Hindi lang pork scamâ€Ś systemic scam! Published : Monday, August 26, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 152
LAHAT na naman ay gustong sumakay sa isyu ng pork scam. Wala naman tayong dapat pag-awayan na anumang klase ng pagnanakaw sa gobyerno, sa paraan man ng pork o sa sistema ng mga sweetheart deal sa bidding ay masama. Maging ang pag-uwi ng mga bond papers, ballpen at mga office supplies sa opisina ng gobyerno para magamit ng anak ay isang paraan din ng pagnanakaw na kailangang matigil. Sa tindi ng isyung ito, kailangang mabigyan ng puntos ang positibong bagay upang ang mga taong sarado ang isip o kayaâ€™y nakikisabay lang sa agos ng usapin ay magkaroon ng pambalanse sa kanilang damdamin. Una, huwag nating sabihing masama ang pork barrel o PDAF. Nagiging masama lamang ito kapag ninanakaw pero kung ginagamit na pangtulong sa mga mahihirap nating kababayan, lalo na sa mga kanayunan, mabuti ang pork barrel. Sa tapatang usapan, akala ba natin ang mga mambabatas lang ang nagsasamantala sa pondo tulad ng mga naglalabasang isyu? Huwag nating kalilimutan na ang bawaâ€™t departamento o confirmed Cabinet secretary ay may blanket authority para mag-dispose ng bilyun-bilyong pisong pondo nang hindi natin namamalayan. Halimbawa na lamang ay ang Defense department secretary na kayang magdesisyon para bumili mula doormat hanggang jet fighters. Kung sino ang gusto niyang manalo sa bidding ay iyon ang mangyayari dahil tahasan nating sinasabing pabalat-bunga ang lahat ng ginagawang public bidding. Ganyan din sa DOTC secretary na may kapasidad na magsabi kung kanino puwedeng bilhin ang
mga kagamitan mula sasakyang panglupa, pangtubig at panghimpapawid. Karamihan sa departamento, kabilang ang DILG hanggang sa Office of the President, ay may mga paboritong bidder o supplier. At iyon ang dahilan kung bakit kapag may nanalong bidder na hindi kasama sa kanilang kuwadra ay katakut-takot na butas ang sisilipin para lang maagaw ang kontrata sa winning bidder. Sabi nga, systemic scam ang umiiral sa bayang ito na dapat talaga nating ipag-alburuto. *** Kaya kung magwawalanghiya ang Cabinet secretary o legislators o kahit pa nga mga bureau chief, talagang masasabi mong ginagahasa lamang ang pondo ng bayan habang silaâ€™y nasa posisyon. Katulad halimbawa ng isinisigaw ng mga gustong mag-abolish ng pork barrel na sa tingin natin ay lalong magpapalubha ng kahirapan sa marami nating mga kababayan. Uulitin natin, ang pork barrel ay hindi masama. Katulad din ng mga kutsilyo sa ating mga kusina na nakakatulong sa araw-araw nating pagkilos sa loob ng bahay. Magiging masama lang ang nanahimik na kutsilyo kung gagamitin nating panghalihaw o panaksak sa lahat ng taong makakasalubong mo. Kung tuluyang ibabasura ang pork barrel, papasok ito sa General Fund o baka sa mismong Presidentâ€™s Social at discretionary. Kung sira ang ating eskinita at walang tulay na matawiran ng mga nasa nayon, kailangan pa ba nating pumila sa Palasyo para mapagawa iyon? May idea ba kayo kung gaano kahirap lumapit sa Pangulo? Bukod dito, kapag nawala ang PDAF ng mga mambabatas, bibigyan natin ng kapangyarihan ang Pangulo na gipitin pang lalo ang mga pulitikong hindi susunod sa kanyang kagustuhan samantalang iyong mga sipsip sa kanya tulad ng Akbayan o mga kongresistang sina Quimbo at Evardone na dating solid na tao ni Gloria ay bubuhusan ng proyekto. Naniniwala tayong hindi abolisyon ng pork barrel ang sagot sa eskandalong ito. Ang kailangan natin ay pugutan ng ulo ang mga kasabwat ng sindikato sa Department of Budget and Management, sa Department of Agriculture at sa lahat ng departamentong may galamay ng pork barrel mafia.Lahat ng pork scam na â€™yan ay hindi mangyayari kung walang operators sa loob mismo ng mga departamentong may kapangyarihang mag-release ng pondo. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/opinion/56905-hindi-lang-pork-scam-systemic-scam
Farmers’ co-op to seek proceeds from sale of seized rice Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 25 August 2013 17:54 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent OFFICIALS of a rice farmers’ cooperative expressed optimism that it will finally get its day in court as it lays claim to the proceeds of the sale of more than 93,000 bags of rice seized by the government on the basis of a technicality early this year at the port of Legazpi in Albay. The Sili Farmers’ Cooperative (SFC) in Albay said it will “vigorously pursue” before the tax court its right over a portion of the P150 million in escrow funds representing the proceeds of the sale of the rice by officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC). On the second day of public bidding held two weeks ago, the collector of the Customs of Legazpi announced a winning bid for the seized rice. “We will finally be granted an opportunity to prove how the BOC acted rashly in seizing the rice even as we prove the shipment was covered by the proper documents,” SFC Chairman Elpidio Mendoza said. The seized rice was originally a shipment by the National Food Authority (NFA) coursed through local rice farmer cooperatives which are authorized to ship rice from Vietnam. The shipment, however, was seized after the vessel’s captain failed to show the correct official documents authorizing the shipment from Vietnam. At the sale of the seized rice last week Legazpi Customs port collector Leovigildo Dayoha set the floor price for the seized rice at P154.56 million or around P1,750 per 50-kilogram bag. SFC noted that this is almost on a par with the retail price of local rice sold in Bicol In May rice farmer cooperatives lauded the decision of Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon to stop the “lopsided sale” of a shipment of premium grade rice in Legazpi City originally meant to benefit the cooperatives but were seized by Customs officials on a technicality. The farmers belonging to Green Valley United Cooperative, Samahan ng mga Kapampangan sa San Ildefonso Multipurpose Cooperative and Sili Multipurpose Cooperative also expressed concerns over “how certain Customs officials and bidders managed to alter standard bidding procedures in an attempt to auction the shipment.” http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri-commodities/18420-farmers-coop-to-seek-proceeds-from-sale-of-seized-rice
Government cites huge potential for cacao growers due to global supply shortfall Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 25 August 2013 17:58 GIVEN the growing global shortage on cacao, the Philippines has an opportunity to grab a bigger share of the cacao world market by increasing crop production, an official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said. Edwin Banquerigo, the DTIâ€™s national cacao industry cluster coordinator, said in an industry briefing that the global cacao supply deficit is estimated to reach 1 million metric tons by 2020. This has been prompting major buyers, mostly from the United States and countries in Europe, to seek alternative sources of cacao beans elsewhere. Developing countries, said the DTI official, currently account for a huge chunk of global cacao production. Citing International Cacao Organization statistics, Banquerigo said the West African countries of Ivory Coast and Ghana account for more than 60 percent of current annual world supply. Government data show that the Philippines currently produces 25,000 metric tons of cacao beans per year. More than 70 percent of these come from Southern Mindanao, where over 13,000 hectares of land are planted to the crop. Davao is the top producer, contributing 72 percent to national production. Other cacaoproducing areas in the country include Northern Mindanao with 9 percent; the Zamboanga peninsula with 3 percent; and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Eastern Visayas, each contributing 2 percent. Banquerigo said the annual cacao export of the Philippines exceeds $5 million. It was valued at $5.24 million in 2010 and $5.4 million 2011. In the first eight months of 2012, exports totaled $2.53 million. The DTI official, however, noted that the countryâ€™s cacao import has already reached more than $100 million. Importation rose to $88.37 million in 2010 and $102.67 million in 2011. Merchandise imports amounted to $49.56 million in January to August of last year. Based on government projections, local cacao farmers have to increase production by at least 45 percent every year and cultivate 150,000 hectares more of cacao land over the years to keep up with the huge demand by 2020.
The Philippines, whose climatic conditions and soil characteristics are conducive to growing cacao, has the potential to be a major world supplier, said Banquerigo. Unfortunately, cacao production is among the least explored of the high-value crops in the country, recently prompting farmers to call for the creation of a national council that will monitor production toward year 2020. Banquerigo said industry stakeholders must intensify their collaborative efforts to produce enough supply of dried cacao beans for domestic and global requirements. Among the strategies the government plans to apply to boost cacao output are the adoption of best practices in farming, expansion of cacao farms and encouragement of farmers to develop cacao by-products. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri-commodities/18426-governmentcites-huge-potential-for-cacao-growers-due-to-global-supply-shortfall
Study reveals cheaper feed alternative for sea bass Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 25 August 2013 17:56 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent AQUACULTURISTS may soon shift to cheaper but viable alternatives to fish meal for their Asian sea bass (Lates calcarifer), which currently enjoys a big demand in Asia and elsewhere. This possibility loomed as a study conducted jointly by two scholars, a Vietnamese and a Filipino, showed that soybean meal (SBM), corn gluten meal (CGM), poultry by-product meal (PBM) and mixed protein could be used for sea bass without any negative effect on the prime fish species. Hoang Hai Thanh of Vietnam and Augusto E. Serrano of the Philippines found that replacing fish meal (which contains 49-percent dietary protein) with SBM, CGM and PBM would not significantly affect the weight, length and protein content of sea bass. “This finding is significant as the continued growth of the aquaculture industry worldwide, coupled with the high cost and dwindling supply of fish meal, a cheap alternative to a pure fish meal diet, is a welcome development,” Southeast Asian Regional Center for Research and Graduate Study in Agriculture (Searca) Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. said. Saguiguit said the study conducted by Thanh and Serrano also illustrated the propensity of using plant- and animal-based proteins for the expanding aquaculture industry in Southeast Asia. The paper, “Poultry By-product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal and Soybean Meal as Partial Fish Meal Replacements in the Diet of Asian Sea Bass [Lates calcarifer],” was written by the two scholars and published recently by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Research and Graduate Study in Agriculture (Searca). Thanh is a member of the Faculty of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine of the Nguyen University of Aquaculture and Forestry in Nguyen City in Vietnam, while Serrano is with the Institute of Agriculture, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences of the University of the Philippines-Visayas in Miag-ao, Iloilo. Demand for fish meal has risen tremendously, the two scholars said, and aquatic animals now consume 25 percent of all fish meal produced worldwide, more than double the 12 percent consumption in 1991. Thanh and Serrano conducted the study on appropriate sea bass diet as part of their masteral thesis, which is supported by Searca.
In opting to focus on the diet for sea bass, the authors said the fish “is fast-growing that attains marketability in about eight months at a rate of about 1 kilogram per year. Its white flesh is acceptable to consumers and commands a high price.” Sea bass, they added, “also grows well in highly turbid water and varying salinities, is able to tolerate rough handling and crowding, and easily accepts artificial feeds. These characteristics make sea bass a very favorable species for coastal aquaculture.” Pushing for alternatives to fish meal is not as easy as it appears, said Thanh and Serrano, “since these alternatives should be cheaper and must not have a negative impact on the digestibility, growth and disease resistance of the fish. They must not be environmentally degrading through nitrogen and phosphorous discharge.” Thanh and Serrano said the continued growth of aquaculture is expected to increase the proportion of global fish meal used as feeds for fish and shrimp. They said the shortage in the world production of fish meal and the increasing cost are now motivating researchers to replace fish meal as the main protein source in aquatic feeds to help reduce price and increase aquatic animal productivity." http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri-commodities/18422-studyreveals-cheaper-feed-alternative-for-sea-bass
General Santos City to host National Tuna Congress Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 25 August 2013 17:53 Written by Antonio P. Rimando / Correspondent GENERAL SANTOS CITY—The achievements of the tuna industry in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos (Soccskargen) for the past 15 years will be the focus of this year’s National Tuna Congress which will be held here from September 5 to 7. Rosanna Bernadette Contreras, Socksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAII) executive director, said the theme of this year’s congress, “Celebrating 15 Years of Advocacy, Partnership and Collaboration,” emphasizes the significant contributions extended by all stakeholders in the promotion and development of the tuna industry in the region. “Through our humble beginnings and after laboring hard the past 15 years, all key players, stakeholders and supporters in the Philippine tuna industry will converge under one roof to discuss opportunities and challenges, and advocate for necessary reforms,” Contreras said. She said local tuna stakeholders and key players established the SFFAII in 1999 to serve as the umbrella organization of seven associations. These associations have 100 member-companies involved in fishing, canning, fish processing, aquaculture production and processing, and other allied industries. Contreras said the collaboration among players in the tuna industry and the government has attracted foreign investors in the sector. The SFFAII official said the industry’s most recent achievement was the decision of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to grant Philippine tuna fishermen access to high seas Pocket 1 in the Pacific Ocean. Citing official data, Contreras said tuna is the Philippines’s top export commodity, with shipments of fresh, chilled, frozen, smoked, dried and canned tuna products reaching around 76,000 metric tons (MT). Tuna exports are valued at around $290 million. The United States and Europe are two of the major buyers of Philippine tuna products. Regarded as the “tuna capital of the Philippines,” General Santos hosts six of the country’s eight tuna canneries. Two other canneries are located in Zamboanga City. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri-commodities/18419-generalsantos-city-to-host-national-tuna-congress
Calamansi farmers seek DA’s assistance Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 25 August 2013 17:57 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent SAN Leonardo, Nueva Ecija —Farmers planting calamansi here said they are in urgent need of assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA) to maximize the productivity of their crop. Twenty years ago, Tito Mariano ventured into farming calamansi (Citrofortunella microcarpa), a citrus fruit tree native to the Philippines. The 49-year-old farmer said in his area, Barangay Magpapalayok, it is easy to spot other farmers who are into calamansi farming because they are usually the ones who have better and bigger houses. “In 1993 when my eldest son was only nine years old, I decided to plant 200 calamansi trees in my four luangs [500 square meters] and set aside an area just enough to accommodate my modest house,” Mariano said in the vernacular. He said calamani farming can be profitable. From December to May, one sack of calamansi weighing 30 kilograms, can sell from P1,000 to P1,200. “Calamansi is easy to tend. You just need to apply with fertilizer, usually urea triple-14, during the heavy early fruiting stage,” Mariano told the BUSINESSMIRROR in an interview. Weeds are only cut once or twice a year and he finishes the task in four hours. He also said that calamansi is seldom affected by heavy rains and that many of his neighbors put up their plantation a few meters away from a nearby riverbank. But Mariano admitted that the lean months can be tough for calamansi farmers like him. He said from June to November the price of calamansi can go down to as low as P100 per sack. He said during the lean months, even middlemen are reluctant to buy his produce. To maintain the productivity of his calamansi trees, he would ask his neighbors to have the fruits for free, because overripe fruits discourage the growth of new flowers. “Perhaps the government can help us market our product abroad, or even locally. Maintaining the price of one sack of calamansi at P400 is enough during the months when there is oversupply of our produce,” Mariano said. He also revealed that there are no farmers’ or traders group in their area and that calamansi farmers do not know how to get in touch with the DA to seek its assistance.
