Coco exports up 15% By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 30, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The aggregate value of Philippine coconut exports rose 14.98 percent in the first five months of the year as demand for coconut oil and other coconut manufactures increased. Data from the Philippine Coconut Authority showed that the value of coconut exports increased to $746.3 million during the period from the $649 million recorded in the same five-month period last year. From January to May 2013, the volume of coconut exports increased to 1.023 million metric tons from 570,000 metric tons in the comparable period last year. Coconut oil remained the top dollar earner for the industry, contributing $506.8 million; followed by desiccated coconut with $80.6 million; and copra meal with $75.1 million. The United States, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, and China remained the top destinations for the countryâ€™s coconut products. PCA expects coconut oil exports to reach 925,000 metric tons (MT) this year, almost the same as last yearâ€™s target.
“This year, we expect better performance in CNO (coconut oil) exports as our markets recover from last year’s economic slowdown. Also, prices have started to recover, which is very encouraging for us,” said PCA administrator Euclides Forbes. Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) showed that coconut production contracted 1.26 percent in the first semester of the year because some plantations are still reeling from the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo which leveled coconut lands in December 2012. Low copra prices also resulted to low production in Aurora, while plantations in Batangas are still beleaguered by scale insect infestation. Exportation of coconut products and manufactures, however, were not adversely affected because of sufficient buffer stock. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/08/30/1149101/coco-exports-15
Napoles NGOs still active By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 30, 2013 - 2:00am
MANILA, Philippines - It now appears that as recently as last year, non-government organizations (NGOs) identified with Janet Lim-Napoles were still receiving pork barrel funds from lawmakers. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told the House appropriations committee yesterday that six congressmen gave a total of P83 million in 2012 to Kaupdanan (Samahan) para sa Mangunguma (Magsasaka) Foundation Inc. (KMFI) through his department. The department itself came under fire, with a party-list congressman claiming it entered into deals for organic agriculture with NGOs linked to Napoles, with her nephew among the signatories. Alcala identified the six congressmen as Isidro Ungab of Davao City, Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro, Neil Montejo of the party-list group An Waray and Antonio Lagdameo Jr. of Davao del Norte, and former representatives Arnulfo Fuentebella of Camarines Sur and Rizalina Seachon-Lanete of Masbate.
Ungab, who chairs the appropriations committee, and Montejo said their projects were aboveboard. Alcala, a former Quezon congressman, did not say how much each of the six gave to KMFI. He said of the P83 million, P44 million was released to the foundation to fund 11 projects identified by the lawmakers. “We have verified nine projects and we are still in the process of verifying the two,” he said. Rep. Antonio Tinio of the party-list group Alliance of Concerned Teachers, who inquired about pork barrel funds that went to KMFI, said the foundation is a Napoles NGO. Tinio asked if Alcala has found irregularities in verifying the lawmakers’ projects. The agriculture secretary begged off from revealing details of their investigation, which he said would be completed next week. For his part, Rep. Terry Ridon of the party-list group Kabataan said Napoles NGOs received funds last year not only from lawmakers but from the Department of Agriculture (DA) itself as well. He told Alcala that he was informed by DA insiders that the department entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with 14 towns for the implementation of projects under the DA’s “organic agriculture” program. He said Napoles’ nephew John Lim signed as a witness in six of the agreements, while Merlina Suñas, who headed a Napoles NGO and is one of the whistleblowers in the pork barrel fund scam, affixed her signature as a witness in one MOA. “What is the business of these Napoles personnel signing as witnesses in the agreements?” he said. He said he surmised that the 14 towns that received funds from the DA transferred the money to Napoles’ foundations, as what happened with billions in pork barrel funds covered by the special Commission on Audit (COA) scrutiny. The special audit found 10 Napoles NGOs to have received more than P2 billion from senators and congressmen in 2007 to 2009. Ridon said it was Undersecretary Antonio Fleta who signed the MOAs for the DA. Fleta, who attended the hearing, admitted signing the agreements but claimed that he did not know that Lim and Suñas were connected with Napoles.
He said the MOAs cover about P100 million of the department’s P900-million budget for organic agriculture. Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Rufino Biazon yesterday said that he would review his disbursement record when he was still congressman of the lone district of Muntinlupa City. This was Biazon’s reply to an alleged COA report that reportedly identified him as one of the congressmen that disbursed their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to NGOs when he was still member of the House of Representatives. The report mentioned that Biazon gave a total of P28.7 million of his PDAF to three different NGOs, namely Dynamic Filipino Citizen Civic Organization Inc. which reportedly received from him P18 million; Unlad Pinoy Organization got P8 million and Philippine Social Development Foundation accepted P2.7 million. Biazon said that he would leave it up to the COA to conduct its own investigation into how he spent his PDAF. Call for sobriety Transparency International-Philippines, Inc., the anti-corruption watchdog accredited by Transparency International based in Berlin, Germany, has called for sobriety in the furor over the PDAF scam. Demaree Raval, vice-president of TI-Philippines and head of its Transparency in Procurement Unit, said the COA report is still subject to validation, and that making judgment this early would be prejudicial to many persons, especially members of Congress, and so should be avoided. “What we have is a report of the COA that is still the subject of further investigations. Dahandahan lang tayong maghusga (Let us not be quick to judge). Until we get the ombudsman to lodge indictments against those members of our Congress who actually conspired with fake NGOs, we cannot say for sure that this senator or that congressman is guilty of anything,” Raval said. Raval cited the case of former Compostela Valley congressman and now Vice Gov. Manuel “Waykurat” Zamora, who was reported to have received P3.2 billion in PDAF that turned out to be a recording mistake by the budget department. Raval, who worked with former senator Edgardo Angara before he joined TI-Phils., also cited the case of Angara, who is identified in the COA report as having engaged two fake NGOs to carry out projects funded by his PDAF. Only Angara – among the many legislators to whom fake NGOs have been ascribed – has admitted to the existence and actual operations of the two NGOs ascribed to him, and released documents supporting them.
“Let’s wait for the IAAGCC (Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council). The COA itself has already admitted to many inaccuracies in its report. The DBM (Department of Budget and Management) confirmed those inaccuracies. So, let’s wait, to protect the innocent,” Raval added. Meanwhile, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief Joel Villanueva said the funds he gave to foundations were all properly audited and accounted for. Villanueva was former representative of the party-list group Citizens Battle Against Corruption. PDAF swap Davao City 2nd District Rep. Mylene Garcia-Albano admitted having swapped her PDAF worth P9.45 million with that of her father-in-law Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano. But Garcia-Albano was quick to point out that there was nothing anomalous with the transaction as the same amount was also returned to her district by her father-in-law in the form of other projects, which were earlier approved by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. Garcia-Albano clarified the situation after it was discovered that her PDAF was used for projects outside her congressional district. Records from the DBM showed that P9.45 million worth of Albano’s PDAF for 2012 was spent in Isabela, the home province of her husband. Garcia-Albano’s PDAF was spent in five “hard projects” in Isabela like drainage repairs, road concreting and construction of multi-purpose buildings. In a statement, Garcia-Albano explained that her PDAF was not given to Isabela, but was rather just swapped. She explained that her father-in-law also spent P9.45 million of his PDAF to finance projects in her district in Davao City as reflected in the elder Albano’s letter to Belmonte dated Nov. 12, 2012 where he requested for the release of his PDAF worth P20 million. In the letter, the Isabela representative stated that P10.55 million would cover projects in his district while the remaining P9.45 million will be released to the 2nd district of Davao City upon agreement with his daughter-in-law. In the midst of the nationwide outcry against the pork barrel fund scam, the Kilusang Mayu Uno (KMU) Negros called on the seven congressmen of Negros Occidental to stop using their PDAF allocations. “Join the people’s call to scrap the pork barrel system. For so long a time, pork barrel didn’t uplift the lives of the people in the countryside, especially the peasants and sacadas,” KMU said in a statement.
Bacolod City Rep. Evelio Leonardia urged the prosecution of cases involving the abuse of pork barrel funds. Leonardia called anew for an investigation into the alleged questionable purchase of P39-million worth of computers by Bacolod Mayor Monico Puentevella when he was still congressman. He said the stalled investigation into Puentevellaâ€™s alleged anomaly would be the best insurance against a repeat of the pork barrel fund abuse in Bacolod. Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Alfredo Benitez said the anti-PDAF rallies nationwide send a signal that the people have had enough of corruption, and are demanding reforms. With Evelyn Macairan, Edith Regalado, Danny Dangcalan, Gerry Lee Gorit http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/08/30/1150831/napoles-ngos-still-active
Aggie chief admits to dealing with bogus NGO of Napoles • •
Written by Tribune Friday, 30 August 2013 08:00
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala yesterday admitted that his department has dealt with one of the bogus non-government organizations (NGO) established by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles. Alcala, a former representative of Quezon Province, said that he accepts the responsibility. “We (in the Department of Agriculture) accept the responsibility. But there is always a different responsibility for every official,” Alcala told House reporters. He was at the Batasan for the hearing on the 2014 budget of the DA before House appropriations committee. Rep. Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers partylist, who was present during the budget hearing, paved the way for Alcala’s admission even as he noted the case of one Ofelia Agawin who had accredited the Kaupdanan para sa Manguguma Foundation, a Napoles-owned NGO who had received P44 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The NGO is due to receive P83 million. The DA secretary, however, would not want to implicate DA employees until after the investigation is finished. “If I will be given a chance to face her (Napoles), I would ask her if my people are her accomplices because if that is the case, I won’t let that happen,” Alcala said. “As for Ofelia, she is not at fault just yet. There’s no proof. We should give her a chance. I bank on the words of my people because if I don’t trust them, I can’t stay on my post. I can’t do this job alone,” Alcala stressed. Alcala, however, said that he is in favor of retaining the PDAF. “If you ask me, I would say that PDAF is a big help if we can put up a good program and necessary safeguards for its implementation. This is because all those (budget for projects) which were forgotten and overlooked in the national budget can be augmented, as long as it is transparent and spent on where it is supposed to be,” Alcala said. Meanwhile, Alcala also admitted that six congressmen have earmarked about P83 million in PDAF for projects implemented by his department through a non-government organization allegedly set up by Napoles. Alcala said that based on their internal investigations, the list includes Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, the current chairman of the powerful House panel, Camarines Sur Rep. Arnulfo Fuentabella, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, Masbate Rep. Scott Davies Lanete and AnWaray partylist Rep. Neil Benedict Montejo. The sixth lawmaker was not named because Acala said pertinent records were not with him during his agency’s budget hearing. According to DA records, the DA chief said the six lawmakers have earmarked a total of P83.2 million in PDAF to the Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc., allegedly a bogus NGO of Napoles, of which P44 million have already been released.
However, he stressed in an interview with reporters that the allocations did not in any way show any involvement of the lawmakers in the P10-billion PDAF scam allegedly perpetrated by Napoles. In fact, Alcala immediately cleared Ungab saying all DA-implemented projects using his (Ungab’s) PDAF were fully implemented and properly liquidated. He likewise added that “majority of the agricultural projects identified by the abovementioned lawmakers were fully implemented and validated.” “There is still no proof, so they are still innocent,” he stressed. In the meantime, Alcala said the DA is in the process of concluding its investigations on the issue. “We are just completing the reports and the results will be released early next week,” he said. By Gerry Baldo with PNA http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/nation/item/18550-aggie-chief-admits-to-dealing-withbogus-ngo-of-napoles
Alcala clears PNoy ally in scam Published : Friday, August 30, 2013 00:00 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
AGRICULTURE Secretary Proceso Alcala yesterday cleared a Palace ally of alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) even before he makes public next week the results of his investigation of some lawmakers who allocated their pork barrel funds to a nongovernmental organization (NGO) allegedly set up by Janet Lim-Napoles. Alcala made this admission during a budget hearing yesterday after Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations and a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), asked Alcala “a heart-to-heart” question about his alleged involvement in the alleged P10billion pork barrel scam. “I just would like to ask a heart to heart question (Secretary Alcala). Iyung projects ko ba ay implemented or ghost project? Alam ko, alam mo ang sagot. As I have said, I am open to investigation, the auditors can go directly,” Ungab asked after he was named by Alcala during the hearing as one of the six lawmakers whose pork barrel funds were allotted to Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KMFI ), a NGO which was allegedly set up by Napoles. In response, Alcala said the pork barrel funds of Ungab that went to KPMI were implemented and liquidated, virtually clearing him of any wrongdoing. “Isa po sa aming bina-validate at makakaasa po kayo na talagang fully-implemented po ito, hindi lamang po basta under oath iyung ibang mga testigo at saka na-validate kundi may pictures po, kumpleto siya, iyun pong sa inyong parte na dumaan sa inyo ay fully liquidated,” Alcala said after defending his department’s P79.15-billion budget next year under P2.268-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) 2013. During the budget hearing, Alcala named some of the six lawmakers who were linked to KMFI which include Ungab, Scott Davis Lanete of Masbate; Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro; and Arnulfo Fuentebella of Camarines Sur. Only Fuentebella is not a member of the 16th Congress. “Anim po sila. But by next week, we will be finished with everything. Ipapakita po namin sa inyo yung transparent na resulta ng imbestigasyon,” Alcala told reporters in an ambush interview.The DA released a total of P44-million to KMFI out of P83.2-million pork barrel funds. “Inaamin namin na hindi namin nakita na iyong NGO pala ay under the control ni Napoles during that time na na-accredit sila noong 2012. Sino naman dito sa atin ang nakakaalam na may maling ginagawa ang grupo ni Napoles,” Alcala said, adding that his department got documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) attesting to the NGO’s regularity. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/57182-alcala-clears-pnoy-ally-in-scam
Lawmakers revived pork deals in DA, says Alcala By Leila B. Salaverria Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:12 am | Friday, August 30th, 2013
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agriculture (DA) stopped accepting pork barrel funds for two years, but Secretary Proceso Alcala said the practice resumed in August 2012 on the request of lawmakers and the advice of the Department of Budget and Management. The department had processed the release of P44 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KMFI), a nongovernment organization linked to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, who allegedly controlled a web of NGOs to siphon off billions of pesos from the PDAF into her bank accounts. After the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Napoles broke out, the agriculture department began an investigation into the PDAF-funded projects that went to KMFI. The report would be released next week, Alcala said yesterday at a hearing in the House of Representatives on his agency’s proposed P79 billion 2014 budget. Answering questions from militant lawmakers, Alcala said he shunned the pork barrel during his first two years in the agriculture department. “From July of 2010 to August of 2012, we did not allow the PDAF to be coursed through the DA because the guidelines weren’t clear to us,” he said.
But he said that when he faced the House, he was told that he could not refuse pork because lawmakers had legitimate programs intended to help farmers. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had a similar view, he said. “We were advised by the DBM that we cannot just disallow the coursing of the PDAF through the department,” he said. Safety net “We saw that there were valid reasons. What we did was put up safety nets,” he added. He said he instituted a program for the proper accreditation that would receive the PDAF funds. Releases of the funds were also made in tranches when the amount exceeded P300,000. The initial releases had to be liquidated first before the next tranche would be released, he said. “We have an internal audit. We validate each tranche,” he said. In the case of KMFI, P83 million was allocated for it but only P44 million was released, he said. Alcala said the agriculture department did not see KMFI’s connection to Napoles at the time. He noted that in 2012, the alleged scam involving Napoles had not yet been discovered. The agriculture department also has papers from the Securities and Exchange Commission showing that KMFI was in good standing, the reason why the department accredited it. Six lawmakers Alcala said six lawmakers channeled funds to KMFI, but he named only five. They were Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, An Waray Party-list Rep. Neil Montejo, Masbate Rep. Scott Davies Lanete, former Camarines Sur Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali. Ungab, head of the House appropriations committee, asked Alcala during the hearing whether the projects he funded had been implemented or were fictitious. Alcala replied that the projects had been fully implemented, validated not just by statements under oath but also by pictures. And they had been fully liquidated, he added.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/477651/lawmakers-revived-pork-deals-in-da-saysalcala#ixzz2dPo97MDf
Questionable PDAF releases also happened under PNoy August 29, 2013 10:24 pm
by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA, ROBERTZON F. RAMIREZ AND LLANESCA T. PANTI REPORTERS
Commission on Audit Chairman Grace Pulido Tan on Thursday testifies before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee which is investigating the pork barrel scam. PHOTO BY EDWIN MULI THE practice of some senators to release portions of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to questionable non-governmental organizations (NGOs) did not only happen under former President Gloria Arroyo but continued even during the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, according to the government’s chief auditor. Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan told the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Thursday that from 2011 to 2012, some senators gave their “pork” to spurious NGOs. She did not name the lawmakers. Tan said they made the discovery during a separate audit on the congressional pork barrel. The audit is different from one the agency conducted where several senators and congressmen were found to have given billions of funds to fake NGOs. That audit report covered fiscal years 2007 to 2009. Tan named Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Gregorio Honasan as among the senators who allocated their PDAF to seven sham NGOs linked to Janet Lim Napoles, the woman who is said to have masterminded the pork barrel scandal.
Tan said two other senators approved allocations to Philippine Forest Corp. (Philforest Corp.) a government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). She said the audit report “should have been released one or two weeks ago but we held off until after we have verified all the information.” Senate President Franklin Drilon insisted that Tan identify the senators implicated in the audit report to spare the rest of the members of chamber from suspicion. She declined but assured Drilon the COA will release its report next week. State auditors who attended a Senate inquiry into the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) controversy further implicated some senators who, according to them, signed letters endorsing the release of the PDAF to questionable NGOs. Tan told the Blue Ribbon committee, led by Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, she has copies of the endorsement letters not only from senators but members of the House of Representatives as well. Tan refused to present the letters to the committee, saying COA had submitted them to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman which were conducting a joint probe of the controversy. The letters, she added, were used by the implementing agencies to release funds to the NGO endorsed by the lawmakers, without calling for a bidding. She said the lawmakers would send the letters to the implementing agency directing it to release their PDAF to the NGO they chose for the project. Tan said the legislators usually specified the NGOs they want to implement their projects. At the same hearing, COA identified seven of the eight Napoles-linked NGOs found to have received more than P1.7 billion in PDAF allocations from senators and congressmen. The NGOs are the Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (AEPFFI), Agriculture Para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc. (APMFI), Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development (CARED), Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc (MAMFI), People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc (POPDFI), Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI) and Social Development Program for Farmers Foundations, Inc (SDPFFI). Based on COA data, the seven NGOs either had questionable addresses, had the same tax identification number (TIN), had expired Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration or failed to confirm their transactions.
MAMFI got the biggest PDAF slice from Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estradaâ€”P477 millionâ€”coursed through the National Agribusiness Corp (NABCOR), Technology Resource Center (TRC) and the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC). SDPFFI got a total of P322.4 million from the PDAF of the three senators with the Zamboanga del Norte Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC), NABCOR, TRC and NLDC as the implementing agencies. The AEPFFI got P145 million from the three and another senator, Gregorio Honasan, with NLDC and TRC as the implementing agencies. APMFI received P104 from the PDAF of Enrile and Revilla coursed through NLDC and TRC. Enrile allotted P96 million and P24 million, respectively, to CARED (NLDC and TRC) and POPDFI (NABCOR and TRC) while Revilla gave P31.5 million to PSDFI (TRC). The NGOs are among the 82 listed in the COA special audit that had questionable records. Guingona said the hearing on the PDAF scam will focus on the NGOs linked to Napoles. The four senators mentioned in the COA presentation stayed away from the hearing to avoid being accused of trying to influence the resource persons. Enrile and Revilla Jr. denied endorsing their PDAF to any NGO. But Tan said COA has come across documents signed by Enrile and Revilla or their representatives involving PDAF allocations to NGOs which suggest that they were aware of the transactions. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said it would be better for the four lawmakers to attend the proceedings so they can answer questions, explain their side and clear their names. But Guingona said he will respect the decision of the four, although he might invite them in the future. Guingona said the proceedings clearly showed how PDAF fund flows from the legislators to the selected NGOs. He, however, maintained that there has been no indication yet that the PDAF went into the pockets of the lawmakers. Name names Meanwhile, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo urged the investigating team to be transparent in their probe. Pabillo suggested the media should be allowed to follow the developments of the investigation. When Napoles surrendered to Aquino, the Presidential Security Group ordered the police to bar reporters and photographers from getting near Napoles and her husband, Jimmy.
Liable At the House, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala admitted department personnel were liable for the release of the P44 million worth of PDAF to a Napoles NGO. Alcala, a former Quezon province representative, made the admission after he went before the House Appropriations committee to seek approval of his department’s proposed P79-billion budget. “We [in the DA] accept the responsibility. But there is always a different responsibility for every official. If your fingernail is hurting, your whole body will hurt. I don’t deny the responsibility over this,” Alcala told reporters after the budget hearing. Each lawmaker is entitled to an annual PDAF of P70 million. According to Alcala, Napoles’ Kaupdanan para sa Manguguma Foundation received P44 million from the P83 million that should have been released to her because of the stringent measures implemented by the Agriculture department in releasing PDAF funding which exceeds P300,000. Alcala stopped short of implicating his personnel to the scam. “I bank on the words of my people because if I don’t trust them, I can’t stay on my post. I can’t do this job alone,” he said. http://www.manilatimes.net/questionable-pdaf-releases-also-happened-under-pnoy/34672/
Alcala rice sufficiency goals in 2014 doubted August 29, 2013 7:23 pm
by Belly M. Otordoz LUCENA CITY: Local rice farmers and those in Sariaya town are skeptical about the pronouncement of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala that Quezon and the Philippines will be rice-sufficient by 2014, following claims that Alcala released P3.2-million “pork” in 2008 through Sir Pelagio Alcantara Development (Spade) Foundation Inc. that no cent was received by supposed farmer-beneficiaries. “How can the President entrust Alcala with huge responsibilities of promoting the welfare of the farmers when he [Alcala] seem to take advantage of marginal farmers like us,” said ‘Rita,’ a farmer from Lucena City. Rita added that if the Secretary is really sincere about helping them, they should have seen projects such as buying their rice harvests. “Every rainy season, we couldn’t dry our palay harvest, eventually forcing us to sell to traders at almost one third of the prevailing market price for palay,” Rita added. Rita is also skeptical about the rice-sufficiency pitch of Alcala because of NFA’s statement that the government has to import rice to be used for calamity-stricken provinces. “Instead of importing, why can’t the government buy our palay harvest? And they have the nerve to declare that the country fall short of rice production, when our harvest nearly spoiled because of lack of buyers?” Rita lamented.Rita’s experience is similar to the members of Tumabaga 1 Barangay Irrigator’s Association (TBIA) in the town of Sariaya. Margarita Sarmiento, manager of TBIA told The Manila Times that much as they want to sell their harvest to National Food Authority, they are enticed to sell to private traders who buy their palay at P17/kilo. Although NFA has the same buying price, the agency refused to buy palay not fully dried.Sarmiento relates that the 231 rice farmer-members of TBIA were also told by Alcala that the country will be rice-sufficient in the next years but minimal assistance were extended to them to attain this target. Meanwhile, the 16 farmer-complainants from Sariaya, Quezon who denied receiving the cash assistance of P50,000 each, saying their signatures on the disbursement vouchers were faked, are urging President Aquino to investigate Alcala. http://www.manilatimes.net/alcala-rice-sufficiency-goals-in-2014-doubted/34526/
DA to spend P41.35 billion for ‘priority projects’ in 2014 Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Thursday, 29 August 2013 19:23 Written by Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz The Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday that it has allocated P41.35 billion for its priority projects such as irrigation and farm‐to‐market roads in 2014. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said its allocation for priority projects is higher by 7.65 percent compared to the P38.41 billion the department has set aside this year. “[The money] will go toward opening new irrigated production areas, providing access to credit and safety nets, and investing in farm‐to‐market roads and post‐harvest facilities,” Alcala said during a hearing on the DA’s budget held at the House of Representatives Wednesday. He said funds from the DA will serve as counterpart of the Philippine government to foreign‐assisted irrigation projects, while farm‐to‐market roads are purely locally funded.The DA set aside a budget of P12.15 billion for constructing farm‐to‐market roads, which is 70.10 percent higher than the 2013 level of P7.05 billion. The budget for irrigation development in 2014 is at P21.09 billion, lower than the 2013 level of P27.34 billion. Alcala said a higher budget for farm‐to‐market roads is a “key component of the Aquino administration’s drive to invest further in infrastructure and public construction.” He said the department is targeting the development of new “all‐weather roads,” which require very minimal repair and maintenance. “The construction of several roads [nationwide] will open fresh routes for trade and commerce��and will help rural farmers’ capacity to sell their goods and gain access to public markets,” he said. Other priority projects and programs of the agency are the National Rice Program (with P6.9‐billion budget), National Corn Program (P1.8 billion), National Livestock Program (P1.35 billion), High‐Value Crops Program (P1.67 billion) and Trading Centers and National Organic Agriculture (P231.9 million). The P70.99‐billion total budget of the DA for 2014 is 8.34 percent more than its allocation of P65.07 billion this year. With the 8.34‐percent increase in its budget, the DA ranked seventh among government agencies with the largest allocation for next year. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/18651‐da‐to‐spend‐p41‐ 35‐billion‐for‐priority‐projects‐in‐2014
Hike in rice prices to ease with early harvest–NFA Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Thursday, 29 August 2013 19:24 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent The government expects the price of rice to stabilize in the coming days following the National Food Authority’s (NFA) announcement that farmers in a number of regions have already started harvesting palay. NFA Administrator Orlan A. Calayag said farmers have kicked off the harvest of palay in Western and Eastern Visayas, Western and Southern Mindanao, and Cagayan Valley. Calayag said the early harvest of palay was expected since many farmers planted their crop early, with many of the farmers harvesting as early as two weeks ago. “Although the main crop harvest traditionally starts in September, some farmers who planted early have started harvesting as early as mid‐August. This early harvest is expected to boost the country’s rice stocks,” he said. “The bulk of the harvest from the rice‐production areas of Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions will come in during the harvest months of September to November,” the NFA official added. The food agency attached to the Department of Agriculture said the national rice inventory is at 604,762 metric tons (MT) or 12,095,234 bags of 50 kilograms as of August 13. Calayag said he has instructed NFA’s regional manager to intensify their procurement from local farmers to capture a sizable portion of the main crop. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (Bas) projected that unmilled rice production for July to December will increase by 3.1 percent to 10.46 million MT. “Harvest area for the period may expand by 2.3 percent to 2.72 million hectares, from 2.65 million hectares in 2012. Yield may increase by 0.8 percent to 3.85 MT per hectare,” said the Bas. Meanwhile, the NFA encouraged the public to call their hotline, 455‐0632, to report rice‐price increases. Despite the destruction wrought by Typhoon Labuyo and torrential rains in Region 3 or Central Luzon, the government made an assurance that the supply of rice will continue to be stable. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/18652‐hike‐in‐rice‐ prices‐to‐ease‐with‐early‐harvest‐nfa
Sugar industry urged to brace for tariff cuts By Tina G. Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:19 am | Friday, August 30th, 2013
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz urged sugar industry stakeholders to work together in finding solutions to mitigate the possible negative impact on the industry when tariff barriers on agricultural commodities come down in 2015 under the Asean Free Trade Agreement (Afta). The Afta is a trade agreement among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to gradually eliminate tariffs and nontariff barriers within the group in order to increase Asean’s competitive edge as a production base and attract more foreign direct investment. In the case of sugar, tariff on imported sugar will be reduced to five percent by 2015, from 18 percent in 2013. At a recent meeting with industry stakeholders, Baldoz stressed that there is already a roadmap for the sugar industry that was prepared by the Sugar Regulatory Administration. The goals under this plan are to achieve self-sufficiency in the commodity; the use of sugarcane, sugar and its by-products for bio-fuel (ethanol) production; and power cogeneration. However, she noted sadly that there was no roadmap for sugar industry workers. She said the improvement of sugar workers should have been included in the goals of the road map so they will remain working in the industry as essential partners in production. “For those who cannot remain in the industry, we have to prepare them for alternative employment or livelihood,” Baldoz told the stakeholders. “The workers should not be left behind. There is a need for us to move as one and fast to replicate or adopt existing successful models,” she said. Baldoz directed the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns, the lead DOLE lead agency in the implementation of the Sugar Amelioration Program, to organize a two-day workshop with the sugar industry stakeholders to gather inputs for the formulation of a roadmap for the workers which will be submitted to the President as part of the “sugar industry roadmap.” http://business.inquirer.net/140887/sugar‐industry‐urged‐to‐brace‐for‐tariff‐cuts
Highland ‘yu‐yu’ in Cordillera nearing extinction Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Thursday, 29 August 2013 19:22 Written by Marilou Guieb / Correspondent (Conclusion) While the cultivation of fish in rice fields or rice‐fish culture has only been practiced in Ifugao for a few decades, this farming method has been in existence for thousands of years. In fact, the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GHIAS) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has identified several rice‐fish agriculture heritage sites, particularly in China. For one, Longxian Village in China’s Zhejiang province is a GHIAS site. Its integrated rice‐fish farming system helps protect the environment as it calls a reduction in the use of pesticides to control weeds and insects that serve as food for the fish. The farming system also reduces labor cost as the fish makes the soil ready for rice planting. In the Philippines, Hungduan in Ifugao was chosen as a GHIAS site. GHIAS sites pertain to areas where tried and tested farming techniques and practices have been practiced, resulting in food security and the preservation of ecology and biodiversity. According to FAO standards, GHIAS sites have resulted in outstanding landscapes, preservation of farming biodiversity, valuable cultural heritage, and resilient ecosystems. Experts said propagating the yu‐yu will contribute to the preservation of the Banaue rice terraces. The rice terraces, which were carved by hand 2,000 years ago, have been recognized as one of the world’s treasures for its beauty and efficient irrigation system. In Hungduan the presence of loach in the rice terraces complement organic farming, particularly the cultivation of vanishing traditional rice varieties. When Hungduan decided to increase the production of the yu‐yu under the government’s “One Town, One Product” Program in 2006, there was an immediate 22‐percent increase in rice yields. This is because the loach, described as a “nervous fish,” burrows into the mud and aerates the soil. The fish also provides natural fertilizer to standing palay crops. Aside from its benefits to rice, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the yu‐yu is also very nutritious. The loach has crude fiber, protein and calcium.
