplanted with 65 micro solar panels p at the co oncrete structu ure, wires, lead conductor and d The coral beads glass jar,” Reynoso R said. The techno ology, which us ses a portable micro m underwa ater solar powe er source, is a ccoral-reef electtrification conce ept aimed to help corals grow w five times fas ster and make them t resistant to coral bleach hing and algae,, he explained. It allows an ny shape, desig gn, logo, or scu ulpture to be ch harged for fast coral-reef reco overy or even ccreation of them matic sculptures,, Reynoso said d. on Processio The electrically propagate ed coral would begin to work when the wiress reeled into th he concrete bea ads are negativvely charged an nd start attracting calcium parrticles that wou uld then build u p on the surfacce and form arttificial reefs and d also serve as th he base for the coral nodules to attach to the e reef. O Lady of the e Most Holy Ro osary was held d, joined by hun ndreds Before the coral launch, a procession off the image of Our ed by “healing priest” Momoy y Borromeo, Alb bay Gov. Joey Salceda and M Mayor Aguas. of people le d his administra ation also plann ned to develop p an 8-square-kkilometer fish sanctuary in the e villages of Sa an Aguas said Vicente, Pa andayan, Sto. Domingo, Del Rosario R and Sa an Juan. Salceda sa aid the coral ree ef project comp plemented Cap pitol’s rapid ma arine assessme ent survey to ch heck the statuss of corals in th he province and d consequently y come up and implement me easures to resto ore and protectt coral reefs in Albay Gulf. He pledged d a P1-million fund f to finance the organizatio on of fishing fa amilies into a co ooperative in S Sto. Domingo. The coral reef r propagatio on and restoratiion is part of th he tourism deve elopment progrram under the Cagraray, Rap puRapu, Bata an and San Mig guel (CRABS) area of the pro ovincial governm ment. Reynoso said the JCI pro oject would hop pefully generate e more income e as the area co ould become a an ecotourism— —and a pilgrimag ge—destination n.
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Aquiino fam mily to keep 1,500 1 h hectare es Land distrib bution in Luisita a proceeds as farmers promis se to pay, till
By Tonettee Orejas Inquirer Ce entral Luzon 9:05 pm | Wednesday, W Aug gust 7th, 2013
HACIENDA Lu uisita workers in on ne of their protest rrallies. E.I. REYMON ND T. OREJAS/INQU UIRER CENTRAL LU UZON
CITY OF S SAN FERNAND DO—The family of President Aquino is rretaining more than 1,500 hecctares of Hacie enda Luisita in T Tarlac province e after the Depa artment of Agra arian Reform (DA AR) finishes th he distribution o of land in the su ugar estate thro ough the govern nment’s agraria an reform prog gram. The stockss distribution prrogram (SDP) in 1989 covere ed only 4,915.75 h ha, which was w why the court rruled only on th hese and not on n the whole 6,4 43 ha of the ha acienda, the hig gh court’s Novv. 22, 2011 ressolution showed d. as later revoke ed by the high ccourt, Under the SDP, which wa farm worke ers were allowe ed to get share es of stock inste ead of land to imp plement agraria an reform. an 6,000 farm workers w in Haciienda Luisita h have agreed to pay and till the e As of Aug. 5, close to 3,000 of more tha 6,600 squa are meters of la and each is gettting from the sugar s estate. At least 530 farm workers s in Barangay (village) ( Cutcutt signed the ap pplications to pu urchase and fa armer’s underta aking (APFU) wh hile 568 in Bara angay Lourdes,, 328 in Barang gay Bantog, 34 48 in Barangayy Asturias, 618 in Barangay M Motrico and 507 in Barangay Pan ndo signed theiir APFU betwee en July 18 and d Aug. 5, reportts from the Dep partment of Agrarian owed. Reform sho sa ng mga Man nggagawang Bukid B sa Asyend da Luisita (Am bala) and the K Kilusang Magb bubukid ng Pilip pinas The Alyans (KMP) hav ve criticized the allocation proc cess, reduction n and paymentts of lands and individual titling of lands, sayying these open ned the benefic ciaries to more forms of explo oitative arrange ements. hat of the 3,383 3 farm workers in the six villag ges, only 484 h have not yet sig gned the APFU U. The DAR figures mean th At the rate the activities are a being done,, as requirements for the gen eration of titless called certifica ate of land m workers qua alified to receive e 4,099.91 ha h had been reached, ownership award (CLOA)), almost half of the 6,212 farm R Secretary Virgilio de lo os Reyes said by b telephone o on Wednesday.. Agrarian Reform The 4,915 ha that the Supreme Court had ordered to be b distributed i n its ruling lastt year are now down to 4,099.91 ha, De los Reyes said. He said the e high court de educted the 500 0 ha in Baranga ay Balite that w were sold to the e Rizal Comme ercial Banking C Corp. (RCBC) an nd the 80.15 ha a where a section of the Subic c-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (S SCTEx) was bu uilt. yes said after th he survey, the DAR also excluded the areass used as apprroach of the SC CTEx and for a De los Rey cemetery. The T rest are co ommon areas, like roads, which have also b been excluded from the area tthat would be distributed to farmers. De los Rey yes said the lan nds could not be b sold 10 yearrs after these w were distributed d through agrarrian reform. While the law allows that such type of la ands could be leased out, the e approval of th he Presidential Agrarian Reforrm Council should be soughtt, he said. xt set in Barang gay Mabilog tod day (Thursday,, Aug. 8), Parang on The allocattion of lots and the signing of APFU are nex Aug. 12, Balite on Aug. 15 and Mapalac csiao on Aug. 19. 1
The DAR has posted notices informing that farm workers can still avail themselves of lot allocation certificates and sign APFUs. During the lot allocation in Barangay Lourdes last month, Estelita Bermudo, 65, said she was happy to have a lot that she could call her own but she was at a loss when asked what she would do with her property. “I cannot sell my land within 10 years and they told me that I should till the land. I’m single and sickly and I cannot till the land on my own,” said Bermudo. This instruction, she said, was clear when she signed the APFU. But Bermudo’s nephew, Bernardo Pineda, also a beneficiary, came to her rescue. “We will till the land for her,” he said. Pineda, 42, had worked at the hacienda since he was 15, starting out as a weed clearer and later as sugarcane planter. He said he and 16 of his relatives were given land and they chose to have adjacent lots near the SCTEx. Thus 17 names with respective lot assignments are in their common Lot Allocation Certificate (LAC). Pineda’s group has 11.2 ha to till. Noel Pineda, Lourdes village chief, said they were hoping the government would give farm workers financial assistance to help them start anew. He said the barangay government would ask the National Irrigation Administration to reactivate irrigation in the area so farms would have steady supply of water. With a report from Jo Martinez-Clemente, Inquirer Central Luzon
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Davao launches festival to boost trading in durian By Karlos Manlupig Inquirer Mindanao 8:56 pm | Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
DAVAO CITY—Government agencies and players in the durian industry launched the Kadayawan Durian Festival that would focus on improving the production and marketing of the fruit. This coincides with the city’s celebration of the Kadayawan Festival this month. Remelyn Recoter, agriculture regional director, said the local durian industry is aiming to meet the 1,000-kg daily demand of Singapore by 2017. To meet the demand, local durian farms must produce 10 tons of durian per hectare. The region currently produces only 4.4 tons per hectare. “Singapore wants the products vacuum sealed but they are also interested in importing durian with shells,” Recoter said. Thailand is the biggest competitor of the Philippines in durian production with a capacity of 10 tons per hectare. The Durian Industry Council of Davao City drew up plans to address the needs of the market both locally and internationally. Recoter said one of the plans is to secure budget support to help durian growers through nursery development and regulation and quality control. “We really have to provide funds,” Recoter said. Recoter said an initial P7.6 million was allotted for the durian industry. The Davao region provides 78 percent of total durian supply in the country. At least half of this is produced in Davao City. The rest come from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Sarangani province and Caraga. Larry Miculob, chair of the Durian Industry Council, said the target to produce 10 tons per hectare is attainable. “We have farms in Davao which are already producing 10 tons per hectare. This is doable,” Miculob said. Miculob, however, said the local industry has witnessed a decline in harvest last year. If the objective to increase production by 2017 is attained by the local industry, at least 40 percent of the produce will be exported and is expected to boost the economy in the region. The Kadayawan Durian Festival will be held at the SM Lanang Premier Fountain Court on Aug. 10-25.
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Aquino’s EO 79 cited in bid to save farms from mining Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:55 pm | Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
BAGUIO CITY—President Benigno Aquino III’s mining policy may yet save some gold-rich areas in Benguet from being dug up in a South African firm’s mining venture that is being opposed by a group of indigenous peoples. Richard Kilaan, a lawyer who represents the antimining group Save Mankayan Movement (SMM), said Aquino’s Executive Order No. 79 protects indigenous communities sitting atop a vast gold deposit in Benguet from mining. EO 79 declared farming areas off-limits to mining. Kilaan said the villages of Bulalacao and Tabeo in Mankayan, Benguet, which are in the mining area of Far Southeast Gold Project (FSGP) and its principal Gold Fields Ltd. (GFL), a South African company, are farming communities. Representatives from the two villages boycotted a July 27 assembly of 400 elders, who voted 258 to 51 to allow FSGP and GFL to proceed with its mining operations in Mankayan. Under the Mining Act which is being reviewed by the Supreme Court based on a petition by antimining groups, the consent of indigenous peoples is needed before any mining operation can proceed in areas populated by tribal groups. The Mankayan vote, overseen by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), would allow the gold project to expand in several communities, including Bulalacao and Tabeo. At a news conference here on Thursday, Kilaan said the Bulalacao and Tabeo communities are asking the NCIP to nullify the results of the vote. EO 79 states that prime agricultural lands, agrarian reform lands and strategic agriculture and fisheries development zones being formed by the Department of Agriculture are now no-mining zones, alongside protected ecosystems and areas covered by a National Tourism Development Plan. Sancho Buquing, NCIP Cordillera director, said the agency has not received any formal petition protesting the July 27 assembly, but the votes were valid and the process was aboveboard. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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Peop ple of Guinsa G augon seek s re return o of IRA, record d of ex xistenc ce By Jani Arnnaiz 8:47 pm | Wednesday, W Aug gust 7th, 2013 PHOTO taken t on Feb. 18, 22006 shows soldierrs carrying a body recovered from ton ns of boulderss and mud that burried the village of G Guinsaugon along w with more than 1,00 00 of its residentss. EDWIN BACASM MAS
MAASIN CITY—Bara angay (village) Guinsaugon, S St. Bernard, ern Leyte. Pop ulation: Zero. Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA): Southe Zero. After half h of a mounta ain collapsed a and buried the entire village in n 2006, the governmen nt also virtuallyy erased from itts records the commu unity that once e thrived in Guin nsaugon, a farrming area. For years, residents o of the village w who lived throug gh the tragedy and moved d to another are ea were nonexxistent as far ass government census rec cords are conce erned. Erasing the e people of Guinsaugon from government re ecords could ha ave been done e as simply as tthis—census ta akers visit the lan ndslide site, tak ke a look aroun nd and, finding no house stan nding, write dow wn zero on their population ta ally forms. After seven n years, the pe eople of Guinsa augon may fina ally be able to p put themselves back in official existence. A $27,000 donation was given g to them to t help them bu uild homes, resstore farms and d make govern nment see that there ought is now jus st a graveyard covered by ton ns of boulders, soil and debriss that are people again on whatt many had tho collapsed on o homes and bodies that hav ve never been recovered. The money y would be use ed, according to o village chief Beauty B Cabacu ungan, to resurrvey Guinsaugo on. Cabacunga an said the don nation gave surrvivors of the la andslide, who ccling to their ide entities as the people of Guinsaugo on, hope in reclaiming their farms and their IRA, the village e’s share in nattional income. an said while th he survivors of the landslide kept k returning tto the original vvillage site to fa arm, they had n not Cabacunga been allow wed to build hom mes there. She e is now asking authorities to allow the peop ple to build even shacks on to op of the landslid de site. s are farmers,” Cabacungan said. s “Most of us n, the mayor of St. Bernard, th he donation cam me from variou us sources. The e money is being According to Nap Cuaton held in trus st in bank. Cuaton saiid he would see ek advice from the Mines and d Geosciences Bureau and D Department of In nterior and Loccal Government over Cabacu ungan’s reques st for the people to be allowed d to build housses again where e Guinsaugon originally stood. More than 1,000 people, including more e than 200 child dren trapped in n their classroo oms, had been buried alive wh hen a portion of Mt. M Kan-abag collapsed c after several days of o heavy rains, sending tons o of boulders and d soil hurtling down Guinsaugo on on Feb. 17, 2006. 2 Survivors had h been trans sferred to the viillage of Magba agakay, also in n St. Bernard, n near the boundary of San Jua an town, which refuses to ce ede jurisdiction over the reloca ation site, lead ing to a boundary dispute. Read more e: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net//460837/people e-of-guinsaugo on-seek-return--of-ira-record-o ofexistence# #ixzz2bL8ftmjb Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Posted on August 07, 2013 11:54:13 PM
Gov’t ‘very optimistic’ on growth ECONOMIC GROWTH could top expectations this year but the government is maintaining its 6-7% target given continuing risks, a Cabinet official yesterday said. “For 2013, we are very optimistic that we can go beyond the real GDP (gross domestic product) growth assumption,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said during a presentation on next year’s proposed national budget at the House of Representatives. “But due to domestic and external risks, we prefer to maintain the target,” Mr. Balisacan added as he noted that economic growth was “on track.” First-quarter GDP growth was a surprisingly strong 7.8%. Data for the April-June period will be released at the end of this month. Last year’s 6.8% result exceeded the official 5-6% target. This year’s growth drivers will be varied, Mr. Balisacan said. “In particular, on the production side of the economy, growth will be driven by the following: manufacturing ... buoyed by food manufactures, and the recovery of the semiconductor and electronics industry as the world economy recovers between 2013 and 2014,” he noted. Public and private construction is also expected to remain robust. “Real estate, renting and business activities will continue to post vibrant performance as demand from overseas Filipinos and BPOs (business process outsourcing firms) will continue to drive the sector,” Mr. Balisacan added. Agricultural productivity is likewise expected to improve, buoyed by programs and projects aimed at raising the production of key staples and high-value crops, he said. The government yesterday reported first-semester farm output growth of 1.4%, well below the full-year target of 3-5%. On the demand side, Mr. Balisacan said the economy would be buoyed by higher public construction and investments in power generation, private investments in construction, strong household consumption due to better employment opportunities and increased tourist arrivals. Commodity prices and developments in advanced economies and China could weigh on the full-year outlook, he said. “First, there is the possible spike in commodity prices,” Mr. Balisacan noted, adding that capital flows resulting from economic developments in other countries will likewise have implications on the Philippine economy. Locally, the risks include weather disturbances and delays in the implementation of infrastructure projects. “Let it be noted that we are also on guard to implement the necessary measures to mitigate the risks,” Mr. Balisacan said. “Our goal is to sustain, if not surpass, our growth performance,” he added. “We are positive that we can take advantage of available opportunities, such as improving global economic
