‘Food shortage caused by aborted deliveries’ Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:09 am | Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo: Inability to make deliveries MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Thursday allayed concerns over the “temporary” shortage of some basic commodities like noodles in parts of Metro Manila the past days. In a press briefing, Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo explained that the shortages, noted mainly in the Camanava area (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela), were due mainly to the inability of food manufacturers to make their deliveries due to the floods spawned by the heavy rains of Tropical Storm “Maring.” Also contributing to the inadequacies were the bulk buying made by various organizations for their relief operations, he added. As a remedy, Domingo said he would ask the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority to exempt food manufacturers and the baking industry from the truck ban and number coding scheme to ensure timely deliveries to supermarkets and groceries. He has likewise requested manufacturers to supply to the supermarkets more than their normal deliveries, as well as to put up a dedicated center for bulk purchases for relief operations. Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba, officer in charge of the consumer welfare and business regulation group at the DTI, also requested the retailers to extend their operating hours to accommodate more consumers.
Meanwhile, the prices of basic commodities remained generally stable across Luzon, even in areas that were not placed under a state of calamity. Slight increases were noted in the prices of vegetables in certain areas that Domingo did not identify. A price freeze is automatically in effect in areas that are placed under a state of calamity. These areas include the cities of Pasay, Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Malabon and Marikina, Pateros town, four municipalities in Ilocos Sur, four areas in Pangasinan, Bataan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal. Goods covered by the price freeze include sardines, processed milk, coffee, detergent soap, bread, candles, salt, rice, corn, cooking oil, fresh pork/beef/poultry meat, fresh/dried fish/marine products, eggs, fresh milk, vegetables, root crops and sugar. Meanwhile, Domingo said he expected Maring to have had minimal impact on businesses outside the agriculture sector.—Amy R. Remo
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472815/food-shortage-caused-by-aborteddeliveries#ixzz2ckX16Rkr
Fish, vegetable supply most affected by floods–Agriculture exec By Kristine Angeli Sabillo 11:42 am | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines – The supply of fish and vegetables from storm-devastated Northern Luzon are the government’s biggest concern, said Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante Delima Thursday in an interview with Radyo Inquirer 990AM. Based on the Department of Agriculture’s August 21 report, P300 million worth of agricultural land and products were devastated by tropical storm “Maring” and the southwest monsoon. At least 640 hectares of land were damaged with no chance of recovery while 5,000 hectares can still be salvaged. Delima said the supply of seafood was primarily affected by the recent heavy rains and flooding brought about by the storm-enhanced southwest monsoon, especially since fish such as bangus or milkfish comes from Pangasinan. “Pangasinan was really devastated, especially our fishermen,” he said. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on Wednesday that 700 hectares of fish ponds in 31 villages overflowed, releasing P12.43 million worth of bangus, tilapia, malaga and prawns. The official said he was told that the price of fish and other seafood had increased by around 20 to 30%. In other news reports, the prices of galunggong (mackerel scad), dalagang bukid (yellowtail fusilier) and other saltwater fish increased by P20 to P40 per kilo. Delima also said they were monitoring the supply of “pinakbet” or vegetables such as ampalaya (bitter gourd), okra, string beans, squash, eggplant and tomato.
“Most of our ‘pinakbet’ [vegetables] come from the North so their movement and transportation has been paralyzed [because of the storm],” he said, adding that many production areas were also ravaged by the floods. They are also waiting for reports on “chopsuey” vegetables from Benguet. Delima assured the public that they were looking for alternative sources to address any shortage experienced in Metro Manila. He said calamities were always a cause for concern when it comes to food supply in the city. Initial reports said 5,738.5 hectares of rice land and 38.25 hectares of vegetable farms in Pangasinan were submerged in flood water. He said the Department of Trade and Industry was closely monitoring the price of basic commodities. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/471961/fish-vegetable-supply-most-affected-by-floods-agricultureexec#ixzz2ckfyZ9Fx
Thailand asks PH to keep word on rice purchase Published on Friday, 23 August 2013 00:00
Thailand had admonished the Philippines to comply with a commitment to import a certain volume of rice set in exchange for Manila’s decision to keep higher tariffs on the commodity. Trade Secretary Gregory Gregory Domingo said that in his bilateral meeting with his Thai counterparts during the Asean economic ministers meeting in Brunei earlier this week, Thai officials brought up the need for the Philippines to abide by a commitment to import a certain quantity of rice from Thailand. This has put the Philippines in a quandary as it is now the policy of the National Food Authority (NFA) to limit imports. The NFA issues import permits and let the private sector do the importation. But no one is buying from Thailand because, Domingo said, the price is higher compared to that of Vietnam, where Philippine buyers now get much of their imports. “We cannot force the private sector [to buy from a particular supplier],” Domingo said. According to Domingo, the commitment was for the Philippines to import more than 350,000 tons a year from Thailand. The Philippines has kept tariffs on rice, classified as a highly-sensitive product, at a high rate of 40 percent for five years, ending 2017. In exchange, it entered into country-specific quotas from Thailand and other rice-exporting countries. The annual rice-import quota, however, is duty-free. Beyond that volume, the tariff would be 40 percent. http://www.malaya.com.ph/index.php/business/business‐news/39109‐thailand‐asks‐ph‐to‐keep‐word‐ on‐rice‐purchase
Rains moderate agri self‐sufficiency goal Published on Friday, 23 August 2013 00:00
As a result of heavy damages inflicted on farms by recent typhoons Labuyo and Maring, as well as intense southwest monsoon rains, the government’s drive for self-sufficiency in rice and other crops will now exclude flood-prone areas in the order of priority, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said yesterday. DA estimates that damage to agriculture caused by these recent weather aberrations has reached P2.6 billion as of yesterday. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in a press briefing yesterday that the agency will retreat from its production targets for this year. “These farmers can easily replant,” Alcala said. “We will help them replant quickly.” “The third quarter agriculture performance but it will not be that big. And that is automatic, we are already prepared to replace the damage immediately, so in the next quarter we will be able to recover right away,” he said. The agriculture department is targeting a new record rice harvest this year at about 20 million tons from the current record 18.3 million tons in 2012, Alcala said. Corn production is also seen to reach a new high of more than 8 million tons from the existing record of 7.4 million tons set in 2012. Agriculture Undersecretary Dante Delima, who is field operations and rice program coordinator, said the flood-prone areas’ exclusion will “prevent wastage of government resources” in repeated rehabilitation of farm infrastructure and provision of farms inputs. “We will not rely on these areas. This happens every year and every year we rehabilitate. We lose money and resources which are already limited. So why continue like this?” he said. Among the areas considered for removal from the list of priority production areas are several provinces in Region 2 (Cagayan) and Region 3 (Central Luzon). Among these provinces are Pampanga, Bulacan and Tarlac. He said that instead of pouring in huge amounts of resources for farm inputs in vulnerable areas, the government would just increase the crop insurance coverage for the affected rice lands. “Region 3 has the highest in damage; we have placed funds, good for 30,000 hectares, coming from the Philippine Crop Insurance,” he said. “This insurance policy is subsidized by DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform). It is an intervention when we did an inventory with these regions that are prone to flood,” added Delima.
The agriculture sector sustained significant losses as crops, particularly corn in the flowering or harvesting stages, were damaged. Other commodies affected are rice, vegetables, banana, fisheries and livestock. DA data showed that crop damage alone reached P7.05 million, with the corn sub-sector suffering the biggest losses in the order of about P2.2 billion. Estimates for other crops are P484 million for paddy rice, P7 million for high value crops, and P130.7 million for banana. Alcala said the DA has traditionally factored in 660,000 metric tons in annual palay losses. â€œThis means that our estimates, including food sufficiency estimates, take into account this annual loss [from bad weather]. If in one year we lose only 600,000 metric tons, we still have a bonus of 60,000 metric tons for the buffer stock,â€? he explained. Rice and corn are expected to remain as the agricultural sectorâ€™s main growth drivers, with new record harvests targeted for this year. http://www.malaya.com.ph/index.php/business/business-news/39114-rains-moderate-agri-selfsufficiency-goal
Farm damage from successive storms: P2.75B FARM DAMAGE from recent storms that pummelled Luzon has reached 2.75 billion, latest data from the Department of Agriculture (DA) showed. A report of the agency as of Wednesday showed that 22,719 hectares of the 127,730 hectares total affected farm area could no longer be recovered after the almost successive onslaught of typhoon Labuyo (international code name: Utor) and tropical storm Maring (Trami). Rice, corn, banana, high-value crops, livestock, poultry, and fishery areas have been damaged in 20 provinces in six regions, according to the report. The corn subsector suffered the biggest loss at 2.122 billion equivalent to 203,261 metric tons (MT) of produce. Production damage to rice totaled 484.48 million covering 12,461 MT of the staple while 14,825 MT of banana production were destroyed valued at 130.731 million. Losses from high-value crops such as vegetables were pegged at 7.055 million, fisheries 1.76 million, and livestock and poultry 4.694 million. Dante S. Delima, Agriculture undersecretary for field operations and National Rice Program Coordinator, said in a press briefing that the agency is still awaiting the damage report from the coconut sector. Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in the same briefing that the storm damage has a minimal impact on the agriculture output for the year. “Hindi masyadong makakaa-pekto yung agricultural damage sa target kasi may naka-deploy nang pamalit na seeds ’dun sa mga nasira ng mga bagyo. No area will be lost, rather, there will be a delay in the harvest [The agricultural damage will not greatly affect the target as replacement seeds have been deployed to replace those that lost from the storm],” Mr. Alcala said. “Aside from the buffer seeds, farmers have their insurance to assist them with their lands,” Mr. Delima added. Asked if the damage has affected the rice self-sufficiency target, Mr. Alcala said: “Hindi tayo aatras sa [We will not back out in achieving] self-sufficiency. May panlulumo at panghihina sa mga magsasaka [There’s depression and weakness among the farmers] but I think our work now is to encourage them to go back to the farm industry. Aside from the buffer seeds we offered, we might also offer them free insurance.”
Rice supply is adequate in majority of the areas in the country, he said, and the National Food Authority (NFA) has released rice at 27 and 32 per kilogram. Mr. Delima added vegetable supply remains stable, but logistics and transport difficulties are weighing down on costs. “Walang problema sa supply ng gulay. Ang problema ay nasa logistics and distribution. Kaya mataas yung presyo ng gulay kasi kasali na doon yung pagbabyahe sa mga ito [There are no problems in the supply of vegetables. The problem lies in logistics and distribution. Prices of vegetables are high because they include expenses incurred during transporting],” he said. In a related development, Mr. Delima said during the press briefing that there is a need to revise the forecast targets for rice self-sufficiency as population growth and consumption of the staple have declined. “We want to avoid speculations so we have to revise based on the needs of the country. Based on the data from the National Statistics Office, growth rate is at 1.9% from previous year’s 2.34%. Capital consumption went down to 114 from 119 kilograms,” Mr. Delima said. The new targets will be released in a week or two. -- JDG http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Residents-clean-up;-stormdeaths-at-18&id=75397
Huge farm losses won’t affect target on rice sufficiency Category: Top News Published on Thursday, 22 August 2013 21:59 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala remains firm in his belief the country would meet its rice self‐ sufficiency target by year‐end despite the damage inflicted by Typhoons Labuyo and Maring and the southwest monsoon on farmlands and fisheries initially estimated at P2,620,419,744. “We are not retreating from our target,” Alcala told a news briefing, as he noted that corn sustained the biggest damage from the impact of the two typhoons and the habagat that spawned monstrous floods in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Cordillera, the National Capital Region (NCR) and parts of Calabarzon. Citing data gathered by Assistant Secretary Dante Delima, who now oversees field operations, as well as the National Rice Program, Alcala said 1,768 hectares of rice farms were destroyed. At least 25,220 hectares could still recover and catch up for the next planting season, he added. The volume of palay lost, Delima said, was 12,261 metric tons (MT) valued at P484,480,610, with Central Luzon incurring losses. “Nonetheless, these farmers—about 30,000 of them —are covered by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp.,” he said. Added Alcala: “These farmers can easily replant. We will help them replant quickly.” In assuaging fears that the triple whammy could lead to rice queues and food riots, Alcala said the Department of Agriculture has traditionally factored in 660,000 MT in annual palay losses. “This means that our estimates, including food‐sufficiency estimates, take into account this annual loss. If, in one year we lost only 600,000 MT, we’d still have a bonus of 60,000 MT for the buffer stock,” he said. Alcala and Delima said the National Food Authority (NFA) acted immediately by bringing in truckloads of rice to the markets to stem hoarding and speculation and supply local government units with the rice that they need. Aside from the NFA, the chief of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, lawyer Asis Perez, has also mustered the commitment of the fish‐cage operators in Taal Lake to harvest more of their fish to supply NCR, which gets 70 percent of its fish requirements from the lake and the nearby Laguna de Bay. Fish from Panabo City in Davao del Sur are also being prepared for transport to Manila and other areas.
Alcala said vegetables from Nueva Vizcaya and Southern Luzon might be trucked in quickly even as vegetable prices took a dive weeks before Labuyo, Maring and the habagat struck. Delima said the bigger problem is corn, since the total area of corn farms that could not recover for the planting season is 20,037 hectares, with 78,960 hectares still capable of recovering. Both Alcala and Delima said the August 21 data showed that rice farms in Central Luzon were battered but this was nothing compared to the corn stands ruined by the two typhoons and the torrential rains. The total corn production loss is 203,261 MT worth P2,122,432,654, or about 85 percent of the consolidated damage. Bananas also got a beating; at least 903 hectares of plantations were damaged but with chances of recovering and 123 hectares destroyed. The production loss placed at 14,825 MT valued at P130,731,654. High‐value crops (HVCs) were spared the brunt of the typhoons and torrential rains, with only 11 hectares ruined and 709 hectares capable of rehabilitation. Total damage to HVCs was a modest P1,756,850. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/18357‐huge‐farm‐losses‐won‐t‐affect‐ target‐on‐rice‐sufficiency
Vegetable prices up 15% due to higher transport cost Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Thursday, 22 August 2013 21:20 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent
VEGETABLE traders and vendors belonging to the Vegetable Importers, Exporters and Vendor Association of the Philippines (Vieva) said the retail prices of various vegetables sold in Metro Manila are higher by an average of 15 percent. Vieva Executive Director Leah Cruz said vegetables are more expensive due to additional transport costs incurred by dealers and vendors. “Distributors have to pay additional costs because of the difficulty in delivering fresh produce from farms in the province to markets in areas affected by the flood,” said Cruz in a telephone interview. The Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines (CTAP) said truckers with no long‐term contracts with their clients such as vegetable distributors may charge higher than prevailing rates particularly those operating in port areas. Ruperto Bayocot, president of CTAP, told the BusinessMirror that truckers may charge an additional 20 percent temporarily or until demand for various commodities has normalized. Bayocot also said truckers expect more demand for transport services in the days after the heavy rains have subsided as shipment is normally suspended during typhoons. He said trucking services have no uniform rates as truckers are not regulated by the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board. “As such, rates charged by truckers are the discretion of specific operators,” Bayocot said. Barring a strong typhoon or a weather disturbance that would cause torrential rains in Metro Manila, Cruz said the retail price of vegetable could stabilize by next week.
She said major vegetable‐producing provinces in the country such as Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya were not badly hit by Typhoon Labuyo and floods caused by heavy rains. “Actually, the rains have been good for some vegetables grown in those areas,” Cruz said. Typhoon Maring which induced torrential rains in Luzon flooded many parts of northern and central Luzon, southern Tagalog, Metro Manila, and Regions 4A and 4B. A number of areas are currently under state of calamity due to the floods. A price freeze on basic commodities is being observed in areas under state of calamity. The government vowed to ensure the availability of affordable basic commodities in areas affected by the southwest monsoon and Typhoon Labuyo. (With Jennifer A. Ng) http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/18331‐vegetable‐prices‐up‐15‐ due‐to‐higher‐transport‐cost
BFAR rolls out fishermen registry in Northern Mindanao Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Thursday, 22 August 2013 19:01 Written by Butch D. Enerio / Correspondent CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Fishermen in Northern Mindanao will soon be able to get the assistance they need from the government after the regional office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Bfar) launched on Wednesday the municipal Fisherfolk Registration (FishR) here. The Northern Mindanao FishR was attended by more than 500 participants from cities and municipalities and provinces in Region 10. “For more than 50 years the fishery sector has never been given the attention it deserves, particularly the people behind one of the country’s economic contributors. Now we can give them a name and a face to properly attend to their welfare,” Bfar Director Asis Perez said. The Bfar, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), said there are about 1.7 million fishermen in the country who need to be identified. Currently, only 85,000 have been registered. With FishR, Perez said the government could come up with a complete database of fishermen in the Philippines by 2014. He noted that despite the high productivity of the fisheries subsector, many fishermen or around 51 percent have remained poor. “This has to be corrected and [we need to] teach our fishermen, in particular those fishing in municipal waters, how to utilize the resources of the sea and in the process improve their living conditions,” Perez said. The Bfar said the fishery subsector accounts for about 4 percent to 5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Through FishR, Perez said the government hopes to be able to provide the support badly needed by fishermen all over the country. The Bfar said fishermen 18 years old and above who will register will qualify for benefits from Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). They will also be automatically insured by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. which will provide them coverage for injuries or death caused by accidents while they are fishing.
Perez said coastal and inland local chief executives and chairmen of the municipal/city aquatic resources management will be oriented on the implementing guidelines of the Fisheries Registration System (FRS). The Provincial Fishery Officers, Municipal Agricultural Officers and technicians will be trained on FRS data management system to facilitate the registration process as project implementers, and will be oriented on the mechanics of registration and the information education and communications strategies that they can adapt in their locality. Data collected under the program would be used in designing programs to aid the local municipalities for managing, regulating, conserving and protecting fishery resources and establishing a comprehensive fishery information system. The Bfar said the registration of fishermen is required by the Fisheries Code of 1998. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/18330‐bfar‐rolls‐out‐ fishermen‐registry‐in‐northern‐mindanao
NTA eyes more fees for imported tobacco products Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Thursday, 22 August 2013 19:00 Written by Paul Anthony A. Isla The National Tobacco Administration (NTA) is proposing to impose additional fees before allowing the sale and distribution of imported tobacco products in the country. This is contained in the draft Memorandum Circular 003 Series of 2013, a copy of which was obtained by non‐governmental Action for Economic Reforms (AER). “As part of the requirements, sellers and distributors of imported tobacco products will be levied a license fee that amounts from P100 to P600 on top of the license fee previously levied,” AER said. “In addition, the said memorandum imposes additional evaluation fees for what is already a redundant inspection mechanism on imported cigarette products,” the group added. AER said the NTA claims that the proposed policy will prevent smuggling, counterfeiting and illicit trading of imported tobacco products “through proper supervision, monitoring and regulation in order to protect the consumer/smoking public.” “On the contrary, however, we contend that the ulterior objective for the said proposal is only to perpetuate a discriminatory system that favors domestic cigarette producers,” AER said. The group said raising the evaluation fee and imposing “redundant” evaluation procedures on imported cigarettes will not stop the smuggling of tobacco products. The group also warned that the move is “discriminatory” and will violate the country’s commitment to international trade rules, specifically the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which prohibits the use of internal fees or taxes to favor the domestic industry. “We challenge the NTA to prove the legitimacy of its intention to curb illicit cigarette trade, and not merely perpetuate discrimination against foreign product through the proposed measures under Memorandum 003‐2013,” AER said. From a “tobacco‐control perspective,” the group urged the attached agency of the Department of Agriculture to revise the memo and apply the proposed measures to all cigarettes. AER said uniformly imposing higher evaluation and regulatory fees on both foreign‐made and domestically produced cigarettes will discourage the sale of tobacco products and make them less accessible to the public. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/18329‐nta‐eyes‐more‐fees‐for‐ imported‐tobacco‐products
Floods displace 500,000; 19 dead By Nikko Dizon Inquirer Bureaus 1:51 am | Friday, August 23rd, 2013
THE HAPPY GIVER President Aquino distributes relief packages—consisting of a sleeping mat, bread, canned goods and rice—to flood victims in Imus, Cavite, on Thursday. LYN RILLON The number of people whose lives were disrupted by five days of monsoon rains generated by Tropical Storm “Maring” rose to 1.75 million on Thursday, with more than half a million of them, displaced from their homes by floods, huddled in evacuation centers. Maring blew out of the Philippines on Wednesday but continued to bring rain to areas within its 500-kilometer diameter on Thursday. At least 19 people died and four remained missing, Maj. Rey Balido, spokesperson for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said at a news conference. President Aquino visited evacuation centers in Cavite province, one of the hardest-hit provinces. The latest fatality was Rodrigo Telles, 69, of Barangay General Luna, Carranglan town, Nueva Ecija province. Telles was earlier reported missing after he was swept away by the floods. The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) also listed Arzay Josue, 22, of Sitio (settlement) Silangan, Barangay (village) Dulong Bayan in Bacoor City, Cavite province, as among those who drowned in the flood in the village.
Pangasinan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) deputy chief Ruben Aquino said an unidentified body was recovered along Agno River Thursday morning. The OCD-Calabarzon also reported that 2-year-old Constantine Hernandez (earlier reported as Constantine Modesto) of Imus City, Cavite, was found caught on a barbed wire that strangled him as he was swept away by floodwaters. The OCD report said Hernandez had clung to his uncle’s back as they fled their home, but slipped and fell into the muddy torrent. The NDRRMC had 18 fatalities officially on record, not including the unidentified dead in Pangasinan. According to OCD Administrator Eduardo del Rosario, the OCD reports only deaths confirmed by the Department of Health (DOH). Of the 18 fatalities, five were from Cavite. Aside from 2-year-old Hernandez, those killed in the province were 7-year-old Joros Miyage who drowned in Tanza town; Roberto Capili, 53, of Imus City; John Genesis, 23, of Noveleta; and Celedononio Gamban, 39, of Tanza. Displaced people The 1.75 million people affected by the monsoon rains came from 1,452 barangays of 118 municipalities, 33 cities and 16 provinces in the Ilocos region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, the Cordillera Administrative Region, and the National Capital Region, the NDRRMC said. In Central Luzon alone, 1.02 million people were affected. Balido said that more than half a million people were displaced, with 214,857 (48,386 families) staying in 709 evacuation centers. Another 345,723 people (71,165 families) chose to stay with families or friends, he said. 5 in state of calamity At the press conference, the health department’s nurse emergency officer Bong Gamlanga said evacuees were usually treated for fever, headache, cough and cold, diarrhea, and wounds. Still under a state of calamity are five provinces, eight cities, nine municipalities and two barangays. These are the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal; the cities of Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Malabon, Marikina, Pasay, Candon in Ilocos Sur, Dagupan in Pangasinan, and Tarlac; the towns of Pateros, Narvacan, Gregorio del Pilar and Sta. Maria in Ilocos Sur, Sta.
Barbara and Calasiao in Pangasinan, Obando and Hagonoy in Bulacan, Abra de Ilog in Occidental Mindoro; and barangays Victoria and Lagnas in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. Weather monitors at Sangley Point in Cavite recorded 475 millimeters of rainfall in 24 hours (from 8 a.m. on Monday to 8 a.m. on Tuesday), surpassing last year’s southwest monsoon (habagat) record. Monsoon rains also pounded Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon in August last year, with Sangley recording 364.2 mm rainfall. The monthly average rainfall in Sangley is 452.2 mm. Damage estimates The NDRRMC said damage to agriculture and infrastructure in llocos, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and the CAR was estimated at P78.8 million. The Department of Agriculture added damage caused Typhoon “Labuyo” and put the total damage to agriculture at P2.75 billion. Data from the department’s monitoring showed that as of Thursday, 217,484 metric tons of produce had been lost. “But we still have to validate this, and there are agencies that have not yet reported their losses, like those involved in coconut and infrastructure,” said acting Agriculture Undersecretary Dante S. Delima. The NDRRMC said assistance worth P24.5 million, from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the DOH, local governments, and nongovernment organizations have been allocated to the flood victims. Appeal for donations The social arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Thursday appealed for donations to raise an initial P2.12 million to help flood victims in six provinces in Luzon. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action national director, urged people to help raise P2,134,500 to cover the priority needs of 15,000 families affected by the monsoon rains in six dioceses. “Our plan is to send food items of rice, lentils and assorted canned goods to the dioceses of Bayombong (Quirino Province), Imus (Cavite), San Pablo (Laguna), Iba (Zambales) and Malolos (Bulacan), and the Prelature of Infanta (Aurora), targeting a total of 14,600 families,” Pabillo said.
“Our initial release of Alay Kapwa Funds, as well as dioceses that remitted or pledged their donations for which we are deeply grateful, are still not sufficient for this new target, considering that we now have a big number of dioceses to assist in their emergency needs,” he said. “Your assistance is still very much needed,” Pabillo added. He said those who wished to help could deposit their donations at the Bank of the Philippine Islands. The account name is “CBCP Caritas Filipinas Foundation Inc.” and the account number is 4951-0071-08. Pabillo added that those with Internet access can also donate online through this link: http://ushare.unionbankph.com/caritasfilipinas/. P6M from Caritas Caritas Manila, the lead social service agency of the Church, released P6 million on Thursday to help the flood victims. In a statement, Caritas Manila said the funds were used to help around 16,000 families. The flood victims received emergency relief packs containing rice, canned foods, biscuits, instant noodles, coffee and mineral water. More than 1,000 volunteers responded to the call of Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman to help her department repack food that would be distributed to the flood victims. But Soliman said that although big, the number was not enough. She said her department needed more volunteers. Dam water levels Meanwhile, La Mesa Dam in Quezon City continued to spill water on Thursday afternoon, although the water level was receding, according to Manila Water Co. Ipo Dam in Bulacan was also spilling water. Jeric Sevilla, head of corporate communication of Manila Water, said the water level at the dam was steadily rising. Sevilla said the water level at La Mesa Dam was 80.23 meters as of 5 p.m., still above the spilling level of 80.15 meters. At Ipo Dam, the water level had reached 100.82 meters by 5 p.m., nearing the spilling level of 101 meters. “Two out of the three gates at Ipo Dam have been open since Tuesday,” Sevilla said, adding that this was done to prevent the water from reaching spilling level.