To encourage the propagation of the loach, the BFAR established hatcheries in La Trinidad, Benguet; Kiangan, Ifugao; and Tabuk, Kalinga, to meet the fingerling requirements of farmers. The BFAR has also conducted trials at the La Trinidad fish farm and Taloy Sur, Tuba, Benguet, to help farmers better manage loach production. Experts said encouraging the production of loach strengthens communities as farmers become mindful of the need for good agricultural practices such as avoiding chemicals to keep the rice terraces free from toxins. After all, it is the sense of community which drove the Ifugao people to build the breathtaking Banaue rice terraces. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/18650‐2013‐08‐29‐11‐ 22‐25
Add’l fee eyed for imported cigarettes By Chino S. Leyco Published: August 30, 2013
The government plans to impose additional fees on sellers and distributors of imported cigarettes, a draft memorandum circular of National Tobacco Administration (NTA) revealed. In its draft circular number 003 series of 2013, NTA seeks to impose P100 to P600 application fee for the application requirements to permit the sale and distribution of imported tobacco products. NTA explained that the proposed policy will “prevent smuggling, counterfeiting and illicit trading of imported tobacco products through proper supervision, monitoring and regulation in order to protect the consuming/smoking public.” However, the proposed circular may violate the country’s commitment to international trade rules, specifically the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which prohibits the use of internal fees or taxes to favor the domestic industry. Furthermore, the selective imposition of license fees and extraneous procedures to authorize the sale or distribution of imported cigarettes may be discriminatory against foreign products. Edgardo Zaragoza, NTA administrator earlier said that the demand for tobacco has been on the rise despite health authorities’ campaign against smoking. “We cannot deny that the Philippines is a signatory to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) that provides for a gradual elimination of tobacco because of health concerns,” Zaragoza said. “It is ironic because despite regulations in the US and Europe, it appears there is still growing demand for tobacco,” he added. Zaragoza said tobacco farmers have contributed more than P34 billion in taxes to the government, with traders and cigarette manufacturers contributing about four percent of revenues collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR.) He attributed the growth to higher demand by buyers who prefer high quality Philippine tobacco, with more than half of the total volume being exported directly, with some of the remainder also being sold overseas.Zaragoza vowed to make NTA financially stable in spite of a shrinking budget and subsidies. Health advocate group Action for Economic Research (AER), meanwhile, deplored NTA proposed circular, saying “masquerading as an illicit trade control measure that serves to protect the vested interests of the domestic tobacco industry.” http://mb.com.ph/Business/Business_Main/29642/Add%E2%80%99l_fee_eyed__for_imported_cigarett es#.UiAthn‐veKE
MGA MAGSASAKANG PILIPINO MAGIGING SIYENTISTA Posted by Online Balita on Aug 30th, 2013 // No Comment
Naglunsad ang probinsiya ng Cebu ng isang programang idinisenyo upang maging siyentista ang mga magsasaka, kung saan magagamit ang kanilang mga potensiyal na makapagpamunga ng mas maraming pagkain para sa sambayanang Pilipino. Tinaguriang Farmer-Scientists Trainging Program (FSTP), ay ideya ni Dr. Romulo G. Davide, Professor Emeritus, Department of Plant Pathology, college of Agriculture ng University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), at isa mga Ramon Magsaysay awardee noong nakaraang taon. Kilala si Dr. Davide bilang “Father of Plant Nematology“ ng bansa dahil sa kanyang maraming taon ng pagtuturo at sa groundbreaking research sa pagpaparami ng ani. Siya ang susubaybay sa programa bilang consultant ng Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA). Inaprubahan kamakailan ng Cebu Provincial board ang isang resolusyon na magpapatupad sa FSTP na gagamit ng P15.16 milyong budget ng OPA. Sa ilalim ng programa, maghahatid ang pamahalaang panlalawigan ng modernong teknolohiya na pang-agrikultura sa mga kalahok na magsasaka. Gagamitin ang pondo na pambili ng techno-demo inputs, foodstuff, at training supplies. Bahagi ng pondo ang gagamitin para magkaroon ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda ng isang insurance program para sa kanilang sakahan, hayupan, pangisdaan, at kasangkapan. Sa ilalim ng ineractive course, ang “farmer-scientists“ ay tuturuan kung paano mag-eksperimento, tuklasin ang mga epektibong technique, pangasiwaan ang merkado, at paramihin ang produksiyon.
Isang programa ng intercropping ang naipatupad ilang taon na ang nakararaan sa mga magsasaka ng mais sa Colawin, Argao, Cebu, na nagparami ng kanilang ani sa anim hanggang 12 beses, lumago ang kanilang taunang kita sa mahigit 100%. Pinalawak ang programa sa 35 iba pang bayan ng Cebu at sa anim na probinsiya noong 2007. Sa sumunod na taon, pinalawak ng Department of Agriculture at ang UPLB ang konsepto sa nationwide program sa pamumuno ni Dr. Davide. Katiting lang na science-based information ang nakararating sa mga magsasakang Pilipino ngayon at marami sa kanila ang nagtatanim ng katutubong uri ng mais sa matataas na sakayan kung saan laging mayroong binhi. Ang kinabukasan ng agrikultura ng Pilipinas ay maliwanag kung maisasalin ang mga teknolohiya sa mga magsasaka. Binabati natin ang Probinsiya ng Cebu sa pangunguna nina Governor Hilario P. Davide III at Farmer-Scientists Training Program Chairman Dr. Romulo G. Davide sa kanilang marangal at nakapagdudulot ng inspirasyong pagsisikap na iangat ang antas ng kabuhayan ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga magsasaka sa Republika ng Pilipinas. CONGRATULATIONS AT MABUHAY! http://www.balita.net.ph/2013/08/30/mga‐magsasakang‐pilipino‐magiging‐siyentista/#.UiAuNX‐veKE
Mosyon para makapagpiyansa, inihain ni Dimaporo Posted by Online Balita on Aug 30th, 2013 // No Comment Naghain ng mosyon sa Sandiganbayan si Lanao Del Norte Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo upang hilingin na pahintulutan itong makapagpiyansa sa kinakaharap na kasong malversation of public funds matapos isangkot sa P728 milyong fertilizer fund scam noong 2004. Idinahilan ni Dimaporo sa kanyang 6-pahinang urgent motion na isinumite nito sa 5th Division ng Sandiganbayan, magkakaroon umano ng masamang opinyon sa kanyang mga constitutent ang pagkakakulong nito Si Dimaporo ay inakusahang naglagay ng P5 milyong bahagi ng P728 milyong fertilizer funds sa Lanao Foundation, Inc. na pinapalabas na ginastos sa pagbili ng saku-sakong abono para sa mga magsasaka sa lalawigan. Ginamit din umano ng kongresista ang Department of Agriculture (DA) upang palabasin na namimigay ng mga pataba ang ahensiya sa mga magsasaka. Nahaharap din sina provincial agriculturist Isabelo Luna VI; at Felizardo Dragon, Evangeline Ontiveros, Rosalinda Bisenio at Elmer Sayre, sa kasong paglabag sa Republic Act 3019 o AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act. Matatandaang pinayagan na ng anti-graft court na makapagpiyansa ng P30,000 si Dimaporo sa kasong graft. – Rommel P. Tabbad http://www.balita.net.ph/2013/08/30/mosyon‐para‐makapagpiyansa‐inihain‐ni‐dimaporo/#.UiAuvH‐ veKE
P7.5B calamity fund ‘di dapat tanggalinRecto Posted by Online Balita on Aug 30th, 2013 // No Comment Ni Leonel Abasola Maituturing na isang matinding kalamidad na tumama sa bansa kung tatanggalin ang P7.5 billion calamity fund sa 2014 national budget. Ayon kay Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, hindi tama na tanggalin ang pondo para sa kalamidad sa pagdududa na ito ay isang “pork barrel.” “In the Richter scale of budgeting disaster, I will rank it at Intensity 7,” ayon kay Recto. Aniya, imposible din na gawing itemized budget ang calamity fund dahil wala namang nakakatiyak kung magkanong halaga ang mapipinsala nang isang partikular na kalamidad. Aniya, sa kaso ng pagputok ng mga bulkan, wala naman kakayahan ang bansa na hulaan kung kailang ito sasabog at halaga ng pinsala nito. “Itemizing the budget is premised on the ability to accurately predict events or pinpoint occurrences with precision. But in the case of the Calamity Fund, how can you predict when and where a typhoon will pass and the damage it will cause?” dagdag ni Recto. Aniya, magiging epektibo ang budgeting kung mayroong kakayahan ang gobyerno na hulaan ang magiging danyos ng mga kalamidad. Sinabi pa ni Recto na kapag nagtanggal ang calamity fund, paulit ullit na manghiingi ang Palasyo ng pera mula sa Kongreso. Sa kasalukuyan, ang calamity fund ay ibinibigay na sa mga ahensiya na siyang nangangasiwa sa mga nasalanta. Hinati ang pondo nito sa Department of Social Welfare and Development (P662. 5 milyon), Office of Civil Defense (P530 milyon), Department of National Defense (P352.5 milyon), Department of Public Works and Highways (P600 milyon), Department of Education (P550 milyon), Department of Agriculture (P500 milyon), and the National Irrigation Administration (P500 milyon). http://www.balita.net.ph/2013/08/30/p7‐5b‐calamity‐fund‐di‐dapat‐tanggalin‐recto/#.UiAvEH‐veKE
Organic food and GMOs By Rina Jimenez‐David Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:53 pm | Thursday, August 29th, 2013
Dismay was the major reaction among the media personalities at the recent Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel. The session featured Edwin Feist, president of the Pharmaceutical Health Care Association of the Philippines who spoke on the many health threats posed by pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, antibiotics and even genetically modified plants. “What are we going to eat now?” Everyone wanted to know, as Feist detailed the many ways food producers are tweaking the way food is grown and the potential health and developmental effects on consumers, especially babies and children. The young are especially vulnerable, said Feist, because their metabolism is not yet fully developed and they could develop anything from allergies to autism, ADHD and even declines in IQ. Certainly, potentially harmful chemicals and organisms can be found in many food sources, from commercially grown poultry, cattle, fruits, grains and vegetables soaked in pesticides. But while adults have developed the systems to metabolize much of these harmful elements, babies and young children are not as protected. Especially since in the first, crucial years of their life, they are almost entirely dependent on a single source of nourishment: milk. Breastfed children do get immunity from their mothers, as well as the richest source of nourishment. But babies who are bottle-fed are dependent on cow’s milk which may be sourced from cows pumped full of hormones and fed on grains sprayed with pesticides and herbicides and who knows how many more chemicals. “Organic food” has thus become a holy grail not just of scientists and doctors, but especially of parents seeking to rear healthy children. Good news then are plans to bring in from Europe organic milk that, so promotional materials claim, “come from cows that are cared for, using completely natural methods, graze on pesticide-free grass, and consume a diet that is 100-percent free from growth hormones and antibiotics.” Locally, says Feist, it is still difficult to obtain certification that a certain food is “organic” since there are scant safeguards against contamination. But he urges consumers to look for the “seal” of the OCCP or Organic Certification Center of the Philippines for peace of mind. *** How ironic, too, that powdered infant formula has become, so a source says, “the most shoplifted item” in groceries and supermarkets. Increasingly expensive, and yet crucial to the diet of
bottle-fed babies, infant formula is being sneaked out of grocery aisles by desperate parents and relatives. So much so that in some establishments infant formula are kept under lock and key. The obvious solution, for the desperate adults in the babies’ lives, is to adopt breastfeeding as early as possible and for as long as feasible. But what is happening, according to anecdotal evidence but borne out by high malnutrition and stunting rates, is that parents are driven to give their babies inappropriate, un-nutritious if not outright dangerous alternatives like evaporated or watered-down condensed milk, rice washing water, or even soda. The need, then, is to work on public awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding, which provides precious “bonding” time between parent and child aside from the obvious, scientifically proven health benefits. *** Also a threat to the health and lives of everyone are GMOs or genetically modified organisms, foods and plants whose genetic make-up are altered permanently for a number of purposes. Among these are: to make crops resistant to pests and disease; to enhance certain qualities like taste, texture or color; or to make them more nutritious or longer-lasting after harvest. Certainly, these are worthy aims. But according to Von Hernandez, executive director, and Daniel Ocampo, sustainable agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, the GMOs’ full impact on the environment, on plants and livestock, and on consumers is still largely unknown. To allow field tests and even the marketing of GMO products is thus too risky. Recently, the Court of Appeals ruled that proponents of a GMO product—Bt talong or eggplant—should “permanently cease and desist from field testing” the altered plant, and ordered to “rehabilitate, protect, preserve and restore the environment.” Based on a case filed by the local arm of Greenpeace, the Masipag farmers’ collective and other groups, the Court of Appeals found that “there is no scientific consensus on the safety and impacts to health and environment of Bt talong hence the precautionary principle is applicable.” The court also found that since there is as yet no “mother law” governing GMOs, “existing biosafety regulations are insufficient and ineffective to protect… the rights of Filipinos to health…” *** While the ruling was a decisive victory for the anti-GMO camp, Hernandez says it triggered a wave of negative commentary and coverage, aimed largely at Greenpeace. Much of the views expressed outrage at why a “foreign” group has been meddling in local agricultural policies, overlooking the fact that Greenpeace has its own local organization, and that those pushing for the testing and marketing of GMOs here are supported or funded by multinationals.
Ocampo points to an emerging threat, that of “Golden Rice,” now undergoing tests and powered by millions of dollars in funds and grants. The purported goal is to engineer rice to incorporate beta-carotene to prevent Vitamin A deficiency, but Greenpeace says it is a threat to local food security as it could contaminate traditional rice varieties. Says Greenpeace: “Spending more time and money on golden rice development is not only environmentally irresponsible, it is also a disservice to humanity.” Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/59887/organic‐food‐and‐gmos#ixzz2dQakNXM2 Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Is the tobacco industry headed for collapse? By Teddy Molina (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 30, 2013 - 12:00am VIGAN CITY , Philippines — Is the multimillion peso tobacco industry headed for collapse? The question popped out here recently amid anxieties prevailing in the Ilocos tobacco heartland on the future of the crop after the government began implementing Republic Act 10351 which is known as the New Sin Tax Reform Law. The industry has been a regular source of revenues for the government with the excise tax payments collected annually from cigarette manufacturers running into billions of pesos. With the passage of RA 10351 that increased the tax rates for tobacco and alcohol products, the government expects to raise P248 billion in the next five years starting this year. For 2013, revenue collection is targeted to reach P33.96 billion out of which 69 percent or P23.4 billion will come from tobacco. While revenue authorities may be feeling victorious over the law’s passage because of the windfall it will bring into the state coffer, tobacco farmers are seeing the opposite. They believe the increase in the cigarette tax which triggered a similar increase in cigarette prices would sharply dampen patronage of the tobacco product. “This law will lead to the extinction of the tobacco industry,” Bernard Vicente, vice president of the Philippine Tobacco Growers Federation, told newsmen. “Sales of cigarettes will drop drastically and will in turn bring down demand for tobacco by the cigarette manufacturers. They might even close shop” he asserted. It is too early to judge if their fear is justified. Last year, the farmers stormed the Senate during its deliberations of the sin tax reform bill. Busloads of leaf farmers from the northern provinces took turns in staging a vigil at the Senate grounds protesting against the bill. They called their protest action “Tobacco Revolt” which kicked off in Ilocos capitals during the holy week with the farmers voicing out their stand and displaying anti-sin tax placards taking advantage of the Good Friday crowd who were visiting their dead in the cemeteries. At the Senate, the movement’s leaders sought out the senators some of whom were available to receive them. They had a strong ally in then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who hails from Cagayan Valley, a tobacco producing region. In the end, however, the administration-sponsored bill was passed. The farmers are troubled. They hear reports about a large cigarette manufacturing firm allegedly poised to transfer its operations to a “friendlier” country. Although raw and unverified, the report fanned their anxiety even more.
“Kasano daytoyen, awanen a agmula ti tabako, (How is this, tobacco-growing is gone),” Danilo Custodio exclaimed after the report reached him. “There is nothing they should be afraid of,” former councilor Ceasar Llanes of Candon City, the country’s top virginia tobacco producing locality, told The STAR. “They should fear no more for their crop should the government turn its eye on the alternative uses of tobacco,” he stressed. Llanes who, at one time, was engaged in tobacco trading has expressed his interest in tobacco’s other products. Former Administrator Carlitos Encarnacion of the National Tobacco Admnistration (NTA) under whose watch (2001-2010) a tobacco dust processing plant was established in La Union had batted for the development and commercialization of other products from the crop, mainly tobacco dust and virgin pulp. He convinced the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on the potentials of both products so that it gave the green light for NTA to proceed. This paved the way for the establishment of the dust plant in Sto. Tomas, La Union which operated for awhile until Encarnacion’s tenure ended. A tobacco pulp processing plant up for construction in Labut village in Santa, Ilocos Sur was also aborted as Encarnacion exited from the tobacco agency before construction activity could start. There are other discovered tobacco products but dust and pulp present brighter potentials, an NTA study done during Encarnacion’s time showed. Tobacco dust, produced from tobacco leaves, was touted as an environment-friendly organic mollusscicide that eliminates snails and other pests in fishponds. If utilized, researchers said it would not yield toxic residues unlike cyanide-based chemical pesticides erstwhile used by aquaculture operators which had rendered their fish harvest unsafe. As tested, the dust material also enhances the growth of ‘lablab’, a fish nutrient, in the fish farms, the NTA research study showed. Dust production was found to yield good income both for the tobacco farmer and the fishpond owner, it was learned. The farmer’s production costs are minimal as he no longer depends on high-priced fertilizer, insecticides and other inputs in raising the crop. He is no longer required to raise high quality leaves that cigarette making requires. The fishpond owner, apart from overcoming environmental and health concerns for his fish harvest, stands to save P28,000 a hectare per cycle everytime he uses tobacco dust. Based on the NTA study, the potential market for tobacco dust is huge. It was estimated that fishpond areas nationwide would need 423 million kilos of tobacco dust for a year’s (two cycles) operation. 250 million kilos of this volume would be dispensed in Regions 3 and 6. Because of the huge market they were looking at, the agency’s specialists boasted that the northern regions’ tobacco output may not be enough to fill the demand. They suggested tobacco-growing in other areas saying that dust processing would only depend on ordinary tobacco which they said can be planted anywhere unlike the high grade types that are only suited in the northern region. Tobacco virgin pulp which is derived from the plant’s stalks holds great promise for paperbag and commercial paper production. Thrown away or left behind in the farm to rot after harvest, the stalks have earned importance after they were found as a viable and sustainable source of
virgin pulp. Their importance was reinforced after shopping malls, stores, and various other establishments started replacing their plastic bags with paperbags and other biodegradable materials. Encarnacion said that the future looks pretty good for tobacco pulp as local government units have began enacting ordinances mandating a ban against the use of plastic wrappers in the malls and all places of commerce. http://www.philstar.com:8080/business/2013/08/30/1149241/tobacco‐industry‐headed‐collapse
Napoles surrender a moro‐moro? August 29, 2013 9:48 pm
by Erwin Tulfo DEAD SHOT
Erwin Tulfo A lot of people are wondering why the President had to accompany or even be present when Janet Lim Napoles was taken to Camp Crame on Wednesday night. Figure this out: the highest official of the land, the Commander-in-Chief of all the police and military had to accompany a fugitive to prison? Granting that Napoles personally surrendered to Pnoy in Malacanang, why didn’t the President order Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP Chief Allan Purisima to escort Napoles to Camp Crame, or his Defense Chief or the AFP chief, or all of his Cabinet members to join the convoy so as to secure the life of the infamous businesswoman rather than him? Even the details leading to the surrender of Napoles is confusing. At a press conference yesterday, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda could not figure out who called who for the surrender. There was really something wrong about that surrender. I won’t be surprised if Napoles will only squeal the members of the opposition and clear Pnoy’s allies on this scam. *** Rice sufficiency or rice shortage? In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July, Pnoy bragged once again that the country will no longer import rice next year. The President’s announcement was based, of course, on the report of his Agriculture Secretary, Proceso Alcala.
Mr. Aquino even said that when he assumed office, the country was importing 2 million metric tons of rice annually from neighboring countries. He continued by saying that last year, the importation was lowered to 800,000 metric tons and this year was even lower—300,000 metric tons. The President said that the country is getting to be rice sufficient.If this is true, why is it that several rice warehouses in Bulacan are going empty these days? Several rice millers complained that there are no “palay” available from the farms nowadays and their stocks are dwindling rapidly which will surely run out before the next harvest in October. Importers, on the other hand, blame the ongoing ban of DA on private sector importations of rice which is in direct violation of the World Trade Organization agreement. If this is the case, isn’t the country going into a rice shortage crisis rather than rice sufficiency? Even the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) seriously doubts the country is heading towards rice sufficiency within the next few months since most of our irrigation systems and dams in the countryside that have been damaged by several typhoons have yet to be repaired and rehabilitated especially in Mindanao. Tell your bosses the truth, Mr. President! *** Nothing wrong with MMDA bus terminal in Parañaque A lot of commuters are complaining about the month-old MMDA bus ban and the operation of a bus terminal in Baclaran, saying these caused major hassles and inconvenience to commuters. Even bus operators and drivers are complaining that their income dwindled because of the long wait at the terminal for passengers.As a matter of fact, these bus operators and their drivers and conductors went on strike last week leaving hundreds of commuters stranded for hours. They want the MMDA to abolish the terminal system and go back to the old ways of picking up passengers along the way especially along Roxas Boulevard and EDSA.But MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino was firm on his decision claiming that the terminal in Baclaran benefits more people. Tolentino is right. The bus terminal in Baclaran has eased traffic as buses from Cavite are no longer allowed to enter Manila. There are thousands of motorists who use Roxas Boulevard every day. Finally, there is order in that area where vehicular traffic once crawled or was on a standstill especially during Wednesdays. email@example.com http://www.manilatimes.net/napoles‐surrender‐a‐moro‐moro/34620/
Is Greenpeace waging a proxy war? By Alvin Capino | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:01am | 331 views
Is the Europe-based pressure group Greenpeace waging a Vietnam-style low-intensity conflict in the Philippines? This is the question going around nowadays and was obviously ignited by recent reports that a group of some 300 “farmers” attacked and destroyed a trial farm in Pili, Camarines Sur. The trial farm belongs to the Department of Agriculture and is being run by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), an international body based in Los Baños, Laguna. PhilRice scientists, per media reports, are conducting tests of a new plant variety called Golden Rice. It looks like Greenpeace dislikes this variety, too, as much as it does its present nemesis, Bt Talong. A local group sporting the familiar militant label “kilusan” owned up to the attack. Unfortunately, nobody believes at the moment that the group of 300 “farmers” acted on their own. The suspicion is that the local operators of Greenpeace are behind these militant groups of “farmers”. On the week that the attack on the PhilRice trial hit media, another interesting story came out in the papers. This was about the Department of Justice throwing a petition for review filed by Greenpeace to the waste can. The petition has to do with an earlier ruling by a lower court which found probable cause to charge several Greenpeace members with the crime of malicious mischief. They were charged following a 2011 attack on a trial farm run by the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) which was planted by Bt Talong. Now, the recent attack by the group of 300 “farmers” on the PhilRice farm has a resemblance to the 2011 attack conducted by the Greenpeace members no facing charges on the UPLB farm. This has led many to ask: did Greenpeace learn its lesson based on the 2011 faux pas and has now therefore resorted to using proxies to carry out its war against the scientific testing of new crop varieties in the Philippines? If this is true, then Greenpeace has definitely resorted to the Vietnam strategy of low-intensity conflict used by the American government in the early stages of that country’s infamous civil war.
The LIC strategy uses so-called “selective attacks” using “small forces”. Of course, some would say that mobilizing 300 “farmers” is not a use of “small force”. That is a battalion-sized assault. But that brings us to the other feature of LIC. It’s the use of proxies. In the Vietnam experience, it was the deployment of soldiers against their own people. In short, in our case, it’s Greenpeace deploying Filipinos against fellow Filipinos. In the 2011 Greenpeace destruction of the UPLB trial farm, some of its operators involved sported foreign sounding names. Among those charged in connection with that Greenpeace attack at UPLB, two names stand out: Shivani Shah and Ali Abbas. A quick check on the web showed that Shivani Shah is an operator of Greenpeace India. She is a foreigner who took part in what the DoJ described as “deliberate and concerted action which caused damage to property” in the Philippines. Like Shivani Shah, a check on the internet showed that the accused Ali Abbas is also an operator of Greenpeace India. Filipinos are a hospitable people, but they resent it a lot when foreigners meddle in what is viewed as a domestic issue. This was the lesson learned by Dutch national Thomas Van Beersum. He was the alien caught on camera taunting a crying Filipino policeman. The incident happened during the last State of the Nation Address. Van Beersum has since then become a hated figure in social media. Last we heard, he has been deported. The alien Van Beersum did nothing more than taunt a Filipino policeman. The aliens Shivani Shah and Ali Abbas appear to have done more than just taunt the Filipino scientific community. They have actually been accused of a crime against Philippine laws. We don’t know if Shah and Abbas will suffer the same fate as Van Beersum. What we know is that the degree of disgust the Dutch meddler managed to trigger among Filipinos can be approximated by what the Shah-Abbas alien tandem potentially can. Is Greenpeace avoiding the Shah-Abbas pitfall by deploying Filipino “farmers” to wreak havoc on scientific agricultural tests? Maybe, yes; maybe, no.What is clear thus far is that somebody with lots of resources has managed to get some 300 Filipino “farmers” to go to war against their own.The Americans thought LICs and the deployment of proxies are cheaper than conventional warfare. Of course, history proved that, at the end, it is more costly.Far more costly than the damage wrought on our trial farms. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/30/is‐greenpeace‐waging‐a‐proxy‐war/
Exports of forest‐based products up 25% in 2012 Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Thursday, 29 August 2013 19:21 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga Shipments of forest‐based products were higher by 25 percent to $2.71 billion last year compared to $2.16 recorded in 2011, according to the latest data released by the Economics Division of the Forest Management Bureau (FMB). Of the 2012 total export receipts, wood‐based manufactured articles accounted for the bulk of shipments at $2.158 billion, or approximately 79.43 percent. Other wood and wood‐based products exported in 2012 are particle board, paper and articles of paper and paperboard, forest‐based furniture, pulp and waste paper, lumber, veneer and other woodwork, select non‐timber manufactured articles, plywood and plywood veneered panels, and log. Data from the FMB show that shipments of particle‐board export contributed $193.56 million; paper and articles of paper and pape‐board chipped in $109.76 million, forest‐based furniture contributed $100 million; pulp and waste paper $88.43 million. FMB Director Ricardo Calderon attributed the slight but steady growth in export of forest‐based products to China’s increasing demand for sawn wood made from Paraserianthes falcataria. “Hopefully, we maintain export growth. There is potential for growth given China’s increasing demand for wood products,” Calderon said. The Philippines is one of China’s major suppliers of sawn wood. Calderon said that for the past five years, export of wood and wood‐based products is on a “slight, but steady growth.” Dolores Catindig, Officer‐in‐Charge of the FMB forest economics division, said the total contribution of forest and forest‐based products to the country’s gross domestic product remain at .01 percent, a far cry from its economic contribution in the 1970s pegged at 10percent. But Calderon said that with the establishment of more tree plantations, the economic contribution of agro‐forestry will continue to grow. “We need around 750,000 hectares on top of the existing 330,000 hectares of tree plantations. It is very crucial that government investment for tree plantations is also sustained,” he said. FMB is an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that regulates the trade of agro‐forestry products. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/18649‐exports‐of‐forest‐ based‐products‐up‐25‐in‐2012
Aerial spraying resumes in Davao City, says group Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Thursday, 29 August 2013 19:20 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga A nongovernmental organization claimed that operators of banana plantations in Davao have resumed the aerial spraying of pesticides in Davao City. In a statement, Dagohoy Magaway, president of the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS), said the absence of a ruling from the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Davao City’s ordinance against aerial spraying has “emboldened” plantation companies. “What we had for three years was a respite from the perils of toxic shower. But now, apparently, banana companies have again resumed aerial spraying in their plantations because they think the public has already forgotten the issue,” Magaway said. Leaders of the group who joined the Million People March against the pork‐barrel fund took advantage of the opportunity to step up their campaign in Manila, hoping to hold talks and convince concerned government officials to act on their demand to ban aerial spraying in Davao City’s banana plantations. Aerial spraying refers to the agricultural practice of spraying pesticides via a low‐flying airplane. The method is fast, convenient and cost‐efficient as far as banana plantation operators are concerned. But, MAAS noted that the practice poses health hazards not only to plantation workers, but also to people living near banana plantations. It will be recalled that the Department of Health in 2009 released a study documenting the effects of aerial spraying in a community in Camocaan, Davao del Sur. One of its recommendations was the banning of the aerial spraying practice due to the harmful effects of the chemicals used. To date, the recommendation has yet to be acted upon by concerned government agencies. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/18648‐aerial‐spraying‐ resumes‐in‐davao‐city‐says‐group
DA gets P5‐B budget hike August 29, 2013 10:17 pm
by LLANESCA T. PANTI REPORTER THE Department of Agriculture (DA) was granted a P5 billion budget hike for next year despite releasing P44 million to a bogus non-government organization (NGO) ran by Janet Napoles. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala sought the approval of a P79 billion budget for 2014 before the House Committee on Appropriations, an allocation higher than the agency’s 2013 budget of P74 billion. Of the P79 billion proposed budget, P70 billion was alloted for the DA proper, while P9.91 billion was earmarked as budgetary support for the Government Owned and Controlled Corporations under the DA. These are the National Dairy Authority (P262 million), National Food Authority (P4.25 billion), National Irrigation Administration (P1.1 billion), National Tobacco Administration (P 219 million), Philippine Coconut Authority (P2.38 billion), Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (P1.18 billion) and Philippine Rice Research Institute (P546 million). For the DA proper, the Office of the Secretary will get P64 billion while the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will receive P4.9 billion, followed by Philippine Carabao Center (P481 million), National Meat Inspection Service (P375 million), National Agricultural and Fishery Council (P300 million). Allocations for the DA’s other agencies are as follows: Fiber Industry Development Authority (P243 million), Philippine Center for Post-Harvest Development and Mechanization (P201 million), Cotton Development Administration (P62 million), Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (P57 million), Agricultural Credit Policy Council (P56 million) and Livestock Development Council (P44 million). Alcala conceded that the DA released P44 million from its Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to the Napoles-run Kaupdanan para sa Manguguma Foundation in 2012 because the NGO was certified as legitimate by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). http://www.manilatimes.net/da-gets-p5-b-budget-hike/34651/
Economy Posted on August 29, 2013 10:47:17 PM
By Jomari D. Guillermo
Q3 palay yield seen short THE COUNTRY’S palay production for the third quarter will likely be lower than forecasted as harvest areas for the period are expected to drop by 0.324%, Department of Agriculture (DA) data showed. Based on “Initial Projections for the Rice Performance,” issued by the DA’s National Rice Program (NRP) this month, palay production for the third quarter will reach 3.28 million metric tons (MT), 0.61% less than the 3.30 million MT that the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) predicted in its “Rice and Corn Situation and Outlook,” dated July 2013. The amount is 8.89% lower than last year’s third‐quarter palay production, which totaled 3.60 million MT. It is also 8.91% down from the May BAS forecast for third‐quarter palay output, 3.601 million MT. BAS attributed the expected decline in production to lower harvest areas due to insufficient water supply and intense heat. According to the report, the projected volume of production was computed using BAS yield forecast and the total harvest areas estimated and reported by the different local government units (LGU) in the different regions of the country. DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in an ambush interview, during the DA budget hearing at the House of Representatives, that the department and BAS’s projections are different because they use different parameters in estimating. “Magkaiba sila ng parameters na ginagamit. There are several things na merong difference, kaya as long as di pa dumarating ang final output, we cannot say kung ano ang tama. I think mas masinsin ‘yong parameters na ginagamit ng National Rice Program kasi mas detalyado, but we can’t tell. So, the best is just to wait for the result of the quarter’s harvest (They use different parameters. There are several things with differences, so as long as the final output is not yet released, we cannot say which is right. I think the parameters used by the National Rice Program are closer because they are more detailed, but we can’t tell. So, the best is just to wait for the result of the quarter’s harvest),” Mr. Alcala said.