environment, particularly the sustained growth in emerging markets, improvement in demographic conditions, increased economic integration of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)... and more financial resources available.” These factors will also buoy growth next year, he claimed. The government has a 6.5-7.5% target. Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad, who also spoke at the House, said the proposed P2.268-trillion spending plan for next year “builds on the administration’s inclusive growth agenda.” “It aims to intensify government delivery of services ... [and] also focuses on creating jobs and livelihood...,” he added. Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, for his part, said continued financial management reforms would allow the government to spend more on social services and infrastructure. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc
Posted on August 07, 2013 11:53:15 PM
Agricultural production dips FARM OUTPUT slipped in the second quarter, weighing down first-half expansion, but the Agriculture department remains confident that the full-year target will be met. The department yesterday reported first semester farm growth of 1.4%, which an official said was the consequence of a 0.02% contraction in the second quarter. The April-June dip was a reversal from the first quarter’s revised 2.99% growth and the similarly restated 0.62% uptick in the same period last year, said Romeo S. Recide, Agriculture assistant secretary and director of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. “Agriculture output was lower in the second quarter because of a drop in the crops sub-sector due to weather-related conditions,” Mr. Recide told reporters at the sidelines of a livestock expo. Results for the period were not immediately available. For January to June, the Agriculture department said the crops subsector -- which accounted for 51.79% of total farm output -- contracted by 0.54%. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said he remained optimistic that the farm sector -- which accounts for about a fifth of gross domestic product -- could still meet the 3-5% growth target for this year. “I’m still hoping that we can achieve the target for this year,” Mr. Alcala said when asked about the goal’s viability, adding that this could be achieved “by improving and providing more agricultural programs”. But economist Rolando T. Dy, executive director of the University of Asia and the Pacific’s Center for Food and Agribusiness, said: “It will be difficult to attain the 3-5% agriculture growth target.” Noting that hitting this would require second quarter growth of around 4-7.5%, Mr. Dy added: “That will be very difficult; let’s just hope there will be no major typhoons.” Production of rice, the country’s main crop, was up 1.34% in the first half. Corn and bananas, the second and third biggest items in terms of value, contracted by 4.19% and 8.82%, respectively. The Agriculture department said it was confident that this year’s rice output target of 20 million metric tons would be met. For corn, the department noted reduced yields due to “moisture stress” in Cagayan Valley and insufficient moisture in Ilocos and Western Visayas. Crop shifting and heavy rains, meanwhile, were blamed in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Typhoons were cited as behind the banana drop, particularly in the Davao, Northern Mindanao, SOCCSKSARGEN and MIMAROPA regions. Livestock, meanwhile, which accounted for 15.53% of total farm output, grew by 2.12% in the first half, led by a 2.36% gain in hog production. Poultry output -- 14.58% of farm output -- grew by 4.39% and fisheries -- with an 18.1% share -- recorded a turnaround to 4.44% growth from last year’s revised 3.17%.
Posted on August 07, 2013 11:52:54 PM
Reserves snap decline, hit $82.9B THE COUNTRY’S reserves picked up in July after a three-month decline, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data released yesterday showed. Gross international reserves (GIR) totalled $82.9 billion as of the end of the month, the central bank said in a statement, up from June’s $81.2 billion. Reserves started the year strong at $85.27 billion before recovering slightly in March. A decline was again recorded in April and continued up to June. The latest GIR level is enough to cover one year’s worth of imports. They were also equivalent to 8.5 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 5.8 times based on residual maturity. The BSP considers the level adequate if it can finance three months’ worth of imports or cover 100% of the country’s foreign liabilities. “The increase in reserves was due mainly to inflows from the foreign exchange operations of the BSP, revaluation gains on the BSP’s gold holdings and foreign currency-denominated reserves, net foreign currency deposits by the Treasurer of the Philippines which included proceeds of a program loan from a multilateral institution, and income from investments abroad of the BSP,” the central bank said in a statement. “These inflows were partially offset by the payments for maturing foreign exchange obligations of the National Government,” it added. The GIR is comprised of central bank assets held in different currencies, gold and special drawing rights, as well as the foreign exchange deposits of the government and other state-run firms. It indicates a country’s capability to pay for imports and service foreign debts. The BSP, which currently expects reserves to hit $87 billion this year, is looking to adjust this target. -ARRG
Posted on August 07, 2013 10:09:12 PM
Peso dives with most of Asia THE PESO weakened against the dollar for the second straight day yesterday as corporate demand weighed on the trading session. The local currency dropped 15 centavos to close at P43.69 per dollar yesterday against its P43.54-per-dollar finish the day before. It has shed a total of 22 centavos since Monday when it closed at P43.47 to the dollar. “Corporate demand caused the peso to decline against the dollar yesterday,” a trader said in a phone interview yesterday. Another trader held the same view, saying, “Banks took short dollar positions as companies purchased the dollar to settle their offshore obligations.” Speculators were observed taking short dollar positions ahead of the long weekend since the stock and foreign exchange markets are closed on Friday to mark the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. The local currency is expected to weaken further on dollar bids from local importers next week. “After the weekend, I am expecting some corporate dollar demand to start to come out,” a trader said. Dollars traded yesterday totaled $680.70 million, higher than the $620.90 million on Tuesday. The peso is seen trading within the P43.60- to P43.80-per-dollar range today. The Indian rupee led declines among emerging Asian currencies despite the dollar’s broad weakness as regional shares fell to their lowest in a month amid worries over when the US Federal Reserve will start scaling back stimulus. The rupee fell on dollar demand from importers, while the Thai baht hit a one-month low on fears of political unrest. The South Korean won dipped as foreign investors continued to sell Seoul stocks. The Malaysian ringgit, along with the peso, slid as investors cut bullish bets before the long weekend. Such weakness came even as the dollar slid against major currencies, hitting a six-week low against the yen. “Despite the broad dollar’s softness, Asian currencies may continue to remain under the weather if the equity backdrop is still deemed less than encouraging,” OCBC Bank said in a client note. “Regional currencies may remain burdened by the relative underperformance of emerging market economies relative to developed economies and with net portfolio inflows into the region somewhat hesitant,” it added. -- ARRG with Reuters
Posted on August 07, 2013 10:36:56 PM
IRR for Mindanao gensets released THE ENERGY department issued yesterday the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the government’s modular generator program for power distributors in Mindanao. President Benigno S. C. Aquino III last month issued Executive Order (EO) 137, establishing the Mindanao Modular Gensets (generating sets) Program for a loan facility that Mindanao electric cooperatives (ECs) can tap to acquire gensets. The said program was set up “to provide the needed additional power supply to electricity end-users in Mindanao.” The generators are expected to augment the demand for power in Mindanao at least until 2015, or when new power plants are expected to start operations. Consultations were held early this year to address the power problem in Mindanao, with the Energy department eventually recommending the purchase of 199 modular diesel-fed generators for Mindanao ECs. The Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, however, prohibits the government from buying additional generating capacity unless the existing law is amended. As a stopgap measure, EO 137 provided ECs with financing options so that they can purchase the needed generators. For the program, the EO has directed the Budget department to release P4.5 billion, which will be sourced from the Malampaya fund. The Energy department has been tasked by the EO to issue the IRR, released yesterday as Department Circular No. DC 2013-08-0019. The genset program is “to provide an immediate relief or an alternative measure to supply the needed power in each of the franchised areas of the ECs in Mindanao while power generation projects are still under various development stages,” the circular read. Under the program, EC management can either retain the gensets or return them to the government when the power supply situation in Mindanao eases. The IRR further states that a loan facility is open to all Mindanao ECs that decide to acquire the gensets. It has an interest rate of 6% or less, and loans will be released to those who can secure gensets within three months or less. The circular added that participating ECs must execute a loan agreement with the National Electrification Administration (NEA), which in turn should have Energy department-approved templates of the agreement. To acquire gensets, “participating ECs or AMRECO (Association of Mindanao Electric Cooperatives) may resort to other methods of procurement apart from bidding; provided that such method shall meet the standards of competitive selection process of NEA,” or the Energy department, the circular stated. “For this purpose, the NEA shall require the presence of its representatives and that of the Energy department, in the conduct of all processes relating to the acquisition of modular gensets by the participating ECs,” the issuance read.
As for cost recovery, ECs that avail of the program should be responsible for the operation and maintenance of gensets, either through a third party or by their own administration. “The NEA shall assist the ECs in the preparation and filing of the petition before the Energy Regulatory Commission for the cost recovery,” the circular added. The Energy department also tasked NEA to develop a plan for the disposal of returned gensets, with a priority given to National Power Corp.’s Small Power Utilities Group areas. The NEA was also directed to submit a quarterly report on the implementation of the program. The report must include details on the beneficiaries and amounts of actual use and disbursements. The circular will be effective 15 days after publication or within the month. -- Claire-Anne Marie C. Feliciano
Posted on August 07, 2013 10:34:04 PM
Debt cap bill filed in Senate A MEASURE to set a maximum limit for government debt has been filed in the Senate to prevent potential adverse effects of such debt on economic activity. Senate Bill No. 627 or the proposed Government Indebtedness Act of 2013 would “put a cap on the indebtedness of the government at 60% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” Senator Ralph G. Recto said in his explanatory note. “The country’s total outstanding debt as of 2012 is P5.4 trillion, of which P3.4 trillion is domestic and P2.0 trillion is foreign,” Mr. Recto noted, adding that the total outstanding debt continues to rise due to the government’s failure to meet revenue targets and manage fiscal position. The huge budget deficit of the country results in “relentless borrowing” to bankroll infrastructure projects and services, Mr. Recto said. “[For the] years 2000-2006, the debt-to-GDP ratio of the Philippines stood at 60.5%, 61.3%, 67.1%, 73.8%, 74.4%, 68.5% and 61.4%, respectively,” the senator emphasized. “Though the debt-to-GDP ratio already went down to 51.4% in 2012, the proposed cap will simply secure the prevention of potential negative impacts of high public debt on economic activity.” Figures cited by Mr. Recto were culled from the national government debt indicators posted on the Bureau of the Treasury Web site. According to Section 3 of the said bill, the debt ceiling may be temporarily breached when there are extraneous factors beyond control, including catastrophic emergencies of national proportion, upon the declaration of the President and consultation with the two chambers of Congress. Mr. Recto cited an International Monetary Fund working paper, “External Debt, Public Investment, and Growth in Low-Income Countries,” to point out that “higher debt service crowds out public investments.” “If [debt is] left uncontrolled, the public debt can balloon to a magnitude that can wreak havoc on the fiscal balance,” Mr. Recto continued. According to Section 6 of the bill, at the end of every quarter, the Finance Secretary shall submit to Congress a written report on the fiscal position and the modes of financing that the government has undertaken. “Setting limits to borrowings will provide opportunities for better prioritization of programs and projects as it has to spend within available resources,” Mr. Recto said. --K.T. de Villa
Farm plague turns into P517-M export commodity August 7, 2013 7:15 pm
by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ Two years following massive invasion of rice eels in some provinces of Region 2, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is now eyeing its full utilization as an export-quality fish commodity. In a statement, BFAR Director Asis Perez said that they have initiated the development and processing of the rice eel (Monopterus albus) into a value-added product. Perez said that BFAR Region 2 has also developed an efficient and environment-friendly fishing gear, which enabled farmers to increase the catch per unit effort by taking advantage of the nocturnal hunting behavior of the animal. “These initial efforts combined with the entrepreneurial skill of several international fish trading companies that are now exporting the fish live in Asian countries, have turned this pest into valuable fish,” Perez said. The rice eel, locally known as “kiwet,” has been a predicament of rice farmers and fishpond operators of the said region, particularly in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino since 2011. These non-indigenous fish species, which grows 25cm to 40cm into adulthood, reportedly destroys rice paddies by burrowing themselves in the soil, loosening its composition and causing water irrigation to leak off. Like another invasive species, the knife fish, the rice eel is also a voracious predator, which feeds on frogs, snail eggs including other fishes and shrimps, thereby posing a serious threat to the country’s native fish species. Its origin remains unclear up to now. Reports, however, have indicated that while the common eel is native to the Philippines, the “kiwet” might have been introduced here from abroad for commercial breeding for home aquariums and eel farms for food. Two years following its massive invasion, the country is now profiting greatly from the said fish species, bringing in an estimated amount of P517 million in export value from January to June this year. Current projection indicates that indicates that Region 2 alone is likely to produce over P1 billion worth of export at the end of 2013. Perez said that the BFAR is currently conducting an inventory of areas where rice eels reportedly thrive as it plans to implement in these areas the same government intervention. But he stressed that the bureau is not and will not be promoting the transfer or introduction of rice eels in other parts of the country pending appropriate scientific evaluation. “At the moment, our action is confined to making the best and most beneficial use of rice eel in places where its current population exists,” Perez said.