The water level at Angat Dam in Bulacan was 197.62 m. At Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija province, the water level was 191.66 meters. Binga and Ambuklao Dams in Benguet province were almost filled to the brim. Ambuklao raised its spillway gates opening to 2 meters to release more water after its water level reached 751.81 meters, barely 19 centimeters below the spilling level of 752 meters. Binga Dam opened one more spillway gate, increasing its open gates to three at 3.5 meters high after the water level reached 574.98 meters, 2 centimeters below the spilling level of 575 meters. The water level at San Roque Dam in San Manuel town, Pangasinan province, was 268.22 meters, 11.78 meters below the spilling level of 280 meters. Closed roads At least 18 major roads in four regions in Luzon remained closed to traffic on Thursday, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Closed but being cleared of storm debris and other obstructions were the Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya road, Shilan-Beckel road, Gurel Bokod-Kabayan-Buglas-Abatan road, Acop-KapanganKibungan-Bakun road, and the Daklan-Gambung-Bakun road, all in Benguet province in the CAR. Also closed were the Luna-Bagar road and the San Fernando-Bagulin road, both in La Union province. Still being cleared were the San Carlos-Calasiao road and the Malcup road, both in Pangasinan province. The Dinadlawan-Madela road in Aurora province was also being cleared. Also closed were Layac road in Dinalupihan, Bataan; Bigaa-Plaridel road, Panginay-Balagtas road and Malolos-Calumpit road, all in Bulacan; the Baliwag-Candaba-Sta. Ana road, ApalitMacabebe-Masantol road and San Gabriel-Masantol road, all in Pampanga; and Tagaytay-Taal Lake road in Batangas.â€”With reports from Philip C. Tubeza, Cynthia Balana, Jerry E. Esplanada and Ronnel W. Domingo in Manila; Tonette Orejas, Robert Gonzaga and Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Gabriel Cardinoza, Yolanda Sotelo, Cristina Arzadon and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472613/floods-displace-500000-19dead#ixzz2ckwTRdTV
DA chief in new ‘pork’ mess August 22, 2013 11:00 pm
by BELLY M. OTORDOZ AND MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO CORRESPONDENT AND REPORTER Quezon farmers deny receiving P3.2-M loan aid LUCENA CITY: Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and his chief of staff have been implicated in a new anomaly related to the priority development assistance fund (PDAF). This time, it involves the disbursement of some P3.2 million in pork barrel funds to a bogus foundation in 2008, when Alcala was still a congressman. Sixteen small farmers from the second district of Quezon have in sworn statements denied that they received P50,000 each as loan assistance from the “Proceso sa Pag-asenso: Proyektong Lingap-Kalinga para sa Kabuhayan ng mga Piling Magsasaka ng Ikalawang Distrito ng Quezon”—a priority project funded by the pork barrel of Alcala. The project, carried out through the Sir Pelagio Alcantara Development (SPADE) Foundation Inc., was designed to benefit 65 marginal farmer-families in the district through loan assistance with six percent interest. SPADE was at that time headed by Alcala’s chief of staff in Congress, Claron Alcantara, who is now Agriculture Undersecretary. The loan project was completed on May 15, 2008, with total fund of P3.275 million. However, most, if not all, of the named beneficiaries claimed that they never got any loan assistance. Faked Two of the alleged beneficiaries, Privado Joco and Nelson Aguila of Sariaya town, said they did not receive the amount and that their signatures in a disbursement voucher submitted by SPADE to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as monitoring agency, were faked. In their statements, copies of which were obtained by The Manila Times, Joco and Aguila said they never even heard of the loan project. “Because I never received any amount from SPADE or from its project; That, the name and signature attributed to me are not mine and are falsified],” the farmers said.
Joco and Aguila and 14 other supposed farmer-beneficiaries executed their sworn statements from January 28 to February 4, 2013. The statements were among the attachments to the 125-page complaint filed at the Office of the Ombudsman by former Lucena City mayor Ramon Talaga Jr. against Alcala last February 4. The 16 complainants are concern that they would be made liable for a loan they did not apply for. Two weeks ago, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) demanded the resignation of Alcala and his deputies over allegations that he endorsed projects totaling P89.2 million to sham NGOs. The KMP also sought full public disclosure of the Department of Agriculture’s list of partners and accredited NGOs in the wake of reports that some of the lawmakers’ PDAF were coursed through the DA. Besides Alcala, KMP also asked Alcantara, Assistant Secretary Ophelia Agawin and Undersecretary Antonio Fleta to step down. KMP Deputy Secretary-General Willy Marbella said the “schematic plunder of billions of agricultural funds” could not have happened without Alcala’s knowledge and consent.” The militant group also cited reports that Fleta belongs to a core group of officials from Quezon who were brought to the department by Alcala, who reappointed Agawin and promoted her to assistant secretary in February 2012. Earlier, pork barrel scam accuser Merlina Suñas implicated Alcala’s office as a key conduit in funneling government funds to at least two dummy NGOs allegedly set up by Janet LimNapoles. Napoles, the subject of an arrest warrant for serious illegal detention, is said to be closely associated with Agawin and Fleta. Suñas also said Agawin was a conduit in the web of fake NGOs controlled by Napoles. “We demand that Alcala and his gang step down, submit to an independent investigation and be accountable for plunder,” Marbella said. ‘My conscience is clear’ To prove his innocence, Alcala released data showing that of the P83 million requested by the group of Napoles through the DA, P44 million have yet to be released. He said the funds will never be released, especially when the beneficiary failed to liquidate the first tranche of the fund.
In a follow up statement released by his office, Alcala explained that since July 2010, the agency has put in place safeguards to ensure that all agri-fishery infrastructure and livelihood projects “are undertaken in a transparent, graft-free manner.” Initially, he said, the DA did not implement agri-fishery projects funded under the PDAF of legislators before August 2012. “Immediately, we formed a special committee and put in place a system to accredit [NGOs] and People’s Organizations [Pos] that will implement PDAF projects. The system ensures that the NGOs and POs are legitimate, and have good track record,” Alcala said. To make sure PDAF projects are well-monitored, Alcala said they implemented stringent measures like releasing funds in tranches of up to four installments, based on the projects’ progress. “All of these were undertaken prior to any report or issue on PDAF was heard of. These systems were precisely installed in the spirit of transparency in government transactions,” he pointed out. Recently, a Special Audit report released by the Commission on Audit (COA) revealed that at least six lawmakers allocated millions of their pork barrel funds to foundations linked to them or their relatives. COA chief Grace Pulido-Tan even described their discovery as kahindik-hindik [disgusting]. COA discovered that former Quezon City representative Matias Defensor had facilitated P99.5 million to the “Matias Defensor Sr. Foundation Inc” between 2007 to 2009 while former senator Edgardo Angara had released P14.4 million to the Kalusugan ng Bata, Karunungan ng Bayan Foundation, where he was allegedly an incorporator, a member of the board of directors, and a stockholder. Besides Defensor and Angara, four other “legislators and/or their relatives are incorporators of recipient NGOs of fund transfers of their respective PDAF allocations,” according to COA. The four are Amado Bagatsing of Manila, P21.74 million to the Kabaka Foundation Inc, where he was named as “incorporator/BOD/stockholder”; Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan, P12.9 million to the Jose Sy Alvarado Foundation, where she was “incorporator/(chairman)/president”; Federico Sandoval II of Malabon City, P20 million to the Pamalakaya Foundation Inc, for which his niece was an incorporator, director, and stockholder; and Anthony Miranda of Isabela, P20 million to the Aksyon Makamasa Foundation, Inc., where he was tagged as “incorporator, COB, stockholder, president” of the organization. Inaccuracies Meanwhile, The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Thursday cleared what it said were “inaccuracies” in the COA report, including one allocation that was falsely attributed to President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
One error, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said involves the P20 million supposedly allocated and released to a certain “Luis Abalos,” whom the COA noted was not a member of the 13th and 14 th Congress. Abad said the name “Luis Abalos” was an encoding error in the matrix of legislators submitted to COA. “The P20 million in question should have been attributed to former congressman Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr.,” he said. Abad also said P3 billion in PDAF was mistakenly attributed to Rep. Manuel Zamora, after it was discovered that a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) issued to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the Preventive Maintenance of National Roads and Bridges shared the same SARO number (A-07-9539) with a PDAF allocation earlier released to Zamora. “The PDAF release made to Zamora amounted to just P500,000, bringing the third tranche of his Congressional Allocation for 2007 to only P10 million,” Abad added. He said a P40-million allocation attributed by the COA report to then-senator Benigno Aquino 3rd was not actually released during that period. “Although the SARO for the former senator’s PDAF request had already been approved, the SARO was ultimately not issued and the funds had gone unused,” Abad said. The errors could have been due to the fact that during the period covered by the COA audit, there was no recommended limit or ceiling to the PDAF released to legislators, he said. “Before the Aquino administration, there was no cap on PDAF releases made to our lawmakers. There was a minimum amount, yes, but no ceilings were set for it. In 2011, however, we established a cap on PDAF allocations, with P70 million set for representatives and P200 million for senators. Even then, a legislator can still request funds beyond the allocation already set for him, subject to DBM’s approval,” he said. “This is particularly true in humanitarian cases with urgent aid requirements, such as the release of allocations from the Calamity Fund for a legislator’s disaster-stricken constituents,” Abad said. http://www.manilatimes.net/da-chief-in-new-pork-mess/32326/
Group fears coco levy theft by solons, execs By Delfin T. Mallari Jr. Inquirer Southern Luzon 10:59 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
NEW SEN. Cynthia Villar, who replaced her husband at the Senate, leads groundbreaking rites for a P5-million housing project in Cateel, Davao Oriental, for survivors of Typhoon “Pablo.” The project is funded by the pork barrel of the senator’s husband, former Sen. Manny Villar. NICO ALCONABA/INQUIRER MINDANAO LUCENA CITY—A militant farmers’ group expressed fears that the estimated P70 billion in coconut levy collected from farmers would end up being stolen by legislators like billions of pesos of so-called pork barrel funds. Willy Marbella, deputy secretary general of the leftist Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), said the coconut levy funds “are in danger” should these be handled, too, by the agriculture department, which is now embroiled in the pork barrel scandal after several projects that went through it were found to have been nonexistent or did not benefit farmers at all. Marbella said his group feared that under the Aquino administration, the coco levy funds would end up in the pockets of officials and legislators following President Aquino’s refusal to let go of the pork barrel system. “His (Aquino) continuing use of the graft-ridden pork barrel system further fuels the culture of impunity in the plunder of public funds,” Marbella said in a statement. Marbella said Aquino had already included the coco levy funds in the 2014 budget “without the consent and approval of the small coconut farmers.”
Marbella said that under the proposed P2.3-billion budget of the Philippine Coconut Authority for next year, P305 million would be used to establish “agro-industrial hubs” in five regions— Calabarzon, Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas and the Zamboanga Peninsula. The funds for these, he said, are likely to come from the coco levy. Marbella said these hubs were actually the “agri industrial estates” that Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala announced in March. When Alcala announced the estates in March, Marbella said he remembered the agriculture secretary saying, too, that funds for the project were to come from the coco levy. KMP and the claimants movement, Coco Levy Funds Ibalik sa Amin, have opposed the use of the levy for government projects, saying the money should be returned, instead, to its rightful owners, the thousands of coconut farmers nationwide.
DTI assures no food shortage in Metro By Amy R. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:45 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
AFP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Trade and Industry on Thursday allayed concerns over the “temporary” shortages of some basic commodities like noodles in certain parts of Metro Manila over the past days. In a press briefing Thursday, Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo explained that these shortages, noted mainly in the Camanava area (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela), were due mainly to the inability of food manufacturers to make their respective deliveries given the floods spawned by heavy rains enhanced by tropical storm “Maring.” Also contributing to these temporary shortages were the bulk buying made by various organizations for their relief operations, he added. As a remedy, Domingo said he would ask the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to exempt food manufacturers and baking industry from the truck ban and color coding scheme to ensure timely deliveries to supermarkets and groceries. He has likewise requested manufacturers to supply to the supermarkets more than their normal delivery, as well as to put up a dedicated center for bulk purchases for relief operations.
Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba, officer-in-charge of the consumer welfare and business regulation group at the DTI, also requested the retailers to extend their operating hours to accommodate all the consumers. Prices of basic commodities meanwhile remained generally stable across Luzon, even in areas that were not placed under state of calamity. Slight increases were noted in the prices of vegetables in certain areas which Domingo did not identify. The price freeze is automatically in effect in areas that are placed under a state of calamity. These areas included Pasay, Paranaque, Muntinlupa, Malabon, Marikina, Pateros, four municipalities in Ilocos Sur, four areas in Pangasinan, Bataan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal. Goods covered by the price freeze included canned sardines, processed milk, coffee, detergent soap, bread, candles, salt, rice, corn, cooking oil, fresh pork/beef/poultry meat, fresh/dried fish/marine products, fresh egg, fresh milk, fresh vegetables, rootcrops and sugar. Meanwhile, Domingo said he expected Typhoon Maring to have a minimal impact on businesses outside the agriculture sector. The impact can be felt mainly on the halting of operations over the last few days, he added. Domingo disclosed that the country’s economic zones fared well during the onslaught of Typhoon Maring except for one ecozone in Rosario, Cavite, which has some 250 locators. Operations of at least 100 companies within the ecozone in Cavite were affected and are expected to resume in two weeks’ time, he further said. Even the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) on Wednesday was hopeful that the impact of storm Maring on local firms (outside the agricultural sector) will not be as damaging. “Definitely, there is a lot of damage. Apart from agriculture, there were no trading activities over the past two days. The logistics industry has been largely affected too because of the floods and because people can’t go to work,” PCCI president Miguel B. Varela had said in a phone interview. “I hope that the impact will not be that big considering that flood waters receded quickly… [Also] affected were the manufacturing plants, in terms mostly of halted or low production,” Varela earlier said.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472433/dti-assures-no-food-shortage-inmetro#ixzz2ckZ4q0vU
Revenge of the ‘pawikan’: 5 dead after eating sea turtle meat By Joey A. Gabieta Inquirer Visayas 10:55 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 TACLOBAN CITY—Five persons died while 153 others were taken ill after eating the meat of a sea turtle that was found dead on Aug. 17 in Arteche, a town in Eastern Samar. Marlon Gabril, a fisherman who found the sea turtle and later sold its meat, is now in the custody of the local police, according to Albino Pinangay, in charge of the fishery and aquatic office of the Arteche municipal government. Pinangay said Gabril found the dead sea turtle floating in waters off Barangay Rawis on Aug. 17 and later sold the meat to more than 100 residents of the village and neighboring Barangay Garden. “He never told his customers that the pawikan that he butchered was already dead. This was the reason why there was this food poisoning incident,” Pinangay said. The turtle weighed more than 12 kilograms, according to Pinangay. Five of those who ate the meat bought from Gabril died while being treated at Eastern Samar Provincial Hospital in Borongan City.They were identified as Ramon Galit and wife Lilian, Marcosa Picardal, Eugenio Nuguit and son Marlon. They are all from Barangay Rawis. The Nuguits died on Aug. 18 and the Galit couple, on Aug. 21. Picardal was said to have died hours after she ate the meat of the sea turtle. Quoting results of an investigation, Pinangay said 153 residents from Rawis and Garden also got ill after eating the turtle meat bought from Gabril. Several of the victims chose to self-medicate. Some were brought to Arteche District Hospital, more than 100 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Borongan City. Most of the victims have been discharged and are now recovering, according to Pinangay. Vice Mayor Linda Mejica, in a separate phone interview, said she was shocked by what happened because “we have never experienced this.” The local government unit, she said, would conduct an information campaign in Rawis and in other villages to remind people not to catch or kill sea turtles. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472547/revenge-of-the-pawikan-5-dead-after-eating-sea-turtlemeat#ixzz2ckheSCks
Special insurance program for rice, corn farmers pushed Published : Friday, August 23, 2013 00:00 Written by : Bernadette E. Tamayo
SENATE Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto is seeking the creation of a special insurance program for rice and corn farmers heavily affected by calamities as agricultural damages continue to soar due to the recent onslaught of typhoons Labuyo and Maring. He filed Senate Bill 714 or the Special Rice and Corn Insurance Program of 2013 which enables rice and corn farmers cultivating land with a maximum area of five hectares to replant as soon as weather and soil condition permits, through the help of the government, thereby ensuring the least disruption in crop production, ensuring food security and farm incomes. “This piece of legislation aims to aid our rice and corn farmers in times of severe calamity.Those affected have no recourse but to bear the brunt of extreme weather conditions,” Recto said. He said the “premium shall be fully-paid” for by the government through the Special Rice and Corn Insurance Program to be undertaken by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation. “This bill seeks to provide a special insurance program to cover losses incurred exclusively by rice and corn farmers,” Recto said,adding the bulk of the Filipino diet and food expenditures consist of the staple grains, rice and corn. “Generally, the Filipino family spends 20-30 percent of their food expenditures budget on rice. On the other hand, around 14 million Filipinos prefer to eat white corn grits as their main staple,” he said. “The cycle of crop loss and hunger is reinforced as farmers who suffered such crop losses exhibited the following coping mechanisms: passive acceptance and belief in the futility of attempts to prevent crop loss; replanting the damaged crops; and, planting alternative crops,” Recto said. Aside from extreme weather conditions, diseases and pest infestations similarly lead to crop losses, he said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/56731-special-insurance-program-for-ricecorn-farmers-pushed
Dimaporo plea vs arrest warrant opposed By Cynthia D. Balana Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:29 am | Friday, August 23rd, 2013 3 14 4
Lanao del Norte Representative Abdullah Dimaporo INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—State prosecutors have opposed the twin motions of Lanao del Norte Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo seeking the recall of the warrant of arrest against him and the dismissal of the graft and malversation cases in connection with his involvement in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam. Citing lack of merit, a nine-page comment and opposition to the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division by government prosecutor Omar L. Sagadal said Dimaporo failed to raise any substantial argument that would warrant the dismissal of the two criminal complaints against him. In his motions dated Aug. 13, 2013, Dimaporo insisted lack of probable cause to indict him in the absence of the elements of the offenses charged against him. He pointed out that court erred in adopting in its entirety the prosecution’s memorandum dated March 25, 2013, recommending his indictment despite substantial evidence negating the existence of probable cause against him.
Dimaporo also argued that the court erred in ruling that the Commission on Audit (COA) report prepared by State Auditor Edwin Canios was irrelevant in the determination of probable cause in the instant cases. The prosecution stressed that the issue on the existence of probable cause has been rendered moot and academic when the accused, through his counsel, manifested during the hearing of this case on Aug. 5 that he was submitting to the custody of the court. It also said that records of the cases showed controverting evidence and supporting documents submitted by the accused-movant, prompting the Ombudsman to file the information. It likewise said that the finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that more likely than not, a crime has been committed and there is enough reason to believe that it was committed by the accused.” “It need not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, neither on evidence establishing absolute certainty of guilt,” the prosecution said. “Thus, the Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause does not touch on the issue of guilt or innocence of the accused. It is not the function of the Office of the Ombudsman to rule on such issue.” Dimaporo was allegedly involved in the diversion of P5 million to Lanao Foundation Inc (LFI), by making it appear that fertilizers were indeed distributed to farmers under the Department of Agriculture’s farm input and farm implement program. Also implicated were provincial agriculturist Isabelo Luna VI and private individuals Felizardo Dragon, Evangeline Ontiveros, Rosalinda Bisenio and Elmer Sayre who were charged under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. All accused private individuals were officials of the foundation established by Dimaporo himself in 1994. The court has set P30,000 bail for each for the graft charge.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472657/dimaporo-plea-vs-arrest-warrantopposed#ixzz2cl1q6crV
Banana output sags By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:01am | 262 views Banana production fell in the first half, as two typhoons affected most banana-producing provinces, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics said. The BAS said in a report showed banana production reached 14,518 metric tons in the first half, down 8.1 percent from last yearâ€™s 15,799 metric tons. It said banana plantations in the Davao provinces and Northern Mindanao had not yet recovered from the adverse effects of Typhoon Pablo. This was aggravated by the production decline in banana producing provinces such as Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan. The Philippines earlier expressed interest to export highland Cavendish bananas to United States. The shipment was delayed due to the effects of several typhoons that hit the country last year. Bureau of Plant Industry director Clarito Barron earlier said that Dole Philippines is currently finalizing plans to export 3,000 metric tons of highland cavendish bananas to continental or mainland US. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/23/banana-output-sags/
Aug. 26 Million People March By Ernesto M. Ordoñez Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:50 am | Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Many call the Luneta event against the pork barrel this Aug. 26 an ambitious “Million People March.” But even if one million is far from reached, a substantial number of citizens congregating on this issue should be a loud and clear signal that they are taking to heart President Nonoy Aquino’s statement: “Ikaw ang Boss Ko.” Many of PNoy’s bosses want the pork barrel scrapped. But is this the right thing to do? I quote here an exchange of e-mails that may guide the reader’s own answer to this. They come from people steeped in business, but their arguments are very relevant for small farmers and fisherfolk. The first e-mail is from a source who would rather not be identified: “Are you sure you want to scrap pork? Is it really useless? Maybe it is good, except that it is being shockingly misused. The solution then is not to scrap it, but to promote its good use and hold accountable those that misuse it.” There are two e-mail responses quoted here. One is from Gregorio Magdaraog: “This pork problem has been raised many times before. Time and again, those who craft the General Appropriations Act have found a way of justifying it by giving it different names and “purposes,” and never really coming up with the so-called safety nets against corruption. From the very beginning, it has been a source of self-serving largesse and/or a tool for furthering feudal power. The monies that politicians are able to generate from the exercise of this pork barrel is scandalously known to be a source of recovering excessive expenditures in electoral campaigns. ” Magdaraog makes an important point relevant to local governance, which is what the small farmers and fisherfolk feel the most: “In addition, this kind of power/privilege given to legislators have actually turned them into quasi-local executives, providing a hiding place to circumvent the principles of power sharing or otherwise perpetuate political dynasties.” In his e-mail response, Roberto Atendido likewise opposes the pork barrel, and cites its misuse: “Take the example of that famous bridge in Bohol that has become a tourist attraction. They built it in the wrong place. No motorist is able to cross over it today because one end of the bridge runs right smack into a church. To make the bridge operational, one has to relocate the church, which of course will not happen. What does this congressman know about building a bridge,
except that he just wants his pork? This is not just idiocy, but a criminal act against tax-paying people. ” Like Magdaraog, Atendido adds a good governance dimension: “When resources are scarce, the better way of handling infrastructure projects is on a national scale so that investments and resources are channeled to where it is needed. You don’t need the senators’ and congressmen’s pork barrel. The executive branch can better manage this. Local projects such as basketball courts, health centers, etc., are better handled by LGUs.” What is the view of the farmers and fisherfolk? Two weeks ago, this was asked of the Alyansa Agrikultura, a coalition of 42 federations and organizations representing all the major agriculture and fisheries sectors. The question was whether the pork barrel should be reformed or abolished completely. In some situations, the pork barrel did help farmers and fisherfolk. But this was more the exception than the rule. And since the pork barrel scam amounted to P10 billion where the farmers and fisherfolk were the alleged beneficiaries who never got anything, the Alyansa took the strong and unequivocal position that the pork barrel should be scrapped. Last Aug. 12, the Budget Committee of the public-private sector National Agriculture Fisheries Council (NAFC) met to discuss the proposed 2014 Department of Agriculture budget. Since one of NAFC’s key functions is to monitor the use of government funds for the agriculture sector, the Alyansa recommended that the NAFC’s private sector representative be kept informed of the ongoing investigation of the pork barrel scam, an investigation it proposed in an earlier meeting. A DA official said this was just politics, and there was no need for NAFC to look into this. The Alyansa representative said that it was part of NAFC’s responsibility that justice be done: the innocent should not be unfairly judged without evidence, and the guilty should be identified and punished. That day, it became evident to Alyansa that putting effective checks and balances to ensure responsible pork barrel use would be like “Mission Impossible.” If the reader thinks the same way, joining the Million People March on Aug. 26 is strongly recommended. (The author is chair of Agriwatch, former secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, and former undersecretary for agriculture, trade and industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail email@example.com or telefax (02)8522112.) http://business.inquirer.net/139733/aug-26-million-people-march
Exploiting poverty conditions Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:32 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle’s call for politicians and others involved in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam to go to the slums and experience for themselves what it is like to be poor (“Scam moves Tagle to tears,” Front Page, 8/14/13) touched me to the bone. Indeed, greed has reached the highest levels of government despite this era of “daang matuwid” promised to us by President Aquino. We cannot simply turn a blind eye to the diversion of billions of people’s money—orchestrated allegedly by Janet Lim-Napoles—to fake nongovernment organizations in connivance with greedy politicians. The P10 billion was meant to finance infrastructure and other worthy projects for the upliftment of the poor. Just imagine the millions of Filipinos who have become hopeless and whose living conditions have worsened because they were robbed by a few cunning individuals and groups whose insatiable greed has escalated beyond measure. With P10 billion, how many ordinary Juans would have benefited from it? 1. More MRT/LRT coaches would have been acquired without the need to borrow from foreign investors. And instead of a hellish ride every day, there would be a smile from every commuter after each ride. 2. More school buildings could have been put up and students need not be packed inside cramped classrooms. Likewise, public school teachers need not complain of meager salaries and delayed benefits. 3. Farm-to-market roads could have been built in many of our rural areas. Then farmers could have sold their produce to the lowlands and farming would be a profitable endeavor with accessible markets. Smooth roads to the Samar islands could also have been built, and with pristine beaches to boast of, Eastern Samar’s tourism could have easily flourished. 4. Government hospitals need not shoo away poor patients for lack of funds. The sick in every government hospital ward need not be overcrowded. Dental problems among Filipinos would have been attended to. 5. Mendicants on city streets would have been put in a facility where they could eat three meals a day. Petty crimes due to poverty would have been fewer. 6. Quality mass housing projects would have built decent communities. Those living in slums near rivers and creeks could have been relocated without fuss.
7. Being a country with wide idle lands, a lot of livelihood opportunities in agriculture could have been started, then there would be no need to import our rice, vegetables and fruits; we can sufficiently produce them in the countryside. The list goes on. Let the brains of this abominable crime of taking advantage of the plight of the poor for their self-enrichment be held accountable. â€”BELEN DOCENA-ASUELO, firstname.lastname@example.org http://opinion.inquirer.net/59389/exploiting-poverty-conditions#ixzz2cl3QyoGR
Are we ready for ‘free trade’? By Alvin Capino | Posted on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:01am | 553 views
It is unfortunate that Agriculture Secretary Proceso “Procy” Alcala is being distracted by the issue of pork barrel, his personal involvement when he was still in Congress, and that of his department in the controversial issue which apparently has acquired a life of its own. We can just hope that the distraction from the pork issue would not paralyze Alcala from completing all preparations for the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement within the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2015. The implementation of the Asean Free Trade Agreement is less than two years away and it is doubtful if the agricultural sector headed by Alcala is ready for this. Can our farmers compete with other Asean countries when tariff and non-tariff barriers are eliminated within the Asean region? Sadly the answer to this question is a resounding “no” and the tragedy here is that the government, through the Department of Agriculture, is not doing anything substantial to make the Philippines ready for an Asean free trade regime. The continuing news about the smuggling of rice, sugar, vegetables and other agricultural product is the clearest indication that we are not ready yet for free trade. Smuggling of agricultural products will not prosper if our rice, our sugar and out vegetables can compete against these foreign products in terms of quality and price. The Philippines, based on the announcement of President Benigno Aquino III, will become a rice-exporting country by this year. Apparently, the announcement is premature since we do not have the rice production capacity yet to meet local demand. True, we have been exporting rice. But our exports consist mainly of fancy varieties like black rice and organic mountain rice and the quantities are very limited. We think it is safe to say that we continue to import rice during the Aquino administration. We will continue to do this even after he steps down.