Mariano disclosed that he borrowed from a local bank, rented a 1-hectare plot in Tarlac, and planted it with 750 granted calamansi plants from Talisay, Batangas. Figures from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), showed that calamansi production in the first half of the year declined by 2.5 percent to 41,390 metric tons (MT). Bas said in a previous report that the decline in calamansi output in January to March was due to the sudden change in temperature in Region 4A and Typhoon Pablo which resulted in less area harvested in Davao region and more flower drops in Caraga. The attached agency of the DA also said that calamansi farmers shifted to banana, lanzones and rambutan in Region 4B. Regions 4A, 4B and Central Luzon which includes Nueva Ecija were the top calamansi producing regions with a combined contribution of 55 percent. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/18424‐calamansi‐ farmers‐seek‐da‐s‐assistance
Garlic supply enough to last until March — growers By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Garlic growers yesterday said there is stable supply of the commodity amid clamor by garlic importers for the issuance of import permits. Jennifer Remoquillo, director of the High Value Crops Development Program of the agriculture department, said during last Friday’s meeting of the National Garlic Action Team (NGAT) that there is enough supply of garlic until March next year to satisfy domestic demand. Remoquillo said the country currently has a garlic stockpile of 24,750 metric tons that covers the country’s average monthly garlic consumption of 3,416 metric tons until the next harvest. “Garlic supply remains stable because of sufficient production and imports that arrived after the last issuance of import permits in 2011,” she said. NGAT is a consultative body governing the garlic industry composed of representatives from garlic-producing cooperatives, consumer groups, and the government. It is currently chaired by the Itbayat Garlic Producers Multi-Purpose Cooperative and co-chaired by the Onion-Garlic Farmers of Ilocos Norte Multi-Purpose Cooperative and the Bureau of Plant Industry. It provides policy recommendations for the development of the garlic industry. Remoquillo said the NGAT is preparing a resolution for submission to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala recommending the holding of the issuance of new import permits. “As of our present computation with the NGAT, we have enough supply until March 2014. We will submit a resolution to Secretary Alcala not to allow the issuance of new import permits,” she said. “There are a lot of importers lobbying for it but we have good production so there is no need for it,” she added. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/08/26/1135411/garlic‐supply‐enough‐last‐until‐march‐ growers
Over 300 areas still flooded By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The government reported yesterday that the monsoon has affected 2.8 million people and that more than 300 areas remain flooded. Enhanced by Tropical Storm Maring, the monsoon affected 2,819,324 individuals or 619,536 families in 2,012 barangays, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). The affected residents are from Ilocos region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Cordillera and Metro Manila. A total of 868,711 people or 200,907 families have been displaced. Of this number, 94,215 people or 22,012 families are still in 437 evacuation centers and 774,496 individuals or 178,895 families are with relatives and friends. As of yesterday, 376 areas in 46 municipalities and cities in Ilocos region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Metro Manila remain flooded, the NDRRMC said. A total of 42 roads and bridges in the Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol, Cordillera and Metro Manila remain impassable. The death toll from the southwest monsoon remained at 22, while the number of injured stood at 30. Three people remain missing days after Maring left the Philippine area of responsibility. Agriculture and infrastructure damage has risen to P633.08 million. Agriculture damage accounted for P494.94 million, while infrastructure tallied P138.14 million in losses. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/08/26/1135391/over‐300‐areas‐still‐flooded
Noy accuses GMA of involvement in ‘pork’ scam (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has accused former President Gloria MacapagalArroyo of involvement in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam in 2007 to 2009. Speaking on television last week, Aquino said the P70-million and P200-million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations for lawmakers were “established for a worthy goal” to help remote local communities put up development projects. “(The problem) was the collusion among a former president ready to trade favors just to remain in power, legislators, and members of the bureaucracy who were willing to conspire, enabled by a passive and indifferent citizenry,” he said. Aquino said the public was outraged because the previous administration treated the PDAF as its own private fund to use as it pleases. “All these factors put together make the PDAF prone to abuse,” he said. “We need to make sure the system can no longer be abused. This is clearly wrong: What is involved here is the people’s money; it should be for the benefit of the people, and not for the benefit of a few greedy individuals.” Speaking to reporters, Aquino said he would prefer a conviction in the soon-to-be-filed criminal charges against lawmakers accused of abusing their pork barrel funds before his term ends in 2016. “So I really don’t think that we can have any conviction under my term,” he said.
“I’m told that for one case to be finished will take around three to five years. At the very minimum, cases will be filed – and that is my expectation. And I will be on their case, hopefully, especially for those under the executive (department).” Aquino said it would be prudent to ask Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan to accelerate the process of investigation and the filing of charges. “We want to have a clear example that crime does not pay,” he said. COA asked to probe Malampaya fund Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares has asked the COA to investigate the Malampaya fund, the biggest source of presidential pork. In a statement, Colmenares said the Malampaya fund is comprised of payments of Caltex and Shell to the government for extracting natural gas in Malampaya off Palawan. The Malampaya fund is kept in Special Account 151 that is not subject to appropriation under the national budget, he added. Colmenares said the law provides that proceeds from the Malampaya contract must be spent on energy-related projects to develop the country’s energy capability and lower the cost of electricity. Since 2002 the government has collected a total of P173 billion from Malampaya used for nonenergy related programs, he added. Colmenares said if the Malampaya fund was used to fund sustainable energy projects, the country, particularly Mindanao would not be suffering power outages and the people will not be burdened with high electricity costs. “Instead of turning these over to the general fund, these were spent on non-energy related projects such as the P900 million from the DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform) which was linked to the Napoles scam,” he said. Colmenares said the COA must focus its investigation on the P5.8 billion reportedly given to the Department of Agriculture (DA) as “agricultural guarantee fund” for typhoon victims. “The COA must investigate whether the beneficiaries of this huge amount actually exist,” he said. Colmenares said COA must scrutinize the P7.09 billion “given to build roads in lucky districts favored by the President through the DPWH.”– Delon Porcalla, Roel Pareño http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/08/26/1135301/noy‐accuses‐gma‐involvement‐pork‐scam
DoF chief economist says typhoon damage to have ‘minimal impact’ Published on Monday, 26 August 2013 00:00
Residents eat in a flooded “carinderia”, a local restaurant, after monsoon rains reinforced by tropical storm Trami, in Masantol, Pampanga. At least 10 people were killed by flooding in several parts of the country, disaster officials said on Wednesday. (Reuters Photo)
Recent calamities will not have much impact to economic growth for the third quarter, the Finance department’s newly appointed chief economist said on Friday. “It will only have minimal impact,” Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said. The Philippine economy grew 7.8 percent in the first quarter, beating market expectations to become Asia’s fastest growing economy. Second quarter growth will be reported next week. According to the Department of Agriculture, combined damage to agriculture by typhoon “Labuyo” and the southwest monsoon— as enhanced by tropical storm “Maring” – amounted to P2.6 billion, equivalent to 0.09 percent of projected third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP). The agriculture sector accounts for a tenth of economic output. “Losses from the two major typhoons that hit the country in the third quarter can be recovered,” Beltran said. In addition, Beltran said damage could also have been limited since the Agriculture department launched a replanting program for the adversely affected farms. This, he said, would allow some farmers to harvest by November, instead of the usual September. Many of the farms, particularly in Region III (Central Luzon) are covered by crop insurance as well, he added. As for other sectors such as manufacturing, Beltran said losses are still being estimated “but supposed earnings from two-day work suspension can be recovered in the next few weeks.” “Manufacturers can schedule additional work time to fill orders,” Beltran pointed out.
As for damage to infrastructure, the official said “ample fiscal space” will enable the National Government— through the Department of Public Works and Highways— to do repairs “without bloating the budget deficit.” The Aquino administration incurred a deficit of P51.29 billion as of the first semester, much below the P84.656-billion cap for the period, latest DoF figures showed. “Replanting, rebuilding and reconstruction can make up for the expected losses in GDP,” Beltran said. “The economy has surplus savings from which to draw to make up for the damage,” he added. Beltran was recently named as the country’s chief economist with the creation by the Department of Finance of a unit specifically to provide full-time analytical resource on emerging economic issues and developments to the Secretary of Finance, in support of ongoing trade and investment policies and activities, including international agreements and business developments. The unit will establish the department’s own early warning capacity, develop its stress-test mechanism, initiate environment scanning and economic impact analysis, and liaise directly with chief economists of multilateral institutions, banks, among others. The OCE will work closely and contribute to policy dialogue with other units in the department towards developing policy-relevant research and strategic policy responses. The OCE is likewise expected to produce publications, presentations and analytical papers on economic issues and trends for internal use, as well as for public information. Finance Department Order No. 036-2013 has appointed Beltran to head the unit as full-time economic adviser to the Finance secretary, a first in the history of the department since its founding in 1897. As such, he will provide senior advice and quality review to analytical and advisory activities. Beltran will also be expected to provide economic briefs, speaking notes and representation in conferences, dialogues, meetings and workshops. Beltran has served the Department of Finance since 1978 and prior to the appointment, he served as Finance Undersecretary for the Policy Development and Management Services Group from 2008-2013. He was advisor to the World Bank Executive Director from February to May 1995 and August to November 1990. In 2004, he served as Secretary for the Intergovernmental Committee of the Group of 24 on International Monetary and Financial Affairs (G24) Bureau in Washington DC. From January 2003- January 2005, Beltran was Alternate Executive Director at the World Bank. He was also a member of the Independent Oversight Advisory Committee for the International Labour Office in Geneva, Switzerland from 2009-2012 and a visiting lecturer for the University
of the Philippines National College of Public Administration from 2006 up to the present. He has authored six researches and publications. Beltran graduated Cum Laude and Dean’s Medalist for Academic Excellence in the University of the Philippines in 1978, finished Class Valedictorian at William’s College in Massachusetts, USA in 1982 and in 1995 he received the Juan Kaunlaran Award from the Department of Finance. http://www.malaya.com.ph/~malayaco/index.php/special‐features/banking‐and‐finance/39221‐dof‐ chief‐economist‐says‐typhoon‐damage‐to‐have‐minimal‐impact
‘Pablo’ survivors from ComVal, Davao Or. get houses Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:21 pm | Sunday, August 25th, 2013
TAGUM CITY—More than eight months after experiencing a horrendous Christmas when Typhoon “Pablo” made a landfall, residents of at least five Compostela Valley towns and Cateel town in Davao Oriental province could now look forward to a joyful celebration in December. In Compostela Valley, the provincial government has started the construction of 1,265 houses, each costing P70,000, for those whose homes were destroyed by the typhoon on Dec. 4 last year, Araceli Timogtimog, provincial general services office chief, said. Timogtimog said 146 houses would be built in New Bataan town, 632 in Monkayo town, 247 in Compostela town, 143 in Laak town, and 97 in Montevista town. She said the provincial government had set aside nearly P88.6 million for the project. About P70 million of the total budget would be used for housing materials while some P22.6 million would be for the labor component, according to Josephine Frasco, Compostela Valley’s provincial social welfare officer. Compostela Valley was among two Mindanao provinces that suffered the brunt of Pablo’s wrath with nearly 1,000 deaths. Dozens of others remained missing to this day and had been considered among those who perished in the floods and slides that the typhoon had triggered. In the said province alone, over 30,000 houses were destroyed by the typhoon and many of those left homeless remain in evacuation centers to this day. Frasco said the money for the house-building program came from the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Modified Shelter Assistance Program. In Cateel, Davao Oriental, 50 Pablo victims from Barangay Poblacion were also set to receive shelter homes funded by Sen. Cynthia Villar. Davao Oriental Gov. Corazon Malanyaon said provincial officials were thankful to Villar as “pursuits on livelihood and other recovery endeavors would not kick off until the security and comforts of a home is provided.” Davao Oriental Gov. Corazon Malanyaon said provincial officials were thankful to Villar as “pursuits on livelihood and other recovery endeavors would not kick off until the security and comforts of a home are provided.”