3 WV ISLANDS TO BE TIED TO NEW TOURISM PRODUCT August 7, 2013 7:11 pm
by LYDIA C. PENDON ILOILO CITY: Three islands in Western Visayas will be interconnected through a new tourism product “Cruise and Drive Tour” by the Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office. Foreign and domestic tourists will be inspired to try this new escapade to visit and see the islands of Panay, Guimaras and Negros using the roll-on roll-off (roro) vessels to carry the tourists’ cars, rented vans and tour buses driven on and off the ship. DOT Reg. Dir. Helen Catalbas admitted that she is negotiating with the roro ship management of FF Cruz and Montenegro Lines to reduce their fare rates of P400 per vehicle round trip to Guimaras and back to the city.
P1B UP FOR WVISAYAS TOURISM INFRASTRUCTURES August 7, 2013 7:11 pm
by LYDIA C. PENDON ILOILO CITY: Western Visayas will have a share of P1 billion from the P12-billion budget the Department of Budget and Management set aside for tourism infrastructures and road projects leading to tourist destinations and facilities. The Department of Tourism has worked out a convergence program with at least 10 government agencies by conducting consultations with stakeholders in the different provinces and cities of the region starting this month including a convergence program with the Department of Interior and Local Government through consultations specifically with newly elected officials such as governors, congressmen and mayors of the region.
The ve eneer of a ‘robus st economy’ is be eginning g to crack August 7, 2013 2 11:10 pm
by BEN D. D KRITZ
Ben B D. Kritz
Here are two interestingly contradictory headlin nes that appe eared about a month apa art on the Philippine e Star’s webs site, philstar.c com:—“Econ nomic boom spreads wea alth wider in tthe Philippine es” (written by b Associated d Press string ger Teresa Cerojano C on JJuly 4). “Local ex xecs face empty coffers” (written ( by Ph hilstar reporte er Michael P Punongbayan n and posted this past Mon nday, August 5). Media ob bservers outs side the country have for some s time viiewed the Ph hilippine econ nomy under tthe stewardship of President Benigno Aquino 3rd with w a mixturre of bemuse ement and co oncern. By th he conventio onal measure es used to prrovide a snap pshot of any economy, th he Philippiness is indeed do oing well. After an anemic start, gross domestic d pro oduct (GDP) g growth has e exceeded mo ost expectatio ons during Prresident Aquino’s term; th he local stock k market—wh hich still prim marily reflectss the performance of local co orporations, despite all th he focus on fo oreign equityy investmentss, or “hot mo oney”—has been performin ng very well, and significa antly, has app parently corre ected itself frrom an overh heated level in a reasonab bly controlled manner; and d other indica ators such ass the debt-to o-GDP ratio a and the inflatiion rate have e remained att levels that seem s normal. These go ood indicators s, however, exist e side-by--side with oth her ones thatt would ordin narily paint a very different picture—a p ra ate of poverty y incidence th hat is growing g faster than n the income gap, and persistent unemploym ment. For outs side observe ers and peop ple living in th his economy alike, someth hing seems just a bit off, but an explana ation of whatt the problem m is or what itts likely impa act will be is elusive. My M own large ely middle-cla ass neighborhood just outtside Metro M Manila is a pe erfect examp ple of the apparrent paradox x. In the past two years, th here has bee en visible eco onomic growtth: Two new shopping malls, one already a open and one due e to be comp pleted in a mo onth or so, h have been bu uilt from the ground g up, as a well as one e major supe ermarket and d perhaps a d dozen or so ssmaller mixed d-use commerc cial centers. Against A this backdrop, b ho owever, it is h hard to find p people who are not complaining that they are in some way worse off o financiallyy than they w were in the re ecent past; att best, fam milies (like min ne, for instan nce) are findin ng they are n needing to ap pply income that was oncce disposal to t basic need ds. The trend d cannot be dismissed d as s an overly pe essimistic pu ublic mood, e either, becausse the subtle e signs of a downturn are all around d. Parents pic cking up theirr children fro om the local sschool now
outnumber nannies and hired drivers, and according to the frustrated school administrator, the number of parents paying their children’s periodic tuition and fees due this past week in full has, for the first time he could recall, been exceeded by the number making requests for partial or delayed payment arrangements. In our village (which is considered relatively well-off by local standards), there is, for the first time in the several years we’ve lived there, no ongoing construction. People are feeling the pinch, but that reality has been plastered over by a shiny layer of positive macro indicators until now. But there are big cracks beginning to show. The Philstar article of August 5 revealed that several local government units—the article specifically mentions the provinces of Cebu and Misamis Oriental and the City of Manila—are in tough fiscal positions, implying that newly elected officials in those places inherited financial problems from previous administrations. Cebu is said to have debts approaching P800 million, while Misamis Oriental is in the red by nearly P600 million, and Manila a whopping P3.5 billion according to Mayor Joseph Estrada. In reality, the financial problems of local government units are widespread; some are very healthy, of course, but a surprising number are not, and not all of them have previous administrations of opposing political parties they can blame for it. The recent (and still ongoing) financial crisis involving the Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco), which resulted in the entire province’s electricity being cut off for a couple days last week, has inadvertently provided some further evidence of tough financial realities underlying the Philippine economy’s shiny exterior. Apart from Aleco, whose debts are estimated to be around P4 billion, Olongapo City is under threat of disconnection for outstanding power bills of between P2 billion and P5 billion (the amount is under dispute); among the 119 electric cooperatives in the country, others with critically high outstanding debts include the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (P847 million), the Basilan Electric Cooperative (P205 million) and the Aklan Electric Cooperative (P110 million). The debts are in most cases a double threat, because they include not only payments to the National Power Corp. for electricity purchases, but also payments for loans obtained from the National Electrification Administration (NEA). The scale of financial difficulties for institutions and families alike cannot be explained away by irresponsibility or bad management though in light of the recent scandals that have erupted (i.e., the alleged bribery solicitation from a prospective bidder for Metro Rail Transit equipment and the rapidly growing “pork barrel” scandal), it would appear an attempt to whitewash the problems with exactly those excuses might be underway—a suspicion that is only strengthened by the administrationcontrolled legislature’s pointed refusal to look into what may be, if true, a systematic plunder of the country rivaling the Marcos years. But even if the “pork barrel” scandal were actually several orders of magnitude bigger than what is alleged to be, it will still be a very small part—a note in an entire symphony, as it were—of the overall economic picture. And that picture, despite the Aquino administration’s best efforts at image management, is becoming increasingly discouraging.
Agriculture output grows 1.44 percent in first half August 7, 2013 8:56 pm
by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ REPORTER
The country’s agriculture sector grew by 1.44 percent in first half of 2013 on the back of stronger production in the fisheries, poultry and livestock subsectors, the Department of Agriculture reported on Wednesday. In a press conference, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the total gross value of various agricultural products reached P697.2 billion in January to June 2013, an increase of 1.44 percent higher based on constant prices, or 0.88 percent based on current prices. He attributed the first-half growth to the fisheries subsector, which increased 4.44 percent during the period. The subsector, which contributed 18.1 percent to the total agriculture output, has started to rebound as a result of sustainable production and conservation initiatives during the last three years—including the strict implementation of three-month closed fishing season in Zamboanga and Visayan seas. To recall, the fisheries subsector contracted by 3.17 percent during the first half of 2012. On the other hand, the crop subsector suffered a 0.54-percent drop to P357.1 billion in the first six months of 2013 due to the massive reduction in corn output in the second quarter. At current prices, crops output, which contributed 51.79 percent of the total agriculture production, was lower by 4.30 percent from last year’s level. For the first half, palay (paddy or unmilled rice) production reached 8 million metric tons (MT), or 1.34 percent higher from last year’s 7.89 million MT. At current prices, the value of palay reached P129 billion. “We are confident that we could attain 100-percent sufficiency in rice by end of the year,” Alcala said, adding that the agriculture department will continue to beef up delivery of irrigation, quality seeds, postharvest and marketing assistance to farmers. Corn production, on the other hand, reached 3.323 million MT in January to June 2013, or 4.19 percent lower from the 3.468 million MT in 2012. “There are significant reduction in harvest area in Cagayan Valley, ARMM [Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao], Ilocos Region and Western Visayas during the period. Also, there was recorded reduction in yield caused by moisture stress during the reproductive stage of the crop,” he said. In the second quarter of 2013 alone, the value of palay production reached P33.98 billion, or a contraction of 1.85 percent from the P34.62 billion of 2012; while corn also contacted by 25.92 percent to P7.32 billion from P9.88 billion last year.
Meanwhile, the poultry and livestock sectors posted positive gains with 4.39 percent and 2.12 percent, respectively. The combined gains of both sectors contributed to about 30 percent to total farm production, grossing P86.4 billion and P111.8 billion, respectively
Palace pleased with S&P’s report on PH August 7, 2013 8:55 pm
by CATHERINE S. VALENTE REPORTER
Malacañang on Wednesday said that it was pleased with the report by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) citing that “the Philippines is now the leader in terms of growth among the major economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [Asean].” “If you compare the economy to a pie, we are very pleased that international media, and also ourselves, we recognize that the pie has grown,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press conference. But, the Aquino government, he said, wants to ensure inclusive growth amid the country’s economic gains and various achievements. “Are we happy with it on that level? We’re happy that the pie has grown—has grown bigger,” Lacierda said, adding that, “But it’s also important for us to ensure that more people get a slice of the pie, that’s what we call inclusive growth.” The Palace official cited President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s statement during his fourth State of the Nation Address, assuring that all Filipino citizens will “hopefully profit” from these economic gains. In a report released Monday, the S&P, which has upgraded the Philippines to investment grade, said that the country has taken over the Asean growth leadership role from Indonesia. The Philippine economy is projected to grow by 6.9 percent this year, faster than other Asean economies, it said. S&P sees Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP) to grow 6.1 percent; Vietnam, 5.3 percent and Malaysia, 5.3 percent. The Philippine growth forecast is higher than that for China at 7.3 percent. GDP is the final amount of goods and services produced in a country for a year.
Market flat on day one of ‘ghost month’ August 7, 2013 8:53 pm
by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR Philippine shares capped Wednesday with almost zero gains, as the so-called “ghost month,” when Oriental investors traditionally avoid doing major investments decisions, officially started. The ghost month, which began on Wednesday and will last until September 4, overlaps with Western summer holidays. This concurrence usually results in thin regional trade. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) barely moved with 0.01-point gain toward 6,420.79, while the wider all-shares index gathered only 1.28 points, or 0.03 percent to 3,923.56. Also, all the sectoral indices concluded Wednesday’s session flat, with holding firms falling by 0.78 percent, or 45.93 points to 5,808.52. Property managed to gain 0.94 percent, or 23.09 points to 2,490.05, followed by mining and oil, which went up a bit by 0.40 percent, or 58.37 points to 14,487.01. Industrial followed with 0.33-percent increase, or 31.81 points to close at 9,616.43, while services only accumulated 1.14 points, or 0.06 percent to 2,031.55. The financials counter was flat with a 0.02-percent gain, or 0.32 points to 1,538.38. Total value turnover went even thinner at P4.9 billion, with advancers edging decliners, 69 to 49. Fifty-one issues were unchanged. The top 10 actively traded stocks on Wednesday were SM Investments Corp., Ayala Land Inc., Alliance Global Group Inc., SM Prime Holdings Inc., Universal Robina Corp., Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co., Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Manila Electric Co., Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Security Bank. “Will the ‘ghost’ trump earnings? This appears to be one question that now bugs investors heading into mid-August. A good number of companies have already reported their second-quarter and firsthalf numbers and the results have been consistent with expectations,” Jun Calaycay, Accord Capital Equities Corp. analyst, said the previous day. “Yet the market continues to trek south, apparently sharing in the prevailing pessimism felt across the region as China’s debt burden looms large,” he added.
Turkish group hits USWA on flour issue August 7, 2013 8:53 pm
by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ The Turkish Flour Yeast and Ingredients (TFYI) Promotion Group on Wednesday refuted the “false and baseless” allegations of the US Wheat Associates (USWA), the market development organization of the US wheat industry, against Turkish flour exporters in light of the ongoing antidumping investigation on the commodity. In a statement, TFYI Chairman Turgay Unlu said that the United States (US), through its Department of Trade, previously ruled that the Turkish Inward Processing Regime (IPR) is not a form of subsidy. “It is practiced and known globally as the Duty-Drawback system, and complies with the rules established by the World Trade Organization [WTO],” Unlu said. The group chairman also asserted that USWA is neither a counter party to the investigation nor a WTO representative, and as such, is not authorized to make definitive opinions on the issue. Unlu also said that their group is in the process of preparing a detailed report on the matter. Earlier, the Washington-based export market development organization USWA hit Turkish government policies, which “encourage” flour dumping in the Philippines. Joseph Sowers, USWA assistant regional director for South Asia, said that the Turkish government employs a complex, inward processing scheme that creates disruptive incentives to its milling industry to export flour regardless of price. “Public price information from the Polati grain exchange shows that flour prices in Turkey are significantly more expensive than their export prices,” Sowers said in statement relayed through the Philippine Association of Flour Millers (Pafmil). In fact, the official said that export prices for Turkish flour are even less than the market price its millers must pay to buy wheat to make its flour, in part because the Turkish government sets artificially high support prices for its wheat farmers while currently imposing a 130-percent duty on imported wheat. “These facts offer strong justification for the Philippine government to protect the Philippines’ flour milling industry from such unfair competition,” Sowers said. But TFYI Promotion Group has denied allegations of unfair trade made by local flour millers against wheat flour from Turkey. Also, TFYI highlighted the role of Turkish flour in the Philippines, saying that this raw material has allowed many small- and medium-scale enterprises to survive amid increasing production and operating costs. TFYI member Hakan Esen said that Turkish flour is reasonably priced because of a number of factors such as the economies of scale at Turkish mills, the country’s strategic location, accessibility to wheat, and the practice of the duty-drawback system. He noted that the dynamics of the Turkish market and those of their international buyers are varied.