“Ang importante diyan, those are both just projections. Magkaiba talaga ang projections ng operations of the National Rice Program at BAS. Minsan, just like last year, nakita po natin mas malaki po ang naging output natin even in the harvest of corn. Mas tumaas pa kami kaysa sa projection ng BAS. Nothing is certain about these projections (What’s important is that those [of BAS and NRP] are both just projections. The projections of the operations of the National Rice Program and BAS are really different. Sometimes, just like last year, we saw that output is higher [than the projections] even in the harvest of corn. The output was even higher than the projection of BAS. Nothing is certain about these projections),” he added. Data from the country’s regional field units showed that volume of production for the month of July is 349,001 MT; for August, 776,360 MT; and for September, 2.15 million MT. Regional field units’ data project lower harvest areas of 867,924 hectares for the third quarter than BAS’ July forecast of 870,744 hectares. Western Visayas is expected to yield the largest volume of palay for the quarter with 661,916 MT, followed by SOCCSKSARGEN with 527,189 MT, Cagayan Valley with 392,905 MT, and Central Luzon with 325,813 MT. In terms of areas harvested, Western Visayas is also expected to record the largest with 194,110 hectares, 13.23% lower than the BAS forecast of 223,704 hectares, according to the report. Lower projected harvest areas are also expected in Northern Mindanao, Ilocos, Eastern Visayas, and Davao. On the other hand, higher areas harvested are seen in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Zamboanga Peninsula, and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Meanwhile, the country’s rice stocks, as of Aug. 21, jumped by more than a half year‐on‐year to 2.41 million MT. This amount, which is enough for 71 days, is 54.49% higher than the 1.56 million MT stock at the same time last year. “Of the total stock, NFA holds 677,300 metric tons while household and commercial sectors have 958,200 and 776,200 metric tons, respectively,” National Food Authority Spokesman Rex C. Estoperez said in a text message. However, the total volume of rice stocks for this month is only 10.05% higher than last month’s 2.19 million MT, which was good for 65 days. Stocks held by NFA for this month are 27.79% up from the previous year’s 530,000 MT but are 3.24%
down from last month’s 700,000 MT. The amount that households have for the month of August is higher by more than half than last year’s 600,000 MT and 18.30% up from last month’s 810,000 MT. On the other hand, the current rice stocks in the commercial sector surged by 80.56% from the previous year’s 430,000 MT and by 14.18% from last month’s 680,000 MT. The NFA has instructed its regional offices to intensify palay procurement to secure a sizeable amount for the country’s stocks. NFA Administrator Orlan A. Calayag said in a statement that rice farmers in Cagayan, Western and Eastern Visayas, and Western and Southern Mindanao have already started harvesting their crops. During the budget hearing, Mr. Calayag said that, to date, the NFA has around 600 warehouses all over the country. He also assured that the NFA continues its market monitoring nationwide to ensure the stable prices of rice. BAS data showed that the volume of production of palay for the first half of the year grew by 1.34% to 7.997 million MT from 7.892 million MT the previous year.
Economy Posted on August 29, 2013 10:46:14 PM
Proposed lemon law refiled at House THE PROPOSED “lemon law” to protect buyers of defective brand‐new motor vehicles has been refiled at the House of Representatives.
House Bill (HB) No. 303 gives buyers the right to demand a refund or replacement with a similar or comparable motor vehicle, “if the first vehicle is discovered to have a factory defect. The buyer may also opt to return a defective vehicle and get a refund of its purchase price and collateral charges such as the vehicle registration fee,” the bill states. The proposed Lemon Law of 2013 would require the manufacturer, distributor, dealer or retailer to provide consumers “a reasonable daily transportation allowance equivalent to first class taxi fare as evidenced by actual receipts or a service vehicle” to compensate for the non‐ usage of the vehicles while under repair. “This bill seeks to promote full protection to the rights of consumers in the sale of motor vehicles against sales and trade practices which are deceptive, unfair, or otherwise inimical to consumers and the public interest,” Tarlac (Second District) Representative Susan A. Yap said in the bill’s explanatory note. “The warranties available for vehicles do not allow the return of a defective vehicle with recurring problems, but only continue repairs, that is until the warranty period expires. Buyers are at a risk of being left with a hunk of junk, or a ‘lemon,’ while car manufacturers and dealers find business elsewhere, perhaps from another unwitting victim,” Ms. Yap said. According to the lawmaker, Republic Act 7394 or the Consumer Act “does not deal with the problem of defective brand new vehicles.” If passed, the lemon law will cover brand new vehicles within the first 12 months or the first 20,000 kilometers of mileage, whichever comes first. The consumer may invoke his rights “if the manufacturers or distributor is not able to correct
the defects of the vehicle after at least four separate repair attempts by the same dealer‐ manufacturer for the same complaint ... if still unsatisfied with the results of the said repairs.” The buyer must notify the manufacturer, distributor or authorized dealer in writing of his intention to invoke the lemon law if he is unsatisfied with efforts to resolve defects. Excluded are conditions resulting from non‐compliance with warranty obligations, unauthorized modification of the vehicle, abuse or neglect, and damage due to accident or force majeure. The proposed measure allows the resale of the returned vehicles provided that the distributor or manufacturer discloses, in writing, the condition of the unit. Meanwhile, the bill mandates the Department of Trade Industry to “exercise exclusive and original jurisdiction over disputes arising from the provisions of this act.” It also provides that the manufacturer, distributor, or dealer pay a minimum of P100,000 as damages to the aggrieved party if the former violates the law’s provisions requiring disclosure. Similar measures were filed during the 15th Congress, but only the Lower House approved the proposed lemon law upon third and final reading. ‐‐ Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Proposed-lemon-lawrefiled-at-House&id=75749
Vietnam rice import ‘overpriced’ by P457M By Delfin T. Mallari Jr. Inquirer Southern Luzon 2:08 am | Friday, August 30th, 2013 LUCENA CITY—Activist-lawyer Argee Guevarra on Thursday urged Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to conduct a serious study on rice importation, claiming that the cost of its latest rice importation from Vietnam was disadvantageous to the government to the tune of P457 million. Citing documents that he had examined, Guevarra said the Department of Agriculture imported last April from Vietnam some 187,000 metric tons of rice at an overprice of P19,762 per metric ton. “While government-to-government contracts are supposed to be more cost-effective,” Guevarra said the payment made by the National Food Authority (NFA) was way higher than the prevailing market price in Vietnam when the deal was made, which then stood only at P15,480 per metric ton. “A simple check of the Oryza Global Rice price for the period confirms how the NFA had overpriced its acquisition cost by at least P457 million—a killing for a single transaction,” Guevarra said in a statement on Thursday. “Secretary Alcala should be more circumspect now in his rice importation, where the price disparity is already indicative of the potential hand of rice price profiteers,” Guevarra said. NFA administrator Orlan Calayag defended the cost of the agency’s rice import, which was awarded to Vietnam’s Southern Food Corp. Calayag said Vietnam’s quoted offer was comparatively lower than the offer made by Thailand. Vietnam’s offer was lower by more than P4,000 per metric ton and even lower by 70 US cents per metric ton than the price of the rice imported in 2012 by the NFA, said Calayag, in a statement posted on the NFA website on April 30. Another scam? Calayag said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-member countries with existing agreements to supply rice to the Philippines were invited to submit their sealed offers and quotations but only Thailand and Vietnam joined the tender held on April 3. In the wake of the controversial multibillion pesos pork barrel scam that prompted ordinary citizens to stage on Monday the biggest protest rally against the Aquino administration, Guevarra warned that the possibility of rice prices being manipulated might “trigger an upheaval.”
On top of the imported 187,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam, Guevarra also alleged that the NFA â€œinsertedâ€? the purchase of another 18,700 metric tons of the staple without any prior approval from the Department of Finance under the Fiscal Incentive Review Board. Guevarra said he would bring his findings to the Office of the Ombudsman or the newly created Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council for further investigation.
Third force launches signature drive for abolition of PDAF Published : Friday, August 30, 2013 00:00 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
THE House independent bloc yesterday launched a signature drive for the abolition of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and similar pork barrel and lump sum allocations given to the Executive and Judiciary in response to public outrage against the alleged misuse of the controversial funds. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, a lawyer, led the filing of House Resolution (HR) No. 235 to exclude pork barrel and lump sum funds under the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA), especially in the Php2.268-trillion 2014 national budget. “Whereas as representatives of our people, we support the public’s overwhelming call for its total abolition,” the independent group said. The group stressed that PDAF over the years “has always been subject to controversy over charges of its misuse.” “Whereas, the allegations of the whistle-blowers over a Php10 billion scam generated disgust and outrage from the public which has called for its total abolition,” the group said. Romualdez, the head of the House independent bloc or third force, was joined by Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo, Buhay Hayaang Yumabong party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado and Quezon Rep. Aleta Suarez in the filing of the resolution. Romualdez also sought the scrapping of pork barrel-related funds or lump sum appropriations given to the Executive and Judiciary. “Whereas, in the spirit of accountability and transparency, all forms of pork barrel allocations should be abolished,” they said. He underscored the importance for the COA to determine the accountability of all heads of government departments and their officials in alleged irregularities in the implementation of PDAF or pork barrel funds. Some of the implementing agencies include the Departments of Agriculture (DA), Budget and Management (DBM), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), among others.
On Tuesday, Romualdez asked COA chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan to resign for coming out with raw data and issuing a misleading report on the misuse of PDAF from 2007 to 2009. In particular, Romualdez cited the “erroneous” naming of former Compostela Valley Rep. Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora, currently the province’s vice governor, as alleged recipient of a Php3-billion pork barrel funds which the latter vehemently denied. The COA’s two-year special audit report showed that Php6.156 billion of pork barrel funds of 12 senators and 180 congressmen all went to 82 non-government organizations (NGOs), 10 of which are linked to Janet Lim Napoles who allegedly got Php2.1 billion. The COA’s special audit report on the PDAF and various infrastructure including local projects (VILP) fund releases from 2007 to 2009 for projects identified by legislators was only made public amid reports on Napoles’ scheme. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top-stories/57161-third-force-launches-signaturedrive-for-abolition-of-pdaf
Minority bloc seeks abolition of PDAF By Charissa M. Luci Published: August 30, 2013
Manila, Philippines --- The House independent bloc has filed a resolution calling for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and all “pork” appropriations, including those for the Executive and Judiciary, in the proposed national budget. The group led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez filed House Resolution No. 235 as an expression of support to the “public’s overwhelming call for its total abolition.” “In the spirit of accountability and transparency, all forms of pork barrel” allocations should be abolished,” the resolution said. Since 1988 members of Congress have been allocated pork barrel funds in lump sum from the General Appropriation Act in various guises from Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) to Congressional Initiative Allocations (CIA), and now the PDAF, the bloc said. “Over the years, the PDAF has always been subject to controversy over charges of its misuse. The allegations of the whistle-blowers over a P10 billion scam generated disgust and outrage from the public which has called for its total abolition,” the resolution said. “Now therefore, be it resolved as it is hereby resolved, that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and all other ‘pork’ appropriations such as those with the Executive and Judicial Departments be totally abolished in the National Government’s GeneralAppropriations Act,” it said. Apart from Romualdez, Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip A. Pichay, BUHAY Rep. Jose L. Atienza Jr., ABAKADA Rep. Jonathan A. dela Cruz, Cavite Rep. Lani M. Revilla, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado M. Arroyo and Quezon Rep. Aleta C. Suarez also signed the resolution. The Makabayan bloc already filed House Bill 1535 seeking to abolish the pork barrel system. Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza also filed Resolution No. 157 calling for the immediate suspension of PDAF release and asking Congress to look into the P10-billion pork barrel scam. The outcome of the fact-finding probe by Department of Agriculture (DA) on the funneling of P83.2 million in pork barrel funds to fake non-government organization (NGO) linked to Janet Lim Napoles by six lawmakers will be out next week. Meanwhile, Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has assured lawmakers a comprehensive report on PDAF-funded projects implemented by the DA through allegedly bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) would be submitted to the House next week.
Alcala made the assurance during yesterday’s House hearing on the proposed P79.15-billion budget for the DA. “We just need to check on the two projects. By next week, comprehensive report will be out as we are now validating it,” he told the hearing. When pressed by Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Rep. Antonio Tinio to divulge DA’s initial findings, Alcala said at least six lawmakers channeled their pork barrel funds to Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KMFI), one of 20 alleged bogus NGOs set up by JNL Corp. of Janet Napoles-Lim. Alcala identified five of the six lawmakers as Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab, Masbate Rep. Scott Davies Lanete, An Waray Rep. Neil Benedict Montejo, Camarines Sur Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella, and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali. Ungab, who was at the hearing confronted Alcala, asking if the projects funded by his PDAF were implemented or not. In response, Alcala said they received documents that indicated the projects were “fully liquidated.” http://mb.com.ph/News/National_News/29616/Minority_bloc_seeks_abolition_of_PDAF#.UiA Xnn-veKE
Senate kicks off probe into pork scandal Published : Friday, August 30, 2013 00:00 Written by : Marlon Purificacion
THE Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has started its investigation into the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles. At least 14 senators were present at the first hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee including Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano. Senator Jinggoy Estrada attended the hearing but requested the committee to excuse him because he was one of the senators being implicated. The hearing was also attended by Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Pulido Tan and two other commissioners. During the hearing, Tan said that the special audit on the pork barrel started on June 2010 and ended last July 2012. This covers Department of Agriculture, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Public Works and Highways which received the biggest release from 2007 – 2009. They also audited top five local government units from Regions 3, 5 and 11. It was learned during the hearing that a total of P6 billion was given to 82 non-governmental organizations including eight organizations being linked to Napoles. Committee chairman TG Guingona said they will invite Napoles to the next hearing. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/57181-senate-kicks-off-probe-into-porkscandal
Hike in rice prices to ease with early harvest–NFA Category: Agri‐Commodities Published on Thursday, 29 August 2013 19:24 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent The government expects the price of rice to stabilize in the coming days following the National Food Authority’s (NFA) announcement that farmers in a number of regions have already started harvesting palay. NFA Administrator Orlan A. Calayag said farmers have kicked off the harvest of palay in Western and Eastern Visayas, Western and Southern Mindanao, and Cagayan Valley. Calayag said the early harvest of palay was expected since many farmers planted their crop early, with many of the farmers harvesting as early as two weeks ago. “Although the main crop harvest traditionally starts in September, some farmers who planted early have started harvesting as early as mid‐August. This early harvest is expected to boost the country’s rice stocks,” he said. “The bulk of the harvest from the rice‐production areas of Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions will come in during the harvest months of September to November,” the NFA official added. The food agency attached to the Department of Agriculture said the national rice inventory is at 604,762 metric tons (MT) or 12,095,234 bags of 50 kilograms as of August 13. Calayag said he has instructed NFA’s regional manager to intensify their procurement from local farmers to capture a sizable portion of the main crop.The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (Bas) projected that unmilled rice production for July to December will increase by 3.1 percent to 10.46 million MT. “Harvest area for the period may expand by 2.3 percent to 2.72 million hectares, from 2.65 million hectares in 2012. Yield may increase by 0.8 percent to 3.85 MT per hectare,” said the Bas. Meanwhile, the NFA encouraged the public to call their hotline, 455‐0632, to report rice‐price increases. Despite the destruction wrought by Typhoon Labuyo and torrential rains in Region 3 or Central Luzon, the government made an assurance that the supply of rice will continue to be stable.
Public warned vs insecticides made in China By Philip C. Tubeza Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:16 am | Friday, August 30th, 2013 MANILA, Philippines—The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday warned the public against buying nine “imminently dangerous” household insecticides, eight of them made in China. In an advisory, the FDA said it was taking measures to get these harmful insecticides off market shelves since these are not registered and are harmful to both animals and humans. “All consumers are warned from buying these products that did not pass the safety and efficacy assessment of the FDA. These products are harmful, toxic and imminently dangerous to human and animal health,” the agency said. The harmful insecticides were identified as Tianshi Insect Killer, Big Bie Pai Extra Power Flying Insect Killer, Butiki Watebased Multi-Insect Killer, and General Toad Aerosol Insecticide, Wawang Frogking Insecticide, Sun Universe Frogking Insecticide, Read a Dream Insecticide Spray, Baolilai Aerosol Insecticide, and Big Bie Pai Aerosol Insecticide. “Insecticides used at home are classified as household hazardous substances and the FDA makes sure that highly toxic substances should not be used in homes with pets or children,” the agency said. The FDA also advised consumers against six unregistered mosquito coils—Wawang Mosquito Coil, BaoMa Black Mosquito Repellent Incense Coil, Juzhongwang Black Mosquito Repellent Coil, Kingba Mini-Smoke Mosquito Repeller Coil, Tianshi Black Mosquito Repellent Incense Coil, and Read A Dream Black Mosquito Repellant Incense Coil. It also warned against buying the unregistered Green Leaf Powder cockroach-killing bait powder and Natural Insect Repellent Solution. “Buying unregistered insecticide products is dangerous to health since the active ingredient is unknown and may cause harm to consumers. There are insecticides that are banned in the Philippines, and these toxic products are being smuggled and dumped in the country,” the FDA said. The FDA called on the Bureau of Customs to be vigilant in preventing the entry of toxic substances into the country. “The FDA is also requesting local government units to ensure that these unregistered toxic insecticides products are confiscated, away from the reach of the consumers,” it said. The FDA said it approves only insecticides that are “low in mammalian toxicity but knock the insects down upon contact.”
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/477817/public-warned-vs-insecticides-made-inchina#ixzz2dPWuzXDQ
PH economy posts 7.5% growth in 2nd quarter By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:02am | 302 views 2
The economy expanded 7.5 percent in the April-June quarter as higher public and consumer spending helped the country defy an Asian slowdown, the government said Thursday. The data provided a welcome boost to the government at a time when the country’s stock market and currency slump as foreign investors pull out of emerging economies in expectation of an end to the US Federal Reserve’s stimulus. “While other economies that were growing at a fast rate are now decelerating due to a global slowdown, the Philippine economy has shown an ability to withstand external shocks,” Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said. Thursday’s data are a sharp improvement from the 6.3 percent seen in the same period in 2012, the National Statistical Coordination Board said, while it also marks the fourth straight quarter of growth above 7.0 percent. It also brings the growth in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the first six months of 2013 to 7.6 percent, compared with 6.4 percent in the same period in 2012. The second-quarter results matched the growth rate in China. Balisacan said the first-half data indicated that GDP growth in 2013 “would likely surpass” the official target of 6-7 percent. He also said he expected investments to pick up and to account for a larger part of GDP. “On the demand side, we see that household and government spending account for the bulk of GDP. Nevertheless, we see investments growing and taking the
lead in the medium term, given its double-digit growth for the past two quarters,” Balisacan said. “For the past three quarters, capital formation has been growing more rapidly than household consumption and the growth of industry has so far outpaced that of the services sector,” he added, pointing to the double-digit growth rates in fixed capital and the manufacturing sub-sector in the last quarter. Balisacan observed that the economy was able to grow even though exports have slowed. On the supply side, both the service and industry sectors continued to grow fast, with the industry sector growing by more than 10 percent in the last two quarters. He said it was supported by manufacturing, which grew by 10.3 percent in the second quarter. “In the service sector, we see a 9.5-percent growth in real estate, renting and business activities, which indicates continued expansion of business process outsourcing,” he said. He said agriculture, on the other hand, contracted for the first time since the first quarter of 2012, with corn and palay production falling 25.9 percent and 1.8 percent respectively due to the intense heat in the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said the secondquarter performance reflected the continued resilience of the economy. He said the growth was broadly in line with many projections of market analysts. “Solid domestic demand should help counter possible negative pressures from global developments,” he said. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the growth showed that fundamentally, the Philippine economy was moving from strength to greater strength despite the uncertainties in the volatile global environment. “This sixth straight quarter of growth above 6 percent makes a strong case to differentiate the Philippines from other emerging market countries, which tend to be resource-driven and export-dependent,” Purisima said.
He said he was confident that market players would recognize the strong fundamentals of the country—-including its strong external position and banking system, stable inflation, and a well-managed fiscal position. The 7.5-percent growth surpassed the growth rates of Indonesia (5.8); Vietnam (5.0); Malaysia (4.3); Singapore (3.8); and Thailand (2.8). It was also significantly higher than Hong Kong (3.3); Japan (2.6); Taiwan (2.5); and South Korea (2.3). The latest figures come as the Philippines — like several emerging markets around the world — sees huge outflows of cash that had been pumped into the economy over the past year as the Fed kept interest rates ultra-low. The foreign withdrawal has seen markets from Manila to Jakarta to Bangkok slump in recent weeks and their currencies tumble. The peso has fallen about 8.5 percent against the dollar since May. However, Philippine stocks were 3.62 percent higher Thursday after the figures were released. Emilio Neri, corporate economist of Bank of the Philippine Islands, said the high growth figures for the first half were “a fairly rare feat considering that everybody else is going down”. Manila has avoided the worst because it had not been to dependent on foreign funds and did not borrow too much abroad at the height of the US Fed’s easy money policy. With AFP
Bloc sets signature campaign vs PDAF By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:02am | 380 views The independent bloc in the House of Representatives on Thursday launched a signature drive calling for the abolition of the pork barrel and similar appropriations given to the Executive and Judiciary following the public outrage against their misuse. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez led the filing of House Resolution 235 that seeks to exclude the pork barrel from the P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014. “As representatives of the people, we support the public’s overwhelming call for its total abolition,” the resolution says. Romualdez filed his resolution even as a group said a bigger Million People’s March was being planned to press President Benigno Aquino III to give up his P310-billion discretionary fund that critics have described as “the mother of all pork barrels.” “The next Million People’s March will be bigger, broader, multi-sectoral and stronger,” said Vencer Crisostomo, chairman of Anakbayan, one of the organizers of Monday’s protest march. Former National Treasurer Leonor Briones, lead convenor of an alliance of some 100 civil society groups called Social Watch Philippines, said they would joint the next protest rally because the President’s claim that he had no pork barrel was a lie. Romualdez said he sought the scrapping of the pork barrel-related funds “in the spirit of accountability and transparency.” Romualdez, the head of the House’s Independent Force, was joined by Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Arroyo, Buhay Hayaang Yumabong party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado, and Quezon Rep. Aleta Suarez in the filing of the resolution. With Christine F. Herrera and Joyce Pangco Pañares
Rice import scam bared; lawyer seeks Agri scrutiny By Rey E. Requejo | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:01am | 276 views 1
Agricultural Secretary Proceso Alcala has been asked to scrutinize rice imports from Vietnam last April which were allegedly overpriced by P412 million for a single transaction, an activist-lawyer said yesterday. Lawyer Argee Guevarra alleged that on top of the 187,000 metric tons of rice import that was officially announced by the NFA, the agency inserted purchase of 18,700 metric tons without any prior approval from the Department of Finance under the Fiscal Incentive Review Board. During the Arroyo administration, the rice importation policy set by the NFA triggered an artificial global rice price hike wherein NFA officials leveraged importation requirements in commodities futures-like trading. Guevarra expressed fears of concerned sectors in the rice industry that the planned importation of another 700,000 metric tons of rice by November under a government-to government agreement will be animated by the same price piracy involving closet profiteers from the Agriculture Department and the NFA. The series of government-to-government rice importations were purportedly hatched amid tight restrictions against rice importation by private rice traders despite the countryâ€™s commitment to free trade as a member and signatory of the World Trade Organization. The Philippines was last granted by the WTO in 2005 the option to regulate the volume of rice importations through the imposition of trade quota or quantitative restriction to protect the price of domestically produced goods to decrease or eliminate a trade deficit. The QR, though, had already expired last June 30, 2012, thereby removing all legal impediments that prevent private traders and importers from importing rice previously regulated by government. According to documents examined by Guevarra, the DA purchases the 187,000 metric tons of rice at a cost of $US 459 (P19,762.95) per metric ton, but while
government-to-government contracts are supposed to be more cost-effective, the prevailing market price in Vietnam when the deal was made is only $US 360 per metric ton ( P15,480). A simple check with the Oryza Global Rice price for the period confirms how the NFA had overpriced its acquisition cost by at least US$10,439,275 or P457 million—a killing for a single transaction, Guevarra said. Industry experts who spoke to Guevarra on condition of anonymity revealed that the landed cost of Vietnamese rice – inclusive of handling and delivery should only be at $409 or P 17,587 or an overprice of P 2,100.00. Alcala should be more circumspect now in his rice importation where the price disparity is already indicative of the potential hand of rice price profiteers. In the wake of the Napoles pork scam which hurt the people’s pocket, the distinct possibility that the price of rice imports are being manipulated to fatten the avarice of the few may trigger an upheaval of the many considering that rice is a daily staple and is a gut economic issue especially for the poor.”, Guevarra warned. Guevarra said that he may elevate this matter to the Office of the Ombudsman or the newly created Inter Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council for further investigation.
Palawan clears gas drilling By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:01am | 204 views 1
Palawan approved the drilling activities at the Cinco natural gas bloc, which is seen as the next Malampaya gas discovery, Australian exploration company Otto Energy Ltd. said Thursday. Otto said in a disclosure to the Australian Stock Exchange the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development approved the issuance of the strategic environmental plan clearance for the drilling of the Cinco-1 exploration well in service contract 55, located near the Malampaya gas field. Otto said the formal written endorsement was being finalized by the Palawan council, SC 55 operator BHP Billiton Petroleum (Philippines) Corp. and the Energy Department. â€œThis is a positive step in closing the final regulatory approvals required to progress drilling of the Cinco-1 exploration well. We look forward to finalizing these approvals and the commencement of drilling activities,â€? Otto chief executive Gregor McNab said. BHP Billiton owns a 60-percent stake in SC 55 while Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. holds 6.82 percent. Otto Energy controls 33.18 percent. BHP Billiton earlier filed a notice of force majeure with the Energy Department to suspend the timing of current permit obligations and preserve all permit rights related to the contract because of its failure to get a clearance from the Palawan council. The consortium filed the force majeure but did not seek an extension of the current sub-phase exploration program that was supposed to end this August. Otto said the SC 55 joint venture would seek confirmation of the revised work program from the department, following the suspension of the exploratory drilling program in southwest Palawan due to force majeure.
SC 55 is located near the Malampaya gas field in Palawan but the Cinco area saw little historical offshore exploration drilling. It is estimated to have a potential resource of 2.2 trillion cubic feet of gas, or comparable with Malampaya field’s proven reserves of 2.7 TCF. The Energy Department earlier said the Cinco well could become the next Malampaya gas field, if the development of the Recto Bank was delayed due to ongoing geopolitical concerns. “The bottom line is we want the area explored at the soonest possible time. SC 55 is already there and they have every intention of drilling and the obstacles before have been cleared so they are pursuing the best option,” Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said when asked for comment.
NFA starts buying By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:01am | 90 views
National Food Authority administrator Orlan Calayag instructed Thursday all NFA regional offices to intensify palay procurement as some rice-producing provinces started their harvest season. NFA said in a statement rice farmers in Western and Eastern Visayas and Western and Southern Mindanao and in Cagayan began harvesting palay. “We should start procurement as early as now to effectively capture a sizeable portion of the main crop for the country’s food security stocks,” Calayag said. Although the main crop harvest traditionally starts in September, some farmers who planted early started harvesting as early as mid-August. The early harvest is expected to boost the country’s rice stocks. The bulk of the harvest from the rice production areas of Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions is expected in September to November.
5% coco-diesel blend to start October — DA By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Aug. 29, 2013 at 12:01am | 414 views
The Agriculture Department said Wednesday it expects the implementation of the 5-percent coconut methyl ester blend in oil products to start in October this year. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told reporters the National Biofuels Board was finalizing the data from road testing and public consultations on the increased use of coconut oil in biofuel mix from the current 2 percent to 5 percent. “We are just waiting for the final decision of the National Biofuels Board, particularly on the results of the test of the B5 to vehicles. We hope to start the implementation by October,” Alcala said at the sidelines of the 27th National Coconut Week in Quezon City. The Philippine Coconut Authority and the University of the Philippines National Center for Transportation Studies earlier launched the on-road test of 5-percent coco-diesel blend in public transport vehicles. Alcala said previous studies showed the increase mix in biofuel had no negative effects on the engine of the vehicles. The Agriculture Department is ramping up its efforts to implement the use of B5 to strengthen the domestic coconut industry and create additional income of P20 billion for coconut workers.