Villar on Aug. 17 also distributed seeds, farm tools and organic fertilizer to 1,732 farmers in Cateel. In Davao City, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said it was appealing anew for financial support for victims of calamities, including that of Pablo. Mel Schmidt, UN-OCHA humanitarian affairs officer for Davao, said that while the UN wanted to help more people, it didn’t have sufficient funds to address humanitarian needs. He said the UN-OCHA had solicited $76 million and raised about $42 million. “The amount funded various short-term aid to the Pablo victims in typhoon-hit areas in Mindanao particularly Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces, the hardest-hit areas,” Schmidt said. Growth with Equity for Mindanao (GEM), a US-funded agency, has also been helping the banana industry, which suffered losses of up to P1 billion. Banana exporters could no longer satisfy their commitments to customers in such prime markets as the United States because of the huge damage the typhoon wrought to their plantations, an official of Mindanao Banana Farmers and Exporters Association earlier said. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics said Pablo’s devastation also drove down the country’s banana production as the Davao region alone, which has over 87,000 hectares (not 14,732 as reported earlier), contributes 41 percent to the country’s total banana output. Compostela Valley, the region’s hardest-hit area, was contributing 14 percent to the country’s total output before Pablo’s landfall. GEM said the P201 million that Washington made available to southern Mindanao was for USAID’s ongoing disaster recovery assistance program. Frinston Lim, Chris Panganiban and Judy Quiros, Inquirer Mindanao Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/474221/pablo‐survivors‐from‐comval‐davao‐or‐get‐ houses#ixzz2dF6q2XbO
Coco Festival set Aug. 28‐31 (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) will spearhead the celebration of the 27th National Coconut Week and 12th Coconut Festival at the Mega Trade Hall 1 5th level bldg. B SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City on Aug. 28-31. PCA Administrator Euclides G. Forbes said the event is a venue for information sharing, market matching, trading activities and showcasing the best of the coconut in various food and non-food forms from the various cocobased companies from all over the country. He said entrance to this annual event is free of charge wherein visitors can taste sample coconut products and listen to lectures on the latest technologies. This is also an occasion for PCA to share accomplishments as well as provide updates on various services for coconut farmers. Included in the list of activities are : Product Launching and Promotion; Seminar on Standards of Quality and Safety of Coconut Sugar; latest results of on-road and vehicle testing of B5 in Public Transport; and updates on coconut research and development among others. A special feature of the event is the launching of Dr. Fabian Dayrit’s book titled Coconut From Diet to Therapy. For inquiry, call Maribel Sahagun at 928-4501 loc 412. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/26/1134211/coco‐festival‐set‐aug.‐28‐31
Batanes mulls sisterhood pact with Taiwan By Charlie Lagasca (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya , Philippines – Batanes Gov. Vicente Gato is considering forging sisterhood pacts with the towns and cities of Taiwan, whose fishermen continue to trespass in the country’s territorial waters. Gato said it’s better to befriend the Taiwanese fishermen than to antagonize them, which he said could lead to hostilities between the two countries. He said the government, particularly Batanes, lacks the capability to go after these Taiwanese poachers. Earlier, the governor called on the national government to help them fight against continued intrusion by Taiwanese and Chinese fishermen. He said he would consult the province’s mayors for the possible sisterhood agreement with Taiwan. Gato’s proposal came in the wake of continued sightings of Taiwanese vessels in Batanes waters following the killing of a fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard men in Balintang Channel last May. The incident strained the diplomatic relations between the two countries. Taiwan imposed a ban on hiring of Filipino workers as protest for the killing of its national. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has confirmed the continued poaching in the country’s waters, particularly in Itbayat town, which is said to be nearer to Taiwan’s Kaohsiung City than mainland Batanes. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/08/26/1135361/batanes‐mulls‐sisterhood‐pact‐taiwan
DA, Jollibee in supply pact for farmers Published on Monday, 26 August 2013 00:00 The Department of Agriculture said it has established a Farmers Entrepreneurship Program (FEP) with country’s biggest fast food chain Jollibee to enable farmers sell their produce directly to institutional buyers. In an interview, Jennifer Remoquillo, director of DA’s High Value Commercial Crops Program (HVCDP), said the department has invested P8 million for the project to enable small farmers increase their incomes through agro-enterprise. The funds, to be released directly to the local government units of each site, will be used to provide agricultural equipment, fertilizers, production facilities, small-scale irrigation systems, machineries, inputs; and other forms of assistance aimed to increase the productivity and income of onion, garlic, tomato, and calamansi. Over 600 farmers and their families in 16 provinces and 23 municipalities will benefit from this program, Remoquillo said. She added that the FEP is an initiative by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) and the National Livelihood Development Council. (NLDC). For 2013, the FEP will be implemented in 23 municipalities in 16 provinces, among which are Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Antique, Iloilo, Cebu, Bukidnon, Davao Oriental. http://www.malaya.com.ph/index.php/business/business‐news/39227‐da‐jollibee‐in‐supply‐pact‐for‐ farmers
QUEZON CONNECTION by BIGWAS/Gil Bugaoisan Aug 25, 2013 10:21pm HKT
Sa mga bulong-bulongan, eh, sikat na sikat ngayon itong si National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Orlan Calayag at itong tinatawag na “Quezon Connection” o QC na pinamumunuan ni Agriculture Secretary Procy Alcala. Sila raw kasi ngayon ang namamayagpag sa mga karaketan sa loob ng napakalinis at napakatuwid na administrasyong Aquino. Gaya ng napakarami nating kababayan, ang akala ko noon ay talagang may problema sa pamamalakad noon itong si NFA Administrator Lito Banayo at itong si National Irrigation Administration administrator Antonio Nangel. Medyo matagal din bago ko napagtagpi-tagpi ang lahat at napagtanto na talagang trinabaho ng “QC” upang tuluyan na nilang makontrol ang sindikato sa loob ng Department of Agriculture. Lumalabas pala na pinondohan talaga ang kampanya upang siraan itong sina Banayo at Nangel dahil sila ang maaaring magiging sagabal sa nabuong sistema ng grupong QC upang makapangurakot ng limpak-limpak na salapi habang mapananatiling mabango ang tingin sa kanila ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III. Aba, ang galing! Palakpakan! Hindi na rin ako magtataka kung maging itong si Bureau of Customs Ruffy Biazon ay gusto ring isunod na bakbakan ng grupong QC sapagkat may kinalaman din ang kanyang kagawaran sa raket ng kanilang sindikato. Nito ngang mga nakalipas na buwan daw, eh, talagang tumiba ang sindikatong QC dahil kumita sila ng halos kalahating bilyong piso para lang sa isang transaksyon. At dahil sa sobrang tagumpay ng kanilang operasyon ay may ikinakasa na naman ang mga itong kalokohan sa Nobyembre at dito baka manliit itong si Janet Lim-Napoles dahil sa laki ng target nilang makukurakot. Hindi ko muna hihimayin ang detalye ng kanilang operasyon habang iniipon pa natin ang mga dokumento. Baka nga one of these days, eh, puputok na rin ito sa Kongreso dahil talagang nakalulula ang ginagawang pagnanakaw ngayon sa DA. Maging ang fertilizer scam ni Jocjoc Bolante ay tiyak na mapapanis dito sa katarantaduhan ng sindikatong QC. Sa tingin ko ay may nakapagbulong na rin dito kay Pangulong Aquino kung ano itong kalokohan ngayon sa DA pero alam naman nating napakalakas ang kapit dito ni Procy na siyang tumatayong bosing ng grupong QC. Ganyan naman yata talaga ang nangyayari kapag puro kaplastikan lang ang tinatawag nilang Tuwid na Daan. *** Para sa inyong komento at reklamo, mag-email lamang sa email@example.com. http://www.remate.ph/2013/08/quezon‐connection/#.Uh2ZC3‐veKE
Drugstores warned vs price hike By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday warned drugstores to refrain from increasing prices of medicine for water-borne diseases. With the projected high demand for medicine, the FDA said drugstores should maintain the prices of essential drugs such as antibiotics, pain relievers, antipyretics, oral rehydration solution and skin ointment. Victims of Tropical Storm Maring and monsoon rains still housed in evacuation centers are suffering from fever, colds, flu and cough. “All establishments, including drug outlets, are advised not to take advantage of the increase in demand by raising prices of medicine,” the FDA said. It advised against donating medicine that are nearing expiration date. “The medicine should be in the original commercial presentation, package or box with product inserts to ensure proper monitoring, reporting and investigation of possible adverse drug reactions,” the FDA said. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/08/26/1135381/drugstores‐warned‐vs‐price‐hike
Why PCGG is not remitting P127M from sale of Marcos asset By Dona Z. Pazzibugan Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:26 am | Monday, August 26th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) continues to hold on to the P127 million it received from the sale two years ago of a sequestered Wack-Wack property due to “unresolved legal issues” with the city government of Mandaluyong where the commercial lot is located. The 2,012-square-meter lot on the corner of Edsa and Berkeley Street near the MRT station was sold in 2011. “As soon as these matters are resolved, the commission will immediately transmit (the proceeds) to the national treasury,” the PCGG said. The agency tasked to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his relatives and cronies also admitted having withheld a sizable portion of the proceeds from the sale last year of three other sequestered properties in order to settle tax liabilities. The PCGG said it had otherwise been faithful in transmitting all the assets it had recovered to the treasury. “The government has not been deprived of the proceeds of the sale of surrendered or recovered assets as reported in a number of newspapers,” it said in a statement. “There are procedures and requirements that have to be complied with before proceeds of a sale are remitted to the national treasury. These factors, which may result in a delay in the transmittal of proceeds, include, among other things, the final determination of taxes and other unresolved legal issues with the locality where the property is located,” the agency said. The PCGG headed by Chairman Andres Bautista has so far privatized four sequestered properties, including the Wack-Wack property, which sold for a total of P477 million.
The three other properties that were bid out last year were the Hans Menzi compound and the Banaue Inn in Baguio City and the Mapalad property on Roxas Boulevard in Parañaque City. From the P93-million sale of the 3,875-square-meter Hans Menzi compound, the PCGG retained P23 million for “the final determination of taxes, other liabilities and expenses.” From the P10-million sale of the 2,677-sq m Banaue Inn compound, the PCGG held back P2 million for taxes and other liabilities as well. The PCGG also admitted withholding a portion of the P247.11 million from the sale of the 4,038-sqm commercial and residential Mapalad property, but did not say how much. The agency said only the proceeds from the sale of the Wack-Wack property had not been turned over to the national treasury due to unresolved legal issues with the Mandaluyong city government. “As soon as these matters are resolved, the commission will transmit (the proceeds) to the national treasury… as it immediately did with the P56.5 billion in coco levy funds after the Supreme Court ruled with finality that the funds were conclusively owned by the government in trust for the farmers,” it said. It was referring to the P56.5 billion the PCGG reported taking in last year from the 24 percent bloc of contested San Miguel Corp. preferred shares that the Supreme Court ruled had been purchased with coconut levy funds. The PCGG said that another P13.7 billion of the dividend payments held in escrow as well as the accrued interest by the end of 2012 were also turned over last year. The PCGG remitted P567 million in 2012 and P268.4 million in 2011 to the national treasury. As of the first half of this year, the PCGG said it had remitted P284.4 million to the treasury. The PCGG said its target is P450 million in remittances this year. The presidential order that created the PCGG in 1986 mandates that all proceeds from the recovered ill-gotten assets of the Marcoses and the others are to be used for the agrarian reform program. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/474425/why‐pcgg‐is‐not‐remitting‐p127m‐from‐sale‐of‐ marcos‐asset#ixzz2d9S9gqmQ
COA: 35 lawmakers transferred P1.7‐B ‘pork’ to NGOs By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Thirty-five lawmakers, including three senators, specifically asked for the transfer of their pork barrel funds amounting to P1.7 billion to non-government organizations (NGOs). The Commission on Audit (COA) report on Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) – official name of the pork barrel – for 2007 to 2009 listed three senators and 32 members of the House of Representatives whose funds were released to implementing agencies, but who requested that the money be transferred to NGOs. The three senators are Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile. Estrada gave P204.6 million to Pangkabuhayan Foundation, P90.4 million to Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI) and P172.2 million to Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (MAMPI), for a total of P467.2 million.
Revilla allocated P130.2 million to SDPFFI, P118.3 million to MAMPI and P106.5 million to Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, for a total of P355 million. SDPFFI is one of the bogus foundations linked to fugitive businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles. Benhur Luy, a relative of Napoles who blew the whistle on the pork barrel scam, used to run SDPFFI. Enrile, on the other hand, gave P96.8 million to Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation and P77.6 million to MAMPI, or a total of P174.4 million. The three senators’ funds were released to National Agribusiness Corp., Technology Resource Center, National Livelihood Development Corp., and Zamboanga del Norte Rubber Estate Corp., which transferred them to NGOs upon the request of the three, the COA report said. President Aquino is planning to abolish these state corporations for their involvement in the pork barrel scam. Estrada, Revilla and Enrile accounted for nearly P1 billion of the P1.7–billion transfer to NGOs that the COA said were covered by specific requests from the lawmaker–funders. There are hundreds of millions more in PDAF of the three senators that went to NGOs, but the COA did not say whether the recipient–agencies did the transfer on their own. Estrada had said they were not supposed to check or know whether the NGO–recipients of their funds were bogus or not. Revilla has denied endorsing any NGO as recipient of his funds, but the COA said it has proof to counter his claim. Enrile said he did not know Napoles or any of the NGOs that received his funds. The COA said Enrile “confirmed to have authorized his chief of staff to sign on his behalf.” It said the unnamed chief of staff “confirmed signatures in the MOA but denied signatures in the certificate of acceptance and list of beneficiaries for projects” implemented by one foundation. The 32 former and incumbent House members whose funds were transferred to various NGOs upon their request, according to the COA, are Rene Velarde of party–list group Buhay, P7.8 million; Nerissa Soon Ruiz of Cebu, P22 million; Marina Clarete of Mismis Occidental, P45.6 million; Vicente Belmonte Jr. of Iligan City, P8.2 million; Rolando Uy of Cagayan de Oro City, P17.5 million; Danilo Lagbas of Misamis Oriental, P13.4 million; Niel Tupas Jr. of Iloilo, P17.5 million; Roberto Cajes of Bohol, P32.5 million; Maria Isabelle Climaco of Zamboanga City, P23.4 million;
Thomas Dumpit Jr. of La Union, P44.1 million; Isidro Ungab of Davao City, P38.3 million; the late Ignacio Arroyo of Negros Occidental, P20.3 million; Joseph Santiago of Catanduanes, P19.4 million; Manuel Agyao of Kalinga, P11.5 million; Edgar Valdez of party–list group APEC, P35.9 million; Rizalina Seachon–Lanete of Masbate, P31.7 million; Conrado Estrella III of Pangasinan, P36.7 million; Adam Relson Jala of Bohol, P13.3 million; Prospero Nograles of Davao City, P60.1 million; Edgar Espinosa of Masbate, P24.1 million; Marcelino Teodoro of Marikina, P14.3 million; Del de Guzman of Marikina, P9.4 million; Jaime Lopez of Manila, P5.5 million; Mariano Piamonte Jr. of party–list group A–TEACHER, P15 million; Elias Bulut Jr. of Apayao, P12.3 million; Ruffy Biazon of Muntinlupa, P8 million; Vincent Crisologo of Quezon City, P33 million; Arturo Robes of San Francisco del Monte, Bulacan, P25.4 million; Maria Teresa Bonoan–David of Manila, P35 million; Eduardo Zialcita of Parañaque, P17.5 million; Luis Asistio of Caloocan, P25 million; and Oscar Malapitan of Caloocan, P25.3 million. The COA said the transfer of funds by recipient–state agencies and lawmakers to NGOs was illegal. It said such transfer must be covered by an appropriation law or an ordinance as required by the Government Procurement Law. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/08/26/1135251/coa‐35‐lawmakers‐transferred‐p1.7‐b‐pork‐ ngos
Storm Nando threatens MM By PNA | Posted on Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:02am | 1,434 views
Another tropical depression named “Nando” on Sunday set in, prompting Malacanang to warn the public to take extra precaution after its predecessor “Maring” caused massive floodings in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. The weather bureau said “Nando” was the reason Metro Manila and neighboring provinces were experiencing rain showers and thunderstorms yet again. Palace spokesman Avigail Valte advised the public to keep monitoring alerts from DOST-PAGASA and to always be prepared in case this tropical depression brings more rain. PAGASA released its first thunderstorm advisory earlier at 2:15 p.m. affecting portions of Metro Manila (Quezon City, Marikina), portions of Rizal, Bulacan, Zambales and nearby areas within two hours.“All are advised to take precautionary measures against heavy rains, strong winds, lightning and possible flashfloods,” the weather bureau said. The weather bureau said Nando became the fourth cyclone to enter the Philippine Area of responsibility this month and it will be the 14th cyclone this year to hit the country, which is battered by 17-20 storms every year. Weather Forecaster Jori Loiz said that as of 10 a.m. Sunday, tropical depression Nando was at 290 km east of Borongan City in Samar (11.2°N, 128.6°E) with maximum winds of 55 kph near the center. It is forecast to move north northwest at 13 kph. Most parts of the country will experience cloudy skies with light rains in the next 24 hours due to tropical depression Nando and monsoon trough. Weather Forecaster Glaiza Escullar said that the cyclone was not expected to make landfall in the country. She added with its speed Nando was expected to be out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility by Thursday or Friday.
With extended cloudiness due to Nando, Eastern Visayas and Bicol region will experience cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rainshowers and thunderstorms which may trigger flashfloods and landslides, she said. Escullar said that except for Northern Luzon, Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) and the rest of Visayas and Mindanao will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms. Escullar said that Northern Luzon will experience fair weather with partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. In a four-day forecast, Escullar said that cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers will continues in most parts of the country due to the weather system affecting the country. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/26/storm‐nando‐threatens‐mm/
Rally takes on varied colors: red, white, blue By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:02am | 1,261 views 8
The colors of the Scrap the Pork Barrel Movement—red, white, blue and a touch of yellow—will festoon the Rizal Partk today amid forecasts of a rainstorm. The majority in the crowd will come in white as they are politically unaffiliated with any group in the political spectrum. The Luneta march, dubbed “A Million People March” against the pork barrel, has spontaneously snowballed following a single call: that President Benigno Aquino III give up his own P1-trillion pork barrel if he is sincere in his promise of transparency. “I am just so outraged by these officials pocketing the taxpayers’ money that I did not find any reason to join any group,” said Pat Punzalan, a salon trainer, who carries a twitter handle @supsup010. “I will go to Luneta, wearing white to express my outrage and be counted as one of the concerned taxpayers who denounce corruption and demand transparency in governance.” Punzalan said he would bring Arroz Valenciana to share with equally concerned taxpayer-friends. No one claims to have organized the rally, so that all groups were surprised to see one another in a meeting called by the police top brass. Some 3,000 policemen will be deployed to the Luneta to ensure peace and order. One group leader, Renato Reyes of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, warned against infiltrators and saboteurs who might disrupt the rally that he said would be peaceful. Reyes had to make a disclaimer on Wednesday after word got around that the protesters would march on the Palace to demand Aquino’s ouster after the protest rally.
Elizabeth Angsioco, national president of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, protested the theme “A million Men March,” insisting that many women would join the rally. Hence the theme was changed to “A Million People March.” Angsioco’s group will also wear white. Some groups were demanding an explanation from the Black and White Movement and Kaya Natin, who are now presidential allies. But the Akbayan party-list, a close ally of the President, said it would mobilize 500 bikers to join the rally. The Right to Know Right Now coalition and the FYI on FOI said they would be joining the rally to push the Freedom of Information bills. Ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona will make his first public appearance following his impeachment and will be wearing red. He said the President owed the public the details of his P1-trillion pork barrel. The allies of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be wearing blue. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/26/rally‐takes‐on‐varied‐colors‐red‐white‐blue/
Pro-pork outstrips anti, five to one By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:02am | 2,019 views 7
One in every five Filipinos wants President Benigno Aquino III to give up his socalled executive pork barrel, an internal Palace survey on the comments posted in Aquino’s Facebook page showed. Despite the repeated explanations from the Palace, at least 17.61 percent of the more than 5,000 comments reflected negative sentiments on Aquino’s announcement on Friday that he would abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel.