Â BIR files tax evasion raps on 3 businessmen By Jun Ramirez Published: August 8, 2013
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) filed on Thursday separate tax evasion charges against three business executives for allegedly cheating in their income and business tax payments totaling to more than P24 million. In criminal complaints filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ), BIR Commissioner Kim S. JacintoHenares identified the accused as Rovic Empleo, owner of the Consolacion Manpower Consultant Services of Consolation, Cebu; Eduardo de Guzman. proprietor of Eduardo's Auto Electrical Shop and Guzten Enterprises of La Huerta, Paranaque, and Lorenza David Huang, distributor of various insurance products of Holy Spirit, Quezon City. The BIR chief said Empleo declared in 2005 gross earnings of only P761,000, but information supplied by her clients showed she received more than P10 million, thus evading payment of taxes amounting to P11.8 million including interest and the 50 percent surcharge. The case against De Guzman arose from his alleged refusal to settle P3.5 million in deficiency taxes for the year 2006. On the other hand, Huang allegedly tried to hide her P11.5 million income payments received from various clients in 2009 and 2010 by declaring gross earnings of only P7.9 mimillion. The latest complaints brought to 181 the number of criminal cases submitted to the DOJ under the under run-after-tax-evaders (RATE) program of Ms. Henares.
Solon wants local NIA officials fired Published: August 8, 2013
LAOANG, Northern Samar â€“ Rep. Emil L. Ong of the National Unity Party from the Second District of Northern Samar has asked President Benigno S. Aquino III to fire officials of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in the local levels saying that they too are to be blamed for the poor performance of their agency. Ong said that while he was pleased that former NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel already left the agency, President Aquino should also fire local officials who share the blame for the agency's dismal performance. "I ask President Aquino to fire also local officials of NIA as they are part and parcel of the poor performance of their agency," Ong stressed. Ong said he will soon make a privilege speech in Congress regarding the poor performance of NIA in Northern Samar. He said the NIA almost spent P3-billion for its Help Catubig Agricultural Advancement Project (HCAAP), an irrigation project that was a big failure as the foreign contractor backed out and abandoned the project, he added. (Nestor L.Abrematea)
Abad: No wage hike for state workers By Charissa M. Luci Published: August 8, 2013
Manila, Philippines --- Government employees should not expect another round of salary increase this year, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said yesterday. In yesterday’s House Committee on Appropriations’ deliberation on Malacañang’s proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014, Abad said there will be no salary increase since the fourth phase of the Salary Standardization Law III (SSL 3) was just concluded last year. “We just finished the fourth phase of the Salary Standardization Law. We need some time to get the whole process and determine the impact of the law,” he told Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio if public workers could brace for another round of salary increase this year. Quoting the paper made by Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Tinio said the SSL 3 boosted the country’s gross domestic product, made the inflation neutral and lowered the unemployment rate. When pressed again if DBM has plan to implement salary hike, Abad said: “We have to look at the impact of new round and the DBM is doing survey.” The SSL was first signed in 1989, followed in 1994, and 2009. Several measures pushing for salary increase of state workers were filed in the House of Representatives.
Taiwan ministry calls for lifting of sanctions against Manila By AFP Published: August 7, 2013
Taipei - Taiwan's foreign ministry said Wednesday it would push for the lifting of sanctions against the Philippines after Manila recomended homicide charges in a shooting case that severely strained ties. Calling Manila's move a ''constructive response'', the ministry said it would recommend the Taipei government improve relations, including lifting sanctions imposed after the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine coastguard. In a separate move Taiwanese prosecutors on Wednesday charged eight Filipino coastguard personnel with homicide following the killing in May. The indictment was considered symbolic as it is unlikely that the Philippines will allow the accused to be tried in Taiwan due to the lack of formal diplomatic ties. ''The Philippine coastguard illegally chased an unarmed fishing boat for 75 minutes and fired more than 100 shots at it, which was clearly not proper defence ... and with an intent to kill,'' prosecutors said in a statement. Among the eight charged with murder are the commanding officer Arnold dela Cruz and seaman first class Edrano Aguila, who was found to have fired the M14 rifle that killed the 65-year-old fisherman. Taiwan's indictment came on the same day as Philippine Justice Department investigators recommended homicide charges against the eight coastguard personnel. The incident happened in waters near a Philippine island that Taiwan also claims as part of its economic zone. Taiwan reacted furiously, announcing a ban on the hiring of new workers from the Philippines and suspending official trade and academic exchanges. The two sides later swapped teams of investigators following weeks of acrimony over the death.
Development of Metro Cavite seen By Anthony Giron Published: August 8, 2013
TRECE MARTIRES CITY, Cavite — Officials welcomed various government infrastructure projects for Cavite, saying that it will boost the province’s economy, the tourism and transportation sectors, and provide other social benefits to residents. Some officials foresee the province becoming “Metro Cavite” or a virtual extension of Metro Manila in the future with the ongoing national developments in the seven districts of the province. Cavite, the so-called “Historical Capital of the Philippines,” is the country’s most densely populated province with an estimated 3.8 million residents in the turf which comprises six cities and 17 municipalities. A report said that Cavite is an area most frequented by both local and foreign tourists, considering its proximity to Metro Manila. The province has also a big economic zone among the provinces in Region IV-A (Calabarzon or Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal area) and Southern Luzon. In an interview, Vice Governor and Sangguniang Panglalawigan (Provincial Board) Presiding Officer Ramon Jolo Revilla III said that he foresees the province becoming “Metro Cavite” in the future with the road and Light Rail Transit (LRT) projects intended for the area.
Key points in GM food debate Published: August 8, 2013
Washington (AP) â€“ One of the biggest stumbling blocks to securing a massive free trade agreement between the United States and Europe is a sharp disagreement on genetically modified (GM) foods. Much of the corn, soybean, sugar beets and cotton cultivated in the United States today contains plants whose DNA was manipulated in labs to resist disease and drought, ward off insects and boost the food supply. Though common in the U.S., they are largely banned in the 28-nation European Union. Washington wants Europe to ease restrictions on imports of GMO foods, but the EU is skeptical they are safe. Intense emotions on both sides of the divide make it difficult to separate between strongly held belief and science. Here is a look at key points in the debate. Safe or unsafe? Most studies show GM foods are safe for human consumption, though it is widely acknowledged that the long-term health effects are unknown. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has generally recognized GM crops as safe and the World Health Organization (WHO) has said no ill health effects have resulted on the international market. Opponents on both sides of the Atlantic say there has been inadequate testing and regulation. They worry that people who eat GM foods may be more prone to allergies or diseases resistant to antibiotics. But they have been hard pressed to show scientific studies to back up those fears. GM foods have been a mainstay in the U.S. for more than a decade. Most of the crops are used for animal feed or in common processed foods such as cookies, cereal, potato chips and salad dressing. Europe largely bans genetically engineered foods and has strict requirements on labeling them. They do allow the import of a number of GM crops such as soy, mostly for animal feed and individual European countries have opted to plant GM crops. Genetically engineered corn is grown in Spain, though it amounts to only a fraction of European farmland. The American Medical Association favors mandatory, pre-market safety testing, something that has not been required by U.S. regulators. The WHO and the U.N. food agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization, say the safety of GM foods must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Can GM food help combat world hunger? By 2050, the world's population is projected to rise to 9 billion from just over 7 billion currently. Proponents of GM foods say they are safe and can boost harvests even in bad conditions by protecting against pests, weeds and drought. This, they argue, will be essential to meeting the needs of a booming population in decades to come and avoiding starvation.
US climate report card: more warming Published: August 8, 2013
Washington (AP) – A new massive United States study says the world in 2012 sweltered with continued signs of climate change. Rising sea levels, snow melt, heat buildup in the oceans, and melting Arctic sea ice and Greenland ice sheets, all broke or nearly broke records, but temperatures only sneaked into the top 10. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday issued a peer-reviewed 260-page report, which agency chief Kathryn Sullivan calls its annual ``checking on the pulse of the planet.'' The report, written by 384 scientists around the world, compiles data already released, but it puts them in context of what's been happening to Earth over decades. “It's critically important to compile a big picture,'' National Climatic Data Center director Tom Karl says. “The signs that we see are of a warming world.'' Sullivan says what is noticeable “are remarkable changes in key climate indicators,'' mentioning dramatic spikes in ocean heat content, a record melt of Arctic sea ice in the summer, and whopping temporary melts of ice in most of Greenland last year. The data also shows a record-high sea level. The most noticeable and startling changes seen were in the Arctic, says report co-editor Deke Arndt, climate monitoring chief at the data center. Breaking records in the Arctic is so common that it is becoming the new normal, says study co-author Jackie Richter-Menge of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers' Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory. Karl says when looked at together, all the indicators show a climate that is changing over the decades. Individually, however, the story isn't as simple. Karl says surface temperatures haven't risen in the last 10 years, but he notes that is only a blip in time due to natural variability. When looking at more scientifically meaningful time frames of 30 years, 50 years and more than 100 years, temperatures are rising quite a bit, Karl said. Since records have been kept in 1880, all 10 of the warmest years ever have been in the past 15 years, NOAA records show. Depending on which of four independent analyses are used, 2012 ranked the eighth or ninth warmest year on record, the report says. Last year was warmer than every year in the previous century, except for 1998 when a record El Nino spiked temperatures globally. NOAA ranks 2010 as the warmest year on record. They don't have to be records every year, Karl says. Overall the climate indicators ``are all singing the same song that we live in a warming world,'' Arndt says. ``Some indicators take a few years off from their increase. The system is telling us in more than one place we're seeing rapid change.'' While the report purposely doesn't address why the world is warming, ``the causes are primarily greenhouse gases, the burning of fossil fuels,'' Arndt says. The study is being published in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
PH hosts 1st ASEAN Agri, Biosystems Engineering Confab Published: August 8, 2013
The Philippines will host the First Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Conference on Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ACABE) on September 24-26, 2013 at the historic landmark Manila Hotel. This is in preparation for the establishment of ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 specifically the implementation of ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Engineering Services-Agricultural Engineering Services, ASEAN Qualification Framework and Strategic Plan of Action on Food Security and Climate Change Mitigation in ASEAN. The Philippines hosting of ACABE was presented by the Board of Agricultural Engineering during the 20th Meeting of ASEAN Chartered Professional Engineer Coordinating Committee (ACPECC) and the Business Services Sectoral Working Group at the 73rd Meeting of the Coordinating Committee on Services (CSS) last May 4-5, 2013 in Brunei Darussalam. With the theme “ Integrating Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in the ASEAN for Food Security, Climate Change Mitigation and Global Practice,” the conference will lay the groundwork for the mobility of agricultural engineering services in ASEAN that will help achieve long-term competitiveness of ASEAN’s food, agriculture and forestry products/ commodities. Participants are agricultural engineers, government officials, researchers, policy nakers, academicians and practitioners on agricultural and biosystems engineering and suppliers/distributors of agricultural machineries in ASEAN, specifically from Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Each of participating countries will present its Country Report on Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. The conference is organized by the Board of Agricultural Engineering of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), Philippine Society of Agricultural Engineers and National Agricultural and Fishery Council of Department of Agriculture in coordination with various departments. The International Commission on Agricultural Engineering (CIGR) and Asian Association and Agricultural Engineering (AAAE) support the holding of the conference and will send their delegates. The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the newly-enacted Agricultural and Fishery Mechanization (AFMech Law) or Republic act 10601 will be launched by the Department of Agriculture during the conference. For information, contact the Board of Agricultural Engineering, PRC, at email email@example.com or Engr. Francia Macalintal, National Agricultural and Fishery Council at (02) 9201788
Renewable Energy major PH program Published: August 8, 2013
The administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III has significantly advanced the country’s clean and sustainable energy program. Former senator Heherson T. Alvarez, now Commissioner of the Climate Change Commission, made this response to Greenpeace’s statement issued on July 29 expressing disappointment on the President’s statement on coal-driven energy during his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA). Alvarez said the PNoy administration is pursuing a two-track energy program – first, an expedient program based on coal and fossil fuels to sustain high economic growth rate and, second, a strategy of developing clean energy sources that could ultimately displace fossil fuels. Alvarez said the Philippines is the leading user of renewable energy in Asia. “While our power plant base loads are still reliant on hydrocarbons, renewable energy in the country’s diversified energy mix is registering a significant and growing share” he noted. Stressing that increasingly broader reliance on renewable energy is the goal, Alvarez said economic realities dictate the expedient use of hydrocarbons for power generation as the Philippines strives for stability and growth. “Without a measured shift to alternative energy, the Philippine economy would definitely be set back since green technologies cannot yet compete with fossil fuel prices which do not reflect the heavy costs of pollution and environmental destruction,” Alvarez said. Alvarez cited key programs mandated by the President, as chair of the Climate Change Commission (CCC), through three resolutions issued recently to the CCC: Resolution No. 5 - Reinforcing public-private collaboration on sustainable development; Resolution No. 6 - Launching a low-to-zero carbon program for a sustainable power; and, Resolution No. 7 - Approving a mitigation program which will cut black carbon in urban areas. Alvarez also credited the President for the development of 18 major river basins as a priority program to exploit the electric-generation potential of rivers. This is also a long-term adaptation program to arrest the destructive impact of climate change, promote sustainable development, and reverse the destruction of riverine ecosystems and biodiversity.