We need to begin again By Francisco S. Tatad | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:01am | 661 views 6
The “surrender” of former fugitive from justice Janet Lim Napoles to President Benigno S. Aquino III at 9:37 pm Wednesday evening formally put an end to the supposed “manhunt” launched against her a few days ago, but it does not necessarily bring us any closer to the truth about, or the end of, the billions that have disappeared inside our politicians’ pockets during, say, the last ten years. Yes, it ends all speculations about Napoles’ state of wellbeing and whereabouts. But it raises more questions than answers, including those about the government’s actual role in her flight from the law after the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 51 issued a warrant for her arrest for serious illegal detention of a former colleague on August 14, and about her secret dealings with the Executive Department before that or since. The Senate blue ribbon committee decided to jump the gun on everybody else by investigating the so-called “P10 billion pork barrel scam,” which seeks to implicate some non-administration senators. But absent a complete Commission on Audit report showing how the Priority Development Assistance Fund has been used by the entire Congress during the last three years of the Aquino administration, nobody could say whether those who are now investigating their colleagues do not themselves deserve investigating. They cannot assure the nation that their investigation would ferret out the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, rather than simply cover it up. The “surrender” follows a most revealing chronology. First, Napoles went missing after the Makati court issued a warrant for her arrest in connection with the alleged kidnapping of her associate Benhur Luy, who had decided to talk about her allegedly illegal activities. Then on August 26, tens of thousands of an anti-pork barrel protesters marched at Manila’s Rizal Park and other parts of the country to express their anger over
the unchecked abuse of the PDAF, and to demand the scrapping of all pork barrel, beginning with the P27-billion congressional PDAF, and including the President’s nearly P1 trillion “pork.” Then the government announced the supposed anti-Napoles manhunt—an allout search for three supposedly missing yachts, which Napoles may have used to escape to Mindanao or beyond. According to Atty. Kapunan, her client does not own any. Then Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima said Napoles might end up as a state witness in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam, which the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee had decided to investigate. The Secretary did not say how this could be when she was not supposed to know whether Napoles was still alive or not, and if alive, where she could be located. Moreover, no case had been filed on the alleged scam, and on the basis of initial reports she appeared to be the most guilty among the alleged scam participants, and therefore not qualified to be a state witness. Then Aquino announced a P10-million reward for information leading to her arrest. No explanation was given for the bounty, although the victim of illegal detention had already been rescued and was in good health, and many persons accused of far more serious crimes have remained at large, and have not provoked a similar bounty offer from the president. Was it intended to facilitate Napoles’s arrest, or simply to provide her a reason to surface? Atty. Kapunan’s said her client had to surrender after the bounty offer was announced because of fear that she might get killed. Having now “surrendered” on her own, does she get to collect the P10 million herself? Within hours, Napoles appeared in Malacanang and surrendered to the President. There were no details about her entry to Malacanang, only about her turnover to the custody of Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Director General Alan Purisima, Philippine National Police chief. Who facilitated her “surrender” to the President was not immediately known, but she seemed to be no stranger to Malacanang. It will be recalled that at the very outset, she had written the President a letter, assuring him of her innocence in the whole affair. The letter was reportedly drafted by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa’s former law office.
This sequence of events tends to add further vigor to the question: Did not the government know of Napoles’s whereabouts all along, and were not some powerful personalities involved in giving her sanctuary and protection while the nation was being led to believe she had gone missing? Public anger against the PDAF has pictured Napoles as an arch-villain, who has looted the treasury with impunity for the last ten years, in active partnership with our lawmakers, but without the participation of the Executive Department. No portrait could be more wishful. Whether or not Napoles had a natural appetite for crime, as a private citizen she could not, by herself alone, or even with the help of our senators and congressmen, have used non-existent or fraudulent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to undertake non-existent projects on behalf of their clients, without the active support of some people in the Department of Budget and Management, the Commission on Audit, and the relevant agencies in charge of releasing and auditing the funds, and certifying the “completion” of projects. Napoles could have wholly conceptualized the fraudulent scheme in which the lawmakers would get 70 percent of their PDAF, while she kept the 30 percent for herself and “for the boys,” leaving exactly nothing for the supposed “projects.” But she could never have pulled it off without the consent and cooperation of the Executive Department. This has never figured in any previous discussion; but it ought to be a major focus of any investigation or discussion. What is very clear is that the burden is now on Aquino. But the sky is falling and the ground is rapidly vanishing under him; he cannot save the system. We need to begin again.
Strolling with pensioners By Horace Templo | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:01am | 223 views 2
My pensioner-friends Tito, Fred, Bert and I had our most interesting stroll along Roxas Boulevard last Monday, National Heroes’ Day, from Manila Yacht Club to the area near the Rizal Monument where the Million People Marchers converged. While walking, we discussed as usual the developments about our main source of living now—pensions. We learned that Professor Federico Balanag of Baguio City and his Blessed Association of Retired Pensioners have petitioned the Social Security System for a long-deserved pension increase in time for its 56th anniversary on September 1. We all had admiration for their perseverance but nothing more. We were sure that no pension increase is forthcoming because SSS is insisting on a consequential contribution rate increase which employers are opposing as if it were a demand for wage increase. Moreover, we concluded that President Aquino would not approve any increase after assuming that he couldn’t displease big business by adding operating costs. Beleaguered by our people’s outrage over his refusal to scrap pork barrel allocations for legislators and his office, he is astute enough not to court additional troubles. Neither would he want to appear populist and irresponsible by increasing pensions without the counterpart funding. Besides, SSS has given everybody enough time to decide on its proposal to increase both pensions and contributions. While it has remained mum on the amount of pension increase, it had publicly sought a relatively meager contribution increase of 0.6 percent of salary to be split equally between the employers and the workers, and to be applied on the first P15,000 part of salary only. No wonder my pensioner-friends have given up on any SSS pension increase. Every time SSS officials announce that the pension reserve fund has grown
bigger and enough to outlive them, they become more confused. Why is SSS scrimping in its pension adjustment? After all, it would cover a small portion only of the pension erosion from inflation since 2007 when pensions were last adjusted. Why are pensioners of the Government Service Insurance System getting much higher pensions? Their employers – government agencies—are more generous using public funds than their profit-oriented private sector counterparts. If only SSS were a non-governmental organization, perhaps pork barrel and Malampaya funds would have been used to finance its pension adjustments. Unlike Professor Balanag and his BARP, my pensioner-friends aren’t submitting any manifesto. They no longer expect any pension adjustment from President Aquino as they have given up on their earlier expectations that something substantive would come out from his lofty “Daang Matuwid” or Righteous Path. In the first place, he never spelled out this slogan in terms of tangible and measurable goals. They did notice that he succeeded in publicly embarrassing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her anointed Chief Justice Renato Corona. He could complete this agenda by also investigating and prosecuting the remaining leaders of the third branch of government during GMA’s nine-year term of office. He could hold responsible the Senate President and the Speaker of the House then for the illegal and scandalous misuse of pork barrel funds by their fellow legislators during the period 2007-2010. But what about the misusers of pork barrel from 2010 to 2013? They must also be investigated and prosecuted. Never mind that a constitutional crisis may arise if the President himself is accused of having misused his presidential pork barrel and is impeached. We could then experience and again teach the world the true meaning of “Daang Matuwid.” For my pensioner-friends, “Daang Matuwid” must address not figurative but literal passageways—straight, unobstructed roads without the traffic jam which we endure each time we negotiate Edsa. Although retired now, we still remember from our geometry class that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
They could also be free-flowing rivers without the informal settlers that clog their banks; or railways to the provinces and light railways in our cities that comfortable trains commute on schedule; or airplane routes where our airplanes fly from efficient and comfortable airports. They could be the safe sea lanes that start and end with clean seaports and terminals. The President keeps on taking about figurative straight paths when right beside his official Malacañang Palace residence is the clogged and often inundated Pasig River and the discontinuous Mendiola Street – Claro M. Recto Avenue that could not be navigated by car on the way to the Tutuban Train Station where the railways originate but do not reach Legaspi City nor Baguio City. His huge presidential pork barrel could have been used to improve these vital passageways. Admittedly, we came to Luneta Park more out of curiosity and to earn bragging rights for our token participation in the national outrage against the P10 billion pork barrel scam. But before we left and as we began to internalize the injustice committed by the misuse of these public funds, we ended up embracing the new national agenda of scrapping pork barrel altogether and investigating and prosecuting all those involved. When we parted later, we have already decided to stroll again at Edsa on September 11.
Janet does a Ping, 2 By Jojo Robles | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:01am | 1,365 views 32
As if anyone needed more proof that President Noynoy Aquino and Janet Lim Napoles were close, the Chief Executive and his minions just provided us with incontrovertible evidence of that fact. Indeed, the last time Aquino personally took in a fugitive from justice was when he and then Senator Panfilo Lacson exchanged recipes in Malacañang; now Lacson has been cleared of double murder charges and is being considered for a top position in the Cabinet. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that Napoles’ surrender has all the signs that she will be eventually cleared of conspiring with Congress, the Department of Budget and Management and a host of other Executive agencies and local governments that served as conduits for the pocketing of billions upon billions of legislative pork. Napoles was not only concerned about her security when she gave herself up—she was also securing her get-out-of jail card from the President himself. Despite all the explanations of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda (who just happened to have worked for Napoles lawyer Lorna Kapunan in Kapunan’s law office), I am not convinced that the businesswoman surrendered only because she feared for her life. Instead, using the Lacson case and the previous preferential treatment accorded by Aquino to Napoles as guides, I would hazard a guess that the woman being blamed for the pork barrel scandal will never see the inside of a jail cell. A deal was hammered out to convince Napoles to surrender, that much is plain. And the fact that Aquino—who cannot even be bothered to appear during calamities—personally brought Napoles to the national police headquarters in Camp Crame is unsettling to those expecting that she should rot in jail for the rest of her life.
Roxas, Lacierda and the other Palace apologists say that the declaration of a P10-million bounty for information that would lead to Napoles’ arrest supposedly panicked the businesswoman and made her seek out Aquino. But I think that the “floating” of the idea that Napoles could turn state witness in the scandal— despite her being the “most guilty” in the matter—was the more important motivation for her to resurface; and if Napoles had been convinced to “sing” to stay out of jail, guess what her tune is going to sound like? Napoles is certainly not going to warble about Aquino, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Senate President Franklin Drilon, now that she has sought and received the protection of the administration. And if I were a politician who had employed Napoles’ services in the past and I happen to be out of Aquino’s favor, I would be very, very afraid. Somebody has got to take the fall for the theft of the pork barrel funds. And now that Napoles is under the protection of the Aquino administration, it certainly isn’t going to be anyone allied with Malacañang—or even, sadly, Napoles herself. *** No matter how the Palace spinners spin it, Napoles has always been a Palace favorite. This was why the businesswoman’s letter to Aquino last April, complaining about the National Bureau of Investigation’s alleged harassment of her brother Benjamin Lim, was so urgently acted upon by the President. That letter, which has supposedly gone missing, gave everyone an inkling of how close Napoles was to Aquino. And it bothers me that no one seems to have pursued the Aquino-Napoles relationship angle in the long-running story. (To this day, I don’t understand why no one has asked Aquino—or Abad or Drilon, for that matter—directly if he personally knows Napoles. Surely, there must be at least one reporter who can gather up the courage to ask such an important question.) Napoles’ letter to Aquino was what triggered the entire scandal, because it led to a series of official actions which began with the President directing Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to investigate the NBI agents identified by Napoles as those shaking down her brother. De Lima reportedly told NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas to look into the matter.
Rojas supposedly confronted his agents and told them that the President himself had expressed an interest in Lim’s case. The agents, fearing that they might lose their jobs because they thought, rightly or wrongly, that the President was on the side of Napoles and her brother, ran to a newspaper executive, who broke the story in her newspaper, through an aide of hers who got the “byline” credit. That was then; the Napoles surrender is “now.” And this latest episode still reinforces the belief that Napoles is such a big shot in this administration, for reasons that no official has sufficiently explained. *** Lacierda said yesterday that people should make up their mind about Napoles. First, he said, it was “arrest Napoles”; when she gave herself up, the administration was accused of giving her special treatment. But Lacierda has always been a little slow. He can’t understand that calls to arrest Napoles and giving her a tour of Malacañang, with the President himself escorting her to the sanctuary of her choice in Camp Crame, are not the same thing. This President is served by stupid people. No wonder he’s always getting into trouble.
Aquino calls off trip at China’s request By AFP | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:02am | 666 views 1
China on Thursday ‘requested’ the Foreign Affairs Department to postpone President Benigno Aquino III’s planned visit to Beijing next week, prompting the President to call off his trip to the Chinese capital, as the two nations continue to wrangle over maritime disputes. On Wednesday, Aquino announced that he would make the 12-hour trip to Nanning on September 3 to attend a trade fair and business conference called the China-ASEAN Expo. “The president has decided not to proceed, taking into consideration China’s request for the president to visit China at a more conducive time,” foreign affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a statement. The Chinese embassy could not be contacted for comment. Tensions between China and other claimants to the sea, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam, have escalated in recent years amid a series of Chinese political and military actions to assert its claims to the waters. The Philippines earlier this year had applied for its dispute with China to be arbitrated under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a 1982 treaty signed by both countries. China has rejected the Philippines’ call for UN arbitration, insisting on bilateral negotiations with its smaller neighbor. The annual Nanning exposition, which began in 2004, is intended to strengthen economic ties between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations of which the Philippines is a member. As Aquino cancelled his trip to Nanning, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel is on his second day of talks in Brunei where he warned fellow defense ministers that a growing number of maritime incidents and tensions in disputed Asian waters would increase the risk of a dangerous international confrontation.
Other than Brunei, the talks also include discussion with defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan, China, South Korea, the United States, Russia, India, Australia and New Zealand. “Actions at sea to advance territorial claims do not strengthen any party’s legal claim. Instead, they increase the risk of confrontation, undermine regional stability, and dim the prospects for diplomacy,” Hagel said. Some ministers from the 10-nation ASEAN bloc proposed practical steps to avert conflict, including setting up a hotline between Southeast Asian states and China, measures to avoid collisions and an agreement on “no first use of force”, US officials said. But the main diplomatic effort has centered on calls for a “code of conduct” for the South China Sea, a binding set of rules for a waterway believed to hold significant oil and gas deposits. The United States has backed the idea but China has shown little enthusiasm, though it promised this year to hold future discussions with ASEAN. Beijing, in fact, had said that it would “not shy away from problems” in disputed Asian waters, according to Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. Hagel met China’s defense minister General Chang Wanquan on the sidelines of the meeting in Brunei, after hosting him in Washington earlier this month. The high-level American attention on Southeast Asia, including stepped-up US military aid, is part of an effort by Washington to shift its strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific after a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hagel had said repeatedly that Washington is committed to its “rebalance” toward the AsiaPacific despite budget pressures at home and Middle East distractions. After his Brunei trip, Hagel is scheduled to meet Aquino today (Friday), to discuss the planned increase of American troops in the country. Hagel will also have meetings with his counterpart, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario. With Joyce Pangco-Panares, Ferdinand Fabella
All pork releases lead to Malacañang By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:02am | 949 views 11
All releases of pork barrel lead to Malacanang, with President Benigno Aquino III having the last say on who gets the grease, lawmakers and Palace officials said Thursday. Under Mr. Aquino, pork barrel allocations for Congress went up from P7.89 billion in 2008 during the Arroyo administration to P24.62 billion in 2011 and P25.24 billion next year, said former Iloilo City congressman Augusto Syjuco.
Syjuco said the President used some P310.1 billion in discretionary funds, including congressional pork barrel, to acuqire more power at the expense of the opposition. “President Aquino should not lie about his own pork barrel because he even increased the allocations so he would acquire more power so he can control the lawmakers and local executives,” Syjuco said. Former President Gloria Arroyo, he said, had allocated P7.89 billion in 2008, P9.67 billion in 2009 and P10.86 billion in 2010 for congressional pork, officially known as Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). “President Aquino immediately increased the PDAF to P24.62 billion in 2011, P24.89 billion in 2012, P24.89 billion this year and P25.24 billion for 2014,” said Syjuco. Syjuco said the President increased the budget allocations because he also increased the number of districts.
“President Aquino imposed gerrymandering and [used] the principle of divide and conquer because his only agenda was to annihilate the opposition just to suit his ego,” he said. He said the President wanted the ruling Liberal Party to rule the country “for as long as they can.” “President Aquino used the taxpayers’ money to get back at the opposition that did not agree with their positions,” he said. Syjuco said from 2010 to 2013, the President deprived his district of its rightful annual allocation of P70 million.” “Some 75,000 of my constituents signed a petition begging the President to grant us our PDAF because 2,000 of our constituents die annually because there was no allocation for medical assistance. My constituents were even deprived of PhilHealth cards,” Syjuco said. He described the President as “vindictive.” In Thursday’s budget hearing of the Agriculture Department in the House, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon and ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said President Aquino’s pork barrel allocations were also tainted with graft and corruption. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said he had in fact barred allocations to local government units for two years but that this was reversed by the Budget Department. “We cannot defy the order of the DBM. Even if we did not want to release the funds to some projects… We do not want a head-on collision with fellow government agencies,” Alcala told the House committee on appropriations, chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab. Alcala looked uncomfortable when Tinio demanded that he name the six lawmakers that allegedly allocated funds in 2012 to phony non-government organizations linked to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, who has been accused of masterminding a scam that siphoned billions of pesos in pork into ghost projects. Alcala named Ungab, Reps. Anton Lagdameo, Jr. of Davao del Norte, Scott Davies Lanete of Masbate, Neil Benedict Montejo of An-Waray and Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro. Alcala said of the P83.2 million, some P44 million had been released to Napoles’ group. Montejo and Ungab said their projects were accounted for and blamed the Commission on Audit for not being thorough in its probe.
Also in 2012, Ridon told the panel, some eight local government units that had signed organic farming agreements with the Agriculture Department allocated the funds to NGOs that may be linked to Napoles. Ridon said a certain Johnny Lim, a nephew of Napoles, and now whistleblower Merlina Sunas were signatories to the agreement as witnesses. Agriculture Undersecretary Antonio Fleta said some P100 million was involved in the organic farming projects. Fleta said they were not aware that some personalities closely linked to Napoles were involved in the projects since they rely mainly on the endorsement of the LGUs. Lim and Sunas signed for the LGUs, Fleta said. The projects involve organic agriculture programs in Nueva Ecija, Surigao del Sur, Pangasinan and several other provinces and municipalities. “These projects are part of DA’s national organic agriculture program and are financed by the Agriculture Department itself, not from PDAF funds. In other words, this reveals that the Napoles group’s operation is even far wider than what we thought, as they also operate inside agencies,” Ridon said. “This revelation tells us one thing: graft and corruption practices are not limited to PDAF – government agencies are also involved in this large-scale scam. While a full review and investigation of the PDAF should immediately be done, a multi-agency investigation should also be made,” Ridon said. At one point in Thursday’s hearing, Ungab asked Alcala point blank if his pork-funded projects were bogus. “Were those ghost projects? I know you know the answer,” he told Alcala. “As I have said, I am open to investigation.” Responding to the question, Alcala virtually cleared the panel chairman of any wrongdoing, saying that while the funds were channeled to Kaupdanan Para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KPMI), an NGO allegedly set up by Napoles, the projects were “properly” carried out and liquidated.
After the hearing, Alcala said his department would release the results of its own investigation into the pork barrel projects of the six lawmakers who had channeled funds to the Napoleslinked NGO. The department released a total of P44 million to KPMI. In the Senate, Commission on Audit chairman Grace Pulido-Tan told the Blue Ribbon Committee that senators who had channeled their pork to non-government organizations linked to Napoles confirmed their signatures on documents authorizing the transactions. Tan said at least four senators –Senator Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Gregorio Honasan and Jinggoy Estrada – reportedly transferred millions of their pork barrel funds to bogus organizations linked to Napoles. None of the senators named were at Thursday’s hearing but issued statements in support of the Senate investigation. Tan said based on an initial report, Revilla released almost P97 million of worth of allocations to one NGO, while Enrile released P24.25 million. Honasan released P14.55 million, she said. Tan said the senators confirmed these transactions by letter. Tan said two other senators were found to have used NGOs linked to Napoles, but she refused to name them until the audit report for 2011 and 2012 is released to the public. Among the NGOs linked to Napoles are Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc., Agriculture Para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Inc.; Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation Inc., Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc.; People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc.; Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc.; and Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc.With Maricel V. Cruz, Joel E. Zurbano and Rey E. Requejo
Today’s forecast: Cloudy skies By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:02am | 925 views 2
Tropical storm “Nando” left the Philippine area of responsibility on Thursday, but another low pressure area was spotted 1,140 kilometers east of Northern Luzon, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. Pagasa said there was no indication that the LPA will intensify into a storm or even make landfall, but it is expected to enter Philippine jurisdiction within 24 hours. If the LPA turns into a cyclone, it will be named “Odette.” Meantime, weathermen expected Nando, which was last spotted 840 kms north of Basco, Batanes or 380 kms north of Taiwan, was expected to continue to enhance the southwest monsoon and warned residents of Calayan, Babuyan and Batanes groups of islands against flash floods and landslides. Nando (international name: Kong-Rey) hit southern Taiwan with torrential rain, caused widespread flooding and disrupted air traffic in the island state on Thursday. At noon yesterday, Kong-Rey was 100 kms northeast of Taipei and moving north at 18 kph with gusts of 108 kph. The provinces of Ilocos Norte, Abra, Apayao, Cagayan and Mindanao is also expected to have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms. Metro Manila and the rest of the country is forecast to be partly cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.
‘Palace scripted Janet’s surrender’ By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:02am | 3,103 views 29
Give-away hint: Alleged special treatment accorded her MalacaÑang drew flak from various sectors following late Wednesday night’s surrender of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam involving lawmakers. Critics branded the surrender as an “ill-designed script” and a “political drama” staged by the Aquino administration to show that the President was serious in investigating the pork barrel controversy.
In custody. Wanted businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles is shown with her lawyer Lorna Kapunan while being questioned by presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras in Malacañang. MALACAÑANG PHOTO BUREAU Napoles’ surrender, indeed, had the hallmarks of a high political drama, with no less than President Benigno Aquino III himself receiving Napoles in Malacanang, prompting a militant peasant group leader to comment that “The (pork barrel) Queen will never surrender to anyone but to the King.” As quoted by presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, Aquino had instructed Philippine National Police Chief General Alan Purisima to ensure that the airconditioned room where she will be detained in Camp Crame was secured.
“So, I’ve already instructed (Philippine National Police chief) General Alan Purisima and (Interior) Secretary Mar Roxas to make sure your safety is assured,” Aquino had said, when Napoles personally surrendered to him at the Palace at around 9:37 p.m.. on Wednesday. Aquino had given the greenlight for Napoles’ request to surrender only to him amid alleged threats to her life. In exchange for the voluntary surrender, Napoles, who was clad in jeans, pink sneakers and a hoodie, was personally fetched by Lacierda, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, and Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III at the Heritage Park at 9:08 p.m. on Wednesday. She rode a government vehicle provided by Roxas, along with her husband, Jimmy Napoles, her lawyer Lorna Kapunan and the Cabinet officials who picked her up. Her two-vehicle convoy, complete with sweepers (motorcycle-riding policemen) arrived at the Palace at 9:37 p.m. Entering the Palace, Napoles, who has a P10 million bounty on her head, and her husband went through the regular security checks. Later, when she complained of palpitations en route to Malacañang, Napoles was checked by a doctor. After that, Napoles and her entourage went up to the receiving room at the second floor where she was received by the President, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, Presidential Communication Development Secretary Ramon Carandang, Roxas, and Purisima. The meeting lasted for about 10 minutes, where Kapunan thanked Aquino for agreeing to the voluntary surrender of her client. “The only thing that we started upon when we were discussing this whole thing was that Napoles would be provided ample protection from the threats on her life,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said there was no discussion on the P10 billion pork barrel scam and the lawmakers involved, or where Napoles hid to evade arrest and who helped her along the way. The genial treatment did not end there — Aquino decided to leave ahead for Camp Crame to ensure that her detention room was safe. “The President wanted to make sure that the area was secure, so he went in and inspected the premises,” Lacierda said. Napoles was never handcuffed at any time since she was fetched from Heritage Park. She rode with Kapunan in Lacierda’s vehicle, while the rest of the Cabinet officials except for Ochoa also joined the convoy in their respective cars to Camp Crame, where Napoles was first booked. Despite the perceived preferential treatment extended to Napoles, Lacierda insisted that what the government did was not extraordinary, nor did it betray any secret deal to spare administration allies when Napoles starts spilling the beans on the pork barrel abuses. “The President said that the presence of Ms. Napoles adds to finding out the truth and that is what is important. The President views this matter very seriously and he wanted to make sure that she is turned over to the police,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that she was safe rather than, if you don’t do anything, if you don’t take up this lead, what will you say? What you will tell us? That we did not arrest her?” Lacierda also lashed back at critics who raised the possibility that the surrender was scripted by the Palace, saying the government was in a damned if you, damned if you don’t situation. “Given the very controversial situation right now and the very explosive situation where Ms. Napoles finds herself in, being in the center of all this outrage, and considering that there were, according to their camp, there were serious threats on her life—in the words of Atty. Kapunan, there are those who intend to silence her permanently—the only person that they can trust is our President,” Lacierda added.
It was Lacierda who contacted Kapunan at 12:37 p.m. Wednesday after learning that Napoles was willing to surrender. He, however, denied that he made the first move owing to his ties with Kapunan. Lacierda’s first job after passing the bar was with the Roco-Buñag-Kapunan & Migallos. Lacierda also defended Aquino’s decision to receive Napoles at the Palace, saying other fugitives have surrendered in the past to previous presidents, citing the cases of Nicolas Enculado and Teodoro Asedillo who surrendered to the late President Manuel Quezon and rebel fighter Luis Taruc, who surrendered to President Ramon Magsaysay. Lacierda added that Napoles’ brother, Reynald Lim, will also surrender soon. Lim carries a P5 million bounty on his head. The two went into hiding after arrest warrants were released against them for allegedly detaining whistleblower Benhur Luy But the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said that Napoles’ surrender and assurance of her security, was “the first sign of political accommodation extended by Aquino as she can now be used as attack dog against the opposition. The KMP added that they don’t believe Napoles deserves to be a state witness on the case and called on the Filipino people to remain vigilant and continue to protest against the organized plunder of the nation’s coffers through the pork barrel system. Roxas, meanwhile, was also quoted that “there was no discussion of Napoles becoming a state witness, although he earlier tagged Napoles as “possible witness.” Lacierda also refuted statements that Napoles will be used as a witness to pin down enemies of the current administration. Meanwhile, the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) had ordered the transfer of Napoles to the Makati City Jail. Judge Elmo Alameda of RTC Branch 150 issued a commitment order on Thursday directing the MCJ warden to take custody of Napoles, who was
detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters after her surrender. The Makati court set Napoles’ arraignment on September 9 at 1:30 pm. Vice President Jejomar Binay, meanwhile, said it was “good” that Napoles surrendered. “I just hope that she will tell the truth and bare everything she knows so that those involved in the scam would be brought to justice and be made accountable for their transgressions to the Filipino people, regardless of their political affiliations,” Binay said. With Ferdinand Fabella, Fred VillarealJoel Zurbano and AFP
Janet’s place? By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:01am | 231 views
Police Colonel Roberto Fajardo inspects the Makati City jail cell where Janet Lim Napoles, accused of kidnapping, will be detained. Napoles is also suspected of masterminding the P10-billion pork scam. DANNY PATA
BSP sees inflation rate dropping below 2.5% By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:02am | 154 views
Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said Thursday inflation rate in August likely decelerated further from the previous month’s 2.5 percent because of lower electricity charges. “August inflation is expected to remain benign at 1.9 percent to 2.7 percent despite the recent weather disturbances, peso weakness and uptick in petrol prices,” Tetangco said in a text message to reporters. “Lower power charges could temper price pressures during the month,” he said. Tetangco said the Bangko Sentral would continue to closely monitor incipient price pressures to ensure the economy was running as efficiently as possible. The National Statistics Office said inflation rate in July settled at 2.5 percent, given the lower price increases in utilities and select commodities and services. This brought the average inflation rate in the first seven months to 2.9 percent, lower than the government’s target range of 3 percent to 5 percent for the whole year. Tetangco earlier said inflation rate would continue to be benign this year, providing the bank room to make further adjustments to policy stance if needed, to address possible effects of changes in the growth trajectory of the Philippines’ main trading partners, including the United States, Japan and China. The July inflation rate was far lower than the 3.2-percent recorded in the same month last year. Inflation rate started the year at 3 percent in January and accelerated in February to 3.4 percent due to increases in the prices of commodities. It slowed to 3.2 percent in March, 2.6 percent in April and remained at that level in May.
Govt holding new LRT 1 bidding in Q4 By Lailany P. Gomez | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:02am | 368 views The Transportation Department will rebid the P60-billion Light Rail Transit Line 1 Cavite extension project in the fourth quarter, after the special bids and awards committee declared the first bidding on Aug. 15 a failure. Transportation Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla said the rebidding would most likely happen in the fourth quarter, “considering the timing.” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya decided that the terms of the bidding for LRT 1 extension should go back to the National Economic and Development Authority for approval before the rebidding, Lotilla said. PPP Center executive director Cosette Canilao was earlier quoted as saying the bidding committee had issued a resolution declaring a failure of bidding. Transportation Department spokesman Michael Arthur Sagcal, however, said the resolution had yet to be signed. “It’s still being routed for signatures,” he said in a text message. The Transportation Department said the project would proceed as scheduled despite the failed bidding, after only one of the four consortiums submitted a bid with conditions. The bidding committee said the bidders’ primary concern was the commercial viability of the project. Light Rail Manila Consortium, a joint venture between the Ayala Group and Metro Pacific Investment Corp., was the only party that submitted a qualified offer with certain conditions. AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., a unit of Ayala Corp., however, decided not to participate in the bidding, but said it was still willing to join in the rebidding, if the government improved the terms of the contract. The three other pre-qualified consortiums—San Miguel’s SMC Infra Resources Inc., DMCI Holdings Inc. and MTD-Samsung Consortium of Malaysia and Korea—withdrew their participation in the project, citing financial issues.