This year we might have to import more rice with the destruction caused by Typhoon Maring and the monsoon flooding at this time when farmers are preparing to harvest their rice crop. However as they say, ready or not ready, the Philippines is committed to free trade within the Asean region by 2015 because of the international agreement that we have signed. In fact, some people are saying that â€œfree tradeâ€? in agricultural products particularly rice is already in effect under the World Trade Organization. Perhaps Alcala should leave the issue of pork barrel for a while and explain to the public and more important to the farmers what changes would be implemented in the rice importation policy of the country in the light of our commitments under existing international treaties on free trade under the WTO. The first thing Alcala should answer is if it is true that the WTO provision pertaining to the Quantitative Restrictions of rice imports into the Philippines has already lapsed as of June 30, 2012. Without the QR, it seems that free trade even on rice imports, which is presently highly regulated by the government through the National Food Authority, is already in effect and that the government under its WTO commitments is proscribed from imposing import quotas. If the Philippines is going to honor its WTO free trade commitments and avoid WTO sanctions, the government no longer has the legal right to impose prohibition on rice importation. With the expiration of the QR last year, the Philippines has the obligation to provide market access to all WTO member countries and all trade barriers such as import quotas, import licensing, import prohibition and other non-tariff measures can no longer be imposed by the Philippines.Of course the tariff system of the Philippines will still be imposed under our WTO agreement. Custom duties corresponding to their ad valorem equivalents will be imposed on imports of rice and other agricultural products. The lifting of the trade quota or quantitative restrictions on the importation of agricultural and meat products under our WTO commitments means the Philippines is now bound to remove all trade barriers even on the importation of tightly regulated rice products as provided by the Agreement on Agriculture forged in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations of the WTO where the Philippines is a signatory.It should be pointed out that the Asean Free Trade Agreement to take effect in 2015 is even more liberal on agricultural product import since under the Asean regional trade agreement where zero tariff will be adopted. Perhaps the implementation of the WTO agreements would help the Philippines prepare for the Asean free trade. The key here, however, are the actions being taken by Alcala and the Department of Agriculture. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/23/are-we-ready-for-free-trade/
Six of 9 pork scam witnesses related to Napoles Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:27 am | Friday, August 23rd, 2013 8 821 17
Benhur Luy. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO MANILA, Philippinesâ€”The first six whistle-blowers are relatives or former employees of JLN Corp. Three others have declined to be identified for now including the latest to surface on Thursday. In the sworn affidavits they prepared with their lawyer, Levito Baligod, and submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation, they stated that JLN Corp., with offices on the 25th floor of Discovery Center in Ortigas Center in Pasig City, had defrauded the government of billions of pesos in ghosts projects involving the creation of at least 20 bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs). These NGOs were supposedly the ultimate recipients of the state funds, but the money went to Napoles and lawmakersâ€™ commissions. Benhur K. Luy, the principal witness to the scam, is a distant cousin of Janet Lim-Napoles and her personal assistant in JLN Corp. Luy began working for his cousins in September 2002. Luy was said to have been kidnapped last Dec. 19, 2012 after Napoles reportedly learned that he wanted to engage in the same racket she was in. He was rescued by an NBI special task force on March 22 from a condominium unit in South Wings Gardens of Pacific Plaza Tower in Bonifacio Global City. According to Luy, Napoles offered to lawmakers commissions equivalent to 40 to 60 percent of the amount of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in exchange for the right to determine the implementing agency and fund beneficiary. Apart from senators and congressmen, Napoles has also connections in almost all branches of government, friends in the right places and lawyers who do her bidding, according to Luy.
Five others who had worked in JLN Corp. corroborated the account of Luy, detailing the activities of Napoles. One of them was a project coordinator and another was a nanny who was made president of a dummy NGO. The rest were clerks and support staff. Merlina P. Suñas worked for the JLN Group of Companies for 15 years. She registered for Napoles dummy companies and NGOs with the Securities and Exchange Commission and was assigned by Napoles as president of People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. Suñas claimed that apart from being assigned as head of the dummy NGO, she also acted as the project coordinator of JLN and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in the Malampaya Fund project. She also implicated the office of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala as a key facilitator in funneling government funds to at least two dummy NGOs. Suñas said she personally attended to the accreditation of several Napoles NGOs but only one passed the agriculture department’s scrutiny: Kaupdanan Para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. led by John Raymund de Asis, another Napoles staff member. The other whistle-blowers are: – Arthur Luy, brother of Benhur, claimed that among the tasks he did for JLN Corp. was fabricating names of recipients as well as forging their signatures to complete the paperwork. – Gertrudes K. Luy, mother of Benhur and former nanny of Napoles’ son, claimed she was made president of Bukirin Tanglaw Foundation Inc. – Annabelle Luy is a sister of Benhur and a signatory in the joint statement of the six whistleblowers. – Nova Batal Macalintal of North Cotabato stated in her sworn affidavit that she was appointed by Napoles as president of Tanglaw para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. and the papers for registration were prepared for her by a certain Evelyn de Leon. She also said that she never opened an account for the NGO she supposedly headed, but she was asked to sign withdrawal slips. On Aug. 9, two new whistle-blowers showed up, but did not wish to be named publicly for now. They said that they were designated president of one of 20 bogus NGOs. One of the witnesses is now an overseas worker. Source: Inquirer Archives http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472653/six-of-9-pork-scam-witnesses-related-tonapoles#ixzz2ckxSgSWm
Traders warned on hiking prices of essential commodities amid calamity By Jamie Marie Elona INQUIRER.net 7:20 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police on Thursday warned unscrupulous traders and businessmen who will take advantage of the calamity situation to hike prices of basic and essential commodities. Police Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP spokesman, said police officers have been ordered to support the implementation of the Department of Trade and Industry’s automatic “price freeze” on basic good in areas declared under state of calamity. He said police regional offices down to municipal stations were instructed to monitor the prices of goods in their respective areas to ensure proper implementation of Republic Act 7581 or The Price Act. “Police units in disaster-affected areas of Luzon were alerted to assist DTI and the Local Government Units (LGUs) in monitoring market conditions against possible trade and price control violations,” Sindac said, noting that its proper implementation shall preserve “peace and order amidst the current calamity.” The NCRPO, Police Regional Office 3 and 4A are the frontrunners in this effort of the PNP for the areas concerned are under their supervision. Sindac said violators of the Price Act may face imprisonment for a period of not less than one year, but more than 10 years, or a fine of not less than P5,000, but not more than P1,000,000.
PNP said Sections 6 and 7 of Republic Act 7581 or The Price Act, expressly provides that “Prices of basic necessities in an area shall automatically be frozen at their prevailing prices or placed under automatic price control whenever that area is proclaimed or declared a disaster area or under a state of calamity; and a price ceiling may be imposed on any basic necessity or prime commodity considering the impendency, existence, or effects of a calamity.” Basic necessities collectively refer to rice, corn, bread, fresh dried and canned goods and other marine products; Fresh pork, beef and poultry meat; fresh eggs, fresh and processed milk; fresh vegetables; root crops; coffee; sugar; cooking oil; salt; laundry soap; detergents; firewood; charcoal; candles; and drugs classified as essential by the Department of Health. Aside from securing the implementation of the Price Act, police authorities were also instructed to be on the look-out against criminals who may take advantage of homes temporarily abandoned by families affected by the deluge. Police Regional, Provincial, City and Municipal Offices were instructed by PNP chief, Director General Alan Purisima, to intensify law enforcement operations to deter looters in flood-hit communities. Police units were instructed to mobilize local neighborhood watch groups and force multipliers that will assist in efforts to guard the abandoned communities, Sindac said. He also said PNP units were deployed to ensure unhampered passage of relief supplies, market stocks and essential commodities, as well as engineering equipment and materials for infrastructure rehabilitation.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472395/traders-warned-on-hiking-prices-of-essentialcommodities-amid-calamity#ixzz2cka3T4Mo
Vets clear Baras bird sanctuary of avian virus Published: August 23, 2013 GENERAL SANTOS CITY‐ The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has declared the Baras birds sanctuary in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat free from Avian Influenza Virus, a local official said. City veterinary officer Herminigilda Sanque said BAI‐Philippine Animal Health Center Laboratory conducted recently an avian influenza surveillance on Baras birds sanctuary through a series of serological tests using 36 bird serum samples collected by the City Veterinary Office. The Baras bird sanctuary, which is now becoming a popular bird watching destination in Central Mindanao, is home to more than 20,000 black night herons and cattle egrets species. Sanque said the avian influenza test was conducted to protect visitors who frequent the birds sanctuary. “What sets apart the Baras bird sanctuary from other bird watching destinations is the watchers’ proximity to the birds. Birds are almost within your reach. You don’t need binoculars to see them,” Sanque said. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Avian Influenza Virus or “H7N9” is a subtype of influenza viruses sometimes found in birds, but that does not normally infect humans. Like all influenza A viruses, there also are different strains of H7N9. Beginning at the end of March 2013, China reported human and bird (poultry) infections with a new strain of H7N9 that is very different from previously seen H7N9 viruses. (Joseph Jubelag) http://mb.com.ph/News/Provincial_News/28577/Vets_clear_Baras_bird_sanctuary_of_avian_virus
Compensation for damaged mangroves sought By Phoebe Jen Indino Published: August 23, 2013
CORDOVA, Cebu — Over R6.5 million in compensation is being sought for the damage of mangrove plantations by oil spilled from passenger ship, M/V Thomas Aquinas, which sunk off the coast of Cordova last Friday evening. To recall, the passenger ship owned by 2GO Group was slammed by cargo ship Sulpicio Express 7 at Lauis Ledge, not far from Cebu port on the evening of August 16, Friday last week. The passenger ship went down and started leaking oil. According to the investigation conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region VII (DENR-7), the oil spill has severely destroyed mangrove plantations affecting over 328 hectares covering 12 barangays in Cordova and Lapu-Lapu City. “As to which company is responsible to pay for the damage compensation or absorb the cost for rehabilitation of these confirmed damaged mangrove plantations will be dependent on the final results of the fact-finding investigation conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Maritime Industry Authority,” said DENR 7 Regional Executive Director Dr. Isabelo R. Montejo. “We will wait for the conclusion of the probe undertaken by these agencies so that we can send a formal notice demanding or imposing such amount for immediate release to cover the costs for rehabilitation and replanting and other related activities to be made,” he added. Aside from this, DENR-7 will also try to compute the economic valuation to include protection cost; opportunity lost; tourism and heritage value; and provisioning value of the ecosystem such as food, medicine and others. “These will be critically considered or factored in depending on the existing policies or guidelines by the local government units,” Montejo said. In a completed inventory or assessment report (released Wednesday, August 21) which was conducted by a seven-member quick response team (QRT) led by Coastal and Marine Management division (CMMD) chief Edmondo Arregadas of the Protected Area, Wildlife and Coastal Zone and Management Services (PAWZCMS), it stated that 328 hectares of planted mangroves contracted by nine peoples’ organizations (PO) in Cordova town and one PO in Lapu Lapu City were destroyed.
“These mangrove plantations which were established since 2009 to 2012 were enrolled in our integrated coastal resource management project (ICRMP) with a sizeable amount already released by the DENR from funding agencies such as the Asian Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility for mangrove rehabilitation and reforestation,” Montejo added. The computation of R6.560 million is based on a R20,000 valuation per hectare of mangrove areas damaged. In a related development, DENR-7 said it will also conduct a continuing inventory of other mangrove areas, including mangrove plantations not covered under the ICRMP or those considered as natural stand mangroves. Meanwhile, the 10 POs under contract with DENR-7’s ICRMP whose mangrove plantations were hardest hit by the oil spill are Nagkahiusang Mananagat sa Bang-Bang, Catarman Fisherfolks Association, Kamampay Fisherfolk Association, Pilipog Fishermen Association, Alegria Fisherfolks Association, Singgit sa Mananagat sa Barangay San Migel, Panaghugpong sa Day-asanoy Mananagat, and Gilutongan Water Distributor and Resource Management Multipurpose Cooperative, all in Cordova; and Nagkahiusang Mananagat sa Calawisan in Lapulapu city. Among the ten POs, the Nagkahiusang Mananagat sa Bang-Bang in Bang-Bang, Cordova has the most planted mangroves, that is, 76 hectares; followed by Nagkahiusang Mananagat sa Calawisan in Lapulapu city with 69 hectares. When asked about what mechanisms will be employed to compel the culpable party to pay for the damaged mangrove plantations, Montejo explained that a multipartite accord will be executed among the local government units (Cordova or Lapulapu city), the POs, DENR, and the culpable company in compelling the latter to shoulder expenses including post-care programs and measures like rehabilitation and other similar activities. http://mb.com.ph/News/Provincial_News/28523/Compensation_for_damaged_mangroves_sought#.Uh bVan‐veKE
Gov’t shelter agencies go easy on flood victims By Doris C. Dumlao Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:07 am | Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Vice President Jejomar Binay (pictured) has instructed the management of all housing agencies under him as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council to extend assistance to employees affected by flood. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—The country’s key shelter agencies have agreed to go easy on collecting debt payments involving borrowings in areas ravaged by the recent flooding in Luzon even as more corporations engage in philanthropy targeting calamity victims. Home Guaranty Corp. (HGC), Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) or Pag-IBIG and the National Housing Authority (NHA) all agreed to offer a moratorium of at least three months on installment payments. More corporations have also embarked on disaster response initiatives to help affected families. Local fastfood giant Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC) is donating P2 million, which will be turned over by Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to augment relief efforts. JFC and JGF have likewise donated sacks of rice to families in evacuation centers in coordination with the local government units of Cavite (Cavite City, Kawit, Bacoor and Noveleta), Pampanga (San Fernando) and Bataan (Dinalupihan). Like in previous years, JFC and JGF have turned over their in-kind donations to the GMA Kapuso Foundation, ABS-CBN Foundation, Alagang Kapatid Foundation, Gawad Kalinga and
Philippine Red Cross in order to reach out to as many affected families as possible, JFC said in a statement. For its part, the Aboitiz Foundation has pledged to donate nearly P1 million worth of relief packs for distribution to affected families in Taguig City evacuation centers. “The Aboitiz Group is always quick to respond to calls for help, especially in times of natural calamities. As soon as we were able to ensure our team members’ safety, the Aboitiz Foundation right away got in touch with the Taguig government to offer whatever help we could in this time of need,” said Augusto P.I. Carpio III, Aboitiz Foundation chief operating officer. Relief packs A total of 2,500 relief packs—which contain essential goods such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes—were donated by the Aboitiz Foundation as of Wednesday afternoon. The Aboitiz Foundation has also extended help to Bay, Laguna, a province hard-hit by the recent rains and floods. About P27,000 worth of relief packs were delivered to the municipality of Bay while P100,000 worth of relief packs were also delivered on Tuesday to the Laguna provincial government. All in all, the Aboitiz Foundation has donated P927,000 worth of relief packs in Taguig City and Bay, Laguna. The foundation is also working with Weather Philippines Foundation for accurate and real-time weather updates per city, which can help in disaster and risk preparedness. The Metrobank Group, led by GT-Metro Foundation (GTMF) and Toyota Motor Philippines Foundation (TMPF) pledged a total of P3 million to boost funds for flood relief operations. A portion of GTMF’s donation will be used to distribute more than 60,000 bottles of 500-ml mineral water among families in Regions III, IV-A and NCR through the Department of Health. “The GT-Metro Foundation has monitored the situation since the flooding started and we have received calls for assistance” said GTMF executive director Aniceto Sobrepeña. “Upon the instruction of the group chairman, Dr. George S.K. Ty, we selected institutions which are capable of extending help to many beneficiaries as well as to areas where the state of calamity has been declared,” he added. The Ty family foundation has allocated a calamity assistance fund in response to the continuing need for humanitarian assistance to victims of current and future natural calamities. Binay directive Vice President Jejomar Binay has instructed the management of all housing agencies under him as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) to extend assistance to affected employees.
“We will be assessing the damage caused by the floods. That will be the basis for deciding whether the moratorium will run for three or six months,” HGC president Manuel Sanchez said. Affected buyers of HGC properties need not pay their monthly amortization for the duration of the moratorium. No penalty will be charged. Homebuyers affected by the floods are encouraged to avail of the program by submitting the accomplished application form at the HGC office. Binay announced in its Twitter account that Pag-IBIG and NHA would likely offer such a moratorium. “The moratorium on payments is our way of helping our borrowers cope with the losses caused by the massive flooding,” he said.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472811/govt-shelter-agencies-go-easy-on-floodvictims#ixzz2ckXeIgsG
Pork barrel sought to be included in lawmakers’ SALN By Christian V. Esguerra Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:36 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairman Francisco Duque. AFP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Amid calls to junk the pork barrel system, a veteran tax collector urged the Civil Service Commission to require members of Congress to include their yearly allocation in their Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). In a letter to CSC Commissioner Francisco Duque III, lawyer Estrella Martinez said it would be “more honorable” to include individual Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allotments in the documents, arguing that the SALN has become the “sword of Damocles hovering over the heads of elected government officials.” Martinez, a former Bureau of Internal Revenue regional director, said the declaration would allow “anyone to scrutinize a senator or congressman’s PDAF anytime.” “That way, we won’t have to wait for the Commission on Audit report to see if they are spending our money properly,” she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. But Martinez, a tax collector for 32 years, said the PDAF should be included in the SALN only as a “parenthetical disclosure therein for purposes of strict compliance.” In the two-page letter dated on Thursday, she said the PDAF “partakes of the nature of an implied trust.” It belongs in the “same category of properties which were acquired through gratuitous title (donation and inheritance) and, hence, not part of a taxable net worth,” she argued.
Under the present set-up, each senator is entitled to P200 million worth of annual PDAF. The counterpart amount is P70 million for each House representative during the same period. Should her proposal be accepted, Martinez said legislators could declare the yearend balance of whatever amount of PDAF they received in a given taxable year. Toward the end of the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona last year, Martinez came out in public and argued that Corona should not testify on his reported dollar deposits. Martinez maintained that Corona would end up violating the Foreign Currency Deposits Act and could be cited in contempt because of a Supreme Court order preventing the impeachment court from looking into the dollar deposits. Corona went ahead with his testimony, admitted the existence of his dollar deposits, and ended up being convicted by the impeachment court for failing to include them in his SALNs. More than a year later, the former chief House prosecutor, Rep. Niel Tupas, was himself tagged by COA in the alleged misuse of his PDAF between 2007 and 2009. Per the COA Special Audit, Tupas was among the legislators whose combined pork barrel of P541.7 million was covered by “questionable” documents submitted by suppliers. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472429/pork-barrel-sought-to-be-included-in-lawmakerssaln#ixzz2ckZL7j5X
Rainfall dropped by tropical storm ‘Maring’ double than ‘Ondoy’—Pagasa By Matikas Santos INQUIRER.net 7:50 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 2 286 31
MANILA, Philippines—The total amount of rainfall dropped by the enhanced southwest monsoon and tropical storm Maring was double than that of tropical storm Ondoy back in 2009, according to data from the state-run weather bureau. A total of 1120.2mm of rainfall was recorded in Sangley Point, Cavite from August 17 to August 21 brought by Maring’s enhanced southwest monsoon, according to figures from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Climate Data Section. In comparison, Sangley Point only received 243.8mm of rainfall during Tropical Storm Ondoy which lasted for four days in September 2009 and 787.8mm from the August 2012 Monsoon, more commonly referred to as “Habagat 2012” that lasted for three days. Ondoy had dumped 341mm of rain in Science Garden within six hours and 455mm for the entire day of September 26, 2009.
The normal monthly rainfall in Sangley Point during the month of August is 475mm. A total of 819.9mm of rainfall was recorded in Port Area, Manila, from Maring and the southwest monsoon, according to Pagasa. The same rainfall recording station measured 347.8mm of rain during Ondoy and 529.8mm during Habagat 2012. The normal monthly amount of rain in Port Area for the month of August is 432.4mm. In the Science Garden rainfall recording station in Quezon City, Maring and the southwest monsoon brought 691.8mm of rainfall from Aug 17 to 21. Habagat 2012 brought the most rain to Science Garden with 1007.4mm of rain while Ondoy dumped 556.1mm of rain. The average monthly rainfall in Science Garden for August was 504.2mm Tropical storm Maring and the enhanced southwest monsoon caused at least 17 deaths and at least P78 million in damage to agriculture and infrastructure. More than a million people were affected by the rains and floods from tropical storm Maring.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472405/rainfall-dropped-by-tropical-storm-maringdouble-than-ondoy-pagasa#ixzz2ckZkosKc
NDRRMC: 1.7 million affected by Maring’s fury By Frances Mangosing INQUIRER.net 7:46 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 4 51 15
Evacuees crowd a temporary evacuation center in suburban San Mateo, east of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. AP MANILA, Philippines – The affected persons from monsoon rains enhanced by tropical storm “Maring” (international name Trami) ballooned to 1.7 million in its aftermath, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Thursday. The number of affected persons reached 1,754,076 in 16 provinces of Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, MImaropa, Cordillera and National Capital Region, the NDRRMC said. The torrential rains in the past few days battered six regions of Luzon: Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Cordillera and the NCR.
Displaced persons were at about 560,000, with some 217,000 housed in 718 shelters. The number of shelters increased by nine due to belated reports. The rest of evacuees opted to stay in houses of relatives, NDRRMC spokesman Major Rey Balido said at a press briefing. Hardest hit was Central Luzon, with 1.03 million people affected. Number of impassable roads in Ilocos, Central Luzon, Bicol, Cordillera and NCR also went down from 72 to 63. The government’s relief assistance also went up to about P24 million. Death toll was now at 18, with 4 missing and 31 injured. The new fatality was identified as Arzay Josue, 22 from Bacoor who reportedly drowned, Balido said. Damages to infrastructure and agriculture in parts of Luzon increased to P78 million in Ilocos, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Cordillera. The storm wreaked havoc and placed several areas under state of calamity including the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal; cities of Paranaque, Muntinlupa, Malabon, Marikina, Pasay; Candon City in Ilocos Sur; Dagupan City in Pangasinan and Tarlac City; municipalities of Pateros; Narvacan, Gregorio del Pilar and Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur; Sta Barbara and Calasiao, Pangasinan; Obando and Hagonoy, Bulacan; Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro; villages of Victoria, Lagnas and Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro. “Maring,” the 13th storm to hit the country this year damaged vast agricultural lands and infrastructures in many parts of Luzon.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472077/ndrrmc-1-7-million-affected-by-maringsfury#ixzz2ckZtVQuH
Manila govâ€™t to study drain system of floodprone underpass By Erika Sauler Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:49 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 1 150 70
Lagusnilad. PHOTO BY RICHARD A. REYES MANILA, Philippinesâ€“The Manila disaster management office will examine the plan and drainage system of Lagusnilad and make proposals to the City Council on how to avoid the flooding that has plagued the underpass in the past 30 years. Lagusnilad was yet again rendered impassable this week after days of torrential rain, spawned by a storm-enhanced southwest monsoon (habagat), caused widespread flooding in parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila.
“After this habagat, we will hold a meeting and propose a retrofitting of Lagusnilad to the City Council,” said Johnny Yu, officer in charge of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office. Yu said they will study the plan of the underpass, its drainage and pump systems to know if these should be replaced. Based on available information, Yu said Lagusnilad has been prone to flooding in the past three decades. Submersible pumps have been previously installed to remove floodwaters but as the last two monsoon seasons have shown, the pumps may no longer be adequate. Apart from the high level of rainfall, Yu said the flooding is due to the flow of water from Intramuros, particularly the golf course. “After examining what kind of submersible pumps were installed before, we may suggest a bigger pump,” Yu said. He said bigger drainage pipes might also be needed. Once the City Council approves the retrofitting proposal, it will be forwarded to the Department of Public Works and Highways for implementation. A technical working group will be created by the DPWH. The Quiapo underpass is also prone to flooding but it was spared this time because, according to Yu, its area is twice that of Lagusnilad and it has larger flood pumps.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472359/manila-govt-to-study-drain-system-of-floodprone-underpass#ixzz2ckbS1HOp
Zamboanga coastal village gets top marine conservation area award By DJ Yap Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:06 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—In a remote coastal village in Zamboanga del Sur, the task of protecting a marine sanctuary falls upon a six-person team of environmental workers who keep the sea and mangrove forest safe from greedy commercial fishers. But the job is made more difficult by pirates, warlords and insurgents lurking in the surrounding conflict-ridden pockets of Mindanao, according to officials. For meeting and rising above these challenges, the Tambunan Marine Protected Area in the small fishing town of Tabina was declared the most outstanding at the 4th Para El Mar Awards and Recognition held at the InterContinental Manila in Makati City on Aug. 15. Para El Mar means “for the sea.” The award seeks to recognize outstanding local efforts in conserving and sustainably managing coastal and marine resources, and serves as a learning opportunity for MPA managers to exchange and share best practices, organizers said. The event was convened by the MPA Support Network and its partners the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the UP Marine Science Institute, the Coral Triangle Support Partnership, the United States Agency for International Development, and the German Agency for International Cooperation. The Tambunan MPA received a cash prize of P100,000 during the awarding ceremony at the Intercon attended by almost 300 guests from government and non-government agencies, academic institutions and local partners. “Considering that they have these realities that they’re facing every day, and still they made so much effort for conservation, I think that gives them an edge compared to the others,” one of the evaluators, marine scientist Dr. Hilly Ann Roa Quiaoit of Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan said of the Tambunan MPA.
“When they talk about piracy, it’s a reality they face every day,” she said in an interview. Fishermen told the judges how they would need to give monthly dues to the so-called “mafia” of pirates in the area, she said. “Someone had just bought an engine boat, and it was taken by the pirates,” Quiaoit said. Rey L. Sumagang, chief of Tabina’s municipal agriculture and fishery division that manages the Tambunan MPA, said the problem of “bad visitors” was not as bad as in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But it is still there. “If you will look at the Philippine map, Tabina is at the bottom. In front of it is Maguindanao …Then there is Cotabato, and then there is Basilan. That’s what we’re facing across the sea,” he said with a laugh. “We know what sort of people are there. I can’t say the bad visitors all came from there but it’s hard to pinpoint,” he said. But Sumagang said the community had taken measures to try to keep them away. “We talked to the mayor, and we talked to the extortionists. We gave them livelihood. We prioritized giving jobs to their spouses,” he said. “We don’t have as many bad visitors now unlike before.” He said the secret to effective MPA management was a good working relationship with the local government. “If you’re managing the MPA, the important thing you should have harmony with the mayor. You have to introduce improvements, innovation, so that by the time there is change of leadership, the people will have already accepted you. Then the mayor will also accept you,” he said. The Tambunan MPA is both a mangrove area and marine sanctuary located in the village of Malim and extending 50 meters seaward from the shoreline. The mangrove area spans 1,700 meters of coastline and an area of 103.5 hectares, while the marine sanctuary covers 1,000 meters of coastline and an area of 95 hectares. The MPA is rich in mollusks, crustaceans like squid, octopus, cuttlefish, lobsters, blue crabs, shrimp and mangrove crabs. It is also frequented by abundant pelagic fish, such as mackerel, jacks, sardines, and sailfish, as well as coral and sand fish, including parrotfish, eels, siganids and goatfish. Sumagang, a veterinarian, said absolutely no fishing and other human activity, excepting scientific research, was allowed inside the protected area. The only fishing takes place outside “buffer zones” some 100 meters away from the sanctuary. “The good thing is the rural communities near the sanctuary have responded positively to what we do,” he said.