Palace, PNP downplay situation to avoid panic By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Aug. 08, 2013 at 12:03am | 518 views In an attempt to avert panic among the populace, Malacanang said that there was no need to declare a state of emergency in Mindanao despite a spate of bombings that continue to rock the region, including six separate blasts on Wednesday. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda assured the public that the government was doing its best to exhaust all efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. “The government is well aware of the incident and we would like to assure the public that government will intensify all its efforts to identify the perpetrators,” Lacierda said. In other developments: • The Interior and Local Government Department and the National Police, meanwhile, admitted that they still had no clue on who are behind the series of bombings as they press on their probe on the incidents. • The police also allayed fears that the bombings would spread to Metro Manila, even if two separate bomb threats – which turned to be hoaxes — hit the Court of Appeals and the Justice Department. Lacierda said that concerned government agencies were on top of the situation in all bombings, including the latest blast that injured seven soldiers in Bgy. Nabunda, Sherrif Saydona Mustapha in Maguindanao early Wednesday. President Benigno Aquino III, apparently in an effort to downplay fears that the bombings in Mindanao would spread to other parts of the country, would push through with his trip to Davao today (Wednesday) to attend the 22 Mindanao Business conference, where he was scheduled to deliver a speech. The event coincides with the province’s Kadayawan Festival, a week-long festival celebrating nature’s bountiful harvest, which kicks off on Friday. On August 1, Aquino issued Proclamation No. 630 signed by Executive Secretary Paquino Ochoa declaring the start of Kadayawan (August 16) as a non-working holiday for Davao City residents. “He [Aquino] is expected to go to Davao tomorrow,” Lacierda said. Philippine Security Group Commander Brigadier General Ramon Mateo Dizon, said that his group would be “extra vigilant,” during the president’s meeting in Davao.
Lacierda, meanwhile, said that the bombings incidents in the region — Cagayan de Oro City, Cotabato City and recently, in Midsayap, North Cotabato, are all being investigated. Lacierda said government security forces have intensified their intelligence gatherings and are thoroughly investigating the incidents. “The primary focus of the police and the military is intelligence gathering,” he said. Lacierda said that the government is studying reports that some ‘sectors’ were behind the attacks in their bid to derail the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Meanwhile, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP Chief Alan Purisima both said that they still had no clue on who are behind the spate of bombings, amid fears that the violence might spill over in Metro Manila. Testifying in yesterday’s senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs hearings on the bomb attacks in Cagayan de Oro City and Cotabato, Roxas said that nobody among the “notable” known lawless elements in the country has assumed responsibility over the crimes. He also admitted that that what they had are all speculations. “We are not yet prepared. We want to stick to facts and not speculations,” he said. He also refused to say if the bombings were connected. “If I say they are interrelated, we will be sowing fear in public. If we say there are not interrelated, but after investigation, it turned out they’re interrelated, then we’re wrong. It’s difficult to speak with incomplete information,” said Roxas. Roxas declined to give details on the investigation. He said the PNP is now on heightened alert but he refused to say the specific areas so as “not to make our people more worried that their areas are in heightened alert.” Purisima said they are eyeing three angles in the bombings: terrorism, political rift, or a local issue concerning vendors. He added that there were “no indications” that the series of bombings in Mindanao will spill over to Metro Manila. Purisima may have spoken too quickly, as two bomb threats directed at the Court of Appeal and the Justice Department caused panic among employees and suspended hearings for at least two hours. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and Rey E. Requejo http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/08/palace‐pnp‐downplay‐situation‐to‐avoid‐panic/
Govt poverty reduction trails growth By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Aug. 08, 2013 at 12:02am | 348 views The government will most likely miss its 2015 target of halving poverty incidence to 16.6 percent, despite the rapid economic growth over the past two years. The country’s gross domestic product grew 6.8 percent in 2012 and 7.8 percent in the first quarter this year, prompting debt watcher Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services to label the Philippines as the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia. Poverty incidence in the Philippines, however, was among the highest in the region as the economic growth failed to trickle down to the poor. National Economic Development Authority director general Arsenio Balisacan said under the Millennium Development Goals, the country was supposed to lower poverty incidence to 16.6 percent by 2015 from 33.1 percent in 1991. Data from the National Statistical Coordination Board showed that as of the first semester of 2012, about 27.9 percent of the Philippine population still lived below the poverty threshold. Social Watch Philippines, a non-government organization, said despite the huge budget allotted for the conditional cash transfer program for the poor, poverty incidence has remained unchanged over the past six years, at 28.8 percent in 2006, 28.6 percent in 2009 and 27.9 percent in 2012. Balisacan, however, said the government was still committed to meet the poverty reduction target over the next two years. “It is very challenging but not impossible to reduce poverty effectively in the country,” he said during a budget hearing at the House of Representatives Wednesday. Balisacan said the Philippines only started to grow strongly in the past two years, making it impossible for the country to feel the effects of such growth immediately. “We have been growing at six to seven percent in the past two years,” he said. Malacañang on Wednesday welcomed the latest report by S&P which labeled the Philippines as the leading country in Southeast Asia in terms of economic growth.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the S&P’s baseline forecasts projecting growth at 6.9 percent, 6.1 percent and 6.5 percent for 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively, was a welcome development. S&P upgraded the Philippines’ credit rating to investment grade from “BB+” to “BBB-” with a stable outlook in May. “If you compared the economy to a pie, we are very pleased that international media, and also ourselves, we recognize that the pie has grown,” Lacierda told reporters at a press briefing. “We’re happy that the pie has grown—has grown bigger… It’s also important for us to ensure that more people get a slice of the pie, that’s what we call inclusive growth,” Lacierda added. The government’s National Statistical Coordination Board, however, said the rich was benefitting more than the poor from the current economic growth. NSCB secretary general Jose Ramon Albert said the income of the rich Filipinos was rising faster than that of the poor. “We find that those from high income classes have incomes rising much faster than those in the middle and low income classes. While the high income class comprises only 15.1 to 15.9 percent of the total population, the share of their income to national income is about three fifths,” he said in a report about income equality in the country. Albert said that in 2011, the growth in the incomes of the upper income class in the country was 10.9 percent, much faster than the middle income group’s 4.3 percent and the low-income group’s 8.2 percent. Data showed that in 2011, the high-income group had a per capita GDP of P713,678, or more than four times the middle income group’s per capita income of P168,667 and more than 15 times the low-income group’s per capita income of P46,237. Albert also said the Philippines had one of the lowest per capita income in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “Among ASEAN countries, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia are the top three countries showing the highest per capita GDP in PPP dollars. For example in 2011, per capita GDP of Singapore is at $60,888; Brunei at $51,760 and Malaysia at $16,051. The Philippines per capita is much lower at $4,119 and this is side by side with Indonesia at $4,636 and Vietnam at $3,412,” he said. President Benigno Aquino III, in his State of the Nation Address, vowed to further improve the lives of the Filipino people by achieving inclusive economic growth.
“Our strategy is to maximize opportunities for all, especially for those most in need. We are not content to wait for the trickle-down effect,” the president said last month. With Maricel V. Cruz http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/08/govt‐poverty‐reduction‐trails‐growth/
Solons question Palace on budget realignment By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Aug. 08, 2013 at 12:02am | 362 views OPPOSITION lawmakers on Monday grilled the Palace economic team and questioned President Benigno Aquino III’s realignment of some P100 billion from the budget of eight agencies to other projects last year and early this year without getting the approval of Congress, a serious violation of the General Appropriations Act. They also questioned what they called the usurpation of Congress’ power of the purse by duplicating its function in the distribution of pork barrel, citing one agency’s allocation of P400 million, double that of each senator’s yearly allotment for Priority Development Assistance Funds. The “off-budget” Presidential Social Fund, managed by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s daughter Julia, also came under scrutiny. In a hearing Wednesday, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares called Abad’s attention to a Budget circular issued last year allowing the President to withdraw the appropriations of agencies that failed to implement and fund their projects by June 30. Abad acknowledged that eight agencies had “under-spent,” prompting the President to withdraw their allotments. He added that some P75 billion was realigned last year, and some P25 billion was moved in the first quarter this year. Abad explained that some P75 billion was realigned last year and some P25 billion in the first quarter “The top eight agencies with large budget allocations that accumulated unobligated amounts were among those that had their allotments withdrawn because of the slow implementation of the projects,” Abad said. “For example, the Department of Education was supposed to hire teachers last year and they were already expected to have recruited in March in preparation for the opening of classes in June but it did not and so the Executive decided to use the money somewhere else,” Abad told the House committee on appropriations, headed by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab during the start of budget deliberations on the P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014.
In some cases, Abad said the under-spending was seasonal such that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had to wait for the rainy season to plant seeds. Meantime, he said, the money was idle. Abad identified the other under-spending agencies as the Departments of Public Works and Highways, Social Welfare, Health, Agriculture, Agrarian Reform and Transportation and Communications. Under the new budget system, unused funds cannot be carried over to the next year, Abad said. But Abad said some of these agencies had improved markedly. Abad said the funds were realigned to other projects while some were used to decrease the budget deficit. But Colmenares argued that the President did not have the power to realign the budget because that power rests with Congress. “The word ‘augment’ is critical. What it implies is that the project exists. We cannot fund an item in GAA that doesn’t exist,” Abad said. ACT Teachers Antonio Tinio also twitted the Palace economic team for granting the National Economic and Development Authority some P400-million in “feasibility study funds.” With Maricel V. Cruz http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/08/solons‐question‐palace‐on‐budget‐realignment/
Customs’ poor performers named By Joel E. Zurbano | Posted on Aug. 08, 2013 at 12:01am | 368 views Eleven of the 17 Customs districts failed to meet their revenue goals for the month of July. Port of Manila collector Rogel Gatchalian and Ninoy Aquino International Airport collector Carlos So, two of the so-called “Three Kings” in the Bureau of Customs, were among the poor performers for the month with a deficit of P42 million each. Manila International Container Port collector Ricardo Belmonte, the other member of “Three Kings,” managed to hit his target along with the district collectors of Cebu, Cagayan De Oro, Davao, Iloilo, and Subic. The collectors’ performance came about as Commissioner Rufino Biazon promised to reorganize the agency in two weeks. ON July 26, he ordered all the 17 district collectors to vacate their posts as part of the bureau’s revamp. Biazon’s move followed President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address where the chief executive berated the Customs, the National Irrigation Administration and the Bureau of Immigration for alleged corruption and other irregularities. Under the Lateral Attrition Act, signed by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2005, revenue officials and employees who come up short would be relieved from the service. Apart from the penalty on non-performing revenue-generating agencies, incentives equivalent to 15 percent of the collection surplus is mandated by the Lateral Attrition Law. The bureau’s finance service office said that MICP, the country’s largest port, surpassed its P7.67-billion target by P5 million last month. It said that Cebu collected P941 million, more than P183 million based on its P758 million target. CDO posted a P98-million surplus, collecting P591 million as against its P493 million goal. “The excess in collection as against target and an increase in collection compared to July 2012 are primarily due to the increase in volume and value of petroleum importations of Jetti Oil and Phoenix Oil,” said CDO district collector Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang.
As against its target, the Port of Subic chalked up the biggest surplus amounting to P490 million in July after it collected about P1 billion in revenues. The ports of Davao and Iloilo also posted gains in their collections with a surplus of P70.2 million and P75 million, respectively. For the month of July, the Customs suffered a P1.8 billion shortfall, collecting only P27.8 billion as against its P29.6 billion goal. Reports showed that some P415 million came from tax expenditure fund (TEF), or the paper revenues from the importation of government agencies, while P27.41 billion came from cash collections. Customs officials continue blaming the reduction of tariff rates for major commodities as part of the country’s commitment to various free trade agreements as the main reason for the shortfall. They also blamed the strong performance of the peso against the US dollar. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/08/customs‐poor‐performers‐named/
Employers’ objection to wage hike bucked By Vito Barcelo | Posted on Aug. 08, 2013 at 12:01am | 68 views A labor group asked the tripartite wage board on Tuesday to restore the purchasing power of wage earners by throwing out objections of employers and business chambers on their proposal for an P85 minimum wage increase. Gerard Seno, Executive Vice President of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), said the take-home pay of workers was P306, out of the P456 minimum wage minus inflation and mandatory deductions, which is way below the P1,200 living wage needed by a family of five to survive in highly urbanized Manila. “We call on members of the wage board, the government and workers’ representatives in particular, to dismiss (the employers’ objections). The board must objectively focus on how it can help restore Filipino workers’ lost purchasing power,” Seno said. The P85 proposal will bring minimum wage in Metro Manila to P541. The existing minimum wages in the provinces range from P294 to P349. TUCP sought a higher minimum wage following increases in cost of prime commodities and other essentials such as electricity, water, liquefied petroleum gas, and school tuition, Recently, the government also announced increases on LRT fares, and mandatory payments to the Social Security System. Seno said the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) and the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) have chosen to ignore the economic realities facing the workers, and he described their objections as “heartless and despicable.” http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/08/employers‐objection‐to‐wage‐hike‐bucked/
Incentives bill By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Aug. 08, 2013 at 12:01am | 63 views Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima is pushing for the approval of the proposed Tax Incentives Monitoring and Transparency Act. Purisima said the bill aims to put a system into the incentive scheme of the government to strictly monitor how much of the revenues were lost to tax incentives. “Basically when you give incentives right now, there is no accounting and therefore there is no transparency,” he said. He said under the proposed bill, the incentive giving bodies would incorporate the amount of incentives that would be given out to specific industries. He said tax incentives were unrecorded expenditure and therefore should be monitored. “We need transparency so we know how much accountability there is, because they are held for results given the amount,” he said. “Now, our proposal will request that this be automatically allocated so there is predictability, Unlike today, we do not know for sure how much [incentives are given out],” he said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/08/incentives‐bill/
Cagayan coast guards release hawksbill turtle August 7, 2013 7:14 pm
by LEANDER C. DOMINGO A HAWKSBILL sea turtle was released back to the sea by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) of the District of Northeastern Luzon in Barangay Punta in Aparri town. Named Rolanda, the sea turtle was turned over to PCG by residents of the village and together with media practitioners have also witnessed its release on Monday, after it was entangled in fishing nets. The female turtle measures 44 centimeter in length and 42 centimeters in width and weighs five kilograms. Sea turtle Rolanda was named after Lt. Sg. Rolando Lorenzana, Station Commander of PCG based in Aparri town and chief of the PCG Northeastern Luzon, who took custody of the turtle. ”It is not the first time that fishers come to our office to surrender caught species, not only turtles but also marine mammals stranded in the coastal areas,” Lorenzana said. Edgar Martin, Community Environment Officer here, has identified the turtle as hawksbill turtle listed as one of the endangered and threatened species of marine turtle under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered and Threatened Species (Cites). “What is good to know is that with our continuous campaign on the preservation and conservation of threatened and endangered species, people are now aware that catching, possessing, trading or taking any of the species listed under Cites is prohibited by law,” said Martin.