DAR sets November sked on Luisita land distribution By Rio N. Araja | Posted on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:01am | 118 views
AFTER the distribution of certificates of land ownership of awards in September, the Department of Agrarian Reform will install the 6,212 farmer-beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac by October until November. Undersecretary for Legal Anthony Parungao, in an interview, said the agency has generated at least 4,300 CLOAs for processing of transfer of certificates of titles as over 1,900 CLOAS are still being generated by DAR for submission to the registry of deeds in Tarlac. While the registry of deeds is fast-tracking the transfer of land titles into the individual names of the beneficiaries, DAR’s surveyor will simultaneously put up markers to set the boundaries of lot parcels assigned to 6,212 farmerbeneficiaries through a raffle draw using a tambiolo. “We will start distributing copies of the CLOAs next month and at the same time, fabricate monuments,” Parungao told the Manila Standard. The CLOA release is tantamount to the full distribution of the land, he noted. The installation of farmers is scheduled to take place in October until November, he said.
AMLC gets green light to examine 430 Napoles bank accounts August 29, 2013 10:25 pm by JOMAR CANLAS SENIOR REPORTER THE Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) will scrutinize hundreds of bank deposits belonging to Janet Lim Napoles and members of her family, several non-government organizations (NGOs) and associates of the woman who is suspected to be the mastermind of the pork barrel scam. The Court of Appeals (CA) on Thursday empowered the AMLC to scrutinize the 430 accounts in nine banks of Napoles, her husband, children and the NGOs she set up. The Court’s Special Second Division gave the AMLC five months to examine the deposits and submit its findings. Aside from Napoles, the council will look into the bank deposits of Jaime Napoles, the husband of the businesswoman who surrendered to President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday night, and their children Jo Christine, James Christopher, John Christian, Jeane and Jane Napoles and Janet’s brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim. Reynald, who was ordered arrested by a Makati Court on charges of illegal detention, has gone into hiding. The AMLC will also scrutinize the accounts of former Napoles employee Benhur Luy, his mother Gertrudes and Arthur Luy, Merlina Sunas, Evelyn Ditchon De Leon, Marina Sula, Nova Kaye Dulay Batal, Ronald Lim and Simonette Briones. The AMLC will go over the account of Abundant Harvest For People’s Foundation Inc, Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Bukirin Tanglaw Foundation, Countrywide Agricultural and Rural Economic Development Foundation, A Smile Foundation, JCLN Global Properties Development Corp., JCLN Real Estate Consortium Inc., JLN Construction and Devt. Corp., JLN Corp. Jo-Christine Trading and ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. The accounts are in Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, Citibank, Bank of Philippine Islands, Land Bank of the Philippines, Banco De Oro, Insular Bank, Metrobank, United Coconut Planters Bank and Air Materiel Wing Inc.The Court said “there is probable cause to believe that the bank accounts belonging to or in the name of the aforementioned individuals and other persons or corporation entities mentioned above may be related to an unlawful activity.”
Barangay Bel-Air chairman used ‘pork’ to pay favored caterer August 29, 2013 10:21 pm by JOEL M. SY EGCO ASSIGNMENTS EDITOR
Second of Three Parts What graft investigator Janice O. Baltazar failed to discover was that Two Chefs, the food firm that cornered contracts from Barangay Bel-Air in Makati City, had been doing business with barangay officials for years. In fact, before the questionable catering deal worth P116,900 was discovered and became the basis for charges against barangay officials, the food contracts given to Two Chefs, which was owned by the daughter-in-law of village chief Constancia “Nene” Lichauco, were more expensive, if not more blatantly illegal, since the money used to pay the contracts came from Lichauco’s own discretionary funds. Records from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) show that the company was registered in October 1996 with a capital stock of only P10,000. The Lichaucos are listed as the original incorporators. Four of them —Francisco Jr., Ma. Theresa, German and Ma. Liza—have the same home address, 17 Aquarius St., Bel-Air. The village chief lives in the same address. Patricia Warren, Lichauco’s daughter-in-law, gave her address as Antipolo Street, Guadalupe Nuevo also in Makati. Order slips bearing the logo of Two Chefs were all signed by Patricia using the surname Warren to conceal her links to her mother-in-law. The Manila Times was able to get copies of several order slips. A certificate of creditable tax and another certificate of final tax for the period May 1 to 31, 2007 bore the name and signature of the barangay chairman as representative of payor and Two Chefs as payee. ‘Indiscretionary’ fund On August 12, 2003, Lichauco requested P550,721.08 released as “payment for the discretionary (sic) of bgy. Captain for the month of April & May 2003” under Request for Obligation and Appropriations (ROA) No. 0308-018 signed by Lichauco, Ignacio Macrohon, former chairman of the committee of canvass and Zoilo Lindo, former barangay treasurer.
The following day, a Disbursement Voucher (DV 2003-0819) was issued authorizing the “withdrawal from LBP account as payment for the discretionary of barangay Captain for the month of April and May 2003, as per attached supporting documents in the amount of—Referenced with RO No. 03-08-018.” The account was recorded as “payables, barangay obligations.” Subsequently, a Land Bank check for P547 million and bearing account number 000052-1309-05 was issued to “CONSTANCIA Q. LICHAUCO.” What is odd in this transaction is that under the “Summary of Expenses for the month of April & May 2003” that was approved by Lindo and “noted” by Lichauco herself, bulk of the discretionary fund that was released to the barangay chieftain would represent payment to Two Chefs Corp. in the amount of P404,560. The document indicated that the payment covers food delivered for several meetings of the Pasinaya committee, dancers, choir and rehearsals between April 4 and May 25. Fake assembly On December 28, 2006, Lichauco again requested the approval of ROA No. 00-61-376 representing payment of P280,000 to Two Chefs for “foods served on official activities.” The Disbursement Voucher (DV No. 2006-1342) issued and dated on the same day, gave the following particulars: “Withdrawal from LBP account as payment for the food served during yearend barangay assembly, in the amount of—Referenced with ROA No. 00-61-376.” As proof of payment, Two Chefs Corporation issued official receipt (OR) No. 886 dated January 5, 2007, or eight days from when the request for payment was made by Lichauco. The OR indicated that the payment was for “yearend bgy assembly.” Another Two Chefs receipt, OR No. 909 dated June 5, 2007 also in possession of the Times, shows that the barangay paid P109,593.75 for “Bands for Fiesta.” For purposes of comparison, a Disbursement Voucher dated “11/26/10” released during the time of former Barangay Captain Victor Gomez Jr. indicated that Bel-Air only paid P7,500 to La Classica Catering Services for “food served during barangay assembly on November 23, 2010.” A Development Bank of the Philippines check (35457000) dated November 26, 2010 was issued to the caterer.
Illegal church donation Interestingly, a Subsidiary Ledger under the account of “Donations” bearing Fund Code 878 also shows that Bel-Air debited P168,000 to Two Chefs. The same ledger shows that the barangay donated P300,000 to St. Andrew the Apostle Parish as “financial assistance” on March 14, 2007. Under the principle of the separation of the Church and the State, the government is not allowed to make such a huge donation. Besides, under COA rules, a barangay “cannot appropriate public money or property for religious or private purposes.” The following amounts were also donated to various entities: - P1.3 million to Excelsion Trading for various items for donation to various non government organizations (Sept. 19, 2007); - P400,000 to Bel-Air Village Association Bingo for a cause (October 17, 2007); - P100,000 to Sonny Arevalo- financial assistance for poor families of St. Martin day Care Center (Nov. 21, 20070; http://www.manilatimes.net/barangay-bel-air-chairman-used-pork-to-payfavored-caterer/34669/
P457-M rice import overpricing bared August 29, 2013 10:20 pm by JING VILLAMENTE REPORTER
OFFICIALS of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) are being implicated in the P547-million overpricing of a shipment of rice from Vietnam in April. In a statement, activist and lawyer Argee Guevarra on Thursday said industry sources have provided him proof that on top of the 187,000 metric tons of rice it imported, the NFA inserted purchases of another 18,700 metric tons without approval from the Department of Finance under the Fiscal Incentive Review Board (FIRB), illegally increasing the volume of the grains import to 205,700 metric tons. Guevarra said the documents showed the DA purchased the 187,000 metric tons at $459 (P19,762.95) per metric ton. The prevailing market price in Vietnam for the same volume was $360 per metric ton (P15,480). Guevarra said a check with the Oryza Global Rice price for the period will confirm that the NFA overpriced the shipment by at least $10,439,275 or roughly P457 million. Guevarra said that industry experts who spoke to him on condition of anonymity revealed that the landed cost of Vietnamese rice—inclusive of handling and delivery— should only be $409 or P17,587. Clearly, he said, there was an overprice of P2,100 per metric ton. “Secretary (Proceso) Alcala should be more circumspect now in his rice importation where the price disparity is already indicative of the potential hand of rice price profiteers,” he warned. Guevarra said he is considering filing a graft complaint against Agriculture and NFA officials who may be behind the overpricing before the Office of the Ombudsman or the newly created Inter Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council. He also voiced fears in the rice industry that profiteers would again manipulate the planned importation of 700,000 metric tons of rice in November. During the administration of President Gloria Arroyo, the rice importation policy set by the NFA triggered an artificial global rice price hike wherein corrupt NFA officials leveraged importation requirements in commodities futures-like trading.
The series of rice importations was done amid tight import restrictions on private rice traders, which go against the country’s commitment to free trade as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Philippines was last granted by the WTO in 2005 the option to regulate rice imports through the imposition of trade quota or quantitative restriction (QR) to protect the price of domestically-produced goods to decrease or eliminate a trade deficit. The restriction expired in June 2012, allowing private traders from importing rice again.
Makati jail awaits Napoles August 29, 2013 10:26 pm by ANTHONY VARGAS , RITCHIE A. HORARIO AND JHOANNA BALLARAN CORRESPONDENT AND REPORTERS
A police officer holds mug shots of Napoles. Photos Miguel De Guzman And Malacañang
A spartan dormitory at the Makati City Jail will be home for Janet Lim-Napoles for the next several months as she awaits trial for serious illegal detention. However, as of press time, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam who surrendered to President Benigno Aquino 3rd Wednesday night had yet to be committed to the jail. Napoles was at Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the whole day Thursday, where she was detained. Chief Inspector Fermin Enriquez said Napoles will be locked up at Makati jail’s Dormitory 2 and share quarters with 52 other women detainees. Because Napoles is a high-profile inmate, Enriquez said security at the jail will be doubled. A 20member augmentation force from the PNP, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and Makati police has been assigned to the facility. Enriquez said there will no preferential treatment for Napoles. “She will be placed inside the dorm like an ordinary inmate,” he said. Enriquez discounted the possibility that the other inmates would harm Napoles. Once she arrives at the facility, Napoles will be booked and subjected to physical and medical examinations. She can accept visitors during visiting hours except on Mondays. A team from the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) headed by Col. Roberto Fajardo inspected the jail late Thursday. Judge Elmo Alameda on Thursday ordered the Makati jail warden to take custody of Napoles. Court sheriff Bong Carreon immediately brought the commitment order to Camp Crame.
However, Napoles’ counsel Lorna Kapunan filed a motion late yesterday afternoon asking that the court allow Napoles to stay either at the PNP detention center or in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. Alameda set Napoles’ arraignment on September 9. Napoles and her brother Reynald were charged with serious illegal detention by her former employee, Ronald Luy. Napoles was holed up at the office of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas while waiting to be transferred to the Makati jail. Police officials refused to provide reporters details about Napoles’ stay at Camp Crame, except to say that she had been fingerprinted and photographed. Napoles went to Malacanang Wednesday night to surrender to President Aquino, who, hours before, had offered a P10 million reward for any information that would led to the arrest of the fugitive and her brother Benhur Lim. Defensive Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda defended the process by which Napoles was received by the President after some groups criticized Aquino for receiving Napoles in Malacañang and escorting her to Camp Crame. Lacierda said that securing Napoles’ safety was the Palace’s main consideration. He added that Napoles surrendered to Aquino because she only trusted the President. “If ever we did not act on the threat and something happened to her, and we were told that there was a threat and we did not act on it, what will the public say?” he said. “Isn’t it better to receive her in person, make sure that she is safe and then the process of moving towards the truth will start?” Lacierda said there will be no VIP treatment for Napoles despite the fact that the President himself inspected her detention quarters in Camp Crame. Lacierda said the process was observed because it was “part of the voluntary surrender that they requested.” He said Aquino did not escort Napoles to Camp Crame and the President was not in the police convoy. Lacierda said that at 8:06 p.m. on Wednesday, he, Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon 3rd and deputy spokesman Abigail Valte were led by Napoles’ husband Jimmy and Kapunan to Heritage Park in Fort Bonifacio. Napoles, wearing a hoodie, arrived at 9:08 p.m. together with an assistant who carried her things. The group arrived at the Malacañang at around 9:37 p.m. They were received by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Roxas, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang and PNP chief Alan Purisima. Lacierda said Napoles did not admit to anything. She did not say where she hid or who gave her protection while she was being hunted by government authorities. Now that Napoles is under custody, Lacierda said the nation can “move forward” in searching of the truth behind the scam. He expressed dismay at criticisms that Napoles’ surrender was scripted.
“When she wasn’t captured, the public was mad at us. When she was captured, when she voluntarily surrendered—which is better than to chase her—she voluntarily surrendered, she turned herself in; she’s already in our custody and yet the public is still mad at us,” Lacierda said. He said many other presidents had welcomed the voluntary surrender of high-profile fugitives, mentioning President Manuel Quezon who received a Tayabas bandit named Nicolas Enculado and another bandit named Teodoro Asedillo. “I don’t know if that was the same sentiment that people had when Luis Taruc surrendered to President Magsaysay or when Acedillo surrendered to the president. Did it make Acedillo untouchable? Did it make Luis Taruc untouchable? The case will move forward. She will be prosecuted according to what evidence we have,” he said. Lacierda said the detention of Napoles is “a step towards the right direction of achieving justice and finally uncovering the truth concerning the alleged misuse of a PDAF.” Roxas said Napoles’ transfer to the Makati jail was delayed because there were threats to her life. He said they are considering holding Napoles in a small and separate room inside the jail. WITH REPORTS FROM ALVINA ADORA
Abalos wraps up graft trial in NBNZTE deal August 29, 2013 7:47 pm by JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON REPORTER
4 recruiters suspended over sex-forflight scheme August 29, 2013 7:47 pm by ROBERTZON F. RAMIREZ
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac reiterated to the recruitment agencies that violates the POEA rules seeking to protect Filipino household service workers abroad will be liable for their actions. This after Cacdac ordered the preventive suspension of four recruitment agencies that deployed OFWs who fell victims to the ‘sex-for-flight’ scheme. These agencies are Kozen International Inc., Azizzah International Manpower Services, Jobstar International Manpower Service, and Ideal Placement and Manpower Services. Cacdac said the four agencies were found to have violated POEA rules in the engagements of misrepresentation, contract substitution, illegal collection of placement fee, and other recruitment violations in the process of recruitment and deployment of OFWs Elena Beleta and Grace Victoria Sales. “The evidence is strong indicating that the complainant’s documents were reprocessed—having been deployed by a recruitment agency other than the one she [Beleta] originally applied with, and was made to work for a different position and employer other than what she initially applied and accepted for employment,” Cacdac said. In a sworn statement, Beleta allegedly applied as beautician with Azizzah International and paid the agency P15,000 as placement fee, but her
documents were submitted by Kozen International for processing as a female nurse at the POEA. The Department of Labor and Employment investigating team chaired by Atty. Leah Fortuna endorsed the two cases to POEA, seeking for legal action on the allegations of the complainants. Sales’ complaint-affidavit said that she applied as household service worker with Jobstar International, in December 2011 and was required to pay a placement fee to be deducted from her salary of 800 riyals. Upon the verification of Sales’ records, it was discovered that her documents were processed by Ideal Placement for a housekeeping position at AMI Saudi Arabia Limited/Security Forces Hospital with a monthly salary of $314. Cacdac said that he found strong evidence that Jobstar International and Ideal Placement committed serious violations of the POEA rules on recruitment and deployment of OFWs. Cacdac also ordered the suspension of AMI Saudi Arabia Limited and Samaya Advanced Dental Polyclinic—the foreign agencies of the recruitment agencies—and their inclusion in the POEA list of agencies and principals temporarily disqualified from recruiting Filipino workers for overseas employment. Recently, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz reminded recruitment agencies ‘not to lose sight of their duty’ to protect domestic workers deployed abroad. “The obligation of a licensed recruitment agency to its hired OFWs does not end upon their deployment to the worksite. The recruitment agency has continues obligation to ensure protection of workers, especially domestic workers,” Baldoz disclosed. A preventive suspension is issued against licensed recruitment agencies or employers when there are reasonable grounds to believe that their continued operation will lead to further violation and exploitation of workers’ recruited. http://www.manilatimes.net/4‐recruiters‐suspended‐over‐sex‐for‐flight‐ scheme/34575/
Customs slaps raps on submarine smuggler August 29, 2013 7:46 pm by RAADEE S. SAUSA
Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Ruffy Biazon on Thursday, led other customs officials informally charging Caloocan City-based trader Roberto Navarra and his licensed customs broker Lucman Calbe Jr. at the Department of Justice (DOJ) for their attempt to smuggle a recreational submarine worth P5 million from Korea. In a statement, Biazon said that Navarra and Calbe violated Sections 2503 and 2530 of the Tariffs and Customs Code of the Philippines as amended, and Article 172, in relation to Article 171 and Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code when they tried illegally slip the recreational submarine into the country by misdeclaring it as outboard motor parts and accessories at the Manila International Container Port on March 12. The submarine shipment from Korea was consigned to Dionysus Trading, a company owned by Navarra. Biazon also noted that the BOC’s regular filing of cases against suspected smugglers, which is done every other Thursday will bring the message to all traders that attempting to circumvent our customs laws will only get them in trouble. “It won’t pay to try to save on duties and taxes through smuggling as the Bureau of Customs will never allow that,” Biazon said, adding that, “We will prosecute and go for the maximum penalties allowed by law for all those caught attempting to violate our laws.” Navarra’s submarine shipment arrived as a complete knock down kit stuffed in one 40-footer container van. http://www.manilatimes.net/customs‐slaps‐raps‐on‐submarine‐ smuggler/34573/
Health office fire guts medical supply facility August 29, 2013 7:45 pm by MOH I. SAADUDDIN
COTABATO CITY: A fire gutted the medical supply building of the Department of Health in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DOH-ARMM) here on Tuesday reportedly caused by faulty electrical short circuit, damaging P2-million worth of medicines and equipment, regional authorities said. No one was reported hurt in the fire, which started at about 10:30 a.m. during working hours of the employees, DOH-ARMM consultant Dr. Ariadne Silongan told reporters. The building is situated at the DOH-ARMM regional office inside the ARMM compound here. “The fire was quick to spread but firemen arrived just in time and prevented the spread to other buildings,” Silongan told reporters. Dr. Kadil Sinolinding Jr., DOH-ARMM secretary, said damages were estimated at P2-million worth of medicines and medical equipment stored at a stockroom gutted by the fire. http://www.manilatimes.net/health-office-fire-guts-medical-supplyfacility/34567/
China withdraws invitation for Aquino to attend trade expo August 29, 2013 7:20 pm
Beijing has withdrawn its invitation to President Benigno Aquino 3rd to attend the ChinaAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations Expo for Complex Trade Show (Caexpo) in the province of Nanning. “The President has decided not to proceed to Caexpo taking into consideration China’s request for the President to visit China at a more conducive time,” Raul Hernandez, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said. Hernandez did not say what prodded China’s “request.” He however said the Philippines “will continue to abide by our principled position that bilateral relations can advance despite differences.” The 10th Caexpo will be from September 3 to 6. The Philippines is the “country of honor” in the expo, tradition dictates that the President must attend. This year also marks the Philippines-China Years of Friendly Exchanges, an initiative by the two countries “to encourage more people-to-people exchanges in order to strengthen understanding and mutual trust between them.” At the 9th Caexpo, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas attended in behalf of President Aquino. He was received by then Vice President Xi Jinping, now the leader of more than 1.2 billion Chinese. This year’s Caexpo was scheduled for September 20 to 24, but had to be reset so that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang can attend. Mr. Aquino last visited China was in 2011 when he met outgoing President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. That was before the two-month naval standoff at the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal, which triggered massive tensions between Manila and Beijing. Since Xi became president of China, he has met with all the region’s leaders except Mr. Aquino. A meeting between the two leaders was sought during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Vladivostok, Russia, last year but it never took place. The exchanges in the Caexpo are expected to create business opportunities for enterprises that can promote and deepen strategic partnerships between China and the Asean member-nations. Asean is composed of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Brunei Darussalam.
Four of the 10-member bloc are claimants to the resource-rich region that Beijing claims in whole. Aside from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam also have claims on the territories. Relations between Manila and Beijing soured when a naval standoff ensued last year. Early this year, the Philippines brought the dispute before the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (Itlos). China refused to participate in the arbitral proceedings, but the Philippines is adamant the case can move on without Beijing. Manila hopes the tribunal can invalidate Beijing’s nine-dash line. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON
‘MARING’ AFFECTED TEACHERS TO GET CALAMITY LOANS August 29, 2013 7:19 pm by Neil A. Alcober
THE Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday assured the availability of calamity loans for its public school teachers and non-teaching personnel affected by last week’s monsoon rains and Tropical Storm Maring [international codename: Trami]. Based on the DepEd Order 10 s. 2011, teachers and nonteaching personnel can apply for a calamity loan as much as P20, 000 with an interest rate of 6 percent per annum. The loan is payable in 24 equal monthly instalments for two years, automatically deducted in the payroll. Education Secretary Armin Luistro said applications for calamity loan must be received within two months after the area has been declared under the state of calamity. http://www.manilatimes.net/maring-affected-teachers-to-get-calamityloans/34516/
Muslim governors cry against abolition of ‘pork barrel’ August 29, 2013 7:21 pm COTABATO CITY: The elected leaders from Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) opposed the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), well known as “pork” subsidy, though anything related to “pork” is haram or forbidden in Islam. Abolishing PDAF would not solve corruption and that the fund can instead be restructured with “safety nets” because it supplements subsidies in the impoverished autonomous region, said Gov. Mujiv Hatam of ARMM, a former party list representative. Hataman believed that scrapping the fund would only worsen poverty in ARMM, which covers the poor provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao said that PDAF subsidies should be focused on gray areas of community development such as education, which his office has been addressing alone sans any counterpart from allotments coursed through congressmen. So far, PDAF had helped link up his province to Internet. Gov. Mamintal Alonto-Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur expressed similar sentiment, saying PDAF has been effectively complementing development efforts in his province. One thing he objected is the use of term “pork,” suggesting its replacement by a tag inclusive to all religions. Adiong is son of the late undefeated Lanao del Sur governor and former three-term Rep. Mamintal Adiong Sr. and is elder brother of former acting Gov. Ansaruddin of ARMM, now a neophyte congressman of the province’s first district. Earlier, elected officials of PDAF-beneficiary-communities in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi were reported as expressing concern against compounded “deprivation” in their villages if the widely reviled fund is scrapped. Both provinces now have two neophyte Congressional representatives. For her part, Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza of North Cotabato, a former three-term member of the House of Representative, expressed a neutral stand.
She said Congress should “listen” to the call of anti-PDAF protesters, adding though that any group or individuals involved in the misuse of the “accommodation” fund should be dealt with in “due process.” Rep. Nancy Catamco of North Cotabato (Second District), meanwhile, explained that a P13-million portion of her PDAF allocation had not been spent because of disagreements in its implementation for reforestation. http://www.manilatimes.net/muslim-governors-cry-against-abolition-of-porkbarrel/34520/
Market recovers on Q2 GDP growth August 29, 2013 7:36 pm by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR REPORTER The country’s second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 7.5 percent helped the market pull off a quick recovery, after having been through steep declines in the past two trading days. Elizabeth Abadillo, analyst at Angping and Associates Securities Inc., said in a text message that the market managed to recover from two-day sharp declines because of the strong second-quarter GDP growth. Jun Calaycay, Accord Capital Equities Corp. analyst, said that share prices traced an expected path drawn by both near-term fundamental and technical influences. “Sustained robust economic growth, an overnight decent rise in US equities and technically oversold market conditions lent a positive bias to Thursday’s trades. From being the worst performing market in the last two days, the PSEi [Philippine Stock Exchange index] emerged with top billing in the region today [Thursday],” she added. From a two-day bloodshed, the bellweather index jumped 3.59 percent, or 206.15 points to 5,944.21. The wider all-shares barometer rose by 3.23 percent, or 113.53 points to 3,629.08. “The PSEi easily closed the latest of two gaps that opened in the last six days, restoring the measure above 5,900 [points] at the noon recess. The surge is supported by volume with aggregate value just under the P4-billion mark at the break,” Calaycay said. Also, all the sectors finally recovered from their steep correction in the past two days. Property, holding firms and financials went past the other sectors after rising by more than 4 percent each. Industrial and services jumped by more than 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively, while mining and oil went up by less than 1 percent. Total value turnover stood at P9.67 billion with advancers edging losers, 117 to 38. Some of the top gainers on Thursday were Jollibee Foods Corp., BDO Unibank Inc., Energy Development Corp., Ayala Corp., Megaworld Corp. and Alliance Global Group Inc. From Tuesday until Wednesday, Philippine shares were stuck on the red side amid tensions in Syria, local geopolitical issues and reports of the US Federal Reserve tapering its stimulus program.
Peso stays at 44 to a dollar August 29, 2013 7:33 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER
The Philippine peso stayed at the P44 to a dollar territory despite the release of the second-quarter gross domestic product figure. The local currency closed at P44.75 to a dollar on Thursday, the same as Wednesday’s close. For Arsenio Balisacan, director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, with the strong macroeconomic fundamentals, the country has the means to manage risks that arise with volatilities, including those of the stock market and Philippine peso. The Philippine economy managed to expand by 7.5 percent for the second quarter of the year. “It is important to recognize that these volatility is externally driven . . . uncertainties in the case of the United States tapering of the quantitative easing, and the Syrian and Egyptian crisis that could affect oil prices,” he said. Balisacan admitted that no economy is immune from the impact of that crisis . . . but with its macroeconomic situation, the Philippines was in much better position compared to other economies in terms of inflation and current accounts. He noted that the country’s inflation rate, which was at the lowend of the target rate, can still absorb the inflationary impact of the peso deprecation. “This gives the Bangko Sental ng Pilipinas enough flexibility to counter some adverse effects of volatility,” Balisacan said. http://www.manilatimes.net/peso‐stays‐at‐44‐to‐a‐dollar/34561/
Aug. inflation seen at 1.9% to 2.7% August 29, 2013 7:33 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Thursday said that inflation this month likely settled below the 3-percent to 5-percent full-year target. “August inflation is expected to remain benign at 1.9 percent to 2.7 percent despite the recent weather disturbances, peso weakness and uptick in petrol prices,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a text message to reporters. Weather disturbances battered the Philippines this month resulting in agricultural damage amounting to P2.6 billion, while the peso recorded its weakest level when it entered the P44 to a dollar territory last week. However, Tetangco explained that lower power charges could temper price pressures during the month, as the Manila Electric Co. reduced electricity rates by P0.35 a kilowatt-hour in August. “The BSP will nevertheless continue to closely monitor incipient price pressure to help ensure that the economy runs as efficiently as possible,” he said. Earlier, the central bank reported that the headline inflation for the second quarter of the year eased to 2.6 percent from the 3.2 percent a quarter ago. It said that the second-quarter inflation figure brought the year-to-date average inflation rate to 2.9 percent. It was also slightly below the government’s 2013 inflation target range of 4 percent plus or minus 1 percentage point. http://www.manilatimes.net/aug‐inflation‐seen‐at‐1‐9‐to‐2‐7/34558/
NFA starts early paddy rice procurement August 29, 2013 7:26 pm by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ REPORTER
State-run National Food Authority (NFA) has instructed its regional offices to intensify palay (paddy or unmilled rice) procurement as major riceproducing provinces starts early harvest. NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag said that rice farmers in Western and Eastern Visayas, Western and Southern Mindanao, and in Cagayan Valley have started the harvesting of their crops. “We should start procurement as early as now to effectively capture a sizeable portion of the main crop for the country’s food security stocks,” Calayag said to all NFA regional managers. Although the main crop harvest traditionally starts in September, some farmers who planted early have started harvesting as early as mid-August. This early harvest is expected to boost the country’s rice stocks, he added. Bulk of the harvest from the rice production areas of Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions will come in during the harvest months of September to November. Based on the latest project of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the National Rice Program expects palay production to reach 349,000 metric tons (MT) in July; 776,360 MT in August and 2.15 million MT in September. As of August 13, the national rice inventory was recorded at 604,762 metric tons, or about 12 million bags. Meanwhile, Calayag said that the NFA continues its market monitoring nationwide, adding that the public is encouraged to call the NFA at 4550632 to report any observed price increases. The early harvesting of palay is part of the government’s adjustment in the rice cropping schedules to help farmers in major rice-producing provinces to veer away from typhoon-prone months of September to October, and to ensure stable rice production. The DA encouraged early cropping during the dry season to produce at least 47 percent of the target production for the year. The remaining
volume was produced during the wet season and during the third cropping period. The government is hoping to gradually increase the volume of palay produced during the dry season to 60 percent of the production target, while the remaining 40 percent of the annual requirement would be produced during the wet season and the third cropping period. BAS earlier said that palay production is expected to increase in the second half of the year, because of expansions in harvest areas and better yield results from increased government interventions in all rice-producing regions. It also said that probable palay production for July to December 2013 was at 10.46 million MT, or 3.1 percent higher than last year’s 10.14 million MT. Harvest area for the period may expand by 2.3 percent to 2.72 million hectares, from 2.65 million hectares in 2012. Yield may increase by 0.8 percent, from 3.82 MT to 3.85 MT each hectare. In the first half of 2013, palay production reached almost 8 million MT, or 1.3 percent higher than the 7.9 million MT output in 2012. Palay production for calendar year 2013 may reach 18.4 million MT, 2.3 percent higher than the 18 million MT output in 2012—attributable to the expansions in harvest areas and improvement in yield. However, this year’s total palay production remains lower than the 20 million MT target set by the National Rice Program. http://www.manilatimes.net/nfa‐starts‐early‐paddy‐rice‐procurement/34537/
BSP, PDIC sign new MOA on bank examination August 29, 2013 7:26 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) have signed an amended memorandum of agreement (MOA) on bank examination, that would enhance regulatory and policy frameworks of the monetary institutions. “Equally important, this amended MOA reflects our continuing cooperation to ensure that our joint working arrangements are responsive to the changes taking place in the operating environment of our supervised and regulated institutions,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco in a speech said. He explained that the original agreement on bank examination, which was signed on October 11, 2005, created the overall framework for the institutions to supervise banks through the conduct of on-site examinations, jointly or independently. “While the original MOA has served us well, we recognized the need to align it with current supervisory procedures, practices and requirements,” he said. Tetangco noted that the amended agreement harmonizes the BSP and PDIC’s examination procedures to avoid overlapping of functions and efforts, enhances data-sharing arrangement and maximizes the use of reports and resources. It also provides the PDIC more flexibility in terms of the types of banks it can jointly examine with the BSP, defines the specific findings/information that the BSP examiners can share with PDIC examiners, and considers the provisions as well as rules and regulations of Republic Act 9576, which amended the PDIC Charter, he said. “With these amendments, we look forward to the PDIC and the BSP being able to address examination findings and violations with expediency . . . especially those involving unsafe and unsound banking activities,” he said. Tetangco added that the amendment is consistent with the thrust of the BSP and the PDIC to promote and strengthen good governance practices in supervised banks to ensure the stability of the banking system at all times. “We look forward therefore to exploring new projects and expanding existing initiatives with the PDIC to realize our shared goal of delivering a better quality of life to Filipinos through a sound and responsive banking system,” Tetangco said.