Protest eve. From top clockwise: Members of the left-wing group Bayan Muna hold up the masks they will use at the Million People’s March today; the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, where the marchers will assemble; members of the Manila Police District get final instructions on securing today’s protest action. Danny Pata, Sonny Espiritu Still, 82.39 percent of the posts reflected positive sentiments for Aquino, Presidential Communications Operations Office head Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.
He made his statement even as Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares on Sunday asked the Commission on Audit to look into the President’s spending starting with the Malampaya funds that, he said, was the biggest source of Aquino’s pork. The Malampaya funds come from the payments of Caltex and Shell for extracting natural gas from the Malampaya gas field off Palawan. “The law states that the proceeds from the Malampaya contract should be spent on energy-related projects to develop our energy capability and to lower the cost of electricity,” Colmenares said. “The government has collected a total of P173 billion subce 2001, but these were spent on non-energy-related projects.” Meanwhile, Senate President Franklin Drilon on Sunday supported Aquino’s decision to abolish the pork barrel, as did neophyte Senators Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara and Bam Aquino. “It is important that the new process will follow the ordinary budget process, wherein the proposal is submitted and then the line agency will review whether or not the project should be funded,” Drilon said. Among the negative comments in the Palace survey, netizens pressed, in particular, for the abolition of the President’s Social Fund amounting to more than P1 billion annually, the prosecution of all those involved in the pork barrel scam, and the passage of the Freedom of Information bill to ensure transparency in the release of funds. Netizens also questioned why lawmakers from the opposition seem to be the target of the investigations while those allied with Malacañang have been spared. “Why are the Commission on Audit and the Department of Budget and Management targeting the political enemies of the administration?” wrote Vincent Cuartero. Facebook user Lorna Ayala Bongat challenged Aquino to walk the talk and let the ax fall on his allies who have also abused their pork barrel. Archon Rye raised the possibility that Aquino was only pressured to announce the abolition of the pork barrel because of today’s Million People March protest.
Ambrosio Madlangbayan wrote: “When you were a congressman and when you became senator, you also used your PDAF? Where did you spend your pork barrel? I am just asking, because I am your Boss, right?” “He just renamed it. Pork barrel is still there. The President is afraid that he will be impeached without it,” said Rosario Gloria in her comment. More than half of all the positive comments, on the other hand, supported Aquino’s pronouncement that the PDAF will be replaced by a mechanism that will insulate public funds from abuse and misuse. Damber Moralista Diel wrote: “Other Facebook users are overacting. President Aquino has already abolished the pork barrel, yet they keep on bashing. Maybe they should run for president.” Qatar-based Saus Magbiray said the Filipino workers abroad were now now more confident about returning to the Philippines because of the reforms instituted by Aquino. Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte urged Filipinos not to stop attending rallies but to do participatory governance as well. “We encourage our citizens to be vigilant in monitoring the implementation of projects that will be proposed by our lawmakers,” she said. With Fred Villareal and Macon Ramos-Araneta http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/26/pro‐pork‐outstrips‐anti‐five‐to‐one/
Sunday picnic precedes 1million people’s march By Francisco Tuyay | Posted on Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:02am | 1,250 views 1
The police said Sunday they will observe “maximum tolerance” during today’s One Million March rally against the pork barrel at the Luneta Park, where 18,000 protesters gathered for a Sunday picnic. Police spokesman Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac said 4,000 officers have been mobilized in strategic areas of the park to protect the safety of the thousands of people who are expected to attend the rally. “We are mobilizing policemen not only in Luneta but also in other parts of the country where similar [protests] are taking place to protect the [demonstrators] against opportunistic groups who may take advantage [of the situation],” Sindac said. The Luneta rally will have parallel protests in, Baguio City, Cebu, Davao, Dumaguete, Iloilo and Puerto Princesa. Rallies are also planned in Geneva, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong and several Canadian cities. The Western Police District went on full alert Saturday in preparation. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said it would assign 350 traffic enforcers to the event, and warned motorists to expect heavy traffic as the portion of Roxas Boulevard from T.M.Kalaw to P. Burgos would be closed to all vehicles starting at 9 a.m. The police said they have not received any intelligence about a threat to the rally planned by various civic groups critical of the abuse of pork barrel. The Metro Manila police office said it will not prevent any groups from joining the rally.
Officials of the Manila Police District met with representatives of groups joining today’s rally to discuss security arrangements. The groups were asked to deter any agitation within their ranks. Chief Supt. Christopher Laxa said various communist groups were expected to join today’s rally. Event organizers said they had no other agenda aside from gathering peacefully in Luneta to voice their stand against pork barrel. “If there is any other agenda other than the original purpose, we will not join,” Peachy Bretana, one of the organizers, said. She said her the protesters will have their own marshals to ensure order. Laxa said they have established points at which participants will be searched. He added that people joining the rally were discouraged from brining backpacks to avoid prolonged searches. Anger in social media at the misuse of pork barrel snowballed into calls for a rally expected to attract thousands, an organizer said Sunday. Calls for a “Million People March” scheduled for Monday began circulating on Facebook and Twitter about two weeks ago after local press reports of a scam involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund, the official name for pork barrel. The fund is money allocated for lawmakers to be used in development projects, but has been the source of corruption. At the center of the controversy is business woman Janet Lim Napoles, who allegedly connived with legislators to siphon off some P10 billion from the fund. “We demand transparency and accountability,” the organizers said in their online invitation on Facebook. “Abolish pork barrel.” Bretana, said the idea for the march originally circulated among her circle of friends but quickly caught on.
As of Sunday afternoon, nearly 18,000 people had said they would join marches culminating in what the organizers said would be a peaceful “picnic get-together” in Luneta Park. Activists in other cities have said they would hold simultaneous marches in support of the Manila protest. Various religious, professional, business and leftist organizations have also signified interest in joining the protest. “We are aghast, disgusted and enraged at such a wanton display of shamelessness by those who we elected to serve and protect the people,” read a manifesto of support signed by some alumni of the Philippine Military Academy who are no longer on active duty. “We cannot and we will not tolerate this any more even those from among our own,” it said. Senator Francis Escudero said he supported the “Million People March,” saying everyone is responsible for guarding the public coffers. The senator said he would stay away, however, so as not to politicize the rally. “That is the people’s event. It is their voices that must be heard. I will always carry their voice to the Senate,” Escudero said. Gang Badoy, communications director of Change.org, said the anti-pork barrel protest was triggered by sentiments against the misuse of public funds after the Napoles scandal broke out. Margaux Salcedo, spokesperson for Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, said the mayor would allow the march to go ahead despite the lack of a permit, but with police supervision. “There will be police on standby but he respects freedom of expression and will not interfere as long as the gathering is peaceful,” she said. The Million People protest wants pork barrel to be scrapped, and any lawmakers involved in its misuse to be “investigated and charged accordingly, with full media coverage for the people to see.”
An announcement on the protest’s Web page states that “the protest march was still scheduled to continue, despite Friday’s announcement by President Benigno Aquino III that the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel would be abolished. Protesters said Mr. Aquino’s move was “merely cosmetic.” “We were heard but we want him to listen. We have more to say,” the Web site added. An environmental group, the EcoWaste Coalition, said it would join today’s rally because the P10 billion in public funds squandered by lawmakers could have gone to solve the country’s garbage problem. “The plundered funds could have assisted our communities in raising public awareness and participation in the ecological management of discards that has proven benefits of reducing the volume of garbage for disposal,” said Aileen Lucero, the group’s acting national coordinator. To show its indignation over the pork barrel irregularity, Lucero said a contingent from EcoWaste’s member-groups will join the Luneta rally, with each protester carrying a broom to symbolize the need to sweep away corruption in the government. – May Ann Cherreguine, Ferdinand Fabella, AFP http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/26/sunday‐picnic‐precedes‐1‐million‐peoples‐march/
The President’s greasy lie By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:01am | 2,654 views 71
Nobody except the most jaundiced yellow camp followers will believe President Benigno Aquino III when he says he supports the abolition of pork barrel. At first blush, it seemed to be a complete turnaround for the famously obstinate Mr. Aquino, who had just a week ago said we need to retain but reform the system under which congressmen are allotted P70 million and senators P200 million a year to fund development projects for their constituencies. He has since then moved to suspend the release of the Priority Development Assistance Funds, as pork barrel is officially called, and on Friday made a halfhearted call for its abolition. Clearly, the President was trying to ride the wave of public outrage triggered by revelations that many lawmakers had channeled billions of pesos to ghost projects and bogus non-government organizations in exchange for kickbacks. That outrage will find expression today in the One Million March at the Luneta Park in Manila, and Mr. Aquino’s impromptu press conference – with Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. at his side – was widely regarded as a preemptive move by the Palace to blunt Monday’s protest or to co-opt it into something more manageable.
The move fooled nobody. Nor did the President’s shopworn tactic of blaming his predecessor for all of the social ills that persist three years into his own term. The truth is, pork barrel was introduced as a discretionary fund by Mr. Aquino’s own late mother, President Cory Aquino, as the Countrywide Development Fund in 1990. It was later renamed PDAF during the Estrada administration, but the principle remains the same: it gives legislators a sheen of accomplishment and a secret source of campaign funds, and just as importantly, gives the President firm control over both houses of Congress. This iron grip was convincingly applied in 2011, when Mr. Aquino cajoled or bludgeoned 188 out of 285 members of the House of Representatives to sign an impeachment complaint overnight against a sitting chief justice of the Supreme Court, who stood in the President’s way. In the public frenzy that the Palace whipped up afterward, the troublesome chief justice was removed from office in a trial by senators, a good number of whom were exposed later on to have committed indiscretions far worse than those of the man they found guilty. Will the President willingly give up such control over the Congress? It would be delusional to believe he would, especially given his dearth of real accomplishments during his first three years in office. With poverty levels no better than they were before he took office and with even more Filipinos unemployed under his administration, Mr. Aquino clearly needs some pork fat to grease his way out of trouble. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/26/the‐presidents‐greasy‐lie/
Maring’s agri damage in C Luzon at P343m By Fred Villareal | Posted on Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:01am | 198 views
City of San Fernando — The Regional Risk Reduction and Management Council here estimated P343-million worth of losses to agriculture in Central Luzon due to typhoon Maring. The RDRRMC partial data showed losses in crops and stocks across Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Zambales and Aurora. The initial inventory showed destruction in the rice sector was P299.21 million, followed by high-value crops at P35.55 million; corn, P4.36 million; cassava, P2.21 million; and livestock, P1.73 million. Council said Pampanga suffered most with an initial report at P116.13 million with the rice sector affected heaviest with an initial report of P110.18 million, corn at P3.78 million and high value crops at P847,700. The report said Bataan’s P72.15 million loss showed rice accounted for P67.72 million. In Tarlac, the toll to agriculture reached P45.16 million with damage to rice at P43.72 million. While Nueva Ecija was outside the typhoon path, floods resulted in P44.70 million losses in the agriculture sector. Zambales posted P23.01 million losses of which P19.62 million was the amount of rice destroyed. The partial damage report showed high value crops and livestock posted P2.6 million and P443,000, respectively. Still reling from typhoon Labuyo when Maring struck, Auirora had an estimated P1.8 million loss to livestock and cassava. The council said at least 1,385 families evacuated to 15 public elementary and high schools here have been allowed on Saturday to return to their homes. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/26/marings‐agri‐damage‐in‐c‐luzon‐at‐p343m/
Toby: Roxas has P2-b added ‘pork’ By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:01am | 2,249 views 10
United Nationalist Alliance secretary general and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco on Sunday said the “highly irregular insertions” of P1.9 billion shoehorned into the proposed P2.3-trillion national budget for 2014 will enable Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II to claim credit for the core programs of housing czar Vice President Jejomar Binay. Tiangco said the P1.9 billion “pork barrel” tucked in would only be a “speck of the P20 billion national budget earmarked through the bottom-up budgeting programs to be led by Roxas.” If left unchecked, he said the ruling Liberal Party would raise its own version of Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel embedded in next year’s regular budget to favor the Department of Interior and Local Government. “Why would we give extra appropriation to DILG for housing, water system and climate change when there (is) budgetary support to key government agencies already handling these concerns?” Tiangco said. “On August 16, Roxas and Budget Secretary Florencio Butch Abad met with members of the Liberal Party to discuss the use of P20 billion of the national budget to start campaigning for 2016 through bottom-up budgeting involving select civil society groups and local government units.” According to Tiangco it is “anomalous” for Roxas to take charge of relocating informal settlers, a mandate that falls under Binay’s housing department. With the snowballing clamor to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund, Tiangco said insertions in the GAA are inevitable now that Malacanang has called for doing away with pork barrel only to be replaced by line-item budgets for specific projects in the General Appropriation Act. “I believe this is the first time that the DILG has appointed itself as the champion for climate change, potable water and mass housing,” he said.
Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate finance committee that tackles the P2.268-trillion national budget, has said P1.2 billion for DILG’s housing outlay was the local government units’ share for removing and resettling shanty dwellers. But Tiangco said billions of funds have been earmarked for the relocation of families in danger zones. In the proposed 2014 GAA, Tiangco said around 40,000 families are recipients of the P1.25-billion allotment for the DILG’s self-initiated housing program. Tiangco also questioned the P76-million appropriation supposedly earmarked for “climate change adaptation”; some P573 million for “potable water supply” for waterless towns and villages; and P1.25 billion for housing intended for informal settlers in Metro Manila. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/26/toby‐roxas‐has‐p2‐b‐added‐pork/
‘Invisible pork’ for PNoy By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:01am | 1,564 views 34
Kept hidden in line-item budget of agencies — Anakbayan The abolition of pork barrel and its replacement by an as yet unnamed “mechanism” has left the Palace and the ruling Liberal Party in control of an “invisible and unlimited” source of funds, critics said Sunday. Opposition and majority lawmakers who demanded the scrapping of pork – officially called the Priority Development Assistance Fund – said they were wary that Malacanang would use the P27 billion allotted to the legislators since the allocation in the 2014 budget remains intact. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. immediately called an all-party caucus to explain to their members the mechanics of the now reformed but nameless PDAF. “We are taking this new policy on PDAF with guarded optimism,” said Magdalo Rep. Ashley Acedillo. “The party-list coalition would be meeting to make recommendations as to how best the funds would be used up.” Since the discretion on how the funds are used now rests with the Palace and not the individual senators and congressmen, some lawmakers who requested anonymity said the President could use it as his own pork barrel, with close allies benefitting from the “invisible” funds. Anakbayan agreed that the President’s plan to “overhaul” the PDAF would actually lead to an “expanded, unlimited and invisible” pork barrel system for Mr. Aquino. “The Aquino pork plan is an evil, deceptive ploy to bank on the people’s anger against pork barrel and corruption in order to breed an animal more monstrous,” said Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan chairman. “Aquino’s statement that he “abolished” the pork is doublespeak. Under his new system, the congressmen will merely have to propose their projects to the Executive and include them as line items in the General Appropriations Act instead of a lump sum allotted for them,” he said.