Posted on August 07, 2013 11:51:14 PM
Euro economies, emerging markets switch tracks LONDON -- Western European economies are spluttering to life again at last just as emerging markets cool down -- confirming one of the investment themes of 2013 and questioning how much financial markets have already discounted these inflection points. While “sell high and buy low” may be an investment truism subject to myriad valuation and policy caveats, selling equity in cresting economies while buying it in troughing ones is a pretty well-worn global strategy. And rarely has a contrast in economic momentum been as obvious as in this week’s global business surveys, which painted a stark picture of diverging trends between the developed world and emerging markets. Private sector businesses in the long-dormant euro zone, for example, grew in July for the first time in 18 months while firms across the emerging world indicated a contraction for the first time in four years. Yet even though that growth baton only passed last month, markets have been front-loading the likely switch all year. So much so, that the blue-chip Euro STOXX index is up 9% so far this year while a dollar-based MSCI index of equities from leading emerging giants of Brazil, Russia, India and China have lost almost 13%. The big questions on many investors’ minds are whether this week’s economic crossover is already long in the price and if there’s any more mileage in the switch. For three main reasons -- likely persistence of the relative economic trends and local monetary policies, relative equity valuations and cumulative fund flows -- strategists reckon it’s too early to go into reverse. “We continue to recommend an underweight on the emerging market universe,” said HSBC global strategist Garry Evans. Mutual fund investment tracked by Thomson Reuters’ Lipper show that money has shifted from emerging markets to European and US funds over the past couple of months. However, cumulative one-year flows to euro-wide equity funds were still in negative territory to the end of the second quarter while equivalent flows to global emerging market funds were in excess of $120 billion. “A lot of stale bulls remain in emerging markets,” said HSBC’s Mr. Evans, adding they may now be forced to sell if underlying fundamentals stay so poor. And there’s little solace for developing markets on that horizon if US monetary policy keeps playing a central role. A likely US Federal Reserve reduction in its bond buying stimulus by the end of the year looms large over all economies, but it has clearly hit emerging markets hardest in recent months given they had benefitted most from the Fed’s dollar-printing programs of the past five years. Not only has the prospect of a Fed reversal hit the currencies of Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and Turkey this year by between 7% and 14%, it has forced many of their central banks to raise interest rates into mounting economic slowdowns just to stabilize exchange rates.
Stabilization of the hobbled euro economies, meantime, has happened in parallel in part due to calmer regional debt markets but also as the drag from front-loaded austerity policies eases. Yet still-high unemployment and weak credit growth mean the European Central Bank is widely expected to ease monetary policy yet again -- as indicated by ECB policy maker Peter Praet on Tuesday -- and this can help offset any Fed move. What’s more, there’s little sign that valuations show emerging markets are particularly cheap -- especially when skews toward certain sectors such as energy and financial stocks in emerging markets are adjusted by assigning each country the same weighting as the global MSCI index. On that ‘sector neutral’ basis, HSBC reckons the 12-month forward price/earnings ratio for MSCI emerging markets overall is 11.5 compared to 12.2 for the euro zone -- with the likes of Mexico, Taiwan, India and South Africa all more expensive than the main euro area countries. Morgan Stanley’s equities team told clients this week that July may have been a “sweet spot” for European equities, given the extent of the economic surprises alongside stable bond markets, and that would be hard to sustain in the short term. However, it said the upturn in Europe’s economy meant both earnings and measures of corporate profitability like Return on Equity -- which has plummeted in emerging markets -- can now rise. “ROE improvement is critical for Europe to outperform.” The US bank said that just ‘normalizing’ profitability by assuming ROE returns to long-term averages from its current 20-year low relative to the MSCI world index, put Europe’s relative P/E ratio close to a record low. “We continue to be believe developed market equities will deliver the best returns compared with other asset classes,” said Rothchild’s Head of Investments Dirk Weidmann. -- Reuters
Posted on August 07, 2013 11:52:04 PM
PSALM seeks rate adjustments THE POWER SECTOR Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) wants to adjust generation charges nationwide to account for over- and under-recoveries incurred last year. Proposed adjustments will be implemented for five years.
National Power Corp. (Napocor) rates could be raised in the Visayas and cut in Luzon and Mindanao, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said in a notice, based on a May 2 PSALM petition covering foreignexchange related and fuel and power purchase costs. PSALM has asked for a five-year implementation period, which based on its filing means a P0.2068 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) generation rate cut for Luzon, a lower P0.0506/kWh-reduction in Mindanao and a P0.0778/kWh increase in the Visayas. The costs of maintaining 11 power facilities -- four in Luzon, two in the Visayas and five in Mindanao -- were cited by the state-owned firm. The adjustments, ERC Executive Director Francis Saturnino C. Juan yesterday said, used to be implemented via the generation adjustment rate mechanism (GRAM) and incremental currency exchange rate adjustment (ICERA) schemes. “GRAM and ICERA used to be recovery mechanisms for Napocor’s fuel and purchased power costs and foreign exchange which cover three-month periods. These were discontinued and replaced with the automatic mechanism for these costs to be adjusted monthly,” Mr. Juan explained. “This means that Napocor, through PSALM, started implementing automatic rate adjustments in 2010. So since then, Napocor recovers its fuel and power purchased costs and the foreign exchange costs every month. But it is subject to the review of ERC covering the 12-month period,” he added. “The review of the 12-month period -- in this case covering January to December last year -- will result to either refund or recovery of costs.” PSALM, formed under 2001 Electric Power Industry Reform Act, is tasked with managing and disposing of Napocor’s assets, liabilities and contracts. -- CAMCF
Posted on August 07, 2013 10:20:26 PM
Aquino unfazed by blasts, to attend business conference PRESIDENT BENIGNO S. C. Aquino III will attend today’s opening of the Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) in Davao City amid security concerns raised from the spate of bombings in the South. “Tuloy meeting [will proceed] tomorrow. Pag-uusapan dun sa meeting [the] situation in Mindanao,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told a briefing in Malacañang yesterday. Mr. Aquino will discuss with businessmen “the situation in Davao... There is no contrary notice so far,” he said. The President met Tuesday with the Cabinet cluster on security, but Mr. Lacierda did not give details on its results. He noted there are no plans to deploy additional troops to the area as there is enough personnel involved in the probe. Meanwhile, the Palace has assured that the bombings will have no economic impact on Mindanao. “So far there is no impact on the economic front. We are cognizant of the situation and are looking at all the causes,” said Mr. Lacierda. As this developed, the MinBizCon opens today with organizers hoping the government will address policy issues earlier submitted by the island’s business leaders to the national leadership. “This is by far the biggest event that will take place in Mindanao,” said Daniel T. Lim, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We already received more than 400 confirmed pre-registrations a day before the event and we are expecting this number to more than double when the conference opens today,” he added. Mr. Lim said that the President’s participation in the event indicates the commitment of the government to address the island group’s concerns such as agriculture, energy, information and technology, tourism, small and medium enterprises, logistics and infrastructure, skills development, and natural resource management. Security measures have been beefed up, including four checkpoints that were established along major roads leading to the city proper, police said Tuesday. Davao City has also started mounting activities for the annual Kadayawan Festival that will end next weekend. -- ENJD and C. Q. Francisco
Posted on August 07, 2013 10:20:26 PM
Aquino unfazed by blasts, to attend business conference PRESIDENT BENIGNO S. C. Aquino III will attend today’s opening of the Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) in Davao City amid security concerns raised from the spate of bombings in the South. “Tuloy meeting [will proceed] tomorrow. Pag-uusapan dun sa meeting [the] situation in Mindanao,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told a briefing in Malacañang yesterday. Mr. Aquino will discuss with businessmen “the situation in Davao... There is no contrary notice so far,” he said. The President met Tuesday with the Cabinet cluster on security, but Mr. Lacierda did not give details on its results. He noted there are no plans to deploy additional troops to the area as there is enough personnel involved in the probe. Meanwhile, the Palace has assured that the bombings will have no economic impact on Mindanao. “So far there is no impact on the economic front. We are cognizant of the situation and are looking at all the causes,” said Mr. Lacierda. As this developed, the MinBizCon opens today with organizers hoping the government will address policy issues earlier submitted by the island’s business leaders to the national leadership. “This is by far the biggest event that will take place in Mindanao,” said Daniel T. Lim, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We already received more than 400 confirmed pre-registrations a day before the event and we are expecting this number to more than double when the conference opens today,” he added. Mr. Lim said that the President’s participation in the event indicates the commitment of the government to address the island group’s concerns such as agriculture, energy, information and technology, tourism, small and medium enterprises, logistics and infrastructure, skills development, and natural resource management. Security measures have been beefed up, including four checkpoints that were established along major roads leading to the city proper, police said Tuesday. Davao City has also started mounting activities for the annual Kadayawan Festival that will end next weekend. -- ENJD and C. Q. Francisco
Posted on August 07, 2013 10:41:15 PM
Growing Davao demand noted for bigger property DAVAO CITY -- Southern Mindanao’s middle class has started to seek bigger lot sizes -- a demand major property developers have begun to address, according to officials of two such companies. Marlon Nino B. Escalicas, manager of Camella Communities-Davao, a subsidiary of Villar-led Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc., said in a recent telephone interview that many buyers of the company’s projects here have been looking for properties measuring at least 220 square meters (sq.m). “They (buyers) are just waiting” for such offerings, Mr. Escalicas said, noting that Camella Communities has observed such demand not just in this city but also in Koronadal, Tagum and General Santos cities. Before this, he recalled, property firms had been offering house-and-lot packages measuring 120-180 sq.m. worth P2-4 million. He said prospective buyers have recently begun seeking lots that could accommodate landscaping -- a sign of growing market prosperity. This, he said, is especially true of families of overseas Filipino workers. Another growing market segment the company has been targeting consists of the self-employed, Mr. Escalicas said. “Affordability is just secondary now,” he noted. Camella Communities is not the only company that has noticed such demand. At Fairlane -- a new seven hectare middle segment to upscale residential project about five kilometers south of this city’s downtown area -- developer Damosa Land Inc. of the Aflo Group of Companies has upsized house-and-lot packages to as big as 250 sq.m., said Alex G. Gocotano, project manager. He said in a separate interview that the company decided to revise its offerings after prospective buyers began seeking lots bigger than 200 sq.m. -- CQF
Noy told: Fire Abad, Alcala Written by Charlie V. Manalo Thursday, 08 August 2013 08:00 Instead of acting like a presidential legal counsel for Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday challenged President Aquino to act decisively and dismiss the two officials. Pamalakaya vice chairman Salvador France made the call a day after Aquino told Abad and Alcala to explain why the Budget agency and the Agriculture department had allowed a dummy agency to access P 89.2 million from the pork barrel fund of eight district congressmen as reported by the Commission on Audit (CoA) last week. “President Aquino has no legal, moral and political reason to keep two of the most fair-haired boys of the ruling Liberal Party in the government. The two officials should be fired from their respective post and present them to the investigating authority and to the equally angered tax paying public demanding truth and justice to the latest high crime of corruption in the agriculture department,” said France. The Pamalakaya leader berated President Aquino for giving Abad and Alcala kid-glove treatment, asserting that the Chief Executive appeared unperturbed and ready to defend the Budget secretary and the Agriculture secretary in case the P89.2 million goes beyond the parameters of reprimand and investigation and might proceed to legal charges against two of his favorite and trusted officials. “It appears to us that President Aquino will move and heaven earth to contain the controversy involving his Budget secretary and Agriculture czar. If we are wrong, then Aquino should prove us wrong by compelling Abad and Alcala to submit themselves to investigation and forced their resignations anytime between today and tomorrow,” added France. France said they were extremely frustrated with Aquino’s statement saying that the P90-million pork barrel fund scam involving his Agriculture and Budget officials is peanuts compared to the P728 million fertilizer fund scam that happened during the time of former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “Imagine, the President himself defending Abad and Alcala in public over their failures to arrest first-rate crimes of corruption and plunder just because that is P90 million compared to the P728-million fertilizer fund scam. This is super baloney,” France said. According to Levito Baligod, counsel of the P10-billion pork barrel scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy, Alcala’s office endorsed the release of funds to Napoles’ agency despite tightened accreditation employed by DA to nongovernment organizations requesting funds for development projects. Baligod confirmed the whistle-blower had documents, including special allotment release orders, showing that 11 pet projects of eight representatives in the 15th Congress used Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc., which was allegedly set up by Napoles. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/nation/item/17662‐noy‐told‐fire‐abad‐alcala
Neri wants solons to check 3 items in P2.3-T ’14 budget Written by Ed Velasco
Thursday, 08 August 2013 08:00 Former National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) director general and budget secretary Romulo Neri yesterday provided hints to legislators on where to look for padded items in the budget as he identified lump sum funds such as allocations for the conditional cash transfer (CCT), the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), and intelligence funds as the more likely source of irregularities. He advised the minority block in the House of Representatives and the Senate to thoroughly scrutinize the items in the proposed P2.268 trilllion budget for next year. Neri said next year’s budget must be strictly screened because of possible bloated allocations and insertions that are deemed unnecessary and can serve the administration’s political agenda. He didn’t emphasize what those insertions and bloated allocations are but said that legislators should “scrutinize the CCT or what is known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), priority development assistance fund and intelligence funds,” Neri, who was also former Social Security System president, told the Daily Tribune. Earlier, the former technocrat expressed disapproval over the P63-billion allocation for CCT next year, saying the amount for dole outs to poor families was too much for government to sustain. A source said that if the intelligence funds are not strictly monitored, the user of the fund can use the money for his own purpose. “It’s like allowing the president to do what he wants with the money that come from taxes,” the source said. Hearing of the House committee on appropriations headed by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab is expected to start anytime. At least 100 members of the committee are expected to throw questions to the Development Budget Coordination Committee, the first group that will face lawmakers to defend the budget. Reached for comment, Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, one of the senators who will ask the DBCC at the Senate, said he has not yet thought about next year’s budget. “I have not had the time to peruse it. Ask me after the hearings of the DBCC,” Osmeña told the Tribune. One of the members of the DBCC, the Department of Finance, said next year’s budget will pass as quickly as the wind. “PNoy (President Aquin) holds both Houses of Congress,” Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said earlier. Economic managers had endorsed the proposed 2014 budget to the House as the chamber’s appropriations committee began deliberations for next year’s national expenditure program. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan Jr.,
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. took turns in explaining the intricacies of the proposed budget and how the country’s strong economic growth and effective fiscal policies of government are adequate to support the proposed appropriation. At the start of the House hearing, Abad said that while the 2014 budget is P262 billion higher than this year’s budget, it features for the first time a new budgeting approach called performance-informed budget (PIB). “With the PIB, the government focuses on the outputs, outcomes and performance targets that government agencies have committed to achieve with their respective budgets,” he said. With this approach, he said, the people can hold the agencies accountable for their performance in relation to their budget targets. “In other words, every item will be thoroughly backed up by programs,” Abad said. For his part, Balisacan reported that the economy was performing better than the Philippine Development Plan targets, which posted a 6.8 percent growth in 2012. “The 7.7 percent first quarter growth for this year is even better than expectations, and made the Philippines as the fastest growing economy among Asian countries,” he said. However, the Neda chief told the lawmakers that present economic growth alone is not enough to reduce poverty incidence and disasters can push back development. “The 2014 budget is crucial in attaining a higher economic growth and start inclusive growth by accelerating infrastructure development, improved social services and expanding agriculture and tourism developments among others,” Balisacan said. Meanwhile, Tetangco said that effective monetary policies had led to a low inflation rate that is expected to remain well within the 3 to 5 percent rate pegged by the government. The inflation rate in the first quarter of the year was at 2.9 percent and the BSP expected it to remain benign for the rest of the year. He also told lawmakers that the Peso is forecast to remain stable against the Dollar – which is expected to stay within P41 to P43 to the dollar. On the other hand, Purisima said that revenues continue to grow – posting an 8.9 percent growth in 2012 – and will be expected to grow further in 2014 as the effects of the sin tax law will be felt. But in order to improve the revenue efforts of the government, he urged lawmakers to pass the mining revenue, fiscal incentives and transparency and accountability bills. Meanwhile, he reported that the deficit for 2013 is pegged at 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.