Africans use PH farming methods August 29, 2013 7:25 pm
Trainees from the first and second batches of African extension agronomists trained at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) are currently implementing their own local PalayCheck systems in their respective countries, and the training of a new batch is ongoing. Lea Abaoag, head of the Technology Management and Services Division of PhilRice, said that the training of the African extension agronomists by the agency was conducted through the partnership of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and PhilRice under the overall South-South Cooperation project, an initiative of the Coalition for Africa Rice Development to increase rice production in Africa. Abaoag, who is also the overall coordinator of the season-long rice farming training program, said that the African extension agronomists were trained on PalayCheck and Palayamanan systems at the PhilRice Central Experiment Station in Nueva Ecija. PalayCheck is an integrated crop management system for rice, while Palayamanan is a diversified rice-based farming system. For the third time since June 2011, another batch of African extension agronomists are being trained at PhilRice. Seventeen trainees from African countries Cameroon, Gambia, Liberia and Zambia started their four-month long training on June 11 this year. One of the trainees, Mangwi Perpetua from Cameroon, said that their country does not have check systems and they are gradually coming to understand how the PalayCheck system works. Rice consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the fastest growth among countries outside Asia according to IRRI. According to the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, Africa’s rice consumption is within the range of 21 million metric tons (MT), but there is a deficit of about 6.5 million MT per year valued at $1.7 billion that has to be imported annually. http://www.manilatimes.net/africans‐use‐ph‐farming‐methods/34531/
No more preemptive right for RFM stockholders August 29, 2013 7:23 pm by EMETERIO SD. PEREZ DUE DILIGENCER
Emeterio Sd. Perez
INSIDERS’ trades. On August 28, Eduardo I. Plana, a member of the board of Security Bank Corp. (SBC), bought 3,500 shares at P111.05 each. From a high of P154 on July 12, SCB dropped 31.8 percent to P105 on Wednesday on net foreign selling of P154.7 million, equivalent to 52.4 percent of the day’s value turnover of P294.9 million. On August 27, Magdalena Albarracin Jr., a member of the board of Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp., bought 50,000 shares at P2.14 each. The acquisition increased his holdings to 8.8 million shares. Trans-Asia hit a 30-day high of P2.81 on July 24 and fell 27 percent to a low of P2.05 on August 28, when net foreign selling totaled P2.4 million, or 10.7 percent of the day’s value turnover of P22.5 million. On August 16, Junice Aguilar, an assistant vice president of Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP), sold 500 shares at P129.50 each and another 500 shares at P130 each. UBP climbed to a high of P140 on July 12 and fell 21.4 percent to a low of P110 on August 28. No more preemptive right. The Concepcion-Araneta family, who controls RFM Corp., has taken away the right of stockholders to future share issuances. The company said that its board approved on Wednesday a resolution amending its Articles of Incorporation to reflect said denial of preemptive right. In an ownership filing, RFM claims that it is more public than others, because the public own 1.5 billion shares, or 48.5 percent of 3.2 billion outstanding shares. Ironically, the composition of the company’s 11-man board does not reflect said ownership profile, because the directors all represent the Concepcion-Araneta group that also nominates the independent directors.
Poor public. Without preemptive rights, the real public stockholders, who are neither Concepcions nor Aranetas, would also be limited to their present holdings. This would be an anomalous situation in that the board, which is controlled by the ConcepcionAraneta group, could approve the issuance of shares to companies that they either own or control. With the public owning close to 50 percent of outstanding, RFM still has a wide room for dilution and still maintain compliance with the market’s 10-percent minimum public ownership rule. The “outsiders” certainly would not know who owns how much of RFM’s outstanding shares, because PCD Nominee Corp. holds 410.5 million shares as record stockholder for unnamed foreigners, and 335.1 million shares for unnamed Filipinos. Deprived of dividends. Denial of preemptive right is also tantamount to depriving stockholders outside of the majority the opportunity to increase their share of a company’s retained earnings in the form of dividends, either in cash or in stock. In the first six months of 2013, RFM reported net profit of P387 million, up 28.1 percent from P302 million in the same period this year. As a result of consistent profitability, RFM has piled up retained earnings of P1.3 billion, which, if declared as dividends, would go to the holders of 3.2 billion outstanding shares. Annual meeting. Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), the sugar central owned by the Cojuangco family, will finally hold its annual stockholders’ meeting on October 29, according to a filing posted on the website of the Philippine Stock Exchange. Under its corporate charter, CAT should have held its annual stockholders’ meeting in January each year but has been postponing it. CAT has also failed to submit on time its financial filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. It attributed the delay to “financial issues” such “negotiations on the settlement of certain liabilities with a major customer.” In an ownership filing, CAT listed two significant stockholders—Jose Cojuangco and Sons Inc. with 7.8 million shares, or 27.8 percent, and Luisita Trust Fund with 4.7 million shares, or 16.7 percent. firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on August 29, 2013 11:56:48 PM
Still above target THE ECONOMY expanded by a higher-than-expected 7.5% in the second quarter, the government yesterday announced, putting growth on track to exceeding this year’s target. The gross domestic product (GDP) result, which topped the market consensus of 7.2% and was slightly lower than the first quarter’s revised 7.7%, remained above the government’s full-year goal of 6-7%. It was also the fourth consecutive quarter of above-7% growth. The March-April figure took first semester growth to 7.6%, up from the 6.4% recorded in the same period last year. “The Philippine economy is now on a higher growth trajectory,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said in a briefing. The news provided a respite to the peso and stock market, which have fallen to multi-month lows on continued global volatility. The peso stopped its slide by closing at P44.75 to the dollar, unchanged from Wednesday but still a 35-month low. The Philippine Stock Exchange index, meanwhile, gained 3.59% to 5,944.21, making up some ground from Wednesday’s fall to an eight-month low. DIFFERENTIATED Economic managers said the GDP result, which matched China’s, differentiated the country from other emerging markets that are being battered by capital outflows. Central bank Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. noted in a text message that “the second quarter performance reflects the continued resilience of the domestic economy. This outturn is broadly in line with many projections of market analysts.” Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, in a statement, said: “This performance is the best evidence that fundamentally, the Philippine economy is moving from strength
to greater strength despite the volatile global environment.” Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad, in a separate statement, said: “[O]ur growth trajectory flies in the face of market forecasts and a tepid global economy, a trend we’ve established since the beginning of the Aquino administration.” The economy, said Mr. Balisacan, will remain resilient. “We know what has contributed to this growth. We have learned our lessons, or the importance of macroeconomic fundamentals ... In other words, we should continue to keep our house in order,” he said at the sidelines of yesterday’s briefing. The country has overtaken neighbors such as Indonesia as a safer investment bet due to prudent management of fiscal and monetary policy. It secured two investment grade ratings this year. But analysts warned that delays in public infrastructure projects could create uncertainty that might stall investments going forward. Recent fund outflows from emerging markets due to Fed tapering fears may also lead to destabilizing capital flows in the economy, said Bernard Aw, analyst at Forecast PTE Ltd in Singapore. But most analysts say a strong current account, adequate forex reserves and lower export dependence differentiates the Philippines from regional peers. DRIVERS Second-quarter growth, the National Statistical Coordination Board reported, came the back of manufacturing, construction, government and private sector spending and investments. It said that on the production side, services continued to be the economy’s main driver, supported “by the 10.3% and 17.4% growth of manufacturing and construction, respectively, boosting the industry sector to grow by 10.3%.” “On the demand side, the growth came mainly from consumer and public spending buttressed by increased investments in fixed capital.” External trade, with exports and imports falling below year-ago levels, was “lackluster.” Noting how spending continued to account for bulk of GDP, Mr. Balisacan said “we see investments growing and taking the lead in the medium term, given its double-
digit growth for the past two quarters.” Total construction went up by 15.6% in the second quarter with public construction registering a 31.1% spurt and private construction, 9%. It was up by 33.7% in the first quarter. “Manufacturing, construction and services all supported GDP growth, a good sign that growth is well balanced,” noted Jeff Ng, economist at Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong. Japanese investment bank Nomura agreed, saying in a research note: “Services remained robust, in line with our expectations. This is testament to the strength of domestic demand, which is providing a strong cushion against external headwinds.” ANZ Bank, meanwhile, pointed out how external trade remained “tepid.” “The 4% year-on-year increase in service exports partially offset the 8.7% year-onyear contraction in shipments of goods exports,” it said. “Total imports declined 3.0% year on year as imports of goods dragged.” Nomura also noted that agriculture, which contracted by 0.3%, “was a weak spot and will continue to be so given recent weather conditions, but the larger sectors have outperformed and offset this weakness.” CHALLENGES Like many of its neighbors, the Philippines has not been immune to the global downturn or fund outflows as the US Federal Reserve starts winding down monetary stimulus. The peso is down nearly 8% this year. Exports and imports fell more than 4% in the first half. But with a tenth of the population abroad and sending an average $1.7 billion in remittances every month, domestic demand has remained solid, helping cushion the economy from slumping trade. Higher state spending related to the midyear elections in May also boosted consumption, economists said, while manageable inflation allowed policy makers to keep interest rates at record lows. A challenge is to keep policy sufficiently supportive to protect the domestic
economy from weak external demand. “Government spending may slow post-election, with some concerns that the ongoing case on the abuse of a discretionary fund may curb state expenditure,” Forecast PTE’s Mr. Aw said. The Finance department’s Mr. Purisima said the government remained committed to reforms. “Going forward, we will strive to sustain our economic strengths by continuing to increase fiscal space to further accelerate infrastructure investments,” he said. “We will also push for key reforms to improve the investment environment and continue the fight against corruption, revenue leakages, and vested interests that prevent the Philippines from reaching its full potential.” The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) Mr. Tetangco, for his part, said: “The BSP will continue to calibrate its policy levers to help ensure that this robust growth is sustained in a non-inflationary environment.” -- with reports from Bettina Faye V. Roc and Reuters
Posted on August 29, 2013 11:55:50 PM
Inflation seen staying benign INFLATION will likely ease this month, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) yesterday said, despite bad weather, fuel price hikes and a sharp peso fall. “August inflation is expected to remain benign at 1.9-2.7% despite recent weather disturbances, peso weakness and uptick in petrol prices,” central bank Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. said in a text message. “Lower power charges could temper price pressures during the month,” he added. Inflation settled at 2.5% in June, down from June’s 2.7%. August inflation data is scheduled to be released on September 5. The BSP, said Mr. Tetangco, “will nevertheless continue to closely monitor incipient price pressures to help ensure that the economy runs as efficiently as possible.” -A. R. R. Gregorio
Posted on August 29, 2013 11:55:02 PM
LRT-1 auction a failure; deal to be rebid THE P60-BILLION Light Rail Transit 1 (LRT-1) expansion project will be offered anew with revised terms, a Cabinet official yesterday said, with this month’s auction having been ruled a failure. “The bids and awards committee has resolved to recommend ... the declaration of a failure of bid,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya said in a text message. “It was a failed bid because there are no complying bids. MPIC’s (Metro Pacific Investments Corp.) bid was a conditional bid, therefore it is non-compliant.” Three of the four prequalified bidders had declined to participate. MPIC’s consortium partner, Ayala Corp., also backed out. Commercial concerns involving the public-private partnership (PPP) project, including the assumption of real property taxes and guaranteed fare hikes, were reportedly raised. The concession agreement, Mr. Abaya said, will now be tweaked and submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority board for approval. Mr. Abaya declined to provide more details and said the new auction, which will be opened to “all interested and qualified participants”, could be staged before yearend. He had earlier raised a mid-October possibility. “We are hoping we can bid before the end of the year,” Mr. Abaya said. The Transportation has this month been forced to call off three of its PPP projects, the others being the P1.72-billion automated fare collection system for Metro Manila’s light railways and the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu airport rehabilitation project, after prospective bidders raised issues with the offered concession agreements.
Posted on August 29, 2013 11:54:39 PM
Three firms in Asia’s Fab 50 list MORE PHILIPPINE FIRMS have made it to Forbes’ Asia’s Fab 50 list. The ninth installment had homegrown fastfood giant Jollibee Foods Corp. and conglomerates Ayala Corp. and Alliance Global Group, Inc. joining 47 others. Gokongwei-led JG Summit Holdings, Inc. was the sole Philippine representative in the 2012 and 2011 lists while Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. figured in 2006 and 2008. China once again dominated with 20 companies this year, followed by India which had 12 firms and Hong Kong with four. “We started with a pool of 1,220 companies that had at least $3 billion in revenue or market capitalization,” Forbes noted. “We look at revenue, earnings, return on capital, share-price movements and the outlook,” it said. “These 50 companies have solid financial track records coupled with great management and entrepreneurial skill.” Ayala Corp., which has an estimated market capitalization of $8.2 billion, has interests in property development (via Ayala Land, Inc.), banking (Bank of the Philippine Islands), telecommunications (Globe Telecom, Inc.) and water distribution (Manila Water Co. Inc.), among others. With an estimated market capitalization of $6.5 billion, meanwhile, Alliance Global’s ventures span real estate (Megaworld Corp.), gaming and hotels (Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc.) and liquor (Emperador Distillers, Inc.). The company, through Golden Arches Development Corp., also holds the local franchise of McDonald’s. Jollibee Foods, with an estimated market capitalization of $4.2 billion, controls the country’s largest fastfood group, which includes the Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Red Ribbon and Mang Inasal brands. Officials from the three companies were not immediately available for comment.
Posted on August 29, 2013 08:57:45 PM
BSP sets criteria for foreign banks THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) has released the implementing rules and regulations of a law allowing for the foreign ownership of rural banks.
In Circular No. 809 published yesterday, the BSP said it supports the goals of Republic Act No. 10574, which amends the Rural Banks Act of 1992. The new measure allows the infusion of foreign equity in the capital of rural banks, which it said would “revitalize the rural banking industry and improve access of banking services in the rural areas in the country.” Foreign individuals, banks or non-bank corporations can now own or control up to 60% of the voting stock of a rural bank. Previously, foreign individuals and non-banks could take up only a 40% stake in universal, commercial and thrift banks, while foreign banks could acquire 60%. A foreign bank seeking to invest in majority of the voting stock of a domestic bank must have demonstrated a capacity for innovation and stability, the BSP said, ranking among the top 150 in the world or the top five in its country of origin. It must also have a global reputation, as measured by its number of branches abroad. Meanwhile, foreign individuals will only be allowed to invest in the voting stock of a rural bank after the BSP considers their strategic
objectives for the investment, demonstrated capacity, good reputation and integrity, and business model that is “credible, innovative and consistent with the policy objectives of [the Rural Banks Act].” Non-Filipino citizens may become members of the board of directors of a bank, but majority of the board must be residents of the Philippines. The circular, moreover, allowed rural and cooperative banks to accept lands without Torrens Titles as collateral and foreclose them if needed.
Posted on August 29, 2013 08:57:04 PM
Peso stops slide at P44.75:$1 THE PESO ended flat against the greenback yesterday as investors ignored the stellar growth of the economy in the second quarter.
The local currency closed at P44.75 to the dollar yesterday, unchanged from Wednesday’s close and ending over a week’s slump. The peso has been weakening against the dollar since last Thursday, when it shed 53 centavos to finish at P44.17 per dollar. It fell to its trough this year at P44.75-a-dollar on Wednesday -the weakest finish since September 2, 2010, when it closed at P44.95 against the greenback. Year-to-date, the local currency has depreciated by 9.5% from its P41.05-a-dollar finish at the end of 2012. This, despite the robust gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first semester. “The market continued to stay on the sidelines, mostly on offshore developments and discounting the GDP data and the stock market’s rebound,” a trader said. The economy grew by a healthy 7.5% in the three months through June, higher than the market forecast of 7.2% and the 6.3% recorded in the same period last year. For the first half, the economy grew 7.6%, beating the 6-7% goal of the government.
The Philippine Stock Exchange index, meanwhile, went up by 206.15 points or 3.59% to close at 5,944.21 yesterday versus Wednesday’s 5,738.06, an eight-month low. “There were concerns over India’s possible credit downgrade, which affected regional currencies, and then data coming out of the euro zone, specifically Germany, was a bit worse than expected. So all that weighed on the peso,” a second trader said. Dollars traded yesterday totaled $1.042 billion, slightly lower than Wednesday’s $1.242 billion. Both traders said the peso could trade within the P44.60- to P44.80-per-dollar band today. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Finance&title=Peso‐stops‐ slide‐at‐P44.75:$1&id=75717
Posted on August 29, 2013 10:46:48 PM By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Reporter
Population gains need FDI boost THE PHILIPPINES must improve its ability to attract investments to take advantage of its favorable demographic, according to Bank of America -- Merrill Lynch (BofA).
In a report, “Asia in Focus: Demographic Divide and Peaks”, BofA said that based on the United Nations’ (UN) latest population estimates, the demographic divide among Asian countries over the next decade will become more stark, which could have implications on the region���s economy. “The UN revisions bring forward the demographic peaks of several countries in terms of working-age population, including China (2015), Thailand (2017), Malaysia (2047) and India (2050); while deferring the peaks of Indonesia (2058) and Philippines (2085),” the bank noted. “The next decade for Asia will therefore be very different from previous decades when most of Asia was still experiencing demographic dividends, including China and Korea,” it said. The bank said that based on the demographic peaks noted by the UN, labor forces of the majority of Asian countries will likely shrink significantly over the next decade. “This will have important implications on GDP (gross domestic
product) growth, consumer spending and asset prices, judging from Japan’s experience,” it said. The Philippines’ demographics, though, look encouraging, BofA noted, as its peak -- projected by the UN to be reached in 2085 -remains far off. This means that the population remains young, with more people expected to enter the labor force in the coming years. “Demographic peaks will be the most favorable and distant for the Philippines (2085), Indonesia (2058), India (2050) and Malaysia (2047),” it said. “Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore -- in that order -will likely see the strongest labor force growth in Asia over the next decade,” BofA said. Meanwhile, Thailand -- whose demographic is seen to peak in 2017 -- is emerging as the “old man” among Southeast Asian economies, the bank noted, and will see its working age population shrink, along with those of Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and China. “Still, Philippines, Indonesia and India have struggled to attract FDI (foreign direct investments) despite their resource advantage,” stressed BofA. Thus, there is much room for improvement, it said, as Asia continues to rebalance its economy. “This is the opportune time for the Philippines, Indonesia and India if the governments can capitalize on their abundant labor resource and lower labor costs to attract greater foreign direct
investment,” the bank said. “Barriers to foreign investments however remain daunting. The outcome has been more an outflow of workers and talent to a growing diaspora outside their borders, rather than investments flowing in,” it said. This is especially important as production, consumption, and investment patterns across Asia continue to change amid the availability of labor, BofA noted. According to data from the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, the country’s labor force as of April stood at 40.905 million, up 0.6% annually from 40.645 million in the same month in 2012. The labor force participation rate stood at 63.9% as of the same month this year, slightly lower than the year-ago rate of 64.7%. Meanwhile, net FDI inflows stood at $1.522 billion as of May, lower than the $1.666 billion recorded in the comparable 2012 period, based on Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Populatio n‐gains‐need‐FDI‐boost&id=75750
Posted on August 29, 2013 10:41:06 PM
Palace wants ‘truth’ with Napoles on hand THE GOVERNMENT will now be able to pursue the multibillion-peso fund scandal involving lawmakers with the surrender of the principal suspect -- Janet LimNapoles, a Palace aide said yesterday.
This undated handout photo released by Philippine National Police (PNP) Aug. 29 shows a mug shot of Janet Lim-Napoles, who allegedly connived with legislators to embezzle P10 billion in funds intended for development projects, at the police headquarters in Quezon City. -- AFP “Now that she has been secured, now that she has been detained, the case should move forward,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in the briefing at the Palace hours after Napoles surrendered to President Benigno S. C. Aquino III late Wednesday. “We’re now closer to the truth hopefully with her coming out with whatever testimony she has,” said Mr. Lacierda. The Justice department will file a case upon the advise of the prosecution, he said. “We’re all after Ms. Napoles. Everybody was so outraged. She has become a symbol of what we were so angry at last Monday. And by bringing her to us, by bringing her and surfacing, and voluntarily surrendering her to the President, now the process of
finding the truth can begin in earnest,” he said. Napoles gave herself up on the day Mr. Aquino announced a 10million bounty for her arrest over charges of illegal detention filed by Benhur K. Luy, who disclosed the fund anomaly. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been on the trail of Napoles, but Mr. Lacierda said the fugitive businesswoman, through her counsel Lorna P. Kapunan, requested to appear instead before the President as “she feared for her life.” Mr. Lacierda, a former associate at Ms. Kapunan’s law office in the late ’80s, said the Napoles family “distrusted” the National Bureau of Investigation. Napoles has been temporarily detained at the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police at its headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, and was ordered by a local court to be subsequently transferred to the Makati City Jail. The arrest warrant has been issued by the Makati Regional Trial Court. Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima said in a separate interview yesterday the NBI was closing in on Napoles the day she submitted herself to Mr. Aquino. The NBI, however, did not take part in the talks between the Palace and Ms. Kapunan. “The NBI was out of the negotiations,” Ms. de Lima said. “First, I was not asked to be there and secondly, why should I be there,” she said. The Justice secretary said the NBI was about to arrest Napoles on Wednesday but stopped short of providing other details. “NBI already hatched a plan and they were on the process of undertaking that operation,” Ms. de Lima said.
“I just could not tell you the details because it might complicate another thing. It might compromise something we are working on if I tell you the details. That’s just it. It was either the arrest will come first or the surrender,” she said. For his part, NBI Director Nonnatus Caesar R. Rojas said: “I think the Napoles camp also felt the heat since their world was getting smaller.” When asked Napoles’ decision to instead surrender to the President, Ms. de Lima admitted “it will cause a lot of discomfort on their part” if she was turned over to the NBI. As this developed, Ms. de Lima was cool to the possibility of Napoles turning state witness. “For now, if we base it to what we have, especially the accounts of whistle-blowers, it’s unlikely that she will qualify,” she said. -Emilia Narni J. David and Mikhail Franz E. Flores http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Palace‐ wants‐%E2%80%98truth%E2%80%99‐with‐Napoles‐on‐hand&id=75744
Posted on August 29, 2013 10:39:04 PM
Opposition senators linked to fund scandal FOUR OPPOSITION senators have been linked to alleged fund misuse involving businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles as the Senate yesterday started its probe on the controversy. Chairman Maria Gracia M. Pulido-Tan of the Commission on Audit (CoA) told the Blue Ribbon committee that Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” B. Revilla, Jr., Gregorio “Gringo” B. Honasan II and Jose “Jinggoy” E. Estrada endorsed their PDAF to eight nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) linked to Napoles in 2007-2009. The identified senators did not attend the hearing. The NGOs received a total of P1.093 billion from the senators’ allocations, Ms. Tan said. She said Agri & Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (AEPFFI), for one, had a total of five projects worth P145.25 million from the PDAF of Messrs. Revilla (P106.45 million), Enrile (P24.25 million), and Honasan (P14.55 million). “Senator Revilla confirmed his and his representative’s signatures. Enrile confirmed his and his representative’s signatures, but deputy chief-of-staff denied signatures on two documents. Honasan’s project coordinator confirmed his and the senator’s signature in two documents, did not comment on others...,” Ms. Tan noted. Suppliers of agricultural and livelihood kits, she said, “have no business permits... and did not confirm transactions,” while three mayors out of the 11 municipalities categorically denied receipt of the agricultural kits. Meanwhile, the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC) and Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), the top two government corporations that received the allocation, transferred the amount to AEPFFI for project implementation. But the CoA discovered that “the address [of AEPFFI] is a residential house and no documents were provided during inspection,” Ms. Tan said.
Another NGO linked to Napoles -- the Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI) -- received the PDAFs of Messrs. Enrile (P63.05 million), Revilla (P38.80 million), and Estrada (P19.40 million) for various projects. “Under the NLDC... in our sample size for individuals, many are unknown, unlocated [sic] or moved out or have given insufficient addresses, while three denied receipt of livelihood kits,” she said. Ms. Tan also reported questionable transactions for the other NGOs, namely, Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Inc.; Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation, Inc.; Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc.; People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Inc.; and Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc. Fund transfers to NGOs were done either through endorsement letters or a memorandum of agreement, Ms. Tan said. “We learned today that there are instances where key procedures where bypassed to ensure that specific NGOs be the beneficiary of the PDAF. We must determine whether this action is illegal... We must determine whether the law was violated,” Senator Teofisto L. Guingona III, Blue Ribbon chairman, said in a statement. Meanwhile, Mr. Estrada, who excused himself from the proceedings, said in a statement: “I believe that my presence during the investigation may be conceived as deterring the resource persons from providing relevant information or may be perceived as impeding the free-flowing discussions among the participants.” In a text message, a staff of Mr. Enrile said that the senator will not attend another hearing scheduled next week. Mr. Honasan, for his part, had earlier begged off from the hearing, but assured that he will support the investigation in a bid to push for measures to check against fund misuse. “... [L]ike any other Filipino, I also want to find out the truth in this controversy,” he said in a statement. Mr. Revilla could not be immediately reached for comment. -- KTDV
Noy to use Napoles to persecute opposition Written by Tribune Friday, 30 August 2013 08:00 FROM ‘PORK BARREL QUEEN’ TO AQUINO’S ATTACK DOG A well-scripted wanted person with a P10-millionbounty suddenly surrenders in style, with her being given the special treatment, with a Cabinet official meeting Janet Lim-Napoles, alleged brains of the pork barrel scam and brought to Malacañang to meet with President Aquino privately, and with the President personally going to Camp Crame while she was placed under the custody of the Philippine National Police, has not only raised eyebrows but has also raised the possibility of both having made a deal that would make her a “star witness” to persecute senatorial non-allies in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. Administration critics yesterday said turning businesswoman Napoles into the government’s “star witness” translates to her being used by the Aquino administration to pin down its political opponents, perceived or otherwise and looms large as Napoles surrendered, not to court, but to the President in the Palace. The opposition said this only validates long-held suspicions that certain personalities in the Aquino administration, including the President, maintain a strong relationship with the businesswoman. In a statement, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, expressed fear that the idea being floated in having Napoles as a possible state witness could be used to selectively persecute political enemies of the administration. “Give thanks to President Aquino because it was he who had offered a bounty of P10 million, the reason Napoles surrendered to him a few hours after the bounty announcement,” said Tiangco adding he has been proven correct in his long standing request to give a reward money that will lead to the arrest of Napoles.