This, for one, means greater Palace pork concentration and more pork under Mr. Aquino’s control and discretion, he said. “It is no wonder that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was smiling when Noynoy [Aquino] announced the move for it is he and his LP friends which would have the power to screen and approve projects,” he said. “This also effectively makes the pork unlimited for Palace allies. Note that Aquino said nothing about the amount of the planned congressional pork. It is also invisible as it is now hidden in the line item budget of the various agencies,” Crisostomo said. In contrast, the President’s own presidential pork, composed of lump-sum, discretionary, unprogrammed allocations is untouched and secure. Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon described the President’s pronouncements as “theatrical,” and said the reform he proposed was “regressive.” Instead of increasing transparency and accountability, Ridon, said the new pork barrel system that Mr. Aquino wants instituted returns the system of spoils to its moribund pre-war character. “Aquino has actually reverted PDAF back to the moribund system wherein the Executive Department has full control over the funds, while legislators practically beg for parts of the spoils. This is the system that Aquino’s great-grandfather Juan Sumulong had criticized way back in 1925, for breeding ‘misuse’ and patronage politics. It’s a clear case of history repeating itself,” Ridon said. “Under Aquino’s new version of the pork barrel, greedy legislators will flood the offices of DBM and other agencies to clinch projects. It’s the padrino system at its worst,” Ridon said. The PDAF system that allocates P200 million for each senator and P70 million for each congressman yearly was a response to the clamor from legislators for an equitable distribution of funds, he said. “This system of equitable pork appropriation was a feature that began in 1992 to safeguard against the allocation of excessive amounts to particularly favored legislators. With the reintegration of the PDAF in the national budget, we fear that
the cap has been removed, thereby allowing Aquino’s KKK – kaklase, kabarilan, kaibigan – to access unlimited funds for their pet projects. This defeats the call to abolish the pork barrel,” Ridon said. Ridon said the President only made corruption “invisible.” With funds for legislators’ pet projects now integrated in the national budget, he said, the misuse of funds would be harder to detect, as the funds may now not be directly connected to the proposing legislator. “In Aquino’s speech, he said there would be real-time monitoring on the release of funds. Yet it is unclear if the name of the legislator who proposed the project will be directly associated to the projects he or she proposed once the funds are in the line item of agencies. If the names will not appear, this could only create a system of invisible, undetectable corruption, with government agencies acting as cover-ups for the malfeasance of public officials,” Ridon said. “While the President attempted to fool the Filipino people by announcing that it is time to abolish PDAF’ only to reveal a worse version, Aquino also categorically said during the panel interview after his speech and later through spokesperson Abigail Valte that he will not abolish his own pork, referring to the President’s Social Fund,” he said. “The President’s Social Fund is only a small part of the large mother lode of public funds that Aquino has direct control over. Yet he is not willing to give up even that fund. It is a hypocritical move that only proves that the President only wanted to strengthen and consolidate his hold over pork funds, and not abolish the system of discretionary spending,” Ridon said. “With the presidential pork remaining unscathed and the pork barrel system tweaked to better serve the interests of the Palace, there are actually more reasons to protest now than before,” Ridon said. “Aquino’s outright refusal to abolish the presidential pork reveals that his regime is not unlike past regimes – an administration that would go to any length to remain in power. The people deserve better than your lies and half-truths, Mr. President, and we’re determined to intensify the fight,” Ridon said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/26/invisible‐pork‐for‐pnoy/
Aquino hijacks the people’s war on ‘pork’ By Francisco S. Tatad | Posted on Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:01am | 2,629 views 36
Unless the nation desperately wants to be deceived, it has to ask President Benigno S. Aquino III to swear by everything he holds dear if and when he declares again, as he did last Friday, that he wants the infamous Priority Development Assistance Fund, popularly known as the pork barrel, scrapped. It is on its face the most duplicitous move, and many will not believe it. For most of last week, men and women from all walks of life had been preparing to troop to Rizal Park this Monday morning to join the nationwide indignation rally against the criminal misuse of the PDAF and various funds controlled by the President. Aquino was to have been at the receiving end, having announced his staunch support for an even larger PDAF, despite the smoldering public sentiment against it. Some people were prepared to call for his ouster if he did not relent. At the very least they were prepared to start a tax boycott or civil disobedience. That would have created a larger crisis. Although tax resistance is often associated with opposition to war, as in the case of John Hampden in 17th century England and Henry David Thoreau in 19th century United States, and opposition to illegal and unjust regimes and to taxes themselves, as in the case of the American revolution and so many others, Filipinos are no stranger to the idea. In 1589, the provinces of Cagayan, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur rose in revolt over unjust taxes and the alleged abuses of tax collectors. In 1898, several provinces, which had expected a reduction, if not an outright removal of taxes, refused to pay taxes to the Emilio Aguinaldo government. In 1986, Cory Aquino threatened Marcos with civil disobedience after losing the snap presidential elections that February. However, she scaled down her call for civil
disobedience to a mere boycott of the products of politically tainted “crony corporations.” Just as the Sons of Liberty of Boston cried “no taxation without representation” at the Boston Tea Party of 1773, many were prepared to say “no taxes until they stop ripping off the pork barrel.” Aquino’s preemptive move changed all that. Now, whether or not today’s march hits the one million-mark, the protesters will have to decide if Aquino has indeed capitulated or merely decided to hijack the anti-pork protest movement from the protesters. The evidence seems to suggest that he has chosen to ride the anti-pork tsunami for pure opportunism. This will become much clearer if and when he joins this morning’s march, and elaborates further on his hastily prepared Friday statement. It is not far-fetched to expect that his own supporters would be joining the Luneta march to eulogize him for his dramatic U-turn. But the nation has a duty to be much more discerning of Aquino’s speech, motives and body language. The people cannot afford to be used, manipulated or misled. They ought to be able to say why he made his about-face in the first place. What events, circumstances or calculations led him to it? According to highly informed Cabinet sources, Aquino decided to announce “abolition” of the PDAF after meeting with Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker of the House Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II and select Cabinet advisers. In that meeting, they assessed the mounting anger everywhere against the President and the lawbreakers. Drilon’s influence upon Aquino appeared decisive. Although he had previously urged his colleagues in a Senate caucus not to touch the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam involving some opposition senators and the now-fugitive from justice Janet Lim Napoles, he later reversed his position to flow with the tide, and called on the senators to explain their alleged dealings with Napoles. For his part, the Senate majority leader, Alan Peter Cayetano, the more precocious diviner of where the political wind is blowing, called for the pork barrel’s abolition. In Malacañang, Drilon reported on his Tower Club Makati meeting with leaders of big business, who told him they had all decided to call for abolition of the PDAF. They had noted that the anti-pork campaign had reached fever pitch in the social
media and everywhere else and had also begun to impact severely on the peso and the stock exchange. Cabinet sources said Drilon advised Aquino to announce abolition of the PDAF, without prejudice to providing generously for the funding requirements of his political wards and partymen. That would exclude everybody else, but give the ruling Liberal Party unchallenged and exclusive party access to the resources of government. It was a masterstroke in political double-speak that offered Aquino and his LP colleagues the best of both worlds. For his part, Belmonte said that if Aquino were to announce abolition of the PDAF, it should be implemented “across the board.” Aquino took Drilon’s cold-blooded, two-faced advice. This is what the Luneta assembly will now be asked to applaud. Since the outbreak of the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam, and the release of the selective Commission on Audit report on the congressional use of PDAF from 2007 to 2009, the Independent Caucus in the House under the leadership of Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has been calling for full and complete disclosure of the use of all PDAF and all the bigger funds under the control of the President, during the last ten years. This has not been heeded. The Luneta assembly would do well to pursue that demand, and reject any effort on the part of the President to render all proposed inquiries into the use of public funds in the last ten years moot and academic, just because he has decided to “abolish” the “pork.” The assembly should insist that “abolition” should really mean “abolition”—not a bogus appearance of it, and should apply to all pork barrel for Congress, the President and the rest of the Executive Department, while simultaneously safeguarding the fiscal autonomy of the Judicial Department, which Malacañang now wants emasculated. This means all lump sum appropriations for the President, which amount to nearly half of the P2.3 trillion 2014 budget, should be abolished. They should be broken down into specifics, and their spending subjected to rigorous audit, with the possible exception of the Calamity Fund, which answers to unheralded and unwanted natural and man-made calamities and emergencies, and the Intelligence Fund, which (unless also stolen) is essential to the proper functioning of the office of the Commander-in-Chief of the country’s armed forces.
At the same time, the COA should now make a full public disclosure of how all such appropriations had been used by Congress, the President and the rest of the Executive Department during the last ten years. Those who may have violated the law for any misuse of such appropriations should now be prosecuted and punished, exactly as Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile has suggested. Between now and December, the Congress should reassert its “Power of the Purse” over Malacañang, and recast the proposed 2014 General Appropriations Act according to the reforms needed to bring about a “pork-free” and totally incorrupt government. Since 2010, Malacanang has brazenly prohibited Congress from introducing any amendments to its budget, as if Congress had become a mere appendage of the Executive. This dictatorial illusion must now end. Congress must also now abandon the highly anomalous practice of leaving the final details of the annual General Appropriations Act to the decisions made behind closed doors by just three individuals—the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee and the Secretary of the Budget. This execrable practice has been responsible for many irregularities—humungous amounts surreptitiously inserted in the GAA for the benefit of the most powerful and crafty individual members of both Houses, without the knowledge or consent of the other members. This should now be terminated. The entire Congress, through the full membership of the two Committees, with any interested senator or congressman sitting in, should be involved in this final step. The anti-pork movement should now surge to the local communities. The demand for full accountability from the national government should now encourage local constituencies to demand the same accountability from their respective local governments. If senators and congressmen are to lose their annual pork of P200 million and P70 million each respectively upon the abolition of PDAF, there is no reason on earth why a mere Quezon City councilor should be receiving P42 million a year in non-accountable pork or perks. Citizens should also now demand greater transparency in the utilization of the Internal Revenue Allotment to local government units, particularly in the
notoriously vulnerable areas of the country where dynastic and warlord politics has abolished the distinction between what belongs to the government and what belongs to the warlords. If Aquino recognizes any duty to lead by example, he should now disclose how he used his pork barrel as senator from 2007 to 2010 (never mind his nine years as congressman), whether or not this is cited in any current COA report. More than this, he should now make a full and detailed answer to the following: 1) How much in projects and actual cash did he give the members of both Houses of Congress, and specifically to whom, in order to cause the impeachment and removal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona on a charge that now turns out to be not even half as grave as the crimes committed by their average members? 2) How much in projects and actual cash did he give the members of Congress, and specifically to whom, in order to ram through the foreign-dictated, widely opposed, and anti-Catholic Reproductive Health Law whose validity the government is now trying to defend poorly before the Supreme Court? 3) How much in projects and actual cash did he give away, and specifically to whom, to buy the May 2013 automated senatorial elections through the mathematically improbable 60-30-10 electoral formula in favor of the senatorial candidates of Team PNoy, against those of the United Nationalist Alliance and the Independents, from precinct level upward in every part of the country, including the known bailiwicks of the other candidates? The people deserve to know whether or not their president had indeed become, as some observers had suggested, the principal corruptor of Congress, and whether they now have the duty to have him impeached and removed for graft and corruption, bribery, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes. Despite the intense passions generated by the pork barrel scams, the total PDAF of P27 billion per annum, of which P10 billion was said to have been “scammed” over the past 10 years by the “now-invisible” Janet Napoles, pales in comparison to the P300 billion plus Special Purposes Fund at the disposal of the President, or to the P44-billion subsidy to government corporations, or the P56 billion, soon to become P65 billion, Conditional Cash Transfer for the politically exploited
poor, to name just some items. It is only right that the nation be told in detail how these huge amounts had been spent during the first years of Aquino’s supposedly “incorrupt” administration. The appropriate mechanisms must now be put in place to safeguard the integrity of all future appropriations. Aquino has advanced some shopworn ideas, which include line-item budgeting in lieu of the many lump sum appropriations; the elimination of projects that cannot be easily nor accurately audited, like dredging, which gained so much notoriety and cost the government billions of pesos during the Mount Pinatubo rehabilitation work in 1992 and onwards, and “perishables” like fertilizers, seeds, medicines, medical kits, etc. and “intangibles” like support for sport festivals, training programs, etc. ; and the elimination of non-governmental and people’s organizations, many of which exist only on paper, from any project. All these must now be fine-tuned and built upon. The 2013 PDAF is already part of the current GAA. This can not be abolished by mere presidential announcement, so what happens to it? Will it be impounded and surreptitiously awarded to favored partisans? Or will it become part of the President’s non-accountable pork? Furthermore, the new PDAF is now included in the proposed GAA for 2014 and will likely stay there even if the term “PDAF” disappears, unless of course the entire budget is recast as suggested earlier. Thus, Aquino’s announced abolition of the pork will only remove the lawmakers’ hands from its use or misuse, but will not abolish the pork itself or its continued misuse by the President. Therefore the task of today’s indignation march is to serve Aquino and all his alien sponsors the strongest possible notice that the Filipino nation is no longer deceived about the venal character of this regime, and that Aquino needs to demonstrate beyond mere words that he still has a splinter of moral authority to remain in office for the next three years. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/26/aquino‐hijacks‐the‐peoples‐war‐on‐pork/
The pork barrel in a new dress? By Rita Linda V. Jimeno | Posted on Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:01am | 675 views 4
Today, the Filipino people’s resolve to end the pork barrel system or the Priority Development Assistance Fund and everything that it represents will be put to a test. That the Million People March in protest of the pork barrel or PDAF and call for its abolition happens today, National Heroes Day, makes the protest action doubly significant because it will prove to the world that it is not true that the Filipinos have become a passive and indifferent citizenry. It will be recalled that in the President’s speech itself, he said that this has enabled the conspiracy among legislators and members of the bureaucracy to conspire toward the abuse and misuse of the pork barrel fund. But will all the warm bodies which planned and vowed to join the protest action in Luneta, before President Aquino’s Friday announcement (a surprising change of heart) that it was time to abolish the PDAF, still join the rally? I read some comments in the Internet saying that even if the pork barrel has been abolished, the rally should push through to celebrate its abolition. Is there reason to celebrate? Can we really sit back now and say there is no longer anything to protest against in light of the President’s announcement that the PDAF will be scrapped? I hardly think so. Reading the President’s speech, one can easily see that lawmakers will not really be deprived of the power to put their hands on funds for projects. Legislators will still have the right and power to propose projects and request for budget allocation. Funds will then be released for their approved projects. Or, they can choose from the menu of projects under the control of various government agencies and claim one or some for their districts. What the President said was that lump sums will no longer automatically be given to lawmakers in the amount of P70 million for house representatives and P200 million for senators by way of PDAF. But, under the new scheme, a creative legislator can have even more than P70 million or more than P200 million a year as long as he submits a proposal which will be approved and as long as he toes the line of the administration. Before we
celebrate, let us recall why Commission on Audit Chief, Grace Pulido-Tan, broke into tears upon seeing how the lawmakers’ pork barrel has been abused. She said that only something like 10 per cent of the funds really went to projects. The rest of the money disappeared. There is no doubt it found its way into the pockets of people involved in the release of the fund; the conduits or NGOs used in the implementation of the purported projects; and finally, the legislators, who presumably got the biggest chunk. What is to prevent this intricate web of stealing taxpayers’ money from happening again under the new scheme? The fund allocated for approved projects under the President’s new scheme may still go mostly to kickbacks unless effective mechanisms will be put in place for real transparency and accountability. What is alarming is that, the new system will only serve to strengthen the power and control of whoever is sitting as President. How does corruption begin, anyway? Absolute power, together with lack of transparency, corrupts absolutely because it is the fool-proof formula for impunity. The discretion of the Chief Executive will play a big role in the release or withholding of funds for approved projects by legislators. Congressmen and senators who are close to the Palace will be the only ones to enjoy the pork, dressed in a new attire, resulting in the perpetration of patronage politics. The mentality of “You scratch my back, I will scratch yours” and “If you do this for me, I will do that for you” will be more enhanced. The so-called abolition of the pork barrel will, in reality, be a mere change of clothing or make-up. So what do we do? We must insist on the genuine abolition of the system of PDAF where legislators can no longer dip their fingers in funds of whatever amount. Such funds must not go to the discretionary funds or the Chief Executive’s own pork barrel, either. And while we are at it, it will help if we consider the merits of decentralizing power by shifting our system of government to the federalized or decentralized form. Under this system, federal regions or states, much like the German, Swiss or even the American model, will have autonomy. Each state or region will keep the income derived from industries or businesses in its jurisdiction and use it for the region’s needed projects, whether infrastructure or services such as health, education, social welfare, etc. It will give a portion of its income to the central government as its contribution to the national coffers but the bulk remains with it. Under the federalized or
decentralized system of government, the argument in defense of the pork barrel which is, only the representatives know what is best for their districts, will no longer ring true. The federal states or regions, not their representatives in Congress, will identify and implement the projects themselves. And if that argument were to be used to maintain the pork barrel system or any scheme akin to it, what is the logic in giving senators enormous pork barrel allocations of P200 million a year when they have no districts or constituencies to speak of? To my mind, unless the system of government itself is changed to a federal or decentralized form, any attempt to change the pork barrel system will only be cosmetic. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/26/the‐pork‐barrel‐in‐a‐new‐dress/
Heroes’ Day wage rules spelled out By PNA | Posted on Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:01am | 499 views The Department of Labor and Employment has issued holiday pay rules for August 26, National Heroes Day. In Labor Advisory No. 03, Series of 2013, Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz outlined the guidelines for the correct payment of wages of private sector workers for work rendered on August 26, a non-working holiday. “Proper observance of the pay rules on regular holidays and special non-working days will lead to more productive and competent employees. Voluntary compliance with labor laws, including correct wages, is good for business,” she said in a statement. She rged private sector employers to comply with the holiday pay rules: 1. If an employee does not work; he shall be paid 100 percent of his or her salary for that day [(Daily Rate + Cost of Living Allowance) x 100 percent]; 2. For work done during the regular holiday, an employee shall be paid 200 percent of his regular salary for that day for the first eight hours [(Daily Rate + Cost of Living Allowance) x 200 percent]; 3. For work done in excess of eight hours (overtime work), he shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on said day [(Hourly rate of the basic daily wage x 200 percent x 130 percent x number of hours worked]; 4. For work done during a regular holiday that also falls on his or her rest day, he or she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his her daily rate of 200 percent [(Daily Rate + Cost of Living Allowance) x 200 percent] + [30 percent (Daily Rate x 200 percent)]; and 5. For work done in excess of eight hours (overtime work) during a holiday that also falls on an employee’s rest day, he shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his hourly rate on said day (Hourly rate of the basic daily wage x 200 percent x 130 percent x 130 percent x number of hours worked). August 26 was declared a regular holiday under Proclamation No. 459, Series of 2012. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/26/heroes‐day‐wage‐rules‐spelled‐out/
SSS offers easier loan terms By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:01am | 350 views 2
Social Security System said it will grant an early renewal of salary loans and easier terms for house repair and endorse the advanced release of pensions for members affected by heavy rains and widespread floods caused by tropical storm “Maring” and the recent southwest monsoon. SSS vice president May Catherine Ciriaco, who is also the officer-in-charge of the SSS lending and asset management division, said in a statement the pension fund was extending the package to members in calamity areas officially declared by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. The areas include the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal; the cities of Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Malabon, Marikina, Pasay, Tarlac, Candon and Dagupan; and several municipalities and barangays in parts of Metro Manila and Luzon. “We shall also consider all other areas that may later be declared under a state of calamity by the NDRRMC due to the effects of the recent ‘habagat’ and tropical storm Maring,” Ciriaco said. Under the calamity relief package, affected members can avail themselves of the salary loan early renewal program in which they can apply for another loan earlier than the prescribed date based on regular SSS loan guidelines, which is one year after the date of release. As special consideration, the SLERP will lift the current sanctions imposed on borrowers in affected areas who had earlier availed themselves of the SSS loan penalty condonation program. “The one percent service fee will also be waived under the SLERP. The net amount of the loan shall be the difference between the approved loan amount and the previous loan balance, and affected members have until October 31, 2013 to apply under this program at the SSS branch nearest them,” Ciriaco said. She said the second component of the calamity relief package was the reduction of annual interest rates under the SSS Direct House Repair and/or Improvement
Loan by two percentage points from the regular SSS rates of eight percent for loans worth P400,000 and below, and nine percent for higher loan amounts. A member to be eligible must be 60 years old or below and has a minimum of 24 monthly contributions, at least three of which are within the 12-month period immediately prior to the month of filing their application. “In effect, the applicable interest rates for the affected members will only be six percent or seven percent, depending on their loanable amount. The loan must be solely used for house repair and improvement,” she said. “Our regular processing fee of up to P3,000 will be waived, and affected members are given one year from the date of issuance of the corresponding SSS circular to file their applications. This should give them enough time to gather the needed documents.” http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/26/sss‐offers‐easier‐loan‐terms/
Posted on August 25, 2013 10:28:51 PM
Palace backs budget for resettlement MALACAÑANG YESTERDAY defended the Interior department against allegations by the opposition of a questionable 1.3-billion addition to the agency’s proposed budget for next year.