Quiaoit echoed his sentiment, saying, “They worked with the community, so they also had a perspective on the ground, and they’re quite aware of how important it is to preserve the area,” she said. Another interesting “best practice” employed by the town is the strict adherence to ordinances that seek to connect conservation and local governance. Sumagang said fisher folks who wanted to get their fishing vessels registered with the town government as mandated by regulations would have to show a “tree-planting certificate” duly signed by the district chair proving that they did plant 10 mangrove trees in one year. “If you live 100 meters from the shoreline, you still have to plant 10 mangroves every year. If you apply for a marriage license, you would need to plant 10 mahogany trees. If you need to have an electric line connected, of course you’d need to get a permit from engineering, you’d need proof to show you actually planted 10 mahogany trees,” he said. Quiaoit said the judges found the policy interesting and surprisingly effective. “We even had to ask for evidence, and they were able to provide evidence. You see the consciousness of the whole LGU, such that the regular operations of the municipality, they try to connect it with conservation,” she said. “It’s a good practice that LGUs can follow. It’s a good consciousness among the people, like, ‘what, I’m just going to get married, and I’d need to plant a tree?’” she said. Sumagang’s proudest moment did not come from winning the Para El Mar, but something that happened on a recent Saturday. “Our mayor had a civilian escort, and we were on standby at a cottage. The escort went to the sanctuary to check out the shells. He wasn’t going to take anything. He just wanted to look. Suddenly, a nine-year-old boy shouted ‘Sir, sir, you can’t go there. That’s our sanctuary’.” “We almost dropped down to our knees,” he recalled. “Imagine that coming from a nine-year-old boy! It shows how [conservation] is in the consciousness of the people,” he said. Even if my work is done, or I’m transferred, or I’m dead, I’m sure the next generations will preserve and sustain the MPA. That is the kind of acceptability I see from the community,” Sumagang said.
Green group urges gov’t to use pork for ‘climate-proofing’ By Kristine Angeli Sabillo INQUIRER.net 12:31 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
Residents swims through floodwaters that continue to rise due to incessant rains brought by the storm-enhanced southwest monsoon at Brgy. Tumana in Marikina. RICHARD A. REYES/INQUIRER MANILA, Philippines—Environmental activists on Thursday called on the government to divert “pork barrel” funds for climate adaptation programs. In a statement sent to media, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) asked President Benigno Aquino III to scrap the Priority Development Assistance Fund of legislators in favor of programs on disaster risk reduction, renewable energy and environmental protection.
“The P10-billion pork barrel scam allocated to fake NGOs [nongovernment organizations] should have instead been used for an P8.3-billion restoration of our country’s mangrove forest cover and almost four year’s worth of community-based disaster preparedness and response programs for at least P2 billion,” said Kalikasan PNE campaign coordinator Leon Dulce. Dulce said such programs would address problems of flooding and community displacement like what had happened in Cavite and other provinces during the devastation wrought by Tropical Storm “Maring” and the southwest monsoon. He said mangroves would protect coastal areas from storm surges and serve as natural flood control and fisheries hub. Earlier, the state weather bureau said it has recorded 475 millimeters amount of rainfall over a 24-hour period (8 a.m. Monday to 8 a.m. Tuesday) in Sangley Point in Cavite, or around 30 percent more than the 364.2 mm worth of rainfall recorded in the area during the week-long monsoon rains on August 7, 2012. Kalikasan PNE joined the growing clamor for the abolition of the PDAF and other discretionary funds and the immediate prosecution of people involved in the misuse of public funds.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472019/green-group-urges-govt-to-use-pork-for-climateproofing#ixzz2ckf7tKCl
3 Luzon dams continue to release excess water By Frances Mangosing INQUIRER.net 12:25 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
Ambuklao Dam in Bokod town of Benguet. EV ESPIRITU/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON MANILA, Philippinesâ€”Three dams in Luzon continued to keep their gates open to release excess water, the state weather bureau said Thursday. As of 8 a.m. Ipo Dam in Bulacan, Ambuklao and Binga Dams in Benguet maintained their gates open. Magat Dam in Cagayan has already closed its gate. La Mesa Dam in Quezon City continued to overflow, with 80.27 meters of water, way above its spilling level of 80.15 meters. Marikina River was still under alert level 2 with 16.3 meters as of 11a.m. There were 17,607 evacuees in temporary shelters as of posting time.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/472013/3-luzon-dams-continue-to-release-excesswater#ixzz2ckfKysEM
BDO, Union Bank offer deposit certificates By Doris C. Dumlao Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:09 am | Friday, August 23rd, 2013 Banco de Oro Unibank and Union Bank of the Philippines are embarking on fresh fundraising activities through the offering of high-yielding deposit certificates. BDO and Union Bank will offer long-term negotiable certificates of deposits (LTNCDs) to raise P5 billion each, according to separate disclosures to the Philippine Stock Exchange. BDO is offering P5 billion worth of seven-year LTNCDs at an indicative interest rate range of 3 to 3.25 percent a year until Aug. 27. It has tapped ING Bank and Standard Chartered Bank as joint lead arrangers and selling agents. Union Bank disclosed that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas had approved its planned issuance of as much as P5 billion in LTNCDs with a tenor of at least five years and three months to as long as seven years. Union Bank, which mandated HSBC as arranger and underwriter, has one year to launch this offering. Selling agents are Union Bank, HSBC and Multinational Investment Bancorporation (MIB). In its disclosure, the bank said proceeds would be used to “improve the bank’s deposit maturity profile and support business expansion plans.” While LTNCDs cannot be pre-terminated unlike regular time deposits, they are negotiable and can be sold in the secondary market. By issuing LTNCDs, which are tax-free because of the long tenor, banks can offer better yields to clients. LTNCDs are covered by insurance provided by Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. but only up to P500,000 per depositor. In the case of BDO, the LTNCDs are offered in minimum denominations of P100,000 and additional denominations of P50,000 each. http://business.inquirer.net/139769/bdo-union-bank-offer-deposit-certificates
Local stock prices, peso fall By Doris C. Dumlao Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:32 pm | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
Philippine Stock Index, August 22, 2013. Screengrab from http://www.pse.com.ph/stockMarket/home.html MANILA, Philippines â€” The local financial markets slumped on Thursday as international fund managers pulled funds out of emerging markets as the tapering of easy US money policy appeared imminent. The main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index lost 389.22 points or 5.96 percent to close at 6,136.73 as investors scrambled to unload local blue chips, many of which have hit record-high valuations in earlier months. The index slipped by as much as 7 percent in earlier trade, pricing in the gloomy sentiment on emerging markets that has bludgeoned regional markets in the last three days that local markets were shutdown by inclement weather and a national holiday.
Local bond yields also rose while the peso fell to as low as 44.17 against the US dollar in morning trade from Friday’s close of 43.64. Weighted average was at 44.087 while total value turnout at the spot foreign exchange market amounted to $749.5 million. Across the region, fund managers were pulling investments out of emerging markets in anticipation of the withdrawal of massive liquidity from the US Federal Reserve. The release of Federal Open Market Committee minutes Wednesday night affirmed the view of tapering the $85 billion monthly asset buying, also referred to as quantitative easing, but the Fed has yet to signal the exact timing. Many are pricing the tapering to begin by next month. “It’s not an issue of if. It’s an issue of when,” Bank of the Philippine Islands president Cezar Consing said on the sidelines of the BPI-FinanceAsia 5th Annual Treasury and CFO Summit. He said this shakeout was a reminder to investors not to rely too much on liquidity to support asset prices. In the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers’ collapse in 2008, Consing said, monetary regulators around the world, especially those in the major economies, were very much “in sync” in injecting additional liquidity to address a credit crunch. “The challenge now is withdrawal is not in sync, and that’s what makes markets volatile,” he said. BPI executive vice president and treasurer Antonio Paner said the peso would trade at the 44 levels but recover to 43-ish levels against the US dollar by yearend, supported by strong macroeconomic fundamentals and resilient foreign exchange flows. At the local stock market, the most heavily battered stock was SM Prime, which slid by 10.61 percent. AGI and AEV plunged by over 9 percent while SMIC, Megaworld, ALI and MPI all faltered by over 8 percent. Ayala Corp., BDO and Meralco slipped by over 6 percent. “After three days closed, the market played catch up – or maybe catch down – with other markets in the region. Funds are flowing out of the region and into the US and European markets. Local investors should expect a wild ride in the coming sessions,” said PNB Securities deputy chief Manuel Lisbona. Lisbona said the PSEi’s next support would be at 6,000 initially and if broken, might retest 5,800 or basically back to where the local index started for the year. The PSEi was the most heavily battered Asian index as Thursday’s morning trade after as regional peers already took the brunt of the capital reversal in the last three days. http://business.inquirer.net/139639/ph-stock-prices-plunge
BSP allows banks to use ‘cloud’ computing technology Move seen to help smaller financial institutions By Paolo G. Montecillo Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:22 am | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Philippine banks will be among the first in Southeast Asia that will be able to use “cloud” computing solutions in their operations, improving the industry’s competitiveness in the region. Earlier this month, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) released a new framework on the use of IT in the banking industry, which included rules that allow banks to use cloud computing technology. The Philippines is the second country in Southeast Asia, after Singapore, to allow banks to use cloud technology. “Cloud computing can increase the competitiveness of our smaller banks,” BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. told reporters in a recent interview. “We know this because we are part of the discussion in the international regulatory community. We know we are one of the first.” Cloud computing is a general term that refers to any service that is hosted over the Internet by a third party. These services can include the storage of data and the processing of transactions, among others. He said small banks, which do not have resources to spare to invest in expensive servers and other infrastructure, can benefit from the use of cloud technology.
“For smaller banks, this is a cost-effective way for them to store and manage their data without having to invest in infrastructure,” Espenilla said. Instead of buying their own servers, smaller banks could simply pay a third-party service provider to manage their customer information, Espenilla said. Espenilla recognized that allowing third parties to handle bank data could pose some risks. To address this, he said the BSP’s new IT regulations framework required that customer information must be stored in “private” clouds, which are designed to be safer since the infrastructure is under the control of the bank at all times. Unlike other countries, the Philippines will allow banks to store their customer data in private clouds that are outside the country as long as all safety measures are followed. Other data such as marketing materials and other non-essential information could be stored by banks in public clouds, which are less secure as these are made up of servers shared by other clients, Espenilla said. He said that since any leak of these data would not pose any risk to consumers, the BSP decided to be more lenient. http://business.inquirer.net/139581/bsp-allows-banks-to-use-cloud-computing-technology
CROP DAMAGE FROM FLOODS: P2.6 BILLION August 22, 2013 10:55 pm
by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ, WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL, CATHERINE S. VALENTE, JHOANNA BALLARAN AND RITCHIE HORARIO REPORTERS
Flood victims on Thursday crowd a basketball court that was turned into an evacuation center in San Mateo, Rizal. At least 1.7 million people were affected by the floods caused by days of torrential rain. AFP PHOTO TWO typhoons and heavy monsoon rains left P2.6 billion in agricultural damage and ravaged more than 126,705 hectares of farmland in Luzon, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported on Thursday. The death toll in the aftermath of typhoon Maring (international codename: Trami), on the other hand, stood at 17 as of Thursday, with four persons still missing. The latest fatality was a 69-year-old man from Nueva Ecija. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that as of August 22, agriculture losses were reported in six regions following heavy rains spawned by Typhoon Labuyo and storm Maring, affecting the southwest monsoon. The good news, Alcala said, is that the damage “has no major impact in relation to our annual national target. In fact, there will be no areas lost, but only delays in production since we have already released emergency planting requirement to affected farmers.”
Undersecretary Dante Delima, who is also the National Rice Program coordinator, said the corn sector suffered the biggest damage at P2.1 billion, followed by rice at P484.4 million and banana at P130.7 million. Other commodities affected were high value crops, fisheries and livestock posting damage of P7 million, P1.7 million and P4.6 million, respectively. Delima said the total damage from typhoons in the third quarter of 2013 exceeded the P2.02 billion recorded a year ago. But he said that farmers—particularly those planting rice in Region 3—were covered by insurance under the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) and they can easily replace damaged crops. 1.7 million affected In Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesman Maj. Rey Balido said that about 1.7 million people were affected by the calamity. Floods covered 1,181 barangays of 112 municipalities, 31 cities and 16 provinces of Regions 1, 3, 4-A, 4–B, Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), and National Capital Region (NCR). Balido said 662 areas in 88 municipalities and cities remain submerged. The floods also closed 72 roads and two bridges. Under a state of calamity were the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, the cities of Paranaque, Muntinlupa, Malabon, Marikina, Pasay, Candon,, Dagupan, and Tarlac. The towns of Pateros, Narvacan, Gregorio del Pilar, and Sta. Maria in Ilocos Sur; Sta. Barbara and Calasiao, Pangasinan, Obando and Hagonoy, Bulacan; and Abra de Ilog, Mindoro Occ. and Barangays Victoria, Lagna, and Sablayan, also in Mindoro Occidental. Flood fund probe A congressman sought an inquiry into the use of the funds allocated for flood control projects. BayanMuna Rep. Neri Colmenares said that although some local government units (LGUs) were prompt in responding to the calamity, the “main question” is “where did the billions of flood control funds go?” “There must be an accounting of this presidential pork,” Colmenares said. According to the 2014 National Expenditure Program data, the president’s special purpose funds (SPF) amount to P310 billion. It includes an P19.7 billion allocation to LGU’s, P7.5 billion calamity fund, and P1 billion contingency fund.
Colmenares said he also wants to scrutinize the ambitious P351.718-billion flood control master plan of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The master plan mainly aims to rehabilitate 15 major pumping stations and drainage channels in Metro Manila and restore its surrounding natural waterways. It also plans to revive dredging and the construction of dikes in the Laguna Lake. The plan was approved last year and projects in Camanava, Marikina, Pasig, and Manila were started in December 2012 and January 2013. Also on Thursday, President Benigno Aquino 3rd visited typhoon-hit areas in the province of Cavite. The President’s first stop was the Tinabunan Elementary School in Imus town, where around 178 families were temporarily housed. He then proceeded to Kawit to distribute relief items to over a hundred families at the Binakayan High School. The President was accompanied by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, former Cavite Representative Ayong Maliksi and other government officials. He also revealed the government’s plan to construct a “road-ring dike” around Laguna de Bay to slow down the rise of floodwaters. According to Singson, the project is part of the long-term solutions included in the Master Plan for Flood Management of Metro Manila and Laguna Lake. “We refer to the road dike as C6 Extension to Laguna,” Singson said, adding that the Department of Public Works and Highways “has completed the Business Case study and will put the project under BOT implementation to be submitted to NEDA for approval.” Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Washington urged the Filipino-American community there to help the victims of the ferry tragedy off the coast of Cebu and those affected by the recent natural calamities. Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr. appealed to the community to provide financial assistance and support the relief efforts for the victims of the two tragedies. “I wish to call on all Filipino Americans to do what you can to alleviate the suffering of the victims caused by these disasters that took plays just hours apart from each other,” he said.
Clean-up The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Thursday intensified its clean up drive in areas affected by widespread flooding. MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez said the agency’s Metro Parkways Clearing Group and the local government of Manila have been working since Monday to clean up the areas affected by the flooding in the city. She said the group has already hauled 15 truckloads of garbage left by the flooding along Roxas Boulevard and in the coastline of Manila Bay. The garbage collected by the team was composed mostly of plastic items and pieces of wood. Jimenez called on the public to help the government by not making the waterways as their personal trash bins. Following the procedures of segregation will go a long way in reducing the tons of garbage in the waterways that also clogs pumping stations. MMDA Metro Parkway Clearing Group Chief Francis Martinez said the volume of garbage collected this year is lower compared to the more than 150 truckloads of trash collected last year. He said the garbage collected came from areas around the Manila Bay like Parañaque, Pasay, Manila and Navotas and as far as the provinces of Cavite, Bulacan and Bataan which were also flooded. MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said recovering from this year’s monsoon rain will take longer. “This year’s habagat has intermitent intervals. The recovery time may take longer,” he said. Tolentino said only parts of Muntinlupa and the Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) area remain flooded as of Thursday. At the same time, he asked the Intramuros Administration (IA) to pump floodwater from the streets to the Pasig River after the Lagusnilad underpass was submerged at the height of the monsoon rains. He said he learned that the Club Intramuros was discharging excess water from the golf course to P. Burgos Street and Victoria Street. “This discharge of water from the golf course to the Lagusnilad Underpass and P. Burgos Street, Victoria Street has caused and continue to cause our deflooding efforts to be greatly delayed, if not caused the area to remain flooded despite all our pumping efforts,” Tolentino said.
Also on Thursday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said that more officers have been deployed to guard flood-stricken areas in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog. As of Wednesday night, around 444 police rescue personnel have been deployed in more than 490 flood-affected villages in nine affected provinces and city in Central Luzon. In Marikina City, over 3,000 families were still in evacuation centers. As of 1:07 p.m. yesterday, the level of the Marikina River had dropped to 16.2 meters. WITH REPORTS FROM BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON AND ANTHONY VARGAS http://www.manilatimes.net/crop-damage-from-floods-p2-6-billion/32319/
Rough road ahead for peace process By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:02am | 659 views The government negotiating panel for the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said that “things might still get worse” with the saber-rattling of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mindanao and the threat of the Moro National Liberation Front to declare independence. The government and the MILF peace panels met in Kuala Lumpur Thursday to discuss the two remaining annexes – on power-sharing and on the disarmament of MILF fighters – which are needed to complete a comprehensive peace agreement. “We know that there will be more challenges ahead, that in fact, things might still get worse before things get better. Such has been the experience in most post-conflict settings,” government chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer said. “This is my objective view, not a pessimistic stance. But it is an appraisal that is imbued with the determination that we shall overcome,” she added. Ferrer told the MILF peace panel that completing the last two remaining annexes is the best way to respond to threats to the peace efforts in Mindanao. “Let us show that we are ready to put to sleep the infamous devil in the details and awaken the angel of creativity and compromise,” she said. Ferrer said the comprehensive peace pact with the MILF must leave no one behind with the establishment of the Bangsamoro, a political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The ARMM is the product of the 1996 final peace agreement with the MNLF, prompting the Nur Misuariled faction to threaten to declare independence amid insecurities that they would be left out of the Bangsamoro. “To be sustained, our agreement must redound to the well-being of not just one but of all the indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro; not of one political or socio-cultural or religious group but of everyone,” Ferrer said.
The influential Organization of Islamic Cooperation has already signaled its intention to step in to address the conflict with the MNLF. “We understand the OIC is undertaking processes to address these issues,” presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles said. “We await word from our facilitator, Indonesia, as chair of the OIC peace committee for southern Philippines,” she added. While Deles did not give more details on the OIC’s next move, she said the bloc “understands the position of the government of the Philippines and our problems.” MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza, who heads the MNLF peace panel, earlier said the Aquino administration has adopted contradicting positions and alibis resulting in blunders that left them with no other option but to declare independence. He said the MNLF will now seek recognition of the Moro people’s right to self-determination before the United Nations. “(MNLF founding chairman Nur) Misuari is going to UN to file a petition for the decolonization (of Mindanao) because this part of the country was annexed unilaterally by the government without the consent of the Moro people,” Cerveza said. But according to Undersecretary Jose Lorena of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Misuari and the MNLF should instead engage the government in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. “They need to engage us, and articulate their position. It is in the integrated interest of the Bangsamoro people, including the MNLF, to be part of this process,” Lorena added. Misuari was earlier invited to be part of the Transition Commission that is drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law, but he declined. Neither did he send a representative of the MNLF to be part of the commission. Deles earlier cited Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa’s “firm support for the efforts being undertaken by the government to ensure a comprehensive settlement of the armed conflict in southern Philippines.” “He was categorical in stating that Indonesia opposes any attempt to jeopardize the territorial integrity of the Philippines and that any such move falls outside the ambit of the agreed upon Tripartite Review Process,” Deles added.
Corpus Cristi School faces tax raps for P14.5-m tax deficiency By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:01am | 208 views
The Bureau of Internal Revenue on Thursday sued before with the Department of Justice against Corpus Christi School Inc. for violating the Tax Code. The complaint was filed against the school represented by its President Alfonso del Fierro Jr. and chief financial officer Mark Alfonso del Fierro, also treasurer. Also facing charges is Elpedio Cuay, Certified Public Accountant, who signed and certified the 2010 financial statements of Corpus Cristi, a non-stock, nonprofit domestic corporation primarily engaged in providing elementary and secondary education, among others, with address at Tomas Saco Street, Macasandig, Cagayan De Oro City, Misamis Oriental. Records showed that CCSI acquired a 10,000-square meter property in Cagayan De Oro for P23 million under a Deed of Sale dated 18 Feb. 2010 and annotated in the cancelled Transfer Certificate of Title T-170366 in the name of previous owner Pueblo De Oro Development Corp. Despite the acquisition in 2010, CCSI declared a net income of P2.175 million for the same year and a combined net income of not more than P15 million for the past several years. None of the P33.76 million expenses stated in the 2010 ITR of CCSI referred to said land purchase. Neither was there an increase in the value of the Property & Equipment of CCSI for the same year, the complaint noted. The Expenditure Method of Investigation found CCSI to have undeclared its taxable income by 64 percent considering its undeclared acquisition of P23 million versus declared income (tuition) of P35.94 million. The difference between the declared total net income of CCSI per its 2010 ITR versus its actual amount of income subject to tax constitute substantial underdeclaration of more than 30 percent, considered as prima facie evidence of a fraudulent return.
Since CCSI distributed dividends during in 2007 and 2008, it cannot be considered as a non-stock non-profit corporation exempt from income tax. Likewise, it cannot be deemed a non-profit educational institution covered by the preferential tax rate of 10 percent but as an ordinary domestic corporation subject to the 30 percent tax rate. Having declared revenues from tuition, documents showed an additional income of P23 million. This amount is more than 50 percent of the total gross income derived by CCSI from all sources, making CCSI liable to pay income tax at the rate of 30 percent resulting in a total deficiency of P14.5 million. The case is the 182nd filed under the Run After Tax Evaders program of the BIR under Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares.
Young Dy banks on grassroots movement By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:01am | 143 views
Echague —- Francis Faustino Arcega Dy seeks a name for himself with grassroots support in Echague, aiming to make the town grow like Makati to spur growth in northern Luzon. At 27, “Kiko”, as he is called, has pushed the programs of the province through the capitol’s extension office in Barangay San Fabian. “I am here to serve,” said the eldest son of Isabela Governor Faustino “Bojie” Dy III. Education, health, infrastructure and livelihood figure prominently in his roadmap. At Echague East District Central School, Kiko went to 17 classrooms and handed out school supplies to the pupils while discussing with teachers campus needs such as computers, electric fans and other equipment along with the construction of school toilets. “I see much potential in Echague, the town can be the next Makati in the Valley,” he told Manila Standard. To prevent any outbreak, Dy led fogging operations against dengue last Aug. 7 in 10 barangays in the poblacion. He also led repairs and widening of farm-to-market roads in Magleticia, Mabbayad, Villa Campo, Diasan, Salvacion, Narra, Aromin, Villa Rey, Madadamian, Benguet, Dicaraoyan, San Miguel, and San Carlos. Some serve as shortcut to Santiago City via the service roads of National Irrigation Administration. Engr. Edgardo Ramos, NIA Magat River Irrigation Integrated Services–Division I manager, said the young Dy looked after road repairs in Purok 6 Camarag Village and Purok 5.
“The people of barangay San Fabian are very lucky because the governor’s son would like to serve them as barangay chairman,” he told Manila Standard. “Francis Dy could bring progress to San Fabian and the whole of Echague.” In typhoon Labuyo’s wake, Kiko delivered 850 bags of relief to San Fabian residents along and about 2,000 to Echague’s upland sections amid the destruction of food crops. His village neighbors led by Barangay Councilor Virgilio Samut welcomed his role in community development. “Sir Kiko is offering San Fabian a chance to prosper, bring in investors and business (and) create more jobs,” he told Manila Standard. “For the last 15 years, Echague has been left behind in terms of infrastructure, commerce and livelihood.” – Sammuel Palattao
Foreign investors back twin airports By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:03am | 343 views
Foreign investors asked the Transportation Department to consider the so-called ‘twin airports’ solution, an option based on the co-existence and improvement of both Clark International Airport and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The Joint Foreign Chambers and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc. submitted their joint position paper to Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya. “While we recognize that the DoTC is also looking at the option of closing NAIA in favor of a new international gateway airport, we do believe that both aviation hubs would share a ‘symbiotic relationship’ that benefits the domestic and foreign traveling public,” the two groups said. The two groups said it was inadvisable to designate one hub for domestic and the other for international flights, because the distance between the two airports would inconvenience passengers with domestic-international connecting flights. “With anticipated continued high economic growth for the Philippines and achievement of the government tourism plan goal of 10 million visitors by 2016, we urge the government to develop and upgrade rapidly the existing airports at NAIA and Clark,” both groups said. The two groups pushed for modernizing and improving the efficiency of NAIA and steadily expanding Clark, which would allow the convenience of executive travel at the NAIA and cater best to the growth of the tourism industry, especially through budget travel. They said the upgrade should include the modernization of all four terminals of NAIA, including its navigational equipment for passenger safety, comfort and convenience. Both parties said the modernization should also include improving inter-terminal transfer facilities and procedures between the four NAIA terminal buildings, while
projects in Clark would include the expansion of the budget terminal, construction of a gateway terminal and installation of complete navigational equipment. “While we recognize that access to Clark is presently a problem, we strongly believe that plans for faster land transportation connections between Makati and Clark should be implemented as the ‘twin airport’ policy will be put in place,” the groups said. The Joint Foreign Chambers also supported the development of the Pagcor Entertainment City project to add as many as 8,000 hotel rooms in four gaming/entertainment complexes that are intended eventually to be larger than Las Vegas for the convenience of foreign travelers.
Govt still keen on offering inflation-linked bonds this year By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:02am | 260 views The Bureau of Treasury, which recently raised P150 billion from the sale of 10-year retail bonds, is preparing to offer inflation-linked bonds. National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said the government was still assessing the market conditions and the investor appetite for the bonds. “It’s a new product, so it’s something that we still have to test,” she said in an interview. The Treasury plans to meet investors, including insurance companies, to gauge interest in pesodenominated linkers to be offered by year-end. Inflation-linked bonds or linkers refer to debt instruments whose principal is indexed to inflation. It was designed to minimize inflation risks. De Leon said the inflation linked bonds was still in its product development stage where a lot of changes could happen. She said the government would keep its borrowing plans for this year and next. The government plans to secure 90 percent of its borrowings domestically and 10 percent from foreign institutions. A part of the plan includes going off shore. “For now, that’s our plan and plans can change depending on market movements,” De Leon said. The government had an outstanding debt of P5.451 trillion as of end-June, 6.9 percent higher than P5.101 trillion a year ago. It swelled to P87 billion or 1.6 percent from end-May. Data showed of the total debt, P1.950 trillion or 35.8 percent was from foreign creditors and P3.502 trillion or 64.2 percent from domestic creditors.Domestic debt rose 1.2 percent or P40 billion from the recorded end-May level due to the combined effects of the P42 billion net issuance of government securities, the P1 billion impact on multicurrency retail Treasury bonds of the peso depreciation against the dollar and euro, and a P2-billion reversion of government assumed domestic liabilities, which have been inactive for 25 years.