“The only problem now, is that if the witch being appointed as the witchhunter,” he lamented. Tiangco said the move to make her a state witness practically conceals the real story tucked beneath the floors of Congress, which according to the Commission on Audit (CoA) report involves a lot of allies of the administration and the Liberal Party. Napoles is being held in Camo Crame in connection with the illegal detention case filed against her by Benhur Luy. Making her a star witness, Tiangco said, is the function of the courts not of the DILG (Department of Interior and local governments) or any other agency. Interviewed by media right after Napoles had surrendered, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas mentioned the possibility of making Napoles a state witness. “Wasn’t it enough for Napoles to surrender to Secretary (Edwin) Lacierda and that he should have brought her to the nearest Police Station? Was she handcuffed or not? Was her room with an airconditioner when she slept (Wednesday night) or was Napoles in a jail cell? “There should be transparency and had this covered by the media Wednesday night to enable the entire nation to witness everything and not come up with a guessing game,” he said. “But what was really puzzling is that the plunder charges have not been filed and there was (Mar) Roxas, already talking about a state witness status for her,” Tiangco stressed. “It is only the courts that can accept or reject a government state witness,” he added. “Everyone knows that the stink of swine crap coming from the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) mess has cast doubt on the different branches of the government. Making Napoles as state witness may be seen as part of the strategy to divert the issue away from the allies of President Aquino who are included in the CoA report, and many fear that the witch hunt may expand selectively to political enemies of the administration,” Tiangco stressed. He added that giving Napoles the state witness status is practically a submissive collaboration with the powers-that-be in exchange for special treatment. “Imagine, Janet Napoles becoming state witness? Helloooo?! Is Mar Roxas serious about this? As I see it, it’s for the benefit of theatrics, the media, and political propaganda,” Tiangco said. Tiangco said UNA maintains that the administration should refrain from
practicing double standards and selective persecution as there are members of the ruling party who were mentioned in the CoA audit report but are still left untouched. Vice Presidenr Jejomar Binay, in a statement said that it is good that Napoles surrendered. “I just hope she will tell the truth and bare everything she knows so that those involved in the scam would be brought to justice and be made accountable for their transgressions to the Filipino people, regardless of their political affiliations. As for the possibility that Mrs. Napoles considered a state witness, as a lawyer, I would say it’s too early to tell. There are requirements before a suspect is made a state witness, among these being that the evidence against the said suspect must be weak. And that has yet to be established, Binay said. Even Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also yesterday was already justifying why even the “most guilty” can be made into a state witness. De Lima said Napoles’ chances of becoming a state witness might increase with what testimony she can offer. “But that would still depend on what story she will tell, especially since knowing everything is different from telling everything,” she explained. “While we cannot rule out totally or discount the possibility of having her as a state witness, it would not be that easy because she has to undergo a very incisive evaluation,” De Lima added. De Lima said she was not surprised why Napoles opted to surrender to the Palace and requested to be under police custody. “It’s the NBI that is investigating and it is the NBI that is going after her. In fact, NBI is even a co-complainant in the serious illegal detention case filed by Benhur Luy. So I don’t think you will expect Napoles or her family to be comfortable with the NBI,” she explained. The DoJ chief also recalled an earlier allegation of extortion by the camp of Napoles against some NBI officials and Luy’s lawyer Levito Baligod. The NBI failed to arrest her even when her camp revealed she had only been inside Metro Manila. The proposal to make Napoles a state witness in a fund scam that she had principally hatched earned mixed reactions from lawmakers in the administration and the opposition. According to Rep. Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers
Napoles should be charged with plunder for her involvement in the pork barrel scam. “We will not allow her to become a state witness. She should be charged by the government for plunder.” He said, however, that it is unfortunate that Malacañang chose to turn the surrender of Napoles to Aquino into a spectacle obviously intended to benefit the 2016 presidential bid of DILG chief Mar Roxas. “With the Napoles surrender colored by politics, can we still expect the whole truth from her, or a partial and piecemeal testimony designed for the selective demolition of the administration’s political rivals while sparing its allies?” the ACT lawmaker asked. Three other lawmakers including Reps. Fredenil Castro of Capiz, Luz Ilagan of Gabriela and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna aired similar views. Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, chairmanof the House Ways and Means Committee and ally of Aqino said that Napoles’ surrender to the president shows how eager Aquino is in finding out the truth in the pork barrel scam.“He is willing to get out of his way so that justice can be served because the issue is far too bigger than presidential protocol or tradition,” Quimbo said. Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said that Napoles’ surrender could “give way to justice through a thorough and impartial investigation that would punish the guilty and spare the innocent.” Rep. Rodel Batocabe of the party list Ako Bicol wished that the surrender would not pacify the people and the signal the start of the investigation. Reps. Mel Senen Sarmiento of Western Samar and Jorge Banal of Quezon City also allies of Aquino said that the surrender of Napoles is “ welcome news.” For Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Napoles could become state witness.“If she would disclose everything, it would be easier on the part of the government to discover the truth and have sufficient evidence for the conviction of the politicians involved,” Barzaga said. Barzaga explained that his position could have far reaching consequences including the conviction of high officials in government and that part of the deal would include the voluntary surrender of all her assets to the government. Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate also expressed apprehension that the Napoles incident may lead to a “political witch hunt” “There is a perception now that this latest incident on the Napoles saga will
be followed by a political witch hunt, with Napoles as the main weapon, against members of the opposition and other personalities not aligned with the interest of the Aquino administration,” the solon claimed. “Will there be any credible investigation in the corruption web spawned by the Napoles scandal, under these circumstances? That is the biggest question now!” he stressed. More than ever, Zarate said the people must be more vigilant against the possible “whitewashing” of this multi-billion scandal, particularly, by sparing those individuals associated with the administration. “This Napoles drama should not also distract the people from the real issues confronting the ambivalent Aquino administration: the abolition of the entire legislative and presidential pork barrel system — the cause of the massive and institutionalized corruption in our country, which the Aquino administration is still brazenly defending,” the Bayan Muna solon said. The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said that despite the so-called surrender of Napoles to Aquino, the Filipino people’s clamor for the abolition of the pork barrel system cannot be diffused. “Aquino and his spin doctors have exploited the feelers sent by Napoles’ camp, immediately hatched an ill-designed script for the so-called surrender to the President himself up by the Pork Barrel Queen,” Echanis said. “The Queen will never surrender to anyone but to the King,” he stressed. By Charlie V. Manalo, Benjamin B. Pulta and Gerry Baldo
VIP treatment shows Napoles surrender staged by Palace Written by Tribune Friday, 30 August 2013 08:00 Special treatment was all over the supposed surrender of pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles to President Aquino leading many to suspect that the spectacle was all staged amid a growing protest directed at the misuse of government funds, including Aquino’s own discretionary funds. Militant groups and those who were part of the massive protest at the Rizal Park last Aug. 26 raised the possibility that the whole affair, from the surrender to the the deferred transfer of Napoles to a regular jail, was scripted. Napoles allegedly connived with legislators to embezzle P10 billion in funds intended for development projects surrendered directly to President Aquino after Aquino himself revealed a P10 million bounty on the fugitive. Napoles turned herself in to Aquino late Wednesday and asked for the president’s protection. “The president turned her over to the custody of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief director general Alan Purisima at the PNP headquarter in Camp Crame for processing and booking,” Aquino’s office said in a statement. Roxas said Napoles, who had previously denied the allegations, had asked for protection from the president. As of presstime, Napoles remained in Camp Crame with Purisima inspecting the Makati City Jail himself around 7:10 pm where Napoles was ordered transferred by the court. The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) also conducted an ocular inspection of the cell where Napoles will be locked up. The Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation, which are the lead agencies in the manhunt for Napoles, were caught flatfooted by her surrender saying they did not have details of Napoles’ yielding.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said although she has information about the alleged “surrender feelers” sent by Napoles through her lawyer, it was already late when she knew about the surrender. De Lima claimed she only came to know about the actual surrender of Napoles when she was already in Malacañang with Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Aquino, which was already after the actual surrender. Likewise, De Lima confirmed the Palace did not ask the help of the NBI in the negotiation with the camp of Napoles for her surrender. De Lima added she was also not in the Palace when Napoles surrendered to President Aquino such that aside from the fact that she was not advised to proceed there, there was also no reason for her to go to Malacañang. “She asked the President for assurance about her safety, so that not anyone can approach her or do what they want to her,” Roxas said. The nature of the threat was not specified, and Aquino’s office did not say who facilitated her surrender although Lacierda claimed in a briefing it was he who had arranged with Napoles’ lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, for her to give up. Aquino himself joined the group that brought Napoles to the police headquarters, Roxas said. Her surrender comes three days after tens of thousands of Filipinos held a mass protest demanding her arrest and the abolition of legislators’ controversial PDAF. The call during the protest was also for Aquino to give up almost P500 billion in discretionary funds which are being proposed in the 2014 budget. Napoles allegedly siphoned off money through fake non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Aquino won the presidency in 2010 on a platform to end the pervasive corruption he blames for many of the country’s woes. Among his first acts was to work for the impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona who he accused of protecting his predecessor Gloria Arroyo from prosecution. Arroyo is in detention and is now facing charges of massive corruption. Napoles faced arrest for allegedly detaining a former aide-turnedwhistleblower to keep him from revealing details of the alleged embezzlement. However justice officials are readying additional charges that she allegedly
connived with legislators to sophon off money from the PDAF. Various groups said Aquino accepting Napoles’ surrender may have sent a wrong message. The Center for International Law and Concerned Citizens Movement expressed their concern that the President’s decision to allow Napoles to surrender to him, while legal, may have been unwise. “Certainly, Napoles could have surrendered herself to any policeman or to the nearest police station. She did not have to surrender to the President himself. The fact that the President allowed her to surrender to him may send a message that administrative allies may be spared from the ongoing investigation of irregularities on the spending of the PDAF,” the statement read. “People expect Napoles to sing. The fact that she surrendered to the President may be viewed by the people as a signal that she will only implicate those in the opposition,” Prof. Harry Roque, chairman of Centerlaw and co-convenor of Concerned Citizens Movement, said. Roque stated that the investigation into the pork barrel should include everyone most especially those in the administration. On the other hand, militants asked the DILG and the PNP yesterday to charge Napoles with plunder and reject her as a state witness. Gie Relova, spokesperson of the militant Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino-National Capital Region Rizal (BMP-NCRR), questioned the DILG, PNP and Department of Justice for not charging Napoles with plunder. The militant group expressed fear that the government has struck a deal with Napoles and are planning to turn her into a state witness. Another militant group the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) described the Napoles surrender as “Teleserye of the Year.” The transport group also expressed dismay at the VIP treatment given by Aquino to Napoles when she surrendered. George San Mateo, Piston national president, observed that under the Aquino administration when a wanted person is so rich and influential due to corruption of people’s money they could directly surrender to the president and will not be put in a regular jail. He said the surrender of Napoles to PNoy is scripted and the present administration is protecting the former fugitive so she will sing all government officials that are involved in the pork barrel scam most
especially those in the higher ones in the administration and his allies both in congress and local government units. Lacierda, for almost one hour, tried to explain the circumstances that led to Napoles’ yielding. “Yesterday (Wednesday) in the morning, when the President announced in his interview that there was a P10-million bounty, after that there was a subsequent news that Atty. Lorna Kapunan mentioned on TV, or there was a crawler on ANC, that there was a statement coming from Atty. Kapunan that her client was willing to surrender,” Lacierda said. Lacierda said it was he who had called Kapunan at around lunch time Wednesday to inquire the feelers of a voluntary surrender. He admitted to have been worked with Kapunan in the past in a law firm. “I think around 12:37, I don’t recall if I called or Lorna called but we discussed—I think I called—and I inquired and we’ve discussed and verified: “Was your statement that I saw on TV true or not—that her client was willing to surrender?” And she said: “Yes”. And she already mentioned at that point that they wanted to surrender but they were—Ms. Janet Napoles was fearing for her life. There was threat on her life,” Lacierda claimed. Lacierda said he told Kapunan to talk to Napoles and that he would for his part talk to Aquino to discuss the surrender feeler. “So I went up to him and informed the President about the developments and he just told me: We have so many leads. There were leads of this and that. So is this just another lead,” Lacierda said. Lacierda said that at around 4:06 in the afternoon, Kapunan called him back and she said that her client was willing to surrender to the President. “Her (Napoles) only request was that her safety be secured, owing to the fact that there was, on her part, there was fear for or there were threats on her life,” Lacierda said. “And then, after that, I went back to the President. When I saw the President, I understand that he already instructed Secretary Mar Roxas. So when I went to the President, Secretary Mar Roxas was already there and Executive Secretary (Paquito) Ochoa and I informed them that, according to Atty. Lorna Kapunan, Ms. Janet Napoles was willing to surrender today,” Lacierda said. Lacierda said Aquino already instructed Roxas that as soon as Napoles surrenders, she should be turned over to the custody to the DILG or to
PNP. Lacierda said Napoles was not handcuffed when she entered the Palace and faced Aquino. “No, she wasn’t handcuffed. She voluntarily surrendered. That’s part of (the request). “There they talked. It was short, around 10 minutes—more or less,” Lacierda said. “So upon our arrival, she was brought to the holding area. Then the usual booking procedure had been done,” Lacierda said. Lacierda said in going to headquarters of the National Police, Aquino would only want to insure that the camp was secured. Lacierda denied that Napoles was given the VIP treatment. Militant labor group the Kilusang Mayo Uno slammed Lacierda’s arrogant statements against the progressive bloc in the House of Representatives this morning, saying the spokesman has fortified doubts that Janet Lim Napoles’s surrender was all for show in a prepared statement said. By Alvin Murcia, Paul Atienza, Pat C. Santos and AFP
Enrile camp denies JPE got P71 million additional pay Written by Tribune Friday, 30 August 2013 08:00 The camp of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday denied that the former Senate president received more than P70 million in additional allocation in 2011. “We wish to clarify that the P71.7-million additional budget for the Office of the Senate President that Senator (Miriam) Santiago mentioned in her press release yesterday (Aug. 28) were funds allocated for the operational requirements of the said office,” lawyer Carole Quirolgico, Enrile’s chief of staff, in a statement, yesterday said. “Such budget did not serve as additional personal income of then Senate President Enrile, nor were such funds used for his personal purposes, contrary to what the statement of Senator Santiago appears to mean.” Santiago earlier had claimed that some senators, including the former Senate president, receive millions on top of their P90,000 monthly salary due to their posts. Among the sources of extra income is chairmanship of an oversight committee, or membership in the Commission on Appointments, she added. “If the senator is elected as one of the Senate officials, that senator gets even much more than his colleagues.” Santiago said the discretionary funds under the control of a senator could range from P2.7 million to P4.5 million. “If we add up all these sources of income, a senator could be making P4 million to P 5 million monthly,” Santiago said. But Quirolgico reiterated that “the budget requirements and expenditures of the Senate President cannot be simply compared to that of the other senators, and to simply say that he received P71.7 million ‘just by being (an) officer(s) of the Senate’ is most unfair.” According to him, they have already clarified this earlier this year when the
controversy about the expenditure of their office arose. “While we confirm the amount of P71.708 million allocated for the Office of the Senate President from January to December 2011 as reported by the Commission on Audit, we wish to emphasize that by the nature and functions of his office as head of the chamber both as its political and administrative head, it is reasonable to expect that the Office of the Senate President would require the biggest budgetary allocation compared to the other members and officers of the Senate. Quirolgico stressed that “apart from the legislative work of the Senate President, the office also provided funds to address special requirements and contingencies of the offices under the Secretariat and the committees of the Senate.” He said there were instances that they need to augment the foreign travel funds of senators and secretariat officials and employees who went on official travel. “In reality, the funds of the Office of the Senate President were also made available to other offices. Apart from this, the OSP also had to address the needs of a much larger number of constituents, socio-civic organizations and indigents requesting for financial assistance. “As Senator Enrile has repeatedly said, the books of accounts showing how the budget allocated to the Office of the Senate President under him was spent are open for the public to scrutinize,” he stressed. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/18556‐enrile‐camp‐denies‐ jpe‐got‐p71‐million‐additional‐pay
Contradictions, errors highlight Tan testimony Written by Angie M. Rosales Friday, 30 August 2013 08:00 Inconsistencies and wrong assumptions highlighted the Commission on Audit (CoA) special report on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) based on the testimony of CoA Chairman Grace Pulido Tan during the start of the Senate blue ribbon committee’s probe on the pork barrel scam with Pulido-Tan even misinterpreting the law. Tan asserted in her testimony there is no law allowing the transfer of PDAF funds to non-government organizations (NGOs) that raised a legal question as hundreds of NGOs not associated with Napoles are known to be routinely tapped by implementing agencies to execute government programs. When asked by committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III on the legality of the transfer of pork barrel funds by implementing agencies (IAs) to NGOs, Tan stood her ground on CoA’s legal opinion that there’s no law or ordinance passed by local government units (LGUs) allowing such transaction to a private corporation. “As a matter of fact, this is contained in the implementing rules of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Act, being implemented by the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and which also set the conditions that fund transfer to NGOs is allowed only if there is appropriation or ordinance earmarking or authorizing the contracting out of government funds to NGOs. In our opinion as auditors it is not in accordance with the law the practice of transferring funds fromn implementing agencies to the NGOs,” she said. Tan’s statements appears to be in contradiction to the provision of the said law, section 53.11 on the NGO participation which states that “when the appropriation law or ordinance earmarks an amount to be specifically contracted out to NGOs, the procuring entity may enter into a
memorandum of agreement with an NGO, subject to guidelines to be issued by the GPPB (government procurement policy board).” Tan’s claims that the CoA findings contained verified information was put to a test when Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto’s name cropped up as among the other senators that were found to have also funded projects of bogus NGOs, supposedly, in the amount of P28.4 million to Masaganang Mga Bukirin Foundation Inc. which CoA found to have “unliquidated balances.” Recto did not let the opportunity pass without confronting the CoA officials especially as he remained adamant in his claims that he or his office made no request for any fund release or endorsed any NGO. “It was disclosed in our report under page 218 that there were no documents signed/filed with the honorable (senator),” CoA director IV Susan Garcia said in responding to Recto. The Senate leader even went on to emphasize his case as somewhat similar to Compostela Valley Rep. Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora, whom CoA claimed to have received and disbursed PDAF funds, even way beyond his allotment of P70 million a year. “What’s the difference between my case to that of Way Kurat? He also had no MoA with any NGO. Did you exert effort to inquire to me or my office if indeed I had that project?” he asked. “We are only asking confirmation from the senators who have participated in the implementation of the project,” she said. “In other words, you did not,” Recto said and to which he was given the assurance that the CoA report indicated that he did not engage in any transaction pertaining to the said amount that remains unsettled to this day. Two more senators will likely be in the line of fire by the CoA for supposedly engaging in a similar scheme employed by alleged bogus NGOs and foundations identified with alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles, misappropriating purportedly some of their pork barrel allocations under the Aquino administration. Pulido-Tan disclosed before Senate probers looking into the so-called pork barrel scam, that the information – contained in a separate audit report – adds up to the list of senators uncovered by the commission to have supposed questionable allocations of their PDAF to some NGOs. Tan, however, refused to name the senators involved pending the completion of the latest audit report or even give hints as to whether they
are incumbent senators, among those who had already “graduated” or stepped down last June 30. Appearing before the Senate panel, Tan admitted that there are other ongoing review of financial transactions of government offices especially following their observation on an “emerging pattern” on the repeated involvement of some implementing agencies in the release of lawmakers’ funds. “When you say, it’s the same agencies, NGOs, does this mean the (involvement of the) same legislators?” asked Sen. Francis Escudero, proponent of the move to inquire into the pork barrel scam. “Very, very close. Probably, there were some others additional new names. If I remember right, we’re coming up with (audit report on) Philforest Corp. (Philippine Forest Corp.). It should have been released one or two weeks ago but we held it off until after we have verified all the information. We’re very cautious this time and hopefully it will be released by next week. This is the PDAF allocations in 2011 and 2012 so it’s very current. Some (Senate) members are in this report and I think, two additional ones,” she said. Senate President Franklin Drilon then insisted that Tan identify the senators involved in the latest audit report of the government-owned corporation under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to spare other senators from any suspicion by the public. “Sir I understand. But as a matter of policy, we do not divulge, disclose until the report is released. Would it be sufficient to say that the two are not in this hall right now?” Tan asked, to which was readily accepted by the Senate chief. In the same proceedings, Tan underscored before the committee while their findings in the 2007 to 2009 special audit report noted some pattern of supposed conspiracy by the parties concerned, the CoA report made no categorical findings or declarations on the matter of the PDAF funds being pocketted by the legislators themselves. “As a matter of fact we did not use the term stolen. As I said this is not a report making judgments. It is a report about facts and verifications and results of confirmation that we conducted. There was no judgment injected in the report. It’s stated as a matter of fact,” she said in answering a query of Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, adding that when the agency was conducting the audit, the allegations of bogus entities operated by Napoles
were nowhere in their consciousness and in fact, “when we were doing this audit, we were not looking for her at all.” “Would you say in your professional opinion, there is a web of or a conspiracy that can be proven here?” asked Guingona. “Based on our observation, there is pattern but I will leave it to the Ombudsman and the DoJ (Department of Justice) secretary to determine if there is a conspiracy,” she said after presenting a summary of the CoA report that on the covered period, at least eight NGOs identified with Napoles supposedly cornered P1.7 billion out of the total P6.1 billion PDAF funds purportedly diverted to 82 NGOs and foundations. At least P1.5 billion other PDAF funds spread over 55 other NGOs remain unliquidated, Pulido-Tan said. Tan said state auditors have come across letters supposedly signed by some senators or their representatives directing the implementing agencies to transfer the funds they granted to specific NGOs and these are supported by other documentary evidence, supposedly. Pulido-Tan referred to Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Gregorio Honasan with a total of P483.4 million; P332.7 million; P262.5 million and P14.5 million respectively in PDAF transfers during the three years covered by the CoA report which allegedly went to Napoles-linked NGOs namely the Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (AEPFFI), Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation (APMFI), Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development (CARED) Foundation, Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc.. (MAMFI), People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation (POPDFI), Philippine Agri and Social Development Foundation, Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI) and Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI). She said that with the exception of Estrada, all three senators confirmed their signatures on some of the endorsement letters. While these the IAs that state auditors interviewed admitted that they had no hand in selecting the partners and merely followed the request of lawmakers endorsing the grant of their funds which turned out to be “ghost” NGOs. Tan aagreed with Escudero’s position that the concerned IAs could be held liable as there’s no barring them from intervening in the transaction. “You also mentioned that senators, aside from endorsement letters, signed
memorandum of agreements. And who are these? You mentioned a while ago (the names of) Enrile, Revilla and Estrada,” Guingona asked. “I think they did (sign) or their authorized representatives,” Tan retorted. The CoA chairman also mentioned that their special audit report which covered only 58 percent of the total releases for the PDAF in the covered period as it was just a random sampling, citing the improbability of going over the entire amount involve to enable them to complete the study in a period of one year, 80 percent of the supposed deliveries could not be accounted for. “We have also made inquiries with the DBM and a search of their records showed that they do not have on file any official request I signed. This supports our initial belief that funds were released with neither our request nor knowledge,” Recto said in a statement after the hearing. Endorsing projects to NGOs has never been in our template of PDAF usage. As records would show, almost 100 percent of our transparent PDAF releases has been to hard infrastructure projects like roads, schools and bridges, or health and education related like assistance to indigent patients of the PGH, Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney Transplant Institute, Lung Center, East Avenue Memorial Medical Center, Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, and scholarship grants to 20 state universities and colleges which last year benefited 2,635 students, he said. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/18555‐contradictions‐ errors‐highlight‐tan‐testimony
Senate witness affirms labor exec’s involvement in ‘sex-for-fly’ scheme Written by Tribune Friday, 30 August 2013 08:00 A Senate witness yesterday practically confirmed one of the embattled labor officials’ alleged involvement in “sex-for-fly” scheme, corroborating before the joint investigating committees’ an earlier testimony of a runaway Filipina worker of a supposed role to act as her “pimp” to an Arab national in exchange for a return plane ticket to the Philippines. Appearing before the joint probe of the Senate blue ribbon and labor committees, former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Marvin Caraan attested to the previous testimony against Riyadh assistant labor attache Antonio “Tony” Villafuerte by one of the three of his alleged victims, alias Michelle. Villafuerte allegedly also attempted to rape Michelle while she was in the custody of the labor officials after seeking refuge due following maltreatment and abuse in the hands of her employer. Villafuerte was recommended to be slapped with a mere simple negligence by the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DoLE) fact-finding team compared to the two other labor officials posted abroad, Labor Attaché Adam Musa for gross negligence and officer-in-charge in Jordon, Labor Attaché Mario Antonio for grave misconduct. Caraan, a former driver of an alleged abusive Arab employer, surfaced before Senate probers to attest to the validity of claims of Michelle over Villarfuerte’s alleged attempted rape. Under interrogation by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Caraan said he knew about Villafuerte’s alleged attempts to lure Michelle in entertaining an Egyptian national’s supposed sexual advances in exchange for her plane ticket. Caraan told Estrada and blue ribbon chairman Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III that the said foreign national whom he identified as a mere
“Ibrahim” was a regular fixture in the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) being a known owner of a recruitment agency and had been inquiring, supposedly, on the case of Michelle. At the continuation of inquiry, Caraan, recounted how he personally saw the supposed attempt of Villafuerte to rape “Michelle.” During the previous hearing, “Michelle” removed her veil to make Villafuerte recognize her. Villafuerte has denied the allegations. Caraan who temporarily worked at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), said he was at the scene of the incident when Villafuerte pulled “Michelle” inside his office. He said he could not remember the exact date of the incident. He said he was cleaning the office of the labor official when he saw Villafuerte and the victim enter the premises. According to him, he accidentally saw the incident because the window of the labor official was transparent. The driver of Musa who was accused by another distressed OFW, Josie, finally surfaced at the inquiry. Jojo Casicas denied Josie’s accusation but admitted that he gave 10,000 riyal to the OFW to help her in her financial problems in the Philippines. He also admitted that it was an offer to withdraw the attempted rape case she filed. Meanwhile, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Chief Hans Leo Cacdac suspended the licenses of four recruitment agencies for violating labor laws in deploying two overseas Filipino workers who testified in the investigation into alleged sexual harassment and abuse of OFWs abroad. Cacdac ordered the preventive suspension of Kozen International Inc; Azizzah International Manpower Services; Jobstar International Manpower Services and Ideal Placement and Manpower Services “The four firms have engaged in acts of misrepresentation, contract substitution, illegal collection of placement fee, and other recruitment violations in the process of recruitment and deployment of Elena B. Beleta and Grace Victoria P. Sales,” he said. “An order of preventive suspension is issued against a licensed recruitment agency or employer when there is reasonable ground to believe that its continued operation will lead to further violation and exploitation of workers being recruited,” Cacdac said.
According to the report, Beleta applied as a beautician with Azizzah International and paid P15,000 as placement fee but Kozen submitted her documents for processing as a female nurse at the POEA. Beleta was brought to the house of one Mohammed Al Faisal but ran away due to maltreatment. She went to the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and took refuge there. “The evidence is strong indicating that the complainant’s documents were reprocessed – having been deployed by a recruitment agency other than the one she originally applied with, and was made to work for a different position and employer other than what she initially applied and accepted for employment,” POEA chief said. Sales, on the other hand applied as household service worker with Jobstar International in December 2011 and was required to pay a placement fee. The POEA said her documents were processed by Ideal Placement for a housekeeping position at AMI Saudi Arabia Limited/Security Forces Hospital with a monthly salary of $314. Sales left her employer who made unwanted sexual advances toward her. She left her employer in March 2012 and went to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office’s Bahay Kalinga where she worked as janitress. Cacdac said he found strong evidence that Jobstar International and Ideal Placement committed “serious violations” of POEA rules on recruitment and deployment of OFWs. By Angie M. Rosales and Mina Diaz http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/nation/item/18552‐senate‐witness‐ affirms‐labor‐exec‐s‐involvement‐in‐sex‐for‐fly‐scheme
Maring’s death toll climbs to 27; affected reaches 3M — NDRRMC Written by PNA Friday, 30 August 2013 08:00 The death toll from typhoon “Maring’s” onslaught has climbed to 27 while more than three million people were affected, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said yesterday. In its update, the two latest fatality were from Lingayen and Mangatarem both in Pangasinan province. The two victims — Cristina Deocares, 24, resident of Namotan, Lingayen died due to electrocution; and Salvador Sacopia, 35, Pogot Aniat, Mangatarem, who died from drowning. Of the 27 deaths, 12 were recorded in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezno), 11 in Central Luzon, two from Region 1 and one each from the Cordillera and Metro Manila. The NDRRMC said at least 30 were injured while four remained missing. As of Thursday morning, the NDRRMC said floods and rain had affected 677,127 families or 3,050,250 people in 2,108 villages in 159 towns and 37 cities in 18 provinces of Regions 1, 3, 4-A, 4-B, CAR and NCR. Of the number, 8,739 families or 35,400 people are staying in 201 evacuation centers. At least 200 areas in 22 municipalities and cities in Regions 3, 4-A and 4-B are still flooded, the NDRRMC said. Damage caused by the floods and rain was estimated at P688,167,552.03, including P137,939,781.05 in infrastructure and P550,227,740.98 in agriculture. At least 501 houses were totally destroyed while 1,052 were damaged. At least eight roads in Ilocos, Central Luzon and Cordillera remained impassable to vehicles. The NDRRMC said at least 40 areas had been declared under a state of calamity, including five provinces, 10 cities, 18 towns and seven villages in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central and Southern Luzon, Metro Manila and
Cordillera. Meanwhile, the estimated cost of assistance for the affected families has reached P98,642,531.26. The Department of Social and Welfare Development has allocated P41,105,866.93; local government units, P43,075,516.81; Department of Health, P6,396,833.92; and non-governmental organizations/other government organizations, P9,064,313.60. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/nation/item/18548-maring-s-death-tollclimbs-to-27-affected-reaches-3m-ndrrmc
Judge orders detention of Napoles at Makati jail Written by Pat C. Santos Friday, 30 August 2013 08:00 Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 Judge Elmo Almeda yesterday ordered the detention of the alleged mastermind in the controversial P10-billion pork barrel scam detained at the Makati City Jail. In a commitment order signed by Judge Almeda, the Philippine National Police (PNP) was ordered to put the accused to a regular jail of Makati City. Janet Lim-Napoles who surrendered at Malacañang Wednesday night is facing charges of illegal detention and is now in the custody of PNP at Camp Crame after the Palace turned her over to Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas. Judge Almeda tasked court sheriff Bong Carreon who went to PNP headquarters at Camp Crame where the accused has been held since Wednesday night to personally deliver the commitment order. In a radio interview, Makati RTC clerk of court Diosfa Valencia said the court wanted the accused transferred to Makati City Jail but stated that the judge did not give a time frame for the PNP to comply unless there is a request from Napoles camp or the prosecution. “Since this is a Makati court, our jurisdiction is in Makati City Jail, but the accused and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology have the right to make requests which will be evaluated by the court,” Valencia said in the radio interview. She said since this is a “high-profile” case, the court needs to have a solid basis to treat her as a “high-risk detainee.” The judge ordered the arraignment of the acused on Sept. 9 at 1:30 p.m. The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group yesterday returned to the Makati RTC the arrest warrant for Napoles at 11:25 a.m. Napoles was not brought to the Makati court and stayed at PNP headquarters at Camp Crame, police said. Police added they will leave to the discretion of the court where Napoles
will be detained. Meanwhile, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Nonnatus Rojas yesterday announced the manhunt for fugitive Reynald Lim, brother of Napoles, continues. Lim, who is also co-accused in an illegal detention charges along with Napoles has a pending warrant of arrest issued by a Makati court. Rojas said the manhunt will continue until Lim surrenders. The NBI chief, however, expressed confidence that Lim will surrender after her businesswoman sister gave herself up to President Aquino at Malaca単ang. Reynald has a bounty reward of P5 million from the government to whoever could give information leading to his arrest. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro-section/item/18535-judge-ordersdetention-of-napoles-at-makati-jail
Estrada, Moreno give incentives to traffic enforcers, policemen Written by PNA Friday, 30 August 2013 08:00 On the first week of his incumbency as mayor of Manila, Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada promised the Manila policemen that he would release their allowances which were discontinued during the administration of Mayor Alfredo Lim. Last Aug. 23, Estrada turned over to the cops, through Chief Supt. Isagani Genabe, a check for P1 million for operational assistance of the city for its police force. For the first time in years, Manila policemen received their allowances from the city government. This fulfillment of a promise to the Manila Police District was immediately followed by the Estrada-Moreno leadership by another commitment fulfilled â€” this time among members and personnel of the Philippine National Police and Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau who are involved in enforcing traffic regulations. The 501 traffic enforcers had been promised a 20-percent share in the total traffic violation fines raised by them. On Aug. 27, the enforcers received a total of P712,795 in cash as their share in the collections. According to City Treasurer Liberty Toledo, traffic violation fines in the city totalled P3,563,975 since the assumption to office of Estrada last June 30, and the traffic enforcers received their 20-percent share as promised. The three top-ranking traffic enforcers and their shares are: PO3 Francisco Amponin, P19,625, Crisanto Malicsi, P13,390 and Yuri John Maliwanag, P10,890. In his short remarks, Estrada exhorted the traffic enforcers to continue their good works and do their part in returning order in the streets of Manila. For his part, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, who has been designated as traffic czar of Manila, reminded the traffic officers to be courteous to motorists, apprehend only those who have committed traffic violations and never to accept bribe money from violators which was the usual practice in the past.