New tests affirm water, fish quality at Padcal tributaries
Written by Tribune
Thursday, 08 August 2013 08:00 The quality of water at tributaries near Padcal Mines, including a creek and a river in Itogon, Benguet province, and even downstream to the irrigation canal in Pangasinan passes regulatory limit and remains below the effluent standards set by the government while fish samples are within the criteria imposed by foreign environmental commissions. This according to the tests conducted last June 12 on samples taken by the Joint Multipartite Monitoring Team (JMMT) in 10 water-sampling stations at Padcal’s Tailings Storage Facility No. 3 (TSF3), the convergence area of Balog Creek and Agno River, San Roque Dam and down to the irrigation canal of the National Irrigation Administration, in San Manuel, Pangasinan. “The latest set of tests sustained the assurance made by Philex Mining Corp. since last year that the tailings-leak accident on Aug. 1, 2012 at its Padcal Mines’ TSF3 did not bring toxic materials into Balog Creek, Agno River and San Roque Dam,” Michael Toledo, senior vice president for Corporate Affairs at Philex Mining, in a statement, said. Created through Administrative Order (AO) 10-21 of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the MMT is composed of government regulators, Philex Mining environment staff and representatives from San Roque Power Corp., National Power Corp., indigenous peoples, people’s organizations and local government units. The team is tasked to monitor, among other things, the effluent standards at Padcal as well as the tributaries where nontoxic water from TSF3 discharges into. Water and effluent standards, as set in respective DENR-AO (DAO) Nos. 34 and 35, refer to the restriction imposed by government on quantities, rates and concentrations of material in water discharges. The tests done by CRL Environmental Corp., a full-service laboratory, showed that total suspended solids (TSS), a water-quality measurement, averaged 8.25 milligrams per liter (mg/L), which is way below the 50 mg/L standard set by government, according to Libby Ricafort, vice president at Philex Mining and resident manager of Padcal Operations. Water samples also passed the acceptable standards for toxicity as tests showed the following levels: cadmium at 0.006 milligram per liter (mg/L), as against the DAO-34 Class A limit of 0.01 mg/L, copper at 0.02 mg/L (versus 1 mg/L), lead at 0.04 mg/L (0.05 mg/L), chromium at 0.02 mg/L (0.05 mg/L), and mercury at 0.0001 mg/L (0.002 mg/L). The fish samples taken from Balog Creek and downstream of Agno River also showed amounts of accumulated heavy metals— mercury, cadmium, lead, and copper — below the limits set by the
European Union Regulations and Fisheries Administrative Order 210. Results for arsenic were also lower than the limit set by the United States Food and Drug Administration, making the fish fit for human consumption. The examination was done between April and June by the Sentro sa Pagsusuri, Pagsasanay at Pangangasiwang Pang-Agham at Teknolohiya Corp. (SentroTek) on tissue samples of tilapia and eel, which are abundant in the said tributaries.
Not impeding probe, pointing out flaws—JPE Written by Angie M. Rosales
Thursday, 08 August 2013 08:00 Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday stood his ground on the matter of the upper chamber having no jurisdiction to inquire into the alleged onerous concession agreements of Maynilad Water Service Inc. (Maynilad) and Manila Water Co. Inc. (Manila Water). Enrile dismissed claims made by Sen. Antonio Trillanes that he was supposedly trying to impede the latter’s call for a Senate investigation into the contracts granted by Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to the two distributing companies as he further pointed out some more setbacks in carrying out the proceedings already referred to the committee on public services. The issue involves the provision in the concession agreement of Maynilad and Manila Water allowing them to pass on to consumers their corporate income taxes. “Supposing they do appear, can you hold them in contempt? That’s why I asked,” he said at a press conference. Enrile and Trillanes engaged in a heated floor debate last Tuesday after the minority leader interpolated the latter over his privilege speech calling on the public services committee to look into the said pass-on charges of Maynilad and Manila Water. Trillanes, at a press conference after the proceedings, said Enrile appeared to be trying to maneuver their debates into preventing the conduct of the inquiry based on his line of questioning toward him. “I’m not blocking (the inquiry) but what is the futility of conducting it? it’s not in aid of legislation because we cannot pass a law. Now to punish these people (MWSS) for dereliction of duty by giving undue advantage to the concessionaires, there is the anti-graft law already. So what law is still needed to be passed? “Our power to conduct an investigation, except the blue ribbon committee, if there is a misconduct on the part of government officials then it’s the blue ribbon committee but in this case the third parties, the private parties and it involves their contract with the government, then what law is needed there? “They have already the laws needed to deal with the problem,” he pointed out. Enrile further emphasized that only the House of Representatives can review the franchise agreement “because all franchises must emanate from the lower house like revenue bills, local bills, private bills, franchises…we can only recommend amendments here.” “We, Congress, have limitations insofar as asserting our authority in reviewing contracts. The (Constitution states that) no law shall be passed abridging or impairing the contracts. That’s part of the Bill of Rights. “Congress is prohibited from passing laws that will amend the terms and conditions and obligation of
parties in a contract. That’s why I raised the issue of the need to take this up when we’re not in a position to pass remedial legislations,” he said. The only remedy available is to bring the matter before the courts to question the legality of the provisions of the contract which could lead to the government moving for a renegotiation of the concession agreement, he said. “I know enough on the issue, why? Because I used to as (experience of my) clients (while I was still a practicing lawyer) a number of public utility companies they were and they had standard franchises and these water distributing companies are mere concessionaires. “Since I know that he’s not a lawyer and he does not have an idea on the issue at hand, the legalities surrounding the issue, I stopped at that….I’m not lawyering for them,” Enrile said referring to the two water concessionaires. “You know, if take the floor to discourse on an issue, you should always be prepared (in engaging in a debate),” he said.
Solon brings colleague’s case to Ethics Committee Written by Tribune
Thursday, 08 August 2013 08:00 For calling on the Commission on Audit (CoA) to bare all its findings in its audit of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of the lawmakers instead of a “strip tease” approach, a lawmaker now finds himself the subject of an investigation following a resolution filed by his own colleague. Yesterday, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga hauled Abakada Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz to the House Ethics Committee, filing House Resolution No. 169, urging the Ethics panel to conduct an investigation on De la Cruz’s conduct for making allegations in a press briefing that 98 lawmakers were involved in the pork barrel scam by channeling their PDAF to dubious organizations and to investigate the truth and the veracity of his statement to the media. In his resolution, Barzaga lamented that de la Cruz had to make his allegations on the basis of “a onepage photocopied document which was noticeably labeled as a mere draft and which supposedly came from a CoA special report.” This, despite an ongoing investigation being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI and the CoA itself on the said issue, Barzaga noted. “An allegation based on an unofficial and unverified document released in the media claiming that numerous lawmakers are involved in the misuse of the PDAF apparently added to the already clouded public perception on the legislature and undoubtedly constitutes an attack on the integrity ofd the members of the House of Representatives itself,” Barzaga stated in his resolutiuon. Last week, in a press briefing, de la Cruz accused the administration of orchestrating the investigation regarding the P10-billion alleged scam on the lawmakers’ PDAF, saying it was rather obvious it was picking only on selected personalities particularly those identified with the opposition. “Why is the investigation focusing on only a handful of lawmakers, all identified with the opposition?” said De la Cruz. De la Cruz later furnished media men with a copy of an initial draft of a special audit report conducted by CoA baring a number of projects funded from the PDAF of 98 lawmakers released through four government agencies — the Department of Social Welfare and Development-National Captial Region, the National Agri-Business Corp., the Technology Resource Center and the National Livelihood Development Center (NLDC). The paper further revealed that the funds totaling P2.193 billion, were released to 15 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), supposedly for the funding of 244 projects. Of the 15 NGOs, Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation got the bulk of the projects, cornering 67 out of 244.
NLDC also topped the agencies with the biggest fund allocation, being one of the implementing agencies in all of the projects. De la Cruz however insists it was not his intention to malign the House as insinuated by the Cabite slon. “I issued the statement during the press conference to compel CoA to come out with the complete list of the lawmakers involved in its investigation and not through a piecemeal process,” said De la Cruz. Dela Cruz clarified that what he presented before the media is a partial report of CoA, given to him by his source.
Marcos seeks three-year moratorium on creation or conversion of SUCs Written by Tribune
Thursday, 08 August 2013 08:00 Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is seeking a three-year moratorium on the creation of new State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and the conversion of existing State Colleges to State Universities. Marcos sought the moratorium under Senate Bill 13, saying this would provide Congress and the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) reasonable time to assess, monitor and upgrade the educational system of higher education that would truly meet the challenges of the changing times. He noted that to date, there are already 111 existing SUCs in the country and that proposals for the creation of new ones are likely in the pipeline. “It is an unfortunate reality, however, that the quantity of SUCs does not guarantee quality education,” Marcos said. Marcos acknowledged that SUCs are a great help in our country as they educate those who are willing to study but could not afford the tuition in private colleges and universities. However, he noted that the unregulated propagation of SUCs is not matched with the corresponding increase in the budget for these institutions, thereby diminishing the quality of service that these academic institutions should be known for. In fact, Marcos said, there are even SUCs that are not functional or those that are “just created for the vanity of politicians.” “The existing budget for these SUCs should be directed to a select number of SUCs that are proven to produce exceptional graduates and to conduct innovative researches,” he said. He added the whole process of creation or conversion of SUCs has become so politicized, that in the end, lawmakers have sometimes completely disregarded the Ched guidelines for high standards of educational system, just to provide SUCs in their respective congressional districts. Marcos pointed out that as early as Oct. 7, 1999, former President Joseph Estrada issued a memorandum addressed to the Ched reiterating the policy that his administration does “not in any way support the creation of new state universities and colleges and the conversion/upgrading of existing state colleges into universities.” Despite this policy recommendation for the moratorium, he said the creation or conversion of SUCs persisted. “The basic questions that should be resolved now are: Are the SUCs really providing quality education for our students? Is the Philippine educational system, through the SUCs, competitive enough to meet the
challenges of the global educational environment? Is the national government allocating enough money to fund the budgetary needs of all the SUCs in the country?” Marcos said. Until these questions are answered properly, Marcos said the government must impose a moratorium on the creation or conversion of SUCs.