US tapering to hit banks By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:01am | 151 views
Bank of the Philippine Islands president and chief executive Cezar Consing said Thursday the expected tapering of monetary stimulus measures in the US will affect net interest income of banks in the Philippines. “I think the, the trading revenues will taper off with the US tapering,” he said. BPI chief finance officer Antonio Paner agreed, saying the current 10-year US securities which earn 2.8 percent per annum, would have risk off sentiments in the market. “This also has caused the interest rates in the emerging markets to go up,” he said. Paner said this event would impact not only on the trading gains but also on the net interest income of the banks depending on their position. “If their liabilities are shorter than their assets then, therefore increased interest rates will decrease their liability cost, so they will have a problem as far as their net interest margins are concerned,” Paner said. “I think the most important impact, immediate impact, would be on the trading gains because as interest rates go up, then banks will no longer have huge trading income that they enjoyed in the previous periods,” he said.
The ghosts of August By Horace Templo | Posted on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:01am | 297 views
For us who know little of Chinese culture and traditions, August sounds like “Au-ghost” and must therefore be the ghost month. Believed to be the most dangerous time of the year, it is the seventh month in the traditional Chinese calendar. This year, it starts from August 7 and ends on September 4, varying yearly relative to our Gregorian calendar. The gates of hell are believed to open on its first day, allowing ghosts and spirits to roam among us, intrude in our lives, and become most active on the 15th day. To appease and make them bring good luck instead, this day is celebrated as the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts by worshipping ancestors, offering food to monks and the deceased, burning joss paper, and chanting scriptures. The Festival came this year on August 20 together with tropical storm Maring and the monsoon rains which brought catastrophic floods and miseries to the people of Metropolitan Manila and northern Luzon. Did the ghost of Typhoon Habagat of August 2012 return to haunt us for our failure to remove the man-made causes of our floods? Experts have publicly outlined the obvious remedy – clear our waterways of people and structures that obstruct legally and illegally the smooth flow of water from our mountains, communities and watersheds to the sea. But government has yet to succeed. The Festival also coincided with Fernando Poe, Jr.’s 74 birth anniversary. Denied of the presidency, did his ghost remain with us? Had his election protest not been abandoned, perhaps it could have also prospered like that of Senator Koko Pimentel who was eventually proclaimed on August 11, 2011 four years after the 2007 elections. Of course, Pimentel’s father was then an incumbent senator and his opponent was a family friend who willingly resigned to give way to him albeit belatedly. On August 16, a passenger ferry boat and a cargo ship collided in the waters of Talisay, Cebu resulting in the death of at least 71 persons out of 831 people on board. This sea tragedy must be the handiwork of the criminal ghosts of human
error, negligence, incompetence, outdated navigational instruments and poor maritime regulations. Eidul Fitr that ended this year’s Ramadan was celebrated last August 9 as a national holiday. This should have ushered the attainment of lasting peace in Mindanao, which should lay to rest the ghosts of 150,000 Christian and Muslim civilians, soldiers and fighters whose lives have been sacrificed in the Bangsamoro people’s pursuit for independence and self-determination. But this peace has been threatened once more with the 5 successive bombings that killed 16 persons from July 26 to August 7 in Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato City, and the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato. We should have accorded President Cory Aquino more honor on her fourth death anniversary last August 1 but our attention had been drawn by the P10-billion pork barrel funds that found their way to ghost congressmen, non-governmental organizations and projects. She must be very unhappy now, watching her son fidget on what to do with the scandal that implicates five senators and 23 congressmen. After all, she was the one who started the release of Priority Development Assistance Funds to senators and congressmen out of good intentions. These unfortunate events immediately preceded Senator Ninoy Aquino’s 30th death anniversary. Still, we commemorated his heroism and how he loved his country and people: “I have carefully weighed the virtues and the faults of the Filipino and I have come to the conclusion that he is worth dying for because he is the nation’s greatest untapped resource.” President Manuel Quezon, born 135 years ago on August 19, foresaw these scandals happening and knew what to do like Mahatma Gandhi who once told British officials: “I beg you to accept that there are no people on earth who wouldn’t prefer their own bad government to the good government of an alien power. About 10 years earlier, a Filipino said basically the same thing: ‘I prefer a government run like hell by Filipinos to a government run like heaven by Americans.’ It was a sound
bite heard around the world. But what all too few recalled was the essential sentence that came next: ‘Because, however bad a Filipino government might be, we can always change it.’” On August 26, 1896, about 500 Katipuneros gathered at Pugadlawin and tore their cedulas to signal the beginning of the Philippine Revolution against the Spaniards. On Monday 117 years after and commemorated as National Heroes’ Day, one million ordinary, tax-paying Filipinos would gather at Luneta Park to scrap the pork barrel system. We expect the ghosts of our Katipuneros to join them. All ghosts and spirits must return and get confined once again to the underworld when the gates of hell close on the ghost month’s last day, September 4. Before that on August 31, President Ramon Magsaysay’s 106th birthday will be auspiciously celebrated. But would his spirit also rejoice in the achievements of the Social Security System—which he championed—when it observes its 56th anniversary on September 1?
Expectations By Jojo Robles | Posted on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:01am | 914 views
As the weekend that precedes the anti-pork barrel protest at Manila’s Rizal Park on Monday begins, perhaps those who are planning to go should ask themselves a simple question: What do they want to achieve by joining the protest? Do they want to convince those in power, specifically President Noynoy Aquino, to abolish Congress’ and Malacanang’s pork barrel funds? Or do they merely want to register their objection to the rape of the public treasury through the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, as pork is known? If getting Aquino to abolish PDAF and to give up his own pork is the objective, then one protest action (or any number of protest actions) can’t reasonably achieve that. The famously stubborn Aquino has apparently dug his heels on the matter, and nothing short of his overthrow or removal from office will get that done. Because the pork barrel controversy seems to point to a conspiracy between Congress and the Executive, it would seem logical to run to the courts for relief. But ever since the same two branches of government connived to remove a sitting chief justice (on the basis of accusations that are a lot flimsier than the ones those involved in the current pork scandal stand accused of, it must be made clear), no judge or justice in his right mind would even think of going against both the Palace and the lawmakers. If, however, registering a clear and unequivocal opposition to pork in all its forms and to the enablers, bribe- and commission-takers and all the other enterprising people involved in this systematic, historic looting is the objective, then, by all means, go to the park on Monday morning. Just because the protest won’t change the mind of Aquino and Congress doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make our opposition heard.
Finally, to those who refuse to get involved, one way or the other, in this thoroughly disgusting scandal because they believe that they have fulfilled their duty as good citizens by following the law and paying their taxes, I can only quote Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher: “The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” *** Two long-serving senators who never touched their pork barrel funds completed their 12-year terms in the middle of this year. Both of them are being considered to head up a high-level independent body that will look into allegations of corruption and recommend measures to prevent future misuse of the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund. Only one of the two is close to President Noynoy Aquino and is actively seeking work after leaving the Senate. Guess who will get the job? I’m with Senator Ralph Recto on this one: appoint Joker Arroyo to be the special investigator of the pork barrel scandal. No offense to former Senator Panfilo Lacson, but he is much too close to President Noynoy Aquino to be credible. Of course, because Aquino is who he is, he will probably never appoint Arroyo to any position, even that of assistant to the deputy dogcatcher, while he is President. Lacson, on the other hand, has apparently been promised some high position and has always been making noises about how he is preparing for some post where he can lead the fight against corruption. Arroyo has quietly left the Senate, where he served with dignity and honor, since ending his term. I doubt very much that the 86-year-old former human rights lawyer and lawmaker can be convinced to come out of retirement this early— assuming, of course that Aquino can get over his obvious dislike for his mother’s old Executive Secretary and offer him the job. About the only advantage Lacson has over Arroyo in handling a pork barrel probe, apart from his well-known closeness to Aquino, is living on the run for more than a year when Lacson was issued a warrant of arrest for double murder. This experience should come in handy in the manhunt for Janet Lim Napoles, who has also turned fugitive.
Aquino said yesterday that he would let Lacson handle such a probe, except that the Department of Justice is already on the case. (More than anything, this tells me that Aquino doesn’t really want too much prying into the pork barrel mess, since he can’t even give in to calls to create a high-level, independent probe body that will look into the scandal.) Aquino is like his mother in that he never really cared for unsolicited advice — besides being really, really averse to admitting to making a mistake. And the last thing Aquino wants to do right now is to hint that his support for the pork scheme is wavering, by appointing a known critic like Joker Arroyo to investigate the controversy. So forget about Joker getting involved in any official capacity in the pork barrel controversy. Arroyo would never agree to be used as a sanitizer of the Malacanang-Congress conspiracy, and Aquino doesn’t really want to be told that he, the father of daang matuwid, is on the side of the thieves and against the truth and the people.
Legarda, Sotto turn backs on PDAF, Chiz wants it abolished August 22, 2013 10:56 pm
by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND LLANESCA T. PANTI REPORTERS
TWO senators on Wednesday said they will no longer use their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) even as their colleague filed a bill that will do away with the PDAF for good. Senators Vicente Sotto 3rd and Loren Legarda said they will not wait for Congress or the President to abolish the PDAF because they have decided not to touch their share of the pork barrel. “Whether they abolish it or not, I will no longer avail of my PDAF starting next year and thereafter,” Sotto said. Legarda too said she will forego her PDAF until her term ends in 2019. Each senator has a PDAF allocation of P200 million a year. Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, went a step further, as he filed Senate Resolution 193 asking the chamber to “express its sense to abolish the PDAF and its allied congressional initiative allocation collectively known as pork barrel”. “The people have spoken and it is necessary to draw the line further between public accountability and patronage politics by being truthful to the constitutional allocation of powers and prerogatives” Escudero said in the resolution. He noted that the PDAF, whose precursor is the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) established in 1990, is supposed to fund projects that benefit the public. But the recent report of the Commission on Audit (COA) that billions of pesos were released to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) had led the people to believe that the system “has mutated into a multi-billion peso racket,” Escudero said. “The misconception that the pork barrel has become a form of ‘horse trading’ and a major source of corruption in the government is apparently starting to become real in the eyes of the Filipino people,” he said. Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., who reportedly allotted the biggest cut of his PDAF to questionable NGOs, supported Escudero’s bill and the planned Senate inquiry into PDAF misuse.
“It appears that the good intentions of helping the poor and spreading development to the countryside are not realized and its implementation manipulated,” Revilla said. Also backing the abolition of the pork barrel are Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito. Senators Gregorio Honasan and Juan Edgardo Angara called for a gradual phase-out of PDAF as proposed by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago. Ejercito said scrapping the PDAF is one way to restore the people’s trust in Congress. “We were elected as legislators, not as administrators. We have to be sensitive to what the people want after all we are their representatives,” he said. Recto said the national budget would be more transparent if all projects are itemized in the General Appropriations Act (GAA). Sen. Nancy Binay supported President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s decision to indefinitely suspend the PDAF but said she will wait for the completion of the investigations launched by various government agencies before deciding whether to back the its abolition. Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th said only the President can abolish PDAF. ‘Heartbreaking’ Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento warned that abolishing the PDAF would have heartbreaking consequences. Each member of the House of Representatives is entitled to P70 million worth of PDAF per year. “The abolition of PDAF will have heartbreaking consequences for a lot of poor families who are depending on their congressional representatives for their education, medical care, infrastructure support and many other things that can make life a little better for them. The PDAF system is good. It is human greed that took advantage of the system’s loopholes,” Sarmiento, the head of the House contingent to the Commission on Appointments, said. He argued that the PDAF system would be unnecessary if the country is in an ideal situation where all people can afford to send their children to school, get medical care and dry their palay harvest. “But the reality is that many of our constituents come to us for these things because they are poor and have nowhere else to go but to their elected officials,” Sarmiento said. BayanMuna Rep. Neri Colmenares differed with Sarmiento, saying the PDAF system and the discretionary funds of the President should be scrapped for good because they are vulnerable to anomalies. “The August 26 rally is the response of the people to the stubborn refusal of President Aquino to abolish pork. It is the opening salvo for bigger rallies in September, transcends political parties and should include all who wish to abolish the pork barrel system,” Colmenares said, referring to the planned demonstration at Rizal Park by various groups calling for an end to the pork barrel.
Peso drops to new low August 22, 2013 10:45 pm
by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO
The Philippine peso on Thursday dropped to its lowest level in more than a year. The peso closed at 44.17 to a dollar, shedding 53 centavos from 43.64 on Friday last week. Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist of BDO, said that the peso may further weaken and hit a low of 44.50 to the dollar. The analyst said the depreciation was driven by taper talks in the US Federal Reserve which also affected currencies in India, Indonesia and Thailand. India’s rupee dived to 65.04 against the dollar while Indonesia’s rupiah was at 10,787 to the dollar— a four-year low but a slight improvement on the 10,945 seen Wednesday. The Thai bath slipped to 32.09 from Thursday’s 31.77.
No apology from PH govt on Luneta bus incident August 22, 2013 8:26 pm
by BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON The victims of the Luneta bus hostage crisis cannot expect a fresh apology from the Philippine government as victims of the tragedy poised to sue the government for compensation. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday that the government “already conveyed deep regrets and condolences” regarding the killing of eight Hong Kong tourists by a disgruntled former police officer Rolando Mendoza in August 2010. Former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada apologized anew to the victims and their families, but the victims said the “new guy” cannot take the blame for something that happened way before he took over the post. The victims wanted a formal apology in writing from the Philippine government, as well as compensation for the survivors and the families of those who perished in the incident. President Benigno Aquino 3rd earlier said an apology from the State is unnecessary because the hostage-taking incident was the act of one man. The Philippines was gravely criticized by the international community for the botched rescue attempt of the victims. Aside from the apology, the victims and their families were also asking for monetary compensation, improved tourist security and the sacking of the erring officials. A suit is prepared to be filed before a Hong Kong court, reports said, that will include former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and seven other officials.
P14.5-M TAX EVASION RAPS VS. SCHOOL, EXECS, CPA August 22, 2013 8:24 pm
The Bureau of Internal Revenue on Thursday filed before the Department of Justice a P14.5-million tax evasion case against a private school, its officials and its certified public account. Charged were the Corpus Christi School Inc. and its President Alfonso Del Fierro Jr. and chief financial officer/treasurer Mark Alfonso del Fierro. Also charged was Elpedio Cuay in his capacity as the independent Certified Public Accountant of the said school.
DESTRUCTION OF GOLDEN RICE TRIAL FARM HIT August 22, 2013 8:23 pm
NAGA CITY: Some 3,000 netizens have so far signed an online petition condemning the destruction of the Golden Rice trial farm in Pili, Camarines Sur. Initiated by Indian scientist Channa Prakash, the petition, titled “Global scientific community condemns destruction of field trials of Golden Rice in the Philippines,” is making the round in the Internet through change.org. It is a reaction to the August 8 destruction of the Golden Rice trial farm inside the Department of Agriculture compound which militant groups claimed as a “political statement” against multinational corporations controlling the agriculture industry in the country.
PCSO braves floodwaters to give aid August 22, 2013 8:17 pm
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), through its Chairman Margie Juico, heeded the call for help from the people in Imus, Cavite and Biñan, Laguna in the wake of the onslaught by Typhoon Maring and southwesterly monsoon-spawned deluge. Juico cancelled the agency’s big sports event PNOy Sports on Wednesday, asked for a 6×6 truck from Philippine Air Force Col. Gerardo Zamudio and went through floodwaters in Cavite and Laguna to extend help to the residents. With physicians Ma. Isabel Vinteres and Zelda Ganancial, PCSO gave away dry clothes, blankets, family emergency medicine (FEM) kits, towels as well as canned goods, noodles, and rice to hundreds of flood victims. “PCSO had a medical mission and we distributed medical emergency family kits containing medicines for common ailments like colds, coughs, diarrhea, fever and pediatric cough suspension. “We are working very hard to assist the flood victims,” she said. “It was heartwarming seeing the PNP [Philippine National Police] maintaining order in the distribution, the Philippine Army trucks and AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] composite group loading and unloading the relief goods, NGOs [non-government organizations] like the Sagip Kapamilya, and government agencies like DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] and PCSO working together,” said Juico. Under the agency’s Quick Response Program, assistance will also be provided for the flood victims undergoing medical treatment in government hospitals. The typhoon has left wide areas of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces flooded, suspending classes and work in many public and private offices on Monday and Tuesday. Several cities and provinces have already declared a “state of calamity.”
Itâ€™s a girl! Baby born on LRT train August 22, 2013 5:39 pm
A woman gave birth Thursday morning aboard a coach of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 2. Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) Spokesman Hernando Cabrera, the woman went into labor at about 8:50 a.m. as the train was approaching the C.M. Recto station in Manila. Cabrera said the woman was assisted by LRT doctors and a passenger when the train reached Recto station. The woman gave birth to a girl. She was brought to the Fabella Memorial Hospital nearby, and baby and mother were safe, Cabrera said. Cabrera denied rumors that children born on LRT trains were given lifetime free rides. On May 22, a passenger gave birth aboard a northbound LRT-1 coach as the train approached the Doroteo Jose station in Manila. Based on LRTA records, at least 14 babies have been born aboard the LRT trains since October 2012. RITCHIE A. HORARIO
President visits flood victims in Cavite August 22, 2013 4:58 pm
After visiting Laguna and Mandaluyong City on Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino 3rd went to flood-stricken areas in the province of Cavite on Thursday to help distribute relief goods. The President’s first stop was at the Tinabunan Elementary School in Imus where 178 families were temporarily staying. He then proceeded to Kawit to extend relief assistance to over a hundred families at the Binakayan High School. In his short message, the President assured the affected residents of the government’s support. He said his administration will speed up flood control projects in the province. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will build a retarding basin in a 50-hectare property in Cavite, according to Aquino. The President was accompanied by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, former Cavite representative Ayong Maliksi and other government officials. On Wednesday, Aquino visited flood victims in Biñan and San Pedro, Laguna, and Mandaluyong. CATHERINE S. VALENTE
MMDA intensifies garbage clean-up in flooded areas August 22, 2013 4:51 pm
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Thursday intensified its clean up drive in areas affected by widespread flooding. MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez said the agency’s Metro Parkways Clearing Group and the local government of Manila have been working since Monday to remove the garbage in the flooded areas . She said the group had so far hauled 15 truckloads of garbage left by the floods along Roxas Boulevard and the Manila Bay coastline. The garbage was composed mostly of plastic items and pieces of wood. Jimenez called on the public to help the government by not throwing their trash in the waterways . Proper segregation will go a long way in reducing the tons of garbage in the waterways that also clogs pumping stations. MMDA Metro Parkway Clearing Group Chief Francis Martinez said the volume of garbage collected this year is lower compared to the more than 150 truckloads of trash collected last year. He said the garbage collected came from areas around the Manila Bay like Parañaque, Pasay, Manila and Navotas and as far as the provinces of Cavite, Bulacan and Bataan which were also flooded. MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said recovering from this year’s monsoon rain will take longer. “This year’s habagat has intermitent intervals. The recovery time may take longer,” he said. Tolentino said only parts of Muntinlupa and the Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) area remain flooded as of Thursday. At the same time, he asked the Intramuros Administration (IA) to pump floodwater from the streets to the Pasig River after the Lagusnilad underpass was submerged at the height of the monsoon rains. He said he learned that the Club Intramuros was discharging excess water from the golf course to P. Burgos and Victoria Streets. “This discharge of water from the golf course to the Lagusnilad Underpass and P. Burgos Street, Victoria Street has caused and continue to cause our deflooding efforts to be greatly delayed, if not caused the area to remain flooded despite all our pumping efforts,” Tolentino said. The MMDA has eight pump trucks helping the Manila city government siphon the water from Lagusnilad. RITCHIE A. HORARIO
Planned Lacson panel can be tapped for pork scandal probe: Aquino August 22, 2013 4:15 pm
President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday said it is likely the planned anti-corruption agency that former senator Panfilo Lacson will lead will probe the pork barrel scandal. “It’s possible,” President Aquino said when ask if he will appoint Lacson as a special independent investigator to look into the alleged misuse of congressional pork barrel funds. He said, however, an anti-graft commission composed of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Department of Justice (DOJ) the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Civil Service Commission was already conducting an inquiry. Lacson has submitted a draft executive order to Malacañang to ensure that the new anti-corruption agency he proposed has operational capabilities and a law enforcement arm. Aquino said he was still waiting for Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.’s recommendation on Lacson’s proposed executive order detailing his job description. He said Malacanang has been preoccupied with several urgent concerns such as the ship collision in Cebu, the recent floodings, and the pork barrel scam. The President revealed plans to tap Lacson and former senator Francis Pangilinan for government positions after their terms expire. Lacson will supposedly lead the anti-corruption body, while Pangilinan is being eyed as the President’s adviser on food security. CATHERINE S. VALENTE
Gov’t declares housing loans payment moratorium for flood victims August 22, 2013 3:15 pm
THE government has declared a moratorium on housing loans payment for flood victims in Luzon. Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday said the key shelter agencies (KSAs) have allowed borrowers affected by the recent flooding to defer payments of their housing loans. Binay said the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG), National Housing Authority (NHA), and Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC) have each declared a three-month moratorium. The National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) and Socialized Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) called a six-month moratorium. The Vice President said the moratorium applies to borrowers whose homes or sources of income are in areas under a state of calamity. “The imposition of the moratorium on payments is our way of helping our borrowers cope with the losses caused by the massive flooding,” said Binay. He also said affected Pag-IBIG members can borrow up to 80 percent of their total savings with 5.95 percent interest rate per annum. The calamity loan is payable in two years. “For those wishing to avail of Pag-IBIG’s calamity loans or who have any questions, please do not hesitate to call the Pag-IBIG hotline at 724-4244,” Binay said. RITCHIE A. HORARIO
Manila disaster council proposes Lagusnilad underpass retrofitting August 22, 2013 11:43 am
THE Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) will propose to the City Council the review of the design of the drainage system of Lagusnilad underpass fronting city hall to solve the perennial flooding in the area. Johnny Yu, officer-in-charge of the MDRRMC, on Thursday said they will request for the conduct of the retrofitting of Lagusnilad underpass during the city council session next week. Likewise, Yu said he will propose the holding of a meeting between the Department of Public Works and Highways (MMDA), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the city government to study the drainage system plan of the Lagusnilad underpass. He added the drainage system of the Lagusnilad underpass is possibly connected to Intramuros, hence, the drainage of Lagusnilad is easily clogged. Because of this, Yu said, it appears the Lagusnilad underpass also serves as a â€œcatch-basin.â€? Yu added he will propose the replacement of the old water pump of Lagusnilad as heavy rains have become frequent resulting to excessive flooding in the area. PNA
Business activity in the aftermath of pork scam, ‘habagat’ August 22, 2013 7:59 pm
by EJ LOPEZ ECONSENSE
A series of unfortunate events both natural and man-made has again put the country into the limelight of shame and “fame.” The biggest financial scandal of all time involving government funds that obviously emanate from people’s hard-earned income taxes has been uncovered. The highly anomalous issue on priority development assistance funds (PDAF) has been one of the most abused issues lately, which was obviously done by abusive personalities. The total amount involved is approximately P10 billion, or $232 million, should have gone a long way to alleviate the plight not only of the poor sector of our society but also the business sector, but this amount of money that came from the taxpayers’ pocket was “erroneously” diverted to “foundations” created for their personal aggrandizement. As it is, these huge amounts that have been diverted have made some of our trusted “rich” leaders’ more filthy rich. That is how politics work in this corrupt-ridden nation that people have grown weary of. People have grown tired of waiting for leaders that will truly be sensitive to their needs. Each election, people have to look forward to upcoming leaders, hoping against hope that along will come the “knight in shining armor” that will finally provide them the much needed relief from hunger and poverty. But all these are put to naught with some breed of leaders. Regardless of ongoing and upcoming investigations to get to the bottom of the issue, it has already created an impression that is hard to reverse in the minds of the people, that we elected some
leaders whose foremost concern is not the people’s welfare. Janet Lim Napoles, the controversial personality allegedly behind all this controversial pork scam has become the face of Philippine politics. Whereas, before people would merely speculate the beneficiaries of these PDAFs, creating doubts if these really reached and effectively promote the people’s interest and welfare, but now it has been confirmed and affirmed, how politics play in this country. No wonder, the country has been left out by other countries by a mile in development, the leadership qualities that characterize some of our leaders are dismayingly disappointing. Though people take it with a grain of salt on so many occasions, these leaders still have the temerity to justify their selfish and inhuman acts. If Napoles is to become the culprit of this uneventful action, the greater should be the liability of the concerned leaders involved in this huge pork (or is it beef?) barrel scam. This creates doubts on the part of the business sector as regards the sincerity of this administration to get rid of graft and corruption. It was a problem many regimes ago and still is a problem in this regime; will this be a part of an institutional commitment in all other regimes that will come and go? Lost opportunities The spate of bad weather recently experienced by the country, specifically, majority of the Luzon area, has resulted into loss of business opportunities for the country, just like what majority of Mindanao experienced in recent months. The amount of money lost because of missed business opportunities is enough to feed many starving families. These could have spelled the difference among people who could have been employed if not for that debilitating calamity. The opportunities foregone brought about by the incessant floods practically covering the entire Metro Manila has effectively paralyzed business operations, at the same time exposing workers to great risks therefore endangering their productivity. These natural events that perennially occurred in the country seem unresolved by whoever will hold the throne of national or local leadership. Floods and other form of natural calamities has become a traditional occurrence that people who are affected by this tragedy just take it as an ordinary episode in life. Regardless of the people’s observation, this phenomenon creates a certain kind of perception that is taken negatively by the business sector. This kind of problem will forever be a hindrance in our desire toward achieving tiger status. Basic as it is, the problem requires a great amount of political will to address, which unfortunately up to now remains uncertain. Political will includes resettlement of the informal settlers, majority of them clogging the waterways, continuous declogging of the drainage system and other support actions. These frustrating events create a black eye in what investors perceive of our country as an investment destination. The situation is aggravated by the fact that these are incidents that traditionally takes place in the Metropolis, the center of business activity and the hub of trade and commerce. Unless and until the national leadership takes cognizance of this perennial problem, the country’s thrust of achieving the tiger status will remain an ambition, hard to attain.
Plunder for pork role By Rey E. Requejo | Posted on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:02am | 1,484 views 1
DoJ readies charges vs Napoles, solons, other govt officials Fugitive businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles will be charged with plunder along with several lawmakers and government officials for their supposed role in siphoning billions in congressional pork barrel to bogus non-government organizations, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Thursday.