RP economy expands 7.5% in 2nd quarter Written by Tribune Friday, 30 August 2013 08:00 The economy expanded 7.5 percent in the April-June quarter, the government bared yesterday as higher public and consumer spending mostly spillovers from campaign spendings for the national elections held May 13 helped it defy an Asian slowdown. The data provides a welcome boost to the government at a time when the country’s stock market and currency slump as foreign investors pull out of emerging economies in expectation of an end to the US Federal Reserve’s stimulus. “While other economies that were growing at a fast rate are now decelerating due to a global slowdown, the Philippine economy has shown an ability to withstand external shocks,” Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said. Yesterday’s data are a sharp improvement from the 6.3 percent seen in the same period in 2012, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said, while it also marks the fourth straight quarter of growth above seven percent. It also brings gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first six months of 2013 to 7.6 percent, compared with 6.4 percent in the same period in 2012. The economy is now expanding faster than any other in Southeast Asia, while the second-quarter results are in line with growth in regional powerhouse China. The rebound has been overseen by President Aquino who was elected by a landslide in 2010 on the back of a vow to revive one of Asia’s laggard economies by fighting entrenched corruption that has stymied business activity. The Philippines achieved an investment-grade credit rating this year, further boosting business confidence as inflation remained tame and the
government’s finances improved. Balisacan said the first-half data indicated that GDP growth in 2013 “would likely surpass” the official target of 6-7 percent. “We are in a better position than many of the emerging economies,” he added. His comments come as the Philippines — like several emerging markets around the world — sees huge outflows of cash that had been pumped into the economy over the past years as the Fed kept interest rates ultra-low. The foreign withdrawal has seen markets from Manila to Jakarta to Bangkok slump in recent weeks and their currencies tumble. The peso has fallen about 8.5 percent against the dollar since May. However, Philippine stocks were 3.62 percent higher yesterday after the figures were released. Emilio Neri, corporate economist of Bank of the Philippine Islands, one of the country’s top lenders, said the high growth figures for the first half were “a fairly rare feat considering that everybody else is going down.” Manila has avoided the worst because it had not been to dependent on foreign funds and did not borrow too much abroad at the height of the US Fed’s easy money policy. “We did not get a hangover from this party that the US Federal Reserve hosted,” Neri added. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/business/item/18543-rp-economyexpands-7-5-in-2nd-quarter
Asean integration to affect Pinoy laborers — Tesda Written by Ed Velasco Friday, 30 August 2013 08:00 The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) yesterday urged all sectors of the society to work hard to meet the Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF) that President Aquino ordered to solve the job mismatch currently affecting graduates of various courses. The agency espoused this urgency as job matching will become strict when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) integrate two years from now. When that time comes, not only the flow of goods will be affected but also the quality of workers, especially in the real estate, mining and construction industry. At a forum, Tesda Deputy Director General Irene Isaac said in order to solve the problem of mismatch, those with potential in technical skills such as welding, auto mechanic and heavy equipment operating should professionalize their skills so that they can compete with the best in the country and abroad. “Most graduates want glamour jobs in five-star hotels, airlines, multinationals. They don’t realize that there is more money and opportunities in technical skills,” Isaac told the Daily Tribune in an ambush interview. According to Isaac, many job seekers don’t know the potential of heavy equipment operation, a job which is so in-demand these days both here and abroad. For just enrolling at any Tesda-accredited heavy equipment training center, anyone who can spend 162 hours in learning how to operate a heavy equipment such as tower crane or dozer can earn almost double the daily salary of those working in offices. Isaac also said private firms that offer heavy equipment operation course should be supported because there is no formal schooling for this course. She mentioned a certain group, the Association of Carriers and Equipment Leesors Inc., for developing a regulation module for heavy equipment operation. She said this group helps significantly in honing the skills of the country’s heavy equipment operators. “We at Tesda support the private sector in training workers in the construction industry,” she said.
Dahil maraming nag-iinteres na patahimikin si Napoles... KANTA NA! Nina Marlo Dalisay at Bernard Taguinod Sa pagsuko kahapon ni Janet LimNapoles, ang tinaguriang ‘pork barrel scam queen’, iisa ang inaabangan ng lahat at iyon ay ang pagkanta niya o pagtuturo kung sinu-sino ang mga ka-deal at nakinabang sa P10 bilyong kinulimbat na Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Maging ang mismong pahayag nito na marami ang nagbabanta sa kanyang buhay at marami ang gustong patahimikin siya, tulad ng pahayag ng kanyang abogadong si Atty. Lorna Kapunan, ay nagpaigting sa panawagan na kunan na ito agad ng pahayag ukol sa kinasasangkutang alingasngas bago may mangyaring hindi maganda rito. Para kay neophyte Sen. Bam Aquino, ang pagsuko ni Napoles ay nagbibigay na rin ng pagkakataon dito na isiwalat ang lahat ng mga dapat isiwalat kaugnay sa kontrobersyang kinasasangkutan nito. “Ngayong nandiyan na si Napoles, puwede na niyang sabihin kung sino ang mga kasabwat habang titingnan naman ng DOJ at Ombudsman ang mga ebidensiya kung sino ang dapat kasuhan. Kapag kumanta na si Napoles, the investigation of the DOJ and Ombudsman will reveal more evidence,” ayon kay Aquino. Sinabi din ni Gabriela partylist Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan na inaabangan ng taumbayan kung kakanta o hindi si Napoles ukol sa kanyang mga
padrino at iba pang kasabuwat sa pork barrel scam. “Kakanta ba siya? Sino pa ang mga madadawit? Gaano kataas ang position ng kanyang padrino?” tanong ni Ilagan. Si ACT partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio naman ay nakatuon sa pangyayaring ni hindi pa nakakasuhan si Napoles hinggil sa ‘pork’ scam na siya umanong mahalaga para mapuwersa na itong mag-confess. “Positibong development na nasa kamay na siya ng PNP (Philippine National Police), alam nating hindi na siya makakatakas ng bansa. Subalit tandaan natin na hindi pa siya nakakasuhan kaugnay sa pork barrel scam,” ani Tinio. Kailangang bantayan nang husto ng mga awtoridad si Napoles at huwag itong ihalo sa ibang kriminal dahil maaari itong itumba ng kanyang mga kasabwat sa pork barrel scam mula sa Senado at Kamara. Ito naman ang pahayag ni Akbayan partylist Rep. Walden Bello, “Dapat idiretso sa kulungan to make sure that she is not eliminated by her accomplices in the House and Senate. She should be placed, in a separate cell in the jail and put under heavy guard.” Nagbabala ang mambabatas na kapag namatay si Napoles ay hindi na mapapanagot ang mga kasabwat nito sa umano’y pagnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan sa pamamagitan ng pork barrel ng mga pulitiko. Naniniwala naman si House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., na magkakaroon na ng mga dagdag na impormasyon at ebidensya ang gobyerno sa kanilang iniimbestigahang pork barrel scam sa pagsuko ni Napoles.
“That is welcome news. Hopefully this development will lead to the uncovering of more evidence and information on the fake NGO ghost projects and PDAF scam,” ayon kay Belmonte. “Magandang development ito kasi magkakaroon na ng kasagutan ang maraming katanungan at mapapanagot na rin sa kanyang kasalanan,” ayon naman kay House deputy majority leader Bolet Banal. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/aug3013/news01.htm#.UiASWdJvAqM
Swak sa Makati City Jail (EPrado) Sa Makati City Jail ikukulong si Janet Lim-Napoles, ang itinuturing na mastermind sa multi-bilyong pork barrel scam. Batay ito sa ipinalabas na commitment order ni Judge Elmo Alameda ng Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150. Mag-aalas-dos kahapon ng hapon nang ilabas ni Alameda ang commitment order na kung saan inuutos dito na sa Makati City Jail na ikulong si Napoles. Pero mabilis ding nakapaghain kahapon ng kanilang motion for reconsideration ang kampo ni Napoles matapos ang ipinalabas na commitment order. Sa 7-pahinang mosyon na inihain ng isa sa mga abogado ni Napoles na si Atty. Betina Zamora, iginiit nito sa korte na muling ikonsidera ang inilabas nitong commitment order kay Napoles. Sa mosyon, ay hinihiling na idetine si Napoles kung hindi sa Camp Bagong Diwa sa Taguig ay manatili na lamang sa Camp Crame. Naghain din ito ng hiwalay na mosyon na humihiling na mag-inhibit si Judge Alameda sa kaso sa katwirang shinort-cut diumano nito ang proseso ng pag-iisyu ng arrest warrant laban sa akusado. Ngunit pitong oras matapos ibaba ang commitment order ay hindi pa rin naililipat sa Makati City Jail si Napoles na pansamantalang inilagay sa kustodya ng Camp Crame. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/aug3013/news02.htm#.UiAR9NJvAqM
Walang deal sa pagsuko ni Napoles -Palasyo (Boyet Jadulco/Juliet de Loza/Marlo Dalisay/Bernard Taguinod) Nanindigan ang palasyo ng Malacañang na walang pinasok na “deal” si Pangulong Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III sa tinaguriang sentro ng pork barrel fund scam na si Janet Lim-Napoles kapalit ng pagsuko nito kamakalawa ng gabi. Sa ginawang paglalahad ni presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda sa mga naging kaganapan sa pagsuko ni Napoles kamakalawa ng gabi, sinabi nitong nagkaroon ng 10 minutong pag-uusap sina Pangulong Aquino at Napoles sa loob ng Malacañang, pero walang pinag-usapan dito tungkol sa posibilidad na gawin itong “state witness” upang ikanta ang mga mambabatas at iba pang taong naging kasabwat nito sa scam. “Maraming tanong ho kahapon on kung gagawing state witness, wala hong pinag-usapang ganoon kahapon sa meeting po. The only thing that was discussed during that voluntary surrender was the preparations that were done to ensure her safety,” diin ni Lacierda. Aniya, tuloy pa rin ang isasampang kaso ng Department of Justice (DOJ) laban kay Napoles kaugnay ng P10 bilyong halaga ng Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) ng 28 mambabatas na napunta lamang sa hinokuspokus na pekeng non-government organizations (NGOs) ni Napoles. Itinanggi din ni Lacierda ang alegasyon ng mga kritiko na “moro-moro” lang ang ginawang pagsuko ni Napoles kay Pangulong Aquino, gayundin ang diumano’y “special treatment” dito dahil mismong ang Pangulo ang nagescort dito patungo sa Camp Crame sa Quezon City nitong Miyerkules ng gabi.
Sinalag din ni Lacierda ang mga kritisismo kung bakit kay Pangulong Aquino sumuko si Napoles sa pagsasabing wala umanong tiwala ang huli sa National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), bukod pa sa pagsasabing hindi ito ang unang pagkakataon sa kasaysayan ng bansa dahil noong panahon ni dating Pangulong Manuel Quezon ay may dalawang bandido rin ang sumuko sa nakaupong Pangulo noon. “The President has chosen this course of action to make sure that the case will move forward,” paliwanag ni Lacierda. Samantala, hindi naman ikinagulat ni Justice Sec. Leila de Lima ang ginawang pagsuko ni Napoles sa Pangulo at ang desisyon ng huli na sa pulisya i-turnover ang negosyante sa halip na sa National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) na pangunahing ahensyang tumutugis sa nagtagong akusado. Sa isyu ng posibilidad na i-bargain ni Napoles na maging ‘state witness’, sinabi ni De Lima na kailangang pag-aralan ito nang mabuti pero pareho sila ng paliwanag ni Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago na malinaw na nakasaad sa panuntunan na ang maaari lang na maging state witness ay iyong ‘least guilty’ na partisipante sa krimen. Ani Santiago, maliwanag umanong diskuwalipikado rito si Napoles dahil base sa impormasyon ng whistleblower ay ito ang may pinakamalaking partisipasyon. Sigaw din ng Kabataan partylist sa Kamara, “Mananagot ang Palasyo sa taumbayan kapagka itinulak na maging state witness si Napoles. ‘Yung one million march baka maging two million,” ani Rep. Terry Ridon. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/aug3013/news03.htm#.UiAR9tJvAqM
3 senador sa ‘pork’ scam, tinukoy sa Senate hearing (Marlo Dalisay) Walang kagatul-gatol na isiniwalat ni Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan sa harap ng mga senador na miyembro ng Senate Blue Ribbon Committee (COA) ang mga pangalan nina Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile, Sens. Jinggoy Estrada at Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr. bilang mga mambabatas na nagbigay ng pork barrel sa mga pekeng nongovernment organizations (NGOs). Sa tanong ni Sen. Teofisto ‘TG’ Guingona, chairman ng naturang komite, kay Tan kung may mga napasadahan itong mga dokumento ng pork barrel na may lagda ng naturang mga senador, positibo ang naging kasagutan ng COA chair. “Would you say in your professional opinion, there is a web of or a conspiracy that can be proven here?” tanong ni Guingona kay Tan. “Based on our observation, there is pattern but I will leave it to the Ombudsman and the DOJ secretary to determine if there is a conspiracy,” malumanay namang tugon ng COA chief. Narito ang bahagi ng tanong ni Guingona kay Pulido-Tan kung saan ay kalmante subalit diretsahan nitong tinukoy ang tatlong senador sa nabanggit na maanomalyang kontrata. Senador Guingona: Have you come across letters signed by Enrile? COA Chair Pulido-Tan: Yes, sir. Senador Guingona: Revilla? COA Chair Pulido-Tan: Yes, sir Senador Guingona: Estrada? COA Chair Pulido-Tan: Yes, sir Base sa mga dokumentong isinumite ng COA sa komite, si Enrile ay nakapaglaan ng P332.7 milyon, Si Revilla ay P483.4 milyon at si Estrada ay
P262 milyon sa mga umano’y bogus na NGO na kinabibilangan ng Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (AEPFFI), Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation (APMFI), Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development (CARED) Foundation, Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI), People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation (POPDFI), Philippine Agri and Social Development Foundation, Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI) at Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI). Hindi nakasama sa tanong ni Guingona kay Pulido-Tan si Senador Gregorio Honasan pero base sa presentasyon ito ay napagpalabas din ang naturang mambabatas ng P14.5 milyon sa mga tinukoy na grupo.Bukod sa mga pangalan ng mga nabanggit na mambabatas, tinanong pa ni Guingona kung may mga papel ding nakita si Pulido-Tan na pirmado ng mga kinatawan ng mga ito at naging positibo ulit ang katugunan ng COA chair. “May mga pirmado po ng mga chiefs of staff nila pero hindi ko po mababanggit ngayon ang mga pangalan ng mga ito dahil hindi ko po naman kabisado ang mga pangalan nila,” sagot pa ng naturang opisyal sa muling pagtatanong ni Guingona. Isiniwalat din ni Tan sa mga senador na ang mga address ng mga NGOs na pinaglaanan ng bahagi ng mga pork barrel ng mga nabanggit na senador ay kanilang isa-isang pinuntahan pero kung hindi umano bakanteng lote ang mga ito ay tinatayuan naman ng mga barung-barong o mga pasilidad na hindi naman matatawag na opisina. Kagaya ng naunang pahayag, hindi dumalo sa pagdinig sina Enrile at Revilla at nagpakita si Estrada sa opening pero agad itong umalis sa kadahilanang mahirap para sa kanya na nababanggit sa naturang eskandalo na manatili pa sa pagdinig. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/aug3013/news04.htm#.UiAR-9JvAqM
Kamara desididong i-impeach si COA Commissioner Tan (Bernard Taguinod) Isang grupo ng mga mambabatas sa Kamara ang nagluluto ng “impeachment case” laban kay Commission on Audit (COA) chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan. Ito ang kumakalat na impormasyon ngayon sa hanay ng mga mambabatas sa Kamara subalit hindi lamang umano mailantad ng hindi pa pinapangalanang grupo dahil wala pang sapat na lagda. “Mayroong nga raw nagka-campaign dito para sa impeachment case laban kay Tan pero hindi ko pa nakikita ang papel at wala pang lumalapit sa akin,” pahayag ng isang mambabats na hindi na nagpabanggit ng pangalan. “May ipapa-impeach na naman daw ang Congress,” ayon naman sa isang empleyado ng Kamara subalit hindi naniniwala ang mga ito na hindi uusad ang impeachment case dahil kulang o hindi sapat ang bilang ng mga mambabatas na nasa likod ng pagkilos na ito. Nang kunan ng reaksyon, sinabi ni Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpido Barzaga na lalong magagalit ang mga tao kapag pina-impeach ng Kongreso si PulidoTan dahil sa pagbubunyag nito na mayroong 180 congressmen at 12 senador ang nagpadaan ng kanilang pork barrel sa mga pekeng nongovernment organization (NGOs). http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/aug3013/news05.htm#.UiASAtJvAqM
Walang bibitaw sa laban vs corruption! (Aries Cano) Hinikayat ni Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz ang social media at netizens na huwag tumahimik sa usapin ng pork barrel scam. Payo ni Cruz, dapat ipagpatuloy ng social media na nagsimula ng ‘Million People March’ na maging mapagmatyag at bantayan ang mga kaganapan partikular sa isyu ng paglustay ng bilyun-bilyong halaga ng pera ng taumbayan. “I think really the social media that begun all these should be really kailangan vigilant sila, kasi malaki ang epekto ng social media. Nakita natin.At ang social media hindi lang nararating ang kaliwa ang kanan kundi pati sa gitna. So dapat talaga ‘yung talagang nagsimiula nito maging vigilant, napatunayan nilang pwede maraming bumabasa, maraming nakikinig. Sana ipagpatuloy nila,” panawagan ni Archbishop Cruz. Pero bago pa ang pahayag ng obispo, latag na latag na sa Facebook, Twitter at blogs ang kaliwa’t kanang panawagan na ituloy ang pangangalampag at pagbabantay hanggang sa makamit ang asam na katarungan na dili ba’t ang kaparusahan sa mga bumaboy sa kaban ng bayan. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/aug3013/news06.htm#.UiASC9JvAqM
Sex-for-flight victim tinangkang ibugaw (Marlo Dalisay) Maliban sa tangkang panggagahasa sa isang runaway na babaeng overseas Filipino worker (OFW) na nagkakanlong sa Bahay Kalinga sa Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia ay tinangka pa umanong ibugaw ng isang assistant labor attaché sa kaibigan nitong Egyptian recruiter ang kanyang biktima. Sa pagpapatuloy kahapon ng imbestigasyon ng Senate blue ribbon committee na pinamumunuan ni Senador Teofisto “TG” Guingona kaugnay sa sex-for-flight scandal, isiniwalat ng isang bagong testigong OFW na si Marvin Caraan ang umano’y pagbugaw ni Assistant Labor Attaché Luis Villafuerte kay alyas Michelle na naunang nagsalita sa harap ng mga senador laban sa naturang opisyal. Kagaya ni Michelle at ang iba pang mga biktimang naunang nagsalita sa Senado, si Caraan ay nagkanlong din sa Bahay Kalinga matapos na hindi tumupad ang employer nito sa kontratang nilagdaan nito sa Pilipinas bago lumipad patungo sa Saudi. Sa pagtatanong ni Senador Jinggoy Estrada, chairman ng Senate committee on labor kay Caraan, napaamin nito ang OFW na tinangka umano ni Villafuerte na ibugaw si Michelle sa isang Egyptian recruiter na kaibigan nito na binanggit lamang sa pangalang Ibrahim. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/aug3013/news08.htm#.UiASGtJvAqM
Guro pwede sa calamity loan -- DepEd (Nonnie Ferriol) Inihayag ng Department of Education (DepEd) na maaaring mag-avail ng calamity loan na hanggang P20,000 ang mga guro at maging ang mga nonteaching personnel na direktang naapektuhan ng habagat at bagyong Maring. Base sa DepEd Order No. 10 S. 2011, itinatakda ang maximum amount ng calamity loan ng hanggang P20,000 na may interest rate na 6% per annum at maaaring bayaran sa 24 equal monthly installments para sa dalawang taon, na awtomatikong iniaawas sa payroll. Ayon kay DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro, ang aplikasyon para sa calamity loan ay dapat matanggap sa loob ng dalawang buwan matapos na maideklarang nasa ilalim ng state of calamity ang isang lugar. Bukod sa DepEd loan ay maaari ring mag-avail ng emergency loan ang mga teachers at non-teaching personnel mula sa Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) at sa Pag-IBIG Calamity Loan Program, ngunit kailangang ang kanilang lugar ay nasa ilalim ng state of calamity. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/aug3013/news09.htm#.UiASHdJvAqM
P.5-B rice tongpats bared! Published : Friday, August 30, 2013 00:00 Written by : Paul M. Gutierrez
AN activist-lawyer has warned of more public upheavals this time over alleged questionable rice purchases recently of the National Food Authority (NFA) from Vietnam involving a “tongpats” or overprice of as much as P457 million in a single transaction. Lawyer Argee Guevarra, in a statement, also urged Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala to “meticulously scrutinize” documents pertaining to the government’s rice imports from our neighboring country in the Asian region. Citing official documents, Guevarra noted that on top of the 187,000 metric tons of rice to be imported by the country this year as announced by the NFA, the agency also “inserted” an additional purchase of 18,700 MT “without any prior approval from the Department of Finance under the Fiscal Incentive Review Board (FIRB).” The rice imports would be made under the so-called ‘government-to-government’ (G2G) arrangement with Vietnam, an arrangement that also violates the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Guevarra noted further. According to documents examined by Guevarra, the DA purchases the 187,000 metric tons of rice at a cost of $US 459 (Php19,762.95) per metric ton. But while ‘G2G’ contracts are supposed to be more costeffective, the prevailing market price in Vietnam when the deal was made is only $US 360 per metric ton (Php15,480). He added that a check of the ‘Oryza Global Rice Price’ for the
period confirms how the NFA had overpriced its acquisition cost by at least USD10,439,275 or Php457 million, which the lawyer noted “is a killing for a single transaction.” Industry experts also reportedly informed Guevarra that the landed cost of Vietnamese rice, inclusive of handling and delivery to local warehouses, should only be at US$409 or Php17,587 or an overprice of Php2,100 per MT. “Sec. Alcala should be more circumspect now in his rice importation where the price disparity is already indicative of the potential hand of rice price profiteers. “In the wake of the ‘Napoles pork scam’ which hurt the people’s pocket, the distinct possibility that the price of rice imports are being manipulated to fatten the avarice of the few may trigger an upheaval of the many considering that rice is a daily staple and is a gut economic issue especially for the poor,” Guevarra warned. “This is another ‘potential scandal’ for the government,” Guevarra told People’s Tonight, “considering that in his last SONA (State-of-the-Nation Address of Pres. Benigno Aquino last July 22), Pres. Aquino claimed we are already ‘rice sufficient.’ “I believe some people are out to make a quick profit (in this transaction),” Guevarra said http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top-stories/57169-p5-b-ricetongpats-bared
Third force launches signature drive for abolition of PDAF Published : Friday, August 30, 2013 00:00 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco THE House independent bloc yesterday launched a signature drive for the abolition of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and similar pork barrel and lump sum allocations given to the Executive and Judiciary in response to public outrage against the alleged misuse of the controversial funds. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, a lawyer, led the filing of House Resolution (HR) No. 235 to exclude pork barrel and lump sum funds under the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA), especially in the Php2.268trillion 2014 national budget. “Whereas as representatives of our people, we support the public’s overwhelming call for its total abolition,” the independent group said. The group stressed that PDAF over the years “has always been subject to controversy over charges of its misuse.” “Whereas, the allegations of the whistle-blowers over a Php10 billion scam generated disgust and outrage from the public which has called for its total abolition,” the group said. Romualdez, the head of the House independent bloc or third force, was joined by Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo, Buhay Hayaang Yumabong party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado and Quezon Rep. Aleta Suarez in the filing of the resolution. Romualdez also sought the scrapping of pork barrel-related funds or lump sum appropriations given to the Executive and Judiciary. “Whereas, in the spirit of accountability and transparency, all forms of pork barrel allocations should be abolished,” they said. He underscored the importance for the COA to determine the accountability of all heads of government departments and their officials in alleged irregularities in the implementation of PDAF or pork barrel funds.
Some of the implementing agencies include the Departments of Agriculture (DA), Budget and Management (DBM), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), among others. On Tuesday, Romualdez asked COA chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan to resign for coming out with raw data and issuing a misleading report on the misuse of PDAF from 2007 to 2009. In particular, Romualdez cited the “erroneous” naming of former Compostela Valley Rep. Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora, currently the province’s vice governor, as alleged recipient of a Php3-billion pork barrel funds which the latter vehemently denied. The COA’s two-year special audit report showed that Php6.156 billion of pork barrel funds of 12 senators and 180 congressmen all went to 82 nongovernment organizations (NGOs), 10 of which are linked to Janet Lim Napoles who allegedly got Php2.1 billion. The COA’s special audit report on the PDAF and various infrastructure including local projects (VILP) fund releases from 2007 to 2009 for projects identified by legislators was only made public amid reports on Napoles’ scheme.
Lacierda’s key role in Napoles surrender Published : Friday, August 30, 2013 00:00 Written by : Marlon Purificacion PRESIDENTIAL spokesman Edwin Lacierda has played a big role on how ‘pork barrel queen’ Janel Lim-Napoles surrendered to President Noynoy Aquino II Wednesday night. Around 12:37 pm, Lacierda immediately verified Atty. Lorna Kapunan's statements that her client, Janet Lim-Napoles is fearing for her life but is willing to surrender. Through the phone, Kapunan told Lacierda that her statement is true, adding that the P10 million bounty for the informant of Napoles' whereabouts added to the "threats" for the fugitive's life. Lacierda feels that Kapunan is telling the truth that she did not personally know where Napoles was but was in contact with her through a middleman. Lacierda was a former associate lawyer of Kapunan in their law office. At around 4:06 pm, Kapunan called Lacierda to say Napoles was ready to surrender but stated some conditions that her safety must be assured. “Her (Napoles) only request was that her safety be secured, owing to the fact that there was, on her part, there was fear for or there were threats on her life,” Lacierda said in a press conference yesterday morning. Lacierda said he immediately went back to the President, who at that time had already made instructions to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. Around 6:50 p.m. Lacierda, along with escorts provided by Roxas to secure Napoles, left the Palace to meet with Kapunan in Pasong Tamo, Makati City. He was greeted by Jimmy Napoles, husband of Janet and Kapunan herself. On his way, however, the spokesman said, he got a call from Kapunan, asking him to meet him at the White Space. At the White Space, Lacierda said he saw Kapunan with Napoles’ husband,
Jimmy. “They boarded the vehicle where I was,” Lacierda said. It was Mr. Napoles, he said, who told them to go to Heritage Park in Taguig. At 8:06 p.m. the group arrived at the Heritage Park. A t 9:08 p.m., Mrs. Napoles and a female companion also arrived at the Heritage Park. At 9:37 p.m., the group, this time, with fugitive Napoles, arrived in Malacañang to meet with the President. They underwent a security check, the spokesman added. Lacierda said the meeting lasted for only about 10 minutes. Napoles was never handcuffed during the meeting with the President. Before going to Philippine National Police Headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, President Aquino instructed PNP chief Director General Allan Purisima, Sec. Roxas to ensure Napoles safety. Napoles was escorted by no less than the presidential convoy going to Camp Crame past 11:00 Wednesday night. “Sabi ng Presidente, pare-pareho na naman tayong puyat, sasama na ako maghatid sa inyo sa Camp Crame,” Roxas told mediamen in Camp Crame during his press briefing around 12:10 am yesterday.
Napoles as state witness?
Published : Friday, August 30, 2013 00:00 Written by : Hector Lawas JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday changed her tune on pork scam suspected mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles becoming a state witness saying she may not qualify since she seemed to be not the least guilty among the suspects. Earlier, De Lima said Napoles was being eyed as a state witness. She told reporters that testimonial evidence particularly the affidavits executed by whistleblower Benhur Luy and others showed that Napoles had a direct hand in the scam. “Righr now, she appears to be one of the most guilty dahil siya yung nasa gitna ng scheme na ito as narrated by the whistleblowers,” De Lima said. But de Lima qualified that at this juncture, the prosecution has not come to a point where the possibility of Napoles turning state witness is being contemplated. “Dapat a suspect does not appear to be the most guilty...kasi kung isa sya duon sa pinaka guilty, mukhang malabo na siya ay maging testigo,” De Lima said. “Kung ibabase lang natin sa ngayon, yung sinasabi ng whistleblowers, siya (Napoles) ngayon ang pinakaguilty at this point,” she continued. De Lima added that even if Napoles decided to spill the beans on other personalities involved in the scam, this would still “not make her the least guilty.” Napoles can turn state witness if she can prove that she is the “least guilty” among those involved in the reported misuse of the legislators’s Priority Development Assistance fund (PDAF) if she can meet certain legal requirements, according to Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Miriam Defensor Santiago. “Masalimuot ‘yan pero ito ang sinasaad ng batas. Kailangan niyang hilihingin
‘yun. “Kailangan siya ‘yung tinatawag na least guilty. Ilan lamang ‘yan sa mga requirements na kung lahat ‘yan ay malulusutan niya, maari siyang mag-qualify bilang state witness,” Escudero said in a radio interview. “Depende rin ‘yan kung may maituturo siyang mas malaki pang isda ika nga sa kanya. Dahil siya ang binansagang utak nito. Wala akong alam na mas mataas o mas malaki pa sa utak maliban sa utak mismo,” he said. With Bernadette Tamayo
Enrile denies budget misuse Published : Friday, August 30, 2013 00:00 Written by : Bernadette E. Tamayo
THE office of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday cried foul over the “insinuation” of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago that the former used for his personal purposes the Php71.7 million in additional budget allocated to his office in 2011 while he was still Senate chief. Lawyer Carole Quirolgico, Enrile’s chief of staff said: “We wish to clarify that the Php71.7 million additional budget for the Office of the Senate President that Senator Santiago mentioned in her press release yesterday were funds allocated for the operational requirements of the said office. “Such budget did not serve as additional personal income of then Senate President Enrile, nor were such funds used for his personal purposes, contrary to what the statement of Senator Santiago appears to mean,” she said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/57183-enrile-deniesbudget-misuse