Biazon says cuts in BoC budget will hamper drive vs graft at bureau Written by Gerry Baldo
Thursday, 08 August 2013 08:00 The Bureau of Customs will have to make do with existing equipment due to cuts in its budget, Commissioner Ruffy Biazon yesterday said. Biazon, who was at the House of Representatives during the start of the 2014 budget deliberations, said the budget cuts would be a setback to efforts to curb corruption in the bureau. Malacañang has proposed a smaller budget for the bureau from P2.166 billion this year to P1.939 billion in 2014. A difference of P227 million. “It is a setback, we will be affected in terms of acquisition of equipment and tools. We need X-rays, CCTVs,” Biazon told House reporters. Biazon also said additional budget for unfilled positions in the bureau were not approved by Malacañang. Biazon, a former congressman from Muntinlupa, said, however, there are big ticket projects that are ongoing in the bureau. He refused to disclose specific items due to its “technically high” nature the disclosure of which could jeopardize anti-smuggling efforts. “We were not given capital outlay because we still have big ticket projects, terms of reference takes time, these big ticket items are of high technicality,” he said. During the same interview, Biazon dismissed allegations that the budget cuts was an offshoot of “nonperformance” by the bureau. Biazon admitted the bureau missed its target by several hundred billions of pesos but disclosed that the collection of the bureau was the highest in the history of the agency last year. “We have a shortfall in terms of targets, but our collection is the highest ever in the history of the Bureau of Customs,” he said. The bureau collected P289 billion for 2012 against the target of P340 billion. This year, he said, they have collected P173 billion for the first six months against the P193.4-billion target for the same period this year.
BdO denies plan to buy new bank Written by Ed Velasco
Thursday, 08 August 2013 08:00
Banco de Oro (BdO) president Nestor Tan said yesterday there is no plan at the moment for the bank to acquire any other bank as they already have adequate market coverage. “We are not looking to acquire any bank right now. We already have adequate market coverage and we expect good growth from our current organization’s size and scale,” Tan explained to the Daily Tribune in an interview. Many are speculating that the biggest bank in assets in the Philippines will acquire a new bank given its vast assets, resources and market capitalization. Earlier, Tan refused to admit that BdO is the biggest in assets. But yesterday, he gave the exact assets of BdO. “Our consolidated assets as of June 30, 2013 is P1.33 trillion,” Tan said. He said the bank has no plan to raise capital in relation to Basel 3. “We have adequate capital so we have no capital raising plans at the moment,” he said. The bank’s strategy to face Basel 3 is simple because of its huge resources. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, all universal and commercial banks will have four capitals to meet. The additional three capitals aside from the standard 10 percent capital adequacy ratio is a tough task for some banks whose CAR is just between 10 to 12 percent.
Budget hearing sinalubong ng protesta (Bernard Taguinod) Share on stumbleuponShare on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookMore Sharing Services
Nagmistulang ‘blockbuster’ kahapon ang unang araw ng pagdinig ng Kamara sa P2.268-trillion 2014 national budget, sinalubong naman ito ng protesta ng mga militanteng grupo.
Habang abala sa pagpapaliwanag at pagdepensa ng mga economic managers ni Pangulong Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III, sumugod naman ang mga militanteng kabataan sa Kamara para magprotesta.
Tinututulan ng mga militanteng aktibista ang national budget dahil pro-business at anti-people ang dinidinig na national budget at hindi kontento ang mga ito sa kakarampot na pondong idinagdag sa State University and Colleges (SUCs) na umaabot lamang sa P2.2 bilyon ang idinagdag sa kasalukuyang budget na P37.1 bilyon.
Samantala, nagmistulang blockbuster naman ang unang araw ng pagdinig ng House committee on appropriations sa pangunguna ng chairman nitong si Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab dahil dinagsa ito ng mga mambabatas sa nasabing kapulungan. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/aug0813/news04.htm#.UgL4GtJvAqM
BIR sa DOJ: Tax cases paspasan na! (Tina Mendoza) Share on stumbleuponShare on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookMore Sharing Services
Umapela kahapon ang Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) sa Department of Justice (DOJ) na paspasan ang pagresolba sa mga tax evasion cases na isinampa nito sa ahensya na mula noong 2011 ay umabot na sa 178 kaso ang naisampa subalit iilan pa lang ang naihain sa tax court.
Partikular na pinamamadali ng BIR ang pagresolba sa limang pinakamalalaking tax evasion cases na aabot sa ilang bilyon na hanggang sa ngayon ay wala pa rin umanong aksyon ang DOJ, kabilang dito ang Junrei Daitol Tenorio mula Cebu na may halagang P2.6 bilyon; Aurelio Baring mula Bulacan, P2.2 bilyon; Jedvam Manufacturing Corporation nina Henry Chua Yu, Norberto Duque at Joseph Yu, P1.9 bilyon; Gammon Metal Products ni Joaquin Chua, P1.7 bilyon; at Diomedita Canonigo, P1.6 bilyon.
Sa limang kaso umano na aabot sa kabuuang P45B ay wala pa kahit isa na naisampa sa tax court. Sinabi pa ng BIR na mayroon nang 93 kaso ang dumaan sa preliminary investigation sa DOJ subalit hindi pa rin naipalalabas ang desisyon.
Sa panig ng DOJ sinabi nito na hindi sila ang may kasalanan sa mabagal na pag-usad ng mga kaso bagkus ang dapat na sisihin ay ang BIR dahil na rin sa kadalasang kulang-kulang ang mga dokumentong inihahain nito na siyang nagpapatagal sa isinasagawang imbestigasyon.
P400-M pork barrel ng NEDA kinuwestiyon (Noel Abuel) Share on stumbleuponShare on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookMore Sharing Services
Ibinunyag ng isang militanteng mambabatas na may P400-milyong pork barrel ang National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) na nakasingit sa 2014 budget ng pamahalaan sa susunod na taon.
Sa pagsisimula ng pagdinig ng House committee on appropriations kahapon, kinuwestiyon ni ACT Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio ang nakita nitong bagong item sa budget ng Malacañang.
Sinabi nitong ang P400 milyon na nakalaan para sa special fund feasibility studies sa ilalim ni NEDA director general Arsenio Balisacan ay kaduda-duda, aniya, dahil sa laki ng pondong ilalaan para rito.
“Bagong item ito sa budget na sinabmit ng Malacañang, nu’ng nakaraan wala ‘yan under special purpose fund, so newly created special fund feasibility studies P400M ito sa ilalim ng NEDA, gagamitin daw for NEDA,” ayon pa sa militanteng mambabatas.
Giit nito walang anumang nakatalang breakdown sa isinumiteng dokumento ng NEDA kung saan gagamitin ang nasabing pondo at tanging feasibility studies lamang ang nakasaad dito.
Pangamba ni Tinio na hindi malayong isang uri ito ng lump sum sa ilalim ng administrasyon ng NEDA. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/aug0813/news07.htm#.UgL4TdJvAqM
Fish kill nadiskubre ng Coast Guard sa Manila Bay (Angely Ablay) Share on stumbleuponShare on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookMore Sharing Services
Hindi mabilang na mga patay na isda ang nakita ng mga tauhan ng Coast Guard SubStation (CGSS) CCP sa Manila Bay dakong alas-5:30 ng hapon noong nakaraang Miyerkules, Hulyo 31.
Ang naturang fish kill ay nadiskubre na may habang isang kilometro mula sa bisinidad ng CCP Complex hanggang sa Mall of Asia sa Pasay.
Karamihan sa mga namatay na isda ay mga “sea mullet” o kung tawagin dito sa atin ay banak, na tinatayang sa dami ay kayang makapuno ng sampung (10) malalaking banyera, na agad namang ine-report sa Coast Guard Station (CGS) Manila, Marine Environmental Protection Unit (MEPU)-NCR at Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
Dumating naman dakong alas-5:35 ang mga tauhan ng BFAR sa lugar na agad nagsagawa ng “water sampling and fish examination” at napag-alaman na ang posibleng sanhi ng pagkamatay ng mga isda ay ang mababang bilang ng dissolved oxygen sa tubig at ang nakakaawang kondisyon nito sanhi ng polusyon.
Ombudsman to look into P200M CARP fund case Published : Thursday, August 08, 2013 00:00 Written by : Joel dela Torre THE Office of the Ombudsman will look into the alleged misuse of the P200 million allotted for agri-business development under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). A five-lawyer panel was created by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales after a formal complaint has been lodged by the Field Investigation Office following the completion of the case build-up which commenced even before whistleblower Benhur Luy exposed the multibillion-peso “pork barrel scam.” According to Morales, the special panel will conduct preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication of the criminal and administrative charges slapped against the respondents. Impleaded in the criminal complaint for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Falsification are former Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary and now party-list Representative Nasser Pangandaman, Undersecretary Narciso Nieto, Director Teresita Panlilio, Chief Accountant Angelita Cacananta, Budget Officer Ronald Venancio, and Cashier Nilda Baui. Also included in the charge sheet are three notaries public, three certified public accountants, and 24 private individuals including (Benhur) Luy. Those facing administrative charges for Grave Misconduct, Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, Gross Neglect of Duty, and Serious Dishonesty are Pangandaman, Nieto, Panlilio, Venancio, and Baui. Investigation conducted by the FIO showed that in 2007 and 2008, the DAR officials granted funds for “Agri-Business Development,” “Micro-Livelihood Project” or ‘Agricultural Production” to seven non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in violation of the Commission on Audit (COA) circular on the release of funds to NGOs and POs. These projects appeared to have been delivered to certain municipalities in Cagayan, Pangasinan, Cavite, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, and Agusan del Sur, but whose supposed beneficiaries denied having signed or received anything. The 245-page complaint identified the seven NGOs as: Philippine Agri and Social Economic Development Foundation, Inc. (PASEDFI); Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (AEPFFI); Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Inc. (APMFI); Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI); People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Inc. (POPDFI); Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (MAMFI); Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation, Inc. (CARED). http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/55855‐ombudsman‐to‐look‐into‐p200m‐carp‐fund‐case
Palace keeps pork Published : Thursday, August 08, 2013 00:00 Written by : Jester P. Manalastas THE administration has not removed the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel from the proposed 2014 national budget, but instead made its release easier. As the House Committee on Appropriations begins its deliberations on the proposed P2.268 trillion budget, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad said the government decided to remove the Agency Budget Matrices (ABMs) and Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) from the budget process. According to Abad, this is in order to facilitate the swift and efficient implementation of the administration’s expenditure program. Starting 2014, the DBM will begin to phase out ABMs and SAROs to speed up the release of the budgets of the agencies and proposed projects of the lawmakers. “The 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA) will also serve as the primary fund release document, ushering in a budget regime that will vastly improve the pace of disbursements and ensure the faster delivery of high-impact socio-economic programs and projects to the Filipino people,” Abad told the House panel. “We crafted the proposed 2014 budget so that it will also stand as the National Government’s fund release document, where agency budgets are practically released the moment the National Budget is enacted. This eliminates the need to prepare ABMs early in the fiscal year, besides abolishing the lengthy and elaborate process of releasing allotments to departments and agencies,” he added. In the past, the DBM would prepare ABMs together with other departments and agencies once the National Budget was enacted. The matrix disaggregated all programmed agency appropriations into various expenditure categories, also serving as the basis for the timing, composition, and magnitude of budget releases. SAROs, on the other hand, are official documents that authorize the release of an agency allocation for specific programs and projects, containing as well the conditions set for the use of these funds. The DBM issues SAROs to the head of the agency when the requesting party has satisfied all the requirements for the fund release. However, Abad clarified that while the DBM will do away with SAROs and ABMs for most fund releases, certain items in the budget will still need DBM issuances to support their release, including funds that require Presidential approval and remaining lump-sum allocations in the National Budget, such as the Calamity Fund. “We are institutionalizing these budget reforms to simplify the budget document, shorten the processing of budgetary requests, and push for increased transparency and
accountability in public expenditure,” the cabinet member said. The committee, headed by Davao City Rep. Ungab, listened to the presentation of the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC). Present to defend the budget of DBCC are National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Sec. Arsenio Balisacan Jr., Finance Sec. Cesar Purisima, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. The proposed national budget for 2014 is 13.1 percent higher than this year’s 2.006 trillion. The 10 departments that will get the lion’s share are Department of Education, P336.9 billion; Department of Public Works and Highways, P213 billion; Department of Interior and Local Government, P135 billion; Department of National Defense, 123.1 billion; Department of Health, P87.1 billion; Department of Agriculture, P80.7 billion; Department of Social welfare and Development, P48.7 billion; Department of Environment and Natural Resources, P23.9 billion; Department of Agriculture, P20.4 billion. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/55853‐palace‐keeps‐pork
PH now Souteast Asia’s leading economy -- S&P Published : Thursday, August 08, 2013 00:00 Written by : Efren Montano Malacañang hailed yesterday a report by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) saying the Philippines has become the leading economy in Southeast Asia, surpassing its neighbors. “If you compared the economy to a pie, we are very pleased that international media, and also ourselves, recognize that the pie has grown,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told Palace reporters yesterday in his regular briefing. “Mahalaga na lumalaki ang ekonomiya, lumalaki ’yung pie,” he added. The administration is elated that the country’s economy has grown under the Aquino government, Lacierda said, adding that the most important thing is to ensure that more Filipinos, especially the poor, get a share of the robust economy. S&P, which recently upgraded the Philippines to investment grade, said in a new report released Monday that the country has taken over the Asean growth leadership role from Indonesia. The Philippine economy would grow by 6.9 percent this year, faster than other ASEAN economies, it said. S&P sees Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP) to grow 6.1 percent; Vietnam, 5.3 percent; and Malaysia, 5.3 percent. The Philippine growth forecast is higher than that for China at 7.3 percent. The gross domestic product or GDP is the amount of final goods and services produced in a country. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/55840‐ph‐now‐southeast‐asias‐leading‐economy‐sap