Two resolutions. Senate Majority Leader Alan Cayetano on Thursday filed Resolution 196 seeking the abolition of the pork barrel, and Resolution 197 seeking former Senator Panfilo Lacson’s appointment as a special investigator of the alleged misuse of lawmakers’ pork barrel appropriations. Ey Acasio “We were able to identify lawmakers who will be charged along with Napoles and we are just collating documentary evidence to support the charges,” De Lima said, noting that the National Bureau of Investigation will file the raps in the next few days. De Lima declined to identify the officials involved or discuss details of the cases until after the complaints are filed before the Ombudsman, but a highly-placed source said the NBI were preparing charges of plunder, a non-bailable offense punishable by life imprisonment.
De Lima said the NBI would have completed its report and recommendations were it not for the monsoon rain, but they are expected to submit the case to the Ombudsman for preliminary investigation within days. The DOJ chie said President Benigno Simeon Aquino III wanted the NBI to file charges against people suspected to be involved in the scam where the Priority Development Assistance Funds allocated to lawmakers are given to nongovernment organizations for their public service projects. “The standing instruction of the President is for us to file strongs cases or those with strong evidence as early as we can,” said De Lima, stressing however that the initial cases will only cover instances involving Napoles and based on the claims of supposed whistleblower Benhur Luy. On Wednesday, the President said he was disgusted at the long list of lawmakers implicated in the scandal, but Aquino blamed his predecessor, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, for her alleged failure to institute safeguards to prevent the misuse of the pork barrel fund. Aquino made his statement even as Budget Secretary Florencio Abad admitted that the Department of Budget and Management made mistakes that were used as bases for the COA audit covering the years 2007 to 2009. Abad said he is now studying the findings of CoA to “establish more lines of accountability and spot areas for operational improvement.” “We have already formed an internal group that will helm this exercise, beginning with the reconciliation of data from the COA report with our own records,” Abad said. “The President’s instruction for us to tighten PDAF rules is especially timely, now that budget deliberations are at full throttle. This is most opportune for our colleagues in Congress to signify their full cooperation with the administration’s transparency and accountability agenda, beginning with the approval of muchneeded reforms in the management of PDAF,” he added. President Aquino blamed his predecessor, former President and currently Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo for failing to institute safeguards against the misuse of pork.
“I think it is but right that I am disgusted over the PDAF abuses,” he said. “But we have to remind the public, all these happened during the past administration that had different policies from us.” Meanwhile, calls for the abolition of the pork barrel grew louder amid reports that Napoles diverted at least P10 billion in congressional funds to bogus nongovernment organizations for ghost projects. But the Palace on Thursday said the Million People March against pork barrel set for National Heroes’ Day next week is not a national security concern. “We do not see any problem with that gathering. It is not a national security concern. I am sure the Philippine National Police can take care of it,” Presidential Security Group head Brig. Gen. Ramon Dizon said. “They are not threatening the President and they have the right to free speech,” Dizon added. In fact, some of the organizers of the protest movement are supporters of President Aquino, such as educator Gang Badoy. The event on Aug. 26 at Luneta Park is set to begin at 9 a.m, wiith attendees encourage to wear white and are asked to meet at the KM 0 marker adjacent to the Rizal Monument. Similar calls for gatherings in Davao City, Iloilo City, Dagupan, Baguio, Legazpi City, and Lucena City were also made through online sites. But the President has repeatedly said that while the pork barrel has been suspended, in the long run, Aquino said he was not in favor in abolishing the PDAF. He said the pork barrel “helps the government, through the elected congressional representative, to respond to the needs of the people in a timely fashion.” Instead, Aquino said he wants stricter measures for the release of the PDAF, saying that the releases should be “performance and time-bound.” De Lima noted that the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council, which includes the Ombudsman, DOJ and NBI, has already convened to pursue cases
against other people involved in the “wider web” of the scam bared by the Commission on Audit in a recent report. De Lima said only 10 of 82 NGOs tagged by COA in the PDAF anomalies were linked to Napoles, which means there is a bigger picture to the scam. Meanwhile, the NBI continues its hunt for Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim a week after a Makati regional trial court ordered their arrest over the alleged serious illegal detention of Luy. “The NBI is now pursuing certain leads that they think are more or less credible. Teams have been deployed for these leads that the NBI believes are not pranks,” the DOJ chief stressed. She also said there is no indication Napoles and her brother were able to leave the country, saying it would be hard for Napoles and Lim to sneak out of the country since the Bureau of Immigration has been alerted against their possible escape. Still, she said the NBI would seek the help of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) by placing the two fugitives in Interpol’s “red list” of fugitives, but the the NBI will not likely offer any bounty for the arrest of the siblings. “NBI officials had a debate among themselves on this and most of them believed (offering a reward) would no longer be necessary, because if we offer P1 or P2 million, that would be insignificant considering the resources of the fugitives who can easily counter the offer,” she explained. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/23/plunder-for-pork-role/
Flood ‘mopping up’ begins By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:02am | 334 views Government agencies, officials and residents now face the difficult task of ‘mopping up’ what was left by tropical storm Maring and the southwest monsoon that had combined to wreak havoc to most of Luzon, including flood-weary Metro Manila. But even as Maring (international name Trami) leaves the country, a low pressure area over the Pacific Ocean is seen approaching the Philippine area of responsibility and is threatening to develop into a tropical depression to be named “Nando.”
After the rain. A government worker collects trash washed out on Manila Bay by the rain. DANNY PATA Weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said the LPA was spotted 1,600 kilometers east of Mindanao outside the PAR. “The LPA is entering the country within the next 48 hours,” he said, Officials said Maring left 18 dead, four still missing, and 14 injured even as residents who had spent four days in evacuation centers started returning to their homes as they try to resume their normal lives. The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council said that the floods affected 363, 246 families or 1,731,392 persons in 1,451 barangays in 119 municipalities and 31 cities Central Luzon, Ilocos province, calabarzon, Southern Tagalog, Cordillera and Metro Manila. It added that 48,206 families or 217, 195 individuals remained in 709 evacuation centers while 71,345 families or 345,723 persons opted to stay with friends and relatives’ houses.
The cost of damages to infrastructure was placed at P57m, while damage to agriculture already reached P2.6b to include the damage also brought by Labuyo, as of Wednesday. The damage covered 98, 997 hectares, of which 20, 037 hectares have no chances of recovery. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala however said that despite the damage, the 8 million metric tons production target for corn will still be achieved, and assured that there is sufficient seed buffer stock for replacement planting for the damaged palays. More than P21worth of relief food and non-food assistance were provided to the flood victims, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said. Soliman said that the DSWD is set to shift its efforts towards providing needed assistance to flood victims in the provinces in Central Luzon. The National Food Authority, meanwhile, said it released a total of 7,878 bags of rice for distribution to the flood victims. The rice stocks, which were issued on August 19-21, were coursed through local government units (LGUs), various relief agencies such as the DSWD, NDRRMC private charitable institutions such as CARITAS and television channels ABS-CBN and GMA-7. Meanwhile, at least 72 roads in affected areas remained impassable to different type vehicles due to landslides and damaged bridges. The province of Rizal also became the 23rd area to be placed under a state of calamity due to damages incurred by heavy rains in the mountain slopes of San Mateo, Rodriguez, Cainta, Taytay and Morong. Philippine National Red Cross secretary-general Gwendolyn Pang said the floods have receded in all but about 10 percent of the metropolis of 12 million people. Trading and business resumed in the metro, but most schools had declared emergency holidays for the rest of the week as school buildings are being cleaned up and others are still being used as evacuation centers. With Rio N. Araja, Francisco Tuyay, Anna Leah Estrada, Othel V. Campos and PNA
Posted on August 22, 2013 11:01:34 PM
Pork barrel probe set; abolition sought THE BUDGET department has vowed to investigate reports of misallocation and mismanagement of the so-called pork barrel funds, with releases temporarily put on hold until its review is concluded.
Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said in a statement yesterday that any findings will be used by the department to push reforms in the ongoing legislation of the 2014 national budget. “We’re diligently studying the CoA’s (Commission on Audit) findings, which can help us establish more lines of accountability and allow us to spot areas for operational improvement in the DBM (Department of Budget and Management),” Mr. Abad said. “In fact, we’ve already formed an internal group that will helm this exercise, beginning with the reconciliation of data from the CoA report with our own records.” The CoA published a report last week, claiming the DBM made errors in the Priority Development and Assistance Funds (PDAF) and Various Infrastructures Including Local Projects (VILP) releases from 2007 to 2009. It said the DBM allocated ₱20 million to a certain “Luis Abalos,” who was not a member of the 13th and 14th Congresses. A total of ₱3 billion was anomalously issued to then-Compostela Valley Rep. Manuel E. Zamora (1st district) as well, it alleged. Moreover, the report found that legislators got away with using their pork barrel funds to funnel money into nongovernmental organizations (NGO) they themselves established. The CoA urged the DBM to improve its record-keeping and monitoring of PDAF releases to ensure that public funds did not go to waste. While Mr. Abad, who took the helm in the department in 2010, agreed with the spirit of the CoA report, he defended his predecessor against some of the accusations. Then-Mandaluyong Rep. Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr. (lone district) was the true recipient of the ₱20 million in question, he explained. An encoding error in the matrix of legislators submitted to the CoA resulted in the name “Luis Abalos.” Moreover, he said, the ₱3 billion in pork barrel funds was mistakenly attributed to Mr. Zamora after it was discovered his PDAF allocation shared a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) number (A-07-9539) with a fund release to the Department of Public Works and Highways for the Preventive Maintenance of National Roads and Bridges nationwide. “The PDAF release made to Mr. Zamora amounted to just ₱500,000, bringing the third tranche of his Congressional allocation for 2007 to only ₱10 million,” the DBM statement read.
Mr. Abad said reforms have been put in place in the Aquino administration to help close any loopholes in the use of pork barrel funds. “A crucial budget reform under this administration is the merging and streamlining of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ projects under the PDAF, which eliminated the need for a separate VILP allocation for our lawmakers,” he said. “Not only did this make fund oversight more efficient; the fact that legislators only have the PDAF to work with encourages them to be more judicious in weighing their development projects against the resources available to them.” A cap has also been set on PDAF allocations, with congressmen receiving ₱70 million and senators, ₱200 million. Any additional funds -- usually for humanitarian reasons such as disaster relief -- can be released, subject to DBM approval. Debates about the pork barrel have been reignited amid reports businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles created a complex network of bogus foundations and NGOs to divert some ₱10 billion in PDAF releases. Many quarters have called for the pork barrel’s abolition, but President Benigno S. C. Aquino III and legislators have been cool to the idea. The DBM’s review of the pork barrel is “especially timely,” Mr. Abad said, as Congress tackles the approval of the 2014 national budget. SCRAP PDAF In a related development, a senator yesterday filed a resolution seeking to scrap the PDAF. Senator Francis Joseph G. Escudero, finance committee chairman, filed Senate Resolution No. 193 that calls on the chamber to “express its sense to abolish its PDAF and its allied congressional initiative allocation known as pork barrel.” “Now, it has mutated into a multi-billion racket allegedly perpetrated by syndicates in both the public and private sectors,” Mr. Escudero said in the resolution. With the public clamor to recall PDAF, Mr. Escudero said its abolition will allow Congress to limit itself to the enactment of the national budget and the Executive to implement the same. A multi-sectoral rally has been schedule for Monday, a public holiday, to call for the abolition of the PDAF. For his part, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter S. Cayetano is set to file today Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 196 which seeks a line-item budgeting for next year’s proposed budget. Mr. Cayetano noted in the resolution that the “continuous practice of discretionary lump-sum appropriations for PDAF projects will always be a symbol and source of corruption for legislators.” The PDAF abolition was also backed by Senate Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto, Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, and Senator Teofisto L. Guingona III. The Senate Blue Ribbon committee will probe next week the pork barrel scandal. -- Diane Claire J. Jiao withKathleen T. de Vila
Lacson poised to lead investigation? FORMER SENATOR Panfilo M. Lacson may soon be heading an anti-graft commission that will look into the pork barrel scandal, among others. A study on the creation of the body is pending at the office of Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr.
“I’m open to [Mr. Lacson] to be an anti-graft prober but there is already a proposed executive order undergoing study by the Executive Secretary. I’m still waiting for its findings,” said President Benigno S. C. Aquino III in an interview with reporters during his visit to an evacuation center for storm victims in Cavite. Mr. Aquino said the study should consider existing mechanisms that probe irregularities. One such group is that of the Commission on Audit, Justice department, Civil Service Commission and Office of the Ombudsman, all of which form the Interagency Anti-Graft and Corruption Council. Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima yesterday said the council met two weeks ago over the pork barrel scandal. She said, meanwhile, that Napoles is still in the country. “There’s no indication that she was able to leave. She will have a hard time leaving especially because her passport was canceled,” Ms. de Lima said in a chance interview with reporters. She added the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is working on having Napoles included in the Interpol’s (International Criminal Police Organization) red notice. Individuals included in the red notice may be arrested in Interpol member-countries. Napoles’ passport was canceled last week upon the request of the Department of Justice. Ms. de Lima said NBI teams are continuously searching for Napoles with leads from informants “that are more or less credible.” NBI officials are still undecided, however, on whether to recommend a bounty for her arrest, saying a P1million or P2-million reward could be “peanuts” to Napoles’ vast financial resources. “As a matter of principle, it is also not good that there is a mercenary interest involved,” Ms. de Lima said. The businesswoman has a standing warrant of arrest for the serious illegal detention case filed by whistleblower Benhur K. Luy. Napoles’ brother, Reynald “Jojo” Lim, is also in the charge sheet. Her camp has a petition before the Court of Appeals to stop authorities from enforcing the warrant. -- Emilia Narni J. David and Mikhail Franz E. Flores
Posted on August 21, 2013 10:49:16 PM
15 deaths from floods as Maring exits Facebook Tweet LinkedIn Google + ShareThis
FLOODS SPAWNED by monsoon rains enhanced by tropical storm Maring (international name: Trami) -- which exited the country yesterday -- have so far left 15 people dead and more than 70 million worth of damage to infrastructure and agriculture sector in many parts of Luzon, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported yesterday. Four remained missing as more than a million individuals have been affected by rising waters. Floods inundated many villages in Regions I (Ilocos), IV-A (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), IV-B (Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Metro Manila, destroying crops worth about 16.9 million and infrastructure at 56.6 million, the council said in a report at 4:00 p.m. A state of calamity has been declared in the provinces of Bataan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga and Rizal; the cities of Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Malabon, Marikina, Pasay, Candon (Ilocos Sur), and Dagupan (Pangasinan); the municipalities of Pateros, Narvacan, Gregorio del Pilar and Sta. Maria (Ilocos Sur), Sta. Barbara (Pangasinan), and Obando (Bulacan). AQUINO VISIT Meanwhile, the President yesterday visited several evacuation centers a day after he was conspicuously absent at the NDRRMC Tuesday at the height of the calamity. President Benigno S. C. Aquino III distributed relief goods to flood victims in Biñan and San Pedro in Laguna; and Mandaluyong City. Responding to criticisms that he was “missing in action,” Mr. Aquino said he has been resting after an allergy attack but has been coordinating responses to the calamity through agency officials. The President’s allergy to pollen acted up after a recent appearance at the anniversary of the Philippine National Police at Camp Aguinaldo wherein the stage was bedecked with flowers. Mr. Aquino said during the relief operations that the government will start flood control projects in Laguna de Bay and it could take years before these will be completed. “What we are planning to do for Laguna de Bay is massive. It will not be finished right away because we need to stop the fast rising waters,” Mr. Aquino told evacuees in San Pedro. Key flood control projects along Laguna de Bay include the 780-million dike that was launched last April. CLASS SUSPENSION Meanwhile, classes in most of Metro Manila remain suspended today and some extending to tomorrow to
allow the clean-up of debris after the flood, according to Web sites and Twitter accounts of local government units (LGUs). On the other hand, classes in all levels will resume today in San Juan City and Quezon City, except for schools that are used as temporary shelter for flood victims. LGUs that have announced class suspension until Friday are: • Makati -- public/private, in all levels; • Malabon -- public/private, all levels; • Marikina -- public/private; all levels; • Muntinlupa -- public/private, elementary to high school; • Pateros -- public, elementary to high school; and • Valenzuela -- public/private; elementary to high school. “Mataas muli ang tide bukas at kailangan natin mag-ayos ng mga bahay, lansangan at paaralan [The tide is high again tomorrow and we need to repair houses, streets, and schools,” Malabon Mayor Antolin A. Oreta III said in a statement on the city government Web site. Classes in other cities have been suspended only for today, namely: • Las Piñas -- public/private, elementary to high school (first district only); • Parañaque -- public/private, all levels; • Mandaluyong -- public/private, elementary to high school; • Pasig -- public, elementary; • Taguig -- public, all levels; • Manila -- public/private, all levels, and government offices; • Navotas -- public/private, all levels; and • Caloocan -- public/private, all levels. FLIGHTS RESTORED As this developed, operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport returned to normal yesterday except for a few flights, an airport official said. “The operations have normalized, yet there are a few cancellations. Other than that, everything is back to normal,” Connie Bungag, Manila International Airport Authority media officer, said in a telephone interview. Only 15 flights were canceled yesterday as rains continued with the exit of Maring. At the height of floods Tuesday, 162 flights were canceled, some were diverted while others were delayed. Ms. Bungag said terminal operations have been restored as water at the ramp area has receded.
Operations of flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) have also returned to normal, although it had to cancel 13 inbound flights -- 12 international and one domestic -- while two outbound trips were canceled. “The cancellations today [yesterday] are the return flights of yesterday’s [Tuesday’s] canceled international flights. These are the flights back to Manila,” PAL spokesperson Cielo C. Villaluna said in a phone interview. The Ang-led carrier’s subsidiary, meanwhile, sidetracked four of its flights to Cebu International Airport and Clark International Airport. “All the other flights are green and go but there are delays because of inclement weather conditions,” Ms. Villaluna added. There were no flight cancellations for Cebu Pacific. The budget carrier noted that Luzon-based passengers may opt to rebook flights due to bad weather without additional charges. Tiger Airways Philippines said in a text message to media that it had not canceled flights, but most trips experienced delays. POWER GRID STABLE In a related development, the country’s power grid remained stable amid heavy rain. In a statement yesterday, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said grid operations “remained normal and fully functional despite the recent passage of southwest monsoon and tropical storm Maring.” It added that as of 2:00 p.m. yesterday, “the weather disturbances pose no further threat to any NGCP facilities.” The NGCP noted that transmission lines and substations in affected areas -- North Luzon, South Luzon and National Capital Region -- “endured the heavy rains and flood brought about by the southwest monsoon” which started Saturday. “With anti-flooding system in place, NGCP was able to control the entry of floodwater in its substations, particularly in Sucat [Parañaque City] and Biñan [Laguna province],” the grid operator said. “NGCP’s overall disaster control activities effectively prevented damage to the substation equipment and ensured continuous power transmission service to Meralco (Manila Electric Co.) and other distribution utilities,” it added. Meralco -- the country’s largest power distributor -- services Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite and Rizal; as well as parts of Batangas, Laguna, Quezon and Pampanga. The NGCP has been the private operator of the government-owned transmission network since 2009. It acquired the 25-year concession of National Transmission Corp. in an auction conducted by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. -- the BusinessWorld staff
Posted on August 22, 2013 10:54:35 PM
Farmers in Pablo-hit town recover with chili CATEEL, DAVAO ORIENTAL -- “A revitalized product from the ravages of super Typhoon Pablo,” says the brochure of Dumang Chili Powder.
It may be easy to dismiss the slogan adopted by the Subangon Dumang Makers (SDM) as nothing more than hot air. But the slogan doesn’t really encapsulate the devastation wrought by Pablo when it made landfall in this sleepy town last December. Houses and trees were sprawled to the ground almost in supplication. At least 150 people died, and millions of pesos’ worth in crops and properties were damaged. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that 98% of our chili hills were destroyed,” Edgardo Ricky T. Arisola, SDM president, said. By some miracle, though, while his house was destroyed, his chili seedlings, planted in pots in his backyard, were left untouched. From those small pots, Mr. Arisola said, Cateel will try to reclaim its status as the top chili-producing town in the region, with the goal of making Davao Oriental the chili capital of the country. One challenge for the group was changing people’s minds. Cateel is a mainly coconut town, and one thing said about coconut is that it breeds idleness, particularly when one has a monthly source of income in an area where the standard of living is quite low. Mr. Arisola often found himself preaching to deaf ears. The group had to prove itself by showing that there’s money in chili. A farm of 1,000 square meters farm can yield around 800 kilograms. SDM, as a market consolidator, buys fresh chili at P65/kg, which would generate about P52,000 in income for the farmer with the 1,000-m2 farm. One hill of chili is good for four cycles, with each cycle lasting six months. Prior to the typhoon, SDM was already building momentum by buying from farmers as much as 20 kg of fresh chili per day, from the average of 8 kg between 2005 and 2009. The typhoon changed all that when swathes of coconut trees were uprooted and the farmers ended up with empty fields as far as the eye could see. Mr. Arisola said that they lost about 12,000 kg of fresh chili that was about to be harvested. “We really had to start from scratch, but we already have a template to follow because we have tasted success prior to the typhoon. All we needed to do was retrace our steps,” he said. But, he also acknowledged that it’s going to be an uphill climb; he claimed that the group hasn’t recovered even 2% of what Pablo destroyed. The good news, however, is that the farmers have started to come around; SDM membership more than doubled in August from the 412 members counted in June.
Along with the salvaged seedlings of Mr. Arisola, the International Committee of the Red Cross also distributed 8,000 packs of chili in addition to the 500 packs from the Department of Trade and Industry. The DTI is also helping the group connect with buyers and sponsoring registration fees at trade fairs. SDM sells both dried chili and powdered chili under the brand name Dumang, with powdered chili going for P500/kg. Mr. Arisola explained, “Chili is really a part of the culture of the Mandaya tribe. They ground it to dust and spread it on their food to spice up their palate. ‘Dumang’ is actually a Mandaya word for chili.” Mandaya farmers also used chili as a nematode or worm repellant, in the same way that ginger and lemongrass repel insects. Mr. Arisola said that demand for chili is the least of the group’s worries. SDM is already supplying a Davaobased chicharon maker and a host of vinegar manufacturers with chili powder. He also said that Singaporean and Bruneian traders are asking for 800-1,000 kg for initial shipment, and two fast food chains have each asked for 1,000 kg of dried chili to be delivered per month. Junel T. Batao, Cateel Coco Planters Association president, has been walking a good distance from his village to join the briefings in the SDM office -- actually the ground floor of Mr. Arisola’s house -- and has been convinced about chili’s benefits. “One thing that made me hesitate before was where to sell our produce if we’re going to plant chili. But the SDM market model was very solid,” Mr. Batao said. Another appealing factor was the short harvest period for chili, compared with coconut, which takes years before farmers’ efforts bear fruit. “I will really encourage my fellow farmers to try out chili,” Mr. Batao said, adding that he can easily consolidate 300 farmers for the project. He has already planted some hills to serve as a model for his fellow coco farmers in his village to emulate. “By my own estimate, I can already harvest in December. At least I can earn a little extra for noche buena,” Mr. Batao said. -- Joel B. Escovilla
Posted on August 22, 2013 10:53:44 PM
Tuna Congress to highlight gains GENERAL SANTOS -- This year’s National Tuna Congress will celebrate the partnerships and achievements gained by the industry over the last 15 years, organizers said.
Rosanna Bernadette B. Contreras, Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc., said it’s all systems go for the 15th tuna congress, themed “Celebrating 15 Years of Advocacy, Partnership and Collaboration” and to be held Sept. 6-7 at SM General Santos. “This is our quindecennial year. Through our humble beginnings and after laboring hard the past years to gather all the key players, stakeholders and supporters in the Philippine tuna industry under one roof to seriously discuss its opportunities and challenges, advocate untiringly for necessary reforms, we all deserve to break and rejoice,” she said in a statement sent to media groups. Local tuna industry players established the federation in 1999 to serve as the umbrella organization of seven associations, with at least 100 companies involved in fishing, canning, fish processing, aquaculture production and processing, and other allied industries. Ms. Contreras attributed the success of the local tuna industry to the partnerships forged between the private sector and government agencies. Because of this collaboration, “we all became part of a team, working hand-in-hand in tackling industry issues, challenges and finding solutions,” Ms. Contreras said. Over the years, the teamwork between the private and public sectors attracted foreign investments to the local tuna industry, she also said. Another recent milestone, Ms. Contreras added, is the extension of Philippine fishing access to High Seas Pocket 1 for its fleet of 36 ice-chilled fishing boats. The extension was granted during the 9th Regular Session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in December. High Seas Pocket 1 is a tuna-rich area of the Pacific Ocean that has been closed to other countries to allow the fish’s populations to recover. For the Philippine fisheries industry, tuna has been the top export commodity, with a collective volume of 76,888 metric tons (MT) for fresh/chilled/frozen, smoked/dried, and canned tuna products, valued at $294.114 million, based on Philippine Fisheries Profile 2011.Canned tuna constitutes the bulk of tuna products being traded, mostly to the United States and Europe. This city, dubbed the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” hosts six of the country’s eight tuna canneries. The two others are in Zamboanga City, the fisheries profile noted.The canned tuna sector in this city is kept afloat by foreign catches, data from the General Santos City Fish Port Complex showed.For the first half of 2013, foreign frozen tuna catches accounted for almost 53% of the tuna landings at the fish port complex here. Frozen tuna imports reached 42,323 MT during the period, data showed. -- Romer S. Sarmiento
Posted on August 22, 2013 10:52:58 PM
DTI launches food fair Facebook Tweet LinkedIn Google + ShareThis
THE DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) yesterday launched a food fair to promote Filipino foods and provide small entrepreneurs some opportunities. The Sikat Pinoy National Food Fair aims to “showcase authentic regional delicacies which are difficult to source in Metro Manila,” DTI Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado said in her speech at the official launch yesterday, at SM Megatrade Hall. The fair, which opened on Wednesday and will be held until Aug. 25, will allow participants and guests to “explore food business and open new windows of opportunity.” The five-day event has 250 participants from all regions of the country and will also offer cooking demonstrations and capability-building sessions. --Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza
Posted on August 22, 2013 10:56:21 PM
Businessman, school in tax evasion raps THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) yesterday filed before the Department of Justice (DoJ) separate tax evasion charges against a furniture businessman and a private school.