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has cited the “highly irregular insertions” that has been earmarked for the resettlement of informal settlers. “We can see that it is itemized and it can be seen where the money is going to. It is the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) that is the lead agency for the resettlement of informal settlers living along the waterways and in dangerous areas,” said Deputy Palace Spokesperson Abigail F. Valte in an interview over state-run radio yesterday. The budget for resettlement, she added, will ensure that the relocation sites will be “liveable” with “attendant facilities.” UNA has cautioned that the additional budget for DILG could be replicated for other agencies. President Benigno S. C. Aquino III in a memorandum dated Aug. 2 has asked the Interior department to lead in the relocation of about 20,000 informal settlers living in waterways and other dangerous areas in Metro Manila in a bid to ease flooding and lessen risks during calamities. – ENJD
Posted on August 25, 2013 10:29:38 PM
Tropical depression off Mindanao THE LOW pressure area spotted off of Eastern Mindanao has developed into a tropical depression, the state weather bureau said yesterday.
According to an 11:00 a.m. bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration said tropical depression Nando is packing winds of 45 kilometer per hour (kph) and is forecast to move north-northwest at 13 kph. “As of 10:00 a.m. today [Sunday], the center of tropical depression Nando was estimated based on all available data at 290 km east of Borongan City,” the weather bureau said. It is expected to be at 340 kilometer east of Casiguran, Aurora tomorrow morning and 310 km northeast of Aparri, Cagayan on Wednesday. Although Nando is not expected to hit land, it will induce rains of about five to 15 millimeters within its 300km band. The forecast has prompted the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to direct its regional units to “undertake precautionary measures in their areas of responsibility... [and] to initiate preemptive evacuation of families in low-lying and mountainous areas if situation warrants.” MARING DAMAGE Meanwhile, damage to agriculture and infrastructure in Regions I (Ilocos) IV-A (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), IV-B (Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) and Cordillera Administrative Region due to tropical storm Maring (international code name: Trami) has reached 633,082,850, broken down into 138,139,781 to infrastructure and 494,943,069 to agriculture, the NDRRMC said in a 6:00 a.m. bulletin yesterday. The council also reported that 22 people are confirmed dead while three others remain missing. A total of 2.82 million persons have been affected by the calamity as 376 areas spread over Regions I, III (Central Luzon), IV-A, IV-B, and Metro Manila remain flooded, according to the NDRRMC. -- K. M. P. Tubadeza
Posted on August 25, 2013 09:46:54 PM
Agribiz project gets P8.15 M THE AGRICULTURE department has allotted P8.15 million to support the Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP) and help farmers in 16 provinces increase their incomes through agri-enterprise.
Farmers in Cavite plant rice in this June 7, 2011 photo. The Agriculture department’s Farmer Entrepreneurship Program aims to help farmers augment their incomes. -- AFP
According to its work and financial plan, the department has already distributed and provided seeds, fertilizers, small farm equipment, production facilities, irrigation, and postharvest machineries in Ilocos region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Davao, and Caraga. Ilocos region received P4.53 million, the biggest share of the budget, while Calabarzon received P238,000; Davao, P184,800; Central Luzon, P22,000; and Caraga, P79,800. Seeds worth a total P67,800 have been distributed among onion, garlic, and tomato growers’ cooperatives while P3.96 million has been allotted for the establishment of a screenhouse and small-scale irrigation system in Pangasinan and Ilocos Sur. Postharvest machinery such as garlic peelers, a dryer, a slicer, and a grinder worth P500,000 altogether were delivered to Sinait Garlic Center of the North Producers Cooperative in Sinait, Ilocos Sur. Meanwhile, farm tools such as a spade, a wheelbarrow, plastic bags, a garden hose, calamansi planting materials, and a nursery were given to Alabat Islands Farmers Producers Cooperative in Alabat, Quezon province. Fertilizer and fungicide worth P184,000 for cacao have been distributed to Mayo Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative in Barangay Mayo, Mati, Davao Oriental. In Agusan del Sur, P79,800 worth of fertilizers and fungicide for calamansi have been distributed to the Sta. Josefa Agusan del Sur Unified Farmers Association. Meanwhile, the budget for agri-enterprise trainings and other related events conducted was P3.09 million. FEP was launched by the Catholic Relief Services, Jollibee Group Foundation, and National Livelihood Development Council in May 2008 to enable small farmers to gain higher incomes through agri-enterprise trainings and access to finance.Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala extended his support to the program on May 14, 2013 during the FEP forum, where he approved the budget requested by the FEP farmers. For 2013, the program is being implemented at 24 sites in 16 provinces.FEP has three major components: agri-enterprise capacity building, advocacy and promotion, and partnership management to ensure that skills are transferred to the members of the site working groups, to cover knowledge management and disseminate materials for partners, and to sustain relationships among institutions, buyers, donors, government, and foundations. -- J.D. Guillermo
Posted on August 25, 2013 09:45:44 PM
DA: Garlic stocks good till 2014 THERE is no need to issue import permits since there is a stable supply of garlic in the country until early 2014, a Department of Agriculture (DA) official said.
“After computation with the National Garlic Action Team (NGAT), we learned that there is enough supply of garlic until March 15, 2014,” High Value Crops Development Program Coordinator Jennifer Remoquillo said in a phone interview. NGAT, which is headed by the Itbayat Garlic Producers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Onion-Garlic Farmers of Ilocos Norte Multi-Purpose Cooperative, and the Bureau of Plant Industry, is composed of representatives from garlic-producing cooperatives, consumer groups, and the government. The team also provides policy recommendations and forums for dialogue on the garlic industry. Ms. Remoquillo told reporters that during the agency’s meeting with NGAT last Thursday, it was found that the country has 24,750 metric tons of garlic in stock, covering the country’s average monthly garlic consumption of 3,416 MT until March next year. She added that NGAT is now preparing to submit to DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala a resolution recommending not to issue new import permits. “We are recommending to Secretary Alcala not to issue the import permits kasi nga, kailangan nating suportahan ang ating mga magsasaka (because we need to support our garlic growers). We are making the garlic industry in the country competitive,” Ms. Remoquillo said. She added that there are a lot of importers asking for permits, but since there is good production of garlic in provinces like Batanes and Nueva Vizcaya as well as in Ilocos region, there is no need to issue new permits. She also cited an expanding garlic industry in Iloilo and General Santos City. The last issuance of import permits, Ms. Remoquillo noted, was in late 2011. The DA official also stressed that local garlic prices are still stable. “As of now, wholesale price of local garlic is at P60 to P70 per [kilogram] while retail price is at P100 to P110 per kilo. When supply is tight, garlic is usually sold at P200 per kilo at wholesale,” Ms. Remoquillo said. -Jomari D. Guillermo
QC slum kids play lego for first time Written by Tribune Monday, 26 August 2013 08:00
Children from slum areas in Barangay Holy Spirit recently congregated in KRIS Library- Quezon City to enjoy one afternoon of fun and learning as they play Lego sets for the first time. The generous donations from Lego Foundation were made possible by Philippine- and California-based non-government organization (NGO) Project PEARLS (Peace, Education, Aspiration, Respect, Love, Smiles). The donations made jumpstarted “Lego Day” for KRIS Library to further its mission to spur a passion for education and creativity in the minds of underprivileged children. “Over 65 kids from the community came to KRIS Library’s Lego Day. Upon hearing our invitation, they thought Lego meant “ligo,” the Filipino word for bath. It was such a surprise for them to discover what Lego actually was,” said Noel Cabauatan, the programs head for KRIS Library and an engineering student from the University of the Philippines. During the course of the event, the kids were divided into groups and were tasked to create something out of the different Lego blocks, characters and toys that were given to them. When they had finished, a representative from the group explained the story behind their creation. “What we made is a tower with an airplane on top. This is what we chose to do because none of us has ridden in an airplane before. But we hope we will someday,” explained a young boy in Filipino. Another group created a factory for cars, sharing that “we want to make a car so we can bring our families to different places.” A volunteer then points out to them that, to design cars, they can someday become engineers. Cabauatan added: “It gives me a feeling of satisfaction whenever I do something to contribute to the future of these kids; yung nabibigyan mo sila ng bagong experiences, hindi sila contained. There are a lot of things that they can learn outside the four corners of their classrooms and we are trying our best to give them those learning experiences.” Camilla and Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen of Lego Foundation punctuate the purpose of Lego Day in a letter addressed to the beneficiaries of their donations: “We believe that all children are potential builders of tomorrow. And we believe that through fun and creative play and learning, with the Lego Products, all children become better skilled to take responsibility for their own lives and thereby to take up the challenge of becoming active citizens in society.” “We’re very thankful to Ms. Melissa Villa, the team from Project PEARLS and Lego Foundation for collaborating with us to give the children the opportunity. What we have done with Lego Day is similar to
how we play with Lego blocks: we put pieces together to create something that will impact others’ lives,” Cabauatan said. The Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library (KRIS), a non-profit, non-government institution, builds libraries and grants scholarships to students all over the Philippines. Their primary advocacy is to promote peace and progress through education, particularly to conflict- and poverty-stricken areas such as Mindanao. They currently have six libraries and support hundreds of scholars yearly.
Businessmen blame Aquino for RP’s jobless growth Written by Tribune Monday, 26 August 2013 08:00
Members of the business community acknowledged the success of government in achieving a higher growth rate but expressed concern over non-inclusiveness of that growth, blaming the administration’s lack of focus on improving the business climate as the primary reason for this. During the Wallace Business Forum (WBF) Second Quarterly Roundtable, top business executives praised the government for doing well in the economic sector, but noticed that economic gains are not trickling down as fast as needed. “The country’s economy is growing rapidly yet unemployment remains high,” said Peter Wallace, chairman and president of business think tank, Wallace Business Forum (WBF). “If the government wants to promote inclusive growth, then it must focus on improving the ease of doing business as it is businesses that provide employment,” he said. Former finance secretary and now, managing director of WBF Gary Teves expects the Philippines to sustain its status as the region’s growth leader, but inclusivity will remain a thorn unless more investments come in. “A stable and conducive policy framework,” Teves added, “is important especially in the light of the coming full implementation of Asean integration in 2015, as well as the end of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 2014,” he said. The WBF roundtable gathered many of the country’s top CEOs to meet Senate president Franklin Drilon and Rep. Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., current Speaker of the House. The group met to discuss how government and the business sector can further increase cooperation in promoting inclusive growth. Pending bills, certified as urgent measures by President Aquino are expected to top the discussions shortly after the budget hearings in Congress. The next three years promises to be exciting, as both houses will be pushing for bills that aim to rationalize fiscal incentives, promote public-private partnerships in infrastructure development, and assure monitoring and transparency of tax collection and ease domestic and foreign investment restrictions. Amendments to the Cabotage law and rationalization of the current mining fiscal regime are top priorities at the Senate, says Drilon. At the House of Representatives, Belmonte says that they will look into anti-trust and competition policies, anti-smuggling laws and the proposed re-organization of the Bureau of Customs.