In a press release, the BIR said Amado D. Tolentino, owner of ACCM Furniture / Top Mark Woodcraft, allegedly underdeclared his income taxes for 2009 and 2010, based on access letters from the bureau to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and to Automatic Appliances, Inc. (AAI). In its reply, AAI said it paid Mr. Tolentino P14.33 million and P19.72 million in 2009 and 2010, respectively, but the businessman only declared gross receipts of P4.84 million and P3.27 million. He allegedly has a total tax liability of P16.96 million (P6.59 million for 2009 and P10.37 million for 2010). Mr. Tolentino was also sued for his deficiencies in value-added taxes worth P2.37 million and P4.11 million for 2009 and 2010, respectively. Meanwhile, Corpus Christi School, Inc. (CCSI) and its officers were likewise charged with tax evasion for underdeclaring its 2010 income tax returns when it did not declare a P23-million 10,000-square-meter property that it acquired in February 2010, according to a separate BIR press release. Despite the acquisition, CCSI only declared a net income of P2.175 million for 2010 and P15 million in combined “for the past several years,” the statement read. The school also did not refer to the land acquisition among the P33.76-million expenses stated in its 2010 income tax return. The school allegedly underdeclared its taxable income by 64% with its undeclared P23-million acquisition under the declared income of P35.94 million in tuition fees. The BIR also noted that CCSI distributed dividends in 2007 and 2008. As a result, “it cannot be considered as a non-stock non-profit corporation exempt from income tax,” the release read. “Likewise, it cannot be considered as a non-profit educational institution covered by the preferential tax rate of 10% but as an ordinary domestic corporation subject to the 30% tax rate,” the BIR added.CCSI and its officers have thus been sued for an income tax liability of P14.5 million.Officers included in the charges are President Alfonso del Fierro, Jr. and Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Mark Alfonso Del Fierro. Independent accountant Elpedio D. Cuay was also charged with tax evasion for certifying CCSI’s 2010 financial statements despite the alleged misrepresentation.The above cases are the 182nd and 183rd to be filed by the BIR in its Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program. -- Mikhail Franz E. Flores
CoA on the Senate carpet Written by By Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales Friday, 23 August 2013 08:00
PULIDO-TAN INFORMED OF FLAWS BUT STILL RELEASED SAR The way information has been popping up regarding the Commission on Audit Special Audit Report (SAR), the report released by CoA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan at a press conference appears to have been intended to ensure that the non-allies of President Aquino would be tagged as the guilty legislators in the alleged pork scam, although some allies were included to make it appear that the report was impartial. But that is not the end of CoA and its chairman, as the Senate investigation will make CoA the focus of its inquiry. Highly-placed sources from the House of Representatives said that the special audit report of the CoA was hastily done, implicating most of the lawmakers in the alleged scam. The sources said that CoA had been informed of the flaws relative to the SAR but came out with it just the same. The same sources also said that the release of the SARO (special allotment release order) for the lawmakers and the amount stated therein should not come as a surprise to the CoA because it is furnished a copy of each and every SARO that comes out of the Department of Budget and Management. Among those agencies that received much of the lawmakers’ PDAF were the Department of Agriculture then headed by now Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap; the Department of Public Works and Highways which was headed by then Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane; the Department of Agrarian Reform, then headed by Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development which was then headed by Secretary Esperanza Cabral. Rolando Andaya Jr. explained that transactions made during his stint as secretary of the DBM was authorized by law under the General Appropriations Act. “It’s (release of pork barrel) like the IRA (internal revenue allotment) funds, the release of which is based on what the law prescribed,” Andaya added. The CoA special audit covering 2007 to 2009 alleged that some 180 lawmakers had misused their PDAF. Part of the CoA report was the disclosure of some P6.156-billion pork barrel funds of 12 senators and 180 representatives that went to 82 questionable non-government organizations (NGOs), including 10 linked to Janet LimNapoles. But no senator embroiled in the alleged pork barrel scam will be subjected to a grilling by his peers when the Senate blue ribbon committee starts its parallel investigation next week on the said scandal. It will be the controversial CoA special audit report and its chairman,Grace Pulido-Tan, who will be the focus of the public hearing when it kicks off on Aug. 29, blue ribbon chairman Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona said yesterday. However, in dealing with the inevitable, the alleged misuse of the PDAF of some senators contained in the CoA report, Guingona said he has no choice but to have his committee confont the issue.
“We have to answer those questions, so difficult as it may be, we have to do our job. It’s part of our duty,” he said in an interview with reporters, adding that in the event that some issues against some senators will crop up, they are duty-bound to pursue and ferret out the truth behind the allegations. “They will attend as senators. They will not be questioned. I’m sure if they have something to say, they will say it. If they want to ask clarificatory questions and if they want ask the resource person, of course they can,” Guingona said, referring to the likes of incumbent Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Jinggoy Estrada, Lito Lapid, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano who were identified in the CoA report as having received excess PDAFs in recent years. Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who in some news accounts, was alleged to have granted some of his PDAF funds to bogus foundations and non-government organizations (NGOs), already volunteered himself to be grilled by his peers to enable him to clear his name. Despite all of these developments, Santiago expressed pessimism on the matter of the Senate handling the issue on the CoA report. “The result could be a freewheeling talkfest, if not a total three-ring circus as senators vie for TV exposure,” she said. Santiago said the Senate probe should be based not only on the CoA report, but also on the NBI report, which is due to be released soon. “The CoA report seems to have been issued precipitately, without proper fact checking, as exemplified by the cases of Rep.Manuel Zamora and Sen. Edgardo Angara,” the senator said. Santiago instead proposed that the Senate should divide its probe into “separate topics, because the scam is so galactic in scope.” The senator said some of the separate topics should be: lawmakers who gave PDAF funds to suspicious NGOs; the modus operandi of fake NGOs, like those headed by Janet Lim-Napoles; and the connivance of CoA resident auditors and DPWH district engineers. “I stand by my original proposal that if the Senate insists on conducting its own probe, the result should be submitted to an independent impartial panel of investigators consisting of former Supreme Court chief justices and associate justices,” she said. Revilla welcomed Guingona’s decision to now call for an investigation for the truth to come out and for him to be heard on this matter. “I am praying that this will finally shed light on the controversy and clear our tarnished reputation,” he said in a text message to reporters. He expressed support to calls on the total abolition of PDAF saying it’s high time that this will be considered. While the situation may seem to be odd, with the senators practically appraising the accuracy of the evaluation and findings of CoA, especially the supposed pieces of evidence against some of their ranks or even themselves on supposed irregularities in the disbursement of PDAF, Guingona assured that they’re not out to contest the report. “I don’t think getting back (at CoA) is the right word. I think it would be more clarificatory. How did they arrive at this conclusion, what was their methodology. I doubt it be would be (CoA versus senators). It’s a report so therefore it’s more of clarification rather than adversarial.
“The test is in the investigations, the hearing itself. You must remember that the public will be witnessing the proceedings and they want to know the process in the pork barrel, how it is released, implemented. So we will revert to the objective of knowing what really happened, who’s responsible (in the mess) and how it can be prevented in the future,” he said. Guingona said the Senate hearing is also the proper forum in hearing from the agency some of the “errors” it reportedly committed in their report and clarify or dispute it publicly. “I’m sure all senators will have clarificatory questions. So we will start off with the CoA report. We can expect to find out what happened. Is it true that there were anomalies? If there are, who committed this? Well we must remember this is the committee on accountability of public officers, and therefore we have always filed liabilities for people who, are in the judgment of the committee, found liable. The guiding principles will be justice and fair play to all,” he added. The committee chairman also emphasized that they will only touch upon issues confronting the Senate and will not discuss those concerning the allegations against some congressmen because of the inter-parliamentary courtesy. In the same interview, Guingona disputed the claims made by Senate President Franklin Drilon on the issue of the growing public clamor for accountability that supposedly triggered the decision to now carry out the investigation. The Senate earlier held off any proceedings on the pork barrel scam to give way to the ongoing investigations by the Department of Justice (DoJ) , National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Ombudsman. “We didn’t know that CoA will come out with a report and now that it’s there out in the open, it will be the basis of the start of the probe. Remember we were waiting for the NBI report but it was overtaken by the CoA report,” he said. The CoA report and now the public outrage prompted them to start the inquiry, Guingona said while also acceding to the fact that they’re expected to heed public’s call, being public servants. Nonetheless, the senator said he’s aware of the growing public concern over but will not give in to any pressure, especially since there’s a scheduled rally against pork barrel scam on Monday, as to how the proceedings should be handled. “Our job is to respond and to listen to people. It’s part of the democratic process. I must admit it’s different (this time) because it involves the cleansing of our institution, if the allegations are proven true.” In a separate interview with reporters, the majority leader insisted on his proposal in employing the services of former Sen. Panfilo Lacson even if Guingona already junked it. “If what Guingona is saying is that a special investigation would be superfluous, so what? I think Senator Ping has the necessary (skills to do this),” he said.
Monsoon rains death toll, 18; affected balloons to 1.7M Written by AFP and PNA Friday, 23 August 2013 08:00
The death toll brought by southwest monsoon enhanced by tropical storm “Maring” rose to 18 persons while four others remained missing and the number of affected persons ballooned to more than 1.7 million as another low pressure area (LPA) was spotted in northern Philippines yesterday. Maring has already left the country’s area of responsibility but the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) yesterday monitored another low pressure area some 1,200 kilometers east of Aparri, Cagayan. Pagasa, however, maintained that the LPA is still too far to have direct affect to the country. Philippine National Red Cross secretary-general Gwendolyn Pang, meanwhile, said floods have receded in all but about 10 percent of the metropolis of 12 million people. “We continue to give support to victims of the monsoon,” she told Agence France Presse, adding the focus was shifting from emergency food aid to longer-term needs for the displaced. The bad weather killed 18 persons, said Reynaldo Balido, spokesman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), updating an earlier toll of 16. More than 214,000 people were still crammed into government-run shelters late Thursday, while nearly 346,000 others are staying with friends and relatives, he added. Many of the displaced were newly tallied in farming areas in the provinces north of Manila, where nearly 500 villages remained under water. Maring and the enhanced southwest monsoon it spawned had damaged P2.6 billion worth of agriculture products in Luzon, mostly involving corn crops, agriculture officials also yesterday revealed. Based on preliminary estimates released by the Department of Agriculture (DA), losses in corn amounted to 203,261 metric tons (MT) valued at P2.122 billion while losses in rice crops reached 12,461 MT valued at P484.48 million. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said Region 1 — being the biggest corn growing region in Luzon — suffered the greater part of the losses, while Region 3 bore the brunt in rice losses. But current losses in the rice sector would have minimal effect on the country’s rice self-sufficiency goal by the end of this year, Alcala said. “We are still on track to achieve our goals on rice self-sufficiency as damages to rice represent only 1 percent of total target,” he said.
“Our projections include an annual allowance of 600,000 MT for typhoon damages; we have not even reached 25 percent of that allowance this year,” Alcala said. State weather forecaster Bernie de Leon said 671.6 millimeters of rain fell on Manila between Sunday and Wednesday — more than the monthly average of 504.2 millimeters for August. Meanwhile, three major dams in Luzon area continued to release excess water as of 8 a.m. yesterday. These are Ipo Dam in Bulacan, and Binga and Ambuklao dams both in Benguet. On the other hand, La Mesa Dam in Quezon City continued to overflow.
Government agencies must explain use of PDAF Written by Tribune Friday, 23 August 2013 08:00
Amid the sudden twist of focus from the pork scam allegedly perpetrated by Janet Lim Napoles with the lawmakers, former Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., now an ally of President Aquino and his Liberal Party, yesterday said that agencies of government should explain how they used the “pork barrel” of the lawmakers. Andaya, now a congressional representative of Camarines Sur, said all of the disbursements relative to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” are authorized and done within the ambit of the law. Andaya lamented the way by which the controversy surrounding the pork barrel system is now being focused on the lawmakers when in fact the agencies of government are the ones implementing the projects funded by the PDAF. “The use of the PDAF is discretionary on the part of the implementing agencies. They have the authority to use it or not use it,” Andaya said. “They (Government agencies) should explain. They are the implementing agencies, “ he said. Incumbent Budget Secretary Butch Abad on Thursday clarified several issues related to the release of the congressional ODAF and allocations for Various Infrastructures Including Local Projects (VILP) to legislators from 2007 to 2009, following the Commission on Audit’s (COA) report on the use of these funds for the same period. “Together with the Filipino public, we in DBM hold CoA’s methodology in great esteem. “We appreciate the meticulousness and accuracy of their work, particularly with respect to the latest report issued on the use of PDAF and VILP. “Nonetheless, we’d like to clear up some inaccuracies in the report, particularly those that are directly related to DBM’s handling of these funds from 2007-2009,” Abad said. Abad said that the DBM first clarified matters involving PDAF and VILP releases made to lawmakers during those years, with particular attention to the P20 million allocated and released to a certain “Luis Abalos,” whom the CoA noted was not a member of the 13th and 14th Congress. Abad said “Luis Abalos” was actually an encoding error in the matrix of legislators submitted to CoA. Abad said the P20 million in question should have been attributed to former Rep. Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr. Abad also explained that P3 billion in PDAF was mistakenly attributed to Rep. Manuel Zamora, after it
was discovered that a Special Allotment Release Order (Saro) issued to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the Preventive Maintenance of National Roads and Bridges nationwide shared the same Saro number (A-07-9539) with a PDAF allocation earlier released to Zamora. Abad said the PDAF release made to Zamora amounted to just P500,000, bringing the third tranche of his congressional Allocation for 2007 to only P10 million. Abad made sure to absolve and clear his principal, President Aquino, as he said that a P40-million allocation attributed by the CoA report to then-Sen. Benigno Aquino III was not actually released during that period. Although the Saro for the former senator’s PDAF request had already been approved, the Saro was ultimately not issued and the funds had gone unused. Abad said that during the period covered by CoA’s audit, there was no recommended limit or ceiling to the PDAF released to legislators. “Before the Aquino administration, there was no cap on PDAF releases made to our lawmakers. “There was a minimum amount, yes, but no ceilings were set for it. “In 2011, however, we established a cap on PDAF allocations, with P70 million set for representatives and P200 million for senators. “Even then, a legislator can still request funds beyond the allocation already set for him, subject to DBM’s approval. “This is particularly true in humanitarian cases with urgent aid requirements, such as the release of allocations from the Calamity Fund for a legislator’s disaster-stricken constituents,” Abad said. Abad also said that during the period covered by the CoA audit, PDAF use was relegated only to “soft” projects, including social services and livelihood and training programs. Meanwhile, infrastructure, public works, and other activities classified as “hard” projects were funded through legislators’ VILP. “A crucial budget reform under this Administration is the merging and streamlining of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ projects under PDAF, which eliminated the need for a separate VILP allocation for our lawmakers. Not only did this make fund oversight more efficient; the fact that legislators only have PDAF to work with encourages them to be more judicious in weighing their development projects against the resources available to them,” Abad explained. Meanwhile, the CoA should apologize to the lawmakers who have been wrongfully implicated in the alleged misuse of the PDAF. According to Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas former Compostela Valley Rep. Manuel Zamora’s name has been wrongfully identified in an alleged scam involving funds that were intended for the Department of Public Works and Highways. Fariñas, a member of the 12-man House contingent to CoA, vowed to investigate CoA should it fail to make the necessary public apology. “In the interest of justice and fairness, such an investigation must be conducted. As it is, the statement by the CoA chairman that one House member got P3 billion is incredible and obviously made recklessly,”
Fariñas said. “For the record, I am not acquainted to former Rep. Zamora, but it seems impossible for him to have gotten P3 billion on his own initiative. If the CoA won’t make a rectification, they (CoA) should be investigated but not now as it might be misinterpreted as muzzling them,” Fariñas said. Zamora had denied receiving P3-billion pork barrel funds, saying he only got P210-million for three years, the aggregate amount that each lawmaker gets based on their P70-million annual priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel funds. The CoA conducted a special audit on pork barrel funds covering 2007 to 2009. It has also identified one Luis Abalos as a non-lawmaker who had been given PDAF by the DBM.
By Gerry Baldo and
Court asked to stop bidding of Noy’s 1st airport PPP Written by Tribune Friday, 23 August 2013 08:00
It certainly looks like President Aquino and his department heads are not beyond committing big anomalies. A petition has been filed before a Mandaluyong City court to prevent the government from proceeding with its scheduled Aug. 28 bidding for the multibillion-peso expansion and rehabilitation of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), considered as the first airport project to be bid out under public-private partnership (PPP) during the term of President Aquino. In the suit filed by Danilo Cruz of Hagonoy, Bulacan, yesterday, the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court (RTC) was asked to immediately issue a temporary order and/or writ of preliminary injunction against the Department of Transportation and Communi-cations’ (DoTC) Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) which has set the bidding for the P17.5billion MCIA Passenger Terminal Building Project. Cruz said he filed the taxpayer’s suit due to “some serious and glaring violations of the law” committed by the DoTC. He noted that the agency’s Pre-Bid and Awards Committee (PBAC) had two one-on-one meetings, between June 21 and Aug. 1, with each of the seven bidders that have prequalified to bid for the project. “The first closed-door one-on-one meeting was scheduled right after the pre-bid conference on June 21, 2013, with each pre-qualified bidder given four hours to meet with the PBAC to the exclusion of the other bidders,” Cruz stated in his petition. “Petitioner is perplexed with the very unusual and seemingly illegal manner of scheduling a series of oneon-one meetings with known bidders on separate occasions by no less than the PBAC,” he added. “There is nothing in Republic Act (RA) 71185 (An Act Amending RA 6957, Authorizing the Financing, Construction, Operation and Maintenance of Infrastructure Projects by the Private Sector) which sanctions these one-on-one meetings with pre-qualified bidders,” Cruz said. He maintained that Section 6.3 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) plainly provides “For projects costing less than P300 million, a pre-bid conference shall also be conducted by the concerned agency/LGU at least 30 calendar days before the deadline for the submission of bids to clarify any provisions, requirements and/or terms and conditions of the bidding documents and/or any other matter that the prospective bidders may raise. For projects costing P300 million and above, the pre-bid conference shall be conducted 60 to 120 calendar days before the submission of bids.
Nothing stated at the pre-bid conference shall modify any provisions or terms and conditions of the bidding documents unless such is made as a written amendment thereto by the concerned agency/LGU.” The seven bidders for the project are AAA Airport Partners, led by the Ayala and Aboitiz groups and Houston Airport operator ADC&HAS; Filinvest-CAI Consortium of the Gotianuns and Singapore’s Changi Airport; First Philippine Airports of the Lopez group and New Zealand’s Infratil Asia Ltd. airport operator; GMR Infrastructure and Megawide Consortium, which includes India’s Delhi Airport operator; MPIC-JGS Airport Consortium, composed of the Pangilinan and Gokongwei companies, as well as France’s Aeroports de Lyon; SM-led Premier Airport Group, which includes Switzerland’s Zurich Airport operators; and San Miguel-Incheon Airport Consortium, led by the SMC conglomerate and the operator of South Korea’s Incheon Airport. Though the schedules for these meetings were posted on the DoTC website, Cruz emphasized that Republic Act (RA) No. 7118 (An Act Amending RA No. 6957, Authorizing the Financing, Construction, Operation and Maintenance of Infrastructure Projects by the Private Sector) and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) do not sanction one-on-one meetings with pre-qualified bidders. “The decision to conduct a series of one-on-one meetings with each of the bidders directly defeats the purpose of a public bidding and destroys the integrity of a strong honest-to-goodness public competition... and thus effectively corrupts any integrity of the coming Aug. 28, 2013 bidding,” Cruz averred. While saying he is not against the rehabilitation and expansion of the MCIA and against capital infusion from the private sector, Cruz said the manner by which the process by which the DoTC had undertaken “does not justify the liberal application of the rules on public bidding regardless of the amount involved,” adding that even the Supreme Court (SC), in its ruling in “C&C Commercial vs Menor,” and in “Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla, et al. vs the Commission on Elections,” Cruz said the state should ensure the strict application of rules, guidelines and regulations that govern public bidding. He stressed that by holding one-on-one meetings with pre-qualified bidders, suspicions could possibly arise that some “offer of some sweetener could have been extended to some members of the PBAC.” “Such suspicion is precisely the reason public biddings must always be open and thus avoid the suspicion of favoritism,” Cruz said. He added he is seeking the immediate issuance of a TRO and/or injunctive writ simply to prevent any irreparable damage and injury to government coffers. The MCIA rehabilitation and expansion project under PPP will enable the private company that wins the bid to operate the airport for 20 years, after which the DoTC will have the option of operating the facility. President Aquino had earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate allegations of Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar that DoTC officials sought $30-million from Czech firm Inekon in exchange for the right to supply additional trains.
By Charlie V. Manalo and Jason Faustino
Housing agencies offer loan moratorium for ‘Maring,’ habagat victims — VP Binay Written by Tribune Friday, 23 August 2013 08:00
Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday said that the key shelter agencies (KSAs) have allowed borrowers affected by the recent flooding caused by typhoon “Maring” and southwest monsoon rains (habagat) to defer payments to their housing loans. Binay said that the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG), National Housing Authority, and Home Guaranty Corp. have each declared a three-month moratorium on housing loan mortgages. The National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. and Socialized Housing Finance Corp. have imposed a six-month moratorium. The Vice President said that the moratorium applies to borrowers whose homes or sources of income are in areas declared to be under state of calamity. He also reiterated that calamity loans for affected members of Pag-IBIG can borrow up to 80 percent of their total savings with 5.95 percent interest rate per annum. The calamity loan is payable in two years. “For those wishing to avail of Pag-IBIG’s calamity loans or who have any questions, please do not hesitate to call the Pag-IBIG hotline at 724-4244,” Binay said. “The imposition of the moratorium on payments is our way of helping our borrowers cope with the losses caused by the massive flooding,” the Vice President said. He added that with the calamity loans and moratorium on payments, affected borrowers could focus on more immediate needs and on recovering from their losses.
Solon demands apology from Akbayan partylist over P4-B pork barrel issue Written by Charlie V. Manalo Friday, 23 August 2013 08:00
A member of the Makabayan bloc yesterday demanded an apology from the Akbayan partylist group regarding its press release entitled “Tinio the Pinocchio and his P4B lie against Akbayan,” as he denied issuing any unsavory statement against their rival group. In a statement, ACT Teacher Rep. Antonio Tinio said Akbayan had apparently gone overboard when it issued a statement saying he accused them of pocketing P4 billion worth of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or more commonly known as the pork barrel. “It has been brought to my attention that Akbayan issued a press statement ‘Tinio the Pinocchio and his P4B lie against Akbayan’ calling me a liar for accusing them of allegedly pocketing P4 billion worth of pork (barrel),” Tinio said, adding the statement might be in reaction to news story which appeared Monday baring that Akbayan, one of the favored partylist groups of President Aquino got P4 billion in excess of the P70-million PDAF per congressman in 2011. In its press statement, Akbayan said “Tinio once again played Pinocchio by accusing Akbayan of allegedly pocketing P4B worth of pork. And this time around, he found a friend in Abakada Guro Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz in his latest attempt to discredit Akbayan.” The accusation, Akbayan said, is baseless as the P4-billion fund being referred to was part of the “Tulay ng Pangulo para sa Kaunlarang Pang-Agraryo.” “Akbayan merely made a special provision in the 2011 budget that limited the use of these funds for the sole benefit of Agrarian Reform Communities as identified by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR),” the statement read. Tinio, however, denied accusing Akbayan of pocketing the fund, saying the group as putting their own words into his mouth. “To my dear friends in Akbayan, let me say: those are your words, not mine. Please don’t put words in my mouth. Anyone who reads the news report in question will immediately see that I made no such accusation,” Tinio said.
Political pressures force Biazon to stop replacing Customs bureau’s ‘three kings’ Written by Conrado Ching Friday, 23 August 2013 08:00
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon yesterday withdrew his plan to reshuffle the Customs district collectors after reportedly yielding to political pressures to stop replacing the “three kings” at the Bureau of Customs (BoC). Biazon earlier had instructed all district collectors to submit their resignation letters as part of the bureau’s total shake-up after President Aquino criticized the agency’s poor performance and continued corruption. However, Biazon yesterday signed a memorandum order setting a status quo while awaiting the Department of Finance (DoF) action on the BoC proposed reorganization of district collectors which he submitted to the DoF for approval last week. “The status quo shall be maintained pending approval by the DoF of the BoC’s proposed reorganization of district collectors,” Biazon said. Affected by the supposed district collectors’ revamp were Port of Manila Collector Rogelio Gatchalian, Manila International Container Port collector Ricardo Belmonte and NAIA collector Carlos “Ding” So. In an earlier announcement, Biazon also confirmed the retention, in their current assignments, of Port of Batangas District Collector Tomas Alcid, Sub-Port of Mariveles, Bataan District Collector lawyer Elvie Cruz and Port of San Fernando, La Union District Collector Fidel Villanueva. According to Biazon, he decided to retain Alcid as he just assumed the Port of Batangas post recently after the retirement of its previous collector. “He is just starting to build up his network in Batangas and he needs time to establish a solid foothold in that port’s Customs industry to maximize its revenue potential,” Biazon said. Biazon also explained Villanueva, for his part, is being retained as district collector for the Port of San Fernando, La union as this port is currently undergoing its containerization program. “I do not want to derail the containerization program of the Port of San Fernando, La union. Villanueva has been into the program already for some time and pulling him out would be a setback for the program,” Biazon stressed, even as he explained that Cruz of the Sub-Port of Mariveles, Bataan is being retained as the Port of Limay and Sub-Port of Mariveles are now in the process integration into one district port. Collector Cruz is already involved in the two ports’ integration program. According to Biazon, his proposed reshuffling of collectors involves only the remaining 14 district collectors of the BoC which has a total of 17 district offices.
While the commissioner did not categorically identify the collectors to be assigned to the major ports, he hinted, however, that there may be some other collectors who may also be retained in their current assignments. Biazon also stressed after the reshuffle of district collectors, to follow next are the section chiefs, Customs examiners and appraisers. “This will be a down the line reshuffle of Customs officials and personnel,” Biazon said, adding so far he has not received any recommendation or calls from politicians or highranking government officials for people to be assigned to particular Customs assignments. According to Biazon, the BoC’s reshuffling of Customs officials and personnel shall primarily be based on performance, stakeholders feedback and qualifications. “This is really a matter of putting the right people in the right job assignments,” Biazon said.
Disaster council of Manila proposes review, design of Lagusnilad Underpass, drainage system Written by PNA Friday, 23 August 2013 08:00
The Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) will propose to the city council the review of the design of the drainage system of Lagusnilad Underpass fronting city hall to solve the perennial flooding in the area. Johnny Yu, officer-in-charge of the MDRRMC, yesterday said they will request the conduct of the retrofitting of Lagusnilad Underpass during the city council session next week. Likewise, Yu said he will propose the holding of a meeting among the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the city government to study the drainage system plan of the Lagusnilad Underpass. He added the drainage system of the Lagusnilad Underpass is possibly connected to Intramuros, hence the drainage of Lagusnilad is easily clogged. Because of this, Yu said, it appears the Lagusnilad Underpass also serves as a â€œcatch-basin.â€? Yu added he will propose the replacement of the old water pump of Lagusnilad as heavy rains have become frequent, resulting in excessive flooding in the area.