When asked by Wallace about the possibility of charter change, both Drilon and Belmonte said that it cannot be done easily since Aquino does not support such a move. “He (Aquino) fears that opening up the provisions on the economy will open up amendments to the political provisions of the Constitution,” said Drilon, so there needs to be reassurance this won’t happen first. Belmonte has already expressed his support for constitutional review by filing a bill in the House. The two legislative leaders admitted that the ease of doing business in the Philippines would improve with a change in the Constitution. In his speech, Belmonte invited the business sector to share their expertize with the government so that laws that will further improve the ease of doing business in the country can be enacted. “We in government (will) do our best in laying down policies to establish an environment conducive to growth in this sector. You (in the business sector) can also help the country by providing jobs and opportunities to all. Let your growth be our growth,” said Belmonte.
Anti-pork ‘hacktivists’ attack govt websites August 26, 2013 10:53 pm
by Al Jacinto Correspondent And Ritchie A. Horario Reporter To show solidarity with anti-pork barrel protesters, a group of hackers on Monday defaced the websites of some government agencies. The group, who called itself “Anonymous Philippines,” claimed attacking more than 30 government websites. In its Facebook page, the group listed the websites it said it hacked. The sites included that of municipal and provincial governments, state agencies, and even the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). The attacked websites showed a drawing of a man in a suit with a question mark for a head along with the group’s message. “Everyone should see. We appreciate the fact that you have now responded to the public clamor to abolish the PDAF,” the group said. It also echoed the sentiments of several civil society groups regarding the decision of President Beningo Aquino 3rd to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and replace it with a new and stricter system. “We are anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. The corrupt fear us. The honest support us. The heroic join us,” the group said. Several websites have been restored, but many are still down and inaccessible. Those that had been hacked were left with a warning and obviously the target of the message is President Benigno Aquino 3rd, whose pork barrel remains intact. “We appreciate the fact that you have now responded to the public clamor to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund [PDAF], however, the alternative package of still allowing the congressmen and senators to identify sponsored projects to be funded, albeit as line items on the annual budget, continues to leave money with grasps of conniving and corrupt public officials, in effect, this merely shifted the timeline upon when these projects are identified and approved. Therefore, the pork barrel remains. We pursue our call to you to completely abolish the pork barrel system,” Anonymous Philippines said in a message it left on the hacked sites. The group bewailed that the pork barrel would remain but with a new name.
PNoy’s social, calamity funds stay – Malacañang August 26, 2013 10:51 pm
by Catherine S. Valente Reporter Malacañang will not let go of the President’s Social Fund (PSF), regarded as the presidential version of the “pork barrel.” In a press conference on Monday, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the PSF undergoes regular state audit. ”The question is in the context of misuse. It has been audited. The President’s Social Fund has been audited in the same manner that the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] has been audited,” he said. ”We know all these—all these reports are all out there. It’s all out there [on] the website, you can see the websites,” Lacierda added. “We are very transparent. The audited reports of the PSF is all there.” Lacierda said the President’s calamity fund also stays, and will only be scrapped “when you abolish typhoons and storms.” ”Can we abolish typhoons and storms? [If yes] I’m for the abolition of the calamity fund,” Lacierda said. Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte, earlier said that unlike the discretionary fund allotted to lawmakers, the PSF is not vulnerable to abuse. ”From the time the President assumed office, safeguards have been put in place to make sure that the funds from the PSF go to its intended use,” Valte said. The PSF is a source of financial aid for the families of soldiers, policemen or government personnel killed in the line of duty, and its distribution is transparent, she said. In his speech during the commemoration of National Heroes’ Day at Fort Bonifacio, the President said the new system will be stricter to ensure that “the people’s money can only be used for the people.” ”We will do everything in our power to find those who conspired to take advantage of the PDAF’s good intentions, and to hold them accountable,” the President said. “We will not allow anyone to be used to propagate the corrupt practices of a few. We will make certain that the mistakes of the past are not repeated so that we may further ascertain that the people’s money is spent properly,” he said. Last week, the President announced the abolition of the controversial pork barrel of lawmakers following the alleged misuse of public funds. According to Aquino, the events of the past weeks have highlighted the need for tougher action in fighting those who are determined to abuse the system. He was referring to the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) that from 2007 to 2009, P6.156 billion from the PDAF of close to 200 lawmakers were channeled to dubious non-government organizations (NGOs).
The COA findings tended to support accusations against Janet Lim Napoles, who allegedly masterminded the irregular PDAF disbursements. Yesterday, Malacañang said the PDAF had been abolished and it won’t resurrect under a new name. “It’s been abolished. We will not see PDAF in 2014,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters. “Let’s not make any guessing game on the name of the new PDAF. There’s no such thing as new PDAF,” he added. Lacierda explained that allocations under the lawmakers’ names will simply follow the names of programs or projects that they are funding under each implementing agency. ”It will all be found in the [projects]. The projects will be found in the respective departments,” he said. The President, he said, has tasked the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) headed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, COA Chairman Grace Tan and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. Lacierda said the old system was prone to abuse. ”You’ve got a former president desperate to hold on to power; you’ve got congressmen immersed in a culture of transactionalism, a bureaucracy co-opted and coerced, a lack of transparency in the system, a passive and disengaged citizenry,” he said. The Aquino administration, he said, is reforming the old system through a new mechanism mentioned by the President earlier. ”We are reforming that. We are changing that,” Lacierda said, stressing that the abuses in “the PDAF existed primarily because of the environment of corruption that existed.” ”Habang ginagawa po ang ating proposed national budget, legislators already will propose specific projects to be implemented only for their specific districts and for their sectors. These will be included in the proposed budget as specific line item budgets in place of the lump sum,” Lacierda pointed out. Lacierda said that only after the General Appropriations Act is approved and during the budget implementation year can legislators identify projects to be implemented using their PDAF allocation. The PDAF requests, he said, will then be submitted to the House Committee on Appropriation or the Senate Committee on Finance and then to the Department of Budget and Management. The Budget department will review if the PDAF requests meet requirements.If they do, the funds are released to the implementing agency like the Department of Public Works and Highways for infrastructure projects. ”There will be notices of bidding. All the contractors who are interested to bid will participate in that bidding and there will be a notice of award,” he said. The release of funds will now be called SARO (Special Allotment Release Order) and NCA (Notice of Cash Allocation).
Tit for tat: Govt agencies must shed ‘pork’ too, says Sotto August 26, 2013 10:45 pm
by Jefferson Antiporda and Llanesca T. Panti Reporters IF lawmakers must give up their pork barrel, all government agencies that have been receiving lump sum allocations and additional funding must do so too, Senate minority leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said on Monday. Sotto said abolishing the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of senators and congressmen will not guarantee that public funds will no longer be misused. He said his group will move to scrap the lump sum appropriations of all government agencies in the proposed national budget for 2014. Sotto insisted that line-item budgeting be implemented in all government agencies to ensure transparency. He lamented that the controversy has demonized members of Congress even if many legislators had “honestly” used their fund to help people in need. “Based on what we [minority] have discussed last week, we will move for the scrapping of all lump sum appropriations of all government agencies,” Sotto said, adding that he was not convinced by the Palace justification that some allocations should be exempted from line item budgeting. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on Saturday said allocations for calamities or contingency funds cannot be itemized. Senate President Franklin Drilon shared sentiment, saying the government can’t predict how many typhoons will hit the country or how many government personnel will retire in a given year. Drilon said he is for abolishing the PDAF but maintained that a new system should be introduced so that lawmakers can continue providing health, education and calamity assistance to their constituents. But Sotto said that instead of allotting lump sums for state agencies, they can set aside a certain amount for disasters and calamities that cannot be tapped for other purposes. The Senate committee on finance begins scrutinizing the proposed 2014 national budget today. Sotto said they will actively participate in the budget hearings to make sure that “everything is in order.” It is only when the proposed budget is presented before the plenary can the minority bloc can make their move to scrap all lump sum appropriations. “I believe that other senators belonging to the majority, particularly those implicated in the PDAF scam, will also join the call for the total removal of lump sum in the budget in order to ensure transparency,” he said.
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said that apart from lump sum allocations, some government agencies are expecting additional funds on top of their proposed funding for next year. One of them is the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which will get P1.9 billion more as funding for several programs that are not within the scope of the agency’s functions. Rep. Toby Tiangco of Navotas, secretary general of UNA, said on Sunday the DILG will be getting P76 million for “climate change adaptation,” P573 million for “potable water supply” for waterless municipalities and barangays and P1.25 billion for housing for informal settlers in Metro Manila. Rep. Elpidio Barzaga of Cavite, an ally of the President, said the PDAF must be scrapped to restore the people’s trust on legislators. “We should focus on our Constitutional duty of crafting laws,” Barzaga, chairman of the Committee on Games and Amusements, said. A member of the House is entitled to a PDAF of P70 million every year and a senator, P200 million. “The people have already spoken and we have heard their voice,” Barzaga added. Rep. Luz Ilagan of Gabriela on Monday called on Aquino to certify as urgent House Bill 1535, which seeks to get rid of the PDAF and the President’s discretionary funds. “The public continues to see through Aquino’s superficial responses to the clamor against the pork barrel with his adamant retention of various lump sum and discretionary funds accessible to the Office of the President and the attempts to repackage or reform the PDAF for legislators and cabinet executives. President Aquino should display political will and make the sacrifice by making House Bill 1535 abolishing the pork barrel and the President’s discretionary funds urgent,” Ilagan said. She said the pork barrel of the President and lawmakers can be realigned to basic social services such as healthcare, education and housing. Rep. Barry Gutierrez, a neophyte, agreed with Ilagan, noting that the President should set a good example by letting go of his own pork barrel and subjecting his fiscal powers over the national budget to strong regulations. “President Aquino’s statement was courageous as it went against his political interest. Now, we urge him to go beyond courage and sacrifice for the greater good of the people by scrapping all forms of pork barrel including his,” Gutierrez said.
‘Nando’ to linger until Friday August 26, 2013 10:41 pm
by Candice Monique O. Brillon Correspondent Tropical Storm Nando is expected to dump heavy rains over Metro Manila and in Northern Luzon as it intensified on Monday, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). The weather bureau raised storm signal number one over the Batanes Group of islands, Cagayan including Calayan and Babuyan Group of Islands, Kalinga Apayao and Isabela. Nando was packing maximum sustained winds 65 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 80kph. It is expected to remain in the Philippine Area of Responsibility until Friday. Metro Manila will remain cloudy with light to moderate rains until Friday. Southern Luzon and Western Visayas will also experience moderate rains and thunderstorms. Tuguegarao City, Laoag City, Baguio City and Legaspi City will have cloudy skies with rains specially during the afternoon and evening. Also, the Bicol Region and Aurora province will have moderate to heavy rains.
Be everyday heroes, Aquino extols people August 26, 2013 10:39 pm
President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday called on Filipinos to be everyday heroes by following the examples of the heroes of the past. In his speech during the celebration of National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the President said that “heroism begins within us—in identifying and siding with what is right, and shunning what is wrong.” “This is the wellspring of our determination to care for those in need, and to defend those whose rights are being trampled on,” the President said, as he encouraged the public to respect and value the examples of our heroes. “Let us give life to the lessons and the commitment of our heroes. If they have proven that the Filipino can truly care for his fellow Filipino, what stops us from following in their footsteps?” he said. “Each and every one of us—in whichever sector, whatever our state in life might be—can choose to be a good Filipino.” “Each one of us, no matter the size of our contribution, can be a hero. Every step we take forward— as long as we do it as one Filipino nation—can bring about widespread change. Let us proudly show the world that the sacrifices of our heroes were not meaningless; let us continue fighting to bequeath coming generations a better Philippines,” Aquino added He urged every one to help one another “in pursuing our collective desires as one Filipino people.” “In many different ways, all of us have benefited from the compassion and hard work of those who have come before; and it is only right that we continue that tradition,” Aquino said. “The challenge for us: that we not be content with waiting for and receiving help from others. Instead, let us do everything we can to fulfill our responsibilities to our fellowmen and to society,” he added. Meanwhile, Aquino paid tribute to our national heroes, including millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). “Our OFWs should be considered heroes,” Aquino said. “They sacrifice so much and distance themselves from their families just so they can afford better lives for their loved ones.” “Their hard work and dedication to their jobs have not just shown the world the traits and the skills of Filipinos—they also help our country achieve true, inclusive growth and development,” he added. The President acknowledged the heroism of Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Navy officer, who displayed remarkable bravery during the Second World War. “He fought only with a wooden Q-boat, clashing against the zero fighters of the invading Japanese— one of the most modern airplanes of that period. He could have waved the white flag from the start to avoid battle with the unparalleled force of his opponents, but despite his disadvantages, Commodore Alcaraz displayed grit and whole-hearted commitment to being a soldier,” he said.
“He showed that the Filipino cannot be easily overwhelmed. Because of this, he was able to shoot down three of the nine zero fighters; and he was ready to continue fighting if only his superiors hadn’t ordered him to surrender. His contribution to history did not end there. He was recognized as the father of the Philippine Marines, and he even resisted the dictatorship when our nation was on the brink of martial law,” Aquino added. The President likewise paid tribute to our soldiers who display a willingness to put themselves in peril for the sake of their fellow Filipinos. “They prove their courage every time they respond to powerful storms, or battle against those who seek to sow terror especially in far-flung areas of the country. They may not personally know the people they are helping, but they are ready to risk their lives to save and assist those in need,” he said. “Our history is filled with Filipinos ready to fight for their fellowmen and for their country, regardless of the trials that faced them. It is they who we remember and celebrate every year—these individuals who have shown that in our veins runs the blood of heroes. We consider them heroes—those who confronted the challenges of an extraordinary time. Their commitment and their resolve were tested, and they rose to the occasion. The names of these men and women may or may not decorate the pages of our history books, but they were the ones who made our freedom, as well as the reforms we are undertaking right now, possible,” the President added.
PCSO shoulders hospital bills of calamity victims August 26, 2013 10:33 pm
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) continues to assist Tropical Storm Maring victims through hospitalization assistance and the distribution of relief goods and medicine in areas hard-hit by the storm. “The public might not be aware of this, but the present PCSO board of directors made it a policy to subsidize the bills of patients directly affected by calamities who are being treated at government hospitals and healthcare facilities,” said PCSO Chairman Margarita Juico, The policy was applied during occasions of previous natural disasters, including Typhoons Sendong, Pablo, Habagat 2012, the landslide in Compostela Valley, and others. “This is in line,” said PCSO General Manager lawyer Jose Ferdinand Rojas 2nd, “with the agency’s charter, Republic Act 1169, which mandates that PCSO provide assistance to ‘charities of national character.’” In addition to hospitalization assistance, PCSO is also distributing relief goods. “Around 75,000 Family Emergency Medicine [FEM] kits have been given away,” Rojas said, “with an evacuation center in Imus, Cavite, being one of the first areas served, with 177 families or 758 individuals there receiving FEM kits.” The FEM kits contain medicine for common illnesses such as fever, cough, colds and diarrhea. PCSO is also coordinating with the National Food Authority for the procurement of 1,000 sacks of rice for distribution in evacuation centers nationwide. Some 1,000 sets of blankets, sleeping mats and mosquito nets will also be donated.
Auditors smell a rat in P10-M Palawan loan August 26, 2013 9:17 pm
by JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON REPORTER
STATE auditors warned officials of Puerto Princesa City that they may suffer legal troubles if they cannot point out where a P10-million loan went. The Commission on Audit (COA) could not ascertain where a P10-million loan of Puerto Princesa City for 33 electric vehicles actually went because of scant records. Too, the payment was reimbursed to the city mayor. In the 2012 report on provincial capital of the Philippines’ Last Frontier, COA said that it could not verify if the P10 million that the city obtained in 2009 from LandBank was used properly. In December 2009, the Land Bank credited to the city’s account a P10-million loan to finance the purchase of electric vehicles for the support of renewable energy and mitigation of carbon emission. However, auditors said that “no transaction covering the acquisition of electric vehicles was recorded in the books as of December 2011.” The unnamed bookkeeper said that she could not put into writing the purchase “due to unavailability of documents” to support the transaction. Auditors even added that inquiry with the city officials disclosed that an undetermined number of electric vehicles were purchased by the city mayor himself, who was unnamed in the audit report. The payment was partially reimbursed to city chief by the city government under check number 931974 dated April 29, 2011 for a total of P950,010. “However, in tracing the claim voucher covering the reimbursement for the acquisition of electric vehicles, it was found out that it formed part of the unrecorded disbursements totaling P88.2 million,” the Audit agency revealed. The Commission ordered the city hall to release all disbursement vouchers through an audit observation memorandum. The city hall provided three disbursement vouchers covering P9.9 million worth of checks, which were dated April 28, April 29 and June 30 all in 2011, respectively. The first disbursement voucher showed P4 million, the second with P950,010, while the third with more than P4.4 million. The report said the checks issued were all dated May 31, 2012. “These vouchers were all paid to the city mayor, as a reimbursement for the purchase of 33 units of electric vehicles,” the report noted. During post-audit, the office of the city accountant failed to forward the vouchers, saying that the bids and awards secretariat borrowed them for completion of documents.
Also, ocular inspection showed that three electric vehicles, one electric mini-jeep and one electric jeep “were parked lying idle, not properly maintained” in an open area at the back of the city coliseum. Two others were parked inside and were used to transport guests and visitors around the city for tourism. When COA asked the city general service officer, the official said that the city hall was not informed of the delivery and were “clueless on the actual number of electric vehicle acquired.” The Commission added that the city council resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a loan contract with LandBank did not indicate the actual number of vehicles to be bought out of the P10 million. The audit team said that without documents showing the actual dates of the purchase and quantity of vehicles, “the utilization efficiency of the P10-million loan could not be properly evaluated.” The Commission recommended for full disclosure and accountability surrounding the transaction and to provide all necessary documents. In reply, the city officials said that the vouchers were already recorded in their books. They are also conducting inventory. In a rejoinder, the Commission said that the vouchers may be recorded in the books but they “were not forwarded to [COA] for post-audit.” “If evidence warrant, administrative or criminal proceeding should be initiated against those personnel determined responsible and liable,” auditors said.
Floods take out P10,450 per Laguna home August 26, 2013 9:16 pm
by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ The province of Laguna has relatively low exposure to threats of climate change, but its capacity to adapt to typhoons and floods has been found “woefully lacking,” the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study And Research in Agriculture (Searca) said. A recent study conducted by Searca and the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) illustrated this vulnerability—with property damage incurred by households per flooding event hitting at P10,450 (or $261.25 at $1 for P40)—with the recent floods caused by southwest monsoon rains spawned by Typhoon Maring proving that the province has yet to keep in step with climate change resiliency. Started in May 2011 and to be completed in December 2013, the study is part of a multi-country project entitled “Building Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change in Southeast Asia,” which aims to enhance the capacity of three Southeast Asian countries—Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam—in research, planning and action with regard to climate change adaptation. In particular, the project aims to build local capacity to adapt to climate change, especially in vulnerability assessment and adaptation analysis, and address the negative impacts of extreme weather events. The project was under the auspices of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada. The Philippine component of the project focused on 12 flood-prone towns in Laguna while the Vietnam study centered on Thuan Thian Hue, and the Cambodian segment covered Kompong Speu. The study looked at three factors: exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of each municipality under study. Searca Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. noted that the study in the three countries would show similarities and dissimilarities in adapting to flooding—with Laguna having to contend with the country’s largest lake, Laguna de Bay, with 21 tributaries (17 of which are in Laguna) and only one outlet—Napindan Channel—to Pasig River and then to Manila Bay. The study covered the towns of Bay, Calauan, Liliw, Los Baños, Magdalena, Majayjay, Nagcarlan, Pagsanjan, Pila, Rizal, Santa Cruz, and Victoria—or about 274 barangays, and 568 square kilometer (sq. km.), with a population of 568,690, or 23 percent of Laguna’s total population. These towns have experienced flooding and heavy typhoon damage in recent years, and comprise largely agricultural section of Laguna, all of which could be affected when Laguna de Bay could no longer hold the water in its 45,000-sq. km. catchment basin.
“The lake is the most prominent feature of Laguna and the province’s vulnerability to flooding rests on just how deep the lake is, and how much volume of water its only outlet to the sea would let loose,” Saguiguit said. GIS and mapping study leader Engr. Vicente Ballaran Jr., assistant professor at the UPLB College of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology, and other members of the team were able to produce maps of each community’s relative vulnerability to climate change. Results showed that among the topographic classifications, it came as no surprise that coastal and lowland areas were the most exposed areas to climatic hazards like typhoons and floods. Likewise, coastal areas were the most vulnerable in terms of sensitivity or the degree to which the community is affected.
MB restructures BSP rediscounting August 26, 2013 9:30 pm
The Monetary Board (MB) has approved the restructuring of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) rediscounting window to align it further with the central bank’s market-based monetary operations framework, and with the international central banking practice of scaling down directed credit operations. “The banking and export industries were consulted earlier by the BSP to ensure that their views were taken into account in the implementation of the operational adjustments in the BSP rediscounting facilities,” the BSP said in a statement. The new BSP circular will be take effect on November 15, 2013, involving the establishment of two separate rediscounting windows, one for universal and commercial banks (U/KBs), to be called the Rediscounting Window (RW) I, and one for thrift banks (TBs), cooperative banks (coop banks), and rural banks (RBs), to be called RW II. The BSP stated that thrift banks, coop banks, and RBs shall be able to access RW II at existing terms, but with a specified term premium per loan tenor, and only for a transition period of five years for TBs and 10 years for coop banks and RBs. “These banks are expected to use the transition period to improve their deposit mobilization capacities and increase the utilization of other funding sources, thus reducing their dependence on BSP funding over time,” it said. Meanwhile, the central bank said that by November 2018 TBs will no longer have access to the RW II, while coop banks and RBs will have access to the RW II only until November 2023. By November 2023, the RW II will no longer be operational and all banks shall access only RW I. “Banks will be able to access RWs I and II on an open-volume basis consistent with the objective of reorienting the BSP rediscounting window as a regular liquidity standing facility. This implies that requests of all banks to access the facility will be granted regardless of amount, subject to compliance with predetermined eligibility requirements,” it said. The Monetary Board also approved operational adjustments in the Exporters Dollar and Yen Rediscount Facility (EDYRF), which will also take effect on November 15, 2013. “The range of acceptable collateral accepted in the facility was broadened, particularly to include dollardenominated trust receipts [TRs] covering the importation of goods and raw materials, and dollar term loans to finance capital expenditure or plant expansion/modernization of exporters,” it said. The Monetary Board noted that to the extent that Philippine exports have a sizeable import content, the acceptance of dollar-denominated TRs and term loans as eligible collateral will help support export financing, and will also enhance the incentive for banks to lend to firms for the importation of raw materials used in the manufacture of export commodities, providing exporters greater access to credit. “The BSP remains committed to providing the appropriate level of liquidity to the banking system to ensure sustained funding for the country’s growth requirements to the extent that the inflation outlook will allow,” the BSP said.
PH ‘well placed’ vs. impact of possible QE August 26, 2013 9:33 pm
by Mayvelin U. Caraballo Reporter The Philippines appears to be “well placed” to deal with the impacts of the possible tapering of the quantitative easing (QE) program of the United States Federal Reserve, an official at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said. In a speech at the 5th Annual Corporate Treasury/CFO Summit held last week, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said that with stronger signs of improvement in the US economy, financial markets are expectedly nervous about the possibility of the US Federal Reserve prematurely reducing its quantitative easing program sometime in 2013. “The impact of these developments in the Philippines has been immediate and significant, giving us a taste of what could happen should advanced economies begin to withdraw their monetary stimulus, or should emerging economies continue to weaken,” he said. Guinigundo cited the depreciation of peso to P44 to a dollar level, the wiping out of the stock market’s gains, and the widening spreads of the country’s debt as indicators of renewed uncertainty in global financial markets. However, he said that the BSP view the asset market effects as a healthy correction that may have helped diffuse the risk of an actual buildup in financial imbalances. The BSP official added that while recovery of advanced economies is expected to continue to proceed, the transition could prove to be thorny especially if the unwinding proves to be messy. “We are quite optimistic though that monetary authorities in advanced economies have every reason to launch an orderly and well calibrated exit from QE, in order to preserve their recent gains in output and employment,” he said. External headwinds However, Guinigundo stated that the coming months are likely to bring continued external headwinds for the Philippines, and the spillover effects from the external market cannot be set aside. The BSP official said that while global economic growth remains subdued, encouraging signs of a more solid recovery were now beginning to be seen, which means that monetary policy may also start to normalize, as central banks begin to withdraw the extraordinary measures they have implemented to support growth and financial markets. “The ball in the air is the timing of the QE exit which may continue to dampen market sentiment and undermine financial performance and stability,” he said. Guinigundo added that at the same time, the gradual recovery of advanced economies could prove to be beneficial for the Philippines on the whole, especially because the country has strong current account linkages with the US.
“External trade could recover with improvements in demand, while portfolio rebalancing could rekindle market appetite for emerging-market assets and thus continue to channel capital toward the country,” he said. Moreover, the BSP official noted that the central bank’s strategy to contribute to sustainable growth in the middle of difficult external environment therefore revolves around bolstering the country’s domestic sources of resilience. “All in all, the Philippines appears to be well-placed to deal with this challenge. The country’s firm growth momentum, manageable inflation environment, buoyant market sentiment, and robust credit and liquidity growth provide us ample policy space to respond appropriately to evolving domestic and global conditions,” he said.
DA to continue protection for rice farmers August 26, 2013 9:25 pm
by James Konstantin Galvez Reporter The Department of Agriculture (DA) said that it would keep implementing the minimum access volume (MAV) amid negotiations for the extension of the country’s quantitative restriction (QR) on rice. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that rice imports outside MAV will be slapped with higher tariff to protect local farmers from the influx of cheaper rice. The trade barrier expired in June this year. “So far, there’s no opposition to our continued imposition of MAV. I think other rice producing countries were more interest in the negotiations for the extension of the quantitative restriction on rice,” he added. MAV refers to the minimum volume of farm produce allowed to enter into the Philippines at reduced tariffs. In the previous QR extension, the Philippines agreed to increase its minimum access volume for rice to about 350,000 metric tons, and reduced tariffs on rice to 40 percent from the previous 50 percent. Manila has been lobbying with its Southeast Asian neighbors and other major trade partners for the retention of the QR on rice, which will expire by June 30, citing the need to prepare Filipino farmers for international trade and to achieve rice self-sufficiency. An extension of the quantitative restriction will allow the Philippines to limit the volume of rice that can be imported by the government every year, preventing the influx of cheap rice from other countries. The government is asking for a five-year extension, but may only get another three-year extension like that of Korea. “We are asking until 2015, but at the rate of the negotiation process, it may take as long before we complete all discussions,” Alcala said. For the Philippines to get the nod on the QR extension, rice-producing countries affected by the restriction can request for concessions/market access for the importation of certain products—not limited to rice. The DA chief noted that only Vietnam wants an allocation under the country-specific rice importation quota of the MAV in exchange for support to the Philippines’ bid for the extension of its QR on rice imports. “At present, only Vietnam has expressed intention to negotiate for the extension,” Alcala said. “The negotiations for QR are still ongoing. We are now evaluating the request of Vietnam to be included in the country-specific quota under the minimum access volume (MAV),” he added. At present, Manila has a country-specific quota for Thailand with an allocation of 98,000 MT for this year, China with 25,000 MT, India with 25,000 MT and Australia with 15,000 MT. Meanwhile, Alcala
said that they are also studying the possibility of imposing tariff on rice should the World Trade Organization reject their request for the extension of the QR. “We can also impose tariff on rice. But we are still studying the legal side of the issue. For now, we will keep implementing the minimum access volume,” he said.
PCIC to assist farmers’ with insured crops August 26, 2013 9:12 pm
State-run Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) on Monday said that it is ready to respond to claims by insured farmers in Luzon, whose rice and corn crops were damaged by the recent typhoons and southwest monsoon. PICC, the lone agricultural insurance firm in the country, has assessed damage to insured farms in four regions—including the Cordillera Administrative Region and Region 1 (Ilocos), Region 3 (Central Luzon) and Region 4 (Calabarzon)—and has set aside some P110 million in indemnity for the affected farmers. In a report to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, PCIC said that its initial assessment showed that crops in some 25,971 hectares of insured farms, tilled by 20,382 farmers, were damaged by southwest monsoon. The PCIC assured the affected farmers that payment of their claims would be released in 20 days or less, after these have been filed. The most affected crop sector was rice, where over 25,878 hectares tilled by 20,287 farmers, were damaged. Cost of crop loss was estimated at P109 million. The corn sector sustained damage in some 93 hectares tilled by 95 farmers. Loss was estimated at P853,000. James Konstantin Galvez
Grains consortium changes leadership August 26, 2013 9:02 pm
For the second time, the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) will lead the Philippine Grains Postproduction Consortium (PGPC), the association of primary institutions engaged in grains postproduction research, development and extension (RDE&E), effective from the middle of this year. The leadership has been officially turned over to PhilMech Director Rex Bingabing by the National Agriculture and Fishery Council (NAFC) Director Ariel Cayanan. PhilMech took its first leadership in the consortium from 1999 to 2001, when the agency was still known as the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension. The member-agencies of PGPC include the International Rice Research Institute, Philippine Rice Research Institute, National Food Authority, University of the Philippines in Los Baños, NAFC and PhilMech. The PGPC is mandated to identify, coordinate and pursue priority areas of collaboration among its member institutions, in the area of research, and development and extension to enhance the development of the rice and other grains postproduction industry in the Philippines. The consortium conducts technology development, basic and applied researches, seminars, workshops and trainings, policy recommendations and grains postproduction conferences. The development of a six-ton batch recirculating dryer was one of the accomplishments of the consortium. At present, the dryer is undergoing a field-testing operation in Isabela.
DENR pushing Coral Triangle protection August 26, 2013 8:56 pm
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has underscored the need for more action to protect reefs within the Coral Triangle amid growing threats to their ecosystems—from overfishing and pollution to impacts of climate change. While the Philippines had taken important steps to protect its own reefs and the marine life they host, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said that more needs to be done in developing sustainable solutions for the threatened reefs in the Coral Triangle, a global hotspot of marine biodiversity. “We face a crisis on the continued degradation of our fragile ecosystems and resources that could endanger the survival and quality of life of future generations,” Paje said in a statement. “Investing in coastal and marine protection can certainly help ensure a better future for our children and a better environment for all,” he added. Last week, the Coral Triangle Initiative-Philippines National Coordinating Committee, which is cochaired by the DENR and the Department of Agriculture hosted the CTI Forum in Makati City, which also saw the launch of the Sustainable Coral Reef Ecosystem Management Program, or Scremp, designed by the Philippine government to more effectively protect and rehabilitate the coral reefs in the region. Paje said that Scremp would focus on habitat conservation and protection, as well as enhancing public awareness and protection, to mitigate and reverse the damage brought by unsustainable human activities and climate change. The Philippines, being at the apex of the Coral Triangle, is a partner-nation of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF). The triangle also covers the exclusive economic zones of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. CTI-CFF is a multilateral cooperation among six member-countries to safeguard the Coral Triangle, which is home to more than one-third of the world’s coral reefs, including over 600 different species of reef-building coral and 3,000 species of reef fish. These coral ecosystems provide food and income for more than 100 million people working in marine-based industries throughout the region. “At the apex of the Coral Triangle or the world’s center of marine biodiversity is the Philippines. We are one of the 18 megadiverse countries that contain 75 percent of the global biodiversity. And yet, we too are one of the hottest of the marine biodiversity hotspots in the world,” Paje said. James Konstantin Galvez