New livelihood program for QC’s solo parents launched Written by Arlie O. Calalo Friday, 23 August 2013 08:00
The Quezon City government, through the initiative of Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, has launched a new livelihood program dubbed “Tindahan ni Ate Joy” primarily aimed at extending support to solo parents residing in the city. Under the program, qualified solo parents are provided with start-up capitalization of P10,000 worth of goods and other basic commodities for the development of home-based business opportunities to help boost their family’s income, Belmonte said. She added the “Tindahan ni Ate Joy” program, patterned after the national government’s 4Ps program, initially benefitted about 200 unemployed solo parents who have undergone screening and basic training on entrepreneurship. In a speech before the initial beneficiaries, Belmonte said the program intends to help the solo parents become self-reliant and effective partners in QC’s economic growth. “What the city is doing right now is providing solo parents with opportunities for advancement and improvement, not only for their children, but also for themselves,” Belmonte said. Program beneficiaries have been encouraged to set aside monthly savings to help succeeding program recipients. Beneficiaries are also required to submit a quarterly report of their children’s height and weight measurements and copies of their PhilHealth’s monthly contributions, the daughter of former QC Mayor and now House Speaker Sonny Belmonte said. From 2003 to 2012, the city’s Social Services Development Department has registered 7,866 solo parents, The Tribune was told.
‘Maring’ to chip off RP growth pie — DoF Written by Ed Velasco Thursday, 22 August 2013 08:00
Typhoon “Maring” will definitely affect the country’s economic numbers as the magnitude of its destruction can be considered one of the worst in the country’s history, the chief economist of the Department of Finance (DoF) said yesterday. Gil Beltran, undersecretary and DoF chief economist, said the damage of floods to infrastructure and crops will bring agricultural growth down as there are about seven provinces that were declared under state of calamity. Inflation may also rise because of high food demands in many areas as well as the balance of payments position as the flooding will cause raw materials prices to go up and force the government to import more. The chief economist didn’t comment on the gross domestic product (GDP) as it is too early to say whether the country can make six or seven percent for this year. It) will chip off some percentage points from growth rate. But rebuilding efforts can offset that,” Beltran explained to the Daily Tribune. Despite his negative forecast about the effects of the typhoon to the economy, Beltran said there are other positive developments that can ward off the pulling down effect of the weather disturbance. These include the continuous increase in remittances from Filipinos abroad as well as the dollar reserves. These matters, according to the official, will never be affected by any man or disturbance caused by nature.Another very good economic indicator that will not be affected by the typhoon is the yield of government securities. During the onslaught of Maring last Tuesday, the Bureau of Treasury was able to float P10 billion worth of 10-year retail treasury bonds that will mature on 2013. “Remember we have excess savings which can we use to drum up growth,” the chief economist added. According to the weather bureau, the typhoon might exit the Philippine area of responsibility by noon today unless it takes a new track. As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, the typhoon was spotted over 500 kilometers of Sabtang, Batanes. In a report, the total number of affected population increased to 223,991 families or 1,060,094 persons in 35 cities from the regions of Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Cordillera and Metro Manila. Of these, a total of 29,021 families or 132,969 persons are housed in 425 different shelters in Luzon.
Ping bilang berdugo ng pork scam OK -- PNoy; No way! -- Miriam (Boyet Jadulco/Tina Mendoza/Dindo Matining)
Nais ni Pangulong Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III na si dating Sen. Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson ang mag-imbestiga sa kurakutan ng pork barrel fund ng mga mambabatas subalit naunahan na siya ng Department of Justice (DOJ).
“It’s possible pero on-going na rin ngayon ‘yung ginagawa ng DOJ,” sagot ni Pangulong Aquino sa tanong kung posibleng pangunahan ni Lacson ang pag-iimbestiga sa pork barrel fund scam.
Ayon sa Pangulo, kasado na rin ang Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council na kinabibilangan ng Ombudsman, DOJ at Commission on Audit (COA) para harapin ang problema tulad ng maling paggamit ng Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) o pork barrel fund ng mga mambabatas. Pero si Justice Sec. Leila de Lima, walang pagtutol kung pamunuan ni Lacson ang imbestigasyon ng Senado sa ‘pork’ scam.
Ayon kay De Lima, mayroong prerogative ang mga senador kung sino ang nais nilang mamuno sa gagawing imbestigasyon sa pork barrel scam at handa umano ang DOJ na makipagtulungan dito. Si Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, mariin ang pagtutol kay Lacson bilang “independent special investigator” sa ‘pork’ scam.
Katwiran ng senadora, “Because he is a former fugitive from justice who remains unpunished and serves as the poster boy for people like Napoles who has disappeared to evade a warrant of arrest, just like he did.”
Ang sagot naman ni Lacson, “She’s nothing but a pathetic absentee solon who will soon be facing charges in the Sandiganbayan,” ayon sa text message nito.
662 lugar lubog pa rin sa baha, 17 patay (Amihan Sabillo/JB Salarzon) Share on stumbleuponShare on twitterShare on gmailShare on facebookMore Sharing Services
Nasa 662 pa ring mga lugar hanggang ngayon ang nananatiling lubog sa baha, mula ito sa 88 munisipalidad na sakop ng Regions I, III, IV-A, IV-B at National Capital Region (NCR) o Metro Manila.
Base sa huling tala ng National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), umabot na din sa 17 ang nasawi kabilang ang isa sa Parañaque City, isa sa Cabugao, Apayao at anim sa Region III, at walo sa Region IV-A.
Habang ang mga sugatan ay nasa 42 na, 2 mula sa Region IV-A at 39 sa CAR Region, habang lima naman ang nawawala, isa mula sa Floridablanca, Pampanga, isa sa Tubo, Abra, isa sa Bontoc, Mt. Province, isa sa Sagada, Mt. Province at 1 sa Carranglan, Nueva Ecija.
Nasa 267,551 pamilya o 1,256,508-katao ang apektado sa 1,181 barangay sa 112 munisipalidad, 31 lungsod at 16 lalawigan sa bahagi ng Regions I, III, IV-A, IV-B, CAR at NCR.
Sa nasabing datos, ang 41,344 pamilya o 188,741-katao ay nanatiling nasa 590 evacuation centers at ang 40,532 pamilya o 193,777-katao ay mas piniling manatili sa kanilang mga kaibigan, kaanak at mga kakilala na ‘di naman naapektuhan ng pagbaha.
Umabot na din sa P78,8678,659.40 ang kabuuang danyos sa agriculture at infrastructure sa Regions I, IV-A, IV-B at CAR.
Limang probinsya, walong syudad, siyam na munisipalidad at dalawang barangay ang nananatili ring nasa ilalim ng ‘state of calamity’.
Napoles planong ipa-Interpol (Tina Mendoza)
Bunsod sa kabiguan pa ring mahanap ang nagtatago na umano’y pork barrel scam mastermind na si Janet Lim-Napoles at ang kasapakat umano nitong kapatid na si Reynald ‘Jojo’ Lim , plano ngayon ni Justice Sec. Leila de Lima na mailagay sa ‘Red Notice List’ ng Interpol ang mga suspek.
Ani De Lima, sa oras na mailagay na ang isang akusado sa nasabing listahan, maaabisuhan ang may 190 bansang kasapi ng Interpol o International Criminal Police Organization na siya ay pinaghahanap sa Pilipinas, magiging madali umano ang paghuli dito sa tulong na rin ng impormasyon mula sa iba’t ibang bansa.
Kaugnay nito, nai-raffle na kahapon ang petisyon ni Napoles sa Court of Appeals na humihiling na ipawalang-bisa ang warrant of arrest na ipinalabas laban dito kung saan napunta naman ito sa Special 4th Division.
ULAT PANAHON: Bagong LPA, gumigiri Isa na namang low pressure area (LPA) ang namataan sa gawing silangan. Bagama’t may kalayuan pa, tantyadong ang direksyon nito ay patungo sa Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).
Ayon sa Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), malaki ang posibilidad na maging bagyo ito oras na makapasok sa PAR.
Sinabi ni weather forecaster Samuel Duran, ang LPA ay huling namataan 1,200 kilometro sa silangang bahagi ng Aparri, Cagayan. Tatawagin itong ‘Nando’ kapag naging ganap na bagyo.
PRICE FREEZE Published : Friday, August 23, 2013 00:00
PHILIPPINE National Police chief Director General Alan LM Purisima yesterday alerted his men in all flood-stricken areas to go after price control and trade violators as ordered by President Benigno Aquino. In a directive, the PNP chief instructed his men to accost unscrupulous traders and businessmen who may take advantage of the calamity situation to hike prices of basic and essential commodities. Basic necessities are rice, corn, bread, fresh, dried and canned fish and other marine products; fresh pork, beef, and poultry meat; fresh eggs, fresh and processed milk; fresh vegetables, root crops; coffee, sugar, cooking oil, salt; laundry soap, detergents; firewood, charcoal, candles; and medicines classified as essential by the Department of Health, Purisima said. Local police units were likewise instructed to intensify law enforcement operations in evacuated communities against looting of abandoned residences, said PNP Public Information Office chief Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore C. Sindac.
According to Sindac, the PNP high command issued these instructions to PNP Regional, Provincial, City and Municipal Police Offices to safeguard the wellbeing and property of calamity victims. Sindac said the trade watch order was issued in support of the policy of the Department ofTrade and Industry for automatic “price freeze” on goods in areas declared under a state of calamity. “Police units in disaster-affected areas of Luzon were alerted to assist DTI and the Local Government Units (LGUs) in monitoring market conditions against possible trade and price control violations,” he said. Aside from the rescue operations and disaster management measures being carried out by the PNP, police regional offices down to municipal stations were given added duties to monitor theprices of goods in their respective areas to ascertain proper implementation of Republic Act 7581 or The Price Act. The National Capital Region Police Office headed by Chief Supt. Marcelo P. Garbo Jr., the Police Regional Office 3 under Chief Supt. Edgardo T. Ladao and the Police Regional Office 4-A headed by chief Supt. Jesus Gatchalian were specifically ordered to be the frontrunners in the latest PNP effort to help the public. Sindac said the PNP believes that its involvement in carrying out the price control law is vital in maintaining public welfare. “Efficiency in the execution of the price freeze is key in preserving peace and order even amidst the current calamity as it promises to lessen potential criminal incidents. This is also a means for the PNP to establish a stronger sense of
responsiveness in socio-economic concerns,” Sindac said. The PNP reminded profiteers they face the penalty of imprisonment for a period of not less than one (1) year nor more than ten (10) years, or a fine of not less than five thousand pesos (P5,000) nor more than One million pesos (1,000,000) for violation of the Price Act. Sections 6 and 7 of Republic Act 7581 or The Price Act, expressly provides that “Prices of basic necessities in an area shall automatically be frozen at their prevailing prices or placed under automatic price control whenever that area is proclaimed or declared a disaster area or under a state of calamity; and a price ceiling may be imposed on any basic necessity or prime commodity considering the impendency, existence, or effects of a calamity.” http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/headlines/56736‐price‐freeze
No PDAF scam — Andaya Published : Friday, August 23, 2013 00:00
“WHERE are you? Come out and defend the truth! This was the challenge of former Budget and Management Secretary, now Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya to former heads of different implementing government agencies on the controversial pork barrel releases from 2007 to 2009. Andaya, who served as DBM Secretary during the period in question or under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said there are no irregularities in the releases of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) since they are properly documented. He urged former secretaries to break their silence and tell the truth behind the pork barrel scam, especially since their departments and attached agencies implemented the projects funded by the PDAF. Andaya refused to name those officials but he said they can help clarify the controversy stirred by the Commission on Audit (CoA). Based on the special audit report of the CoA, many lawmakers have received pork barrel exceeding their allocations and that P6.156-billion pork barrel funds of 12 senators and 180 representatives went to 82 mostly questionable NGOs, including 10 linked to Janet Lim-Napoles. “The former secretaries of the different implementing agencies can help clarify the matter (pork barrel scam). They should speak out now and help explain how they implemented the projects funded by PDAF,” Andaya, who served in the DBM from 2006 until he resigned before the end of 2009 to reclaim his previous post in Congress. Some of the former secretaries of the implementing agencies are exagriculture secretary now Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap.; ex-Public Works and Highways Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, and former Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral. According to Andaya, the NGOs which received pork barrel funds were accredited by implementing government agencies.
Likewise, Andaya clarified that all transactions he made during his stint as secretary of the DBM was authorized by law or the annual general appropriations act (GAA) and was not according to the wishes of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is now a Pampanga congresswoman. “The release is not about the choice of Mrs. Arroyo. It is not correct to say that she can choose who and how much to give each lawmaker. All the releases that have been made under my watch are authorized by law or the GAA. There is no irregularity here,” Andaya said. “It’s (release of pork barrel) like IRA (internal revenue allotment) funds, the release is based on what the law prescribed,” he added. He also reiterated that congressional “insertions” are not irregular, stressing that the release of additional funds were meant to augment the P70-million PDAF of each congressman and the senators’ P200million annually. “Hindi ibig sabihin na hindi na puwedeng humingi ng karagdagan (allocation). Hindi naman ipinagbabawal na humingi ka ng dagdag para sa distrito mo,” Andaya said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/56747‐no‐pdaf‐scam‐‐andaya
Senate won’t grill 9 members on pork Published : Friday, August 23, 2013 00:00
THE nine incumbent senators who reportedly released portions of their respective pork barrel fund or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to dubious nongovernment organizations (NGOs) will “not be questioned” during the Senate investigation into the alleged scam. “They will attend as senators. They will not be questioned. I’m sure if they have something to say, they will say it,” Sen.Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said when asked how he would treat fellow senators allegedly involved in the PDAF scandal. “We have to answer those questions, so difficult as it may be we have to do our job. Trabaho lang ito. Wala tayong magagawa kung hindi ituloy pa din para lumabas ang katotohanan,” Guingona added. He said that the Senate probe scheduled on August 29 will focus on the CoA report that nine senators either received more than their annual PDAF or funded the operation of questionable NGOs. They are Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, and Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Loren Legarda, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and Miriam Defensor-Santiago. “Mag-uumpisa tayo sa CoA report (ang imbestigasyon). Iyung allegations that are included in the CoA report. Totoo bang may anomalya? Kung saka-sakaling may anomalya, paano nangyari at sino ang may kagagawan nito? At most importantly, paano
natin masisiguro na hindi na mangyayari ito? We will start with CoA Chairperson Grace Pullido-Tan. That’s on Aug.29, 9 a.m.” Guingona said. “There will be question and answer. There will be clarifications and I’m sure all senators will have clarificatory questions. Ang pinaka-importante dito ay lumabas ang katotohanan. Ano ba ang nangyari? Paano ba nangyari? Sino may kagagawan? Paano maiiwasan?” he added. Asked whether the Senate probe will allow the senators concerned to get back at CoA, Guingona said: “I don’t think getting back is the right term. I think it would be more clarificatory . How did they arrive at this conclusion? What was their methodology? I doubt it would be. It’s a report. Therefore, it’s more of clarification rather than adversarial.” “The test is in the investigation, the hearing itself. Most importantly, you must remember ang taongbayan ay makikinig dito para malaman nila ano ba itong proseso ng pork barrel. Paano ba ito ibinibigay. Balik pa rin tayo sa layunin. Ano ang nangyari? Paano ba nangyari? Sino may kagagawan? Paano maiiwasan?” he added. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/56744‐senate‐wont‐grill‐9‐members‐on‐pork
Miriam nixes Ping as scam prober Published : Friday, August 23, 2013 00:00
SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the “arch enemy” of former Sen.Panfilo Lacson, has scoffed at the idea of appointing him as special investigator of the reported Php10-billion pork barrel fund scam allegedly involving some legislators. Santiago said that Lacson, whom she again called “Pinky Lacson,” should not be tapped as adviser to the Senate probe into the PDAF scam, “because he is a former fugitive from justice who remains unpunished and serves as the poster boy for people like (businesswoman Janet) Napoles who has disappeared to evade a warrant of arrest, just like he did.” “A policeman (Lacson) cannot be adviser to a Senate committee probing the pork barrel, because this is a question of law. He has no clue on how the law proceeds in these cases. After a cop finishes his investigation, the report is submitted to the prosecutor, not the other way around,” Santiago said. Asked to comment on Santiago’s new tirade against him, Lacson, in a text message, said: “She’s nothing but a pathetic absentee solon who will soon be facing corruption charges in the Sandiganbayan.” “I heard from a reliable source that she has been approaching people who could influence Justice (Conchita Carpio) Morales to drop the corruption charges she’s facing before the Ombudsman. Unfortunately for her, the Ombudsman is one uncompromising gutsy lady who cannot be cowed or bought. I think, her only way out is to invoke her insanity,” Lacson said. Meanwhile, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, also said that there is no need to assign Lacson as “special independent investigator” of the pork barrel
fund scandal. Lacson has not touched his priority development assistance fund (PDAF). “We recognize the integrity and professionalism of Senator Lacson, however, we believe that the Senate Blue Ribbon is capable of determining the truth. I don’t think there’s a need at all,” Guingona said. On the other hand, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Sen.Juan Edgardo Angara see no problem with the proposal of Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano to tap Lacson as consultant for the scheduled Senate probe into the fund controversy. “I have no objections. But I will also recommend former Sen. Joker Arroyo who has not touched his pork barrel since 1992, and who has been both congressman and senator,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto. “It’s legally tenable. I don’t think any law or rule will be violated. Any findings by the proposed special investigator would be recommendatory in nature given the powers of the Blue Ribbon Committee,” Angara said. Angara added: “The DoJ (Department of Justice) and the Ombudsman are not obliged to adopt such findings but given the number of cases these two offices handle, the work of the special investigator may be useful as far as leads are concerned in the filing of cases. But these agencies will still have to do their own investigations because the type and quantum or amount of evidence used in legislative and criminal investigations are different.” Question of impartiality Santiago said that Lacson’s son lost to the son of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. in the last elections, therefore Lacson “cannot be expected” to be independent and objective with regard to
Revilla. Revilla is one of the five senators prominently listed as having given their PDAFs to questionable non-governmental organizations (NGOs). “Pinky Lacson is a political ally of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. At the same time, Lacson is the political enemy of Sen. Revilla. Lacson has no acquaintance with the law, but has revealed his propensity for citing the law after confused coaching by his lawyers. A selftaught lawyer is a menace to society,” she said. Santiago linked efforts to nominate Lacson as adviser in the Senate pork probe in efforts to eliminate Revilla and other senators from the 2016 elections, either by running for president or vice-president. “In the investigation of the pork barrel scam, the last thing we need is a self-interested politician. I stand by my original proposal that if the Senate insists on conducting its own probe, the result should be submitted to an independent impartial panel of investigators consisting of former Supreme Court chief justices and associate justices,” she said. Santiago named former Chief Justices Hilario Davide, Jr., Reynato Puno, and Artemio Panganiban, as well as Justices Ameurfina Melencio Herrera, Vicente Santiago, Consuelo Ynares Santiago (no relation), Adolf Azcuna, Flerida Ruth Romero, and other eminent retired members of the Supreme Court. “The Blue Ribbon Committee has never appointed an active politician as its consultant. This is a fishy proposal,” she said. Santiago said that Lacson even went so far as to “invent” the story that Santiago spent her PDAF to build a cockpit in Pasig, which she and her husband allegedly own. “Pinky Lacson made that accusation when he was still a senator, because he was smarting after I called him the ‘attack dog’ of Senator Enrile. At that time, I exposed to the media that Enrile distributed nearly Php2 million as so-called Christmas gifts
to every senator except his enemies, including me. Pinky wasted no time in concocting a lie against me,” Santiago said. “The truth is that my pork barrel was spent for a multipurpose hall in Pasig, but I gave only a portion of the request because the other portion was shouldered by another senator. It defies imagination that I should end up as the owner of a multipurpose hall. Thus, Pinky Lacson is not above inventing things when he is frothing at the mouth. The public has seen how he reacts under pressure during the Kuratong Baleleng rub-out scandal,” she said. Santiago also said that Lacson purposely lied by accusing her of using Senate funds as rental of her satellite office in Quezon City which occupies one floor of a building that her family owns. “The Senate Secretariat has already issued a written opinion that I saved money for the Senate, because the rental is very low. I have charged the Senate only the sum of Php70,000 for rental of 403 sq.m., the Senate allows up to Php170,000 for rental for other senators, who also have satellite offices. Instead of lauding my efforts to help the Senate to save funds, Lacson without batting an eyelash, charged me with the complete opposite of the facts. He has lied through his teeth. He needs dental work, apart from washing his mouth with soap,” she said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/56742‐miriam‐nixes‐ping‐as‐scam‐prober
‘Maring’ leaves 17 dead, 41 injured Published : Friday, August 23, 2013 00:00
THE death toll in the onslaught of Typhoon Maring and southwest monsoon yesterday climbed to 17. According to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesman Major Reynaldo Balido, the latest fatality is a resident of Nueva Ecija who was earlier reported missing. The number of injured remained at 41: two in Region IV-A and 39 in CAR Region; while five persons were missing , one in Floridablanca Pampanga; one in Tubo, Abra; one in Bontoc Mt. Province, one in Sagada Mt. Province and 1 in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija. Heavy rains spawned by the southwest monsoon or Habagat inundated a total of 662 areas in 88 municipalities under Regions I, III,IV-A, IV-B and the National Capital Region (NCR), according to the update issued by the (NDRRMC) at around 6:00 a.m. yesterday. NDRRMC’s updated figures showed at least 303,246 families or 1,731,392 people had been affected by the rain and floods.Of these, 43,206 families or 217,195 people are staying in evacuation centers. The NDRRMC recorded a total of P78,8678,659.40 damages in agriculture and infrastructure in Regions I, IV-A, IV-B and CAR. Sixty houses were damaged with 22 totally and 38 partially destroyed in Regions I, III, IV-A and CAR.
As of press time, a total of 72 roads in the affected regions are still flooded and impassable to different types of vehicle. Due to the onslaught of Habagat, five provinces, 8 cities, 9 municipalities and 2 villages were declared under a state of Calamity. Under a state of calamity were the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal; cities of Paranaque, Muntinlupa, Malabon, Marikina, Pasay, Candon City in Ilocos Sur; Dagupan City in Pangasinan; Tarlac City; municipalities of Pateros, Narvacan, Gregorio del Pilar and Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur; Sta Barbara and Calasiao in Pangasinan; Obando and Hagonoy, Bulacan; Abra de Ilog in Occidental Mindoro and villages in Barangay Victoria and Lagnas, Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan LM Purisima said they are stepping-up their disaster rescue and relief operations in Northern, Central and Southern Luzon as well as Metro Manila which have been inundated since the start of the week. The PNP chief has ordered the redeployment of more policemen and equipment to the hardest hit areas in Central Luzon and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) regions even as the situation in Metro Manila began improving yesterday. He also authorized PNP Regional Directors in affected regions to raise their respective alert conditions to ensure the availability of resources and personnel for disaster rescue and relief operations. With Alfred Dalizon http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/56739‐maring‐leaves‐17‐dead‐41‐injured
Revilla: Abolish pork! Published : Friday, August 23, 2013 00:00
SENATOR Bong Revilla believes it’s time to totally abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund, otherwise known as pork barrel. The solon, who is among those being linked to the Php10billion PDAF scam, added that he is thankful that the Senate will now look into the matter as he stressed that the truth shall set him free. “It looks like it’s time for the total abolition of the PDAF. Dapat pati ’yung mga insertions hindi na rin payagan. It appears that the good intentions of helping the poor and spreading development to the countrysides are not realized at napaglalaruan pa pagdating sa implementation,” Revilla said in a text message to Senate media. Revilla, who is among those being linked to the Php10-billion pork barrel scam, said he is pleased that the Senate will now investigate the issue. “I am thankful that the Senate will look into the matter para lumabas na ang katotohanan. Napakasakit na madungisan ang pangalang napakatagal naming pinagsikapang buuin at pangalagaan. I am praying that this will finally shed light on the controversy and clear our tarnished reputations,” the senator added. Revilla was one of the lawmakers cited in the report of the Commission on Audit who allegedly endorsed several nongovernmental organizations to solons for the allocation of their PDAF. The senator said he is ready to face investigation as long as it is impartial and not tainted with politics. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/56697‐revilla‐abolish‐pork
SC prodded on Malampaya fund case Published : Friday, August 23, 2013 00:00
THE Supreme Court has been urged to immediately resolve a pending case before it involving the Malampaya gas fund following recent revelations of misuse through the non-existent dummy corporations identified with now fugitive Janet Lim Napoles. In a motion to resolve, complainants led by Bishop Pedro Arigo Dulay underscored the need for the SC to resolve the case since it has already been gathering dust for four years now. Furthermore, the movants stressed that perhaps its now time to finally put to rest the Malampaya gas fund case in light of the recent turn of events regarding the pork barrel scam that dragged the Malampaya funds. â€œWith due respect to the Supreme Court, the Petitioners, the people of Palawan, and the people of the Republic of the Philippines have waited long enough for this Honorable Court to write finish to this plunder of public coffers,â€? the motion read in part. Malampaya was a natural gas field located in the South China Sea, off northwest Palawan. But recent reports showed that some P900 million from royalties in the operation of the Malampaya gas project went into several dummy non-government organizations (NGO), some of them identified with Napoles.
The petitioners noted a report from the Commission on Audit which revealed the use of P23.6 billion Malampaya Fund by the then Arroyo administration, wherein 60 percent were allegedly disbursed and spent before the May 2010 presidential elections. By virtue of Executive Order No. 683, movants claimed former president Gloria Arroyo authorized the use of fees, revenues and receipts from Malampaya gas field’s service contract no. 38 for the implementation of development projects for the people of Palawan. The movants’ original petition was filed before the SC in February 2009 and was consolidated with a separate petition filed by the Departments of Energy, Finance, and Budget and Management. The SC has yet to resolve the petition until now, but in past hearings, one of the issues tackled was whether Palawan should be entitled to a 40-percent share in the use and development of the Camago-Malampaya natural gas reservoir. “Had the Court decided the case immediately after oral arguments almost four years ago, we could have prevented Napoles from squandering P900 million in funds,” the motion read. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/56751‐sc‐prodded‐on‐malampaya‐fund‐case
Speedy arrest of pork scam ‘brains’ urged Published : Friday, August 23, 2013 00:00
ENVIRONMENTALISTS have joined the mounting call for the speedy arrest of fugitive Janet LimNapoles and the abolition of the corruption-tainted pork barrel. Napoles, who is the alleged architect of the “P10 billion pork scam,” had gone into hiding even before the Makati Regional Trial Court ordered her arrest for the serious illegal detention of her employee, pork scam whistleblower Benhur Luy. According to the environmentalists, Napoles and her accomplices deserve to be tried and jailed for tainting the reputation of non-government organizations (NGOs) which are truly working for the betterment of the country. Various unaccredited NGOs were reportedly able to get millions of pesos from the legislators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Among the environmentalists who expressed support for the abolition of the corruption-tainted pork barrel system are Noli Abinales, Roy Alvarez, Betty Cabazares, Justino Cabazares, Jr., Manny Calonzo, Tita Castelo, Ines Fernandez, Von Hernandez, Romy Hidalgo, John Frederick Lauron, Atty. Amang Mejia, Dr. Helen Mendoza, Sonia Mendoza, Esther Pacheco, Rene Pineda, Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Vicky Segovia and Eileen Sison. In a statement, the group said that the billions of pesos wasted on ghost projects by bogus NGOs should have been spent to improve people’s lives, including enforcing the country’senvironmental laws. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/56741-speedy-arrest-of-pork-scam-brainsurged
Philippine Agriculture and Related News' Daily Monitor